The CIA Torture Report: A 'Gut Check Moment' for U.S. Democracy

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Artist Steve Powers' installation 'Waterboard Thrill Ride' is seen at the Coney Island on Aug. 14, 2008. The creation features robots performing controversial CIA interrogation techniques.
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Today, after a long political fight, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released its report on the CIA's use of torture and rendition during the George W. Bush Administration.

The report includes several disturbing findings, including that at least five detainees were subjected to forced "rectal feeding" without any documented medical need. Interrogators also threatened to sexually abuse the family members of detainees, and at least one detainee died at a detainment facility after a junior officer with no relevant experience was put in charge. 

As Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich explains, Secretary of State John Kerry tried to delay the Senate report. When the Committee refused, the Obama Administration relented, claiming to "welcome" the release of the report while warning that it could damage U.S. relationships abroad.

As Zwillich explains, President George W. Bush continues to defend the CIA's actions during his Administration, describing the operatives involved as "patriots."

But not all lawmakers feel the same, including Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“[The report] exposes what the world already knows and that is that the United States engaged in torture, but my feeling about this is that this is a gut check moment for our democracy,” McCaskill told CBS This Morning. “The world knows we tortured. But does the world know yet that we’ll hold up our values and hold our government accountable?”

Last week, Secretary Kerry called Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to warn her that the committee's report on CIA torture and rendition programs could have severe foreign policy consequences.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers echoed Kerry's concerns, telling CNN's Candy Crowley that releasing the report is a "terrible idea" that will "cause violence and deaths."

David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for Takeaway partner The New York Times, examines the potential fallout from the Senate report on CIA torture and rendition during the Bush Administration. He explains that the U.S.'s legacy of torture has been used to fight terrorism abroad.