Biden was speaking at an event in Sedona, AZ, appearing on stage in a conversation with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). During the McCain Institute event, according to Roll Call, the conversation shifted to a recently completed report on the United States’ use of torture in combating terrorism in the post-Sept. 11-era.
“[Torture] offends the fundamentals of what kind of country we are, and the practical side of it is, don’t think it didn’t damage the United States’ image in the world in ways that we’ll be paying for for years to come,” McCain said, echoing his previous support for the report’s wide release. Biden quickly agreed:
“It is not resolved yet, John, but I’m where you are. I think the only way you excise the demons is you acknowledge, you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward,” Biden said. He explained his position that issues related to torture must be laid out before a country can move beyond them, citing the war crimes committed in the Balkans and other acts of torture overseas.
“The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened,” Biden said. “That’s why they’ve become the great democracy they’ve become.”
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the nearly 6,000-page report approved the nearly 6,000-page report back in Dec. 2012, which was then sent to the Executive Branch for “review and comment.” According to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, that includes going “to the White House, to the attorney general, to the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], to the CIA for possible technical amendments.” Only after that review is complete will the Senate consider declassifying the report.
Vice President Biden’s comments come just weeks after a bipartisan group determined that the U.S. did, in fact, utilize torture — also euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation” — on detainees in order to gain information in the years after 2001. That panel’s conclusion that not only did the United States engage in torture but it was ineffective as an information gathering tool seems to fall in line with those from the Senate’s, according to a 2012 report from Reuters.
Should the Obama administration wind up siding with Biden on releasing the report, such a move would help mute criticism the administration has faced over refusing to launch investigations into Bush-era torture.