Letter from the US Editor: The report into CIA torture proves that the US did terrible things in the name of national security. And what's more, they're still at it.


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Senator Dianne Feinstein deserves a sainthood for stewarding her panel’s five-year probe into CIA torturing and resisting all pressure to have her final report – or part of it – buried. Arguably, so, too, does President Barack Obama for sticking with her even while not throwing too many stones of his own.

Yet there are legitimate questions about the report. Its authority is weakened by its partisan DNA; Republicans withdrew their support early on. At no point did its authors interview anyone at the CIA. Even if we accept they were economical with the truth, it’s not credible that Ms Feinstein and her peers didn’t have a decent idea of what was going on. Yet we had to wait until now to hear from them.

None of this takes away from the obvious: that terrible things were done in the name of national security that no country could be proud of, least of one that preaches respect for human rights and decency to the rest of the world. America lost its way after 9/11. The White House, backed by Congress – including by Ms Feinstein – decided anything was allowable if it might stop a repeat attack. The NSA was allowed to snoop at will. Iraq was invaded. Detainees were dumped naked into dungeons.

And America is still at it. The reforms of the NSA that were promised after the Edward Snowden leaks have gone nowhere. The black-site jails have long since been emptied, but Guantanamo Bay has not. Above all, the United States continues to rain down death and destruction in Pakistan and Yemen (and to a lesser extent Somalia) from its drones. And who is operating most of them? The CIA.