By Rebecca Gordon
TomDispatch via Portside
DEc 18, 2014 – It’s the political story of the week in Washington. At long last, after the endless stalling and foot-shuffling, the arguments about redaction and CIA computer hacking , the claims  that its release might stoke others out there in the Muslim world to violence and "throw  the C.I.A. to the wolves," the report — you know which one — is out. Or at least, the redacted executive summary of it is available to be read and, as Senator Mark Udall said before its release, "When this report is declassified, people will abhor what they read. They’re gonna be disgusted. They’re gonna be appalled. They’re gonna be shocked at what we did."
So now we can finally consider  the partial release of the long-awaited report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the gruesome CIA interrogation methods used during the Bush administration’s "Global War on Terror." But here’s one important thing to keep in mind: this report addresses only the past practices of a single agency. Its narrow focus encourages us to believe that, whatever the CIA may have once done, that whole sorry torture chapter is now behind us.
In other words, the moment we get to read it, it’s already time to turn the page. So be shocked, be disgusted, be appalled, but don’t be fooled. The Senate torture report, so many years and obstacles in the making, should only be the starting point for a discussion, not the final word on U.S. torture. Here’s why.
Mainstream coverage of U.S. torture in general, and of this new report in particular, rests on three false assumptions:
1. The most important question is whether torture "worked."
2. U.S. torture ended when George W. Bush left office.
3. The only kind of torture that really "counts" happens in foreign war zones.
Let’s look at each of these in order.
False Assumption #1: The only question is "Did it work?"
Maybe torture "worked" on occasion. Probably it didn’t. But it doesn’t matter because torture is illegal under U.S. and international law, and it’s a moral abomination.
The Senate report’s first finding — and the one that much of a highly predictable debate will focus on — is that the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation techniques" were "ineffective" in identifying the perpetrators of 9/11, producing actionable intelligence, or preventing terrorist attacks. In response, the rhetoric is already flying. The Republicans (except for Senator John McCain ) are jumping up and down shouting  "It did work! It did!" The president’s own CIA director, John Brennan, has issued his denunciation of the report. While acknowledging  that "the Agency made mistakes," he, too, insisted that torture "worked." (A couple of days later, he backtracked, suggesting instead that the answer to this question was actually "unknowable .") Other former officials of the Agency are chiming in  big time.