Salon: It took years until the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report — which shows not only that the CIA’s torture regime was larger and more vicious than understood, but that the agency repeatedly lied about it to the White House and Congress — was finally released to the public. But it only took hours before President Obama was once again urging the nation to look forward, not back. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” read a White House statement, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.” When members of the media asked whether that meant the White House considered torture to be ineffective, as the report claims, an anonymous official said Obama would not “engage” in the ongoing “debate.” On the issues of rape, waterboarding and induced hypothermia, apparently, reasonable minds can differ.
Glenn Greenwald, the Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and longtime critic of the war on terror, disagrees. “There’s no debate,” he told Salon. “Everything that we did,” he continued, “in terms of how we treated detainees, has [long] been viewed as morally vile and inexcusable and criminal.” Greenwald has little doubt, however, that Washington will turn torture into yet another partisan squabble. It’s the go-to move, he says, when America’s political and media elite decide they’d rather look the other way. “That’s just the ritual Washington engages in,” Greenwald said.
Speaking with Salon from his home in Brazil (or at least we assumed as much, given the barking in the background) Greenwald discussed what surprised him about the summary, what we still don’t know, why expressions of shock and horror from Congress are disingenuous, how President Obama is culpable, too, and why America’s leaders are “sociopathic.” Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.