NEW YORK—Americans must take full responsibility for and take steps to rectify the use of torture during interrogations, a practice that shocks the conscience of the nation, PEN American Center said in a statement today.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture by the CIA in the years after 9/11, which has already drawn telling responses from congressional insiders, was finally made public this week after months of delay while redactions to the report were challenged by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“America’s long delayed reckoning with torture can finally begin,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center. “Despite what some former officials are arguing, this report does not reopen a debate over whether torture is permissible. Both U.S. and international law are crystal clear on that point.  While senior leaders are right to candidly own up to their role in enabling and ordering torture, these admissions are only valuable if they come with a forthright acknowledgment that torture is wrong.”

The report recounts in sickening detail systematic methods of abuse in the agency’s post-9/11 detention, rendition, and interrogation programs that violate U.S. Constitutional protections, international human rights, and American moral standards.   

“The report makes for painful reading about a chapter in our history many wish would disappear,” said Nossel.  “But when a society goes this far toward repudiating its core values out of fear and faulty logic, it is not enough to turn the page and hope it doesn’t happen again. To shoulder our collective responsibility as a nation for the worst acts the Report details, we need to read, discuss, and debate freely to draw firm conclusions and make sure they never happen again.”


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 3,500 American writers working to bring down barriers to free expression worldwide. In conjunction with the ACLU, PEN founded Reckoning With Torture, an innovative performance and film project sparked by the idea that coming to terms with torture begins by reading and acknowledging the record of those abuses. The project seeks to uphold the voices of servicemen and women who reported abuse, refused to participate in it, and advocated for the repeal of unlawful interrogation directives.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director,, +1 212-334-1660 x 103
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