This week two important documents were made available to the public: a report on the CIA use of torture after 9/11 and an interim report on Christie administration activities leading up to and following the gubernatorial election. U. S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said that the objective of making her committee’s report public was “To never let this happen again.” Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, co-chairs of the NJ Legislative Select Committee on Investigation, said much the same thing, “If not for this work, the public may never have become aware of this threat -and this abusive behavior could have continued.”
As one might expect people have attacked both reports. CIA vehemently accuses the well-documented federal report of inaccuracies. Sen. Mark Udall countered with “The C.I.A. is lying.” Republican State Senator Kevin O’Toole, not for the first time created a tantrum and raised his voice in anger to the co-chair, “This is not North Korea, John, this is America.” Such an absurd allusion needs no response.
Although both documents increase transparency and bring to the fore important issues, there is at least one significant difference. The federal report deals with activities that took place some ten years ago. Civil suits may result from the detailing of torture, but it appears the Attorney General will not seek to punish perpetrators. In New Jersey, however, the Federal Attorney is undertaking a Bridgegate investigation.
According to unidentified NBC sources potential Bridgegate-related indictments may be filed against some six individuals as early as next month. In Feinstein’s Intelligence Committee case we have President Obama’s executive order in 2008 ending such torture, which can be rescinded or altered by a later President, and no Department of Justice charges being pressed. In New Jersey, we have Gov. Christie’s Executive Order closing down the intergovernmental department at the heart of Bridgegate, but more importantly the hope that through the justice system people who violated laws will be punished, further strengthening the likelihood that we will “Never let this happen again.”