Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Biden Backs Public Disclosure of Torture Report

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Biden, shown here earlier in the month, spoke with reporters about the need for a country to hold itself accountable, citing Germany’s progress after its war crimes tribunals.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday night that he supports making a classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and enhanced interrogation more available to the public.

Biden’s revelation was overshadowed by another statement he made at the forum in Sedona, Ariz., in which he suggested that the tanking economy in 2008 was the main reason Sen. John McCain lost to President Barack Obama. The vice president was appearing at a forum featuring a conversation with McCain.

Speaking about the classified Senate Intelligence report on the use of torture or enhanced interrogation by the United States, Biden suggested that his personal view is that he agrees with McCain that more information should be made public, while he noted it has been the subject of intense debate at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Now this voluminous study has been done,” Biden said. “And the internal debate that goes on in the Congress and in the White House is, do we go back and do we expose it? Do we lay out who was responsible and how we got to where we are?”

“It offends the fundamentals of what kind of country we are, and the practical side of it is, don’t think it didn’t damage the United States’ image in the world in ways that we’ll be paying for for years to come,” McCain said, noting his support for disclosing more details of what happened.

“It is not resolved yet, John, but I’m where you are. I think the only way you excise the demons is you acknowledge, you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward,” Biden said. He explained his position that issues related to torture must be laid out before a country can move beyond them, citing the war crimes committed in the Balkans and other acts of torture overseas.

“The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened,” Biden said. “That’s why they’ve become the great democracy they’ve become.”

The primary headlines out of the McCain event, however, centered around Biden’s unusual statement that he and Obama would have lost to McCain if the economy had been better in 2008.

“Maybe with the press here I shouldn’t be blunt with you,” Biden told McCain on the stage. “No one ever doubts I mean what I say, the problem is, I usually say all that I mean.”

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