January 22, 2015

Torture Report’s Impact on U.S. Image in Europe May Be Muted

By Bruce Stokes, Director of Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to German Marshall Fund

With Europe reeling from the recent killings in France by Islamic extremists, it remains to be seen whether European objections to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s recently disclosed harsh interrogation practices will impede closer U.S.-European intelligence collaboration. On December 17, the European Parliament held a plenary session discussion on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

The CIA’s euphemistically termed “enhanced interrogation techniques” were roundly criticized as abhorrent during the session. But speakers repeatedly praised publication of the report’s executive summary as an example of Americans’ commitment to transparency and the rule of law. There was no acknowledgement of multiple U.S. public opinion surveys that have found many Americans believe the CIA methods were justified and that they provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks.