McCain lobbying fellow lawmakers on torture report release

In a letter sent Thursday to Intelligence Committee members, the Arizona Republican made his case as to why the information contained in the secretive 6,000-page review should see the light of day. 

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"What I have always believed and insisted to be true — that the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence," McCain wrote.

The tactics, dubbed "enhanced interrogation techniques" by Bush administration officials, have frequently been a flashpoint between defense and national security hawks and those who condemned the practices as no more than legalized torture. 

"It is ... my hope that this committee will take whatever steps necessary to finalize and declassify this report, so that all Americans can see the record for themselves, which I believe will finally close this painful chapter for our country."

McCain, who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, has been one of the Senate's most vocal critics of those practices, despite the lawmaker's conservative record on national security matters. 

On Tuesday, McCain demanded the report's public release, telling reporters the use of such tactics have yet to result in any significant intelligence gains for the United States. 

“We did not get any meaningful information unclassified, we did not get any meaningful information by torturing people,” according to McCain. 

His comments Tuesday and the subsequent release of Thursday's letter coincides with the committee's pending vote on whether to release the report's findings to the American public. 

While the Senate panel plans to approve the report this week to conclude a three-year inquiry, that does not mean it will be made public. The Senate approval will trigger a review by the White House, intelligence community and lawmakers over what should be unclassified.

Human-rights groups have increased their calls for the report's release in light of Thursday's coming vote, spurred on by the renewed focus on the issue in the upcoming film "Zero Dark Thirty."

Based on U.S. manhunt for slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the movie features scenes of American military and intelligence officials using controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, as part of the U.S. effort to find the infamous terrorist chieftain.