Erwin Chemerinsky in the Los Angeles Times:
Torture is a federal crime, and those who authorized it and engaged in it must be criminally prosecuted. On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 499-page summary of a report that describes the brutal torture carried out by the U.S. government and its employees and agents. Such conduct is reprehensible, but it also is criminal. The only way to ensure that it does not happen again is to criminally prosecute those involved.
The Federal Torture Act states that whoever “outside the United States” commits or attempts to commit torture shall be imprisoned for not more than 20 years “and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.” The act broadly defines torture as an “act intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody or physical control.” This includes inflicting “severe mental pain or suffering,” “the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering” or “the threat of imminent death.”
Additionally, the United States is one 156 nations that have ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This is an international human-rights treaty that prohibits torture and defines torture in language almost identical to the federal criminal statute.
The report leaves no doubt that the law and treaty were violated.