The Report: An Investigation into the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation. The 9/11 Essay Example

Following the events on September 11th, 2001, the outlook America had on counter-terror drastically changed. The CIA although having predicted the possibility of these events, but was ignored, was tasked with the mission to prevent another such attack. The guidance for completing this mission seemed to be by whatever means necessary. This lack of oversight and guidance led to the development of their “enhanced interrogation” program which was also commonly referred to as torture interrogation. 

The Report is a film that follows the lead investigator for the Senate Intelligence Committee, Daniel J. Jones, through his journey of almost a decade into the torture technics of the CIA. Throughout this time he was met time and time again by ethical decisions but remained ethically sound each time. Jones had multiple encounters with the CIA as they attempted to deter him from investigating deeper into them. Each time the CIA intervened in some way Jones was given a chance to demonstrate his ethics by remaining ethical each time. Jones was able to remain ethical during the entire investigation because of his sense of duty to deliver the investigation report and maintain national security by not allowing information to be leaked.

Jones early in the investigation removed a copy of the CIA’s internal investigation into their torture program and stored it in a senate office safe. This was a critical document that proved the CIA knew they were unethically committing torture and did not make any efforts to stop or reform the program.  This document like all documents the investigation team was working with was classified. When Jones removed this file and lied while exiting the building was an action that broke his agreement with the CIA.

The key point in examining the ethics of this action is determining the difference between illegal and unethical. One example of this is that it is illegal to jaywalk in someplace however doing it is can be ethical. Although the risks are much higher with national security, illegal action can remain ethical. Jones feared that the document would be destroyed as it was highly incriminating towards the CIA. He had made it very clear his motivations for these illegal actions were sole to maintain the integrity of his investigation and not to leak the information to the public (Ackerman, 2016). Although the actions he took were illegal and violated his agreement with the CIA they remained ethical as he had not leaked the classified file. It can even be considered that it was his duty to remove the documents once he believed there was a possibility of tampering.

Jones was targeted by the CIA because of his investigation and the internal report that he had discovered. After the CIA had discovered that Jones had access to their investigation report they pursued legal action against him to discredit and deter him. If Jones was convicted for these allegations not only would he be arrested but the years he dedicated to the report would be wasted. This was the second time that Jones was faced with the challenge of an ethical dilemma. If he were to stop the investigation and give in to the CIA’s tactics there was a possibility that he would not be condemned for these crimes. This would also ultimately lead to the end of the investigation as he was one of the few still on this team and the lead investigator. The thought of this wasted time was what drove him to the hard choice and did not back down. 

Jones following the trend of his duty to complete this investigation acted ethically overcoming the CIA’s attempt to hinder his investigation. He was backed by his boss Senator Dianne Feinstein who defended him and accused the CIA of violating the Constitution, an act both unethical and illegal. Senator Feinstein had delivered a speech to the Senate detailing the actions that Jones had taken were necessary to maintain the integrity of the file. She also highlighted the drastic measures the CIA had taken against Jones to hinder this investigation. In the months following this speech to the Senate floor, the CIA was discovered to have penetrated the investigation teams’ network, and falsely accused Jones of his illegal activity (Carlisle, 2019). If Jones had not followed his sense of duty to risk the repercussions, the investigation would have certainly been ended.

The final Action that tested Jones’ morals was the interaction he had with the New York Times about his report. This occurred during the end of the investigation when the CIA and other politicians were set on burying the report behind classifications and redactions to the point where if released it would reveal nothing. The reporter had approached Jones and ensured him that if he were able to access the report it would be published for all to see (Burnes, 2019). Jones had the opportunity to again leak classified information and remained ethically sound by waiting for the report to be declassified and released through the appropriate channels. 

The NSA leak conducted by Edward Snowden had only occurred the year before and shows the restraint Jones had when denying this journalist. This restraint was rooted in his duty to national security.  This report had been years of his life that again could be wasted if the system that he trusted failed him. The Edward Snowden leak showed how dangerous information can be if it is not declassified before being shared with the public. Jones was aware of these dangers and like his duty to investigate the CIA it was his ethical duty to maintain national security and allow the files to be declassified. 

Daniel Jones had multiple times through the length of the investigation to take the easier but unethical way out when faced with hardship. Jones was able to rise above these struggles each time and chose the ethical actions. The drive behind Jones’ decision-making process was his commitment to the duty of completing his tasks. Instead of giving up on the investigation for personal gain he continued to complete the investigation and deliver the results. He also had to protect national security and rather than leaking the report when it seemed it may never be made public, he allowed the proper channels to declassify it. At the end of the investigation into the CIA Jones had broken some laws but remained ethical the entire time. 


Ackerman, S. (2016, September 09). Inside the fight to reveal the CIA's torture secrets. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from

Burns, Scott Z., director. The Report. Amazon Studios, 2019. 

Carlisle, M. (2019, November 15). The True Story Behind Adam Driver's New Movie The Report. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from

CIA Torture Report Fast Facts. (2019, September 12). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from



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