Nel's New Day

December 9, 2014

Senate Releases CIA Torture Report

Today’s big news was the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s $50 million investigation into Bush-era CIA interrogation tactics on detainees after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The long-delayed report isn’t even the final result, but instead a redacted 525-page summary of the complete 6,300 pages. The study was first commissioned in March 2009 with Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). GOP panel members withdrew a few months after it was commissioned. Bond failed to run for re-election in 2010. Without participating in the study, all the GOP members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have released their dissenting report without studying the CIA classified materials.

Secretary of State John Kerry surely knew how bad the results would be when he asked the committee chair, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to “consider” the timing “because a lot is going on in the world, and he wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The factors “include our ongoing efforts against ISIL and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” according to Psaki. The same conservatives who claimed that Michael Brown deserved to be shot because he should have known he was doing something wrong are now claiming that the United States should hide all its wrongdoings.

Feinstein summarized four key findings of the report on the Bush/Cheney “enhanced interrogation techniques”(EITs), the CIA euphemism for torture:

  1. The CIA’s EITs were not effective.
  2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
  3. The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
  4. The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.

Beyond a condemnation of the brutal methods, banned by Obama in 2009 and repudiated by the three most recent CIA directors, the report showed that the methods also failed to find life-saving intelligence. At the same time the CIA lied about the program to White House officials, the Justice Department, and the congressional oversight committees.

Some of the report’s revelations:

The EITs killed some detainees: For example, one detainee died from suspected hypothermia after chained partially nude to a cement floor. CIA’s leadership said they had little knowledge about EITs at that detention site. The CIA inspector general admitted that there was wrongdoing, but no one was punished.

The EITs were far more brutal than previously revealed: Detainees suffered from hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and self-mutilation. Abu Zubaydah, a high-value al Qaeda suspect, became totally unresponsive after waterboarding with “bubbles rising through his open full mouth.” Others were subjected to forced “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” even with no medical need. 

Waterboarding was used with other harsh EITs: Other practices included extended exposure to cold temperatures, slapping, and sleep deprivation of up to 180 hours—usually standing or in painful stress positions such as hands shackled above the detainees’ heads. And even worse.

EITs were not effective in obtaining information or cooperation from detainees: Seven of 39 detainees subject to these experiences produced no intelligence, and others had provided significant, accurate intelligence before, or without having been, tortured.

The CIA lied about the EITs’ effectiveness: CIA officials claimed that their “interrogation” led to Osama bin Laden, but Senate investigators reported that the information came from a detainee in foreign custody before he was tortured. While lying about the EITS’ “saving lives” from thwarted terrorist plots, the CIA rejected information that was not obtained through torture. [The CIA later lied about not hacking into congressional computers, later admitting that the agency had spied on the process of the torture study as well as destroying dozens of videotapes after the beginning of the study.]

Inexperienced contract psychologists devised the EITs: James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the psychologists who had created the operation, assessments, and management of the program, had only prior experience in coping with torture. Although they had no experience as interrogators or specialized knowledge of al Qaeda, counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise, they received $80 million out of $180 million contract before President Obama shut it down in 2009. According to the report, “By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.”

Non-suspects also suffered from EITs: Of 119 known detainees, at least 26 did not meet the detention standard, including an “intellectually challenged” man who was detained to force family members to provide information. Two others were intelligence sources for foreign liaison services and were former CIA sources, and two others were considered to have al Qaeda connections because another detainee suffering the CIA’s EITs made up the information. Even after the CIA determined that they did not meet the standards of suspect, the CIA kept them in custody for months. Records were also insufficient to justify other detainees’ detentions.

One GOP member of Congress who praised the release of the report is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), possibly the only person in that legislative body who has experienced military torture. Declaring that the people of the United States have the right to know what has been done under the pretense of protecting them, he said on the floor of the Senate:

“They must know when the values that define our nation are intentionally disregarded by our security policies, even those policies that are conducted in secret. They must be able to make informed judgments about whether those policies and the personnel who supported them were justified in compromising our values; whether they served a greater good; or whether, as I believe, they stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good.”

Speaking from personal experience, McCain said:

“The abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.

“Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored.”

Jose Rodriguez, a top CIA operations officer who ran the EIT program, claimed that critical Democratic lawmakers were fully briefed about what many people call torture. He wrote, “In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers urged us to do everything possible to prevent another attack on our soil.” Feinstein disagreed, saying that the CIA mischaracterized the EITs that she referred to on the Senate floor in March as “chilling,” ”brutal” and “un-American.” Other senators also refused Rodriguez’s claim.

Outraged, the right-wing swears that the report is wrong although they lack any information to support their beliefs. They believe that even if the information were correct, the United States should never reveal how wrong it has been in its torturing of detainees. People gave up their privacy for what they perceive as safety, and now conservatives want to bury the truth for the same reason.

A group of highly religious people who will control the Congress in less than a month need to check their moral compass. They need to question their belief that the country’s illegal and unethical actions should not have consequences.

As Kevin Drum wrote:

“[A]ll it will take for torture to become official policy yet again is (a) secrecy and (b) another horrific attack that can be exploited by whoever happens to be in power at the moment. And while there may not be a lot we can about (b), we can at least try to force the public to recognize the full nature of the brutality that we descended to after 9/11. That might lower the odds a little bit, and that’s why this report needs to be released. It’s not just because it would be the right thing to do. It’s because, in the long run, if it really does reduce the chances of America adopting a policy of mass torture again in the future, it will save American lives.”

People who expect individuals to admit their wrongdoing need to expect the same of the United States government.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hard to click on “Like” for this one.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — December 10, 2014 @ 12:36 AM | Reply


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