Senate Wraps up Investigation of CIA Rights Abuses but You’ll Likely Never See it (Currier)

Cora Currier writes at ProPublica

A Senate committee is close to putting the final stamp on a massive report on the CIA’s detention, interrogation and rendition of terror suspects. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Select Committee on Intelligence, called the roughly 6,000-page report “the most definitive review of this CIA program to be conducted.”

But it’s unclear how much, if any, of the review you might get to read.

The committee first needs to vote to endorse the report. There will be a vote next week.

Republicans, who are a minority on the committee, have been boycotting the investigation since the summer of 2009. They pulled back their cooperation after the Justice Department began a separate investigation into the CIA interrogations. Republicans have criticized that inquiry, arguing that the interrogations had been authorized by President George W. Bush’s Justice Department.  (In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the investigation was being closed without bringing any criminal charges.)

Even if the report is approved next week, it won’t be made public then, if at all. Decisions on declassification will come at “a later time,” Feinstein said.

According to Reuters, the Senate report focuses on whether so-called “enhanced interrogation” tactics – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other techniques – actually led to critical intelligence breakthroughs. Reuters reported earlier this year that the investigation “was expected to find little evidence” that the torture was in fact crucial.

Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and others have repeatedly said that such tactics produced important information. They’ve also said waterboarding was used on only a handful of high-level detainees, a claim which recently came into question. Feinstein has previously disputed claims that such interrogations led to Osama Bin Laden. (It is also still unclearwhat key members of Congress knew about the program, and when they knew it.)

Much about the CIA’s program to detain and interrogate terror suspects has remained officially secret, despite widespread reporting and acknowledgement by Bush.  Obama banned torture upon taking office and released documents related to program, including a critical report from the CIA’s Inspector General.

But the Obama administration has argued in courts that details about the CIA program are still classified. (As we have reported, this has led the administration to claim in some cases that Guantanamo detainees’ own accounts of their imprisonment are classified.)

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9 Responses

  1. Watched a “Law and Order” rerun yesterday in which McCoy put on trial one of the Bush lawyers who wrote the torture memos and charged him with conspiracy to commit murder based on a detainee who died. (He was in New York when he wrote the memo.) Many compelling and moving arguments by ADA Cutter. Ending was classic; just as jury is coming in with verdict a US Marshall comes in with order from US DOJ shutting down the trial.

  2. This is precisely the sort of report that NEEDS to be leaked. Keeping our dirty laundry hidden from the US public, and the world, is not going to keep our interests any safer. Everybody already assumes the worst, however inflammatory the details.

    Better yet, making it public without a leak would go far to show the US really does have a capacity for exceptionalism, at the very least in terms of being responsible for its actions.

    • Your ‘dirty laundry’ is not hidden – we ( the rest of the world) are very well aware of the crimes committed by the US – unfortunately there still are people experiencing those criminal acts.
      Taking responsibility for those actions and punishing those responsible would not demonstrate a ‘US capacity for exceptionalism’ – but perhaps a well overdue rejection of that very flawed premise.

      • The deal is that the first step to recovery and progress is acknowledgement, which the US govt and its agents have never done. What you’ve heard is transparent assertions that “enhanced interrogation” saved lies, ad nauseum. We haven’t even gotten these people to the point of honestly reflecting on whether the premise driving these practices were either effective or wise. This report struck me as the last best, albeit vain hope, of engaging in that process.

        No honest person of any real experience believes in the exceptionalism of any country or race, so that word may have belonged in quotes. And since there is no exceptionalism we know what to expect in this case. Judging from how the US govt has hedged a number of times without coming out and conceded error in the Korematsu Japanese internment case of WW II, I don’t see that happening here.

        Unless, of course, some brave soul with access and a jump-drive does the right thing and at least starts the ball rolling, knowing what is going to happen to them.

  3. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and others have repeatedly said that such tactics produced important information.

    They were right! Those interrogation tactics produced all sorts of important information: the relationship between Saddam and bin Laden, the ongoing Iraqi WMD programs, and the unimportance of the courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden. That was all very important information.

    Sure, it was bogus, but you can’t say it wasn’t important.

    Joking aside, there’s a lesson here: torture is not just useless as an intelligence-gathering technique. It is worse than useless.

    • Agreed, FWIW. Makes one wonder why it goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on….

      “The purpose of torture is torture.”
      link to

      And besides, as stuff like the Milgram and prison experiments show, it’s sort of soul-satisfying and kind of fun. Remember the pix we have seen from Abu Ghraib — the smiling blond lass doing what-everrrr to some “Hajji-or-other.”

      Save us, Jack Bauer! The Fate of the World lies in your capable hands!

  4. I am sure even the CIA would agree that the more we torture their guys, the less quarter our troops can expect when captured. And if Waterboarding is not torture, then Chinese Water Torture is not torture either, is it? One reason for torture is to make the innocent confess to anything so the captors look smart to their bosses. Same principal as police beating suspects into “confession.” Who wouldn’t confess under those circumstances. “Yes! I bombed the Hindenburg Blimp though I was not even born then.” I think our media is like doodoo to even use the words Enhanced Interrogation, like up is down and left is right if the President says so. Screw whoever made that euphemism up. At least call it torture like a man. Not a shill of the government.

  5. In 1936, the United States Supreme Court in Brown versus Mississippi held that confessions obtained via police torture violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and overturned the murder convictions and death sentences of three black men. That case was prosecuted at the trial level by John Stennis, who later became a United States senator.

    It is morally incomprehensible that anyone can be subject to torture by the federal government. By employing such a policy, America encourages foreign governments and other groups to do the same to our citizens. President Reagan and the intelligence establishment were rightly upset over the abduction by Shiite militants of Beirut CIA chief of station William Buckley, who was later tortured until he died. America loses moral standing when it engages in similar conduct.

    Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have become embarrassing episodes in our history. John McCain, formerly an inmate of the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”, has gone on record in opposition to the practice of CIA-sponsored torture. It has no place in our intelligence or military branches.

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