State Department Official Freaks Out That Declassifying CIA Torture Report Might Make The World Angry

from the it's-not-the-declassification... dept

While the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify its $40 million, 6,300 page report detailing the CIA’s torture regime — including the facts that it went beyond what was authorized, produced no useful intelligence and then the CIA lied about it all — three members of the Committee voted against it. Senators James Risch, Dan Coats (though, who knows if he had any idea what he was voting on) and Marco Rubio all voted against declassifying, with Risch and Rubio putting out a statement claiming that the State Department didn’t want the report declassified.

The Senate Intelligence Committee today voted to send a one-sided, partisan report to the CIA and White House for declassification despite warnings from the State Department and our allies indicating that declassification of this report could endanger the lives of American diplomats and citizens overseas and jeopardize U.S. relations with other countries. Therefore, we could not support declassification of this product at this time.

This raised some eyebrows, since the Obama administration has consistently said it supported declassification, even as the CIA was fighting it. Still, it’s rare that the State Department would actively contradict the White House. However, the Daily Beast now has more details on the State Department’s desire to block the declassification:

A senior Senate aide told The Daily Beast that the Rubio-Risch statement referred to a June 2013 classified letter to senators signed by Philip Goldberg, who at the time served as the State Department’s top intelligence official. The warning was in reference to the fact that the report contains information about cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies and the existence of still-undisclosed CIA “black site” prisons in foreign countries where abuses may have occurred.

CIA facilities implicated in the report have allegedly been located in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, sparking public debate and resentment against the U.S. government in those countries. But officials and senate aides said the report contains information on several more locations.

Diplomats representing those countries, aware of their vulnerability to exposure, have been quietly meeting with administration officials and lawmakers urging them to protect the secrecy of those intelligence relationships. Many foreign governments are still angry about the disclosures of NSA spying by leaker Edward Snowden.

To be fair, the article notes that the letter from Goldberg was not cleared nor reviewed by State Department leadership. Thus, it may be seen less as “the State Department” making these comments, and more as the dude who has to deal with foreign spy agencies for the State Department. But, even so, the letter is ridiculous.

There is a semi-legitimate point that the eventual disclosure of what countries helped the CIA torture people will certainly create some troubling diplomatic situations for those countries. But that’s not the fault of the disclosure process. It’s because (1) the CIA tortured people and (2) those other countries went along with it. Don’t like that that will be disclosed? Then maybe they shouldn’t have done it in the first place.

The CIA’s torture program was a dark moment in American history and we don’t get past it by burying it — and the story of those who helped — under the rug. It needs to be out in the open. Even Vice President Joe Biden has said exactly that:

“I think the only way you excise the demons is you acknowledge, you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward,” Biden said. “The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened.”

To argue that the embarrassment of admitting that we partnered up with other countries in conducting illegal torture means we shouldn’t reveal the details at all goes against everything that we’re supposed to stand for, in being willing and able to admit our mistakes. It’s shameful that anyone at the State Department — with or without approval from leadership — would send such a letter, giving cowardly Senators extra cover for not approving the declassification of the report.

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Comments on “State Department Official Freaks Out That Declassifying CIA Torture Report Might Make The World Angry”

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39 Comments
mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

I’m still having trouble with the idea of Biden being a coherent voice. After all, he is the democrats’, version of Sarah Palin.

Seriously, though, the argument against classifying is truly disturbing. Our agencies are conducting just the sort of activities that we publicly condemn, but we have to sweep it under the rug just in case it angers someone else the way it angers us when others do it. Really?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

Moral consistency is dead, propaganda lives. If you can show that your opponents torture it doesn’t matter that you do it yourself! Show it and let the pictures speak for themself.
If they show us torturing, well they are doing exactly the same and worse is the statement to run.

Back to the USSR sounds like the correct perspective to frame these efforts in.

zip says:

useful idiots

The governments of Libya and Syria made the grave mistake of thinking that torturing “rendered” prisoners on US orders would earn them brownie points. (ditto for the countries who assisted the CIA in kidnapping them)

It’s always amazed me how so many countries will do anything the US government asks them – no matter how unsavory – in spite of the US having a long history of stabbing its “friends” in the back the moment their usefulness has ended.

Hopefully at least something good has come out of it, as now it should be common knowledge the world over that being willing tools recruited for “doing America’s dirty work” will not earn these countries any returned-favors when it’s over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: useful idiots

“I can’t figure out for the life of me how such steadfast support of Israel — a policy that Kissinger so strongly favored — could possibly be in America’s best “interest”.”

That’s because it isn’t, nor ever was. It certainly is in someones’ / something’s interest, just not America’s.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: useful idiots

“I can’t figure out for the life of me how such steadfast support of Israel — a policy that Kissinger so strongly favored — could possibly be in America’s best ‘interest’.”

You have to understand that when Kissinger said, “America”, he meant only certain “special interests” within the country.

sorrykb (profile) says:

Joe Biden

?The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened.?

I blame Joe Biden for Godwinizing this discussion before it even got started. When did he say that anyway? (I’m curious about context.)
Also curious: “come to its milk”? Is that a Bidenism, or should I know what it means?

Anonymous Coward says:

There is one simple measurement for this. If the US and the CIA did nothing wrong then no one will be mad. If on the other hand they did (and most assuredly this report is about those crimes) then there are people who need to be up in front of the World Court in the Hague over this.

They have good reason to be afraid. I truly hope it is exposed in it’s entirety before it is over and those guilty of torture are held to the justice they deserve for setting all this up. It’s not like the rules for the treatment of prisoners was just developed last year. They have been there for years and it was the government’s choice to chose to ignore it. It is time for those at fault to be called on their abuses.

David says:

Of course there will be repercussions

Blowing the whistle on the countries and institutions that cooperated when the CIA chose to torture people for fun (as there has been no documented profit and they partly started torture after already having the information they wanted) definitely will make it harder for the U.S. to elicit unthinking cooperation with disregard to consequences in future.

Which is good news since it distributes the responsibility for human rights beyond the control of the U.S. government who, in spite of being nominally subjected to a rather liberal constitution, are not to be trusted.

It’s really a good idea when allies don’t align themselves with the U.S. when they are on one of their killing sprees. They won’t learn to tell right from wrong if everybody skips along.

manny says:

???

The public is not strong enough for what their asking for. This government isn’t the problem its the no nothing idiots that the even stupider people elect in to office. The CIA is trash run by who??? What party controls the state Department. Everything from a wording to a nod comes from the top. Or the head of the Department. There’s no CIA underground army!! There’s Documents because someone said too do this. But emptying our garbage to the world??!! Your either mental or not from this country….

Anonymous Coward says:

The Senate Intelligence Committee today voted to send a one-sided, partisan report to the CIA and White House for declassification despite warnings from the State Department and our allies indicating that declassification of this report could endanger the lives of American diplomats and citizens overseas and jeopardize U.S. relations with other countries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oops, comment got lost…
While the best option is not to do things that make people angry and try to keep them secret; because secrets will eventually come out. Once the secrets start to come out, trying to keep the details secret only makes matters worse, as it looks like you are trying to deny your wrongdoings. This only make people more angry.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

They supported these programs, why the sudden shame?
If you are unwilling to face the aftermath of what you have done, perhaps you did the wrong thing.

This long term denial of bad acts committed in our name has made the fscking problem worse. The more they deny the more dangerous the world gets, when is enough enough?

Perhaps it would be better to take our lumps and stop these actions that we call out other nations for taking. To stop terrorists the government became worse terrorists against its citizens, cooler heads need to take over before some asshole pushes a button and we have a really long winter to finally silence the talk about global warming.

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