CIA Finishes Its Torture Report Redactions As Relations With Senate Intelligence Committee Have Become 'Strained'

from the shouldn't-they-always-be-that-way dept

As you may recall, back in April, the Senate finally voted to declassify parts of the executive summary of its $40 million, 6,300-page report on the disastrous CIA torture program. Of course, as part of that, the White House said it would let the CIA take a first crack at figuring out what to redact, with the expected answer being “a whole hell of a lot.” The CIA has apparently now turned its first draft of redactions over to the White House, which is expected to further redact things, because the State Department is afraid that releasing the report might make people angry at US officials. While that may be true, it would seem that the proper response to that would have been to, you know, not torture people, rather than to hide the report under a bunch of black ink.

Of course, there’s a separate meta-drama within all of this, which was the big fight between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee who wrote the report, after it came out that the CIA spied on the Senate staffers working on this report. That got even more messy, when the CIA then asked the DOJ to investigate those Senate staffers for possible crimes, while the Senate also asked the DOJ to investigate if the CIA had broken the law in spying on those staffers’ computers. Needless to say, there’s been something of a chill in “relations” between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In the Politico report about the CIA handing the report over to the White House, it includes a tidbit at the end, suggesting that the chilly relationship has not thawed at all:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a former Intelligence Committee chairman, said the declassification process has strained relations between the committee and the administration’s intelligence apparatus. The CIA has accused the committee of removing an internal interrogation review from its facilities — and Feinstein has charged that the CIA erred in removing that document from the committee’s computers.

“There’s a code of silence. And it stems from the redaction of this enhanced interrogation, torture report,” Rockefeller said of congressional relations with the CIA.

While the “code of silence” seems stupid and petty, frankly, it’s probably a good thing that the sides aren’t too chummy. The whole point of the Intelligence Committees in both houses of Congress is supposed to be for oversight of the intelligence community. However, in recent years that’s obviously changed into something entirely different, where those Committees seemed much more focused on being the intelligence community’s cheerleaders and defenders, rather than overseers. The relationship here should be somewhat adversarial. No one’s saying they need to hate each others’ guts, but it’s pretty clear that bad things happen when the relationship has become downright friendly.

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Comments on “CIA Finishes Its Torture Report Redactions As Relations With Senate Intelligence Committee Have Become 'Strained'”

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DannyB (profile) says:

How to properly redact things

Dear CIA,

Here is the best advice on how to redact documents.

* Export the computer documents into PDF files.
* Use a PDF tool to paint black bars over the text to obscure the parts you don’t want people to read.
* Save the modified PDFs.
* View them to ensure the redacted parts are black.
* Release the PDF documents.

This will ensure the best handling of redacted information in the best interests of the citizens of the United States.

Thank you

Michael (profile) says:

Re: How to properly redact things

For any of you that do not have a pdf tool that will allow you to modify the documents, feel free to simply draw the black bars on your monitor with a marker.

Be sure to blow on the monitor to ensure the marker is dry before emailing the document – if the marker is still wet, it may rub off on the inside of the email envelope.

Once the email has been sent, you can wipe the bars off of your monitor with a soft, dry towel and a little rubbing alcohol. You will be ready to redact another once your monitor is clean again.

Michael (profile) says:

State Department is afraid that releasing the report might make people angry at US officials

Were they expecting the report on the CIA’s torture program to give people a warm-fuzzy feeling about US officials?

Yay! The US only used a little torture!? Unless your report about the US torture program is a single line that reads “There isn’t one.”, someone is going to be a little upset about the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” also being the country that has people collected up and tortured for information. You know what could make it worse? CONTINUING TO LIE ABOUT IT AND COVER IT UP.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

A modern take on an old question

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”

It’s a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions like “Can something exist without being perceived?” “Can we assume the unobserved world functions the same as the observed world?” “What is the difference between what something is, and how it appears?”

To illustrate this in more practical terms, the Senate has produced a $40 million, 6,300-page report on the disastrous CIA torture program, and no-one is allowed to read so much as the executive summary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Words Stamped on Administration Toilet Paper

The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. — Barak Obama (2009)

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Words Stamped on Administration Toilet Paper

While it may sound nice at first, once you realize that politicians truly and honestly think that their reputations and welfare is no different than the county’s reputation and welfare, which makes anything that makes them look bad, or harms them, also make the country look bad, and harm the country, you see how empty such a statement really is.

Binko Barnes (profile) says:

Every single person who had a hand in authorizing or implementing an officially sanctioned torture program should face criminal charges. But our government officials have recently been doing a LOT of different things that are illegal and SHOULD lead to criminal charges, but don’t.

One thing that everybody in government vehemently agrees on is that it would be unwise to open the door to the prosecution option even a crack. The fear being that the prosecution of one group of government wrong-doers would start the ball rolling towards the prosecution of others.

That’s why nobody in government gets in trouble for anything any longer. It’s a form of mutually agreed protection – much like the blue wall of silence that governs the police.

Unfortunately this attitude takes us a giant step further along the path to unregulated authoritarian fascism, towards which we are certainly drifting.

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