White House Finishes Review Of CIA Terror Report: Feinstein Wants To Know Why It's Basically All Blacked Out

from the let's-try-this-again dept

We’ve been joking the last few weeks about how everyone was waiting for the White House to dump buckets of black ink on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. As we’d noted, for reasons that still don’t make any sense, the CIA was given first crack at redacting the 480 page declassified executive summary of the 6,300 page, $40 million Senate Intelligence report into the CIA’s torture program. Once the CIA was done with it, it was handed over to the White House to exhaust reserve stores of black ink.

And that appears to be exactly what happened. Late Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that the White House had returned the executive summary, but she’s a bit overwhelmed by all the black ink and is holding off releasing the document until her staff can look into why there were so many redactions:

The committee this afternoon received the redacted executive summary of our study on the CIA detention and interrogation program.

A preliminary review of the report indicates there have been significant redactions. We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification.

Therefore the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.

At least Feinstein didn’t just rubber stamp the redactions. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been pushing to release this report for over a year now, and it’s been clear that the CIA/White House was going to fight them on it somewhat.

Given the most recent revelations about the CIA’s attempt to spy on the Senate and to lie and mislead the Senate and the public about all of this, it seems like we shouldn’t take their word for any of this. One hopes that the Senate pushes back strongly on bogus redactions. Or, better yet, that the Senate Intelligence Committee just overrides the White House and releases it themselves. Or, you know, that someone decides to just leak the damn thing already…

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Comments on “White House Finishes Review Of CIA Terror Report: Feinstein Wants To Know Why It's Basically All Blacked Out”

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46 Comments
OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Because it works

Companies do this (that curve!) because it works.

Spending on politics yields protection from new business-killing laws, new laws that hurt competitors, and special tax and regulation advantages.

Once your competitors start doing it, you have to do it too to keep up, or be killed by new legislation inspired by your competitors.

The problem is NOT that politicians are venal. They have always been greedy, and always will be.

The problem is that Congress has the power to pick winners and losers, to pass arbitrary regulations without any justification, and to give tax breaks to anyone they feel like for any reason at all.

Congress has too much power, and power corrupts.

The only solution is to limit the kind of laws Congress can pass, and to provide a mechanism for constitutional review of laws that are unfair, biased, or play favorites.

The courts have traditionally deferred to the legislature, saying that if a majority of the legislature things a law is in the public interest, then it must be so.

That needs to change.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Because it works

The only solution is to limit the kind of laws Congress can pass

Uh, that’s the Constitution. The First Amendment even starts with “Congress Shall Make no Law”.

But as long as nobody steps up and stands in for his Constitution, obviously Congress can make any law it wants to.

Benjamin Franklin called the just established political system of the U.S.A. “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

But these days, keeping it is Somebody Else’s Problem.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Because it works

Agreed.

But a large part of the reason the Constitution is no longer respected is because the courts have been AWOL.

Their job, under the Constitution, is to say “no” to the other branches of government when they attempt to exceed their constitutional powers.

And that is exactly what the courts have refused to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Because it works

The problem is the influence of corporate money in politics. Getting the corporate money out of politics is especially difficult now due to Citizens United, however there is still a way to counter that influence and that is to limit the ability to use the money spent by corporations on politics by placing time limits on the campaign process. If we placed strict rules that limited political campaigns to 6 months prior to an election and forced politicians to surrender unspent campaign contributions to causes like reducing the national debt, paying back money taken from social security, etc. then the playing field for candidates with less backing to run against those with corporate backing would be leveled as time would limit the ability for corporate backed candidate to effectively spend the massive amounts of corporate money they currently receive. This could also force elected officials to spend more time focusing on problems that need to be addressed instead of working on their re-election campaigns.

That One Guy (profile) says:

I really hope that ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ is political fakery, where they want to say one thing, but, due to having to be ‘politically polite'(where you can gut the opposition, as long as you use nice words to do it), they instead go with a more ‘laid back’ response.

The idea that anyone would be surprised that every last shred of potentially incriminating information would be gutted, after both the CIA, who the report is about, and the WH, who likely shares a good portion of the guilt/blame for ordering and okaying what was done, got through with it, is just beyond comprehension.

Really, someone that clueless would have Darwin’d themselves long before they could make it into politics, or even adulthood.

Here’s hoping the Senate responds by releasing the unredacted copy of the document, if not because that needs to happen, then to show the other parts of the government what happens when they go overboard with the black marker trying to hide their crimes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You forgot “embarrassing information”. They’ll be trying to redact as much of that as they can, even if it isn’t also incriminating.

Anyways, ideally at this point they would release the redacted version, then a few days later opt to release the unredacted version using public criticism of the redactions as justification. That way not only would we get the full report, but we’d see specifically what the White House and the CIA had hoped to hide.

Easily Amused (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, they could release the doctored version now, but knowing Feinstein the situation is really that the White House wants to release an essentially neutered document, and Diane wants to release a suitably damning (but not enough to get anyone fired or prosecuted) version. If they release it now and the overwhelming majority yell for a full release they may not be able to tailor the outrage as they wish.

jimb (profile) says:

After the CIA and the White House redacted it...

The only thing left are words like “the” and “are”. And, of course, “terrorists”. Because along with everything that could possible give “the terrorists” any clue at all to what we know about what they are doing (hint, little enough that isn’t already obvious) both parties needed to redact everything that might lead to the embarrasing conclusion that neither the CIA nor the White House has a clue what they are doing about “the terrorists” besides blowing up everything that sort of looks like “a terrorist” from a drone. Political expediency and preventing political embarassment are the primary factors at work guiding this redaction exercise. Perhaps Feinstein will find (with both hands…?) the political courage to ‘leak’ the unredacted version. A shame it doesn’t slip out somehow, anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You misunderstood the report. In an effort to save paper the government has decided to print extra extra small.
Resultantly the text bunches up together so much that it just appears all black. That’s really a hundred pages worth of print in font size 12 compressed into one page that only looks black because the resultant font size is way way too small to be seen.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

See, it went like this...

First the CIA blacked out the parts that were embarrassing to the CIA. They didn’t care about the other parts, “Let them worry about it.”

Then it went to the White House and was reviewed by State, which blacked out everything embarrassing to State. They didn’t care about the other parts, “Let them worry about it.”

Then it was reviewed by DOJ, which blacked out everything embarrassing to DOJ. Etc.

Then it was reviewed by DHS. Ditto.

Then it was reviewed by the president’s staff, which blacked out everything embarrassing to presidents (current and former). After they were done, nothing was left.

After all, that’s what happens when all the authors of a debacle get to censor the report of the debacle.

Jim Anderson (profile) says:

What is redacted and why

Information is redacted when it will adversely affect ongoing operations of US intelligence organizations. The most likely reason for all the redactions is that the torture continues and perhaps has been increased just as the violations of privacy have. Don’t ever forget what was done to Manning and it was done in the open for all the world to see.

Anonymous Coward says:

R̶͏̯̮̟ḙ̶̱̙̬͜͜d̫̜͔̘͍a͔͖̣͉͈̙͢͡ͅć̮̻̥͓̭͠t̸҉͔̜̙̯͓͍͔̻͝i̜̺͙̰͡͞o̢͍̪͠ņ̵͔́’͇͉̥̹͇̬͈̳͜s̟̪̝̭͍̟̕ ̺̥̘̞͉͍́͢à͕̤ͅr̼̲̭̲͇̫̙ḛ̗͙̤̰̬͝ ̡̹̦̹̞̬̱͢ĺ̼̘͈͔̫̪͚͖͝i̢͖͇̹͢͢k͎̖̮͠ẹ͓̘̮̤̭ ͓̲͚͔͚̲t͓̭̭h̰̳͉̟ẹ͇̩̼͕̝̠̞͎͘͟ ̫̮͚m̷͠͏͉̥ͅa҉̴̯̙͍̟t̢͏͙̮̖̺͖͖̯ͅr̛̭̬͍͈̯̘̯͎͟i͏͔̜̘x̸̖̙̱̬̩̜̻́ ̵̺̦̮͙̠͝,̨̛͙̖ ̧̼̘́͞ͅi͈͈̮̤̣͞t̻͚͠ ̸̨͕̫̟̟̟̰̝̥̤͠ḥ̨̧̘̬̲̭͠ạ͕͓̪͕̘͔̗s̷̡̙͇̹̫͕̀ ̢̻̫̺͔̩͎y͏̴̹̗̤͔̠͖͕͔͚o͈u̸̢̙̼̝̪̹̟͝ͅ ̵̨͏͎̝̲b̢̯̝̗̲̥̙u̶̼̮̮͈͚͘t̛̪̲̙͕̭̩ ̥̺͇̩̣͎̗̤͠ỵ̸̨o̘̞̲͖̙͟ụ̳̻̣͢’̵̤̞̳̯ḏ̸͙͕̗̬͎̹̲ ̢̡҉͍̪̜͖n̡̛̼͙̘̝͔̠e̸̶̹̗͇̯̻̻̙̜͠v̱͎ͅe͈͙͢͞r̘͈̫̩̩͠ ̭̼̳̙͈̫k̺̼n̳̱͘ơ̛̖̤̱w̷͕̰̯̤͚̹̤̕ͅ.̴̢̲͔͈͙̹̺̺͘

DB (profile) says:

I’m watching to see how all of this turns out.

Remember that the legislative staffers were threatened with criminal prosecution. The CIA brought in the DOJ investigators earlier this year.

That might have more of an effect than most people give credit to.

I was once threatened with prosecution because I didn’t go along with another department’s plan: the commercialization office wanted to license something that had been planned and funded as freely available. They referred the issue to the agency IG’s office, claiming it was an export violation.

There were lots of political tussles that I’ve long since forgiven (and mostly forgotten), but not that one.

However far-fetched the theory, an explicit threat of being sent to prison for doing your job well isn’t taken well. The senate staffers, who do most of the internal work and thus make most of the decisions, are going to be taking the Torture Report black-outs personally. Especially since it appears that nothing is going to be done about the CIA people that monitored and spied on them, and then denied that they did so.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What sort of things could angry staffers do and what would the impact usually be?

Quite a bit, actually. I think people underestimate just how much any sort of high-level leader relies on their staff for decision making. A member of congress naturally has a ton of issues on their plate and they rely on their staff to give them advice on the best course of action. Most of the time, unless the advice is way off, the congressperson is going to follow it.

Likewise, top-level leaders tend to be very protective of their staff. Feinstein was most likely legitimately angry when the CIA hacked her staffer’s computers. Now those same staffers have a strong reason to dislike the people doing the redaction, and you put them in the same room with someone who’s already angry on their behalf…

These guys probably won’t even have to try very hard to convince her it’s in the nation’s (and her career’s) best interest to blow this thing as open as she can. And when it comes to rejecting the redactions, she’s not going to be reading it and analyzing it herself…her staff is going to be going through it line-by-line and playing each change off the letter of the law for classified information.

Trust me, anyone who’s worked on a government staff learns how to “lawyer” really fast, and they get extremely good at playing the rules. While it’s certainly possible that their influence may be low, in all likelihood they’ve been waiting for this.

It’ll be interesting to see how it works out.

DogBreath says:

Least Untruthful Press release from the future...

Following the rule of the 3Ds = Defend, Deflect, Deny:

In other news, the CIA and White House are refuting Senator Dianne Feinstein’s allegation of excessive blacking out on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. Explaining that, “No one else (in the White House or CIA) is having any problem reading the report (the unredacted one, of course). Old people frequently have poor eyesight and she should see her optometrist. If she still has a problem with blacking out, perhaps she should stop drinking alcohol altogether. We have released the report (but not before we blacked out practically the entire thing) to Senator Feinstein, and it is she who is refusing to release the (blacked out released) report.”

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
Mark Twain

Updated:

“Never pick a fight with governments who buy toner by the ton.”
DogBreath (2014)

Digger says:

Release the full unedited report...

We’ll determine who or what is wrong, and charge the people accordingly.

Those assholes who tortured folks? I’m thinking old testament here – give them 10x the treatment they dished out and covered up, every stinking person that was involved with either the torture, covering it up and saying “it’s okay”.

Once we’ve cleared out the entire Executive branch with the entire CIA and NSA staff, we can start fresh with real people who actually understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights and will actually uphold their oaths to uphold and protect each.

9/11 did NOT change the constitution or bill of rights, period.

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