Senate Intelligence Committee Agrees To Declassify Key Points Of CIA Torture Report

from the good-news dept

While not entirely unexpected, it's good to see that the Senate Intelligence Committee has finally voted to declassify the key parts of the massive 6,300 page report on the CIA's torture program. As we've been discussing for months, this report, which cost $40 million and has been progressing for years, has been the subject of a pretty big fight from the CIA. It was expected that the Intelligence Committee would approve declassifying the executive summary -- which itself runs 480 pages -- along with "20 findings and conclusions" from the report. It seemed clear that the Democrats on the committee would support declassification (and President Obama has supported it as well), though it was unclear if Republicans would. Yesterday, we noted that Republican Senator Susan Collins announced her support for declassification, while also directly calling the CIA's program "torture," -- something that others on the committee have been afraid to do.

What's a bit surprising is that the vote wasn't even close: 11 to 3 in favor of declassifying the report, and even the highest ranking Republican, Saxby Chambliss voted in favor of declassification, though he did so under what appears to be a bit of a protest. His statement about the vote certainly sounds like sour grapes, rather than strong support:
"Today, I voted in favor of sending a portion of this majority report to the executive branch for declassification. Despite the report’s significant errors, omissions, and assumptions—as well as a lot of cherry-picking of the facts—I want the American people to be able to see it and judge for themselves. In addition, this study has been an expensive, partisan distraction that has hindered the committee’s ability to provide oversight of current national security issues, including NSA reforms, cybersecurity, Russia, Syria, and Afghanistan. I hope we can put this behind us and focus on the national security challenges at hand.

While I agree with some of the conclusions in this report, I take strong exception to the notion that the CIA’s detention and interrogation program did not provide intelligence that was helpful in disrupting terrorist attacks or tracking down Usama bin Ladin. This claim contradicts the factual record and is just flat wrong. Intelligence was gained from detainees in the program, both before and after the application of enhanced interrogation techniques, which played an important role in disrupting terrorist plots and aided our overall counterterrorism operations over the past decade."
Another Republican on the committee, Tom Coburn also called it torture, though he insisted that the CIA did it in "good faith" and voted "present" rather than in favor of declassification.
“I agree that some of the more extreme Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) could be considered torture, and that in the future this country should not rely on such techniques. Yet, at the time, they had legal sanction. Readers of the report will make their own judgments about how they were implemented. I believe that the CIA acted imperfectly, but in good faith and under great urgency to prevent an attack from a little understood enemy that had brought devastation to our shores."
Feinstein was willing to call it "a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen" but refused to call it torture.

Of course, the "fight" is not over yet. There will certainly be a fight over how the declassification is handled and the public won't see the report for many, many months. Senator Mark Udall, who has been a big critic of the intelligence community for a while, has asked that the CIA not handle the declassification itself, knowing that it will over-classify:
"Following today’s historic vote, the president faces what I believe should be a straightforward question. He can defer declassification decisions to the CIA — which has demonstrated an inability to face the truth about this program — or pass this authority to the Director of National Intelligence or hold on to the redaction pen himself. The president needs to understand that the CIA’s clear conflict of interest here requires that the White House step in and manage this process."
Of course, throughout the past few weeks, more and more details of what's in the report have been leaked to the press (including some more leaks today, which we'll try to write about shortly)...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 1:05pm

    That's a new one

    Torture done in good faith.

    Leave it to a congress critter to think of that one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Who voted no?

    We need to make it a priority to vote them out ASAP

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Re: That's a new one

    Road to Hell, and whatnot

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 1:11pm

    Logical Conclusion

    Does this mean we will get a declassified report about the drone program 5 years into the next presidential administration?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Roger Strong (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 1:15pm

    Obviously if America's slavery were a little more recent, Saxby Chambliss would call it "enhanced employment" and would object to claims that it wasn't justified. He would label any talk about the issue "a distraction."

    Tom Coburn would call it slavery, but would insist that it was done in "good faith" to promote agriculture.

    Feinstein would be willing to call it "a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen" but would refuse to call it slavery.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    As I've said before and this article makes note of. The Intelligence Committee has the power to declassify any document to the public they see fit.

    So this business with the CIA claiming Feinstein stole classified documents is a very fine line for the CIA to walk in trying to prevent the release of these documents.

    More and more we are seeing that there is no oversight to any of these security branches beyond their own self proclaimed statements they observe oversight. The reality is that they won't allow the info out to actually empower the Oversight Committee to do its job.

    Here you see one that has taken years for any of it to be released and it hasn't been yet. It is a direct result of the CIA attempting to prevent the release of data showing just how badly they broke the laws as well as the demonstration of the glaring lack of oversight that exists at present to allow this type actions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re:

    I am not too sure, the situation is what it is only as a result of CIA wanting to fly under the radar. It seems just as likely that the historical "plausible deniability" is in agreement with the overseeing politicians.

    When something bad has happened in the past it is a good thing for politicians to be able to truthfully say they didn't know and for the CIA to not comment or deny the thing they got asked unless the question exactly matched the crime. Writing reports about it is new and it is hard for all sides to get used to do things by the book.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 7:09pm

    evidence destruction

    I'm a little surprised that they didn't delete all their notes and reports at the same time that they systematically destroyed all the torture videos -- not unlike the bodies of people who died from torture.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Shadow-Slider, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 11:29am

    Ways of getting information from someone

    To preface, if they don't have the information, this list is pointless.
    In order of effectiveness:
    First ask politely,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Second ask rudely,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Third offer a bribe,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    3b Threaten destruction of personal property
    if they don't give you the information goto
    3c destroy personal property
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Fourth threaten with imprisonment
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Fifth threaten to torture them,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Sixth threaten them with their death,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Seven threaten to imprison their family,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Eight threaten to torture their family,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Nine threaten to kill their family,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Ten imprison them,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Eleven torture the person you are asking,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Twelve imprison their family,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Thirteen torture their family in front of them,
    if they don't give you the information goto
    Fourteen kill their family front of them,

    If they don't give you the information after number ten they either don't know or won't tell you. Eleven through
    Fourteen are for sadists only and provide no useful information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Apr 9th, 2014 @ 5:39am

    Re: Ways of getting information from someone

    All of that is ineffective, Shadow-Slider

    To preface, if you have been captured and don't want to divulge information,

    First let them ask politely, then pretend you don't know the answer.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Second let them ask rudely,then pretend you don't know the answer.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Third let them offer a bribe, then pretend you don't know the answer.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    3b Let them threaten destruction of personal property, then pretend you don't know the answer.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    1.3b.i provide a plausible alternative to the truth.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    3c let them destroy personal property and repeat the lie.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Fourth Let them threaten imprisonment and repeat the lie.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Fifth let them threaten to torture you, and repeat the lie.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Sixth let them threaten you with your death, and repeat the lie.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Seven let them threaten to imprison your family, and repeat the lie. Plead for mercy and insist as often as you can that this is true. Swear by everything you can think of that it's true.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Eight let them threaten to torture your family, and repeat the lie. Plead for mercy and insist as often as you can that this is true. Swear by everything you can think of that it's true.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Nine let them threaten to kill your family, and repeat the lie. Plead for mercy and insist as often as you can that this is true. Swear by everything you can think of that it's true.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Ten let them imprison them, and repeat the lie. Plead for mercy and insist as often as you can that this is true. Swear by everything you can think of that it's true.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Eleven let them torture you, and repeat the lie. Plead for mercy and insist as often as you can that this is true. Swear by everything you can think of that it's true. Complain about how much it hurts and ask them if they're even human.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Twelve let them imprison your family, and repeat the lie. Weep piteously and insist that everything you've said is true. Plead for mercy and insist as often as you can that this is true. Swear by everything you can think of that it's true. Question the humanity of your captors and try to get them to understand what it is to be a father/mother/son, etc.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Thirteen let them torture your family in front of you,
    and repeat the lie.
    If they don't give up and let you go, goto
    Fourteen let them kill your family front of you, and repeat the lie.
    If they don't give up and let you go, after number ten they either don't know or won't tell you. Eleven through
    Fourteen are for sadists only and provide no useful information.

    FIFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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