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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

    Leave it to Marco RUBEio to make a comment like that. Also, Mr VP, does that mean you would support the same here in the US?

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:52pm

    The world already *is* angry. Nobody really trusts a single word coming from the US government.

    Disclosure will most likely do some further damage, granted, but it is the only way to regain any trust at all in the long run.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    mcinsand, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:05pm

    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?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:24pm

    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.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 7:44pm

    Re: useful idiots

    The belief the US government has "friends" is mistaken, let me quote kissinger for you:

    "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests."

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    sorrykb (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 8:17pm

    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?

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 9:31pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 4th, 2014 @ 6:52pm

    I am so in agreement with you on this

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 9:36pm

    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.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Peter (profile), Apr 4th, 2014 @ 10:39pm

    The government has arrived at a crossroad where they can either own up to what happened, clean out the rotten apples and rebuild what used to be great institutions, or continue meddling further into the quagmire they have worked themselves into.
    The State Department seems to have made their decision.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Re: useful idiots

    "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests."

    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".

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 11:07pm

    Ah, American foreign policy: it's ok to do all of the nasty stuff, as long as the world still thinks you're freedom loving "good guys".

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    David, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 11:48pm

    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.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    manny, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 12:09am

    ???

    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....

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    saulgoode (profile), Apr 5th, 2014 @ 12:17am

    "Come to its milk" is an old dairy farming phrase that means the calf has been weaned and will drink milk out of a bowl. The sooner a calf could be trained to "come to its milk", the sooner its dam (mother) could return to production.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    David, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 1:46am

    Re:

    The U.S. has repeatedly asserted that it considers itself above the World Court in the Hague and will not accept its jurisdiction.

    So no, nothing to be afraid of here. It's just another piece that will want to make sane persons route around the U.S.A.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    David, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 1:49am

    Re:

    If you hand the responsibility for cleaning out rotten apples to a bunch of worms, you should not entertain too lofty expectations.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: Re: useful idiots

    As the only 'sane' country in the Middle East at the time, it was conceivably in the US' best interest to support Israel.

    Now, however....

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:11am

    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.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:20am

    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.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:41am

    Re: Re:

    Elected worms.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 3:20am

    I have to agree with uncle Biden here. The CIA should be dragged to a heavily biased illegal court, have every single employees testicles crushed and force them to admit that they tortured babies. Sentence them to death and then intentionally botch the execution so they will suffer for hours.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Alan Wexelblat, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 4:35am

    Is the full report going out?

    I was under the impression from reading other news sources that what was being declassified was not the full report, but a 450-page "summary".

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 5:07am

    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.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 5:09am

    Of course some in the world might get upset because, after all, it would deny them insight into methods that could be taught and incorporated into their organizations engaging in more vigorous techniques than merely "Are you comfortable? What would you like for lunch? Can I call the ACLU on your behalf?"

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 6:45am

    Distraction

    why would the intelligence commitee Demonize Bush era torture I wonder?

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    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.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 8:18am

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

    "Biden .. is the democrats', version of Sarah Palin."

    What a poor comparison.

    Faux pas master is not the same as ill informed charlatan.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 8:22am

    Re: ???

    The truth?
    You can't handle the truth!

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 8:46am

    The Golden Rule

    Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. -- Jesus

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    sorrykb (profile), Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Re:

    Thank you saulgoode. Although now I'm more confused than ever, wondering who is the mama cow in this analogy.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    mariamante, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 2:23pm

    How do they know it wasn't about Benghazi, or the heroin surge coming from Afghanistan, or Venezuela, or the Mexican cartel getting guns, or any other MUCH more recent CIA scandal? I smell bs a mile away.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 5th, 2014 @ 11:05pm

    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.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    chiller, Apr 6th, 2014 @ 3:48am

    Well we sure wouldn't want to make anyone angry now would we? Too late...your silence is an admission of your guilt which...you guessed it...makes people ANGRY!

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2014 @ 5:18am

    The godamn reason to keep things open is so they DONT do things that would
    piss of the world, not have some shadow FAKE authority to do things in secret.
    Things aint perfect, and this "moral" behaviour will, KEEP, it, that way

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Apr 6th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    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.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 6th, 2014 @ 7:10pm

    Re:

    I just hope we can avoid the same path that so many nations in history have followed when they've hit this point -- deciding that if people won't trust them, then fearing them will be good enough.

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 6th, 2014 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: useful idiots

    This was the exact argument I learned in history class -- that the US' interest was that Israel was the only nation we could really work with in the area, and so they were the only way we could project power.

    Of course, there's also the little point that the US helped to create the nation.

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    Schleprock (profile), Apr 6th, 2014 @ 8:05pm

    Re: useful idiots

    America is like a person who has had a few too many divorces. You don't marry them, they just don't get the concept. Their promises are nothing and their loyalty is sorely lacking.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2014 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Re:

    time to put an embargo on the US.

    It is high time that they faced war crimes tribunals and then lets see how far "I was just following orders" gets them.

    Should get them as far as the Maximum Security Prison facility and no collecting $200.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.