The Only Way We'll Really Learn About The CIA's Torture Program Is If Someone Leaks The Report

from the it'll-happen-eventually dept

Last week, we noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee had voted to declassify a small part of its $40 million, 6,300-page report that apparently details how the CIA's torture program exceeded granted authorities, was totally useless in gathering intelligence, and resulted in the CIA lying to Congress. Of course, even with the declassification vote, it's only been agreed to declassify the 480-page executive summary and major findings, leaving the vast majority of the paper in secret. Furthermore, that executive summary is now going to go through months of an intensive "declassification process," which appears to involve letting the CIA itself take giant black markers to redact all the bits it doesn't like.

As we mentioned last week, VP Joe Biden himself had argued for releasing the document by highlighting the importance of being open and admitting to the horrific mistakes that were made:
“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.”
Except that's not what's happening. We're not going to get true acknowledgement of what happened in a straightforward way. We're not going to have real openness about it. We're going to have a tiny portion of a report that is redacted by the very organization accused of potential crimes against humanity and then covering it up. And that's why folks like Trevor Timm are arguing that if we're ever going to truly confront what our own nation did, someone needs to leak the entire report. Yes, there have been a variety of leaks about what's in the report to the press, but without the full story we can't, as Biden himself has said, "acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward."
It's possible the only way the public will ever get to see the entire landmark report is the same way we've learned everything we know about it: if someone leaks it.

Leaks have been critical to the public knowledge of Bush-era torture since the first hints of Abu Ghraib, and as longtime torture investigator Katherine Hawkins noted, "The Senate report would likely never have existed ... if it were not for previous investigations by journalists and non-governmental organizations."
Of course, leaking such a report would likely then lead to yet another round of President Obama's war on whistleblowers, in which administration officials go around reminding everyone that leaks are akin to terrorism, and leakers get charged under the Espionage Act, which was designed to be used against spies selling us out to foreign governments, not whistleblowers informing the public.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Apr 2014 @ 3:28pm

    That would be the 'good' posibility actually

    Of course, leaking such a report would likely then lead to yet another round of President Obama's war on whistleblowers...

    Given we're talking about a report detailing the CIA's torture program, it would likely get whoever leaked it killed(completely by 'accident' of course /s), so should it happen, whoever manages to pull it off will have proven themselves to be brave and a true US patriot to an extent rarely seen.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Apr 2014 @ 3:29pm

      Re: That would be the 'good' posibility actually

      To clarify, the 'good possibility' is if they only found themselves in the legal meat-grinder, like other whistleblowers have found themselves after exposing government abuses.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:08pm

      Re: That would be the 'good' posibility actually

      Taking bets some of the report covers plans to murder Edward Snowden (backtracked due to the obvious publicity even 'an accident' would cause).....

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

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 7 Apr 2014 @ 3:56pm

    Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

    Not only is it horrific to contemplate that Americans in positions of authority authorized and/or committed crimes against humanity and tortured helpless human beings to death, but this has serious negative repercussions for American troops in the field.

    First, American troops are sporadically engaged in combat with soldiers from other countries -- whether in a declared or undeclared war, or a so-called "police action", or something else. One of the things that has often brought those combat situations to a peaceful end is the surrender of those fighting against the Americans. And one of the reasons those surrenders occured is that Americans could and would promise those surrendering that they would not be killed or otherwise harmed: that they would be treated humanely. That was a promise that American commanders very often worked hard to keep, even over the objections of their own soldiers and their emotions, running high in the heat of battle.

    But no American soldier can promise that any more. And no opposing soldier can believe it. There is every possibility that a peacefully-surrendering individual will be "disappeared" into one of the CIA's gulags and repeatedly tortured, perhaps to death.

    So why should they surrender? Even if they're surrounded, outnumbered, and in a militarily hopless situation, why should they give up? Why not fight it out and try to take a few more Americans with them?

    The CIA's torture program has removed one of the primary reasons for considering surrender as a viable option and thus ensures that more American soldiers will die, fighting protracted battles that need not have been fought by anyone.

    Second, American soldiers are occasionally captured by adversaries. And while some of them have been treated brutally, many have been accorded the rights guaranteed to them under international law by countries who observed the Geneva Conventions because the United States did the same. In other words, those countries treated American prisoners of-war humanely because they wished the same for their own, and they had good reason to believe the United States would obey the law.

    But the CIA has broken that tenuous trust. They've tortured people to death. And as a result, there is now far less reason for adversaries to treat American prisoners properly: why should they? Which means that captured American soldiers in the field now face substantially higher personal risk than they did previously.

    This may not be fixable. I don't know. But if there is any possibility of fixing it, surely it lies along a path that includes the full disclosure of the entire report and every accompanying document. It will be ugly. It will be painful. It will be horrifying. But I think it's the only possible way and I think we, as a nation, owe it to the soldiers we put in harm's way.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:11pm

      Re: Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

      Oh it is easy enough to fully fix it but they wouldn't even consider it. Bring the hammer down on them hard. If they were to operate a complete and utter purge by prosecuting everyone responsible and pushing for life in prison or execution. Hard to say they're not serious when they start executing their own agents for murder for those they torture to death. But that would mean reforms and they simply couldn't have that.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:10pm

        Re: Re: Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

        Have to be quick about it. The CIA has murdered quite a few Pentagon officials before the number of 'enemies' they faced was too large.

        CIA strategy #1..kill them as individuals before they group up

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:55pm

      Re: Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

      Rich Kulawiec has laid out the exact reason why the Geneva Conventions exist. In the same post he lays out the condemnation of the US over war crimes and the reason why no one really wants this info out that was involved in it. Were I a soldier in today's military I'd be seriously considering how not to be captured. Opposing countries have been freed of the Conventions by the acts of the US itself.

      A coming clean and a purge are the only way the US will at this point redeem itself in the eyes of it's own citizens much less any potential enemies. Were the US to go back to honoring the Conventions tomorrow, no country could continue to believe the US will honor it's commitment to POWs by its past acts it has already done. It's reputation is already beyond repair until it does a public cleansing.

      Even more disturbing is that it is very evident that the government as well as it's security branches view the public as the enemy. Secret lists such as the no-fly list you can't get off of, much less be told you are on it, the whole sale spying on all electronic communications by it's citizens in the name of prevent terrorism while not being able to actually produce any real, honest to goodness terrorist for all the money and effort spent, secret courts giving out secret rulings, expecting citizens to obey them without knowledge of what they are. Nor does it stop here.

      So the real issue comes down to if they see these torture methods as a reason to secure information from the enemy, how long is it before this is turned on it's own citizens? The average citizen is now very unhappy with their government. According to an article I read somewhere today, they are paying more in taxes than they spend for basic necessities.

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

    • identicon
      Loki, 7 Apr 2014 @ 6:43pm

      Re: Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

      Well except for the fact that the Pentagon, like all other agencies of the federal government, has slowly been weeding out leadership that actually cares about the commoners. As long as it keeps conflict going, and thereby ensuring tons of military funding, the health and welfare of soldiers seems totally unimportant to the government (as long as the number don't become too excessive to upset too many people). Just look at how many military people are commiting suicide.

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

      • icon
        GEMont (profile), 10 Apr 2014 @ 1:19am

        Re: Re: Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

        22 suicides a day and counting.

        Perhaps the military has finally decided to use the Cheney Program. Dick always said that the only good soldier was one who died as soon as he was no longer needed on the battlefield, since you don't have to pay dead soldiers.

        Of course, Donkey Dick's plan included depleted uranium ammunition as a means to kill the veterans soon after returning home (with a bonus for doctors to cash in on the cancers before the vets died), but it seems the new Fed has come up with a nifty drug cocktail that includes all of those drugs you hear about on TV that warn about the side-effect of "thoughts of suicide"...

        When it comes to killing Americans, nobody is better than the US Fed.

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

    • identicon
      boomslang, 8 Apr 2014 @ 5:39am

      Re: Why the Pentagon should demand the release of the CIA torture report

      "This may not be fixable. I don't know. But if there is any possibility of fixing it, surely it lies along a path that includes the full disclosure of the entire report and every accompanying document. It will be ugly. It will be painful. It will be horrifying. But I think it's the only possible way and I think we, as a nation, owe it to the soldiers we put in harm's way."

      I'd vote that to be the insightful comment of the year. It's easy to get bogged down in rants about politicians, etc, but, the US should not publicly release the report because it will give people ammo to bash on Bush and Yoo and the CIA.

      The US should publicly release the report because the truth will ultimately be better for the men and women we put in harm's way.

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

  • identicon
    zip, 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:09pm

    The report itself is likely to be a huge whitewash anyway, not unlike the '911' report. The most damning evidence, the torture videos, were destroyed under presidential order. Not a single person has yet had to face justice for this blatant violation of International Law, and the groundwork has been set to ensure that none ever will.

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

  • identicon
    David, 7 Apr 2014 @ 10:52pm

    Nuremberg trials

    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.”

    Well, we get the report after the CIA redacts it. That's sort of like the Nuremberg trials with the Gestapo getting vetoing rights.

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

  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 8 Apr 2014 @ 7:35am

    How Good Is The Report As It Stands?

    The "gold standard" for this kind of report is the Army's Peers Commission report back in 1970, concerning the massacre at My Lai in 1968. The report publicly names twenty-eight army officers, from Lieutenant Calley up to Major-General Koster, and charges each with a list of definite crimes, ranging from first-degree murder to "accessory after the fact" or conspiracy, and, of course, perjury before the Peers Commission (*). If the Torture report does not produce large numbers of indictable "informations," it will be a cover-up.

    (*) The officers did a lot of lying before being told that General Peers already knew about it, from other sources, so they might as well come across with the truth.

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

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 8 Apr 2014 @ 8:12am

    "come to it's milk"

    Does this phrase make sense?

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 8 Apr 2014 @ 9:44am

    Let's hope Snowden has a copy of the report.

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

  • identicon
    Maysonic Writes, 8 Apr 2014 @ 12:05pm

    Why don't any of the Senators have the guts to read it into the record? Such as this is what Constitutional immunity is for, no?

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

  • identicon
    Elisa N susie, 8 Apr 2014 @ 3:26pm

    WHO DID THE CIA KILLED THIS TIME???

    WHY IS NOBODY REPORTING THIS????
    *** WHO is he?

    A senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide this week from injuries sustained after jumping off a building in northern Virginia, according to sources close to the CIA.

    CIA spokesman Christopher White confirmed the death and said the incident did not take place at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.

    “We can confirm that there was an individual fatally injured at a facility where agency work is done,” White told the Washington Free Beacon. “He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to privacy reasons and out of respect for the family, we are not releasing additional information at this time.”

    A source close to the agency said the man who died was a middle manager and the incident occurred after the man jumped from the fifth floor of a building in Fairfax County.

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 10 Apr 2014 @ 1:23am

    The Complete Text of the CIA's Torture Program Report

    REDACTED

    The REDACTED

    REDACTED

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2014 @ 5:17pm

    We can confirm that there was an individual fatally injured at a facility where agency work is done,' White said. 'He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to privacy reasons and out of respect for the family, we are not releasing additional information at this time.'

    - translation: We can confirm that ANOTHER GOD-DAMNED WHISTLEBLOWER was fatally injured at a facility where Comcast and Verizon's fiber network goes into our servers,' White said. '(After we made sure there was zero chance of recovery by waiting for 30minutes) He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to not wanting to go to prison reasons and out of respect for not having to also murder the family (to shut them the hell up), we are not releasing additional information at this time.'

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

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