As the fight over the redactions on the CIA torture report
continue, it's worth reminding folks how you can totally change the story with just a few well placed redactions. Director of National Intelligence has insisted that just 15%
was redacted -- though, as Marcy Wheeler points out, the part that's being declassified is just the exec summary
, which was written specifically to get around the redactor's ink, since the details are buried in the full report, which will likely remain classified for a while. In other words, the vast, vast majority of the report is still "redacted." Still, even a 15% redaction can do a lot of damage and hide a lot of facts. Senator Mark Udall has made it clear that the existing redactions make parts of the report "incomprehensible"
in an effort to hide embarrassing information from the public.
Reed Richardson decided to do a fairly simple demonstration to show just how much a 15% redaction can bury key points. He took President Obama's statement about how "we tortured some folks"
and redacted "just 15%" of it
(though such that if you look closely, you can see what's covered). Notice how the key elements -- the admission of torture -- simply fade away...
Richardson told me the whole exercise took less than 10 minutes, demonstrating just how easy it is to distort a report based on a few strategic redactions.