Part Of CIA Torture Report May Finally Be Released Next Week, As More Details Leak

from the it's-a-start dept

Jason Leopold has a big article at Vice detailing some more of what's in the Senate Intelligence Committee's CIA torture report, but the bigger news is that the long fought over, somewhat redacted executive summary may be released next week:
... the Senate committee is hoping to release its report as early as next week, when the US sends a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland where it will submit a report on compliance with the International Convention Against Torture. The release of the executive summary would be an effort to show "some form of accountability," one person familiar with the declassification negotiations said.
Of course, it also notes that the fight over redacting pseudonyms still isn't settled, and that may muck things up. And, really, why wouldn't the CIA keep pushing back? Now that the GOP has won the Senate, it knows that if it can just stall until January, the whole report may get buried.

As for the other leaks about the report, many of them confirm what had previously leaked about the report, but also go deeper into each of those areas. For example, earlier leaks had already talked about how the torture techniques used by the CIA went beyond what was approved, how the CIA tortured more people than previously admitted (and then hid those details), and then lied to Congress claiming that the torture was effective when it was not. Leopold has some more details about all of those, including how the CIA is responding to and challenging some of those findings.

However, Leopold also highlights a variety of ways in which the report does appear to fall short, choosing to pull punches and avoid blaming top administration officials like former Vice President Dick Cheney (despite his previous admissions that he okayed the program), and also carefully avoiding placing any blame on a high-ranking CIA official who is described as "Feinstein's boy":
Although he is identified in the Senate report, the committee did not level any criticism against Stephen Kappes, who was deputy director of the CIA while the interrogation program was up and running. Kappes allegedly played a role in covering up the death of a detainee who froze to death in 2002 at a CIA operated prison in Afghanistan called the "Salt Pit." The death of the detainee is highlighted in the Senate report.

Kappes had been Feinstein's choice to head the CIA after Barack Obama was sworn in as president in 2009. Feinstein is on record stating she would not support Panetta's nomination unless Kappes was named as his deputy, a position he served in until 2010. One former CIA official said Kappes is "Feinstein's boy," suggesting that he was spared criticism because of his close relationship with the Intelligence Committee chairwoman.
As for Cheney:
The Senate report promotes the narrative that the CIA deceived the Bush White House into permitting the agency to use the controversial interrogation techniques against certain captives. This, despite the fact that former Vice President Dick Cheney admitted in 2008 that he personally "signed off" on the waterboarding of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and two other high-value captives because he "thought that it was absolutely the right thing to do."

"This is why the SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] report is flawed and is not a full historical overview of the EIT program," said one person familiar with it. "Who in their right mind would believe that Dick Cheney does not bear any responsibility here?"
Perhaps even more troubling is that the report does not say that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were actually torture. We've questioned in the past why Senator Feinstein won't call torture "torture" and apparently that linguistic game continues in this report:
However, the Senate report does not conclude that the CIA violated any domestic or international laws prohibiting the use of torture, contradicting Feinstein's public statements. People familiar with the document say the Senate didn't even use the word "torture" to describe the techniques to which detainees were subjected.
In fact, Leopold claims that the report focuses on the "efficacy" of the torture program and doesn't even touch the questions of legality (or morality).

The report also, apparently, skips over George Tenet's leadership in the CIA, but instead focuses a lot of Michael Hayden:
The committee's executive summary, however, singles out Michael Hayden, who became CIA director in 2006 and is a staunch defender of the use of EITs. He is accused of lying to the panel during a briefing nearly a decade ago when he sought to revamp the CIA's interrogation program.

People familiar with the executive summary said the committee obtained records about Hayden's briefings and carefully reviewed what he told committee members. The report concludes that the former CIA director erroneously told the committee that there were fewer than 100 detainees held captive by the CIA when in fact that number was higher. (The committee's full report says the CIA detained 119 men). Hayden is also criticized for telling the committee that the enhanced interrogation program was "humane." The committee's report concludes that Hayden misrepresented the scope of the program and was not being truthful.
This probably explains why Hayden has been the most vocal and stringent critics of this report. He claimed that Feinstein was "too emotional" to judge the CIA's torture program, and also insisted that it was just a partisan attack.

Still, Leopold's report also highlights how the CIA and its defenders are likely to hit back on the claims about the torture program not being effective. They're going to argue that the torture was the "bad cop" aspect of a "good cop/bad cop" scheme, and the useful information came out when the "good cop" was in the room, but wouldn't have happened without the "bad cop" (i.e., the torture).
Retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who has been credited with being the architect of the CIA's enhanced interrogation program — he's bound by a non-disclosure agreement he signed with the government and does not confirm, deny, or discuss his role in the program — said that his understanding of "the purpose of the enhanced interrogation program was to get the detainee to be willing to engage with a debriefer or a targeter who was asking a question, and that it wasn't designed so that you would ask questions about actionable intelligence… while the detainee was experiencing the enhanced interrogation program."

In other words, Mitchell is saying the enhanced interrogation program was akin to a good cop, bad cop act. For example, a "bad cop" might use EITs on a detainee, then leave the room. A "good cop" might then enter the room and, without the use of any kind of force, get answers from the detainee, who had just been subjected to EITs. If the bad cop and good cop submit separate reports, it would appear on paper that the EITs were ineffective because the bad cop didn't get the answers — the good cop did.

And the Senate would have used that intel in compiling its report.

"If you could go in and read the individual pieces of intel that were written as a result of the debriefings and the interrogations, what would that look like in the database?" Mitchell says. "What that would look like is that all the actionable intelligence came from the good cop just like you would expect, and you wouldn't see a lot of actionable intelligence leading to things like capturing bin Laden coming from the enhanced interrogation program because it wasn't designed to do that."
Still, from previous leaks, even that explanation seems questionable -- as it appears that much of the useful information came from people who weren't being tortured or before they were tortured, suggesting that argument is bunk. And, even if it were true, that doesn't magically make torture right in any way (legally or morally).

Either way, all this speculation is getting ridiculous. The Senate should just release the damn report already.

Filed Under: cia, dianne feinstein, michael hayden, senate, senate intelligence committee, torture, torture report


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:33am

    No one in the CIA wants to be held responsible for their acts of Crimes Against Humanity.

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

  • identicon
    Trevor, 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:35am

    The "good cop / bad cop" explanation seems like a "what had happened" moment after someone at the CIA watched Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour marathons last weekend.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:36am

    Time to show some spine

    ... the Senate committee is hoping to release its report as early as next week, when the US sends a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland where it will submit a report on compliance with the International Convention Against Torture. The release of the executive summary would be an effort to show "some form of accountability," one person familiar with the declassification negotiations said.

    Here's hoping those involved in that are willing to show some gorram spine and declare, clearly and without doubt, that the US has failed, completely and utterly, in it's compliance with the International Convention Against Torture.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:37am

    If Mark Udall has any integrity whatsoever he can enter the FULL report - not just the exec summary - into the Senate record. Better yet he can also enter the 28 pages of the Sept 11 Commission Report that deals with foreign involvement in those attacks

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:45am

    Lets be honest, of course they should release the report, but do you really think they intend to?

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

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:49am

    Executive Summary

    ██████ CIA ███████████████ ████████ ███████████
    █████████ because ███████████████ terrorism ███
    ███████████████████████justified ██████████████
    █████████ 9/11 ███████████████ terrorism ██████
    ████████████████ bad guys █████████████████████
    ███ children!████████████████████████████and
    ██████████████████ OMG terrorism ██████████████
    █████ John Yoo ████████████████████████████████
    █a ctions██████████████ really bad guys ██████████
    █████entirely███████████ █ ███████legal.

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

    • icon
      Paul Renault (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 2:31pm

      Re: Executive Summary

      Obviously, you're not a government employee, because the redactions were done properly. ;-}

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

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 10:02pm

        Re: Re: Executive Summary

        Come on, the only message that matters is plain to see, and anything off message is redacted. It's perfect redaction:
        CIA, because terrorism 9/11 terrorism bad guys really bad guys and OMG terrorism children!
        and
        John Yoo justified actions entirely legal.
        That's exactly how the real report will be redacted, and that's all you need to know. That's all any alien terrorist peon, needs to know.

        (signed) CIA

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 11:07am

    There's no justification for torture. Without any accountability, nothing will be learned from this dark chapter in American history.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 11:16am

    the report will never see the light of day, because there's zero accountability for any high ranking officials in our government, in any or all investigations name 5 in the last 10 years that have been jailed .

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 2:15pm

      Re:

      They only went after Clinton because his 'crime' of choice was sexual in nature, had it been something 'simple' like fraud, perjury, or something like that, they wouldn't have even bothered.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 12:44pm

    There has been accountability in some administrations. Take the Clinton administration and what happened to Vince Foster.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 3:33pm

      Re:

      "There has been accountability in some administrations. Take the Clinton administration and what happened to Vince Foster."

      Wouldn't happen today.

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

  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 7 Nov 2014 @ 3:47pm

    Well, isn't that something.

    Dick Cheney thought torturing human beings to death was "the right thing to do."

    Tells you a lot about our leaders, doesn't it...

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

  • identicon
    David Bardes, 7 Nov 2014 @ 4:29pm

    Cold Cell Torture

    The "detainee who froze to death in 2002" died of "cold cell" or "induced hypothermia," torture, as named by the Bush memo's. The problem, however, is 'cold cell torture' is in use around the US and many citizens have died of hypothermia in cold cells. See http://ColdCellTorture.com

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2014 @ 5:59am

    Part Of CIA Torture Report May Finally Be Released Next Week, As More Details Leak.

    Is this a leak or an okay'd leak.

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

  • icon
    shane (profile), 8 Nov 2014 @ 12:29pm

    Shut up about it already

    You know, jumping out of a burning building and plummeting to your death isn't torture either. I'm sick and tired of the partisan witch hunt.

    If American had any allies in the Democratic party, we would be allowed to fully win wars. Then all this sneaking around trying to find out who exactly it is we need to defend ourselves from would not be necessary.

    Were any of you morons even alive when 9/11 happened?

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

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 8 Nov 2014 @ 11:19pm

      Re: Shut up about it already

      We will "Shut up about it already" when it stops and when we have made certain it never happens again.

      I was taught from the earliest age I could understand it, that torture was evil; one of the greatest evils in the world. So great that it was the worst depravity of which a movie villain could be guilty. So evil that it was the distinguishing mark of our most vile enemy regimes.

      I don't care who did what--administration, CIA, military, DOJ, whoever. I want them all in prison; until their ashes are ashes and their dust is dust.

      And with respect to this report, I want the CIA to understand that, no matter how much they think they might be able to keep the secret, it will be dragged out into the open and they will answer for their crimes. I want them to understand that this will never stop so long as anyone guilty remains alive; so long as anyone within the CIA thinks it is acceptable to commit crimes like this and then hide behind "National Security".

      I want that because I want every official down through the ages, who might dare to do the same, to understand: This shall not pass.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

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

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

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