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If The CIA Apologizes For Lying About Torture, But Doesn't Tell Anyone About The Apology, Does It Really Count?

from the 14-months-later... dept

Remember the Senate Intelligence Committee's massive CIA torture report, that details how the CIA conducted a vast program of torturing people, which had no actual benefit, and then lied to Congress (repeatedly) about it? The same report that, when the heavily redacted executive summary was released, ex-CIA officials insisted would result in attacks on America that never actually happened?

This was also the same CIA torture report that the CIA vehemently disagreed with. Even prior to the (again, heavily redacted) executive summary being released, CIA Director John Brennan had responded to the report, insisting that it was full of lies and misleading claims. That initial response, which happened in the summer of 2013 took issue with many of the claims in the report. When the redacted executive summary of the report was finally released, the CIA apparently publicly posted a "correction" about its claims concerning the report, in which it noted that many of the statements the CIA had made in attacking the torture report were actually... not true.

And here's the real kicker: while the CIA "released" this "correction" on its website as a "note to readers" it didn't actually tell anyone about it. Instead, just as everyone was talking about the release of the executive summary of the terror report, and claiming that the CIA was contesting a bunch of key findings in the report, the CIA had actually posted a document on its own website detailing how its own denials were basically wrong. And some of them were big denials -- including about the effectiveness of the torture program on Khalid Shaykh Muhammad (KSM). A key part of the Senate's report was that KSM was repeatedly tortured, but didn't cough up anything particularly useful. The CIA vehemently denied this and insisted that what KSM gave them was useful. But in this "note to readers" (again, which was never revealed to anyone), the CIA admits that it clearly overstated the value of KSM:
Rather than "the individual managing the plot," we should have written "the individual who was in a position to advance the plot." This terrorist had raised Canary Wharf as a potential target and was tasked by KSM to conduct surveillance of Heathrow Airport's security, but the plot was shelved after KSM's arrest....

... Instead of "KSM provided information on an ai-Qa'ida operative named Zubair. .. ," we should have written that "KSM provided information that led us to understand the significance of a Jemaah lslamiya operative named Zubair." We acknowledge that in various representations, including President Bush's 2006 speech, CIA introduced a sequencing error regarding Majid Khan's arrest/debriefings, and KSM's arrest/debriefings. We repeated that error here and on page 26 of Tab C (see next erratum). However, despite that error, our description of the impact of the information acquired from KSM in the Hambali case remains accurate. It was the combination of information from both terrorists that caused us to focus on Zubair as an inroad to Hambali....

... In our review of this case, we correctly acknowledged that CIA allowed a mistaken claim that KSM played a role in Majid Khan's capture to appear in the Inspector General's 2004 Special Review, and we correctly wrote that this claim was a one-time error. However, our effort to provide an example of a more accurate "typical representation" of the relationship between KSM's information and Khan ran afoul of the sequencing error noted in the previous erratum. Although information from KSM was used to elicit further details from Khan, by then Khan already had provided the information that, together with what we learned from KSM, enabled us to advance our search for Hambali....

...We incorrectly stated that KSM's information preceded Majid Khan's information. We stand by our overall conclusion regarding the value of KSM's information.
In other words, a bunch of things the CIA insisted were inaccurate in the Senates Torture Report were actually quite accurate, and it was the CIA that was being inaccurate. And, sure, the CIA "admitted" this in its "note to readers" but then failed to actually tell anyone about this "note to readers." In fact, while the document was available on the CIA website no one even seemed to notice it until a few days ago. And that includes the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The document, entitled “Note to Readers,” was not formally provided or flagged separately for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which only became aware of its existence in the last week — more than a year since the document was publicly posted.

The “Note” was also noticeably absent from the CIA website’s swath of December 2014 releases related to the Intelligence Committee study, and was not mentioned in either of the agency’s archived press releases on the subject.

Not surprisingly, Senator Ron Wyden, who has been one of the leading voices in getting this report out to the public, was not at all pleased to find out about all of this:
“The CIA justified this program by claiming that it produced otherwise unobtainable information. CIA officials have now admitted their go-to example was wrong,” Sen. Ron Wyden, a prominent Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, told BuzzFeed News.

“These are significant admissions by the CIA that should not have been hidden in an obscure endnote,” Wyden said. “Director Brennan has tried to insist that the CIA did not provide policymakers with false information about torture, but these corrections seem to be an admission that they did so, and did so repeatedly.”
It still seems worth asking why President Obama continues to allow CIA Director John Brennan to retain that role. He appears to have no problem letting him get away with lying and purposeful obfuscation over activities of the CIA to the Senate Committee that is in charge of overseeing the CIA.

Filed Under: apology, cia, lies, note to reader, senate intelligence committee, torture, torture report


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:40am

    I apologize for...

    (redacted)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:56am

    The out of tune song remains the same.

    Administrations have been considering getting rid of the CIA since Eisenhower. Sadly that is probably not going to happen any time soon. Which makes the following statement all the more sad:

    "Yawn!"

    Nothing new. Nothing different. Same tune, different self-aggrandizing bozo speaking untruths. Not expecting anything different in the future, except there will be a long line of self-aggrandizing bozo's telling the lies.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:58am

    It still seems worth asking why President Obama continues to allow CIA Director John Brennan to retain that role.

    It's honestly not really that interesting of a question. The answer is either 1. President Obama supports all the actions that Brennan has taken. 2. Brennan has far too much blackmail for anyone to fire him. 3. President Obama just doesn't give a fuck. or 4. all of the above

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:00am

    Trying to have it both ways

    They lie in public because that's what's going to be repeated and used to defend their indefensible actions. They make the 'apology' on the other hand as quietly as possible so that while they can point to it as being there, it's not what most people are going to remember and think of, the lies are.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:08am

    Just following their leader...

    Brennan typed up a formal apology for spying on the senate staffers but never sent it. Perhaps he stashed it in some obscure location as well that no one was ever told about. Does that count too?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:56am

    metapology

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

  • identicon
    psiuuuu, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:03am

    Is this like when...

    I'm an asshole and wonder if whispering "sorry", in the car, 10 miles away, gets me out of trouble with the wife?

    Because no.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:09am

    Shoot the proofreader?

    > In our review of this case, we correctly acknowledged that CIA allowed a mistaken claim that KSM played a role in Majid Khan's capture to appear in the Inspector General's 2004 Special Review, and we correctly wrote that this claim was a one-time error.

    ... except that they allowed a full decade to pass before correcting that error, and only because they were being outed by the Senate. Without the Senate involvement, they would have kept mum on it.

    Quietly trying to set things to rights only after you were caught is the act of a child trying to evade punishment for his deeds.

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

  • icon
    MarcAnthony (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:12am

    Crocodile tears

    When the culture of an organization is such that it’s willing to break laws and hurt people to get what they want, would that group’s publicly expressed apology have counted any more than a hidden one?
    “We gave some people coffee enemas and other nightmare fuel for the rest of their lifetimes for no good reason… our bad.”

    The most sincere avenue to apology would be criminal charges for everyone involved; this would, at least, be some assurance that this type of thing is not likely to happen again.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:34am

    We can neither confirm nor deny that we apologized - to someone.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 12:36pm

    nothing these people say has any value whatever, and, like it or not, these people are who we are as a nation.

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

  • identicon
    David, 12 Feb 2016 @ 12:47pm

    Your final question has a simple answer:

    It still seems worth asking why President Obama continues to allow CIA Director John Brennan to retain that role. He appears to have no problem letting him get away with lying and purposeful obfuscation over activities of the CIA to the Senate Committee that is in charge of overseeing the CIA.

    You cannot punish someone for lying about the severity and utter pointlessness of torture when you already decided that you are not going to punish anyone for the torture itself.

    That would be a double standard. And whatever Obama... why is everybody laughing at me?

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 12 Feb 2016 @ 12:56pm

    Wrong

    Shouldn't they first apologize for torturing people, then apologize for lying about it..

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

    • identicon
      David, 12 Feb 2016 @ 2:30pm

      Re: Wrong

      To whom should they apologize for torturing people? They are not being prosecuted because of being heroes serving their country, so the people they tortured and partly killed were clearly the "bad guys". Since they were tortured for fun and stress relief (the report comes to the conclusion that torture was performed independently of any hope for gathering useful information), it is important for the self-image of president and CIA that the "bad guys" only got what they had coming to them, so there is no apology going their way.

      The reason they stopped is rather that it was pretty much illegal. Sure, they killed a few people and broke a few ribs, but the reason that they stopped is rather that they broke a few laws. How do you apologize to laws?

      At any rate, the laws against torture are probably not more offended than the laws against perjury. So if you get to pick, apologizing for the latter is just as good. And it sounds a whole lot nicer.

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

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 5:59pm

      Re: Wrong

      Shouldn't they first apologize for torturing people, then apologize for lying about it.

      I'll settle for never doing anything even remotely like it ever again. Don't even consider it.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:13pm

        Re: Re: Wrong

        Personally I'd prefer having the entire CIA lined up against a wall and shot, or locked in the same building and said building then set on fire.

        Harsh but given the sheer history of malfeasance possessed by the CIA combined with only imaginary claims of possible good it is for the best and downright merciful compared to their own treatment of prisoners.

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

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 12 Feb 2016 @ 3:35pm

    Accountability Is The Only Way Forward

    If The CIA Apologizes For Lying About Torture, But Doesn't Tell Anyone About The Apology, Does It Really Count?

    The torturing fractions of human beings operating within the CIA can take their "apology" and rectally feed it to themselves.

    These fractions of Americans and even lesser fractions of human beings were torturing people not for actionable intelligence (still not justifiable) but to sate their wanton sadist thirsts under the guise of the "law" while shrouded under a pitch black blanket of national security secrecy.

    In a just world the torturing cretins and those in the upper echelons of the Bush administration (eg Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Richard Cheney, etal) who authorized the torture would be forced into court to answer for their crimes before a jury of their peers.

    Then and only then would an apology be appropriate and not for the lying but for the actual acts of torture sanctioned by the US government.

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

  • identicon
    Rocky, 12 Feb 2016 @ 5:40pm

    Reminds me of..

    ..an old quote:
    "But the plans were on display..."
    "On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
    "That's the display department."
    "With a flashlight."
    "Ah, well, the lights had probably gone."
    "So had the stairs."
    "But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
    "Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard."

    -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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

  • identicon
    Diggs, 13 Feb 2016 @ 8:34pm

    Drone On

    Let's just skip the whole torture thingy, and move on to extra-judicial killing via drones. I say we let the President draw up a secret list of potential targets. Targets who have had no chance to defend themselves against a verdict of capital punishment from above. Even US citizens. And let's make sure that the group of those who provide the President with the info on which he makes his life-or-death decision is very, very small.
    What's that you say? It's already being done?
    Well then, apologizing for pouring water on a tshirt held over KSM's nose and mouth for 20 seconds a coupla times seems like small potatoes. Let's MoveOn.org.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 14 Feb 2016 @ 5:53am

      Re: Drone On

      Nice way to minimize torture there.

      I think we have plenty of evils that we need to apologize for, but apologies mean nothing if you don't stop whatever you're apologizing for first.

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


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