CIA Inspector General Claims It Accidentally Deleted CIA Torture Report After Being Asked To Retain It

from the keystone-cops dept

The saga of the CIA torture report continues to get stranger and stranger. As we noted, last week, the appeals court shot down a FOIA lawsuit from the ACLU to get the full report released. If you remember, only the heavily redacted ~500 page executive summary of the report had been released, with another ~6,500 pages or so still locked away. And we do mean locked away. The Justice Department has basically told the entire executive branch not to open the report, and Senate Intelligence Committee boss Richard Burr has been demanding the report be sent back to the Senate so it can be destroyed. Senator Feinstein had actually distributed copies fairly widely throughout the administration, with the goal being that the full report would get read and, you know, the US government wouldn't torture people again.

Part of the reason why the DOJ instructed everyone in the executive branch not to read it was to play a game with the whole FOIA process. Only documents held by the executive branch are subject to FOIA requests. Things in Congress are exempt. So Burr has been making sure that everyone believes the report is "a Congressional record" and the DOJ is arguing that by not opening the report, the executive branch doesn't run the risk of accidentally making the document subject to FOIA requests. But, as part of that, the DOJ also told everyone in the executive branch not to destroy their copies either -- asking it to "preserve the status quo" during the course of the FOIA lawsuit.

According to a detailed report at Yahoo, the CIA's Inspector General's Office then destroyed its copy of the report, but insists it was all an accident, and they'd like another copy... to lock up and not read:
[L]ast August, a chagrined Christopher R. Sharpley, the CIA’s acting inspector general, alerted the Senate intelligence panel that his office’s copy of the report had vanished. According to sources familiar with Sharpley’s account, he explained it this way: When it received its disk, the inspector general’s office uploaded the contents onto its internal classified computer system and destroyed the disk in what Sharpley described as “the normal course of business.” Meanwhile someone in the IG office interpreted the Justice Department’s instructions not to open the file to mean it should be deleted from the server — so that both the original and the copy were gone.

At some point, it is not clear when, after being informed by CIA general counsel Caroline Krass that the Justice Department wanted all copies of the document preserved, officials in the inspector general’s office undertook a search to find its copy of the report. They discovered, “S***, we don’t have one,” said one of the sources briefed on Sharpley’s account.

Sharpley was apologetic about the destruction and promised to ask CIA director Brennan for another copy. But as of last week, he seems not to have received it; after Yahoo News began asking about the matter, he called intelligence committee staffers to ask if he could get a new copy from them.
Feinstein is apparently none too pleased about all of this and has just sent a letter to CIA director John Brennan, asking him to give the Inspector General's office a copy:
As you may be aware. the office of the CIA Inspector General has misplaced and/or accidentally destroyed its electronic copy and disk of the Senate Select Committee on lntelligence's full 6,700-page classified Study of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program. I write to request that as Director of the CIA, you provide a new copy of the Study to the office of the CIA IG immediately.

Your prompt response will allay my concern that this was more than an "accident." The CIA IG should have a copy of the full Study because the report includes extensive information directly related to the ongoing oversight of the CIA.

Furthermore, on February 5, 2015, as part of ongoing FOIA litigation, the Department of Justice declared to a federal judge that "it can assure the Court that it will preserve the status quo regarding the Full Report absent either leave of court or resolution of this litigation in the government's favor." Therefore, providing the CIA IG with a copy of the full report immediately will also ensure that DOJ lawyers can inform federal judges that the status quo was adhered to and has been restored.
The Yahoo report also notes that the CIA and the Justice Department apparently never bothered to tell the judge that this copy had been destroyed, despite promising that it wouldn't be months earlier. The DOJ apparently told Yahoo reporter Michael Isiskoff that since the Inspector General's Office is a part of the CIA, and the CIA itself still had a copy, it felt that the status quo had been retained.

And, yes, while the Inspector General's office is a part of the CIA, it's the part that's supposed to be overseeing the rest of the organization to make sure it doesn't violate the law in this manner. As the qrticle notes:
“It’s breathtaking that this could have happened, especially in the inspector general’s office — they’re the ones that are supposed to be providing accountability within the agency itself,” said Douglas Cox, a City University of New York School of Law professor who specializes in tracking the preservation of federal records. “It makes you wonder what was going on over there?”
It certainly does make you wonder...

Meanwhile, there's also some dark irony in the fact that the only reason this report exists in the first place was as a response to the Senate's discovery that the CIA illegally destroyed videotapes detailing the CIA's torture program.

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  • identicon
    psiuuuuu, 16 May 2016 @ 12:10pm

    Are you sure want to PERMANENTLY delete this file?

    Deep under the CIA Isengard HQ:


    PC: This action cannot be undone.
    CIA FOIA Officer: "Exxxxcellent" *clicks OK*
    PC: Your hugely incriminating and embarrassing file has been deleted. Would you like to delete anything else?
    CIA FOIA Officer: *clicky clack* 'delete TortureForFunAndProfit.backup'
    PC: By your command

    /fin

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 12:11pm

    If Feinstein is really looking for a distributor, I hear there's a website that may be able to help. It's called Wikileaks.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 2:52pm

      Re:

      If it's as widely disseminated as is claimed by Feinstein, then there's no way wikileaks does not already have a copy. But Feinstein, being the lying fat piece of shit that she is, hasn't given anything to anybody. She cares not for humanity or anything else besides her own fat rotten godless ass.

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

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 12:13pm

    "The dog ate my homework" didn't work for us as kids, but I've a feeling it'll be the perfect excuse for the CIA.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 12:13pm

    Gee if only there were some people charged with providing oversight who would punish those who disregard the law and violate their duties...

    We should form such a group and elect people who will put the publics interests above optics & lobbyists.

    Has anyone asked the NSA for the copy they innocently swept up in their daily business?

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 2:41pm

      Re:

      There IS a department charged with overseeing congress. That would be the 'intelligence community'. (Sort of like the non-specific word "intellectual property" and similarly slimy, in that it's several different things.)

      The problem is that Feinstein and others don't seem to be fully committed to doing as they are told.

      On one hand Feinstein will support back doors and making all cryptography insecure for all users in the US, when told to do so.

      But on the other hand, she is being insubordinate and can't seem to let the torture report thing go when the 'intelligence community' wants it to go away.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 12:21pm

    I didn't delete it. I only used the least efficient storage method.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 12:25pm

    Soo....

    Obstruction of Justice? Evidence Tampering?

    At what point does America say? Enough? Where is the candidate claiming to "Clean up Corruption"?

    I keep forgetting... it's America I am talking about, so full of entitled idiots they are literally voting themselves out of a country.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 2:11pm

      Re: Soo....

      I suggest reading the rise and fall of the 4th reich. It explains in great detail how eager people were for security and safety that they all but threw themselves into slavery under a fascist government.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 12:31pm

    As much as it is to pile on the evidence of their malice, the situation described here sounds quite plausible that this particular instance wasn't intentional or any one person's fault. Also, what would this even accomplish if there were malice in this act? It's not like it's the only copy. It's certainly kinda weird, and there's certainly a lot of shady shenanigans going on around the report (like those orders for no one to look at it), but I don't think this is one of them.

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

    • identicon
      concerned citizen, 16 May 2016 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      "As much as it is to pile on the evidence of their malice, the situation described here sounds quite plausible that this particular instance wasn't intentional or any one person's fault."

      Doesn't matter if there was malice or not, either way it's not a very reassuring development.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 6:11pm

      Re:

      "the situation described here sounds quite plausible"

      In no way does it sound plausible to me that there existed only one copy of this (or any) document. Nobody does backups? Really? That assertion fails the smell test right out of the gate.

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

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 18 May 2016 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re:

        Sure, it doesn't sound plausible that there was only one copy of the document, at this stage of affairs.

        But that only one copy was sent to the IOG, and that that copy was destroyed in the sequence of events described? That does sound entirely plausible to me - and if the deletion of the server copy (in mistaken understanding of the received instructions) happened before a backup would have been taken, it likewise seems plausible that no backup would be available.

        Anyone else who had received a copy would still have it, and the OIG should be able to get a new copy from there (as indeed has been requested) - but the OIG itself would not have its copy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 12:42pm

    perfect excuse

    heh. if cia had oversight as competent and meaningful as most parents give their kids, their dog-ate-the-homework ploy would go over about like the kids' tries.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      "Dog-ate-my-homework" is used on TEACHERS, not parents. The response from parents to teachers calling about their kids claiming such is usually "Huh? I got a kid? I never noticed."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 1:19pm

    what a joke of an agency.

    How anyone would want to work for this trash is beyond me. I would never put cia on my resume out of fear that no one would want to hire me.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 6:14pm

      Re: what a joke of an agency.

      Probably sensible, depending on who you're applying to. I would never hire someone who has the CIA (or any spy agency) on their resume. They present too large of a security risk.

      On the other hand, you should be customizing your resume for whatever company you're apply for a job with anyway -- so you'd probably want to list it in some versions and omit it in others.

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

    • icon
      Monday (profile), 17 May 2016 @ 11:07am

      Re: what a joke of an agency.

      Are you joking?!? Putting CIA on the CV will prolly get you the job. Underneath

      Duties and Responsibilities:
      Due to the Confidential Nature blah blah blah

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 1:26pm

    If the IG copied a file from a disk to another storage medium/device, the system has to have read that source disk to have written the duplicate.

    The CIA read the Torture Report. FOIA the hell outta that bastard.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 2:29pm

      Re:

      the thing is, assume for a second, it *wasn't* accidently-on-purpose 'lost'/'deleted'; is it possible either a no-bad-nik intent on extortion (or a card to play in power-elite deep politics), *OR* a goodnik nicked it to get it to a wikileaks type entity ? ? ?
      SINCE they are NOT howling about someone stole it, AND don't appear to be desperate to track down someone who did, i can only think they *did* accidently-on-purpose 'lose'/'destroy' it, and are playing games...
      the question isn't IF they are lying about the situation, the question is HOW MUCH they are lying...
      being an alphabet spook means never having to say you are sorry...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 2:02pm

    They have been lying for decades why would they stop now

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

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 16 May 2016 @ 3:12pm

    Fat Finger at CIA

    Oopsy daisy, guess the super sleuths at CIA never back up their data.

    Senator Feinstein had actually distributed copies fairly widely throughout the administration, with the goal being that the full report would get read and, you know, the US government wouldn't torture people again.

    This idea is as defective as Senator Feinstein if the goal is/was to act as a deterrent and prevent agents of the US government from torturing people again reading a report (full or not) is not the solution.

    A appropriate deterrent in this instance --torturing people-- would be serious jail time for all involved.

    Feinstein is apparently none too pleased about all of this and has just sent a letter to CIA director John Brennan, asking him to give the Inspector General's office a copy:

    That will learn CIA. A sternly worded letter authored by senator blowhard (enter your own senators name) and CIA will cease and desist all unlawful operations.

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

  • icon
    hopponit (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 3:20pm

    report

    It's simple to explain. When he loaded the disk he had his eyes closed so he wouldn't accidentally read anything. So he couldn't see that he had hit the wrong button and then put the old disk into the shredder instead of the file cabinet. It was an honest mistake.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2016 @ 3:48pm

    Your Fired!

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

  • identicon
    Peter, 16 May 2016 @ 3:49pm

    Doesn't anybody in government backup their data

    Accidents happen. Files get deleted. But shouldn't there be a series of backups (hourly, daily, weekly monthly etc) of the server? What happens if the internal classified computer system blows up? Will all the other important documents be lost? It's stunning how incompetent the managers of these departments are.

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

  • identicon
    JQ Public, 16 May 2016 @ 4:43pm

    binary reduction

    If he is being truthful (doubtful), it is evidence of incompetence; else, duplicity.

    Either way, s/b hit the road Jack.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 16 May 2016 @ 6:30pm

    Their new acronym...

    CLIA

    Central Lost Intelligence Agency

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 16 May 2016 @ 8:03pm

    I'm sure it went something like this...

    Curly: "Hey, Larry, this server is full of files."

    Larry: "Well, what did you do that for? Moe is gonna have a fit."

    Curly: "I didn't do it."

    Larry: "Well you'd better get rid of them, fast!"

    Curly: "Okay, they're gone."

    Moe: "Hey, I forgot to tell you guys. The files on that server are very important. Be careful of it."

    Larry: "What files?"

    Curly: "Yeah, what files?"

    Moe: "There's no files?"

    Moe looks at server, "You knuckleheads!"

    Curly: "Woo! Woo! Woo!"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2016 @ 2:08am

    Is Yahoo! really a credible source now? Makes me sad. I mean, I know they're probably on par with CNN, but I thought that meant that CNN wasn't credible, either.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2016 @ 1:58pm

    Unbelievable.

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


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