Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly 11-3 in releasing to the public its 2012 report which concluded a 3-and-a-half year investigation into the CIA detention and interrogation program, implemented after 9/11.
Senator Dianne Feinstein:
“The Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon voted to declassify the 480-page executive summary as well as 20 findings and conclusions of the majority’s five-year study of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program, which involved more than 100 detainees.
The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking. The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.
This is not what Americans do.”
Hmm…I’d really like to hear Nancy Pelosi weigh in, here. I’m sure she’d love to open her crusty pie-hole on this one, again.
Feinstein also stated:
“The release of this summary and conclusions in the near future shows that this nation admits its errors, as painful as they may be, and seeks to learn from them,” said California Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the committee. “We are acknowledging those mistakes, and we have a continuing responsibility to make sure nothing like this ever occurs again.”
Such admissions/assertions over the years by government officials- whether it be Feinstein, McCain, or Senator and President Obama- I think have done just as much damage (if not moreso) to our image and reputation as the actual severity of what occurred.
To equate the CIA program on a moral scale comparable to real torture regimes is hyperbolic and irresponsible.
I can accept that the EITs might have been unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive; and that there may have been lines crossed. However, I have trouble believing that the CIA’s program went so far as to rise to my definition of real torture. (i.e., mutilation, physical disfigurement, etc.). One man’s discomfort can be considered another man’s torture. Partisans on both sides of the issue are at odds with one another on where that line is drawn.
I don’t know any other country that
tortures beats itself up more than we do over past “mistakes” and sins. Should the CIA interrogation program really be considered one of these “stains” on our nation’s history? I suppose the only way for me to draw a conclusion one way or the other is if I read the report myself in its entirety (6,000 pages?). The question would remain for me, how much of the 480-page executive summary is written and filtered through a partisan lens?
Another point of contention is on whether or not the CIA program was productive, let alone necessary, in obtaining results.
The report, based on a review of millions of internal CIA records, found scant evidence that the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques generated meaningful intelligence. It accuses agency officials of overstating the significance of alleged terrorist plots and prisoners, and exaggerating the effectiveness of the program by claiming credit for information detainees surrendered before they were subjected to duress.
For years, the agency made inaccurate statements to the president, the National Security Council and Congress, King said. “That’s one of the most disturbing parts of this — the institutional failure.”
Many Republicans and former CIA officials dispute those broad conclusions.
At least six Republicans on the committee, including ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), were expected to submit dissenting views that raised objections to its findings and methodology, according to a progress report on the investigation included in a recent intelligence spending bill.
Chambliss said he thought the program provided valuable intelligence and called the committee’s inquiry a “waste of time.” Still, he said, the public has a right to see the summary and minority views. “We need to get this behind us,” he said.
The report was assembled entirely by Democrats. Republicans abandoned the investigation shortly after it began in 2009, citing concerns that it would be shaped by political considerations as well as plans not to interview CIA officials who were being scrutinized.
The agency submitted a long response last year to an earlier draft of the Senate report that officials said identified numerous errors and contested many of the committee’s conclusions. Current and former CIA officials said the agency is weighing whether to update that response and release it to the public with the Senate report.
A former CIA official said there is an expectation among many inside the agency that Brennan will issue “a competing assessment” that critiques the committee’s findings. “There are a lot of people who worked for this program for years in good faith who still believe that it was effective,” the former official said.
But others warned that staunchly defending a program that Obama described as torture and dismantled four years ago carries political risks for the CIA.
If Brennan goes too far in rejecting the Senate report, “he’ll have torn his relationship with the oversight committees and he won’t get very many brownie points in the high regions of this government,” said Fred Hitz, a former CIA inspector general. “He may make a certain hard core of agency employees feel that he’s standing behind them, but there’s more at stake here.”
Others took a more nuanced view, such as Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who voted “present.” Coburn said he objected to the report’s backward-looking thrust, but conceded that the measures it discusses qualify as torture. “Had this report provided insights, guidance or recommendations on how to effectively conduct coercive but lawful interrogations against terrorist threats, it would have provided guideposts to the future, rather than just critiques of the past,” he said.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who has done more than any lawmaker to expose the committee’s rift with the CIA, argued that the report’s findings are relevant to other CIA programs currently in use. “The findings of this report directly relate to how other CIA programs are managed today,” he said. “Anyone who dismisses this study for its focus on actions of the past need only look at the events of the past few months – in particular, the CIA’s unauthorized search of the committee’s computers – to understand that the CIA not only hasn’t learned from its mistakes, but continues to perpetuate them.”
One of the three Republican senators to oppose declassification of the report was Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana. “While I support public transparency of government activities, I voted against declassification for reasons I will outline in the minority views to the revised committee report, once it goes through the declassification process,” he said.
Thursday’s vote shifts the burden to the White House and CIA to approve, delay, or reject the declassification of the report.
Here is the Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Saxby Chambliss’ opposing view:
“Today, I voted in favor of sending a portion of this majority report to the executive branch for declassification. Despite the report’s significant errors, omissions, and assumptions—as well as a lot of cherry-picking of the facts—I want the American people to be able to see it and judge for themselves. In addition, this study has been an expensive, partisan distraction that has hindered the committee’s ability to provide oversight of current national security issues, including NSA reforms, cybersecurity, Russia, Syria, and Afghanistan. I hope we can put this behind us and focus on the national security challenges at hand.
“While I agree with some of the conclusions in this report, I take strong exception to the notion that the CIA’s detention and interrogation program did not provide intelligence that was helpful in disrupting terrorist attacks or tracking down Usama bin Ladin. This claim contradicts the factual record and is just flat wrong. Intelligence was gained from detainees in the program, both before and after the application of enhanced interrogation techniques, which played an important role in disrupting terrorist plots and aided our overall counterterrorism operations over the past decade.”
It may be months yet before this is made available to the public. Since it is going to be released, I look forward to reading through it (including the dissenting views). I for one want to know what Senator Feinstein considers “shocking”.