SSCI votes to declassify Report on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program

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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.”

The Cable:

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”.

20 Responses to “SSCI votes to declassify Report on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program”

  1. 3

    Greg

    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”.

    A secret “enhanced interrogation” program, authorized by a president, where orders were later given to destroy evidence. . . What could possibly be shocking, when we already knew that much? It was already known by 2009 that 21 detainees had been beaten and tortured to death. We pretty much let that one slide.

    It’s interesting that George W. Bush, Cheney, and other members of the Bush administration were granted immunity from any charges that might result in August, 2013.

    So, immunity was granted without the public or the court knowing what all this this immunity might cover.

    I’ve got to acknowledge that this was done by the DOJ on Obama’s watch.

  2. 4

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Greg:

    A secret “enhanced interrogation” program, authorized by a president, where orders were later given to destroy evidence. . . What could possibly be shocking, when we already knew that much?

    Greg,
    I think your partisan brain is mis-remembering the actual facts and specifics surrounding that bit of controversy. 🙂

    Jose Rodriguez covered it pretty thoroughly in his book, Hard Measures. He had full legal cover to destroy the video tapes in question (the transcripts of which were not destroyed). The only usefulness those tapes would serve would be for enemy propaganda (I have no doubt those interrogation sessions would be hard to sit through and watch by the squishy-hearted). And they would put the lives of CIA officials in those tapes at risk.

    From my blogpost (citing Dana Priest of the WaPo):

    Rodriguez writes that he ordered the tapes’ destruction because he got tired of waiting for his superiors to make a decision. They had at least twice given him the go-ahead, then backed off. In the meantime, a senior agency attorney cited “grave national security reasons” for destroying the material and said the tapes presented ‘“grave risk” to the personal safety of our officers” whose identities could be seen on the recordings.

    In late April 2004, another event forced his hand, he writes. Photos of the abuse of prisoners by Army soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq ignited the Arab world and risked being confused with the CIA’s program, which was run very differently.

    “We knew that if the photos of CIA officers conducting authorized EIT [enhanced interrogation techniques] ever got out, the difference between a legal, authorized, necessary, and safe program and the mindless actions of some MPs [military police] would be buried by the impact of the images.

    “The propaganda damage to the image of America would be immense. But the main concern then, and always, was for the safety of my officers.”

    Readers may disagree with much of what Rodriguez writes and with the importance of some of the facts he omits from his book, but the above sentence speaks volumes about why this book is important. In this case, a loyal civil servant — and the decision-makers above him who blessed these programs — were not thinking about the larger, longer-lasting damage to the core values of the United States that disclosure of these secrets might cause. They were thinking about the near term. About efficiency. About the safety of friends and colleagues. In their minds, they were thinking, too, about the safety of the country.

    And after some back-and-forth with agency lawyers for what seemed to him the umpteenth time, he writes, Rodriguez scrutinized a cable to the field drafted by his chief of staff, ordering that the tapes be shredded in an industrial-strength machine. The tapes had already been reviewed, and copious written notes on their content had been taken.

    “I was not depriving anyone of information about what was done or what was said,” he writes. “I was just getting rid of some ugly visuals that could put the lives of my people at risk.

    “I took a deep breath of weary satisfaction and hit Send.”

    You wrote:

    It was already known by 2009 that 21 detainees had been beaten and tortured to death. We pretty much let that one slide.

    I think you are confusing the CIA interrogation and detention program with that of military detention/interrogation. Two different beasts. Also, you should check out Marc Thiessen’s book that covers the specifics of a number of these cases of detainee deaths and abuses. The devil’s in the details.

    It’s interesting that George W. Bush, Cheney, and other members of the Bush administration were granted immunity from any charges that might result in August, 2013.

    Seriously?! What a farce!

    I’ve got to acknowledge that this was done by the DOJ on Obama’s watch.

    Any responsible succeeding administration and its DoJ would not have handled it much differently. Only political partisans and misguided bleeding hearts of the Kucinich and Medea Benjamin flavor are rankled over this.

  3. 5

    westie

    Wow, what a shitty little country the US has become. Even though Torture! rarely if ever provides any actual true information the ever fascist “twue blew Merican” NeoCons & Demsheviks still love the idea of Torture & have used it as justification to rob the US Treasury, destroy Rights & Freedoms & justify destruction of quite a few sovereign countries. In a just world the gallows would be running 24 & 7 for every damn US official involved including 3 administrations. Just my opinions!

  4. 7

    Wordsmith

    editor

    WaPo:

    The report describes previously undisclosed cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan — a method that bore similarities to waterboarding but never appeared on any Justice Department-
    approved list of techniques
    .

    U.S. officials said the committee refrained from assigning motives to CIA officials whose actions or statements were scrutinized. The report also does not recommend new administrative punishment or further criminal inquiry into a program that the Justice Department has investigated repeatedly. Still, the document is almost certain to reignite an unresolved public debate over a period that many regard as the most controversial in CIA history.

    A spokesman for the CIA said the agency had not yet seen a final version of the report and was, therefore, unable to comment.

    Current and former agency officials, however, have privately described the study as marred by factual errors and misguided conclusions. Last month, in an indication of the level of tension between the CIA and the committee, each side accused the other of possible criminal violations in accessing each other’s computer systems during the course of the probe.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Thursday to send an executive summary of the report to Obama for declassification. U.S. officials said it could be months before that section, which contains roughly 20 conclusions and spans about 400 pages, is released to the public.

    The report’s release also could resurrect a long-standing feud between the CIA and the FBI, where many officials were dismayed by the agency’s use of methods that Obama and others later labeled torture.

    CIA veterans have expressed concern that the report reflects FBI biases. One of its principal authors is a former FBI analyst, and the panel relied in part on bureau documents as well as notes from former FBI agent Ali Soufan. Soufan was the first to interrogate Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, the suspected al-Qaeda operative better known as Abu Zubaida, after his capture in Pakistan in 2002 and has condemned the CIA for water­boarding a prisoner he considered cooperative.

    The rest of the article is a good read.

    As some FA readers know from my past blogposts, I’ve read both Ali Soufan’s book and Jose Rodriguez’s and it is interesting to compare the differing perspectives and counter-arguments to their respective claims.

  5. 8

    Wordsmith

    editor

    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.

    And right on cue….

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney is “proud” of the “tone and attitude” he set at the CIA, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, amid growing tension between the Agency and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the declassification of a Bush-era torture report that the Senate says will show the CIA misled the American public.

    “I do believe that during the Bush-Cheney administration, that Vice President Cheney set a tone and an attitude for the CIA,” Pelosi said. “Many people in the CIA are so patriotic, they protect our country in a way to avoid violence, etc. But the attitude that was there was very…I think it came from Dick Cheney. That’s what I believe.”

    “I think he’s proud of it,” Pelosi added.

    Moments later, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers called Pelosi out for politicizing the controversy over the report ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

    “What worries me about that more than any other statement is that politicizes this in a way that’s horribly counterproductive and likely to lead people to the wrong conclusions,” Rogers said on State of the Union.

    “Why now, in an election year, would you bring this up and then to say this is about Dick Cheney…clearly when you say things like that it becomes highly charged politically,” Rogers said, cautioning that the report “is not the Holly Grail, it doesn’t answer all the questions” surrounding the controversial use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to declassify parts of its torture report, which Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein said “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation.”

    The CIA and the Intelligence Committee sparred in March over accusations that the CIA spied on Senate staffers working on the report, while the CIA charged the Senate with unauthorized access to classified documents.

    I love how MSNBC just nonchalantly labels it a “torture report”.

  6. 9

    Aqua

    @Wordsmith:

    The purpose of EITs (only a handful out of a 100 in the CIA program ever received any form of EIT), if you’ve actually been paying attention and following closely (read the category archives, buddy) wasn’t to extract information or a confession but to achieve a state of cooperation.

    I don’t know why people don’t understand this. You never ask a question during EIT that you don’t already have an answer for. It is used to determine and promote cooperation. And anything can be used as “torture.” I know someone in SERE school that was broken when the instructors put a hamster in his detention box. Big, tough guy that could probably bite the head off a rattler, but hamsters (mice, and other tiny rodents) set him off.

  7. 11

    Greg

    @Wordsmith, #10:

    Over 100 waterboarding sessions in the case of one particular captive, but Rodriguez states—specifically in reference to that bit particular bit of information—that “it was not torture.”

    Think about that for a moment. One individual, waterboarded over 100 times, but “it was not torture.” How can anyone unquestioningly believe such an absurd assertion?

    The fact that it was formally determined to be legal suggests nothing more than that our laws may have been subverted. That Rodriguez was himself involved disqualifies him as an objective witness concerning the morality and legality of the act, because he’s defending what he himself took part in. Most absurd of all is his assertion that someone is attempting to “rewrite history,” when the pertinent facts of that history have not yet been publicly revealed to begin with. What is at issue is whether the actual history should be revealed. Do we want to know the truth, or don’t we?

  8. 12

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Greg:

    Over 100 waterboarding sessions in the case of one particular captive, but Rodriguez states—specifically in reference to that bit particular bit of information—that “it was not torture.”

    Think about that for a moment. One individual, waterboarded over 100 times, but “it was not torture.” How can anyone unquestioningly believe such an absurd assertion?

    Because maybe it’s an inaccurate statement to claim an HVT received “100 sessions” of waterboarding; and if he had endured that many sessions without “breaking”, then it probably really wasn’t all that torturous now, was it? 😉

    I think I saw the interview (was it CNN or MSNBC?) where the talking head (cant’ remember who he was) mentioned the 100 number. He’s off in his numbers. I think it was 183 drips/pours for KSM and maybe something like 83 for Zubaydah. (Yup, just looked it up).

    Of course you’d already know all of this if you’ve been actually following this closely. Instead, we’re rehashing old news information. I can’t remember, but have you read any of my previous posts?

    The fact that it was formally determined to be legal suggests nothing more than that our laws may have been subverted.

    And because it was formerly deemed legal, none of the CIA officials involved in the program should retroactively be punished nor prosecuted so long as they abided within the parameters of the established guidelines.

    That Rodriguez was himself involved disqualifies him as an objective witness concerning the morality and legality of the act, because he’s defending what he himself took part in.

    Nonsense. Then you should disqualify Ali Soufan’s opinion as well; because he’s certainly partisan on the matter and has a certain level of involvement in the early days. I think his is an important voice that should be weighed in. But make no mistakes about his non-objectivity.

    For years, those directly involved were not able to openly speak out in defense of the program because of its secrecy (until President Obama released details of the OLC memos); so much of the narrative was shaped by the critics. The ones most knowledgeable are the ones intimately involved. Not all of them agreed with the CIA program; but others felt it did indeed save lives.

    Mike Hayden became CIA director in 2006. He had not been around when the CIA program was created; and came in after it had been suspended. Yet he became a supporter. Mike McConnell also came on board late in the game and was no Bush loyalist. Yet after doing his research, he became a defender of the program.

    By the description of the news articles linked above, it appears that Senate Republicans did not participate in the investigation; nor were some key CIA officials directly involved with the program interviewed or sought after for their point of view. So should we believe this Report is anything but partisan in its depiction?

    What is at issue is whether the actual history should be revealed. Do we want to know the truth, or don’t we?

    By all means, let’s hear it. But whose “truth” are we to believe, hmm?

    Jose Rodriguez’ op-ed in WaPo:

    Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIA’s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold. Unlike the committee’s staff, I don’t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror. I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.

    The committee’s staff members started with a conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since. They never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program, or let us see the report. Without reviewing it, I cannot offer a detailed rebuttal. But there are things the public should consider.

    The first is context. The detention and interrogation program was not built in a vacuum. It was created in the months after Sept. 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 men, women and children were murdered. It was constructed shortly after Richard Reid narrowly missed bringing down an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes. It continued while U.S. intelligence learned that rogue Pakistani scientists had met with Osama bin Laden to discuss the possibility of creating crude nuclear devices.

    When we captured high-ranking al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida in 2002, we knew he could help us track down other terrorists and might provide information to allow us to stop another attack. Those who suggest we should have questioned him more gently have never felt the burden of protecting innocent lives.

    Second is effectiveness. I don’t know what the committee thinks it found in the files, but I know what I saw in real time: a program that provided critical information about the operations and leadership of al-Qaeda. Intelligence work is like doing a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box top and with millions of extra pieces. The committee staff started with the box top, the pieces in place, and pronounced the puzzle a snap.

    The interrogation program was not flawless. But we identified and rectified our mistakes and, where appropriate, reported suspected wrongdoing to the Justice Department.

    Third is authority. This program was approved at the highest levels of the government, judged legal by the Justice Department and regularly briefed to the leaders of our congressional oversight committees. There was never any effort to mislead the administration or Congress about the program. In 2006, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden expanded those fully briefed on the program to include all members of the intelligence oversight committees. It is a travesty that these efforts at transparency are now branded insufficient and misleading.

    When portions of the report are released, I hope the CIA’s response, pointing out its flawed analysis, is also made public. But before anything is released, authorities must ensure that we don’t make the job of my successors, who are trying to prevent future terrorist attacks, any harder.

    And you want to shut him up or dismiss him…why?

    I have enough respect for both he and guys like Ali Soufan to take their opinions and perspectives seriously. Why can’t you?

    Mike Hayden:

    The motivations of Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for compiling the report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices “may show deep, emotional feeling on the part of the senator,” he said, “but I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

    Former deputy CIA director Michael Morell:

    During an interview with Charlie Rose, Morell was asked about the report by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Diane Feinstein alleging that no valuable information came from the CIA’s interrogation of captured al Qaeda leaders. Morell was prepared for the question, and had a brilliant and impassioned defense of the effectiveness and morality of the CIA’s actions. Here is part of what he said:

    One of the interesting things, Charlie, is that some of the very people who are criticizing this program today were the ones who were briefed on it previously, and did not oppose it… The Department of Justice deemed that these techniques were legal … they deemed that these techniques were not torture. So it actually drives me crazy when people call it torture…. Calling it torture means that my officers tortured people. When my people used these techniques, the Department of Justice said this was not torture.

    The effectiveness of this program has been questioned in terms of generating unique intelligence. I believe that the program was effective….

    When we questioned Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about Abu Ahmed, the courier who eventually took us to bin Laden, he denied knowing Abu Ahmed. When he went back to his cell, we were monitoring him, and we heard him tell other detainees ‘Don’t say anything about the courier. Nobody say anything about the courier.’ That’s important information….

    I’ve really studied this, and I believe the techniques were effective. I’ve looked at the information provided by detainees prior to the techniques and the information provided after the use of the techniques…. The information they provided prior to the techniques was limited, vague, not specific. After the techniques? Volumes of information, specific, actionable. There is a big difference.

    So this is why this is not easy. The people who say it was not effective want this to be easy. Legal and effective. Then you get to the morality question. You get to the question of: is it okay to do these kinds of things to other human beings? And reasonable people can differ on that. And there is a reasonable debate to be had. But it’s very important, I think, for the American people to understand that when you have that debate about whether it’s ok to do this to other human beings, you also have to have the debate about the flip side of the coin Charlie, which is: if you don’t use these techniques Americans are going to die. What is the morality of that question?

    This defense of the interrogation program is coming from a man being accused by some of protecting Barack Obama on Benghazi – so it cannot be dismissed as partisan.

    Morell has read the entire 6,300 page report. He has read the CIA’s rebuttal. And has seen firsthand the intelligence the interrogation program produced. He knows it was effective.

    And he hits the nail on the head in explaining why Feinstein and company are so desperate to call into question the effectiveness of the program. They know that if they concede that the interrogation program worked in keeping us safe, they lose the debate with the American people. But in trying to prove that point, they are – in the words of former CIA director Mike Hayden – becoming like “birthers” who deny that Obama is an American citizen and to 9/11 “truthers” who claim that 9/11 was a Bush administration plot.

  9. 13

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Marc Thiessen:

    CIA Director John Brennan is trapped — caught between the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is accusing his agency of lying about the effectiveness of its terrorist interrogation program, and his boss, President Obama, who has told Brennan directly that he does not want him to defend the program.

    Brennan knows that the Senate Intelligence Committee report is a partisan sham. As head of the National Counterterrorism Center from 2004 to 2005, Brennan was one of the top consumers of the intelligence obtained from CIA detainees. If their interrogations had produced nothing of value, as committee chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) claims, Brennan would know it.

    Asked the purpose of her report, Feinstein declared it was to “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted.” Well, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the objectivity she brought to the effort. Feinstein started with her conclusion, and then spent six years and more than $40 million cherry-picking evidence to back up her claims.

    It is clear that Feinstein and the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee don’t understand the value of interrogation, because they failed to question one single CIA official involved with the program as part of their investigation. How you do issue a 6,300-page report on a CIA program without even speaking to the people who actually ran the program? It would be as if the 9/11 Commission (which, by the way, relied on CIA interrogations for one-quarter of all its footnotes) had failed to question one single senior government official in determining what went wrong on Sept. 11, 2001. Why on Earth would Feinstein fail to interview the CIA officials she presumes to sit in judgment of and fail to hear their side of the story — unless, of course, she was not interested in their side of the story?

    He must do so anyway.

  10. 16

    Greg

    @Wordsmith, #12:

    And you want to shut him up or dismiss him…why?

    I have enough respect for both he and guys like Ali Soufan to take their opinions and perspectives seriously. Why can’t you?

    I have no desire to shut him up or dismiss him. On the other hand he’s making assertions, and I don’t want any contrary information to be suppressed. I see no particular reason why I should believe this guy.

    Why would we be so suspicious of the intelligence community’s surveillance programs, but automatically give them a pass on the matter of “enhanced interrogation?”

    I’m being told told that I should take a positive view of something that I would normally strongly disapprove of, and that I should do so without actually knowing much about what happened. Add to that the worrisome information that has leaked out previously, and the fact that video documentation of what went on was ordered to be destroyed.

    The entire situation stinks like a week-dead fish.

  11. 19

    Aqua

    @Greg:

    I’m being told told that I should take a positive view of something that I would normally strongly disapprove of, and that I should do so without actually knowing much about what happened.

    I’m against torture, I can’t imagine the country I love participating in it. I just think we have different ideas of torture. Hanging a person from their arms or legs and beating them is torture. Breaking limbs and providing no medical care is torture. Doing these things out of frustration because you are unable to get information otherwise is torture.
    Waterboarding (the way it was done by the CIA) with medical staff present and having the ability to step in, not torture. Working with psychiatrist, psychologists, and sociologists to determine how much you can deprive a person of sleep, or silence, or exposure to insects, is not torture. It may feel like torture, but it isn’t. Every time Nancy Pelosi speaks and I can’t find the remote to mute her I feel tortured, but I know I’m not.

  12. 20

    RICH WHEELER

    @Wordsmith: “achieve a state of cooperation.” love it. Kinda like “terminate with extreme prejudice.”
    Who’s got some others?

    Seriously. Thanks to you, Aqua and Greg for the informative debate.

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