A CIA Interrogator Finally Breaks Silence

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Dianne Feinstein’s so-called 6,300 page “torture report” (executive summary is 500 pages “only”)- after 5 years and $40 million in taxpayer money- is slated to be released very soon. Perhaps this weekend; maybe next week, after Thanksgiving. But what will be missing from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s majority (re: Democrat) report? Participation by Republicans in the investigative process and input (when the report is released, Republicans plan to release the minority view, at the same time). And even more critically, the interviews and opinions of those directly involved in the CIA Detention and Interrogation program itself- you know, those who were actually there- the CIA interrogators, the debriefers, the officials in charge:

Current and former intelligence officials told The Washington Times they are furious that the Senate panel, headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, did not interview the senior managers of the interrogation program launched after the Sept. 11 attacks or the CIA directors who oversaw it.

“The truth is they had their foregone conclusions with what they wanted to say in this report, and they did not want the facts to get into the way,” said Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., one of the CIA’s most respected retired officers and who, as head of the Agency’s clandestine service, oversaw the enhanced interrogation program that used sleep deprivation, waterboarding, uncomfortable positioning and other tactics to extract information from high-value al Qaeda operatives.

“The process has been political. It has been ideological. And it is just wrong,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who retired in fall 2007 and later wrote a best-selling book entitled “Hard Measures” that argued that the tactics, which critics have denounced as torture, saved American lives.

U.S. intelligence officials and Senate aides confirm that the Senate Intelligence Committee did not interview former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Mike Hayden, nor did the committee staff interview the program’s direct day-to-day managers, like Mr. Rodriguez.

Some of those officials told The Times they were told by Senate aides they weren’t interviewed because they once had been under possible criminal investigation.

But that investigation by a special Justice Department prosecutor was closed out more than two years ago, with no charges filed against any supervisor of the program.

“It is astonishing nobody ever reached out to us to interview us,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “Especially those people who were directors and program managers during that period of time.”

It is hard to believe that this Report isn’t politically, ideologically-driven. Leaks of the report have gone to journalists, already shaping the battle space, as they have always done since the beginning when leaks about the CIA program surfaced over a decade ago:

Mr. Hayden, who ran the CIA from 2006 to 2009, wrote in his regular column Tuesday in The Times that he is disappointed that journalists, op-ed writers and human rights groups got leaks from the report and appeared to have “more access than all but a very few former CIA senior officers whose actions are cataloged there but who have been denied access.”

Mr. Hayden said he, Mr. Tenet, and Mr. Goss, though never interviewed, were offered belated access to the report in late July, but only if they signed a nondisclosure agreement with the Senate committee.

For over a decade, journalists and human rights groups, anti-American enemies of the U.S., partisan political opponents, and so-called “experts” who operated on assumptions and half-experiences and not actual first-hand knowledge of the secretive CIA program, were able to shape the “torture” narrative, shaping public perception (or rather, distorting it). CIA interrogators have been unable to fight back the tide of opinion and defend themselves. They have not been at liberty to do so. It wasn’t until President Obama released the OLC “How not to torture” memos in April 2009, effectively neutering the EITs listed within the memo (their power was smoke-and-mirrors; once revealed, the techniques can be trained against. The reason why “enhanced interrogations” were even created was because some of the HVTs had received interrogation resistance training against standard techniques, like the “rapport-building” ones that the FBI favor in obtaining confessions and achieving criminal prosecutions).

On the flip side, Ms. Feinstein is upset that the Obama administration blacked out about 15 percent of the passages in the report for security reasons, redactions that she declared earlier this month undercut the report’s findings.

This comes as the UN expressed skepticism on the current administration’s “seriousness” and commitment on the torture issue:

A U.S. delegation, in a first appearance before the U.N. Committee Against Torture since 2006, told the panel in Geneva this week that it rejects Bush administration interpretations of torture statutes and affirms U.S. commitment to closing the dark chapter of the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program.

Those assertions, though, didn’t convince the U.N. panel, which hadn’t seen the U.S. crew since abuses of the Bush-era program were publicly revealed.

Despite its seeming reversal on Bush-era policies, the U.S. delegation was slammed for touting its 2009 Justice Department Investigation into the CIA’s torture program — which resulted in no charges — as proof of its commitment.

“We are not fully satisfied with that answer,” said torture committee Chairman George Tugushi. “In our view, any investigation into possible ill treatment by public officials must comply with the criteria of thoroughness. And actually to be considered credible, it must be capable of leading to a determination of whether force or other methods used were or were not justified under the circumstances, and to the identification of the appropriate punishment of those concerned.”

The Justice Department probe was supervised by John Durham, an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut. After the U.N. panel pressured the U.S. delegation for details, the Americans disclosed that the inquiry questioned more than 90 witnesses. Despite repeated questions, delegation members declined, however, to say whether those witnesses included any prisoners subjected to the CIA methods.

One member of the U.N. committee suggested the investigation was a whitewash.

The Durham investigation “found that there was not sufficient evidence,” said Jens Modvig. “Well … you won’t find what you’re not looking for.”

CIA detainees who have said they were not interviewed in the Justice Department investigation have described being waterboarded, locked in small boxes and otherwise tortured.

The Justice Department inquiry, which lasted from 2009 to 2012, found insufficient evidence to open a criminal probe into abuses. Obama himself said in 2008 before he took office that he wanted to move on from the era and “look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

“By failing to hold the perpetrators of torture accountable, the Obama administration undermined the prohibition on torture and abuse, and it certainly falls short of what’s required by the treaty,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, following Thursday’s meeting of the U.N. panel. “We have no assurance that there has ever been a top-to-bottom criminal investigation that has included an investigation of any possible criminal conduct by government officials who authorized or ordered the use of torture and abuse.”

The Obama administration has reportedly used the Durham investigation in pressuring international courts to drop investigations into the Bush-era program, which employed the help of several foreign governments.

The focus by the U.N. panel on the Durham investigation underscores a lingering question that remains eight years after America’s torture chapter concluded: Why was no one held accountable?

That lack of closure has inspired new questions as the public awaits the release of the executive summary of a Senate Intelligence Committee review of the CIA’s operation. The five-year, $40 million Senate study has been touted as an authoritative accounting of the torture program. But it doesn’t examine the culpability of high-level Bush administration officials, McClatchy Newspapers revealed last month. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has stressed that the 6,300-page document is meant to be a comprehensive record, not an indictment.

The public may never know, at least officially, who in the Bush administration was responsible for a program that, as Feinstein said, was “un-American, brutal” and “never, never, never should have existed.”

That reality, the U.N. panel suggested, dents U.S. credibility on torture, and draws into question the Obama administration’s dedication to closing the Bush chapter.

The Obama administration’s delegation also was asked by the U.N. group on Wednesday if it agreed with a Bush-era interpretation of the panel’s international torture convention, which outlaws harsh treatment of prisoners. Secret Bush legal memos argued that the anti-torture treaty did not apply outside U.S. borders, creating the basis for a covert CIA program that shipped suspected terrorists to secret overseas prisons for harsh interrogation.

The Obama delegation had reportedly considered affirming that legal interpretation, which sent the international community into an uproar this month.

The U.S. delegation this week appeared to reject the Bush legal reasoning. But its careful parsing of words leaves room for interpretation.

The ideologically-partisan Senator Obama and 1st-day-in-office President is sympathetic to the UN and Feinstein-view in regards to the issue of “torture” and the CIA program. But like on Gitmo, on the NSA, on droning, on the GWoT or “Overseas Contingency Operations”, President Obama has found it more difficult to responsibly manage those ideological and political hot potatoes than he was in criticizing them from the outside as a JV senator.

The delay in the Report’s release is due to on-going disputes between Feinstein’s committee, the CIA, and the White House over the redactions (apparently they are negotiating on one last redacted item).

The key issue has been the pseudonyms used in the report to identify CIA personnel involved in the controversial interrogation program. The panel insists that identities are adequately shielded, but the Oval Office and the spy agency have fought tooth and nail against releasing the report with the pseudonyms intact.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the CIA’s arguments are “ludicrous.”

Wyden has been joined by several of his fellow committee Democrats, who have said the White House’s proposed blackouts would completely dilute the narrative that the report constructs.

“Redactions are supposed to remove names or anything that could compromise sources and methods, not to undermine the source material so that it is impossible to understand,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said after the White House originally suggested redactions in August. “Try reading a novel with 15 percent of the words blacked out — it can’t be done properly.”

The White House originally suggested that 15 percent of the document had to be blacked out. Negotiations reportedly progressed so that roughly 5 percent was blacked out as of last month.

On Tuesday, Feinstein also sought to stifle concerns over what the Republicans’ imminent Senate takeover could mean for the future of her report. When asked what might happen if the declassification review isn’t done by January, Feinstein smiled.

“It is gonna get done, so don’t worry about it,” she said.

Back to the Washington Times read:

current and former senior intelligence personnel are working on their own rebuttals to dispute many of the report’s findings on factual grounds. The CIA produced its own official rebuttal to the report back in June 2013 that is in the process of being declassified.

The brewing storm between the CIA and its Democratic intelligence overseers in the Senate comes at an awkward time.

The Obama administration is pressing the intelligence community to step up its efforts to uncover possible new threats associated with terrorist groups like the Islamic State, which last week beheaded an American reporter who had been captured in Syria, and Boko Haram, which garnered worldwide attention by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria this spring.

“We want our operations people focused on thwarting the next terror attack from very real and imminent threats like IS, and instead they’re looking over their shoulders worried about blind criticism about tactics from a decade ago that were authorized by the president and cleared by the Justice Department and briefed to Congress,” said one senior intelligence official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

“It’s not the optimum circumstance for the intelligence community. They’re professionals and will do their job. But you never want them distracted at a critical time like this with leaks from a partisan report,” the official said.

Mr. Rodriguez, likewise, said he has heard from his former colleagues about the weight the impending report is having on them as they do their jobs each day. He declined to discuss the actual findings of the report, citing the nondisclosure agreement he signed.

“These people have mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends, and they have been slandered, been called torturers by the president. And I don’t think the government thinks stuff like this through for the consequences. They are throwing the Agency under the bus right at a time when they need it [the Agency] most,” he said.

Current CIA Director John Brennan has held calls and meetings with current staff and former high-level officials likely to be affected by the report.

Concerns inside the Agency include that some current or former officers will have their safety placed in jeopardy if outed, that methods and sources will be improperly revealed, that information in the report will be used by foreign governments to try to prosecute CIA officers and that the tenor of the report could create a backlash in the Muslim world, resulting in retaliatory protests and attacks against U.S. agencies and personnel.

Mr. Brennan’s message, according to those who have personally heard it, is that he agrees the government early on could have handled the enhanced interrogation program better in some circumstances. But he also has promised to aggressively rebut any disputed information in the report and to defend any individuals from unfair personal attacks.

The CIA’s official rebuttal, completed more than a year ago, contains many of the sentiments that Mr. Brennan has expressed privately to concerned Agency employees. Specifically, while acknowledging shortcomings, it challenges strongly the argument in Ms. Feinstein’s committee report that no valuable intelligence was derived from the enhanced interrogation program, according to sources directly familiar with it.

As I had written previously:

So much of what we’ve learned about al Qaeda, so many of the operations that have since been carried out in killing and capturing operatives, subsequently leading to more info and more kills and captures, can all be traced back to what we began learning about the al Qaeda network from CIA interrogations of HVTs. Waterboarding Zubaydah and KSM had a cascading effect, unlocking intell information that did not require more wateboardings, but which can trace their intell lineage back to the CIA program. By 2006, over half of what we knew about al Qaeda had come out of the CIA program.

I believe I had gotten that last information from Thiessen’s book.

Also in the Washington Times article:

One of its primary conclusions — reported in a recent New York Times article — is that CIA torture was more common in the period right after Sept. 11, 2001, than previously acknowledged and that the CIA misled Bush administration officials about how widely enhanced interrogations were used and why they were necessary.

In the early days on the heels of 9/11, in the chaotic aftermath to create new programs and prevent the next attack, mistakes were undoubtedly made. Stephen Hayes:

There are certainly parts of the program that deserve criticism. There were major problems with the way it was conceived, approved, and carried out. There were troubling abuses in the early years, and later some misleading briefings about the enhanced interrogation techniques used. There were conflicts of interest and questionable accounting practices. Some of the public claims about the intelligence derived from enhanced techniques were clearly exaggerated, and at least one of those claims was patently false.

Such matters should be subject to tough, dispassionate, fact-based investigation. Actual failings should be condemned by both Republicans and Democrats, by supporters of the program as well as opponents.

That’s not what happened here.

Instead, the report was produced by the Democratic staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Dianne Feinstein. Republicans declined to participate.

Anyone who decides to read the Feinstein “torture” Report and who is more interested in the truth than in partisan-blame and bias confirmation, should also balance it out with the Minority view, Republican rebuttal, as well as the CIA rebuttal. That also works the other way, as well. It is why I’ve read the works of so many of the critics. I still consider Ali Soufan’s Black Banner a good read; and the former FBI agent a great patriot. But his book, and that of Matthew Alexander (pseudonym for Anthony Camerino), should be balanced out with Jose Redriguez’ Hard Measures and Marc Thiessen’s Courting Disaster.

Even though “Beale” doesn’t name them, Ali Soufan and- I believe- Steven Kleinman– are the two interrogators “Beale” is calling out.

President Obama had made it clear we should move forward and not look backward. Senator Feinstein claims this isn’t about criminally prosecuting anyone. Then what’s the point? How did abu Ghraib’s revelations help our war efforts? It didn’t. It exacerbated and inflamed. It was a recruitment bonanza for the insurgents and jihad fighters joining up with Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq. It didn’t make us any safer, or Iraqis any safer, because we Americans ‘fessed and owned up to our sins in the middle of a war.

Former CIA Director Hayden also warns how, in a time like this where we are still fighting a global jihad movement, along with Islamists in Iraq and Syria, the timing of this release will only help America’s enemies. Jihadis have become well-versed in the promotion of jihadi propaganda over social media and the internet. The Feinstein Report is guaranteed to provide them with more fodder to feed their potential recruitment:

WASHINGTON — As the nation’s intelligence communities brace for the Senate’s explosive report on the CIA’s now-defunct torture program to be made public, officials are warning that its release in the midst of the Islamic State fight could put American lives at risk, according to former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

“American embassies and other installations around the world have been warned to take defensive action in anticipation of this report being released,” Hayden cautioned Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “That is somewhat troubling.”

Hayden’s concerns follow public reports of other officials pointing to risks for overseas U.S. personnel since the Senate Intelligence Committee first voted in April to publicly release parts of its behemoth study on the post-9/11 program. The committee voted 11-3 to make public the 500-page executive summary of its five-year, $40 million study.

Any chance of the Report not seeing the light of day in the middle of an ideological war? Nada:

On Tuesday, Feinstein also sought to stifle concerns over what the Republicans’ imminent Senate takeover could mean for the future of her report. When asked what might happen if the declassification review isn’t done by January, Feinstein smiled.

“It is gonna get done, so don’t worry about it,” she said.

I have a hard time believing that Feinstein isn’t ideologically and politically driven on this. I believe the accusations of the CIA “snooping” was also politically-charged, distorting what had actually happened.

This past week, a very important piece was made available at the Weekly Standard. As Stephen Hayes reports:

Now, for the first time, one of the lead interrogators is attempting to tell the other side of the story. Writing under the pseudonym Jason Beale, he has produced a provocative 39-page document in an effort to counter the narrative pushed by Democrats and amplified by journalists eager to discredit the program. The document—which Beale says was reviewed, redacted, and cleared by a U.S. government agency—does not reveal Beale’s precise role in the program. A spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency would not confirm that the CIA was the agency that reviewed Beale’s document. And in an email interview, Beale refused even to acknowledge that he conducted interrogations in the CIA program. “The opinions I expressed on interrogations in the document I sent you,” he wrote, “are representative of the insight I’ve gained during my career as an interrogator. While I am aware that you and others may draw some inference from the approved portion of the text as to the basis of my arguments regarding enhanced techniques, I am not presently in a position to elaborate on how I formed those opinions.”

Sources familiar with the program independently confirm that Beale served as a senior interrogator beginning in 2004.

Beale’s document covers many aspects of the debate over enhanced interrogation—the morality of enhanced interrogation techniques, the use of EITs on U.S. servicemen and women during their survival training, the hypocrisy of public officials who approved the program and later pretended that they opposed it, the unearned authority of several top critics of the program, and, most important, the effectiveness of the techniques.

“Beale” challenges the Feinstein claim that EITs didn’t work.

Marc Thiessen’s book made it known that CIA interrogators underwent waterboarding themselves, so that they knew intimately, firsthand, the seriousness and severity of what they may be doing to HVTs, should the need arise. That neutralizes the critic challenge, “If waterboarding isn’t torture, then try it yourself”. The interrogators themselves had. “Beale” himself underwent waterboarding:

Beale participated in the course first as a student, then as an interrogator.

As a student, I learned that I could resist, and occasionally manipulate, a talented interrogator during my numerous “soft-sell” interrogations—the rapport-building, we-know-all, pride-and-ego up/down, do-the-right-thing approaches. I had my story relatively straight, and I simply stuck to it, regardless of how ridiculous or implausible the interrogator made it sound. He wasn’t doing anything to me—there was no consequence to my lies, no matter how transparent.

I then learned the difference between “soft-sell” and “hard-sell” by way of a large interrogator who applied enhanced techniques promptly upon the uttering of my first lie. I learned that it was infinitely more difficult for me to remember my lies and keep my story straight under pressure. I learned that it became difficult to repeat a lie if I received immediate and uncomfortable consequences for each iteration. It made me have to make snap decisions under intense pressure in real time—and fumble and stumble through rapid-fire follow-up questions designed to poke massive holes in my story.

I learned that I needed to practically live my lie if I were to be questioned under duress, as the unrehearsed details are the wild-cards that bite you in the ass. I learned that I would rather sit across from the most talented interrogator on earth doing a soft-sell than any interrogator on earth doing a hard-sell—the information I had would be safer because the only consequences to my lies come in the form of words. I could handle words. Anyone could.

Ask any SERE Level C graduate which method was more effective on him or her—their answer should tell you something about the effectiveness of enhanced techniques, whether you agree with them or not. In my case, I learned that enhanced techniques made me want to tell the truth to make it stop—not to compound my situation with more lies. The only thing that kept me from telling the truth was the knowledge that at some point it had to end—that there were more students to interrogate and only so many hours in a day. Absent that knowledge, I would have caved.

As a TDY [temporary duty] interrogator in the SERE course, I learned that the toughest, meanest, most professional special operations soldiers on earth had a breaking point. Every one of them. And of all the soldiers I interrogated, all of the “breaks” came during hard-sell interrogations—using as many enhanced techniques as necessary to convince the soldier that continuing to lie would result in immediate consequences. It worked—time and again, it worked.

The techniques were effective, Beale claims, not only with U.S. soldiers being prepared for what they might encounter if captured by an enemy, but also with senior al Qaeda prisoners. Defenders of EITs point to the extraction of important information on al Qaeda’s couriers to make their case. The information on one courier in particular—Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti—led to the location of Osama bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In a heavily redacted section of his document, Beale writes that the EITs were essential to obtaining that information. Others have reported that two high-value detainees subject to enhanced interrogation—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi—went to great lengths to conceal information about the courier. That they did so after providing a steady stream of accurate and valuable information suggested to interrogators and analysts that the information about al-Kuwaiti was important. Beale writes:

That high-level detainee would no more have voluntarily sat down across from a debriefer and provided his list of Al Qaeda couriers without having been conditioned to do so than he would have walked ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ and asked to speak to the CIA debriefer. It simply would not have happened without incentive, and his incentive was to not go back to enhanced techniques. Period. Love it or hate it, that’s the way it worked.

Beale:

I know that we couldn’t have collected the same information using standard techniques because I was an expert in using standard techniques — I used them thousands of times over two decades — and the notion that I could have convinced the detainees. . .to provide closely-held information (or any information at all) without the use of enhanced interrogation techniques is laughable. There is zero chance. Zero.

Hayes also points out how Beale makes mention of the change in President Obama’s language when speaking publicly about the efficacy of CIA “torture”. Essentially, it appears that President Obama, in being privy to the classified information, realizes that EITs had worked; but still disagrees with the methods and considers them to be “torture”.

One more item which is in Hayes’ article but not in Beale’s document:

In an interview, I pointed out that much of the coming debate will be about the effectiveness of the techniques and asked Beale directly: Were they effective? He made a simple point that he hadn’t made in his document. He noted that those subject to enhanced interrogation haven’t boasted about their ability to withstand the techniques and to withhold valuable information.

That is probably a question best asked of the former detainees—did Abu Zubaydah, Abu Faraj al-Libi, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramsi bin al-Shib, Hambali, Nashiri, or any of their brethren give up protected information during their time in the custody of CIA? If they didn’t they should be proud of their ability to withstand such torturous tactics—I would think they would mock the feeble and misguided efforts of the CIA interrogators to get them to talk, or to make a mistake, rather than claim that such treatment made them say things they later regret. That’s the point of enhanced interrogation—at least from my perspective as a former TDY SERE interrogator—you hope that they say things they will later regret.

Beale wrote his document “to remind the American public that there are two sides to every story” and to make clear “that the upcoming [Senate] report should be read with an understanding that the outcome was predetermined by the political and ideological leanings of the majority, which produced the report.”

He is concerned that the documentation included in the summary report was selected to make the argument that Senate Democrats wanted to make and that information complicating that narrative was deliberately excluded.

Read the entire 40-page document. It is well worth the time.

A blogpost I am proud of from 2011, “Torture doesn’t work…, ok, so where’s the disagreement?” has a link that no longer seems to work. In light of that, here is a reprint-copy of the post. I may try and restore the 40+ comments later on by embedding them into the copy.

Further recent articles of interest:

http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2014/3/feinstein-statement-on-intelligence-committee-s-cia-detention-interrogation-report

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/12/cia-senate-row-documents-feinstein-brennan

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/18/cia-torture-architect-enhanced-interrogation

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/31/torture-panetta-review_n_6078194.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/richard-burr-cia-intelligence_n_6038384.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/10/a-bit-more-on-the-debate-about-the-extraterritorial-scope-of-the-torture-conventions-provisions-on-cruelty/

http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/10/the-convention-against-torture-extraterritorial-application-and-application-to-military-operations/

http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/10/the-debate-about-the-extraterritorial-scope-of-the-torture-conventions-provisions-on-cruelty-is-almost-certainly-not-about-usg-interrogation-policy/

25 Responses to “A CIA Interrogator Finally Breaks Silence”

  1. 1

    UpChuck.Liberals

    I stopped reading as soon as I saw Feinstein. Nothing personal but anything out of her is pure Gruber. Ok I did read most of it, not enough pictures though. 🙂

  2. 3

    another+vet

    And who was responsible for the drowning of more people- our interrogators using waterboarding techniques on the enemy who were trying kill Americans or Teddy Kennedy(D)?

  3. 4

    Common+Sense

    As expected from liberal wacko left wing Democrat!! When you watch Al Qaeda and ISIS behead Americans and yet a enhanced interrogation technique that kills NO one and gains valuable information is considered wrong!! What pure wacko garbage!! Democrats have NO clue and never will.

  4. 5

    Petercat

    “CIA detainees who have said they were not interviewed in the Justice Department investigation have described being waterboarded, locked in small boxes and otherwise tortured.”
    I went through all of that stuff. “otherwise tortured”?
    Uncomfortable, distracting, humiliating? Check.
    Effective? Oh, yeah, Hella Check.
    Physically or mentally damaging? Nope.
    Torture?
    I’ve been in more pain just getting out of bed in the morning that I ever was in that part of my training.
    In fact, other parts of my training were more painful and caused more lasting physical damage that the survival training did. But that was not torture, either. Though at the time my opinion might have differed…
    But I’m still here, and EIT isn’t torture.
    Unless you are a politician looking for points.

  5. 6

    Greg

    It’s not reasonable to expect objective opinions from those who promoted or actually utilized in the interrogation techniques that were under investigation. Does anyone actually need an explanation as to why that would be?

  6. 8

    Petercat

    @Greg: @Greg: #6
    I would prefer to have the facts, not opinions, objective or otherwise (and just how do you tell the difference?).
    Or, at least, an opinion based on facts. Which we are most likely to get from the people who “actually utilized in the interrogation techniques”. We don’t even know if the people behind this report are giving their actual opinions, or some politically expedient pablum. After all, some of them approved of the methods before they were made public, whereupon they disapproved of them.
    To get an opinion based on fact and experience, read the entire 40-page document.
    I stand by what I said in #5. Not torture, but very, very effective.

    Not even going to comment on how our enemies treat their prisoners. Or their fellow muslims. Or their women. Or their children. Or their family members. Or their barnyard animals. Or the still-warm dead bodies of the same.

  7. 9

    MOS+#8541

    feinstein is a piece of garbage. multiple suits have been filed in court, civil and federal charges. for acts of domestic terrorism. the useless, racist holder suppressed three in CA. During the “war on terrorist” multiple contracts were funneled to her dead beat husband.
    6500 pages and a 500 page executive summary is crap.
    Recall that her and the bar fly polosi never heard of waterboarding?
    Another expensive lie from the wipe house.

  8. 10

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Foreign Policy Cable:

    White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is now personally negotiating with Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California for further redactions, which is rankling some Democrats.

    McDonough, who is close to CIA Director John Brennan, is slated to meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday, Nov. 20. Although the agenda will supposedly focus on the president’s priorities on immigration and the economy, aides say they will also raise disagreements about the torture report.

    Continued White House opposition to the report leaves Senate Democrats in a difficult position in the waning days of their control of the upper chamber. Many Senate Republicans, including the Intelligence Committee’s next chairman, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, strongly oppose the report and could seek to bury it when they take control of the Senate in January. As a result, Democrats may have to relent and simply release the heavily redacted version even though it obscures some of the report’s findings. “I think the worst-case scenario is that we release the report but in the fully redacted form,” said a Senate aide. “That’s a bad outcome … but one that the White House and CIA would be comfortable and happy with.”

    But Democrats also have the nuclear option.

    Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who was defeated in the midterm elections, has threatened to read the unredacted report into the Congressional Record on the Senate floor, a rare and provocative move that is nevertheless protected by the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.

    “I’m not going to accept the release of any version of the executive summary that doesn’t get out the truth of this program,” Udall told the Denver Post last week. “Not only do we have to shed light on this dark chapter of our nation’s history, but we’ve got to make sure future administrations don’t repeat the grave mistakes.”

    Udall has not said definitively if he would go that route and did not respond to a request for comment.

  9. 11

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Greg:

    It’s not reasonable to expect objective opinions from those who promoted or actually utilized in the interrogation techniques that were under investigation. Does anyone actually need an explanation as to why that would be?

    Greg, that’s a fair point; and one should take it into consideration when hearing testimony, in interviewing those involved in the program. However, it’s ridiculous that for well over a decade, these officials and interrogators have not been at liberty to speak about the program, defend themselves against what may amount to slander, and advocate for the effectiveness of the program. As I had written in my post (I am pretty sure you often skim and gloss over what I write; because sometimes my counterpoint is already within the post itself), the public perception and narrative about “torture” has been shaped by the critics. Is it fair that detainees are interviewed and at liberty to accuse the CIA of “torture”? Yet those they accuse are unable to speak openly about what was once a secret program? Do you suppose that any of the detainees who really are “worst of the worst” al Qaeda terrorists would lie and exaggerate about abuses and torture?

    If you refuse to listen to the interrogators themselves and CIA managers of the program, then you are not going to get the full story.

    Feinstein’s Report is already partisan by default, since it was written up by Democrats without Republican participation, let alone participation and interview of key officials. How is it that no CIA interrogator was able to lend expert testimony to what occurred within the program; and yet “experts” like Ali Soufan and “Matthew Alexander” can be called up to give testimony or cited as “experts” on interrogation to criticize a program they were not a part of? To criticize interrogation sessions they never sat in on?

    Please read the 40 page document by “Beale”. And understand that I’ve also read Soufan’s book, Alexander’s book, and Glenn Carle’s book on the topic. Most people only are familiar with the arguments and criticism put forth by these guys and not the counter-arguments by Thiessen, Rodriguez, and now “Beale”.

  10. 12

    Petercat

    @Wordsmith: #11
    “Do you suppose that any of the detainees who really are “worst of the worst” al Qaeda terrorists would lie and exaggerate about abuses and torture?”
    Of course liberals believe that. In their view, they are not talking about terrorists, but valiant freedom fighters. The plucky underdogs, standing in defiance of the evil American imperialist.
    You will never convince anyone of anything as long as you are discussing two opposites.
    And if you try and tell them exactly what their admired heroes are actually like, they will always stick their fingers in their ears and start singing, “La, La, La, I can’t hear you.”
    They don’t want to hear anything that would tell them that their judgement is not infallible. They have their comfortable beliefs that make them superior to the rest of us, and they refuse to give them up.
    And, if you’ve actually been there, done that, and seen things with your own Mark I, then that makes you biased and your judgement suspect.
    Only the ignorant can be pure, you see. Knowledge stains the soul.

  11. 13

    Petercat

    @Wordsmith: #10
    Or the Republicans could hold a second, thorough investigation.
    But in the eyes of the MSM, their motives would be evil, while liberal motives would be as pure as the driven snow.
    We can never win the hearts and minds of everyone. We can only do as good people have always done, just put our heads down and keep slogging along.

  12. 14

    Scott+in+Oklahoma

    I have learned over the years that liberals should NEVER be trusted to tell the truth, to examine both sides of any argument or come to a conclusion based on facts. What ever story they tell, what ever actions they take are done with a focus on their agenda and achieving their goals, whatever the cost, whatever the means.

  13. 16

    Aqua

    @Wordsmith:

    If you refuse to listen to the interrogators themselves and CIA managers of the program, then you are not going to get the full story.

    He refuses to listen to anyone. He has his mind made up about what torture is and that is all he will focus on. He will say we’re better than that and refuse to understand that the enhanced interrogation techniques were conducted in a way that proved we were “better than that.”

  14. 17

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @Aqua:

    He refuses to listen to anyone. He has his mind made up about what torture is and that is all he will focus on. He will say we’re better than that and refuse to understand that the enhanced interrogation techniques were conducted in a way that proved we were “better than that.”

    Greg, if you’re as open-minded as you’d probably like to believe you are, please read the 40-page (minus redactions) document. Here’s an excerpt on how we are “better than that”, as Aqua puts it:

    First, all of our enemies over the last several decades routinely torture, kill, or maim their prisoners as a matter of course. It’s simply what they do. Our more recent enemy, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated brethren, have proven themselves to be amongst the most brutal captors in the history of captivity. (The majority of this piece was written in early 2014, before the name “ISIS”was known to anyone outside of the intelligence community). They tortured and beheaded captives before the interrogation program was initiated, while it was being secretly carried out, and after it was revealed publicly. There was no strategy shift upon revelation of the CIA interrogation program to switch tactics from establishing rapport and bonding with their captive to sawing off his head. It was always about the sawing off of heads. It still is. That said, some have suggested that our use of enhanced techniques put our country in the delicate position of demanding fair treatment of our prisoners while at the same time using harsh techniques on Al Qaeda detainees. They wonder what’s to stop our enemies from using the same tactics we used, and what right we would have to ask them to stop. I would submit that the immediate adoption of the entire CIA interrogation program by every combatant entity currently engaged in any war or battle in any corner of the world would be the greatest thing that ever happened to modern detention and prisoner/hostage/detainee well being. Were the Secretary-General of the United Nations to propose and enforce the adoption of the CIA interrogation program and conditions of confinement on every battlefield on earth, the number of lives improved and saved would qualify him for a Nobel Peace Prize. There would be no more torture– yes, I mean actual torture. No detainee would ever be subjected to any treatment more severe than that we inflict on our own American servicemen every month in SERE training. All prisoners and detainees would be adequately fed, clothed, housed, and given health and dental care. There would be no beheadings, no beatings, no cutting off of hands, fingers, ears, or noses. No starvation of prisoners. No slow deaths from disease and dysentery. No snuff films, or propaganda videos featuring staged confessions or abuse. No beating of the undersides of feet, or genital mutilation. There would be no rape, no sexual abuse, and no blackmail of families. So I would ask those who express concern that the rest of the world will follow our lead– especially those who are rolling their eyes at my suggestion above – to consider the facts about the standard tactics being carried out by warring factions all over the world today, and ask themselves which protocol they would rather be in place were they to become the captive- ours or theirs?

    He also provides a direct rebuttal to your earlier comment.

    The latest:

    WASHINGTON — Before White House chief of staff Denis McDonough came to brief Senate Democrats on Thursday afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a little pep talk with his flock. Every Tuesday, during the weekly caucus lunches, he said, you all gripe and moan about the White House. But then when the White House comes by, there’s never a peep.

    The talk may not have been necessary. The White House’s briefing to Democrats on immigration Thursday erupted instead into a confrontation over the Senate’s classified torture report, Senate sources told The Huffington Post.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, waited for the immigration discussion to end and then pulled out a prepared speech that she read for five or six minutes, making the case for the release of the damning portrayal of America’s post-9/11 torture program.

    “It was a vigorous, vigorous and open debate — one of the best and most thorough discussions I’ve been a part of while here,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report.

    “It’s being slow-walked to death. They’re doing everything they can not to release it,” Rockefeller told HuffPost.

    “It makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad, which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future,” he continued. “The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”

    As negotiations continue, Rockefeller said Democrats were thinking creatively about how to resolve the dispute. “We have ideas,” he said, adding that reading the report’s executive summary into the record on the Senate floor would probably meet with only limited success. “The question would be how much you could read before they grabbed you and hauled you off.”

    Besides Rockefeller, Sens. Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Mark Warner (Va.) all spoke up in defense of Feinstein, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

    Senate Democrats have for years been pursuing an accounting of the acts committed in the name of the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks. Having finished preparing a 6,000-page report, Democrats are now locked in a struggle with the White House over releasing even a redacted summary.

    Feinstein had hoped to release the summary during the summer, but has clashed with the White House over the use of aliases for CIA officials mentioned in the report.

    Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and sits on the intelligence committee, said there was a “good discussion” with McDonough on Thursday, but declined to get into specifics.

    “I don’t know if you’d call it progress,” he told HuffPost.

    Time is becoming a critical issue with regard to the report, as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate in January. At that time, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) will replace Feinstein as head of the intelligence committee.

    “I’m concerned that there’s not a whole lot of sand left in this hourglass,” said Heinrich. “Until this report is unclassified in a way that doesn’t expose people’s identity, but where you can understand the narrative, our work will not be done. And we’re not there yet.”

    Heinrich, a member of the intelligence committee, compared the report to a story, arguing that it is impossible to follow without aliases or pseudonyms to guide a reader.

    “If you take all the names out of a novel, it becomes very hard to understand that novel’s narrative arc,” he said. “We don’t need people’s real names, but we need to understand why decisions were made, what decisions were made and what the ramifications are.”

    Feinstein declined to discuss the meeting with reporters Thursday. “I ain’t talkin’,” she said.

    Rockefeller said the administration’s unwillingness to use aliases reflects a broader contempt for congressional oversight.

    “The White House doesn’t want to release this. They don’t have to. And all we do is oversight, and they’ve never taken our oversight seriously,” he said. (He then added that he did allow for one exception, the Church Committee.) “Under Bush there was no oversight at all. Remember the phrase, ‘Congress has been briefed’? What that meant was that I and our chairman […] and two comparable people in the House had met with [former Vice President Dick] Cheney in his office for 45 minutes and given a little whirley birdie and a couple charts.”

    “They had a specialty for being unforthcoming in our efforts at oversight,” he added, “and therefore there is no incentive for them to change their behavior.”

    Democrats aren’t the only ones who want to see the report released. A number of Republicans, most of whom opposed the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques used at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities, also say America needs to come clean in order to restore its moral standing.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was himself tortured while a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, said he’s been in regular talks with Feinstein on the issue and agrees that the White House should release the document.

    “I support her efforts,” he told HuffPost. “I think the American people should know.”

    Asked if the report was likely to emerge, McCain said: “That is going to be up to Dianne Feinstein. She can get it released if she wants to, but she’s not happy with the amount that’s been redacted.”

    The breakdown in negotiations came just days after Feinstein appeared optimistic about the report’s release, telling reporters that negotiations were progressing and the report would likely be available to the public within a few weeks.

    “We are down to essentially one item in the redaction,” Feinstein said Tuesday. “It happens to be a very sensitive and important item.”

    But Feinstein’s optimism didn’t make it to midnight. At a meeting that same evening, senate and White House negotiators found they were much further apart than originally thought.

    Despite a committee vote in April to declassify the report’s 500-page executive summary, the document’s release has been hamstrung for months by disputes over information that the White House and CIA want to keep secret.

    The crux of that dispute lies with the committee’s use of pseudonyms, which are used throughout the report to refer to CIA personnel involved in the program. Although the committee says it’s taken adequate precautions to ensure those personnel are not identified, the CIA says its agents’ true identities could easily be deduced through other information in the report– which could put current clandestine officers and operations at risk.

    “There are senior CIA officials who are named without redaction throughout the SSCI study. But there are others whose identities are not revealed — for good reason,” said CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani. “There is a reasonable possibility that these officers — many of whom are currently serving with CIA — would be subject to threats and possible violence if their identities were revealed.”

    The agency argues that while the names of the agents are not revealed, other information included in the report could easily lead the public and members of the press to discern who the panel is talking about.

    “Making public pseudonyms associated with such individual officers, as well as dates, locations and other identifying information related to those officers, dramatically increases the likelihood that they will be exposed and potentially subject to threats or violence,” Trapani continued. “A pseudonym itself is little protection from exposure when a host of other information about that officer is made available to the public through the report and will likely be seen by adversaries and foreign intelligence services.”

    But Heinrich dismissed that argument.

    “For decades, every oversight report we’ve ever done has used either aliases or pseudonyms, because they protect people’s identity,” he said. “So I think that’s very weak ground to stand on.”

    Rockefeller said that the administration itself is the one doing harm to the nation. “They’re doing enormous damage to the country,” he said.

  15. 18

    Petercat

    @Wordsmith: #17
    “also say America needs to come clean in order to restore its moral standing.”
    Something that I would like for someone to explain to me: Just what role has “moral standing” ever played in our international relationships?
    Just about everything that we have ever accomplished on the world stage has been accomplished through either friendship or force. (Not limiting to physical).
    Will having “moral standing” convince those who hate us to stop hating us? Nooooo……
    Will it convince them to stop acting on that hate? Nooooo……
    Will it enable some of us to sit back, do nothing, yet feel smug and superior? Noo….oh, wait. Liberal idea. Now I understand the purpose of our seeking “moral standing”

  16. 19

    Aqua

    @Wordsmith:

    There would be no more torture– yes, I mean actual torture. No detainee would ever be subjected to any treatment more severe than that we inflict on our own American servicemen every month in SERE training.

    Yep. SERE sucks, but it beats being hung up with with your arms behind your back or having your head sawed off.

  17. 20

    John

    Torture is wrong
    It also has been proven to be ineffective
    If it was effective there would/could have been no resistance to the Nazis
    Torture is great for confessions just look at all the witches that confessed under torture
    The USA prosecuted Japanese in WW II and American officers in the Philippine revolt
    for waterboarding. It was also a fav of the Khmer Rouge
    Rondos Regan personally signed the treaty that promised that we would never use torture and that all of any country who did would be prosecuted . Bushade a liar out of him and our country

  18. 21

    Wordsmith

    editor

    @John: John Ryan….do you not read anything within the post you are responding to? You’ve also been here a long time, so you should be well-acquainted with previous posts I’ve done. I say this because your comment above is so general, so yesterday, and already previously addressed. Just inane, unsophisticated talking points of the previous 10 years.

    Please bring something new to the dinner table rather than yesteryear’s talking points.

  19. 22

    Wordsmith

    editor

    HuffPo:

    The Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report will be released “in a matter of days,” a committee staffer tells me. The report, a review of brutal CIA interrogation methods during the presidency of George W. Bush, has been the subject of a contentious back-and-forth, with U.S. intelligence agencies and the White House on one side pushing for mass redactions in the name of national security and committee staffers on the other arguing that the proposed redactions render the report unintelligible.

  20. 23

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Jose Rodriguez:

    The interrogation program was authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. government, judged legal by the Justice Department and proved effective by any reasonable standard. The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded. That is simply not true. I was among those who briefed her.

    There’s great hypocrisy in politicians’ criticism of the CIA’s interrogation program. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers urged us to do everything possible to prevent another attack on our soil. Members of Congress and the administration were nearly unanimous in their desire that the CIA do all that it could to debilitate and destroy al-Qaeda. The CIA got the necessary approvals to do so and kept Congress briefed throughout. But as our successes grew, some lawmakers’ recollections shrank in regard to the support they once offered. Here are a couple of reminders.

    On May 26, 2002, Feinstein was quoted in the New York Times saying that the attacks of 9/11 were a real awakening and that it would no longer be “business as usual.” The attacks, she said, let us know “that the threat is profound” and “that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”

    After extraordinary CIA efforts, aided by information obtained through the enhanced-interrogation program, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan. Shortly afterward, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” on March 2, 2003. Rockefeller, who had been extensively briefed about the CIA’s efforts, told Wolf Blitzer that “happily, we don’t know where [KSM] is,” adding: “He’s in safekeeping, under American protection. He’ll be grilled by us. I’m sure we’ll be proper with him, but I’m sure we’ll be very, very tough with him.”

    When Blitzer asked about how KSM would be interrogated, Rockefeller assured him that “there are presidential memorandums that prescribe and allow certain measures to be taken, but we have to be careful.” Then he added: “On the other hand, he does have the information. Getting that information will save American lives. We have no business not getting that information.”

    And that’s not all. Blitzer asked if the United States should turn over KSM to a friendly country with no restrictions against torture. Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn’t rule it out: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned, because this is the man who has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans over the last 10 years.”

  21. 24

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Possible Tuesday release:

    CBS News has confirmed that the Obama administration is bracing itself for a Tuesday release of the long-awaited CIA torture report, though the timing ultimately remains at the discretion of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Sources familiar with the matter confirm to CBS News State Department Correspondent Margaret Brennan that Secretary of State John Kerry called and requested, but did not pressure, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, to hold off on releasing the report. The administration has some concerns about the safety of diplomats abroad.

  22. 25

    Scott+in+Oklahoma

    @Wordsmith #24…
    I was okay until I got to the last sentence, then the bullshit light shined bright. This administration couldn’t care less about the safety of anybody unless that “display of care” has a positive political spin for them.

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