Posted by Wordsmith on 10 December, 2014 at 12:26 pm. 9 comments already!

“I don’t know that the report that was released yesterday is that historically accurate. It reads like a prosecutorial screed rather than a historical document.”- Michael Hayden, Former CIA Director from May 30, 2006- Feb 12, 2009

For the most part, the narrative that the CIA tortured, that methods were “brutal”, that the program wasn’t effective in obtaining intelligence, that it played no role in the finding and killing of OBL, that those involved are war criminals- all of that is pretty much cemented in the minds of a number of Americans who are only reading the headlines and buying into much of the language of mainstream news. The Feinstein Majority Views Report has the rubber stamp of confirmation bias approval and pretense of objectivity and thoroughness. It is not that. The Minority Views Report is perceived as politically partisan (by those even aware of its existence) and any CIA rebuttal as suspect.

Senator Feinstein appears stubbornly resolved and unrepentant on possible ramifications. The argument is that the CIA program (most people fail to draw a distinction between CIA detention and interrogations and that of the DoD; and Feinstein’s report was about the former) will be responsible for any repercussions; not release of the executive summary at this time in history. Feinstein, McCain, and those on the left of this issue believe this Report redeems us; that it proves to the world America’s goodness. But similar to how the critics will fail to give credit to the CIA itself for self-analysis, self-corrections, reprimands of agents, etc., world opinion and human-rights lefties aren’t congratulating Democrats for a job well-done. They are criticizing American leadership for not going far enough: “Where are the prosecutions?” “America is a hypocrite and has no business pointing fingers at other countries on human rights violations” Islamists and jihadists will not see America’s goodness in exposing the CIA program. Their nature is to be in a perpetual state of outrage and indignation.

Democratic former Senator Bob Kerrey in USA Today:

I regret having to write a piece that is critical of the Democratic members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most of them are former colleagues and friends. I hope they will remain friends after reading this.

For eight years I served on this committee. I know how difficult and important the work of providing tough and fair oversight of our nation’s $50 billion top-secret intelligence network.

I will wait until I have fully read and considered Tuesday’s report to enter the debate over whether the CIA handled interrogation of detainees in an appropriate manner. Thanks to the 2005 and 2006 efforts of Senator John McCain I do not have to wait to be certain our interrogation policies and procedures are aligned with our core values.

I also do not have to wait to know we are fighting a war that is different than any in our country’s past. The enemy does not have an easy to identify and analyze military. In the war against global jihadism, human intelligence and interrogation have become more important, and I worry that the partisan nature of this report could make this kind of collection more difficult.

I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

When Congress created the intelligence committees in the 1970’s, the purpose was for people’s representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days.

Hugh Hewitt with Max Boot:

HH: In the minority report, it says that the majority report that Senator Feinstein released today includes indications of political consideration. Specifically, it says we found indications of political considerations within the study, for example, the study uses out of context quotes from certain minority members to suggest incorrectly that they supported certain positions taken by the study. The study omits additional comments by the same members which contradict the out of context statements. That tells me, Max Boot, that had they waited even two more weeks, this report would not have been written the way that it is, meaning that it’s written by, in essence, an illegitimate body that has been repudiated by the country.

MB: That’s true, and I think what makes this really troubling is the fact that both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have a long record of bipartisan cooperation. This is not, these are not these committees where there’s typically a lot of partisan bickering and posturing. Most things are done with unanimity. So the fact that Senator Feinstein has pushed forward this report over such strong and vociferous opposition from very centrist Republicans, everybody on the panel except for Susan Collins, that, to me, is troubling. And it should signal right there that this is not an objective assessment of the facts, that there is some other agenda here, whether partisan or personal going on here, and it should certainly lead to questions about the report’s conclusions. But I fear that all this nuance is going to be lost in the kind of hyperactive media coverage that this report is receiving.

Sen. Kerrey:

~~~

The Senate’s Intelligence Committee staff chose to interview no one. Their rationale – that some officers were under investigation and could not be made available – is not persuasive. Most officers were never under investigation and for those who were, the process ended by 2012.

Fairness should dictate that the examination of documents alone do not eliminate the need for interviews conducted by the investigators. Isolated emails, memos and transcripts can look much different when there is no context or perspective provided by those who sent, received or recorded them.

~~~

The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.

Our intelligence personnel – who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State – need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress. Remarkably this report contains none.

If the purpose of this Report wasn’t to pave a path toward prosecutions, then what was the point? If it wasn’t to offer solutions in how we could do things better and improve an effective CIA detention and interrogation program in dealing with Islamic terrorists- a very different kind of war and enemy combatant than ones we’ve faced in the past- then what was the purpose?

Max Boot:

what about incinerating civilians? Is that an “American value”?

The reality is that the U.S. has often done things in the past that, looked at in another light, could be judged as immoral acts or even war crimes. Exhibit A is the strategic bombing of Germany and Japan in World War II which culminated in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two atom bombs killed an estimated 190,000 civilians. The non-nuclear bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 more. That’s more than half a million dead civilians in Japan alone. The toll was not as high in Germany but it was high enough. One bombing raid alone, on Dresden, killed between 25,000 to 40,000 people. The total number of Germans killed in Anglo-American bombing raids has been estimated at over 300,000.

It would be interesting to know what those who now decry the torture of terrorist suspects have to say about the deaths of some 800,000 people, mostly civilians, in these World War II bombing raids. Were Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the presidents who ordered these bombing campaigns, war criminals? And if not how can one argue, a so many on the left seem to, that George W. Bush is?

This is not purely a historical debate either. Although Barack Obama shut down the “enhanced interrogation” program (or, more accurately, continued the shutdown which had already been ordered by Bush in his second term), he has stepped up drone strikes in countries from Pakistan to Yemen. By one estimate: “the United States has now conducted 500 targeted killings (approximately 98 percent of them with drones), which have killed an estimated 3,674 people, including 473 civilians. Fifty of these were authorized by President George W. Bush, 450 and counting by President Obama.”

Note that there was no judicial review before any of these attacks, nor should there have been. They were purely executive decisions made by President Obama and they resulted, by this estimate, in the deaths of some 473 civilians. Is that OK but the use of coercive interrogation techniques is not? That’s a good question for a college class on the ethics of war. At the very least it’s not an easy question to answer, and it’s one that those who are outraged by the CIA’s interrogation program should grapple with.

I tend to agree that we should not torture, but I am honest enough to admit there are circumstances–for example preventing an imminent, mass casualty attack on the American homeland–when a president may well be right to decide that repugnant measures are necessary to save large numbers of innocent lives. I am also troubled, by the way, by the strategic bombing campaign of World War II, but I am not arrogant enough to second-guess the decision makers at the time who thought that such steps were necessary to defeat the evils of Nazism and fascism.

You know what harms American values? This.

The Feinstein Report does accomplish several things:
1) Feed kerosene on an already inflamed jihad movement
2) Fuel anti-Americanism, not dampen it
3) Endanger American lives
4) Alienate allies who think we cannot be trusted to keep secrets
5) Widen the partisan division between left and right
6) Alienate the trust of the CIA and diminish its effectiveness in protecting the U.S.

Feinstein’s investigation? Pure ideologically-driven politics over patriotism and pragmatism. They started with the verdict and cherry-picked for confirmation of their preexisting bias during the investigation.

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