The CIA Torture Report

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The CIA Torture Report

Post by Guardsman Bass » 2014-12-09 12:58pm

I'm surprised no one has beaten me to it on this. There's a report out on the CIA's torture program, and (surprise, surprise) torture is ineffective as a means of getting intelligence. What was a little bit surprising was everything else, including info that the CIA lied about the effectiveness of the torture program:
Vox wrote:
An executive summary of the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee torture report was finally released to the public on Tuesday, after nearly two years of political fighting over how much of it would see the light of day — read it here. The report, written by the Senate Intelligence Committee's Democratic staff, examines the CIA's use of torture during the Bush administration: what specifically happened, and what the results were.

The release, held up for months by the Obama administration, casts the CIA in a terrible light, not just for what they did but how they sold the public on it. The report says the CIA misled the public, Congress, even the White House. "The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others," the report says. But possibly the most significant conclusion of the report is that torture was simply not effective at foiling terror attacks.

Here's what you need to know about the torture report, its long journey to partial release today, and what it means for America's past use of — and continued debate around — torture.
The roots of America's torture debate

Shortly after 9/11, as the US sought to gain intelligence that could halt further attacks, the CIA began using what it called "enhanced interrogation" of captured terrorist suspects held in "black sites." The six painful techniques they used were waterboarding, keeping a prisoner naked in a cold cell and dousing him with cold water, forcing the prisoner to stand shackled for hours on end (often including sleep deprivation), shaking the prisoner, and two types of slaps to the prisoner.

Three of the six techniques were initially used by the Bush administration but later banned; the remainder were banned by President Obama when he took office. In addition, the CIA sometimes used various other violent or coercive techniques that weren't officially authorized.

"A debate over torture's effectiveness at producing useful intelligence has been going on for years"

This program caused a tremendous political controversy when it was revealed, with many Democrats and some Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain, criticized the Bush Administration for authorizing torture.

But many Bush administration and intelligence officials argued that these techniques were necessary to yield intelligence that was used to halt terror attacks. "The enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks against the United States, and giving us the intelligence we needed to go find Al Qaeda," former Vice President Dick Cheney said in 2009.

Still, others with access to classified information said otherwise. For instance, FBI Director Robert Mueller said in 2008 that he wasn't aware of any planned attack in America that had been foiled because of enhanced interrogation.

A large body of evidence, supported by independent research as well as statements from many former interrogators, suggests that torture is not a reliable source of intelligence information. Still, the disagreement among former government officials — as well as the somewhat muddier politics of the issue — have helped keep the debate over torture's effectiveness going for years.

In response, in March 2009, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced it would attempt to answer the controversy with a new major review. Its purpose was to assess exactly what the CIA did, and particularly to evaluate whether torture techniques led detainees to reveal information that stopped terrorist attacks — whether it "worked." The report was not intended to result in prosecutions or to assign blame to particular agency or administration officials.
How investigators judged American torture programs

The report is based on investigators' review of over six million pages of CIA documents, from contemporary notes by lower-level officials to higher-level memos.

"Only the report's executive summary is being released"

Initially, the bipartisan investigators planned to interview CIA employees as well. But in August 2009, the Justice Department launched its own investigation of the CIA over torture. Senate Intelligence Committee Republicans argued that CIA employees would now be put at legal risk by answering investigators' questions, so the committee's GOP members dropped out of the effort entirely. (The Justice Department's investigation concluded in 2012 without any charges being brought.)

The remaining (Democratic) investigators responded by deciding to limit their report solely to the documents rather than conducting new interviews. The final report says it's based on "CIA operational cables, reports, memoranda, intelligence products, and numerous interviews conducted of CIA personnel by various entities within the CIA."

The CIA agreed that Senate Intelligence Committee staffers could examine the agency's internal cables — but only at a special, secure facility, using special computers, after the CIA's own outside contractors had already reviewed the documents. As a result, the review reportedly cost $40 million before its first draft was completed in December 2012.

Since then, the Intelligence Committee has been battling with the administration over how much information in the report's 600-page executive summary can be released to the public. The thousands of pages of the report beyond that summary will remain classified, and many details of the executive summary will be redacted.
What the report found: torture wasn't effective and the CIA misled the public

According to several reports by journalists clued into the report's findings early, the Senate investigators concluded that torture wasn't effective and that CIA officials had misled the government and the public into believing that torture produced valuable information.

The report finds that enhanced interrogation didn't result in any important intelligence breakthroughs, according to the Washington Post's Adam Goldman, Greg Miller, and Ellen Nakashima — and, furthermore, that CIA officials have repeatedly misrepresented the facts to argue that torture did in fact work. One detainee in particular, Abu Zubaida, revealed useful information when he was questioned under normal circumstances by an FBI agent. Yet the CIA took credit for that intelligence, told other government bodies it had been obtained through coercive interrogation, and used it to argue the program was effective, according to the report.

At the New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, Haeyoun Park, and Larry Buchanan run down eight examples where the CIA claimed its tactics led to the prevention of attacks or capture of terrorists, but the report argues otherwise.

The report also describes several cases of abuse, including some that were not publicly known, in great detail. It reveals, for example, the case of a detainee known as Ammar al-Baluchi. According the Post's summary of the report, "CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall."

According to Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason of Reuters, the report also reveals that detainee Abdel Rahman al Nashiri was threatened with a buzzing power drill, and that another detainee "was sexually threatened with a broomstick."

"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal rehydration' or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity," the report states. It adds that officers "threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families," including a threat to sexually abuse the mother of one detainee, and to harm the children of another.

The report also found that the CIA held more detainees than the public had previously known — at least 119 in total — and that the agency sometimes knew "very little" about certain detainees it was holding. At least 39 of these detainees were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Also, the report says the CIA itself determined that 26 of the 119 detainees didn't meet the standard for detention, and so were wrongfully held.
Why the report is so controversial: the politics of torture are still contentious

There are several somewhat-related controversies around the report and Tuesday's release of its executive summary.

First, several CIA officials have for months been privately disputing the conclusions and criticizing the Senate staffers involved, and the agency has now publicly weighed in disagreeing with several aspects of the report. According to the Post, CIA officials say the study is "marred by factual errors and misguided conclusions." Former CIA Deputy Director John McConnell told Politico's Josh Gerstein that the report was "a warped, dishonest piece of work."

The CIA sent an official response to the committee last year which you can read here. CIA director John Brennan released a statement Tuesday disputing some of the committee's conclusions as well, saying, "Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives."

Bush administration officials, including the former president himself, have also been defending the CIA's actions in recent days. "These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base," Bush said this Sunday.

Second, the very process of researching the report was mired in controversy. While Senate staffers were reviewing various documents at the secure facility, the CIA accessed the hard drives of the computers they were using, to see what the staffers had found. The CIA also removed access to certain documents — violating their earlier agreement. Senator Feinstein issued a scathing denunciation on the Senate floor; the CIA's inspector general eventually admitted that the agency had "improperly accessed" those hard drives. (You can read more details about that here.)

Finally, in recent days some Republicans have alleged that the release of the report could lead to attacks on American troops and personnel. "Our foreign partners are telling us this will cause violence and deaths," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers claimed this Sunday. Bloomberg View's Josh Rogin reported that Secretary of State John Kerry has privately argued against releasing the summary soon, arguing that now wasn't a good time. CIA officials have also worried that the report's information could lead to the identities of some of their employees being exposed, as Shane Harris and Kimberly Dozier report.

Overall, the release of the report's executive summary will shed more light on this dark chapter of America's recent history. But, despite the report's strongly-worded findings that torture was ineffective, the pushback from Republicans and former intelligence officials shows that there won't be a political consensus anytime soon that "enhanced interrogation" was a mistake.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect the report's findings.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Borgholio » 2014-12-09 01:57pm

Naturally, feedback on this is split along party lines. Dems say we should air our dirty laundry, Reps think it's ok because they're evil brown terrorist scum. And it took about 5 minutes for the partisan shit-flinging to begin.

My thoughts? Come clean about the skeletons in our closet and ensure we don't sink that low again. Can't claim to be the champion of the free world if we do shit like this in the shadows.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Grumman » 2014-12-09 02:23pm

First, the government should free John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who I believe is still in prison for refusing to cover up the CIA's use of torture.

Then, a new set of Nuremberg trials. Coming clean is not enough. These war criminals should be rejected utterly and publicly. Start at the bottom and keep hanging until you find someone who did not condone the use of torture.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Flagg » 2014-12-09 03:40pm

Grumman wrote:First, the government should free John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who I believe is still in prison for refusing to cover up the CIA's use of torture.

Then, a new set of Nuremberg trials. Coming clean is not enough. These war criminals should be rejected utterly and publicly. Start at the bottom and keep hanging until you find someone who did not condone the use of torture.
I say fuck Nuremberg, just send them to the Hague like we're supposed to do. From Bush/Cheney, Rice/Rumsfeld, and even Colin Powell. Anyone who knowingly gave false information should just be rounded up and shipped away with their citizenships revoked.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Frank the Tank » 2014-12-09 05:16pm

Flagg wrote:say fuck Nuremberg, just send them to the Hague like we're supposed to do. From Bush/Cheney, Rice/Rumsfeld, and even Colin Powell. Anyone who knowingly gave false information should just be rounded up and shipped away with their citizenships revoked.
I'm sure it felt good to type that and all (I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!), but in all seriousness, how exactly would you get even a significant minority of the country to agree to such a thing? It's one thing to sit impotently up on your high horse declaring that everyone else is living a sinful life; it's another thing to convince people to come around to your point of view and make things happen.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by TheFeniX » 2014-12-09 05:36pm

I don't get what the "I am woman" part has anything to do with the post you quoted. Further, getting people to "come around" on the idea that torture should be severely punished, moreso when you consistently lie about it's result to cover your crimes, isn't something you should bother with the kid's gloves to get across. Anyone who thinks that suspected terrorists, even the non-white types, should be treated worse than animals all because "well, they aren't citizens," are barely worth labeling as human. Seriously, "all" a guy like Michael Vick did was torture some dogs and he actually got jail-time. But torturing brown people? You get medals for that shit, unless pictures were taken, then you get offered up as a sacrifice so nothing has to actually change.

While it's true that nothing will come of this for numerous reasons, there's nothing wrong with stating what you think should come of it. Especially when it's not marred by Internet tough guy bullshit.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Flagg » 2014-12-09 05:49pm

Frank the Tank wrote:
Flagg wrote:say fuck Nuremberg, just send them to the Hague like we're supposed to do. From Bush/Cheney, Rice/Rumsfeld, and even Colin Powell. Anyone who knowingly gave false information should just be rounded up and shipped away with their citizenships revoked.
I'm sure it felt good to type that and all (I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!), but in all seriousness, how exactly would you get even a significant minority of the country to agree to such a thing? It's one thing to sit impotently up on your high horse declaring that everyone else is living a sinful life; it's another thing to convince people to come around to your point of view and make things happen.
:lol:
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Ahriman238 » 2014-12-09 05:56pm

I like to think most of the country could agree that torture is a bad thing. I certainly recall a time before 9/11 when we could all believe it was something that only the bad guys did. Certainly picking people up from the street for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or knowing someone who knows someone who's maybe sketchy, and torturing them is wrong and even you can acknowledge this, yes?
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Frank the Tank » 2014-12-09 06:05pm

[quote=Ahriman238"]I like to think most of the country could agree that torture is a bad thing. I certainly recall a time before 9/11 when we could all believe it was something that only the bad guys did. Certainly picking people up from the street for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or knowing someone who knows someone who's maybe sketchy, and torturing them is wrong and even you can acknowledge this, yes?[/quote]

I think in general people would agree that torture is a bad thing. However in specific cases (for example, torturing terrorists) they may decide that the ends justify the means.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Vaporous » 2014-12-09 07:44pm

Image

That's some The Blacklist level incompetence, guys.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-09 08:34pm

Damn. Torturing your own informants for information? That's... cold. And stupid. Coldstupid.

...

And... Frank? Put this way.

From an ethical standpoint, the US torture program was grossly wrong. The people running it HAD to know they were catching up a lot of random Afghans (among others) who had effectively nothing to do with Al Qaeda (or other enemies of the state).

If they didn't know they are at best grossly derelict of duty. And their dereliction led to hundreds if not thousands of people being tortured and imprisoned for years. Or a decade, or more; some of the Afghans we swept up in 2002 have been in a gulag in Cuba for thirteen years now. Think about that. A lot of Soviet political prisoners did less time on better grounds to think that they were enemy of the state.

If they did know, they're worse than that; they were actively holding innocent people who could tell them nothing rather than just man the fuck up and admit they made a mistake.

Either way, some kind of charges really are in order, don't you think? If we state, and set a precedent, that American politicians and bureaucrats can get away clean with that... honestly, it is only a matter of time until someone tries that on us rather than on foreigners.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2014-12-09 09:32pm

I would love to see people go to prison over this, but I don't expect it to happen.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Terralthra » 2014-12-09 09:34pm

Someone in the US government paid other people in the service of the government to rape prisoners, some of whom turned out to be completely innocent.

I hope someone goes to jail.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Flagg » 2014-12-09 11:05pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:I would love to see people go to prison over this, but I don't expect it to happen.
I would love perfect health and $1,000,000,000 in my bank account but just like trying the cancer among us in a court of law I doubt it will ever happen.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-09 11:08pm

Full link to the study here.

Meanwhile US TV continues to show it as effective....

But really, nothing will happen here. Nobody will ever see trial over this. The US is not willing to do anything about it.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by salm » 2014-12-10 04:57am

Thanas wrote: Meanwhile US TV continues to show it as effective....
Woot? Really? They brodcasts news about the CIA admiting that it was ineffective and then claim that it was effective?

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Agent Fisher » 2014-12-10 05:39am

Salm, he was referring to the prevelance of torture in TV shows, and how the hero will use torture and it'll give them that critical piece of info to stop the terrorist bombing or whatever they're facing that week.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by salm » 2014-12-10 05:40am

Ah, ok, thank you.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Gandalf » 2014-12-10 06:13am

Thanas wrote:But really, nothing will happen here. Nobody will ever see trial over this. The US is not willing to do anything about it.
Only the victims and the whistleblowers are going to see trials. Not the perpetrators.

They've made a system where the greatest crime is one against America's image, as though they're worried about the proliferation of thoughtcrime.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by salm » 2014-12-10 06:46am

Gandalf wrote: They've made a system where the greatest crime is one against America's image, as though they're worried about the proliferation of thoughtcrime.
The obvious ironic thing about it is of course that trying to fend off damage from their image is the exact cause of the damage. This is nothing new or unique to the USA but it is amazing that people, nations and companies still act that way. It seems too obvious and there are too many clear examples to be some type of selective thinking where you are so unself-reflective that you don´t notice. It´s bizzare.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Raj Ahten » 2014-12-10 07:32am

One thing this report reveals is that you too can be paid $81 million to ass rape people. You don't even have to have any experience with real interrogations that actually need to produce results or know anything about the group the people you are ass raping belongs to.

Also nothing could be more predictable than all the official push back the report is getting. Of course the CIA will deny the report. Otherwise they tortured and killed people for no reason. The pro torture position is the official top down position the CIA has taken as an organization. They are in a very convenient position as well of being able to say whatever they want to about the program whether its true or not. It's not like anyone can review the actual facts, or heaven forbid review anything in a court. Anything damaging to them will just be redacted. Anyone who doesn't buy the official party line that torture works and should be done all the time will either be internally marginalized or prosecuted and imprisoned if they speak out publicly. I guess all the CIA really wanted to be all its life was the KGB after all.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Channel72 » 2014-12-11 01:59am

And.... John McCain almost redeems himself after a decade of assholery... almost...

Is John McCain turning back into pre-2008 John McCain now that he knows he'll never be President and has come to terms with the fact that his party sucks ?

Also... apparently a common element of the CIA torture program was "rectal feeding" - forced "feeding" of prisoners via the anus, apparently for the sole purpose of humiliation. Real classy.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Broomstick » 2014-12-11 05:28am

John McCain is himself a victim of torture and has suffered decades from pain and physical disability resulting from strappado. Of course he'd view the matter differently than the typical RAR AMERICA FUCK YEAH! stay at home republican.

I really don't have much to say. Yes, torture BAD. Yes, those responsible should be held responsible and appropriately punished, but I don't expect that to happen because those people are powerful and/or have powerful friends.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-11 06:40am

Broomstick wrote:John McCain is himself a victim of torture and has suffered decades from pain and physical disability resulting from strappado. Of course he'd view the matter differently than the typical RAR AMERICA FUCK YEAH! stay at home republican.
Well, one would hope so but he's spent most of the last decade in his public capacity pretty effectively putting his image and name on the record as supporting the CIA's interrogation programs.

We'll never know what would have happened if McCain had won the nomination in 2000; maybe he would have had a different attitude toward torture in the War on Terror. But the McCain that actually practiced politics from then on... basically seemed prepared to tolerate it.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Elfdart » 2014-12-11 09:04am

Thanas wrote:Full link to the study here.

Meanwhile US TV continues to show it as effective....

But really, nothing will happen here. Nobody will ever see trial over this. The US is not willing to do anything about it.
Especially since Obama has decided to be Joe Paterno to Bush's Jerry Sandusky.
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