John Brennan, the former CIA director. (photo: AP)
No One Is Even Pretending the Torture Report Isn't a Document of American Failures
By Kia Makarechi, Vanity Fair
25 October 14
For many months, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency have been feuding over the former’s attempts to delineate alleged crimes of the latter. The committee’s “torture report,” as it’s colloquially known, focuses on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation programs after 9/11, and no one on any side is even pretending that it’s not full of horrifying details that would upset anyone who believes in human rights or responsible intelligence gathering.
The issue took a personal turn when Senator Dianne Feinstein accused the C.I.A. of spying on the computers of Senate staffers who were working on the report at a C.I.A. office. The agency eventually admitted that it had monitored a computer drive that was to be used only by Senate staffers, but claimed it had to because classified material was being removed from the building.C.I.A. director John Brennan eventually apologized for the breach.
What was the material in question? A copy of the “Panetta Review,” the C.I.A.’s own, internal investigation into its use of torture—a report widely considered to be damaging to the agency’s reputation. Coupled with the Senate’s report, that makes not one but two reports that break down the C.I.A.’s likely abusive techniques. The American public has seen neither, and deserves to know what is being done in the name of protecting us.
The C.I.A. has been working on redacting the Senate report in advance of the release of its executive summary, which lawmakers voted to declassify months ago. Human-rights and transparency advocates are concerned that the redactions will strip the summary of its impact, and the Intelligence Committee is inclined to agree.
Enter White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who, the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim and Ali Watkins revealed on Tuesday, is personally negotiating redactions between the C.I.A. and the Senate committee. McDonough, as Grim noted, could be spending his time helping coordinate the president’s oversight over the nation’s response to Ebola, working on bolstering the Democratic Party’s chances in November, thinking about ISIS, or any number of other pressing tasks. Instead, sources say, he may be helping Director Brennan play keep-away from the Senate and the American public.
The White House claims that McDonough is working not to protect Brennan but rather to push along the redaction process. But McDonough and Brennan are widely known to be very close, and the White House appears to be concerned that a tough report could make today’s C.I.A. look bad, even though the abuses documented in the report took place under George W. Bush. (The report doesn’t even concern itself with whether or not the executive branch ordered torture.)
Instead of focusing on the C.I.A.-Senate feud, McDonough and the White House might want to pay attention to another torture-related matter. On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered that the Justice Department must detail its reasoning for blocking the release of up to 2,100 redacted photographs documenting torture by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The images are believed to be more upsetting than those that sparked the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2004.
The C.I.A. claims it used “aggressive interrogations” in ways that bolstered national security. The evidence suggests otherwise. In March, VF Daily noted that while some of the information hinted at in leaked summaries of the report (the network of C.I.A. “black sites,” for example) was new, interested parties have long known that the agency has worked to hide its most abusive techniques from oversight, exaggerated the importance of those it tortured, and falsely attributed vital breakthroughs to torture rather than traditional questioning.
Enough is enough—the C.I.A. should stop delaying the release of the report, and the White House should let the agency answer to the public scrutiny it brought upon itself.
© 2014 Reader Supported News
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