Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 5:59 pm

The Senate torture report


I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. (You can download it here.) Here are five things you need to know as you read it.

1) “We should never, as a policy, maltreat people under our control, detainees. We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.” — Gen. Barry McCaffrey, U.S. Army (ret.), April 20, 2009

2) “There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.” — Gen. Antonio Taguba, U.S. Army (ret.), June 18, 2008

3) The “report” being released today is merely a heavily redacted, 600-page executive summary. The full report runs to about 6,000 pages.

4) In the words of The Intercept’s Dan Froomkin, “Many of the same news organizations you are trusting today to accurately inform you about the torture report were either naive or knowing dupes in a CIA misinformation campaign orchestrated by top CIA officials, that included leaks of information that was amazingly enough both classified and inaccurate at the same time.” So you’ll want to be very, very cautious about accepting any news report that seeks to minimize or defend the torture program.

 5) Some additional background from Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept:

One of the worst myths official Washington and its establishment media have told itself about the torture debate is that the controversy is limited to three cases of waterboarding at Guantánamo and a handful of bad Republican actors. In fact, a wide array of torture techniques were approved at the highest levels of the U.S. Government and then systematically employed in lawless US prisons around the world – at Bagram (includingduring the Obama presidency), CIA black sites, even to US citizens on US soil. So systematic was the torture regime that a 2008 Senate reportconcluded that the criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib were the direct result of the torture mentality imposed by official Washington.

American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress. It was motivated by far more than interrogation. The evidence for all of this is conclusive and overwhelming. And the American media bears much of the blame, as they refused for years even to use the word “torture” to describe any of this (even as they called these same techniques “torture” when used by American adversaries), a shameful and cowardly abdication that continues literally to this day in many of the most influential outlets.

I expect that even the edited, redacted document we now have will confirm a lot of ugly things we already knew and tell us about even more ugly things we hadn’t known. But the truth needs to be made public so that we at least will know what the U.S. government has done in our name, whether or not the individuals responsible are ever brought to justice.

I understand that many Americans had, and have today, no problem with our torturing people. That doesn’t make it any more effective. And it doesn’t make it any more right.

I’ve been raising questions and raising hell about this issue for more than a decade, ever since the possibility that we were torturing first reared its ugly head months before the news broke about Abu Ghraib. And while there are a lot of issues with many shades of gray, this one, to me, is black and white. Despite quite a bit of criticism here and elsewhere online, I’ve not lost a minute’s sleep on this position, because whatever else happens, I don’t ever have to worry about my kids or grandkids asking me, “Why are people calling you a good German?”

 

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15 Comments

  1. About that Senate Report: The CIA and Alinsky’s Rule No. 4

    ” Just in time for Grubergate, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has decided to horn in on the show with the release of the Senate’s report on the “enhanced interrogation techniques” of the Bush administration. Those would be the same techniques that eventually led to the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden, but never mind. Today of all days, the Ugly Truth must be told, in all its media-ready glory.

    Still, stop and ask yourself why. Why now? Who cares? The vast majority of Americans will lose not one wink of sleep over the fates of the prisoners in Guantanamo or those stashed away in rendition prisons in various dark and savage corners of the world. They’re getting what’s coming to them. They asked for it.

    Then think about Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and its famous Rule No. 4: ‘Make the enemy live up to his own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.’ To the Obama administration and most of the surviving Democrats in Congress, the ‘enemy,’ of course, is conservatives and Republicans, not radical Islam. (Hillary Clinton recently said in a speech that, based on her crackerjack stint as secretary of state, the U.S. needs to “respect” and “empathize with” our “enemies,” by whom she meant our Islamic friends we just haven’t met yet. )

    What the Democrats are doing is classic Alinskyism, posturing as the defenders of the American Way and hoping like hell that nobody remembers that rendition prisons began under the Clinton administration. But let the ACLU tell it:

    Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards.

    ‘ This program is commonly known as ‘extraordinary rendition,’ the ACLU added.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, December 10, 2014 12:27 am @ 12:27 am

  2. Fred, you’re welcome to post factually inaccurate, morally incoherent rants from PJ Media here, but please don’t expect me to take them, or you, seriously, when you do.

    Comment by Lex — Wednesday, December 10, 2014 6:21 am @ 6:21 am

  3. Geezus, Fred. Really? This is the greatest moral stain on our country since slavery and you’re waiving it off as partisan? Shame.

    Comment by Roch — Wednesday, December 10, 2014 7:36 am @ 7:36 am

  4. That’s the usual Lex tactic . When confronted with facts and sound argument just glibly brush them aside.

    Roch, this $40 million report most certainly is highly partisan in the extreme

    Former Senator ( D-Nebraska ) rips partisan report:

    ” 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.

    I have participated in two extensive investigations into intelligence failures, once when Aldrich Ames was discovered to be spying for Russia after he had done substantial damage to our human intelligence collection capability and another following the 9/11 attacks. In both cases we were very critical of the practices of the intelligence agencies. In both cases we avoided partisan pressure to blame the opposing party. In both cases Congress made statutory changes and the agencies changed their policies. It didn’t make things perfect, but it did make them better.

    In both of these efforts the committee staff examined documents and interviewed all of the individuals involved. 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.

    It is important for all of us to remember how unprepared we were for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and how unprepared we were to do the things necessary to keep the country from being attacked again. There was no operating manual to guide the choices and decisions made by the men and women in charge of protecting us. I will continue to read the report to learn of the mistakes we apparently made. I do not need to read the report in full to know this: We have not been attacked since and for that I am very grateful.

    It is important for all of us to not let Congress dodge responsibility. Congressional oversight of intelligence is notoriously weak. The 9/11 Commission recommended a number of changes in the authorities of Congressional committees but the proposal – advanced by Senator McCain – did not come close to gathering a majority of votes in either the Senate or the House.

    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. I hope – for the sake of our security and our values – Congress will follow the leadership of Senator McCain and give them this guidance.”

    Bob Kerrey, former governor of Nebraska and U.S. senator, is now the managing director of Allen and Company.

    AND:

    “Beyond the threshold question is the issue of whether specific practices will produce helpful information.. The “efficacy” issue has been debated ad nauseam. It comes down to whom one believes — the CIA and Bush administration officials or Senate Democrats, President Obama, and John McCain.

    By now, many Americans, unlikely to believe either side, will probably rely on their own intuition. In any event, because Feinstein failed to interview CIA personnel and failed to get a single Republican member of her committee on board, the issuance of her report will not advance the debate.

    In the end, it’s difficult to see any public value in Feinstein’s report — much less, value that outweighs its potential harm. The value of the report is personal to Feinstein and some of her fellow Democrats. It furthers her vendetta against the CIA (which, to some extent, the CIA needlessly brought on itself) and provides a fig leaf with which to cover the complicity of Senate Democrats, including Feinstein, in the interrogation techniques that, after the fact, seem abhorrent to them.

    For Feinstein, $40 million, long-term damage to the CIA, and the potential for deadly attacks on Americans overseas apparently are a small price to pay for this satisfaction”.

    PAUL MIRENGOFF I

    AND:

    The CIA’s Greatest Fear: Being Thrown Under the Bus by Congress…Again

    “Forty years ago, Senator Frank Church suggested that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was “a rogue elephant rampaging out of control, over which no effective direction was being given.” Church’s “rogue elephant” was a myth, although a plausible one at that, in that neither Dwight D. Eisenhower, nor John F. Kennedy left a paper trail conclusively linking them to plots to murder Fidel Castro. The absence of any paper trail was designed to allow presidents to “plausibly deny” any operation, should it be exposed. This was seen as a prudent step to protect the United States government, particularly its chief executive, from repercussions stemming from violations of international law.

    Senator Church and his investigative committee went on to propose, as did their House counterparts, that permanent intelligence committees be created to prevent future “rogue” CIA operations. American presidents would no longer be able to “plausibly deny” their approval of covert operations; congressionally mandated procedures would ensure that the CIA was placed under “effective direction” and held accountable for its operations by intelligence committee overseers.

    Instead of enhancing accountability, the intelligence committees adopted plausible deniability as a means of protecting themselves from domestic political blowback. The examples are legion, but two stand out: In 1984, Ronald Reagan’s CIA mined the harbors of Nicaragua as part of an American campaign to undermine the Sandinista government. Reagan’s CIA Director briefed the House intelligence committee in January, 1984, shortly after the mining began, while the Senate intelligence committee was briefed twice in March, but when the media revealed the operation on April 6, 1984, committee members were “outraged” and “shocked” at the “news.” Senator Patrick Leahy, no friend of Reagan’s policies, noted that members of the committees voted one way prior to the exposure of the operation, and another after the media revelations. This was, according to Leahy, “a lousy job of legislative action.”

    This pattern of running for cover reemerged in the aftermath of 9/11 with the use of waterboarding on the architect of that operation, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and two other Al Qaeda members. In September 2002, ranking members of the intelligence committees were briefed on the use of waterboarding and other techniques, which prompted either silent acquiescence or hints from some members that more aggressive measures were needed. As longtime CIA watcher Steve Coll observed, “Agency officials briefed Nancy Pelosi in September, 2002, about waterboarding that was then underway, notes of that meeting show, but Pelosi later claimed that she had heard no such thing. Other senior Democrats who were briefed about brutal C.I.A. interrogations . . . have suffered from similar impairments.” Officials in the room that day attest to Congresswoman Pelosi’s involvement, and President Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta later confirmed her participation. Nonetheless, the former Speaker of the House claims, “We were not, I repeat, not, told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.”

    Pelosi’s assent to waterboarding was perfectly defensible, for as former CIA Director George Tenet noted, his agency was receiving “reports of nuclear weapons in New York City, apartment buildings that are going to be blown up. . . . Everybody forgets one central context of what we lived through—the palpable fear that we felt . . . that there was so much that we did not know.” Echoing this theme, Senator Dianne Feinstein seemed to defend the use of extraordinary measures:

    I think it’s a tempest in a teapot really to say: Well, Speaker Pelosi should have known all of this, she should have stopped this, she should have done this or done that. I don’t want to make an apology for anybody, but in 2002, it wasn’t 2006, 07, 08 or 09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.

    In 2011, when the danger appeared to have passed, Feinstein was suddenly aghast at the use of these measures, “I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used.”

    The protracted struggle over the release of the classified report on the use of waterboarding stems from the CIA’s fear that it is about to be thrown under the bus again. This fear is justified, for the intelligence committees have perfected the art of plausibly denying responsibility for controversial operations, all the while demanding greater “oversight.” In March, 2014, veterans of the original Church committee proposed that a new committee with a similar mandate be convened to engage in “searching reviews” of today’s intelligence community. Should it come to pass, these reviews will once again ignore the role of the intelligence committees, blaming the agencies that do their bidding and resurrecting Frank Church’s myth of a rogue CIA.”

    Stephen F. Knott is the author of Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, December 10, 2014 6:01 pm @ 6:01 pm

  5. Yes Roch I am taking sides.

    Something your fearless leader is avoiding .as repoted in the NY Times

    Obama Avoids Taking Sides on Effectiveness of C.I.A. Techniques

    WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. maintains that the brutal interrogation techniques it used on terrorism suspects a decade ago worked. The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that they did not. And on that, at least, President Obama is not taking sides.

    Even as Mr. Obama repeated his belief that the techniques constituted torture and betrayed American values, he declined to address the fundamental question raised by the report, which the committee released on Tuesday: Did they produce meaningful intelligence to stop terrorist attacks, or did the C.I.A. mislead the White House and the public about their effectiveness?

    That debate, after all, has left Mr. Obama facing an uncomfortable choice between two allies: the close adviser and former aide he installed as director of the C.I.A. versus his fellow Democrats who control the Senate committee and the liberal base that backs their findings.

    The written statement Mr. Obama released in response to the report tried to straddle that divide. He opened by expressing appreciation to C.I.A. employees as “patriots” to whom “we owe a debt of gratitude” for trying to protect the country after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Then he judged that the methods they used in doing so “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world.”

    And finally, Mr. Obama asked the nation to stop fighting about what happened so many years ago before he took office. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” he said, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.”

    Mr. Obama has struggled to find balance on this issue since taking office nearly six years ago. He made one of his first acts as president signing an order that banned the use of torture by the C.I.A. But he resisted pressure from activists to hold anyone accountable for the waterboarding of suspects.

    The Justice Department under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. re-examined cases of prisoner abuse that were previously closed under President George W. Bush, but it did not prosecute anyone. Mr. Obama rejected the creation of a “truth commission” proposed by Democrats like Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. To this day, the president has resisted releasing photographs of harsh treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his White House backed up the C.I.A. in seeking redactions of the Senate report.

    As a president who receives regular briefings on terrorist threats and is responsible for stopping them, Mr. Obama sees the situation differently than he did as a candidate denouncing the incumbent of the other party. In his statement on Tuesday, Mr. Obama not only did not condemn Mr. Bush for authorizing the techniques, but he also sounded a note of empathy.

    “In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue Al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country,” he said.

    A major influence has been John O. Brennan, a career C.I.A. officer who has been at his side since the start of his presidency, first as his White House counterterrorism adviser and now as his C.I.A. director.

    Both Mr. Brennan and the president’s first C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, have taken the position, contrary to critics, that the interrogations did yield useful intelligence at points but were nonetheless wrong and that Mr. Obama was right to ban them.

    Mr. Brennan did not back down on that position with the release of the committee report.

    “Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom E.I.T.s were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives,” he said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to enhanced interrogation techniques. “The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of Al Qaeda and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.”

    Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the program “had shortcomings and that the agency made mistakes,” especially because the C.I.A. was unprepared for its new post-Sept. 11 role. But he rejected the assertion that the agency deliberately deceived the public about the efficacy of the interrogations.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Democratic chairwoman of the intelligence committee, said the program was not just morally wrong but ineffective. The committee’s report argues that information gleaned from the interrogations was often false, duplicative or could have been obtained in other ways.

    “It finds that coercive interrogation techniques did not produce the vital, otherwise unavailable intelligence the C.I.A. has claimed,” she said.

    In walking the line between those two poles, Mr. Obama has carefully measured his language and tone. Even though he denounced torture generally during his 2008 campaign, many involved in the issue were struck this summer when he directly stated that the United States had in fact tortured prisoners, interpreting that as a more forthright statement than he had made before.

    “We did a whole lot of things that were right,” Mr. Obama said about the post-Sept. 11 fight with terrorists, “but we tortured some folks.”

    On Tuesday, he seemed at first to avoid such a straightforward assertion again. His written statement noted he had “unequivocally banned torture” but did not say the United States had actually committed torture. In discussing what had happened under his predecessor, Mr. Obama used phrases like “harsh methods” and even “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the phrase preferred by Mr. Bush and the C.I.A.

    Aides quickly said that Mr. Obama was not trying to hedge and that when the president sat down with José Díaz-Balart from Telemundo for an interview several hours later, he used a more direct formulation.

    “Some of the tactics written about in the Senate intelligence report were brutal, and as I’ve said before, constituted torture in my mind,” Mr. Obama said.

    Yet as human rights and civil liberties groups called for prosecution of those responsible, the White House evinced no interest and aides made clear Mr. Obama had “complete confidence” in Mr. Brennan, as one put it.

    Asked about the Senate committee’s judgment that the C.I.A. deceived the public, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said, “That’s something that we’re not passing judgment on.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, December 10, 2014 7:35 pm @ 7:35 pm

  6. I’d be interested in knowing if you think what was done in your name conforms to your morality or that of your religion, Your lack of objection suggests it does. It does not mine. It makes a mockery of the values we were supposed to hold. The lack of outrage from Obama, you or anyone else simply tells us that our morals have been turned on their head, Hell, Fred, how you can be satisfied having spent a career putting people behind bars for victimless crimes while remaining apparently content that the people who ordered these atrocities live rich and happy lives is a real puzzle to me. As I said, our morals are upside down. It won’t stay that way forever; It may take a new generation, but the moral bankruptcy of current authority will not be tolerated forever. Human kind is better than this. It will be replaced and with rightful prejudice against the individuals who perpetrated it and coddled it. You’re picking a side, Fred, and it’s the wrong one.

    Comment by Roch — Thursday, December 11, 2014 7:38 am @ 7:38 am

  7. Roch,

    How does your moral high ground hold up against Obama taking out individual terrorists with drones while 100’s or thousands of innocents are killed collaterally by these actions ? You OK with that ? I mean it is to keep us safe, right ?

    General Hayden, former CIA Director called the tortue report more like a prosecutorial screed rather than a historical document

    AND:

    McConnell: Senate Dem Report ‘Served Absolutely No Purpose’ Besides One Last Attack on Bush

    AND:

    José Rodriguez Gives ‘History Lesson’ to CBS: We Saved Lives ‘And That Is the Bottom Line’

    AND:

    Ed Henry Questions White House Flack Over Obama Hypocrisy

    “How could the president appoint John Brennan and James Comey ( who served in the Bush Admin and endorsed the legal memo blessing waterboarding etc ) to two of the most sensitive jobs in the administration, CIA and FBI, if he believes they endorsed un-American tactics?” vis-a-vis the waterboarding of terrorist detainees,” Fox News Channel White House correspondent Ed Henry posed today to White House press secretary Josh Earnest. Suffice it to say, Earnest did not have a good answer. Fortunately for us, Mr. Henry did not let up on his grilling of the Obama White House’s flack-in-chief.”

    Here. Watch.

    AND:

    Senate interrogation report distorts the CIA’s success at foiling terrorist plots

    ” The most incredible and false claim in the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA interrogation program is that the program was neither necessary nor effective in the agency’s post-9/11 pursuit of al-Qaeda. The report, written by the committee’s Democratic majority and disputed by the Republican minority and the CIA, uses information selectively and distorts facts to “prove” its point.” RTWT

    AND:FINALLY :

    Selective Belief

    ” Do a quick scan of major media reporting on the Senate Democrats’ so-called torture report. Pay particular attention to liberal reaction and commentary. Then go back and examine major media reporting on the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Wilson. Again, pay particular attention to liberal reaction and commentary.

    Many of the same media outlets that dismissed as incredible the Ferguson grand jury’s decision — a decision based, in part, on the testimony of more than 40 witnesses to the event in question — now find credible a report on a CIA program prepared by Democratic staffers who interviewed none of the individuals involved in establishing and running the program.

    Who says liberals aren’t religious? “

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, December 11, 2014 3:22 pm @ 3:22 pm

  8. Roch,

    Even over at your network the partisan report is being mugged ( With video and transcript )

    Scarborough Rips CIA Report: “Take Any General And I Could Turn Them Into A War Criminal”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, December 12, 2014 6:04 pm @ 6:04 pm

  9. Democrats’ CIA gambit backfires

    By Jennifer Rubin, WAPO, December 11

    ” I strongly suspect Senate Democrats did not anticipate the events that played out after the release of their much-criticized report on CIA interrogation tactics. Sure, the gory details dominated headlines and delighted the antiwar left, but then conservatives and some Democrats — and most telling, current and former CIA officials — struck back.

    We have seen a parade of former CIA directors, deputy directors and even former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) blast release of the report and the shoddy attempt to pronounce upon the agency without interviewing those who knew the most. That story — condemn first and don’t ask questions because you might get an answer you don’t like — has resonated. All of this has cast the Democratic Party once again as the party that’s weak on (and unserious about) defense.”

    RTWT

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, December 12, 2014 6:52 pm @ 6:52 pm

  10. Fred, even if I’m not an expert on intelligence or an interrogation, I know a great deal about public relations. So take it from me: Your throwing random baseless pieces from well-known right-wing hacks isn’t going to make this any better for the Bush admin or any more believable to torture critics.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, December 12, 2014 6:56 pm @ 6:56 pm

  11. Seriously, with the political crap? Torture- we signed the agreement, we said we wouldn’t do it, we pretended to have moral superiority when we went to war against innumerable “evil dictators” and now the evidence (from CIA memos and emails) is in, and conservatives want to equivocate about usefulness, actionable intelligence, and then misdirect about political motivation? You are not patriots, you are moral relativists with no code of ethics. There is no justification. Goodbye American Exceptionalism! We enjoyed knowing you, much as we enjoy unicorns.

    Comment by nch20son — Friday, December 12, 2014 8:38 pm @ 8:38 pm

  12. Lex,

    Excuse me .. Are the former ( and crrentt ) directors of the CIA right-wing hacks ? Maybe to you but to me and a majority of our people they are great Americans

    Anybody who does not tow the left wing talking points is a hack sez Lex

    A travesty of a report

    ” The report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding CIA interrogation essentially accuses the agency under George W. Bush of war criminality. Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein appears to offer some extenuation when she reminds us in the report’s preamble of the shock and “pervasive fear” felt after 9/11.

    It’s a common theme (often echoed by President Obama): Amid panic and disorientation, we lost our moral compass and made awful judgments. The results are documented in the committee report. They must never happen again.

    It’s a kind of temporary-insanity defense for the Bush administration. And it is not just unctuous condescension but hypocritical nonsense. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was nothing irrational about believing that a second attack was a serious possibility and therefore everything should be done to prevent it. Indeed, this was the considered opinion of the CIA, the administration, the congressional leadership and the American people.

    Al-Qaeda had successfully mounted four major attacks on American targets in the previous three years. The pace was accelerating and the scale vastly increasing. The country then suffered a deadly anthrax attack of unknown origin. Al-Qaeda was known to be seeking weapons of mass destruction.

    We were so blindsided that we established a 9/11 commission to find out why. And we knew next to nothing about the enemy: its methods, structure, intentions, plans. There was nothing morally deranged about deciding as a nation to do everything necessary to find out what we needed to prevent a repetition, or worse. As Feinstein said at the time, “We have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”

    Nancy Pelosi, then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, was briefed about the interrogation program, including the so-called torture techniques. As were the other intelligence committee leaders. “We understood what the CIA was doing,” wrote Porter Goss, Pelosi’s chairman on the House committee. “We gave the CIA our bipartisan support; we gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.”

    Democrat Jay Rockefeller, while the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was asked in 2003 about turning over Khalid Sheik Mohammed to countries known to torture. He replied: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned.”

    There was no uproar about this open countenancing of torture-by-proxy. Which demonstrates not just the shamelessness of Democrats today denouncing practices to which, at the time and at the very least, they made no objection. It demonstrates also how near-consensual was the idea that our national emergency might require extraordinary measures.

    This is not to say that in carrying out the program there weren’t abuses, excesses, mismanagement and appalling mistakes (such as the death in custody — unintended but still unforgivable — of two detainees). It is to say that the root-and-branch denunciation of the program as, in principle, unconscionable is not just hypocritical but ahistorical.

    To make that case, to produce a prosecutorial brief so entirely and relentlessly one-sided, the committee report (written solely by Democrats) excluded any testimony from the people involved and variously accused. None. No interviews, no hearings, no statements.

    The excuse offered by the committee is that a parallel Justice Department inquiry precluded committee interviews. Rubbish. That inquiry ended in 2012. It’s December 2014. Why didn’t they take testimony in the interval? Moreover, even during the Justice Department investigation, the three CIA directors and many other officials were exempt from any restrictions. Why weren’t they interviewed?

    Answer: So that committee Democrats could make their indictment without contradiction. So they could declare, for example, the whole program to be a failure that yielded no important information — a conclusion denied by practically every major figure involved, including Democrat and former CIA director Leon Panetta; Obama’s current CIA director, John Brennan; and three other CIA directors (including a Clinton appointee).

    Perhaps, say the critics, but we’ll never know whether less harsh interrogation would have sufficed.

    So what was the Bush administration to do? Amid the smoking ruins of Ground Zero, conduct a controlled experiment in gentle interrogation and wait to see if we’d be hit again?

    A nation attacked is not a laboratory for exquisite moral experiments. It’s a trust to be protected, by whatever means meet and fit the threat.

    Accordingly, under the direction of the Bush administration and with the acquiescence of congressional leadership, the CIA conducted an uncontrolled experiment. It did everything it could, sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly.

    But successfully. It kept us safe.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, December 13, 2014 1:08 am @ 1:08 am

  13. Torture is not a partisan issue, despite conservatives deepest wishes to protect the biggest dolt ever to reside in the White House.

    Comment by nch20son — Saturday, December 13, 2014 9:39 am @ 9:39 am

  14. Ya really think Obama needs protectimg ?

    Torturing The Truth

    ” The nature and timing of the report on CIA interrogation operations released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee were ideal for Democratic members of the committee and their allies, and harmful for just about everyone else.

    How the report’s revelations will affect the safety of those who represent America abroad, and how they will affect the loyalty of our foreign partners, has yet to be seen. But for now, the important work of the intelligence community has been smeared for partisan, political purposes, not least by the repeated invocations of the term “torture.”

    It is certainly possible that actions like waterboarding, or other examples of enhanced-interrogation techniques, could be deployed in such a way as to constitute torture. But it would require a great deal of specific knowledge of techniques used and decisions made in order to prove this happened at CIA sites, and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee consulted only limited records, photographs, and pieces of existing testimony.
    One gets the sense they would have settled for an even lower standard of evidence, as President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder did before even taking office. In 2012, Holder, like Bush-administration lawyers before him, eventually came to conclude that the CIA had not committed prosecutable instances of abuse or deceit. That need not have been the end of the investigations; Americans do deserve to know, when it becomes reasonably safe to make it public, what has been done in their name and what cost is paid for their defense.

    But a full and fair accounting of such policies wasn’t what committee chairman Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats set out for. Republicans on the committee soon realized this and quit the effort. It’s simply impossible to conduct a fair investigation without interviewing its subjects, and Senate Democrats did not do so. That is how, for instance, the report concluded decisively that enhanced interrogation didn’t provide significant help in the search for Osama bin Laden — while top CIA officials universally, and credibly, maintain it did.

    The decision to pervert this investigation was driven in some part, surely, by vindictiveness over a perceived lack of cooperation from the CIA — perhaps a real problem, but certainly not one to be solved like this — and by a still-burning desire to discredit Bush-era policies. (Or rather, Bush-era policies besides those that the Obama administration has decided to continue.)

    The CIA may have misled Congress about its interrogation operations, and at the time it may have overstepped what it was authorized to do. But that time was the months and several years following the attacks of September 11, when virtually every elected official, and the great majority of Americans, were demanding that anything be done to stop another attack. The proximity of another attack was completely unknown, demanding more aggressive tactics than any intelligence officer would prefer.

    An accounting of mistakes made during the CIA’s interrogation program is necessary and desirable — as are recommendations for how to improve the CIA’s programs and prevent mistakes in the future. The Senate Democrats’ report includes no such recommendations, as their former colleague Bob Kerrey of Nebraska has pointed out. That lacuna alone reveals the shallowness and bias of the Senate Democrats’ work. Those who want America to be defended responsibly and ethically should be ashamed of this report, not exulting in it.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, December 13, 2014 10:12 am @ 10:12 am

  15. Fred, whether you choose to argue that torture is legal and/or necessary, or whether you choose simply to engage in ad hominem, appeals to discredited authority, straw men, and patriotic myth, the bottom line is that I am not changing my mind on this — now or, in all likelihood, ever. So I’m just going to shut down this thread. Clearly, nothing I can say is going to change your mind, and I know quite well that nothing you (or the usual right-wing cast of cads and criminals) can say to change mine.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, December 13, 2014 8:43 pm @ 8:43 pm


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