As the Senate committee report states:
In nearly all cases, the derogatory information was known to the CIA prior to the assignment of the CIA officers to the Detention and Interrogation Program. This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged ub inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had repeatedly admitted to sexual assault.
Imagine the staff meetings!
First spook: Hey, I can’t find a dildo big enough — do you think we have some bigger ones somewhere in stock?
Second spook: I’ll send Smith to go see — I think he gets a charge outta that kinda thing.
[snicker] So are you getting the hang of it now?
First spook: Oh yeah. That Patai book has been way helpful. The Arab mind sure is a dirty mind. Turns out these guys are all faggots, they just won’t admit it. Speaking of which, could you send over a couple of rapists with those dildos?
On the floor of the United States Senate, Mark Udall said today:
In my view the Panetta Report is a smoking gun. It raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago and never provided to the committee is so different from the official Brennan response and so different from the public statements of former CIA officials.
The Panetta Review found that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the President, and the public on the efficacy of its coercive techniques.
Panetta’s analysis revealed how detainees provided intelligence prior to the use of torture against them.
The Panetta Review further identifies cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all. In other words, the CIA tortured detainees to confirm that they didn’t have intelligence, not because they thought they did.
Udall asked the head of the Democratic Party and sitting President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama
to purge his Administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this [Detention and Interrogation] program.
The Antiwar.com editor then concluded:
The idea that “this isn’t who we are,” as President Obama has said, and that we have to expose this so that it “never happens again,” as Senator Dianne Feinstein puts it, is pure nonsense. This is indeed who we are. It is what we became once we acquired a global empire.
Waterboarding is nothing new for Americans: we did it to the Philippine rebels when we decide to “liberate” them from the Spanish. We did worse in Vietnam. . . . Want to abolish torture by agents of the US Government? Then abolish the American empire. There’s no short cut.
Update 15 December: The most revealing aspect of this whole issue is the experience of John Napier Tye former State Department official in charge of “Internet freedom,” who wrote a speech routinely giving out the liberal-Obama administration party line that the government’s surveillance programs can always be “reformed” because we live in a “democracy.” As per routine, he submitted his draft to White House legal counsel, probably not expecting any objection to this particular point – and was no doubt shocked to receive a correction from the lawyers:
“In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies. The draft stated that ‘if US citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.’
“But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to ‘our laws and policies,’ rather than our intelligence practices. I did.
“Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.”
The myth of democracy is one of liberalism’s most cherished illusions, and yet here it was being rudely dispelled by the legal eagles of the most liberal administration in recent history. What a shock to the system!
Yet such shocks are what the present age is made of. In response to the shock of 9/11, the political spectrum once again rearranges itself, abolishing the old categories of “liberal” and “conservative” and ushering in new actors on the American political stage: authoritarians versus libertarians. The former are cultists of State power, who justify their depredations against the Constitution by invoking the sacred name of “national security,” while the latter are the Constitution’s last remaining defenders, who in this instance were outflanked and outvoted.
The last-minute addition to the Intelligence Authorization Act is putting lipstick on a pig, a.k.a. Executive Order 12333, but no amount of cosmetics will dress up this act of Congress to look like anything other than what it is – the ugly face of unabashed authoritarianism. Remember this next time the US State Department – perhaps its “Internet freedom” section – warns us that Russia is “backsliding.”
We’re all Soviet now.
Update 20 December 2014: Our author reads some portion of the Senate Report
the Senate report, specifically in footnote 857, which tells us:
“Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [Egyptian] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [redacted], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [redacted], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III.”
We’ll never get to read Volume III – at least, not until the Revolution – thanks to Senate Intelligence Committee chair Diane Feinstein, who supported the war and is no doubt protecting her own ample behind by hiding from the public how easily Cheney and the neocons deceived her. Her decision to keep secret the actual Senate report – as opposed to the released summary – is justified by invoking all the usual “national security” reasons, but perhaps political security has more to do with it.
This is the real secret that the released portions of the Senate torture report only hint at: the Cheney administration gulled Congress into supporting the Iraq war with “evidence” based on coerced confessions tortured out of detainees who told interrogators what they wanted to hear. Key members of Congress may not have known the details of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, but they surely didn’t look too closely because they knew in general terms what as going on – and were thus complicit not only in these crimes but in their own deception.
We are told by the pollsters that Americans don’t care about torture, and that only us rarefied types are raising moral objections to a practice for which the US government prosecuted Japanese war criminals. And the polls may be right, although it all depends on how the question is asked – but what if the question were posed as follows?:
“Do you approve or disapprove of US government officials using torture on detainees in order to justify a war based on a lie?”