Torture

Will We Ever Truly Know the Extent of CIA Torture During the War on Terror?

Copy of Senate report 'mistakenly' gets destroyed as government successfully resists release.

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Torture protest
Credit: Fibonacci Blue / photo on flickr

It was totally a mistake that the CIA's inspector general's office destroyed its copy of the classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was also totally a mistake that the office then destroyed the disk that contained the document. The office did stop short of "mistakenly" setting the computers or servers that stored the report on fire, so that's something.

Michael Isikoff at Yahoo! News today reports on the latest excuses why nobody is looking at or caring about the massive, 6,700-page report detailing all the terrible abuses by the CIA against detainees—torture that reportedly failed to get any useful intelligence:

"It's breathtaking that this could have happened, especially in the inspector general's office — they're the ones that are supposed to be providing accountability within the agency itself," said Douglas Cox, a City University of New York School of Law professor who specializes in tracking the preservation of federal records. "It makes you wonder what was going on over there?"

The incident was privately disclosed to the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department last summer, the sources said. But the destruction of a copy of the sensitive report has never been made public. Nor was it reported to the federal judge who, at the time, was overseeing a lawsuit seeking access to the still classified document under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a review of court files in the case.

A CIA spokesman, while not publicly commenting on the circumstances of the erasure, emphasized that another unopened computer disk with the full report has been, and still is, locked in a vault at agency headquarters. "I can assure you that the CIA has retained a copy," wrote Dean Boyd, the agency's chief of public affairs, in an email.

"Locked in a vault" is the best way to describe the status of the full report, the classified copies of which remain under wraps and generally unread. The ACLU has been suing under the Freedom of Information Act to have the full report declassified and released. Unfortunately, last week they were dealt a blow when a federal appeals court ruled that the full report is not subject to FOIA requests because it has been classified as a "work document" within Congress and is therefore exempt to public demands to be released. The matter is left up to the Senate Intelligence Committee itself. Current chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has been hostile to the very idea of anybody even looking at it, and the Obama administration doesn't seem to be in any rush to take a peek:

To ensure the document was circulated widely within the government, and to preserve it for future declassification, Feinstein, in her closing days as chair, instructed that computer disks containing the full report be sent to the CIA and its inspector general, as well as the other U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Aides said Feinstein specifically included a separate copy for the CIA inspector general because she wanted the office to undertake a full review. Her goal, as she wrote at the time, was to ensure "that the system of detention and interrogation described in this report is never repeated."

But her successor, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, quickly asked for all of the disks to be returned, even threatening at one point to send a committee security officer to retrieve them. He contended the volumes are congressional records that were never intended for executive branch, much less public, distribution.

The administration, while not complying with Burr's demand to return the disks, has essentially sided with him against releasing them to the public. Early last year, Justice lawyers instructed federal agencies to keep their copies of the document under lock and key, unopened, lest the courts treat them as government records subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Weeks later, in an effort to head off a motion for "emergency relief" by the ACLU, a Justice Department lawyer told U.S. Judge James Boasberg that no copies of the report would be returned to Congress or destroyed; the government "can assure the Court that it will preserve the status quo" until the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was resolved, wrote Vesper Mei, a senior counsel in the Justice Department's civil division, in a February 2015 filing.

One wonders how many administrations will pass before Americans get a real sense of the extent of the torture administered to (sometimes innocent) terror suspects in our name. But given that the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, is promising to bring back waterboarding "and more" should he become president, one might wonder the actual extent that a huge chunk of Americans even care.

Fortunately, we do still have the 500-page executive summary of the full report, and it was chock full of details on its own. I read through that summary back when it was released and explained its contents here. Americans should demand the right to see the full report, but given that not terribly much happened once the summary was released, it doesn't appear there's going to be much pressure on this administration to do so. 

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  1. No. Because the government is corrupt.

  2. Unfortunately, last week they were dealt a blow when a federal appeals court ruled that the full report is not subject to FOIA requests because it has been classified as a “work document” within Congress and is therefore exempt to public demands to be released.

    There’s an exemption will never be abused!

    1. *that will…

      Goblins ate my grammar this morning.

      1. They ate the Senate report, too.

        1. i thought the squirrels got the senate report? It’s all so confusing…

  3. My buddy’s step-mother makes $85 an hour on the laptop . She has been fired for 9 months but last month her payment was $14465 just working on the laptop for a few hours. .

    ==== http://www.PayAbility.TK

    1. My buddy’s step-mother makes $85 an hour on the laptop

      Go on…

      1. bow-chicka-bow

        1. -wow! you must never forget the wow.

    2. Wow. $85 an hour?? Tokelau must be the wealthiest country in the world!

      1. They would,have been if not the capitalist pigs that have imposed global warming on them.

  4. Must be some seriously embarrassing stuff in there.

    1. Trump, I’m sure, will release it! That’s one reason to vote for him. I guess…

    2. Must be some seriously embarrassing stuff in there.

      Because the “force-feeding hunger-striker up-the-ass” wasn’t nearly awkward enough

      I think the reason for secrecy is that while ‘torture’ has been banned ….

      …. a lot of the other actually-pretty-icky stuff is still 100% AOK.

      We still conduct extra-legal ‘renditions‘, and Obama’s ban of ‘torture’ didn’t cover any of the detainee-treatment allowed under Appendix “M” of the Army Field Manual on Interrogations, including =

      Abnormal sleep deprivation,” which the manual calls “mental torture,” and “forcing an individual to stand, sit, or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time” which it considers “physical torture.”

      etc.

      we still run CIA black-sites around the world to avoid adding to Gitmo’s pop. And of course we still assassinate people all the time. Which is probably the wrong word, because that implies some discriminate behavior. We cover the range of kidnapping/killing/indefinitely detaining to ‘blowing up compounds full of people‘ in countries we aren’t ‘at war’ with.

      1. It’s not just simulated torture. We’ve had lots of detainees die of exposure.

      2. We still conduct extra-legal ‘renditions’, and Obama’s ban of ‘torture’ didn’t cover any of the detainee-treatment allowed under Appendix “M” of the Army Field Manual on Interrogations, including =

        we still run CIA black-sites around the world to avoid adding to Gitmo’s pop. And of course we still assassinate people all the time…We cover the range of kidnapping/killing/indefinitely detaining to ‘blowing up compounds full of people’ in countries we aren’t ‘at war’ with.

        Bolding added, to accentuate extra chilling skin-crawley feeling. Too bad it’s pretty much impossible to recuse oneself from “guilty by association” without full blown citizenship renunciation.

        1. Too bad it’s pretty much impossible to recuse oneself from “guilty by association” without full blown citizenship renunciation.

          Actually, that’s not true. One could be jailed for failing to file income taxes. Or one could file, but get cleaned out by civil judgments. Ultimately, I accept it, and garnishment and/or end-of-year offset payments are made, and the process continues.

      3. Meh. We torture petty criminals and even completely innocent people right here in the states and the majority of Americans don’t give a shit. They will give even less of a shit about whatever the CIA is up to.

        1. BECUZ TURRISTS

      4. Let me add =

        I’m not even sure I necessarily think any of these actions are “wrong” per se

        I think they are certainly questionable. And *should* be debated, and their use scrutinized.

        My main gripe is the “Have (torture-murder) cake/ Eat (torture-murder) cake” attitude practiced by the Obama admin.

        Supporters pretend that the Obama admin has ‘ended torture’, ‘ended wars’, and restored America’s place as a Moral Authority in the world.

        meanwhile he’s drone-killed thousands, upped US unilateral attacks around the world, and contributed to the overthrow of multiple additional countries, while enduring zero real criticism for it.

        If i had to choose between the ‘unapologetic’ Bush admin and the mendacious Obama admin, I’d prefer the one which argued “in favor of Torture”, because at least they were honest about their intentions and presented arguments trying to defend them. The latter has merely *used* the powers which the Bush admin provided, while constantly pretending to be engaged in some “newer, cleaner, more enlightened” form of War.

        IOW, i’d prefer a world where people were openly protesting the acts of the govt, and the govt were openly trying to defend its brutal acts and behavior.

        Instead we have the same underlying reality – but with a sycophantic press that provides rhetorical cover for US actions, and a complacent populace that sees the current leadership as such a Stylistic improvement that the policy similarities are completely ignored.

        1. “I’m not even sure I necessarily think any of these actions are “wrong” per se”

          The debate over whether the actions themselves are “wrong” never takes place. Only the semantics argument over whether the actions constitute “torture” or not takes place. And of course torture is wrong and against the Geneva convention. The problem of course is that torture has a very open definition (as does terrorism). There is no doubt a huge difference between sleep deprivation or being subjected to loud music to being beaten with metal rods or being electrocuted. Of course politicians always prefer ambiguity because it gives them a lot of wiggle room. The argument shouldn’t be about whether waterboarding or whatever fits a given definition of an ambiguous term. It should be about whether in and of itself it is wrong. In general conversation, someone could say that spending a week with their in-laws or listening to there 5 year old nieces violin recital is “torture” and in fact some of those people might choose a couple minutes of waterboarding or a few hours of shitty loud music over those things. That’s not to condone those action, simply to say that the semantic arguments that have taken place are meaningless when those making them are unwilling (as they have been) to specifically define their words.

          1. I should add that the Bush lawyers did attempt to define torture but their detractors did not accept their definition but failed to produce their own.

            1. I’ll also add that I think it is much more productive to define what interrogation techniques may be used instead of which may not.

              1. I’ll also add that I think it is much more productive to define what interrogation techniques may be used instead of which may not

                .

                When they taught resistance techniques in Survival School, the techniques themselves were classified. The reason being, you don’t want your adversaries to know how you are resisting lest they come up with ways to counter.

                Same with interrogation techniques. This is a large part of the reason people are reluctant to have that discussion. If you come right out and tell the world what techniques are allowed, the opposition will develop/train their folks to counter them.

                That’s, in part, why some are not in favor of definitions.

                1. I think think from the lefts side, they avoid definitions because then they either have to say what interrogation techniques the approve of and lose their moral superiority or they have to say they are against all interrogation and lose the public completely.

          2. I think i’m in general agreement.

            I think the pantomime around “torture” has largely been symbolic, more to do with moral self-aggrandizement, posturing about what people were ‘against’ rather than looking at policies and practices… and asking why they’re used, whether they work, whether there are better ways to do things, what the role of criminal justice should be… etc.

            also worth noting = the way Obama has prosecuted the ‘War on Terror’ is far more like what many Bush people *wished* they’d conducted. i.e. – small-scale JSOC action, drones/bombings, use of proxies etc. But Iraq ended up derailing everything. The model Obama followed has otherwise been very close to the game plan which many in Bush’s Pentagon felt should have been the process from day 1

            (*setting aside Obama’s increase of resources for Afghanistan and then immediate abandonment; which is still something i think he gets no criticism for but which was a horrible waste of lives/resources to zero benefit)

            I think Obama has also benefited from Bush’s establishment of these ‘dark’ practices (rendition, offshoring, interrogation, etc) and been simultaneously been able to tut-tut the practices while using/expanding them

            The entire debate around ‘how to fight the War on Terror’ basically ended under Obama. Which is what i’m complaining about. It should be a constant, ongoing process of self-evaluation. Instead its become a process of ‘blaming the past’ while exonerating the present.

          3. Seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to come up with a definition for “torture”. You can easily eliminate the violin recital because you have the option to get up and leave if it pains you too much. I’d define it as deliberately inflicting pain, extreme disconfort or fear for one’s life or physical safety when not necessary to safely control a prisoner. Seems to cover it pretty well.

            1. extreme disconfort

              So sleep deprivation, loud music, pressure poses…

              Extreme discomfort or not?

              1. I’m going to say “yes” if you don’t have the option to get up and leave. Perhaps “extreme discomfort” needs to be more precise.

                1. Being in jail?

                  1. Being in jail?

                    If they are also forcing you to hear uncomfortably loud music, depriving you of sleep or forcing you to maintain pressure poses, then yes.

                    1. Point being, what the pacifist calls torture is going to be completely different than what an intelligence agency calls torture.

                      IMHO, nothing I went through in Resistance Training could/should be considered torture.

                      But there is certainly a line, somewhere just above it.

                    2. nothing I went through in Resistance Training could/should be considered torture.

                      Why not? Isn’t it training you how to resist torture? I could be wrong, I’m not sure what exactly it entails.

                    3. It is training to resist interrogation techniques.

                      They talk about how to resist torture, but they don’t actually torture you as torture is immoral. We don’t (or at least didn’t back then) do it to our enemies, let alone do it to our own people.

                    4. Seems kind of circular. We don’t torture, so if we do it it isn’t torture.

                      I would think we would want to prepare our soldiers for what our enemies would do to them, not so much for what we would do to our enemies.

                      But again, it comes down to how you define torture.

                    5. As I mention below, I’d personally define it right at or just above waterboarding. I’m torn on the waterboarding, but it’s damn close either way.

                      I don’t believe in beating, hitting, burning, electricity, cutting, starving, ripping, pain, freezing…

                      But I don’t have a problem with discomfort and I don’t buy the notion of psychological torture (but there are prolly some limits there, as well).

                  1. Just humiliation, no. Torture is physical pain.

                    I think a very broad definition of torture is good. As some people were saying above, the debate shouldn’t be about the definition of torture. It should be about if whatever they do to prisoners is moral or justifiable. So I say, just call all “enhanced interrogation techniques” torture and then decide what kinds of torture, if any, are acceptable, useful and necessary.

                    1. This issue is a lot like defining pornography. I know it when I see it. But I’ll be damned if I can come up with a good definition for it.

                      What was done, was exactly what you suggest. There were approved techniques. The first problem is they are classified so they can’t be publicly debated.

                      The second problem is that even if you could debate it, NOBODY (evidence you and I) will EVER agree on a proper definition of “torture”. Hell, prolly 30% of the population would call harsh language torture (evidence our college campuses). So there will always be the claim, by one’s political opponents, that you are torturing prisoners.

                      I have little doubt that some prisoners were tortured (by my definition, which is “at or just above waterboarding ish”) in the past 15 years. And I think it’s disgraceful.

                    2. I guess what I don’t like is the notion that you can cleanly divide torture from not-torture and decide that one side of the line is moral and one side is not. Seems like maybe you want to define torture as things that are likely to cause permanent injury. Even with that definition, things just this side of torture still seem morally questionable.
                      Defining torture as things we just won’t do seems mostly designed to shut down debate about the things that someone decided aren’t torture.

                    3. Moral?

                      None of it is “moral”. War is ALWAYS immoral. You are killing without due process. The soldier eating chow may never have even seen combat, but he’s a legitimate legal target. Same with the civilian who is working in an electric plant or ball bearing factory. There is nothing “moral” about war. It’s just that it’s sometimes necessary.

                      Here is how I view it. The government must give everyone (citizens and non) due process before putting them to death in peacetime. During war, the government is granted the power to not give due process to those non citizens specifically identified.

                      That’s what a declaration of war is. It’s Congress granting the Executive the power to forgo due process on the enemy. That’s why that declaration is so important. Without that, the President is just a murderer. It’s also why it needs to be specific as to who is to be killed and the time frame the exception is good for.

                      My .02

  5. I’m sure we will never know the extent of it, but our grandchildren might. Because what difference, at that point, will it make?

    1. Well, when the Caliphate is finally established in North America….

      1. Next year in Jerusalem?

        (I’ve figured out the conspiracy theory that Trump is a stalking horse to ensure Hillary’s election is itself part of a conspiracy to keep us from seeing that Hillary is the stalking horse for Trump. Look, she’s too old, too unpopular, too evil, too sick – her only possible value is to block anybody else from running for the D nod. Except Sanders – whose only value is to pull the party so far left that lefty Trump seems conservative. It’s ridiculous to think Hillary or Bernie could possibly get elected, so why then are the Ds running them?

        Because they’re laughably inept? They got Obama elected – TWICE – didn’t they? You think they’re inept? No, they’re geniuses. Here’s Trump – The Orange Babbler – who says anything, everything, nothing, does whatever he wants and nobody’s a bit surprised by how crazy he is. So next year when he invites 12 million Muslim jihadists to the US, who’s going to be surprised? We already know there are tons of the gullible who will applaud and contrive rationalizations as to how this is a brilliant move by a 7th level Dark Elf Mesmerist 4-D Chessmaster, and it’s entirely reasonable to think Trump is the exact opposite of everything he claims to be.

        But Trump does love a winner and he’s telling us all the time America doesn’t win anymore. Trump, for one, will be welcoming our new Muslim overlords.)

        1. Gonna need some more tinfoil for this one.

          1. Last I heard tin foil isn’t even made of tin. It’s ALUMINIUM!

            1. I keep telling you – tinfoil hats are part of the conspiracy. They want you to wear tinfoil hats because tinfoil hats act as brainwave amplifiers and make it easier for them to read your thoughts. What you want for headgear is a big ol’ Faraday cage like mine. And for God’s sake stay away from artificial Christmas trees and Diet Pepsi – you don’t want to know what those are all about. (Admit it, you’ve had a suspicion all along they were somehow just wrong in some inexplicable way, haven’t you.)

        2. Damn, I thought I was being funny writing the above but now I’ve gone and convinced myself it might be true. Trump has expressed admiration for some despicable people simply because they do whatever it takes to win – all he wants is to just win, baby. And now he’s tasked with taking a bunch of fat, stupid, lazy losers who’ve regularly had the Mexicans and the Chinese and the Arabs and everybody else eating their lunch and somehow win? If you had this unlovable bunch of misfits as your team and you wanted to win, how would you do it? Why, the easiest thing to do would be to just switch sides! If it doesn’t matter how you win but only that you do win, there’s the simple answer – defect to the winning team. Trump’s not here as our champion to lead us to victory, he’s here as part of the vanquishing horde to make sure we’re utterly defeated. That’s how you win, baby!

          1. So Trump is the Bad News Bears?

        3. Hillary is the stalking horse for Trump. Look, she’s too old, too unpopular, too evil, too sick – her only possible value is to block anybody else from running for the D nod.

          Interesting. Its hard to imagine a less electable major candidate than Hillary . . . And she did spend a great deal of time and effort “pre-clearing” the Dem ranks by building up a huge war chest, etc.

          Where the plot probably went wrong was that TEAM BE RULED was probably trying to set up a useful establishment idiot (Rubio, Bush the Least), and Trump ruined that game on the R side, with the D side unable to come up with a counter due to Hillary’s carnivorous effectiveness at denuding the local gene pool of decent candidates.

        4. It’s ridiculous to think Hillary or Bernie could possibly get elected, so why then are the Ds running them?

          Could it be that they are throwing the election because they don’t want to be in charge during the coming catastrophes?
          Maybe Trump is being set up as a patsy.

    2. History, at least, will not be kind.

      1. Well at least they’re not committing micro-aggressions

  6. It was totally a mistake that the CIA’s inspector general’s office destroyed its copy of the classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was also totally a mistake that the office then destroyed the disk that contained the document.

    And it was a mistake that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was destroyed. And Her Cankleness’ private email server was wiped. And…

    There seems to be a lot of that sort of thing going around.

    it doesn’t appear there’s going to be much pressure on this administration to do so.

    I’m sure once Obama is out of office the progressives will suddenly remember that they’re supposed to against torture and wars. Unless Cankles wins, that is.

    1. I like to imagine what would happen to me if I was being investigated by my state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel and on top of whatever misconduct they were investigating I told them I lost everything they were looking for in connection with said misconduct.

      1. I like to imagine what would happen to me…

        Depends entirely on how high up the totem pole you are. For instance, cabinet level secretaries can blatantly disregard information security practices, skirt FOIA requirements, and commit espionage through use of a personal email server instead of using their government email address and not be held accountable in the least while a low level functionary or contractor who did the same thing would end up in Ft. Leavenworth maximum security “pound me in the ass” prison…

  7. It’s breathtaking that this could have happened, especially in the inspector general’s office ? they’re the ones that are supposed to be providing accountability within the agency itself

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  8. Re: alt-text — it just goes to show how much Reason is for DOnald Trump.

  9. Re: alt-text — it just goes to show how much Reason is against DOnald Trump.

  10. Cytotoxic bait

  11. Nice alt-text, Shackleford.

    1. Shackford should just go ahead and legally change his name to Shackleford at this point. And change his first name to Rusty. For the lulz.

      1. Rusty? Not Peter?

          1. Heh. Point conceded.

  12. Who should I vote for the Republican Party of San Diego County Central Committee from the 76th Assembly District?

    1. STEVE SMITH

  13. But given that the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, is promising to bring back waterboarding “and more” should he become president

    Yet his detractors doubt Trump’s TEAM RED! cred.

    1. He’ll get his comeuppance when Jeb sews up the nom at the convention, right?

      1. 8% chance of that happening.

  14. RE: Will We Ever Truly Know the Extent of CIA Torture During the War on Terror?
    Copy of Senate report ‘mistakenly’ gets destroyed as government successfully resists release.

    We will know the extent of CIA torture eventually, but we’ll all be tortured before we’ll receive the information.
    That’s the price you pay for finding out the truth in Amerika.
    Isn’t Big Government wonderful?

  15. I bet they have incriminating video.

    The Texas pastor who sued Whole Foods in April for allegedly writing a gay slur on a cake he bought withdrew his lawsuit on Monday and apologized to the supermarket chain for perpetrating a hoax, KVUE reported.

    “The company did nothing wrong,” openly gay pastor Jordan Brown wrote in a Monday statement. “I was wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story.”

    1. Auto-play trigger warning.

      /edits

    2. These things are always fabricated

    3. Some of the comments there manage to be both bigoted AND racist. Gotta love when the MSM lets the sewer open every once in a while.

    4. Actually, Whole Foods does have video of him checking out with the cake.

      The real nail in the coffin, though, is that the baker who decorated the cake is actually gay himself.

  16. We’ll know it as soon as we know the extent of Obama’s extrajudicial killing spree and the tally from his double-tap bombing campaign.

  17. All’s fair in love and war. Suck it up.

    1. Moral high ground…

      …seize it.

  18. And one of those applications is Showbox app. It is one of the best online streaming application for watching Movies and TV Shows. In the starting, this application has been released for only a few of the mobiles and allows users to watch shows online.

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