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Apr 02 2014

Senate Committee Leaks Torture Report Finding

That massive report on the Bush administration’s torture regime put together by the Senate Intelligence Committee has still not been released, even in redacted form, but someone with the committee has leaked one of the key findings: That torture did nothing to help find Osama Bin Laden.

A hotly disputed Senate torture report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the investigation…

The report, congressional aides and outside experts said, examines the treatment of several high-level terror detainees and the information they provided on bin Laden. The aides and people briefed on the report spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the confidential document.

The most high-profile detainee linked to the bin Laden investigation was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times. Mohammed, intelligence officials have noted, confirmed after his 2003 capture that he knew an important al-Qaida courier with the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.

But the report concludes that such information wasn’t critical, according to the aides. Mohammed only discussed al-Kuwaiti months after being waterboarded, while he was under standard interrogation, they said. And Mohammed neither acknowledged al-Kuwaiti’s significance nor provided interrogators with the courier’s real name.

I have no doubt that this was leaked by a staffer, almost certainly with the approval of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as the latest salvo in their battle with the CIA over alleged spying on committee staffers while they were compiling the report. But it’s a pretty weak response. It’s not like Feinstein actually has the slightest interest in actually reining in the CIA or holding anyone accountable for torture. So all this is really just a food fight that matters little.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    dmcclean

    Is the report really “hotly disputed”?
    I haven’t heard much to substantiate that. It seems that whether to release it is coldly disputed, but I haven’t seen much reporting that the contents of the report itself are in dispute at all.

  2. 2
    eric

    I have no doubt that this was leaked by a staffer, almost certainly with the approval of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as the latest salvo in their battle with the CIA…

    Unless a leak is something negative about a staffer’s boss, I would pretty much assume any and every leak by a congressional staffer is approved by their boss. Most “leaks” are another part of Washington’s political theater.

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    A hotly disputed Senate torture report

    What is hotly disputed about it? Not the contents, but whether or not to release it, right?

  4. 4
    nichrome

    The most high-profile detainee linked to the bin Laden investigation was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times

    183 times… One Hundred & Eighty Three times…

    Imagine feeling like you’re drowning 183 times.

    Oh, if only there were real justice in this world…

  5. 5
    gopiballava

    “183 times… One Hundred & Eighty Three times…”

    When I first heard that number, it removed the last shred of doubt about how ineffective it was. It was portrayed as a measure of last resort against the truly evil, to get important information. It was described as if it was brutal but highly successful.

    183 times means it wasn’t working properly.

    The proponents of torture have some implied assumptions:
    1) We *know* that the prisoner knows the information we seek
    2) We have an oracle of some kind to immediately verify the accuracy of the information

    Under those conditions, it’s quite possible that it would work well. In the real world:
    1) Validating the accuracy of information about where somebody like bin Laden was hiding would take years and millions, maybe billions of dollars
    2) Given the difficulty in verifying the information and the uncertainty about what the prisoner knew, the prisoner would probably not be confident that the torturer would even believe him when he produced a complete, accurate and truthful set of information
    3) I strongly suspect that in many cases the truth is less believable than a lie

    Thus, the incentives for the prisoner to tell a torturer the truth just seem to be lacking, because the assumptions required for torture to work aren’t true outside of silly movies.

    Also, it’s immoral. I wish that more people would accept the immorality of it as sufficient.

  6. 6
    democommie

    @5:

    We have to “outmothahfuckin’ kill” the “mothafuckin’ killaz!”.

    Checkmate, wimps!

  7. 7
    dingojack

    eric (#2) -

    JIM HACKER: You’re not saying the leak came from – (gestures, pointing upward a few times)
    [meaning The Department of the Prime Minister]
    HUMPHREY APPLEBY: Minister, it’s well known that the ship of state is the only ship that mostly leaks from the top.*

    Dingo
    ——–
    * from memory

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