Information in torture report starts to leak out

The White House and the CIA are still resisting calls to release even the 500-page Executive Summary and conclusions of the 6,300 page Senate torture report. It appears that while the full report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the US government’s torture practices has not been leaked (as yet anyway) elements of what it contains are coming out.

The excellent McClatchy News Service seems to have sources with inside knowledge of the report’s contents and reports that:

A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.

The report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods.

Some of the report’s other conclusions, which were obtained by McClatchy, include:
_ The CIA used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or CIA headquarters.
_ The agency impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making regarding the program.
_ The CIA actively evaded or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
_ The agency hindered oversight of the program by its own Inspector General’s Office.

Of course, we can be sure that the Obama administration will not take any action against those responsible for these violations of US and international laws against torture.

It seems likely that as long as the report remains secret, there will continue to be a drip-drip of damaging leaks. It may serve the administration better to release the whole report and get it over with once and for all.


  1. John Horstman says

    True democracies have no need for state secrets. Such things are, in fact, entirely antithetical to the concept of “democracy”, for how can the demos rule without all information about the actions of the state? A total lack of secrets absolutely makes it very difficult to spy and wage war and even operate a security force of any kind. Those are features, not bugs – the whole point is to form a kinder, gentler, less coercive state structure.

  2. says

    True democracies have no need for state secrets.

    The US has never been a democracy. At best it’s a fake democracy, at worst it’s a stealth oligarchy. But the will of the people has never been a factor in what the US government does. Never will be, unless there’s a revolution.

  3. lorn says

    As I see it it made, and still makes, a lot of sense to avoid prosecutions. Yes, it is a great injustice and in a perfect world we would dig down to the truth, prosecute the guilty to the fullest extent of the law and firmly establish both in law and in practice that we will no countenance torture or human rights violations.

    The problem is that we don’t live in that perfect world. Time and time again torturers and perpetrators of genocide are allowed to go free because prosecution would end up being a several decade delay in advancing toward that more perfect world. Contemplate the various Truth and Reconciliation programs. You aren’t going to get to the truth as long as prosecution, at least the worse of it, is off the table. Only then will the perpetrators speak and give the families answers and closure. Only then can real community healing begin.

    Of course, in the case of the various torture regimes, military, civilian, private defense contractors, intelligence services if you want to prosecute you are going to face a protracted fight between emotionally needy and insecure super-patriots who see themselves as doing the right thing to defend the nation with their habitual methodology of force and hard persuasion and the historically correct intellectuals who know that a ‘soft’ option is less emotionally satisfying and reassuring, but both more effective and legal. Airing out those differences is a smaller version of what Germany went through after WW2. Years of soul searching and learning to think in new ways.

    It would, ultimately be a good thing. But we couldn’t afford the time. The Masters of the Universe had put the global economy through a knothole with a broomstick. We were hip deep in two wars that were not going well. It was not the time to clean out our collective closet of imaginary fears and insecurities. And it still isn’t. If we go peace and reconciliation with amnesty for torturers we will be opening wounds that go back to before WW2. We will be reexamining assumption about what it means to be powerful, what it means to be a man, what it means to feel the fear and still chose the soft option, even if it might be riskier in the near term. It means learning to manage what you see as evil instead of reflexively attacking it. It means a lot of people in the military need to grow up. It is something that will take years because roughly 30% of the population is deeply invested in imaginary battles between good and evil with a deep seated need to destroy evil instead of managing evil. Years we don’t have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *