Yesterday, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) called for the classified Senate report on the CIA "enhanced terrogatiton methods to be made public, in Why the Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation program should be made public, after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence "voted 11 to 3 last Thursday to declassify and make public the executive summary and the findings and conclusions of its report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program." Today, McClatchy News Service reports it has obtained a copy of a report that asserts CIA's 'harsh interrogations' exceeded legal authority: report. (Updated to include original McClatchy Website Source which is much longer.)
From the first article:
We believe that public release is the best way to ensure that this program of secret detention and coercive interrogation never happens again. It will also serve to uphold America’s practice of admitting wrongdoing and learning from its mistakes.
The full committee was not briefed on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program until September 2006 — more than four years after the program had begun — and learned about the existence and eventual destruction of CIA interrogation tapes only from news reports in late 2007.
In December 2007, media reports revealed that the CIA had destroyed videotapes depicting the interrogations of its first two detainees, Abu Zubaida and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri . The CIA had destroyed those tapes in 2005 over the objections of President George W. Bush’s White House counsel and the director of national intelligence, among others.
The original report of 6,600 pages which the Senators are apparently not calling to be declassified, but many human rights groups are, includes "CIA documents, including cables, internal memoranda and e-mails, briefing materials, interview transcripts, classified testimony, financial documents and more."
Apparently, on reason former CIA Director Leon Panetta decided not to compel CIA personal to participate in Senate oversight interviews is that might face legal jeopardy for activities conducted outside of the law. I have mixed feelings about that. Why is it his job to protect them from our system of justice. Is he not supposed to be working for our system of justice? If they got before the committee and their personal lawyers recommend they plead the Fifth Amendment their rights would be protected, in a better process, would it not. Panetta's actions appear, instead, to be aimed at protecting the CIA from constitutional oversight by the Senate committee.
Both Senators refute critics claims the report was written to support preconceived conclusions and assert all conclusions are extensively documented from evidence provided by the CIA itself.
Ali Watkins, Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor of McClatchy DC, reports, CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says
WASHINGTON — 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. The CIA has said that about 30 detainees underwent the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
The CIA’s claim “is BS,” said a former U.S. official familiar with evidence underpinning the report, who asked not to be identified because the matter is still classified. “They are trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case.”
The findings are among the report’s 20 main conclusions. Taken together, they paint a picture of an intelligence agency that seemed intent on evading or misleading nearly all of its oversight mechanisms throughout the program, which was launched under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ran until 2006.
Some of the other bombshell conclusions include that the CIA methods were not approved by Justice Department or CIA headquarters, that the agency impeded White House oversight and decision-making, as well as congressional oversight.
I call for both the Senate's executive summary report and the entire CIA report to be declassified. It appears as if efforts are still being made to keep major portions of the original CIA report classified.
With regard to Feinstein's clashes with the CIA about the declassification processes, she remarked:
"How does it make sense for the president to allow the CIA to take charge of declassifying a report that shows unlawful and embarrassing conduct on its part?" she asked in a statement responding to the McClatchy report.
I agree 100% with Senator Dianne Feinstein. The CIA can not be in charge of deciding what parts of an investigation into its own potential wrong doing the constitutionally endowed Senate oversight committee to gets to see.
The members of this committee are elected by the people and this branch of government has oversight responsibility over the CIA, so these Senators should have access to all of these materials. And, on their recommendation, this summary report, at the very least, should be made public, if not the whole document.
It seems shocking to see the lengths to which the Republicans are going to refuse to admit that their actions under the Bush-Cheney administrations were not only unwise, and wrong, but illegal as well. The judgement call by the Democrats not to seek impeachment hearings after the Bush-Cheney administration was controversial, in some corners of our party, however, as we can see by the Republican's continued refusal to admit error, there were substantive reasons to at least debate the issue.
We may have made the correct decision, to try to heal the nation, rather than rip it further apart, however, in retrospect, perhaps, we should have made a greater effort to identify and assign responsibility for the errors policy and judgement such as this, in some other way, as the South Africans did with their Truth and Reconciliation Committees.
As a consequence of not doing an exhaustive national assessment and "house-cleaning" it appears some of the most problematic aspects of the Bush-Cheney administration continued on after their departure. And, some matter of policy, such as this one on whether "enhanced interrogation" is torture, works, and is a valuable tool, or something our whole nation rejects, or just the Democrats seem to remain unsettled.
President Obama deserves credit for putting an end to "enhanced interrogation" techniques" although it is galling to have former V.P. Dick Cheney going around still claiming he was right, claiming that "we," meaning "he, "prevented terrorism by using it, (which this report apparently proves is a lie,) and he would do it all over again.
Look how hard we are still fighting just to get a summary report describing "portions" of what went on publicized. And, most of the Republicans on this committee have apparently walked out in protest.
We are nowhere near this state of "recovery" with respect to our assassination drone policy, which some reports tell us has been greatly expanded since the Bush era, as we are now still crossing sovereign borders to assassinate "terrorists," and/or enemy non-combatants. But we read, that the counting methods and definitions are written such that any unidentified bodies near an "enemy combatant" are defined as such without further evidence, despite reports of exceptions such as when we bombed a Pakistani wedding party.
And, what about the state of domestic surveillance? The list of Bush era policies we missed a change to make a national assessment of, that are continuing to haunt us is long. Perhaps the work of his Senate committee shows us we still may have a chance?
These reports are sad, though we seem to be making progress.
10:41 AM PT: Added "say McClatchy" to title to properly attribute statement. My original title included allusion to Feinstein and Rockefeller statement as well, but seemed to attribute this quote to them and wouldn't fit, when I temporarily took it out the title reverted too closely to the Reuter's title. Attributing the quote to the Senate report as McClatchy asserts seems most accurate, but since it is classified, perhaps a little sketchy so despite the fact most people will not know who McClatchy is this seems to be the best compromise. Any suggestions for a better title will be much appreciated.
11:28 AM PT: Article updated to include original McClatchy DC Website as source for second article which is much longer in the original site. This sight contains many other Watchdog links and resources as well. Thanks to Garrett for suggestion.