Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness — justice.Those are prophetic words from the only hero I have ever had in life. They came to mind as I read about the Obama administration's attempts to cover some of the worst misdeeds of the CIA "with a cloak of forgetfulness." The New York Times describes how the current leadership of the CIA is working to protect the rendition and torture programs created by George Tenet. It is a disturbing story.
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967), p. 109
The U.S. Senate voted in April to declassify a scathing report on the CIA's savage "interrogation" program. As soon as the vote was taken, the current CIA director, John Brennan, called a meeting of the program's architects to keep the public in the dark. Before long, George Tenet was coordinating a covert campaign to gut the report of any unpleasant truths. Adding insult to injury, Obama's chief of staff is aiding the redaction process.
Ms. Feinstein agreed to let a group of former senior C.I.A. officials read a draft of the report, although she initially insisted they be allowed to review it only at the committee’s office. Officials said President Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, intervened and brokered an arrangement in which the officials could read an unredacted version of the report inside a secure room at the office of the Director of National Intelligence. Ms. Feinstein declined to comment.There is no 11 dimensional chess game here to outwit the wicked. When the point person behind the effort to blind the public is the president's chief of staff, it is impossible to believe Obama has not given it his blessing. The president might want the report to be made public, but he wants it sanitized.
The White House has been working closely with intelligence agencies to redact the document before it is returned to the Intelligence Committee, providing fuel to critics that Mr. Obama was giving license to the C.I.A. to vet a report that accuses the agency of a raft of misdeeds. The president has said little publicly about the report, other than that he would like it to be made public as soon as possible.
Details of the "extraordinary rendition" program have been leaking out for some time. The Rendition Project, funded in part by the United Kingdom, has pulled together a good bit of information on the program. The Guardian covered the story a year ago and outlined what researchers had uncovered so far.
The data includes details on 11,006 flights by aeroplanes linked to the CIA's rendition programme since 2002. Of those, 1,556 flights are classed as confirmed or suspected rendition flights, or flagged as "suspicious", depending on the strength of the supporting evidence surrounding each.According to the NYT, the people responsible for this nightmare are concerned that the public will learn of their atrocities.
The researchers have also confirmed 20 "dummy" flights within the data: flight paths logged with air traffic controllers, but never taken. Instead, the planes took a different route to different airports along the way, to pick up or drop off a detainee. About a dozen more flight paths are marked as possible dummy flights.
The website also weaves together first-hand testimony of detainees of their mistreatment within the secret prisons; the layout and conditions of the facilities; the movements of detainees across the globe; and documents that detail outsourcing to corporations that offered logistical support, from flights to catering and hotel reservations. In some cases, it is unclear whether the airline companies would have been aware of the purpose of the flights.
At one point during the meeting, the current head of the counterterrorism center, an officer with the first name Mike, told Mr. Brennan that roughly 200 people under his leadership had at some point participated in the interrogation program. They wanted to know, he said, how Mr. Brennan planned to defend them in public against accusations that the C.I.A. engaged in systematic torture and lied about its efficacy.The arc of history does not bend toward justice until evil is exposed. It requires leaders with a conscience. Sadly, that seems to be lacking among the most powerful in our nation. Brennan authorized the CIA to spy on members of Congress preparing the report on rendition and torture. Now he is allowing George Tenet to undermine its release. The president has said repeatedly that he wants the report to be made public, yet his chief of staff is coordinating efforts behind the scenes to protect those guilty of evil in our name.
Just once I would like to read the news without feeling like I am living in the fevered imagination of Lewis Carroll and George Orwell.