The Washington Post reports today that the "CIA is pushing the Obama administration to maintain the secrecy of significant portions of a comprehensive internal account of the agency's interrogation program."
The officials say the CIA is urging the suppression of passages describing in graphic detail how the agency handled its detainees, arguing that the material could damage ongoing counterterrorism operations by laying bare sensitive intelligence procedures and methods.
The May 2004 report, prepared by the CIA's inspector general, is the most definitive official account to date of the agency's interrogation system. A heavily redacted version, consisting of a dozen or so paragraphs separated by heavy black boxes and lists of missing pages, was released in May 2008 in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union....
Some former agency officials said that CIA insiders are fighting a rear-guard action to prevent disclosures that could embarrass the agency and lead to new calls for a "truth commission" to investigate the Bush administration's policies.
Two former agency officials who read the 2004 report said most of its contents could be safely released and, if anything, would seem familiar. General information about the agency's interrogation program has already been made public through the Obama administration's release of memos by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel authorizing the harsh CIA techniques and through the earlier leak of a 2005 report on CIA interrogations by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The broad conclusions of the inspector general's report, as well as its specific assertion that some interrogators exceeded limits approved by the Justice Department, have previously been disclosed.
"[CIA Director] Leon Panetta has been captured by the people who were the ideological drivers for the interrogation program in the first place," said a former senior officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity when discussing the still-classified report.
Greg Sargent speculates that this effort to suppress information is to try to "keep chunks that would undermine Cheney under wraps." This 2004 report from the CIA, according to various reports from officials who have seen it, will show that the CIA knew then that there was no proof that torture uncovered terror plots. One chapter of the report, which was released in heavily redacted form in response to an ACLU suit, is on "effectiveness." That chapter had been entirely redacted from the previous release.
That could be part of the resistance, but it appears that the larger part of it is that the CIA knew then, as it knows now, what it was doing was illegal. From the WaPo story:
he report further questioned the legality of using different combinations of techniques -- for example, sleep deprivation combined with forced nudity and painful stress positions, according to sources familiar with the document. While Justice Department lawyers had determined in August 2002 that the individual techniques did not constitute torture, the report warned that using several techniques at once could have a far greater psychological impact, according to officials familiar with the document.
"The argument was that combining the techniques amounted to torture," said a former agency official who read the report. "In essence, [Helgerson] was arguing in 2004 that there were clear violations of international laws and domestic laws."
This is ongoing CYA from the CIA. They know that torture was illegal, they're fighting tooth and nail to avoid disclosure and potential prosecutions. The discouraging part is that it will probably work, again. Here's Dan Froomkin's take on it:
Give them an inch, they'll take a mile. Now that President Obama has shown that he can be rolled when it comes to his commitment to transparency, the defenders of torture are shamelessly pressuring him to keep their secrets even when court rulings and common sense say otherwise.
The latest attempt -- which finds complicit CIA officials pushing Obama to renege on his administration's pledge to release a highly critical 2004 CIA inspector general's report -- is so blatantly self-serving that even some former CIA officials are condemning it as unjustifiable.
Stop letting them play you for a sucker, Mr. President. Return to your principles. Let the sunshine disinfect this wound.
Marcy has an excellent post fitting the new information from this report into what we already knew about the Bush torture regime.