Friday, April 25, 2014

The Senate Report on the CIA Torture Program

Anonymous officials have discussed the conclusions of a Senate Intelligence Committee Report with the Washington Post.  The report is about torture by the CIA under the Bush Administration. 

One should be skeptical of sources talking about national security, especially when they are anonymous. Nevertheless, these claims, if true, would be major revelations about the effectiveness of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program.

The officials told the paper that the report found that the CIA continued to torture prisoners even after it appeared that they were cooperating.

One official said that almost all of the critical threat-related information from Abu Zubaydah was obtained during the period when he was questioned by FBI agent Ali Soufan at a hospital in Pakistan, before he was interrogated by the CIA and waterboarded 83 times. According to anonymous sources the report says that information obtained by Soufan was passed up through the ranks of the U.S. intelligence community, the Justice Department and Congress as though it were part of what CIA interrogators had obtained.

Another interrogation that was described to the paper was that of Hassan Ghul. Ghul was a member of Al Qaeda who revealed that one of Bin Laden’s most important couriers was Kuwaiti. This fact helped the US find and assassinate Osama Bin Laden. Ghul disclosed that detail to Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq who asked questions written by CIA analysts. The CIA implied that this key detail came from their own subsequent coercive interrogation of Ghul.

The report was written between 2009 and 2012. Republicans withdrew from the report after the committee was unable to interview the interrogators who used the coercive techniques. At the time the Justice Department was conducting a legal investigation into the destruction of videotapes showing the use of harsh interrogation techniques. CIA Director John Brennan did not require that the interrogators be interviewed by the committee because their answers could have potentially put them in legal jeopardy due to the ongoing investigation. The committee instead relied on similar interviews previously conducted by the CIA Inspector General.

Senate intelligence committee staffers used CIA computers to access agency documents with the CIA’s permission. The CIA says that Senate staffers exceeded authorized access to obtain a set of documents. Diane Fienstein, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said that the CIA exceeded authorized access by monitoring computers used by the committee. Both allegations have been referred to the Justice Department.

The CIA has submitted a response to the Senate’s report which says that the some of the report’s conclusions are inaccurate. Republicans on the committee have also challenged the report’s conclusions. The Senate intelligence committee voted 11 to 3 to declassify the executive summary of the report. The report has been sent to the president for him to determine how much of the report to make public. 

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