Later On

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Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category

Classified Report on the C.I.A.’s Secret Prisons Is Caught in Limbo

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Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo report in the NY Times:

A Senate security officer stepped out of the December chill last year and delivered envelopes marked “Top Secret” to the Pentagon, the C.I.A., the State Department and the Justice Department. Inside each packet was a disc containing a 6,700-page classified report on the C.I.A.’s secret prison program and a letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein, urging officials to read the report to ensure that the lessons were not lost to time.

Today, those discs sit untouched in vaults across Washington, still in their original envelopes. The F.B.I. has not retrieved a copy held for it in the Justice Department’s safe. State Department officials, who locked up their copy and marked it “Congressional Record — Do Not Open, Do Not Access” as soon as it arrived, have not read it either.

Nearly a year after the Senate released a declassified 500-page summary of the report, the fate of the entire document remains in limbo, the subject of battles in the courts and in Congress. Until those disputes are resolved, the Justice Department has prohibited officials from the government agencies that possess it from even opening the report, effectively keeping the people in charge of America’s counterterrorism future from reading about its past. There is also the possibility that the documents could remain locked in a Senate vault for good.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch last week, Ms. Feinstein, a California Democrat, said the Justice Department was preventing the government from “learning from the mistakes of the past to ensure that they are not repeated.”

Although Ms. Feinstein is eager to see the document circulated, the Senate is now under Republican control. Her successor as head of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, has demanded that the Obama administration return every copy of the report. Mr. Burr has declared the report to be nothing more than “a footnote in history.”

It was always clear that the full report would remain shielded from public view for years, if not decades. But Mr. Burr’s demand, which means that even officials with top security clearances might never read it, has reminded some officials of the final scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when the Ark of the Covenant is put into a wooden crate alongside thousands of others in a government warehouse of secrets.

The report tells the story of how, in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the C.I.A. began capturing people and interrogating them in secret prisons beyond the reach of the American judicial and military legal systems. The report’s central conclusion is that the spy agency’s interrogation methods — including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other kinds of torture — were far more brutal and far less effective than the C.I.A. acknowledged to policy makers, Congress and the public.

For now, it is the most comprehensive chronicle of one of the most controversial counterterrorism programs after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the C.I.A. for access to the document, and at this point the case hinges on who owns it. Senate documents are exempt from public records laws, but executive branch records are not. In May, a federal judge ruled that even though Ms. Feinstein distributed the report to the executive branch, the document still belongs to Congress. That decision is under appeal, with court papers due this month.

Justice Department officials defend their stance, saying that handling the document at all could influence the outcome of the lawsuit. They said that a State Department official who opened the report, read it and summarized it could lead a judge to determine that the document was an executive branch record, altering the lawsuit’s outcome. The Justice Department has also promised not to return the records to Mr. Burr until a judge settles the matter.

“It’s quite bizarre, and I cannot think of a precedent,” said Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. He said there are any number of classified Senate documents that are shared with intelligence agencies and remain as congressional records, even if they are read by members of the executive branch.

The findings of the report on the secret prisons remain the subject of fierce debate. A group of former senior C.I.A. officers published a book in September challenging its conclusions and methodology, and Senate Republicans have derided the investigation as shoddy and partisan. . .

Continue reading.

It’s pretty clear that what happened is something the American public deserves to know, and the intensity of resistance to revealing what happened shows that it must have pretty bad.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 November 2015 at 7:16 pm

How the Judiciary undermines justice by excessive deference to the Executive

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Jenna McLaughlin reports in The Intercept:

The American Civil Liberties Union suffered major defeats on Friday, when two of its cases involving clear violations of civil rights and civil liberties were dismissed, both undone by the judiciary’s deference to executive-branch secrecy.

A dramatically divided three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit ruled in favor of Department of Justice lawyers who argued that Amir Meshal couldn’t sue for damages for his alleged torture at the hands of FBI agents in three African countries because it happened overseas and because the litigation would jeopardize “national security.” Meshal is a U.S. citizen who FBI agents suspected had ties to al Qaeda.

And a Maryland district court judge threw out a massive legal challenge to the National Security Agency and its “Upstream” surveillance program on behalf of Wikimedia, Amnesty International USA, The Nation magazine and six other groups, because they couldn’t prove that the NSA had specifically spied on them — despite the troves of publicly available information on how the mass-surveillance program works, primarily from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In both cases, the ACLU had appealed to the judicial branch for relief from the excesses of the executive branch. But both courts allowed the federal government to escape judicial oversight simply by insisting that national security matters should remain secret.

Meshal v. Chris Higgenbotham, FBI Supervising Special Agent

Amir Meshal, a U.S. citizen and New Jersey resident, traveled to Somalia in 2006 to study its culture and Islamic religious traditions. When he fled the country due to violence, he was apprehended by Kenyan authorities, whom he says passed him off to the FBI, who wanted to investigate him for ties to al Qaeda.

The ACLU filed suit against the FBI agents in November 2009 on behalf of Meshal, who alleges the agents detained him secretly for four months, denying him access to counsel and threatening to kill him or “make [him] disappear.” He lost 80 pounds while detained. He was subsequently released and was never charged with a crime.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia originally concluded his treatment was “appalling,” but dismissed the case because it concluded there was no legal precedent to help him.

The ACLU appealed in 2014, citing the legal precedent of a 1971 case called Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, in which the Supreme Court decided that individuals whose constitutional rights are violated by federal agents can sue for that violation and are entitled to a remedy.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown rejected that precedent, writing in her majority opinion that Meshal’s case was “unprecedented” because it dealt with a terrorism investigation overseas that could not be disclosed. She found a remedy “unavailable.” Brown was joined by her fellow George W. Bush-nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

But in her 29-page dissent, Obama-appointed Judge Cornelia Pillard argued that there was no real reason that Meshal did not qualify for compensation under Bivens, especially because the majority agreed that his allegations of constitutional violation and torture were “quite troubling.”

As for the national security argument for secrecy, Pillard wrote that she was “unpersuaded that adjudicating Meshal’s constitutional damages claim would necessarily pose unacceptable risks.” The government neither explained in any detail why national security would be irreparably harmed if the case went forward, nor sought to present classified evidence to the court.

The ACLU is concerned. “This opinion creates a legal black hole for the incommunicado detention and gross mistreatment of American citizens,” said Jonathan Hafetz, the ACLU-affiliated lawyer representing Meshal. “The line of national security is an amorphous, malleable concept that is frequently subject to manipulation and abuse.”

Pillard called on the rest of the bench to fight more vigorously for individual rights. “Judicial scrutiny becomes particularly important when executive officials assert that individual rights must yield to national security and foreign policy imperatives,” she wrote.

Wikimedia v. NSA . . .

Continue reading.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, is determined that none of those whom the U.S. tortured should get any justice, not even those who were clearly innocent. This is the sort of behavior that the U.S. deplores when done by other nations (unless those nations are, like Saudi Arabia, protected, with all their human rights offenses taken as being okay).

Written by LeisureGuy

27 October 2015 at 9:46 am

Interesting development: Former U.S. Detainees Sue Psychologists Responsible For CIA Torture Program

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Very intriguing. I’m sure the government will do all it can to quash the case, mostly by intoning “national security” and “state’s secrets” and avoiding trial altogether. But these guys are civilians, outside the government. Stay tuned.

Jenna McLaughlin (a name I’m noticing on a lot of good stories) reports in The Intercept:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on Tuesday morning on behalf of three former U.S. detainees against the psychologists responsible for conceiving and supervising the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program that used systematic torture.

From 2001 to 2010, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, along with their employees, netted almost $85 million dollars in contracted fees from the CIA for executing a pseudoscientific plan to extract information from alleged terrorists.

The plaintiffs in the case, Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman, are just three of 119 detainees who were tortured through means developed by Mitchell and Jessen. Rahman died in a CIA black site due to his treatment, and the ACLU is suing on behalf of his estate.

Salim and Soud were never formally charged by the U.S. with a crime and are now free, but are still suffering severe physical and psychological impairments as a result of their treatment in various CIA “black sites.”

The plaintiffs were subject to being waterboarded repeatedly, crammed into tiny coffin-like boxes, stripped naked and then slapped and beaten, and left alone in the dark with nonstop loud music, among other torture techniques.

The plaintiffs argue that Mitchell and Jessen, charged professionally as psychologists with promoting mental health, are guilty of commissioning “torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes, all of which violate well-established norms of customary international law.”

“These psychologists devised and supervised an experiment to degrade human beings and break their bodies and minds,” said Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “It was cruel and unethical, and it violated a prohibition against human experimentation that has been in place since World War II.”

The CIA contacted Mitchell and Jessen in 2001 after police found materials in an alleged Al Qaeda supporter’s apartment in England that explained how someone might resist interrogation.

The CIA asked the psychologists, neither of whom had experience with interrogation, to come up with ways to combat these resistance techniques. Mitchell and Jessen took inspiration from a psychologist named Martin Seligman, who determined that dogs would be completely submissive if subjected to repeated physical and mental suffering. This state of “learned helplessness” would force a confession out of detainees, surmised Mitchell and Jessen.

However, there is still no evidence that the torture techniques actually helped obtain important information. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its report on the CIA program found that it resulted in “faulty intelligence” or no intelligence at all.

Nevertheless, multiple levels of the government signed off on the techniques at various steps of the program. Mitchell and Jessen’s contract continued until 2009, when President Obama issued an executive order officially ending the enhanced interrogation program.

The ACLU’s case is the first lawsuit brought against major players in the Senate’s so-called “torture report” since it was published last December. . .

Continue reading.

The government never should have condoned torture (by anyone) much less instituted a program of torture under the aegis of the US government, but it is now determined that no one face any accountability for what they did.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2015 at 12:51 pm

Chelsea Manning continues to be insanely persecuted in prison

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Digby blogs at Hullabaloo:

Jesus H. Christ:

Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier serving a 35-year military prison sentence for leaking official secrets, has been threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste in her cell and being found in possession of the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair issue, according to her lawyers and supporters.

Manning, a Guardian columnist who writes about global affairs, intelligence issues and transgender rights from prison in the brig of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has allegedly been charged with four violations of custody rules that her lawyers have denounced as absurd and a form of harassment. The army private is reportedly accused of having showed “disrespect”; of having displayed “disorderly conduct” by sweeping food onto the floor during dinner chow; of having kept “prohibited property” – that is books and magazines – in her cell; and of having committing “medicine misuse”, referring to the tube of toothpaste, according to Manning’s supporters.

The maximum punishment for such offences is an indeterminate amount of time in a solitary confinement cell.

The fourth charge, “medicine misuse”, follows an inspection of Manning’s cell on 9 July during which a tube of anti-cavity toothpaste was found. The prison authorities noted that Manning was entitled to have the toothpaste in her cell, but is penalizing her because it was “past its expiration date of 9 April 2015”.

The “prohibited property” charge relates to a number of books and magazines that were found in her cell and confiscated. They included the memoir I Am Malala by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, a novel featuring trans women called A Safe Girl to Love, the LGBT publication Out Magazine, the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair and a copy of Cosmopolitan that included an interview with Manning.

Also confiscated was the US Senate report on torture. It is not clear why any of these publications were considered violations of prison rules – a request by the Guardian to the army public affairs team for an explanation of the charges received no immediate response.

I’m going to guess it that report on torture that really set them off. After all, these prisons practice torture every day so they probably believe that a prisoner reading such material is automatically insubordinate.

Solitary confinement is torture.The Center for Constitutional Rights says:

The devastating psychological and physical effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well documented by social scientists: prolonged solitary confinement causes prisoners significant mental harm and places them at grave risk of even more devastating future psychological harm and at times, these harms were found to be permanent or persist even after one was released from solitary.

Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, fear of impending nervous breakdowns and higher rates of hypertension and early morbidity. Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal ideation.

Exposure to such life-shattering conditions clearly constitutes cruel and unusual punishment – in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Further, the brutal use of solitary has been condemned as torture by the international community.

Manning is a political prisoner being held as an example to others. And they are apparently contemplating torturing him. For reading about the United States torture program. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 August 2015 at 4:04 pm

New Effort to Rebut Torture Report Undermined as Former CIA Official Admits the Obvious

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Dan Froomkin at The Intercept:


Former top CIA officials planning a major public-relations campaign to rebut the Senate torture report’s damning revelations have found themselves undermined by one of their own.

Eight former top officials wrangled by Bill Harlow — the former CIA flak who brought us the website after the Senate report was issued last December — are publishing a book in the coming weeks entitled “Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program.”

Meanwhile, however, Alvin Bernard “Buzzy” Krongard, who was the CIA’s executive director from 2001 to 2004 — the number-three position at the agency — was asked on a BBC news program if he thought waterboarding and putting a detainee in painful stress positions amounted to torture.

“Well, let’s put it this way, it is meant to make him as uncomfortable as possible,” he said. “So I assume for, without getting into semantics, that’s torture. I’m comfortable with saying that.”

He added: “We were told by legal authorities that we could torture people.”

The book’s contributors include former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael V. Hayden, former deputy directors John McLaughlin and Michael Morrell, former counterterrorist center deputy director J. Philip Mudd, former chief legal counsel John Rizzo, and former head of the clandestine service Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr.

All of them were complicit in the Bush administration torture regime and/or its cover up.

The book is intended to present the “rest of the story,” according to is promotional material. If past protestations from its authors are any guide, the book will also include many spurious examples intended to prove that the program “saved lives.” . . .

Continue reading.

Video at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2015 at 9:38 am

Israeli adopts forced-feeding torture in order keep Palestinians imprisoned indefinitely without charge

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A very ugly scene: Israeli locks up people indefinitely with no charges filed, and if they go on hunger strike in protest, Israel will adopt forced-feeding despite medical personnel stating that this is torture. Israel justifies the torture by pointing out that the US has adopted torture, including forced-feeding, which the US continues to do at Guantánamo. The US: an exemplar of the acceptability of torture—not to mention imprisoning people without charge: cf. the 16-year-old boy locked up in solitary at Riker’s Island for three years, and finally simply released without going to trial. (The boy later committed suicide.)

Joel Greenberg reports for McClatchy:

Israel’s parliament passed a controversial law Thursday authorizing the force-feeding of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, drawing swift condemnation from the country’s medical association, which called the practice torture.

The government-backed bill was introduced in response to cases in which Palestinian prisoners have gone on prolonged hunger strikes to protest jail conditions and their detention without trial, sometimes winning early release.

The legislation, passed 46-40 in the 120-member Knesset, authorizes a district court judge to approve force-feeding of a prisoner who in the opinion of a doctor is in imminent danger of death or severe and irreversible disability.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year cited force-feeding at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention camp to bolster the government’s case for the practice, in which liquid nourishment is pumped in tubes run through prisoners’ noses into their stomachs.

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who sponsored the bill, said after it passed that “hunger strikes by imprisoned terrorists have become a tool for attempts to pressure the state of Israel.”

“We must not reach a situation in which a prisoner who poses a public threat will be freed because the state did not have the ability to save him from death and is compelled to release him,” Erdan said.

Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner who had been on a hunger strike for 55 days to protest his detention without charges, was released this month by the Israeli authorities because of fears that his possible death could trigger widespread unrest.

Israel holds more than 5,600 Palestinians in its jails, 391 of them without charges or trial, according to the Israel Prison Service.

Dr. Leonid Eideleman, chairman of the Israeli Medical Association, called passage of the force-feeding bill “a black day in the annals of Israeli legislation.” He said his group would instruct doctors not to cooperate with the procedure.

“Force-feeding is torture, doctors must not participate in torture, and Israeli doctors will not participate in torture,” Eidelman said, adding that his group would challenge the law in the Israeli Supreme Court. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2015 at 7:15 pm

An interesting report on the contradictions of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

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I often disagree strongly with Feinstein’s positions, but then she will surprise me by (for example) pushing through the publication of a slightly censored executive summary of an important report on the US program of systematic torture of prisoners and suspects. Connie Bruck profiles her in the New Yorker:

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic senator from California, is making a late career of not quite pleasing anyone. After five decades in politics, Feinstein, at eighty-one, is the oldest sitting member of the Senate, where a late term is often less a valedictory than a chance for activism: think of Edward Kennedy or Mitch McConnell. With its elaborate rankings and deferential codes, the Senate rewards longevity; senior members have better committee seats, more loyal patrons, first choice of desk space in the chamber. As they near retirement age—whatever that means, in an institution where nearly a quarter of the members are over seventy—senators can hope to change a thing or two.

When Barack Obama took office, on January 20, 2009, the Democrats held the Senate, and Feinstein had just become chairman of the powerful Intelligence Committee. At Obama’s inaugural ceremony, she delivered the welcoming remarks, standing before an eager crowd and declaring, “Future generations will mark this morning as the turning point for real and necessary change in our nation.” Skeptics on the National Mall might have noted that this was not a novel sentiment in such speeches, but for Feinstein it was an earnest indicator of political engagement. As the Bush Administration came to an end, the country was reconsidering the decisions of the previous eight years, particularly the ethics of the War on Terror.

Feinstein is sometimes described as a centrist, but it is because her views are varied, not because they are mild; she thinks of herself, more accurately, as a pragmatist. Especially in recent years, on issues she cares deeply about, she will take positions that other senators do not. Feinstein has pursued a deal to prevent Iran from building nuclear arms more intently than any of her colleagues. In March, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, in the hope of averting a possible deal, Feinstein appeared on “Meet the Press” and said, “What Prime Minister Netanyahu did here was something no ally of the United States would have done.” When I saw her the next day, she told me, “For Netanyahu to come here with a clear view of preventing an agreement was really inappropriate. Particularly because this President’s Administration has provided more than twenty-five billion dollars to Israel, far more than to any other country.”

Although Feinstein mostly votes with the Democrats, she is less predictable than many of her colleagues. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, she voted to confirm several of President George W. Bush’s nominees. In 2007, she endorsed Michael Mukasey for attorney general—even as he dodged the question of whether waterboarding is torture, saying only, “If it amounts to torture, then it is not constitutional.” A Democrat from hyper-liberal San Francisco, she has persistently defended government surveillance programs and targeted killings by drones, and she has been one of the C.I.A.’s most faithful supporters. Last year, after President Obama called to move authority for drone strikes from the C.I.A. to the Defense Department, Feinstein placed a classified amendment in a spending bill that helped keep the program where it was. When the activist Edward Snowden revealed that the N.S.A. had amassed the phone records of vast numbers of American citizens, he was hailed on the left as a whistle-blower. Feinstein said, “I don’t look at this as being a whistle-blower. I think it’s an act of treason.” Advocates for human rights and civil liberties responded with angry editorials. The journalist Glenn Greenwald has said that her “disgusting rhetoric recalls the worst of Dick Cheney.”

The former Secretary of State George Shultz, who has raised money for Feinstein’s campaigns from Republican friends in California, told me, “Dianne is not really bipartisan so much as nonpartisan.” Slightly formal in style, she adheres faithfully to procedure and protocol; she believes in settling disputes privately, and by argument rather than by force. Even in less than momentous situations, she is a dogged negotiator. William Luers, a former ambassador and the head of the Iran Project, recalled, “I don’t think anyone has a meeting with her where she says, ‘I’m with you all the way.’ Rather, she says, ‘I’m with you, but you have to understand under what terms.’ ”

In her office recently, she described how she broke with the C.I.A. over the detention and interrogation program that began in the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. From the first time Feinstein was briefed about the program, she opposed it. On September 6, 2006, Michael Hayden, the C.I.A. director, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee and described a network of “black sites”: secret facilities where C.I.A. interrogators subjected detainees to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” seeking information about possible terrorist attacks. Hayden, self-assured and pugnacious, insisted that the interrogations were carefully run and unassailably effective. Afterward, Feinstein wrote to him that his testimony was “extraordinarily problematic,” and that she was “unable to understand why the C.I.A. needs to maintain this program.” In November, when Hayden appeared before the committee again, Feinstein peppered him with questions. She wanted to know how the agency guarded against abuse, whether detainees were stripped of their clothes, whether they were fed during periods of sleep deprivation. Although she and several colleagues raised objections, Hayden, not long afterward, told a meeting of foreign diplomats, “This is not C.I.A.’s program. This is not the President’s program. This is America’s program.”

In December, 2007, the Times revealed that C.I.A. officers had secretly destroyed videotapes of interrogations, against the advice of White House officials. A few days later, Hayden, insisting to the Intelligence Committee that there had been no “destruction of evidence,” turned over cables related to those taped interrogations. For months, two committee staff members reviewed the cables, which described the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, whom the C.I.A. suspected was a high-ranking Al Qaeda member, and of a detainee named Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

In February, 2009, the staff members appeared before the committee and described what they had found. Nearly twenty-four hours a day for twenty days, Abu Zubaydah was stripped naked and subjected to multiple “enhanced” techniques: slammed into a wall, slapped, deprived of sleep, confined in a coffin-size box, forced into painful postures. He was also waterboarded at least eighty-three times. Two psychologists, contracted by the C.I.A. to develop and run the interrogation program, reported that Abu Zubaydah was “ready to talk” during the first exposure, but “we chose to expose him over and over until we had a high degree of confidence he wouldn’t hold back.” After the first waterboarding sessions, a C.I.A. official wrote, “Several on the team profoundly affected . . . some to the point of tears.” By the seventh day, the C.I.A. team had informed headquarters that it was unlikely Abu Zubaydah had the threat information the agency was seeking, but the team was instructed to continue. During one waterboarding session, investigators found later, Abu Zubaydah “became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.”

Nashiri was subjected to similar measures. Investigators determined that he was put in a “standing stress position,” with “his hands affixed over his head,” for at least two days. It was implied that his mother would be brought before him and sexually abused. He was waterboarded. After each session, his interrogators reported that he was coöperative, but officials told them to persist, because he had not provided information on imminent attacks. When the interrogators objected, they were replaced.

Feinstein described the interrogations as “ugly, visceral.” As the new chairman of the committee, she had the authority to try to effect change. “You set the table, so to speak,” she said recently. “You make the determinations, what will come up, what the committee will do.” She called for a full investigation of the C.I.A. program, and the committee voted in favor of it, 14–1. That was the genesis of what became known as the torture report, a sixty-seven-hundred-page tome, laden with footnotes. When the report was completed, in December, 2012, it included an appendix devoted to Hayden, detailing more than thirty misstatements in one session of his testimony. (Hayden argues that the Democrats misinterpreted the intent of his testimony, saying, “I described the norms—how things were supposed to work—and they found the exceptions.”)

Michael Schiffer, who was a member of Feinstein’s staff for a decade, told me that Feinstein retains a stubborn, perhaps naïve faith that the system is run by people who are trying to do the right thing for the country. “When that faith is shaken, she is really determined to do something about it,” he said. “It was that faith that caused her to be so enraged about torture.” A former intelligence officer, who knew Feinstein from her years on the Intelligence Committee, saw her determination a little differently: “The worst thing, from Dianne Feinstein’s perspective, is trying to keep her from doing her job of oversight. And if you lie to her that’s bad.”

When Obama took office, Feinstein assumed that he would be a strong ally. During the campaign, he had excoriated the Bush Administration for the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, forthrightly calling the interrogation tactics “torture.” On his second day in the White House, he issued an executive order that banned C.I.A. detention and effectively prohibited the use of waterboarding and other coercive techniques. In the end, though, what Feinstein’s group released was not the full report but a five-hundred-page executive summary, with a fraction of the meticulous, excruciating details. The summary’s release, last December, came after an eleven-month battle, in which Feinstein and several other Democrats on the committee fought strenuously against the C.I.A.—and, unexpectedly, the Obama White House. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the profile:

In December, 2012, the committee approved the final report (eight Democrats and one Republican voted yes) and sent it to President Obama. The report concluded that the enhanced techniques were far more brutal than the agency had disclosed, and were an ineffective means of obtaining accurate information. The C.I.A. had justified them by enumerating terrorist plots that had been “thwarted.” The report examined twenty of these examples and found them “wrong in fundamental respects.”

Written by LeisureGuy

19 June 2015 at 2:42 pm


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