Friday, April 11, 2014

This week's chapter in the reckoning for torture crimes

The torture crimes aren't going away. The implications of the full-blown torture program instituted by the United States under the Cheney-Bush Administration - a program whose greatest public support in polls was among those who identified with the Christian Right - are just too far-reaching.

The reckoning is taking place in fits and starts and without the prosecutions that the Obama Administration was and is bound under the Torture Convention to pursue. (So was the Cheney Administration, for that matter.)

The conclusions of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA's part in the torture crimes have been leaked. The Booman Tribune provides the bullet-points (Senate Intel Committee's Findings on Torture Leak 04/11/2014) direct from the leaked text:

  • The CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques did not effectively assist the agency in acquiring intelligence or in gaining cooperation from detainees.
  • The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
  • The CIA subjected detainees to interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
  • The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention.
  • The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.
  • The CIA inaccurately characterized the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques to justify their use.
  • The CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques was brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.
  • The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.
  • The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
  • The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
  • The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.
  • Numerous internal critiques and objections concerning the CIA’s management and use of the Detention and Interrogation were ignored.
  • The CIA manipulated the media by coordinating the release of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
  • The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
  • The way in which the CIA operated and managed the program complicated, and in some cases hindered the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
  • Management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout its duration, particularly so in 2002 and 2003.
  • Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and were central figures in the program’s operation.
  • By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program. The effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques was not sufficiently evaluated by the CIA.
  • CIA personnel who were responsible for serious violations, inappropriate behavior, or management failures in the program’s operation were seldom reprimanded or held accountable by the agency.
  • The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program ended by 2006 due to legal and oversight concerns, unauthorized press disclosures and reduced cooperation from other nations.
  • The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ global reputation, and came with heavy costs, both monetary and nonmonetary.
If the Obama Administration continues its previous practice, they will aggressively seek to hunt down, prosecute and imprison whoever leaked this report and continue to waive any attempt at prosecuting the torture perpetrators themselves.

Charlies Pierce weighs in with Now We Know What's Being Done In Our Name Esquire Politics Blog 04/11/2014:

It is further evidence that nothing said by the heroes of our all-too-human, but curiously error-prone surveillance state about their activities can be trusted. Nothing. Ever. They lie for a living because their mission is a messianic one. They are contemptuous of democratic institutions, democratic norms, and any democratic spirit abroad in the people who pay their salaries and in whose name they carried out their crimes. If that skepticism is the most lasting result, that will be a good thing.
McClatchy's team of Ali Watkins, Jonathan Landay and Marisa Taylor report on the leaked report in CIA’s use of harsh interrogation went beyond legal authority, Senate report says 04/11/2014:

The report has been embroiled in a public furor since Feinstein, D-Calif., took to the Senate floor last month to accuse the CIA of possibly violating the law and the Constitution by monitoring computers used by her staff to assemble the report, and by removing and blocking access to documents.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, launched a criminal investigation at the CIA’s request into the alleged unauthorized removal of classified documents by Democratic committee staffers from the top-secret facility where they were required to review more than 6 million pages of operational emails and other documents related to the interrogation program.

Some current and former U.S. officials and military commanders, numerous experts and foreign governments have condemned the harsh interrogation methods as violations of international and U.S. laws against torture, a charge denied by the CIA and the Bush administration.
The leaked oversight report describes the CIA's horrible record on torture. And its findings are also an implicit indictment of the deeply irresponsible approach of President Obama and his Administration to prosecute these very serious crimes as they are obligated to do under the Torture Convention.

It's important to keep in mind that it was not only the CIA but our glorious generals in our sacred military who also participating in and facilitated torture. The just-leaked report discussed above is about the CIA's torture crimes, not about the military's. One reminder of the latter's role comes in this dossier from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) dossier on Geoffrey Miller, the one-time commander of the Guantánamo station of the Bush Gulag (Al Gore's term) who played a leading role in exporting the torture practices from Guantánamo to Abu Ghuraib. The dossier concludes:

The information above demonstrates that Geoffrey Miller bears individual criminal responsibility for the war crimes and acts of torture inflicted on detainees in U.S. custody at Guantánamo and in Iraq. Based on his position as a commander, Miller is responsible for the acts he authorized, commanded or directed his subordinates to commit, as well as for the acts of his subordinates which he failed to prevent or punish. Based on his leadership position and involvement in developing, authorizing and implementing interrogation policies, Miller can also be held responsible as a member of a joint criminal enterprise for his involvement in the torture of detainees in U.S. custody, or, alternatively, for aiding and abetting torture and other war crimes.
See also: Jason Leopold, Revealed: Senate Report Contains New Details on CIA Black Sites Aljazeera America 04/09/2014; Peter Foster, CIA use of torture 'far worse' than admitted, says leaked Senate report Telegraph 04/11/2014

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