It’s Time to Open the CIA’s Torture Report
(November 20, 2019) — It has been more than a decade since Congress authorized an investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs following 9/11. But the public has yet to see the full report. That must change.
In May 2009, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), overwhelmingly voted 14-1 to open an investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program under President George W. Bush, after reviewing details of past interrogation sessions.
In 2012, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted 9-6 to approve a final 6,000-page Torture Report, which included a conclusion that the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs.
In late 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the executive summary and key findings of the report. But the full report was never released. It is unacceptable that the full torture report is kept from the public, while several of the highest officials deeply involved in the illegal, failed program remain in positions of power.
Gina Haspel, who oversaw secret torture and detention sites, now heads the CIA. Marshall Billingslea, who advocated the use of torture during the Bush administration, is now a nominee for a crucial human rights position at the State Department.
The executive summary released to the public excluded more than 5,400 pages of the original report, which are still secret.
The public has never seen the full report. And now Amazon has released a movie titled The Report detailing the outrages of this cover-up.
Since the summer of 2014, Open the Government has been fighting alongside our allies to protect and release the full Torture Report — including requests to the CIA, then-President Obama and the National Archives.
Adding more doubt that the American public will ever see the full Torture Report, in the spring of 2016, reports emerged that the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General “mistakenly” destroyed both its digital and physical copies of the Torture Report, without informing either the Senate or the judge presiding over the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act case seeking the report’s release. The office later “found” its copy again, after the case had concluded.
The time has long passed to release the full Torture Report to the American people.
In order for our democracy to function effectively, we must have transparency and accountability.
The full Torture Report remains shrouded in secrecy and exists in only four remaining known places:
1) the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where there is no law that requires that it be released to the public,
2) Barack Obama’s presidential archives, where it remains ineligible for release until at least 2028,
3) the Department of Defense, where it is being preserved for use in military commission cases, and
4) at the United States District Court in DC for use in habeas corpus cases for Guantánamo detainees.
Thank you for all that you do to demand an open and transparent government that is accountable to the American people.
Lisa Rosenberg is the Executive Director of Open the Government
CIA Risks Sliding Back into Illegal Torture Methods, Warns Real-life Star of The Report
WASHINGTON (November15, 2019) — Daniel Jones, the Senate investigator who inspired Amazon film, says Barack Obama’s failure to confront CIA could spell return to dark days.
The author of the Senate report on CIA torture, dramatised in a new film released on Friday, has said the failure to punish those responsible makes it more likely the US could again resort to illegal and ineffective interrogation techniques.
As chief investigator for the Senate intelligence committee, Daniel Jones spent five years poring over internal CIA accounts of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” programme adopted in the “war on terror”, which Congress demanded to see after it emerged that agency officials had destroyed videotapes of the brutal questioning of terrorist suspects.
The Amazon movie, The Report, tells the story of what Jones (played by Adam Driver) and his colleagues found out about the torture programme: the systematic use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and “stress positions”, and the extraordinary fact that the CIA itself had conducted a review that showed none of it was working. The programme did not provide useful intelligence – and yet the CIA hid that conclusion.
It culminates in a hard-fought, partial victory, with the publication of a summary of the damning report.
Any sense of euphoria, however, is quickly punctured by the closing credits that note that none of the officials responsible for the torture or the cover-up had been held accountable. Gina Haspel, who ran one of the CIA’s black sites and who wrote a cable calling for the destruction of the torture videotapes, is now director of the CIA. The CIA officer responsible for the interrogations that killed Gul Rahman, an Afghan suspect, received a performance bonus.
“What this film shows – and what the report itself shows – is the repeated inability to hold anyone in the CIA accountable for its misdeeds,” Jones said. “There are certain things you do in your professional life that should stop your advancement, right? Maybe [Haspel] doesn’t go to jail. Maybe she doesn’t get fired, but maybe you’re in charge of the parking garage from here on out, right? I mean you were involved in a torture program, and you destroyed tapes. You don’t go up the chain.”
Another villain, albeit unseen, in The Report, is John Durham, a prosecutor tasked with a Department of Justice investigation into torture. Normally, when Congress and the department conduct parallel investigation, there is cooperation and a division of labour. Durham refused to meet Jones. Instead his extended investigation became an obstacle as the Senate researchers could not talk to officials subject to the Durham investigation. That investigation ultimately blamed no one and its findings were never made public.
“He said he couldn’t find any evidence of massive wrongdoing,” Jones said. “That’s all we found.”
Yet Durham is back in the headlines, assigned to lead a inquiry into the origins of the justice department and FBI investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which many expect to be used by the Trump administration to divert attention from Moscow’s role.
“There are some who think that our national security establishment is so important that they can’t even be questioned,” Jones said. “There’s some of the CIA who view their patriotism through the lens of what’s good for the agency. So if you damage the CIA, you’re damaging the country, right? … I think that’s just bullshit.”
The view that what is good for the CIA is good for the country ultimately won the day, however. Here Jones, a Democrat and a supporter on most other issues, blames Barack Obama and his security officials.
When Obama was elected, he called an end to the torture, but stopped short of confronting the intelligence community. In a famously oddly worded admission in 2014, Obama said: “We tortured some folks.”
The 44th president went on to say: “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”
Five years on, the line still infuriates Jones, who says the real patriots were the CIA whistleblowers. “I do think that if we slip back in [to committing torture] it will be because of the lack of leadership the folks at the CIA provided to us, which is zero leadership,” Jones said.
“I voted for Obama. I think he did wonderful things, but it’s because of his lack of leadership. If we slip back, it’ll be because of his lack of response.”
‘Justice has been denied to them’
One last chance for the US to come to terms with the widespread use of torture may present itself in the coming years in Guantanamo Bay, where military tribunal trials are finally due to take place of inmates there suspected of involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
The proceedings however have been bogged down for years in the pre-trial phase, because of the use of torture on the defendants. Their lawyers say that makes their testimony inadmissible and intend to make the proceedings a long-delayed trial of US torture.
Alka Pradhan, one of the Guantanamo defence attorneys, said: “Ironically, the only forum in which we’ve shed any more light on the torture program is the one most damaged by it: the military commissions at Guantanamo.
“The government wanted to use evidence rooted in those CIA torture sessions to quickly execute the defendants in the 9/11 case. We’re putting that evidence on trial first, to show how unworthy it is of a country that believes in the rule of law.”
Torture was supposed to protect Americans, but it ended up robbing the survivors of 9/11 of what they most craved, Jones argues. The use of torture made it impossible to try them in federal court and secure convictions.
“Nothing angers me so much as the lack of justice for the families of the victims,” he said. “Justice has been denied to them, because of this programme.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes,