Thursday, December 14, 2017

Trump May Rewrite History: Repeats Himself (Again) Saying Torture Works

January 2009: Obama Signs EO to Close Gitmo and Stop Torture

Trump's Next EO: “Keep Gitmo Open and Sustain Torture”

In one of his first acts as president (photo above) former President Obama signed executive orders closing this country’s secret prisons overseas, banning torture and authorizing an end to the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba – this story from here (NY Times).

Standing behind Mr. Obama in the above photo (in the Oval Office on January 22, 2009, were 16 retired generals and admirals who had his back, figuratively as well as literally. They were hardly soft-on-terrorism types). 

A few of them were lifelong Republicans. But these military men, working with Human Rights First, felt a moral imperative to oppose torture. They were convinced that it not only trampled core American principles, but also produced useless intelligence while potentially endangering United States troops who might fall into enemy hands.

A leader of that group was James Cullen, a retired brigadier general who had begun Army life as a private during the Vietnam War. He became a lawyer, serving for many years in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and later in private practice. In alliance with the human rights group, he and his once-uniformed colleagues lobbied major politicians to support a ban on coercive interrogations. General Cullen died recently in Scarsdale, NY at age 72. His death is a reminder of how former military men and women of conscience and courage can provide helpful support for the civilian leadership — and, if necessary, be a bulwark against the worst instincts that at times grab hold of it.

Now today: Obama didn’t fully get his way since today Guantánamo, though reduced to a few dozen prisoners, is still operating, but Trump more than once has expressed full faith in the harsh methods described euphemistically as enhanced interrogation techniques (which is the buzzword for torture).

Trump during one of his 2016 presidential debates said: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works.” 

No, Mr. Trump, torture does not work!!! Period.

Call his remarks and such as a WTF moment in our history with a president whose respect for the rule of law is meager and whose expressed affinity for example: waterboarding and even in his own words: “A hell of a lot worse” is needed. 

Now Trump has surrounded himself with retired generals, and many Americans are counting on them to restrain his most reckless impulses. The endless barrage of insults and threats from the tweeter in chief — plus decisions running counter to sound national security policy — shows that efforts to rein him in have been mixed at best.

My input: I wonder how many times I and other professional interrogators like me have to say in no uncertain terms that “torture does not work – never. Plus, it is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime.”

Just don’t try and tell that to Trump – the novice-in-chief, or so it seems
So, what’s next? Maybe he will write another of his famous EO’s and cancel Mr. Obama’s order to close the place. Let’s face it, we have seen by Trump’s actions that he wants to erase everything/anything attached to Mr. Obama.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Undisclosed Settlement in CIA Torture Case: Jessen and Mitchell Plaintiffs

Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell: CIA Torture Program Developers
(Defense Claim: We were just following orders)

He also made the claim: I was only following orders.

Adolf Eichmann, former Nazi S.S. colonel. Mossad captured him in May 1960.
His trial inside a bulletproof booth in Jerusalem, 1961. Hanged the following year. 
[Photo from Reuters]

Pretty startling headlines from the NY TIMES:

Settlement Reached in CIA Torture Case

A settlement in the lawsuit against former Air Force psychologists (*Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, both unskilled, unqualified, and inexperienced interrogators) who helped devise the CIA’s brutal interrogation program (Buzzword: “Enhanced interrogation techniques”) was reached bringing to an end an unusual effort to hold any government individuals accountable for the techniques the agency adopted after the 9/11 – conducted at Gitmo and “black sites” worldwide.

Lawyers for three plaintiffs, a suit filed in 2015 in the Federal District Court, Spokane, WA said the former detainees were tortured at the secret (black sites which the CIA operated). The settlement was reached after a judge urged resolving the case before it headed to a jury trial that was scheduled for early September.

The plaintiffs — two former detainees and the family of a third who died in custody — had sought unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. The terms of the settlement are confidential, and it is unclear whether a financial payout was involved. The parties agreed to a joint statement in which the psychologists said that they had advised the CIA and that the plaintiffs had suffered abuses, but that they were not responsible.

In a phone interview, one of the plaintiffs, Mohamed Ben Soud, said through a translator: “I feel that justice has been served. Our goal from the beginning was justice and for people to know what happened in this black hole that was run by the CIA offices.”

The plaintiffs said that Jessen and Mitchell profited richly from their work as contractors for the CIA – each received up to $1,800 a day. They later formed a company that was paid about $81 million to help operate the interrogation program over several years.

Our government (in our name) agreed to indemnify the men and their company, including paying their legal fees, judgments, and settlements up to $5 million. Some of those funds were used to cover legal bills during DOJ investigations. As of November 2011, there was close to $4 million left, according to a document made public in the lawsuit.

James T. Smith, their lead counsel, said in a statement that his clients were “public servants whose actions in regard to the interrogation of suspected terrorists were authorized by the U.S. government, legal and done in an effort to protect innocent lives.”

My note, I have to say as strongly and as professionally as I can: The “authorized” part refers to the infamous John Yoo/Jay Bybee, et al memos (that said it was okay. Further note: memos cannot change established law seen here from Cornell Law that I often refer to – the interrogations were illegal, unlawful, and a war crime – period. For those who pulled the “we were only following orders, may I refer them and their counsel to the Nuremberg trials – this aspect is sickening in American history.

Speaking by phone after the settlement was announced, Dr. Mitchell said he found it “regrettable that one guy died and those other guys were treated badly,” and he added: “We had nothing to do with it. We’re not responsible for it. They say we are, but in my view they’re wrong.”

Related case documents linked below are .pdf transcripts of the depositions and the latest declassified CIA documents:

·        James E. Mitchell
·        John B. Jessen
·        John Rizzo
·        Jose Rodriguez
·        Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud
·        Obaidullah
·        Suleiman Abdullah Salim
·        CIA Cables

The psychologists produced a memo in 2002 proposing harsh techniques to be used on terrorism suspects thought to be resisting interrogations. The CIA adopted nearly all of these methods, including waterboarding, stuffing prisoners into small boxes, forcing them to hold painful positions for hours, and slamming them into flexible walls.

The so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” were based on those used in military survival schools (SERE schools) that are used to simulate what our service members might undergo if captured.

My Insert: I used to teach and supervise the “R (Resist)” part of the SERE acronym named classes: “Survive, Evade, Resist, and Escape, so I know a helluva lot more than Jessen and Mitchell combined.

Those “enhanced (a fancy word for torture that cannot be dressed otherwise) were later condemned as illegal under U.S. and International law (i.e., Geneva conventions), and were ultimately banned and agreed to by our signing of treaties.

Also, the American Psychological Association consequently prohibited its members from participating in national security interrogations.

Note: As a candidate for president, Trump said he would bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse.” Then later he said he would defer to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his strong opposition — a widespread view in the military — to torture and prisoner mistreatment.

The case against Jessen and Mitchell proceeded despite multiple attempts by their lawyers to have it dismissed. They argued that the men acted solely under the authority of the government and were entitled to the same immunity as government officials. The judge, Justin L. Quackenbush, also denied motions by both sides requesting that he rule summarily in their favor before a trial.

Although there will be no public trial, the case — over its nearly two-year course — expanded public knowledge about the CIA torture program. Previously secret documents were declassified, including CIA cables from the covert prisons known as black sites. Jessen and Mitchell, along with the former CIA officials Jose Rodriguez and John Rizzo, were subjected to lengthy questioning by opposing lawyers in video depositions. Their sometimes sterile description of the techniques contrasted with the emotional accounts, in separate depositions, of the men who underwent them.

The plaintiffs and some of their experiences are described in the executive summary of the 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. The report, published in December 2014 and based on a five-year review of over six million pages of documents, lists 38 men known to have been subjected to the techniques in CIA prisons. It denounced the methods as brutal and criticized the CIA for providing false and misleading information to federal officials about the interrogation program’s effectiveness.

The psychologists came into direct contact with only one of the three detainees, Gul Rahman, who died in CIA custody in Afghanistan in 2002, probably of hypothermia, according to an agency investigation into his death.

The judge ruled last week that a trial could also proceed on behalf of the two other former prisoners — Ben Soud and Suleiman Salim — whose lawyers argued that the psychologists had aided and abetted their torture.

Mr. Ben Soud, a Libyan detained by the CIA  in 2003 and held in Afghanistan, was locked in small boxes, slammed against a wall and doused with buckets of ice water while naked and shackled. Mr. Salim, a Tanzanian also captured in 2003 and held by the CIA in Afghanistan, was beaten, isolated in a dark cell for months, doused with water and deprived of sleep.

The ACLU and the Gibbons law firm of Newark brought the lawsuit under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign citizens to seek justice in United States courts for violations of their rights under international law or United States treaties.

My summary: This undisclosed “settlement” does not in the minds of many “settle” anything – this shameful stain will remain on the United States in perpetuity.

Thanks for stopping and sharing your thoughts.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Q & A: Was Enhanced Interrogation Program Controlled Human Experimentation

Studying Detainees During Various Stages of Torture

What follows is an extract from this very thought-provoking article that ties in with those other posts below about Mitchell and Jessen – it asks this explosive question by this author of the piece – Gregg Bloche (@greggbloche), a psychiatrist, who now teaches law at Georgetown and is the author of “The Hippocratic Myth.”

The question:

Was the CIA enhanced interrogation program an instance of human experimentation?

 (I Note: Keep in mind that the word: “enhanced” is a fancy buzzword for torture).

Related to the topic is here – Subject: “The 30 most disturbing human experiments in history.”

A Word of Caution: Some may find the article and images disturbing – so, read at your own risk accordingly.

Recently declassified documents raise this explosive question. The documents were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in connection with a federal lawsuit scheduled for trial next month. The case was brought on behalf of three former detainees against two psychologists who developed the CIA’s program. I reviewed some of the documents in a recent article in The Texas Law Review.

Internal CIA records indicate that the psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen (Note: The next 4 posts after this one address Mitchell and Jessen and the work they did for the CIA in our name) anticipated objections that critics would later level against the program, such as that coercion might generate unreliable information, and contracted with the agency to design research tools that addressed some of these concerns.

I Note this Important Point: Redactions in the released documents (and the CIA’s withholding of others) make it impossible to know the full extent, if any, of the agency’s data collection efforts or the findings they yielded.

At their depositions for the ACLU lawsuit, each of the psychologists denied having evaluated the program’s effectiveness. But the CIA paid the two psychologists (some $80 million) to develop a research methodology and instructed physicians and other medical staff members at clandestine detention sites to monitor and chart the health conditions of detainees.

In response, the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights has charged that the program was an unlawful experiment on human beings. It calls the program “one of the gravest breaches of medical ethics by United States health professionals since the Nuremberg Code.”

Those were the ethical principles written to protect people from human experimentation after World War II mostly conducted by the Nazis. In its lawsuit, the ACLU is pressing a similar claim.

These claims are a bit of a reach since in “a true experimental study, the CIA would have had to test its interrogation strategy against one or more standard interrogation methods, using experimental and control groups of captives.”

There’s no evidence that the CIA did that.

(I Also Note: In 2010, the CIA first denied it conducted “human subject research on any detainee or group of detainees”).

Story continues at the link above – worth reading.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mitchell and Jessen Trial Hearing Set for August 4 in Spokane, WA

Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell

This story is about Mitchell and Jessen (photos above, and cited in below posts) re: their upcoming hearing outlined in this report

They are apt to say: “We were just following orders” (just like those Nazis claimed at Nuremberg in 1945-46).

More likely today those two are claiming:We were just following the government’s contract specs – yes, we did modify it later and watched and yes, we even participated in some of the “enhanced methods we developed and refined them, too, but we did our duty by fulfilling the contract, and yes, we were paid some $80 million) – so what – we were just following orders.”

(Note: “Enhanced” is a buzzword for torture)

Whoa – stop the press – hold it a darn minute for this short edit. Let’s be clear here shall we – “Just following orders” ain’t gonna hack it for Mitchell and Jessen.  

It didn’t work in 1945-1946 for the Nazis on trial for war crimes, and it won’t fly today, either. The heart of the defense’s case argument in their motion to dismiss a lawsuit from former detainees outlined in the article, are the points below:

1.  The two, Mitchell and Jessen (both former Air Force psychologists who helped craft the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques known as “enhanced” (again the buzzword for “torture”) should be as free from liability as a worker for a company that supplied the Nazis with poison gas used in concentration camps in WWII.

2.  Like the gassing technician who was acquitted on charges of helping the Nazis, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were independent contractors who lacked authority to “control, prevent or modify” the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

The ACLU challenges that defense claim, saying the psychologists should be held accountable for the methods they designed following the September 11 terror attacks – wherein those methods included waterboarding, beatings, and worse.

Notes: (1) The Nuremberg tribunals that judged the Nazis and their enablers after World War II established the opposite rule re: innocent contractors who developed the gas saying in part: “Private contractors are accountable when they choose to provide unlawful means and profit from war crimes.” 

(2) And, the owner of the company that developed the poison gas for the Nazis was executed after World War II.

(3) Even for countries that never signed “The Rules for War or the Geneva Accords, etc.” please note: Following World War II, jurists at the Nuremberg Trials and the Tokyo Trials ruled that by 1939 the rules for armed conflicts, particularly those concerning belligerent and neutral nationals, had been recognized by all civilized nations and thus could apply to officials even of countries that never signed the Hague Conventions.
Historical Notes from the Nuremberg Tribunals:

1.  “Following orders that are illegal, unlawful, and a war crime” are punishable by law and in the case of many of the Nazis – that was the death penalty.

2.  Most of the Nazis used the so-called “Superior orders plea.” That was regarded as the complement to command responsibility.

Superior orders, often known as the Nuremberg defense, lawful orders or by the German phrase Befehl ist Befehl (“Only Following Orders”) literally “An order is an order”) was a plea in a court of law that a person — whether a member of the military, law enforcement, a firefighting force, or the civilian population — not be held guilty for actions which were ordered by a superior officer or an official.

Both sides in this case plan arguments on August 4 in in Spokane. The outcome will determine whether the lawsuit will go to trial, set for September 5, 2017.

The judge could decide that the psychologists are guilty of aiding and abetting torture and no trial is needed, or he could dismiss the suit or limit what claims can be pursued.

My View: Both Mitchell and Jessen, were neither trained or experienced interrogators. They were in it for the money and they knew the plan and they went along with it and made adjustments in the overall techniques… 

Seems to me that they are using a weak excuse of following orders (or in this case, the government contract specs) and in turn, the CIA will duck and say that’s what we paid them for. 

This is an important phase in the long-term damaging event in American history and still today, and there are still 41 detainees at Gitmo, some who went through the same set of techniques (namely KSM). 

Note Insert: The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA program, released in 2014, under a section titled “The CIA Waterboards KSM at Least 183 Times,” says that “On March 10, 2003, KSM was subjected to the first of his 15 separate waterboarding sessions” 

(Note: One procedure in each session was counted and thus equaled the total of 183 times for the entire 15 sessions).

Let’s hope that justice does not escape from in this tragedy.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Showtime: “Wannabe Interrogators” Heading for Trial Re: CIA Torture Program

“Enhanced” Interrogation: Illegal, unlawful, a war crime

Inexperienced and unqualified “Interrogators” 
(except in their own minds)

A federal court judge has refused (July 28th) to drop a lawsuit against two psychologists who devised the CIA’s interrogation program after the September 11 terrorist attacks and this now clears the way for the case to proceed to a trial in September.

(My Notes: Mitchell and Jessen BTW neither have any interrogation experience – not one day. Also, they were paid over $80 million. 

The suit is one of the few attempts to hold people accountable for harm caused by the CIA “enhanced” interrogation program in the years after the 2001 attacks.

(My Note: “Enhanced” is a fancy buzzword for torture – believe me, I know from my over a dozen years in that business).

The three plaintiffs had argued that they were detained and tortured in secret CIA prisons using techniques designed by the two former military psychologists. Most of the techniques used against the detainees have since been banned by the United States government.

At a hearing in United States District Court in Spokane, WA, Judge Justin L. Quackenbush said he would deny motions by both sides to rule summarily in their favor in advance of a trial. However, he said he would issue a written ruling as to whether the case could go forward on behalf of two of the plaintiffs, who never came into contact with the defendants.

This case is long overdue to remove this historical stain on the country. We must always demand justice in these cases. This hopefully will be that justice. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

CIA “Enhanced Interrogation” Two Program Designers Speak With Other Morons

Torture is a “Black and White Issue not 50 Shades of Gray”

Updated story on the many people involved in torture with the two primary nitwits who developed the so-called “enhanced” interrogation program… their video testimony is painful to watch [click] here (about 10-minutes). 
More of that NY Times story here
Now a flashback to the days it all started and where we are today with Donald J. Trump in charge – whew boy. 
My advice, hang on tight. That piece of this story is here from Business Insider
Highlights re: Trump on Torture:
In an interview with ABC News awhile back, Mr. Trump said he would wage war against Islamic State militants with the singular goal of keeping the U.S. safe. Asked specifically about the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, Trump cited the extremist group's atrocities against Christians and others and said: “We have to fight fire with fire.”
Trump then said he would consult with new Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo before authorizing any new policy.
He also said he had asked top intelligence officials in the past day: “Does torture work?”
Trump once said (but Mattis and Pompeo both disagree): “And the answer was yes, absolutely.” Then he quickly added that he wants to do “everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally.”
[Hint Mr. Trump: Torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime, Mr. Trump – period.]
In may be in for some very bad times (again) now with so many novices in charge under Trump - time will tell.
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 5, 2017

MESSAGE FOR AMERICA: Turn Off—Stop Watching FOX & Friends and All FOX

The Lowest of the Low in Intelligence Work (Total Fraud) 
(Especially About Interrogation )

This man and his co-author and fellow designer of “Enhanced Interrogation” that the CIA and others used (illegally) is a total fake and fraud ... he has never been an interrogator and yet our CIA paid them both some $80 million to develop the program which by all standards is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime.

Watch this interview with him (it is about 8-minutes):

Now in his recent appearance on FOX and Friends to hawk his new book, the lead question by co-host Brian Kilmeade sustains a proven lie that “torture” lead to bin-Laden.

FACT (from NPR report): Torture (the so-called “Enhanced Interrogation” is just a fancy word for torture) did not lead to bin-Laden. That is a huge lie and it is disgusting and an excellent reason to shit can those kinds of FOX shows from the airwaves.

Here is positive proof about that lie: After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee came to the conclusion that those claims are overblown or downright lies.

Finally, at this blog I have always tried my best to stick with the facts, not FOX or Rightwing or one-sided GOP bullshit otherwise.

... Thanks for stopping by come any time.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trump Pledged Transparency Now Wants to Hide the Truth and Historical Report

“Get in and shut up”

“Sit on this”


“Trump to hide possibly forever classified Senate report on CIA torture” 

– that story is here from the NY Times, in part:

WASHINGTON — Senators, spies and a president spent years in a pitched battle over how the history is told of one of the most controversial chapters of America’s campaign against terrorism, the detention and interrogation of prisoners in secret CIA sites (so-called “Black Sites”).  Recent moves by the Trump administration have increased the likelihood that much of what is known about the macabre humiliations that unfolded in those jails around the world will remain hidden from public view – perhaps forever.

Related coverage of this same story:

It took Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) over two years to get his wish and now with Trump in charge to hide the truth, that wish may come true. Just takes a lot of patience, um, Mr. Burr? Report on that is here from Crooks and Liars.

Also related are articles here from Newsweek, and here from Common Dreams and here from Digg.

FYI and way of background on the torture program is about these two inexperienced former Air Force hacks (their picture right hand side of this blog) who developed and the sold the so-called “enhanced interrogation program” (fancy word for torture that professionals know) to the CIA (*this extract about them comes from the Senate report. BTW: They were paid some $80 million reported on here from NBC:

* The two former USAF officers were CIA contractors who helped develop and operate the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the agency used on terror suspects, including waterboarding, were paid more than $80 million, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's interrogation program. The original contract was for more than $180 million, but the contractors had only received $81 million when their contract was terminated in 2009.

Just as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in part in a speech on the Senate floor in his remarks – if anyone knows torture, it surely is him:

But, the real question isn’t that about our enemies being inflamed or angry or whatever; it’s about us. Why won’t the release of this report inflame Americans, given it’s our government who has acted in our names.”

The Report’ Title: “Final Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Detention and Interrogation Program – Makes the Following Key Findings and Conclusions” (20 key findings). The report was approved on December 13, 2012, updated for release on April 3, 2014, and a declassified on December 3, 2014 (only a part).


#1: The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

#2: The CIA's justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

#8: The CIA's operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

#9:  The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA's Office of Inspector General.

#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.

#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

#12: The CIA's management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program's duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

Key Parts of this Finding: The CIA's COBALT detention facility in Country XX began operations in September 2002 and ultimately housed more than half of the 119CIA detainees identified in this Study.  The CIA kept few formal records of the detainees in its custody at COBALT.  

Untrained CIA officers at the facility conducted frequent, unauthorized, and unsupervised interrogations of detainees using harsh physical interrogation techniques that were not — and never became — part of the CIA's formal "enhanced" interrogation program. The CIA placed a junior officer with no relevant experience in charge of COBALT. On November XX, 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility.

At the time, no single unit at CIA Headquarters had clear responsibility for CIA detention and interrogation operations. In interviews conducted in 2003 with the Office of Inspector General, CIA's leadership and senior attorneys acknowledged that they had little or no awareness of operations at COBALT, and some believed that enhanced interrogation techniques were not used there.

Although CIA Director Tenet in January 2003 issued guidance for detention and interrogation activities, serious management problems persisted. For example, in December 2003, CIA personnel reported that they had made the "unsettling discovery" that the CIA had been "holding a number of detainees about whom" the CIA knew "very little" at multiple detention sites in Country of XX.

Divergent lines of authority for interrogation activities persisted through at least 2003. Tensions among interrogators extended to complaints about the safety and effectiveness of each other's interrogation practices.

The CIA placed individuals with no applicable experience or training in senior detention and interrogation roles, and provided inadequate linguistic and analytical support to conduct effective questioning of CIA detainees, resulting in diminished intelligence.

The lack of CIA personnel available to question detainees, which the CIA IG referred to as "an ongoing problem, persisted throughout the program.

#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

Key Parts of this Finding: The CIA contracted with two psychologists (Retired USAF officer Jim Mitchell and retired USAF enlisted man Bruce Jessen) to develop, operate, and assess its interrogation operations (as I noted above).

On the CIA's behalf, the contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on “learned helplessness,” and developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques that was approved for use against Abu Zubaydah, et al. The psychologists personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA's most significant detainees using these techniques.

They also evaluated whether detainees' psychological state allowed for the continued use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, including some detainees whom they were themselves interrogating or had interrogated. The psychologists carried out inherently governmental functions, such as acting as liaison between the CIA and foreign intelligence services, assessing the effectiveness of the interrogation program, and participating in the interrogation of detainees in held in foreign government custody.

In 2005, the psychologists formed a company specifically for the purpose of conducting their work with the CIA. Shortly thereafter, the CIA outsourced virtually all aspects of the program. 

In 2006, the value of the CIA's base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract's termination in 2009.

In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.

In 2008, the CIA's Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Group, the lead unit for detention and interrogation operations at the CIA, had a total of XX positions, which were filled with XX CIA staff officers and contractors, meaning that contractors made up 85% of the workforce for detention and interrogation operations.

#14:  CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the DOJ, and not authorized by CIA Headquarters.

#15: 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.

#16: The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

Key Part of this Finding: CIA officers and contractors who were found to have violated CIA policies or performed poorly were rarely held accountable or removed from positions of responsibility.

#18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#19:  The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

Key Parts of this Finding: The CIA required secrecy and cooperation from other nations in order to operate clandestine detention facilities, and both had eroded significantly before President Bush publicly disclosed the program on September 6, 2006.

From the beginning of the program, the CIA faced significant challenges in finding nations willing to host CIA clandestine detention sites. These challenges became increasingly difficult over time. With the exception of Country XX the CIA was forced to relocate detainees out of every country in which it established a detention facility because of pressure from the host government or public revelations about the program.

Beginning in early 2005, the CIA sought unsuccessfully to convince the DOD to allow the transfer of numerous CIA detainees to U.S. military custody. By 2006, the CIA admitted in its own talking points for CIA Director Porter Goss that, absent an Administration decision on an "endgame" for detainees, the CIA was "stymied" and "the program could collapse of its own weight."

Lack of access to adequate medical care for detainees in countries hosting the CIA's detention facilities caused recurring problems.  The refusal of one host country to admit a severely ill detainee into a local hospital due to security concerns contributed to the closing of the CIA's detention facility in that country.

The DOD also declined to provide medical care to detainees upon CIA request.

In mid-2003, a statement by the president for the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and a public statement by the White House that prisoners in U.S. custody are treated humanely" caused the CIA to question whether there was continued policy support for the program and seek reauthorization from the White House. In mid-2004, the CIA temporarily suspended the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques after the CIA inspector general recommended that the CIA seek an updated legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

In early 2004, the USSC decision to grant certiorari in the case of Rasul v. Bush prompted the CIA to move detainees out of a CIA detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In late 2005 and in 2006, the Detainee Treatment Act and then the USSC decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld caused the CIA to again temporarily suspend the use of its enhanced Interrogation techniques.

By 2006, press disclosures, the unwillingness of other countries to host existing or new detention sites, and legal and oversight concerns had largely ended the CIA's ability to operate clandestine detention facilities. After detaining at least 113 individuals through 2004, the CIA brought only six additional detainees into its custody: four in 2005, one in 2006, and one in 2007.

By March 2006, the program was operating in only one country. The CIA last used its enhanced interrogation techniques on November 8, 2007. The CIA did not hold any detainees after April 2008.

Last Key Finding - #20:  The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

Key Part of this Finding: The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program created tensions with U.S. partners and allies, leading to formal demarches to the United States, and damaging and complicating bilateral intelligence relationship.

The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures – (I Note: The new Obama team has failed to prosecute anyone by saying: “We need to look forward, not back.”).

The UN’s Special Rapporteur, Juan E. Mendez, said in a statement reinforcing the U.S. obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, which requires the investigation and prosecution of those who were responsible for ordering, planning or implementing the C.I.A. torture program:

“The example set by the United States on the use of torture has been a big drawback in the fight against such practice in many other countries throughout the world. The Bush administration aggressively and repeatedly rejected the principles of transparency and accountability and maintains the pattern of denial and defense.

As a nation that has publicly affirmed its belief that respect for truth advances respect for the rule of law, and as a nation that frequently calls for transparency and accountability in other countries, the United States must rise to meet the standards it has set both for itself and for others.”

The UN Convention citation is clear: “… it lets no one off the hook — neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders.”

Four Key Supreme Court cases tied directly to detainee handling and treatment:

1.  RASUL v. BUSH (June 28, 2004) – “All detainees have habeas corpus protection.”

2.  RUMSFELD v. PADILLA (June 28, 2004) – “U.S. Citizen under MCA as enemy combatants other than as in civil custody (civil rules the day).” 

3.  HAMDAN v. RUMSFELD (June 29, 2006) – “UCMJ & Geneva Convention Cover Detainees.” 

4.  BOUMEDIENE v. BUSH (June 12, 2008) – “Detainee 5th Amendment and Due Process Protection.”

Finally, I conclude that President Donald J. Trump today apparently wants to have this key historical report buried in some deep dark hole out of sight forever and alongside all the bodies and the truth, perhaps forever.

I guess it’s a matter of what, Mr. President: Draining the swamp or merely putting more junk in the same swamp (this time your junk), or is it simple transparency that you also promised, um? Pick and choose honesty I guess?

Hope this review helps, and thanks for stopping by.