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.

No comments: