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#TortureReport

Written By: - Date published: 10:45 am, December 11th, 2014 - 56 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, International, us politics - Tags:

finally had time to read up on the CIA report released in a summary version, with lots of redacted bits.  this post has a summary of the 5 most damning findings:

  1. torture didn’t stop a single terrorist attack
  2. the CIA lied about the success of torture in obtaining evidence
  3. not everyone approved of the torture policy
  4. the torture methods were far more brutal than originally reported
  5. water-boarding caused physical harm

if you want a more detailed version, then there’s this, but a warning that the description of activities is pretty harrowing.  this article has a detailed timeline around the conduct of the investigation and release of the report, with lots of links.  the guardian covers the complicity of european countries.  politico has details of the main people involved, and here is an interview with one of them in which he takes no responsibility for anything.

i’m struggling to find anything meaningful to say about this.  it’s awful stuff with little chance of those responsible being held to account.  then there are the people who are still justifying these practices, on no basis that makes any sense to me.  there’s the misdirection: oh look, something bad happened over there as well, so this doesn’t matter as much.

trying to find something positive about this, and it’s really hard.  because there’s so much ugliness in the world right now, so much violence and brutality, this is just another thing to add to an already toxic mess.  the positive is that the report is out, at least some of the atrocities are documented, even less are made public.  there is outrage, there are calls for justice.  but will there be any significant change?

it also feels horribly ironic that we have given our own intelligence agency greater powers at a time when we see what the misuse of those powers and the lack of proper oversight can lead to.  no, i don’t expect our services will be using torture at black sites overseas. but i also don’t think it’s fair that these agencies of the state should have these extra powers over us.

56 comments on “#TortureReport”

  1. Colonial Rawshark 1

    Thanks for raising this Stargazer. Also worthy of note from The Intercept:

    Should something emerge, here are some important caveats to keep in mind:

    1) You’re not actually reading the torture report. You’re just reading an executive summary…

    2) The CIA got to cut out parts. The summary has been redacted – ostensibly by the White House, but in practice by officials of the CIA…

    3) Senate Democrats had their backs to the wall. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein faced enormous pressure to get the summary out in some form, before the incoming Republican Senate majority could do the White House a solid and squelch it completely.

    4) The investigation was extremely narrow in its focus. Committee staffers only looked at what the CIA did in its black sites; whether it misled other officials; and whether it complied with orders…

    5) The investigation didn’t examine who gave the CIA its orders, or why…

    6) Torture was hardly limited to the CIA. In fact, the worst of it was done by the military…

    7) Senate investigators conducted no interviews of torture victims…

    8) Senate investigators conducted no interviews of CIA officials…

    9) In fact, Senate investigators conducted no interviews at all. “We did not conduct interviews, but did make significant use of transcripts of interviews done by the CIA IG [Inspector General] and others…

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/02/x-things-keep-mind-ever-get-read-torture-report/

  2. This is what civilisation looks like reduced to a dose of self-administered ‘rectal rehydration’.

    Matt Taibbi’s verdict: “wrong and stupid”. “Weird”. “…just imagine what the next round of innovations will bring. God help us.”

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/10-craziest-things-in-the-senate-report-on-torture-20141210#ixzz3LXJySeqt
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

    • Colonial Rawshark 2.1

      Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and a handful of other serious journalists have done democracy and all of us a serious favour. The Internet Party was way ahead of the curve on all of this stuff.

      The western 0.01% are keen to tighten their total control over matters as economic disruption, climate change and energy depletion really bites hard. My guess is that we’ve not seen anything yet.

      • Chooky 2.1.1

        +100…”The Internet Party was way ahead of the curve on all of this stuff.”…and the msm did it in…and the Labour Party in collusion with John Key Nact

      • dave brown 2.1.2

        True, but as you point out serious journalism (or really fearless reportage of whistleblowing) is making a difference, especially showing us that this sort of official political ‘oversight’ is farcical.
        The level of sophistication around opposition movements such as Internet Party, also means that the ‘stupidity’ of the ruling class is ultimately its own downfall.
        Dismantling democratic rights undermines the ‘legitimacy’ of the state and that is what is fuelling protests like Ferguson.
        NZ will catchup very late as it is becoming a refuge for ‘sceptics’ and ‘deniers’.

    • That is some fucked-up, repugnant shit.

  3. shorts 3

    awaiting our Govt’s response

    ready to be ashamed of what that may be

    • stargazer 3.1

      i haven’t seen comment by any political party locally – has anyone else?

      but yes, the government needs to provide an official response.

      • shorts 3.1.1

        the govt and labour for that matter won’t say diddley squat… cause they both support by their silence all our friendly torturer allies

        • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1.1

          Plus its Xmas.
          Even the ‘summary is 500+ pages’ so they have to read it, discuss it and formulate a response in 24 hours ?

          What have you been smoking

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.2

          Oh bollocks.

          Can’t you see that “our friendly torturer allies” are under attack from extreme right wing forces too? In Congress, in the White House, sadism seeks a foothold, just as it does within our own institutions.

          Or are you saying Uncle Gnome Chomsky is a friendly torturer ally? This is a US report, after all. You think that mendacious wretch, the Right Honourable John Key, Prime Minister, would be as forthcoming?

      • politikiwi 3.1.2

        In my view the leader of every political party in the country should be calling for prosecutions, either inside the US or under international law.

        Cosying up to the US now is no different to cosying up to Syria under Assad or Iraq under Saddam.

        Bush/Cheney/Tenet and other architects of this programme are war criminals and should face trial. Should they set foot in New Zealand, I’ll be there with a billboard demanding immediate arrest.

      • lprent 3.1.3

        Nope. Not in the parties tab on the front of the site, or in the press releases in my email.

      • Pascals bookie 3.1.4

        Stargazer,

        this is as much as I’ve seen from Labour, a short discussion involving Curran:

        • stargazer 3.1.4.1

          i’m finding it really concerning after this many days, that there is no official response to this. we’ve had responses from countries like afghanistan, iran & china (at least that’s what i saw on al-jazeera this morning), & those are to be expected.

          but our government’s silence on this is unacceptable. it says a whole lot about which lives matter, and which don’t matter so much.

  4. philj 4

    So another conspiracy bites the dust. We aren’t surprised. It was known, but at least it is now in an official report. The defender’s of the free world, caught torturing. What’s next that we haven’t been told about?

  5. Chooky 6

    ‘Efficiency no justification for criminal activity – Snowden on CIA torture report’

    “The world cannot accept efficiency as an excuse for what is essentially “criminal behavior” on the part of the CIA, former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden told Amnesty International via a Paris-Moscow video link”….

    http://rt.com/news/213247-snowden-torture-efficiency-security/

  6. SaveNZ 7

    I find the whole torture issue so disgusting – the US are as bad as those they are torturing and worse still they won’t even admit it is wrong. In a massive Western Group Think going horribly out of control westerners are the new torturers. And many tortured are not even guilty in a transparent court of law.

    It’s unbelievable. And ironically 9/11 terrorists have gotten their way. They have totally taken over US foreign and domestic policy and the ‘religious war’ they wanted to start has been marching forward for over a decade. While US attacked to bring democracy to the Middle East for Muslims (yeah right) the US< UK and their allies are now taking democracy away from their own people in their own countries. While western eyes and resources are off domestic issues like economy, education and disasters – other economies are marching ahead. While in Western economies huge monitory resources are going into weapons and intelligence, counter intelligence and so forth the intelligence itself is so politicized as to be unable to be taken as either true or false and any moral person is considered a liability in that sector. It's like the boy who cried wolf. Governments are so busy fighting and smearing each other and getting rid of investigative journalists, they are not even looking at any other threats and mis identifying any there are anyway to get other 'side' issues through. More people in NZ will die on the roads, from global warming and health issues than any terrorist attack. The biggest terrorist attack is likely to be a mistake anyway with 'friendly fire' or some IT weapons program gone wrong and they should be monitoring themselves more than any poor Kiwi under surveillance. Yep those that point that one out will probably find themselves on the wrong side of the law and labeled a traitor. Look at Nicky Hager treatment versus Cameron Slater. And now they want to spy on everyone.

  7. Rolf 8

    And in the satellite state and quisling state of New Zeeland we hear almost nothing of this via mainstream media. Kiwi media are controlled by US propaganda. Think of what you say, you are watched.

  8. joe90 9

    The full story remains classified so we’ll never learn the truth but this is a smoking gun.

    A Senate investigation into the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation practices released Tuesday suggests that at least one detainee supplied false intelligence contributing to erroneous claims by the Bush administration that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was working with al-Qaida.

    A footnote buried in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 500-page report references a Libyan national known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who “reported while in … custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qaida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons.”

    Some of that intelligence from al-Libi was used by former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a speech to the United Nations attempting to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to the footnote, despite al-Libi later recanting the claim.

    That speech by Powell, delivered on Feb. 5, 2003, was a pivotal part of the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, wherein the secretary discussed Iraq’s “deadly weapons program” and the country’s “involvement in terrorism

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/defense/cia-torture-report-suggests-interrogation-supplied-false-intelligence-used-to-justify-2003-invasion-of-iraq-20141209

  9. SaveNZ 10

    The US needs to follow the AA steps.

    The first step is to admit you have a problem.

    They haven’t quite got to grips with the first step so far.

    cos it’s everyone else’s fault.

    Rectal feeding is not rape and sodomy – CIA are helping those poor terrorists by making sure they get the right nutrients into their diet.

    Water boarding is not torture it is enhanced interrogation.

    If they die, don’t worry or hold any one accountable cos it doesn’t matter. Human rights abuses only occur from the ‘bad guys’ and we will tell you who they are. (Not us).

    Lets do a ‘report’ but just don’t interview anyone.

    Terrorists are guilty cos they said so, we just don’t need a court of law or any ‘proof’.

    They just know.

    Lets just make these rules work domestically – start small and then work our way forward. We can then get rid of the tree huggers, animal activists, other activists, actually anyone who might be against us plundering the resources of a nation.

    In the US the police can pretty much kill anyone and get away with it.

    But easier to label someone a terrorist and then you aren’t even really accountable.

    Like Pavlov’s dogs Government officials salivate at the word ‘terrorist’. All logic seems to leave them.

    • dave brown 10.1

      All logic except the logic of profit.
      The evidence is that the US needs endless war (and justify it with lies and false confessions) to boost the profits of the war contracting industry. (e.g. James Risen’s recent book Pay Any Price documents the firms that run Congress to keep the war profits rolling).
      I would add to this that war profiteering is a symptom of the terminal crisis of capitalism which has exhausted its potential to profit from production to meet the need to reproduce workers. It now makes its profit by destroying workers (multiple methods from austerity to homeland security against those ‘alienated’ by this destruction) as well as nature in general.
      We could call that zombie capitalism.

  10. TheContrarian 11

    Atrocious reading. Fucking horrible stuff.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1

      I bet more children have suffered more indignity, and more sadists have been given more leeway as a direct result of National Party policy decisions, than by the CIA.

      Especially if we measure per capita.

  11. Ross 12

    The most ghastly element of all of these ghastly revelations is that we are becoming immune to them. It just becomes the wallpaper of life. The most common comment I’ve read or heard is: of course they used torture. Like that’s normal or to be expected. The line from the white house is that the report damages america’s moral authority. No hint of concern for the damage done to the tortured. Since 11/9 there has been an incremental creep, in the name of our security, toward a world that cooks babies in ovens. We have seen this before. It’s happening again, now, unless it’s stopped. And it won’t be stopped by a Labour opposition that meekly supports the process by voting FOR legislation that curtails our freedoms. Is anyone else here old enough to remember these words?

    There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

    The time’s now, if ever. Make it stop.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      It never stops. Ever. The only thing we can do is oppose it, by all means necessary.

  12. One Anonymous Bloke 14

    Mit der dummheit kämpfen götter selbst vergebens.

    Friedrich Schiller.

    There are always going to be right wing sadists waiting for an opportunity to offend. They will always gravitate to authoritarian institutions, and the moment anyone is dummheit enough to give them any encouragement, they will always seek ways to get off the chain altogether.

    Jackboot, meet human face.

  13. Chooky 15

    ‘RT exclusive: John Pilger talks CIA torture and media complicity’

    http://rt.com/uk/213223-rt-exclusive-john-pilger/

    “Pilger said the report will not fulfill its purpose if no one is held culpable for the actions of torturous CIA officials.

    “We have crimes laid out in for us,” he says, “but where are the prosecutions? That’s all that matters now, where are the prosecutions?”

    ….”Pilger says knowledge of the torture methods was widespread, but that people were never held responsible for the “disgusting things they’ve done.”

    He further criticized the media for not being bold enough in holding officials to account”…

    • RedLogix 15.1

      Well actually in the absence of prosecutions this report will both legitimise and embolden the torturers.

      This will be only the beginning. There is a certain part of the human psyche which is highly aroused by this sort of thing. Easily exploited.

      • politikiwi 15.1.1

        This needs to be reposted everywhere.

        United Nations Convention against Torture
        Article 2
        1: Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
        2: No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
        3: An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

  14. and of course our role in the five-eyes spying-network..

    ..and our over-eager spear-carrying for whatever imperial-madness america suggests..

    ..(we are that fucken keen/up for it..we offer before even being asked..(!)..f.f.s..!..and yet brownlee continues to claim ‘no decision has been made’..and we are expected to believe that bullshit..?..)

    ..and of course our soldiers have captured people who were then handed over to the torturers..

    ..all of course this means we are not that many steps removed from this torture..eh..?

    ..and we are fucken deluding ourselves if we think/claim we aren’t..

  15. AmaKiwi 17

    Sadists.

    The torturers are sadists on the loose all over the USA!

    No one is tracking them. No one is warning the neighbors. No one is checking to see what line of work they are in and who is giving them thrills by experiencing the agony that gives sadists emotional them a rush.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

      If no-one is tracking them or warning the neighbours how can we tell they exist?

      • AmaKiwi 17.1.1

        Great logic, One Anonymous Bloke.

        We’ll stop tracking paedophiles and they won’t exist anymore.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1.1.1

          *whoosh*

          According to you “no-one is tracking them”. This report is people tracking them. Baby steps.

    • Pascals bookie 17.2

      Amakiwi, you might find this interesting:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/opinion/the-torture-report-reminds-us-of-what-america-was.html?_r=0

      I SPENT this semester teaching creative writing at Lehigh University. I’ve been a soldier, a police officer and an interrogator. So hearing students call me “Professor” and assigning homework was a significant change of pace.
      But the course’s title, Writing War, kept me from straying too far from the memories that have haunted me over the last decade. I am grateful to Lehigh for the opportunity to teach the course. The school’s willingness to put a veteran in the classroom is the very thing this country needs to be doing in order to collectively process what the last 13 years of war have wrought. But teaching a class about war reminded me daily that I am no college professor.
      I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.

  16. One Anonymous Bloke 18

    Edit:

    Not sadists, sadism. Cruelty. The greatest disservice we do to one another is pretend we’re above them. Cf: the Stanford Prison Experiment.

  17. AmaKiwi 19

    @ One Anonymous Bloke

    Dictionary definition of a Sadist: “One who LOVES inflicting pain.”

  18. RedLogix 20

    And if all that was not enough – for an always interesting and well-written view:

    http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/12/the-road-to-hell.html

    • politikiwi 20.1

      “Good intentions do not justify evil.”

      And actually that article makes an extremely good point: Those defending torture are essentially saying “we need to do everything possible – including torture – to prevent another 9/11.”

      Well, if they believe that, then they’ve gotta head off to jail for torture. If they genuinely believe they must do everything possible, then personally serving a term of imprisonment must be included in the list of things they’ll do.

      Why are they drawing a line at the suffering of others?

  19. Colonial Rawshark 21

    Brazilian President Rousseff weeps as she unveils torture report

    Our allies US and UK trained up military junta interrogators during Brazilian 1964 to 1985 military rule.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/10/brazil-president-weeps-report-military-dictatorship-abuses

  20. Colonial Rawshark 22

    US torture contractors rake in $81M

    Indemnified against legal action by the US Govt until 2021. Unfucking believable. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our Imperial Allies.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-10/revelations-torture-report-%E2%80%93-cia-lies-nazi-methods-and-81-million-no-bid-torture-con

    • AmaKiwi 22.1

      Colonial Viper, you mean you think the US is a global bully? But their leaders of both parties tell me repeatedly they are virtuous because they are “fighting for freedom.”

  21. Chooky 23

    Robert Fisk argues – “It is our indignation, not that of the Arab world, that torturers fear. We are the bad guys too .The Muslim world has been enraged about these crimes for years”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/it-is-our-indignation-not-that-of-the-arab-world-that-torturers-fear-we-are-the-bad-guys-too-9916406.html

    …”Well, at least we’re not as bad as Isis. We don’t cut throats or enslave women (although the rapes at Abu Ghraib come a close second)”….

  22. Murray Rawshark 24

    ” no, i don’t expect our services will be using torture at black sites overseas.”

    Why not? I suspect that agents have already been involved. We have people just as bad as anyone in the CIA or American police forces. They just don’t get to act the same locally because our society hasn’t been brainwashed to accept it yet.

  23. Chooky 26

    Good discussion on Crosstalk on torture revelations….must be accountability before international law

    ‘U.S of Torture’

    “The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture gives a new meaning to the term “shock and awe.” Obama’s words “We tortured some folks” are a gross understatement. Will anyone ever be punished for these crimes?”

    CrossTalking with Fred Fleitz, Ray McGovern and Amy Goodman.

    http://rt.com/shows/crosstalk/213639-us-cia-tortures-sic/

  24. spades' A spade 27

    Check out this video interview of Dick Cheney defending torture techniques…

    Look at 53 seconds into it. Notice that when the reporter raises his hand out to make a typical hand gesture – Dick Cheney flinches as if he thought for a split second that he was about to be attacked.
    As a commenter on the linked page suggests – this is a sign of a man completely full of fear.

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