By Mark Wachtler
April 9, 2014. Washington. (ONN) Last week, numerous Congressional officials and staffers began leaking the results of a just-completed Senate investigation into CIA torture. This is the same report that caused both the US Senate and the CIA to publicly accuse each other of breaking into each other’s computer networks to spy on and steal information from the other. And that’s not even one of the three revelations the classified report contains.
Images like these of CIA torture changed the world’s view of America.
Readers may remember when disturbing photos surfaced of young US soldiers thoroughly enjoying the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004. Readers may also remember that a half dozen of the youngest, lowest-ranking Army prison guards who never carried out any torture were the only ones ever charged or convicted for it. None of the CIA agents, corporate mercenaries or foreign agents who actually carried out the illegal acts were ever brought to justice or even publicly identified. The kids took the fall and went to prison and America seemed satisfied.
Torture and the Senate Intelligence Committee
One small group of individuals who have refused to let the matter go is the Senate Intelligence Committee. They’ve spent years trying to piece together what the Justice Dept and Defense Dept really did while under the Committee’s authority and responsibility during America’s war on terror. Thanks to a number of leaks from men like Edward Snowden, the world now knows that the CIA operated dozens of secret torture facilities all over the world
Read the February 2013 Whiteout Press article, ’54 Countries that helped US torture including Iran, Syria, Canada’ for details.
In response to the revelations, the United Nations named a special investigator in 2005 to look into allegations of war crimes against US and UK officials. The investigative team was given three years to investigate. Multiple UN officials leading the investigation have accused both the Bush and Obama administrations of withholding vital information in an attempt to protect the perpetrators. Last year, after eight years of stonewalling and sabotage by US and UK governments, the UN special investigator Ben Emmerson frustratingly addressed the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Emmerson told the Commission in a public speech that both US and UK governments had, “A policy of de facto immunity for public officials who engaged in acts of torture, rendition and secret detention, and their superiors and political masters who authorized these acts.” During those same years, the US Senate Intelligence Committee also began holding hearings into the accusations of CIA torture and the secret torture facilities around the world.
Read the March 2013 Whiteout Press article, ‘UN demands US Leaders be charged with War Crimes over Torture’ for further information.
Senate Investigation reveals 3 Shocking Facts
Last week, and just over a year after the UN came to similar conclusions, a classified Senate Intelligence Committee report reportedly suggests US government and intelligence officials carried out an array of torture-related crimes. Based on an exclusive report from the Washington Post, three shocking revelations have emerged.
Fact #1 - CIA officials lied to Congress
For years, Bush and Obama administration officials have insisted to the American people that torture, referred to as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, had saved thousands of American lives and thwarted numerous terror attacks before they occurred. The Senate report reveals that was all a lie. The CIA reportedly couldn’t come up with one single example where torture had stopped a terror plot.
The Washington Post quotes one US government official briefed on the contents of the classified Senate report, “The CIA described repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives. Was that actually true? The answer is no.”
One of many examples apparently cited in the 6,300 page Senate report is that of accused terrorist Abu Zubaida. While hospitalized in Pakistan, he was interviewed by US intelligence agents and admittedly cooperated, giving the agents valuable information. Shortly thereafter, CIA officials took Abu Zubaida into custody and tortured him, including 83 different water boarding sessions. Zubaida gave up no new information, but by the time his statements found their way to upper level US officials, his intelligence was officially claimed as a direct result of the torture instead of the voluntary interview as was actually the case.
Fact #2 - Torture didn’t produce a single helpful tip
Like the example above, many of the other examples cited point to Iraqi and Afghan captives who were first interviewed and officially considered cooperative, only to find themselves reclassified as uncooperative by the CIA. In each instance, the Agency’s torture campaign, often months or years-long, didn’t produce any new information than was already provided voluntarily. In one instance, an FBI report is cited for complaining that the CIA was torturing the FBI’s cooperating witnesses.
The Washington Post report quotes another US official saying, “The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program.” The official said that the false statements to Congress and other US officials were “the most damaging” of the Intelligence Committee’s findings.
Contrary to the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the tip that lead to finding and killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan didn’t come during a CIA torture session at a secret Agency torture facility in Romania. Instead, the CIA had already had the invaluable piece of information from its earlier voluntary interviews with the same captive while held by CIA and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. The later torture proved to reveal nothing new. That captive, Hassan Ghul, was eventually released and killed by a US drone strike.
Fact #3 - CIA tortured for the fun of it
The report apparently produces numerous instances from secret CIA torture facilities around the world where both FBI agents and even some CIA agents complained about the extreme and inhumane treatment being perpetrated on their helpless, barely living victims. In some documented instances, the US intelligence agents actually removed themselves from duty over it. But many more instances reveal a pattern of sadistic torture for absolutely no reason other than the joy of doing it. And in dozens of documented instances, the subject was tortured to death.
It at least a few examples, lower level CIA torturers appealed to Agency officials to stop making them torture prisoners that were shown to have no more information of any kind to give. But possibly the most revealing evidence of widespread and systematic enjoyment of the torture campaign are the pictures released in 2004 from Abu Ghraib. Photo after photo showed US soldiers laughing and smiling as they posed for photos while sexually assaulting naked, tortured Iraqi prisoners.
Chief Torturer responds
On Friday, Jose A. Rodriguez penned a letter to the editor of the Washington Post in response to their scathing report about the classified Intelligence Committee findings. Rodriguez happens to be the former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and was responsible for many of the policies and actions taken by the Agency involving torture and the dozens of secret torture facilities around the world.
Rodriguez begins his open letter with the statement, “I ran the CIA interrogation program. No matter what the Senate report says, I know it worked.” He is also the author of a book titled, ‘Hard Measures: How aggressive CIA actions after 9/11 saved American Lives’. In his editorial, he disputes the Senate report’s charges writing, “Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIA’s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold.”
Again invoking the tragedy of Sept. 11 to justify his actions, Jose Rodriguez explains, “The detention and interrogation program was not built in a vacuum. It was created in the months after Sept. 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 men, women and children were murdered.” He goes on to seemingly implicate everyone from the President on down saying, “This program was approved at the highest levels of the government, judged legal by the Justice Department and regularly briefed to the leaders of our congressional oversight committees.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee has authorized the report to be made public. But it first must get the approval of other parties, such as President Obama. At the very least, Committee members hope to be able to show the public a redacted version of their report. But the way the CIA and US Senate are accused of hacking into each other’s computers and stealing documents, the classified report may just get leaked in its entirety if it’s not eventually made public in some form.
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