The big lie is that CIA torture provided any information at all, because the truth proves that they were sadists (up to and including Cheney) AND utterly and completely incompetent.
For CIA, Truth about Torture Was an Existential Threat
By Dan Froomkin, The Intercept
12/10/14 at 11:31 AM
For the CIA officials involved in torture, one thing was clear from the very beginning: The only way they would be forgiven for what they did was if they could show it had saved lives.
It was the heart of their rationale. It was vital to public acceptance. It was how they would avoid prosecution.
And so, when the tragically predictable sequence of events began to unfold – and torture, as it always has, produced false confessions and little to no intelligence of value – admitting that it had failed was not even an option.
Instead, those involved made up stories of success.
They insisted that Abu Zubaydah was a top al Qaeda figure who, only after being waterboarded, provided information that foiled a major attack on the U.S. – even though Zubaydah wasn’t in al Qaeda, the plot was a farce, and the only related information he provided came before he was tortured.
They cast Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s false confessions as deadly threats, then announced they had been thwarted.
They viciously brutalized people, some of them entirely innocent, and described what they were doing as an art and a science.
Senate investigators, who had access to millions of pages of original CIA cables and other source material, used most of the 499 pages in Tuesday’s release documenting example after example of CIA officials doing gruesome things, then telling convenient falsehoods to each other, to their bosses, to the White House, to anyone who questioned them, and to Congress – all to prove to everyone that torture worked.
By mid-2003, the CIA’s constant mantra was that “enhanced interrogation tactics” had “saved lives,” “thwarted plots,” and “captured terrorists.” Saying otherwise was like blasphemy.
The people who actually knew the facts certainly lied, obliging the requests from their superiors for examples of effective torture.
Maybe some of the people who heard the lies, and passed them on, let themselves believe they were true. For the CIA, that would be even worse, because a susceptibility to lies is a fatal flaw for an agency charged with providing fact-based intelligence to keep the nation safe.
What the Senate’s summary tells us is that the modern CIA is actuated by fantasy and faith. It’s a familiar charge; we saw the same pattern in the CIA when its political masters wanted a case for war in Iraq.
There are no indications the CIA is ready to turn things around, of course. CIA Director John Brennan went to extraordinary lengths to stymie and discredit the investigation. And now, he is rebuffing its conclusions.
And while they remain offstage by design, nothing in this report in any way exonerates the people who were running the show from the White House.
Other reports and works of journalism have clearly identified Vice President Dick Cheney as the prime mover in creating a torture regime that extended not just to the black sites, but to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and elsewhere. Cheney was no victim of misinformation; he was its architect.
And George W. Bush might have remained unfamiliar with the details until as late as 2006 – “According to CIA records, when briefed in April 2006, the president expressed discomfort with the ‘image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself’.” But he must have had some idea what Cheney and others were up to in the basement.
The report identifies 26 detainees, out of the CIA’s 119 in total, who the agency itself determined should never have been held at all. That unfortunate group includes “Abu Hudhaifa, who was subjected to ice water baths and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation before being released because the CIA discovered he was likely not the person he was believed to be,” and “Nazir Ali, an ‘intellectually challenged’ individual whose taped crying was used as leverage against his family member.”
The authors don’t just document these new atrocities, they cite them to illustrate how baldly CIA officials deceived others about what was really going on.
A particular sore point is the inaccurate information the CIA fed to Congress. First CIA officials disavowed torture, and promised that the Senate Intelligence Committee would be notified about every individual detained by the CIA. Then came the misinformation and the outright subterfuge.
A 2005 proposal from Senator Carl Levin to establish an independent commission to investigate detainee abuse, for instance, “resulted in concern at the CIA that such a commission would lead to the discovery of videotapes documenting CIA interrogations.” As a result, the CIA destroyed them.
The summary devotes a 37-page appendix on “Inaccurate CIA Testimony” by former CIA Director Michael Hayden in one Senate Intelligence Committee hearing alone.
Although most of the misinformation documented in the report dates back to the Bush years, Senate investigators also debunked the narrative – spread by Obama-era CIA officials – that torture was responsible for the capture of bin Laden.
The report documents the ample information the CIA had from other sources about the courier who ultimately led them to bin Laden.
In fact, the information in the report supports the argument that torture may have slowed the hunt for bin Laden.
Attorney General Eric Holder has frequently stipulated “that the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees.”
The Senate report makes clear that the DOJ memos giving legal cover to CIA officers were based on crucial misrepresentations by the CIA of its needs and its conduct. The DOJ memos “relied on the CIA’s claim that the techniques were necessary to save lives,” the investigators wrote.
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