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Confronting Our Dark Era

December 9, 2014 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

After a multi-year odyssey marked by almost nonstop partisan bickering, CIA employees hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers, and former Bush administration officials launching a pre-emptive public counterattack against the committee’s report, we finally have a summary of the CIA’s use of torture.

So what have we learned?

The committee report confirms that six days after the 9/11 attacks, “President George W. Bush signed a covert action Memorandum of Notification (MON) to authorize the director of central intelligence (DCI) to ‘undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interest or who are planning terrorist activities.’”

That decision put the CIA on the path to revive and even expand coercive interrogation techniques it had employed during the Cold War.

The use of mass surveillance and torture are the hallmarks of totalitarian governments.”

Some key facts we already knew were confirmed, most importantly that agency personnel violated U.S. and international law by repeatedly waterboarding several detainees, including 9/11 attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The summary of the report provides lurid details of “24”-like interrogation techniques, outlawed by international treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory: running power drills next to the heads of detainees, days of forced sleep deprivation and, in the words of the committee summary, “threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to ‘cut (a detainee’s) mother’s throat.’”

The committee report summary also confirms what many have long believed — that the torture program produced no actionable intelligence and did not to thwart al Qaeda’s global activities.

The former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and torture program participant Jose Rodriguez continues to claim that such intelligence was obtained, and that it did in fact save lives. The available record, as laid out by the committee, amply refutes that assertion.

And the committee summary could not be clearer about the actions of agency managers and attorneys in the expansion of the use of techniques that were clear violations of international law. According to the committee summary:

… by the end of November 2001, CIA officers had begun researching potential legal defenses for using interrogation techniques that were considered torture by foreign governments and a non-governmental organization.” CIA Director George Tenet subsequently sent a letter to Bush urging that the CIA program be exempt from Geneva Convention …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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