Like Sisyphus, all we can do is persevere. From the Washington Post:
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to make public a long-awaited report that concludes that the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation measures did not produce valuable intelligence and that the agency repeatedly misled government officials about the severity and success of the program.
The decision, opposed by three Republicans on the panel, means that the findings will be sent to the White House and the CIA, putting the agency in the awkward position of having to declassify a document that delivers a scathing verdict on one of the most controversial periods in its history.
“The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said in a statement Thursday. “The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
U.S. officials said it could be months before the executive summary of the panel’s inquiry is released to the public. But Thursday’s vote marked the formal end of a four-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh tactics against terrorism suspects in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
President Obama has signaled his support for the public release of the findings and an executive summary, a 481-page section at the front of a classified report that in its complete form runs to more than 6,200 pages and includes detailed accounts of the CIA’s treatment of dozens of detainees…
The report, based on a review of millions of internal CIA records, found scant evidence that the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques generated meaningful intelligence. It accuses agency officials of overstating the significance of alleged terrorist plots and prisoners, and exaggerating the effectiveness of the program by claiming credit for information detainees surrendered before they were subjected to duress.
For years, the agency made inaccurate statements to the president, the National Security Council and Congress, [Maine Sen. Angus] King said. “That’s one of the most disturbing parts of this — the institutional failure.”…
Interesting note from Politico:
Panel staffers said they were not authorized to release a breakdown of the vote on seeking declassification, though POLITICO confirmed that GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Jim Risch of Idaho and Dan Coats of Indiana voted against declassification. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) voted present.
When you can’t get Tom Coburn to deliver a stirring defence of “My Agency, right or wrong” (with an optional chorus of ‘Let the Eagle Soar’) I think it is fair to assume that the CIA has thoroughly befouled its bedsheets.
And I know the easy, ‘rational’ response here is to shrug and say something flip about the Church Commission, but this is the political equivalent of confronting an addict — it’ll be excruciatingly unpleasant and the odds are against it making a permanent difference, but it’s an essential first step regardless.
Apart from pushing rocks uphill, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
This is a good thing. Anything that reduces the likelihood of future torture is a good thing.
What do you mean by this? (Thanks.)
Fast Schlafenszeit for me, but yeah, they managed to piss off DiFi and Coburn.
That politico article is confusing though. Was the vote breakdown a secret or something?
ETA: Seconding Cervantes’ question about Church.
Making pizzas for a gaggle of rugrats that are houseguests tonight and using selective recall to delude myself that things are mostly heading in the right direction in this crazy land.
Here’s how Alex Rogers (Time) reported it hours ago:
@Cervantes: Great, so politico’s “journalists” can’t write coherent sentences, news at 11. Thanks!
Has Brave Sir Rand Paul weighed in yet?
I’ll reserve judgement till I hear from Dick Cheney addressing this before his devoted American Legion wallpaper.
Gin & Tonic
Here’s a fascinating billboard from Luhansk, Ukraine (in the far Ukrainian east, hard up against the Russian border.) It says “We defeated Hitler, we will defeat Putin.” The small letters across the bottom say “No to Russian occupation.”
And let’s give a moment’s pause and appreciation of shit that gets more easily done in second terms. We already know it won’t be pretty. Needs to be not pretty in B&W and Full Amazing Technicolor.
Villago Delenda Est
Well, let’s not leave the deserting coward and the Dark Lord out of this. I think they need credit for their roles in bedshitting as well.
Villago Delenda Est
@Gin & Tonic: They didn’t defeat Stalin, though. Can’t win them all.
I’ll take it. Just getting the ball rolling has been a nightmare.
I didn’t mean to direct my last comment at you. Sorry.
@Gin & Tonic:
Well, that must be Photoshopped — they’re all neo-Nazis in Ukraine, so they love Hitler!
/Bob in Portland
Wow. Not as good as indictments, but a step in the right direction.
I hope that embarrassing shitstain Rubio is deluded enough to run for prez in 2016. In FL, you can’t run for two offices at once. That’s probably our best shot at dislodging that turd with delusions of grandeur.
@Betty Cracker: Betty! As Molly Ivins used to say, if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit by me!
@Baud: I had no problem with the question. In any event I don’t know the answer.
I know I saw a quick clip of Gov Kasich buttering up Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas somewhere on cable but don’t remember where. It was brief and I was just passing by the tv but it was astonishingly disgusting what a suckup Kasich was. Anyone else see it and direct me where to find it?
Gin & Tonic
@Villago Delenda Est: Two out of three wouldn’t be bad.
I see where the corporate whores in the media refused the President’s request for a prime time slot to give a speech on the healthcare law. Worthless fucks.
I loathe Coats, so I don’t find it surprising that he’s backing the Stasi.
@Gin & Tonic: Those must be Bob in Portland’s Nazis. They sound confused.
So to the pantheon of government whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, we add Dianne Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee? Who saw that coming?
@Joseph Nobles: Well, I think calling Feinstein a whistleblower is quite a stretch. More accurate to say ‘If you’ve lost DiFi, you’ve lost every Democrat’.
But they’re doing in 2014 what they should have been doing in 2004. Let’s not give them too much credit here…
It’s a great line, and worthy of our Molly (who may well have quoted it), but TR’s daughter Alice got there first.
I heard it on the Ed Show this afternoon (MSNBC on Sirius XM) as a tiny part of a montage of Republican suck-ups to Sheldon.
I should check his site. I didn’t think the suckup session would be allowed to be videoed but I did see that brief clip so maybe I’m wrong about that.
@Betty Cracker: He only got 50% of the vote in 2010 of all years…I feel like he’s eminently beatable as long as the Democrats a candidate who has a chance (I know we have a thin bench in FL) and we don’t split the vote again.
Like you, Anne Laurie, I don’t expect too much to come of this, at least not immediately. But we must confront the truth and this is a first step that, at least, later generations can use to stop this from ever happening again.
This will make a nice addition to the GW Bush Library. Wonder how it feels for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. to never be able to leave the country again for fear of being arrested for war crimes?
Higgs Boson's Mate
But, but, but, Glenn Beck sez that the media is colluding with the administration on the number of signups under the ACA.
@PsiFighter37: Exactly right. I’d be so happy to see that useless prick retired from the national stage one way or another. The state Dems are the most moribund, pathetic bunch you ever saw in your life, though, which is why we end up with haircuts like Rubio in the US Senate and Gov Batboy in Tallahassee….
@Gin & Tonic:
I wonder what Pravda in Portland will have to say about it.
When does the list of atrocities to which we are bearing witness become too much?
Now we get to see if we really are the people we tell ourselves we are.
I hope I’m not disappointed.
@Villago Delenda Est:
We also tend to leave out DIA but they were doing the same things.
First comes the intervention…
Depends how you define “we,” “we,” and “we.”
Progress, I suppose, but is anyone else hearing “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”
@Gin & Tonic: Am I wrong to assume that now that Russia has taken over Crimea, Putin has no interest in the rest of Ukraine?
this is one dead ass thread
I still don’t understand why. They are supposed to be highly educated professionals. Don’t they know what torture is? Why did they start in the first place?
People were always willing to talk up Wyden’s pushback against the spying. He couldn’t discuss the particulars, but he made noises. However, he wasn’t in Feinstein’s position
So, why not give kudos to Feinstein? Isn’t her support worth much more now?
It’s not as if the two of them aren’t on the same team. They are.
@efgoldman: Show some respect. He’s had more than seventy years’ experience being an idiot.
@efgoldman: Still don’t know what the writer meant, but thanks for trying to help.
This Honeymaid ad in response to comments about their other ad – which showed a gay couple with their child among other parents – is awesome.
Here’s the original ad.
Is there any reason to believe anyone wants to? Yes, they’re guilty of war crimes. That’s not the same as any intention of prosecuting them. Is there something I missed?
Wrong to assume, yes. You might be right about the basic point. Who knows what Putin wants, exactly? He’s an arrogant man in an insulated position where we can’t see the pressures affecting him.
@efgoldman: I’m watchin your gophers in da Garden
The agency just gets no respect. At a time of great need, rough men stood up to protect all you liberal ninnies.
You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
@WereBear: Got stuffed with Republican appointees, I think, who held the professionals in contempt
Anybody else been following Erroll Morris’ PR tour for his Rumsfeld movie? He’s having the mirror image reaction to Rummy as he he had to McNamara. It’s been fascinating and now I have to see the movie.
The wisteria is out.
@WereBear: Ah, there’s the rub. You think the CIA doesn’t know how “effective” torture is? I think they know perfectly well how bad torture is at gathering accurate intelligence. So, it seems likely that they’re doing it…that they chose to torture…for some other reason. Let’s all dwell on that.
Revenge. Also, IMO, careerism — the Bush administration wanted confessions, and it looks really good on your annual review to be able to say, I was able to extract X confessions from admitted al-Qaeda operatives!
I don’t think that’s at all necessary. It doesn’t matter how much evidence there is that torture doesn’t work. People have such a strong gut reaction telling them that it must, a very large portion of the population will never be able to shake off the idea no matter how many facts are put in front of them. Interrogators perhaps most of all, since they know from experience that they can make people talk with torture. They don’t see first hand the ‘the victim is lying to get you to stop’ part.
@gwangung: I think you’re right.
Gad. That’s depressing.
It’s unspeakable. I remember years ago watching footage of Juan Padilla being hauled out for dental treatment or some such. I thought it was strange enough that they’d video it at all but watching the loving closeups of them snapping on the
bondage gearcuffs and blindfold made it clear it was being made for fetish purposes. There are some real sickos in the defense/intelligence hierarchy. Given that he ended up with serious mental health issues due to his treatment (common in extended solitary) it’s almost as bad as making snuff porn.
Like I said the other day: I’ve only spoken to one interrogator, but his only commentary was that torture was unnecessary, that interrogation was psychological above all, and that an interrogator who knew what the fuck he was doing would be able to extract information without laying a finger on the prisoner. Which dovetails with what happened when Dick Cheney started talking about how much good we’d done by waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the FBI interrogator who’d actually been in charge of KSM before that said that he’d already started talking and that they were already extracting information before the waterboarding started.
I started watching Supernatural on Netflix. I am just getting into season 2. Two things irk me so far about the show (1) everything they need to set on fire ignites way too easily, especially human remains and (2) does no one in that show drive a car with airbags and three point seatbelts?
I understand the show started around 2005, so you probably do not have a lot of cars with standard side impact airbags, like you have today but front impact airbags, crumple zones and three point seatbelts were ubiquitous, but no one on the show drives a car made within the last 10 years (show time), so what would be survivable traffic accidents in modern cars turn lethal.
And human bodies do not burn very easily. This is why cremation is very rare, as a way to dispose of dead bodies, versus burial. Only in India did cremation become the standard way to dispose of dead bodies. The practice probably got exported, as Buddhism spread from India, but it is really not common.
Otherwise it is a good series.
@geg6: Listening to him on Rachel right now.
@Frankensteinbeck: A couple years ago Cheney cancelled a speaking engagement in Toronto because it was ‘too dangerous’. There were going to be protestors at the event calling for his arrest for war crimes. This report will probably make it even more ‘dangerous’ to speak outside the country because this might just provide justification/motivaton to go through with the arrest.
A guy can dream. It’s at least nice to know that he might consider himself to be a captive in his own country.
@SiubhanDuinne: Not the greatest interview she’s ever had.
@SiubhanDuinne: I want some fucking teabagger to get three feet from me at the polls.
@Mnemosyne: I owe you an apology for last night. A heated discussion/argument is one thing; a ‘fuck you” is another. For that, I apologize.
There’ll be one for the Conster as well, if she appears.
Snarki, child of Loki
“…report that concludes that the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation measures did not produce valuable intelligence and that the agency repeatedly misled government officials…”
RICO predicate, crimes conducted “under color of law”. Indict, convict, imprison their goddamned lying torturing war-criminal asses.
@Omnes Omnibus: A well placed “fuck you” is just fine.
Unless, of course, you are an officer and a gentleman!
@raven: This one warranted an apology.
Unless, of course, you are an officer and a gentleman!
I would rather let him leave.
Oh, yes. A good interrogator knows that stuff, and I would assume that the CIA has any number of properly trained interrogators. However, their bosses ‘know’ that torture works, and find it really easy to replace the experts with people who, lo and behold, only have to apply a little torture to get a victim to make a full confession! By the time that confession is proved to be wrong, nobody is paying attention and they think they proved the actually expert interrogator wrong. That would be the process by which it is so easy for monsters like Cheney to send intelligence gathering spinning into Hell.
EDIT – Hell, to close the conservative loop, it’s also MBA thinking. Order suspect tortured until he confesses. Real interrogator says that torture would only produce a false confession. MBA replaces interrogator. New interrogator tortures suspect, gets a confession. MBA: See? I was right all along! More torture!
Sounds about right. I’ve always assumed that there are plenty of people in the military and intelligence community who do know better, but that you don’t rise to the top unless you either believe the party line, or learn to shut up and tow it.
It isn’t that it would produce a false confession. It would produce an unreliable confession. The tortured person would say whatever makes the torture stop. Truth or falsity don’t enter into it.
I would think knowing better is rare. That’s just my guess, but torture being effective is so intuitive (even if wrong) that I assume it’s the vast majority opinion and only experts or people specifically interested in stopping torture would find out. Neither necessarily describes either the military or intelligence community. Sure doesn’t describe the Bush/Cheney administration that got this ball rolling.
That’s always worth explaining, yes.
Gin & Tonic
@Patricia Kayden: As to Putin’s intentions, your guess is as good as anyone’s. In Ukraine, though, many people, including especially young men of potentially military age, are expecting another shoe to drop.
Oh, sure. “Plenty of people” wasn’t meant to mean “everyone” or even necessarily “most people” (I don’t know what the numbers would be), but yeah, I was referring mostly to the actual experts in this case.
I wish I could remember where I read this: I also remember reading somewhere that when the DIA interrogators first got to Abu Ghraib, they’d actually had to send requests up the chain to have the soldiers at the prison ordered to stop beating the shit out of prisoners, as it wasn’t doing the interrogations any favors.
Good catch on the MBA thinking, too. Seems to be the only way they know how to think these days. (And every now and then, as in “unskewed polls,” it bites them in the ass).
@SiubhanDuinne: I think I knew that, but suppressed it somehow. Screwup on my part; thanks for the correction.
@Chris: Real professionals don’t want idiots in their midst creating a mess that the pros will need to clean up.
The CIA is most likely selecting, without their knowing it, some low-level flunkies to take all the blame should a scapegoat be required. The top guys will never pay for their criminal actions and orders — it’s the American Way.
Paging Oliver North. Oliver North to the Congressional Committee hearing, please.
Comment on a NY mag Jonathan Chait story that made me laugh:
The Obamacare train did not wreck.
Villago Delenda Est
@raven: In which case, we deliver it in French or German, in a friendly tone with a smile on our faces!
@Chris: Interesting thing: the Marines hung North out to dry. The Army moved James Steele to command 2ACR on the IGB. Because he was on the Border he could not come to DC to testify. The army protected Steele. FWIW he is the most charismatic person I have ever met. He walked into a briefing I was doing and quietly asked a question. We all heard him even though he didn’t raise his voice above conversational level. He probably is a right wing asshole, but he inspired complete confidence in his subordinates.
Villago Delenda Est
@Omnes Omnibus: North was despised in the Pentagon for his arrogance…some fucking O-5 acting like he was the Hand of the President, demanding that flag officers do his bidding.
Of course he was hung out to dry by the Marines. If it wasn’t for the shitty grade Z movie star’s personal intervention, he would have been dismissed for the good of the service.
@Villago Delenda Est: I know. OTOH, Steele slouched into a briefing I was giving after an ARTEP and asked a question without raising his voice. I noticed him immediately. Steele was as dirty as North, but his charisma and the Army’s willingness to protect its own came into play.
And according to Wikipedia, he ended up a “civilian adviser” in post-2003 Iraq, who among other things helped set up special police units in the Iraqi police.
Because the more things change…
@Chris: So he did.
But why is she shocked shocked there was gambling going on now? Didn’t she know this was happening 10 years ago? I’m not on any Senate committees and I pretty much was sure this was going on.
Is she that dense or naive? Or is she just going with the political currents?
After leaving the Senate for the first time, he moved to North Carolina.
He only ‘relocated’ back to Indiana in order to run for the seat that Bayh retired from.
The fact that we were stupid enough to elect this carpetbagger to the US Senate shames this Hoosier.