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article imageReport showing torture ineffective will be partially declassified

By Ken Hanly     Apr 3, 2014 in Politics
Washington - A U.S. Senate Committee is taking steps to declassify a report about the CIA use of torture. What is certain is that most of the report will never be revealed to the public.
The Senate Committee on Intelligence has been in a bitter battle with the CIA about a 6,300 page document which concluded that torture was ineffective as a means of collecting information and that the CIA lied about its value.
The committee is set to vote today (April 3) to make part of the report public. The committee chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said that only " the findings, conclusions, and executive summary of the report" were the object of the declassification attempt. The vast majority of the report will remain unavailable to the public.
Katherine Hawkins, who was an investigator into counter-terrorism detentions for the Constitution Project, said: “The executive summary will tell us much more than we know right now about the CIA program but much less than the full report. I hope this is the beginning of the declassification process, not the end.”
The committee is not certain what the exact process will be if the committee approves the declassification. The Obama administration will review the relevant sections of the report and some parts will be declassified. The CIA itself is expected to have a major role in determining what is to be declassified in spite of the fact that it has been constantly feuding with the committee. The CIA says that the committee is painting an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of what happened.
Obama himself has tried to stay out of the feud between the CIA and the committee: "In the president’s first remarks about the dispute since Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence accused the CIA of a cover-up and intimidation directed at her staff, Obama said it was not a matter for the White House to “wade into at this point”." Feinstein accused the CIA of a cover-up and intimidation of her staff. Feinstein is no doubt angry at the CIA because she often defended the organization. Amy Zegart, of Stanford University said of CIA head John Brennan: “Brennan is up to his eyeballs in trouble, It’s one thing to stonewall congressional intelligence staffers, quite another to be charged with spying on them for doing their jobs. For years, Feinstein has had the CIA’s back. Now she’s out for blood. How the CIA managed to turn one of its staunchest defenders into one of its fiercest critics is just mind boggling.” Brennan himself defended the CIA while a member of the Bush administration. In fact the first time he was nominated by Obama for head of the CIA he withdrew his name: Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the first Obama administration over concerns about his support for the use of torture by the CIA under President George W. Bush.[3][6] Nevertheless, Brennan was renominated by Obama last year and was approved as head of the CIA on March 5, 2013. He faces a conflict of interest in this whole affair since the CIA will play a major role in deciding what should be declassified.
Steven Aftergood who is an intelligence policy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists notes about the agency: “They functionally control the declassification process, and they have an interest in how they as an agency are portrayed in the final product,They’re not an impartial party, and that’s a flaw in the process.”
The CIA, and congressional allies as well as the Bush administration and congressional allies have long argued that the "enhanced interrogation" techniques used by the CIA did not constitute torture. A former CIA official involved in the process Jose Rodriguez wrote a long defense of the practices which insisted that the practices elicited critical information from suspects. A popular Hollywood movie Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Bin Laden received considerable government support and portrayed the techniques as gaining crucial information about Bin Laden. For his part Rodriguez, who claims his actions have been vindicated, destroyed almost 100 videotapes that detailed the interrogations.
Even in 2004 the CIA inspector general wrote secretly that measuring the effectiveness of such techniques was "challenging" and their application “inconsistent with the public policy positions that the United States has taken regarding human rights”. His report was only partially declassified in 2009. In 2006 State Department adviser Philip Zelikow warned that water-boarding and other torture techniques “would be deemed wanton and unnecessary and would immediately fail to pass muster unless there was a strong state interest in using them. … And they can be barred even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them.” His memo was revealed only six years later in 2012.
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