The Senate Torture Report

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https://www.emptywheel.net/2014/12/08/some-torture-facts/

Some Torture Facts
Published December 8, 2014 | By emptywheel
At the request of some on Twitter, I’m bringing together a Twitter rant of some facts on torture here.

1) Contrary to popular belief, torture was not authorized primarily by the OLC memos John Yoo wrote. It was first authorized by the September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification (that is, a Presidential Finding) crafted by Cofer Black. See details on the structure and intent of that Finding here. While the Intelligence Committees were briefed on that Finding, even Gang of Four members were not told that the Finding authorized torture or that the torture had been authorized by that Finding until 2004.

2) That means torture was authorized by the same Finding that authorized drone killing, heavily subsidizing the intelligence services of countries like Jordan and Egypt, cooperating with Syria and Libya, and the training of Afghan special forces (the last detail is part of why David Passaro wanted the Finding for his defense against abuse charges — because he had been directly authorized to kill terror suspects by the President as part of his role in training Afghan special forces).

3) Torture started by proxy (though with Americans present) at least as early as February 2002 and first-hand by April 2002, months before the August 2002 memos. During this period, the torturers were operating with close White House involvement.

4) Something happened — probably Ali Soufan’s concerns about seeing a coffin to be used with Abu Zubaydah — that led CIA to ask for more formal legal protection, which is why they got the OLC memos. CIA asked for, but never got approved, the mock burial that may have elicited their concern.

5) According to the OPR report, when CIA wrote up its own internal guidance, it did not rely on the August 1, 2002 techniques memo, but rather a July 13, 2002 fax that John Yoo had written that was more vague, which also happened to be written on the day Michael Chertoff refused to give advance declination on torture prosecutions.

6) Even after CIA got the August 1, 2002 memo, they did not adhere to it. When they got into trouble — such as when they froze Gul Rahman to death after hosing him down — they went to John Yoo and had him freelance another document, the Legal Principles, which pretend-authorized these techniques. Jack Goldsmith would later deem those Principles not an OLC product.

7) During both the August 1, 2002 and May 2005 OLC memo writing processes, CIA lied to DOJ (or provided false documentation) about what they had done and when they had done it. This was done, in part, to authorize the things Yoo had pretend-authorized in the Legal Principles.

8) In late 2002, then SSCI Chair Bob Graham made initial efforts to conduct oversight over torture (asking, for example, to send a staffer to observe interrogations). CIA got Pat Roberts, who became Chair in 2003, to quash these efforts, though even he claims CIA lied about how he did so.

9) CIA also lied, for years, to Congress. Here are some details of the lies told before 2004. Even after CIA briefed Congress in 2006, they kept lying. Here is Michael Hayden lying to Congress in 2007

10) We do know that some people in the White House were not fully briefed (and probably provided misleading information, particularly as to what CIA got from torture). But we also know that CIA withheld and/or stole back documents implicating the White House. So while it is true that CIA lied to the White House, it is also true that SSCI will not present the full extent of White House (read, David Addington’s) personal, sometimes daily, involvement in the torture.

11) The torturers are absolutely right to be pissed that these documents were withheld, basically hanging them out to dry while protecting Bush, Cheney, and Addington (and people like Tim Flanigan).

12) Obama’s role in covering up the Bush White House’s role in torture has received far too little attention. But Obama’s White House actually successfully intervened to reverse Judge Alvin Hellerstein’s attempt to release to ACLU a short phrase making it clear torture was done pursuant to a Presidential Finding. So while Obama was happy to have CIA’s role in torture exposed, he went to great lengths, both with that FOIA, with criminal discovery, and with the Torture Report, to hide how deeply implicated the Office of the President was in torture.

Bonus 13) John Brennan has admitted to using information from the torture program in declarations he wrote for the FISA Court. This means that information derived from torture was used to scare Colleen Kollar-Kotelly into approving the Internet dragnet in 2004.
 
https://www.emptywheel.net/2014/12/...-key-knew-it-was-torture-knew-it-was-illegal/

SSCI Torture Report Key: They Knew It was Torture, Knew It Was Illegal
Published December 9, 2014 | By bmaz
Okay, here are the critical working documents:

The SSCI Torture Report

The Minority Response to SSCI Torture Report

Dianne Feinstein’s Statement

But, without any question, my best early takeaway key is that the United States Government, knew, they bloody well knew, at the highest levels, that what was join on in their citizens’ name, legally constituted torture, that it was strictly illegal. They knew even a “necessity” self defense claim was likely no protection at all. All of the dissembling, coverup, legally insane memos by John Yoo, Jay Bybee et. al, and all the whitewashing in the world cannot now supersede the fact that the United States Government, knowing fully the immorality, and domestic and international illegality, proceeded to install an intentional and affirmative regime of torture.

Here, from page 33 of the Report, is the language establishing the above:

…drafted a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking the Department of Justice for “a formal declination of prosecution, in advance, for any employees of the United States, as well as any other personnel acting on behalf of the United States, who may employ methods in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that otherwise might subject those individuals to prosecution. The letter further indicated that “the interrogation team had concluded “that “the use of more aggressive methods is required to persuade Abu Zubaydah to provide the critical information we need to safeguard the lives of innumerable innocent men, women and children within the United States and abroad.” The letter added that these “aggressive methods” would otherwise be prohibited by the torture statute, “apart from potential reliance upon the doctrines of necessity or of self-defense.”

They knew. And our government tortured anyway. Because they were crapping in their pants and afraid instead of protecting and defending the ethos of our country and its Founders.
 
I haven't read the report yet and I guess I will read it while I travel in Europe, but I will say this. We are, I believe I speak for the most of us, Civilians who truly have no idea of the dangers outside the country. Terrorism is a clear and present danger for our society and the moment we let the theirs throats go it is the moment we loose. It is also important to mention that our security services are nothing in comparison to others a few worthy of mention are the Mukhbarat (Syria), GID (Jordan), Shinbet, Mossad (Israel) and SVR, GRU and FSB from Russia. We are not as brutal as any of them and that is why we let them do our dirty work, there are reports of CIA using Syrian operatives can be easily found through good. Also, sometimes there is only one way to get things done, and some times we are under the pressure of time. If you guys are going to tell me that you guys rather let 500 people die to not torture an asshole who knows when and how its going to happen please, look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Yes it is wrong, but first we need to take care of ours people and then for the others

I don't see the need to release this, we might be a democracy, but this is totally absurd. I don't agree with it, never will agree with this. Just because we are a democracy, there is no need to know this.
 
Also, sometimes there is only one way to get things done, and some times we are under the pressure of time. If you guys are going to tell me that you guys rather let 500 people die to not torture an asshole who knows when and how its going to happen please, look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Yes it is wrong, but first we need to take care of ours people and then for the others.

This part I strongly agree with. Who knows the number of American casualties we have have faced if torture wasn't allowed, and Bin Laden could still be at large. The calculated release is such a political move since the GOPs have taken control of the senate after the Louisiana loss.
 
The calculated release is such a political move since the GOPs have taken control of the senate after the Louisiana loss.
Huh? The White House has been trying to get them to delay the shit out of this for months now. Secretary of State Kerry tried to put a hold on it just last week.
 
Dems have distanced themselves from the administration recently. Demicongressional members are doing this to keep their seats.
 
A thug is a thug, no matter nationality, no matter race, no matter religion. Plain and simple.
 

manton4.jpg
 
The double standard of conduct and behaviour that is expected of military personnel and a bunch of civilian spooks is surprising and alarming.
 
I spent far too many hours being lectured about universal ethics and military justice to accept that a bunch of civilians a politicians get to play by their own rules.

Institutionalized torture is just scary. If an agent feels that it is an exceptional circumstance with time and lives on the line, he or she should be given generous consideration when facing a grand jury.
 
It is a sad indictment on the whole situation that the wholesale torture resulted in little usable information.
 
Dropbear, I understand where you coming from and all of that. We are civilized and we should show them better, but sometimes everything has a limit. I don't know, we are from different cultures, although related, quite different.
 
I'm surprised you're against this
Against what?
I'm against capital punishment mostly because I don't think government has legitimate power to take a life. Same with torture.
And here's where IS (not that I think they are real) have the moral high ground. They don't hide it. They are very open because they are not ashamed. The US knows it is wrong, and tries hard to cover their sins and hide it from view. They know they are behaving disgracefully. The religious extremists at least have the good faith to believe that they are doing something good and holy.
 
It is a sad indictment on the whole situation that the wholesale torture resulted in little usable information.

This isn't unusual, nor unexpected, because it's been well-known for a very long time that torture usually doesn't result in usable information.

Torture is useful for getting people to confess to things that they think you want them to confess to, so that you stop torturing them. It's not actually very useful for getting people to confess to real things.

The problem with countries like the US using torture is that other countries quite rightly view the US as being blatantly hypocritical. On the one hand the US lectures them about human rights and democracy and on the other hand the US maintains secret prisons and tortures people. It's a case of "Do as I say, not as I do" and not only is it repugnant for an advanced democracy to be engaging in such tactics but it trashes the reputation of the US, too, and thus damages its standing and its influence.

Having international influence is often more about soft power than hard power. Everyone knows the US is the world's most powerful country in terms of military hardware, but possessing huge amounts of hard power doesn't mean that it can always make other countries do its bidding. That usually happens through the use of soft power - diplomacy, persuasion, international co-operation and so on. It's this area where the damage to the US's reputation has been significant.
 
This country is far from perfect. Look how demonize Russia for Crimea this year and on 2008 Georgia. 2008 Russia attacked Georgia for legitimate reasons, they killed peacekeapers for Pete's sakes, and Crimea because most of those people are both ethnic Russians and Russian Citizens. Crimea was tit for tat for what the US did with Kosovo in the 90s. lets not make this thread about All things US has done wrong.
 
Yeah, but the idea is to try not to deliberately do evil. Even Google does that!
[Citizens], I've been thinking. Is it wrong to [torture people]?
Yes, sir.
Let me rephrase that. Is it wrong if [the United States tortures people terrorists]?
 
I'm surprised you guys are taking any of this seriously. The CIA lies. Not news. Clapper lied under oath, nobody did shit. Peop\e have been held without due process for over a decade, not new.

This is just a report that will be forgotten in a couple of days. If anyone believes that anything will change because of this, you're living in a fantasy. The American people sold their values a long time ago and now their too distracted with Kim Kardashian, apps and trinkets to bother.

A civilized society would prosecute obviously illegal acts, but absolutely nobody will be prosecuted and nothing will change. Once you give the government a power, they will never ever give it back.
 
Are the acts illegal if they are condoned by the government? I would argue not, if there are secret courts how do we know that there aren't secret laws?

This will sound ignorant and irrational, but it's illegal to me. Forget the courts and lawyers and prosecutors. They aren't going to wade into the American obsession with national security. I really don't care if some CIA lawyer or John Yoo type finds a rationalization for the behavior, it's still illegal to me.
 
Are the acts illegal if they are condoned by the government?
Your understanding of law is pedestrian, secular, modern. Natural law, common law, and whatnot, is more immutable than fiat dictates of whomever is momentarily in charge. Where's someone with a law degree?
 
Where's someone with a law degree?

Don't bother. Orwell said that a society will crumble when language ceases to be useful, and here we have language contorted into obfuscative rationales for legalized torture.

During a complex business transaction once, my cousin told his lawyer "this is what I want to do, now find me a way to do it". Same thing here.
 
Don't bother.
What I meant was that, I do believe, law students (hi Foo!) get more exposure and education regarding the concepts of Natural and Common law than the rest of us schlubs, and might be able to speak on such matters in a more informed manner.

I been drinking, so beware the haughty lingo...
 
What I meant was that, I do believe, law students (hi Foo!) get more exposure and education regarding the concepts of Natural and Common law than the rest of us schlubs, and might be able to speak on such matters in a more informed manner.

I been drinking, so beware the haughty lingo...

Perhaps. Torture is morally wrong, and illegal. Nobody will twist words around to make me see it differently.
 
Dammit, law is man finding the truth that the Creator has laid out or something. Man does not make law, he merely discovers and refines it.
I really hope JimmyRustler has a better grasp on the eternal truth than I. Government is merely temporary stewards.
 
So are you talking about legality in the sense that the perpetrators should be taken to trial, as I assumed from the grand jury comment, or that the acts are wrong by some rational that is completely relative?

How is torture wrong? Do you have any rational for what makes it wrong? I would disagree with illegal as it was approved by the government and the government makes the laws.

Perpetrators of torture are committing immoral and illegal acts. It's wrong because you're inflicting pain on someone in the interests of forcing them to comply to your wishes. Where I take exception to it is that it's being done in my name, which is relative.

If it's legal then I can torture my lawn guy until he lowers his price? Torture my neighbor until he gives up his ATM PIN number? Torture a colleague at work until he gives me his best account? Or is it that a select few are allowed to torture because of national security? These kinds of rationalizations are the same kinds of rationalizations that let that poor man in NY get chocked to death by cops.
 
Your understanding of law is pedestrian, secular, modern. Natural law, common law, and whatnot, is more immutable than fiat dictates of whomever is momentarily in charge.

Actually, it's pretty much the other way around. There are two types of law - common law (also known as case law) and statute law. Statute law is made up of laws - statutes - passed by parliament. Case law or common law is made up of decisions made by courts over the years.

Statute law, even though it typically attempts to cover a variety of eventualities or situations, cannot cover every situation. Hence, when cases come before courts, the courts are left to interpret the law in light of the particular facts of a case. Their decision, including the way that they interpret the law in a particular instance, becomes case law, or common law. It's then used by other judges as a guide, so as to help them interpret the law in other, similar cases or situations.

Statute law has primacy over common law. There are a multitude of examples as to where a case has come before a court and the court has decided the case with regard to statute law and common law (so as to assist with interpretation and application of the statute law) and the government of the day does not like the outcome - perhaps the case involves a child rapist and the government feels that the accused got off too lightly, for example. So, in such a case, the government can amend the legislation - change the statute law - so as to avoid such an outcome in future.

I could go on and on, but I'll try to stop myself there.

How is torture wrong? Do you have any rational for what makes it wrong? I would disagree with illegal as it was approved by the government and the government makes the laws.

I think that it's pretty clear that torture is wrong - if I were to take you from your home, detain you without trial and torture you, I'd be in a lot of trouble.

Of course, I'd be acting as a private citizen and not as a government official, so there is a clear distinction there because, for better or worse, many government officials have permission to use force in particular ways and in particular circumstances, where private civilians are not able to do so.

However, I think that it's pretty clear that the CIA, AG, State Dept and whoever else was involved knew that what they were doing was wrong, both legally and morally. Otherwise, why would they do it a) in secret and b) in places well outside the US that were also, by and large, outside the reach of international legal norms?

If it's legal and all above board, then bring the people to the US and torture them.
 
The United States signed the International Torture Convention thirty years ago:

For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
 

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