New GOP Chairman Suppresses Full CIA Torture Report

Originally published on January 22, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The new Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman sent a letter to the White House and several federal agencies last week demanding the return of every copy of the Committee’s entire classified CIA torture report. The new chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, also intends to return the notorious Panetta Review to the CIA. Critical of the agency’s false statements regarding the reliability of information obtained through torture, the Panetta Review’s release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been blocked by the CIA.

On December 9, 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released nearly 500 pages of the heavily redacted Executive Summary of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. According to the Committee, the CIA lied to Congress, the National Security Council, the Justice Department, and the American public about the severity of torture committed and the effectiveness of information gathered through enhanced interrogations. The Committee also accused former CIA Director Michael Hayden of lying to the Committee regarding prisoners’ deaths, the abusive backgrounds of CIA interrogators, threats against detainees’ family members, and reliability of information acquired through torture.

The CIA claims enhanced interrogation techniques were necessary to determine the secret locations of Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), but the Committee discovered these assertions are false. A CIA detainee provided the agency with information leading to bin Laden’s location before agents subjected him to torture. The detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques withheld and fabricated intelligence.

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Senate Torture Report Ignores CIA’s Most Brutal Crimes

Originally published on December 10, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a scathing report condemning some of the abuses and torture committed by the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program, but failed to expose the CIA’s most heinous human rights violations. According to the report, the CIA lied to the Committee regarding prisoners’ deaths, the backgrounds of CIA interrogators, threats to detainees’ family members, and the effectiveness of torture.

On November 9, 2005, CIA Director of National Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez, Jr. authorized the burning of 92 videotapes depicting the harsh interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and ’Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In response to the destruction of those tapes, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to review the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program on March 5, 2009. With access to over six million pages of CIA documents, the Committee merely provided a superficial summary without bothering to interview any participants or victims of the RDI program.

Following the tragic events of 9/11, the Justice Department constructed a series of legal memos authorizing the Bush administration’s use of torture against enemy combatants. In 2002 and 2003, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo authored the torture memos, which were signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and Executive Order 13440 became legal justifications for the utilization of enhanced interrogation techniques and a total disregard for the Geneva Conventions.

Under pseudonyms within the heavily redacted report, two retired Air Force psychologists, Dr. Bruce Jessen and Dr. James Mitchell, received contracts to develop the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. They decided to reverse-engineer the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) counter-interrogation training by inflicting both physical and psychological torture upon detainees. According to the report, they personally participated in waterboarding and interrogating prisoners.

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UN Torture Report Condemns US Human Rights Abuses

Originally published on December 1, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The United Nations Committee Against Torture released a report addressing a myriad of human rights violations committed by the U.S. government. While commending President Obama for qualifying enhanced interrogation techniques as torture, the U.N. Committee decries his administration’s lack of transparency, refusal to prosecute, and inability to prevent rampant abuse.

In its first review of the U.S. since 2006, the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment held hearings in Geneva throughout November. U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council Keith Harper and State Department Acting Legal Adviser Mary McLeod gave statements during the proceedings, while the parents of Michael Brown testified against police brutality.

“The United States is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world,” stated McLeod. “But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our own values, including those reflected in the Convention. As President Obama has acknowledged, we crossed the line and we take responsibility for that.”

In the conclusion of its report, the Committee applauded President Obama’s statements qualifying enhanced interrogation as torture at a press conference on August 1. The president admitted, “In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did things that were contrary to our values.”

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Less Than 4% of Pakistanis Killed by CIA Drone Strikes Named as al-Qaeda Members

Originally published on October 23, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Although the U.S. government claims only confirmed terrorists at the highest level are being targeted in drone strikes, the CIA does not know the names or identities of the majority of people the agency has killed in Pakistan since June 2004. After a decade of drone strikes in Pakistan, less than 4% of the victims have been identified as named members of al-Qaeda. Since the inception of the drone program, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have unconstitutionally murdered at least four American citizens.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the CIA has launched 400 drone strikes in Pakistan killing at least 2,379 people. Only 704 of these drone strike victims have been identified. 295 have been classified as militants belonging to either the Afghan Taliban or the Pakistani Taliban, while only 84 have been positively identified as members of al-Qaeda.

At least 168 Pakistani children have died in drone strikes, but only 99 have been identified by name. Sixty-seven of these children were executed in a drone strike on a madrassa in October 2006 that left 81 civilians dead.

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LA Times Reporter Caught Falsifying Articles with CIA

Originally published on September 8, 2014, at NationofChange.org

In violation of journalistic ethics and the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, former Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Dilanian allowed CIA handlers to edit his articles prior to publication and reported false information to manipulate his audience. Responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the CIA released hundreds of pages documenting the agency’s dubious relationship with national security reporters. Operating under a glaring lack of oversight, the CIA has been exploiting establishment journalists since its inception.

The newly released documents cover Dilanian’s correspondence with the CIA from March to July 2012. In his emails, Dilanian repeatedly broke ethical guidelines by submitting his articles to the CIA allowing them to alter facts in order to portray the agency in a more favorable light. Receiving false intelligence from the CIA, Dilanian reported a drone strike had successfully killed Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi without causing any collateral damage. According to Amnesty International and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, at least 20 people were killed in the attack and several more wounded. Although some of the casualties had probably been Al Qaeda members, the other victims were rescue workers slaughtered in a follow-up drone strike.

While collaborating on an article with L.A. Times reporter David Cloud, Dilanian submitted a draft asking his CIA handlers to approve the version before it went to print. Dissatisfied with the earlier draft, the CIA later approved a softened version of the article that Dilanian and Cloud published on May 16. While collaborating with L.A. Times reporter Rebecca Keegan, Dilanian downplayed the CIA’s participation in leaking classified information to director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal for their factually inaccurate propaganda film, Zero Dark Thirty.

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CIA Director Caught Lying and Hacking Senate Computers

Originally published on August 3, 2014, at NationofChange.org

U.S. Senators are calling for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan after the Inspector General reported the CIA hacked computers belonging to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. After hacking into classified files regarding their Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program, CIA Director Brennan denied his agents committed the cyber attack while accusing the Senate Intelligence Committee of breaching CIA firewalls.

In 2009, former CIA Director Leon Panetta authorized access to millions of documents to the intelligence committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Documenting the RDI program between the years 2001—2006, the reports gave a damning account of kidnapping, torture, and murder committed by CIA operatives. At the same time, Panetta ordered the CIA to conduct its own investigation into the documents, now referred to as the Panetta Review.

The documents reveal CIA officials had lied to intelligence committees regarding the effectiveness of using enhanced interrogation techniques to extract valuable information. CIA operatives and contractors had exceeded their authority in numerous instances by torturing detainees to death.

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