Report on ‘torture’ kept out of reach

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ASPEN, Colo. — About a dozen former CIA officials named in a classified Senate report on decade-old agency interrogation practices were notified in recent days that they would be able to review parts of the document in a secure room in suburban Washington after signing a secrecy agreement. Then Friday, many were told that they would not be able to see it after all.

Some were furious, while Democratic Senate aides were angry that they were given the chance in the first place.

It’s the latest chapter in the drama and recriminations playing out behind the scenes regarding what some call the Senate torture report, a summary of which is being declassified and is expected to be released in coming weeks.

“I am outraged,” said John Rizzo, one of the former officials who was offered, and then refused, a chance to see the summary report before publication. He retired in 2009 as the CIA’s top lawyer after playing a key role in the interrogation program. “They are accusing people of misleading Congress, of misleading the Justice Department, and they never even asked to talk to us,” he said. “And now, they won’t let us read the report before it is made public.”

The 6,300-page report, along with a CIA rebuttal, represents the most detailed accounting to date of a set of bitterly controversial interrogation, rendition and detention practices the CIA carried out in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks — practices many Americans now consider to have been immoral or illegal.

President Barack Obama stopped the practices when he took office, but he decided against a “truth commission” to examine what happened. Criminal investigations conducted in secret resulted in no charges.

Advocacy groups say the Senate report’s 600-page executive summary, to be released along with a CIA response and a minority dissent, will be the last chance for public accountability.

For months, the former officials implicated in the report have strategized about how to rebut it. Many sincerely believe that they did what the country asked of them after Sept. 11, and that they are being impugned now because the political winds have shifted.

About a dozen officials were called in recent days and told that they could read the executive summary at a secure room at the Office of Director of National Intelligence, as long as they agreed not to discuss it, four former officials said.

Then Friday, CIA officials called and said that due to a miscommunication, only former CIA directors and deputy directors would be given that privilege. Former directors Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet have been invited to read it, as have former acting directors John McLaughlin and Michael Morell.

Senate aides familiar with the matter say Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., protested to the White House that it had no business allowing retired officials to read a Senate oversight report. Feinstein aides, the CIA and the White House had no comment.

Several people who have read the full report, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss still-classified material, say it shows that the CIA interrogation program was far more brutal than previously understood, and that CIA officials repeatedly misled Congress and the Justice Department about what was being done to al-Qaida detainees. The report asserts that no unique, life-saving intelligence was gleaned for the harsh techniques.

It’s long been known that the CIA used slapping, stress positions, sleep deprivation and other harsh tactics on several detainees and a near-drowning technique known as water boarding on three of them. The CIA’s use of water boarding has drawn particular scrutiny since it is considered the harshest technique on the list of those used, but the report asserts that the other tactics, as applied, were extremely harsh and brutal.

Torture is illegal under U.S. law. CIA officials dispute that water boarding amounted to torture.

colorado - United States - North America - United States government - Barack Obama - United States Congress - John Brennan - United States Senate - Dianne Feinstein - U.S. Central Intelligence Agency - U.S. Department of Justice - Michael Hayden - Porter Goss - George Tenet - Michael Morell - Aspen


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