Following the release of what has come to be called the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report,” interrogation techniques reportedly used by CIA interrogators of al-Qaida prisoners are being called “shocking” and “brutal“. Some are even calling for the heads of CIA members featured in the torture report, as well as that of former President Bush, for how they treated some al-Qaida terrorists in an effort to get information on pending terrorist attacks.
These reactions were in response to the intelligence committee’s 500-page overview of the torture report that says the CIA overstepped its legal authority by inflicting suffering on the al-Qaida inmates. The CIA torture report also claims that none of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogations” revealed any really important or life-saving intelligence, while also detailing the interrogation techniques used – from the often mentioned water-boarding to the less familiar “rectal feeding” – citing the CIA’s own records, reports the Associated Press.
Current and former CIA members fired back against the report Wednesday, saying the torture report was critical while completely lacking context of the post-9/11 world in which they were functioning. CIA supporters also decried the potential legal action that might be hurled at them from around the world based on the torture report.
While the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report doesn’t specifically call for legal action against those included in the CIA torture report, it has opened the door for threats against former CIA interrogators and officials. This was made clear when a U.N. “special investigator” made a threatening demand that anyone involved with the “systematic crimes” should be brought to justice. Human rights groups also called for primary CIA and Bush administration figures to be arrested if they traveled overseas.
CIA supporters, members and officials came together, however, calling out the torture report as nothing more than a political stunt by Senate Democrats that seek to blackball the very program that potentially saved countless American lives.
Among those not impressed by the report is former Vice President, Dick Cheney, who said the CIA torture report is “full of crap”, reports ABC News.
“I think it is a terrible report, deeply flawed,” Cheney told Fox News. “It’s a classic example of where politicians get together and throw professionals under the bus… The notion that the agency was operating on a rogue basis was just a flat out lie.”
Cheney also noted that the CIA interrogation techniques were all perfectly legal, justified and inconsistent with “torture”. The one technique in the torture report that Cheney wouldn’t stand up for was the one that has raised so many eyebrows, “rectal rehydration.” But according to Cheney, that “was not one of the authorized or approved techniques.”
Former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden joined Cheney in criticizing the torture report, writing in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that the report was a “one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation – essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America.”
Unlike the torture report’s conclusion that the CIA’s interrogation techniques provided no significant results, citing the same 20 cases that are in the torture report, the CIA concludes the exact opposite; that the enhanced interrogations resulted in disrupted terrorist plots, captured terrorists and the prevention of another attack on the scale of 9/11. The CIA also made clear that it received legal authority from the Justice Department and White House for all it did and even did its best to make sure congressional leaders were in the know.
Some of the positive results of the CIA’s interrogation techniques have been highlighted by former CIA officials who ran the program. These include John McLaughlin, former deputy CIA director, who said water-boarding, along with other techniques, changed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into a “consultant” on al-Qaida for the U.S., while Tenet, who was CIA director on September 11, 2001, cites “thousands of Americans lives” saved by the interrogation program as the U.S. faced a “ticking time bomb every day.”
But the efforts of some to bring legal action against anyone accused in the CIA torture report are already underway, with lawyers already representing some of the alleged al-Qaida terrorists detained by the CIA, their cases submitted in Europe and Canada.
In Italy, Twenty-six Americans, the majority being CIA agents, were “convicted in absentia” in Italy for the 2003 kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan. Because of this, they must be careful if they travel outside the United States since they could suddenly find themselves on unfriendly ground, facing extradition. A CIA base chief in Italy, for example, found himself incarcerated while in Panama last year, but was ultimately freed and returned to the USA.
One of those mentioned often in the CIA torture report is John Rizzo, former CIA general counsel, who said traveling to Europe would now require some serious considerations.
“I’m concerned… For better or worse now, I’m a high-profile, notorious public figure.”
Images via infiniteunknown.net and the Telegraph