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Architects of C.I.A. Interrogation Drew on Psychology to Induce ‘Helplessness’

Architects of C.I.A. Interrogation Drew on Psychology to Induce ‘Helplessness’

The dogs wouldn’t jump. All they had to do to avoid electric shocks was leap over a small barrier, but there they sat in boxes in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, passive and whining.

They had previously been given a series of mild shocks and learned they could do nothing to stop them. Now, they had given up trying. In the words of the scientists, they had “learned helplessness.”

The release of a Senate report on interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency has revived interest in that study, one of the most classic experiments in modern psychology. It and others like it, performed in the 1960s, became the basis for an influential theory about depression and informed the development of effective talk therapies.

Nearly a half-century later, a pair of military psychologists became convinced that the theory provided a basis for brutal interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that were supposed to eliminate detainees’ “sense of control and predictability” and induce “a desired level of helplessness,” the Senate report said. The architects of the C.I.A.’s interrogation program have been identified as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

“My impression is that they misread the theory,” said Dr. Charles A. Morgan III, a psychiatrist at the University of New Haven who met Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen while studying the effects of stress on American troops. “They’re not really scientists.”

One of the researchers who conducted the initial studies on dogs, the prominent psychologist Martin J. Seligman, said he was “grieved and horrified” that his work was cited to justify the abusive interrogations.

It is not the first time that academic research has been used for brutal interrogations, experts said. After the Second World War, the intelligence community began to study methods of interrogation, often financing outside psychiatrists and psychologists.

“A lot of the early work came out of psychoanalysis,” or Freudian thinking, said Steven Reisner, a psychologist in New York and co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, which opposes the profession’s participation in coercive interrogations. “Studies of sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation induced a psychosis, in which people lost control of what they said and what they thought.” At that point they might begin to cooperate — or so the theory went, Mr. Reisner said.

One interrogation guide derived in part from such research, the C.I.A.’s “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual,” set forth the so-called D.D.D method of interrogation, for Debility, Dependency and Dread. “The purpose of all coercive techniques is to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist,” the manual reads.

Some of the techniques in the manual — isolation, sleep deprivation, threats — were also used in the post-9/11 interrogations and are cited by the Senate report. “It’s very similar to what we’re hearing about now, and it’s astounding that the agency didn’t use the research it had already paid for,” said Stephen Soldz of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, referring to D.D.D. He is an outspoken critic of psychologists’ participation in interrogations.

The American Psychology Association, divided and convulsed by the revelations of members’ participation in the interrogation program, has hired an independent auditor to investigate ties between the association and the intelligence agency. Debates over psychologists’ role at the base in Guantánamo Bay and so-called black sites have raged for years within the association.

The two architects of the C.I.A. interrogations were convinced that they would uncover intelligence that would save lives, their colleagues have told reporters, and that their methods were justified by the events of 9/11 and afterward.

So, too, were psychologists within the agency. In an article titled “Psychologists and Interrogation: What’s Torture Got to Do With It?” Kirk M. Hubbard, a psychologist formerly with the C.I.A., wrote, justifying the methods, “We no longer live in a world where people agree on what is ethical or even acceptable, and where concern for other humans transcends familial ties. When adolescents carry bombs on their bodies and plan suicides that will kill others, we know that shared values no longer exist.”

Senate report on CIA torture could lead to prosecutions of Americans abroad

The international criminal court

Senate report on CIA torture could lead to prosecutions of Americans abroad

Julian Borger

Human rights groups say actions on foreign soil could fall under legal jurisdictions of those countries or the ICC in The Hague

US officials and military officers implicated by the Senate report on torture could face arrest in other countries as a result of investigations by their national courts, human rights lawyers said on Wednesday.

The report, released on Tuesday by the Senate intelligence committee, found the CIA misled the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the public over a torture programme, launched in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, that was both ineffective and more brutal than the agency disclosed.

“If I was one of those people, I would hesitate before making any travel arrangements,” said Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International.

The Obama administration wound up an inquiry into criminal responsibility for the use of torture in 2012, without launching any prosecutions and it is unclear whether the Senate intelligence comittee’s findings on the CIA’s interrogation techniques will lead to that decision being reviewed.

“Obviously this is something for US justice, both military and civilian, to take up. They have the first bite of the apple,” said Richard Dicker, the director of Human Rights Watch’s international justice programme. “But we have not seen any persuasive indicators that the department of justice is willing to step up to its responsibilities.”

However, because torture is considered a grave crime under international law, other governments could arrest and prosecute anyone implicated in the report who happened to be on their territory under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

“It is a legal avenue open to states with those laws on their books and the political will,” Dicker said. “Many European states and many states internationally have those laws”

“Some of these people will never leave US borders again,” Bochenek said. “If say, one of them goes on holiday in Paris, then France would have the legal obligation to arrest and prosecute that individual. States have clear obligation in cases of torture.”

As the repercussions of the report spread around the world, Poland’s president, Bronislaw Komorowski, said it would be critical for an inquiry underway on the running of a secret US prison “black site’’ on Polish soil. “I think the American report will revive that inquiry. I also think that it will provide, if not new information, then guidance as to the conduct of the investigation in Poland.”

Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski admitted on Wednesday that there had been a secret CIA interrogation site in the country, but insisted he tried to convince US President George Bush to close it.

“I told Bush that this cooperation must end and it did end,” Kwasniewski said.

Depression. Is there a smartphone app for that?

Depression. Is there a smartphone app for that?

By Fjola Helgadottir, Ph.D. 

Woman using a smartphone on the grass

There is tremendous potential for smartphone apps to enhance mental health treatments in new and exciting ways. However, there is a key limitation.

Happiness Comes From Moving Toward Your Goals

Happiness Comes From Moving Toward Your Goals

By Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.

We tend to give ourselves more grief than anyone else does. Some people may believe that beating themselves up will help them achieve their goals, but I wonder if they are actually enjoying the journey or trying too hard to get to the end.

U.S. Navy Unveils New Laser Weapon

U.S. Navy Unveils New Laser Weapon

The U.S. Navy debuted a new laser weapon system designed to protect ships without using ammunition.

Obama Avoids Taking Sides on Effectiveness of C.I.A. Techniques

Obama Avoids Taking Sides on Effectiveness of C.I.A. Techniques

“We are not going to engage in this debate,” said a senior administration official close to President Obama.

The C.I.A. maintains that the brutal interrogation techniques it used on terrorism suspects a decade ago worked. The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that they did not. And on that, at least, President Obama is not taking sides.

Even as Mr. Obama repeated his belief that the techniques constituted torture and betrayed American values, he declined to address the fundamental question raised by the report, which the committee released on Tuesday: Did they produce meaningful intelligence to stop terrorist attacks, or did the C.I.A. mislead the White House and the public about their effectiveness?

That debate, after all, has left Mr. Obama facing an uncomfortable choice between two allies: the close adviser and former aide he installed as director of the C.I.A. versus his fellow Democrats who control the Senate committee and the liberal base that backs their findings.

“We are not going to engage in this debate,” said a senior administration official close to Mr. Obama who briefed reporters under ground rules that did not allow him to be identified.

The written statement Mr. Obama released in response to the report tried to straddle that divide. He opened by expressing appreciation to C.I.A. employees as “patriots” to whom “we owe a debt of gratitude” for trying to protect the country after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Then he judged that the methods they used in doing so “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world.”

And finally, Mr. Obama asked the nation to stop fighting about what happened so many years ago before he took office. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” he said, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.”

Mr. Obama has struggled to find balance on this issue since taking office nearly six years ago. He made one of his first acts as president signing an order that banned the use of torture by the C.I.A. But he resisted pressure from activists to hold anyone accountable for the waterboarding of suspects.

Will growing consensus that torture is 'morally repugnant' lead to action?

Will growing consensus that torture is 'morally repugnant' lead to action?

By Howard LaFranchi

Tuesday’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation techniques has revived a national debate about the effectiveness of torture. While opinion is divided, a consensus does seem to have formed around the idea that torture is a moral abomination.

Views on what was learned by the experience of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the years after 9/11 range from a conviction that the admittedly gruesome and shocking techniques detailed in the report “saved American lives” to a certainty for other intelligence officials and interrogators that the methods produced no valuable information.

Still others, including the CIA now, take the stance that the methods’ effectiveness is simply “unknowable.”

Yet while positions on the “effectiveness” question continue to vary widely including among intelligence experts, a consensus does seem to have formed around the idea that torture is a moral abomination.

It is that consensus that is leading to a call for action that would go beyond President Obama’s banning of torture in 2009 to congressional action to ensure that the United States never again responds to a tragedy, even one as horrific as the 9/11 attacks, with criminal action of its own.

The renewed debate over the value of extreme interrogation methods does not obscure the emergence of a widely held view that, effective or not, counterproductive or not, torture is wrong and should be ruled out, some intelligence experts say.

“Almost a decade and a half after 9/11 there continues to be a debate about the effectiveness of these tools, but where there is agreement across the board is that these techniques are morally repugnant,” says Seth Jones, a counterterrorism expert at the RAND Corp. in Arlington, Va., and a former adviser to the US special operations command in Afghanistan.

That rejection of torture on moral grounds, beyond any debate over its usefulness, is the conclusion reached by Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who favored the Intelligence Committee report’s release, even as she questioned some of its methodology and conclusions.

UN: 'Torture is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice'

dick cheney

CIA report: 'Torture is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice'

Oliver Laughland in New York

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights advocates say prosecutions must follow Senate’s CIA torture report.

The UN, human rights activists and legal experts have renewed calls for the Obama administration to prosecute US officials responsible for the CIA torture programme revealed in extensive detail following the release of a damning report by the Senate intelligence committee.

The report, released on Tuesday, found the CIA misled the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the public over a torture programme that was both ineffective and more brutal than the agency disclosed.

“Today’s release once again makes crystal clear that the US government used torture. Torture is a crime and those responsible for crimes must be brought to justice,” Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W Hawkins, said in a statement.

“Under the UN convention against torture, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked to justify torture, and all those responsible for authorising or carrying out torture or other ill-treatment must be fully investigated.”

In Geneva, the United Nations’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said CIA officers and other US government officials should be prosecuted.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever,” Emmerson said in a statement.

Ruth Marcus: Exposing the CIA’s stain on America

Exposing the CIA’s stain on America

Releasing the Senate intelligence committee’s report on torture wasn’t even close to a close call. It was a necessary, if infuriatingly belated, corollary to the choice not to prosecute those who relied on faulty legal advice in engaging in such repugnant practices.

The sordid episode called for national accountability, which is what the committee provided Tuesday. Nations, like individuals, cannot move on from traumatic moments without taking stock of their behavior.

That rule holds especially true in the context of civil liberties, because of the recurring temptation to repeat problematic behaviors. Indeed, as committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted, President Obama’s self-imposed executive order to restrict the CIA from holding detainees and to limit interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual “could be overturned by a future president with the stroke of a pen.” As Feinstein argued, “They should be enshrined in legislation.”

By contrast, the arguments against releasing the report, or for delaying its release, were flat-out wrong. Some — from those who supported and orchestrated torture — are self-interested and wrong. Others — I’m talking about you, John Kerry — were well-meaning and wrong.

There will never be a comfortable time to disclose embarrassing information. No doubt some enemies of the United States will seize on the disclosures to protest, or worse.

But the notion that the country’s enemies need an incentive to seek to harm our citizens is horribly belied by, among other things, the recent beheadings by the Islamic State. The contention that the risks of release are too great, and the practice so far in the rear-view mirror, would both reward CIA obstructionism in delaying release and ignore the fact that this debate, and practice, is capable of being repeated.

The imperative for disclosure was clear in advance. But reading the stomach-churning findings of the 500-page executive summary, the only part cleared for declassification, reinforces its importance. No one can review this account without feeling horror and shame, and without feeling anger at the degree to which public officials and the public itself were misled about what was being done in the name of national security.

Among the conclusions: So-called enhanced interrogation was “not an effective means of obtaining accurate information.” Instead, “multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence.”

Meanwhile, the interrogations “were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.” The techniques included, in addition to waterboardings that amounted to near-drownings, detainees being kept awake for up to 180 hours, detainees subjected to “rectal rehydration ” and detainees kept shackled in total darkness in dungeon-like conditions.

After Senate Report’s Release, Political Divide About C.I.A. Torture Remains

After Senate Report’s Release, Political Divide About C.I.A. Torture Remains

Senator Dianne Feinstein was still speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday morning about the Intelligence Committee’s report excoriating the C.I.A.’s interrogation program when a new website went live. Its name was self-explanatory:

The site, created by a dozen former top officials of the Central Intelligence Agency, was only one element in a broad counterattack against the long-awaited Senate report, which says the program, which is now defunct, violated American ideals by torturing Al Qaeda suspects and got little useful information in return.

The program’s outspoken defenders say the C.I.A. was advised that its methods were not torture, that the program played a critical role in dismantling Al Qaeda and that the interrogators deserve praise, not vilification.

It is a fight over history, with profound consequences for America’s image and personal implications for former C.I.A. officials in particular. The Senate report, approved by the Democratic majority of the Intelligence Committee led by Ms. Feinstein, of California, portrays them as overseeing a dark, regrettable chapter in history. The officials made it clear on Tuesday that they will not stay quiet while the report shapes their reputations or that of the agency.

“As lamentable as the inaccuracies of the majority document are — and the impact they will have on the public’s understanding of the program — some consequences are alarming,” wrote three former C.I.A. directors and three former deputy directors in a lengthy op-ed essay for The Wall Street Journal.

They said the Senate report not only distorted the facts but would also force C.I.A. officers to worry about shifting political winds, make foreign intelligence agencies wary of helping the C.I.A. and give terrorists “yet another valuable recruiting tool.”

he website was organized by Bill Harlow, the C.I.A.’s director of public affairs from 1997 to 2004, who still acts as a spokesman for George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director when the interrogation program began.

“Our concern is that right now people are reporting the Feinstein report as if it’s true,” Mr. Harlow said. “We don’t think it’s true.” The website, he said, is “only a small part” of what the former C.I.A. officials plan to do to, in their view, correct the public record.

Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and five other Republicans released a 100-page dissent attempting to refute the 6,000-page main report, which was written solely by Democratic committee staff members. Those Republicans denounced it as a sloppy, partisan effort that got the facts wrong.

The C.I.A. itself released its own lengthy response to the Senate report, trying to steer a middle course between admitting that the program had significant faults in its early months and defending its contribution to the hunt for Al Qaeda operatives.


The various critiques of the Senate report by the C.I.A. defenders include scores of pages dissecting specific case studies — arguing, for example, that C.I.A. interrogations played more of a role than the report acknowledges in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But the pushback included some broad complaints.

■ The Democratic staff members reviewed six million pages of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews, in part because the program was under criminal investigation for a time and agency staff members were unlikely to talk. The Republicans’ minority response says the failure to talk to C.I.A. officials led to “significant analytical and factual errors” in the report.

■ The Senate report takes a “prosecutorial” approach to the subject, the program’s defenders say, highlighting complaints about the program’s flaws and ignoring its achievements. Though some of the most damning comments in the report were made by C.I.A. officers in critical cables to headquarters, they represent a skewed selection of views that should come as no surprise in any complex undertaking, critics say.

■ The report does not adequately consider “the whole context of the time” after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Mr. Harlow, when anthrax letters, reports of rogue Pakistani nuclear scientists and a stream of threats created a fearful atmosphere. C.I.A. officers worried every day about missing a repeat attack and wanted to be certain they extracted from detainees any clues to plots.

■ The Senate report accuses the agency of illegal torture, but the C.I.A. repeatedly consulted the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel about the brutal methods it intended to use. Legal opinions — later discredited and withdrawn — assured the agency that all of its so-called enhanced techniques were lawful and did not constitute torture.

■ The Senate staff members understated the valuable information the program provided at a time when the United States’ understanding of Al Qaeda’s network of terrorists was rudimentary at best. The dispute is in the details of when various prisoners gave up useful information and whether the brutal treatment was necessary to persuade them to talk.

Michael Hayden Is Not Sorry

Michael Hayden Is Not Sorry

The Senate report rakes Bush’s former CIA director over the coals. He fires back in an exclusive interview.

Though the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program long predated his takeover of the agency in 2006, former Director Michael Hayden has found himself at the center of the explosive controversy surrounding the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its still-classified report on torture. In a long, impassioned speech on the floor Tuesday, Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein cited Hayden’s testimony repeatedly as evidence that the CIA had not been forthright about a program that the committee majority report called brutal, ineffective, often unauthorized “and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.” She publicly accused Hayden of falsely describing the CIA’s interrogation techniques “as minimally harmful and applied in a highly clinical and professional manner.” In an interview with Politico Magazine National Editor Michael Hirsh, Hayden angrily rebuts many of the report’s findings.

Michael Hirsh: The report concludes, rather shockingly, that Pres. George W. Bush and other senior officials—including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a time and Secretary of State Colin Powell—were not aware of many details of the interrogation programs for a long period. According to CIA records, it concludes, no CIA officer including Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss briefed the president on the specific enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006. Is that true?

Michael Hayden: It is not. The president personally approved the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah [in 2002]. It’s in his book! What happened here is that the White House refused to give them [the Senate Intelligence Committee] White House documents based upon the separation of powers and executive privilege. That’s not in their report, but all of that proves that there was dialogue was going on with the White House. What I can say is that the president never knew where the [black] sites were. That’s the only fact I’m aware that he didn’t know.

Hirsh: The report directly challenges your truthfulness, repeatedly stating that your testimony on the details of the programs –for example on whether the interrogations could be stopped at any time by any CIA participant who wanted them halted— is “not congruent with CIA records.” Does that mean you weren’t telling the truth?

Hayden: I would never lie to the committee. I did not lie.

Hirsh: Does it mean that you, along with others at senior levels, were misled about what was actually going on in the program?

Hayden: My testimony is consistent with what I was told and what I had read in CIA records. I said what the agency told me, but I didn’t just accept it at face value. I did what research I could on my own, but I had a 10-day window in which to look at this thing [the committee’s request for information]. I was actually in Virginia for about 30 hours and studied the program for about three before I went up to testify. I was trying to describe a program I didn’t run. The points being made against my testimony in many instances appear to be selective reading of isolated incidents designed to prove a point where I was trying to describe the overall tenor of the program. I think the conclusions they drew were analytically offensive and almost street-like in their simplistic language and conclusions. The agency has pushed back rather robustly in its own response.

NFL’s Roger Goodell Seeks to Right Past Wrongs


NFL’s Roger Goodell Seeks to Right Past Wrongs

By Monica Langley

Mr. Goodell, after months of criticism, plans to unveil a tougher personal-conduct policy at a meeting Wednesday with team owners.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell reserved a private dining room for breakfast at the exclusive Core club in Manhattan last month and invited one of the few people who might help with his problem. He figured the boss of 36,000 armed officers would know how to handle accusations of domestic violence in the ranks.

“Do you pull them off the job immediately? Do you impose your own code of conduct? Do you pay them during the investigation? Do you run your own investigation rather than wait for the criminal-justice system?” Mr. Goodell pressed William Bratton , the New York City police commissioner, over coffee and eggs. Mr. Goodell’s deputies scribbled the answers, all yes.

The outcry over Mr. Goodell’s handling of a domestic-violence case involving former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice has focused the football commissioner’s attention on the off-field conduct of his players, who often faced graver consequences for using steroids than for beating someone.

Former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice and his wife, Janay Palmer, arrive for a hearing last month in New York City. An independent arbitrator reinstated Mr. Rice after he was indefinitely suspended from the NFL after a videotape showed him striking Ms. Palmer at a New Jersey casino in February.

Mr. Goodell, after months of criticism, plans to unveil a tougher personal-conduct policy at a meeting Wednesday with NFL team owners that is akin to the police-department model. An accused player, for example, will immediately go on paid leave following formal charges or an independent investigation under the proposal that would also apply to all NFL personnel, including owners.

“I blew it,” Mr. Goodell told The Wall Street Journal in a series of interviews over a period of weeks this fall as the commissioner was caught flat-footed in the unfolding controversy. “Our penalties didn’t fit the crimes.”

Mr. Goodell said he was unprepared for the storm that began after the Feb. 2 Super Bowl. Mr. Rice was spotted that month on a video pulling his unconscious then-fiancee out of a casino elevator in Atlantic City, N.J.

The NFL didn’t hold a disciplinary hearing until June, after the criminal-justice system allowed Mr. Rice a chance to enroll in an intervention program that could result in dismissal of any assault charges. Mr. Goodell decided on a two-game suspension.

A public backlash immediately followed the July 24 announcement of the suspension. Mr. Goodell was surprised. After all, he told colleagues, he had given Mr. Rice a harsher punishment than the criminal-justice system had. Plus, he said, it was twice the league’s typical one-game suspension.

At a Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 1, Mr. Goodell stuck by his ruling. “When we make decisions,” he told reporters, “we always get reactions.”

As the public attacks continued, NFL executives held an emergency meeting to set up a domestic-violence working group. Mr. Goodell appointed a female vice president, 35-year-old Anna Isaacson, to head the unit; she quickly recruited a team of specialists to brief Mr. Goodell on Aug. 21.

“ ‘You were thinking like most men,’ ” Tony Porter, co-founder of A Call to Men, a group working to reduce domestic violence, recalled telling Mr. Goodell at the meeting. “ ‘But now, you and the NFL have the resources and respect to help end domestic violence.’ ”

After a second video surfaced that showed Mr. Rice punching his fiancée and knocking her out, Mr. Goodell raised the penalty to an indefinite suspension. He said he hadn’t initially seen the video of the attack, but his declaration raised suspicions.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Goodell supporter, asked him directly: Did you see that tape? “Roger looked me in the eye and said, ‘No,’ ” Mr. Kraft said. “I believe him.”

This Is How a Prisoner of War Feels About Torture

This Is How a Prisoner of War Feels About Torture

Adam Chandler

In a speech from the Senate floor, John McCain broke with his Republican colleagues to commend the Senate's CIA report, relying on his own experience in Vietnam.

The release of a Senate report on the CIA's former interrogation program brought both political division and shock on Tuesday. While the shock was more universal, the division fell mostly along partisan lines with one notable exception: Senator John McCain.

In a nearly 15-minute speech from the Senate floor, McCain offered what is arguably the most robust defense so far of the report's release, referencing his own experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and rebuking his Republican colleagues by endorsing the study's findings.

"It is a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose—to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies—but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world."


His longtime amigo Senator Lindsey Graham was one of many politicians and intelligence officials to say that the report—which contained graphic accounts of physical and psychological abuse—could damage American interests abroad and that the timing of its publication was "politically motivated."

"The timing of the release is problematic given the growing threats we face," Graham said on Tuesday. "Terrorism is on the rise, and our enemies will seize upon this report at a critical time. Simply put, this is not the time to release the report."

McCain responded directly to the claim. He condemned the use of misinformation to garner support for past CIA practices and linked this history to the current campaign to keep the Senate report under wraps. "There is, I fear, misinformation being used today to prevent the release of this report, disputing its findings and warning about the security consequences of their public disclosure."

But most poignantly, McCain spoke of his own five-and-a-half-year captivity in Vietnam to argue that torture fails to yield credible information.

"I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering."

McCain added (emphatically) that "the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights."

Angelina Jolie: a “minimally talented spoiled brat”

Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Nasty Exchanges

Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Nasty Exchanges and Insults

Alex Stedman News Editor,

In the latest fallout from the cyber-attack saga that’s enveloping Sony Pictures, a nasty exchange between studio co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, and an ugly bashing by the hard-charging producer of key figures in the industry, including Angelina Jolie and financier Megan Ellison, appeared in several emails that leaked online Tuesday.

At the center of the fiery back-and-forth conversation between Pascal and Rudin, from Feb. 27 to Nov. 19 of this year, is the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic written by Aaron Sorkin. According to the emails, Jolie objected to David Fincher directing the “Jobs” film instead of her bid-budget remake of “Cleopatra.” Pascal asked Rudin, a producer on “Jobs,” to talk to the Oscar-winning actress about it, but Rudin said he didn’t “want to waste [his] time on this.”

“YOU BETTER SHUT ANGIE DOWN BEFORE SHE MAKES IT VERY HARD FOR DAVID TO DO JOBS,” Rudin said in one email, presumably referring to Jolie, to which Pascal told him not to threaten her.

He repeatedly criticized the idea of Jolie’s “Cleopatra” movie, calling Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat” and said the big-budget project could jeopardize both his and Pascal’s careers.

“I’m not remotely interested in presiding over a $180m ego bath that we both know will be the career-defining debacle for us both,” reads one email from Rudin. “I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie. I have no desire to be making a movie with her, or anybody, that she runs and that we don’t. She’s a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all and the last thing anybody needs is to make a giant bomb with her that any fool could see coming. We will end up being the laughing stock of our industry and we will deserve it, which is so clearly where this is headed that I cannot believe we are still wasting our time with it.”

Continuing to slam Pascal, Rudin also wrote: “You’ve destroyed your relationships with half the town over how you’ve behaved on this movie,” Rudin wrote to Pascal. “If you don’t think it’s true, wait and see. Let’s see the next filmmaker WME puts in business at Sony or the next piece of star talent. I’ll bet my house I’m right.”

What the Torture Report Kept Hidden

What the Torture Report Kept Hidden

The descriptions are excruciating in their detail. But other important aspects—from the Obama administration’s stalling to Syria and Libya’s role—are missing from the Senate report.

Despite more than 500 pages of excruciating, awful detail, there’s much about the CIA’s interrogation, rendition, and detention programs that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report doesn’t address.

None of the interrogators were interviewed. The roles of dictatorships like Syria and Libya in the CIA rendition programs were left unexplored—or least hidden behind layers of confounding redactions that make many passages of the report incomprehensible. There’s no concrete answer about who really gave the torture orders. And the role of the Obama administration, which slow-rolled the release of the report for five years, was all but ignored.

The Senate report is also filled with redaction after redaction, with the names of many CIA officers entirely blacked out rather than described by pseudonyms. The obfuscation frustrated Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a longtime advocate for the release of the report.

“Every major inquiry since the Church Commission—Abu Ghraib, Iran-Contra—all of them used pseudonyms,” Wyden told The Daily Beast in an interview before the release of the report. “The important thing about the pseudonyms is that [they provide] the opportunity to learn not just what happened but why it happened.”

As if the redactions weren’t frustrating enough, Republican members of the Senate committee released a set of dissenting views that are diametrically opposed to the Democrats’ conclusions. GOP members long ago disavowed the entire investigation, saying Democrats failed to interview a single person involved in the torture program and relied solely on documents devoid of any context. Readers seeking some consensus on the CIA’s program won’t find it from the oversight committee.

“How can the public ever decide who is right?” asked Mary McCarthy, a former CIA officer whose last job was in the agency’s Office of Inspector General, where she oversaw a probe into the CIA’s interrogation program.

Names of countries that participated in the program are also nearly impossible to discern, hidden behind redactions even of the pseudonyms given to them. There’s no apparent examination, for instance, of the United States turning over detainees to Syria, where at least one man formerly held in U.S. custody was known to have been tortured. Also absent, or hidden, in the report is the role played by Jordan, a close CIA ally in the Middle East, though human rights groups have documented Jordan’s role in the agency’s rendition efforts. And any mention of Libya’s assistance in shuttling detainees, back before strongman Muammar Gaddafi was brought down with the help of U.S. airstrikes, is missing, too.

Those deletions may please some CIA defenders and Obama administration officials who are leery of upsetting relations with foreign partners, even less than savory ones. But former intelligence officials, including those ultimately responsible for running the program, still found plenty to dislike about the Senate Democrats’ report, which they called flawed and biased and said leaves out many key parts of the story.

“No one should blindly accept the Committee’s assertions without a careful reading of the rebuttals by the [Republican] Minority, the current CIA leadership, and other documents that are being released in conjunction with the publication of the Majority’s deeply flawed report,” former CIA director George Tenet, who led the agency when the program started, said in a statement Tuesday.

Said another former senior official, “Many conclusions are simply wrong. And a good chunk of the story is missing.” For starters, there is no sense of the “context of the times in which this decision to use these techniques was made,” the former official said. Three thousand people had just been killed and there was “credible reporting of a second wave attack,” as well as reporting that Osama bin Laden had been meeting with nuclear scientists to try to get his hands on material for a weapon, he said.

CIA unlikely to lose power in wake of interrogation report

CIA unlikely to lose power in wake of interrogation report

The release of a searing report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA’s interrogation program Tuesday was the latest morale-sinking moment for an agency that has been buffeted repeatedly throughout its history, from the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the Nixon-era domestic abuses to the 1980s scandals tied to Iran and Latin America.

If anything, the cycle has only been compressed in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with at least four major investigations, not to mention criminal probes, during a frenetic 13-year span. That collection now includes a 528-page account of alleged CIA abuses and dishonesty in its brutal treatment of terrorism suspects.

The Senate report is a substantial blow to the CIA’s reputation, one that raises fundamental questions about the extent to which the agency can be trusted. And yet, as in those previous instances of political and public outrage, the agency is expected to emerge from the investigatory rubble with its role and power in Washington largely intact.

Indeed, the CIA is in many ways at a position of unmatched power. Its budgets have been swollen by billions of dollars in counterterrorism expenditures. Its workforce has surged. Its overseas presence has expanded. And its arsenal now includes systems, including a fleet of armed drones, that would have made prior generations of CIA leaders gasp.

In part, that is because despite the deep fissures between the CIA and the Senate panel that issued the excoriating interrogation report, the two sides have largely compartmentalized their differences, giving the agency deep congressional backing on a range of covert programs.

Overseas, Torture Report Prompts Calls for Prosecution

Overseas, Torture Report Prompts Calls for Prosecution

The release of the Senate report on the graphic torture of terrorism suspects by the Bush-era Central Intelligence Agency led to calls at the United Nations and elsewhere on Tuesday for criminal prosecutions and caused an international explosion on social media, including online jihadist exhortations for retaliation.

The State Department warned American citizens in at least two countries where the torture and abuse took place — Thailand and Afghanistan — that they could be confronted with anti-American hostility.

Publicity about the report, the United States Embassy in Bangkok warned on its website, “could prompt anti-U.S. protests and violence against U.S. interests, including private U.S. citizens.”

In Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s special investigator on counterterrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, said he welcomed the report and commended the Obama administration for having resisted political pressures to suppress it.

Mr. Emmerson, who has long advocated the report’s release, said the United States was obliged, under international law, to hold the wrongdoers accountable.

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” Mr. Emmerson said in a statement posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever,” he said. “Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Diane Feinstein, seeking legacy, craps on CIA's carpet

For Dianne Feinstein, C.I.A. Torture Report’s Release Is a Signal Moment

After months of infighting and uncertainty, Senator Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday took to the Senate floor to condemn what she described as “brutality in stark contrast to our values as a nation” during the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation of terrorism detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Her speech, coming as the summary of a 6,000-page report on the interrogation program was made public, marked a signal moment both for Ms. Feinstein, the California Democrat who is the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, and for the committee, which faced strong resistance from the intelligence community in compiling the report and seeking to make it public.

“My words give me no pleasure,” said Ms. Feinstein, who spoke as many committee staff members watched from the floor. But she said history would judge the nation by its commitment to a “just society, a government of law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say never again.”

The senator, at 81 one of the oldest members of the Senate, acknowledged that there had been new pressure in recent days to withhold the report because of the possibility that it might provoke unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“This clearly is a period of turmoil and instability in many parts of the world,” Ms. Feinstein said. “Unfortunately, that is going to continue for the foreseeable future whether this report is released or not.”

Senate Torture Report: No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture

Senate Torture Report: No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture

By David Corn

The CIA disagrees—and in a footnote, the Senate intelligence committee says the agency is still wrong.

After Osama bin Laden was killed by US special operations forces, the pro-torture CIA crowd pointed to the raid as evidence that human rights-abusing questioning can produce essential intelligence. And this debate was revived when the film Zero Dark Thirty implied the same point. During these dust-ups, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said her committee's years-long investigation of the CIA interrogation program showed that the agency's use of harsh techniques did not lead it to bin Laden's hideaway in Pakistan. The torture report she released today—that is, the 535-page executive summary of the 6,600-page full report—states bluntly that CIA torturing had nothing to do with finding bin Laden. A footnote reports that the CIA, naturally, takes issues with this and says the committee report "incorrectly characterizes the intelligence we had." That footnote adds, "This is incorrect."

Here's the blow-by-blow. After the bin Laden raid, according to the report, CIA officials, in classified briefings to the committee, said that intelligence related to the CIA's so-called enhanced interrogation techniques was used to locate the al Qaeda chieftain, referred to as UBL in the report. The committee says this "was inaccurate and incongruent" with the CIA's own records.


The report notes that days after the raid, CIA officials said that terrorist suspects held by the agency had provided the "tip off" regarding al-Kuwaiti, the bin Laden courier. The committee, though, found that the "initial intelligence" and the "most valuable" information on al-Kuwaiti was not related to the torture program. The CIA, according to the report, had collected "significant reporting" on al-Kuwaiti and his close links to bin Laden prior to receiving any information in 2003 from CIA-held detainees. As early as the start of 2002, a phone number associated with al-Kuwaiti was under "government intelligence collection." By monitoring this number, the report notes, US intelligence identified al-Kuwaiti as someone to watch.

n July 2002, the CIA slyly obtained an email address believed to be associated with al-Kuwaiti and within a month was tracking his email activity. That summer, the CIA received reports that originated with detainees held by other governments that al-Kuwaiti was associated with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected architect of the 9/11 attacks. Throughout 2002, the agency also had gathered "significant corroborative reporting" on al-Kuwaiti's age, physical appearance, and family. Other reports from foreign governments indicated al-Kuwaiti was a courier for bin Laden. So the CIA, according to the report, had been on to him for a while before it received any info from a detainee within its own custody.

But after the bin Laden raid, the report says, CIA officials briefed the committee and "indicated that CIA detainee information—and the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques—played a substantial role in developing intelligence that led to the UBL operation." This testimony, the report says, "contained significant inaccurate information." One example: the CIA told the committee that al-Kuwaiti had "totally dropped off our radar in about 2002-2003 time frame after several detainees in our custody had highlighted him as a key facilitator for bin Laden." [Committee's emphasis.] Nope, the committee says, no CIA detainee had provided information related to al-Kuwaiti in 2002. Moreover, it notes, "the majority of the accurate intelligence acquired on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was collected outside of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, either from detainees not in CIA custody, or from other intelligence sources and methods unrelated to detainees, to include human sources and foreign partners."

A CIA detainee named Hassan Ghul in early 2004 did tell the CIA that al-Kuwaiti was a "close assistant" who was likely handling "all of UBL's needs." He also reported that "UBL's security apparatus would be minimal, and the the group likely lived in a house with a family somewhere in Pakistan." Yet, according to the report, he told this to the CIA before being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.

The report challenges a statement then-CIA chief Leon Panetta made to Congress days after the bin Laden raid: "The detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us that there were individuals that provided direct support to bin Laden...and one of those identified was a courier who had the nickname Abu-Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. That was back in 2002." Not so, the report insists. And it gets worse. At a post-raid briefing a senator—unnamed in the report—asked, "Was any of this information obtained through [enhanced] interrogation measures?" A CIA officer—unnamed in the report—replied, "Senator, these individuals were in our program and were subject to some form of enhanced interrogation." The committee dryly states, that information "is not fully congruent with CIA records." It adds that the CIA's own records show that those CIA detainees who were tortured provided "fabricated, inconsistent, and generally unreliable information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti throughout their detention."

Is There Ever a Right Time to End a Relationship?

Is There Ever a Right Time to End a Relationship?

By Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.

The decision to end a relationship is never an easy one, and complicating the process is the question of when to make the break. Research on couples suggests that even those who break up at the “wrong” time may benefit from the support of family and friends.

Senate Faults C.I.A. Deceit and Brutality

Senate Faults C.I.A. Deceit and Brutality

A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.

The long-delayed report, which took five years to produce and is based on more than six million internal agency documents, is a sweeping indictment of the C.I.A.'s operation and oversight of a program carried out by agency officials and contractors in secret prisons around the world in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It also provides a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects.

Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.'s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.'s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.”

The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water at the prison in Afghanistan commonly known as the Salt Pit — a facility where the C.I.A. had claimed that waterboarding was never used. One clandestine officer described the prison as a “dungeon,” and another said that some prisoners there “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”

During his administration, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the detention and interrogation program, which President Obama dismantled when he succeeded him, was humane and legal. The intelligence gleaned during interrogations, he said, was instrumental both in thwarting terrorism plots and in capturing senior figures of Al Qaeda.

Mr. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and a number of former C.I.A. officials have said more recently that the program was essential for ultimately finding Osama bin Laden, who was killed by members of the Navy SEALs in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The Intelligence Committee’s report tries to refute each of these claims, using the C.I.A.'s internal records to present 20 case studies that bolster its conclusion that the most extreme interrogation methods played no role in disrupting terrorism plots, capturing terrorist leaders — even finding Bin Laden.

A satellite image of a prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit. The C.I.A. said the prison never used waterboarding, but the Senate Intelligence Committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard there surrounded by buckets of water.

In the report’s foreword, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said that she “could understand the C.I.A.'s impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield, and C.I.A. was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack.”

“Nevertheless,” she continued, “such pressure, fear and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security. The major lesson of this report is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the intelligence community’s actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards.”

Ms. Feinstein is expected to speak about the report in the Senate on Tuesday.

The C.I.A. issued an angry response to the report, saying in a statement that it “tells part of the story,” but that “there are too many flaws for it to stand as the official record of the program.”

The response acknowledged mistakes in the detention and interrogation program and in the agency’s analysis of the information gathered in interrogations. But, the agency said, “we still must question a report that impugns the integrity of so many C.I.A. officers when it implies — as it does clearly through the conclusions — that the agency’s assessments were willfully misrepresented in a calculated effort to manipulate.”

Jay Gruden’s job more chaotic than he ever dreamed.

Washington Redskins v Indianapolis Colts

Jay Gruden’s job more chaotic than he ever dreamed.

by Darin Gantt

While it’s hard to imagine what Jay Gruden thought he was getting himself into, he has quickly realized it was worse than he ever expected.

The Washington coach admitted yesterday that the circus-like atmosphere was certainly beyond what he thought he’d be dealing with.

It’s a little bit more than I expected, yes, if that’s the question,” Gruden said, via Mike Jones of the Washington Post. “I understand that there are stories to be had, and if you look around every corner, you can find a story about somebody negatively if you want to. We try to stay positive and upbeat, and I try not to let the stories get to me or this team.”

With the quarterback drama that has led some to wonder if this year will be his only year in Washington, Gruden is certainly showing signs of wear and tear. Jones described him as looking “as haggard and beaten as we’ve ever seen him.”

 Publisher's Note: It's hard to believe that an "owner" would destroy his team like this. Daniel Snider is reviled by all yet he makes the same mistakes year after year. Is the NFL no longer a meritocracy?

CIA's brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report

CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia

CIA's brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report

Spencer Ackerman in New York

Report released by Senate after four-year, $40m investigation concludes CIA repeatedly lied about brutal techniques in years after 9/11

After examining 20 case studies, the report found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings.

“During the brutal interrogations the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.”

The torture that the CIA carried out was even more extreme than what it portrayed to congressional overseers and the George W Bush administration, the committee found. It went beyond techniques already made public through a decade of leaks and lawsuits, which had revealed that agency interrogators subjected detainees to quasi-drowning, staged mock executions, and revved power drills near their heads.

The committee’s findings, which the CIA largely rejects, are the result of a four-year, $40m investigation that plunged relations between the spy agency and the Senate committee charged with overseeing it to a historic low.

The investigation that led to the report, and the question of how much of the document would be released and when, has pitted chairwoman Feinstein and her committee allies against the CIA and its White House backers. For 10 months, with the blessing of President Barack Obama, the agency has fought to conceal vast amounts of the report from the public, with an entreaty to Feinstein from secretary of state John Kerry occurring as recently as Friday.

CIA director John Brennan, an Obama confidante, conceded in a Tuesday statement that the program “had shortcomings and that the agency made mistakes” owing from what he described as unpreparedness for a massive interrogation and detentions program.

About Bill Cosby: Why Did the Women Wait So Long?

About Bill Cosby: Why Did the Women Wait So Long?

By Judy Carter

United States Navy photo by Mr. Scott King

Many people are questioning the truthfulness of the women accusing Cosby of rape asking, "Why did these women wait so long to come forward?” Here's why I can can understand their reluctance...

A woman sitting next to me on a plane questioned the truthfulness of the women accusing Cosby of rape. “After all,” my seatmate asked, “why did these women wait so long to come forward?”

I understand why. Back in 1970’s, when I was a USC drama student, I wrote a letter to the school newspaper, criticizing the sexism in the drama department. Dean Segal, then Dean of the Drama Department, called me into his office and SLAPPED me, KNOCKING me down to the floor. Towering over me, he yelled, “How dare you criticize the department.”

I didn’t report him. Things were different in 1972.  As a woman, I felt powerless.  And… if just writing a letter was met with physical violence, you put yourself at great risk by going public. I did nothing. I said nothing. Dean Segal was thought to be a kind man, quick with a funny joke. It would have been my word against his.

Criticism, Avoidance, and Negativity: How They Destroy Love?

Criticism, Avoidance, and Negativity: How They Destroy Love?

By Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D.

Do you let any of these three destroyers of love get in the way of your loving relationship?

American Lives Will Be Saved, Not Lost, If We Release the Senate Torture Report

abu ghraib

American Lives Will Be Saved, Not Lost, If We Release the Senate Torture Report

By Kevin Drum

The Senate torture report seems likely to be published this week in some form or another, but there's already a campaign in full swing to keep it under wraps. Why? Because its release might put Americans in danger. 

"The cynicism necessary to attempt to blame the blowback from their torture program on those who want it exposed is truly a wonder. On one hand, they insist that they did nothing wrong and the program was humane, professional, and legal. On the other they implicitly accept that the truth is so ghastly that if it is released there will be an explosive backlash against America. Then the same officials who said “Freedom isn’t free!” as they sent other people’s children to fight in needless wars claim that the risk of violence against American embassies is too high a price to pay, so the details of what they did must be kept hidden."

There's another thing to be said about this: our conduct during the early years of the war on terror almost certainly inflamed our enemies, bolstered their recruitment, and prolonged the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. This cost thousands of American lives.

President Obama may have banned torture during his administration, but is there any reason to think we've now given up torture for good? Not that I can tell, and it will cost many more thousands of American lives if it happens again. So for our own safety, even if for no other reason, we need to do everything we can to reduce the odds of America going on another torture spree.

ACLU's Anthony D. Romero: Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured

Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured

BEFORE President George W. Bush left office, a group of conservatives lobbied the White House to grant pardons to the officials who had planned and authorized the United States torture program. My organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, found the proposal repugnant. Along with eight other human rights groups, we sent a letter to Mr. Bush arguing that granting pardons would undermine the rule of law and prevent Americans from learning what had been done in their names.

But with the impending release of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have come to think that President Obama should issue pardons, after all — because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.

That officials at the highest levels of government authorized and ordered torture is not in dispute. Mr. Bush issued a secret order authorizing the C.I.A. to build secret prisons overseas. The C.I.A. requested authority to torture prisoners in those “black sites.” The National Security Council approved the request. And the Justice Department drafted memos providing the brutal program with a veneer of legality.

My organization and others have spent 13 years arguing for accountability for these crimes. We have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor or the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, or both. But those calls have gone unheeded. And now, many of those responsible for torture can’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.

To his credit, Mr. Obama disavowed torture immediately after he took office, and his Justice Department withdrew the memorandums that had provided the foundation for the torture program. In a speech last year at the National Defense University, Mr. Obama said that “we compromised our basic values — by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.”

But neither he nor the Justice Department has shown any appetite for holding anyone accountable. When the department did conduct an investigation, it appeared not to have interviewed any of the prisoners who were tortured. And it repeatedly abused the “state secrets” privilege to derail cases brought by prisoners — including Americans who were tortured as “enemy combatants.”

What is the difference between this — essentially granting tacit pardons for torture — and formally pardoning those who authorized torture? In both cases, those who tortured avoid accountability.

But with the tacit pardons, the president leaves open the very real possibility that officials will resurrect the torture policies in the future. Indeed, many former C.I.A. and other government officials continue to insist that waterboarding and other forms of torture were lawful. Were our military to capture a senior leader of the Islamic State who was believed to have valuable information, some members of Congress would no doubt demand that our interrogators use precisely the barbaric and illegal methods that the Obama administration has disavowed.

The Obama administration could still take measures to hold accountable the officials who authorized torture. Some of the statutes of limitations have run out, but not all of them have. And the release of the Senate’s report provides a blueprint for criminal investigations, even if that’s not what the intelligence committee set out to do.

But let’s face it: Mr. Obama is not inclined to pursue prosecutions — no matter how great the outrage, at home or abroad, over the disclosures — because of the political fallout. He should therefore take ownership of this decision. He should acknowledge that the country’s most senior officials authorized conduct that violated fundamental laws, and compromised our standing in the world as well as our security. If the choice is between a tacit pardon and a formal one, a formal one is better. An explicit pardon would lay down a marker, signaling to those considering torture in the future that they could be prosecuted.

Mr. Obama could pardon George J. Tenet for authorizing torture at the C.I.A.’s black sites overseas, Donald H. Rumsfeld for authorizing the use of torture at the Guantánamo Bay prison, David S. Addington, John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee for crafting the legal cover for torture, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for overseeing it all.

While the idea of a pre-emptive pardon may seem novel, there is precedent. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers as a step toward unity and reconstruction after the Civil War. Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for the crimes of Watergate. Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft resisters.

The spectacle of the president’s granting pardons to torturers still makes my stomach turn. But doing so may be the only way to ensure that the American government never tortures again. Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed; that the individuals who authorized and committed torture were indeed criminals; and that future architects and perpetrators of torture should beware. Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all.

Anthony D. Romero is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

White House and Republicans Clash Over C.I.A. Torture Report

White House and Republicans Clash Over C.I.A. Torture Report

With the long-awaited Senate report on the use of torture by the United States government — a detailed account that will shed an unsparing light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s darkest practices after the September 2001 terrorist attacks — set to be released Tuesday, the Obama administration and its Republican critics clashed over the wisdom of making it public, and the risk that it will set off a backlash overseas.

While the United States has put diplomatic facilities and military bases on alert for heightened security risks, administration officials said they do not expect the report — or rather the declassified executive summary of it that will be released Tuesday morning — to ignite the kind of violence that killed four Americans at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Such violent reprisals, they said, tend to be fueled more by perceived attacks against Islam as a religion than by violence against individual Muslims.

But some leading Republican lawmakers have warned against releasing the report, saying that domestic and foreign intelligence reports indicate that a detailed account of the brutal interrogation methods used by the C.I.A. during the George W. Bush administration could incite unrest and violence, even resulting in the deaths of Americans.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney added his voice to those of other Bush administration officials defending the C.I.A., declaring in an interview Monday that its harsh interrogations a decade ago were “absolutely, totally justified,” and dismissing allegations that the agency withheld information from the White House or inflated the value of its methods.


The White House acknowledged that the report could pose a “greater risk” to American installations and personnel in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Iraq. But it said that the government had months to plan for the reverberations from its report — indeed, years — and that those risks should not delay the release of the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “When would be a good time to release this report?” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, asked. “It’s difficult to imagine one, particularly given the painful details that will be included.”

But he added, “The president believes it is important for us to be as transparent as we possibly can about what exactly transpired, so we can just be clear to the American public and people around the world that something like this should not happen again.”

Obama's long arc on torture

Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

Obama's long arc on torture

He promised a ‘reckoning’ … in 2008. What happened?

Soon after President Barack Obama took office, he publicly endorsed the idea of a truth commission to cover the CIA’s harsh interrogation tactics before abandoning the approach within a matter of hours. Privately, he returned to the concept a few weeks later and dwelt on it for some time, before again being talked out of it by staffers, a former administration official said.

“There was a debate about what to do. He personally got into the idea,” said the former aide, who asked not to be named. “The problem was these issues have a tar-pit quality to them: you step foot in them and they have a way of becoming all consuming. The administration had a lot on its plate back then and the strategy of fighting on these issues could have pretty quickly consumed the entire public narrative.”

Now, some six years later, the White House says the torture report that’s set to be released on Tuesday fulfills Obama’s longstanding desire for public accountability for CIA abuses. But the president’s claim on having been a driving force in exposing the history of CIA interrogation practices in the war on terror looks to be a weak one. Indeed, the release of the report, which was first commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee, is more reflective of the Obama administration’s ambivalence about what once seemed like a clear-cut commitment to transparency.

Despite the White House’s claim that Obama “strongly supports” making the report public, the CIA and Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough have been wrangling for months with Intelligence Committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to limit disclosure of details that Democratic senators say are crucial to understanding the narrative of the program.

CIA Offers New Security Checks for ‘Torture Report’ Spies

CIA Offers New Security Checks for ‘Torture Report’ Spies

U.S. spies are worried the long-awaited Senate review will paint targets on their backs. So the CIA is offering to help erase those targets.

The CIA has offered to perform security assessments for former intelligence officers that may be identified in the so-called Senate torture report, expected to be released Tuesday.

Most of these officers are not identified by their real names in the report, which was drawn up by the Democrats of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But the CIA remains concerned that close readers will be able to figure out, based on cross-referencing and context clues, who the anonymous officers are. (Some very senior and well-known officials will be mentioned by name in the report.)

Current and former CIA personnel say they are fearful for their personal safety, and that of their families, should they be identified after the report is released and become targets for harassment or retribution. So the agency has agreed to determine their degree of exposure to any risk of identification, according to one senior intelligence official who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “They will help people assess their individual situations, assessing their homes, and helping them keep a low profile,” the official told The Daily Beast.

Roughly 15 agency employees were directly involved in running the program, but the official was not aware of how many had accepted the CIA’s offer of assistance. The CIA would not be providing security, this person said. The agency didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Separately, a lawmaker said the CIA had briefed him on the possible need for “personnel moves” related to the security fallout from the interrogation report. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the security preparations publicly.

The CIA has long been concerned that if any of its personnel were identified following the release of the report, which details interrogation techniques President Obama has called torture, it could jeopardize employees’ physical safety and make it impossible for them to work overseas. This issue was a central focus of debate between the committee and the Obama administration, which argued in favor of heavily redacting a 600-page summary so that it’s difficult to know who each anonymous officer mentioned or referred to in the report actually is.

Identifying current officers could also jeopardize any individuals with whom they’re in contact in foreign countries, including spies that the agency is running. “As soon as you start naming names, that person and everyone he’s connected to come up for grabs,” said a former intelligence official who hasn’t read the report but has spoken with current employees at the agency about their concerns.

In addition, intelligence officials are concerned that foreign governments that are described in the report as having helped the United States to detain and interrogate prisoners might resist cooperating in the future on controversial operations.

Three American teens, recruited online, are caught trying to join the Islamic State

Three American teens, recruited online, are caught trying to join the Islamic State

Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, rose before dawn on Oct. 4 to pray with his father and 16-year-old brother at their neighborhood mosque in a Chicago suburb.

When they returned home just before 6 a.m., the father went back to bed and the Khan teens secretly launched a plan they had been hatching for months: to abandon their family and country and travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

While his parents slept, Khan gathered three newly issued U.S. passports and $2,600 worth of airline tickets to Turkey that he had gotten for himself, his brother and their 17-year-old sister. The three teens slipped out of the house, called a taxi and rode to O’Hare International Airport.

Khan was due at work at 6:30 a.m. at a local home-supply store, so he knew his parents wouldn’t miss him when they woke up. The two younger siblings bunched up comforters under their sheets to make it look like they were asleep in their beds.

Their plan was to fly to Istanbul, then drive into Syria to live in the Islamic homeland, or caliphate, established by the Islamic State, the militant group that has massacred civilians in Iraq and Syria and beheaded Western journalists and aid workers.

The Khan teens, U.S.-born children of Indian immigrants, each left letters for their parents explaining their motives.

“An Islamic State has been established and it is thus obligatory upon every able-bodied male and female to migrate there,” Khan wrote. “Muslims have been crushed under foot for too long. . . . This nation is openly against Islam and Muslims. . . . I do not want my progeny to be raised in a filthy environment like this.”

His sister wrote: “Death is inevitable, and all of the times we enjoyed will not matter as we lay on our death beds. Death is an appointment, and we cannot delay or postpone, and what we did to prepare for our death is what will matter.”

In their letters, all three teens, who had grown up playing basketball and watching “Dragon Tales” and “Batman,” told their parents how much they loved them and asked them to join them in Syria, but made it clear they would probably never see them again, except in the afterlife. They begged them not to call the police.

In the afternoon, FBI agents knocked on the Khans’ front door, armed with a search warrant.

“For what?” asked the teens’ shocked father, Shafi Khan.

“Your kids have been detained at the airport, trying to go to Turkey,” an agent said.

“We were stunned,” said Zarine Khan, their mother. “More like frozen. We were just frozen.”


Slick propaganda

The Khan teens are part of a growing number of young Americans who are joining or attempting to travel to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State.

This year alone, officials have detained at least 15 U.S. citizens — nine of them female — who were trying to travel to Syria to join the militants. Almost all of them were Muslims in their teens or early 20s, and almost all were arrested at airports waiting to board flights.

A senior U.S. official said the government anticipates more arrests. Authorities are closely monitoring Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks, where recruiters from the Islamic State aggressively target youths as young as 14.

“Their propaganda is unusually slick. They are broadcasting their poison in something like 23 languages,” FBI Director James B. Comey said in a recent speech, adding that the terrorist group is trying to attract “both fighters and people who would be the spouses . . . to their warped world.”

When the Khan teens reached the airport, FBI officials were waiting for them.

A U.S. law enforcement official said authorities had been monitoring the communications of at least one of the teens, although the FBI has not disclosed how they initially became aware of them.

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