In December of last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a 6,000 page report that processed more than 6 million pages of documents about CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation tactics — basically, torture. After the reviewing the documents, Reuters reported that torture tactics rarely, if ever, actually yielded intelligence of any sort. Senator Feinstein — chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee — had this to say at the time of the vote:
“The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight. I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes. The majority of the Committee agrees.”
In response, the Central Intelligence Agency took it upon itself to conduct a review of the review, and according to the Washington Post, summarily rejected the Senate’s findings. CIA director John Brennan is set to present his agency’s findings to Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), during a closed meeting today. The core disagreement being whether the torture techniques used by the agency post 9/11 were effective or not:
But the agency’s response and the 6,000-page congressional report it addresses both remain classified, making it unclear whether portions of either document will be made public. A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the agency’s response, but current and former U.S. intelligence officials said it is sharply critical of the course of the committee’s investigation as well as its conclusions.
Despite lawmakers’ conclusions that harsh interrogations were ineffective, “anyone who was around and involved in the program knows that’s not right,” said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official. “I don’t know how they could fail to say that actually it was effective, and you can separate that from whether you approve of it or not.”
Depending on how the meeting goes, this could become a thorny issue within the Obama administration. Just months into his tenure as director, John Brennan may have to publicly defend programs that have been condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as human rights organizations everywhere. If he capitulates and accepts the Senate’s report, he risks alienating the intelligence community as a whole.
(Photo by flickr user Val Kerry)