The Ugly, Ugly Americans

cia makes feinstein angry danziger
(Jeff Danziger’s website)

Drip… drip… drip… Jason Leopold, at Al Jazeera America:

A still-classified report on the CIA’s interrogation program established in the wake of 9/11 sparked a furious row last week between the agency and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. Al Jazeera has learned from sources familiar with its contents that the committee’s report alleges that at least one high-value detainee was subjected to torture techniques that went beyond those authorized by George W. Bush’s Justice Department.

Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera that the committee’s analysis of 6 million pages of classified records also found that some of the harsh measures authorized by the Department of Justice had been applied to at least one detainee before such legal authorization was received. They said the report suggests that the CIA knowingly misled the White House, Congress and the Justice Department about the intelligence value of detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah when using his case to argue in favor of harsher interrogation techniques.

The committee’s report, completed in 2012, must go through a declassification review before any part of it may be released, but conflicts between the CIA — the original classification authority for the documents on which the report is based — and the Senate Intelligence Committee have complicated the process. Even if the report was declassified, releasing it would require Senate approval, and it’s not clear that Feinstein, a California Democrat, could muster enough votes to do so. President Barack Obama last week expressed support for releasing the report “so that the American people can understand what happened in the past … That can help guide us as we move forward.”

CIA Director John Brennan delivered a rebuttal to the report last June, more than four months after a deadline imposed by the Intelligence Committee. The 120-page CIA response, which addresses what the agency says are flaws in the Senate report, also remains classified.

The Intelligence Committee probe began in 2009 after allegations that detainees had been tortured in CIA captivity after the 9/11 attacks. Feinstein has said that a CIA internal review contradicts statements previously made by the agency, but Brennan insists that the committee never should have seen documents assembled by former CIA Director Leon Panetta — which Panetta claims was not a review — because they contain sensitive material protected by executive privilege…

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69 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera

    See? The CIA was right to hack the computers the Senate staffers were using. There really were leaks. This, will not end well.

  3. 3
    Gopher2b says:

    If GOP takes the Senate, that report is gone forever. Someone should just leak the entire thing to the NY Times and be done with it.

  4. 4
    Helen says:

    Wake me up when George Bush and Dick Cheney are in jail. I used up all of my anger and indignation on this when we found out about it during the Bush administration.

  5. 5
    Schlemizel says:

    I’m waiting for the “this is old news, we all knew that, why are you rehashing this” defense. There are a very large number of politicians that need to be brought to the Hague & many more that while not chargeable should be too humiliated to ever appear in public again let alone run for office.

    But none of that will happen, evil has won. In 40 years there may be books calling it evil and the nation will be ashamed and everyone will wonder how we could have let it happen. In 60 years a future mAnn Coulter and Michelle Malkin will not only defend the practice but will ridicule anyone that points out it was illegal, immoral and did not help us a bit.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    @Helen:

    I gave up my outrage when America brought the GOP back into power in 2010.

    @Schlemizel:

    Cycle of history, my friend. It’s always been thus.

  7. 7
    NorthLeft12 says:

    ” President Barack Obama last week expressed support for releasing the report “so that the American people can understand what happened in the past … That can help guide us as we move forward.” ”

    I think we have all heard this before. Basically, nothing will happen to the parties responsible and complicit in those actions and a tighter lid will be put on these future activities so that no one will ever hear of them again. Not that it won’t happen, you just won’t hear about it.

  8. 8
    danielx says:

    It’s amazing, the number of documents that contain “certain sensitive material protected by executive privilege” (or sensitive material affecting national security) that also contain certain sensitive material that would be horribly embarrassing to certain sensitive officials.

    @Schlemizel:

    They say much the same thing today about the activities of the Church Committee, whose final report was also suppressed. It really doesn’t who controls the White House or Congress; none of the powers that be really want to know (or want us to know) the things that are done in our names. Not that a lot of us proles want to know either…

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @danielx:

    sensitive material protected by executive privilege” (or sensitive material affecting national security

    If I were a drug dealer, I’d put that on all my stash.

  10. 10
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    @Schlemizel:

    I’m waiting for the “this is old news, we all knew that, why are you rehashing this” defense.

    Don’t forget “and the story is from a radical Islamofacist news organization determined to destroy ‘Murka.”

  11. 11
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Think about it:

    According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the $26.7 billion of bonuses Wall Street banks paid out last year would be enough to more than double the pay of every one of America’s 1,085,000 full-time minimum wage workers. -Robert Reich

  12. 12
    Baud says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    1,085,000 full-time minimum wage workers

    I would have guessed that the number of Americans living off the minimum wage was much higher.

  13. 13
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @Baud:
    “Cycle of history, my friend. It’s always been thus.”

    There’s no escaping the Circle of Jerks?

  14. 14
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: Keep in mind that that number does not include the people getting paid 10 cents over minimum wage. Also I suspect that the “minimum wage” they are referring to is the Federal minimum wage, which excludes all the states with a minimum wage higher than that.

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Makes sense. As a rhetorical matter, I’m generally not a fan of “monetary equivalency” type arguments. YMMV.

  16. 16
    Poopyman says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: He also specifies “full time”. I wonder how many minimum wage workers even reach that milestone?

  17. 17
    Poopyman says:

    @Poopyman: OK, I guess that would be “1,085,000”. Duh.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @Poopyman:

    LOL. It’s ok. We know what you meant.

  19. 19
    cmorenc says:

    @Helen:

    Wake me up when George Bush and Dick Cheney are in jail.

    What I’ve been wondering about ever since the first few weeks Obama took office in 2009 after firmly pledging to end the Bush-era detainee abuses as candidate Obama in 2008 – is WHAT EXACTLY did the CIA and embedded holdover acolytes of Dick Cheney tell/threaten Obama with once he took office, that induced Obama to quietly walk and hugely scale back his earlier intentions to reign them in? They probably told him something in a veiled, but nonetheless clearly understandable way that amounted to: “Nice little presidency you’ve won there – gee it would be too bad if something were to happen to it” reinforced by a few pointed references to steaming shit-piles someone might just turn a fan on toward him and throw a few handfuls into it if he didn’t back away. I’m sure some of Cheney’s people still embedded would have only been too happy to launch some disinformation campaigns against the new President had Obama decided to go after some of their mates – but were agreeable to a truce with him as the quid pro quo for not being uprooted and exposed to criminal and civil liability.

  20. 20
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Baud: On the other hand, monetary equivalency arguments can be incredibly powerful. I can’t tell you how much wealth inequality outrage I’ve personally ginned up in real life using the “six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans combined” factoid. It demonstrates the unfairness in such a visceral way.

  21. 21
    beth says:

    @cmorenc: I always felt that when Obama became President he learned the truth about what we really did and it was so horrific and beyond anything that’s been reported that he just decided that even if we prosecuted high government officials, the United States would be so damaged it could never recover.

  22. 22
    MomSense says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    The President doesn’t have the authority to release the report. The Senate Intelligence Committee has to do that. Sen. Udall asked the President for a statement of support which he provided.

  23. 23
    GregB says:

    Physically abusing humans to the point of torture would be approved by the Founding Fathers.

    However increasing insurance coverage for 10 million Americans is the height of tyranny.

    This is a really fucked up country.

  24. 24
    kc says:

    They tortured before they got official permission to torture?

  25. 25
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Sure. If it works, great. Lots of things work that don’t do much for me, just like things that move me don’t necessarily work for most people. My comment was more of an expression of personal preference than a criticism (in case that wasn’t clear).

  26. 26
    SteveinSC says:

    I have said it before on this site: The honor of the United States cannot begin to be restored unless Dick Cheney is tried and hanging from a tree until the last drop of his vile blood rots into slime and George Bush is committed to a prison for mentally incompetent child-murderers. These two have done more damage to the United States than all the terrorists the world has ever seen. And fuck Hillary Clinton for a war-enabler.

  27. 27
    ericblair says:

    @beth:

    I always felt that when Obama became President he learned the truth about what we really did and it was so horrific and beyond anything that’s been reported that he just decided that even if we prosecuted high government officials, the United States would be so damaged it could never recover.

    Johnson didn’t go after Nixon, and Lincoln pardoned the leaders of the Confederacy. Seems the thinking is always: we’re still up to our asses in alligators, the country’s divided enough already, we don’t need more internal strife right now so move on. Most likely as well, any investigation is going to damage the existing government institutions to an unknown degree. I think it also carries a whiff of banana republic regime change that repels.

    In both cases we had long term problems because of it, but each time the president makes the same calculations.

  28. 28
    Tommy says:

    @Betty Cracker: I do the same. Look my parents have a lot of money. There will be a day when they are no longer here, where I will get it all. I used to be a little touchy over the whole inheritance tax thing. But then I came to realize something. How much is enough?

    I mean at what point shouldn’t that wealth be taxed at a higher rate. A much higher rate. Don’t we kind of owe it to society to give back?

  29. 29
    NotMax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly

    May as well toss a pertinent cartoon into the mix.

  30. 30
    deep says:

    What still pisses me off about Feinstein is her naive assumption that the executive branch has any control over the CIA. The CIA has gone rogue and yet neither she nor Obama are even aware of it!

    Dumbasses.

  31. 31
    LanceThruster says:

    We have met the enemy. ..

  32. 32
    Tommy says:

    @deep: Oh they are aware of it. The CIA, NSA, DoD tell Obama on a daily basis if it wasn’t for them, we’d all die. My gut is if you are told that enough you tend to believe it, and then you have what we have today.

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @danielx:

    none of the powers that be really want to know (or want us to know) the things that are done in our names.

    Why do you think that is? (I have my theories.)

    Not that a lot of us proles want to know either…

    If true, that’s a problem.

  34. 34
    Feudalism Now! says:

    I am shocked that once we authorized torture, the torturers might get creative in their application of torture! I understand Obama held out hope that the government would not shut down into gridlock and divide the nation if he pursued prosecution of war crimes. Hoocoodanode? We sacrificed justice and ‘morality’ for ACA and Lily Ledbetter. There needs to be acknowledgement that we acted immorally even if their are no trials at the Hague. The US of A has no moral authority. It is not a super power, it is just the biggest empire on the block.

  35. 35
    gene108 says:

    @SteveinSC:

    And fuck Hillary Clinton for a war-enabler.

    In 2008, Hillary was to the Left of Obama on matters like gay marriage and gun control. They both wanted to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and wind up Iraq.

    Her politics are not much different than Obama’s or any other Democrat, who will seek the 2016 nomination.

    @beth:

    he just decided that even if we prosecuted high government officials, the United States would be so damaged it could never recover.

    I never fully understood the assumption that the incoming Democratic President, in 2009, would launch criminal investigations about his/her predecessor’s actions.

    No President has ever done this, with regards to previous administrations and plenty of Presidents had dodgy stuff go down in their administrations.

    Jackson wasn’t tried for the Trail of Tears, Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t tried for us abuses in the Philippines, Truman wasn’t tried for nuking Japan, etc.

    I guess my point is America did not get to become a global super power “without breaking a few eggs” in the process, but no one has ever “looked back” to hold their predecessors to the idealism of American rhetoric.

    Also, if Obama went after Bush & Co., the next Republican President would go after Obama and a never ending cycle of tit-for-tat would begin that would allow less to be accomplished than is being done now.

  36. 36
    Tommy says:

    @Feudalism Now!: I am in about 110% agreement. As soon as we authorized torture of course people were going to get “creative.” That is why we have strict rules and regulations. IMHO as soon as we stepped over the line, well if water boarding was OK why wouldn’t a gun to somebodies head also be legal if, your thinking is you are saving the nation from danger?

  37. 37
    Cervantes says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Keep in mind that that number does not include the people getting paid 10 cents over minimum wage. Also I suspect that the “minimum wage” they are referring to is the Federal minimum wage, which excludes all the states with a minimum wage higher than that.

    Yes, Reich’s number is from 2012. It refers to people working 35 hours or more per week in their primary job, all wage and salary workers paid hourly rates at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage. The number is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Thanks, by the way, for posting Reich’s observation here.

  38. 38
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Feudalism Now!:

    We sacrificed justice and ‘morality’ for ACA and Lily Ledbetter.

    Try a little harder, I think you could still be more condescending. I mean really, real human lives over revenge? Pfft! What good are those?

    I’d love to see Cheney and Bush swinging from a tree, and maybe we could’ve done that and gotten health care and Lily Ledbetter passed, but if we absolutely couldn’t have and it’s a choice between the two I’ll take the latter two every fucking time.

  39. 39
    Matt McIrvin says:

    The great danger associated with criminally prosecuting former Presidents and their administrations for things they did is that if it became an expected practice, bad actors in office might be much more reluctant to relinquish power when their terms were over. We could end up with a President-For-Life.

    The “truth and reconciliation commission” model might work better. You get out of jail free but only if you come 100% clean.

  40. 40
    Cervantes says:

    @Poopyman:

    He also specifies “full time”. I wonder how many minimum wage workers even reach that milestone?

    I take it you’re asking how many work less than full-time. In 2012, that number was 2,037,000 (people working 0-34 hours per week in their primary job, all wage and salary workers paid hourly rates at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage). This number is also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  41. 41
    Cassidy says:

    @A Humble Lurker: Well c’mon, it’s only women and the poor and sick. Who are they to stop the pure beliefs of liberaltarians?

  42. 42
    Betty Cracker says:

    @A Humble Lurker: Yep. It was never such a stark choice anyway: Too many Democrats had dirty hands to make a full-on investigation into war crimes politically tenable. It was a mutually assured destruction scenario. As for sacrificing justice and morality, one has to be in possession of those qualities before they can be squandered.

  43. 43
    amk says:

    @Feudalism Now!:

    We sacrificed justice and ‘morality’ for ACA and Lily Ledbetter.

    Since they latter are so immoral right? #cluelessblowhard

  44. 44
    Matt McIrvin says:

    As for what they told Obama when he entered office, I’ve always assumed it was not so much a direct threat to him as a super-scary secret catalog of known terrorist threats. Maybe real threats, maybe not, probably a mix; but naturally couched in the most terrifying terms possible. This guy is trying to nuke us, this group is going for a radiological bomb, these guys are working on plagues, etc., and we’re this close to getting them if you just don’t get in our way…

  45. 45
    Cervantes says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Well, someone did warn Bush as well — about hijacked passenger jets being used as weapons, for instance.

  46. 46
    Tommy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I get what you are saying but the rule of law works cause people fear punishment. If there isn’t any fear what would stop you or me from doing whatever the heck we want.

    If you read excerpts of the Dick Cheney book they are posting at Vanity Fair there appears to be no fear. They could do whatever they wanted. In fact it was Bush of all people that said no, we can’t just bomb Libya when Cheney wanted to do just that.

    The excerpts are pretty clear they felt they could do anything they wanted and say terrorism over and over again to justify it. In fact I don’t think it is much of a stretch to think that if Bush hadn’t lost faith in Cheney Bush may still be our President.

  47. 47
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Baud:

    FULL TIME minimum wage earners

  48. 48
    Cervantes says:

    @Tommy:

    In fact I don’t think it is much of a stretch to think that if Bush hadn’t lost faith in Cheney Bush may still be our President.

    I have not yet been able to read more than five pages into that book.

  49. 49
    C.V. Danes says:

    Report conclusion: The CIA improperly water-boarded prisoners.

    Brennan’s rebuttal: Yes, but we only used pure spring water under medical supervision, so it was ok.

    I pretty sure this is what Hannah Arendt meant by the “banality of evil.”

  50. 50
    The Other Chuck says:

    @ericblair: Julius Caesar is another object lesson in what happens when you make a pattern of putting leaders on trial. Apparently it was quite common for the new regime to purge the old by way of hauling the previous leaders into court for any cause whatsoever and having them exiled or worse. After Caesar had spent his terms as consul, he inveigled an unbroken chain of governerships to keep himself immune from prosecution. When those ran out and his political enemies demanded his return to Rome, Caesar decided to do it at the head of an army.

    Me, I still personally believe that Cheney and company deserve to be prosecuted for their crimes. It just bears more than a little caution doing so.

  51. 51
    Cervantes says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    Me, I still personally believe that Cheney and company deserve to be prosecuted for their crimes. It just bears more than a little caution doing so.

    We could do it the way Scalia and company installed Bush and Cheney in the first place: “Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.”

  52. 52
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Baud:

    I would have guessed that the number of Americans living off the minimum wage was much higher.

    That’s a figure for the FULL-TIME minimum wage workers. Remember that there are about 300,000,000 Americans total. When you add in the number of children through high school, the full-time students through college and grad school, the disabled and sick, the elderly and/or retired, stay-at-home parents and spouses, those who work part-time, and the unemployed, the number of Americans with full-time jobs isn’t that high, so about a million with full-time minimum wage jobs seems reasonable.

  53. 53
    dopeyo says:

    @Tommy: worried about the inheritance tax? I believe the floor for that tax is presently set at about $5 million. If your parents leave you more than $5 million, I know of several ways to relieve yourself of that burden. I’m just saying’….

  54. 54
    Calouste says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I don’t know the exact figure for the US, but the part of the population that works a full-time (ish) job is around 35% in most industrialized countries.

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:

    @Calouste: That’s about right. For the US, as of 2013, the proportion of full-time workers age 16 and older was about 104 million out of a population of 316 million, which is about 33%.

  56. 56
    brantl says:

    @gene108: Clinton signed on for the AUMF, when all of Bush’s arguments for attacking Iraq as the country that caused 9/11 and was refining Uranium had blown up in his face (long before he got authorization and Clinton voted for it anyway), and Truman didn’t attack a country that didn’t attack us, for Christ’s sake! Brain up.

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @brantl:

    Truman didn’t attack a country that didn’t attack us

    Check out the Korean War: the North Koreans attacked South Korea, which was not exactly “us.”

  58. 58
    brantl says:

    @C.V. Danes: Refigerated spring water. Ever had cold water in your sinuses? Guess what kind of agony that is. And trying not to breath at the same time?

  59. 59
    brantl says:

    @Cervantes: Protected by both treaty and the Geneva Convention, and a UN resolution, bonehead, and as you said, they were attacked by the North Koreans, what’s your point, or don’t you have one?

  60. 60
    Cervantes says:

    @brantl: My point? It’s obvious. You wrote:

    Truman didn’t attack a country that didn’t attack us

    I gave you a counter-example.

  61. 61
    brantl says:

    @Cervantes: Truman’s troops were on South Korean soil defending South Korea, big difference. You’re still looking for a point.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:

    @brantl:

    Truman’s troops were on South Korean soil defending South Korea, big difference. You’re still looking for a point.

    Nonsense. Look at a map of Korea. Find the Yalu River. Find out why it was significant.

  63. 63
    brantl says:

    They were defending South Korea, after the North attacked them. The North Koreans were fought back to beyond their own lines after continuous engagment that they did not break off from. You are still looking for a point, sir. Sophistry not withstanding. AND, Truman got a U.N. resolution, how did he do that, pray tell?

  64. 64
    Cervantes says:

    @brantl: Did you find the Yalu River on the map?

  65. 65
    brantl says:

    And now you’re diverting into the fact that MacArthur was disobeying direct orders, for which he was fired. Tell me, what exactly is your point? Because, you don’t seem to have one.

  66. 66
    Cervantes says:

    @brantl: Already told you what the point was. You said:

    Truman didn’t attack a country that didn’t attack us

    I said that was false. Why don’t you explain how it’s true? When did North Korea attack “us”?

    Then you said:

    Truman’s troops were on South Korean soil defending South Korea, big difference.

    That’s also a false statement.

    You know this, by now, I should hope.

  67. 67
    brantl says:

    Truman’s troops started out on South Korean soil, defending a treaty partner, against North Korean agression. Continuous fighting and MacArthur’s disobediance, which caused him to be fired, brought them to the point where they would be attacking someone who had not actually attacked them. You’re still being disengenuous. And you’re still wrong, still looking for a point.

  68. 68
    Cervantes says:

    @brantl: Lots of words you have there.

    But when did North Korea attack “us”?

  69. 69
    brantl says:

    North Korea attacked us while we were side by side with the South Koreans, who had not attacked the North Koreans, the North Koreans attacked the south. You are disengenuous , at best, willfully distortional.

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