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CIA interrogation report published

Why are we releasing a report we know our enemies will use as a recruiting tool?

If you’ve been battling a dreadful sense that the governing elite of your own country isn’t quite playing for the home team with 100 percent enthusiasm, the impending release of a report on “enhanced interrogation” in the early years of the War on Terror isn’t going to reassure you.  Especially not if it ends up getting people killed, as both domestic critics of the report and foreign governments fear.

From an ABC News report:

U.S. embassies around the world are bracing for a potentially explosive report about to be released that details what the CIA did to terror suspects in the days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and the fear is that its release could threaten American lives.

The report, due to be released Tuesday by the Senate, is described as shocking in its very graphic descriptions of secret interrogations, including some details that have never been heard before.

All U.S. facilities around the world are being urged to review security and brace for the reaction, with concern particularly high in areas where there are hot spots, in the Middle East and North Africa.

The CIA and the Bush administration have already faced heavy criticism for post 9/11interrogation techniques at so-called “black sites” across the world.

The use of waterboarding stopped many years ago, but, according to those who have seen this report, ugly new details about those procedures will be revealed, where prisoners were sexually demeaned, and CIA interrogators were urged to continue, even after concluding that no more information could be gleaned.

No doubt al-Qaeda and their proteges in ISIS will enjoy watching the Great Satan score a touchdown against itself while they sit back in the bleachers and watch.  This is an especially auspicious moment to release the report, as American hostage Luke Somers was just killed in an unsuccessful rescue attempt by U.S. special forces, along with fellow hostage Pierre Korkie of South Africa.  The U.S. military felt it had to move because Somers’ execution was imminent, but South Africa is livid, because it was thought a ransom had been worked out for Korkie and he would soon be released.  American officials say they didn’t know about the Korkie ransom, which doesn’t put the Obama Administration in a very flattering light, especially since the terrorists had already ransomed Korkie’s wife.  This all happened in Yemen, which Barack Obama was touting as the model for dealing with ISIS not three months ago.  Six years of Obama have left the United States with very little prestige to lose, so why are we throwing it away by releasing a report we know our enemies will use as a recruiting tool?

Such questions are being asked by a few sensible folks in Washington, notably including Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), who appeared on CNN to denounce the release of the interrogation report as a horrible mistake.  “Our foreign partners are telling us this will cause violence and deaths,” said Rogers.  “Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”

But for some reason, a government that fights Freedom of Information Act requests from U.S. citizens tooth and nail is going full steam ahead with the release of this dangerous report, beaming heads-up alerts to jeopardized Americans around the globe, as though the report were an oncoming hurricane that cannot be stopped.  From a Fox News report:

An official from the State Department and another from the intelligence community confirmed to Fox News early Monday that an advisory has been sent urging U.S. personnel overseas to reassess security measures.

The message directs all overseas posts, including those used by CIA personnel, to “review their security posture” for a “range of reactions that might occur.”

A similar statement is being sent to military combatant commands to assess their readiness. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the combatant commands have been urged to “take appropriate force protection measures within their areas of responsibility.”

Asked whether the CIA report ought to be released, Warren said that is a “higher level policy decision,” but added “there is certainly the possibility the release of this report could cause unrest.”

Would any of those higher-level policy decision makers care to hop on a plane and put their butts on the line, to demonstrate their personal commitment to releasing this report immediately?  Even Secretary of State John Kerry seems to get this is a bad idea, and he’s normally face-down in the mud with footprints across his back after a Bad Idea blows through town.

The comments by Rogers came after Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday urged Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the senator in charge of the report on CIA interrogations, to reconsider the timing of the release. Obama administration officials said they still support making the report public.

In addition, a U.S. intelligence official, who was not authorized to be quoted discussing classified intelligence assessments, told the Associated Press that Congress had been warned “of the heightened potential that the release could stimulate a violent response.”

Former CIA officials regard the release of this report as tantamount to punishment without trial, noting that despite the incoming Obama Administration’s enthusiasm for putting Bush-era personnel on trial back in 2009, no charges were filed.  The most explosive conclusions in the report are also hotly disputed:

The CIA told Fox News it would not comment until the report is released, but former agency officials have told Fox News that the agency’s program provided it with foundational intelligence about the Al Qaeda network after the Sept. 11 attacks. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has previously told Fox News that it is not feasible to believe that three different CIA directors and three different deputy directors of the agency conspired over a seven-year period to lie about the program’s effectiveness. Hayden and former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo also have claimed that the program provided evidence that helped direct the 2011 raid that killed Al Qaeda Usama bin Laden.

U.S. officials who have read the report say it includes disturbing new details about the CIA’s use of such techniques as sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces, humiliation and the simulated drowning process known as waterboarding.

President Obama has previously acknowledged, “We tortured some folks.” The report also says the alleged torture failed to produce life-saving intelligence, a conclusion disputed by current and former intelligence officials, including CIA director John Brennan.

A congressional aide noted to the Associated Press that the White House has led negotiations to declassify the report since April, and that both the president and his director of national intelligence have endorsed its release.

I can understand why fanatical Democrats want to push this thing out the door to punish evil pre-Obama America, and why Obama himself wants the world to see him as a different kind of president than the old waterboarding cowboy from Texas.  (Obama will blow you to smithereens with a drone,  but he won’t put any wet towels on your face or anything embarrassing like that.)  I sincerely hope nobody on either side of the aisle in Washington is dumb enough to think releasing this report will earn the United States a shred of credibility with either its deadly enemies, or whatever part of the Muslim world still hangs in the balance between Western values and totalitarian evil.

Update: More criticism of the interrogation report, courtesy of Fox News:

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, in a statement late Monday, called the move a ??partisan effort? by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. They said the report is not ??serious or constructive.?

??We are concerned that this release could endanger the lives of Americans overseas, jeopardize U.S. relations with foreign partners, potentially incite violence, create political problems for our allies, and be used as a recruitment tool for our enemies,? the senators said. ??Simply put, this release is reckless and irresponsible.?

[…] The White House on Monday reiterated its support for the report??s release, despite the warnings it could provoke violence. Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has been preparing “for months” for the report’s release.

However, Secretary of State John Kerry last week asked the Senate Intelligence Committee to “consider” the timing of the release.

The administration’s stance was criticized by GOP Sen. Richard Burr, the prospective new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr, R-N.C., said that Kerry’s suggestion that the report be delayed didn’t jibe with Earnest’s comments.

??It??s dumbfounding they can call and ask for it to be delayed and then say they want it out. You can??t have it both ways,? Burr told Fox News.

Apparently the White House’s months of preparation for the release of the report included scheduling President Obama to guest-host Stephen Colbert’s comedy show on the day of release.  Hey, it’s not like Obama’s posterior is on the line here.  Americans who happen to be stuck in the livelier districts of the Islamic world had better duck and cover, and if you happen to get killed in a riot or terrorist action, well… the people who wanted this report published might be willing to attend your funeral, if they don’t have any comedy programs to host that night.

Help me out here: this is the same Administration that falsely blamed a YouTube video for inciting a “spontaneous protest” that ended with the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in decades.  But now they’re chomping at the bit to release a report that’s going to be far more incendiary than that video supposedly was?  How can anyone reconcile Obama’s Benghazi B.S. with his position on releasing this CIA interrogation report?

Update: Writing at the Washington PostCIA veteran Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr. makes the point that many of the same people seeking to embarrass the intelligence community today were screaming at them to do whatever it took to combat al-Qaeda in the days after 9/11, including the driving force behind the CIA interrogation report, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):

There??s great hypocrisy in politicians?? criticism of the CIA??s interrogation program. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers urged us to do everything possible to prevent another attack on our soil. Members of Congress and the administration were nearly unanimous in their desire that the CIA do all that it could to debilitate and destroy al-Qaeda. The CIA got the necessary approvals to do so and kept Congress briefed throughout. But as our successes grew, some lawmakers?? recollections shrank in regard to the support they once offered. Here are a couple of reminders.

On May 26, 2002, Feinstein was quoted in the New York Times saying that the attacks of 9/11 were a real awakening and that it would no longer be ??business as usual.? The attacks, she said, let us know ??that the threat is profound? and ??that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.?

After extraordinary CIA efforts, aided by information obtained through the enhanced-interrogation program, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan. Shortly afterward, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN??s ??Late Edition? on March 2, 2003. Rockefeller, who had been extensively briefed about the CIA??s efforts, told Wolf Blitzer that ??happily, we don??t know where [KSM] is,? adding: ??He??s in safekeeping, under American protection. He??ll be grilled by us. I??m sure we??ll be proper with him, but I??m sure we??ll be very, very tough with him.?

When Blitzer asked about how KSM would be interrogated, Rockefeller assured him that ??there are presidential memorandums that prescribe and allow certain measures to be taken, but we have to be careful.? Then he added: ??On the other hand, he does have the information. Getting that information will save American lives. We have no business not getting that information.?

And that??s not all. Blitzer asked if the United States should turn over KSM to a friendly country with no restrictions against torture. Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn??t rule it out: ??I wouldn??t take anything off the table where he is concerned, because this is the man who has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans over the last 10 years.?

When it comes to matters of national security, liberals are reliable for two things: starting wars, and backstabbing the people who win them.

Update: “What exactly is there to gain here?” columnist Charles Krauthammer wondered on Fox News last night.  “Do we not know about this already?  Does it have to be done in detail and released now?

Krauthammer worried about the chilling effect this report would have on American intelligence assets, who know the Administration is willing to leave them twisting in the wind for inscrutable political reasons.  Foreign intelligence services will also be less willing to cooperate with the United States.  “We’re not going to have any allies in the world,” he warned.  “And because we have so little human intelligence, as a result of the drone program that kills our enemy and never captures them – nobody has gone to Guantanamo in the six years of the Obama Administration – we rely on the eyes and ears of other allies.  Who are going to help us after this?  Nobody.”

Update: According to media sources that have seen the report, the horrors detailed within include sexual threats (with the use of props such as a broomstick) and menacing a detainee with a power saw, along with the sleep deprivation and waterboarding tactics everyone already knew about.  (ISIS and al-Qaeda should write a nice thank-you note to Senate Democrats for putting it all into a single convenient recruiting manual for them.)

Meanwhile, the enemy kidnaps Western civilians while they’re on aid missions to Muslim countries, sells them like cattle, parades them around in hostage videos where they’re forced to read political statements, saws their heads off with small knives on-camera, and stages mass beheadings like this one:

That was the warm-up act for the illegal murder of American Peter Kassig, who was illegally captured and detained.  American terrorist prisoners get Korans delivered to their cells by attendants wearing gloves, to prevent unacceptable infidel contact with the holy book.  Kassig “converted” to Islam in captivity and was referred to by his Muslim name in Obama’s statement after his murder, in which he chided the Islamic State for killing a fellow Muslim.

Not only will I take a pass on all this Democrat sanctimony and moralistic preening, and denounce their willingness to risk other peoples’ lives so they can take a parting shot at George Bush, but I’ll be brutally frank: defeating Islamic fascism is going to require a certain degree of humiliation.  In his milquetoast way, that’s what Obama is trying to do when he lectures them about failing to follow the “true” teachings of Islam, or declares them to be on the wrong side of history.  Breaking Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was a far more powerful blow to al-Qaeda’s psyche than any tongue-lashing delivered by a foreign politician.

But if Islamofasicsts get to swagger out of four-star accommodations in U.S. facilities, after facing nothing worse than polite requests to give up valuable information, while their compatriots perpetrate one unspeakable atrocity after another against Westerners, Middle Eastern religious minorities, and insufficiently zealous Muslims who fall into their clutches, they’re not going to feel humiliated at all.  Quite the contrary.

Update: The Weekly Standard published a response to the Senate report from a U.S. military and intelligence interrogator, writing under a pseudonym, that accuses Senate Democrats of picking selectively through the mountain of data they got from the CIA to produce a report suited to their political agenda.

I can guarantee with absolute certainty that it would take a lot less than 40 million dollars and five years fo rme to be able to dive into that document dump and come outwith as convincing a positive narrative of the program as Dianne Feinstein and her staff have apparently produced a negative one,” writes the interrogator, mentioning such details as then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s convenient bouts of amnesia regarding what she was briefed on.  

He also points out that most of the unpleasantness in the Senate report dates from the period immediately after 9/11, when – as the other CIA veteran quoted earlier noted at the Washington Post – today’s Democrat armchair quarterbacks were howling for the intelligence community to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and everyone across the political spectrum worried that another major attack could occur at any moment.  “I would clearly differentiate between the early days of theprogram, when the training and infrastructure was in its infant stages ??  when the demand outpaced supply and the systemraced to catch up to the challenge of implementing a multi-faceted special access program on the fly ??  and the mid-to-latter stages,” writes the interrogator, citing a redacted example of a mid-to-late incident that would presumably buttress his point.  “I’ll wager that there is little to be found in the Senate report from 2004 onwards – another test of which way the coin landed.”  (He earlier described the positive or negative slant of any report on post-9/11 interrogation techniques as a coin toss, depending on what the authors of the report chose to emphasize.)

There’s a lot more in this lengthy document, including stern criticism of some media-friendly “expert witnesses” against enhanced interrogation, dismissed by the author as uninformed publicity-seekers looking to curry political favor and sell books.  He also debunks some of the common canards about enhanced interrogation, such as the assertion that it produces most false information from subjects who lie to get out from under the proverbial hot lamp, noting that skilled interrogators can make good use of such responses as they build an ongoing relationship with their subjects.  “After the first lie, a good interrogator knows where and when to look for the truth,” he observes.  “Perhaps a good journalist should take a harder look as well.”

Update: As promised/threatened, the report was published on Tuesday morning.  I have updated the title of this post accordingly.

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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