Friday, June 2, 2017

Administration Returns Copies of Report on C.I.A. Torture to Congress

Senators, spies and a president spent years in a pitched battle over how the history is told of one of the most controversial chapters of America’s campaign against terrorism, the detention and interrogation of prisoners in secret C.I.A. jails.

But recent moves by the Trump administration have increased the likelihood that much of what is known about the macabre humiliations that unfolded in those jails around the world will remain hidden from public view.

Congressional officials said on Friday that the administration has begun returning to Congress copies of a 6,700-page Senate report from 2014 about the C.I.A. program. The move raises the possibility that most of the copies could be locked in Senate vaults indefinitely or even destroyed — and increases the risk that future government officials, unable to read the report, will never learn its lessons.

The classified report is the result of a lengthy investigation into the program by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling the story of how — in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — the C.I.A. began capturing terrorism suspects and interrogating them in secret prisons beyond the reach of the American judicial and military legal systems. The central conclusion of the report is that the spy agency’s interrogation methods — including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other kinds of torture — were far more brutal and less effective than the C.I.A. described to policy makers, Congress and the public.

The Trump administration’s decision honors the request of the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, who has decried the report for being shoddy and excessively critical of the C.I.A. and the George W. Bush administration. The F.B.I., the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the C.I.A. and the agency’s inspector general have returned their copies of the report, said American officials who asked not to be named to discuss the status of those classified copies.

The report is the most comprehensive accounting of the Bush-era program that exists. A declassified executive summary was made public in December 2014, and it laid bare some of the worst excesses of the war on terrorism, drawing broad condemnation both inside the United States and abroad.

Officials who played important roles in the C.I.A. detention program remain at the agency, including its newly appointed deputy director, Gina Haspel, and the former head of the agency’s counterterrorism center, Michael D’Andrea. Mr. D’Andrea recently assumed control of the agency’s Iran operations.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which was run by Democrats when the executive summary was released, sent copies of the entire report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate it into their records — a move that would have made the documents subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the news media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records.

The agencies all refused to add the report to their records, and instead kept their copies locked up, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the C.I.A. for access to the full report.

by Mark Mazzetti, Mathew Rosenberg and Charlie Savage, NY Times | Read more:
Image: Doug Mills/The New York Times
[ed. Shameful.]