A behind-the-scenes battle between the CIA and Congress erupted in public Tuesday as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the agency of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program.The CIA, in turn, charged the committees staffers with an unauthorized removal of some documents and requested an investigation. From McClatchy:
Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor.
The FBI is investigating the alleged unauthorized removal of classified documents from a secret CIA facility by Senate Intelligence Committee staff who prepared a study of the agency’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in secret overseas detention centers, McClatchy has learned.So what's going on? For that we go back to the Post:
The FBI’s involvement takes to a new level an extraordinary behind-the-scenes battle over the report that has plunged relations between the agency and its congressional overseers to their iciest in decades. The dispute also has intensified uncertainty about how much of the committee’s four-year-long study will ever be made public.
The FBI investigation stemmed from a request to the Justice Department by the CIA general counsel’s office for a criminal investigation into the removal last fall of classified documents by committee staff from a high-security electronic reading room that they were required to use to review top-secret emails and other materials, people familiar with issue told McClatchy. The existence of the referral was first reported online Thursday afternoon by Time magazine.
The dueling claims exposed bitterness and distrust that have soared to new levels as the committee nears completion of a 6,000-page report that is expected to serve as a scathing historical record of the agency’s use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods on terrorism suspects held at secret CIA prisons overseas after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.Well not it looks like someone's been able to take a look at that report. And it ain't good:
A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.These would be the same enhanced techniques that former Vice President (and still unprosecuted war criminal) Dick Cheney defended recently:
The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.
According to Cheney, the enhanced interrogation tactics used do not fall under the scope of the 1949 United Nations Geneva Convention, which outlaws cruel, inhuman or any degrading treatment or punishment because the Geneva Convention does not apply to unlawful combatants.Yea, that torture. The report, on the other hand, tells a different story:
The Bush administration considered terrorists as unlawful combatants and considered those undergoing enhanced interrogation tactics as terrorists.
“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” Cheney said. “The results speak for themselves.”
“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”And then there's this:
If declassified, the report could reveal new information on the treatment of a high-value detainee named Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, the nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Pakistan captured Ali, known more commonly as Ammar al-Baluchi, on April, 30, 2003, in Karachi and turned him over to the CIA about a week later. He was taken to a CIA black site called “Salt Pit” near Kabul.And still none of this led to any "otherwise unobtainable intelligence" that could be used to protect the United States and its citizens. It was illegal, immoral and it didn't work.
At the secret prison, Baluchi endured a regime that included being dunked in a tub filled with ice water. CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said.
And this is what George Bush agreed to with his ballsy "Damn right."
Can we prosecute the torture now??