Release of CIA torture report 'unconscionable' says Rubio

A 500-page report detailing the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques used on al-Qaeda detainees since shortly after 9/11 will be released by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee today, as U.S. embassies and facilities around the world brace for trouble and Republicans express outrage at the release.

Fox News:

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, spoke out in a statement Monday after lawmakers and Obama administration officials warned that releasing the report could lead to a backlash against Americans around the world.

Rubio and Risch called the choice to release the report a “partisan effort” by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, saying 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 lawmakers spoke out as alleged new details of the report, which is expected to be released Tuesday, began to emerge. The 480-page report, a summary of a still-classified 6,000 page study, amounts to the first public accounting of the CIA's alleged use of torture on suspected Al Qaeda detainees held in secret facilities in Europe and Asia in the years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

[...]

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.

A former CIA officer told Fox News Monday that the agency's techniques led to helpful intelligence. The former officer noted that once accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's will was broken, he generated more than 2,000 intelligence reports.

In addition, three former CIA officers from the program told Fox News that they believe the Senate report seeks to minimize intelligence that led the U.S. to Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti-- Usama bin Laden's trusted courier.

Another former officer told Fox News that the CIA was encouraged by lawmakers "to do whatever it takes" to prevent another attack on the scale of Sept. 2001.  The former officer said that Hill leadership was briefed more than three dozen times before the program was shuttered.

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.

Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes defends some of the EIT used against terrorists, saying they worked.

There are certainly parts of the program that deserve criticism. There were major problems with the way it was conceived, approved, and carried out. There were troubling abuses in the early years, and later some misleading briefings about the enhanced interrogation techniques used. There were conflicts of interest and questionable accounting practices. Some of the public claims about the intelligence derived from enhanced techniques were clearly exaggerated, and at least one of those claims was patently false.

Such matters should be subject to tough, dispassionate, fact-based investigation. Actual failings should be condemned by both Republicans and Democrats, by supporters of the program as well as opponents.

That’s not what happened here.

Instead, the report was produced by the Democratic staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Dianne Feinstein. Republicans declined to participate.

Feinstein required former CIA directors and deputy directors to sign nondisclosure agreements in order even to see the accusations made against them. Despite the fact that virtually all of the 500-plus-page report has been declassified for release, the Feinstein committee also imposed, as a condition of access to the report, severe restrictions on what those officials may say in their own defense. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told The Weekly Standard: “Based on the nondisclosure agreement I signed, I cannot talk to you about the details of the Feinstein report, the Republican rebuttal, or the agency response—all as a condition of my being able to see it.”

In the clearest evidence that the committee was interested in blame rather than truth, the staffers did not seek to interview those involved in the interrogations.

If Democrats were interested in the "truth," why not appoint a bipartisan commission to study the matter?  The reason, as Hayes points out, is because this is a gigantic blame game, not an effort to ascertain all the facts.  Partisan, reckless, and designed to maximize the outcry against the United States around the world, the report is likely to get innocent Americans killed.  And their blood will be on the hands of the Obama administration and Democrats in the Senate who pushed for a full release of this report.

Hayes writes of some pushback by a former interrogator who defends EIT and questions the motives of Democrats who were briefed dozens of times on what the CIA was doing without saying a word in opposition at the time.

Beale’s document covers many aspects of the debate over enhanced interrogation—the morality of enhanced interrogation techniques, the use of EITs on U.S. servicemen and women during their survival training, the hypocrisy of public officials who approved the program and later pretended that they opposed it, the unearned authority of several top critics of the program, and, most important, the effectiveness of the techniques. 

News accounts of the forthcoming Feinstein report make clear that a central claim of that narrative will be its most contentious: The techniques didn’t work. Beale challenges that contention on the basis of his experience in the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course taken by intelligence and military personnel exposed to a high risk of capture. Tens of thousands of Americans have been subjected to EITs as part of their SERE training. Beale participated in the course first as a student, then as an interrogator.

As a student, I learned that I could resist, and occasionally manipulate, a talented interrogator during my numerous “soft-sell” interrogations—the rapport-building, we-know-all, pride-and-ego up/down, do-the-right-thing approaches. I had my story relatively straight, and I simply stuck to it, regardless of how ridiculous or implausible the interrogator made it sound. He wasn’t doing anything to me—there was no consequence to my lies, no matter how transparent.

I then learned the difference between “soft-sell” and “hard-sell” by way of a large interrogator who applied enhanced techniques promptly upon the uttering of my first lie. I learned that it was infinitely more difficult for me to remember my lies and keep my story straight under pressure. I learned that it became difficult to repeat a lie if I received immediate and uncomfortable consequences for each iteration. It made me have to make snap decisions under intense pressure in real time—and fumble and stumble through rapid-fire follow-up questions designed to poke massive holes in my story. 

I learned that I needed to practically live my lie if I were to be questioned under duress, as the unrehearsed details are the wild-cards that bite you in the ass. I learned that I would rather sit across from the most talented interrogator on earth doing a soft-sell than any interrogator on earth doing a hard-sell—the information I had would be safer because the only consequences to my lies come in the form of words. I could handle words. Anyone could.

There may be reasons to release this report in some form, but why now, and why the excruciating detail, unless it's for partisan political purposes?  Is the release in response to massive demand by the American people to see it?  Will any foreign crisis be improved by its release?

Thus, the reasons for why and when the report is released have a lot more to do with politics than with our national interest.

A 500-page report detailing the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques used on al-Qaeda detainees since shortly after 9/11 will be released by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee today, as U.S. embassies and facilities around the world brace for trouble and Republicans express outrage at the release.

Fox News:

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, spoke out in a statement Monday after lawmakers and Obama administration officials warned that releasing the report could lead to a backlash against Americans around the world.

Rubio and Risch called the choice to release the report a “partisan effort” by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, saying 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 lawmakers spoke out as alleged new details of the report, which is expected to be released Tuesday, began to emerge. The 480-page report, a summary of a still-classified 6,000 page study, amounts to the first public accounting of the CIA's alleged use of torture on suspected Al Qaeda detainees held in secret facilities in Europe and Asia in the years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

[...]

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.

A former CIA officer told Fox News Monday that the agency's techniques led to helpful intelligence. The former officer noted that once accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's will was broken, he generated more than 2,000 intelligence reports.

In addition, three former CIA officers from the program told Fox News that they believe the Senate report seeks to minimize intelligence that led the U.S. to Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti-- Usama bin Laden's trusted courier.

Another former officer told Fox News that the CIA was encouraged by lawmakers "to do whatever it takes" to prevent another attack on the scale of Sept. 2001.  The former officer said that Hill leadership was briefed more than three dozen times before the program was shuttered.

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.

Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes defends some of the EIT used against terrorists, saying they worked.

There are certainly parts of the program that deserve criticism. There were major problems with the way it was conceived, approved, and carried out. There were troubling abuses in the early years, and later some misleading briefings about the enhanced interrogation techniques used. There were conflicts of interest and questionable accounting practices. Some of the public claims about the intelligence derived from enhanced techniques were clearly exaggerated, and at least one of those claims was patently false.

Such matters should be subject to tough, dispassionate, fact-based investigation. Actual failings should be condemned by both Republicans and Democrats, by supporters of the program as well as opponents.

That’s not what happened here.

Instead, the report was produced by the Democratic staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Dianne Feinstein. Republicans declined to participate.

Feinstein required former CIA directors and deputy directors to sign nondisclosure agreements in order even to see the accusations made against them. Despite the fact that virtually all of the 500-plus-page report has been declassified for release, the Feinstein committee also imposed, as a condition of access to the report, severe restrictions on what those officials may say in their own defense. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told The Weekly Standard: “Based on the nondisclosure agreement I signed, I cannot talk to you about the details of the Feinstein report, the Republican rebuttal, or the agency response—all as a condition of my being able to see it.”

In the clearest evidence that the committee was interested in blame rather than truth, the staffers did not seek to interview those involved in the interrogations.

If Democrats were interested in the "truth," why not appoint a bipartisan commission to study the matter?  The reason, as Hayes points out, is because this is a gigantic blame game, not an effort to ascertain all the facts.  Partisan, reckless, and designed to maximize the outcry against the United States around the world, the report is likely to get innocent Americans killed.  And their blood will be on the hands of the Obama administration and Democrats in the Senate who pushed for a full release of this report.

Hayes writes of some pushback by a former interrogator who defends EIT and questions the motives of Democrats who were briefed dozens of times on what the CIA was doing without saying a word in opposition at the time.

Beale’s document covers many aspects of the debate over enhanced interrogation—the morality of enhanced interrogation techniques, the use of EITs on U.S. servicemen and women during their survival training, the hypocrisy of public officials who approved the program and later pretended that they opposed it, the unearned authority of several top critics of the program, and, most important, the effectiveness of the techniques. 

News accounts of the forthcoming Feinstein report make clear that a central claim of that narrative will be its most contentious: The techniques didn’t work. Beale challenges that contention on the basis of his experience in the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course taken by intelligence and military personnel exposed to a high risk of capture. Tens of thousands of Americans have been subjected to EITs as part of their SERE training. Beale participated in the course first as a student, then as an interrogator.

As a student, I learned that I could resist, and occasionally manipulate, a talented interrogator during my numerous “soft-sell” interrogations—the rapport-building, we-know-all, pride-and-ego up/down, do-the-right-thing approaches. I had my story relatively straight, and I simply stuck to it, regardless of how ridiculous or implausible the interrogator made it sound. He wasn’t doing anything to me—there was no consequence to my lies, no matter how transparent.

I then learned the difference between “soft-sell” and “hard-sell” by way of a large interrogator who applied enhanced techniques promptly upon the uttering of my first lie. I learned that it was infinitely more difficult for me to remember my lies and keep my story straight under pressure. I learned that it became difficult to repeat a lie if I received immediate and uncomfortable consequences for each iteration. It made me have to make snap decisions under intense pressure in real time—and fumble and stumble through rapid-fire follow-up questions designed to poke massive holes in my story. 

I learned that I needed to practically live my lie if I were to be questioned under duress, as the unrehearsed details are the wild-cards that bite you in the ass. I learned that I would rather sit across from the most talented interrogator on earth doing a soft-sell than any interrogator on earth doing a hard-sell—the information I had would be safer because the only consequences to my lies come in the form of words. I could handle words. Anyone could.

There may be reasons to release this report in some form, but why now, and why the excruciating detail, unless it's for partisan political purposes?  Is the release in response to massive demand by the American people to see it?  Will any foreign crisis be improved by its release?

Thus, the reasons for why and when the report is released have a lot more to do with politics than with our national interest.