Rapport sur la CIA: A qui profite le crime ? (Cui bono ? – A month after their historic defeat, Senate democrats drop one last, lobbed stink bomb)

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https://i1.wp.com/www.garciamedia.com/assets/uploads/blog/SIMONSCARR9_11jpeg_thumb.jpgLa Cour tient à souligner à ce propos que l’interdiction d’un traitement contraire à l’article 3 revêtant un caractère absolu indépendamment des agissements de la personne concernée et même en cas de danger public menaçant la vie de la nation – ou, a fortiori celle d’un individu – l’interdiction d’infliger des mauvais traitements à un individu afin de lui extorquer des informations vaut quelles que soient les raisons pour lesquelles les autorités souhaitent extorquer ces déclarations, que ce soit pour sauver la vie d’une personne ou pour permettre des poursuites pénales. En outre, le traitement que le requérant a subi doit passer pour lui avoir causé de vives souffrances mentales, ce que démontre aussi le fait que, ayant invariablement refusé de formuler des déclarations exactes jusqu’alors, l’intéressé a avoué sous l’influence de ce traitement où il avait caché J. La Cour estime dès lors que s’il avait été mis à exécution, le traitement dont le requérant a été menacé aurait été constitutif de torture. Cependant, l’interrogatoire n’a duré qu’une dizaine de minutes et, comme la procédure pénale dirigée contre les policiers a permis de l’établir (paragraphe 46 ci-dessus), a eu lieu dans une atmosphère empreinte d’une tension et d’émotions exacerbées car les policiers, totalement épuisés et soumis à une pression extrême, croyaient ne disposer que de quelques heures pour sauver la vie de J. ; ce sont des éléments qui doivent être considérés comme des circonstances atténuantes (…) D’ailleurs, les menaces de mauvais traitements ne furent pas mises à exécution et il n’a pas été démontré qu’elles aient eu de graves répercussions à long terme sur la santé du requérant. Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme (Strasbourg, le 30 juin 2008)
Ziad Abu Ein was a senior Palestinian politician, who held a number of roles in the Fatah political party, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the Palestinian Authority. Abu Ein previously served time in an Israeli prison for his role in a 1979 attack, where a bomb exploded in the city center in Tiberias, in the midst of a group of Israeli youth celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer. Thirty-six youths were wounded with two 16-year-olds, Boaz Lahav and David Lankri, killed. Abu Ein fled to the United States, but was arrested there and, in 1981, became the first Palestinian to be extradited from the United States to Israel, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released in 1985, as part of the Jibril prisoner exchange deal. Wikipedia
Les drones américains ont liquidé plus de monde que le nombre total des détenus de Guantanamo. Pouvons nous être certains qu’il n’y avait parmi eux aucun cas d’erreurs sur la personne ou de morts innocentes ? Les prisonniers de Guantanamo avaient au moins une chance d’établir leur identité, d’être examinés par un Comité de surveillance et, dans la plupart des cas, d’être relâchés. Ceux qui restent à Guantanamo ont été contrôlés et, finalement, devront faire face à une forme quelconque de procédure judiciaire. Ceux qui ont été tués par des frappes de drones, quels qu’ils aient été, ont disparu. Un point c’est tout. Kurt Volker
We have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves. Dianne Feinstein
We understood what the CIA was doing. We gave the CIA our bipartisan support; we gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities. Porter Goss (Pelosi’s chairman on the House committee)
Nous avons fait ce qui nous a été demandé (…) et nous savons que cela a été efficace. Une décennie plus tard, en guise de récompense nous entendons certains de ces mêmes politiques faire part de leur indignation et – pire – déformer les faits et minimiser les succès obtenus. Jose Rodriguez (ancien responsable de la CIA)
[It] demonstrates not just the shamelessness of Democrats today denouncing practices to which, at the time and at the very least, they made no objection. It demonstrates also how near-consensual was the idea that our national emergency might require extraordinary measures. This is not to say that in carrying out the program there weren’t abuses, excesses, mismanagement and appalling mistakes (such as the death in custody — unintended but still unforgivable — of two detainees). It is to say that the root-and-branch denunciation of the program as, in principle, unconscionable is not just hypocritical but ahistorical. To make that case, to produce a prosecutorial brief so entirely and relentlessly one-sided, the committee report (written solely by Democrats) excluded any testimony from the people involved and variously accused. None. No interviews, no hearings, no statements. The excuse offered by the committee is that a parallel Justice Department inquiry precluded committee interviews. Rubbish. That inquiry ended in 2012. It’s December 2014. Why didn’t they take testimony in the interval? Moreover, even during the Justice Department investigation, the three CIA directors and many other officials were exempt from any restrictions. Why weren’t they interviewed? Answer: So that committee Democrats could make their indictment without contradiction. So they could declare, for example, the whole program to be a failure that yielded no important information — a conclusion denied by practically every major figure involved, including Democrat and former CIA director Leon Panetta; Obama’s current CIA director, John Brennan; and three other CIA directors (including a Clinton appointee).  Perhaps, say the critics, but we’ll never know whether less harsh interrogation would have sufficed. So what was the Bush administration to do? Amid the smoking ruins of Ground Zero, conduct a controlled experiment in gentle interrogation and wait to see if we’d be hit again? A nation attacked is not a laboratory for exquisite moral experiments. It’s a trust to be protected, by whatever means meet and fit the threat. Accordingly, under the direction of the Bush administration and with the acquiescence of congressional leadership, the CIA conducted an uncontrolled experiment. It did everything it could, sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly. But successfully. It kept us safe. Charles Krauthammer
One of the great problems with the word “torture” is that it tolerates no ambiguity. It is a taboo word, like racism or incest. Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end. It’s a line no one may cross. As a result, if you think the enhanced interrogation techniques are necessary, or simply justified, you have to call them something else. Similarly, many sincere opponents of these techniques think that if they can simply call them “torture,” their work is done. The problem is that the issue isn’t nearly so binary. Even John McCain — a vocal opponent of any kind of torture — has conceded that in some hypothetical nuclear ticking-time-bomb scenario, torture might be a necessary evil. His threshold might be very high, but the principle is there nonetheless. And nearly everyone understands the point: When a greater evil is looming in the imminent future, the lesser evil becomes more tolerable. This is why opponents of the interrogation program are obsessed with claiming that it never worked, at all. And this suggests why the talking point about drone strikes has such power. Killing is worse than torture. Life in prison might be called torture for some people, and yet we consider the death penalty a more severe punishment. Most people would prefer to be waterboarded than killed. All sane and decent people would rather go through what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went through than see their whole family slaughtered from 10,000 feet by a drone. And yet President Obama routinely sanctions drone strikes while piously outlawing the slapping of prisoners who might have information that would make such strikes less necessary — and, more importantly, would prevent the loss of innocent American lives. It’s odd: Even though killing is a graver moral act, there’s more flexibility to it. America killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in World War II, but few would call that murder because such actions as the firebombing of Dresden were deemed necessary to win the war. In other words, we have the moral vocabulary to talk about kinds of killing — from euthanasia and abortion to capital punishment, involuntary manslaughter and, of course, murder — but we don’t have a similar lexicon when it comes to kinds of torture. When John McCain was brutally tortured — far, far more severely than anything we’ve done to the 9/11 plotters — it was done to elicit false confessions and other statements for purposes of propaganda. When we tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was to get actionable intelligence on ongoing plots. It seems to me that’s an important moral distinction. If I torture a fiend to find out where he left a child to suffocate or starve in some dungeon, that’s a less evil act than torturing someone just to hear them renounce their god or country. Also, KSM was not some innocent subjected to torture to satisfy the grotesque desires of some sadists. He is an unlawful combatant responsible for murdering thousands of innocent Americans. This may sound like nothing more than a rationalization. But that is to be expected when you try to reason through a morally fraught problem. If you believe torture is wrong no matter what, then any sentence that begins, “Yeah, but . . . ” will seem like so much bankrupt sophistry. The same goes for truly devout believers in nonviolence who think any and all killing is wrong. I can respect that, because I think the taboo against torture is important and honorable, just like the taboos against killing. And just like the taboos against killing, sometimes the real world gets a veto. Jonah Goldberg
Astonishingly, the staff avoided interviewing any of us who had been involved in establishing or running the program, the first time a supposedly comprehensive Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study has been carried out in this way. The excuse given by majority senators is that CIA officers were under investigation by the Justice Department and therefore could not be made available. This is nonsense. The investigations referred to were completed in 2011 and 2012 and applied only to certain officers. They never applied to six former CIA directors and deputy directors, all of whom could have added firsthand truth to the study. Yet a press account indicates that the committee staff did see fit to interview at least one attorney for a terrorist at Guantanamo Bay. We can only conclude that the committee members or staff did not want to risk having to deal with data that did not fit their construct. Which is another reason why the study is so flawed. What went on in preparing the report is clear: The staff picked up the signal at the outset that this study was to have a certain outcome, especially with respect to the question of whether the interrogation program produced intelligence that helped stop terrorists. The staff members then “cherry picked” their way through six million pages of documents, ignoring some data and highlighting others, to construct their argument against the program’s effectiveness. In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization. Ex-CIA chiefs
With the release of the Feinstein report on CIA interrogations of high-value terrorists a decade ago, let’s consider the situation of intelligence personnel who have been involved, not in that program but in drone strikes against terrorists, conducted in a variety of countries around the world. They have four sources of direction and protection: Their strikes are authorized by the president, briefed to Congress, deemed lawful by the attorney general and determined useful by the CIA director. Yet people in the drone program know that co-workers involved in enhanced interrogation had these assurances as well. And the drone program has some distinctive characteristics. Instead of employing waterboarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation, the targets are killed (sometimes with collateral damage to the innocent). President Obama dramatically expanded the use of drones, increasing the proportion of attacks that are “signature strikes” — meaning those authorizing attacks don’t know the identities of the targets, just their likely value. Some may argue a subtle moral distinction between harshly interrogating a terrorist and blowing his limbs apart. But international human rights groups and legal authorities generally look down on both. The main difference? One is Obama’s favorite program. A few years from now, a new president and new congressional leaders may take a different view. At the CIA, these concerns are not hypothetical. “I know the Predator program intimately,” a former senior intelligence officer told me. “There have been hundreds and hundreds of Predator shots, the most carefully targeted in the history of warfare, but not 100 percent right. What if the next president, [say] Rand Paul or Elizabeth Warren, comes after people involved in this program?” “If you have to worry about a new administration coming along 10 years down the road,” the intelligence officer told me, “making villains out of agency officials following the exact letter of the law, it is sobering. We think about that all the time.” This is the scrutiny that comes only with success. For many, the 9/11 attacks are becoming as historically and emotionally distant as Pearl Harbor. But if the United States had the equivalent of a 9/11 attack each year, the range of acceptable responses would expand. V-E Day, after all, partially resulted from the firebombing of Dresden. V-J Day encompassed Hiroshima. Both involved tickertape parades and incinerated children. The U.S. response in the war against terrorism has been dramatically more selective and focused on combatants. Even so, the CIA is often forced to operate at the edge of the United States’ acceptable response — currently with drone strikes and a variety of activities to degrade and dismantle the Islamic State. The avoidance of “boots on the ground” in the Middle East has placed an additional burden on intelligence services to work with (often flawed) allies, target enemies and strike from afar. Political leaders, once again, urge intelligence officials to do what is necessary. So the Feinstein report comes in the middle of a war, targeting many Americans who are still engaged in it. It is an act of exceptional congressional recklessness. (…) So why has Feinstein donned her Guy Fawkes mask? Tension with the CIA? Simple stubbornness? The main reason, I suspect, is different. Democrats who approved of enhanced interrogation at the time (such as Feinstein) must now construct an elaborate fantasy world in which they were not knowledgeable and supportive. They postulate a new reality in which they were innocent and deceived — requiring a conspiracy from three former CIA directors, three former deputy directors and hundreds of others. Occam would indicate a different answer: guilt, hypocrisy and betrayal. Michael Gerson
I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it. When Congress created the intelligence committees in the 1970’s, the purpose was for people’s representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days. (…) The Senate’s Intelligence Committee staff chose to interview no one. Their rationale – that some officers were under investigation and could not be made available – is not persuasive. Most officers were never under investigation and for those who were, the process ended by 2012. Fairness should dictate that the examination of documents alone do not eliminate the need for interviews conducted by the investigators. Isolated emails, memos and transcripts can look much different when there is no context or perspective provided by those who sent, received or recorded them. It is important for all of us to remember how unprepared we were for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and how unprepared we were to do the things necessary to keep the country from being attacked again. There was no operating manual to guide the choices and decisions made by the men and women in charge of protecting us. (…) The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges. Our intelligence personnel – who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State – need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress. Remarkably this report contains none. Bob Kerrey
There are more questions about the report. One is that it is generally understood to reflect longstanding tensions between the committee and the CIA. Another is the timing—the report was issued just as a defeated Democratic majority walked out the door, and has the look of a last, lobbed stink bomb: “See what the terrible Bush administration did? Bye now!” There is about the entire enterprise a sense of sin being expiated at someone else’s expense. The committee’s job is to oversee the CIA. If its own report is true, it didn’t do a very good job. It can be hard to take seriously a report that seems largely a product of partisan resentment, guilt and blame shifting. Peggy Noonan

Attention: une dérive peut en cacher une autre !

En ces temps étranges où la simple crise cardiaque, lors d’une manifestation dite pacifique, d’un « ministre » et, ce que se gardent bien de rappeler nos belles âmes et nos médias, auteur d’un attentat à la bombe contre un groupe de jeunes ayant fait deux morts et 36 victimes il y a 35 ans se voit qualifier d’ « acte barbare » et de « meurtre » avec demande d’enquête du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU …

Mais où une Cour européenne des Droits de l’Homme déboute il y a six ans un étudiant en droit de sa plainte pour obtention d’aveux sous la contrainte et torture de la part de policiers lors de son interrogatoire (menaces de grande souffrance et de viol) suite à l’enlèvement et au meurtre de l’enfant d’une famille célèbre de banquiers, exonérant, en une argumentation classique du dilemme de la bombe à retardement, les policiers pour circonstances atténuantes, (courte durée des traitements infligés, pression extrême et l’urgence pour sauver la vie de l’enfant, non-mise en exécution des menaces de mauvais traitements, absence de graves répercussions à long terme sur la santé du plaignant) …

A l’heure où « au milieu d’une guerre qui vise de nombreux Américains toujours impliqués dans les combats » …

Et un mois après la cinglante et historique perte de la majorité de son parti dans les deux chambres du Congrès …

Par une Administration Obama qui a fait et continue à faire, en quelques années et par drones interposés, au moins trois fois plus de victimes que le nombre total de détenus de Guantanamo

Ressort mystérieusement un rapport vieux de cinq ans sur les techniques d’interrogation de la CIA suite aux attentats du 11 septembre 2001 …

Comment ne pas voir, avec le chroniqueur du Washington Post Michael Gerson, non seulement « un acte exceptionnel d’insouciance de la part du Sénat » ….

Mais une peu glorieuse tentative de se dédouaner pour des méthodes qu’ils avaient à l’époque largement approuvées ?

Releasing the Feinstein report is an act of exceptional recklessness
Michael Gerson
Washington Post
December 8, 2014

With the release of the Feinstein report on CIA interrogations of high-value terrorists a decade ago, let’s consider the situation of intelligence personnel who have been involved, not in that program but in drone strikes against terrorists, conducted in a variety of countries around the world.

They have four sources of direction and protection: Their strikes are authorized by the president, briefed to Congress, deemed lawful by the attorney general and determined useful by the CIA director.
Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Post. View Archive

Yet people in the drone program know that co-workers involved in enhanced interrogation had these assurances as well. And the drone program has some distinctive characteristics. Instead of employing waterboarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation, the targets are killed (sometimes with collateral damage to the innocent). President Obama dramatically expanded the use of drones, increasing the proportion of attacks that are “signature strikes” — meaning those authorizing attacks don’t know the identities of the targets, just their likely value.

Some may argue a subtle moral distinction between harshly interrogating a terrorist and blowing his limbs apart. But international human rights groups and legal authorities generally look down on both. The main difference? One is Obama’s favorite program. A few years from now, a new president and new congressional leaders may take a different view.

At the CIA, these concerns are not hypothetical. “I know the Predator program intimately,” a former senior intelligence officer told me. “There have been hundreds and hundreds of Predator shots, the most carefully targeted in the history of warfare, but not 100 percent right. What if the next president, [say] Rand Paul or Elizabeth Warren, comes after people involved in this program?”

“If you have to worry about a new administration coming along 10 years down the road,” the intelligence officer told me, “making villains out of agency officials following the exact letter of the law, it is sobering. We think about that all the time.”

This is the scrutiny that comes only with success. For many, the 9/11 attacks are becoming as historically and emotionally distant as Pearl Harbor. But if the United States had the equivalent of a 9/11 attack each year, the range of acceptable responses would expand. V-E Day, after all, partially resulted from the firebombing of Dresden. V-J Day encompassed Hiroshima. Both involved tickertape parades and incinerated children.

The U.S. response in the war against terrorism has been dramatically more selective and focused on combatants. Even so, the CIA is often forced to operate at the edge of the United States’ acceptable response — currently with drone strikes and a variety of activities to degrade and dismantle the Islamic State. The avoidance of “boots on the ground” in the Middle East has placed an additional burden on intelligence services to work with (often flawed) allies, target enemies and strike from afar. Political leaders, once again, urge intelligence officials to do what is necessary.

So the Feinstein report comes in the middle of a war, targeting many Americans who are still engaged in it. It is an act of exceptional congressional recklessness. Democratic senators on the Intelligence Committee interviewed none of the key figures in the program, yet fought for months to make it easier to identify the targets of their report. “Those personnel,” said (soon to be former) Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), “if they have that worry, can be given some legitimate security.” This is clearly what some committee members intended: exposure and a bodyguard.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the outgoing chair of the committee, was thought to be more responsible. But her legacy is a massive dump of intelligence details useful to the enemy in a time of war. And she knows the likely results. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the concerns of allies about increased violence. A National Intelligence Council report warned of threats to embassies, installations and individuals, and explored how partners would react to the disclosure.

So why has Feinstein donned her Guy Fawkes mask? Tension with the CIA? Simple stubbornness? The main reason, I suspect, is different. Democrats who approved of enhanced interrogation at the time (such as Feinstein) must now construct an elaborate fantasy world in which they were not knowledgeable and supportive. They postulate a new reality in which they were innocent and deceived — requiring a conspiracy from three former CIA directors, three former deputy directors and hundreds of others.

Occam would indicate a different answer: guilt, hypocrisy and betrayal.

Voir aussi:

Partisan torture report fails America
Intelligence agencies need guidance to do better, Senate Democrats failed to provide it.
Bob Kerrey
USA Today
December 10, 2014

I regret having to write a piece that is critical of the Democratic members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most of them are former colleagues and friends. I hope they will remain friends after reading this.

For eight years I served on this committee. I know how difficult and important the work of providing tough and fair oversight of our nation’s $50 billion top-secret intelligence network.

I will wait until I have fully read and considered Tuesday’s report to enter the debate over whether the CIA handled interrogation of detainees in an appropriate manner. Thanks to the 2005 and 2006 efforts of Senator John McCain I do not have to wait to be certain our interrogation policies and procedures are aligned with our core values.

I also do not have to wait to know we are fighting a war that is different than any in our country’s past. The enemy does not have an easy to identify and analyze military. In the war against global jihadism, human intelligence and interrogation have become more important, and I worry that the partisan nature of this report could make this kind of collection more difficult.

I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

When Congress created the intelligence committees in the 1970’s, the purpose was for people’s representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days.

I have participated in two extensive investigations into intelligence failures, once when Aldrich Ames was discovered to be spying for Russia after he had done substantial damage to our human intelligence collection capability and another following the 9/11 attacks. In both cases we were very critical of the practices of the intelligence agencies. In both cases we avoided partisan pressure to blame the opposing party. In both cases Congress made statutory changes and the agencies changed their policies. It didn’t make things perfect, but it did make them better.

In both of these efforts the committee staff examined documents and interviewed all of the individuals involved. The Senate’s Intelligence Committee staff chose to interview no one. Their rationale – that some officers were under investigation and could not be made available – is not persuasive. Most officers were never under investigation and for those who were, the process ended by 2012.

Fairness should dictate that the examination of documents alone do not eliminate the need for interviews conducted by the investigators. Isolated emails, memos and transcripts can look much different when there is no context or perspective provided by those who sent, received or recorded them.

It is important for all of us to remember how unprepared we were for the attacks of September 11, 2001 and how unprepared we were to do the things necessary to keep the country from being attacked again. There was no operating manual to guide the choices and decisions made by the men and women in charge of protecting us. I will continue to read the report to learn of the mistakes we apparently made. I do not need to read the report in full to know this: We have not been attacked since and for that I am very grateful.

It is important for all of us to not let Congress dodge responsibility. Congressional oversight of intelligence is notoriously weak. The 9/11 Commission recommended a number of changes in the authorities of Congressional committees but the proposal – advanced by Senator McCain – did not come close to gathering a majority of votes in either the Senate or the House.

The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.

Our intelligence personnel – who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State – need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress. Remarkably this report contains none. I hope – for the sake of our security and our values – Congress will follow the leadership of Senator McCain and give them this guidance.

Bob Kerrey, former governor of Nebraska and U.S. senator, is now the managing director of Allen and Company.

Voir également:

Declarations
A Flawed Report’s Important Lesson
Americans regardless of party should agree torture is wrong.
Peggy Noonan
WSJ
Dec. 11, 2014

The “torture report” exists. It shouldn’t—a better, more comprehensive, historically deeper and less partisan document should have been produced, and then held close for mandatory reading by all pertinent current and future officials—but it’s there. Anyone in the world who wants to read it can do a full download, and think what they think.

Its overall content left me thinking of a conversation in the summer of 1988 with the pollster Bob Teeter, a thoughtful man who worked for George Bush’s presidential campaign, as I did. I asked if he ever found things in polls that he wasn’t looking for and that surprised him. Bob got his Thinking Look, and paused. Yes, he said, here’s one: The American people don’t like the Japanese.

It surprised him, and me, and I asked what he thought it was about.

He didn’t think it was economic—he saw in the data that Americans admired Japan’s then-rising economy. He didn’t think it was World War II per se—he didn’t find quite the same kind of responses about Germany. We were quiet for a moment, and then our minds went to exactly the same place at the same time: Japanese torture of American soldiers in the Pacific war. The terrible, vicious barbarity of it. When the war ended, American boys went home, and the story of what they’d seen, experienced and heard filtered through families, workplaces and VFW halls. More than 40 years later, maybe it was still there, showing up in a poll.

It was just our guess, but I think a good one. A nation’s reputation in the world will not soon recover from such cruel, systemic actions, which seemed to bubble up from a culture. You’ll pay a price in terms of the world’s regard.

This is one of the reasons, only a practical one, torture is bad. It makes people lose respect for you. And when you come most deeply to terms with it, it can make you lose respect for you, too.

The arguments over the deficiencies of the torture report—we’ll get to some in a moment—have in a way overwhelmed that point.

But America should never again do what is asserted and outlined in the report, which enumerates various incidents of what I believe must honestly be called torture. American policy should be to treat prisoners the way we would hope—with clear eyes, knowing it is a hope—our prisoners would be treated.

The war we are engaged in is different, we know, and it is still going on and will be for some time, but it won’t help us fight it to become less like ourselves and more like those we oppose. Torture is not like us. It’s not part of the American DNA. We think of ourselves as better than that because we’ve been better than that.

It is almost childish to say it, yet children sometimes see obvious truths. We can’t use torture methods and still at the same time be the hope of the world. You’re an animal like the other animals or you’re something different, something higher, and known to be different and higher.

Someone has to be the good guy. For a long time in the world that has been our role. You might say it bubbled up from our culture.

We should not judge those who, in the months and years after 9/11, did what they thought necessary to forestall further attacks on America’s civilian population. They went with the legal guidance they had, propelled by the anxiety we all experienced. “There was no operating manual to guide the choices and decisions made by the men and women in charge of protecting us,” wrote former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey this week in USA Today. None of them should be abused, embarrassed or prosecuted now.

But who is more hawkish and concerned about our security than Sen. John McCain , and who has more standing on the subject of torture, having been tortured over 5½ years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam? He was denied medical treatment, starved, beaten, his arm rebroken and his ribs shattered; he was made to stand and put in stress positions, and put in solitary confinement for two years. This week on the floor of the Senate, he said the kind of practices outlined in the report, whose issuance he supported, do not produce actionable intelligence and “actually damage our security interests as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.” He added: “The use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights.”

What the report contains is believable but insufficient; it’s not the whole story, it’s part of the story. Those involved in the episodes outlined should have been interviewed, and were not. The investigation and report should have been conducted so that they could win full bipartisan involvement and support, and were not.

The most stinging critique came from Mr. Kerrey, a Democrat who served eight years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which issued the report. In his USA Today piece he slammed the report’s partisanship: “I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it.” The Republicans refused to take part “when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.”

The purpose of the committee is “to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments,” but “this committee departed from that high road.”

As for not interviewing all individuals involved, the committee staff’s rationale—“that some officers were under investigation and could not be made available—is not persuasive.” Most officers were not under investigation, and those who were saw the process end in 2012.

Worse, wrote Mr. Kerrey, is the “disturbing fact” that the report “contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems.” At the same time, he said, no one with real experience would claim it was completely ineffective. “Our intelligence personnel—who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic State—need recommended guidance from their board of governors: The U.S. Congress.”

There are more questions about the report. One is that it is generally understood to reflect longstanding tensions between the committee and the CIA. Another is the timing—the report was issued just as a defeated Democratic majority walked out the door, and has the look of a last, lobbed stink bomb: “See what the terrible Bush administration did? Bye now!” There is about the entire enterprise a sense of sin being expiated at someone else’s expense. The committee’s job is to oversee the CIA. If its own report is true, it didn’t do a very good job.

It can be hard to take seriously a report that seems largely a product of partisan resentment, guilt and blame shifting. And yet it outlines believable incidents of what is clearly torture.

The report is out there. If any good comes of it, it can be as a final demarcation between an old way of operating and a new one.

Voir encore:

A travesty of a report
Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post

December 11

The report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding CIA interrogation essentially accuses the agency under George W. Bush of war criminality. Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein appears to offer some extenuation when she reminds us in the report’s preamble of the shock and “pervasive fear” felt after 9/11.

It’s a common theme (often echoed by President Obama): Amid panic and disorientation, we lost our moral compass and made awful judgments. The results are documented in the committee report. They must never happen again.

It’s a kind of temporary-insanity defense for the Bush administration. And it is not just unctuous condescension but hypocritical nonsense. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was nothing irrational about believing that a second attack was a serious possibility and therefore everything should be done to prevent it. Indeed, this was the considered opinion of the CIA, the administration, the congressional leadership and the American people.

Al-Qaeda had successfully mounted four major attacks on American targets in the previous three years. The pace was accelerating and the scale vastly increasing. The country then suffered a deadly anthrax attack of unknown origin. Al-Qaeda was known to be seeking weapons of mass destruction.

We were so blindsided that we established a 9/11 commission to find out why. And we knew next to nothing about the enemy: its methods, structure, intentions, plans. There was nothing morally deranged about deciding as a nation to do everything necessary to find out what we needed to prevent a repetition, or worse. As Feinstein said at the time, “We have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”

Nancy Pelosi, then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, was briefed about the interrogation program, including the so-called torture techniques. As were the other intelligence committee leaders. “We understood what the CIA was doing,” wrote Porter Goss, Pelosi’s chairman on the House committee. “We gave the CIA our bipartisan support; we gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.”

Democrat Jay Rockefeller, while the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was asked in 2003 about turning over Khalid Sheik Mohammed to countries known to torture. He replied: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned.”

There was no uproar about this open countenancing of torture-by-proxy. Which demonstrates not just the shamelessness of Democrats today denouncing practices to which, at the time and at the very least, they made no objection. It demonstrates also how near-consensual was the idea that our national emergency might require extraordinary measures.

This is not to say that in carrying out the program there weren’t abuses, excesses, mismanagement and appalling mistakes (such as the death in custody — unintended but still unforgivable — of two detainees). It is to say that the root-and-branch denunciation of the program as, in principle, unconscionable is not just hypocritical but ahistorical.

To make that case, to produce a prosecutorial brief so entirely and relentlessly one-sided, the committee report (written solely by Democrats) excluded any testimony from the people involved and variously accused. None. No interviews, no hearings, no statements.

The excuse offered by the committee is that a parallel Justice Department inquiry precluded committee interviews. Rubbish. That inquiry ended in 2012. It’s December 2014. Why didn’t they take testimony in the interval? Moreover, even during the Justice Department investigation, the three CIA directors and many other officials were exempt from any restrictions. Why weren’t they interviewed?

Answer: So that committee Democrats could make their indictment without contradiction. So they could declare, for example, the whole program to be a failure that yielded no important information — a conclusion denied by practically every major figure involved, including Democrat and former CIA director Leon Panetta; Obama’s current CIA director, John Brennan; and three other CIA directors (including a Clinton appointee).
Speaking from the Senate floor, Senate Intelligence Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) outlined the four categories of the 20 findings in a report released Tuesday regarding CIA interrogation techniques used between late 2001 and Jan. 2009. (AP)

Perhaps, say the critics, but we’ll never know whether less harsh interrogation would have sufficed.

So what was the Bush administration to do? Amid the smoking ruins of Ground Zero, conduct a controlled experiment in gentle interrogation and wait to see if we’d be hit again?

A nation attacked is not a laboratory for exquisite moral experiments. It’s a trust to be protected, by whatever means meet and fit the threat.

Accordingly, under the direction of the Bush administration and with the acquiescence of congressional leadership, the CIA conducted an uncontrolled experiment. It did everything it could, sometimes clumsily, sometimes cruelly, indeed, sometimes wrongly.

But successfully. It kept us safe.

Voir de plus:

The Torture Taboo
The taboo against torture is important and honorable, but sometimes the real world gets a veto. By Jonah Goldberg
Jonah Goldberg

National Review online

December 12, 2014

For a long time I resisted the word “torture” when discussing the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against high-value captives in the War on Terror. I don’t think I can do that anymore.

The report put out by Dianne Feinstein and her fellow Democrats may be partisan, one-sided, tendentious, and “full of crap,” as Dick Cheney put it the other night on Special Report with Bret Baier. But even the selective use and misuse of facts doesn’t change their status as facts. What some of these detainees went through pretty obviously amounted to torture. You can call it “psychological torture” or something to that effect, but such qualifiers don’t get you all that far.

It’s true that torture is to some extent in the eye of the beholder. Everyone can agree that hot pokers, the rack, and the iron maiden qualify. But loud music, sleep deprivation, and even waterboarding? At first, maybe not. But over time, yes. Torture can be a lot like poison: The dosage matters.

One of the great problems with the word “torture” is that it tolerates no ambiguity. It is a taboo word, like racism or incest. Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end. It’s a line no one may cross. As a result, if you think the enhanced interrogation techniques are necessary, or simply justified, you have to call them something else. Similarly, many sincere opponents of these techniques think that if they can simply call them “torture,” their work is done.

The problem is that the issue isn’t nearly so binary. Even John McCain — a vocal opponent of any kind of torture — has conceded that in some hypothetical nuclear ticking-time-bomb scenario, torture might be a necessary evil. His threshold might be very high, but the principle is there nonetheless. And nearly everyone understands the point: When a greater evil is looming in the imminent future, the lesser evil becomes more tolerable. This is why opponents of the interrogation program are obsessed with claiming that it never worked, at all.

And this suggests why the talking point about drone strikes has such power. Killing is worse than torture. Life in prison might be called torture for some people, and yet we consider the death penalty a more severe punishment. Most people would prefer to be waterboarded than killed. All sane and decent people would rather go through what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went through than see their whole family slaughtered from 10,000 feet by a drone. And yet President Obama routinely sanctions drone strikes while piously outlawing the slapping of prisoners who might have information that would make such strikes less necessary — and, more importantly, would prevent the loss of innocent American lives.

It’s odd: Even though killing is a graver moral act, there’s more flexibility to it. America killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in World War II, but few would call that murder because such actions as the firebombing of Dresden were deemed necessary to win the war.

In other words, we have the moral vocabulary to talk about kinds of killing — from euthanasia and abortion to capital punishment, involuntary manslaughter and, of course, murder — but we don’t have a similar lexicon when it comes to kinds of torture.

When John McCain was brutally tortured — far, far more severely than anything we’ve done to the 9/11 plotters — it was done to elicit false confessions and other statements for purposes of propaganda. When we tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was to get actionable intelligence on ongoing plots. It seems to me that’s an important moral distinction. If I torture a fiend to find out where he left a child to suffocate or starve in some dungeon, that’s a less evil act than torturing someone just to hear them renounce their god or country. Also, KSM was not some innocent subjected to torture to satisfy the grotesque desires of some sadists. He is an unlawful combatant responsible for murdering thousands of innocent Americans.

This may sound like nothing more than a rationalization. But that is to be expected when you try to reason through a morally fraught problem. If you believe torture is wrong no matter what, then any sentence that begins, “Yeah, but . . . ” will seem like so much bankrupt sophistry. The same goes for truly devout believers in nonviolence who think any and all killing is wrong.

I can respect that, because I think the taboo against torture is important and honorable, just like the taboos against killing. And just like the taboos against killing, sometimes the real world gets a veto.

— Jonah Goldberg is a senior editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at [email protected] or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2014 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Voir par ailleurs:

Today’s CIA critics once urged the agency to do anything to fight al-Qaeda
Jose A. Rodriguez Jr.
Washington Post
December 5

Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. is a 31-year veteran of the CIA. He is the author of “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”

The men and women of my former organization, the CIA, are accustomed to frequent and sudden reversals of direction from their political leaders. But the latest twists and turns are especially dramatic.

In one ear they hear the public, the media and members of Congress raising alarms about the terrorist threat from the Islamic State: Do something! Do it now! Why didn’t you do something sooner? Politicians from both sides of the aisle are saying that the militant group is an enormous challenge and must be prevented from bringing its brutality to America’s shores. The president assures us that the United States will “degrade and ultimately destroy” these terrorists, while the vice president doubles down and says we will follow the Islamic State to “the gates of hell.”

But shouting in CIA officers’ other ear are people such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) regarding the 500-page summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the agency’s interrogation efforts, which is expected to be released next week. The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history. I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me).

According to news accounts of the report, Feinstein and her supporters will say that the CIA violated American principles and hid the ugly truth from Congress, the White House and the public. When the report comes out, I expect that few of the critics who will echo Feinstein’s charges will have read it — and far fewer will read or understand the minority response and the CIA’s rebuttal.

The interrogation program was authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. government, judged legal by the Justice Department and proved effective by any reasonable standard. The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded. That is simply not true. I was among those who briefed her.

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.”

If Feinstein, Rockefeller and other politicians were saying such things in print and on national TV, imagine what they were saying to us in private. We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective. Our reward, a decade later, is to hear some of these same politicians expressing outrage for what was done and, even worse, mischaracterizing the actions taken and understating the successes achieved.

I’m confident that my former CIA colleagues who are still on the job will do what is necessary to protect the nation from new Islamic State and continuing al-Qaeda threats. But in the back of their minds will be the nagging thought that, as they carry out legal, authorized and necessary actions, they may be only a few years away from being criticized and second-guessed by the people who today are urging them onward to the “gates of hell.”

Voir aussi:

 CIA saved lives
Introduction
The recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Majority report on the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program is marred by errors of facts and interpretation and is completely at odds with the reality that the leaders and officers of the Central Intelligence Agency lived through. It represents the single worst example of Congressional oversight in our many years of government service.

Astonishingly, the SSCI Majority staff interviewed no CIA officers responsible for establishing, implementing, or evaluating the program’s effectiveness. Let us repeat, no one at the CIA was interviewed.

Worse, the Committee selectively used documents to try to substantiate a point of view where ample and contrary evidence existed. Over 5 years and at a cost of $40 million, the staff « cherry picked » through 6 million pages of documents to produce an answer they knew the Majority wanted. In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization.

The SSCI Majority would have the American people believe that the program was initiated by a rogue CIA that consistently lied to the President, the National Security Council, the Attorney General, and the Congress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing.

We, as former senior officers of the Central Intelligence Agency, created this website to present documents that conclusively demonstrate that the program was: authorized by the President, overseen by the National Security Council, and deemed legal by the Attorney General of the United States on multiple occasions. None of those officials were interviewed either. None. CIA relied on their policy and legal judgments. We deceived no one. You will not find this truth in the Majority Report.

Absent from the report is any discussion of the context the United States faced after 9/11. This was a time we had solid evidence that al Qaida was planning a second wave of attacks against the U.S.; we had certain knowledge that bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists and wanted nuclear weapons; we had reports that nuclear weapons were being smuggled into New York City; and we had hard evidence that al Qaida was trying to manufacture anthrax. It felt like a « ticking time bomb » every single day.

In this atmosphere, time was of the essence. We had a deep responsibility to do everything within the law to stop another attack. We clearly understood that, even with legal and policy approvals, our decisions would be questioned years later. But we also understood that we would be morally culpable for the deaths of fellow citizens if we failed to gain information that could stop the next attacks.

The report defies credulity by saying that the interrogation program did not produce any intelligence value. In fact, the program led to the capture of senior al Qaida leaders, including helping to find Usama bin Ladin, and resulted in operations that led to the disruption of terrorist plots that saved thousands of American and allied lives.

Finally, Congress was in the loop. The so-called « Gang of Eight” of top Congressional leaders were briefed in detail on the program. The briefings were detailed and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection to encouragement to be even more aggressive. Again, none of this context appears in the Majority’s report.

Our views are shared by the current CIA and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Republican Minority, both of which have released rebuttals to the Majority’s report. Both critiques are clear-eyed, fact-based assessments which challenge the Majority’s contention in a nonpartisan way. We urge all Americans to read them carefully before reaching any judgments.

Voir de même:

Ex-CIA Directors: Interrogations Saved Lives
The Senate Intelligence investigators never spoke to us—the leaders of the agency whose policies they are now assailing for partisan reasons.
WSJ

Dec. 10, 2014
The Senate Intelligence Committee has released its majority report on Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation in the wake of 9/11. The following response is from former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden (a retired Air Force general), and former CIA Deputy Directors John E. McLaughlin, Albert M. Calland (a retired Navy vice admiral) and Stephen R. Kappes :

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation of terrorists, prepared only by the Democratic majority staff, is a missed opportunity to deliver a serious and balanced study of an important public policy question. The committee has given us instead a one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation—essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks.

Examining how the CIA handled these matters is an important subject of continuing relevance to a nation still at war. In no way would we claim that we did everything perfectly, especially in the emergency and often-chaotic circumstances we confronted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. As in all wars, there were undoubtedly things in our program that should not have happened. When we learned of them, we reported such instances to the CIA inspector general or the Justice Department and sought to take corrective action.

The country and the CIA would have benefited from a more balanced study of these programs and a corresponding set of recommendations. The committee’s report is not that study. It offers not a single recommendation.

Our view on this is shared by the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Republican minority, both of which are releasing rebuttals to the majority’s report. Both critiques are clear-eyed, fact-based assessments that challenge the majority’s contentions in a nonpartisan way.

What is wrong with the committee’s report?

First, its claim that the CIA’s interrogation program was ineffective in producing intelligence that helped us disrupt, capture, or kill terrorists is just not accurate. The program was invaluable in three critical ways:

• It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield.

• It led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives.

• It added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it.

A powerful example of the interrogation program’s importance is the information obtained from Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda operative, and from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, known as KSM, the 9/11 mastermind. We are convinced that both would not have talked absent the interrogation program.

Information provided by Zubaydah through the interrogation program led to the capture in 2002 of KSM associate and post-9/11 plotter Ramzi Bin al-Shibh. Information from both Zubaydah and al-Shibh led us to KSM. KSM then led us to Riduan Isamuddin, aka Hambali, East Asia’s chief al Qaeda ally and the perpetrator of the 2002 Bali bombing in Indonesia—in which more than 200 people perished.

The removal of these senior al Qaeda operatives saved thousands of lives because it ended their plotting. KSM, alone, was working on multiple plots when he was captured.

Here’s an example of how the interrogation program actually worked to disrupt terrorist plotting. Without revealing to KSM that Hambali had been captured, we asked him who might take over in the event that Hambali was no longer around. KSM pointed to Hambali’s brother Rusman Gunawan. We then found Gunawan, and information from him resulted in the takedown of a 17-member Southeast Asian cell that Gunawan had recruited for a “second wave,” 9/11-style attack on the U.S. West Coast, in all likelihood using aircraft again to attack buildings. Had that attack occurred, the nightmare of 9/11 would have been repeated.

Once they had become compliant due to the interrogation program, both Abu Zubaydah and KSM turned out to be invaluable sources on the al Qaeda organization. We went back to them multiple times to gain insight into the group. More than one quarter of the nearly 1,700 footnotes in the highly regarded 9/11 Commission Report in 2004 and a significant share of the intelligence in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on al Qaeda came from detainees in the program, in particular Zubaydah and KSM.

The majority on the Senate Intelligence Committee further claims that the takedown of bin Laden was not facilitated by information from the interrogation program. They are wrong. There is no doubt that information provided by the totality of detainees in CIA custody, those who were subjected to interrogation and those who were not, was essential to bringing bin Laden to justice. The CIA never would have focused on the individual who turned out to be bin Laden’s personal courier without the detention and interrogation program.

Specifically, information developed in the interrogation program piqued the CIA’s interest in the courier, placing him at the top of the list of leads to bin Laden. A detainee subjected to interrogation provided the most specific information on the courier. Additionally, KSM and Abu Faraj al-Libi—both subjected to interrogation—lied about the courier at a time when both were providing honest answers to a large number of other critical questions. Since other detainees had already linked the courier to KSM and Abu Faraj, their dissembling about him had great significance.

So the bottom line is this: The interrogation program formed an essential part of the foundation from which the CIA and the U.S. military mounted the bin Laden operation.

The second significant problem with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is its claim that the CIA routinely went beyond the interrogation techniques as authorized by the Justice Department. That claim is wrong.

President Obama ’s attorney general, Eric Holder , directed an experienced prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate the interrogation program in 2009. Mr. Durham examined whether any unauthorized techniques were used by CIA interrogators, and if so, whether such techniques could constitute violations of U.S. criminal statutes. In a press release, the attorney general said that Mr. Durham “examined any possible CIA involvement with the interrogation and detention of 101 detainees who were alleged to have been in U.S. custody” after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The investigation was concluded in August 2012. It was professional and exhaustive and it determined that no prosecutable offenses were committed.

Third, the report’s argument that the CIA misled the Justice Department, the White House, Congress, and the American people is also flat-out wrong. Much of the report’s reasoning for this claim rests on its argument that the interrogation program should not have been called effective, an argument that does not stand up to the facts.

Fourth, the majority left out something critical to understanding the program: context.

The detention and interrogation program was formulated in the aftermath of the murders of close to 3,000 people on 9/11. This was a time when:

• We had evidence that al Qaeda was planning a second wave of attacks on the U.S.

• We had certain knowledge that bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists and wanted nuclear weapons.

• We had reports that nuclear weapons were being smuggled into New York City.

• We had hard evidence that al Qaeda was trying to manufacture anthrax.

It felt like the classic “ticking time bomb” scenario—every single day.

In this atmosphere, time was of the essence and the CIA felt a deep responsibility to ensure that an attack like 9/11 would never happen again. We designed the detention and interrogation programs at a time when “relationship building” was not working with brutal killers who did not hesitate to behead innocents. These detainees had received highly effective counter-interrogation training while in al Qaeda training camps. And yet it was clear they possessed information that could disrupt plots and save American lives.

The Senate committee’s report says that the CIA at that point had little experience or expertise in capture, detention or interrogation of terrorists. We agree. But we were charged by the president with doing these things in emergency circumstances—at a time when there was no respite from threat and no luxury of time to act. Our hope is that no one ever has to face such circumstances again.

The Senate committee’s report ignores this context.

The committee also failed to make clear that the CIA was not acting alone in carrying out the interrogation program. Throughout the process, there was extensive consultation with the national security adviser, deputy national security adviser, White House counsel, and the Justice Department.

The president approved the program. The attorney general deemed it legal.

The CIA went to the attorney general for legal rulings four times—and the agency stopped the program twice to ensure that the Justice Department still saw it as consistent with U.S. policy, law and our treaty obligations. The CIA sought guidance and reaffirmation of the program from senior administration policy makers at least four times.

We relied on their policy and legal judgments. We deceived no one.

The CIA reported any allegations of abuse to the Senate-confirmed inspector general and the Justice Department. CIA senior leadership forwarded nearly 20 cases to the Justice Department, and career Justice officials decided that only one of these cases—unrelated to the formal interrogation program—merited prosecution. That person received a prison term.

The CIA briefed Congress approximately 30 times. Initially, at presidential direction the briefings were restricted to the so-called Gang of Eight of top congressional leaders—a limitation permitted under covert-action laws. The briefings were detailed and graphic and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection. The briefings held nothing back.

Congress’s view in those days was very different from today. In a briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee after the capture of KSM in 2003, committee members made clear that they wanted the CIA to be extremely aggressive in learning what KSM knew about additional plots. One senator leaned forward and forcefully asked: “Do you have all the authorities you need to do what you need to do?”

In September 2006, at the strong urging of the CIA, the administration decided to brief full committee and staff directors on the interrogation program. As part of this, the CIA sought to enter into a serious dialogue with the oversight committees, hoping to build a consensus on a way forward acceptable to the committee majority and minority and to the congressional and executive branches. The committees missed a chance to help shape the program—they couldn’t reach a consensus. The executive branch was left to proceed alone, merely keeping the committees informed.

How did the committee report get these things so wrong? Astonishingly, the staff avoided interviewing any of us who had been involved in establishing or running the program, the first time a supposedly comprehensive Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study has been carried out in this way.

The excuse given by majority senators is that CIA officers were under investigation by the Justice Department and therefore could not be made available. This is nonsense. The investigations referred to were completed in 2011 and 2012 and applied only to certain officers. They never applied to six former CIA directors and deputy directors, all of whom could have added firsthand truth to the study. Yet a press account indicates that the committee staff did see fit to interview at least one attorney for a terrorist at Guantanamo Bay.

We can only conclude that the committee members or staff did not want to risk having to deal with data that did not fit their construct. Which is another reason why the study is so flawed. What went on in preparing the report is clear: The staff picked up the signal at the outset that this study was to have a certain outcome, especially with respect to the question of whether the interrogation program produced intelligence that helped stop terrorists. The staff members then “cherry picked” their way through six million pages of documents, ignoring some data and highlighting others, to construct their argument against the program’s effectiveness.

In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization.

As lamentable as the inaccuracies of the majority document are—and the impact they will have on the public’s understanding of the program—some consequences are alarming:

• Many CIA officers will be concerned that being involved in legally approved sensitive actions can open them to politically driven scrutiny and censure from a future administration.

• Foreign intelligence partners will have even less confidence that Washington, already hemorrhaging with leaks, will be able to protect their cooperation from public scrutiny. They will cooperate less with the United States.

• Terrorists, having acquired now the largest haven (in the Middle East and North Africa) and string of successes they have had in a decade, will have yet another valuable recruitment tool.

All of this means more danger for the American people and for our allies.

Anyone who has led a U.S. intelligence agency supports strong congressional oversight. It is essential as a check on leadership judgment in a profession that deals constantly with uncertainty, crises and the potential for surprise. We have all experienced and benefited from that in our careers, including at times when the judgment of overseers was critical.

When oversight works well, it is balanced, constructively critical and discreet—and offers sound recommendations. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is disrespectful of that standard.

It’s fair to ask whether the interrogation program was the right policy, but the committee never takes on this toughest of questions.

On that important issue it is important to know that the dilemma CIA officers struggled with in the aftermath of 9/11 was one that would cause discomfort for those enamored of today’s easy simplicities: Faced with post-9/11 circumstances, CIA officers knew that many would later question their decisions—as we now see—but they also believed that they would be morally culpable for the deaths of fellow citizens if they failed to gain information that could stop the next attacks.

Between 1998 and 2001, the al Qaeda leadership in South Asia attacked two U.S. embassies in East Africa, a U.S. warship in the port of Aden, Yemen, and the American homeland—the most deadly single foreign attack on the U.S. in the country’s history. The al Qaeda leadership has not managed another attack on the homeland in the 13 years since, despite a strong desire to do so. The CIA’s aggressive counterterrorism policies and programs are responsible for that success.

Related documents are available at ciasavedlives.com.

Voir enfin:

ÉTATS-UNIS
La CIA et la torture, un rapport explosif
La commission du renseignement du Sénat devait dévoiler les résultats de ses travaux sur les techniques d’interrogatoire de la CIA le 9 décembre. Résultat d’années d’enquêtes, cette publication, très attendue, a été plusieurs fois reportée et fait déjà polémique.
Courrier international
9 Décembre 2014

L’utilisation par la CIA de la torture après le 11 septembre 2001 fait l’objet d’un rapport qui devait être rendu public par le Sénat ce mardi 9 décembre. Rédigé par la commission du Sénat chargée du renseignement au terme d’une enquête lancée en 2009, ce rapport était attendu depuis plusieurs mois. Ce qui est rendu public n’est qu’un résumé du contenu d’un document de 6 000 pages.

Un brouillon avait été remis en 2012 au Sénat mais la CIA avait alors demandé à lancer sa propre enquête interne, soulignant les nombreuses erreurs du rapport établi par le Sénat. La réponse de la CIA a été d’ailleurs incluse dans le document final, explique The Washington Post.

Le chroniqueur conservateur Michael Gerson du Washington Post voit dans la publication de ce rapport « au milieu d’une guerre qui vise de nombreux Américains toujours impliqués » dans les combats, « un acte exceptionnel d’insouciance de la part du Sénat ». A ses yeux, cette publication n’a qu’un seul objectif : permettre aux démocrates de se dédouaner. « Les démocrates qui ont approuvé à l’époque ces méthodes d’interrogatoire musclées doivent maintenant construire une fiction selon laquelle ils n’avaient pas donné leur soutien et ne connaissaient rien à cette question. » Ils créent ainsi « une nouvelle réalité selon laquelle ils seraient innocents et auraient été trompés ».

Des méthodes sans résultats

La commission du Sénat, dirigée par la sénatrice démocrate de Californie Dianne Feinstein, a commencé à s’intéresser au programme de tortures de la CIA à la suite des révélations en 2007 de la destruction des vidéos montrant les détenus subissant le « supplice de la baignoire » – ou simulation de noyade –, une méthode de torture qui consiste à bloquer les voies respiratoires du détenu par un linge mouillé régulièrement aspergé.

Deux ans plus tard, détaille The Washington Post, dans un autre article consacré au même sujet, la commission du Sénat a lancé une enquête officielle sur ce programme. Si les élus républicains ont dans un premier temps soutenu l’initiative, ils se sont par la suite retirés de l’enquête.

Le Washington Post s’interroge pour savoir si les méthodes d’interrogatoire musclées ont permis d’obtenir des informations qui ont conduit à Oussama Ben Laden. Et la réponse est en demi-teinte, puisque certains détenus ont parlé avant même d’être torturés alors que d’autres ont fourni de fausses informations, sous la torture.

Les avocats du ministère de la Justice avaient conclu que les techniques autorisées par la CIA, dont la possibilité de gifler les détenus, la privation de sommeil ou la simulation de noyade, « ne pouvaient être assimilées » à de la torture. Après sa prise de fonction en janvier 2009, le président Barack Obama avait interdit le recours à ces techniques, les qualifiant de torture.

Faut-il absoudre les responsables de la torture ?

Mais aucune poursuite n’a été engagée alors que la loi américaine interdit le recours à la torture. Et pour cause, en 2012, le ministre de la Justice, Eric Holder, avait annoncé qu’aucune charge ne pourrait être retenue contre les membres de la CIA ayant effectué des actes de torture.

Une impunité qui fait dire à Anthony Romero, le directeur de l’American Civil Liberties Union, principale organisation de défense des libertés civiles américaine et qui demande depuis treize ans des poursuites judiciaires pour ces crimes, que Barack Obama doit officiellement absoudre les responsables de cette politique.

« Reconnaître que les plus hautes personnalités de l’Etat ont autorisé des conduites qui violent les lois fondamentales » permettrait de tourner la page et « serait un signal à ceux qui, dans le futur, envisageraient le recours à la torture », plaide Anthony Romero dans The New York Times.

Dans la liste des personnalités à absoudre, Anthony Romero nomme notamment l’ancien président George W. Bush, l’ancien vice-président Dick Cheney pour avoir supervisé l’ensemble du programme, mais aussi l’ancien directeur de la CIA Georges Tenet pour avoir autorisé la torture dans les prisons secrètes de la CIA, ainsi que l’ancien ministre de la Défense Donald Rumsfeld pour avoir donné le feu vert à l’utilisation de la torture dans la prison de Guantanamo Bay.

Mais le militant des droits de l’homme reconnaît que le spectacle du président Obama accordant l’absolution aux bourreaux « lui retournerait l’estomac ».

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