Tag Archives: United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

​CIA deceived government on torture program according to Senate report

A classified US Senate probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program found that the agency purposely deceived the US Justice Department to attain legal justification for use of torture techniques, according to a new report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program – active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 – found that the CIA used interrogation methods not approved by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Ultimately, the Committee found that the “Justice Department’s legal analyses were based on flawed information provided by the CIA,” McClatchy news service reported Friday.

“The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” the report found, according to McClatchy.

The Senate’s probe, which yielded a yet-unreleased 6,300-page report, also found that the CIA distorted how many detainees it held in “black site” prisons throughout the world and how many were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” many amount to torture. The CIA has claimed only about 30 detainees fell under the mercy of such methods.

“[The CIA is] trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case,” said a former US official familiar with the Senate Committee’s four-year, US$40 million investigation.

McClatchy’s anonymous sources say the Senate report outlines 20 main conclusions about the post-9/11 torture program that – the investigation found – intentionally evaded White House, congressional, and intra-agency oversight.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, quickly condemned McClatchy’s report on the classified conclusions of her committee’s investigation.

“If someone distributed any part of this classified report, they broke the law and should be prosecuted,” Feinstein said in a prepared statement. “The committee is investigating this unauthorized disclosure and I intend to refer the matter to the Department of Justice.”

McClatchy responded to Feinstein’s threat, asserting journalistic privilege and the public’s right to know in the face of persistent government secrecy and conceit.

“We are disappointed that Sen. Feinstein plans to seek a Justice Department investigation of our journalism,” said James Asher, McClatchy’s Washington bureau chief. “We believe that Americans need to know what the CIA might have done to detainees and who is responsible for any questionable practices, which is why we have vigorously covered this story.”

In justifying its interrogation methods in order to win the Justice Department’s legal approval, the CIA told the Office of Legal Counsel that repeated use of torture like waterboarding “will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions.”

The CIA reportedly waterboarded detainees Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 83 and 183 times, respectively. They weren’t the only prisoners to be waterboarded or subjected to other harsh methods of interrogation, as has been reported for some time.

In its long-suppressed 2002 memo justifying these tactics, the Office of Legal Counsel said that it did not find “harsh interrogation techniques” to be illegal – pursuant to US and international law banning torture – based on information provided by the CIA. The Office of Legal Counsel added that “if these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply.”

A 2004 report by the CIA’s inspector general found that the CIA had gone outside legal parameters in its interrogation activities. The internal watchdog said at the time that the “continued applicability of the DOJ opinion” was in question given the CIA had told the Justice Department that it would utilize waterboarding in the same manner the tactic was used in US military training for personnel in case of enemy capture. The inspector general report found that the CIA used waterboarding in a “manner different” than the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training.

In addition, the CIA did not keep track of detainees captured under the program, the Senate report found, according to McClatchy.

“The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention,” the probe found. “The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.”

“The CIA’s records were hazy, inconsistent and at times inaccurate,” the former US official told McClatchy.

In a separate report published by Al Jazeera America on Thursday, US government sources claimed the Senate report also found that Britain had allowed the US to run a “black site” prison on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia in order to secretly hold suspects sans accountability.

The Diego Garcia prison held some “high-value” detainees and was operated under the “full cooperation” of the British government, Al Jazeera America reported citing US officials familiar with the Senate report.

Earlier this month, anonymous US officials with knowledge of the Senate investigation told the Washington Post that CIA officials lied to the government and public about the efficacy of their torture methods in accumulating reliable and valuable information from detainees.

Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to send their report’s 480-page executive summary, the findings, and conclusions to the White House for potential declassification ahead of public release.

The Committee and the CIA have in recent weeks gone back and forth with accusations of spying, meddling, and misrepresentation, highlighting an ongoing feud between the agency and the Committee since the Senate probe began in 2009.

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CIA watchdog reportedly asks DOJ to probe allegations of spying on Senate staffers

Feb. 7, 2013: CIA Director nominee John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

Feb. 7, 2013: CIA Director nominee John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

The CIA Inspector General’s Office reportedly has asked the Justice Department to review allegations that the spy agency monitored the computers of Senate staffers who were preparing a report on the detention and interrogation of terror suspects.

The New York Times and McClatchy reported on the details of the mysterious case. Lawmakers have until now said little on the record, other than a vague allegation from a senator that the CIA had taken “unprecedented action.”

But, in response to published reports, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Wednesday that the alleged spying, if true, “would be an extremely serious matter” and could “violate federal law.”

CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday said he was “deeply dismayed” that some Senate members made the allegations that “are wholly unsupported by the facts.”

“I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch,” Brennan said in a statement. “Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers.”

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday also flagged the allegations as a potentially serious breach. “If it turns out that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee that oversees the agency, it would be an outrageous violation of separation of powers,” Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The Times reported Wednesday that CIA officers gained access to the computer networks used by the Senate Intelligence Committee and that an initial investigation by the agency’s inspector general was begun in response to complaints by members of Congress that the staffers were being improperly monitored.

The Times also reported that CIA officials began the alleged monitoring after suspecting that the Senate staffers had unauthorized access to agency documents during the course of their investigation, which has been ongoing for four years and cost approximately $40 million.

McClatchy reported Wednesday that the yet-to-be-released Senate report is expected to harshly criticize the detention and interrogation program, with special attention on how the CIA reportedly misled the Bush White House and Congress about the specific interrogation tactics used. The report is also expected to conclude that the techniques did not provide intelligence that led to the Pakistan compound where Usama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

The report has not been declassified, but Brennan challenged several facts in the report as well as the intelligence value conclusion in a rebuttal published last June. This past December, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said that the committee was aware of an internal CIA study that largely agreed with the report and contradicted Brennan’s rebuttal.

The Times reported that Udall’s statement set in motion the agency’s monitoring and prompted a letter from Udall to President Obama Tuesday.

“The CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review,” the letter reportedly said, “and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy.”

via CIA watchdog reportedly asks DOJ to probe allegations of spying on Senate staffers | Fox News.

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​CIA handling of torture report triggers feud with Congress, DoJ investigation

The US Justice Department is investigating the CIA over alleged malfeasance at the spy agency. The probe is linked to a bitter feud between the CIA and its congress watchdog stemming from a classified report on agency interrogation of terror suspects.

On Tuesday, the CIA Inspector General’s Office asked the Justice Department to conduct the probe. The allegations against the spy agency are connected to how it dealt with the Senate Intelligence Committee when that body was working on a voluminous report on methods used by the CIA after the 9/11 terrorist attack. Those included detention of terror suspects in secret prisons and torture interrogation techniques.

The 6,300-page report, which took some four years and $40 million to prepare, has remained classified for 15 months after completion as the CIA has to vet it before release to the public. But people familiar with the text said harshly criticized the program and accused the agency of misleading the Bush administration, US lawmakers and the public over its nature and results.

In December 2013, Senator Mark Udall, who leads calls on the swift publication of the report, revealed that the Intelligence Committee had become aware of an internal CIA report, which he said was “consistent with the Intelligence Committee’s report” and “conflicts with the official CIA response to the committee’s report.” The report was not shared with the Committee investigators.

The CIA downplayed the importance of the internal report, calling it a collection of summaries of classified documents rather than an analytical document. But apparently, the agency also conducted an investigation into how the existence of the internal review was revealed and eventually alleging, that the Committee gained unauthorized access to CIA databases.

U.S. Senator Mark Udall

It’s not clear how exactly the CIA conducted the investigation, but some lawmakers see it as an attack on their oversight powers.

“As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy,” Udall wrote Tuesday in a letter to President Obama. “It is essential that the committee be able to do its oversight work – consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers – without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today.”

He added that “the declassification of the Committee Study is of paramount importance and that decisions about what should or should not be declassified regarding this issue should not be delegated to the CIA, but directly handled by the White House.”

According to McClatchy, the CIA monitored computers, which they insisted the committee investigators used to read classified documents at a secure room at CIA headquarters in Langley. This action possibly violated an agreement against doing so, the news service reported citing people with knowledge of the conflict.

Both the CIA and the Committee refrained from officially commenting on the Inspector General investigation.

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