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Obama Collaborating with CIA to Hide Torture Report Findings

CIA allowed to redact report that investigates ... the CIA

The Senate has spent five years and an estimated $40 million to lay bare the true extent of the Bush administration’s policies of rendition, detention and interrogation conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The Senate's probe is a vital process of confronting our own history that should not be impeded or abridged, yet this president has appointed himself as the supreme arbiter of what truths may be told us. Not only is the White House tampering with the work product of the legislative branch, but it is doing so in collaboration with the CIA. The same agency officials who have been investigated for their part in the torture program have been given access to the classified Senate report and are permitted to redact findings not to their liking.

George Tenet, who presided over the “enhanced interrogation” program as CIA director under George W. Bush and who insisted in a “60 Minutes“ interview that “We don’t torture people”, has been engineering a counterattack against the report’s findings. John Brennan, the current CIA director, was a senior official at CIA under Tenet and was one of his closest advisors. Yet “the White House allowed the CIA to wield the black pen on a report that exposes its own misconduct and falsehoods”, said The Nation. "The administration also reportedly redacted crucial information that refutes claims about the value of information obtained through brutal interrogations", claims the CIA has made to justify its use of torture. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which authored the report, is persuaded that the White House is pulling out all stops to protect the CIA.

The Senate's findings show that torture was more widespread and brutal than the Bush administration assured the public, and that the CIA repeatedly misled the government and the public about the effectiveness of those methods. The report found little intelligence of value gained from torture, which agrees with what actual interrogators such as the FBI’s Ali Soufan have said all along (the FBI refused to use torture).

When allegations of torture became a heated topic, Vice-President Cheney told us that only three detainees had been waterboarded. If you found that suspect, the report will show you to have been correct, that Cheney lied, yet the media unquestioningly repeated it as fact thereafter (for a rueful laugh, visit Pulitzer winner PolitiFact’s “Truth-o-Meter”).

now or never

There are some decisions a president should realize are not for him to make. When the report is released, it should be the complete story of how America, which has long championed and lectured the rest of the world on human rights, panicked after 9/11, immediately discarded its values and succumbed to torturing suspected terrorists. We need somehow to purge our descent into immorality by confessing all.

Obama's acknowledgement that “We tortured some folks. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future” was not only anemic, but hypocritical in what we now know about his shunning that responsibility with that pen he wields along with his phone.

That the exhaustive Senate report runs to 6,300 pages says it is an effort that will not be repeated. It is the one chance to expose the truth of that sorry chapter of our recent past, a confessional akin to South Africa confronting its apartheid past by its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But in our version, "the White House, at the highest levels, is basically going through and editing what the American people can and can't read", according to investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill.

Mr. Obama campaigned for the presidency denouncing the secret prisons and torture policies of his predecessor and immediately upon taking office signed an executive order that halted the practice. But he signaled what we now witness when he refused to investigate the Bush-Cheney practices, saying he had “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”. We see today that that extends to the actual suppression of the truth. He also demurred from any inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping, which we would see manifest in his complicity in the NSA spying on the entire citizenry.

The new president had also run on the promise of unprecedented transparency. In his first inaugural address he said, “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness … to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency”. He issued this memorandum to all departments and agencies stressing that “a democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency”.

Instead, his administration is considered the most secretive in history and his office is now hiding those portions of the report that undoubtedly contain the worst findings.

The White House in conjunction with CIA officials has blackened 15% of the report’s 480-page executive summary. The positive spin by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who invoked national security, is that "more than 85% of the report was un-redacted". Committee member Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) fired back that “Redactions are supposed to remove names or anything that could compromise sources and methods, not to undermine the source material so that it is impossible to understand. Try reading a novel with 15% of the words blacked out”.

Intelligence committee member and Colorado Democrat Mark Udall called the CIA’s redactions “excessive” and believes they are intended “to cover up acts that could embarrass the agency.”

The Senate report has been going through a slow-motion process of vetting and declassification for a year and a half but Sen. Feinstein says, “I have concluded that the redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions”. The release of the report is now expected to be imminent, although what can be learned from it between those redactions is uncertain.

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1 Comment for “Obama Collaborating with CIA to Hide Torture Report Findings”

  1. The crux of your writing while sounding agreeable at first, did not really settle perfectly with me after some time. Somewhere throughout the paragraphs you actually were able to make me a believer but just for a very short while. I still have got a problem with your jumps in assumptions and you might do well to fill in all those gaps. When you actually can accomplish that, I could definitely end up being impressed.

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