Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

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Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Mambrino » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:18 am UTC

Washington Post's key findings include
While being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence. Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.

In providing the "effectiveness" examples to policymakers, the Department of Justice, and others, the CIA consistently omitted the significant amount of relevant intelligence obtained from sources other than CIA detainees who had been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques-leaving the false impression the CIA was acquiring unique information from the use of the techniques.

Some of the plots that the CIA claimed to have "disrupted" as a result of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were assessed by intelligence and law enforcement officials as being infeasible or ideas that were never operationalized.

The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you." CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to "cut [a detainee's] mother's throat."

(...)
The CIA's COBALT detention facility in Country I began operations in September 2002 and ultimately housed more than half of the 119 CIA detainees identified in this Study. The CIA kept few formal records of the detainees in its custody at COBALT. Untrained CIA officers at the facility conducted frequent, unauthorized, and unsupervised interrogations of detainees using harsh physical interrogation techniques that were not-and never became-part of the CIA's formal "enhanced" interrogation program. The CIA placed a junior officer with no relevant experience in charge of COBALT. On November., 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility. At the time, no single unit at CIA Headquarters had clear responsibility for CIA detention and interrogation operations. In interviews conducted in 2003 with the Office of Inspector General, CIA's leadership and senior attorneys acknowledged that they had little or no awareness of operations at COBALT, and some believed that enhanced interrogation techniques were not used there.

(...)

In 2005, the chief of the CIA's BLACK detention site, where many of the detainees the CIA assessed as "high-value" were held, complained that CIA Headquarters "managers seem to be selecting either problem, underperforming officers, new, totally inexperienced officers or whomever seems to be willing and able to deploy at any given time," resulting in "the production of mediocre or, I dare say, useless intelligence…"

Numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems-including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others-that should have called into question their suitability to participate in the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, their employment with the CIA, and their continued access to class.ified information. In nearly all cases, these problems were known to the CIA prior to the assignment of these officers to detention and interrogation positions.


Some other highlights by WP:

Of the 119 CIA detainees, 26 should not have been apprehended. Among them was Abu Hudhaifa, who was "subjected to ice water baths and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation" before the CIA discovered that he was probably "not the person he was believed to be."

(...)

President Bush received his first briefing on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2006, about four years after the program started. According to CIA records, Bush expressed discomfort with an image of a detainee "chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper."

(...)

Abu Zubaida, the CIA's first detainee, spent 266 hours in a coffin-size confinement box. Zubaida, who was born Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, often "cried, begged, pleaded, and whimpered" and was told that the only way he would leave the facility was in the coffin-shaped box.

(...)

Of the at least 26 detainees who were wrongfully held, one was "intellectually challenged." Interrogators taped this detainee crying and used it as leverage against one of his relatives.


Uncooperative terrorism suspects faced rectal rehydration, feeding

Among the more jarring passages in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects are descriptions of agency employees subjecting uncooperative detainees to “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding.”

The report said that at least five detainees underwent the procedures without documented medical necessity and that others were threatened with them. While the CIA defended its approach, the techniques are all but absent from modern medicine.


TIL there is such a thing as 'rectal rehydration'. Other media reports that "Country I" is suspected to be Poland.

EDIT: Link to the main WP article

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Zcorp » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:55 am UTC

Fun...

I grew up dreaming about being in espionage. Guile, wit and strategy have always been been aspects of intelligence I've respected a great deal. It was such a disappointment to learn about the history of the CIA and their consistent incompetence as I grew older. Now, I don't really have words for it, how are people this stupid working in this organization. It is well past disappointment. I'm often quite ashamed to be American, even though these aren't things I can control.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby mat.tia » Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:46 am UTC

enhanced interrogation techniques

quite an orwellian way to say it. Why do they not call it "torture"?

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Zcorp » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:00 am UTC

mat.tia wrote:
enhanced interrogation techniques

quite an orwellian way to say it. Why do they not call it "torture"?

So they can pretend that it isn't torture.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Angua » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:55 am UTC

I can kind of see how rectal rehydration would work physiologically (though I've never heard of it, and can't imagine why anyone who isn't interesting in torturing someone would do it), but no idea how/why feeding them rectally would work. All the colon absorbs is salt and water....

I am on the 'they should just call it torture' boat.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:26 am UTC

Angua wrote:I am on the 'they should just call it torture' boat.


Ya think?

What are 'enhanced interrogation techniques'?

Shortly after the attacks on 11 September 2001, the CIA drew up a list of new interrogation techniques that included sleep deprivation, slapping, subjection to cold and simulated drowning, known as "waterboarding".

Waterboarding involves a prisoner being restrained on his back with their feet at a level higher than their head, or tied upside down. A cloth is placed over the prisoner's face or pushed into their mouth. Sometimes plastic film is used.

Water is then poured on to their face and into their nose and mouth. The prisoner gags almost immediately as the water starts entering the lungs.

As they start to feel they are drowning, they typically panic and struggle, and their body goes into spasm. Waterboarding can result in brain damage, broken bones and psychological damage.


Were the techniques effective?

The CIA used "enhanced interrogation techniques" for several years but it is unclear how many detainees were subjected to the methods.

According to ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou, al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah "broke" within half a minute of being waterboarded. Abu Zubaydah said later he had made things up to satisfy his interrogators.

The practices were brutal and produced little intelligence of value, a leaked White House memo said in July 2014.

However, a justice department memo reported by the New York Times in 2009 revealed that CIA interrogators had used the waterboarding technique 83 times on Abu Zubaydah and 183 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.


Presumably the first 182 didn't yield useful intel so they needed that 183'rd one. Go go good team!

---

Some bullet points from the BBC article (only including ones not already mentioned):

- None of 20 cases of counterterrorism "successes" attributed to the techniques led to unique or otherwise unavailable intelligence
- The CIA misled politicians and public
- At least 26 of 119 known detainees in custody during the life of the programme were wrongfully held, and many held for months longer than they should have been
- Methods included sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, often standing or in painful positions
- Waterboarding and "rectal hydration" were physically harmful to prisoners, causing convulsions and vomiting


Various wrote:"The core narrative that describes a barbarous, calculated, and sustained corruption of both our national values and our most fundamental moral principles is simple," writes Kevin Drum of Mother Jones. "We tortured prisoners, and then we lied about it. That's it."

The report is brutal, write the Daily Beast's Shane Harris and Tim Mak: "Interrogations that lasted for days on end. Detainees forced to stand on broken legs, or go 180 hours in a row without sleep. A prison so cold, one suspect essentially froze to death."

Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson says the "rectal rehydration, without evidence of medical necessity" that some detainees underwent was "sexual assault, plus water".

Beyond the moral repugnancy of the specific examples cited, writes Vox's Max Fisher, the report shows that there was a "disastrous flaw" in the CIA's interrogation programme.

Many observers have noted with shock that the US government paid $81m (£52m) to two Air Force survival school psychologists who knew little about interrogation techniques or al-Qaeda. It's what they did know, Fisher writes, that's the most disturbing, however.

The two trained pilots on how to survive interrogation at the hands of brutal captors - which meant their interrogation programme was, in effect, a recreation of these cruel tactics: "It was based on copying Chinese torture methods designed not to elicit truth but to force false confessions," he writes.

"The CIA could not borrow methods from a torture programme that was successful at eliciting factual information because no such programme exists, nor will it ever," he continues.


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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby PolakoVoador » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:50 am UTC

Yeah, the "fun" thing about torture is that you will get a confession or answer, whatever it is, because anyone will eventually say whatever it takes to make the pain stop.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Zamfir » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:13 am UTC

Detainees forced to stand on broken legs

I thought this was a salient example.

If you look at the catalogue of methods, it's clear that people strived for "deniable" torture methods. Bloodless, nearly all of them. Methods that are worse then they seem on paper, like waterboarding. Many methods that are extreme extensions of ordinarily bearable activities, like sleep deprivation, forced standing, loud noises. Methods with an handwavy medical defense, like forcefeeding and the rectal hydration. And of course, deniable outsourcing of the old-skool beatings to dubious allies.

Whether to themselves or to the outside world, people wanted a cover where they could deny they were torturing. Just stress-inducing, or something

But then you get example like standing on broken legs, or inserting pasta sauce into people's rectum. Those break the cover, they're so obviously sadistic. It shows how all the technocratic justification about interrogation was bullshit. It's just people on a power trip. They were given a free hand, and they made the most of it.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby karhell » Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:18 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:inserting pasta sauce into people's rectum.

O______O
Just what kind special brand of barbaric sadists do they employ to come up with things like that ?

All of this is so surreal it's actually kinda hard to compute
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:33 pm UTC

What's the point of using pasta sauce for that? Are you trying to make them fear spaghetti night?

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:02 pm UTC

If you are going to be evil about it, at least do it the way that actually yields information; get them good and drunk then ask away. Or just go full pimp, get them addicted to meth or heroin and then withhold until they talk.

Edit: not a double post, Zamfir deleted his own comment

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby sardia » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:06 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:If you are going to be evil about it, at least do it the way that actually yields information; get them good and drunk then ask away. Or just go full pimp, get them addicted to meth or heroin and then withhold until they talk.

Edit: not a double post, Zamfir deleted his own comment

I'm pretty sure that's still torture. And doesn't work.

Also, good news. Americans are becoming more accepting of torture. Mostly due to republicans.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/sena ... c-opinion/
Article notes that the trend line is more important as the wording can influence result.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:09 pm UTC

Well yeah it's torture, but if you are using methods that are proven to be ineffective, you don't get to claim it's a necessary evil.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Chen » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:24 pm UTC

Making them go into withdrawal by withholding drugs they are addicted to would probably get you just as many lies as any other pain inflicting torture would. So that would probably be just as ineffective and pretty much just as evil.

Getting them drunk/high is effectively just using a type of truth serum on them anyways. And I'm pretty sure they've deemed those fairly unreliable too.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Diadem » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:42 pm UTC

Honestly I think it's time to bring international charges against Bush and other senior members of his administration or the CIA.

That won't put them in jail, since the US is too corrupt to ever arrest them. But it would at least stop them from traveling abroad. And if they have any foreign assets we could liquidate them.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Vahir » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:32 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:If you are going to be evil about it, at least do it the way that actually yields information; get them good and drunk then ask away. Or just go full pimp, get them addicted to meth or heroin and then withhold until they talk.

Edit: not a double post, Zamfir deleted his own comment

I'm pretty sure that's still torture. And doesn't work.

Also, good news. Americans are becoming more accepting of torture. Mostly due to republicans.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/sena ... c-opinion/
Article notes that the trend line is more important as the wording can influence result.


I blame Jack Bauer.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby sardia » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:36 pm UTC

Jack Bauer figured out that torture doesn't work. Republicans can't say that.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:02 pm UTC

At the risk of a fallacy of relative privation, I'm going to oppose 'international courts' until they go after all the countries that are currently doing far worse things, like China, Russia, Iran, India, etc.

I mean yeah you have to start somewhere, but if you are only targeting the US while ignoring everyone else you probably don't really care about justice.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby sardia » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:15 pm UTC

ICC conviction just means they can't leave the USA. It would be more symbolic than anything. Though the political embarrassment would be high.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:20 pm UTC

Like I said, don't just single out the US. Include Putin, the Ayatollah and Kim Jong Un and all the other PoS out there, and maybe you can include Bush in that list.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Diadem » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:26 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:At the risk of a fallacy of relative privation, I'm going to oppose 'international courts' until they go after all the countries that are currently doing far worse things, like China, Russia, Iran, India, etc.

I mean yeah you have to start somewhere, but if you are only targeting the US while ignoring everyone else you probably don't really care about justice.

Well, if you are saying that the international justice system works terribly badly (or even not at all), I entirely agree with you. But the primary reason it is functioning so poorly is because the US is sabotaging it every step of the way. And you don't get to complain that something is broken if you are the one who broke it.

But to address the point you are making. A police officer breaking the law should be prosecuted with a higher priority than an ordinary citizen breaking the law (the opposite generally happens, of course, but this is how it should be). The same applies to the US. The US should be under more scrutiny, and be chastised with higher priority, than other countries precisely because they so often act as the leader of the (free) world. How can US interventions in other countries have any legitimacy if they are dirty themselves?

Anyway, don't read my previous post as me expecting something of the international community. I expect nothing at all will happen. Almost no one is willing to piss of the US, and those few countries that are, generally are guilty of worse shit themselves. But a man is still allowed to dream, right? And even if I know it will never happen, I can still observe that it would be very good for the world if Bush were put in jail. Ideally the US would have done that themselves years ago, of course.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:28 pm UTC

Except you are implying that the US really is the World Police.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Diadem » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:33 pm UTC

Eh, yes? I'm a bit confused by your question. You are saying that as if you disagree? I thought that wasn't a very controversial statement.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:46 pm UTC

I do disagree. The US is not the world police. We can't afford, financially or otherwise, to constantly meddle with other countries every time they fuck up or someone else fucks them up. All we can really afford do is just go after the ones that are openly hostile to us, and usually this means propping up some horrible PoS. If we are lucky this 'only' fucks over the locals. If we are extremely lucky it resolves itself, like Chile or Greece or South Korea. If not, we can have hurricanes strength levels of blowback like Iran, Iraq and Cuba. When we said 'enough is enough' and tried acting like the World Police in Iraq, it didn't end well.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Zcorp » Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:50 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I do disagree. The US is not the world police. We can't afford, financially or otherwise, to constantly meddle with other countries every time they fuck up or someone else fucks them up.

How you believe we should be behaving based on available resources does not change how we have been behaving. We are acting quite frequently as a 'world police.'

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:47 am UTC

So if torture doesn't work, what does? Well, obviously nothing is guaranteed to work. But some approaches work better than others:

BBC wrote:Amidst the appalling catalogue of abuses, mistakes and oversights committed by the CIA on detainees in the early 2000s, one thing stands out in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report like a beacon: "At no time did the CIA's coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of imminent threat intelligence, such as the hypothetical ticking time bomb," says the report.

In other words, all that mistreatment, all those hours of waterboarding, of dragging people hooded and shackled, up and down corridors, depriving them of sleep for days on end and subjecting them to white noise, did not actually yield any real information that stopped a terrorist attack.

Not true, says the CIA's current director, John Brennan. In a riposte to the report, he said: "Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom Enhanced Interrogations Techniques were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives."

But the Senate committee spent five and a half years going through a staggering six million pages of documents. They did not reach these conclusions lightly.

The CIA's brutal interrogations did produce results, but they were frequently false leads. Humans, like animals, will do anything to make extreme pain stop. Countless days and dollars were wasted, on top of the distress suffered by detainees, as CIA investigators chased worthless leads given out in extremis by desperate prisoners.

Unlike some of the hapless Afghan civilians who ended up in Guantanamo Bay by mistake, or were sold to US agents by unscrupulous middlemen, the men the CIA held in their "black sites" were in many cases dangerous, hardened terrorists.

Some did hold key information in their heads and in the case of men like Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda had reportedly trained them to resist interrogation.

So was there a better way for the US government to acquire this information without risking breaking international law and committing a moral outrage? Yes there was. Talk to almost any trained British army interrogator and they will tell you that in the long run it is the "logical friendly approach" that yields the best results.

This does not mean treating the prisoner like some precious VIP. An experienced British army interrogator, who questioned high-value Iraqi POWs, says when a detainee is seized, often as a result of a violent struggle or firefight, there is the inevitable shock of capture and the fear of what is going to happen to them.

Often they imagine the worst - remember the Royal Navy sailor who broke down in tears when he and his crew were captured in the Gulf by an Iranian patrol boat and briefly held in 2007.

"They are hungry for affection," says the former interrogator about prisoners he questioned. "Eventually, they will be willing to co-operate in exchange for safety and comfort."

It does not work every time but there are numerous documented cases of both military prisoners and suspected terrorists being actually relieved to "unburden" themselves of information, thereby ensuring their own safety and relative comfort.

But this approach, of course, takes time and patience and judging by the Senate committee's report, the CIA deployed some totally unsuitable people for the task.

"The CIA deployed individuals without relevant training or experience," it said. "CIA also deployed officers who had documented personal and professional problems of a serious nature - including histories of violence and abusive treatment of others."

Even the two outside contract psychologists lacked "any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of al-Qaeda, a background in counter-terrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise".

With such blunt instruments in their armoury, it is little wonder the CIA's interrogation programme appears to have gone so badly astray.


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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:04 am UTC

http://blog.stephenleary.com/2008/09/in ... inton.html

People need to remember that until 2001, US Intelligence was cut.

By the mid-1990s the Intelligence Community was operating with significant erosion in resources and people and was unable to keep pace with technological change. When I became DCI, I found a Community and a CIA whose dollars were declining and whose expertise was ebbing.

We lost close to 25 percent of our people and billions of dollars in capital investment.
[snip]
The infrastructure to recruit, train, and sustain officers for our clandestine services—the nation’s human intelligence capability—was in disarray.
We were not hiring new analysts, emphasizing the importance of expertise, or giving analysts the tools they needed.


Experienced officers in the Intelligence world could not be retained. They instead turned to contracting as the funds dried up. Years later, 9/11 happened and the US started spending tons of money on intelligence. But it was too late, the expertise left the government, leaving the US handing tons of money to inexperienced newbies across the intelligence community. Now to be fair, the 90s were a period of supreme optimism and demilitarization. The Berlin Wall fell, the USSR was collapsing into Russia. The US probably didn't have any enemies anymore (despite Bin Laden's first attack on the World Trade Center).

So it made sense to wind down the military and intelligence during the 90s. However, the effects of such a wind down were felt for decades to come. You wanna know why intelligence officers made stupid decisions? Because in the 2000s, they were newbies with no experience. The guys with experience left in the 90s as they were laid off.

No amount of money can buy you out of stupid. Only experience and training can get you the workers you want.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:24 am UTC

Ok, I can buy that. You can't just replace all the lost front-line and middle-management personnel overnight.

But why throw $50m at a pair of newbies to design your torture methods rather than find the best of the people you let go and hire them back? Ok it might take a little while to redo the security clearance checks and get them up to speed but strategy and leadership is not the kind of area to short-change.

The bottom line is that Bush and the other senior commanders were (and claim to still be) believers in these techniques - and that is both a moral failing of theirs and a practical one. I could be wrong but I simply don't believe that if, say, McCain somehow were president during 9/11 that the same mistakes would have been made. Simply because he knows from first-hand experience as a POW what works and what is just counter-productive. Nor do I think he would have just accepted the CIA lying to him about their methods and results had they gone ahead behind his back.

(I'd like to think that Obama wouldn't have made these mistakes either but he doesn't seem to have been a particularly 'strong' or 'savvy' president politically. One wonders if he would have incorrectly compromised on this matter also...)
Last edited by elasto on Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:31 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:30 am UTC

elasto wrote:But why throw $50m at a pair of newbies to design your torture methods rather than find the best of the people you let go and hire them back?


1. You can't hire them back. They've retired, or moved onto contracting jobs elsewhere... possibly in the commercial sector. The ones you manage to hire back are generally the less competent ones. (Highly competent employees find better jobs and don't look back)
2. Because 9/11 happened, and billions upon billions of dollars just got thrown at intelligence.
3. You've got billions of dollars and only newbies. A newbie with $50 Million is probably going to be better than a newbie with less money. Besides... you don't know who the newbies are anyway. You just fired the guy who knew everyone else in the office, remember? (#1)


The bottom line is that Bush and the other senior commanders believed that these techniques were both necessary and effective - and that was both a moral failing of theirs and a practical one. I could be wrong but I simply don't believe that if, say, McCain somehow were president during 9/11 that the same mistakes would have been made. Simply because he knows from first-hand experience as a POW what works and what is just counter-productive. Nor do I think he would have just accepted the CIA lying to him about their methods and results had they done so.


Its less of an issue of senior commanders, and more of an issue of newbie middle-management who regularly lied to senior commanders. A huge amount of trust goes forward in both directions. Bush and Co are not the specialists in intelligence. They simply have to trust what the CIA tells them.

If the CIA are incompetent, you get false claims of WMDs, and ideas that torture is a good idea. Etc. etc. So the question is, why was the CIA incompetent?

(I'd like to think that Obama wouldn't have made these mistakes either but he doesn't seem to have been a particularly 'strong' or 'savvy' president politically. One wonders if he would have incorrectly compromised on this matter also...)


Bush had to put up with Clinton's budget cuts.
Obama had to put up with Bush's Wars.

And 8 years from now, the next president is going to have to put up with all of Obama's mistakes... whatever we deem them to be at that point.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:41 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:1. You can't hire them back. They've retired, or moved onto contracting jobs elsewhere... possibly in the commercial sector. The ones you manage to hire back are generally the less competent ones. (Highly competent employees find better jobs and don't look back)
2. Because 9/11 happened, and billions upon billions of dollars just got thrown at intelligence.
3. You've got billions of dollars and only newbies. A newbie with $50 Million is probably going to be better than a newbie with less money.


Sorry but (2) contradicts (1).

I don't care who it is: Offer someone a billion dollars* to leave their job and spend six months designing your prisoner interrogation strategies and they'll bite your hand off. Doesn't even have to be a US citizen. It can be someone who is currently a senior and active member of an allied intelligence agency.

The point is that Bush and co either told the CIA they didn't want to know how they were going to approach interrogating high-value prisoners - which would be an abdication of leadership - or they concurred with the approach - which would be a moral and practical failing. (The only other possibility is that the CIA didn't inform the president but I don't think they went that far; My understanding is that they 'only' lied to Congress and the Senate.)


(Obviously a billion dollars is unnecessarily extreme; Even the reported $50m should have been enough to get someone better than these idiots.)

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:45 am UTC

I don't care who it is: Offer someone a billion dollars* to leave their job and spend six months designing your prisoner interrogation strategies and they'll bite your hand off. Doesn't even have to be a US citizen. It can be someone who is currently a senior and active member of an allied intelligence agency.


IE: Taking specialists from Israel. Yes, that is exactly what happened. I'm sorry, but the excuse "It was legal in Israel" doesn't exactly fly. Take a big guess who came up with that excuse. I bet you it was an Israeli "Interrogation" specialist.

If you take specialists from other countries who have different morals to write your interrogation strategies... don't be surprised if the morality of such strategies don't match up with the citizens.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:50 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:IE: Taking specialists from Israel. Yes, that is exactly what happened.


Not sure if that's meant to be countering my point?

Just because some Israelis recommend that torture is a good way to extract a truthful confession it doesn't mean the CIA has to swallow it. And if they do, it doesn't mean the president has to swallow it. If he does he's both an idiot and morally bankrupt.

If you take specialists from other countries who have different morals to write your interrogation strategies... don't be surprised if the morality of such strategies don't match up with the citizens.


It's not that it's immoral that's the worst part (though in one way of course it is) - it's that it doesn't work!

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:53 am UTC

elasto wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:IE: Taking specialists from Israel. Yes, that is exactly what happened.


Not sure if that's meant to be countering my point?

Just because some Israelis recommend that torture is a good way to extract a truthful confession it doesn't mean the CIA has to swallow it. And if they do, it doesn't mean the president has to swallow it. If he does he's both an idiot and morally bankrupt.


Continuing our example... when you just spent $50 Million on a specialist, and the specialist tells you that torture is effective and safe. Of course you have to swallow it. The specialist is smarter than you, remember?

Now the President wasn't making those decisions. It was some middle-management CIA dude who probably met with some Israeli specialist... who then wrote a report to senior management who then wrote a report to the director who then informed the President that "light amounts of stress will improve interrogations". Its like a game of telephone... the closer the words get to the president, the more pleasing it sounds.

All of this is hypothetical of course. But that's how I'd imagine something like this went down. No one explicitly lied to anybody. You have to realize that the Bureaucracy runs very deep and wide.

Not sure if that's meant to be countering my point?


I don't think there is a point to "counter" here. I'm trying to explain to you the anatomy of a bad decision in the context of a massive bureaucracy. Its not about "right or wrong", its about how people work.

The CIA lost a number of competent workers when it shrunk in the 90s. One estimate is over 25% of the workforce, which is absolutely devastating. Its very hard to work under those kinds of conditions. Then, in the 2000s, the CIA then made a whole slew of bad decisions (including WMDs, Torture, Drone Missiles into Weddings, etc. etc.)... despite having significant amounts of resources available to them.
Last edited by KnightExemplar on Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:02 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:02 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Continuing our example... when you just spent $50 Million on a specialist, and the specialist tells you that torture is effective and safe. Of course you have to swallow it. The specialist is smarter than you, remember?

Uhh... So if the specialist told you that you had two heads and three eyes you'd swallow it because he's 'smarter than you'? Why wouldn't you fire him for being bonkers? A specialist calling torture 'effective' is an idiot and one calling it 'safe' is a maniac.

Now the President wasn't making those decisions. It was some middle-management CIA dude who probably met with some Israeli specialist... who then wrote a report to senior management who then wrote a report to the director who then informed the President that "light amounts of stress will improve interrogations". Its like a game of telephone... the closer the words get to the president, the more pleasing it sounds.

All of this is hypothetical of course. But that's how I'd imagine something like this went down.

I seriously doubt that. Legal advice was sought at the highest levels and Bush to this day backs up the actions of the CIA - either meaning he's lying now about what the CIA told him and when - or he was fully informed and so is a morally bankrupt idiot.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:20 am UTC

elasto wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:Continuing our example... when you just spent $50 Million on a specialist, and the specialist tells you that torture is effective and safe. Of course you have to swallow it. The specialist is smarter than you, remember?

Uhh... So if the specialist told you that you had two heads and three eyes you'd swallow it because he's 'smarter than you'? Why wouldn't you fire him for being bonkers? A specialist calling torture 'effective' is an idiot and one calling it 'safe' is a maniac.


I was being facetious with "safe". It was a joke.

But seriously dude... not everyone is actually trained in psychology. I know the facts because I took psychology in high school. I know the studies of torture and interrogation, but it wasn't some magic knowledge... or even common knowledge at that. It was knowledge that I had to work for, to read through research papers and discover. Torture being effective is a commonly believed myth.

Now the President wasn't making those decisions. It was some middle-management CIA dude who probably met with some Israeli specialist... who then wrote a report to senior management who then wrote a report to the director who then informed the President that "light amounts of stress will improve interrogations". Its like a game of telephone... the closer the words get to the president, the more pleasing it sounds.

All of this is hypothetical of course. But that's how I'd imagine something like this went down.

I seriously doubt that. Legal advice was sought at the highest levels and Bush to this day backs up the actions of the CIA - either meaning he's lying now about what the CIA told him and when - or he was fully informed and so is a morally bankrupt idiot.


All government agencies have a legal department. I'm sure the CIA is no exception. Any action done by any bureaucrat needs to have legal justification. Not only a legal justification, but it needs to be interpreted as a command given from some executive order as well. Bush was likely handed the legal arguments from the CIA at the same time he was informed about these "interrogations" (as well as whatever Executive Order the CIA interpreted the interrogations to be under).

PS: The moral of the story is that the legal arguments originating from any particular agency need to be double-checked by an independent party. That independent party is supposed to be the intelligence committees in the House or Senate, as Congress represents us the people.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Mambrino » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:13 am UTC

elasto wrote:
The point is that Bush and co either told the CIA they didn't want to know how they were going to approach interrogating high-value prisoners - which would be an abdication of leadership - or they concurred with the approach - which would be a moral and practical failing. (The only other possibility is that the CIA didn't inform the president but I don't think they went that far; My understanding is that they 'only' lied to Congress and the Senate.)


According to the WP, it took 4 years before the CIA briefed the president on the precise nature of these "techniques", and the CIA also repeatedly provided incorrect information to the White House about the program and its usefulness. Make of that what you will.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby elasto » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:46 am UTC

Mambrino wrote:According to the WP, it took 4 years before the CIA briefed the president on the precise nature of these "techniques", and the CIA also repeatedly provided incorrect information to the White House about the program and its usefulness. Make of that what you will.


Not according to Dick Cheney - interviewed today on Fox News:

Dick Cheney wrote:The Senate report said the agency misled politicians about the programme.

But the former Republican vice-president dismissed this, saying: "The notion that the committee is trying to peddle that somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis and that we weren't being told - that the president wasn't being told - is a flat-out lie."

In the interview on Thursday, Mr Cheney said the report was "deeply flawed" and a "terrible piece of work", although he admitted he had not read the whole document.

President Bush "knew everything he needed to know, and wanted to know" about CIA interrogation, he said. "He knew the techniques... there was no effort on my part to keep it from him.

"He was fully informed."


That rather blows KE's theory out of the water* that bureaucracy watered-down* the torture to "light amounts of stress will improve interrogations". Unless Cheney is lying for some reason of course (which can never be ruled out).
*hah - see what I did there?

---

KE wrote:But seriously dude... not everyone is actually trained in psychology. I know the facts because I took psychology in high school. I know the studies of torture and interrogation, but it wasn't some magic knowledge... or even common knowledge at that. It was knowledge that I had to work for, to read through research papers and discover. Torture being effective is a commonly believed myth.


Well. I'm not trained in psychology but somehow I apparently 'magically' acquired the knowledge and have known it for years.

Nor is it news to me that psychological torture is much more permanently debilitating than physical: Think about how a rape survivor will commonly suffer for years to decades whereas someone attacked and mugged will commonly quickly recover - even if their injuries are superficially worse.

To me it's beyond common sense that it's impossible to torture without lasting damage. It also requires no more than a passing thought to realize that someone being tortured will say whatever is necessary to get the torture to stop: And if a lie is more likely to bring relief than the truth then the victim will lie.

I honestly don't know how any of this stuff isn't obvious to anyone who has spent more than a moment thinking about it.

And a president that orders actions to be taken that would not simply be illegal were they to be carried out on US soil - but that the US has routinely decried as warcrimes when others have done them to US citizens - well, he ought to spend more than a moment thinking about whether they're right or not. In every sense of that word.

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby PolakoVoador » Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:49 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:But seriously dude... not everyone is actually trained in psychology. I know the facts because I took psychology in high school. I know the studies of torture and interrogation, but it wasn't some magic knowledge... or even common knowledge at that. It was knowledge that I had to work for, to read through research papers and discover. Torture being effective is a commonly believed myth.


elasto already called this one, but I'll reinforce it: I have no training whatsoever in psychology and I aware torture is terrible, in every possible aspect of it. It's not a very hard notion to grasp.


That said, question to USias: I've read a couple of articles in reddit, and I got the impression there is a debate/controversy wether those "techniques" are really torture or not. Is such debate happening in your media? Are the news calling it a controversy?

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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby Diadem » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:14 pm UTC

Cheney's remarks are weird. He's basically saying: "This report is saying that I didn't commit the horrible crimes people have been accusing me of the last few years. The report is bullshit! I totally did it!".

Usually politicians try to weasel out of responsibility, but Cheney is proudly claiming it. That shows that he is absolutely not sorry about what happened, and furthermore that he thinks that the American public is ok with it.

I really, really, hope he is going to be proven wrong on that latter assumption.

Also:
KnightExemplar wrote:People need to remember that until 2001, US Intelligence was cut.

Lots of posts with debate about this and similar issues wrote:(...)

It's interesting to look at how something came to be, and why it could happen. But none of this is an excuse. It doesn't diminish the responsibility of the people in charge in any way. And anyway Bush and Cheney aren't even using ignorance or incompetence as excuses. They are still claiming that their actions were right.
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Re: Washington Post: US senate report of CIA interrogation

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:46 pm UTC

PolakoVoador wrote:elasto already called this one, but I'll reinforce it: I have no training whatsoever in psychology and I aware torture is terrible, in every possible aspect of it. It's not a very hard notion to grasp.


Elasto is making a psychological argument: that torture is ineffective. This is science, not morality.

Diadem wrote:It's interesting to look at how something came to be, and why it could happen. But none of this is an excuse. It doesn't diminish the responsibility of the people in charge in any way. And anyway Bush and Cheney aren't even using ignorance or incompetence as excuses. They are still claiming that their actions were right.


I agree with you in principle, but I'm not seeing enough evidence that I can pin this on Bush.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-0 ... finds.html
The CIA misled Congress and kept former President George W. Bush in the dark as it conducted interrogations of terror suspects that were far more brutal and less effective than publicly portrayed, according to a report by Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee.


It's not Bush's words that I'm using to exonerate them. I'm using the Senate Intelligence Committee's findings as the basis of my argument. Beyond that, I'll agree with your argument in concept. In any case, this happened under Bush's watch (erm... lack of watch), and as the executive it is ultimately his responsibility.

It seems to me that Bush didn't believe it was torture, in part because the CIA wasn't telling him it was torture.

That said...

Bush and the full Senate intelligence committee weren’t briefed on the techniques until 2006. Some members, including Feinstein and Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, raised objections. However, the CIA then turned around and informed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in a classified setting that no senators had objected.

The panel learned that former Vice President Dick Cheney was in meetings where the tactics were discussed.


So I guess we can at least pass the blame to Cheney, after 2006. But since they weren't informed until years into the program, I'm going to have to go with incompetent / ignorant middle management at the CIA as my primary theory. Especially since 2002 through 2005 was apparently the most active time for this program. (If anything, after Bush / Cheney / Senate Intelligence Committee were informed of it in 2006, the program seemed to be winding down a bit)
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