Torture Report
December 16, 2014

North Korea on Tuesday called for a United Nations Security Council investigation into U.S. "torture crimes" committed during the tenure of President George W. Bush. The call came in response to the Security Council including North Korea's abysmal human rights record on the council's agenda.

"The so-called 'human rights issue' in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is politically fabricated and, therefore, it is not at all relevant to the regional or international peace and security," declared Ja Song Nam, the Hermit Kingdom's ambassador to the U.N.

He added, "On the contrary, the recently revealed CIA torture crimes committed by the United States, which have been conducted worldwide in the most brutal medieval forms, are the gravest human rights violations in the world." --Ryu Spaeth

December 14, 2014

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday criticized his fellow Republicans and others who have defended the CIA's use of torture, accusing them of "rewriting history."

"You can't claim that tying someone to the floor and having them freeze to death is not torture," McCain said on Face the Nation, citing one of the many grisly details contained in the Senate's report on the CIA's interrogation program. Later, McCain noted it was hypocritical to claim waterboarding wasn't torture because the U.S. tried and hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners in World War II.

Former Bush administration officials and many Republican lawmakers have defended the interrogation program as necessary to produce valuable intelligence, with some claiming the harsh tactics did not amount to torture. --Jon Terbush

December 11, 2014

CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday vigorously pushed back against the Senate's report on his agency's torture program, insisting that though the program was not without its flaws, the CIA "did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong."

"In many ways this was uncharted territory for the CIA, and we were not prepared," he said.

Brennan objected to many conclusions in the Senate's report, arguing that torture was an "abhorrent" lapse by some agents, but not common practice. And refuting a central conclusion in the report — that torture produced no key intelligence — Brennan said it was "unknown and unknowable" whether there was a "cause and effect" relationship between the two. --Jon Terbush

December 11, 2014

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that a Senate committee's newly released report on the CIA's post-9/11 use of torture was "full of crap." Cheney said the CIA's intensified interrogation tactics, which included a simulated drowning procedure known as waterboarding, helped "catch the bastards who killed 3,000 of us on 9/11." In his first televised remarks on the report, President Obama told Spanish-language channel Telemundo, "When countries are threatened, oftentimes they act rationally in ways that in retrospect were wrong." Harold Maass

December 10, 2014

The Senate on Tuesday released a massive report on the CIA's use of such torture techniques as waterboarding and forced rectal feeding. The details are sickening.

Yet a majority of Americans — 53 percent — say they support the use of torture either "often" or "sometimes," according to a 2011 Pew poll. More recently, a 2013 Associated Press poll found exactly half of all Americans supported torture in some instances, while 47 opposed it out of hand. Jon Terbush

December 10, 2014

Yesterday saw the release of nearly 600 (out of 6,000) pages of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture. Despite the report's extensive depiction of gruesome practices ranging from rectal feeding to forcing detainees, some of whom were known to be innocent, to stand on broken legs, no one from the CIA has gone to jail — except for a whistleblower who tried to expose the report back in 2007.

The jailed former CIA agent's name is John Kiriakou, and he is serving a 30-month sentence after being charged for his whistleblowing in 2008. "I believe I was prosecuted not for what I did but for who I am: a CIA officer who said torture was wrong and ineffective and went against the grain," Kiriakou said in 2013. Bonnie Kristian

December 10, 2014

One overlooked tidbit from yesterday's Senate report on CIA torture is the fact that CIA interrogators were paid more for using waterboarding techniques.

Contractors who used waterboarding and other torture methods on prisoners were paid $1,800 per day, tax-free — four times as much as those who didn't use waterboarding were paid.

The Daily Dot reports that contract torturers were paid more than $80 million between 2001 and 2009. That puts individuals at $500,000 to $700,000 a year in tax-free retainers. Meghan DeMaria

December 10, 2014

A group of six former CIA directors calls the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released Tuesday nothing more than a politicized, "cherry picked" argument against the program's effectiveness. And such blatant partisanship, they claim, could negatively affect the careers of CIA officials, relationships to the foreign intelligence partners, and the fight against terrorism.

The group lists three main points the report gets wrong in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday:

Context — the post-9/11 era was a "ticking time bomb" of mounting threats, they write. The CIA would have been "morally culpable" should another attack have occurred.

The program's effectiveness — the information procured ultimately led to the capture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Misleading the government and American people — "That allegation is flat-out wrong," they write. The CIA was acting with good-faith consultants from national security, the White House, and the Justice Department, they say, and that 20 cases of abuse were reported to the Justice Department.

"In no way would we claim that we did everything perfectly; far from it in the emergency and often chaotic circumstances we confronted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11," the group writes.

It wasn't just their mindset but also Congress' that was different 13 years ago, they say. When it came to learning what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew about additional plots, they write, one senator "forcefully" asked, "Do you have all the authorities you need to do what you need to do?"

Go to The Wall Street Journal to read the full response. Lauren Hansen

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