Friday, January 23, 2015

Here's an idea: SHUT IT DOWN! (Reading the Report on CIA Torture)

Report on CIA Torture
I have been in the process of conferring with colleagues here in Chicago about what we should be doing in light of the recently published summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report on CIA torture.

I hope that a broad alliance of concerned people -- including but not limited to the groups and individuals already actively protesting illegitimate U.S. practices of kidnapping, detention, and torture, such as the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo -- will take up the report on CIA torture and make it an object of careful study, and a foundation for activism.

The report itself ran to thousands of pages, and the summary alone totals about 600.  It can be downloaded online, or purchased in hard copy.  You can read an outline of the findings in the Wikipedia article on the report.

Abolish the CIA?

The CIA: Shut it down?
As I reviewed the outline of the findings, it struck me that many of the findings point to the fact that the CIA is simply ungovernable:

(4) The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

(5) The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice (DOJ), impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

(6) The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

(7) The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

(8) The CIA's operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

(9) The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA's Office of Inspector General.

(10) The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.

(17) The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious or significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systematic and individual management failures. 

(18) The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

(Emphasis added.)

Time to reprise the 1975 Church Committee hearings?
(a.k.a. United States Senate Select Committee to Study
Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities)
The report makes it clear that the CIA is a law unto itself. (Close observers of the CIA have known this all along, of course.) The CIA thwarted or circumvented every possible entity or individual that could possibly have acted as a brake on the CIA's illegal and immoral activities.

Considering its ungovernability, how can the CIA be allowed to stay in business?

There is fear within the Agency that abolition is in the wind. That was obvious to anyone watching the full court press by CIA spokespeople after the release of the report. They tried every trick in the book to convince the American public that the report should be disregarded.

Other implications of the report

Prosecute torture and other crimes
The CIA carried out brutal torture:

(3) The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others. 

(14) CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters. 

Prosecution is in called for.

The report finds that torture was not effective.

(1) The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees. 

(2) The CIA's justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

Many of us feel that, since torture is never permissible, effectiveness or ineffectiveness should not even be discussed. However, we do need to emphasize frequently that torture serves only to terrorize, not to gain information.

The role of psychologists in the CIA torture program requires special attention:

(13) Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

This refers to the "reverse-engineering" of the SERE program.

 The world knows us by our actions . . . .
See ourselves as others see us

Perhaps the finding that deserves to be most broadly shared with the public is this one:

(20) The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

Members of general public in the U.S. are willfully ignorant of how we are perceived by the rest of the world. We must do anything we can to wake people up.


and discuss the report.

Join groups seeking
action in light of the report.

Related posts

It is perhaps the signal achievement of the film "Beneath the Blindfold" that it portrays four different survivors, each of whose experience of torture was distinct from that of any of the others, and each of whom has an otherwise unique personality, and yet each makes clear that they share a long-lasting trauma. One leaves the film with a deeply-felt sense of the lasting trauma caused by torture of any kind.

 (See The Revelations of "Beneath the Blindfold" )


By now, everyone knows about the New York Times article describing Barack Obama's personal administration of drone killing around the world. What few people are willing to face up to is that Obama 2012 partisans actually see this as a way to get a lot of Americans to like Obama: "This is the candidate; you MUST support him!"

(See Being a Team Player for "Mr. Forceful": Obama and the Dems )

My most prominent memory of my first viewing of the Guantanamo film, The Response, is of one of the stars of the film -- Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek fame -- participating in a panel after the screening. I was blown away when she said, "I did this because our civil liberties in our country have been gravely damaged and we all need to contribute to repairing them."

(See Understanding What Guantanamo Means)

We all wish to be judged by our good intentions. But the way people know us is through our actions. So ... what do people in the Muslim world know about us here in the United States?

(See They'll Know Us By Our Actions)


Government Doing its Best to Undermine Torture Report and Whistleblowers

The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has requested that administration agencies return all copies of a classified torture report to the committee, which would effectively place the “classified report beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act,” and could close the book on a very dark time in America’s history that we should never forget.

"CIA torture report architect denounces Republican attempt to claw back copies"
The Guardian

This news, unfortunately, gets a bit more depressing, as most of the recipients of the full torture report never even bothered to read it…

"CIA Torture Rport Sinks A Little More, As Agencies Don't Bother To Read It"
Huffington Post

Meanwhile, the only CIA officer in prison for the torture program is the whistleblower who exposed it - John Kiriakou.

"Prison Dispatches From the War on Terror: EX-CIA Officer John Kiriakou Speaks"
The Intercept

to take a stand against torture
worldwide, nationwide, city wide, in your neighborhood
January 31, 2015    #EndTorture

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 2:00pm

In late November the Senate Report on the Central Intelligence Agency's use of Torture was released. This report has since been swept under the rug and nearly forgotten.

The Mainstream media, the government and a complicit American public are prepared to forget about the Senate Report on CIA torture AND WE CANNOT LET THAT HAPPEN!

Join organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum for protests, rallies, and gatherings on Saturday January 31st to make sure America and the US government do not go unchallenged.



1. This is Decentralized. Connect with activists in your community and plan rallies, protests, street theater, or reenactmen...ts of waterboarding or force-feeding. GRAB THE PUBLIC'S ATTENTION!

2. Create a FB event and post it in the comment! We will add it to the list below.

3. Create memes, write blogs, contact local media, indy media, talk to friends and families! Use the Hashtag #EndTorture Do whatever you can to spread the word through social media and in real life!

4. INVITE! INVITE! INVITE! Let's get the invite list over 50,000 people by January 30th. We can do this! Share on FB pages, twitter, and more!

5. Hit the streets, inform the public and change the global conversation.



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