More leaks are coming out from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s still-hidden report on the Bush-era torture regime and — surprise, surprise — it concludes that the CIA repeatedly misled the DOJ and their own inspector general about what they were actually doing.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel found that the methods wouldn’t breach the law because those applying them didn’t have the specific intent of inflicting severe pain or suffering.
The Senate report, however, concluded that the Justice Department’s legal analyses were based on flawed information provided by the CIA, which prevented a proper evaluation of the program’s legality.
“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.
Several human rights experts said the conclusion called into question the program’s legal foundations.
“If the CIA fundamentally misrepresented what it was doing and that was what led (Justice Department) lawyers to conclude that the conduct was legal, then the legal conclusions themselves were inaccurate,” said Andrea Prasow, senior national security counsel for Human Rights Watch. “The lawyers making those assessments were relying on the facts that were laid before them.”
“This just reinforces the view that everyone who has said the torture program was legal has been selling a bill of goods and it’s time to revisit the entire conventional wisdom being pushed by those who support enhanced interrogation that this program was safe, humane and lawful,” said Raha Wala, a lawyer with Human Rights First’s Law and Public Safety Program.
Among other findings, the report said that CIA personnel used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or their headquarters.
The conclusion that the CIA provided inaccurate information to the Justice Department reflects the findings of a top-secret investigation of the program by the CIA Inspector General’s Office that was triggered by allegations of abuse.
The CIA inspector general’s May 7, 2004, report, which was declassified, found that in waterboarding Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, deemed the chief architect of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA went beyond the parameters it outlined to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which wrote the legal opinions.
Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, while Mohammad underwent the procedure 183 times.
Those cases clashed with the CIA’s assertion _ outlined in the now-declassified top-secret August 2002 Office of Legal Counsel opinion _ that repetition of the methods “will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions.”
The Office of Legal Counsel opinion stated that its finding that the harsh interrogation techniques didn’t constitute torture was based on facts provided by the CIA, and that “if these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply.”
None of this is remotely surprising, of course. Just like the head of the NSA directly lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about their cell phone data mining program. This is what our intelligence agencies do and it’s what they’ve always done.