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Lawmakers strike deal on $1T funding bill to avoid shutdown

Lawmakers strike deal on $1T funding bill to avoid shutdown

Lawmakers strike deal on $1T funding bill to avoid shutdown

By Rebecca Shabad

Congressional leaders on Tuesday evening reached a deal on a nearly $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government funded.  

Dubbed the “cromnibus,” the package includes 11 appropriations bills to fund most of the government through September 2015, and tacks on a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 27.

The bill was posted after 8 p.m. Tuesday. Passage of the bill would avert a shutdown, which appeared to be a possibility last month when conservatives demanded action to block President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

The delayed release of the funding bill will push the lame-duck schedule back, with lawmakers itching to wrap up work for the year and return home for the holidays.

Both chambers of Congress are now expected to vote on a stopgap bill to fund the government for two or three days to buy time for the Senate to consider the larger package.

The House Rules Committee will mark up the “cromnibus” Wednesday afternoon, setting up a probable Thursday vote in the House. The Senate could also vote on it Thursday, but it’s more likely that work on the bill could spill into Friday or the weekend.

UN: 'Torture is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice'

dick cheney

CIA report: 'Torture is a crime and those responsible must be brought to justice'

Oliver Laughland in New York

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other rights advocates say prosecutions must follow Senate’s CIA torture report.

The UN, human rights activists and legal experts have renewed calls for the Obama administration to prosecute US officials responsible for the CIA torture programme revealed in extensive detail following the release of a damning report by the Senate intelligence committee.

The report, released on Tuesday, found the CIA misled the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the public over a torture programme that was both ineffective and more brutal than the agency disclosed.

“Today’s release once again makes crystal clear that the US government used torture. Torture is a crime and those responsible for crimes must be brought to justice,” Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W Hawkins, said in a statement.

“Under the UN convention against torture, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked to justify torture, and all those responsible for authorising or carrying out torture or other ill-treatment must be fully investigated.”

In Geneva, the United Nations’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said CIA officers and other US government officials should be prosecuted.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever,” Emmerson said in a statement.

How Republicans Won the War on Women

How Republicans Won the War on Women

In 2012, Mitt Romney lost women voters by 11 points, and Republicans lost them by 11 points. This year the GOP closed that gap—and one all-female consulting firm is a big reason why.

When Katie Packer Gage and Ashley O’Connor sat down to lunch at Boston’s Anthem restaurant one day in the winter of 2012, their conversation quickly turned to what had gone wrong with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Gage had been Romney’s deputy campaign manager, while O’Conner was director of advertising. Both took part in the campaign’s daily strategy meetings, and both were asking themselves how Romney had lost to Barack Obama by four points. That defeat was driven largely by Romney losing women voters by an insurmountable 11 points.

“Republicans weren’t doing a very effective job of communicating the Republican message to women,” said Gage. “We asked how we could go about doing that better, and ultimately that’s how Burning Glass came together.”

Burning Glass Consulting is the all-female consulting firm Gage and O’Connor founded in 2013 along with GOP pollster Christine Matthews to focus Republican campaigns solely on refining their message to women voters. Burning Glass is also a major piece of the puzzle of how the GOP was able not only to neutralize but in some cases defeat the Democrats’ “war on women” message that had hurt some Republican campaigns badly with female voters in 2010 and 2012.

As a party, Burning Glass told Republicans they needed to recruit better candidates, shut down GOP voices that made comments that would be offensive to women voters, and prepare campaigns for the Democrats to replay their “war on women” message in 2014 on a national scale.

“One of the first things that we felt was important was avoiding another Todd Akin or Richard Murdock moment, which was so difficult to deal with in 2012,” Gage said. “The whole candidate-recruitment process, making sure that one candidate was not going to put our whole party in a negative light, was something we felt strongly about.”

O’Connor also said the party needed better polling information about women voters, including why so many had responded to the Democrats’ message in 2012 that Republicans were essentially bad for women, especially on social issues.

Exposing the CIA’s stain on America

Exposing the CIA’s stain on America

Releasing the Senate intelligence committee’s report on torture wasn’t even close to a close call. It was a necessary, if infuriatingly belated, corollary to the choice not to prosecute those who relied on faulty legal advice in engaging in such repugnant practices.

The sordid episode called for national accountability, which is what the committee provided Tuesday. Nations, like individuals, cannot move on from traumatic moments without taking stock of their behavior.

That rule holds especially true in the context of civil liberties, because of the recurring temptation to repeat problematic behaviors. Indeed, as committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted, President Obama’s self-imposed executive order to restrict the CIA from holding detainees and to limit interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual “could be overturned by a future president with the stroke of a pen.” As Feinstein argued, “They should be enshrined in legislation.”

By contrast, the arguments against releasing the report, or for delaying its release, were flat-out wrong. Some — from those who supported and orchestrated torture — are self-interested and wrong. Others — I’m talking about you, John Kerry — were well-meaning and wrong.

There will never be a comfortable time to disclose embarrassing information. No doubt some enemies of the United States will seize on the disclosures to protest, or worse.

But the notion that the country’s enemies need an incentive to seek to harm our citizens is horribly belied by, among other things, the recent beheadings by the Islamic State. The contention that the risks of release are too great, and the practice so far in the rear-view mirror, would both reward CIA obstructionism in delaying release and ignore the fact that this debate, and practice, is capable of being repeated.

The imperative for disclosure was clear in advance. But reading the stomach-churning findings of the 500-page executive summary, the only part cleared for declassification, reinforces its importance. No one can review this account without feeling horror and shame, and without feeling anger at the degree to which public officials and the public itself were misled about what was being done in the name of national security.

Among the conclusions: So-called enhanced interrogation was “not an effective means of obtaining accurate information.” Instead, “multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence.”

Meanwhile, the interrogations “were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.” The techniques included, in addition to waterboardings that amounted to near-drownings, detainees being kept awake for up to 180 hours, detainees subjected to “rectal rehydration ” and detainees kept shackled in total darkness in dungeon-like conditions.

After Senate Report’s Release, Political Divide About C.I.A. Torture Remains

After Senate Report’s Release, Political Divide About C.I.A. Torture Remains

Senator Dianne Feinstein was still speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday morning about the Intelligence Committee’s report excoriating the C.I.A.’s interrogation program when a new website went live. Its name was self-explanatory:

The site, created by a dozen former top officials of the Central Intelligence Agency, was only one element in a broad counterattack against the long-awaited Senate report, which says the program, which is now defunct, violated American ideals by torturing Al Qaeda suspects and got little useful information in return.

The program’s outspoken defenders say the C.I.A. was advised that its methods were not torture, that the program played a critical role in dismantling Al Qaeda and that the interrogators deserve praise, not vilification.

It is a fight over history, with profound consequences for America’s image and personal implications for former C.I.A. officials in particular. The Senate report, approved by the Democratic majority of the Intelligence Committee led by Ms. Feinstein, of California, portrays them as overseeing a dark, regrettable chapter in history. The officials made it clear on Tuesday that they will not stay quiet while the report shapes their reputations or that of the agency.

“As lamentable as the inaccuracies of the majority document are — and the impact they will have on the public’s understanding of the program — some consequences are alarming,” wrote three former C.I.A. directors and three former deputy directors in a lengthy op-ed essay for The Wall Street Journal.

They said the Senate report not only distorted the facts but would also force C.I.A. officers to worry about shifting political winds, make foreign intelligence agencies wary of helping the C.I.A. and give terrorists “yet another valuable recruiting tool.”

he website was organized by Bill Harlow, the C.I.A.’s director of public affairs from 1997 to 2004, who still acts as a spokesman for George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director when the interrogation program began.

“Our concern is that right now people are reporting the Feinstein report as if it’s true,” Mr. Harlow said. “We don’t think it’s true.” The website, he said, is “only a small part” of what the former C.I.A. officials plan to do to, in their view, correct the public record.

Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and five other Republicans released a 100-page dissent attempting to refute the 6,000-page main report, which was written solely by Democratic committee staff members. Those Republicans denounced it as a sloppy, partisan effort that got the facts wrong.

The C.I.A. itself released its own lengthy response to the Senate report, trying to steer a middle course between admitting that the program had significant faults in its early months and defending its contribution to the hunt for Al Qaeda operatives.


The various critiques of the Senate report by the C.I.A. defenders include scores of pages dissecting specific case studies — arguing, for example, that C.I.A. interrogations played more of a role than the report acknowledges in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But the pushback included some broad complaints.

■ The Democratic staff members reviewed six million pages of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews, in part because the program was under criminal investigation for a time and agency staff members were unlikely to talk. The Republicans’ minority response says the failure to talk to C.I.A. officials led to “significant analytical and factual errors” in the report.

■ The Senate report takes a “prosecutorial” approach to the subject, the program’s defenders say, highlighting complaints about the program’s flaws and ignoring its achievements. Though some of the most damning comments in the report were made by C.I.A. officers in critical cables to headquarters, they represent a skewed selection of views that should come as no surprise in any complex undertaking, critics say.

■ The report does not adequately consider “the whole context of the time” after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Mr. Harlow, when anthrax letters, reports of rogue Pakistani nuclear scientists and a stream of threats created a fearful atmosphere. C.I.A. officers worried every day about missing a repeat attack and wanted to be certain they extracted from detainees any clues to plots.

■ The Senate report accuses the agency of illegal torture, but the C.I.A. repeatedly consulted the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel about the brutal methods it intended to use. Legal opinions — later discredited and withdrawn — assured the agency that all of its so-called enhanced techniques were lawful and did not constitute torture.

■ The Senate staff members understated the valuable information the program provided at a time when the United States’ understanding of Al Qaeda’s network of terrorists was rudimentary at best. The dispute is in the details of when various prisoners gave up useful information and whether the brutal treatment was necessary to persuade them to talk.

Michael Hayden Is Not Sorry

Michael Hayden Is Not Sorry

The Senate report rakes Bush’s former CIA director over the coals. He fires back in an exclusive interview.

Though the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program long predated his takeover of the agency in 2006, former Director Michael Hayden has found himself at the center of the explosive controversy surrounding the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its still-classified report on torture. In a long, impassioned speech on the floor Tuesday, Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein cited Hayden’s testimony repeatedly as evidence that the CIA had not been forthright about a program that the committee majority report called brutal, ineffective, often unauthorized “and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.” She publicly accused Hayden of falsely describing the CIA’s interrogation techniques “as minimally harmful and applied in a highly clinical and professional manner.” In an interview with Politico Magazine National Editor Michael Hirsh, Hayden angrily rebuts many of the report’s findings.

Michael Hirsh: The report concludes, rather shockingly, that Pres. George W. Bush and other senior officials—including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a time and Secretary of State Colin Powell—were not aware of many details of the interrogation programs for a long period. According to CIA records, it concludes, no CIA officer including Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss briefed the president on the specific enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006. Is that true?

Michael Hayden: It is not. The president personally approved the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah [in 2002]. It’s in his book! What happened here is that the White House refused to give them [the Senate Intelligence Committee] White House documents based upon the separation of powers and executive privilege. That’s not in their report, but all of that proves that there was dialogue was going on with the White House. What I can say is that the president never knew where the [black] sites were. That’s the only fact I’m aware that he didn’t know.

Hirsh: The report directly challenges your truthfulness, repeatedly stating that your testimony on the details of the programs –for example on whether the interrogations could be stopped at any time by any CIA participant who wanted them halted— is “not congruent with CIA records.” Does that mean you weren’t telling the truth?

Hayden: I would never lie to the committee. I did not lie.

Hirsh: Does it mean that you, along with others at senior levels, were misled about what was actually going on in the program?

Hayden: My testimony is consistent with what I was told and what I had read in CIA records. I said what the agency told me, but I didn’t just accept it at face value. I did what research I could on my own, but I had a 10-day window in which to look at this thing [the committee’s request for information]. I was actually in Virginia for about 30 hours and studied the program for about three before I went up to testify. I was trying to describe a program I didn’t run. The points being made against my testimony in many instances appear to be selective reading of isolated incidents designed to prove a point where I was trying to describe the overall tenor of the program. I think the conclusions they drew were analytically offensive and almost street-like in their simplistic language and conclusions. The agency has pushed back rather robustly in its own response.

This Is How a Prisoner of War Feels About Torture

This Is How a Prisoner of War Feels About Torture

Adam Chandler

In a speech from the Senate floor, John McCain broke with his Republican colleagues to commend the Senate's CIA report, relying on his own experience in Vietnam.

The release of a Senate report on the CIA's former interrogation program brought both political division and shock on Tuesday. While the shock was more universal, the division fell mostly along partisan lines with one notable exception: Senator John McCain.

In a nearly 15-minute speech from the Senate floor, McCain offered what is arguably the most robust defense so far of the report's release, referencing his own experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and rebuking his Republican colleagues by endorsing the study's findings.

"It is a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose—to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies—but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world."


His longtime amigo Senator Lindsey Graham was one of many politicians and intelligence officials to say that the report—which contained graphic accounts of physical and psychological abuse—could damage American interests abroad and that the timing of its publication was "politically motivated."

"The timing of the release is problematic given the growing threats we face," Graham said on Tuesday. "Terrorism is on the rise, and our enemies will seize upon this report at a critical time. Simply put, this is not the time to release the report."

McCain responded directly to the claim. He condemned the use of misinformation to garner support for past CIA practices and linked this history to the current campaign to keep the Senate report under wraps. "There is, I fear, misinformation being used today to prevent the release of this report, disputing its findings and warning about the security consequences of their public disclosure."

But most poignantly, McCain spoke of his own five-and-a-half-year captivity in Vietnam to argue that torture fails to yield credible information.

"I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering."

McCain added (emphatically) that "the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights."

What the Torture Report Kept Hidden

What the Torture Report Kept Hidden

The descriptions are excruciating in their detail. But other important aspects—from the Obama administration’s stalling to Syria and Libya’s role—are missing from the Senate report.

Despite more than 500 pages of excruciating, awful detail, there’s much about the CIA’s interrogation, rendition, and detention programs that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report doesn’t address.

None of the interrogators were interviewed. The roles of dictatorships like Syria and Libya in the CIA rendition programs were left unexplored—or least hidden behind layers of confounding redactions that make many passages of the report incomprehensible. There’s no concrete answer about who really gave the torture orders. And the role of the Obama administration, which slow-rolled the release of the report for five years, was all but ignored.

The Senate report is also filled with redaction after redaction, with the names of many CIA officers entirely blacked out rather than described by pseudonyms. The obfuscation frustrated Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a longtime advocate for the release of the report.

“Every major inquiry since the Church Commission—Abu Ghraib, Iran-Contra—all of them used pseudonyms,” Wyden told The Daily Beast in an interview before the release of the report. “The important thing about the pseudonyms is that [they provide] the opportunity to learn not just what happened but why it happened.”

As if the redactions weren’t frustrating enough, Republican members of the Senate committee released a set of dissenting views that are diametrically opposed to the Democrats’ conclusions. GOP members long ago disavowed the entire investigation, saying Democrats failed to interview a single person involved in the torture program and relied solely on documents devoid of any context. Readers seeking some consensus on the CIA’s program won’t find it from the oversight committee.

“How can the public ever decide who is right?” asked Mary McCarthy, a former CIA officer whose last job was in the agency’s Office of Inspector General, where she oversaw a probe into the CIA’s interrogation program.

Names of countries that participated in the program are also nearly impossible to discern, hidden behind redactions even of the pseudonyms given to them. There’s no apparent examination, for instance, of the United States turning over detainees to Syria, where at least one man formerly held in U.S. custody was known to have been tortured. Also absent, or hidden, in the report is the role played by Jordan, a close CIA ally in the Middle East, though human rights groups have documented Jordan’s role in the agency’s rendition efforts. And any mention of Libya’s assistance in shuttling detainees, back before strongman Muammar Gaddafi was brought down with the help of U.S. airstrikes, is missing, too.

Those deletions may please some CIA defenders and Obama administration officials who are leery of upsetting relations with foreign partners, even less than savory ones. But former intelligence officials, including those ultimately responsible for running the program, still found plenty to dislike about the Senate Democrats’ report, which they called flawed and biased and said leaves out many key parts of the story.

“No one should blindly accept the Committee’s assertions without a careful reading of the rebuttals by the [Republican] Minority, the current CIA leadership, and other documents that are being released in conjunction with the publication of the Majority’s deeply flawed report,” former CIA director George Tenet, who led the agency when the program started, said in a statement Tuesday.

Said another former senior official, “Many conclusions are simply wrong. And a good chunk of the story is missing.” For starters, there is no sense of the “context of the times in which this decision to use these techniques was made,” the former official said. Three thousand people had just been killed and there was “credible reporting of a second wave attack,” as well as reporting that Osama bin Laden had been meeting with nuclear scientists to try to get his hands on material for a weapon, he said.

CIA unlikely to lose power in wake of interrogation report

CIA unlikely to lose power in wake of interrogation report

The release of a searing report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA’s interrogation program Tuesday was the latest morale-sinking moment for an agency that has been buffeted repeatedly throughout its history, from the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the Nixon-era domestic abuses to the 1980s scandals tied to Iran and Latin America.

If anything, the cycle has only been compressed in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with at least four major investigations, not to mention criminal probes, during a frenetic 13-year span. That collection now includes a 528-page account of alleged CIA abuses and dishonesty in its brutal treatment of terrorism suspects.

The Senate report is a substantial blow to the CIA’s reputation, one that raises fundamental questions about the extent to which the agency can be trusted. And yet, as in those previous instances of political and public outrage, the agency is expected to emerge from the investigatory rubble with its role and power in Washington largely intact.

Indeed, the CIA is in many ways at a position of unmatched power. Its budgets have been swollen by billions of dollars in counterterrorism expenditures. Its workforce has surged. Its overseas presence has expanded. And its arsenal now includes systems, including a fleet of armed drones, that would have made prior generations of CIA leaders gasp.

In part, that is because despite the deep fissures between the CIA and the Senate panel that issued the excoriating interrogation report, the two sides have largely compartmentalized their differences, giving the agency deep congressional backing on a range of covert programs.

Overseas, Torture Report Prompts Calls for Prosecution

Overseas, Torture Report Prompts Calls for Prosecution

The release of the Senate report on the graphic torture of terrorism suspects by the Bush-era Central Intelligence Agency led to calls at the United Nations and elsewhere on Tuesday for criminal prosecutions and caused an international explosion on social media, including online jihadist exhortations for retaliation.

The State Department warned American citizens in at least two countries where the torture and abuse took place — Thailand and Afghanistan — that they could be confronted with anti-American hostility.

Publicity about the report, the United States Embassy in Bangkok warned on its website, “could prompt anti-U.S. protests and violence against U.S. interests, including private U.S. citizens.”

In Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s special investigator on counterterrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, said he welcomed the report and commended the Obama administration for having resisted political pressures to suppress it.

Mr. Emmerson, who has long advocated the report’s release, said the United States was obliged, under international law, to hold the wrongdoers accountable.

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” Mr. Emmerson said in a statement posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever,” he said. “Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Rick Perry says he’s a ‘substantially different’ candida

Rick Perry, hungry for redemption, says he’s a ‘substantially different’ candidate

The man who could be president is ambling through the Texas governor’s mansion on his own, whistling “Frosty the Snowman” as he approaches the parlor to greet a reporter.

Gov. Rick Perry (R) leads a tour and points out a historically inaccurate depiction of frontiersman Davy Crockett in an oil painting in the foyer (“His coonskin cap — that’s a myth”). In Sam Houston’s bedroom upstairs, Perry lifts an antique upholstered settee, a gift from the French, to read an engraving signifying Texas’s early-1800s ties to France. He shows off a Civil War-era saber that belonged to a Union general and mentions having just read a thesis on race in America that his friend’s black father wrote in 1970.

Rick Perry is trying to show that he is not the Rick Perry you remember. Gone, it seems, is the blustery bravado, the empty rhetoric, the cowboy boots — and, yes, the “oops” moments. This Perry comes across as studious, contemplative and humble. He said he is at peace with his 2012 presidential campaign, in which his shoot-first-aim-later approach proved catastrophic, but is hungry to redeem himself.

As Perry packs his belongings at the governor’s mansion after 14 years in office, he is undergoing exhaustive preparations to run again for president in 2016. He is striving to make a better second impression than his first one.

“We are a substantially different, versed candidate,” he said. He noted that other politicians who endure such humiliation might “scurry off to the quietness and the comfort of some obscure place, and I wasn’t interested in doing that. I think that this country is begging for leadership.”

Diane Feinstein, seeking legacy, craps on CIA's carpet

For Dianne Feinstein, C.I.A. Torture Report’s Release Is a Signal Moment

After months of infighting and uncertainty, Senator Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday took to the Senate floor to condemn what she described as “brutality in stark contrast to our values as a nation” during the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation of terrorism detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Her speech, coming as the summary of a 6,000-page report on the interrogation program was made public, marked a signal moment both for Ms. Feinstein, the California Democrat who is the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, and for the committee, which faced strong resistance from the intelligence community in compiling the report and seeking to make it public.

“My words give me no pleasure,” said Ms. Feinstein, who spoke as many committee staff members watched from the floor. But she said history would judge the nation by its commitment to a “just society, a government of law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say never again.”

The senator, at 81 one of the oldest members of the Senate, acknowledged that there had been new pressure in recent days to withhold the report because of the possibility that it might provoke unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“This clearly is a period of turmoil and instability in many parts of the world,” Ms. Feinstein said. “Unfortunately, that is going to continue for the foreseeable future whether this report is released or not.”

Senate Torture Report: No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture

Senate Torture Report: No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture

By David Corn

The CIA disagrees—and in a footnote, the Senate intelligence committee says the agency is still wrong.

After Osama bin Laden was killed by US special operations forces, the pro-torture CIA crowd pointed to the raid as evidence that human rights-abusing questioning can produce essential intelligence. And this debate was revived when the film Zero Dark Thirty implied the same point. During these dust-ups, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said her committee's years-long investigation of the CIA interrogation program showed that the agency's use of harsh techniques did not lead it to bin Laden's hideaway in Pakistan. The torture report she released today—that is, the 535-page executive summary of the 6,600-page full report—states bluntly that CIA torturing had nothing to do with finding bin Laden. A footnote reports that the CIA, naturally, takes issues with this and says the committee report "incorrectly characterizes the intelligence we had." That footnote adds, "This is incorrect."

Here's the blow-by-blow. After the bin Laden raid, according to the report, CIA officials, in classified briefings to the committee, said that intelligence related to the CIA's so-called enhanced interrogation techniques was used to locate the al Qaeda chieftain, referred to as UBL in the report. The committee says this "was inaccurate and incongruent" with the CIA's own records.


The report notes that days after the raid, CIA officials said that terrorist suspects held by the agency had provided the "tip off" regarding al-Kuwaiti, the bin Laden courier. The committee, though, found that the "initial intelligence" and the "most valuable" information on al-Kuwaiti was not related to the torture program. The CIA, according to the report, had collected "significant reporting" on al-Kuwaiti and his close links to bin Laden prior to receiving any information in 2003 from CIA-held detainees. As early as the start of 2002, a phone number associated with al-Kuwaiti was under "government intelligence collection." By monitoring this number, the report notes, US intelligence identified al-Kuwaiti as someone to watch.

n July 2002, the CIA slyly obtained an email address believed to be associated with al-Kuwaiti and within a month was tracking his email activity. That summer, the CIA received reports that originated with detainees held by other governments that al-Kuwaiti was associated with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected architect of the 9/11 attacks. Throughout 2002, the agency also had gathered "significant corroborative reporting" on al-Kuwaiti's age, physical appearance, and family. Other reports from foreign governments indicated al-Kuwaiti was a courier for bin Laden. So the CIA, according to the report, had been on to him for a while before it received any info from a detainee within its own custody.

But after the bin Laden raid, the report says, CIA officials briefed the committee and "indicated that CIA detainee information—and the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques—played a substantial role in developing intelligence that led to the UBL operation." This testimony, the report says, "contained significant inaccurate information." One example: the CIA told the committee that al-Kuwaiti had "totally dropped off our radar in about 2002-2003 time frame after several detainees in our custody had highlighted him as a key facilitator for bin Laden." [Committee's emphasis.] Nope, the committee says, no CIA detainee had provided information related to al-Kuwaiti in 2002. Moreover, it notes, "the majority of the accurate intelligence acquired on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was collected outside of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, either from detainees not in CIA custody, or from other intelligence sources and methods unrelated to detainees, to include human sources and foreign partners."

A CIA detainee named Hassan Ghul in early 2004 did tell the CIA that al-Kuwaiti was a "close assistant" who was likely handling "all of UBL's needs." He also reported that "UBL's security apparatus would be minimal, and the the group likely lived in a house with a family somewhere in Pakistan." Yet, according to the report, he told this to the CIA before being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.

The report challenges a statement then-CIA chief Leon Panetta made to Congress days after the bin Laden raid: "The detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us that there were individuals that provided direct support to bin Laden...and one of those identified was a courier who had the nickname Abu-Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. That was back in 2002." Not so, the report insists. And it gets worse. At a post-raid briefing a senator—unnamed in the report—asked, "Was any of this information obtained through [enhanced] interrogation measures?" A CIA officer—unnamed in the report—replied, "Senator, these individuals were in our program and were subject to some form of enhanced interrogation." The committee dryly states, that information "is not fully congruent with CIA records." It adds that the CIA's own records show that those CIA detainees who were tortured provided "fabricated, inconsistent, and generally unreliable information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti throughout their detention."

The Sneaky New Way Republicans Could Sabotage Obamacare

The Sneaky New Way Republicans Could Sabotage Obamacare

By Erika Eichelberge

GOPers have the power to make the health care law look much more costly than it actually is.

Now that Republicans control Congress, they're again threatening to end Obamacare. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed to hold a repeal vote when Republicans take over the upper chamber in January, adding that GOPers "will go at that law…in every way that we can." Obamacare is not going anywhere as long as President Barack Obama is in office. But there is a sneakier way GOPers could deal a blow to the health care law in the next two years: They can make the law look more costly than it is, boosting the case for dismantling it.

In 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—which produces official budget projections—calculated that the combined effect of the tax increases and spending cuts in the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit by $109 billion over the next decade. (This is the CBO's most recent estimate.) Conservatives cried foul, saying that the CBO double-counted savings in the law and ignored billions in health care spending in order to make the economic effects of the law seem rosier than they were. They charged that Obamacare actually adds billions to the deficit. The CBO and other economists say these assertions are nonsense. But Republicans kept complaining. Now that they control both houses of Congress, they can do something about it. All GOPers have to do is install a new CBO director who is willing to change the agency's budget math to make it appear that Obamacare adds to the deficit. Republican leaders are reportedly considering roughly a dozen candidates to replace the current CBO chief, Doug Elmendorf, and conservatives are demanding a new director who doesn't "cook the books" on Obamacare.

In a letter to House and Senate GOP leadership last month, conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist called Elmendorf's analysis of how Obamacare would affect the budget a "facade" and urged Republicans to replace him. Democrats fear that Republicans will appoint someone who is willing to change the math to make Obamacare look more expensive, according to a congressional aide. At least one of the candidates Republicans are reportedly considering—James Capretta, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute—is on record claiming the law increases the deficit.

Senate Faults C.I.A. Deceit and Brutality

Senate Faults C.I.A. Deceit and Brutality

A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.

The long-delayed report, which took five years to produce and is based on more than six million internal agency documents, is a sweeping indictment of the C.I.A.'s operation and oversight of a program carried out by agency officials and contractors in secret prisons around the world in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It also provides a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects.

Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.'s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.'s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.”

The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water at the prison in Afghanistan commonly known as the Salt Pit — a facility where the C.I.A. had claimed that waterboarding was never used. One clandestine officer described the prison as a “dungeon,” and another said that some prisoners there “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”

During his administration, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the detention and interrogation program, which President Obama dismantled when he succeeded him, was humane and legal. The intelligence gleaned during interrogations, he said, was instrumental both in thwarting terrorism plots and in capturing senior figures of Al Qaeda.

Mr. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and a number of former C.I.A. officials have said more recently that the program was essential for ultimately finding Osama bin Laden, who was killed by members of the Navy SEALs in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The Intelligence Committee’s report tries to refute each of these claims, using the C.I.A.'s internal records to present 20 case studies that bolster its conclusion that the most extreme interrogation methods played no role in disrupting terrorism plots, capturing terrorist leaders — even finding Bin Laden.

A satellite image of a prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit. The C.I.A. said the prison never used waterboarding, but the Senate Intelligence Committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard there surrounded by buckets of water.

In the report’s foreword, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said that she “could understand the C.I.A.'s impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield, and C.I.A. was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack.”

“Nevertheless,” she continued, “such pressure, fear and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security. The major lesson of this report is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the intelligence community’s actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards.”

Ms. Feinstein is expected to speak about the report in the Senate on Tuesday.

The C.I.A. issued an angry response to the report, saying in a statement that it “tells part of the story,” but that “there are too many flaws for it to stand as the official record of the program.”

The response acknowledged mistakes in the detention and interrogation program and in the agency’s analysis of the information gathered in interrogations. But, the agency said, “we still must question a report that impugns the integrity of so many C.I.A. officers when it implies — as it does clearly through the conclusions — that the agency’s assessments were willfully misrepresented in a calculated effort to manipulate.”

Should the Democrats Give Up on the South?

Should the Democrats Give Up on the South?

By John Cassidy

What now for the battered Democrats? After Mary Landrieu’s heavy loss to Bill Cassidy, her Republican opponent, in Saturday’s runoff election in Louisiana, the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate will have just forty-six members, including two independents, and none at all from the Deep South. Indeed, Democratic senators are scarce anywhere below the 37th Parallel and east of the Rockies: if you draw a line from the southern border of Colorado to the Atlantic Coast in Virginia, the only states that have any are New Mexico, Missouri, Virginia, and Florida. It’s otherwise a solid phalanx of red.

And, of course, it is not just the Senate. Come January, according to a tally by the Wall Street Journal, the G.O.P. will control a hundred and one of the hundred and thirty-eight Southern seats in the House of Representatives. Every Southern state except Virginia and Kentucky will have a Republican governor. Back in 1961, when John F. Kennedy entered the White House, the Democrats controlled all twenty-two Senate seats from the South and ninety-nine of the hundred and five Southern seats in the House. To oversimplify things a bit—but only a bit—the historic political realignment that began sixty years ago, with the rise of the civil-rights movement, is now complete.

So where do the Democrats go from here? In an anguished and pointed column on the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky, the liberal journalist, says the Party should “dump Dixie” and concentrate its electoral efforts on other parts of the country. “Practically the whole region,” Tomasky writes, “has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment…. Forget about it. Forget about the whole fetid place. Write it off. Let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise.”

One year later, Senate's 'nuclear option' has worked. Is that good?

One year later, Senate's 'nuclear option' has worked. Is that good?

By Francine Kiefer

Just over a year ago, Senate Democrats went "nuclear," changing the rules to make it far easier to confirm most presidential nominees – from judges to cabinet secretaries. Republicans, in response, went ballistic, issuing doomsday warnings of the move's consequences. Now, they may well keep the rule change.

Hypocrisy? Or practicality?

Continuing it would certainly go against the grain of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pledge to restore the Senate to its traditional ways of working. The Republican from Kentucky, who will lead the Senate when the GOP takes control Jan. 6, plans to bring the subject up with his caucus Tuesday.

But the spokesman for the current Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, says the nuclear option – which removed the threat of a blocking filibuster from all nominees except for the Supreme Court – was “unequivocally” worth it. The change to simple majority approval smoothed the gears of the Senate, allowing easier confirmation of nominees.

The move allowed Democrats to alleviate the “emergency” in judicial vacancies in federal courts, fill vacancies in the crucial federal circuit court of appeals that hears challenges to executive actions, and confirm key nominees, such as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who was charged with planning the president’s executive action on immigration, writes spokesman Adam Jentleson in an email.

Indeed, the 113th Congress (2013-2014) has had a 95 percent rate of confirmation for judicial appointees – “unheard of,” according to Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution.

In short, why wouldn't a majority leader want to keep the Senate's new confirmation rule?

CIA's brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report

CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia

CIA's brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report

Spencer Ackerman in New York

Report released by Senate after four-year, $40m investigation concludes CIA repeatedly lied about brutal techniques in years after 9/11

After examining 20 case studies, the report found that torture “regularly resulted in fabricated information,” said committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, in a statement summarizing the findings.

“During the brutal interrogations the CIA was often unaware the information was fabricated.”

The torture that the CIA carried out was even more extreme than what it portrayed to congressional overseers and the George W Bush administration, the committee found. It went beyond techniques already made public through a decade of leaks and lawsuits, which had revealed that agency interrogators subjected detainees to quasi-drowning, staged mock executions, and revved power drills near their heads.

The committee’s findings, which the CIA largely rejects, are the result of a four-year, $40m investigation that plunged relations between the spy agency and the Senate committee charged with overseeing it to a historic low.

The investigation that led to the report, and the question of how much of the document would be released and when, has pitted chairwoman Feinstein and her committee allies against the CIA and its White House backers. For 10 months, with the blessing of President Barack Obama, the agency has fought to conceal vast amounts of the report from the public, with an entreaty to Feinstein from secretary of state John Kerry occurring as recently as Friday.

CIA director John Brennan, an Obama confidante, conceded in a Tuesday statement that the program “had shortcomings and that the agency made mistakes” owing from what he described as unpreparedness for a massive interrogation and detentions program. prepares $1m push for Warren presidential run

Senator Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly said she will not enter the 2016 presidential race prepares $1m push for Warren presidential run

By Jessica Meyers, a liberal group, said it is prepared to invest at least $1 million in an effort aimed at convincing Sen. Elizabeth Warren to enter the 2016 presidential race.

The Massachusetts Democrat has repeatedly said she will not enter the race. She told the Globe earlier this year, “There is no wiggle room. I am not running for president. No means no.”

The action by, which it calls “Run Warren Run,” nonetheless reflects growing support for Warren’s brand of economic populism, and interest in an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has her own crop of unofficial encouragers in “Ready for Hillary.”’s members will start to vote Tuesday on whether to launch a campaign and announce the results Wednesday morning. If approved, they will set up staff in caucus states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, assemble a national crew of volunteers, and unleash a wave of ads.

Dems did funnel money to 'independent' in Kansas Senate race

Dems funneled money to 'independent' Orman

Yes, Dems did funnel money to 'independent' in Kansas Senate race

By Byron York

Anyone who followed this year's Senate race in Kansas — the one longtime GOP incumbent Pat Roberts appeared to be losing to Greg Orman, the businessman running as an independent — knows Orman and his supporters vigorously denied Roberts' allegation that Orman was really a Democrat running to further the Democratic agenda.

"By word, by deed, by campaign contribution, this man is a liberal Democrat," Roberts said of Orman during a debate in October. "A vote for Greg Orman is a vote to extend the Barack Obama/Harry Reid agenda."

Not true, Orman answered. "The senator can say that over and over again, but it doesn't make it so."

What voters did not know was at that very moment, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid's political action committee, the Senate Majority PAC, was preparing to pour more than a million dollars into the pro-Orman effort in Kansas. Reid was just waiting to make sure the donations came so late in the campaign that the public wouldn't find out about them until after the election. 

The key day was Oct. 16. Election law stipulates that any contribution received before Oct. 16 had to be publicly disclosed to the Federal Elections Commission before election day. But anything received on Oct. 16 or later would not be disclosed until after voters went to the polls.

Stung by Roberts' criticism, Kansas Democrats were putting out the story that the party wasn't helping Orman, even though Reid and his colleagues had forced the actual Democratic candidate out of the race because they believed Orman had a better chance of beating Roberts. Word was that the outside groups supporting Orman, one called the Committee to Elect an Independent Senate and another called Kansans Support Problem Solvers PAC, weren't getting help from the big Democratic organizations.

Republicans clash on reversing nuclear option in Senate

Republicans clash on reversing nuclear option in Senate

By Alexander Bolton

Republicans are split over whether to change the Senate’s rules to allow filibusters on executive and judicial nominations.

As they head into a conference meeting on Tuesday, some Republicans say it’s time to undo a wrong committed by Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and go back to rules that require 60 votes to clear most nominees.

The GOP was outraged last year after Reid and Democrats used a procedural move known as the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change the Senate’s rules to deprive the minority from being able to block most of President Obama’s nominations.

“I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said when asked about reversing the rule change.

“If we don’t, then disregard every bit of complaint that we made, not only after they did it but also during the campaign,” he added. “I’m stunned that some people want to keep it.”

But other Republicans say now that Democrats have changed the rules to allow nominations aside from those to the Supreme Court to clear by majority vote, the GOP should go with the flow.

“I’m leaning toward leaving it alone,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

American Lives Will Be Saved, Not Lost, If We Release the Senate Torture Report

abu ghraib

American Lives Will Be Saved, Not Lost, If We Release the Senate Torture Report

By Kevin Drum

The Senate torture report seems likely to be published this week in some form or another, but there's already a campaign in full swing to keep it under wraps. Why? Because its release might put Americans in danger. 

"The cynicism necessary to attempt to blame the blowback from their torture program on those who want it exposed is truly a wonder. On one hand, they insist that they did nothing wrong and the program was humane, professional, and legal. On the other they implicitly accept that the truth is so ghastly that if it is released there will be an explosive backlash against America. Then the same officials who said “Freedom isn’t free!” as they sent other people’s children to fight in needless wars claim that the risk of violence against American embassies is too high a price to pay, so the details of what they did must be kept hidden."

There's another thing to be said about this: our conduct during the early years of the war on terror almost certainly inflamed our enemies, bolstered their recruitment, and prolonged the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. This cost thousands of American lives.

President Obama may have banned torture during his administration, but is there any reason to think we've now given up torture for good? Not that I can tell, and it will cost many more thousands of American lives if it happens again. So for our own safety, even if for no other reason, we need to do everything we can to reduce the odds of America going on another torture spree.

The Long, Overdue Death of the Southern Democrats

The Long, Overdue Death of the Southern Democrats

By Jonathan Chait

Mary Landrieu’s defeat last weekend marked a final, anticlimactic end to an epoch in American politics. After Landrieu’s defeat, Republicans now control every state legislature and governorship in the Deep South. The only states anywhere in the former Confederacy where Democrats hold a governorship or a Senate seat are Virginia and Florida — both of which, as Nate Cohn points out, have a majority of residents born outside those states. Democrats had pinned their hopes on a series of scions — Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Michelle Nunn, Jason Carter — whose fathers had won in an era when Democrats carried those states, in the hopes of summoning their expired familial loyalties.

It is possible to view the decline of southern Democrats as a tragedy born of error. Kevin Baker, writing in the New York Times last month, lamented the Democrats’ loss of their ancestral heartland as the product of a misguided abandonment of economic populism. The real anomaly is that the Democrats managed to hold out in the Deep South so very, very long.

Barack Obama ran for presidency hoping to transcend old divisions, but his presidency has ironically lent renewed vigor to the most ancient division in American politics. The tea party, which presents itself as the heirs to the Founding Fathers, is actually an heir to one side of the American argument. One tradition bore intense suspicion of centralized government, venerated farmers and rural life, believed the Constitution forbade Congress from all but a handful of specifically enumerated fields of activity, felt comfortable with aggression and violence in both domestic life and foreign affairs, and defended existing social institutions against racial minorities and their allies. This political coalition has always had its strongest base in the Deep South. It is right-wing.

The other tradition advocated a stronger federal government (and deemed this expanded role Constitutional), considered public investment and education the best method of securing prosperity, was more averse to territorial conflict with neighbors, and was more solicitous of racial minorities. This coalition has always had its strongest base in New England. It is left-wing.
ACLU's Anthony D. Romero: Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured

Pardon Bush and Those Who Tortured

BEFORE President George W. Bush left office, a group of conservatives lobbied the White House to grant pardons to the officials who had planned and authorized the United States torture program. My organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, found the proposal repugnant. Along with eight other human rights groups, we sent a letter to Mr. Bush arguing that granting pardons would undermine the rule of law and prevent Americans from learning what had been done in their names.

But with the impending release of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have come to think that President Obama should issue pardons, after all — because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.

That officials at the highest levels of government authorized and ordered torture is not in dispute. Mr. Bush issued a secret order authorizing the C.I.A. to build secret prisons overseas. The C.I.A. requested authority to torture prisoners in those “black sites.” The National Security Council approved the request. And the Justice Department drafted memos providing the brutal program with a veneer of legality.

My organization and others have spent 13 years arguing for accountability for these crimes. We have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor or the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, or both. But those calls have gone unheeded. And now, many of those responsible for torture can’t be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.

To his credit, Mr. Obama disavowed torture immediately after he took office, and his Justice Department withdrew the memorandums that had provided the foundation for the torture program. In a speech last year at the National Defense University, Mr. Obama said that “we compromised our basic values — by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.”

But neither he nor the Justice Department has shown any appetite for holding anyone accountable. When the department did conduct an investigation, it appeared not to have interviewed any of the prisoners who were tortured. And it repeatedly abused the “state secrets” privilege to derail cases brought by prisoners — including Americans who were tortured as “enemy combatants.”

What is the difference between this — essentially granting tacit pardons for torture — and formally pardoning those who authorized torture? In both cases, those who tortured avoid accountability.

But with the tacit pardons, the president leaves open the very real possibility that officials will resurrect the torture policies in the future. Indeed, many former C.I.A. and other government officials continue to insist that waterboarding and other forms of torture were lawful. Were our military to capture a senior leader of the Islamic State who was believed to have valuable information, some members of Congress would no doubt demand that our interrogators use precisely the barbaric and illegal methods that the Obama administration has disavowed.

The Obama administration could still take measures to hold accountable the officials who authorized torture. Some of the statutes of limitations have run out, but not all of them have. And the release of the Senate’s report provides a blueprint for criminal investigations, even if that’s not what the intelligence committee set out to do.

But let’s face it: Mr. Obama is not inclined to pursue prosecutions — no matter how great the outrage, at home or abroad, over the disclosures — because of the political fallout. He should therefore take ownership of this decision. He should acknowledge that the country’s most senior officials authorized conduct that violated fundamental laws, and compromised our standing in the world as well as our security. If the choice is between a tacit pardon and a formal one, a formal one is better. An explicit pardon would lay down a marker, signaling to those considering torture in the future that they could be prosecuted.

Mr. Obama could pardon George J. Tenet for authorizing torture at the C.I.A.’s black sites overseas, Donald H. Rumsfeld for authorizing the use of torture at the Guantánamo Bay prison, David S. Addington, John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee for crafting the legal cover for torture, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for overseeing it all.

While the idea of a pre-emptive pardon may seem novel, there is precedent. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers as a step toward unity and reconstruction after the Civil War. Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for the crimes of Watergate. Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft resisters.

The spectacle of the president’s granting pardons to torturers still makes my stomach turn. But doing so may be the only way to ensure that the American government never tortures again. Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed; that the individuals who authorized and committed torture were indeed criminals; and that future architects and perpetrators of torture should beware. Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all.

Anthony D. Romero is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

White House and Republicans Clash Over C.I.A. Torture Report

White House and Republicans Clash Over C.I.A. Torture Report

With the long-awaited Senate report on the use of torture by the United States government — a detailed account that will shed an unsparing light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s darkest practices after the September 2001 terrorist attacks — set to be released Tuesday, the Obama administration and its Republican critics clashed over the wisdom of making it public, and the risk that it will set off a backlash overseas.

While the United States has put diplomatic facilities and military bases on alert for heightened security risks, administration officials said they do not expect the report — or rather the declassified executive summary of it that will be released Tuesday morning — to ignite the kind of violence that killed four Americans at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Such violent reprisals, they said, tend to be fueled more by perceived attacks against Islam as a religion than by violence against individual Muslims.

But some leading Republican lawmakers have warned against releasing the report, saying that domestic and foreign intelligence reports indicate that a detailed account of the brutal interrogation methods used by the C.I.A. during the George W. Bush administration could incite unrest and violence, even resulting in the deaths of Americans.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney added his voice to those of other Bush administration officials defending the C.I.A., declaring in an interview Monday that its harsh interrogations a decade ago were “absolutely, totally justified,” and dismissing allegations that the agency withheld information from the White House or inflated the value of its methods.


The White House acknowledged that the report could pose a “greater risk” to American installations and personnel in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Iraq. But it said that the government had months to plan for the reverberations from its report — indeed, years — and that those risks should not delay the release of the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “When would be a good time to release this report?” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, asked. “It’s difficult to imagine one, particularly given the painful details that will be included.”

But he added, “The president believes it is important for us to be as transparent as we possibly can about what exactly transpired, so we can just be clear to the American public and people around the world that something like this should not happen again.”

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