This is the first time opponents of the CIA’s torture program will have the chance to seek discovery evidence in the case unimpeded by the government.
the new head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, demanded that all the federal government agencies that received the report should return it to him so he can destroy it and make sure that no one ever sees what’s in the report.
In remarks in Iowa, Jeb celebrated all his brother did “to create a secure environment for our country” after 9/11.
For quite some time now, there have been serious questions about how how the US was able to track down Osama bin Laden’s “hiding place” to send in special forces to kill him. The story many people have heard was that the CIA was able to identify the “courier” who was used to help bin Laden communicate with the outside world, and then used that info to figure out where he was. And, a big part of that story — especially as immortalized in the movie Zero Dark Thirty — was that the CIA’s torture program was instrumental in revealing that information. However, even before the big Senate Intelligence Committee study on the torture program was released, it was revealed that the torture program had nothing to do with identifying the courier, known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
However, as you may have heard over the weekend, Seymour Hersh published a somewhat epic story, arguing that almost everything about the bin Laden killing was a lie, and a bunch of stories — including everything about al-Kuwaiti — were made up after the fact. Hersh’s story is well worth reading (as are some of the criticisms of it that question some of the details). But one key aspect of the report is that finding a courier had absolutely nothing to do with finding bin Laden. Instead, it was a so-called “walk in” — a Pakistani intelligence official who knew that Pakistan already had captured bin Laden — who reached out to the US, seeking the $25 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s whereabouts.
In other words, even the Senate’s torture report gets the story wrong completely. In the Senate report, the identifying of al-Kuwaiti came from traditional interrogation, rather than the torture part. The CIA’s response was basically that it was the torture part (the bad cop) that enabled the information to come out separately (good cop). But Hersh’s report says the whole courier story is made up whole cloth. While some have questioned the details of Hersh’s report, there’s now independent verification from other sources to NBC that bin Laden was actually found via a “walk-in,” rather than the courier (warning: stupid NBC autoplay video at that link).
In Hersh’s version, the plan had been to kill bin Laden, and later (perhaps weeks later) come up with a story saying bin Laden had been killed by a drone strike. A few things went wrong — including one of the US helicopters famously crashing, and there was enough buzz that the US rushed to publicly announce the killing, including Obama’s famous speech that, apparently, created havoc since it messed up a bunch of previously agreed to things about how the killing would be presented, and was done without first clearing it with the intelligence community. This resulted in the CIA being rushed in to concoct some cover stories, and some CIA officials quickly realized that this would be a fantastic way to pretend that torture had been useful
In rare remarks about a sensitive issue, the director of the CIA confirmed today that the U.S. government works with foreign intelligence agencies to capture and jointly interrogate suspected terrorists.
“There are places throughout the world where CIA has worked with other intelligence services and has been able to bring people into custody and engage in the debriefings of these individuals … through our liaison partners, and sometimes there are joint debriefings that take place as well,” said John Brennan, the CIA director, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Brennan’s remarks confirm what journalists have long reported: that the Obama administration sometimes helps other countries do the dirty work of snatching and interrogating terror suspects — keeping the U.S. at arm’s length from operations that are ethically and legally dubious.
During a question-and-answer session, it was Fox News’ Megyn Kelley who questioned Brennan about “capturing terrorists.”
“Are we still doing that?” she asked. “And where are we keeping them and how are we interrogating them?”
Brennan responded that the U.S. is able to work with “partners” to “identify individuals and to have them captured … although there are not a lot of public pieces on Fox News about somebody that might be picked up in different parts of the world.”
In one of his first moves after taking office in 2009, President Obama famously shut down the CIA’s Black Site program, which was begun under President George W. Bush. After 9/11, more than 100 alleged terrorists were captured and sent to secret CIA-run detention centers where they were tortured and interrogated by agency operatives.
Although the Black Sites have been shut down and no new prisoners sent to Guantánamo Bay, detentions of terrorists — and attacks against them — remain a murky issue. The administration has brought several alleged terrorists to face trial in the United States, and it has killed thousands more in drone strikes, along with hundreds of civilians. Obama has also maintained the authority (as President Bill Clinton did in the 1990s) to render people to third countries, where laws are looser.
The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and others have detailed cases during the Obama administration in which terror suspects were held in foreign custody at the behest of the U.S. In 2011, Scahill reported for The Nation on a secret prison in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Though officially run by the Somali government, Scahill wrote, “US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners” at the facility.