Did the CIA or SSCI Report win the torture debate? Sen. Feinstein's report is more Rohrschach test than smoking gun, unlikely to change opinions on either side.
Latest in Interrogation: Abuses
A little over a week ago, the law firm Sidley Austin LLP submitted its "Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture" to the APA Board of Directors. Today, the report was released to the public along with a story in the New York Times summarizing its contents. The APA commissioned the report after a heated debate within the organization about whether ethics guidelines developed in 2005 were designed to facilitate toture by the
During a February congressional hearing on the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, discussion turned—as it invariably does—to the detention facility’s role in jihadist propaganda.
Correspondence finds its way into your inbox, bearing the signature of the newly-installed Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Richard Burr.
On December 30, the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Dianne Feinstein, sent a letter to the White House.
The document---which was released earlier today---overviews a number of proposed reforms to U.S. interrogation, detention and other practices, the idea being to give effect to recommendations made in the SSCI's torture report.
The Senator's letter says, in full:
December 30, 2014
Having started this series of posts by focusing on the aspect of the SSCI's report on which the committee majority is strongest---the program's brutality---I want to turn now to the aspects of the committee's work on which, to my mind at least, its report is less persuasive.
I want to begin my review of the SSCI interrogation report and the responses from the CIA and the SSCI minority by addressing the area in which, in my view, the majority report is strongest: the allegation that the treatment of detainees was far more abusive, far less controlled, and far more brutal than the CIA has acknowledged.
It’s now been 10 days since the release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) study of the CIA detainee program—almost certainly to be known to posterity as the “torture report.” One of the emerging themes of much of the commentary the report has precipitated is what might best be called “torture agnosticism”—where commentators profess that they either don’t or can’t know whether torture is ever “effective,” and so are reluctant to take a categorical position as to t
Polarization surrounding the SSCI Report (see here for Lawfare’s coverage) has been most pronounced on the efficacy of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs). The Report and its supporters have proclaimed that EITs never produce useful information. Unfortunately, that pat assertion undermines the possibility of a consensus on future interrogation tactics, including a consensus that rules out coercion.
I have now spent enough quality time with the SSCI interrogation report---and with minority views and the CIA response---that I am ready to begin commenting upon it. This is not to say I have finished reading it all; far from it. A plane flight to Israel and a lot of other hours have only gotten me started.