No looking back: the CIA torture report’s aftermath


The CIA attacks the Senates published findings on torture, a report that was the result of six years of work by Daniel Jones. Now he sets out to defend it

I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world. The United States does not torture, said George W Bush on 6 September 2006.

Bush was, for the first time, acknowledging the existence of the program that Senate intelligence committee staff investigator Daniel Jones would later expose as taking power drills to the heads of captured men; making them stand with their arms stretched above their heads for days at a time; leaving at least one of them naked until he froze to death; waterboarding them to the point of catatonia as bubbles rose from their open mouths; and inserting pureed food into their rectums while claiming it was necessary for delivering nutrients.

Details of those procedures were outlined in the 525 pages which CIA director John Brennan, Barack Obama and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough allowed to become public.

The CIAs response to Joness report was split into two corps, one official and one not. The agency itself would no longer defend torture outright because that would contradict the Obama White Houses position on the unacceptability of torture. Instead, the agency would say that tortured men produced valuable intelligence, just not necessarily as the result of torture, and that the Senate could not definitively prove the torture did not produce valuable intelligence.

Brennan gave a press conference following the release of the report in December 2014. It began with him spending five minutes reciting the unfolding developments of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and crescendoed with him calling the relationship between torture and useful intelligence unknowable. Jones boss, the driving force behind the report, California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein unexpectedly live-tweeted responses to Brennans press conference as it progressed, creating the hashtag #ReadTheReport.

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