The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on CIA Detention and Interrogation
Attorney Michael Ratner:
The Senate Committee on Intelligence started the investigation in 2007 after 92 tapes of waterboarding were destroyed by the CIA.
That’s where the investigation began. In 2009, the Senate Committee, still controlled by the Democrats, spent 4 years going through millions of documents at a high cost to try and come out with a report on the CIA’s role in what they called detention and interrogation program.
After 4 years they came out with a 6,700-page report in 2012 and they decided only to release the executive summary.
Obama himself actually supported having more and more redactions.
The redactions are stupid. Everybody in my field knows that “Cobalt” refers to what’s called the Salt Pit in Afghanistan which is a CIA-run detention facility north of Kabal, a torture facility.
Even if lives were saved, it’s flatly illegal. You can’t kill a million civilians because you want to save some of your soldiers.
In the report they said that the CIA said before 9/11 that torture doesn’t work, it’s not effective.
What Marnia Lazreg said in her book about torture in Algeria – she said it wasn’t really about information, it was about a macho empire that was in decline.
What are you saying here – except this is about torturing Muslims, it’s about empire, and it’s about telling the world, you fall into our hands, we’re going to torture you.
What they did was on the highest levels of the CIA, they went to places like the New York Times and the Washington Post and they wanted to be identified as a “high level official” and they leaked the stories of what they were doing in a way that would give them credit for it.
I’m not hopeless about prosecutions; maybe not here, but somewhere in the world these people will be held accountable.
This is only talking about what the CIA did at 9 dark sites around the world. The point I want to make is that there was torture going on at other places.
700 people went through Guantanamo, that’s the Rumsfeld techniques. Torture at Abu Gharib, torture at other U.S. prisons.
We’re talking about a very small subset of U.S. torture.
The CIA cited an Israeli Supreme Court ruling to justify torture. The Israeli ruling is that you can’t use torture except where there’s no other available means to prevent harm to other people.
There’s no such thing as a ticking time bomb scenario that allows you to use torture.
Attorney Michael Smith:
- The lying was more than I thought. The brutality was more than I thought. The corruption was more than I thought.
- On the lying, the report says no lives were saved as consequence of this program. We knew about waterboarding but we didn’t know about rectal feeding or rectal hydration, where they left one man with a prolapsed rectum, which means it’s hanging out.
- We didn’t know about killing people by chaining them to the floor in a cold room and dousing them with water.
- This program was run by 2 amateur psychologists, who didn’t know anything about Arab culture, who didn’t know anything about interrogation.
- They set up a corporation and the government gave them $81 million of our dollars to run this thing from 2001 to 2007; if you do the numbers these guys probably made $5 million dollars a year, less expenses.
- This is the most violent country in the world. The CIA is the epitome of this. Torture is illegal under American law, under international law. People who do it should be prosecuted.
- People who authorize it should be prosecuted, and there’s no talk about that.
Attorney Heidi Boghosian:
- My number one takeaway is something we’ve been covering for years, that no actionable intelligence came out as a result of these heinous practices.
- What also offends me greatly is hearing George W. Bush’s response that anyone who buys into this report or gives in credence is somehow unpatriotic, which fits into the whole propaganda that we’ve been fed, that questioning anything the government does is an offense or an affront.
- These companies are profiting from torture.
A recent Vanity Fair article titled “DetenEric Garner’s Public Defender Says Cops and Prosecutors ‘Are a Team in Every Case'” exposes the secrecy and conflicts of interest within investigations of police violence and how seven of the ten most-sued police officers of the 35,000-member New York Police Department happen to be in Staten Island. The article was written by attorneys Bina Ahmad, Joseph Doyle, and Michael Rooney, public defenders in Staten Island with the Legal Aid Society. We also get a look inside grand jury proceedings and the often biased investigation from district attorney’s offices when looking into police wrongdoing. What steps are needed to structure fair court proceedings in these cases?
Attorney Bina Ahmad:
- Seven of the ten most-sued police officers of the 35,000-member New York Police Department happen to be in Staten Island.
- They still work there, they still testify in court, swear under oath that they’re telling the truth, they’re still violating our clients’ rights with impunity left and right, committing violent acts against them.
- The disparate treatment, of not only of the way our clients of color are treated, in a much more brutal way, but also in the way they’re charged and the plea offers that they’re given is very stark and very discriminatory, in my mind.
- Many of us here at Legal Aid and other criminal defense attorneys around the city, we try to get the personnel records of officers who have been accused of brutality or violating people’s Constitutional rights, and see what they’ve been disciplined for within the NYPD.
- Abuses include: strip-searching people on the street, full cavity search for people on routine stops, brutalizing people for not complying with a simple order.
- A few colleagues of mine had represented Eric Garner in the past. Attorney Joseph Doyle was working to take a case to trial for him. A lot of people knew Eric Garner, and they called him the “gentle giant.” A large man, but known to be gentle and sweet, father of six.
- When the news came out that he was killed, it was incredibly difficult for us. Not only for us but for our clients.
- To task a local DA’s office to prosecute one of their own, a local member of the local police department, particularly in such a small borough, you’re expecting them to prosecute a member of their own team.
- Every judge knows they have to recuse themselves from a case if they have a relationship with any of the parties involved.
- With the DA they don’t have that obligation. They work on cases together. They prep them for testifying at trial to be a prosecution witness.
- Chokeholds were banned as a practice a while ago as part of police protocol. The fact that a police used one was a violation of police protocol.
- We are not allowed in the grand jury room for any moment except for if your client chooses to testify. If our client chooses to testify, we can’t protect them at all.
- They take the stand, they’re cross-examined by the DA Everything they say can and will be used against them later.
- The DAs control everything: the narrative, what evidence is shown, what witnesses testify, what questions the witness is asked.
- It would be up to the grand jury to feel empowered to ask more questions.
- Any eyewitness that would come in as a prosecution witness, where they’re supposed to be getting an indictment on a cop, they’ll be testifying for the prosecution but what we’ve seen in these minutes is the way the district attorneys cross-examine these prosecution witnesses – they’re acting like they’re cross examining them.
- They’re actually trying to break down their testimony or poke holes in their testimony.
- They suddenly become a defense attorney when the cop is on the line.
Foley Square Demonstration: Voices from the Protest
We hear some of the voices of demonstrators assembling at Foley Square during the first protest against the grand jury decision failing to indict those officers responsible for choking Eric Garner to death.