Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution

CIAsenate_large_sealWe previously discussed how CIA officials were accused of trying to intimidate Senate staffers working on an investigation into allegations of torture and lies by the agency officials. Now the details of that still classified report have been leaked to the media. For the Senate Intelligence Committee (long accused of being a rubber stamp for intelligence agencies), the report is quite damning. The Senate found a pattern of misinformation knowingly released by the CIA to convince the public that its torture program yielded valuable intelligence — and new forms of torture that have never been previously confirmed. What is most striking however is what is not in the report: a recommendation for criminal prosecution. Indeed, consistent with its past approach to intelligence abuses, the Committee does not recommend any action be taken against a single CIA official.

The investigation reportedly details how the CIA knowingly and methodically misled the government and the public about intelligence derived from torture. This was part of a concerted effort by CIA officials and Bush officials to claim that the killing of Osama Bin Laden and other intelligence victories only occurred due to the use of torture. Indeed, the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” was a disturbing revisionist film that directly linked torture derived information with the killing of Bin Laden despite an absence of any support for such a claim. The very persons who could have been prosecuted for the torture program have given countless interviews assuring the public that the torture was beneficial. Putting aside the question of why benefits from a torture program would accuse the crime, this report further confirms that these claims were untrue.

Notably, the report details how the CIA ordered the torture of cooperating captives and overruled officials who denounced the torture as immoral and ineffective. In one case, even CIA employees walked out of a torture session in Thailand in protest of the disgusting measures used by their government. These include new torture methods like the repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan while being beaten by a club and having his head slammed against the tank. The FBI repeatedly objected to the torture as unlawful and ineffectual. Indeed, former FBI agent Ali Soufan interrogated Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, the suspected al-Qaeda operative known as Abu Zubaida, after his capture in Pakistan in 2002. He said that Soufan was cooperating, gave valuable information, but the CIA insisted on torturing him anyway. The CIA later mixed the pre-torture evidence with the minor torture-derived evidence to suggest that torture was the reason for the intelligence.

The CIA is also accused of misrepresenting the value of prisoners to allow for torture when the prisoners were really minor captives. Thus, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was identified as the “mastermind” the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen when he was a minor captive.

220px-ZeroDarkThirty2012PosterIn direct contradiction to the film, the report also conclusively states that torture did not produce the information that led to the location of Osama Bin Laden. Instead, the detainee had already volunteered the information before his torture. The torture produced nothing of value. Yet, for many years to come, movie viewers will watch this film and conclude that torture paid off for the United States. That is truly a dark legacy for director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter by Mark Boal, who were celebrated by Hollywood at the time of the movie.

Former CIA interrogator named Charlie Wise is identified (as he has before) of being one of those responsible for the most egregious forms of torture. He was forced to retire in 2003. However, he was never prosecuted under our binding obligations under treaties. The penalty for torturing people was early retirement – not exactly what is called for under our treaties and international law. Wise later died of a heart attack. His protection from prosecution can be traced directly to President Obama. Since Obama ran on a civil liberties platform, many expected an independent torture investigation as soon as he took office. After all, waterboarding is one of the oldest forms of torture, pre-dating the Spanish Inquisition (when it was called tortura del agua). It has long been defined as torture by both U.S. and international law, and by Obama himself. Torture, in turn, has long been defined as a war crime, and the United States is under treaty obligation to investigate and prosecute such crimes.

However, such a principle did not make for good politics. Accordingly, as soon as he was elected, Obama set out to dampen talk of prosecution. Various intelligence officials and politicians went public with accounts of the Obama administration making promises to protect Bush officials and CIA employees from prosecution.

Though the White House denied the stories, Obama later gave his controversial speech at the CIA headquarters and did precisely that. In the speech, he effectively embraced the defense of befehl ist befehl (“an order is an order”) and, in so doing, eviscerated one of the most important of the Nuremburg principles. Obama assured the CIA that employees would not be prosecuted for carrying out orders by superiors. This was later affirmed by Holder’s Justice Department, which decided that employees carrying out torture were protected because they followed orders.

Even this Senate report continues that policy in not demanding the prosecution of officials who carried out this torture program and then lied to the public and Congress. Previously, the Justice Department even refused to prosecute CIA officials who admitted to destroying tapes of torture to avoid their use against them in any criminal prosecution.

As surprising as it is for the Senate Intelligence Committee to reach any negative findings against the intelligence agencies under Chairperson Dianne Feinstein, it is the absence of the recommendations to how officials accountable that may ultimately send the strongest message to the intelligence ranks. The report suggests that even the commission of acts considered war crimes will not result in prosecution in the United States. It is further evidence of the corruption of our moral and legal values after 9-11. It has destroyed the credibility of this country in discussing human rights violations in other countries and contributed to various studies now identifying the United States as a menace rather than an advocate of civil liberties.

Source: Washington Post

61 thoughts on “Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution

  1. Obama assured the CIA that employees would not be prosecuted for carrying out orders by superiors. This was later affirmed by Holder’s Justice Department, which decided that employees carrying out torture were protected because they followed orders. http://qr.net/rNqM

  2. For recreation Romans used to enjoy watching slaves being fed to the lions. Why should we expect Americans to be any different?

  3. CIA officials all the way to therop should be prosecuted. We didn’t buy the “I was only following orders”defense after WW II and we should not buy it now. I don’t care what Mr. Obama said!

  4. War and liberty do not mix well.

    Look back:

    During the Civil War, Lincoln issued numerous executive orders and military regulations without the initial sanction of Congress. He declared martial law far from combat zones, seized property, suppressed newspapers, and suspended habeas corpus. Congress would often agree with him after the deed was done and the Supreme Court was reluctant to disagree during the War.

    The same basic events occurred in the subsequent major conflicts World War I and II. Seizures of factories, mines, railroads, price restrictions as well as wartime restrictions on speech occurred. The order by Roosevelt, Executive Order # 9066, which cleared the way for the deportation of Japanese Americans to internment camps resulted in the now famous Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States. The Court held that is was legal to do so.

    We look back now aghast but it was really par for the course. Roosevelt at one moment of conflict with Congress said “In the event Congress should fail to act I shall accept responsibility and I will act.” Sound familiar?

    When you look at events since 9-11 that continue to this day including the above piece by Turley you see more.

    In previous conflicts there was a relatively short span of war. With an open ended conflict presently where just the threat of attack is sufficent to eviscerate our morals and liberties how long can the republic withstand the assault?

  5. It is really hard to know who to believe in government. Is the Senate Report the real scoop, or is it more anti-Bush politics? I’ve seen interviews of military personnel who claimed valuable information was obtained. So who is lying? How can we know?

  6. According to our own constitution and the various international treaties we are party to (and no dumb dumbs, that’s not international law or foreign law that we are not bound to. Once Congress/POTUS ratifies a treaty it is our law) both Bush and Obama and many members of congress (and some now part of the federal judiciary) and many members of our intelligence community and military are war criminals. Period. They have admitted their behavior, hidden other behavior, and protected each other legally by refusing to enforce our own laws against torture. A better PR department and a funny appearance with Zach Galifianakis doesn’t mean Obama is excused from continuing the mess Bush began. This gentlemen’s’ agreement to let everyone off the hook, and allow the executive branch limited power is the beginning of our fascist nation.

  7. Why are we not talking about this?

    The Obama administration in 2013 released nearly 68,000 undocumented immigrants who had criminal records – many of them in New York and New Jersey, according to a new review of immigration data.
    The shocking numbers came from a report released Monday by the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank that studies immigration patterns.
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement data showed that New York’s ICE office released 5,391 – about 71 percent of the 7,571 criminal undocumented immigrants it encountered, a rate second only to San Antonio, which released 79 percent.
    The Newark office came in fourth, releasing 2,149 about 60 percent of 3,581, right behind third-place Washington DC, which released 64 percent.
    Nationally, the 67,879 criminals released represented about 35 percent of all undocumented immigrants with convictions ICE encountered, according to the report, titled “Catch and Release.”
    Since June 2011, when the first of the administration’s “prosecutorial discretion” policies went into effect, ICE arrests have declined by 40 percent, the report said.
    “These figures suggest that despite claims of a focus on public safety, the administration’s prosecutorial discretion criteria are allowing factors such as family relationships, political considerations, or attention from advocacy groups to trump criminal convictions as a factor leading to deportation,” said the report, written by CIS director of policy studies Jessica Vaughan.
    An ICE spokeswoman defended the feds efforts to get undocumented criminals out of the country.
    “ICE is focused on the removal of criminal aliens. In Fiscal Year 2013 the agency removed 216,000 convicted criminals. The percentage of criminals removed continues to rise,” said ICE rep Dani Bennett.
    “Nearly 60 percent of ICE’s total removals had been previously convicted of a criminal offense, and that number rises to 82 percent for individuals removed from the interior of the US. The removal of criminal individuals is and will remain ICE’s highest priority.”

  8. Everyone acts as if all of this is such news. In Jane Mayer wrote most of these truths in “The Dark Side” and everyone thought trials would be on the agenda. But no, not a single one. And so it goes…

  9. No accountability, the new American way!
    Why is the executive branch allowed to dictate what crimes the judicial branch pursues?

  10. Whereas some find torture against the law…
    … Others excuse it and attribute information gathered from it.

    Legal or illegal?
    That is the question, NO?

  11. Richard B(ionic Heart) Cheney once again this past weekend was quoted,
    “… [torture] I’d do it again.”

    Dear Eric Holder,
    What does admission of guilt mean?

  12. The ONLY person to spend time behind bars because he knew a torturer’s name…
    … Spending time behind bars for knowing the name of a torturer, and telling a reporter.

    Sad… truth can’t come out in America. I agree with Kiriakou, “America is better than this.”

    Too bad the President doesn’t agree…
    (interview from last year)

  13. If America does nothing about the crime of TORTURE… She should at least issue a pardon to the Japanese for their atrocities of water torture and show the world where She stands on moral grounds of law.

    Of course the world will double over from all the laughter…

  14. The Damning New Torture Report Shows The CIA Doing What It’s Always Done
    By Charles P. Pierce
    April 1, 2014
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Torture_Report

    Excerpt:
    I am sure it was just an oversight.

    Or, perhaps, a complete lack thereof.

    “The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use – and later tried to defend – excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document. ‘The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,’ said one U.S. official briefed on the report. ‘Was that actually true? The answer is no.’ Current and former U.S. officials who described the report spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue and because the document remains classified. The 6,300-page report includes what officials described as damning new disclosures about a sprawling network of secret detention facilities, or ‘black sites,’ that was dismantled by President Obama in 2009.”

    Surely this can’t be the work of the all-too-human, but mysteriously error-prone, heroes of our surveillance state? Surely this must be the result of the fact that Glenn Greenwald is a big dork, and, besides, Amazon has your information, so what do you care if the government does, anyway? Surely this can’t be the result of how we, as a nation, allowed the surveillance state to metastasize to the point at which it has corrupted almost every inch of our democracy. It will be easy to dismiss this, and the revelations about the NSA, as two different horses of two different colors, but the fact is, it is all of a piece. Once you accept one massive and ongoing violation of the Constitution in the name of security, whether or not it is obscured by a figleaf of legality provided by the government’s pet lawyers, you will find it difficult to get outraged about another one. Once you have allowed the surveillance state to grow, it will operate on its own imperatives, outside democratic norms.

  15. Well, all our credibility is gone when it comes to taking the high road and speaking of crimes against humanity. What a sad state of affairs.

  16. Time for another call to House Representatives urging them to hold the White House accountable for the obstruction of Justice from the CIA.

    What crimes are House Members protecting? TORTURE…

  17. Highlighting, repeating (from the Charles Pierce piece, posted by Elaine M.)

    “Surely this can’t be the result of how we, as a nation, allowed the surveillance state to metastasize to the point at which it has corrupted almost every inch of our democracy. It will be easy to dismiss this, and the revelations about the NSA, as two different horses of two different colors, but the fact is, it is all of a piece. Once you accept one massive and ongoing violation of the Constitution in the name of security, whether or not it is obscured by a figleaf of legality provided by the government’s pet lawyers, you will find it difficult to get outraged about another one. Once you have allowed the surveillance state to grow, it will operate on its own imperatives, outside democratic norms.” – Charles Pierce

    (Thanks, Elaine M.)

    The situation is much worse than most Americans realize.

  18. Waterboarding is not torture, it is something we use even on our own soldiers that attend seer training. I believe all this rhetoric is anti-bush politics. All of you need to grow up and realize the enemy we face, and although I don’t agree to severe physical pain being used ex. cutting off fingers. I do agree to enhanced interrogation techniques, period. So quit your whining and realize that all of you have been safe since 9/11.

  19. Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime
    By Evan Wallach
    Sunday, November 4, 2007
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html

    Excerpt:
    The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government — whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community — has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

    After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

    Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

    In this case from the tribunal’s records, the victim was a prisoner in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies:

    A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession.

  20. May-1 is right about how a single individual citizen is facing prison and yet the senate gives prosecutionless cases against the CIA coverup. It’s becoming more injust every month.

  21. Rick Knowland

    Waterboarding is not torture, it is something we use even on our own soldiers that attend seer training. I believe all this rhetoric is anti-bush politics. All of you need to grow up and realize the enemy we face, and although I don’t agree to severe physical pain being used ex. cutting off fingers. I do agree to enhanced interrogation techniques, period. So quit your whining and realize that all of you have been safe since 9/11.
    ===============
    Rank, naked propaganda .

    President Ronald Reagan put republicans in prison for water boarding.

  22. “Confessions of a SERE Veteran: What It is, and What It Was Not”

    http://firedoglake.com/2009/04/30/confessions-of-a-sere-veteran-what-it-is-and-what-it-was-not/

    Excerpt:

    A principle wingnut talking point is that we all attended SERE school, and somehow that makes the treatment of the detainees (and others who have been subjected to the gentle ministrations of the modern-day Torquemadas) in GITMO and other places around the world OK in some way. Well, as Aviators (Pilots and Naval Flight Officers and certain enlisted Aircrew), we had to go through SERE training if we were in communities that had a possibility of flying into places we could potentially be captured (we also had a few SEALs with us, because they could find themselves in that sort of situation, too), and thus needed the training to endure a place we might not want to be.

    The name of the school, SERE, is most telling—and seems to be missed by the wingnuts. The acronym stands for Survival, Evasion, RESISTANCE, and Escape. Resistance was taught as part of the curriculum—an equal part of the SERE curriculum—and likely the part most remembered by every graduate. The Survival phase was exactly what you would imagine. In general terms, we were given instruction in survival in different environments in which we might find ourselves (hey, we were Navy, so think about where that could be. . . and Deep Water Survival was a separate course). Evasion sort of speaks for itself—the challenge that allowed us to use the mad skillz we got in classroom lectures to try to get away.

    But in resistance—resistance to torture—we had lectures in the “ground school” part of the course (when we were all warm and dry and got to go to lunch and have a beer or two) about the Geneva Convention, and about different instances of things that were experienced by POWs that came from debriefs of men returning from different wars, back to WW the Second. All of this information was to give us a perspective of how far a lawless enemy (even signatories to the Geneva Convention) might be willing to go to try to break us down, and then extract information if they could. The instructors left us with no doubt that they could get us to say anything, and that being “John Wayne” in SERE school was sure to earn you a one-way ticket out of both the program and possibly out of Aviation altogether (the school was mandatory for certain Warfare Specialties). Their logic for that was that being “John Wayne” if captured would likely leave you being fitted for a pine box by your captors, sort of permanently “kicked out” of the program as it were. That point made pretty good sense.

    The wingnuts all seem to think that the training we got was to “toughen us up” (¿quién es mas macho?), and, in a sense, it was, and that because the techniques that were used on us it was okay to use them on combatants/detainees who are in American custody. Nice argument but wholly specious. As I pointed out, we all had to go through the training and as others have pointed out in other places, we were all “volunteers” in the sense that we all joined the military and chose our career paths. We also knew what was coming, because the waterboard was legendary, and the other things that were done were handed down from one generation of Naval Aviators to the next… we all knew before we got there what was going to happen. The resistance training we got was not to turn us into mini-John Wayne’s, but to teach us how to do the best we could, and give up as little as possible while making the “enemy” put out the maximum effort, until we were threatened with death or our imminent demise. We were taught that we as individuals were more valuable than any intel we might have had when captured; we were American Fighting Men and the Code of Conduct was our touchstone to help us survive anything that might happen. I guess that the faux-macho chickenhawk wingnuts all figure that if we torture, they will talk. Except they won’t. We learned that we could endure, that passing on nonsense brought about a cessation of ill-treatment, and that we would survive because we believed in something (getting done with training, god, the flying spaghetti monster, whatever) and kept our focus there. And that was the point of the training, not to suffer the abuse and cry about it, but to suffer the abuse and use it to focus our minds on (wait for it…) RESISTANCE.

    Dick Cheney (and his semi-literate boss, Short Bus George) watched too much 24, saw too many John Wayne movies, and really had no understanding of what they were asking for. His soulless directive to “get results” was what drove his band of mercenaries (Addington, Yoo, Bybee, et al.) to break the law, and drive our country’s reputation into the mud. The perception that blowing off someone’s kneecap would elicit the location of the Ticking Nuke was constantly reinforced by the chattering Village Idiots who also had no understanding what they were asking for—torture. The professionals inside the FBI, and even the CIA, pretty consistently pointed out that the interrogation techniques they used which involved not only no torture, but treating the detainees as human beings, yielded far better results than waterboarding and “walling” (yes, it hurts. but it leaves you no more disposed to talk about anything meaningful than does the waterboard). The torture done in our name is a shameful episode that puts us in the same category as the fascists we fought in the ’40s, the Asian adversaries we battled in the ’50s and ’60s, and every tin-pot dictator we have ever supported.

    We were better than that before George W. Bush, and, hopefully, we will be again. An enemy who plants a “ticking bomb” has probably already realized that their life is forfeit anyhow, the threat of death no matter how unpleasantly implemented probably holds no fear for them, so strapping them to a waterboard, or blowing off their knees or whatever might make George and Dick feel better, but would probably do no more than that.

    SERE was not about teaching us to torture, it was about teaching us to resist, and being able to forgive ourselves for what we might give up. I guess that subtle distinction escaped the man who wanted to put food on my family and let gynecologists practice their love with their patients. And it certainly escapes the Republicans and torture apologists (yes, Mr. Obama, I am looking at you) who seem to think it’s a required tool in the arsenal of democracy.

  23. Waterboarding is torture and it is illegal domestically and internationally. I wonder why anyone is surprised that the CIA lied to the American public. They have made a practice of it for decades and presidents and Congress have enabled them. Torture is a war crime and we have quite a few individuals who should be doing the perp walk.

  24. Shoplift jeans from Walmart and spend hard time. Recklessly ignore the Constitution by using torture and lying to Congress gets a slap on the wrist. America must be following the lead of other nations such as China and Russia where crimes are only punished if you are a citizen. Government officials are given get out of jail free cards.

  25. This slippery slope started when Jimmy Carter left office and the Reagan Administration used sadistic tactics against Noriega (Ex: playing loud Van Halen music to torment Noriega while under siege). This is when the American government started being sadistic and petty – unlike the greatest generation of World War Two.

    The OLC attorneys and their superiors are the most culpable. Since Reagan it has gradually gotten worse and intelligence subordinates are the least culpable. It didn’t start with Bush or Obama.

  26. No Ross, it didn’t start with Bush, but many voters thought it would end with Obama.

    Now that we see the complicity of all three branches of government in torture, we must understand what that means for our nation. This means we do not have a democracy. It means it’s open season on any citizen, for any reason. Nothing will happen to anyone who commits torture. The only prosecutions will result from outing it to the public.

    If anyone thinks this made them safe, they are simply not understanding what it means to have one’s own govt. be able to do anything it wants to you, with absolutely no consequences.

    I hope this information will disturb enough people that they will start to question what this govt. is doing. More importantly, I hope we will stop choosing to follow along. “First they came…”

  27. Jill,

    I somewhat agree with you and if intelligence personnel receive “conditional immunity” from prosecution there is a tradeoff – major reforms – that is the only reason for “conditional” immunity.

    Generally speaking when intelligence personnel betray thier oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution (which includes our Bill of Rights) – these subordinates are placed in “no win” situations. If they refuse orders it’s career suicide with no internal whistleblower channels for redress, if they follow orders they are violating the U.S. Constitution many times.

    If the intelligence leadership and their OLC attorneys aren’t held responsible, locking up subordinates does nothing to prevent these betrayals in the future.
    This stuff is never black & white!

  28. Some say that waterboarding is not so bad. We need to have some of those folks volunteer for some televised waterboarding. Dick Cheney would be a good volunteer.

  29. Ross, I am talking about prosecutions at the top of the food chain. That is where the rule of law is being destroyed and this is where we most need prosecutions. Since the top of the food chain has placed high level lackeys in every branch of govt. (such as Obama) this will be difficult. An independent judiciary is the thin line holding Canada from becoming exactly like the US. We don’t have an independent judiciary. We have lackeys at the top in the SC.

    That is the truth and it is why I wrote what I did earlier. The fact that this govt. is run by a small group of people who are completely unaccountable to the rule of law has consequences. I am telling people to understand those consequences and what we the people have been willing to trade off for our supposed “safety”. Once you become willing to trade out the rule of law and the lives of others you are lost as a people. We need to find our way back.

  30. Steve Fleischer
    Further evidence that our government does not represent American values.
    =====================================================

    they are not there to represent our values. they are there to represent us.

    and if not the majority, then for a large minority, they do.

    sucks don’t it

  31. The lack of accountability and two-tiered system of justice in this country is truly disgusting. To paraphrase the Firesign Theater, you know you can believe them, because they never lie, and they are always right.

  32. Jamie wrote:
    “Shoplift jeans from Walmart and spend hard time. Recklessly ignore the Constitution by using torture and lying to Congress gets a slap on the wrist”
    ~+~
    You are correct on that. Ordinarily I would say there is a disconnect between what happens on the federal level and the local level as these are two different systems that do not necessarily integrate with one another, but in this respect the practice is often the same.

    I am one of those who can confirm this not just by reading articles in newspapers but in seeing it in actual practice. I have seen misconduct by government officials in the capacity of county prosecutors, law enforcement officers, city council members, a judge, records clerks, a police chief, and a mayor. In all of those cases, all of them criminal matters, they got markedly more deferrence and preferences than the average citizen. It made me sick to tell you the truth. It is not just federal officials but the system in our country gives public officials a different due process than regular people get. And this is coming from me as a former LEO.

    The usual way this happens is when some misconduct revealed itself after previously being swept under the rug. A big six month long “investigation” was done and it seemed in many of those cases every “out” was given the official. Some were offered to simply resign or face jail time. Regular people were not told you can quit your job and we’ll forget about it. Not that I think that was fair, but only public officials were given that option.

    Then, it would get batted around left and right until the attention to these suspects evaporated and the investigation and charges just seemed to go away.

    I don’t want to draw attention to my own actions but I never tolerated that kind of treatment. I had to go to great lengths with the few cases I was involved in just to get the process in motion. And believe me those who do this get a lot of flack for trying.

    When I was field training rookie officers I made a point in discussing with them how to do things when the eventuality of them having to face arresting a prominent official or citizen happened. My advice to new officers was to treat officials no different than anyone else. If you would arrest Joe Average, then arrest Mr. City Councilman. And, if during that time they start with the “I’m on the city council and I’ll see to it you lose your job” threat charge them with official misconduct and book them.

    I also mention what my experiences have been and what it taught me was that if you had probable cause to arrest a public official for a crime, don’t just send a report to your supervisor or let the person go for an investigation, put them in jail. The reason for this is once they are arrested, especially for a felony, they have to go before a judge immediately and there is no tip toeing around trying to make the issue go away.

    I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, and I recognize it does. I had a rewarding career as a LEO but there are some things I witnessed, such as this, that have left me a bit jaded.

  33. To the “older” crowd here, I would be curious to hear your thoughts on what you think the reaction would have been from the media and citizenry in general if something like this came out in the sixties?

    I was hoping to read about it in my local paper this morning (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and couldn’t find any story on it in the entire paper. It’s like the public in general hasn’t even heard the story or if they have, either don’t give a damn or are so numb to stories like this shrug it off. And don’t get me started on the “journalists.”

  34. I don’t know about you, but I’m still a little in shock from the report someone gave earlier regarding 68,000 criminals released into the environment without cause. What is going on ? Is crime being rewarded ? Is our safety unimportant ?

  35. Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why, then, ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? ~ Lady Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1

    Unfortunately for the American people the damned spot of US government sponsored torture is indelible.

  36. Jill,

    Well said but the foxes guarding the henhouses need strong incentives and disincentives to reform – it’s very hard to implement! It’s a huge mess really.

  37. Juris, Torture was a highly charged subject in the 60’s with the ideologies of both parties, all branches of government and 99% of society solidly against, at least publicly. The second world war ended only 15 years before the 60’s started and torture was infamous both in Germany where it was horrific and sick and Japan where it was much the same.

    The 1957 movie, Bridge Over The River Kwai, in which torture by the Japanese is a constant presence in the film as the most distinguishing characteristic between “us” and “them”, sums up what might well be a sort of “distilled” public attitude toward torture back then: It was considered barbaric; totally anti American, totally anti British, and if you ignored the Vichy government, totally anti French, something used by savage third world countries and by mad men such as Göring and Hanns-Joachim Schraff, with Hitler’s blessing of course. This attitude was passed down to the next generation in very strong doses.

    Had a public scandal broken out about a sitting U.S. president’s use of torture, it would have swiftly cost him his presidency at a minimum and I’m pretty sure the same would have occurred for a cover up à la Obama.

    That was the public image and sentiment. It has come to light, however, that torture was used in Britain against Germans in particular, and occasionally in the US as well.

  38. Brooklin, thanks for your perspective. Your response was the type I was expecting but was curious since wasn’t around until the eighties. I am very concerned with the state of our political system. As one of my old professors told me years ago, the system works but only if you participate. It scares me how many people (my definition doesn’t include corporations) don’t, for whatever reason.

  39. emptywheel ‏@emptywheel 2m

    I criticize DiFi a lot. But this report would not have happened without her persistence. tweet from Marcy Wheeler

  40. nick, I don’t think Feinstein is a hero but as Marcy Wheeler who writes for Glenn Grenwald’s site said she did not have to push it especially when faced with republican opposition. If anyone is the hero it might be Snowden.

  41. SWM, Greenwald and Wheeler are indeed heroes. The ONLY place I see both of them interviewed is on Jake Tapper’s show. They may be given air time elsewhere, but that’s the only place I’ve seen them. Feinstein’s effort to not give bloggers 1st Amendment rights was shot down by the 9th Circuit this week.

  42. The reason is quite simple. Feinstein righteously wants to take torture off the table. She knows public opinion is OK w/ torture. So, in order for torture to not even be considered again, Feinstein wants MORE than the moral reason, she wants the practical reason, that being it doesn’t work. So, even if it does work, it’s vital to make sure people think it doesn’t. Because when we are attacked again an even higher % of people will approve torture. That’s why Feinstein used her office to attack the movie, Zero Dark Thirty, it showed torture being productive, which is what Panetta has stated.

  43. We debated the issue of torture ad nauseam four years ago (at least) on this blog. Waterboarding is torture under domestic and international law. There are even state law prosecutions for it. Anyone at this point who still insists that it is a legitimate tool is either a liar or a fool. The issue is not debatable.

    The Bush/Cheney administration adopted torture and secured legal cover from lawyers who have been rewarded for their cowardice with, among other things, the highest judicial office in the country. The Congress, including those who now stand in condemnation, vigorously supported anything the administration chose to do. I voted for Barack Obama under the belief that he would restore the rule of law. He did not. Instead he ratified war crimes by meekly referring to them as inconsistent with “our values” and insisting that the nation needed to look forward, as though the American people are incapable of looking truth in the face.

    Now the proverbial chickens are coming home to the proverbial roost. How the population reacts will tell us whether Pres. Obama’s perception is accurate.

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