Considered one of the most important government documents ever to be published, the torture report compiles the Senate committee’s findings of the CIA’s program to detain and interrogate terrorist threats in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, from 2001 to 2006 during the Bush administration. Among other controversial conclusions, the report has found that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective in acquiring intelligence to avert terrorist threats.
The study also shows that the CIA misled the public, Congress, the Department of Justice, and even the White House on the effectiveness and the scope and severity of their interrogation techniques. The exhaustive and disturbing account also provides grisly accounts on horrific practices that occurred in CIA black sites: prisoners experienced sleep deprivation in stressful positions for up to 180 hours; being stripped, raped and shackled, hooded and dragged down a long corridor while being beaten; waterboarding; and “rectal feeding.”
Based on six million CIA documents and requiring $40 million to complete, the entire 6,000-page report still remains classified. Only 525 pages of summary have been published, with 7 percent of its content redacted.
Amnesty International USA Files Complaint Requesting Investigation of DOJ Response to CIA Torture Program
Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (USDOJ) requesting an immediate review of the conduct of Justice Department officials in response to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, including possibly misleading statements about evidence of torture. Under the CIA program, at least 119 individuals between 2002 and 2008 were subjected to unlawful detention and secret transfers to unacknowledged prisons, where torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and enforced disappearances were inflicted.
In addition to reprinting the official responses from the SSCI minority and CIA, this publication also includes eight essays from senior former CIA officials who all are deeply knowledgeable about the program – and yet none of whom were interviewed by the SSCI staff during the more than four years the report was in preparation.
U.S. personnel have evaded accountability for these crimes under international law, and may have committed additional crimes in facilitating and perpetuating this impunity. The Justice Department is charged with enforcing the law, identifying misconduct by federal officials and investigating and prosecuting crimes including torture. Nine months have passed since the Senate Intelligence Committee transmitted the full Senate report to the Justice Department.
“Nine months later, the Justice Department apparently still hasn’t even reviewed the Senate report,” said Naureen Shah, director of AIUSA’s Security and Human Rights Program. “The Justice Department’s failure to investigate new evidence of criminal wrongdoing sends the disturbing message that torture is acceptable.”
The 25-page Amnesty complaint described clashing statements by top DOJ officials about their familiarity with the report. In her Senate confirmation hearing this year, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told lawmakers she would read the executive summary of the Intelligence Committee report. And in separate testimony, in March, FBI Director James Comey told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that he had read a summary and “a small number of people at the FBI … have read … the entire thing.”
– Photo: In her Senate confirmation hearing this year, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she would read the executive summary of the Intelligence Committee report.
But in court filings in a Freedom of Information Act case, Justice Department lawyers said neither DoJ (which oversees the FBI) nor the State Department had opened packages with a computer disc that contained the full report. And in comments to reporters after the executive summary became public, a Justice Department spokesman said investigators had reviewed the report but that they “did not find any new information that they had not previously considered.”
The Justice Department did appoint a career prosecutor, John Durham, to look into the destruction of videotapes that depicted abuse of detainees. Later, authorities expanded Durham’s mandate to consider whether any laws had been broken in the brutal interrogations. DoJ leaders closed the investigation in 2012 without filing any criminal charges. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said the prosecutors’ effort had been “hampered by legal memos written by Justice lawyers during the George W. Bush administration.” Those memos approved sleep deprivation, simulated drowning and other harsh interrogation methods and could be cited in any defense were a case to be brought.
The public fight over those methods continues. Recently, former CIA officials published a book called ‘Rebuttal,’ which took issue with the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Shah, of Amnesty International USA, said that makes the alleged foot-dragging by the Justice Department even more worrisome.
“We’ve got former U.S. government officials who authorized or condoned torture at the time who are now out there writing memoirs celebrating their own role in torture and the Justice Department is refusing to do anything about it,” Shah said.
Amnesty lawyers said they didn’t know why the Justice Department had issued several apparently conflicting accounts of its handling of the Senate report, but in their complaint they cited the possibility that authorities were “engaging in a cynical and hyper-technical effort to circumvent open records law … and prevent the release of the full report to the public.”
“The U.S. government as a matter of international human rights law is required to investigate evidence of human rights violations and the Justice Department itself is charged with investigating violations of federal law,” Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty’s security with human rights program, said in an interview. “If torture doesn’t warrant a Justice Department investigation, I don’t know what does.”
AIUSA’s complaint alleges that the Justice Department has made contradictory, and possibly misleading, statements to the public, Congress and the courts about the Senate report and failed to review evidence of human rights violations contained in the report. The complaint also alleges that the Justice Department failed to review evidence in the report concerning its own role in the commission of human rights violations in the CIA program, and has failed to develop reforms to address its institutional failures.
“The Justice Department has a legal obligation to fully investigate the evidence presented in the Senate Report,” said Shah. “Its inaction has impeded accountability and served to conceal its own failures. We’re calling on the Inspector General to investigate the Justice Department’s failure to do its job, including any misconduct by department personnel.”
AIUSA’s complaint is available here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/pdfs/OIGComplaintAmnestyInternationalUSA.pdf