OpinionEditorial
Editorial

Time to expose the CIA's 'dark side'

EditorialsOpinionCentral Intelligence AgencyPoliticsUnrest, Conflicts and WarDianne FeinsteinSeptember 11, 2001 Attacks

More than a year after it approved a report critical of the CIA's interrogation and detention policies, the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to make a portion of the document public. It's now up to President Obama to ensure that the agency doesn't mount a rear-guard attempt to censor or sanitize the committee's findings in the name of national security.

Thanks to news reports and a report by the CIA's inspector general, Americans long have been aware of both the broad outlines and some abhorrent details of the Bush administration's mistreatment of suspected terrorists after 9/11. We know that suspects were transported for questioning to "black sites" abroad, and that two suspected Al Qaeda operatives, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, were subjected to waterboarding. And we have read the memos in which Bush administration lawyers used contorted reasoning to justify torture.

But the Intelligence Committee's 6,200-word report, based on a review of millions of pages of documents, contains additional accounts of abuse, including (according to a Washington Post report) the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a site in Afghanistan. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Intelligence Committee chairwoman who aggressively has sought its declassification, said the report "exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation."

More important, those who have read the report say it concludes that waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" yielded little valuable intelligence that couldn't have been obtained by other means. Of course, torture wouldn't be justifiable even if it "worked"; but if there is evidence that the use of inhumane methods was ineffective as well as immoral, that constitutes another indictment of a policy former Vice President Dick Cheney described as operating on "the dark side."

Last week the committee voted to declassify the report's 480-page executive summary along with 20 findings and conclusions, but that represents only the beginning of the disclosure process. The executive branch will now determine which portions of the document must be redacted to protect sensitive national security information.

The Central Intelligence Agency has promised that it will do its part to ensure that the declassification review proceeds "expeditiously." But the agency complained that a previous version of the report contained serious errors — a charge echoed by the committee's Republican vice chair — and it has a vested interest in suppressing information that would sully its reputation. That is why the president, who has sent mixed signals about the importance of confronting the abuses of the past, must make thorough and timely declassification of this report a personal priority.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
EditorialsOpinionCentral Intelligence AgencyPoliticsUnrest, Conflicts and WarDianne FeinsteinSeptember 11, 2001 Attacks
  • Senate seeks release of report criticizing CIA interrogations
    Senate seeks release of report criticizing CIA interrogations

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 Thursday to ask President Obama to declassify key portions of a controversial report that its backers say disproves CIA claims that brutal interrogations of Al Qaeda captives helped thwart terrorist attacks and save American lives.

  • Dianne Feinstein outraged that CIA spied on her Senate staff
    Dianne Feinstein outraged that CIA spied on her Senate staff

    California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s accusation that the CIA has illegally spied on Congress has caused everyone from South Carolina’s hawkish Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to on-the-run whistle-blower Edward Snowden to weigh in.

  • 'Emotional' Dianne Feinstein: At least she's not hysterical
    'Emotional' Dianne Feinstein: At least she's not hysterical

    Hillary Rodham Clinton’s comment last week that women face a double standard in politics raised eyebrows. And then came former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden to prove her point.

  • Calling all opinionated poets
    Calling all opinionated poets

    Last year, when we asked readers to submit opinion poetry, we were overwhelmed. More than 1,500 poets answered the call, many with multiple entries. The poems we received dealt with every issue of the day, including the war on terror, the economy, the nanny state, student debt and the...

  • The Dodgers blackout is bad, but let's not make a federal case out of it
    The Dodgers blackout is bad, but let's not make a federal case out of it

    If you're a Dodgers fan — but not a subscriber to Time Warner Cable — then you've missed watching on TV most of the 108 games the team has played this year. In other words, you've missed more than half the season and all the highlights (including pitcher Clayton Kershaw...

  • Judges, remember: Cross is a Christian symbol
    Judges, remember: Cross is a Christian symbol

    There has been a disturbing willingness on the part of some judges in recent years to treat the Christian cross as a symbol that isn't, well, just Christian. The most high-profile and problematic example of this was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's suggestion that a large...

Comments
Loading