Privacy SOS

White House seems more worried about safety of CIA torturers than justice for victims

The CIA spied on congress, lied about it, and then got called out by its own inspector general. John Brennan, the director of the shadowy spook agency, publicly apologized to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. But the fight is just beginning.

Now the executive branch is battling with democrats on the intelligence committee over redactions in the soon-to-be-disclosed summary of the committee's 6,000 page report on CIA rendition, torture, and detention. Releasing the full report doesn't even seem to be on the table, although that hasn't stopped people like Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation from reminding staffers and members that they could always just leak the whole thing, and skip the squabbling over the summary's redactions.

At the heart of the disagreement are redactions pertaining to the code names of CIA operators and geographic locations implicated in the torture and detention program. The administration claims that if those code names and locations are revealed, adversaries of the United States would be able to piece together the true identities of those spooks, and key details about classified CIA operations that should remain secret. Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone that people involved in the torture program should be fired and prosecuted, and so it shouldn't matter whether they could be identified. They shouldn't be working for the CIA anymore.

But Dianne Feinstein and her colleagues are also upset about the redactions of things they say are already public facts. Even worse, some of the redactions—including information about intelligence not derived from torture that helped lead the US government to Osama bin Laden—disrupt the narrative of the report's findings so badly that they make its key points incomprehensible. McClatchy quotes Feinstein:

“After further review of the redacted version of the executive summary, I have concluded the redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions,” said Feinstein. “Until these redactions are addressed to the committee’s satisfaction, the report will not be made public.

“I am sending a letter today to the president laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release,” she continued. “The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith.”

Read more here:

To drive home the gravity of the issues at stake here, Gawker has published testimony written by a woman who was a twelve year old child when she and her family were kidnapped and rendered by the CIA. The target of the operation was her father, whom Gakwer describes as "an opponent of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi."

Two very different flights landed at Mitiga military airport in Libya just over a decade ago. The first was organized by the CIA and MI6. On board were a family of six surrounded by guards, the frightened children separated from their parents, the father chained to a seat in a rear compartment with a needle stuck in his arm. The second flight, only a couple of days later, carried Tony Blair in comfort, on his way to shake hands and do business with Colonel Gaddafi.

I know about the first flight, because I was one of the children. I know about the chains and the needle because Sami al-Saadi—a long-time political opponent of Colonel Gaddafiis my father and I saw him in that state. I was 12 years old, and was trying to keep my younger brothers and my six year-old sister calm. The guards took us to see our mother once on the 16-hour flight. She was crying, and told us that we were being taken to Gaddafi's Libya. Shortly before the plane landed, a guard told me to say goodbye to my father, at the front of the plane. I forced myself ahead and saw him with a needle in his arm. I remember guards laughing at me. Then I fainted.

We were taken off the plane and bundled into cars. Hoods were pulled over my parents' heads. Libyans forced my mother, sister and I into one car, my brothers and father another. The convoy drove to a secret prison outside Tripoli, where I was certain we were all going to be executed. All I knew about Libya at that time was that Colonel Gaddafi wanted to hurt my father, and that our family had always been moving from country to country to avoid being taken to him. Now we had been kidnapped, flown to Libya, and his people had us at their mercy.

Read the whole thing.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.