As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Filling In The Blanks

ABC has some news on what was inside those blocks of redacted text in the CIA Inspector General report:

The CIA and the Obama Administration continue to keep secret some of the most shocking allegations involving the spy agency's interrogation program: three deaths and several other detainees whose whereabouts could not be determined, according to a former senior intelligence official who has read the full, unredacted version.

Of the 109 pages in the 2004 report, 36 were completely blacked out in the version made public Monday, and another 30 were substantially redacted for "national security" reasons.

The blacked-out portions hide the Inspector General's findings on the circumstances that led to the deaths of at least three of the detainees in the CIA's program, the official said. Two of the men reportedly died in CIA in Iraq and the third died in Afghanistan.

The Inspector General's findings about a fourth death involving a prisoner in Afghanistan were made public in the report. A CIA contract employee was convicted of assault in that case and is now in prison.

The still-secret portions of the Inspector General's report also describe fears that the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed came close to killing him. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 separate times, according to the report.

The unredacted version of the report makes a reference to the "unsafe" nature of waterboarding but makes no mention of its actual effects on Mohammed or the two others who were subjected to the technique.

Again, much of this is not new information. We know quite a bit about deaths in American custody. They made an Academy Award-winning movie about one of these deaths. We've known for several months that the Bush regime suddenly changed their policies on waterboarding to require a medical doctor and a tracheotomy kit, suggesting that they were well aware of the dangers of the technique. The Bradbury memo from 2005 describes what appears to be a near-death experience on the waterboard:

In our limited experience, extensive use of the waterboard can introduce new risks. Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness. An unresponsive subject should be righted immediately and the interrogator should deliver a sub-xyphoid thrust to expel the water. If this fails to restore normal breathing, aggressive medical intervention is required. Any subject who has reached this degree of compromise is not [censored hereafter].

Abu Zubaydah has admitted that he lost consciousness on at least one occasion during waterboarding.

Later on in the report, ABC describes how the CIA flat-out lost detainees in its maze of black sites:

Also hidden from public scrutiny, according to the official, was the discovery by the CIA Inspector General that the CIA could not adequately account for several of the 100 al Qaeda suspects who were part of the detainee program that the CIA maintained had been well administered.

The official said "a few just got lost and the CIA does to know what happened to them."

Other detainees, said the official, were transferred to other countries and their whereabouts are still unknown. In other cases, "incomplete records" were to blame for the failure to account for the detainees' status after leaving the program.

As the report says later, Hassan Ghul is one such "missing" detainee, and his name inadvertently showed up in an OLC memo released earlier this year, the first acknowledgement that the CIA even had him in custody. He either got transferred to a third party or simply got lost in the shuffle.

These were the serious adults in charge of your safety.

Maybe it's fine that these revelations have to get uncovered over and over and over again. But it would be nice if the Administration simply came clean and acknowledged what everyone already knows, that American interrogators murdered detainees in their custody. He's being opportunistic, but Pete frickin' Hoekstra agrees with all this:

The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), said he thinks more of the CIA's blacked out information should be made public. "If the sections of the report don't talk about sources and methods, at this point in time, my bias would be toward transparency and toward releasing more information." Hoekstra, who has read the unredacted version of the CIA report, said he could not comment on its contents.

Since most of this material is already out, the repeated discovery of it just leads to further outrage around the world and at home. This is a cover-up where everyone already knows the crime.

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