The Cable

FP’s Situation Report, presented by the UAE Embassy: Senate torture report indicts CIA’s post-9/11 enhanced interrogation program; CIA lied about role in bin Laden’s death; Details of program withheld from former President Bush; and much more.

By David Francis and Sabine Muscat The CIA’s actions detailed in a long-awaited torture report released yesterday are “a stain on our values and our history.” Those are the words of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The report, a damning indictment of the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program, is filled ...

By David Francis and Sabine Muscat

The CIA’s actions detailed in a long-awaited torture report released yesterday are “a stain on our values and our history.” Those are the words of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The report, a damning indictment of the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program, is filled with shocking instances of CIA abuse, including “rectal rehydration” and physical threats. It provides evidence to those at home and abroad who accuse the CIA of going too far in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The CIA continues to maintain that its actions were necessary to save American lives at a time when the country was under attack. However, the long-held claim that these interrogations led to information that stopped terror attacks is simply untrue, the report found.

FP’s John Hudson: “The report argues forcefully that enhanced interrogation does not result in reliable information and can often result in false confessions. In one case, a detainee copped to attempting to recruit African-American Muslims in Montana, a dubious claim given that blacks make up less than 1 percent of the population in the state. Two of the military psychologists who advised the agency to use waterboarding, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, had never conducted any real interrogations, but had lead a training program that prepared Air Force personnel to resist torture if captured by communist foes during the Cold War. That program was never intended for use by American interrogators because it was known to produce false confessions.” More here.

The CIA’s claim that enhanced interrogation provided actionable intelligence leading to the killing of Osama bin Laden is a lie. The CIA has long maintained that information obtained through enhanced questioning helped the agency to determine bin Laden’s location in Pakistan. According to the CIA’s account, this information allowed Seal Team Six to conduct its successful operation to kill the al Qaeda leader. It now appears as if the CIA has been lying, and that their torture policy made the search for bin Laden more difficult.

FP’s Yochi Dreazen: “The spy agency has said for years that it found bin Laden by carefully tracking the movements of a trusted bin Laden courier named Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. The courier, according to the CIA, was identified based on information gleaned from detainees subjected to a variety of brutal interrogation methods, including waterboarding and sleep deprivation. The Senate report flatly rejects that assertion.” More here.

The CIA withheld lurid details of the program from former President George W. Bush. Many have held former President Bush and officials close to the president responsible for the CIA’s enhanced techniques. In recent days, Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney claimed they were not misled on the details of the program. However, the report found that no one from the CIA briefed the president on the tactics it was using to question suspects until 2006. When he was told what the CIA was doing, Bush “expressed discomfort.”

The New York Times’ Peter Baker: “The report … has raised questions about what the president knew and what the C.I.A. told him about an interrogation program that has tarred the United States as a nation that tortures. The emails, memos, reports and other documents examined by the Senate committee collectively portray a White House that approved the brutal questioning of suspects but was kept in the dark about many aspects of the program, including whether it really worked. … Even to the extent that the president and his advisers understood the program, they kept other top administration figures out of the loop, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.” More here.

More on the torture report below.

Welcome to Wednesday’s edition of the Situation Report.

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Who’s Where When Today

10:00 a.m. Brett McGurk, deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 12:30 p.m. Secretary of State John Kerry participates in a working lunch with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrisov. 2:00 p.m. Joint House Foreign Affairs Subcommittees on Asia and the Pacific and Middle East and North Africa meet to discuss “The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part III).” 2:00 p.m. Joint House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade discusses “Russian Arms Control Cheating and the Administration’s Responses.” 2:45 p.m. Kerry delivers remarks on U.S. engagement on the Western Hemisphere at the State Department.

What’s Moving Markets

The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe on Congress keeping the government open: “Congressional leaders unveiled a massive $1.01 trillion spending bill Tuesday night that will keep most of the federal government funded through September.” More here.

The Financial Times’ James Kynge and Josh Noble on the impact of China reducing its reliance on the dollar: “The impact on Treasury purchases is evident in the tapering of Chinese buying over the past three years. But analysts see structural forces driving a steeper downturn in the future.” More here.

Torture Report

FP’s Elias Groll with more gruesome details from the torture report: “As the massive report is picked over in coming days, one section is sure to be held out as an example of Feinstein’s contention: a CIA operative interrogating al Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri by pointing a gun at him and then holding a cordless power drill near his body and turning it on.” More here.

The New York Times’ Scott Shane on insider discord over the program: “The bitter infighting in the C.I.A. interrogation program was only one symptom of the dysfunction, disorganization, incompetence, greed and deception described in a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report.” More here.

FP’s Gopal Ratnam on more dubious CIA claims in Karachi:  “Senate investigators bluntly concluded that the agency misled U.S. officials for years by claiming credit for stopping the so-called Karachi Plots. Instead, the report says, the terror attacks were disrupted after Pakistani authorities arrested Khallad bin Attash and Ammar al-Baluchi — two al Qaeda operatives who are still in U.S. custody — and confiscated large quantities of explosives in a raid on April 29, 2003, weeks before they were handed over to the CIA.” More here.

The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin on the CIA’s response to the report: “CIA Director John Brennan on Monday rebutted two of the central premises of the just-released Senate report on the agency’s former practice of interrogating suspected terrorists in secret, saying the controversial program produced evidence that helped avert potential strikes against the U.S. and that agency officials did not intentionally mislead Congress about its tactics.” More here.

The Huffington Post’s Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Ryan Grim, and Lauren Weber report a quarter of the world’s countries helped the CIA. “According to several U.S. officials involved with the negotiations, the intelligence community has long been concerned that the Senate document would enable readers to identify the many countries that aided the CIA’s controversial torture program between 2002 and roughly 2006.” More here.

The Washington Post’s Brady Dennis on rectal rehydration and rectal feeding: “The report said that at least five detainees underwent the procedures without documented medical necessity and that others were threatened with them. While the CIA defended its approach, the techniques are all but absent from modern medicine.” More here.  

FP’s David Rothkopf on America’s bloodstained hands: “In the end … responsibility for it must reside with the president who initially OK’d the program, George W. Bush, and with the team around him who justified it, oversaw it, and accepted its outcomes.” More here.

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller and Dana Priest report the CIA is unlikely to lose powers. “The Senate report is a substantial blow to the CIA’s reputation, one that raises fundamental questions about the extent to which the agency can be trusted. And yet, as in those previous instances of political and public outrage, the agency is expected to emerge from the investigatory rubble with its role and power in Washington largely intact.” More here.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman and Alan Yuhas with the cast of characters in the report: “The Senate’s newly released report on CIA torture practices tells a story of two wars, dozens of intelligence officials, an unknown number of detainees and a system of ‘black sites’ and torture techniques used around the world.” More here.

The New York Times’ Matt Apuzzo, Haeyoun Park, and Larry Buchanan on details about torture’s effectiveness: “Here are eight cases cited in the report where the C.I.A. made the case that its tactics thwarted plots and led to the capture of terrorists, and how the committee’s report undercut those accounts.” More here.

The Washington Post’s Steven Mufson and Dan Lamothe on U.S. forces around the world on alert: “The United States has beefed up precautions to protect Americans and U.S. facilities abroad for possibly violent responses after the release Tuesday of a long-awaited Senate report on interrogation techniques used by the CIA.” More here.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin on lawyers for detainees at Guantánamo: “There’s at least one place where the battle to learn more about the CIA’s interrogation program continues: the military commission courtroom at Guantanamo Bay.” More here.  

Time magazine’s Vivienne Walt reports how the report could facilitate legal action against top CIA officials in the United States and Europe. More here.

Reuters on Obama’s promise to not let it happen again: “President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday that harsh U.S. interrogation methods will not take place on his watch, saying the techniques did significant damage to American interests abroad without serving broad counterterrorism efforts.” More here.

The Washington Post’s Denise Lu, Swati Sharma, and Cristina Rivero report on inconsistencies with then-CIA Director Michael V. Hayden’s testimonies to Congress. More here.

The Guardian’s Natalie Nougayrède says Europe needs to come clean about its own complicity in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. More here.

The Washington Post’s Kennedy Elliott, Julie Tate, and Swati Sharma shed light on the 119 detainees held in secret prisons. More here.

The full Senate report can be found here.

The CIA’s response can be found here.

Islamic State

The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Bradley on divisions in Iraq: “Islamic State’s rise is dividing Iraq’s Sunni minority, pitting tribes loyal to the militant group against those who support the government and, in some cases, cleaving tribes apart from within.” More here.

FP’s David Francis on the White House wanting flexibility for U.S. troops in Iraq: “Kerry warned members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not to micromanage decisions the president or military commanders would have to make on the battlefield in drafting a new AUMF.” More here.

McClatchy’s Roy Gutman and Mousab Alhamadee on rebel claims about pay: “The United States has stopped paying most of the pro-western rebels fighting in northern Syria and has suspended the delivery of arms to them.” More here.

The Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer on the Islamic State enslaving Yazidi women: “In a long list of the dos and don’ts governing the enslavement and treatment of women and girls captured by jihadi warriors, ISIS includes details of ‘permissible’ sexual practices with female slaves.” More here.

Reuters’s Phil Stewart on the Iraqi PM asking for more weapons: “The plea underscored tension in the U.S.-Iraqi relationship, with Baghdad pushing for more aggressive assistance than Washington has provided so far, four months after President Barack Obama launched air strikes against IS in Iraq.” More here.

Afghanistan

The New York Times’ Declan Walsh on the end of the war in Kandahar: “For years, Kandahar has been a testing ground for Western counterinsurgency ideas. The first American troops arrived in late 2001, seizing control of a city where Mullah Omar had once, in a dramatic flourish, wrapped himself in a sacred cloak and declared himself the ‘leader of the faithful.’” More here.

Iran

Reuters on U.S. accusations of Iran violating sanctions: “Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Tuesday it had no information about the illicit procurement of equipment for the Arak research reactor as alleged in a report by a UN panel of experts and based on a briefing by a member country.” More here.

Ukraine

AFP on Russian bombers over the Baltic: “NATO warplanes intercepted a ‘significant’ force of six Russian nuclear-capable bombers over the Baltic Sea, the alliance said in the latest such encounter amid tensions with Moscow over Ukraine.” More here.

Reuters’s Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk on another broken cease-fire: “Ukraine’s military accused separatists of violating an agreed ‘Day of Silence’ in the country’s embattled east on Tuesday, an initiative that was seen as an attempt to forge a durable ceasefire paving the way to a new round of peace talks.” More here.

Next Defense Chief

Defense News’s John T. Bennett on the timing of Ashton Carter’s nomination: “The Senate Armed Services Committee will take up Ash Carter’s nomination for defense secretary in January, after Republicans take control of the panel.” More here.

Israel

From CNN’s Amir Tal, Ben Wedeman, and Greg Botelho on an arrest in Israel: “An American man has been arrested in Israel for allegedly acquiring explosives stolen from Israel’s military that he planned to use to attack Muslim holy sites, Israeli authorities said Tuesday.” More here.

China

Bloomberg’s Andrew Zajac and Richard Clough on a Chinese man charged with stealing U.S. military secrets. “Yu Long, a Chinese citizen who appeared today in federal court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested Nov. 7 after trying to fly to China with test results for titanium, which is used in military aircraft.” More here.

Ebola

FP’s David Francis on unique testimony on the Hill: “A congressional source said that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is not officially testifying like traditional witnesses who speak before congressional panels but instead will address her country’s response to the disease.” More here.

Navy

The Wall Street Journal’s Julian E. Barnes on the Navy’s new laser weapon: “Top Navy leaders say the laser could become a critical defense on a future generation of warships and offers great potential as a precise and economical weapon. A single shot from the laser could bring down a drone or blow up the engine of a small boat, officials said.” More here.

And finally, Al Arabiya on Afghanistan’s Bruce Lee: “Abdulfazl Abbas Shakoory not only has an uncanny resemblance to the late Kung Fu master and Hollywood icon, Bruce Lee; he also jumps, kicks and performs martial arts stunt like him.” More here.

 

 

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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