The Senate Intelligence Committee recently adopted a six thousand page report on CIA torture and abuse. The report, a product of a three-year review of CIA practices, including its rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program, remains classified. It stems from at least six million CIA documents and could be the most comprehensive record to-date of what happened with the CIA while George W. Bush was president.
Obviously, as Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, declared after the vote, “The next step, of course, is for the report to be made public, so that all Americans can understand the harm that the CIA’s use of torture caused to national security, American values, and to its often innocent victims. She added, “Nothing good, and only bad, came from the torture program. But until the report is made public, most Americans will hear about the CIA and its torture program only from fictionalized movies and television shows, and not from this still-classified 6,000 page report on the actual facts.”
Murphy may have been alluding to the debate that the Kathryn Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty has ignited this week over whether the film glorifies torture or not. Scenes of waterboarding have led some who’ve seen the film to contend the film is simply showing the CIA did engage in waterboarding. Regardless, the overwhelming point should be made: if the administration of President Barack Obama can allow officials to consult on the production of a film that includes CIA rendition, detention and interrogation practices without fearing it will put so-called “intelligence methods or sources” at risk, it should certainly allow and ensure this report is made public.
As Truthout‘s Jason Leopold reported, it may contain key information on the art of torture that Guantanamo Bay prison’s most high-profile detainee, Abu Zubaydah, has created while in confinement—artwork which the committee detailed in the report. Brent Mickum, Zubaydah’s lawyer, told Truthout:
…In lieu of the torture tapes, the drawings Zubaydah made – some on smaller pieces of paper – contain the best-known description of the torture techniques CIA interrogators used against Zubaydah.
Although he was unable to describe the drawings due to the classified nature of the materials, Mickum, who holds a top-secret clearance, said the drawings “show oxygen deprivation can happen in different ways…
…[S]ome of them were not just of Zubaydah, but of two other prisoners who also apparently were tortured.
Mickum said Zubaydah made a mental note of the stories he was told by other prisoners about their torture and drew a picture of it.
“All of the drawings depict what I would characterize as torture,” Mickum told Truthout, recounting what he had told the Intelligence Committee staffers. “That’s why [Zubaydah] did them. I think he was just trying to create a record. He wanted me to preserve them as a historical record.”…
What are the chances that some of the most sordid details are ever read by the public? Andrew Rosenthal, in a blog post for the New York Times, noted, “No decision was made yesterday about releasing the report and it will not be made until after the committee receives comments from the executive branch, Ms. Feinstein said, a euphemism for allowing the administration a chance to heavily censor the document.” He also wrote the Republicans attacked the report. Any outrage among them is sure to translate into efforts to keep the report secret for fabricated reasons that will be sold to the public under the oft-cited guise of protecting national security.
In addition to developments to surrounding the major Senate report, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on November 28 seeking the military autopsy reports on three men, who have died in Guantanamo Bay prison over the past two years. The men—Adnan Latif, Awal Gul, and Hajji Nassim (also known as “Inayatullah”)—were being held indefinitely without charge.
Avinash Samarth wrote in a post for the ACLU: