RT reported it this way:
“When the CIA first began using its controversial interrogation and detention methods after the September 11th attacks, it reportedly declined to tell the Secretary of State and other American ambassadors about its actions.
The revelation comes from the Senate’s still-unreleased report scrutinizing the United States’ post-9/11 interrogation techniques, and first came to the public’s attention Wednesday when the White House unintentionally emailed a document detailing the findings to an Associated Press reporter.
The report – parts of which could be declassified by the White House in the coming days – also apparently found that some of the ambassadors who were briefed on the CIA’s activity were told not to notify their superiors in the State Department. One congressional official confirmed to the AP that these findings are documented in the Senate’s report, while a former CIA official said then-Secretary of State Colin Powell may not have known about the agency’s techniques when they first started using them.
The White House document noted that the CIA employed slapping, humiliation, sleep-deprivation, exposure to cold temperatures, and waterboarding in its attempts to interrogate suspects. The document does not go as far as saying the methods are legally considered torture, but it does reportedly say the Senate report categorizes the techniques as “torture by a common definition.”
According to the AP, the White House document states that the State Department wishes to stand behind the report’s findings and harshly criticize the CIA.
“This report tells a story of which no American is proud,” the document says in a section labeled, “Topline Messages (as proposed by State).”
“But it is also part of another story of which we can be proud. America’s democratic system worked just as it was designed to work in bringing an end to actions inconsistent with our democratic values.”
The State Department also wants to maintain that the Senate report “leaves no doubt that the methods used to extract information from some terrorist suspects caused profound pain, suffering and humiliation. It also leaves no doubt that the harm caused by the use of these techniques outweighed any potential benefit.”
Additionally, the document features multiple questions that, presumably, the White House is preparing to answer if and when the findings of the Senate report becomes public. They include:
“Until now the (U.S. government) has avoided conceding that the techniques used in the RDI program constituted torture. Now that the report is released is the White House prepared to concede that people were tortured?”
“Doesn’t the report make clear that at least some who authorized or participated in the [CIA interrogation] program committed crimes? Will the Justice Department revisit its decision not to prosecute anyone?”
“Isn’t it clear that the CIA engaged in torture as defined in the Torture Convention?”
According to a Tuesday report from Reuters, the White House may very well declassify the Senate report’s 600-page summary within the next week or so. In addition to its conclusions on the CIA’s methods themselves, the report is believed to state that no significant counter-terror information was gained through the techniques, and that the CIA claimed greater, more beneficial results than the evidence supports.”
“The report concludes that the agency at first kept the then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and some US ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons.
The still-classified report also says some ambassadors who were told about interrogations of alleged al-Qaeda detainees at so-called black sites in their countries were instructed not to tell their superiors at the US State Department, says the memo, which is circulating among White House staff. [snip]
A congressional official who has read the Senate report confirmed that it makes the findings outlined in the memo. A former senior CIA official said Mr Powell eventually was informed about the program and sat in meetings during which harsh interrogation techniques were discussed. However, Mr Powell may not have been informed when the techniques were first used in 2002, the official said. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Mr Powell would not comment.
The former CIA official said it would be standard practice for ambassadors who were told about a covert operation to be instructed not to share it with others who did not have a “need to know”, as determined by the National Security Council.
The four-page White House memo contains the State Department’s preliminary proposed talking points in response to the Senate report. It is not clear who wrote it, or how influential it will be in tailoring the President Barack Obama administration’s ultimate response to an investigation that has been the subject of bitter disputes.”
I poked around the web a bit, and most websites followed suit as far as believing that the ‘leak’ to a Reuters reporter was accidental, although different paragraphs were featured. It seemed to be to be a pre-emptive whitewash of Colin Powell an certain ambassadors retroacctively, *and* a way to steer reporters (WH and State Dept. scribes) to which questions *matter*, and likely thereby limit the narrative.
Aha, I had thought; emptywheel must have seen this, and with her eagle eye and complete familiarity with the subject/s, would be able to see the memo for what it really is. And she did, in two different posts.
‘Tortured Diplomacy’, a few bits:
“This narrative — developed as part of the initial Senate Intelligence Committee effort to study torture which ultimately became the torture report — suggests Colin Powell may not have briefed on torture techniques until September 16, 2003.
According to CIA records, pursuant to a request from the National Security
Adviser, the Director of Central Intelligence subsequently briefed the Secretary of
State and the Secretary of Defense on the CIA’s interrogation techniques on
September 16, 2003.
That seems very late — but he was apparently specifically not invited to a July 2003 meeting at which Principals reauthorized torture even in light of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s treatment. And these two comments from 2009 were awfully vague.
Remember, in January 2002, Powell and others at State tried very hard to get Bush to adhere to the Geneva Conventions they failed. Which is probably why he didn’t find out for a long time.
In any case, the implication is that Powell’s Ambassadors knew, but Powell did not.
I’ve just started looking at who the Ambassadors in question might be — especially with AP’s anonymous and probably lying CIA source claiming Ambassadors did get told (which the CIA often doesn’t do but which is a violation of protocol) but two stick out right away.”
She then names a few ambassadors, and the likelihood of their having been briefed on the CIA’s use of torture… then an update:
“Update: Here’s a 2008 story (there were many similar ones at the time) that insinuates Powell was at the torture meetings. I think it’s meant to deceive.”
‘State’s Funny View of Our Democracy’, July 31, 2014
“The talking points are particularly pathetic for the way they try to turn the torture report — and our treatment of torture more generally — as proof of functional democracy.
The TPs claim the report is evidence of the government’s transparency…
The fundamental facts about this program have been known for some time. The U.S. government is committed to transparency and has released much of this information to the public before. This report adds additional details which confirm the wisdom of our national decision not to use such interrogation methods again.
… of our vibrant democracy…
America’s democratic system worked just as it was designed to work in bringing an end to actions inconsistent with our democratic values.
America can champion democracy and human rights around the world not because we are perfect, but because we can say that our democratic system enables us to confront and resolve our problems through open and honest debate. Our Congress issued this report, and the Obama administration strongly supported its declassification, in that spirit.
… and the separation of powers …
These interrogation methods were debated in our free media, challenged in our independent courts, and, just two years after their introduction, restricted by an act of our Congress sponsored by Senator John McCain and overwhelmingly backed by members of both of our political parties.”
The last talking point is particularly neat given that 1) it gets the timing of the Detainee Treatment Act (passed in late 2005, and therefore over 3.5 years after torture started, not 2) wrong — not to mention its efficacy at ending torture, and 2) the Executive, including this President, has prevented any court challenge to torture by claiming state secrets and immunity, and as recently as this month claimed the victims of our torture cannot describe their own torture before the Gitmo Kangaroo Court. John Kiriakou, in particular, will likely find this talking point curious.” [snip] (and I love this, and had not known it):
“Still, I can’t help but remember that Maria Harf was CIA spokesperson before she moved over to State — indeed, actually started on the analytical side of the house.
In any case, it’s nice to know that State thinks impunity for torture is a sign of a vibrant democracy.”
It will be pretty interesting to see the questions Marie or Psaki get asked at the next State Dept. briefings, eh?