State Dept: 'No American is proud' of CIA tactics

Senate report concludes that CIA's techniques on al-Qaida detainees captured after the 2001 attacks were far more brutal than previously understood
Associated Press
Jul 31, 2014


The State Department has endorsed the broad conclusions of a harshly critical Senate report on the CIA's interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks, a report that accuses the agency of brutally treating terror suspects and misleading Congress, according to a White House document.

"This report tells a story of which no American is proud," says the four-page document, which contains the State Department's preliminary proposed talking points in response to the classified Senate report, a summary of which is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

"But it is also part of another story of which we can be proud," adds the document, which was circulating this week among White House officials and which the White House accidentally emailed to an Associated Press reporter. "America's democratic system worked just as it was designed to work in bringing an end to actions inconsistent with our democratic values."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the talking points document a "particularly sensitive piece of information." And the State Department said the talking points were the work of one person, should not have been sent to the White House and don't represent the views of the department.

It's not clear who wrote the document or how influential it will be in tailoring the Obama administration's ultimate response to an investigation that has been the subject of bitter disputes. It is common practice for the White House to solicit talking points from key agencies involved in responding to a major news event, which the release of the Senate report will be.

The Senate report concludes that CIA's techniques on al-Qaida detainees captured after the 2001 attacks were far more brutal than previously understood. The tactics failed to produce life-saving intelligence, the report asserts, and the CIA misled Congress and the Justice Department about the interrogation program.

Current and former CIA officials hotly dispute those findings, as do some Senate Republicans. The fight over the report has poisoned the relationship between the CIA and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee and left the White House in a delicate position. President Barack Obama has branded some CIA techniques torture and ordered them stopped, but he also relies heavily on the spy agency, which still employs hundreds of people who were involved in some way in the interrogation program.

The report does not draw the legal conclusion that the CIA's actions constituted torture, though it makes clear that in some cases they amounted to torture by a common definition, two people who have read the report said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the still-classified document publicly by name.

The Senate report, the State Department proposes to say, "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."

Those methods included slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold, sleep deprivation and the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

The White House document is significant because it also reveals some of the State Department's concerns about how the CIA's tactics will be portrayed around the world.

The document lists a series of questions that appear to be designed to gauge what reporters, members of Congress and others might ask about the Obama administration's response to the Senate report. The document focuses in particular on the State Department's role.

"Doesn't the report make clear that at least some who authorized or participated in the RDI program committed crimes?" the document asks, referring to the program's formal internal name, the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. "Will the Justice Department revisit its decision not to prosecute anyone?"

And: "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?"

The document also says, "Isn't it clear that the CIA engaged in torture as defined in the Torture Convention?"

The document also sheds new light on what the Senate report says about the State Department's role in the CIA interrogation program.

It concludes that the agency initially kept the secretary of state and some U.S. ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons, according to the document.

The report also says some ambassadors who were informed about interrogations of al-Qaida detainees at so-called black sites in their countries were instructed not to tell their superiors at the State Department, the document says.

A congressional official who has read the Senate report confirmed that it makes the findings outlined in the document. A former senior CIA official said the secretary of state at the time, Colin Powell, eventually was informed about the program and sat in meetings in which harsh interrogation techniques were discussed. But Powell may not have been looped in when the techniques were first used in 2002, the official said. Powell cannot comment on a document he hasn't seen, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The former CIA official said it would be standard practice for ambassadors informed 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. Ambassadors in countries in which the CIA set up black sites to interrogate prisoners were usually told about it, said the official, who, like others interviewed for this story, would not be quoted by name because some of the information remained classified.

It's not clear exactly which U.S. officials knew about the practices at the time they began.




Now they just out sourced it so congress doesn't know about it. Its called "Transparency" now.

The Big Dog's back

It's actually called rendition.

Blackberry Phale

Do not be stupid liberal.

Obama can close GTMO with an EO.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Plausible Deniability - Plausible deniability refers to circumstances where a denial of responsibility or knowledge of wrongdoing can not be proved as true or untrue due to a lack of evidence proving the allegation. This term is often used in reference to situations where high ranking officials deny responsibility for or knowledge of wrongdoing by lower ranking officials. In those situations officials can "plausibly deny" an allegation even though it may be true.

It also refers to any act that leaves little or no evidence of wrongdoing or abuse.

Though on a humorous note, The Onion had this story up:

Report: Majority Of CIA Now Ready To Install Female World Leader


we should cut off their heads like they do to people. a little taste of their own medicine. that would make me proud!


Wow that is so shocking, Who would of thought we would do something like that. I'm glad kids are not involved.


Muslim terrorists treat their own people more heinous than we ever could.


Fire obama and give the cia a raise.

Darwin's choice


The failures are throwing everything they can out to take the glaring spotlight off the failure in the white house.


JMOP's picture

I fund this article utterly hilarious!!

First off:
The White House accidentally emailed to an Associated Press reporter. "America's democratic system worked just as it was designed to work in bringing an end to actions inconsistent with our democratic values."???
-accidentally??? Lol. I got a bridge for sale

Secondly the forms of torture used on terrorists:
Those methods included slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold, sleep deprivation and the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

I thought of crazier ideas. Like pulling teeth, nails and scraping your fingers against the chalkboard, but besides the waterboarding, the rest is what we girls did to each other at slumber parties!


After 9/11 attacks, I could care less what we did to al-Queda isn't like they don't deserve a little rough treatment.


NSA used the 9/11 event to target Americans in an enormously intrusive domestic spying program. NSA argues "In order to find the needle in the haystack, they need access to the whole haystack." I relooked at the Guardian's great work on NSA decoded - the Snowden files. Just the facts on the NSA domestic spying program - presented in the coolest format I’ve seen.

AJ Oliver

The rightists are all hot and bothered by (supposedly) illegal kids, but are just fine with TOTALLY ILLEGAL (per US law, International law, and the constitution) TORTURE - which shows their understanding of the rule of law.
Meanwhile, torturers walk free while whistle blowers rot behind bars. And BTW, since the Dubya admin. the government has also claimed the right to torture mistreat and jail americans without trial.
It's flat-out unamerican to be OK with all this.


You seem to be alright with it as it is going right now.
Normal people are appalled at the practice and yes people should be held accountable. Meanwhile LETS STOP THE PRACTICE ALTOGETHER. You like to play the left right game along with the border issue to avoid the fact that it does not matter who is in office the torture continues and the president has failed at his job of protecting our borders.
P.S. While were at it how about some explain why the CIA is working inside the US. That is strictly illegal in itself.


I like Zerohedge; they put out some good stuff.


Yes, torture is theoretically illegal. Do you suppose that means no signatory does it? Do you believe ALL "feel good" legislation?

Our government gets away with what some call torture (and others do not) by calling it something else entirely. Whatever you term things that are uncomfortable (at best) but which cause no permanent damages, let me ask you this: What do YOU think we (or any other country) should do to get information from hardened terrorists? Ask them nicely? Pat them on the head and tell them to be better human beings from now on and let them go?

We're talking about people who wontonly murder innocents on a disturbingly regular basis. We're talking about people who stone women for minor "offenses." We're talking about people who behead men for espousing the "wrong" religion, or being insufficiently devout in their adherence to the "right" religion.

The people at Gitmo who were so TERRIBLY "mistreated" aren't innocents. They're ENEMIES, and we're in a war whether you term it as such or not. Personally, I'm all for trying them in a military court and summarily executing every last one of them. But if we can get information out of them first, well, a little sleep deprivation or "humiliation" seems pretty tame to ME!

I agree with you about the whistle-blowers, and I certainly agree with you about the right to jail Americans without trial, or even charges (Why are you blaming Dubya for THOSE? Obama has been notoriously vindictive toward whistleblowers, and the handy dandy edict permitting unsupported detentions came under your beloved Obama administration!) But I disagree entirely with your notion that "terrorists are people, too!" YOU go give one of those boys a big sloppy hug and see if you survive your bleeding heart experience without shedding any real blood.


Reading dog's and coastie's posts is torture....


* I agree with you on the whistleblowers. Funny thing is, Obama has prosecuted more of them (6) than all other presidents combined (3).
* I agree we shouldn't kill American citizens with drones without a trial. Oh yeah, that would be Obama too.
Do I think this is just Obama? No. The Patriot Act is an outrageous invasion of our rights. That, I believe, was Bush, but it has been continued.

AJ Oliver

Hey Mr. Done-Gone: No I'm not OK with it at all. Sorry if I gave that impression. Obama, to his ever-lasting shame, has taken the illegality even farther than Bush by claiming that the govt. has the right to KILL US citizens without a trial. Un-flippin'-believable.
But you can see in the comments above that the rightists don't seem at all bothered by torture as long as it is practiced on someone they don't like. As you write, it must stop.
As George Washington wrote in 1775, "Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."


Congrats on being intellectually honest. It's refreshing. I am not sure anymore who are right wingers and who are left. People are people and most on both sides I still think can be reasonable. A lot of times, we just don't have all the facts.

The Big Dog's back

bush lied, 4,489 Americans have died in Iraq. They didn't have a trial. They weren't ask to vote.

Blackberry Phale

The White House is run by amateurs.

The Big Dog's back

Aaaaaaa, that was wen bush and cheney were in.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I echo your appreciation and sentiment.


"The rightists are all hot and bothered by (supposedly) illegal kids, but are just fine with TOTALLY ILLEGAL (per US law, International law, and the constitution) TORTURE - which shows their understanding of the rule of law."
By most I am considered Right on this blog (To a extent i have a lot of individualistic views, Not communal ones)and i see that statement as biased in the extreme. Most everyone knows that torture is wrong, Some like to bend the rules if it saves American lives and that is their opinion, NOT the law itself.I see that on the right AND the left. We as Americans need to hold ourselves to a higher standard than other countries not because of we want others to think of us as better but because WE ARE BETTER. We are so good in fact we do not as other countries have done and Some Leftist (Dog and Obama followers)have to go so far as to violate our own laws to kill citizens without a trial.( it has started and we will see more of it before its over)
The partisan stuff and blame has got to stop as some actively advocate for the demise of the others in public forums. How many times have we all read "I cannot wait till the 40-70 yr old crowd die out so we can move forward"? That's sicking, People actually wish death on others for political views?

The Big Dog's back

No, just the teatard crowd.


Oh look, There's one of those people who want the government to be able to kill citizens without due process now.

The Big Dog's back

Not people, just teatards. You have to have a brain to be a person. They don't qualify.


That's the same mentality of a certain political party who took power in Germany in 1933. I have said it many times, It is people like you that are a bigger threat to our country than terrorist.


CIA & Nazi link. (General Galen). Isn't history great? (Lets never forget Bush & the T-4 program either)

AJ Oliver

The US 2001-present torture went way beyond what is in the article - see Abu Ghraib.
And the idea that some people "deserve it" is really pernicious - that's the attitude that most US troops were taught in Vietnam (I was one). It led to horrific abuses of the Vietnamese people. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it's still the truth.

Blackberry Phale

"...we tortured some folks" may very well be the first wholly honest statement Obama has made since being elected.