California Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein, a longtime member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a staunch past public defender of the CIA, broke ranks yesterday to expose repeated CIA lies to the Intelligence Committee about the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program against suspected terrorists. She charges that documents provided by former director Leon Panetta proved this program to have included “harsh” torture, contrary to statements of the CIA leaders under oath before the Committee.
Further, she accuses the CIA of destroying or removing previously provided electronic records of interrogations where numerous torture methods – not only waterboarding – were used. These records were made available electronically by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, but have now disappeared from the network drive provided by the CIA to the Committee.
Senator Feinstein went public to counter CIA cover-up lies by current director John Brennan alleging the Committees’ own staff was responsible for “hacking” the information.
It does not take too much speculation to see the outlines of the unfolding scandal. Vice President Cheney for sure, and probably President Bush, and possibly even President Obama (despite his campaign promises to oppose and end the torture programs), instructed the CIA to use any means necessary to extract information from suspects. Cheney, indeed, has been openly contemptuous of analyses that shows little to no, even negative, consequences for both intelligence and lives, in using torture methods.
CIA officers clearly engaged in torture and did so under either direct or indirect orders from the highest level, and are now clearly attempting to organize a cover-up in the face of several investigations of criminal actions in the torture program. Because the true leaders who ordered the torture are now effectively beyond the reach of the law, the CIA officers have been left hanging, and are now burning bridges.
I welcome Senator Feinstein’s courage. No one should be naive about the lengths to which torturers will go to avoid the reckoning they surely deserve. It remains to be seen if Congress can make even a dent in the arrogance of the CIA, and, since we are living in the post-Snowden and Wikileaks world, the entire national security establishment. If they do not, one trembles to think of the costs in blood and treasure that will ultimately be paid if the people have to fix this corruption themselves.
The outrages of torture, gross interference in the affairs of other nations (that then sets up grounds for disastrous military occupations and invasions), the Cold War mentality of numerous pockets in state, foreign policy, intelligence and defense institutions, the near mutiny of the Petraeus – McChrystal faction over winding down the Iraq and Afghan wars, the recent war fever against Iran and Syria, and State Department provocations in the Ukraine, from the same quarters as well – these are all recent signs of serious anti-democratic tendencies.
One more speculation – or apprehension: are defense industries – the “military-industrial complex” – finally fulfilling the dark destiny warned by President Eisenhower more than a half century ago? Are they aggravating and intensifying, even creating, conflicts just to keep themselves in business?