Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Barack Obama asked to declassify Senate report on CIA interrogations

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Press Trust of India | Washington | Posted: August 5, 2014 3:19 pm

A group of retired military generals has asked US President Barack Obama to declassify a Senate report on CIA interrogations expected to be released this week. “The CIA’s programme prompted a public discussion about whether these enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) produced reliable information,” a group of 15 interrogators, interviewers and intelligence officials said in a letter to Obama.

“We are not surprised that those who have read the intelligence committee study say that it concludes that the use of EITs produced little valuable intelligence. Based on our experience, torture and other forms of abusive or coercive techniques are more likely to generate unreliable information and have repeatedly proven to be counterproductive as a means of securing the enduring cooperation of a detained individual,” the letter said.

The letter comes as the committee and the executive branch are engaged in discussions about the extent to which the report should be redacted. The 600-page executive summary promises to provide details on the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices, setting the record straight on the use of torture and shedding light on the claims that torture played a significant role in gaining actionable intelligence post 9/11.

In April, following a concerted campaign led by Human Rights First, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 to declassify the report. “There is no substitute for leadership from the top on an issue like this. You have to set the direction for your administration that torture is unacceptable,” a group of retired military officers said in another letter to Obama.

“We agree with President Obama that the report, ‘reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured not by what we do when things are easy, but by what we do when things are hard’,” the letter said.

“However, the CIA’s response to the oversight process on enhanced interrogation techniques shows real reluctance on the part of the agency to grapple with its post-9/11 mistakes and ensure that those mistakes never happen again,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala.

“Release of the report’s findings should prompt Congress to act to ensure that America never again resorts to torture or cruel and inhumane treatment. President Obama should direct the CIA and the rest of his administration to engage the report’s key findings, rather than defend agency actions that are indefensible,” Wala said.

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