The Most Transparent Admin Evah™ Boasts of Declassifying 6.2% of Torture Report

As you likely know, when the White House delivered the torture report back to the Senate Intelligence Committee, they discovered that the Intelligence Community had redacted big chunks of the summary. McClatchy’s latest report reveals the CIA blacked out the pseudonyms of torturers that SSCI had used to hide their real names.

Tom Mentzer, a spokesman for the committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told McClatchy on Monday that the blackouts _ officially known as redactions _ were made to pseudonyms used for both covert CIA officers and foreign countries.

“No covert CIA personnel or foreign countries are named in the report,” he said. “Only pseudonyms were used, precisely to protect this kind of information. Those pseudonyms were redacted (by the administration).”

All of the pseudonyms were excised from the version of the executive summary that the White House returned to the committee on Friday, a person familiar with the issue said.

I presume CIA felt they had to do this because the names of the torturers are not, in fact secret. We know that Bruce Jessen reverse engineered the torture and Alfreda Bikowsky ordered the rendition of Khalid el-Masri. Keeping the pseudonyms the SSCI used for each secret prevents us from developing a more complete list of the things each did, including the legally actionable things.

In other words, the CIA is redacting things to hide evidence of crimes.

Behind this spat is a more general question: whether redacting 15%  of an executive summary is excessive or not. Martin Heinrich says it makes the report unreadable.

“Redactions are supposed to remove names or anything that could compromise sources and methods, not to undermine the source material so that it is impossible to understand,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the committee, said Sunday in a statement. “Try reading a novel with 15 percent of the words blacked out. It can’t be done properly.”

James Clapper and White House spokesperson Josh Earnest say leaving 85% of the summary is very “transparent.”

Josh Earnest justified the redactions, telling reporters: “We’re talking about very sensitive information here. And it’s important that a declassification process be carried out that protects sources and methods and other information that is critical to our national security.”

He noted that more than 85 percent of the executive summary wasn’t blacked out.

But as Katherine Hawkins noted on Twitter, that’s doing the math wrong. The Executive Branch has already decided that the overwhelming majority of the report — the more detailed chapters — will not be released at all right now. The roughly 408 pages the Administration has decided we can see represents just 6.2% of the report — 408 pages out of 6,600.

SSCI wrote the summary so that it could be released, with the perhaps futile expectation that the rest of the report will be released after Bikowsky and others are no longer still working (!!) for the Agency. And yet the Most Transparent Administration Evah™ believes that even releasing that much is too much transparency and democracy for us.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. wallace says:

    quote”In other words, the CIA is redacting things to hide evidence of crimes.”unquote

    OH. MY. GOD. Really?…whuddathunk.
    note..file immediately under
    a. Clues the DCOTP(tm) overlook while KUWTK.
    b. Things that go DUH! in the night.

    quote”SSCI wrote the summary so that it could be released, with the perhaps futile expectation that the rest of the report will be released after Bikowsky and others are no longer still working (!!)”unquote

    Living proof the SSCI have a vested interest in staying alive even after they too are no longer working for CIA.

    acronym index:
    DCOTP(tm)=Dumbest Country on the Planet(trademark pending)
    KUWTK(tm)=Keeping up with the Kardasians(trademark pending)
    SSCI=Super Secret Cockroaches Inc.

  2. wallace says:

    ps.. (the) Most Transparent Administration Evah™..otherwise known as the OOD’s award winning euphemism, the MTAE.. will go down as numero uno in the historical annals of Great Moments in PLTTT.

    Meanwhile, I’m ROTFIGSH, notwithstanding RMEICOBP.

    acronym index #2:
    OOD=Office of Obfuscation and Doublespeak
    PLTTT=Politicians Lying Through Their Teeth.
    ROTFIGSL=Rolling On The Floor in Gut Splitting Hysteria
    RMEICOBP=Rolling My Eyes In Contempt of Biblical Proportions

  3. Jeffrey Kaye says:

    Wait a minute. I thought it was the Intelligence Committee itself that decided not to release the full report. I don’t believe the Executive Branch can order the Senate not to release something.

    While the political decision may have come from the Oval Office, doesn’t the final decision what to release rest with the legislative branch entity that conducted the investigation and wrote the report?

    This does not take away from the issue surrounding censorship of the Exec Summary. Still, did not SSCI agree to the CIA’s role in the review process?

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      In regards to my last comment, the relevant information was posted by Jason Leopold last January at Press Freedom Foundation: DOJ: Feinstein’s Committee Controls Torture Report; Has Final Say Over Public Release.

      One relevant portion:

      The SSCI Report was provided to the Department of Justice under strict controls, for the explicit purpose of conducting the information review described by Chairman Feinstein,” states an eight-page declaration signed by Vanessa Brinkmann, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy. “Subject to Executive Branch classification review to protect against the public disclosure of classified information, SSCI has reserved complete control to make any public release of the document once Executive Branch comments are provided to SSCI for review.”

  4. wallace says:

    quote”I thought it was the Intelligence Committee itself that decided not to release the full report.”unquote

    hmmm, I thought they did that per.. SSCI agreement to the CIA’s role in the review process. Of course, this was prior to the staffer’s computers getting hacked by CIA, right?

    quote“Subject to Executive Branch classification review to protect against the public disclosure of classified information, SSCI has reserved complete control to make any public release of the document once Executive Branch comments are provided to SSCI for review.”unquote

    Executive Branch comments??? Is that what they call “redactions”? In any case, if this report in total, isn’t released, redacted or not, at least we know WHO is holding it up now.
    Question is..if it’s redacted…why hold up releasing it? Don’t answer…let me guess. Ummm, …national security, right? Right.

    Meanwhile, the entire IC has a brand new name…the Fourth Branch. whudda thunk..

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175876/#.U9-AWhye2c8.twitter

    Meanwhile, in lieu of the SENATE report, if you want to know how fucking weird the CIA is, read the Park report. ..in it’s entirety. It’s the Senate report equivalent of CIA’s predecessor..the OSS..unbelievable.(ps..it’s in many parts)

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjM2o1Nm9YTk5ibTQ/edit?usp=sharing

    Appendix I (Page 1 to 10):
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjMWVNQnVwd2tEbzA/edit?usp=sharing

    Appendix I (Page 11 to 20):
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjMGNXcWlzNGNJcFU/edit?usp=sharing

    Appendix I (Page 21 to 30):
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjb3hfVVFWeGd4ajA/edit?usp=sharing

    Appendix I (Page 31 to 40):
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjUnE1VWpMZ2JrV0U/edit?usp=sharing

    Appendix II:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjQ1ZBUldTa0dxcVU/edit?usp=sharing

    Appendix III:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6BI_OoKPhKjZ2EtQVlReXFKRjA/edit?usp=sharing

  5. TarheelDem says:

    If there are any Senators who care about the governance of this county, they should leak the entire report now. Publications with secure dropboxes are standing by.

    Otherwise, just go home and end the pretense.

    • edge says:

      I suspect the IC is well aware that if Wyden or Udall were to ever lose their bids for re-election, the IC might find a whole lot of interesting information placed in the congressional public record under the full protection of the debate clause.

  6. overthrow-r1b says:

    The main “adversarial journalists” should just get together and write their own “torture report” based on victims statements and descriptions. It will be allot more accurate and allot less beneficial to USG.
    Make it very simple, basic and easy to understand.

    What’s the point anyways, they’re using the most advanced technology they have which is all stolen from non-r1b scientists (or invented while holding everyone else’s arms down) and technologists and they’re using it for torture research and experimentation. That’s it, that’s what they’re doing. And it has an absolute zero to do with terrorism to begin with, it’s just their excuse which is just smart enough to fool their “majority” which is themselves.

    Conclusion: They’re leadership is retarded, extract them from authority. insert group of unadulterated representatives from all populations that already unanimously agree on everything, because they all have the same natural common sense.

Comments are closed.