- David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Friday, June 12, 2009
According to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “This report is sort of the big kahuna in terms of what we have been waiting to see from the government’s own files on torture. That report, which is long and has been described by people who have seen it as ’sickening,’ apparently stopped the torture program in its tracks.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) recently warned in a speech on the floor of the Senate that almost everything we think we know about the Bush administration’s torture program is wrong.
“There has been a campaign of falsehood about this whole sorry episode,” Whitehouse stated. “We’ve been misled about nearly every aspect of this program. … Measured against the information I’ve been able to get access to, the storyline that we have been led to believe … is false in every one of its dimensions.”
Maddow then asked Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff whether the report will fill in the mission information to which Whitehouse referred.
“We don’t know how complete the disclosures are going to be,” Isikoff cautioned. “Will we see the complete unredacted report? That is the key question here.”
“There are three key questions to look for,” Isikoff explained. “Were there harsh interrogations that began before the … legal authorizations? … Did they go beyond what was authorized? … Did it go beyond just finding out about possible plots against the United States to provide other information, such as supplying possible evidence that could be used to justify the war in Iraq?”
Isikoff noted that there are footnotes in the torture memos already released which “quote from the Inspector General’s report that what was actually done went beyond what was authorized — that how waterboarding was conducted, the frequency with which it was conducted, and the manner in which it was conducted was beyond what the CIA told the Justice Department it was going to do when the Justice Department authorized the technique.”
Isikoff emphasized, however, that almost none of this information is being released voluntarily. It’s being slowly pried out through Freedom of Information Act requests, most of them filed by the ACLU, and “it’s become trench warfare — document by document.”
“The CIA and the intelligence community has pushed back hard,” Isikoff stressed. “People in the intelligence community never wanted this stuff out to begin with.”