The CIA’s torture report response

Micah Zenko writes: There will be a tremendous number of reactions to the graphic and troubling findings contained in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) study’s executive study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. There will be far fewer reactions to the CIA response to the SSCI, in the form of a June 27, 2013, memo that the CIA released today. According to a forward from Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan, “The CIA’s comments on the Study were the result of a comprehensive and thorough review of the Study’s 20 conclusions and 20 case studies.” However, there is one CIA acknowledgment that should be as disturbing as anything that is contained within the SSCI study itself.

Page 24 of the CIA memo addresses the SSCI’s conclusion that the “CIA never conducted its own comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” The CIA’s response:

We agree with Conclusion 10 in full. It underpins the most important lesson that we have drawn from The Study: CIA needs to develop the structure, expertise, and methodologies required to more objectively and systematically evaluate the effectiveness of our covert actions.

We draw this lesson going forward fully aware of how difficult it can be to measure the impact of a particular action or set of actions on an outcome in a real-world setting.

Therefore, the CIA admitted that—as late as June 2013—it was simply incapable of evaluating the effectiveness of its covert activities. This apparently made it impossible for CIA officials and those within the Counterterrorism Center (CTC), who were responsible for detaining and interrogating the 119 known detainees, to examine and assess if this detention and interrogation program was working at all. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email