picture-126.thumbnail.pngWIndy has put the two documents Dick Cheney wanted released up (or go to CCR’s somewhat clearer versions).

The most important thing to understand about these documents–aside from the very, um, finished feel that graphics like the one on the left give it–is the timing. The first one came just after (July 17, 2004) the release of the IG Report and was, significantly, an attempt to rationalize the torture program. And the other came at a time (June 3, 2005) when Congress was increasingly pressuring the Administration to bring the torture program under CAT guidelines prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment.

So they’re big PR pieces, boasting of how important KSM is to their fight against terror, boasting of how much information they’ve gotten from detainees. 

The pieces do (and I suspect would even more so if not so heavily redacted) sort of contradict themselves. For example, the 2005 document reveals that "almost immediately following his capture in March 2003, [KSM] elaborated on his plot to crash commercial jets into Heathrow."

The IG Report, in its section on efficacy, says, 

On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete.

So which is correct? The claim, made in 2004, that this early info was outdated? Or the claim made in 2005 that it was worthwhile?

As Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Gitanjali Gutierrez says of them:

These are the documents Dick Cheney was so excited to see declassified, but they don’t make the case for torture, they only show that the CIA is able to tailor documents to justify its actions after the fact. The descent into torture has made the world a darker and more dangerous place for everyone.

Have fun with these. I’m going to head out and do some drinking to celebrate mr. ew’s very successful defense of his Master’s Thesis today. I’ll have way more on all this tomorrow.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.