TIME intelligence

Here’s What Made George W. Bush Uncomfortable About Torture

George W. Bush
President Bush speaks about the war on terror at a hotel in Washington on Sept. 29, 2006. Charles Dharapak—AP

The CIA’s interrogation and detention programs occurred under President George W. Bush, but even he had reservations, according to a Senate report.

The Senate report released Tuesday says that the CIA did not brief President Bush on specific interrogation techniques until April 2006 and that he expressed reservation about one technique then.

According to footnote 17 on page 18 of the introduction:

According to CIA records, when briefed in April 2006, the president expressed discomfort with the “image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.”

Footnote 179 on page 40 elaborates that the account of Bush’s discomfort came from en email from a psychologist working as a CIA contractor, who was given the pseudonym “Grayson Swigert” in the report, about a June 7, 2006, meeting the contractor had with the director of the CIA.

The footnote goes on to note that the CIA did not dispute that account, but went on to say that agency records were incomplete and that Bush said in his autobiography that he discussed the program with CIA Director George Tenet in 2002 and “personally approved the techniques.”

Bush first publicly acknowledged the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program in September of 2006.

TIME intelligence

Here’s What Dianne Feinstein Said About the Torture Report

The California Democrat began speaking at length about the report's release Tuesday morning

Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the practices detailed in the declassified report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program a “stain on our values and on our history.”

The California Democrat spoke passionately on the Senate floor Tuesday morning as the 600-page report detailing the CIA’s post 9/11-era detainee practices, including torture was released.

The critical report finds that the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” including waterboarding, which the UN says should be classified as torture, and sleep deprivation was “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.” The report also found that the CIA’s detention sites were poor and the agency provided inaccurate information about the program to the federal government.

“The implications of this report are profound,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said Tuesday, speaking on the Senate floor. “Not only is torture wrong, but it doesn’t work.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has faced an uphill battle to release parts of the report, which runs about 6,000 pages in total. Senate Democrats and the CIA have gone back and forth about how much of the report should be released. At one point, Sen. Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on committee members working to declassify documents. In July, CIA Director John Brennan apologized for the spying.

The Pentagon announced last week they had begun warning combat troops to prepare for any backlash from the report. NBC News reported Monday that about 2,000 Marines are on alert in and around the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea.

On Tuesday, Sen. Feinstein said she had gone back and forth over whether the committee should delay the release of the report given the instability across many parts of the world.

”There may never be a right time to release the report,”Feinstein said, but she added that the report is “too important to shelve indefinitely.”

TIME intelligence

A Timeline of the Interrogation Program

The CIA’s controversial interrogation and detention programs lasted from 2002 to 2007, but the full timeline of how it developed and how it ended goes longer than that.

Here’s a look at the key dates in the report.

Sept. 11, 2001: Al Qaeda carries out terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Sept. 17, 2001: President Bush signs a classified covert action memorandum authorizing the CIA to detain terrorists.

Feb. 7, 2002: President Bush signs a memorandum stating that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the global conflict with al Qaeda.

March-April 2002: Abu Zubaydah is captured in Pakistan and transferred to CIA custody. He is interrogated jointly by FBI and CIA officers.

June 2002: CIA officers place Abu Zubaydah in isolation for 47 days. The FBI never returns to the CIA interrogation site.

Aug. 1, 2002: The justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issues two memoranda (one classified and one unclassified) concluding that the CIA’s proposed “enhanced interrogation techniques” did not violate the federal anti-torture statute. The classified memorandum addressed specific techniques, including waterboarding, for use on Abu Zubaydah.

Aug. 4-30, 2002: After a prolonged period of isolation, CIA interrogators subject Abu Zubaydah to near-constant coercive interrogation techniques, including the first application of waterboarding.

September 2002: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby are first briefed on the CIA interrogation program. (Later, Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller are briefed when they become chairman and vice chairman.)

November 2002: After being captured and detained by a foreign country, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is transferred to CIA custody and transported to the same detention facility where Abu Zubaydah is located. Al-Nashiri is also subjected to the CIA’s coercive techniques, including water boarding. (Interrogations during this period are videotaped.)

November 2002: CIA detainee Gul Rahman dies while being held and interrogated by the CIA at a separate CIA detention facility from where Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri are held.

Dec. 28, 2002 – Jan. 1, 2003: Al-Nashiri is threatened with a handgun and drill during a CIA interrogation.

January 2003: The CIA Office of Inspector General begins a review of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

March 2003: Khalid Sheikh Muhammad is captured and transferred to a CIA detention site where he is subjected to the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques, including 183 instances of waterboarding.

July 2003: The CIA and some members of the National Security Council meet and reaffirm the use of the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Sept. 16, 2003: The CIA first briefs the Secretaries of State and Defense on the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, according to CIA records.

May 7, 2004: The CIA’s inspector general completes a review of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

June 2004: The Office of Legal Counsel withdraws its unclassified Aug. 1, 2002 memorandum containing a legal analysis of the anti-torture statute. While the office begins to draft a new memorandum, the CIA continues to interrogate detainees in custody.

August-September 2004: The Office of Legal Counsel issues letters to the CIA advising that the use of the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques against specific, named detainees does not violate the federal anti-torture statute.

Dec. 30, 2004: The Office of Legal Counsel issues a revised, unclassified memorandum that supersedes the withdrawn unclassified August 1, 2002 memorandum.

May 2005: The Office of Legal Counsel provides three classified legal memoranda. The first two, issued on May 10, 2005, address the legality of the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques, individually and in combination, under the federal anti-torture statute. The third memorandum, issues on May 30, 2005, analyzes the techniques under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture.

November 2, 2005: The Washington Post publishes an article about the existence of a secret, global detention and interrogation program run by the CIA.

Nov. 8-9, 2005: Contrary to the direction from the White House and the Office of the DNI, the director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez, authorizes the destruction of videotapes depicting the use of the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, against Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri from 2002.

December 2005: Congress passes the Detainee Treatment Act, prohibiting the use of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” against any “individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government.”

June 29, 2006: The Supreme Court, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, holds that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to the U.S. conflict with al-Qaeda and that detention at Guantanamo must comply with the Geneva Conventions.

Aug. 31, 2006: The Office of Legal Counsel issues a memorandum analyzing the application of the Detainee Treatment Act to the conditions of confinement for CIA detainees.

Sept. 6, 2006: Senate Intelligence Committee members other than the chairman and vice chairman are brief on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program for the first time. The briefing was limited, as the administration was preparing for the public acknowledgment of the CIA program by President Bush hours later that same day. In his speech, the President provides specific claims of plots thwarted and terrorists captured, attributing much of this information to the CIA’s use of an “alternative set of [interrogation] procedures.”

Sept. 28-29, 2006: Congress passes the Military Commissions Act, which provides that particular violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are subject to criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act. The law provided that that president has the authority “to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.”

July 20, 2007: President Bush signs Executive Order 13440 stating that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program “fully complies with the obligations of the United States under Common Article 3,” and authorizes the CIA’s continued use of certain interrogation practices as determined by the CIA director. In conjunction with the release of the Executive Order, The Office of Legal Counsel issues a memorandum analyzing the legality of the techniques under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act, and the War Crimes Act.

Dec. 6, 2007: The New York Times reports that the CIA destroyed interrogation videotapes in November 2005. The CIA acknowledges that the interrogation videotapes—depicting CIA interrogations using the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002—were destroyed.

Dec. 11, 2007: In a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, CIA Director Hayden offers to allow a small number of SSCI staff to review CIA operational cables that describe the interrogation sessions that had been videotaped, given that the video recordings had been destroyed.

Jan. 2, 2008: Attorney General Michael Mukasey selects Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a criminal investigation into the destruction of interrogation videotapes by the CIA.

March 8, 2008: President Bush vetoes the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which would have limited CIA interrogations to techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual.

Jan. 22, 2009: President Barack Obama issues Executive Order 13491, rescinding Executive Order 13440, banning the CIA’s detention authority, and restricting the CIA to interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual.

TIME intelligence

Senate Torture Report Describes CIA Interrogation Program

Senate Democrats say the methods were illegal and ineffective

Thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. by the terrorist group al Qaeda, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a 500-page assessment of the program of harsh interrogation and detention used by the Central Intelligence Agency from 2002 to 2007 on more than a hundred members of the terrorist organization after their capture.

Based on 6.2 million pages of documents, photos and other CIA files, the report presents evidence that the agency’s interrogation methods were brutal and possibly illegal, that they were poorly managed, and that the agency misrepresented it to the White House, the Justice Department, Congress and the American people. Ultimately, the Senate Democrats conclude the methods used were not effective, and were not worth the costs to reputation and national security that resulted from the program.

Aspects of the detention and interrogation of al Qaeda suspects, according to the report, included: a detainee becoming unconscious during the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, requiring medical attention as he regurgitated air and water; a detainee dying from exposure to extreme cold shackled to the floor in what government observers later described as a dungeon; detainees’ injuries being allowed to deteriorate as part of interrogation; and psychological effects from interrogation including hallucinations, paranoia, self-harm and self-mutilation. The report also finds the CIA at times lost detainees and discovered them only after days of neglect.

President Barack Obama said the report detailed a “troubling” program and showed that “some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values.”

“That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad,” Obama said in a statement.

“These techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners,” Obama added. “That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the intelligence committee who has spent years fighting CIA and Republican resistance to producing and releasing the report previously said, “If the Senate can declassify this report, we will be able to ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted.”

Current and former intelligence officials, and Republican members of Congress strongly dispute the characterization of the program and the CIA’s actions, arguing that it produced much of the information that led to the successful efforts by the Bush and Obama administrations to roll back the central leadership of al Qaeda. Republican members of the intelligence committee released at the same time a 100-plus page minority report dissenting with some of the findings and conclusions of the Democrat’s document.

The CIA also released a summary of its response to the SSCI report rebutting many of the findings. Of the 20 cases the SSCI report cites to show the CIA program was ineffective, the agency disagrees with all but two. “We acknowledge that the detention and interrogation program had shortcomings and that the Agency made mistakes,” said CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan said the interrogation of detainees “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.” The agency argues that it is impossible to say whether the harsh techniques produced intelligence that would otherwise have been obtained through less harsh methods. Brennan said the SSCI report provides an “incomplete and selective picture of what occurred.”

The report is likely to produce extended political battles over what information was known about the CIA program, by whom and at what time. The report finds evidence that both the CIA and some at the White House took steps to limit questions about the legality of the program and the number of senior Bush administration officials who were aware of it. It finds that President Bush first learned of the details of the interrogation techniques in 2006 and appeared uncomfortable with some of them, including the image of a prisoner shackled and having to go to the bathroom on himself.

The underlying question that authors and opponents of the report both would like to see settled in the debate is whether the techniques described in the report should ever be used again. Vice President Dick Cheney, former CIA director Michael Hayden, and many others argue that it was legal, effective and crucial in the fight against terrorism. Feinstein, President Obama, and many outside human rights groups say the techniques were wrong and crossed the line into torture, violating core American values.

TIME intelligence

New NSA Privacy Chief Promises Transparency

NSA Surveillance-Privacy Report
The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md., June 6, 2013. Patrick Semansky—AP

In a Q&A online, Rebecca Richards promised a new era in transparency at the United States’ eavesdropping agency

The National Security Agency’s newly appointed Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer Rebecca Richards said Monday in an online Q& A she hopes to inject a sense of transparency into the secretive spy agency.

“Until somewhat recently, relatively little information about NSA was public. And the information that was made available rarely discussed the safeguards in place to protect civil liberties and privacy,” Richards said. “One of my goals is to share what NSA does to protect civil liberties and privacy. This will take time, but we must start somewhere.”

Richards conducted an online question and answer session Monday through the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Richards position was create earlier this year following recommendations from the White House on privacy reforms within the NSA. Those recommendations were made in response to revelations of privacy violations contained in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Much of her Q&A was little more than a defense of the agency but Richards did identify her four primary goals as privacy chief.

  1. Advise NSA leadership including the director.
  2. Build systematic and holistic civil liberties and privacy processes.
  3. Improve civil liberties and privacy protections through research, education, and training.
  4. Increase transparency.

Richards also revealed that the NSA is preparing to launch a privacy and civil liberties internship or work exchange program as part of its privacy initiative.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 18

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The worst ceasefire: Russia and Ukraine are both preparing for war as their uneasy peace slips away.

By Jamie Dettmer in the Daily Beast

2. With the rise of legal cannabis, the small-holders running the industry may soon be run off by the “Marlboro of Marijuana”

By Schumpeter in the Economist

3. From taking India to Mars on the cheap to pulling potable water from thin air: Meet the top global innovators of 2014.

By the writers and editors of Foreign Policy

4. Some charter schools promote aggressive policies of strict discipline, and that strategy may be backfiring.

By Sarah Carr in the Hechinger Report

5. As local police forces become intelligence agencies, we need sensible policies to balance privacy and public safety.

By Jim Newton in the Los Angeles Times

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME intelligence

Tech Firms Push NSA Reform Bill as Senate Vote Approaches

The USA FREEDOM Act still faces challenges from both sides

In an open letter to U.S. Senators a powerful coalition of technology companies including Google, Apple, Facebook and others called for passage of the USA FREEDOM Act surveillance reform package as Sen. Harry Reid scheduled a vote to advance the measure Tuesday.

“The Senate has the opportunity to send a strong message of change to the world and encourage other countries to adopt similar protections,” wrote CEOs of the companies comprising the Reform Government Surveillance coalition. The CEOs called the bill “bipartisan” and said it “protects national security and reaffirms America’s commitment to the freedoms we all cherish.” Signatories to the letter include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Larry Page, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Twitter’s Dick Costolo and others.

The USA FREEDOM Act is a package of changes to the way the U.S. National Security Agency conducts mass surveillance of American citizens chiefly sponsored by Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D—VT). Debate over the issue accelerated a year and a half ago after leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed vast non-public surveillance programs and duplicity on the part of some officials about the extent of the programs.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D—Nevada) called for a cloture vote on Tuesday to end debate. Cloture requires a 60-vote majority is likely to be the biggest hurdle the legislation would face on its path out of Congress.

Though major interest groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the President’s own surveillance reform task force have backed the compromise legislation passage is anything but certain. Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D—CA) is reported to have reservations about the bill and other surveillance hawks have expressed outright hostility toward the measure. On the other side of the issue, libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul has said he will oppose the bill for not going far enough to rein the NSA.

In current form the bill puts new limits on the NSA’s ability legally to gather up bulk U.S. phone meta-data and installs special privacy advocates in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the body that oversees and authorizes NSA activities. The measure also forbids the NSA from storing data it collects in its own computers, instead requiring telecom companies to retain the data for up to five years. Some critics say the measure puts onerous restrictions on the NSA’s ability to protect Americans from harm. Others say the bill actually codifies and formalizes surveillance practices that once existed in a legal grey area.

“This is a first step in surveillance reform. This is by no means the whole kit and caboodle,” Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office Laura Murphy tells TIME. “For over the last decade we’ve been empowering government with more and more capabilities to surveil with less and less protections for its citizens. This legisaition would mark a departure from the trajectory since 9-11. We think it’s a very important first step.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Superfast quantum computers could drastically change the future, and Microsoft might build the first one.

By Tom Simonite in MIT Technology Review

2. Water-smart urban design can reimagine life in Western cities suffering the worst drought in decades.

By Reed Karaim in JSTOR Daily

3. The new censorship: How intimidation, mass surveillance, and shrinking resources are making the press less free.

By George Packer in the New Yorker

4. A new approach to housing for families at risk that includes intensive, wrap-around services is showing early success.

By Mary Cunningham, Maeve Gearing, Michael Pergamit, Simone Zhang, Marla McDaniel, Brent Howell at the Urban Institute

5. Our best bet in the fight against Boko Haram might be sharing lessons on intelligence gathering.

By Jesse Sloman at Africa in Transition

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

The Vainest Reason Ever To Eat More Fruits And Vegetables

Why health wins more votes than intelligence

We all have our reasons to get healthy: to fit into a pair of pants, to stave off disease, to have something to chat about with your CrossFit’ing coworker. Now you can add getting elected to the list. A new study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that if you want other people to crown you as their leader, health—even more than intelligence—is the ultimate asset.

Researchers showed a group of 148 people a database of faces and told them to to imagine electing a leader for their organization. Four different evolutionarily important scenarios were considered: Selecting a leader for competition between a group, selecting a leader for cooperation between groups, picking someone to conservatively exploit current resources and choosing someone to explore new alternatives.

Some of the candidates’ faces were morphed to look more or less intelligent by manipulating bone structure—intriguingly, masculine characteristics like a strong jawbone were associated with lower intelligence. Other faces were tweaked to look more or less healthy by altering pigmentation of the skin—ruddier cheeks, like the glow you’d get from a healthy diet, and a less gray complexion mimicked good health.

People valued leaders with both traits, but health prevailed as the most influential characteristic. “We saw such an overriding effect of perceived health,” says lead study author Brian Spisak of the VU University Amsterdam. “When people were voting for leaders, this seemed to dominate every sort of voting paradigm that we gave participants.”

And when it comes to what metric people use to evaluate health, the results suggest that facial color might actually be more important than facial structure—and that a healthy glow may be the key contributing factor to how others perceive you. “What might be the underlying value of attractiveness across all scenarios might be the perception of health,” Spisak says. So if you want an instant beauty boost and a few endorsements from your friends, consider taking a trip to the farmers’ market.

TIME Cold War

U.S. Had 1,000 Nazi Spies During Cold War

“Information was readily available that these were compromised men”

The U.S. government used about 1,000 Nazis as spies during the Cold War, according to a new report, including one who was among the highest-ranking members of the Hitler’s Third Reich.

The New York Times, citing interviews and declassified records, reports that the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation not only actively recruited Nazis, but also refused to share information they had on Nazis living in the U.S. with other government officials.

“U.S. agencies directly or indirectly hired numerous ex-Nazi police officials and East European collaborators who were manifestly guilty of war crimes,” said Norman Goda, a University of Florida historian. “Information was readily available that these were compromised men.”

Read more at the Times

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