Happy CIA IG Report Day! But Where’s That Justice Department Report?
Daphne’s already blown the kazoo and hung the streamers for today’s release of the 2004 CIA inspector general report on the agency’s use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques. We’ll be covering this throughout the day. But pay attention as well to what might not get released today: another long awaited report, this time from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility about the propriety of legally sanctioning the interrogation program by the Office of Legal Counsel.
The New York Times reports that a different OPR report, prepared for Attorney General Eric Holder, has advised re-opening investigations of CIA interrogators who tortured detainees. That clears the way for the investigation that Holder is widely expected to announce as early as today. But without the OPR inquiry on the Office of Legal Counsel — which Holder has pledged to declassify — the CIA inspector general report will present stories outside of the context that gave rise to them. The CIA constantly went back and forth with the Justice Department during the Bush administration to ensure that the valued interrogation program had the cover of law. Without that context, it won’t be possible to understand what drove interrogators to enter those interrogation chambers, even if the torture they applied was more severe than what the department’s lawyers specified was acceptable.
All of which leads Marcy Wheeler to conclude:
If it is, indeed, DOJ’s plan to release all the other torture documents save the OPR report, it will have the effect of distracting the media with horrible descriptions of threats with power drills and waterboarding, away from the equally horrible description of lawyers willfully twisting the law to “authorize” some of those actions. It will shift focus away from those that set up a regime of torture and towards those who free-lanced within that regime in spectacularly horrible ways. It will hide the degree to which torture was a conscious plan, and the degree to which the oral authorizations for torture may well have authorized some of what we’ll see in the IG Report tomorrow.
If it is, indeed, DOJ’s plan to release the IG Report and announce an investigation without, at the same time, releasing the OPR report, it will serve the goal of exposing the Lynndie England’s of the torture regime while still protecting those who instituted that regime.