Mr. Holland, er, I mean, SEN Diane Feinstein and the Democrats of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have completed their opus, The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. It’s worth looking at how the mainstream American media is covering it () before reading my thoughts on the release of the report.
Here are things worth saying about the report.
1. The whole report is still classified. So when people talk about it, they’re talk about the release of the executive summary that was declassified and released.
2. The whole report is 6000 pages. When did you last read a 6000 pages report? When did a Washington Post reporter, or a members of the House or Senate, read a 6000 page report?
3. The whole report was finished 13 December 2012. It took that long to get it through the lawyers, the CIA, the White House, and to get the executive summary released. Two. Years. So, forget saying that this was timed to coincide with the GOP taking over Congress – that’s a stretch, I think.
4. The executive summary () that was declassified and released was itself 528 pages. It was released early to some media outlets like the Washington Post, to ensure that they actually read the damn thing before the press conference. But I am betting that now, 24 hours after it’s been in the street, there are very few actual members of the press corps – I mean, credential-issued members of the press – who have read the full 528 executive report and spent enough time with it. Everyone is working off of summaries of summaries of summaries – that Buzzfeed highlight link someone sent them, most likely.
The American press talked about this as being a sensational report. The GOP claimed that release of the executive summary is going to get people killed.
But they both have it wrong.
The report itself isn’t sensational. There are no embedded movies of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being waterboarded to the point of near death. There are no JPG images, showing what it actually means to rectally feed or rehydrate someone. Those would be new disclosures, those would be sensational images, and those would cause an uproar – and those aren’t in the executive summary.
No, the executive summary is sensational because it is a report published by the US Government, released by the American administration, that compiles the details of and cites sources for all of the things that everyone already knows happens. The footnotes are filled with newspaper articles, public testimony, published books by former officials – things that are already in the public domain for those interested to research the topics. But the executive summary is sensation in that it is the US Government declaring it all to be true.
I say this, because in all honesty, I expect someone, some group, or some government to take that report and go right to the Hague and to ask for war crimes charges to be brought against American administration officials from the Bush administration. After all, SEN Feinstein uses the dreaded T word – she calls it torture, just as Pres. Obama did. And the report goes on to lay out the case, in detail and with cited sources, for it it is or was or can be called torture.
I am curious how this is going to play out, in the coming weeks. I am definitely going to keep an ear out, for someone running to the Hague, and for war crimes changes. And for Dick Cheney moving someplace with which the US has no extradition treaty. Because I can see him doing that.
And then I can see President Obama sending the SEALs to go get him, and a giant gunfight – Cheney shot that lawyer, remember? – and then the SEALs leaking the details of everything about the operation, before they have even made it home. Because that’s how they roll.