US Embassies, Marines, Brace for Backlash Ahead of Torture Report Release
American diplomatic posts and thousands of US Marines have been placed on heightened alert a day ahead of the release of a long-awaited Senate report detailing CIA torture of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.
The Associated Press reports American embassies, consulates, military bases and other interests are bracing for the release of a nearly 500-page summary of a 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture on terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.
“There are some indications that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to US facilities and individuals all around the world,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. “The administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at US facilities around the globe.”
CNN reports more than 6,000 Marines are on heightened alert as part of a contingency plan to respond to any potential backlash against American facilities or interests following the torture report’s release.
“There is certainly the possibility that the release of this report could cause unrest,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.
According to US officials who have read the report, it states that ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ authorized by the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States failed to produce any life-saving intelligence, contrary to claims by Bush officials. It also alleges that the CIA lied to the White House, Justice Department and Congress about the details and efficacy of the torture program, which included use of the interrupted drowning technique known as waterboarding.
Earnest said that President Barack Obama “believes that the use of those tactics was unwarranted, that they were inconsistent with our values and did not make us safer.”
Although Obama, who acknowledged in August that “we tortured some folks,” has said he welcomes the release of the Senate report, his administration has repeatedly attempted to stall its release, with Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concerns that it could jeopardize US security interests in the Middle East and beyond.
“It is not surprising that members of the administration are raising an objection at the 11th hour, because there have been objections at every other hour,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “This report must see the light of day before Congress adjourns this year. And if the executive branch isn’t willing to cooperate the Senate should be willing to act unilaterally to ensure that happens.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who lost his re-election bid last month, said he would consider all options to make the report public if it was not released in a manner he deemed transparent. In a recent interview with Esquire, Udall said the CIA’s use of torture “broke faith in the Constitution.” Udall called the CIA’s actions “morally repugnant.”
“When this report is declassified, people will abhor what they read,” he told Esquire. “They’re gonna be disgusted.”
Bush administration and former CIA officials said the report’s release would harm the United States and its relations with allies who cooperate with America’s war against terrorism. In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, Bush defended the CIA torturers.
“We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” Bush said. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”
Writing in the Washington Post, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who ran the CIA interrogation program, said that “we did what we were asked to do.”
“We did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective,” asserted Rodriguez, although critics accuse Bush officials of bending the law and definitions of legality in order to legitimize torture.
Most of the approved torture techniques, which included waterboarding, sleep, sensory and food deprivation, shackling in excruciating ‘stress positions,’ the use of loud music and dogs to torment detainees, slamming into walls, solitary confinement, exposure to extreme heat or cold and sexual humiliation, are clearly illegal under both domestic and international law.
In addition to the approved ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques, US military and intelligence personnel subjected terrorism detainees — many of them innocent men, women and children — to additional abuses, including homicide, rape, imprisonment of relatives as bargaining chips, exposure to sometimes lethally extreme temperatures and brutal beatings. Around 100 detainees died in US custody, many as a result of their mistreatment.
Commenting on the Senate torture report, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the outgoing chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that it “chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
“This is not what Americans do,” asserted Feinstein, who will lose the ability to control the release of the report once Republicans take control of the Senate next month.