Ryan Grim and Ali Watkins of Huffington Post headlined in an October 23rd news story, “Senate-CIA Dispute Unsettled As Final Investigation Into Torture Report Ends,” and they reported that the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, concerning records that the CIA had erased from its computer hard drives, pertaining to the CIA’s role in the use of illegal tortures of detainees, has been halted, because the Senate’s chief law enforcer, its Sergeant-at-Arms, says that he “can’t verify any of what CIA is saying.” Furthermore, even the Inspector General of the CIA himself asserts that the CIA’s accusations of illegality in the way that the Senate investigating panel had received the CIA documents that the CIA had wanted to hide, was based on “inaccurate information” that was supplied by the CIA. The key document was “The Panetta Review” of the CIA’s role in the tortures. Leon Panetta was the Obama-appointed CIA chief. The Obama Administration — its Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder — declined to investigate the CIA’s accusation against the Senate Intelligence Committee, which — since Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate — is controlled by a Democratic Senator, California’s Dianne Feinstein. Furthermore, Holder refuses to investigate possible criminality by the CIA. So: President Obama, via his AG, has, essentially, waved off the entire matter.
Senator Feinstein’s war against the CIA started when she said in the Senate on 11 March 2014 that:
Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman [of the Committee, Senator Kit] Bond [R-Mo.], then-Director Panetta, and I agreed in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive” “segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA—who would “not be permitted to” “share information from the system with other [CIA] personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”
It was this computer network that, notwithstanding our agreement with Director Panetta, was searched by the CIA this past January, and once before. …
The CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers. The CIA has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the Panetta Review. In place of asking any questions, the CIA’s unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation—which we have now seen repeated anonymously in the press—that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA’s computer network. As I have described, this is not true.
So, now, this entire investigation into the CIA’s role in illegal tortures has died, allegedly because the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms doesn’t trust the CIA, the CIA’s Inspector General finds the CIA’s accusations against the Democratic-led Committee to be based on “inaccurate information,” and the U.S. Attorney General asserts that the CIA’s case against that Committee isn’t worth pursuing.
President Obama refuses to subject any official in the George W. Bush Administration to legal proceedings, which might result if the findings in the Panetta Review were to be revealed to anyone outside the CIA itself. Senators Feinstein and Bond were on opposite sides of this matter. The Republican, Bond, didn’t want anyone in the George W. Bush Administration to be investigated; the President agrees; and, so, the investigation that Senate Democrats had been pursuing for years is now being simply abandoned.
In other words: Everyone is being protected, except the public, whose interest in living in a democracy under the U.S. Constitution has been sacrificed by all officials who are involved in the matter. Senator Feinstein and Senate Democrats have been blocked by Republicans, and by the President, from completing their investigation of the CIA’s role in the tortures. This is consistent with this President’s entire record of blocking legal investigations of his predecessor in the White House, and of his Administration. It happened before, with Senator Carl Levin’s investigation into the 2008 financial collapse. It is happening yet again, with Senator Feinstein. If there were a Republican occupying the White House, the result would have been the same. (Or, perhaps we should ask: Is there a Republican occupying the White House?)
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.