A hotly disputed Senate torture report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the investigation. [...]Also, the phrase American advocates of torture exists. Several of them were in charge of the government, the CIA and the military, which is why we needed a Senate report on the lessons learned from torturing presumed-guilty foreigners in secret locations shielded from the normal rules on what is or is not a war crime. The Senate report will presumably not dwell on whether we should be dispatching those that ordered American organizations to conduct torture to the international courts, or ponder the deep moral question of whether a nation that tortures prisoners is the sort of nation we should content ourselves with being. The torturers and the lawyers for torturers and the people that reported on the torturers and the people that took the torturers' jobs when the torturers were voted out of office have all agreed that whatever introspection we might take on for our own sakes is fine, so long as that introspection does not result in measurable consequences. Reports are fine. Repercussions are not.
Feinstein will push to release a summary of the intelligence committee's review later this week, starting a declassification process that could take several months before any documents are made public.
As it turns out, the rule of law is exceedingly fungible when you are in charge of the laws. We've seen time and time again that what you or I might have assumed the constitutional rules to be with regards to The Big Questions—torture, surveillance, whatever else might come up—are not the actual rules. The rules are that anything can be done, so long as it is not found out, and that if it is found out the very Senate that is currently running its report on American use of torture through a final spellcheck will pass a new law declaring the newly found out thing—say, the cooperation of utility companies and the government in a vast and sweeping network of domestic surveillance—to be retroactively legal, or at least legal enough, or at least pardonable under the constitutional doctrine of spilled milk.
Feinstein and other senators have spoken only vaguely of the contents of the classified review.An official report was crafted by the Senate to determine whether or not the American advocates of torture were correct in their assessments that torturing prisoners was a useful thing. The only thing worse would be an official Senate report that agreed with them that it was.
But they have made references to the divergence between their understanding of how the bin Laden operation came together and assertions of former CIA and Bush administration officials who have defended harsh interrogations. [...]
They rejected former CIA Director Michael Hayden's claim that evidence on the couriers began with interrogations at black sites and Attorney General Michael Mukasey's declaration that intelligence leading to bin Laden began with Mohammed.