Late last week, Sens. Diane Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post calling for the 6,300+ page Senate report on the CIA’s Bush-era torture and interrogation program to be released to the public:

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted 11 to 3 last Thursday to declassify and make public the executive summary and the findings and conclusions of its report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

Those documents have been sent to the president for declassification.

We believe that public release is the best way to ensure that this program of secret detention and coercive interrogation never happens again. It will also serve to uphold America’s practice of admitting wrongdoing and learning from its mistakes.

It’s hard for me to pin down just when “admitting wrongdoing and learning from mistakes” was a “practice” in American government, but I digress. Ever since the completion of this report, its authors in the Senate intelligence committee have urged its release. But after Feinstein went to the Senate floor last month to accuse the CIA of illegally trying to stonewall the investigation and block its release, Feinstein seemed to have changed her mind. Now the demand is not to have all 6,300+ pages released to the public, but to have approximately 500 pages of an executive summary submitted for declassification review. As Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian reported:

As a Senate committee moves to declassify a landmark report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s descent into torture, among the only certainties is that the public won’t see the vast majority of it.

The Senate select committee on intelligence has waged an unprecedented and acrimonious public battle with the CIA over a secret 6,300-page investigation concluding torture was an ineffective intelligence-gathering technique and that the CIA lied about its value. On Thursday, the committee is slated to take a belated vote to make it public.

Or more precisely, it will vote to make a slice public. And the CIA will have a significant degree of influence over how large and how public that slice will be.

The committee is not going to release the 6,300-page report. Its chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein of California, said on the Senate floor three weeks ago that only the “findings, conclusions and the executive summary of the report” were the subject of the committee’s declassification efforts. The vast majority of the Senate report – effectively, an alternative post-9/11 history detailing of years’ worth of CIA torture and cover-up – will remain shielded from public view.

Clearly, Feinstein and the rest of the Senate committee are the target of incredible pressure from the CIA and the White House to hem in their demands for public release. It’s also important to keep in mind that what will ultimately be released in this executive summary is still up to the CIA and the White House, given that they conduct the declassification review at their discretion. Don’t be surprised if even the fraction of the report up for declassification comes out heavily redacted.

Some of the classified details have been reported, though, and it ain’t pretty for the CIA. To take one example, McClatchy reported not only that the CIA went beyond the Justice Department’s own guidelines for permissible interrogation techniques, but that the CIA deliberately misled the DOJ, Congress, and the media in order to shield themselves from the law.

This obviously raise questions about what exactly is going to continue to be hidden from the public. What details of the brutal torture program are too dark for us to know? What ancillary activities included in the rest of the report are too shocking and felonious for public release?

To what extent is this whole “declassification” process an open admission that criminal activities within the intelligence community are allowed to be kept secret in order to shield said community from legal accountability or public ire? The CIA’s main excuse for opposing declassification has been to claim the report contains factual errors and misleading judgments. But Feinstein, in her Senate testimony, said that an internal CIA review came to the same conclusion and made the same judgements about the torture program.

“How can the CIA’s official response to our study stand factually in conflict with its own internal review?” Feinstein asked. Good question. It can’t. And this is why the whole process is a thinly veiled attempt to maintain impunity for government criminals.

Charles Goyette interviews Ron Paul for their weekly podcast on the question of U.S. intervention in Ukraine and the new U.S./IMF bailout Kiev bill, as well as the leaked phone call of Turkish officials discussing the possibility of launching a false flag attack to justify further intervention in Syria.

Download MP3 here.

Charles Goyette is New York Times Bestselling Author of The Dollar Meltdown and Red and Blue and Broke All Over: Restoring America’s Free Economy. Check out Goyette and Paul’s national radio commentary: Ron Paul’s America and the Ron Paul and Charles Goyette Weekly Podcast. Goyette also edits The Freedom and Prosperity Letter.

Stand up comic and writer Amy Schumer discovers what it means to be “all you can be.” For more information on military rape, please read Kelley Vlahos, here, here and here.


Via Juan Cole and Mondoweiss, John Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday featured a clear admission that Israel was the cause of the collapse of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. First, the Israeli government refused to fulfill its promise to release Palestinian prisoners and then announced the construction of 700 new settlement units in East Jerusalem. Here’s Kerry:

In my judgment both leaders have made courageous and important decisions up until now. For Prime Minister Netanyahu to release prisoners is a painful, difficult political step to take, enormously hard, and the people of Israel have been incredibly supportive and patient in giving him the space in order to do that. In exchange for the deal being kept of the release of prisoners and not going to the U.N. Unfortunately, the prisoners weren’t released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released. And so day went by, day two went by day three went by and then in the afternoon when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem. And poof! That was sort of the moment.

And now today, “an Israeli government official says the prime minister, Binjamin Netanyahu, has told his ministers to stop holding meetings with their Palestinian counterparts,” the Guardian reports, marking an official end to negotiations. Netanyahu blamed it on Palestinian attempts to sign on to international treaties, even though this happened after the events that Kerry argues dissolved talks.

Why would Israel want to deliberately terminate negotiations? The answer: Israel opposes a Palestinian state. A recent report from the European Union concluded that Israel’s construction of Jewish settlements is a deliberate strategy aimed at rendering a viable Palestinian state impossible. As The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg has written, “The right-wing wants the land, but not the people.” The better option, Israeli policy seems to indicate, is to smoke them out.

This should be surprising to no one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party Charter describes Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza as “the realization of Zionist values” and declares the whole of the West Bank and Jerusalem as belonging to Israel (“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river”). Did Kerry actually believe the Netanyahu government was entering into negotiations in good faith?

Update: I guess to demonstrate their good faith, influential right-wing members of the Israeli Knesset are calling on Netanyahu to “annex the West Bank now.”

The Naval War College, based in Newport, Rhode Island, runs a special 11-month course for foreign Navy officers. On February 3, the Naval War College held a special morning session at the Hoover Institution, where I am a research fellow. I was invited to speak. The best invites, in my experience, are those for which I get to choose the topic. That happened in this case. So the topic I chose was “An Economist’s Case for a Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy.”

The four speakers, in order, were Gary Roughead (Admiral-Retired), formerly the Chief of Naval Operations and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover, me, Bruce Thornton, a professor of classics and humanities from Fresno State University and a research fellow at Hoover, and George P. Shultz, formerly Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan and a Distinguished Fellow at Hoover.

The audience was, I believe, all Navy officers. There were 47 of them, representing 44 countries. I was warmly received by many of them, especially the officer from Bangladesh, and courteously received by the few U.S. military officers in attendance.

Listen to the speech (30 min).

There are few who deny that there is an acceptable range of opinion in official Washington on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and another range of opinion which lies outside of it. The latter range refers mostly to any direct criticism of Israel or legitimizing any Palestinian perspective on the conflict.

Some voices manage to argue positions outside the “acceptable range” without being called an anti-Semite or a terrorist. In this case, six former U.S. officials (emphasis on the former) have written a piece in Politico that is a must-read.

Former national security adviser Zbigneiw Brzezinski, former U.S. secretary of defense Frank Carlucci, former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Lee Hamilton, former U.S. trade representative Carla A. Hills, former under secretary of state for political affairs Thomas Pickering, and president of the U.S./Middle East Project Henry Siegman make several recommendations to John Kerry in the current negotiations. They call Israel’s policies of occupation and settlement in Palestinian territory “confiscation” and they describe Netanyahu’s demands as “politically and morally unacceptable.”

Here are the first two issues they cover:

SettlementsU.S. disapproval of continued settlement enlargement in the Occupied Territories by Israel’s government as “illegitimate” and “unhelpful” does not begin to define the destructiveness of this activity. Nor does it dispel the impression that we have come to accept it despite our rhetorical objections. Halting the diplomatic process on a date certain until Israel complies with international law and previous agreements would help to stop this activity and clearly place the onus for the interruption where it belongs.

Palestinian incitement: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge that various Palestinian claims to all of historic Palestine constitute incitement that stands in the way of Israel’s acceptance of Palestinian statehood reflects a double standard. The Likud and many of Israel’s other political parties and their leaders make similar declarations about the legitimacy of Israel’s claims to all of Palestine, designating the West Bank “disputed” rather than occupied territory. Moreover, Israeli governments have acted on those claims by establishing Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. Surely the “incitement” of Palestinian rhetoric hardly compares to the incitement of Israel’s actual confiscations of Palestinian territory. If the United States is not prepared to say so openly, there is little hope for the success of these talks, which depends far more on the strength of America’s political leverage and its determination to use it than on the good will of the parties.

The second two issues they tackle relate to Israel’s absurd security demands which would essentially continue the occupation in perpetuity and Israel’s call for the Palestinian side to recognize Israel as “the national homeland of the Jewish people.” On the latter issue, the Palestinians already recognized the legitimacy of the state of Israel in 1988 and again in 1993. This fulfilled Israel’s demands at the time, but once the Palestinians agreed to it, Israeli policy then shifted to something they were sure Palestinians wouldn’t cave on. Like with Israel’s demands to continue to occupy the Jordan Valley, their negotiating tactics are designed to provoke Palestinian rejection and thus a breakdown in talks.

I emphasized that these were former U.S. officials because that seems to be the only time people in government dare utter a perspective contrary to Israel’s right-wing; that is, when domestic politics is no longer a factor. This makes John Kerry’s concurrence unlikely in the extreme.