The debate in Washington over Bush-era torture at the Central Intelligence Agency took a large leap forward Wednesday morning when Senator Mark Udall took the Senate floor and disclosed portions of an internal CIA review, while renewing his demand for a change in the intelligence agency’s leadership and criticizing the Obama administration for not doing enough to ensure torture doesn’t happen again.
The so-called “Panetta Review” has dominated much of the drama leading up to the torture report’s release. The document is an internal CIA examination that reportedly validated many of the worst claims about the torture program, including much of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings. (The CIA was after this document when it breached Senate computers in January.)
On Wednesday, Udall described the Panetta Review as a “smoking gun”—proof from the CIA itself that there were serious problems with the torture program. It undercuts almost every contemporary statement made by CIA Director John Brennan and other top intelligence officials, he said, who have vocally been defending what occurred.
Since the CIA refuses to make the Panetta Review public, Udall declared Wednesday, “I am here today to disclose some of its key findings and conclusions on the Senate floor for the public record, which fly directly in the face of claims made by senior CIA officials past and present.”
He then proceeded to describe, for the first time, some of what the Panetta Review found, contrasting it directly to Brennan’s public statements. His remarks on that score, in full:
The Panetta Review found that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the president, and the public on the efficacy of its coercive techniques. The Brennan Response, in contrast, continues to insist that the CIA’s interrogations produced unique intelligence that saved lives. Yet the Panetta Review identifies dozens of documents that include inaccurate information used to justify the use of torture—and indicates that the inaccuracies it identifies do not represent an exhaustive list.
The Panetta Review further describes how detainees provided intelligence prior to the use of torture against them. It describes how the CIA—contrary to its own representations—often tortured detainees before trying any other approach. It describes how the CIA tortured detainees even when less coercive methods were yielding intelligence. The Panetta Review further identifies cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all. In other words, CIA personnel tortured detainees to confirm they didn’t have intelligence—not because they thought they did.