By Lindsay Beyerstein
Alex Koppelman reacts to the CIA Inspector General's report like it's a disappointing summer blockbuster:
The report itself, though, didn't really live up to the hype. That's not to say it didn't contain disturbing details, like mock executions and an interrogator's threat to rape the mother of one detainee, or some bits of news. But for the most part, the declassified sections of the report were, for the most part, filled with information that was already public knowledge.
I guess he was hoping for some snappy new atrocities. It's hard to compete with Inglourious Basterds, especially when CIA censors redact all the "good" bits.
Koppelman finds the report disappointing because it merely confirms what has already been reported about torture and the CIA.
It's infuriating when people dismiss official confirmation as old news. It's always a big deal when a disputed fact is publicly acknowledged, no matter how much we already knew. Until that point, it's still just a claim that insiders like Marc Ambinder will feel entitled to dismiss as the product of mere "gut hatred." Every time you bring up that claim, you've got to defend that premise anew.
Once an allegation is officially confirmed, the revelation will be re-branded as old news. The elite media will thereby give themselves an excuse to gloss over it, but at least it will have been incorporated into the conventional wisdom.
One other thing about the OIG report... So far, the focus has been on the unequivocally illegal acts detailed in the report. Mock executions, for example, are explicitly forbidden by U.S. anti-torture law. Even the CIA isn't condoning them The agency acknowledges that the mock executioners went beyond what they were authorized to do.
That these cases were closed is a sub-scandal unto itself. By closing the files on clear-cut crimes, someone decided to decriminalize torture at large, as opposed to a handful of EIT techniques. The interview room became a free fire zone.
I wonder whether Eric Holder's decision to reopen clear-cut criminal investigations will deflect attention from EIT cases in which the perpetrators claim to have been following legal orders. The Obama administration is afraid to probe too deeply into the latter cases because it's clear that responsibility goes all the way up to the former occupant of the White House.