The Corner

Senate ‘Torture’ Report vs. Senate Iraq Intel Report: A Study in Contrasts

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s — really, the Senate Democrats’ — “torture” report, with its rank partisanship and wet-noodle rigor, makes for an interesting contrast with a different bombshell Senate Intel report: the one on pre-war intelligence in Iraq, the first part of which was released on July 9, 2014.

As Fred Fleitz noted yesterday, by the end of 2009 it was so indisputably clear that the investigation into the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program would be nothing more than an inquisition against the Bush administration that Republican committee members had unanimously withdrawn support. Three years later, having interviewed not a single person involved in the program, the report was drafted entirely by the committee’s Democratic staff. Only one Republican, Maine senator Susan Collins, voted to approve it — that’s the basis for the report’s claim that it was “bipartisan.”

Compare this with the Iraq report. When an investigation was announced in 2003 by then-chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), the committee was composed of nine Republicans and eight Democrats. Here are excerpts from the committee’s write-up of its methodology, which introduces the report:

During the twelve months of the Committee’s review, Committee staff submitted almost 100 requests for supplemental intelligence information, received over 30,000 pages of documents in response to those requests, and reviewed and analyzed each document provided.

That was, note, on top of the “nineteen volumes (approximately 15,000 pages) of intelligence assessments and source reporting” submitted by the intelligence community. Of course, the “torture” report did involve examination of voluminous documentary evidence.

But then there’s this:

Committee staff interviewed more than 200 individuals including intelligence analysts and senior officials with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of State, National Ground Intelligence Center, the Air Force, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Staff also interviewed former intelligence analysts, National Intelligence Officers, operations officers, collection managers, signals intelligence collectors, imagery analysts, nuclear experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ambassadors, former United Nations inspectors, Department of Defense weapons experts, State Department officials, and National Security Council staff members.

One year after the inquiry was announced, committee members voted unanimously to approve it. However, because there were points of disagreement, the report included a section of “Additional Views,” in which senators individually or in groups could address those points.

The report compiled one decade ago was the product of cooperative, disinterested investigation — the task of congressional supervision over America’s intelligence services taken seriously and conducted judiciously. The Senate Democrats’ new report, an exercise in base-bolstering blame-gaming, is nothing of the sort. 

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