CIA peddles torture propaganda in NY Times

The Central Intelligence Agency leaked classified material to try to shape the perception that its detention and interrogation program was an effective tool, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday.
The report also said that in 2002, a publication, revealed later on Tuesday to be The New York Times, agreed to withhold information about a secret prison in Thailand at the urging of the agency and Vice President Dick Cheney.
In addition to providing vivid details of the C.I.A.’s use of secret prisons and more aggressive torture methods than was previously known, the Senate report provides examples — in highly redacted form — of the interactions between the agency and news organizations in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The details in the report speak to tensions inside the government over the intelligence community’s dealings with the media. In recent years the government has investigated reporters.
In 2005, an email from staff lawyers for the Counterterrorism Center at the agency “urged that C.I.A. leadership needed to ‘confront the inconsistency’ between C.I.A. court declarations ‘about how critical it is to keep this information secret’ and the C.I.A. ‘planning to reveal darn near the entire program.’ ”
The report notes specific instances in which there were divisions within the intelligence community over the agency’s decision to leak classified material on its interrogation of alleged members of Al Qaeda, particularly the detainee Abu Zubaydah.
The report says that in 2005 the C.I.A. decided to cooperate with a Times reporter, Douglas Jehl, as he reported on the treatment of Abu Zubaydah. An agency official, who was not named in the report, concluded that Mr. Jehl’s article was “not necessarily an unflattering story.”
In an email, Mr. Jehl said he had “worked aggressively to pursue and publish stories about the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation of terrorist suspects, at a time when those details remained highly classified.” He is proud of that work, he said, but was not interviewed by the Senate panel “and would never comment on reporting that was based on confidential conversations with current and former U.S. government officials.”
For his part, Mr. Kessler defended his book and said that he had corroborated what he was told with the F.B.I.
“This report is discredited,” he said, adding that it was written only by Democratic lawmakers and did not include interviews with many of the main players.
The Senate report also highlighted an incident in which the C.I.A. pressured an American newspaper to withhold naming the country that Abu Zubaydah was being held in.
A Times reporter, James Risen, said Tuesday that the newspaper was The Times, and the country was Thailand. The paper disclosed the details later, in December 2003, but by that time Abu Zubaydah had been moved.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, defended the paper’s decision to delay publication of the information.

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