Senate Report: CIA Leaked Classified Material to Cultivate Pro-Torture Opinions

CIA Director John Brennan takes questions from reporters at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Dec. 11, 2014.
Jim Watson/Getty Images
CIA Director John Brennan takes questions from reporters at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Dec. 11, 2014.
Jim Watson/Getty Images

Senate Democrats' Study Reveals Leaks to Journalists

" The Central Intelligence Agency leaked classified material to reporters to shape the perception that its detention and interrogation program was an effective tool in thwarting terrorism, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday," Noam Cohen and Ravi Somaiya reported for the New York Times.


"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 journalists 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 some cases, the agency authorized the disclosure of classified information to journalists. Yet, in recent years, the government has investigated reporters and officials, including prosecuting a C.I.A. officer for leaking details of the torture program.

"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.

"When the agency worked with reporters — like Tom Brokaw, who produced a segment for NBC News, and the author Ronald Kessler for his book 'The C.I.A. at War' — it never filed a 'crimes report' over the leaking of classified material, the report notes.


"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.'

"Mr. Jehl, who is now the foreign editor of The Washington Post, 'provided the C.I.A. with a detailed outline of his proposed story, informed the C.I.A. that he would emphasize that the C.I.A.'s enhanced interrogation techniques worked,' the report said. The article was never published. . . ." [Jehl's response.]


Separately, Peter Baker reported Tuesday for the Times, "For four years, according to Central Intelligence Agency records, no one from the agency ever came to the Oval Office to give President George W. Bush a full briefing on what was happening in the dark dungeons of Afghanistan and Eastern Europe. For four years, interrogators stripped, slammed and soaked their prisoners without the president's being told exactly what was going on. . . ."

Bush administration officials of color are part of the story. "Even to the extent that the president and his advisers understood the program, they kept other top administration figures out of the loop, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld," Baker wrote.


Baker also wrote, "According to '500 Days' by the journalist Kurt Eichenwald, Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, took [CIA Director George J.] Tenet’s request to use harsh techniques on Abu Zubaydah," a top Qaeda figure, "to the president. When Mr. Bush asked what kind of techniques, Mr. Gonzales replied, according to the book, 'Mr. President, I think for your own protection, you don’t need to know the details of what’s going on here.' Mr. Bush agreed, saying: 'All right. Just make sure that these things are lawful.' . . ."

Regarding Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser in his first term, Baker writes, "The documents suggest some hesitation on Ms. Rice’s part. In the summer of 2002, when she requested a delay in using the techniques to learn more about them, the C.I.A. told her that 'countless more Americans may die unless we can persuade A.Z. to tell us' what he knows. Ms. Rice relented. . . ."


John Yoo, who served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, where he famously wrote the legal rationale for allowing the CIA interrogation methods, continued to defend the practices Tuesday in an op-ed piece in the Daily News in New York. "The slanted approach to the investigation sadly colored its conclusions — which are questionable, to put it charitably," Yoo wrote.

President Obama "said that some of the tactics described in a Senate report on harsh CIA interrogations were 'brutal,' 'wrong' and 'counterproductive,' " al Jazeera reported.


Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. repeated those sentiments in an appearance with SiriusXM’s Joe Madison (audio) that is to air on Friday at 8:20 a.m. Eastern time during Madison's live, daily 6 a.m.-to-10 a.m. call-in show on SiriusXM Urban View, channel 126.

However, Holder said it had been previously determined that there was no basis for prosecuting U.S. officials who were involved since they had been told their actions were legal.


Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: A "bunch of hooey"?

Kara Brandeisky and Sisi Wei, ProPublica: Timeline: The Tortured History of the Senate’s Torture Report


Michael Calderone, Huffington Post: CIA Misled Media To Shape Coverage Of Torture, Senate Report Finds

Josh Feldman, Mediaite: Fox’s Hume: Senate Torture Report Made Same Mistake as Rolling Stone


Mark Joyella, TVNewser: "CBS Evening News" Gives Torture Report 11 Minutes as CIA Story Dominates Newscasts

Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Americans need to hear Senate report on torture


Obama Pushes Back on Contentious Anchor Jorge Ramos

"President Barack Obama and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos went head-to-head on Tuesday over the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants in the years leading up to the president's recent decision to exercise executive action on immigration policy," Jackson Connor reported Wednesday for the Huffington Post. 


"The debate heated up when Ramos asked why, if the president believed he had always possessed the authority to use executive powers, he had not done so sooner. The anchor implied that Obama might have flip-flopped on the issue of immigration.

" 'You always had the legal authority to stop deportations, then why did you deport two million people?' Ramos asked, adding, after Obama protested, that he had 'destroyed many families' and that they referred to him as 'deporter-in-chief.'


" 'You called me deporter-in-chief,' Obama shot back.

"The president also accused Ramos of suggesting that there was a 'simple' and 'quick' solution to the problem — a charge Ramos denied — and challenged the anchor to present clearly to his viewers the information regarding immigration policy. . . ."


Meanwhile, "Ann Compton, who retired earlier this year after 41 years with ABC News, opened up to C-SPAN's Brian Lamb about her time covering the White House," Chris Ariens reported Monday for TVNewswer. "In the interview, which occurred Oct. 30, but re-aired on C-SPAN this morning, Compton says she 'was a strong voice for complaining that this particular administration has been more opaque than any I have covered about what the president does in the Oval Office every day.'

"Compton says Obama 'is the first president with his own journalistic tools. He has his own photographers and videographers. He has a newscast on Friday mornings anchored by his former deputy, now Press Secretary, Josh Earnest.'


"Compton revealed she has also seen a side of Pres. Obama, most haven't. . . ."

Michael H. Cottman, Racism Is Not The President's Fault

The Grio: Tavis Smiley slams Obama's BET interview: Stop the lecture

Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press: President Obama Takes Over 'The Colbert Report'

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: The pluses of self-deportation


Donovan X. Ramsey, Ebony: Obama on Race Is Killing Us

Eric Tucker, Associated Press: FBI leaves door open on agents' impersonating reporters


Armed Security Guards Get Little Oversight, Reporters Find

"Across the U.S., a haphazard system of lax laws, minimal oversight and almost no accountability puts guns in the hands of guards who endanger public safety, a yearlong investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting and CNN has found," Shoshana Walter and Ryan Gabrielson reported Tuesday.


"Men and women who have never fired a gun in their lives can set off on patrol in uniform, wearing a badge and carrying a loaded weapon, with only a few hours of training, if any. In 15 states, guards can openly carry guns on the job without any firearms training at all.

"The results can be as tragic as they are predictable. . . ."

Meanwhile, "HLN executives were pleased with Monday night's special report, 'Naked Justice: A Matter of Trust,' and have decided to extend the show for at least another week," Mark Joyella reported Tuesday for TVNewser. "The show was created quickly as a response to protests that have spread across the country in the wake of the chokehold death of Eric Garner, and the rise of hashtags like #ICantBreathe.


"The 7 p.m. ET hour, hosted by CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin and HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson, dealt with race, the justice system, and the role of social media . . ."

Associated Press: Key interview missing from Ferguson documents

Kristian Davis Bailey, Ebony: MLK's Nobel Prize at 50: Implications for Ferguson & Beyond


Scott Cacciola, New York Times: At Nets' Game, a Plan for a Simple Statement Is Carried Out to a T

Jackson Connor, Huffington Post: Journalists Reportedly Assaulted By Berkeley Police During Eric Garner Protests


Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: In a nation holding its breath, Ferguson is everywhere

Chip Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle: Violent protesters don't care about Brown, Garner


Clarence B. Jones, HuffPost BlackVoices: Ferguson: The Mirror That Reflects America's Open Secret (Nov. 27)

Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: Why 'black lives matter' matters

Evan McMurry, Mediaite: Hey Geraldo, Protesters Aren't Here to Make You Happy

Media Matters for America: Hannity To Tavis Smiley About The Role Of Race In Recent Police Killings: "You Need To Be Educated" (video)


Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: A tough old Cleveland cop wonders if a look to the past can help the future

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Racial strife can lead to progress

Rob Parker, the Shadow League: Athletes Have a Right to Be Concerned Citizens

Latoya Peterson, Racialicious: On Not Breathing Due to Failures of Democracy 

William C. Rhoden, New York Times: Social Convictions Don't Tuck Neatly Into N.B.A.'s Interests


Rick Sanchez, Fox News Latino: Let's listen to the good cops 

Jason Whitlock, ESPN: Why black folks can't breathe

Damon Young, Ebony: Dear White Allies at Times Like This

CNN's Janelle Rodriguez Named to Senior Post at NBC News

"CNN VP Programming Janelle Rodriguez is joining NBC News as SVP Editorial. Starting in January, she will work with editorial chiefs across all platforms, explained NBC News chief Deborah Turness, to whom Rodriguez will report," Deadline Hollywood reported on Tuesday.


"Rodriguez will have oversight of specialist editorial units at NBC News — currently Investigations and Medical, though more are planned. She has been tasked with generating editorial initiatives and driving long-range planning; she will lead the division's regular editorial planning meetings.

"In today's announcement, Turness said she began the search for someone to assume this position about six months ago. Rodriguez in February 2012 had been promoted to VP Programming at CNN; she had been the cable news network's director of programming, overseeing its Atlanta-based programs since 2010 after a stint as a New York- based EP at the cable news network. . . ."


NBC News Senior Leadership Team Not So Colorful (Nov. 19)

Renowned Black Photographers Taking N.Y. Times Buyouts

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Ozier Muhammad, veteran photojournalist Chester Higgins Jr. and Ruby Washington, also an African American photographer, are taking buyouts offered by the New York Times, Muhammad and Higgins confirmed on Wednesday.


"Retired from the NYTimes," Higgins wrote to his Facebook followers. "Authored 8 books of photography. Two more in the works. Going in a different visual direction. Visualizing anew my tribute to the spirits of our ancestors."

Muhammad messaged Journal-isms, "Yes it's true I am taking the buyout. What I hope to do is teach and do some documentary projects. I'll have to learn how to come up with some ideas that might lead me to grants." Washington could not be reached.


Muhammad named five photographers of color remaining at the Times: Angel Franco, Jim Wilson, Michelle Agins, Monica Almeida and Hiroko Matsuike.

Gerry Smith of Bloomberg wrote on Dec. 2, "At least 85 New York Times employees applied for voluntary buyouts by yesterday's deadline, falling short of the number the newspaper publisher said was needed to avoid firings, according to a union representative."


Smith also wrote, "New York Times Co. (NYT) has said there will be forced cuts if about 100 jobs can't be eliminated through buyouts, as digital businesses have struggled to make up for declines in print." Grant Glickson, chairman of the New York Times unit of the Newspaper Guild of New York, "said the number of job cuts could fluctuate based on the salaries of those who applied for buyouts. He estimated that 15 to 25 people may be fired based on the projected shortfall, the likelihood of the company denying some buyout requests and the probability that some employees will rescind their applications."

According to Muhammad's bio for the HistoryMakers, "Muhammad was first hired as a photographer for Ebony magazine in the early 1970s. He then worked at The Charlotte Observer from 1978 to 1980, and at Newsday from 1980 to 1992. While at Newsday, he shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting with Josh Friedman and Dennis Bell, for a series of reports titled 'Africa, The Desperate Continent.' In 1992, Muhammad was hired as a staff photographer for The New York Times, where he took iconic photographs of President Barack Obama's campaign, Haiti after the earthquake, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the Nato Protest in Chicago. He has also written articles for The New York Times photojournalism blog 'Lens.' . . ."


Muhammad was born in 1950; his grandfather was Elijah Muhammad, a founder and leader of the Nation of Islam. A son, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, is director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.

Higgins, 68, calls himself a cultural anthropologist with a camera. "You know when you write something it's limited to the language that you write in, whereas photographs, it's not limited to English speakers, French speakers, {Lusophone} speakers, Amharic speakers . . . everyone knows what a photograph is," he writes on his website.


Higgins has five books to his credit. One, "Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa," "was the result of more than 25 years of Higgins's traveling the world to take pictures that represent the African diaspora," he writes. "This 303-page book captures in more than 200 photographs the traditions, spirituality, and daily lives of people of African heritage — everyone from tribal dancers in Mali, to voodoo practitioners in Haiti, to black Jews in the Harlem section of New York City, to Yoruba people worshipping in Brazil, to black men and women in rural Alabama."

Alison Bethel McKenzie Leaving Press-Freedom Group

"IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie will be leaving us at the end of the year," Galina Sidorova, board chairman of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, announced Wednesday on the organization's website.


After a journalism career that included stints at such U.S. news outlets as the Boston Globe, the Detroit News and Legal Times, and training journalists overseas, Bethel McKenzie joined IPI in 2009 and later became the first African American to head an international press freedom organization.

Sidorova said in her statement, "During her five years with the IPI, Alison has done a lot to modernize the organization, leading it to meet the challenges of the XXI century, being a motor of the IPI's vibrant, annual World Congresses and our chief tough negotiator with those world leaders who still neglect the press freedom ideas and ignore the professional rights of journalists to freely and safely do their work and the right of its citizens to know.


"Barbara Trionfi, IPI Deputy Director and a prominent member of the IPI team for the last 14 years, an internationally known and highly respected press freedom guru, will take over the position of IPI Interim Executive Director as of January 1, 2015. . . ."

Bethel McKenzie told Journal-isms by email, "It has a been a pleasure to work so diligently for my colleagues around the world who face hardships every day in doing their job. My five-plus years at IPI [have] given me a greater respect for press freedom and I will always cherish the friendships I have made worldwide.


"Despite the challenges that press freedom organizations worldwide all have faced during the media crisis and despite the occasional threats against me and my colleagues, I wouldn't change anything. We have done great work and I am proud of the role that I have played in moving IPI forward. I look forward to the next challenge."

Dallas Paper Asks Latino Parents to Help Cover Education

"Editors at The Dallas Morning News knew it was a story: Dallas area Hispanic families were facing a number of challenges in accessing early-childhood education programs," Justin Ellis reported Tuesday for NiemanLab. "There were a few ways the paper could tackle it, like starting an investigative series or even creating a new beat. But instead of turning its own reporting power on the problem, it decided to give the community tools to report on itself.


"This fall the Morning News launched the Hispanic Families Network, a program that teaches parents some of the basics of journalism in an effort to help spread information about early-childhood education within the community. Staff from the Morning News have worked with a group of mothers on skills like information gathering, reporting, and verification techniques. But rather than publishing their work in the Morning News or on, the information is primarily shared inside a Facebook group.

"With readers in the role of reporters, and Facebook acting as the distribution channel, the Morning News is mostly removed from the process. That was a purposeful step, said Tom Huang, Sunday and enterprise editor for the Morning News. The goal of the network is for parents to identify the information they need and share it directly with their friends, family, and neighbors. In order for the program to be really effective, it had to operate on a grassroots level, he said. . . ."


How Offensive Was That Spanish Word Used on NPR?

Did NPR use an offensive Spanish word Wednesday morning?

Patricia Guadalupe, Capitol Hill editor of Hispanic Link News Service, says yes, and she told her social media friends so. "Because the FCC has no bilingual staff, you can hear MARICON on NPR with your morning coffee without a beep or warning LOL," Guadalupe wrote. "And because NPR is equally clueless they translate that as 'gay.' Excuse me but MARICON does not mean the polite 'gay' but rather the harsh and offensive 'faggot.' Wow and it's not even 7am yet!


The "Morning Edition" story was about "Pelo Malo," a new Venezuelan film described therein as "a rare look into identity politics among Latin Americans, where racism is often a taboo topic."

Isabel Lara, NPR's director of media relations, disagreed with Guadalupe. "We know the word can have a broad range of meanings," she said in an email to Journal-isms, noting that she is originally from Venezuela. "I mentioned this to other native Spanish speakers at NPR and even we had different interpretations. Jasmine Garsd translated it in the context of the film that was being reviewed in her piece."


Guadalupe, who is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, messaged Journal-isms, "if you ever introduce a gay friend as maricon, you probably going to get slapped. and you can quote me on that."

African Court Rules for Reporter in Defamation Case

"The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates welcomed today African Court on Human and Peoples Rights' landmark decision last 5 November in the case of the journalist Issa Lohé Konaté against Burkina Faso," reported Wednesday, citing an Oct. 12 news release.


"The Court has delivered that this country violated the right to freedom of expression of the reporter, who was sentenced to 12 months in prison in 2012 after having accused a public prosecutor of corruption. The court ordered Burkina Faso to amend its law and the decision will bind on all African Union member states.

" 'We welcome this magnificent victory for press freedom. The African Court has delivered an extraordinary first ruling on press freedom which will have a knock on effect on the legislation in all African countries forcing them to change their law on defamation. African governments should now amend their laws, drop pending criminal defamation charges, and free those jailed under such laws.' said IFJ's President Jim Boumelha. . . ."


Short Takes

"Kimberly Godwin has been named Senior Broadcast Producer of the 'CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley'," Brian Flood reported Tuesday for TVNewser. "Godwin will report to Executive Producer Steve Capus. . . ." Godwin has been a senior producer of the "CBS Evening News" since 2007.


As part of a nine-day visit sponsored by the Hong Kong-based China U.S. Exchange Foundation, "I visited Shanghai, Xi'an, and Beijing with three other U.S. journalists — from the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Huffington Post," Harold Jackson, editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board, wrote on Wednesday. "We met with erudite government officials, entrepreneurs, academics, students, and, on a side trip, even a few farmers, all of whom expressed their fervent belief that China's participation in the world market — not military prowess — is crucial to its success. . . .They want the most powerful economy in the world, but realistically acknowledge that will take years. . . ."

Writing about the "liberal" New Republic magazine, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote Tuesday for the Atlantic, "If one were to attempt to capture the 'spirit' of TNR, it would be impossible to avoid the conclusion that black lives don't matter much at all. That explains why the family rows at TNR's virtual funeral look like the 'Whites Only' section of a Jim Crow-era movie-house. For most of its modern history, TNR has been an entirely white publication, which published stories confirming white people's worst instincts. . . ."


"Former NBC News White House correspondent Kevin Corke is returning to the beat and joining Fox News Channel as a Washington DC correspondent, TVNewser confirms," Chris Ariens reported Monday. "Corke last covered the White House six years ago, departing NBC in Dec. 2008. Ten months later he rejoined NBC and was named news anchor for Miami station WTVJ, where he remained for two years. . . ."

"Just announced on the 'Today' show: The Ebola Fighters are the TIME Person of the Year," Chris Ariens reported Wednesday for TVNewser. "The magazine will have five covers representing hundreds of people who battled Ebola on the frontlines. Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who is on one of the covers, called in to the 'Today' show. 'It's an incredible honor to be part of the group that's being recognized,' Brantly told Matt Lauer. 'I think it's fitting that we acknowledge most Ebola fighters and those who paid the highest price for their service are, themselves, West African.' . . ." 


"The brouhaha over the so-called Pointergate story has mostly blown over," Eric Black reported Tuesday for MinnPost, "but the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists put on a panel Monday night to explain why they had publicly criticized KSTP's handling of the story. Both KSTP and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges declined to participate, which would have made it a lot bigger deal. Most of the discussion, like much of the long-running social media traffic, revolved around the racial angles of the story. . . ." The station has defended its report that the mayor was flashing a gang sign (video).

On ESPN, "The 'Monday Night Countdown' crew sent love and well wishes on December 8 to ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott, who has been battling cancer for the third time," Lisa Respers France reported Tuesday for CNN. "The group joined hands during the broadcast while Suzy Kolber offered some tearful words: 'We want you to know we're sending you some extra strength and to keep fighting that fight.' . . ."


"Pivot's millennial-driven newscast 'TakePart Live' has been canceled," Brian Flood reported Tuesday for TVNewser. "The show was anchored by Meghan McCain, Jacob Soboroff and Baratunde Thurston. We recently profiled Thurston, who seemed optimistic about the future of the program. . . ."

In Kenya, "The government has instructed relevant authorities to begin investigations with a view of bringing charges to those involved in a documentary by Al Jazeera which alleges that the state is involved in at least 500 extrajudicial killings each year," Lydia Matata reported for Kenya's Star newspaper's Thursday edition.


In Angola, "Rafael Marques de Morais is to go on trial before Judge Adriano Cerveira Baptista in the Luanda Provincial Court on December 15," Maka Angola reported on Monday. "Marques de Morais is charged with criminal libel for having exposed human rights abuses in the diamond-producing province of Lunda Norte in north-eastern Angola. . . ."  Marques de Morais funds and directs the Maka Angola site.

"Three journalists from the Syrian opposition television channel Orient News were killed in the southwest of the country when a missile hit their vehicle, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said late on Tuesday," Sylvia Westall reported for Reuters. She also wrote, "While beheadings of foreign reporters by Islamic State militants have drawn most international attention, the CPJ says the vast majority of journalists killed in Syria have been local. . . ."