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So what's in the Torture Report? Well, I can't quote from it, because the intelligence community and the White House have done such a good job of delaying its public release (although a redacted version is widely rumored to be coming soon). But by all accounts, the report not only discloses abuse that was more brutal, systematic and widespread than generally recognized, but also chronicles how the people most intimately involved in the torture regime lied to others inside the CIA, lied to Justice Department lawyers, and lied to the public; how they lied about what they were doing, they lied to make it sound like it accomplished something, and afterwards, they lied some more. Brennan reportedly told Feinstein and intelligence committee vice chairman Saxby Chambliss on Tuesday that he was sorry. But it's hardly the first time he's been caught in the act. There was, for instance, that time in June 2011, when he was President Obama's counter-terrorism advisor, that he asserted that over the previous year there had not been a single collateral death from drone strikes. (He later amended that to say there was no "credible evidence" of such deaths.) But there was indeed ample and credible evidence. (Just as one example, a March 2011 CIA drone attack in Pakistan killed some 50 people, including tribal elders who were gathered for a tribal conclave.) Brennan's erstwhile boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, famously lied when he assured the Senate intelligence committee that the government wasn't collecting data on Americans in bulk when, as it turns out, it was. Lying, of course, has always been a problem in Washington. But especially after the 9/11 terror attacks, the Bush-Cheney regime took lying to new post-Nixon heights. Maybe even pre-Nixon. When I sat down to write my last "White House Watch" column for the Washington Post, what struck me most about the Bush years were the lies. The most consequential, of course, were the lies about the war. The most telling were the lies to cover up the lies about the war. And the most grotesque were the lies about torture. The other thing is that there were no consequences. No one got in trouble for lying. The only semi-casualty was Scooter Libby, briefly convicted of lying while obstructing the investigation into vice president Cheney's lies.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone