Jen Psaki grilled over US inaction on torture report

Jen Psaki grilled over US inaction on torture report
The US State Department spokeswoman's arguments led to numerous deadlocks during a briefing about the CIA torture report released the day before.

The US State Department spokeswoman kept repeating variations to her point: “We’re willing to be transparent about our mistakes, we learn from them, and we change.”

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Matthew Lee began the dialogue with what he believed to be an “appropriate” question - whether the State Department accepts the findings of the “Torture Report”. However, differentiating between “support” and “acceptance” tied the spokeswoman in knots.

“Our view is that we supported the release of the report. We believed that it was an opportunity to kind of lay out mistakes that have happened in the past and try to move forward to the future,” Psaki said.

“Well, Matt, we did do something about it. We ended the practice. I think that’s significant and countries will see that,” she added. “I would encourage you to have a conversation with the Department of Justice. I don’t have anything to add from the State Department.”

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The report that concentrated on interrogation techniques of US detainees “isn’t speaking [about] programs that are ongoing,” said Psaki, mentioning it was five years since US President Barack Obama signed an executive order bringing an end to harsh practices, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other tactics.

Reuters

However, Lee wondered whether such an approach to immense human rights violations is “going to be kind of parental: ‘Do as I say, not as I have done or do’?” He referred to the refusal of the Justice Department to “reopen any investigation into what was alleged to have happened.”

Calling the report “very rare and unique,” the State Department spokeswoman answered: “That’s showing strength as a nation and that’s the conversation we’ll have with countries around the world.” However she refused to comment on Lee's suggestion that "showing strength would be not just revealing, but doing something about it."

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The long-awaited report totaling some 6,000 pages was released on Tuesday. It reveals the results of a four-year, $40-million investigation into CIA tactics during interrogations of terrorist suspects after 9/11. It also says that two psychologists, responsible for the design of the program, didn’t have any “experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of Al-Qaeda, a background in terrorism or any relevant regional, cultural or linguistic expertise.”