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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  December 6, 2019 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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danieljones, welcome to hardtalk. thank you for having me. a film has just come out betraying your battle to write this report into what the cia did and it's countertourism operations up 9/11. it was some time ago, but is it you like unfinished business to you? in so many ways, the terms of how the united states responded to 9/11 from a policy perspective on the war on terror is still unfolding and impacting how we fight these battles today with isis and other foreign adversaries. but this report of yours, it was sort of six years
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in the writing and in the battling to get at least a summary of it published and before the eyes of the american public. but that has happened. and i just wonder whether you feel actually some elements of this story remain unsold? absolutely. so it was actually a seven yearjourney. it began after it came to light that the cia had destroyed interrogation videotapes of detainees in its custody and that they had destroyed his tapes in 2005 over the objections of cia leadership, over objections of the bush white house. when it came to light in 2007, the senate intelligence committee where i worked because they brought investigation into what would have been on those dates. at the same time, the bush administration launched a criminal investigation into the caa for the destruction, and you may remember the commissioner's report. the enquiry basically said the report had engaged in destruction of evidence when they destroyed those dates. and you, despite the fact the tapes were destroyed,
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you gathered information that told you pretty clearly what had happened. particularly in the interrogation of one senior al-qaeda operative, abu zubaydah, he was subjected to some of the most brutal forms of interrogation. did you from the beginning have no doubt in your own mind that this amounted to torture? well, the tasking that i was provided with was with the senators on that committee to find out the facts. and eventually the report provided 6.3 million pages of their own classified records on this programme. far beyond abu zubaydah. far beyond. more than the hundreds of detainees you are aware of. at least 119 detainees and we suspect there are more. 6.3 million pages is an unprecedented document production from the cia, that is equivalent to two urban library is of material. we had tens of thousands of pages just on abu zubaydah, the first cia detainees captured in 2003 alone.
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i suppose the question many will want to reflect upon is your reaction, when you sawjust how graphic and how detailed the cia account of its own torture techniques was. right. we were surprised the tapes were destroyed because of the imagery. and we suspected that the written records would not be as robustly detailed, but in fact they were. and that's because the people conducting these interrogations that the detention site wanted cia headquarters to know exactly what they were doing, right? they weren't going to be hung out to dry. because they weren't ashamed of it. no. they felt they were just following orders. no. so what we got in the thousands of pages is minute—by—minute details about what was happening to abu zubaydah, this first detainee. you know, "6:06pm, brought into a small coffin—shaped box." "6:30pm, attached to a waterboard." "6:32pm, waterboarding begins." that was the type of detail in these records. and it — in the course of cataloguing all of this, it seems you portrayed to your senate committee a picture of a man who was almost literally broken.
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yes. he became — i think it was described as a guy who essentially, sort of, "would come at the click of a fingers like a dog", such was the degree to which his mind had been destroyed. and he had over days and days been held in the most horrifying conditions. that's right. he was originally captured in spring. and april to earlyjune he was interrogated largely by the federal bureau of investigation agents using law enforcement techniques, really. and in mid—june he was put into cia investigation. they went to the department ofjustice, president bush, and they try to get permission to use what would become enhanced because they weren't ashamed of it. and in mid—june he was put into cia investigation. they went to the department ofjustice, president bush,
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and they try to get permission to use what would become enhanced interrogation techniques, which you rightfully said is a euphemism for torture. it took 47 days to get that policy approval and legal approval. during a period of time abu zubaydah was in a small cage and he wasn't asked any questions. the first day of interrogations using these techniques, within six hours abu zu baydah was waterboarded. waterboarding became a feature of the systemic abuse. that's right. khalid sheikh mohammed was perhaps the most famous recipient of waterboarding, multiple occasions. i want to introduce a clip of the report, where you are portrayed by adam driver. it captures the passion that you have about why this torture you are revealing is utterly counter—productive. and it is known as eit. everything they attribute to eit they already had, from foreign sources, other governments and other methods.
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they claim to save lives but what they did was make it impossible to prosecute a mass murderer like ksm because of what we did to him! if it ever came out in a court of law, the case is over. the guy planned 9/11 and instead of going to do the rest of his life, the cia turned him into a recruiting tool for a war we are still fighting! it's a movie. it's fiction in a way, but it is based upon you. were you really as completely impassioned as adam driver's performance would suggest? it's important to reiterate i was just a staffer on the committee was that if the senators who i worked for who are responsible for this report, ultimately and responsible for signing onto it and making it public. they were all passionate about not only documenting this part of us history, but exposing it. one, to make sure it doesn't happen again, and two, for the united states to be able to claim some sense of moral authority and human rights sphere.
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let's think about what your report's impact was in the united states. you insist that not only does it reveal the degree to which the cia conducted torture, then lied about it and covered it up, but you go further and you say it is clear that the torture didn't work and the cia knew that it didn't work. that is somewhat more controversial. explain to me how you can be so sure that the evidence shows none of this enhanced interrogation yielded useful information? we started with what the cia said, what did the cia told the department ofjustice about the effectiveness of these techniques. why they told president bush these techniques were necessary. the basically came back to these ten plots and captures where cia said without torture we would not have got a man called is a pity, we would not have got the second waiter raised plots against the united states. so we took the cia at their word and we use those 6.3 million pages
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of records together and build the story. we looked at 20 cases altogether, 20 of the most frequently cited cases that said without eits this person would not have been caught or captured. and in all 20 cases it was not that eits were responsible, but other intelligence methods from people and governments provided. some of these key suspects are claimed to have given us vital information, and the extent to which that vital information came, was unknowable, some have said. so how can you claim to know? so
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this drives me nuts. first of all, let's go back to what the department ofjustice said these techniques are necessary because we cannot obtain this intelligence any other way. so they called it otherwise unavailable intelligence, which means cia can't get it from a human source or from reading your e—mail or pulling up your phone calls out of the sky. they need to torture in order to get this data. and they provided examples to president bush and the department of justice in congress. they said without torture we would never have learned aboutjose padea. so we went through cia records and we set how did you learn about him we learn about it in 2001. in regards to the second wave plight, without ksm, without waterboarding, we would never have stopped the plot without ksm. but he was captured in march, 2003. there was a white house press statement about a description of a second wave plot in 2002. the timelines do not match.
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so you're saying we don't need to pin it on himself but repeatedly over the years the cia lied and lied and lied, not only about what they did but also them covering it up, and it seems you feel that they went out of their way to intimidate you to try to close down your investigation. even at one point they accused you of hacking into their computers and taking unauthorised information, there was even talk of a criminal prosecution against you. so ijust wonder upon reflection have you completely lost faith in the cia, the intelligence agency, notjust them but perhaps going forward? let's be clear. the cia is like any other organisation. it has people with different ideas and opinions. many of the same people that should be said, who were involved when you are investigating a steel actually in very senior positions in the cia today. that's absolutely true. and one of the two people
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at the department ofjustice who were responsible for the unlawful destruction of these tapes was a man called jose rodriguez who wrote a book promoting the torture programme, and a woman named gina haspel, director of the cia. she is now running the cia and went through a nomination process. when she was asked many questions about enhanced interrogation, she said we no longer use torture and she also refused to draw any moral conclusions about what had happened. what does that tell you? we are in a crisis of accountability in the united states right now. when you look at this programme, even that failure to detect 9/11, no—one was held accountable for that, i detainee died in 2003, no—one was held accountable for that. the person they identified as the most accountable for that debt was suggested that he should get a performance bonus at the end of the year. when it was concluded that the cia had provided misinformation to president bush, no—one was held accountable. but to that extent then, we've talked about the exhaustive work you did over a six year span,
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isn't the stark truth that that report, when it came out failed to have the impact that you hoped and expected it for? and frankly has already been forgotten? there is no doubt about that. we were front—page news all over the world for 2h hours. in the next day we weren't. and it was gone. and that's importance of storytelling in film, with scott burns, the writer and director of the film the report, it was really important to bring this dry government document to a wider audience was adam driver, annette bening, john ham, they did this on a shoestring budget for the ability of not only the american people but the world and knew they were needed to tell the story. yeah, but let's stick with this idea about the american people. you say the need to know, the truth is they did know and from very early on and the torture memos, when the memos from the white house came out which show the degree to which president bush in the white house
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team had authorised the enhanced interrogations and said, "don't worry about the geneva conventions, we've squared it off, you're not going to be doing anything illegal," the american public has known for an awful long time about the way in which this chain of command for this policy went to the very top and yet let us be honest, they don't seem to really care. well, to be fair, this is not a partisan report and what the report shows is that the cia misled the bush administration and misled the department ofjustice. to give you an example, these torture memos say the techniques will be used in a leased coercive method and most quarrelsome method and detainess always be given an opportunityjust to talk without being subjected to torture. that is completely inconsistent with what we found in cia records. abu zubaydah as we discussed was what aborted within six hours of the eit approval. ksm was tortured in on his first day of arrival. you can forensically outline what happened and why in your view it's abusive and contravenes international law and i get it,
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but i come back to the american people and actually, i'm going to quote to you words from some of the democrats who at the time of 9/11, let's forget republicans who were very much inclined to go for an aggressive counterterrorist policy, back their president, but even democrats at the time were absolutely saying, "take the gloves, we must do whatever it takes to stop these terrorists." here is nancy pelosi after 9/11, she said, "no more business as usual, we have to do things that historically we haven't wanted to do to protect ourselves," and your own chief of the senate intelligence committee, jay rockefeller, who you sort of worked for in the early years, he, said when asked if khalid sheikh mohammed should be sent to a country with not restrictions against torture laughed and said he wouldn't rule it out, he said, "i will take nothing off the table where man is concerned because he has killed hundreds of americans." that is the context, that that is the way america has
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seen this story from the very beginning. well, i would say that, again, while people would talk tough after 9/11, they wanted our intelligence professionals to do what works and what was effective and what we found by going through 6.3 million pages of records, that torture does not work, it leads to false answers and it leads to basically unreliable information from these detainees and we found time and time again the best way to get reliable information was repoire—building. why then, if you are so sure the evidence points to torture frankly being a waste of time and resources, why does torture happen, notjust as we've recorded historically in the united states during this period but in so many countries around the world? are all of these different intelligence agencies and security systems utterly and completely wrong? it's absolutely a plague that has affected humanity for a very long time but we know it doesn't work, the science is not there. the cia themselves... so everybody, one can list governments and regimes across the world, and without being
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pejorative, one can talk about what happens in china and russia and countries in the middle east of many different stripes, right around the world we know from extensive independent investigation torture is used to extract information. i put it to you again, are all of these experts in counterterror completely and utterly wrong? what you get are false confessions or propaganda. if i torture you and i want you to say that you don't work for the bbc, you work for, i don't know, apple computer, i will torture you enough and and you will say yes, "i work for apple computers, i don't work for the bbc." you get exactly what you want but you don't get reliable intelligence. look at ksm, they waterboarded ksm 183 times and eventually he gave up a plot of african—americans in montana who were planning to conduct forest fires, it was all fabricated. that is one of the successes which interrogators would say, "see, we disrupted this plot." it never happened. what is happening now? you work in advocacy
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and are concerned with human rights and accountability and good governance in the united states so what is happening in the counterterror element of the national security institutions in america today? well, i think there are lessons learned from what happened post—9/11. when this report came out, something called the mccain feinstein act, john mccain, of course, a republican, came out and said we were never going to detain people in secret again, every detainee in us custory will get international committee of the red cross access. all interrogation techniques across the us government regardless of if you are the cia or the fbi has to adhere to these minimal standards so that is a law that is in effect. right now we recognise that our moral authority has a real weight and it's notjust what we do, military perspective but it's how we carry ourselves. john mccain himself said part of the reason of getting this all out was to reclaim our moral authority so we could be a country that inspires people.
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john mccain did say and yet john mccain never became president of the united states, donald trump did and he made plain during his 2016 campaign that he believed torture worked, and he was voted into office. i come back to this point that for all of your frankly fine words, the american people are not where you are. well, there's been a big cia propaganda effort to talk about this programme and promote torture as an effective thing. amazon, who did the film, did some polling and they said, "0k, before you watch the film, how many of you think that torture tactics after 9/11 were effective?" it was something like 57%. after the film, once people were educated about the contents of the actual senate report, it went to 13%. so i really think this shows that education is needed, right? the american people need to know the facts. there is a morality issue with torture and you could say "i don't want to torture because it's immoral," but whatpeople don't realise is that it is massively ineffective
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and once people learn those lessons, the support for torture will drop dramatically. i imagine, i'm looking at what mccain said, a new and the movie with mccain's work word and he said, "even," and he doesn't believe it, "even if torture worked, it is not who we are. what does it do to our reputation and our image of moral authority?" but again, it seems to me a lot has happened since even the death ofjohn mccain. donald trump's white house, donald trump's way of dealing with national security issues and the institutions, the way he deals with cia, with the pentagon, all suggest to me that america right now has, at its top leadership, has a set of attitudes which are very far removed from the ones you'd like to see. yet we haven't brought back torture, right? we haven't seen other policies... as far as we know. well, i think these would be as illegal now, illegal as it is now, it would be reaffirmed. gina haspel has said publicly. "we will never bring back this programme."
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trump himself said he spoke with general mattis, a department of defence employee, who said you get more with beer and a cigarette than you get with torture and trump believes that now. do you think he really does? i will take him at his word on this and we haven't brought back torture programmes. what about accountability? you talk about it a lot and in the course of this interview, you refer to one particular individual, gul rahman, who was killed as a direct result of this torture, i think he died of hypothermia, having been left overnight after having been doused with cold water. no—one has ever been charged with any crime in connection to his death, nobody. nobody has been held to account. will that ever change? well, i have, ithink, the long arc of the moral history as the universe is long. and i do think as more information comes out, that in itself is a form of accountability. getting out this report was a huge
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battle which scott burns chronicles in this film but getting it out and showing it publicly is a form of accountability. gina haspel, as cia director, she was involved in this programme. the same committee that voted to endorse this report and make it public also approved her as cia director so the world is a complicated place. well, it sure is, but surely the fact that she is in charge suggests it's unlikely there will be further movement to full accountability. and i want to end with one more thought. there are limits to what you could achieve in your report because there was an extraordinary area of secret activity that was off limits to you. i'm thinking of extraordinary rendition and what happened in those third—party interrogation centres run by, for example, the pakistanis, the egyptians, the syrians, the libyans who took prisoners sent to them by the united states and did god knows what to them. will we ever learn the truth about that? i think it's highly unlikely we will see a us government report on that activity.
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this report we did is nearly 7,000 pages, it has 38,000 footnotes to the cia's own records and it's just about these 119 cia detainees. we did not go into rendition, we did not go into these other issues we discussed but i don't think anyone is going to look at that 6.3 million pages again that our... so that is a black hole which will never see light? i think it's very unlikely, yes. at the end, you said you were disappointed when the summary of the report came out and it had so little impact. does that mean today, you, ultimately, are in a state of somewhat, if not despair, depression about what this entire episode says about the united states of america? i'm very proud of what the senators did this report. i think it matters. i think the reason why we don't see the us engaging these practices right now is because of the senate report. i continue to believe that facts matter, that truth matters.
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we are in a very strange time right now and all you can do is keep doing is moving forward in a way you think is responsible and hopefully the world will catch up with us in this regard. danieljones, thank you very much for being on hardtalk. thank you, this is a pleasure. thank you. hello there. the week is ending on an unsettled note. in fact, it's going to be somewhat of a weather rollercoaster ride as we'll get one day wet and windy and the following day, a little bit calmer with some sunshine. friday looks like being one of those windier, wetter days as we'll have low pressure in charge. lots of isobars on the charts, a weather front too indicating outbreaks of rain but what you will notice, it's going to be very mild
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for the time of year, particularly across england and wales as we start to pick up our breeze from the south—west. so a blustery start to friday, outbreaks of rain across southern areas eventually clearing away. start to see a bit of sunshine developing but lots of showers into the north and the west, some of these spreading further south and east through the day. a blustery day like i mentioned pretty much everywhere but it will be a mild one for central, southern areas especially, 11—13 degrees. something a bit fresher pushing into scotland, that's because the winds will be switching to a north—westerly and as we head through friday night, it stays blustery, particularly across northern areas with further showers although there'll be some drier interludes with a few clear spells but because of the breeze, it shouldn't be a cold night, temperatures no lower than 5 or 6 degrees for most of us. so into the weekend, well, the start of the weekend actually doesn't look too bad because we've got this bump of high pressure that'll settle things down before the next wet and windy spell moves in from the saturday night.
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so it could be a dry start for central and eastern areas, a bit of sunshine, variable cloud, i think that's how the day will pan out, mainly dry with variable cloud and some sunshine but these weather fronts will arrive across the north—west of the country, increasing wind, outbreaks of rain for northern ireland and into scotland, maybe just one or two showers putting into western england and wales. temperatures again, most of us double figures just about. and then through saturday night, the next frontal system moves through to bring a spell of wet and windy weather and as we head on into sunday, well, it looks like the main rain band should clear the south and east through the morning and then it's a largely bright day, sunny spells and blustery showers, most of these in the north and the west where they will be quite heavy at times, maybe some wintriness over the higher ground, as again, it's going to be quite cool across the north, single—figure values here, about 10—12 degrees across the south and east. and then it turns very windy later on sunday, especially in the south—west, a spell of severe gales for a time as that low pressure clears away. as we head on into monday, another bump of high pressure
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which should best settle things down so it should be largely dry with some sunny spells, lighter winds, too, before the next frontal system moves in on tuesday to bring another round of wet and windy weather.
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this is the briefing. i'm ben bland. our top story: a nationwide strike in france enters a second day — unions warn it won't stop until the pension reforms are scrapped. a woman whose heart stopped beating for six hours has been brought back to life by doctors in spain. teenage activist greta thunberg heads to madrid to join the climate protest at a major un summit. higherfuel prices in the pipeline? 0pec nears a deal to cut production and push up the cost of crude.


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