- Tortured and detained more people than they ever admitted
- Were more brutal than they ever admitted
- Were more haphazard and incompetent than can be believed (losing suspects, outsourcing torture to a couple of outside psychologists with no interrogation experience or credentials)
- Achieved far less than they bragged from the torture, with results that now appear to approximate zero
- Lied about everything to everyone, up to and including Congress and the President
The CIA needs a forced enema of its own, though I am skeptical they will get it.
I will say that there is nothing really particularly surprising here to a libertarian. This sort of lawlessness often occurs in fairly transparent government agencies (think VA) so it should be no surprise that it occurs in an agency like this that has zero accountability (because it can yell "classified" as the drop of a hat). An agency empowered to hide stuff and keep secrets is going to hide stuff and keep secrets. I am not even sure that if we really could turn the CIA upside down that this would be the worst thing we would find.
At the risk of diluting the totally appropriate horror with which this report should be received, I will observe a couple of positives:
- Three cheers for partisanship and divided government. They get a bad rap because gridlock, but without confrontational, competitive, even polarized rivals for power, this sort of thing would never have come out. You can see pretty clearly from the minority comments that Republicans would have buried this had they controlled the Senate.
- One cheer for American exceptionalism. Yes, the hubris and arrogance that often accompanies American exceptionalism went a long way to contributing to these errors. But there are not many countries in the world that would publish this report. Forget for a minute Russia or China or Mali. Even among western democracies there are not many countries that would voluntarily call for penalty strokes on themselves. I can't imagine, for example, France ever making such an admission (and not, I think, because the DGSE's hands are particularly clean).