Dec 20, 2019

Democratic lawmakers pushed Spy Museum to alter CIA torture exhibit

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for AMC

Democratic senators have condemned the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. for "sanitizing" its CIA torture exhibit, letters obtained by BuzzFeed News show.

Details: A display on the agency's torture program at the museum features a reproduction of a waterboard and illustrations that portray the so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques the CIA used, according to BuzzFeed.

  • The exhibit features videos of those who managed the torture program defending it, but fails to mention the Senate Intelligence Committee's 600-plus-page report that scrutinized the program.

The state of play: Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Mark Warner, who serve on the committee, wrote to the museum's directors in May about their concerns that "the museum exhibit does not accurately demonstrate the full extent of the brutality of waterboarding and other measures..."

  • The directors responded, saying they considered the 2014 report while constructing the exhibit, and it "invites our visitors to confront ... thought-provoking questions related to intelligence and espionage."
  • In a meeting between Intelligence Committee staffers and the museum's leadership, "[the committee] noted a number of concerns, including factual errors, and both textual and pictorial depictions of the CIA’s use of torture that sanitize and misrepresent the abuse that detainees faced,” said Rachel Cohen, a spokesperson for Warner and other Democratic committee members.
  • Thereafter the museum's head curator explained that the team was trying to revise the exhibit.

Since then, BuzzFeed reports, a poll has been removed that previously asked visitors if they would "have the US government torture suspected terrorists if they may know details about future attacks?"

  • More changes are expected, according to a letter sent from Democratic lawmakers to a museum executive.

Go deeper: Documents reveal more details about CIA torture program

Go deeper

Cannabis firms fuming over exclusion from CES

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Labs

Last year, the big controversy at CES was over an exhibit from a sex toy company. This year, it is cannabis-tech companies that are crying foul.

Why it matters: Although there are a wide range of electronics shown at CES, critics say that whole categories are unfairly excluded.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

Pompeo declines to appear for testimony on Soleimani airstrike

Mike Pompeo on Jan. 10. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declined to attend a committee hearing tomorrow on the Trump administration's decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Why it matters: The administration's mixed messaging on the justification for the airstrike on Soleimani has created doubt among some lawmakers about the "imminent threat" the administration claimed he posed to U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

UN anti-racism committee accepts Palestinian complaint against Israel

Palestinian protestor waves a flag in the West Bank. Photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP via Getty Images

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva decided ten days ago to open an investigation into a Palestinian complaint that claims Israel is promoting apartheid policies in the West Bank, Israeli foreign ministry officials tell me.

Why it matters: The decision came several days before the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a step toward opening an investigation against Israel for alleged war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. A determination about Israeli policies by the UN CERD will be deemed authoritative by international bodies such as the ICC.

Go deeperArrowDec 23, 2019