Senate Torture Report Could Hurt Case Against Alleged 9/11 Plotters

khalid sheikh mohammed

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report Thursday concluding that ‘torture,’ or ‘enhanced interrogation,’ is a flawed method that yields little actionable information.

The 6,000 page report, called one of the most significant oversight efforts in American history, threatens to delegitimize the prosecution of the alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack since torture was employed on the defendants.

“The defence will look at this. The U.S. government published it, in a report, announcing that its not very reliable,” Guy Womack, former Marine Lt. Col., Judge Advocate General (JAG) and civilian defence attorney for Spc. Charles Graner Jr. during Abu Ghraib trials, told BI. “They’ll certainly cite it, I’ve talked to the attorneys on the case.”

The findings — approved 9 to 6 on the votes of eight Democrats and one unnamed Republican — are classified. But “officials familiar with the report” told Greg Miller of The Washington Post that the investigation quite clearly concluded that “enhanced” interrogation was ineffective and that it was often “counterproductive” in the broad effort against Al Qaeda.

Senator Dianne Feinstein then called the CIA’s construction of a secretive, global apparatus to conduct torture at shadowy black sites a “terrible mistake.”

Senator John McCain, himself a victim of torture in North Vietnam, said that the CIA torture was “not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence.”

That admission highlights the issues surrounding the “most important terrorism trial of our time” since alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “confessed” under torture in 2007. Mohammed was waterboarded by the CIA 183 times in March 2003 alone.

“Even a subtle interrogation — even interrogation techniques used on Americans — result in false transactions,” Womack said. “You can imagine if you torture someone and the only way to get out of the enhanced technique is to say what the government wants to hear. Enhanced techniques produce enhanced answers.

President Obama oversaw changes to military tribunals making it so that a defendant’s own confessions under torture cannot be used against him. But the statements of others who were tortured can be used, meaning means the interrogations under torture of the five accused for carrying out 9/11 can be used against each other.

Further subverting the credibility of the trial, a military judge decided last week that all testimony relating to their treatment by U.S. personnel under detention shall remain classified.

The defendants contend that their treatment in secret CIA prisons is relevant to every aspect of the case. And the international community, if not the U.S. military, seems to agree with them.

The very same day as the Intelligence Committee wrapped up its investigation, a European court issued a judgement condemning the CIA for its rendition program. They cited a case concerning the rendition and torture of a German car salesmen.

After 9/11 the CIA, with help from the military and foreign partners, detained suspects at secret prisons scattered around the world. Several detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay died in custody.

SEE ALSO: This Courtroom Exchange Shows Why It’s So Hard To Prosecute The Alleged 9/11 Plotters