An appalling Senate report on George W. Bush-era interrogation techniques asserts the CIA lied repeatedly about the nature of the harshness and effectiveness of its methods.
Those methods were used as part of a counterterrorism program that Bush put into place in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. It turns out, however, that Bush didn’t know the full details of the CIA’s interrogation techniques — some of which were horrific — until 2006.
The report found the CIA also misled other government entities, including the Senate, a major news outlet, and the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, which was supposed to ascertain the legality of the practices.
Here are key details on who the CIA misled and when, from the Senate Intelligence Committee report:
President Bush Was Ill-Informed And Even Lied To:
Bush wasn’t given a full briefing on the CIA’s interrogation methods for the first four years of the program’s existence, according to the report.
“According to CIA records, no CIA officer, up to and including CIA Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss, briefed the president on the specific CIA enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006,” the report stated.
Moreover, the report found that the CIA had incorrectly informed Bush during a daily briefing that detainee Abu Zubaydah had given interrogators helpful information after being subjected to “enhanced interrogation.” In fact, Zubaydah, who was detained in March 2002, didn’t give interrogators more useful information after he was subjected to isolation and waterboarding.
The CIA Lied To The Department Of Justice
The CIA misled the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel about various methods it used to humiliate detainees and how effect these tactics actually were.
These tactics included immersing detainees in cold water, forcing detainees to walk around naked in front of guards, and even forcing them to wear diapers “to induce a sense of helplessness,” according to the report.
The report also found the CIA “gave the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel inaccurate information about how it interrogated Abu Zubaydah and subsequent detainees.” That misinformation included statements that waterboarding didn’t hurt detainees and merely created a sensation of drowning.
In reality, the report said, according to CIA records, Abu Zubaydah’s waterboarding sessions “resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms” and “hysterical pleas.” A medical officer who oversaw the interrogation of another detainee stated that the waterboard technique had evolved beyond the “sensation of drowning” to what he described as a “series of near drownings.”
A CIA Director Misled The Senate
In April 2007, former CIA director Michael Hayden provided the Select Committee On Intelligence with inaccurate information about enhanced interrogation techniques and their effectiveness at a hearing, according to the report.
The report found Hayden gave Senators inaccurate testimony about the interrogation process, threats against detainees’ families, the punching and kicking of detainees, detainee hygiene, denial of medical care, dietary manipulation, the use of waterboarding and its effectiveness, and the injury and death of detainees.
Hayden also told the Senate committee he didn’t believe CIA personnel had expressed reservations about the techniques that were used. In reality, one medical staff member said the methods made him “psychologically very uncomfortable” and several staffers were “profoundly affected” to the point of “choking up,” according to the report.
The New York Times Was Lied To, As Well
The CIA worked vigoriously to shape media coverage of its interrogation techniques, according to the report. The agency even gave The New York Times information about its interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that conficted with the CIA’s own records, according to the report.
“David Johnston of the New York Times called the CIA’s OPA with a proposed news story about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah,” the report said. “In an email with the subject line, ‘We Can’t Let This Go Unanswered,’ the CIA’s director of public affairs in OPA, Mark Mansfield, described Johnston’s proposed narrative as ‘bullshit’ and biased toward the FBI, adding that ‘we need to push back.”
Ultimately, The Times published a story commenting on “the frequent CIA representation that, after the use of ‘tougher tactics,’ Abu Zubaydah ‘soon began to provide information on key Al Qaeda operators to help us find and capture those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.'”
“This characterization of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation is incongruent with CIA interrogation records,” the report said.
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