The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on Tuesday that details harsh CIA interrogation techniques that were employed during counterterrorism efforts during the administration of President George W. Bush.
You can read the full report here. This post will be continuously updated with details.
The interrogation techniques described in the report were used under a program authorised by Bush in the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001.
This program allowed terror suspects to be rendered to sites where they were detained and interrogated.
Full details of the report are below. However, here are some of the more shocking findings:
- Among other things, the report found Bush was not briefed during the first four years of the program, while Vice President Dick Cheney was. A CIA email from 2003 stated “the White House is extremely concerned [Secretary of State Colin] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed” about the details of the program.
- The report also said the CIA paid two Air Force veterans for $US80 million to come up with torture methods. Additionally, it found the agency paid millions of dollars in cash to foreign governments to get them to host black sites where interrogations were held, two of which were not used over political concerns of the host countries.
- Torture programs described in the report included “rectal feeding,” sleep deprivation, and mock executions. It also said the CIA engaged in efforts to manipulate media coverage of the torture program.
- The report also questioned the quality of the information obtained via enhanced interrogation techniques. It noted tortured detainees “provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues.”
Read further details from the report below.
Over 20 People Were ‘Wrongly Detailed’ By The CIA: The CIA “wrongly detained” at least 26 people, according to the report, which said it was actually using a “conservative” calculation of detainees the CIA itself acknowledged should not have been held. The report also accused the CIA of misrepresenting its number of detainees who were wrongly detained.
“While the CIA acknowledged to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in February 2006 that it had wrongly detained five individuals throughout the course of its detention program, a review of CIA records indicates that at least 21 additional individuals, or a total of 26 of the 119 (22 per cent) CIA detainees identified in this Study, did not meet the … standard for detention,” the report said.
The CIA Misled The Public About The Efficacy Of Its Techniques: The agency claimed the intelligence obtained from enhanced interrogation techniques helped thwart a “Second Wave” series of terrorist attacks after September 11th. However, the Senate report described that claim aas “inaccurate.”
“The CIA represented that its enhanced interrogation techniques were effective and necessary to produce critical, otherwise unavailable intelligence, which enabled the CIA to disrupt terrorist plots, capture terrorists, and save lives. Over a period of years, the CIA provided the ‘discovery’ and/or ‘thwarting’ of the Second Wave plotting and the ‘discovery’ of the al-Ghuraba group as evidence for the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. These representations were inaccurate,” the report said.
The report also found the interrogation tactics actually led the CIA to receive incorrect information from detainees.
“CIA detainees subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques provided significant fabricated information on both the Second Wave plotting and the al-Ghuraba group,” the report said.
The Death Of Gul Rahman: The report includes details of the events that led up to the death of “a suspected Islamic extremist” named Gul Rahman at a facility known as “Detention Site Cobalt” in November 2002. According to the report, Rahman was subjected to an interrogation that included “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower, and rough treatment.” The report said officials did not approve of the use of these techniques on Rahman in advance.
Dates in the report were redacted, but sometime the initial interrogation, it said a CIA officer ordered Rahman “be shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor.”
“Rahman was wearing only a sweatshirt, as [CIA OFFICER 1] had ordered that Rahman’s clothing be removed when he had been judged to be uncooperative during an earlier interrogation,” the report said. “The next day, the guards found Gul Rahman’s dead body.”
Detainees Were Subjected To Mock Executions: The report noted “Detention Site Cobalt” was investigated after Rahman’s death. Still, the report said officials were not informed about many of the interrogations techniques being used there — including mock executions.
“Specifically, the interrogation techniques that went unreported in CIA cables included standing sleep deprivation in which a detainee’s arms were shackled above his head, nudity, dietary manipulation, exposure to cold temperatures, cold showers, ‘rough takedowns,’ and, in at least two instances, the use of mock executions,” the report said.
CIA Worked To Shape Press Coverage Of The Torture Program: According to the report, the CIA provided unattributed background information to the press as part of a public relations effort in support of the torture program. Specifically, the report noted the CIA director “blessed” the leaking of classified information for the book “The CIA At War” by Ronald Kessler.
“When the journalists to whom the CIA had provided background information published classified information, the CIA did not, as a matter of policy, submit crimes reports,” the report said. “For example, as described in internal emails, the CIA’s [redacted] never opened an investigation related to Ronald Kessler’s book The CIA at War, despite the inclusion of classified information, because ‘the book contained no firsttime disclosures,’ and because ‘OPA provided assistance with the book.'”
The Interrogation of Muhammad Rahim: Rahim was arrested in June 2007 on suspicion he had direct knowledge of the locations of Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and/or Ayman al-Zawahiri.
According to the report, Rahim was held for a week before being questioned as the CIA waited for an executive order interpreting the Geneva Conventions in a manner that would allow the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. The following techniques were approved: “sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, facial grasp, facial slap, abdominal slap, and the attention grab.”
During his interrogation, the report said Rahim was shackled in a standing position, subjected to eight sleep deprivation schedules, and was limited a diet almost entirely composed of water and liquid Ensure meals. In a final round of questioning, Rahim was subjected to a prolonged sleep deprivation session that lasted for a total of 138.5 hours.
The report also noted the interrogation of “Mohammad Rahim resulted in no disseminated intelligence reports.”
The CIA Lied To Journalists: The Senate report found CIA officials gave The New York Times information about the interrogation of detainee Abu Zubaydah that directly conflicted the agency’s own records.
“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.”
According to the report, on September 10, 2006, an article was published in the Times by Johnston titled, ‘At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics.’ The report noted Johnston’s article included “‘sharply contrasting accounts’ of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.” This included what the report described as “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.
Bush stopped much of the program, which involved terrorism suspects being rendered to facilities where they were detained and interrogated, before he left office in 2009. President Barack Obama then banned so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” when he took office. Obama has acknowledged some of the tactics used as part of the program were torture.
The Senate Intelligence Committee spent several years compiling this report. Ahead of its release, officials stepped up security at US installations around the world due to concerns the violent and graphic details of the program could lead to violence. Due to these fears, the release of the report is controversial.
Though the White House backed the release of the report, Secretary of State John Kerry apparently expressed some concern about security issues last week. A pair of Republican lawmakers, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) also issued a joint statement on Monday criticising the decision to release the report.
“We are concerned that this release could endanger the lives of Americans overseas, jeopardize U.S. relations with foreign partners, potentially incite violence, create political problems for our allies, and be used as a recruitment tool for our enemies,” Rubio and Risch said.
Reporting by, Jeremy Bender, Colin Campbell, Pamela Engel, Erin Fuchs, Armin Rosen, and Hunter Walker
(This post was originally published at 10:50 a.m. and was continuously updated afterwards.)
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