U.S. Senate panel's findings on 'brutal' CIA torture

Enhanced interrogation techniques during Bush administration included waterboarding, nudity and sleep deprivation for as long as 180 hours

U.S. Senate panel's findings on 'brutal' CIA torture

World Bulletin/News Desk

A scathing Senate report issued Tuesday said that the use of torture by the CIA following the Sept. 11 attacks was more brutal and extensive than initially thought.

The 500-page document by the Senate Intelligence Committee is an unclassified executive summary of a 6,700-page report that remains classified. It is the result of a more than five-year investigation into the CIA’s interrogation practices.

Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said in the report that the CIA alongside two contractors “decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values.”

The investigation examined CIA practices from late 2001 to early 2009. It found that the techniques were not effective in obtaining accurate information or detainee cooperation, and that lawmakers and the White House were misled by the agency about the effectiveness and the extent of the brutality of the techniques.

In fact, it says that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” led to detainees producing fabricated information, and at least seven of the 39 detainees known to have been subjected to the measures did not produce any intelligence while in CIA custody.

Among the more cruel techniques, the report noted that the CIA employed the use of nudity, waterboarding – which it said induces convulsions and vomiting, sleep deprivation for as long as 180 hours, and unnecessary “rectal hydration.”

The report offers a grisly CIA account of one prisoner who was chained to a wall for 17 days in a standing position. Some of the detainees at that site, codenamed Detention Site Cobalt to preserve secrecy, “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled,” and “cowered” when their cells were opened, according to a senior CIA interrogator.

“It is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured,” Feinstein said.

And of the 119 prisoners in CIA custody during the time of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held.

President Barack Obama, who banned the agency’s detention and interrogation program shortly after he assumed office in 2009, said the report “reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.”

“These techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners,” he added in a statement.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. David Irvine, who taught prisoner-of-war interrogation and military law at the Army’s Intelligence School, said that he never felt “more proud” of the Senate than when the report was released.

“The allegations of inappropriate operations are so voluminous and so detailed, and so compelling that it will be very, very difficult for any agency of the federal government going forward to pretend that none of this ever happened,” he said. “It’s important for the nation to get back to the rule of law, and to the observation of treaties that we have ratified.”

Indeed, David Schanzer, an associate professor of law at Duke University, said that the CIA went “well beyond” Justice Department limitations on how interrogations should be conducted, and that the agency will now have an uphill battle in rectifying its public standing.

“You can’t erase the past,” he said. “It will have a dampening effect on the aggressiveness of the CIA as an effective national security tool, and that is unfortunate.”

Still, he added that ultimately responsibility for this program lies with former President George W. Bush and his administration.

“The key fault was to approve the program in the first place. That was then compounded by the CIA’s deception of the White House, the Justice Department and the Congress as to precisely what was occurring,” he said.

Moreover, Gen. Irvine said that opposed to its claims that it will make America and Americans safer, the program has further imperiled Americans abroad, including those in uniform.

“It allows those who would cause death and destruction to Americans, and America, an opportunity to say ‘we’re only doing what you have done,’” he said.

But he maintained that just as the Army rectified its mistakes following the "sad and tragic lesson" of Abu Gharib, the agency too might find an opportunity to ensure its mistakes are not repeated.

“There have always been people in the agency who have been enormously opposed to what they saw as violations of law and morality, and this will help that agency ultimately heal itself and become more effective in doing the things it is lawfully chartered to do, and ought to do well.”

FACTBOX

The CIA's interrogation of al Qaeda suspects in secret prisons was more brutal than policymakers were told and in some cases amounted to torture that failed to generate effective intelligence, a U.S. Senate panel said in a report Tuesday.

The following are some of the main findings:

* The use of "enhanced interrogation" was ineffective and never produced intelligence that helped to foil an imminent threat. The CIA's 20 most frequently cited examples of successes are wrong in many details and information gained played little or no role in the counter terrorism success. In fact, prisoners regularly lied and provided false information that deceived the CIA.

* The CIA was far more brutal than policymakers were told. The first CIA detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and many others were subjected to coercive interrogation in near non-stop fashion for days or weeks at a time. Zubaydah's interrogation was allowed to take precedence over his medical care, resulting in the infection and deterioration of a bullet wound he sustained on capture. At one point during waterboarding he became "completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth," the report said. The waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, evolved into a "series of near drownings," it said.

* The CIA inaccurately described the conditions under which some prisoners were held, denying they resembled those at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In fact, detainees at one location were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket for human waste. Lack of heat at one facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. Some prisoners were walked around naked with their hands shackled above their heads, while others sometimes were hooded while naked and dragged down corridors while being slapped and punched. Prisoners later exhibited psychological problems, including hallucinations, paranoia and attempts at self-injury.

* The CIA provided inaccurate information about the program and its effectiveness to policymakers, including the White House, Congress and the Justice Department. After being briefed, several lawmakers objected. Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a Vietnam war prisoner, told the CIA he believed waterboarding and sleep deprivation were torture. Other senators also objected in writing. But the CIA, while seeking to use the techniques against prisoners, told the Justice Department no senators had objected.

Last Mod: 10 Aralık 2014, 14:38
Add Comment