Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seven Key Points from the CIA Torture Report

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a report condemning the CIA for its use of torture under the Bush administration. The report detailed the brutality of the agency's torture practices, their ineffectiveness in delivering information, the detainees who were wrongfully held, the CIA's deception regarding the effectiveness of the program and the program's lack of oversight, among other findings. The committee's chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), called the program “a stain on our values and our history.” She continued, “History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘never again.’ ” The New York Times outlined  7 Key Points From the C.I.A. Torture Report:

1. The C.I.A.’s interrogation techniques were more brutal and employed more extensively than the agency portrayed.
The report describes extensive waterboarding as a “series of near drownings” and suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three prisoners the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The report also describes detainees being subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” and death threats. Conditions at one prison, described by a clandestine officer as a “dungeon,” were blamed for the death of a detainee, and the harsh techniques were described as leading to “psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
Waterboarding is called “a series of near-drownings” (Page 86)
• Detainees with psychological and behavioral issues (Page 114)

2. The C.I.A. interrogation program was mismanaged and was not subject to adequate oversight.
The report cites dissatisfaction among intelligence officers about the competence and training of interrogators. Those found to have violated agency policy were “rarely held accountable.” The architects of the program had never carried out a real interrogation. The report states that the C.I.A. resisted congressional oversight, restricted access to information, declined to answer questions about the program and “impeded oversight” by the agency's inspector general by providing false information.
An officer with no previous experience conducting interrogations (Page 50)
• C.I.A. officers were "rarely held accountable" for death, injury or wrongful detention. (Page 14)

3. The C.I.A. misled members of Congress and the White House about the effectiveness and extent of its brutal interrogation techniques.
The report says that the C.I.A. provided false and misleading information to members of Congress, the White House and the director of national intelligence about the program’s effectiveness. It asserts that a review of cases, in which the agency claims to have collected “actionable intelligence” it would have been unable to obtain by other means, calls into question the connection between the information and any “counterterrorism success.”
How the C.I.A. represented the program’s effectiveness (Page 172)
• Examples of inaccurate C.I.A. testimony (Page 462)

4. Interrogators in the field who tried to stop the brutal techniques were repeatedly overruled by senior C.I.A. officials.
C.I.A. personnel reported on multiple occasions to being “disturbed” by waterboarding and concerned over its legality. Officials, including the program’s architects, described the interrogation as a “template for future interrogation” of detainees. In one instance, a senior official pushed back against concern over the “legal limit” of brutal interrogation techniques by stating that the “guidelines for this activity” had been “vetted at the most senior levels of the agency.”
C.I.A. personnel concerned over waterboarding (Page 44)
Counterterrorism official pushes back on questions of legality. (Page 43)

5. The C.I.A. repeatedly underreported the number of people it detained and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques under the program.
The report states that the C.I.A. never produced an accurate count or list of those it had detained or subjected to brutal interrogation techniques. The agency said it detained “fewer than 100 individuals,” but a review of agency records indicated that it held 119. It also underreported the number of detainees who were subjected to torture.
C.I.A. director “instructed me to keep the detainee number at 98” (Page 15)

6. At least 26 detainees were wrongfully held and did not meet the government’s standard for detention.
The report found that at least 26 detainees “were wrongfully held,” including an “intellectually challenged” man who was used as “leverage” to obtain information from a family member, two former intelligence sources and two individuals identified as threats by a detainee subjected to torture. Agency records were often incomplete and, in some cases, lacked sufficient information to justify keeping detainees in custody.
Of 119 detainees, at least 26 were “wrongfully held.” (Page 14)

7. The C.I.A. leaked classified information to journalists, exaggerating the success of interrogation methods in an effort to gain public support.
The report found that the C.I.A. provided classified information to journalists but that the agency did not push to prosecute or investigate many of the leaks. C.I.A. officials asked officers to “compile information on the success” of the program to be shared with the news media in order to shape public opinion. The C.I.A. also mischaracterized events and provided false or incomplete information to the news media in an effort to gain public support.
Overview of representations to the media (Page 401)

Photograph: Kenton Powell/Guardian US

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