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CIA Report Details Use Of Torture To Get Information From 9/11 Suspects
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday accused the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, of routinely misleading the White House and Congress over its harsh interrogation program for terrorism suspects, which included waterboarding, maintaining that it was more brutal than the agency acknowledged,
The program, devised by two agency contractors to squeeze information from suspects after the September 11 2001 attacks, was ineffective and never led to the disruption of a single plot, a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee said.
The program ran from 2002 to 2006 and involved questioning al Qaeda and other suspects in secret detention facilities in various countries, including Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Thailand.
The report, which followed a five-year investigation, found the techniques used were “far more brutal” than the CIA told the public or policy makers. Its release prompted a boost of security at U.S. facilities abroad.
“This document examines the CIA’s secret overseas detention of at least 119 individuals and the use of coercive interrogation techniques – in some cases amounting to torture,” committee chair Dianne Feinstein said.
The CIA dismissed the findings, saying the interrogations did result in obtaining valuable information but many Republicans condemned the report, which was put together by the committee’s Democratic majority, saying it would put Americans at risk.
Specific examples of brutality cited include the November 2002 death from hypothermia of a detainee held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor at a CIA prison.
The report said the CIA had tried to justify its use of the program by giving examples of what it called “thwarted” terrorist plots and suspect captures, but the “representations were inaccurate and contradicted by the CIA’s own records.”
Some captives were deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, at times with their hands shackled above their heads, and the report recorded cases of “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” without any documented medical need.
It described one secret CIA prison, whose location was not identified, as a “dungeon” where detainees were kept in total darkness and shackled in isolated cells, bombarded with loud noise and given only a bucket in which to relieve themselves.
It says that during one of the 83 occasions on which he was subjected to a simulated drowning technique the CIA called “waterboarding,” an al Qaeda detainee known as Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth,” though he later was revived.
The report said CIA records showed that seven of 39 CIA detainees subjected to harsh interrogations produced no intelligence at all while in CIA custody; others made up stories, “resulting in faulty intelligence.”
The report also said the CIA had failed to use adequately trained and vetted personnel. Two psychologists were contracted to set up the program and run it, but neither had any experience in interrogation or specialized knowledge of al Qaeda.
One detainee subjected to some of the harshest treatment, Al Qaeda commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks, was among the militants who gave interrogators false information, the report said.
Reacting to the report, President Barack Obama said in a statement that the techniques damaged American interests abroad without serving broad counter terrorism efforts.
“Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong, in the past,” he said.
CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged that the CIA detention and interrogation program “had shortcomings and that the agency made mistakes.”
But he denied the agency misled anyone about it and said its own review indicated that detainees who were subjected to harsh interrogations “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.”
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A law enforcement official said that the Justice Department had no plans to conduct any investigation of the CIA’s actions in light of the release of the report.
Intelligence officials said that at one point, the Justice Department, through a specially-designated prosecutor conducted a criminal investigation into around 20 cases of allegations the CIA abused detainees. However, that investigation was closed without charges being filed.