Senate Report Says CIA Repeatedly Lied About The Fact That Its Torture Efforts Were Useless In Finding Bin Laden

from the not-so-shocking dept

For months now, we’ve been writing about how the Senate Intelligence Committee is sitting on an apparently devastating 6,300 page report, which cost taxpayers $40 million, looking into the CIA’s torture program. As has recently been in the news, this still-classified report has created quite the controversy, as the CIA has been doing everything it can to block its release, including spying on Senate staffers and sending what appear to be trumped up charges against the staffers to the DOJ for investigation.

Every week there are rumors that Senator Dianne Feinstein is on the verge of really pushing to declassify the report, but it never seems to happen. Still, details from the report keep slipping out, including the latest from CBS which shows how all the claims of how the CIA’s torture program was instrumental in finding Osama bin Laden are simply untrue and the torture program had little to do with it. On top of that, the Washington Post has more on how the CIA blatantly and explicitly misled Congress and the public about the torture program. Did you see that movie Zero Dark Thirty, which purported to show how torture helped find bin Laden? That was nothing more than CIA propaganda via Hollywood to try to press that story forward. The reality is something different. And something that is quite ugly for Americans: we used torture programs, which almost certainly violated the Geneva Conventions, for basically no benefit at all.

Every “example” used by defenders of the CIA to defend the torture program is apparently debunked in the report. Khalid-Sheik Mohammed — the 9/11 mastermind who was tortured 183 times and eventually “gave up” the name of the courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who eventually led to bin Laden? Turns out that he only named him well after all those waterboardings, and never revealed al-Kuwaiti’s significance in any meaningful way. Other examples show that the torture program just lead various Al Qaeda officials to repeat what the CIA already knew.

Essentially, they argued, Mohammed, al-Libi and others subjected to harsh treatment confirmed only what investigators already knew about the courier. And when they denied the courier’s significance or provided misleading information, investigators would only have considered that significant if they already presumed the courier’s importance.

As for the guy who actually revealed the importance of al-Kuwaiti? Yes, he was tortured too, because, man, the CIA really appears to have a taste for torturing people. But he revealed the important information the day before he was tortured.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post details how the report shows that the CIA flat out lied about all of this to pretty much everyone:

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

One of the key findings was that most of the useful intelligence came via FBI questioning (without torture) prior to the CIA getting their hands on various prisoners who they then tortured. But, in order to continue the torture program, CIA officials took the information that the FBI got via standard questioning and claimed they got it via the torture efforts:

One official said that almost all of the critical threat-related information from Zubaida was obtained during the period when he was questioned by [FBI agent Ali] Soufan at a hospital in Pakistan, well before he was interrogated by the CIA and waterboarded 83 times.

Information obtained by Soufan, however, was passed up through the ranks of the U.S. intelligence community, the Justice Department and Congress as though it were part of what CIA interrogators had obtained, according to the committee report.

“The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program,” said a second U.S. official who reviewed the report. The official described the persistence of such misstatements as among “the most damaging” of the committee’s conclusions.

Once again, it appears that the CIA’s stonewalling against the release of this report is almost certainly linked to the fact that it’s effectively going to portray the CIA as a bunch of torture-hungry war criminals, who still refuse to admit that this morally repugnant program was useless — and who lied about it to Congress, the DOJ and the American public in order to keep on torturing people. Of course, some of us are old enough that we still remember when the US used to be against torture, in part because of all the years of evidence proving that it was useless in actually getting information out of people. One would have hoped that the US government, and the CIA in particular, didn’t need to recreate “experiments” by committing war crimes to reprove what was already known about the effectiveness of torture.

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Comments on “Senate Report Says CIA Repeatedly Lied About The Fact That Its Torture Efforts Were Useless In Finding Bin Laden”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

… it’s effectively going to portray the CIA as a bunch of torture-hungry war criminals, who still refuse to admit that this morally repugnant program was useless — and who lied about it to Congress, the DOJ and the American public in order to keep on torturing people.

So, the fear then is that it’ll portray them as exactly what they are?

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

21 ?Not everyone who says to me, ?Lord, Lord,? will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ?Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?? 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ?I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!?

Matthew 7: 21-23, The Bible

Or, in a nutshell, Christian is as Christian does.

AricTheRed says:

As a CIA torturer, ah, er, I mean interrogator...

I am shocked an offended that anyone would hoot-n-holler that we got nothing of value from the myriad number of waterboarding sessions, and hours of blaring Ted Nugent and Skinny Puppy.

First, those are two of my favorite bands! And second, not only will my wife and kids not let me listen to them in the car, or at home, but they also hate it when I water-board them, especially while playing my favorite Gitmo mix tape!

So naturally the only time I can really relax is while at work, with my skinny latte, some Skinny Puppy blaring at over 100db, and some skinny Muslim on my table, under that washcloth, with a big bucket of icy water (I use icy salt water, cause it burns too) slowly being emptied over their face. I mean hell the only reason I even ask any questions is because if I don’t I can’t claim the salt, the used record store and Amazon purchases, or even the bucket as unreimbursed business expenses, because then I’d just be relaxing on some tropical island doing what I like to do second best, which is torturing people that the president has not yet ordered me to murder without trial.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Long after whatever intelligence gleaned through these heinous practices loses relevance, the world – including America – will remember that America tortured prisoners.

Not ‘Oops, they got banged up during capture’, not ‘He got those bruises trying to escape’, not even the old tried-and-true ‘Musta slipped on a bar of soap’.

Just straight up, premeditated torture.

Thanks, CIA.

Anonymous Coward says:

It doesn’t make sense for the US Gov to shoot Osama Bin Laden in the head, instead of taking him into custody and interrogating him for information.

Executing Bin Laden, only makes sense if he knew information about the 9/11 attacks, that certain high ranking officials from the Bush/Chaney White House didn’t want to be exposed.

Also, why was the female CIA official responsible for tracking down Bin Laden, passed up for a promotion and harassed by upper management after she helped track Bin Laden down? That also makes no sense, unless someone inside the US Gov didn’t want Osama Bin Laden to be found.

Personally, I think Barack Obama gave the order to capture Bin Laden alive, if possible, but someone inside the military with ties to Bush/Chaney over-rode that order and replaced it with “shoot to kill”, in order to silence him.

I know it’s a conspiracy theory, but seeing as Bin Laden was unarmed when the Seal Team stormed into Bin Laden’s bedroom, my conspiracy theory seems the most probable explanation for why events happened the way they did.

Jay (profile) says:

Wait… This is old news.

TYT was talking about this years ago in regards to one of the recently retired people who was gung ho for torture… I’ll find that story very soon because I forgot the name of the person and submit it.

Basically, this national security issue is nothing more than a cover up of how far our intelligence agencies have fallen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, this is just great for the troops

Think about it: up until this point, the US could demand that other countries follow the Geneva Conventions and not torture any US personnel that were captured. It could do that with a modicum of moral authority because of course WE never did it. And at least some of time, that worked.

Now these hotshots, the assholes, these weaklings, these cowards, these incompetent jackasses at the CIA have totally screwed that up. So now, when one of our people is captured, the country holding him/her can just go ahead and torture them without worrying about getting a request to come visit the US Embassy, because we just gave up our right to complain.

So one of the many negative outcomes from this lunacy is that every single man and woman serving in the armed forces of the United States is now exposed to greater risk when they’re in the field.

Way to go, CIA. Way to go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, this is just great for the troops

While everything you say is right, it’s even worse then you describe, you forget a few other facts.

-Before 9/11 the US had a reputation for over a century that we DIDN’T torture prisoners of war, even when we knew full well that our enemies were torturing our own people they captured. So the long term damage of torture to our reputation did a lot more damage then you state.

-Studies by actual interrogation experts have long concluded that torture is an ineffective way of getting real and valuable information from a prisoner. Torture is much more prone then other interrogation methods to get you lies and false information that the prisoner thinks you want to hear.

-The ‘experts’ who switched us over to torture post-9/11? They had conducted a grand total of ZERO interrogations of prisoners. They were just political appointees who wanted to talk and act tough like their president in their war on terrorism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not only can we not condemn torture or so many other despicable actions anymore, but when I look at my society, my country and myself, I think “how are we any better?” and I feel disgusted in how anyone could do these things and how we could let it go on for so long.
These bastards took away our pride, however little there was left, and made us feel like collaborators in their sick “games” just by living in a society that would do such a thing.
They did something that is close to the worst humankind can think of, and in the process they put some of that blood on our hands. I don’t think I can ever forgive them for this, and if the world was fair, they would stand trial.

Whoever says:


Other reports show that the torture continued after subjects were cooperating, which shows that the CIA personnel involved were simply sadists who were enabled by the US Government.

The torture had nothing to do with gathering intelligence and everything to do with satisfying the perverted desires of the torturers and their bosses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course, some of us are old enough that we still remember when the US used to be against torture, in part because of all the years of evidence proving that it was useless in actually getting information out of people.

While the US government may have rarely engaged in torture, it was hardly against it. In fact, it taught its buddies in Latin American death squads how to perform it. It was part of the curriculum in the School of the Americas.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: So the Dems have come up with another politically motivated report

Better the ‘weight’ of RomneyHeritagecare, which at least is ‘designed’ to help and save people, than the ridiculous weight of an illegal, mistaken war, hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths, actual torture, and a global financial meltdown for good measure.

Which is more designed to destroy society?

Diggs (profile) says:

Waaaahh, my pussy hurts because of Bush

You can almost hear the cheers for al Queda in the story, and especially in the comments section.
“Bin, bin, bin Laden!
Al Queda is going to win!”
What a great fantasy world you all must live in, where Obama simply speaks and the rest of the world roles over, ready for a tummy rub.
Thankfully, my platoon had not consisted of a bunch of panty-waist whiners whose biggest worry was if they had cleared the search cache before Mom took her computer back.

Sunhawk (profile) says:

Re: Waaaahh, my pussy hurts because of Bush

Such a strange pair of glasses you have, in which you can see approval of bin Laden or al Queda everywhere…

As for Obama… sure, he wasn’t in charge when it actually happened, but he’s been quite willing to conceal it. And to drone-strike people; that’s not unrelated to the core concerns in question (it does raise the absurdity of getting the Nobel Peace Prize for doing… sod-all other than get elected).

And if you are genuinely military personnel (you sound more like a bad cliche than any soldier I’ve met), then I hope you never work in MI; that’s the kind of shoddy thinking and poor analysis that harms our nation.

On the topic… torture is wrong. Period. No exceptions. I would rather have died in a terrorist attack then to have my country tarnished in such a fashion. As it happens, the torture didn’t have a thing to do with useful information and I was never given the choice.

Which burns me – these idiots tarnished my country, whom my forefathers have fought for since the very beginning… and for nothing. So they’re not just morally bankrupt but incompetent.

Mitch says:

While I don’t buy this nonsense of waterboarding being torture, it’s also irrelevant. Nearly everything you’ve written is a lie, stupid, or a stupid lie.

To start: there’s nothing in the Geneva Conventions about torturing illegal enemy combatants. The GC don’t even apply to conflicts between a nation-state and a band of terrorists. I have no idea where you morons keep coming up with this shit. If you disagree, please provide a citation.

Two: to say the waterboarding didn’t achieve actionable intelligence because, I guess, the people didn’t blurt out answers while they were being waterboarded is asinine. Waterboarding still seems to have been a necessary component to the process of breaking their spirit and extracting intelligence.

Three: even if it obtained no intelligence whatsoever, who cares? To say waterboarding terrorists provides “no benefit at all” reveals your own sick, mentally-defective morality. It provided a benefit–the benefit of extracting some small amount of vengeance. That you could possibly say otherwise shows was a twisted, subhuman monster you are. I hope terrorists murder you and everyone you care about. Believe me me, nobody is going to bother making them pay. We’ll do precisely what you want and give them a lollipop and a pat on the back.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Most were picked up in Afghanistan protecting themselves. Like Omar Kadr, the (then) 14 year old Canadian-Afghan who threw a grenade and killed 2 americans after other americans killed his family out of nowhere. So he was just a citizen reacting to an unasked for invasion of his home. Counts as a resistance soldier in some sense….he was that for maybe 10 seconds. He was sent from guantanamo to Syria to be tortured when Syria was still an awesome friend of the US. He’s now here but that guy’s live is ruined and he will probably never work. Which is bullshit.

Like most confessions you will get when waterboarding somebody repeatedly + other forms of “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

JarHead (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The 1st 2 arguments I can understand, though not necessarily agree with, but the last, wow. I hope you’re trolling. Torturing for vengeance is morally right? Now I have to wonder what background are you coming from. If you’re the one charged for the safety of society, I don’t want to be safe anymore. Better face a 1000 jihadist screaming for my blood than face a single person with such conviction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Newsflash: of course it is torture. Stop the apologism. The United States hanged Japanese soldiers over it! So not calling it torture is an act of blatant hypocrisy. I say we should apply the standard here. Say build the gallows outside Langley since that may be the only thing the barbaric psychopaths understand?

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