from the using-bullshit-ends-to-justify-the-means dept
The Senate Torture Report has officially been released. Accompanying it is a 6-page statement containing "highlights" from the 525-page "Executive Summary" of the (obviously much larger) full report. (We'll have more once we've dug through the larger report.)
The statement [pdf link], put together by Sen. Feinstein's office, opens with this quote from the Senate Intelligence Committee head:
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.The delineation between "torture" and "coercive interrogation techniques" will be left up to many, many dissemblers. Those who defend the CIA's actions will opt for the former, presumably in long opinion pieces hosted at CIASavedLives.com, a website created solely for countering the negative press that will follow the release of the Torture Report. The site is still mostly dead at this point, occasionally humming to half-life with a bit of pre-emptive flag waving. (LITERALLY)
But the actions contained in this short summary certainly meet any reasonable definition of the word "torture."
In November 2002 a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility.
Sleep deprivation involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in painful stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box.
CIA detainees at one detention facility, described as a “dungeon,” were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste.
Contrary to CIA representations to the Department of Justice, the waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. During one session, Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.” Internal CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a “series of near drownings.”
[T]he CIA instructed personnel that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah would take “precedence” over his medical care, resulting in the infection and deterioration of a bullet wound Abu Zubaydah incurred during his capture.
At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” without documented medical need.All of this (and there's much more documented in the full report) and for what? To save lives, as the URL goes? But there's no evidence this torture resulted in usable intelligence.
The committee reviewed 20 of the most frequent and prominent examples of purported counterterrorism “successes” that the CIA has attributed to the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques. Each of those examples was found to be wrong in fundamental respects. In some cases, there was no relationship between the claimed counterterrorism “success” and any information provided by a CIA detainee during or after the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. In the remaining cases, the CIA inaccurately represented that unique information was acquired from a CIA detainee as a result of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, when in fact the information was either (a) acquired from the CIA detainee prior to the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques or (b) corroborative of information already available to the intelligence community from sources other than the CIA detainee, and therefore not unique or “otherwise unavailable...”The CIA took these lies went all the way to the top.
In an attempt to justify the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, the CIA provided examples of supposedly “thwarted” terrorist plots and the capture of specific terrorists that the CIA attributed to the use of its techniques. The CIA representations were inaccurate and contradicted by the CIA’s own records. The CIA’s internal Panetta Review also identified numerous inaccuracies in the CIA’s effectiveness representations—including representations to the President.And when the CIA wasn't lying about the techniques being necessary to stay ahead of "ticking time bombs," it was lying about its methods.
Records do not support CIA representations that the CIA initially used an “an open, non-threatening approach,” or that interrogations began with the “least coercive technique possible” and escalated to more coercive techniques only as necessary. Instead, in many cases the most aggressive techniques were used immediately, in combination and nonstop.It's not just the US that will have to weather this debacle -- one that gives lie to the government's view that it holds itself to higher standard than its enemies -- it's every other country that participated in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.