from the did-we-win-the-War-on-Terror-yet? dept
Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of the Torture Report [pdf link] is the fact that the CIA clearly knew the methods weren't producing usable intelligence but continued to use them anyway, all the while hiding the extent of its abuses from the rest of the goverment.
The Executive Summary is 525 pages of abusive activity, carried out under the pretense that no other approach would keep the US safe from further terrorist attacks. Dianne Feinstein's preamble addresses the incredible amount of work that went into the full report (which weighs in at over 7,000 pages). While it does point out that the CIA destroyed evidence and forced Senate staffers to work in a CIA-controlled environment while performing research, it curiously omits any mention of the CIA's spying on Senate staffers -- something that seemed to be a big deal a few months ago.
The introduction to the full report runs more than 20 pages, but even this limited sampling expands greatly on Feinstein's 6-page statement released in conjunction with the report. Contained within are more details of the futility of the CIA's torture program and the efforts it made to cover up both its extraterritorial rendition sites as well as the lack of usable intelligence it produced.
The thing is, the CIA's own records (what remains of them) point out the limited return on investment.
[A]ccording to CIA records, seven of the 39 CIA detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques produced no intelligence while in CIA custody. CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were usually subjected to the techniques immediately after being rendered to CIA custody. Other detainees provided significant accurate intelligence prior to, or without having been subjected to these techniques.Torture produced useful intel less frequently than other methods. Information was volunteered even without the use of torture. But some who might have volunteered useful information were never given the chance, as the CIA showed a predilection for torturing first and asking questions later. And those who were tortured did what they could to end the torment.
While being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence. Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.A lack of useful intel wasn't enough to derail the CIA's torture plans. Agents ignored warnings from medical staff and continued to "break down" detainees. Medical personnel were asked to do whatever was needed to return detainees to torture-ready condition.
Detainees were subjected to waterboarding, ice water "baths," 180-hour stints of sleep deprivation, extended physical/mental abuse and being chained naked to cell floors. The CIA also made it personal, threatening detainees with a list of horrors their family members would be subjected to if they didn't cooperate.
CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families — to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to "cut [a detainee's] mother's throat."Some of this behavior was exacerbated by the CIA's active disinterest in ensuring it didn't create a playground for problematic agents in its employ.
Numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems—including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others—that should have called into question their suitability to participate in the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, their employment with the CIA, and their continued access to classified information. In nearly all cases, these problems were known to the CIA prior to the assignment of these officers to detention and interrogation positions.The agency callously turned over detainees to these agents and continued with its unproductive "intelligence gathering." The program veered from merely useless to borderline psychopathy on several occasions. Detainees who should never have been detained were subjected to torture, including one who was held simply to coerce information out of undetained relatives.
Of the 119 known detainees, at least 26 were wrongfully held and did not meet the detention standard in the September 2001 Memorandum of Notification (MON). These included an intellectually challenged" man whose CIA detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information…In addition, the CIA apparently tortured its own, thanks to its torture-first policy.
...two individuals who were intelligence sources for foreign liaison services and were former CIA sources...And bad intel obtained via torture led to even more torture of individuals who never should have been detained.
...and two individuals whom the CIA assessed to be connected to al-Qa'ida based solely on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.The program was such a fiasco that it actually harmed US counterterrorism efforts.
The CIA, in the conduct of its Detention and Interrogation Program, complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the State Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The CIA withheld or restricted information relevant to these agencies' missions and responsibilities, denied access to detainees, and provided inaccurate information on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program to these agencies.But the agency still believed -- or at least wanted to believe -- it was fighting the good fight. The Office of Legal Counsel intervened on its behalf, redefining "torture" as acceptable "under the current circumstances."
Having reviewed information provided by the CIA, the OLC included the "necessity defense" in its August 1, 2002, memorandum to the White House counsel on Standards of Conduct for Interrogation. The OLC determined that "under the current circumstances, necessity or self-defense may justify interrogation methods that might violate" the criminal prohibition against torture.Two consecutive CIA directors further insulated the program by pursuing actions to lock out the Office of the Inspector General. In 2005, CIA Director Goss requested that no further reviews be initiated until the faulty 2004 review was complete. In 2007, Director Michael Hayden vindictively ordered a review of the OIG itself, deterring it from pursuing further investigations of the CIA's interrogation programs. The "faulty" 2004 review was the direct result of the CIA feeding bad info to the OIG in order to cover up its rendition and interrogation programs.
Not only was the OIG eventually locked out, but the CIA's activities were so "dirty" and its gathered intel so questionable that the FBI and Dept. of Defense distanced themselves from the program, refusing to participate in any way. Anything usable was ignored along with anything useful the CIA obtained from its detainees. To further complicate things, the CIA denied requests for access from FBI director Mueller and compartmentalized its intelligence, walling itself off from other intelligence and investigative agencies.
Further details contained in the report point to the fact that the CIA program was never properly documented nor was it ever under any proper oversight.
This program, which was hidden by its participants, lied about to multiple layers of supposed oversight (including the President), and produced little to no usable intelligence, is the same program that is now being defended by former officials as something that "saved" American lives. If it has, there's no evidence of it in here. What it looks like is a post-terrorist-attack reaction being allowed to indulge in its own excesses, using justifications like "under the current circumstances" and "ticking time bombs" to excuse the abysmal depths of its ultimately futile depravity.