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CIA 'torture report': Senate investigators say interrogation 'went beyond legal limits'

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CIA 'torture report': Senate investigators say interrogation 'went beyond legal limits'

A 6,700 page investigation into CIA tactics has been released

The Independent
By Kashmira Gander
9 December 2014

The full scale and detail of CIA interrogation tactics, including the use of insects, a technique known as 'rectal rehydration', and the threat of sexual abuse, has been revealed in a damning US Senate report.

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said that some of the techniques used between 2002 and 2006 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks "amounted to torture", and caused terrorism suspects pain and suffering "well beyond legal the limits".

The report concluded that the CIA deceived the nation and policy-makers by insisting that harsh interrogation tactics would thwart terror plots and save lives of US citizens, and said the organisation's own records did not substantiate these claims.

The 500-page report represents the executive summary and conclusions from a still-classified 6,700-page full investigation involving at least 119 prisoners.

Shocking techniques revealed by the report include:

  • "Rectal rehydration", or rectal feeding, without any medical need, which at least five CIA detainees were subjected to.

  • Threatening to harm the families of at least three detainees, including sexually abusing the mother of a detainee and cutting her throat.

  • Approving the use of insects against a detainee "placed in a confinement box".

  • Keeping a partially nude detainee chained to a concrete floor. The prisoner later died of hypothermia.

  • Sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, at times with the detainees' hands shackled above their heads.

Video link: Senate investigators: Interrogations 'went beyond legal limits'

Other tactics included placing prisoners in water "baths", slapping and slamming them against walls, confining them to small boxes, keeping them isolated for prolonged periods and threatening them with death. Three detainees faced the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding. Many developed psychological problems.

Investigators went as far as describing one secret CIA prison as a "dungeon", where detainees were kept in total darkness, constantly shackled in isolated cells, bombarded with loud noise or music, and given only a bucket in which to relieve themselves.

On one occasion, disciplinary action was not taken against an officer when a detainee died, because the CIA Headquarters had been "motivated to extract any and all operational information".

As Feinstein took the floor today, she warned: "History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and our willingness to confront the ugly truth and say, ‘Never Again’."

The program was a "stain" on the nation's character she said, adding: "under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured."

She went on to command the Senate floor for an extended account of the harsh techniques identified in the report.

Responding to the shocking findings, the CIA said in a statement that the document "tells part of the story" but "there are too many flaws for it to stand as the official record of the program."

President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday that harsh US interrogation methods will not take place on his watch, saying the techniques did significant damage to American interests abroad without serving broad counter-terrorism efforts.

In a written statement, President Obama said: "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."

Additional reporting by AP



  1. Senate Report Says Torture Program Was More Gruesome, Widespread Than CIA Claimed

    WASHINGTON -- The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the highly anticipated 500-page summary of its report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, providing a sobering glimpse into one of the darkest chapters in the U.S. government's history.

    In the report, a product of a 5-year investigation, Senate investigators reveal sordid details of the systemic and individual failures by the agency personnel who ran the "enhanced interrogation program" -- the government's euphemism for systematic torture -- during the George W. Bush administration. The program involved capturing terrorism suspects and shipping them to secret overseas prisons, where they were subjected to techniques such as waterboarding.

    The CIA's program has long been criticized as un-American and a chilling departure from the nation’s values. Opponents allege that it resulted in gross abuses and inhumane treatment of detainees, some of whom were eventually revealed not to have been involved in terror organizations.

    The 6,300-page report may be the most unsanitized official account to date of the agency’s program, which the Senate investigators say was mismanaged, poorly conducted and characterized by abuses far more widespread than the CIA previously conveyed to lawmakers.

    The newly released document tears apart the CIA's past claims that only a small number of detainees were subjected to the harsh interrogation techniques. The agency has said it held fewer than 100 detainees and subjected fewer than one-third of those to controversial tactics such as waterboarding. But Senate investigators found that the CIA had actually kept 119 detainees in custody, 26 of whom were illegally held. And despite CIA insistence that the program was limited in scope, Senate investigators conclude that the use of torture was much more widespread than previously thought.

  2. Obama: America "Exceptional" So We Don't Prosecute Torturers
    Legal experts and human rights advocates says prosecutions must follow Senate's report on CIA torture as president says grave violations of domestic and international law should be kept "where they belong—in the past"

    In his first official remarks following Tuesday's release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the torture program conducted by the CIA during the presidency of George W. Bush, President Barack Obama on Tuesday night indicated that the abuses detailed in the report conducted in the name of the American people—described as "horrific," "ruthless" and "much more brutal than previously thought"—should not be followed by further inquiries or prosecutions as many have long urged.
    With UsA consistently pointing out human rights violations within other countries and sanctioning these countries for these crimes through the UN...UsA is not above the law. The country did not perform these acts, and neither do we condone these acts, we are against our government for committing such horrendous crimes...swift prosecution is the only answer.


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