Senate Intelligence Committee Releases CIA Torture Report

CIA
Archibald’s departure comes amid reports that the spy agency will begin a controversial reorganization plan. Larry Downing/ REUTERS

The 525-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s long-anticipated report on the CIA’s use of torture following the September 11, 2001, attacks was released today after years of negotiations. The report looks at 20 cases of high-level detainees who were kept at CIA “black sites,” or secret prisons, during George W. Bush’s presidency. On the Senate floor, introducing the report, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said 7% of the released report was redacted. She also said the interrogation program never produced information in a "ticking time bomb" situation and produced several false leads.

The senator said that the CIA had misled lawmakers, and said Colin Powell specifically wasn't told about the program because he would "blow his stack."

Feinstein said the treatment was much worse than what the CIA reported. She says an otherwise healthy detainee died at a CIA site of hypothermia. Detainees, she said, were subjected to the treatment immediately, and deprived of sleep, in one case for longer than a week, usually standing or in stress positions. Guards used "rough takedowns" at one facility, where detainees were stripped and punched while being dragged, she said. Some CIA detainees were kept in complete darkness and subjected to loud sounds and music.

She said that interrogators were used who had "personal, professional and ethical problems," including a history of violence, which should have called into question government employment. She singled out two contractors, who developed the CIA techniques and personally conducted interrogations that included waterboarding, who she says the CIA relied on to oversee the program. The contractors created a company to expand their work with the CIA, allowing the CIA to outsource the program at a cost $180 million dollars. It wasn't all paid, but more than $80 million was.

Speaking in support of the release of the report, Sen. John McCain said he thought the program "stained our national honor." He called waterboarding, a technique used again and again, according to the report, "an exquisite form of torture." He said while the truth was hard to hear, Americans deserved to know what was done in their name. He also referenced his own experience with torture, as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, saying he thought the techniques wouldn't produce good intelligence. 

Not only does the report reveal the use of more severe torture methods than were previously known, such as the use of sexual threats, but it also contends that the intelligence gained through these “enhanced interrogation techniques” was exaggerated and misrepresented to Congress.

Here are the points the report makes, according to its summary:

#1: The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means ofacquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

#2: The CIA's justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

#8: The CIA's operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

#9; The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA's Office of Inspector General.

#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.

#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

#12: The CIA's management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program's duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

#14: CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

#15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA's claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

#16: The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

#18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#19; The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

#20; The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' m damaged the United States' standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

The CIA claims, for instance, that intelligence gained through such techniques as waterboarding ultimately led the agency to pinpoint the location of Osama bin Laden. The report concludes that this was not the case.

In anticipation of the report’s release, a group of former CIA officials have launched a campaign to tell their side of the story. The digital face of this PR push will be at CIASavedLives.com.

The decision to publish the summary of the 6,700-page review of the CIA’s torture program has been hotly contested by Republicans and former CIA officials alike. (Most recently, Secretary of State John Kerry asked for the report’s release to be delayed.) They feared that details of the report would incite violence abroad and put American personnel in harm’s way. U.S. embassies around the world are currently on heightened security alert.

Though human rights groups have accused the Obama administration of dragging its feet in releasing the report, the White House has said that it “strongly supports” making the report public so that “something like this should never happen again.”

Read the report here.

An earlier version of this story inaccurately listed the number of pages in the summary and the full report. The summary is 525 pages, and the full report is 6,700 pages.