What CIA Torturers Did to Their Captives

The CIA interrogation tactics after 9/11 included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, stress positions, facial slaps, rectal feeding. Reuters/Brennan Linsley

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the executive summary of a long-awaited report on the Central Intelligence Agency's use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," or what President Barack Obama has referred to as "torture." The CIA had acknowledged its use of such techniques previously and had insisted such techniques were instrumental in acquiring "unique, otherwise unavailable" intelligence about terrorists and terrorist plots. However, the committee's report suggests that, not only were these tactics rarely necessary for acquiring such intelligence, the CIA also misled many government officials about their efficacy.

The summary paints a brutal picture of what CIA interrogators did to its captives.

Waterboarding remains among the most brutal tactics employed by the agency. According to the report, "[internal] CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as evolving into a 'series of near drownings.'" KSM, as he is often referenced in internal CIA communications, was subjected to 15 separate waterboarding sessions. In a separate incident, interrogators "[used] their hands to maintain a one-inch-deep 'pool' of water over KSM's nose and mouth in an effort to make it impossible for KSM to ingest all the water being poured."

Interrogators also used sleep deprivation to keep detainees awake "for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. At least five detainees experienced disturbing hallucinations during prolonged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation."

CIA documents show that interrogators placed detainees in stress positions designed to cause discomfort for long periods of time. "The first waterboarding session [of KSM], which lasted 30 minutes (10 more than anticipated in the Office of Legal Counsel's August 1, 2002, opinion), was followed by the use of a horizontal stress position that had not previously been approved by CIA Headquarters," the report states. "The chief of Base, worried about the legal implications, prohibited the on-site medical officer from reporting on the interrogation directly to [the Office of Medical Services] outside of official CIA cable traffic," it continues. In another instance, interrogators placed detainee Abu Zubaydah in a "coffin size" confinement box for 11 days and 2 hours and in a "small confinement box, which had a width of 21 inches, a depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet," for a further 29 hours.

The report goes on to cite a "senior interrogator" as saying "a detainee could go for days or weeks without anyone looking at him," and that "his team found one detainee who, 'as far as we could determine,' had been chained to the wall in a standing position for 17 days."

Other interrogation techniques, such as facial slaps, forced nudity and walling—a technique in which a detainee is thrown up against a wall—were often used in combination, the committee found. In one instance, interrogators implied that a detainee's "mother would be brought before him and sexually abused."

The report also says interrogators subjected detainees to what was described as a "rough takedown" or "hard takedown," in which "approximately five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut his clothes off and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched."

Also included are reports of detainees who refused to eat or drink and were subjected to "rectal rehydration" and "rectal feeding." One detainee was "subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration, which included two bottles of Ensure. Later that same day, [his] 'lunch tray,' consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was 'pureed' and rectally infused," the report states.

Several detainees attempted to commit suicide rather than be subjected to further interrogations, the report shows. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, in her foreword to the executive summary, described the treatment of detainees by the CIA as " in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values."