5 key findings from the Senate committee report on CIA interrogations

WATCH: In the wake of 9-11, the CIA used torture techniques so brutal that some interrogators were left horrified. And with some details of the torture made public in a Senate report Tuesday, it appears the techniques were essentially useless. Jackson Proskow reports.

TORONTO – President Barack Obama says he hopes the release of a Senate report on CIA interrogations helps leave the harsh techniques “where they belong – in the past.”
Obama says in a written statement that the report reinforces his view that harsh interrogations techniques “were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.”

The report, a 480-page executive summary of a 6,000-page still-classified report, was compiled by Democrats from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here are some key findings from the report:

The CIA downplayed how harsh the interrogations were, and disregarded warnings from medical staff.

“Under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat and the committee chairman, declared. The report said treatment in the secret prisons was worse than the government told Congress and policy makers, as well as the public.

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“Records do not support CIA representations that the CIA initially used an ‘open, nonthreatening approach,’ or that interrogations began with the ‘least coercive technique possible’ and escalated to more coercive techniques only as necessary,” reads the report.

READ MORE: 13 enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA

It also cites examples of CIA using enhanced interrogation techniques in spite of warnings from CIA medical personnel that those techniques would exacerbate physical injuries. In one case, CIA told personnel that interrogation would take “precedence” over his medical care, which resulted in the “deterioration of a bullet wound…incurred during his capture,” said the report.

VIDEO GALLERY: The Senate report on CIA torture and reactions.

Interrogation techniques were “brutal and far worse” than what the CIA described.

Tactics included:

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  • “Rectal rehydration” – a form of feeding through the rectum. The report found no medical necessity for this tactic.
  • Ice baths;
  • Waterboarding;
  • Weeks of sleep deprivation;
  • Slapping and slamming of detainees against walls;
  • Confining detainees to small boxes;
  • Keeping detainees isolated for prolonged periods (i.e. 47 days in one case);
  • Threatening prisoners with death or by telling them their families would suffer, including harm to their children, sexual abuse of the mother of one man and cutting the throat of another man’s mother.

The “enhanced interrogation techniques” didn’t procure any information that saved lives, as the CIA had claimed. 

“While being subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence,” said the report. “Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.”

After reviewing 6 million agency documents, investigators said they could find no example of unique, life-saving intelligence gleaned from coercive techniques – a controversial conclusion the CIA and Republicans contest. The report claims to debunk the CIA’s assertion its practices led to bin Laden’s killing. The agency says its interrogation of detainee Ammar al-Baluchi revealed a known courier was taking messages to and from bin Laden.

No one was charged with the deaths of at least two detainees.

Gul Rahman, a suspected extremist, received enhanced interrogation in late 2002, shackled to a wall in his cell and forced to rest on a bare concrete floor in only a sweatshirt. The next day he was dead. A CIA review and autopsy found he died of hypothermia.

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Justice Department investigations into that and another death of a CIA detainee resulted in no charges.

About 20 per cent of detainees were “wrongfully held” and didn’t meet detention standards.

“These included an ‘intellectually challenged’ man whose CIA detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information, two individuals who were intelligence sources for foreign liaison services and were former CIA sources, and two individuals whom the CIA assessed to be
connected to al-Qaida based solely on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” read the report.

These wrongfully held prisoners often remained in custody for months after it was determined they shouldn’t be there, says the report.

The 500-page document released Tuesday included the executive summary and conclusions of a still-secret, 6,700-page full report, the results of a five-year, $40 million investigation. Obama ordered the interrogation practices halted when he took office nearly six years ago, though the harshest tactics had been discontinued years before.


Senate Select committee on intelligence


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