The US Senate Intelligence Committee has published its highly anticipated and divisive report into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme employed after the September 11 attacks.
Only the executive summary of the 6,700-page classified report has been published, including its 20 findings.
The 20 conclusions are presented below, including particularly revealing passages from the full text, which you can read in the official summary here.
1 The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
“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.”
2 The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
“Some of the plots that the CIA claimed to have “disrupted” as a result of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were assessed by intelligence and law enforcement officials as being infeasible or ideas that were never operationalised.”
3 The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
“At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity.”
4 The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.
“CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a “dungeon.”
5 The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme.
“When the CIA determined that information it had provided to the Department of Justice was incorrect, the CIA rarely informed the department.”
6 The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the programme.
“The CIA restricted access to information about the program from members of the Committee beyond the chairman and vice chairman until September 6, 2006, the day the president publicly acknowledged the program, by which time 117 of the 119 known detainees had already entered CIA custody.”
7 The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that “… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [then US secretary of state Colin] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”
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.
“The CIA did not inform two secretaries of state of locations of CIA detention facilities, despite the significant foreign policy implications related to the hosting of clandestine CIA detention sites and the fact that the political leaders of host countries were generally informed of their existence.”
9 The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.
“The CIA did not brief the OIG on the program until after the death of a detainee, by which time the CIA had held at least 22 detainees at two different CIA detention sites.”
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.
“The deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre wrote to a colleague in 2005, shortly before being interviewed by a media outlet, that “we either get out and sell, or we get hammered, which has implications beyond the media. [C]ongress reads it, cuts our authorities, messes up
Our budget… we either put out our story or we ge eaten. [T]here is no middle ground.”
11 The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its detention and interrogation programme more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
The CIA lacked a plan for the eventual disposition of its detainees. After taking custody of Abu
Zubaydah, CIA officers concluded that he “should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life”.
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.
“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 programme, 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.”
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 programme. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the programme.
“Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of al-Qaeda, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.”
14 CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorised by CIA Headquarters.
“The CIA routinely subjected detainees to nudity and dietary manipulation. The CIA also used abdominal slaps and cold water dousing on several detainees during that period. None of these techniques had been approved by the Department of Justice.”
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.
“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.”
16 The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.
“Internal assessments of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme were conducted by CIA personnel who participated in the development and management of the programme, as well as by CIA contractors who had a financial interest in its continuation and expansion.”
17 The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.
“Significant events, to include the death and injury of CIA detainees, the detention of individuals who did not meet the legal standard to be held, the use of unauthorised interrogation techniques against CIA detainees, and the provision of inaccurate information on the CIA programme did not result in appropriate, effective, or in many cases, any corrective actions.”
18 The CIA marginalised and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme.
“At times, CIA officers were instructed by supervisors not to put their concerns or observations in written communications.”
19 The CIA’s detention and interrogation programme was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorised press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
“By 2006, press disclosures, the unwillingness of other countries to host existing or new detention sites, and legal and oversight concerns had largely ended the CIA’s ability to operate clandestine detention facilities.”
20 The CIA’s detention and interrogation programme damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
“To encourage governments to clandestinely host CIA detention sites, or to increase support for existing sites, the CIA provided millions of dollars in cash payments to foreign government officials.”