WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee report Tuesday on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against terror suspects captured after 9/11 reignited a fierce debate about the spy agency’s handling of prisoners.
President Obama called the brutal tactics “contrary to our values,” and he said that as the commander-in-chief, “I will continue to use my authority … to make sure we never resort to those methods again.”
Many Republicans objected to the report’s release by the Democrat-led committee and challenged its contention that the harsh interrogations tactics didn’t work in producing usable intelligence.
What’s undeniable is that the report is studded with stunning — some would say disturbing — claims. Here are 10 of them.
1) Ignorance as Bliss: The CIA went to great lengths to mislead the public, Congress and even members of the executive branch about the interrogations.
Although President George W. Bush knew about elements of the program, the CIA didn’t give him a full briefing until 2006.
Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell deliberately was kept in the dark. A July 2003 CIA email said the White House “is extremely concerned Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”
2) Outsourcing Brutality: The coercive interrogations were based on a program developed by two psychologists with no background in terrorism.
They formed their own company and largely ran the program for the CIA. They received $80 million before the program, and their deal, was terminated.
The CIA never conducted a comprehensive analysis of the program’s effectiveness.
3) Sleep Deprivation : Some of the terror suspects were deprived of sleep for days at a time.
Suspect Mohamed Rahim was diapered, shackled and kept awake in a standing position for 138 1/2 hours. Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of 9/11, was forced to go without sleep for more than a week — 180 hours.
4) Rectal Feeding : At least five detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding.”
One suspect, Majid Klian, was even given a lunch of hummus, pasta with sauce, raisins and nuts that was “pureed” and rectally infused.
A CIA medical officer said such treatment was used to control and punish suspects. “While IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness of rectal infusion,” one CIA medical officer was quoted as writing.
5) Bad Accounting : The CIA never produced an accurate number of people it held after 9/11.
“While the CIA has represented in public and classified settings that it detained fewer than one hundred individuals, the Committee’s review of CIA records indicates that the total number of CIA detainees was at least 119,”
In a 2008 email, a CIA staffer flagged an inconsistency in the agency’s accounting. CIA Director Michael Hayden told him to “keep the number at 98.”
6) Deadly Consequences : At a secret CIA site in Afghanistan known as COBALT, detainees often were kept isolated and in complete darkness, in cells that had a bucket for human waste. The interrogations chief there called Cobalt a “dungeon.”
Suspected extremist Gul Rahman was shackled to a wall and forced to rest on a bare concrete floor in only a sweatshirt. He was found dead the next day.
A CIA autopsy found he died of hypothermia. A Justice Department investigation resulted in no charges.
7) In Search of Osama : The report claims to debunk the CIA’s claim that harsh interrogations led to the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
It’s undisputed that the U.S. tracked down bin Laden after learning the identity of his courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
The CIA says the harsh interrogation of detainee Ammar al-Baluchi generated information that led to the courier. The Senate report says the most accurate information about the courier did not come from the harsh questioning.
8) Wrongful Detention : More than one-fifth of the CIA’s 119 detainees — 26 — “did not meet the…standard for detention.” Two were former CIA sources who were forced to stand for more than 24 hours until their past links to the spy agency was confirmed.
One detainee was deprived of sleep for 66 hours before “the CIA discovered he was likely not the person he was believed to be.” He was released.
Thirty-nine detainees were subjected to the “enhanced interrogation technique.”
9) Power Drills and Waterboarding : An interrogator threatened one blindfolded suspect with a pistol and a power drill.
More than three suspects were waterboarded, including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee. He became “completely unresponsive” in one session, “with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.”
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times over 15 sessions. One session was described as “a series of near drownings.”
10) It Drove Them Crazy: The treatment of some detainees was so harsh, they developed psychological problems, including “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
With News Wire Services