It’s even worse than we thought.
An exhaustive—and grisly—new report from the Senate reveals that the CIA’s use of torture in the years after 9/11 was more brutal than the agency acknowledged at the time, even to White House.
The report is filled with horrific stories: forced rectal feeding, prisoners wrongfully held, and CIA sources being detained and tortured.
In a statement, President Obama said the detention and interrogation program did “significant damage to America’s standing in the world.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the report—which some said shouldn’t be released due in part to fears of retaliation— is "an important step to restore our values and show the world that we are in fact a just and lawful society."
Here are some of the most important findings. Read the whole thing here.
1. The CIA detained more people than they claimed
The directive that established the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program gave the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet the ability to "undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests or who are planning terrorist activities."
It never outlined or made mention of what were acceptable forms of interrogation techniques.
Originally, Tenet had instructed that all requests and approvals for capture and detention be documented in writing. This directive, however, was later rescinded; instead, a CIA cable issued "blanket approval" for CIA operatives to capture anyone who they deemed to be a person of interest of who they thought was planning terroristic activities.
One of the consequences from this broad power was that the CIA had more detainees than it had reported. On multiple occasions, the intelligence agency claimed that they had less than 100 individuals detained, but according to the Committee's review, the CIA had detained at least 119 people. One CIA station in an undisclosed country noted that they had discovered that they were "holding a number of detainees about whom" they knew very little.
2. Forced “rectal feeding” and hydration
At least five detainees were subject to forced “rectal feeding” and hydration without documented medical need. The CIA often did so when detainees refused food and/or water. The CIA’s chief of interrogations described the technique as a way to gain “total control over the detainee.”
In one example, detainee Majid Khan’s lunch tray, which consisted of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was “pureed” and rectally infused. Another detainee, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, was diagnosed with chronic hemorrhoids after being subject to the procedure. The report says the CIA defended this technique as medically sound.
According to the report, one officer in an email provided a particularly brutal description of the procedure.
"[R]egarding the rectal tube, if you place it and open up the IV tubing, the flow will self regulate, sloshing up the large intestines,” the officer wrote, adding that he would let “gravity do the work.”
The forced rectal feeding and hydration came in addition to other stark tactics from the CIA, including depriving detainees of sleep for up to 180 hours.
3. The CIA held onto detainees long after it learned that they were not involved in terrorist activities
In October, 2003 an Afghan national named Arsala Khan was detained after a source stated that he has helped Osama bin Laden in his escape through the Tora Bora mountains in late 2001. He was subjected to standing sleep deprivation for 56 hours, at which point he suffered from hallucinations depicting "dogs mauling and killing his sons and family."
This process repeated several times, until the CIA's interrogators decided that they shouldn't use the "enhanced interrogation techniques" on him, citing a "lack of information" pinning him to recent activity. After a month of this detention and torture, the CIA recommended that he "be released to his village with a cash payment." He was held for four more years, despite further intelligence indicating the source who reported Khan had aided Bin Laden "had a vendetta against Arsala Khan's family."
4. The CIA overstated the effectiveness of interrogation techniques
In 2003, authorities arrested Iyman Faris, a 34-year-old truck driver and naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan who had allegedly aided Al Qaeda and plotted to attack the Brooklyn Bridge.
The CIA used the identification and arrest to justify torture in briefings to policymakers and the Justice Department, according to the report. A CIA document said that Faris was one of the "key captures" who wouldn't have been caught without harsh interrogation techniques.
The report found that Faris was known to U.S. intelligence officials prior to 9/11 and that the FBI had opened up an investigation into his activities in March 2001.
"A review of CIA operational cables and other records found that the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program and the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques played no role in the identification and capture of lyman Faris,” the report stated. Several other terror cases followed the same pattern, according to the report.
5. Contractors got rich off enhanced interrogation
The CIA contracted with two psychologists "to develop, operate, and assess" enhanced interrogation techniques and operations, according to the report. The psychologists hired by the CIA had no experience with interrogations and no specialized knowledge of al-Qaeda or counter-terrorism tactics. Instead, their experience was at the U.S. Air Force's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School.
The psychologists became deeply involved in the program; they personally interrogated "some of some of the CIA's most significant detainees." In 2005, they formed a separate company in order to conduct their business with the CIA, and the agency "outsourced virtually all aspects of the program" to the company.
The government paid $81 million to the psychologists before their contract was terminated in 2009, the report states.
Reporting by Jordan Fabian, Ted Hesson, Brett LoGiurato, Fidel Martinez and Daniel Rivero