The 6,000-page report details actions by CIA officials and findings of the study of the Detention and Interrogation Program. On December 9, 2014—eight months after voting to release parts of the report—the SSCI released a 525-page portion that consisted of key findings and an executive summary of the full report. It took five years and $40 million to compile the report. The rest of it remains classified.
The report details actions by CIA officials, including torturing prisoners, providing misleading or false information about classified CIA programs to the media, impeding government oversight and internal criticism, and mismanaging the program. It also revealed the existence of previously unknown detainees, that more detainees were subjected to harsher treatment than was previously disclosed, and that more forms of torture were used than previously disclosed. It concluded that torturing prisoners did not help acquire actionable intelligence or gain cooperation from detainees and that the program damaged the United States' international standing.
Some people, including CIA officials and U.S. Republicans, disputed the report's interpretations and said it provided an incomplete or inaccurate picture of the program. Others criticized the publishing of the report, citing its potential for damage to the U.S. and the contentious history of its development. Others, including President Obama and former Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, praised the release of the report with the President stating "one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better."
In the wake of the report, a large number of individuals and organizations have called for the prosecution of the CIA and Bush Administration officials who perpetrated, approved, or provided legal cover for the torture of detainees.
The U.S. Senate Report on CIA Detention Interrogation Program that details the use of torture during CIA detention and interrogation.
Impetus for the report
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 2009 to early 2015
On March 5, 2009, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14-1 to open an investigation into the CIA detention and interrogation program. In August 2009, Attorney GeneralEric Holder announced a parallel preliminary criminal investigation into the use of unauthorized interrogation techniques by CIA officials. As a result of the Attorney General's investigation, the Republican minority on the SSCI concluded that many witnesses were unlikely to participate in the investigation for fear of criminal liability. Citing the Attorney General investigation as their reason, the Republican minority of the SSCI withdrew their participation from the investigation in September 2009.
The report was led by Daniel J. Jones, and was prepared following a review of 6 million pages of documents, cables, emails, and other materials principally provided by the CIA. An additional 9400 classified documents repeatedly requested by the SSCI were withheld by the White House under a claim of executive privilege. Despite the initial expectation that interviews would be used, no formal interviews or hearings were conducted in the preparation of the report. The lack of interviews and hearings was one of the chief complaints of the Republican minority on SSCI, and contrasts with the 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee inquiry into the treatment of detainees in US military custody which conducted 70 in-person interviews, submitted written questions to 200 people, and had two hearings. The CIA estimated that approximately $40 million in personnel time and resources was spent assisting the investigation, including hiring additional staff to review documents prior to presenting them to the Committee and establishing a separate secure facility and computer network for CIA and Committee staff to use during the review.
The final report was approved on December 13, 2012, by a vote of 9–6, with seven Democrats, one Independent (Angus King), and one Republican (Susan Collins) voting in favor of publication and six Republicans voting in opposition, and the published minority views of Senator Chambliss were joined by Senators Burr, Risch, Coats, Rubio, and Coburn. On April 3, 2014, the SSCI voted 11–3 to submit a revised version of the executive summary, findings, and recommendations of the report for declassification analysis in preparation for future public release. After eight months, involving contentious negotiations about what details should remain classified, the revised executive summary, findings, and recommendations were made public with some redactions on December 9, 2014.
Information about the cooperation of foreign agencies with the CIA has been redacted from the report. The British chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee stated they would request access to anything taken out of the report at the request of British agencies.
Concurrently with the public release, the six members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that voted against the report released their own 167-page report criticizing both the process and the conclusions of the report approved by the majority.
Panetta Review and CIA Hacking incident
On December 17, 2013, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) revealed the existence of a secret internal review conducted by the CIA that was consistent with the Senate's report but conflicted with the CIA's official response to the report. In January 2014, CIA officials claimed that the Intelligence Committee had accessed review documents and removed them from CIA facilities in 2010 without CIA authorization. In March 2014, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, confirmed that copies of portions of the review had been removed and transferred to a safe in the Senate's Hart Office Building. She argued that the action was necessary to protect the documents from the CIA, which had destroyed videotapes depicting brutal interrogation methods in 2005.
During an "extraordinary" 45-minute speech on March 11, 2014, Feinstein said the CIA unlawfully searched the Intelligence Committee's computers to determine how the committee staff obtained the review documents. Feinstein also said that the CIA's acting general counsel, later identified as Robert Eatinger, requested the FBI conduct a criminal inquiry into the committee staff's behavior. She said she believed that the request was "a potential effort to intimidate [Intelligence Committee] staff." Eatinger had been one of two lawyers who approved the destruction of video tapes in 2005, and Feinstein added that Eatinger was mentioned by name over 1,600 times in the Committee’s report. CIA director John O. Brennan denied the hacking allegations, stating, "When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong."
On July 31, 2014, the CIA confirmed that it had improperly gained access to the Senate Intelligence Committee's computer network. A Justice Department spokesman confirmed that they would not be pursuing charges in the hacking incident. An internal review panel appointed by Brennan defended the searches, noting "that they were lawful and in some cases done at the behest of John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director."
Findings listed in the report
The 6,000-page report produced 20 key findings. They are, verbatim from the unclassified summary report:
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 CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
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.
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 Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.
CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
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.
The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.
The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious or significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systematic and individual management failures.
The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.
The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
At least four prisoners with injuries to their legs (two with broken feet, one with a sprained ankle and one with an amputated leg) were forced to stand on their injuries.
Prisoners were told that they would be killed. (For example: one prisoner was told "We can never let the world know what I have done to you", another was told that the only way he would be allowed to leave the prison would be in a coffin.)
One CIA interrogator who was subsequently sent home early threatened a prisoner with a gun and power drill and played Russian Roulette with him.
Several prisoners almost died and became completely unresponsive or nearly drowned during waterboarding.
Abu Zubaydah's eye was so badly damaged during his time in prison that it was surgically removed.
Prisoners were kept awake for over one week (180 hours) causing at least five to experience "disturbing" hallucinations.
One prisoner was psychologically traumatized to the point of being "a broken man" but CIA operatives stopped short of "complete[ly] break[ing] [him]."
Prisoners were forced to use buckets for toilets. As punishment, the waste bucket could be removed from a prisoner's cell.
A report by the Federal Bureau of Prisons found that "they [had] never been in a facility where individuals were so sensory deprived i.e., constant white noise, no talking, everyone in the dark, with the guards wearing a light on their head when they collected and escorted a detainee to an interrogation cell, detainees constantly being shackled to the wall or floor, and the starkness of each cell (concrete and bars). There is nothing like this in the Federal Bureau of Prisons... detainees were not being treated... humanely."
Janat Gul was tortured for months based on false accusations made by an informant.
One prisoner was placed in a box the size of a coffin for over 11 days and was also placed for 29 hours in a box 21 inches (53 cm) wide, 2.5 feet (76 cm) deep and 2.5 feet (76 cm) high.
CIA interrogators used unauthorized forms of torture such as forcing a prisoner to stand with his hand over his head for 2 1/2 days, putting a pistol next to his head and bathing him with a stiff brush.
One detainee was subjected to "ice water baths" and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation. He was later released as the CIA had mistaken his identity.
The CIA lied in official documents to government officials about the value of information extracted from prisoners subjected to torture (e.g. stating that information extracted from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during torture had allowed for the capture of Riduan Isamuddin).
Despite contrary statements made by the CIA's Director, Michael V. Hayden, the CIA did employ individuals who "had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault."
The CIA provided false information to the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel about the methods of interrogation it was using against prisoners.
CIA Deputy Director Philip Mudd deliberately lied to Congress about the program and stated that "We either get out and sell, or we get hammered, which has implications beyond the media. [C]ongress reads it, cuts our authorities, mess up our budget."
The report found that the CIA held at least 119 detainees during the course of the interrogation program, more than the 98 previously reported to Congress.
An email cited in the report and prepared by a subordinate indicates that CIA Director Michael Hayden instructed that out-of-date information be used in briefing Congress so that fewer than 100 detainees would be reported.
Innocent people imprisoned by the CIA
At least 26 of the 119 prisoners (22%) held by the CIA were subsequently found by the CIA to have been improperly detained, many having also experienced torture. Under the Memorandum of Notification signed by President George W. Bush to establish the CIA detention program, only persons who "pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests or planning terrorist activities" were eligible for detention. Two innocent people were jailed and tortured based solely on allegations from another prisoner who fabricated information after having been tortured. Two former intelligence sources were jailed and tortured by accident.:133 One mentally challenged man was held by the CIA in order to persuade family members to provide information.:12 Among the 26 individuals who were acknowledged by the CIA to have been improperly detained, only three were released after less than one month in CIA custody, while most were confined for several months.
The report noted a November 2001 memorandum circulated within the CIA by its attorneys titled "Hostile Interrogations: Legal Considerations for C.I.A. Officers". In it, the lawyers argued that prosecution for torture could be avoided if said torture "resulted in saving thousands of lives."
Some CIA personnel found the torture revolting and asked to be transferred from facilities where torture was being conducted. Some also questioned whether such activities could continue and were told that the senior officials in the CIA had approved these techniques.
The CIA kept incomplete records of their detainees, so it is unclear if 119 is a complete count.
The report's scope is limited to the abuse of detainees directly in CIA custody and does not include detainees tortured at the behest of the CIA after being extraordinarily rendered.
In 2008, 85% of the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Group consisted of outside contractors.
Contractors that developed the "enhanced interrogation techniques" (John "Bruce" Jessen and James Mitchell), received US$81 million for their services, out of an original contract worth more than US$180 million. NBC News identified the contractors, who were referred to in the report via pseudonyms, as Mitchell, Jessen & Associates. Jessen was a senior psychologist at the Defense Department who taught special forces how to resist and endure torture (SERE). The report states that neither man had prior knowledge of Al Qaeda, nor were they practised interrogators, but they nevertheless "developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques and personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA's most significant detainees using those techniques. The contractors also evaluated whether the detainees' psychological state allowed for continued use of the techniques, even for some detainees they themselves were interrogating or had interrogated."
The contractors developed a list of 20 forms of torture for use against detainees, which was cut down to 10 since some forms were considered too harsh. The list included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions. John Rizzo, the CIA acting general counsel who met with the contractors, described them as "sadistic and terrifying" in his book Company Man. Mitchell and Jessen were formerly SERE psychologists who have been accused of "reverse-engineering" SERE techniques for use against detainees.
According to the report, the Detention and Interrogation Program cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs.:16 This included funding for the CIA to construct and maintain detention facilities, including two facilities costing millions of dollars that were never used, in part due to host country political concerns. "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.":16
The report states that in 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; "the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009. In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.":11
Executive branch response
Response from current officials
President Barack Obama said the report had revealed a "troubling program" and that "We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today's report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better." The Obama administration consistently worked through White House Chief of StaffDenis McDonough.
CIA Director John O. Brennan agreed with the current administration's policy prohibiting enhanced interrogation techniques and admitted that the program had had “shortcomings.” He disagreed with the Committee's conclusion that information obtained through torture could have been obtained by other means, and said it is unknowable whether other interrogation approaches would have yielded the same information. In supporting his views, Brennan also released a 136-page declassified version of an official CIA response and critique of the torture report written in June 2013.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that they would not be pursuing bringing any charges against anyone who might have been involved in the use of torture, noting that they "did not find any new information that they had not previously considered in reaching their determination." The Department of Justice had launched two investigations overseen by John Durham in 2009 that also did not result in charges. The rationale for the absence of charges has not been disclosed, but Mr. Durham did say that the full record of the possible evidence of criminal conduct and possible defenses that might be offered by any of those accused were contained in the pages of the Senate committee report that he was not going to release. Thus, it remains impossible for anyone to offer an independent evaluation of whether anyone involved was or was not guilty of criminal conduct. In response to a FOIA lawsuit seeking access to the full report, the Obama administration argued that the rationale for not releasing all the pages of the committee report was that "disclosing them could affect the candor of law enforcement deliberations about whether to bring criminal charges." Given the apparent absence of those public deliberations, such a rationale seems almost incredibly obtuse, especially since, after the release of the Senate's report, several news outlets noted that "the only CIA employee connected to its interrogation program to go to prison" was John Kiriakou, the whistle-blower who was "prosecuted for providing information to reporters."
Response from former officials
Three former CIA directors—George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael V. Hayden—as well as three former CIA deputy directors, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in response to the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report. They criticized the report as "a partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks." They said that the CIA's interrogation program was invaluable to the capture of al Qaeda operatives and the disruption of al Qaeda's efforts and also stated that, contrary to the Senate Intelligence Committee's findings, "there is no doubt that information provided by the totality of detainees in CIA custody […] was essential to bringing bin Laden to justice." Additionally, they wrote that the CIA remained within the interrogation techniques authorized by the DOJ; that the CIA did not mislead the DOJ, White House or Congress; and that the threat of a "'ticking time bomb' scenario" context was critical to understanding the program. Additionally, they established a website to defend the actions of the CIA.
Former Vice PresidentDick Cheney, who was in office during the events discussed in the report, said the report's criticisms of the CIA were "a bunch of hooey" and that harsh interrogation tactics were "absolutely, totally justified." He further said that he did not feel that the CIA misled him about the techniques used or the value of the information obtained from them, and that "if I had to do it over again, I would."
John Yoo, author of the Torture Memos, criticized the report as a partisan attack on American intelligence agencies and defended his belief that the CIA was legally allowed to use interrogation techniques that did not cause injury. He also stated that "if the facts on which [he] based [his] advice were wrong, [he] would be willing to change [his] opinion of the interrogation methods." In an interview in CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Yoo said that the harsh treatments outlined in the report could violate anti-torture laws, stating that "[i]f these things happened as described in the report [...] they were not supposed to be done." He voiced a similar opinion in a C-SPAN interview, saying that using the techniques cumulatively could violate anti-torture statute.
Senate Minority LeaderMitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, and Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, opposed the study saying that they believe "it will present serious consequences for U.S. national security" and that the study was ideologically motivated. They also asserted that the program "developed significant intelligence that helped us identify and capture important al-Qa'ida terrorists, disrupt their ongoing plotting, and take down Usama Bin Ladin." Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Jim Risch, Republican of Idaho, stated that the report was a "partisan effort" by Democrats that "could endanger the lives of Americans overseas" and was not "serious or constructive."
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, himself a victim of torture while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said in a speech following Feinstein's presentation on the Senate floor that he supported the release of the report, and that those responsible for the interrogation policy had "stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good."
Kenneth Roth from Human Rights Watch called for prosecutions of senior Bush officials who authorized torture and oversaw its use. Roth stated that failure to prosecute was "more than just a failure of justice" and "means that torture effectively remains a policy option rather than a criminal offense."Steven W. Hawkins, the USA executive director of Amnesty International, called for justice saying, “Under the UN convention against torture, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked to justify torture, and all those responsible for authorizing or carrying out torture or other ill-treatment must be fully investigated.”
The United Nations's special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, called for the prosecution of those responsible. He said that the CIA had "commit[ed] systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law."Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, said in a statement that many governments have used the American use of torture to justify their own abuses, saying "If the U.S. tortures, why can't we do it?" Mendez called the release of the report only the first step and called for "the investigation and prosecution of those who were responsible for ordering, planning or implementing the C.I.A. torture program." Speaking on December 10, the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, commended the government's release of the report saying, "Few countries will admit that their state apparatus has been practicing torture, and many continue shamelessly to deny it—even when it is well documented..." Zeid called for accountability saying, “In all countries, if someone commits murder, they are prosecuted and jailed. If they commit rape or armed robbery, they are prosecuted and jailed. If they order, enable or commit torture—recognized as a serious international crime—they cannot simply be granted immunity because of political expediency. When that happens, we undermine this exceptional Convention, and – as a number of U.S. political leaders clearly acknowledged yesterday – we undermine our own claims to be civilized societies rooted in the rule of law.”
The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute designed a course around the report, investigating the balance between national security and the civil liberties of every individual.
Afghan presidentAshraf Ghani called the report "shocking" and said that the actions detailed in the report "violated all accepted norms of human rights in the world."
Former President of PolandAleksander Kwasniewski said that he put pressure in 2003 on American officials to end interrogations at a secret CIA prison his country hosted, saying, "I told Bush that this cooperation must end and it did end."
Only a limited number of copies of the full report were made, and Human Rights workers are concerned that the CIA might succeed in destroying all copies of this report they found so embarrassing. On December 29, 2016, less than a month before the end of the Obama administration, District Court JudgeRoyce Lamberth ordered the preservation of the full classified report, in case it was needed during the prosecution or appeal of senior suspects during their Guantanamo Military Commissions.
^Carol Rosenberg (2016-12-29). "Federal judge preserves CIA ‘Torture Report’ after Guantánamo war court wouldn’t do it". Miami: Miami Herald. Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved 2017-01-03. U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth issued the two-page order Wednesday in Washington, in the mostly dormant federal court challenge of the Guantánamo detention of former CIA prisoner Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 51. The Saudi, who was waterboarded and rectally abused while a captive of the spy agency, is awaiting trial by military commission as the alleged architect of al-Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000, USS Cole bombing off Yemen that killed 17 U.S. sailors.
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