What the Senate Report on CIA Torture Reveals

Fact #1 – CIA officials lied to Congress

For years, Bush and Obama administration officials have insisted to the American people that torture, referred to as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, had saved thousands of American lives and thwarted numerous terror attacks before they occurred. The Senate report reveals that was all a lie. The CIA reportedly couldn’t come up with one single example where torture had stopped a terror plot.

The Washington Post quotes one US government official briefed on the contents of the classified Senate report, “The CIA described repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives. Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

One of many examples apparently cited in the 6,300 page Senate report is that of accused terrorist Abu Zubaida. While hospitalized in Pakistan, he was interviewed by US intelligence agents and admittedly cooperated, giving the agents valuable information. Shortly thereafter, CIA officials took Abu Zubaida into custody and tortured him, including 83 different water boarding sessions. Zubaida gave up no new information, but by the time his statements found their way to upper level US officials, his intelligence was officially claimed as a direct result of the torture instead of the voluntary interview as was actually the case.

Fact #2 – Torture didn’t produce a single helpful tip

Like the example above, many of the other examples cited point to Iraqi and Afghan captives who were first interviewed and officially considered cooperative, only to find themselves reclassified as uncooperative by the CIA. In each instance, the Agency’s torture campaign, often months or years-long, didn’t produce any new information than was already provided voluntarily. In one instance, an FBI report is cited for complaining that the CIA was torturing the FBI’s cooperating witnesses.

The Washington Post report quotes another US official saying, “The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program.” The official said that the false statements to Congress and other US officials were “the most damaging” of the Intelligence Committee’s findings.

Contrary to the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the tip that lead to finding and killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan didn’t come during a CIA torture session at a secret Agency torture facility in Romania. Instead, the CIA had already had the invaluable piece of information from its earlier voluntary interviews with the same captive while held by CIA and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. The later torture proved to reveal nothing new. That captive, Hassan Ghul, was eventually released and killed by a US drone strike.

Fact #3 – CIA tortured for the fun of it

The report apparently produces numerous instances from secret CIA torture facilities around the world where both FBI agents and even some CIA agents complained about the extreme and inhumane treatment being perpetrated on their helpless, barely living victims. In some documented instances, the US intelligence agents actually removed themselves from duty over it. But many more instances reveal a pattern of sadistic torture for absolutely no reason other than the joy of doing it. And in dozens of documented instances, the subject was tortured to death.

It at least a few examples, lower level CIA torturers appealed to Agency officials to stop making them torture prisoners that were shown to have no more information of any kind to give. But possibly the most revealing evidence of widespread and systematic enjoyment of the torture campaign are the pictures released in 2004 from Abu Ghraib. Photo after photo showed US soldiers laughing and smiling as they posed for photos while sexually assaulting naked, tortured Iraqi prisoners.



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