الإثنين , مايو 17 2021

US to publish CIA ‘torture’ report

Reconstruction of waterboarding

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Former CIA lawyer John Rizzo on “enhanced interrogation”: “I don’t think I had any other choice”

Details of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, considered by many to be torture, are set to be revealed in a long-awaited report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is expected to find that such interrogations failed to yield life-saving information.

The techniques were used on al-Qaeda terrorism suspects in the years following the 9/11 attacks on the US.

Security was increased at US facilities around the world ahead of publication.

Embassies and other sites were taking precautions amid “some indications” of “greater risk”, a White House spokesman said.

The Senate committee’s report runs to more than 6,000 pages, drawing on huge quantities of evidence, but it remains classified and only a 480-page summary will be released.


Analysis: Jon Sopel, BBC North America editor

What more can we learn about the CIA’s interrogation programme from this heavily redacted report? Based on leaks, Tuesday’s release seems to answer three major questions

  • Were the interrogation methods – torture if you like – more extensive and more brutal than previously admitted? It looks like the conclusion is “Yes”
  • Did these interrogation techniques deliver life-saving intelligence to the US? That answer appears to be “No”
  • Were CIA officials at the time honest with the White House on what the programme was getting up to? Again, “No”

We can also expect the beginning of a counterblast of speeches, editorials and comments from those in charge of the CIA at the time attacking the Congressional report.

But White House officials – while supportive of the release in principle – nervously dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage the committee to think twice about releasing this report into a volatile world. That didn’t work.

Arguments over report

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, in this August 14, 2008 file photo.

Delayed publication

As well as detailing the controversial methods used by CIA operatives in an effort to extract information from high-value suspects, the report is expected to say harsh interrogations failed to deliver appropriate results.

Publication of the report has been delayed amid disagreements in Washington over what should be made public.

President Barack Obama halted the CIA interrogation programme when he took office in 2009, and has acknowledged that the methods used to question al-Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture.

During the presidency of George W Bush, the CIA operation against al-Qaeda – known internally as the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation – saw as many as 100 suspected terrorists held in “black sites” outside the US.

They were interrogated using methods such as waterboarding, slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold, and sleep deprivation.

Leaks about the Senate report first emerged in August this year, prompting Mr Obama to declare: “We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

The US president added that he believed officials at the time had used harsh methods because of the “enormous pressure” to prevent another attack on the US in the wake of 9/11.

A previous investigation into the programme, by the US justice department, ended with no criminal charges in 2012 – a result that angered civil rights organisations.

Reports that US intelligence had used waterboarding first emerged in the years following the 9/11 attacks, and the CIA confirmed in 2008 that it had interrogated three al-Qaeda suspects using that method in 2002 and 2003.


‘Enhanced interrogation’: Key facts

Prisoner being moved at Guantanamo detention centre, 2002

When did it happen? In the years following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 at “black sites” in a range of countries as US intelligence raced to find the perpetrators.

What were the main methods? Sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces, slapping, humiliation, waterboarding – simulated drowning.

Who was waterboarded? Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged 9/11 mastermind; Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda’s “travel agent”; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, alleged mastermind of 2000 attack on USS Cole.

Why is report released now? Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein began investigation in 2009, but report’s publication was held up by negotiations with CIA over how much could be released.

‘Enhanced interrogation’ explained

‘Coming clean’

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that the Obama administration welcomed the impending release, but said there were “some indications” it could increase the risk to US facilities across the world.

“The administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place.” Mr Earnest said.

Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier asked Senate Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein to “consider” changing the timing of the report.

But Mr Earnest told reporters it would be “difficult to imagine” an ideal time to make the summary public.

Human Rights Watch said last-minute attempts to delay publication showed how important the document was for understanding the “CIA’s horrific torture programme”.

“US foreign policy is better served by coming clean about US abuses rather than continuing to bury the truth,” HRW’s Washington director Sarah Margon said.

Despite reports that CIA operatives went beyond legal interrogation limits imposed by the Bush administration, the former president has led the charge against the report’s release, defending the CIA on US TV.

“We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” he told CNN on Sunday.

Saad Iqbal Madni

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Former Guantanamo prisoner: “Starved of sleep”

“These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off-base.”

Others have joined Mr Bush to dismiss the as-yet unreleased report, including reports it will say the CIA misled key members of the Bush administration about the programme.

“We’re not here to defend torture,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden told the New York Times ahead of the release. “We’re here to defend history.”

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