On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of a 6,000 page report investigating the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Though former Bush administration officials — who officially approved the methods in August of 2002 — have argued that the revelations could endanger American security at home and abroad, the report completely discredits the former president’s long-standing claims that torture prevented attacks against America and helped capture high value terrorist targets. Below are its most damning revelations:
1. Torture didn’t stop a single terrorist attack. “At no time did the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of imminent threat intelligence, such as the hypothetical ‘ticking time bomb’ information that many believe was the justification for the use of these techniques.”
2. The CIA lied about the success of torture in obtaining intelligence. Even though the CIA cited numerous examples of success, the report found that those instances could not be attributed to torture and that “[i]n some cases, there was no relationship between the claimed counterterrorism ‘success’ and any information provided by a CIA detainee during or after the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” Ultimately, the “CIA representations were inaccurate and contradicted by the CIA’s own records. The CIA’s internal review also identified numerous inaccuracies in the CIA’s effectiveness representations—including representations to the President.” The CIA also misrepresented the reactions of senators who objected to the torture program, like Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The CIA “informed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in classified settings that no senators had objected to the enhanced interrogation techniques that the CIA then sought to use against detainees. ”
3. Not everyone approved of the torture policy. “Internally, CIA officers regularly called into question the effectiveness of the CIA’s interrogation techniques, noting how the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.”
4. The torture methods were far more brutal than originally reported. The “CIA applied its so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in near non-stop fashion for days or weeks at a time.” Detainees were forced to stay awake for up to 180 hours while “standing or in painful stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads.” Some were kept in a “dungeon” that was completely dark and were “constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. ” At least one detainee was told he could only leave CIA custody “in a coffin-shaped box.” The government also rectally force-fed detainees.
5. Water-boarding caused physical harm. Even though the CIA told the Department of Justice that water-boarding did not physically harm detainees, the report concludes that it induces “convulsions and vomiting.” During one session, Saudi Arabian al Qaeda-linked Saudi citizen Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.”
President Obama released a statement responding to the torture report revelations on Tuesday. Expressing gratitude for those who worked “to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks,” the President distanced himself from Bush-era torture policies, saying the report “reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as a nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners.”
“Rather than another reason to re-fight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past,” the statement concludes. “Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.”