Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

CIA torture report: 11 ways in which the CIA was worse than it ever admitted

A 500-page report has revealed the shocking techniques used against terror suspects by the CIA

Andrew Buncombe
Tuesday 09 December 2014 18:41 GMT
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters building in McLean, Virginia
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters building in McLean, Virginia (Reuters )

Now we know how bad things were, and how out of control the CIA was as it leapt into action in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The CIA’s “brutal” programme of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which the CIA still refuses to acknowledge as torture, was far harsher than the agency previously admitted or politicians and officials were told.

Moreover, the programme was much less effective than the CIA claimed. While the agency said its interrogation techniques had repeatedly “saved lives”, congressional investigators found no evidence of any specific incidents. Often, detainees subjected to the techniques provided false and misleading information.

Below are 11 ways in which the CIA's techniques were worse than the body ever admitted.

1) The use of enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence

The report says other detainees who were not subjected to the techniques or else were questioned before they were subjected to them “provided significant accurate intelligence”. It also says multiple CIA detainees that did undergo the techniques fabricated information, which resulting in faulty intelligence.

2) The CIA wrongly claimed "enhanced interrogation" had “saved lives”

The document says the CIA reported to the highest levels of the US government, including the White House, that the interrogation techniques had thwarted specific terror plots, and yet there was no evidence they had done so.

3) The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers

The report says enhanced interrogation techniques went on for days, and even weeks. People were kept awake for 180 hours; other prisoners were waterboarded in episodes that became “series of near drownings”. At least seven prisoners were force-fed through the rectum. Prisoners were threatened with sexual abuse and were told their families would be harmed.

4) The conditions of confinement for detainees was harsher than the CIA claimed

Many detainees were kept in constant and complete darkness, the report says. Certain black location sites were poorly managed, and junior members of staff were given insufficient oversight.

The DoJ did not conduct independent analysis or verification of the information it received from the CIA, the report concludes.

6) The CIA impeded oversight of the programme by both the Congress and the White House

The report says CIA failed to brief leaders of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the enhanced interrogation techniques until September 2002. It adds the CIA gave false information to White House, and no briefing was sent to President George Bush on specific methods until April 2006.

7) The CIA leaked classified information to the media to improve its image

The report says CIA officials briefed reporters to “counter public criticism and shape public opinion”. “We either get out and sell, or we get hammered,” the deputy director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Centre wrote to a colleague in 2005.

8) Two psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques

The report finds that two psychologists developed interrogation programme based on theory of “learned helplessness”. The psycholgists had no record of interrogation, counter-terrorism or any relevant language skills.

9) The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable

The report shows serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures went unpunished.

10) The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of techniques

The CIA never conducted a credible, comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of its interrogation techniques, despite a recommendation by the CIA inspector general, says the report.

11) The CIA ignored numerous internal criticisms of the programme

The report found criticism and objections were expressed by numerous CIA officers, including senior personnel overseeing and managing the programme. Yet these interventions were either ignored or sidelined.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in