CIA 'torture report': Senate investigators say interrogation 'went beyond legal limits'

A 6,700 page investigation into CIA tactics has been released

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 09 December 2014 17:33 GMT
A damning report has revealed the nature of CIA tactics against terrorism suspects
A damning report has revealed the nature of CIA tactics against terrorism suspects (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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The full scale and detail of CIA interrogation tactics, including the use of insects, a technique known as 'rectal rehydration', and the threat of sexual abuse, has been revealed in a damning US Senate report.

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said that some of the techniques used between 2002 and 2006 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks "amounted to torture", and caused terrorism suspects pain and suffering "well beyond legal the limits".

The report concluded that the CIA deceived the nation and policy-makers by insisting that harsh interrogation tactics would thwart terror plots and save lives of US citizens, and said the organisation's own records did not substantiate these claims.

The 500-page report represents the executive summary and conclusions from a still-classified 6,700-page full investigation involving at least 119 prisoners.

Shocking techniques revealed by the report include:

  • "Rectal rehydration", or rectal feeding, without any medical need, which at least five CIA detainees were subjected to.
  • Threatening to harm the families of at least three detainees, including sexually abusing the mother of a detainee and cutting her throat.
  • Approving the use of insects against a detainee "placed in a confinement box".
  • Keeping a partially nude detainee chained to a concrete floor. The prisoner later died of hypothermia.
  • Sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, at times with the detainees' hands shackled above their heads.

Investigators went as far as describing one secret CIA prison as a "dungeon", where detainees were kept in total darkness, constantly shackled in isolated cells, bombarded with loud noise or music, and given only a bucket in which to relieve themselves.

On one occasion, disciplinary action was not taken against an officer when a detainee died, because the CIA Headquarters had been "motivated to extract any and all operational information".

As Feinstein took the floor today, she warned: "History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and our willingness to confront the ugly truth and say, ‘Never Again’."

The program was a "stain" on the nation's character she said, adding: "under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured."

She went on to command the Senate floor for an extended account of the harsh techniques identified in the report.

Responding to the shocking findings, the CIA said in a statement that the document "tells part of the story" but "there are too many flaws for it to stand as the official record of the program."

President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday that harsh US interrogation methods will not take place on his watch, saying the techniques did significant damage to American interests abroad without serving broad counter-terrorism efforts.

In a written statement, President Obama said: "Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today's report can help us leave these techniques where they belong, in the past."

Additional reporting by AP

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