Top Takeaways From The CIA Torture Report

| by Edward Arnold

On Tuesday, despite opposition from Secretary of State John Kerry, the CIA torture report became public. Behind the release is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chairwomen of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The report, a 525-page summary of 6,700 pages, documents a CIA program that existed between late 2001 and early 2009. The report on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program included a review of the 119 known individuals who were in CIA custody during the time period.

At this point in time, the committee will not release the original 6,700-page study. The program effectively ended in 2006 when President Bush shut it down.

The CIA faced many challenges to carry out the program, including establishing detention facilities in countries that were unwilling to host CIA detention sites. With the exception of one undisclosed country, the CIA was forced to relocate its detainees out of every country, making it hard to continue the program.

In January of 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that will prohibit the continuation of any such program. Yet the order can be overturned by any future president. The hope of the Intelligence Committee is that Congress can create legislation that eliminates the secret indefinite detention of individuals and the use of coercive interrogations.

The executive summary made 20 conclusions that found the CIA's inexcusable mistakes violated U.S. law, treaty obligations and our values.

The report found that the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence. In fact, the CIA had no method of evaluation to determine if these enhanced techniques were actually effective. The techniques were not approved by the Department of Justice or authorized by CIA headquarters, and their justification for the program was based on inaccurate claims of effectiveness.

Another major finding was the inability of the CIA to properly disclose information about the program to Congress. Interrogations and conditions of confinement were brutal and far worse than reported to policymakers. The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information that impeded a proper legal analysis and proper Congressional and White House oversight of the program.

The program's management and operation was found to be deeply flawed as there was no accurate account of the number of detainees held. Of the known 119 detainees, at least 26 were wrongfully held. However, at least three detention sites produced zero records on their detainees, leaving no record as to how many individuals were tortured. 

As for the United States' world reputation, the program damaged relationships with U.S. partners and allies, resulting in immeasurable damages to American global leadership.

The CIA brutally tortured these individuals: Detainees were subjected to rectal feeding, a process by which food nutrients were pumped in through the anus. Forced nudity, waterboarding and isolation in coffin boxs were regularly used. Detainees were regularly stripped, beaten, hooded and bound with tape. They were refused the use of toilets and left hanging by their wrists, chained to the ceiling, for extended periods of time. 

The report acknowledged the pervasive fear that existed at the time of the program. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the American public wanted answers for the terrorist plot that took at least 3,000 American lives.

“Nevertheless, such pressure, fear, and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper, or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security,” wrote Senator Feinstein, acknowledging that our actions must always reflect who we are as a nation.  

Source: Senate Committee on IntelligenceHuffington Post / Photo Credit: Wikipedia