US Senate's report sheds light on CIA detainees' tortures
1 April 2014, 14:42 -- A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA concealed its brutal interrogation program for years both from the government and the public, including details on their commonly practiced torture techniques, overstating the significance of plots and interrogated prisoners. This, US officials confirm, yielded little, if any at all, intelligence.
'The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,' said one US official briefed on the latest report. 'Was that actually true? The answer is 'no'.'
The 6,300-page document includes what officials described as 'damning new disclosures' about an extensive network of secret detention facilities, or 'black sites,' which was dismantled on President Obama's order about five years ago. It describes previously classified cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan — a method that might be similar to waterboarding but was not included into Justice Department-approved list of techniques, Washington Post writes.
Detainees' status and role were also enormously exaggerated, officials said. Just for instance, agency officials described Abu Zubaida as a senior al-Qaeda operative,though experts later determined that he was essentially a facilitator who helped take recruits to al-Qaeda training camps.
The CIA also overstated the role of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 US sailors. CIA officials claimed he was the 'mastermind.' That was actually an operative, Hassan Ghul, who provided critical insight into finding Osama bin Laden after most critical intelligence was gathered during an interrogation with Kurdish authorities, not during his sojourn on 'the black site.'
Most importantly, as critics argue, the report shows internal divisions in the CIA over the torture program, including one instance when employees left a secret prison in Thailand after inhumane coercion techniques were used against detainees. The study also pinpoints cases where CIA officials based in the US required officials to continue torture methods despite the common view that prisoners had no information to share.
Most sensitive findings however have to do with huge discrepancies between statements senior CIA officials in Washington have made as opposed to jotted down notes from local CIA employees who did interrogations.
As the Washington Post writes citing its anonymous sources, millions of records make clear that the CIA was able to obtain most of its sensitive data against Al-Qaeda, including the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, without resorting to the so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' In the previously cited example, intelligence gathered from a detainee known as Abu Zubaydah was obtained by FBI agent Ali Soufan in a hospital in Pakistan, before the CIA waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times. Yet Soufan's work was passed through US intelligence sources as a success of CIA interrogators' work, the Committee's report revealed.
Meanwhile, many current and former CIA officials have claimed the Committee's report, the most comprehensive one on CIA operations network since 9/11, was full of FBI-biased errors and lies.
Earlier, Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein claimed the CIA had blatantly spied on the Committee's investigators, including their personal computers, which an ongoing row between the agency and the Committee reaching its peak.
Ms Feinstein said Monday that she plans to hold a committee vote Thursday to make public the key findings and summary of the full report.
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