United States Senate report on CIA torture shocks the world!

A 525-page unclassified portion of a 6,000-page report compiled by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s Detention and Interrogation Program using enhanced interrogation techniques (a euphemism for torture) on detainees following the September 11 attacks in 2001 was released on December 9, 2014, after a presentation on the floor of the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. The full report has not been published, but the committee voted in April 2014 to release the recommendations, executive summary, and findings of the report which can be downloaded here.

The report, which took four years and $40 million to compile, focused on events that transpired over the years 2001-06. It detailed actions by CIA officials and shortcomings of the detention project. One key finding was that enhanced interrogation techniques did not help acquire actionable intelligence or gain cooperation from detainees.

Enhanced interrogation techniques or alternative set of procedures refers to the U.S. Government program of systematic torture of detainees by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and various components of the U.S. Armed Forces at different black sites around the world, including Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib, authorized by officials of the administration of US President George W. Bush. While there has never been an accurate tally of the number of detainees subjected to these methods, the CIA has admitted to waterboarding individuals implicated in the September 11 attacks, notably Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mohammed al-Qahtani. In addition the CIA is known to have waterboarded Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water was photographed at a CIA prison where the CIA claimed never to have used the technique.

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Download the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on CIA torture practices here.

Download the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on CIA torture practices here.

The following 20 key findings and conclusions were published verbatim in the report.

1.The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

2.The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

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

4.The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

5.The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

6.The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

7.The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

8.The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

9.The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.

10.The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.[8]:11

11.The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

12.The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

13.Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

14.CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

15.The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

16.The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

17.The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious or significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systematic and individual management failures.

18.The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

19.The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

20.The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

The fallout following the release of the report is, as expected, heavy. Much of the debate surrounds whether the CIA’s heavy-handed methods yielded any useful intelligence information. Many of the torture practices applied by the CIA on its detainees were aimed to exact “total control” of torture subjects and included oral and anal force feeding of prisoners.

The CIA has defended its position on the matter and has called the Senate Committee report “unfair”…

“CIA is frequently asked to do difficult, sensitive and sometimes risky things on behalf of the country,” a U.S. intelligence official said. “Congress doesn’t do massive studies of CIA’s successful efforts such as preventing another massive casualty attack on the United States.”

“The intellectual dishonesty of the (Senate) report will eventually be revealed and in the end CIA’s position about the value of the detention and interrogation program will stand as the historical fact,” the intelligence official said.

The 2010 film Unthinkable which starred Samuel L Jackson, Michael Sheen, and Carrie-Anne Moss drammatised some of the contentious aspects of enhanced interrogation techniques applied in a time of extreme national emergency.

The film begins with an American Muslim man and former Delta Force operator named Yusuf (Sheen), formerly named Younger, making a videotape. When FBI Special Agent Helen Brody (Moss) and her team see news bulletins looking for Yusuf, they launch an investigation, which is curtailed when they are summoned to a high school, which has been converted into a black site under military command. They are shown Yusuf’s complete tape, where he threatens to detonate three nuclear bombs in separate U.S. cities if his demands are not met.

A special interrogator, “H” (Samuel L. Jackson), is brought in to force Yusuf to reveal the locations of the nuclear bombs. H quickly shows his capability and cruelty by chopping off one of Yusuf’s fingers with a small hatchet. Horrified, Special Agent Brody attempts to put a stop to the measures. Her superiors make it clear that the potentially disastrous consequences necessitate these extreme measures. Policy adviser Charles V. Peña opines that “Ultimately, [Unthinkable] is about the age-old question, ‘Do the ends justify the means?’… In the end, the film doesn’t answer the question… but does provide plenty of food for thought”.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture” and various Wikipedia.org articles related (linked) to it in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

42 Replies to “United States Senate report on CIA torture shocks the world!”

  1. Benign0

    An eerily similar “investigation” was conducted over a century ago by another U.S. Senate committee — the Philippine Investigating Committed formed in Aprl of 1902 “to investigate and publicize U.S. military atrocities in the Philippines.”

    Moorfield Storey and Julian Codman, legal counsels for the Committee, submitted their brief, “Secretary Root’s Record: ‘Marked Severities’ in Philippine Warfare” on August 29, 1902. Read their brief and compare —


    1. @DomingoArong: Interesting. The common denominator across time that I see is a big disconnect between how military personnel — combatants in particular — regard the ends of war and the means to achieve it in the heat of battle and the views of bureaucrats and pundits sitting in their offices observing the events.

      Here is a quote from the Boston Advertiser included in the Wiki article you posted.

      The time has come, in the opinion of those in charge of the War Department, to pursue a policy of absolute and relentless subjugation in the Philippine Islands. If the natives refuse to submit to the process of government as mapped out by the Taft Commission, they will be hunted down and will be killed until there is no longer any show of forcible resistance to the American government. The process will not be pleasant, but it is considered necessary.

      Not to condone such atrocities but the attempts to rationalise brutality in times of war does not really change with time, location, or circumstance. It is even consistent whether the party involved is in a superior or inferior position in a battle or in possession of more or less powerful weaponry. Whether you are losing or winning a war or battle, you will likely do everything to finish said war or battle with an outcome in your favour.

      I made a similar observation on the matter in the case of the brouhaha surrounding Filipino General Jovito Palparan in an article where I wrote…

      If you find yourself in a dark street corner with a shadowy figure coming at you with a knife, you’d ideally want a big black shiny attack dog on your side — not a yip-yip lap dog. You’d want that shadowy figure sprawled on the ground with that dog’s jaws clamped around his neck first before you come around to the task of figuring out who he was and what he planned to do to you.

      When faced with an enemy who WILL kill you if he could, who would you like on your side? Someone who’d balk in melee? Or someone who would act decisively with a singular goal in mind at the moment where it counts?

    2. It’s really just a continuation of history. Elements in US government and corporations really want to maintain control over certain areas of the world for their purposes. So they try to maintain a form of colonialism over these areas. That’s been admitted in a 1980s book I have, Low Intensity Warfare, and the policies are likely still the same.

  2. I can’t remember which Tom Clancy / Jack Ryan novel it was but they needed information in a hurry. So they left it to John Clarke to extract it but did not go into detail. The key FBI head in series did not approve of Clarke’s methods. Even in novels we have what we call in English class a symbolic conflict. If you believe the notion that are people out there willing to do bad things like Sept 11 and you are tasked to provide security for ordinary citizens as they go on with their daily lives, can it be done dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s? Everybody knows the “you can’t handle the truth” catch phrase from the film A Few Good Men. I think in this moral dilemma it is good to quote the rest of the dialogue that lead up to that catch phrase ” You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.”

    1. “To fight an enemy who doesn’t play by the rules, sometimes you have to break your own.”

      Quite a few movies/books have tackled this theme. Whether this way of thinking is true in a real world scenario is what is still debatable, and will continue to be debatable for a long time to come.

    2. This is just a side comment so no one here should really take it all that seriously…

      Why is it that we almost NEVER have this kind of theme in any of our mainstream films and TV series? These are the kind of things that we, as a people, should be considering. While sacrifices must be made for the greater good, we must also question whether or not what we sacrifice is truly worth it and just how much we are willing to sacrifice.

      Instead, all I see these days that are presented as moral dilemmas are associated with affairs, affairs and affairs. While infidelity is indeed an issue these days, many Filipinos fail to notice the more pressing issues such as police brutality and terrorism in their own country. We really need to get our priorities straight!

      BTW Gogs, you mentioned something about being grotesque and incomprehensible. Could you be more than the Yellow Zombie you claim to be on your profile description? Are you perhaps an Eldritch Abomination?

      I’m an exploding red zombie but I often question my own identity myself…

      Could I perhaps be something else as well…


  3. The report is the biggest piece of crap. I is like going to court and the Judge has only the Prosecutor giving his evidence with no cross examination and no witnesses. The panel did not interview anyone involved in the program and all the CIA Directors involved have said the report is just wrong. How can this be lauded as “The Report” with it being such a one sided partisan slant. BTW how do you think they found Bin Laden? They got it from using this program

    1. Jim Arndt, as a matter of fact, you sadistic prick, non of the info received during torture led to Bin Laden. You are getting your info from Fox News or the tooth fairy? As an outsider, what do you think of the human race?

        1. Jim just don’t take it to heart. Filipinos are notorious anti Americans. They will use every opportunity to prove their agenda of the continued legacy of US colonialism. They can’t handle anything form whites that is not leftist and liberal. Fox news to them is like the devils advocate. Funny but they are also often anti white. That’s just part of their world, it’s just normal. No wonder that the new master race the Chinese are given a pass for bad behavior and are admired. I personally think it is not a bad thing. Filipinos need China, they need a master. The less the USA the better for all of us. The more the Chinese the better for all of us.

  4. I don’t think the world was shocked by the report. It is an open secret that tortures are resorted to by everybody involved in terrorism war.

    What was shocking was to find out that tortures did not really serve its purpose. Enhance interrogation was not an effective tool in acquiring information nor a means to break down the spirit of the enemies and submit to the interrogators.

    1. They got Bin Laden by using this program which also gave them thousands of leads. You have to remember that this report was slanted to make the CIA look bad. Though to be a slap back by Sen. Fienstien as a response to the CIA spying on her. She deliberately left out all the evidence, conveniently.

        1. @ CF, Even more hysterical is that these guys arguing even think that Bin Laden was ‘captured’ as it was reported. IDK but a guy with severe kidney damage,in his 60’s and requiring dialysis was even alive 12 years after the WTC collapse’s. HA,OBL did not live past 2005.

      1. You are a mental midget with the I.Q of a butter dish, whose mind is a black hole that sucks up all surrounding thought into it in an infinite singularity of pure stupidity. I’m surprised you can even dress yourself. I bet you have to rub peanut butter inside your lips to remember to open your mouth to breath. I hope I will never hear again from a man so pervasively, astoundingly, unyieldingly ignorant as you are Jim Arndt.

        And if you accuse people to have a single minded agenda, at least have the brains to spell their name right. It’s Dianne Feinstein you pudding head.

      2. Let me add, unfortunately, when you see it in light of US intelligence incompetence, this killing of Bin Laden was more of just a make-up action. The CIA knew where bin Laden was even before 9-11, they had some chances of getting him before that. They knew something like 9-11 was in the works (though not in the way the conspiracy theorists claim). But they were soft. So 9-11 happened. And you have this report saying they even tortured the wrong people. The US intelligence community seems to be plagued with incompetence, too.

      3. I don’t think the CIA looked bad because of the report. Everybody knows they torture. The only thing unclear is the extent of the process.

  5. Many Republicans feel that they are above the law. One would need a catalog to hold the number of instances of illegalities and dirty tricks that they have employed over the years. They used the CIA as a hit squad to bring down governments hostile to American corporate interests. (see: Chile, Iran, Panama, Cuba, etc.) The Democrats in Congress clipped the wings of the CIA; but somehow, they continue to wage their secret, black ops, unauthorized wars and vendettas.

  6. Reading about the details of this report makes me ashamed to be part of the human race. Thank god I’m not American. Any country that knowingly does those things is bottom drawer. These are the things that they hung Germans for after the Nuremberg Allied trials of Nazi war criminals.

    1. So that would make countries that produce people who ram planes into buildings to kill innocent people, what exactly? What it all comes down to is that people are still just animals. THreaten life and limb and this is what happens.

      Also on a more macabre note how does the cia select torturers? volunteer? a systematic screening who is the sickest but most discreet f in service?

    2. Oh yeah right, if you could go to the states and get a decent job you wouldn’t jump at the chance,OK…… sure you wouldn’t.

  7. It is “War on Terror”. The “Moral Values” that Politicians are talking about, do not exist during the time of War. You have to kill, or to be killed.

    An Enemy that killed innocent people in Sept. 11th, at World Trade Center. And publicize the “barbaric” cutting of heads of innocent hostages. They do not deserve to be treated with “kid’s gloves”…

    1. @ Hyden Toro78rf……The War on Terror is meant to be ongoing. The actual target of the war is not our enemies abroad, but our own citizens. The War on Terror initiated a huge robbery of the Treasury and a massive transfer of funding from appropriations for health and welfare, to the police and the military and industrial complex. (see the two decade long, ineffective, pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq = 3 trillion dollars each)

      The War on Terror also created a nationwide surveillance state, where all American’s cell phones and computers are monitored continuously.

      (see also: George Orwell’s “1984.”)

    1. The “Suryas” in the Islamic Koran, tells Believers to Sow Terror on non believers (infidels).
      It tells also to “smite” them on the neck. So, the cutting of heads of innocent infidels is acceptable to Radical Islam…

      I’m a Filipino, not an American. I only work in America, in a technical field. Pay is better than other countries…

      1. Yes… and the sacred book of the jew,’the talmud’ justifies all sorts of nastiness can be perpetrated, because the jew is special and chosen by God,on all non-jews (the ‘goyim’ = cattle).

        See a pattern here?

        1. Both religions justifies violence. This is the reason , they are at each others’ throats. It is also the reason, I don’t believe in Organized Religions. Murdering innocent people, in the name of God? How insane can you get?

        2. Calling people by names is Bigotry. People are people…they have the right to exist; and to live a peaceful life.
          I have also the Right, as a human being, to Believe, what I want to Believe, without being Discriminated, because of my Belief…

  8. According to Tom Blanton (Director, National Security Archive)this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are 6 million pages of evidence cited in the report. There are quote after quote from the CIA itself showing torture was wrong and they knew it; constantly people from the black sites saying that this is wrong and that they are going too far. At least 1 of the about 128 people tortured died during interrogation.

    These technics of torture were taken from the Chinese communists who did it to American POWs during the Korean war to make them give false confessions for propaganda purposes. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two military psychologists, had years of military training in a secretive program known as SERE — Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape — which teaches soldiers to endure captivity in enemy hands.

    Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics taught in SERE training for use on prisoners held in the CIA’s secret prisons. Beginning in 2002, the CIA hired the psychologists to train interrogators in brutal techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and pain. The report states that the firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates was paid 81 Million US$ for their service by the US Government.

  9. This report shocks only idiots.

    Governments commit atrocities then pass laws to justify them or refuse to prosecute the guilty parties involved in the atrocities.

    It’s been going on for centuries, and will continue.

    Want to know where you stand? Go play in some traffic. Want to know the truth? Well, read a sci-fi novel,it will be closer to the truth than this ‘report’, LOL !

  10. “These technics of torture were taken from the Chinese communists who did it to American POWs during the Korean war to make them give false confessions for propaganda purposes.”

    The Chinese probably, in turn, took these techniques from the Americans who did it to Filipino POWs during the Philippine-American War to make them give false confessions for propaganda purposes.

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