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5 major takeaways from the CIA report

December 15, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee spent five years investigating the CIA’s post-Sept. 11, 2001, detention and interrogation program. Its findings, released Tuesday, are at times harrowing. The CIA and former officials vehemently dispute many of the conclusions. In a statement, the agency said the report has “too many flaws for it to stand as the official record of the program.”

The Senate report is 528 pages long — thick with details about detainee histories and cases in which the CIA asserted that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques yielded valuable intelligence that could not have been acquired otherwise. Here are some of the Senate panel’s major conclusions:

— CIA officials involved in the program deceived the White House, Congress and even others within the agency.

In briefings to the president and other senior officials, the agency attributed the disruption of significant plots and the capture of major terrorist suspects to the use of harsh interrogation techniques. The Senate report said those claims don’t withstand close scrutiny. The agency was also not forthcoming about the interrogation program, the report found. For instance, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden instructed subordinates to list the number of detainees who were in the program at 98, even though the actual count at the time was at least 112. Hayden, in an interview with The Washington Post, said the discrepancy reflected the fact that detainees captured before the start of the interrogation program were counted separately from those held at the agency’s secret “black sites” overseas. “This is a question of booking, not a question of deception.”

— The CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques was sometimes more brutal than previously known.

Even though the CIA had prescribed protocols on how to use waterboarding, the agency’s own medical personnel found that in practice the method became “a series of near drownings.” The report also mentions the use of procedures such as “rectal rehydration” and feedings in the treatment of prisoners.

— The CIA held more detainees than was previously known.

The agency held 119 detainees at its secret prisons overseas over the life of its interrogation program, about two dozen more than were previously known. The Senate report found that 26 were wrongfully held. Of the 139 detainees, 39 were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including some of those who were wrongfully held.

— Witnessing the brutal treatment of detainees had a profound emotional effect on some CIA operatives.

Some of those who were present during the use of harsh interrogation techniques were distraught over what they witnessed. “Several on the team profoundly affected,” one agency employee wrote after the interrogation of Abu Zubaida (who was born Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein), “some to the point of tears and choking up.” The chief of interrogations described the program as a train wreck and said he intended to get off.

— The program was often chaotically managed.

Within days of the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush signed a secret memorandum giving the CIA new authority to “undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests.” But the memo made no reference to interrogations. The actual protocols at the sites were not always coordinated among headquarters and station chiefs. The CIA station chief in Afghanistan, for example, learned in late 2003 that the agency was holding detainees for extended periods even though it knew little about them. Interrogators used unauthorized techniques on detainees, including ice baths.

Washington Post reporter Greg Miller lists the important takeaways from the CIA interrogation report and explains why it is being released now.

Watch the video here: http://wapo.st/1ywN7kd

© 2014, The Washington Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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