(CN) – President Barack Obama acknowledged on Aug. 1 this year, “We tortured some folks,” but a glimpse into that remark is finally available with the declassification Tuesday of a heavily redacted summary of a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).
One passage of the 524-page summary describes how the alleged “mastermind” of the U.S.S. Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, “launched a short-lived hunger strike that resulted in the CIA force feeding him rectally.”
Accused Sept. 11, 2001, mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times, also endured “rectal hydration” in an effort to exert “total control over the detainee,” the report stated.
But the repeated waterboarding sessions produced “significantly fabricated information” from Mohammed, the committee found.
Meanwhile a footnote notes one CIA interrogator’s finding that an Afghanistan detainee Gul Rahman who died in the Salt Pit “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”
During another waterboarding session, Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth,” the report says. The CIA admittedly destroyed Zubaydah’s interrogation tapes nearly a decade ago.
It has been roughly eight months since Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs SSCI, announced that the committee voted to release a portion of the report produced from the review of 6 million classified documents between 2009 and 2013.
“The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation,” Feinstein said earlier this year. “It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen. This is not what Americans do.”
As she took to the Senate floor on Tuesday, Feinstein called this history “a stain on our values.”
Tuesday’s summary says that the “brutal” methods were “far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.”
Sleep deprivation sessions lasted “for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads,” it continues.
“At least five detainees experienced disturbing hallucinations during prolonged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation,” the summary also states.
An image of a detainee being “clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself” appears in the summary as well.
One section of the summary describes how the hunger strike of “high-value detainee” Majid Khan led interrogators to serve him a “lunch tray” consisting of a “pureed” mixture of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins that was “rectally infused.”
The Pakistani, who allegedly tried to cut his wrists twice after multiple feedings, pleaded guilty six years later to planning terrorist attacks at a military commission.
He will reportedly will testify in the trial of Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 “mastermind.”
The black lines that pockmark SSCI’s document reflect the months the White House and the CIA spent scrubbing both the names and the pseudonyms of every case agent that participated in the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the report concluded were “ineffective.”
Referring to this wait, Feinstein announced on the Senate floor: “This report is too important to shelve indefinitely.”
The nightmarish summary, amounting to less than a tenth of the 6,200-page report, cost the U.S. government roughly $40 million to produce.
Yet that price tag does not match what the CIA paid James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two psychologists who served as the architects of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
By the time the CIA terminated its $180 million contract with their company in 2009, the contractors already had received $81 million, according to the report.
The CIA’s detention and interrogation program cost “well over $300 million in non-personnel costs,” the report states.
Referring to this section of this report, Sen. Jay Rockefeller noted that such contracts were “rife with personal and troubling conflicts of interest.”
Feinstein wrote in the report’s forward that she “could understand the CIA’s impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield, and CIA was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack.”
“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,” she wrote. “The major lesson of this report is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the intelligence community’s actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards.”
The summary confirms many accounts of its conclusions leaked to McClatchy, which reported that the CIA illegally detained 26 of the 119 captives in its custody, subjected some prisoners to unauthorized interrogation methods and manipulated the media through selective disclosures.
CIA director John Brennan disputed this finding as his agency’s website, CIASavedLives.com, went live alongside a 136-page counter-report.
“While we made mistakes, the record does not support the study’s inference that the agency systematically and intentionally misled each of these audiences on the effectiveness of the program,” Brennan said. “Moreover, the process undertaken by the Committee when investigating the program provided an incomplete and selective picture of what occurred.”
Multiple senators addressed that criticism in their remarks, recounting how the CIA destroyed interrogation tapes, misled the Congress and spied on the senators like Feinstein who were investigating them.
A second document includes the remarks of SSCI members, all Democrats, supporting the report’s conclusions. Signees include Rockefeller, of West Virginia; Sen. Ron Wyden, of Oregon; Sen. Mark Udall, of Colorado; Sen. Martin Heinrich; of New Mexico; and Sens. Angus King and Sen. Susan Collins, both of Maine.
A third document from Republican detractors includes Sens. Saxby Chambliss, of Georgia; Richard Burr, of North Carolina; Jame Risch, of Idaho; Dan Coats, of Indiana; Marco Rubio, of Flordia; and Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma.
As senators delivered their remarks, President Barack Obama also spoke out.
“Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11 – the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office,” Obama’s statement reads.
“The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.”
But Rockefeller said that he was “deeply disappointed” that Obama, whom he noted aspired to have “the most transparent administration in history,” withheld more than 9,000 documents from the committee.
Obama paid “strong deference” to the CIA by “push[ing] for the redaction of information that should not be classified,” he added.
Rockefeller said that “significant aspects of the story remain obscured by black ink.”
James Connell, who serves as a lawyer for accused Sept. 11 plotter Ammar al-Baluchi, shared that sentiment, calling the release of today’s summary “only the tip of the iceberg.”
“The government has excluded from the report the identities of the torturers, the locations of the torture, and many other facts no doubt contained in the remaining 6,125 pages of the report,” Connell said in a statement.
The CIA has long asserted that information Connell’s client gave up under brutal interrogation revealed the identity of Osama bin Laden’s courier, paving the way for the raid on his compound.
Feinstein and other senators rebuked the makers of “Zero Dark Thirty” for depicting that premise as true.
SSCI’s summary spends no fewer than 22 pages contradicting that idea, concluding that the “tipoff” regarding that courier, Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, occurred in 2002.
This predated the interrogation of CIA detainees, and intelligence officials learned this information “prior to any CIA detainee reporting,” the report states.
The CIA still insists otherwise in its “fact sheet” about the report.
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