Senate Releases “Torture Report” on Bush-era Interrogation Techniques

Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee, after months of fighting with the Obama Administration over what would and would not be redacted, released their report on the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” aka torture techniques, used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after September 11th, 2001.

The report itself is over 6,700 pages long, but only the 600-page Executive Summary has been released to the public. You can read it here.

Some of the findings thus far:

“These interrogation techniques were not effective. The CIA, the report concludes, misled the rest of the government — including the president — on the efficacy of the program.” (NPR)

The CIA knew its program was illegal:

“a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking the Department of Justice for ‘a formal declination of prosecution, in advance, for any employees of the United States…who may employ methods in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah’…The letter added that these ‘aggressive methods’ would otherwise be prohibited by the torture statue.” (numbered page 33 of Torture Report)

In the report, two psychologists are named, using pseudonyms, as the architect’s of the torture program. The report notes that the psychologists created a company which has made over $81 million from the CIA thus far:

“In 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009. In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.”

The NYTimes has confirmed the real names of these psychologists:

“In 2002, the C.I.A. took custody of Abu Zubaydah, who was brought to Thailand. There, two C.I.A. contractors named James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were in charge of the interrogation sessions, using methods that had been authorized by Justice Department lawyers. The two contractors, both psychologists, are identified in the Senate report under the pseudonyms Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar.”

It’s worth noting that in March, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) accused the CIA of hacking into Senate computers as they worked on the report. The CIA later admitted they did so. Despite this, the Director of the CIA, John Brennan, was not removed.

There have been many scare-mongering reports in the lead-up to the release of the torture report, about so-called risks this will create abroad. Daniel Dresner does a good job of debunking these concerns over at The Washington Post. And as Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice said on “All in with Chris”:

“ISIS executed American hostages, and said it was because of American air strikes. The air strikes did not stop. We don’t allow ISIS to dictate our foreign policy. We should not allow ISIS dictate whether we adhere to basic principles of transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.”

Prior to the report’s release, former Vice President Dick Cheney said the interrogations were “absolutely, totally justified.” But Cheney perhaps has some of the most to lose with the release of this report. As civil liberties and national security expert Marcy Wheeler wrote:

“And when you consider that Dick Cheney wanted to have Iraqi Mukhabarat member Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi waterboarded because he was sure he knew of the tie between Iraq and al Qaeda…Then it raises the really horrible possibility that Cheney pushed torture because it would produce the stories he wanted told.”

To follow along as the report is digested, we suggest following Marcy Wheeler and OpenGov’s national security fellow Katherine Hawkins on twitter, and NPR’s liveblog.

Written by Other98 Team