CIA- Torture “saved lives”: Five things we learnt from the report

CIA- Torture “saved lives”: Five things we learnt from the report
CIA- Torture “saved lives”: Five things we learnt from the report
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|The News Minute| December 10,2014| 12:58 p.m. IST|

The Senate Intelligence committee of the United States of America spent close to five years going through 6.3 million pages worth of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports. The aim was to understand the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” system better, which had come into place post the 9/11 era.

In a scathing 6000 page review which was later condensed to 525 pages the committee has, among other things, accused the agency of torture, misuse of government funds and of keeping the government in the dark. 

Here are a few things we understood from the report: 

The interrogation techniques were faulty and did not lead to Osama’s capture: 

It “was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information” according to the report. “While being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence”, the report adds.

The report also states that the techniques weren’t any use in finding Osama Bin Laden. The best tip off they received of Bin Laden’s whereabouts were from Hassan Ghul, who was detained in Iraq in 2004.

The “enhanced interrogation” scheme was actually torture: 

As observed the by the report confirming that “CIA detainees were tortured”. President Obama had earlier said as much when he was quoted as saying, “we tortured some folks”.

Senator John McCain also confirmed as much on the floor of the house on Tuesday saying that harsh interrogations amount to torture.
The report also refutes the CIA’s best argument in defense of the torture, that it “saved lives”.

“Hard take-downs” as mentioned by the CIA involved two officers stripping a prisoner and dragging them down the hall, slapping and punching. “As they ran him along the corridor, a couple of times he fell and they dragged him through the dirt,” the report says.

Also worth mentioning is the use of "waterboarding". An extreme form of torture which involves pouring water on an immobilized captive's face which is covered with cloth, it blocks breathing passages. The victim experiences the sensation of drowning and it has been known to result in lasting psychological damage, brain damage, damage to lungs, and in some cases, death. 

The waterboarding sessions of 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were a "series of near drownings", according to the report. He survived 183 attempts. 

The editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, in 2008 asked the late writer Christopher Hitchens to subject himself to waterboarding. He lasted close to seventeen seconds. Watch his attempt below.

The detainees were subject to inhuman conditions of living:

The report also emphasizes the inhuman conditions the detainees were under, with the report saying that it “involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads”. 

In pitch-black cold rooms, where they had only a bucket and loud music for company, a detainee died in November 2002 due to hypothermia.

 He “had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor”. Detainees who underwent such procedures suffered “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation”.

"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity," the report said.
In other lapses, junior officers were placed in charge of the prisoners and they had no experience at handling such situations with the death due to hypothermia happening under his supervision.

The CIA hides information from the President and the Congress:

The CIA is also accused of hiding information from the President, with the previous American President George Bush unaware of the program until 2006. That was four years after the program began and 38-39 detainees had already been interrogated. 

The report also observed that the CIA “provided extensive amounts of inaccurate and incomplete information” to the White House and top national security staff”. 

The CIA also funded their programme with government funds:

Also, between 2005 and 2009, two government psychologists began a company that pulled out $81million of government funds to spend on interrogations. 

Before starting the company, one of the psychologists recommended the coercive technique used on Gul Rahman, who was found dead a few days later due to hypothermia.

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