Senate Committee Report: CIA Torture Hurt America's Reputation, Did Not Help Acquire Intel


Credit: Carlos Latuff/wikimedia

A copy of the conclusions of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's interrogation and detention program, which began after the 9/11 attacks and ended in 2006, has been leaked.

The classified report is 6,300 pages long and questions the legal foundation for the use of waterboarding and other so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques, arguing that the techniques were not approved by the Department of Justice or CIA headquarters.

An unnamed former U.S. official told McClatchyDC, which obtained the leaked conclusions, that the CIA's claim that around 30 detainees were subjected to such treatment "is BS," and that, "they are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that's not the case."

Among the committee investigation's findings are the following:

The CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques did not effectively assist the agency in acquiring intelligence or in gaining cooperation from detainees.

The CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques was brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.

The CIA manipulated the media by coordinating the release of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency's enhanced interrogation techniques.

The CIA manipulated the media by coordinating the release of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency's enhanced interrogation techniques.

Read the full list of findings below:

Last month, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of spying on computers being used in the investigation. CIA Director John Brennan denied that the agency had hacked into Senate computers.

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted earlier this month to declassify a 480 page summary of the report. 

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  1. Unsurprising that they lied and it got out of control. The problem with torture is that even if you do it on the one worst case everyone thinks their case is the worst and most important. You start by water boarding KSM and you end up torturing a taxi driver in Baghram picked up by mistake.

    It is also unsurprising it wasn’t effective. Lots of countries have tortured people over the years, many of them routinely and as a part of their criminal justice system. Yet, those countries, be it the USSR or Cuba don’t seem to have any more effective intelligence or LEO services than countries that don’t.

    The dumbest thing of all in this whole affair is the CIA effectively bragging about the torture. It bought them all of the downsides of doing it but really none of the benefits. Once knew they could be tortured, our enemies prepared themselves for it and it lost its effect. If they had just shut up and done or said nothing, then our enemies wouldn’t know what to expect when captured. In those circumstances you don’t have to torture anyone. You can just let them contemplate the possibility you might.

    1. Plus if you do break someone, how do you know if they’re telling you the truth, or just whatever you want to hear so you’ll stop for a while?

      1. After they break, you treat them nice and they keep talking. That was how Fernandez described it. Plus if you are not just a sadist, you ask stuff you already know the answer to to see if they are telling the truth.

        Had an old Plt Sgt who went through SERE school and he said he broke pretty quickly and talked his head off after they gave him lots of good food.

        Of course even KSM wouldn’t tell the name of Bin Laden’s courier after he broke.

        Black eye for sure on the US, but I still don’t trust either a Dem report from Feinstein or the CIA to tell the truth.

        1. I don’t trust it either. Also, I don’t see how farming our torture out via rendition, something we still do today, is any better.

    2. Yet, those countries, be it the USSR or Cuba don’t seem to have any more effective intelligence

      The USSR ran the most effective intelligence apparatus the world has ever seen.

      Lots of countries have tortured people over the years

      Right, but the vast, overwhelming majority of those tortured were tortured not to elicit useful information, but to promote a visceral fear of the State.

      Torture used to extract information from someone who knows it, is, if done properly, extraordinarily effective and absolutely immoral. One of the fears I have with people putting too much stock into the practical argument against it is that it reduces the overwhelming moral clarity of the issue to a sidebar.

  2. Lastly, there is no more crude or idiotic way to try and break someone down than by torture. People have amazing constitutions if they have a reason to be so. Torture gives them that reason. It makes them feel they are right and gives them a reason to resist. That is why it doesn’t generally work. Breaking someone down and getting them to cooperate, assuming they don’t want to already, takes thought. That is something the CIA apparently doesn’t do.

    1. Didn’t the Gestapo roll up many resistance units by torturing captives? Isn’t that the purpose of establishing cut-outs where any single person has a very short string of knowledge about operations, superiors, and other units?

      1. I think it was reprisals against innocent family members that broke people….

        You could torture me till the cows come home and I will not betray a friend. But turn the knife to my daughter….

      2. The Gestapo pretty much routed the French resistance using torture that is true. Who is to say they couldn’t have broken them other ways?

        The real lesson of that is not that torture pays. It is that whenever someone is captured they are likely going to talk. The Gestapo rolled up the French resistance because they were amateurs who didn’t practice proper security. You have to make it so as few people as possible know enough to hurt you if captured.

  3. I’d crack immediately if they threatened me with no alt-text.

  4. The CIA is making CPU’s now?

  5. I’ve read reviews and descriptions indicating Zero Dark Thirty had some CIA torture scenes and the movie’s plot justified them. So does this report invalidate that, or was the movie more ambiguous about it?

    I’m genuinely asking because I don’t know and haven’t seen the movie (and wouldn’t trust it either way).

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