The Torture Report


Sleep deprivation, water dousing, abdominal slaps, dietary manipulation—these were just some of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" mentioned in what's generally known as the 2014 Senate torture report. (It is officially called the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program.) These disturbing practices are described, and often illustrated, in The Torture Report (Nation Books), a comic-book adaptation by writer Sid Jacobson and artist Ernie Colón.

The Senate report clocked in at 6,770 pages, but only a 525-page summary has been released to the public so far. The graphic novel is 113 pages, and provides an important service by making the report more accessible to the general public, with plenty of text but also enough illustrations and narratives to bring alive the stories running through the lawmakers' report.

Those include the stories of the politicians behind the program, such as President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and those who were critical of it and helped bring it to the public's attention, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.), the Intelligence Committee's chair from 2009 to 2014.

But the book does not neglect the terror suspects/torture victims themselves, men such as Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It also features characters involved in the broader terrorist/torture drama, from Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden to terrorism suspect José Padilla, whose alleged "dirty bomb" plot the CIA insisted it found through enhanced interrogations. (Padilla was actually arrested before those interrogations took place.)