Senate Report Claims 'Coffin' Torture Ineffective

Senate report details brutal torture of Al-Qaeda terrorists by CIA at secret sites, angers CIA by claiming no important intel was gained.

Ari Yashar,

Dianne Feinstein presents report on CIA
Dianne Feinstein presents report on CIA
Reuters

Shocking details about the alleged torture methods of interrogation used by the CIA against terrorist suspects have emerged in the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released Tuesday, which summarizes a CIA program launched after the 9/11 attacks.

The report, which in its original runs over 6,000 pages following over five years of investigation, was released in a shortened declassified version to the public which spanned 528 pages, and describes extreme brutality, reports the Washington Post. It was headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Senate committee.

A full 119 suspects were held by the CIA in the program according to the report, which claims that at least 26 were held due to mistaken identities or faulty intelligence.

A key claim in the report, which does not call for further investigation of those involved, is that the brutal interrogation techniques were not effective in obtaining useful counter-terror intelligence, such as breakthrough intel in the hunt for Al-Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden - a point which the CIA has strongly rejected.

Several examples of the torture conducted on terror suspects indicated that CIA employees suffered emotional trauma by the acts they were forced to be part of.

In one of the most heavily documented instances the case of senior Al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaida, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002, is discussed. Abu Zubaida was transferred to a secret site in Thailand, where he was tortured causing several on the CIA team to be affected, "some to the point of tears and choking up," according to the writings of an official in the agency cited in the report.

Abu Zubaida was said to have been cooperative when questioned by the CIA and FBI together, but after being transferred to CIA control he was exposed to increasingly violent techniques as listed in the report.

Upon arriving in the Thailand facility, he was put in isolation for 47 days before being submitted to an interrogation that included being slammed against walls, being stuffed into a coffin-sized box and waterboarded until he vomited and had "involuntary spasms of the torso and extremities."

He was reportedly exposed to the techniques for 17 days, during which time he was waterboarded 83 times and kept in the coffin-sized boxes for nearly 300 hours.

In October, 2002, then-US President George W. Bush was told the terrorist still had "significant threat information," although the report said sources at the CIA site viewed him as having been honest from the start, in an accusation of intentional CIA deception towards the White House.

Another terrorist whose ordeals under CIA captivity were documented in the report was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who continuously lied to his interrogators.

In the waterboarding of Mohammed, a CIA medical officer wrote he was ingesting "a LOT of water," adding that normal techniques had been altered so that "we are basically doing a series of near drownings."

The CIA issues a firm rebuttal

In response to the findings of the Senate report, the CIA issued a 112-page rebuttal which, while it acknowledged failings in the interrogation program, denied it had intentionally misled the public and denied the program did not achieve important results.

"The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of Al-Qaeda and continues to inform our counter-terrorism efforts to this day," said CIA Director John Brennan, who served as a senior officer as the secret facilities were set up.

Brennan added that the program "did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives."

The detailed CIA rebuttal, which was created over the past year, argues that nearly all of the Senate report's conclusions are unfounded.

In addition to the CIA, Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee submitted a response condemning the report and pointing out inaccuracies.

It accused the report of creating the "false impression that the CIA was actively misleading policy makers and impeding the counter-terrorism efforts of other federal government agencies during the program's operation."

The Republican rebuttal also criticized the committee decision to base its report solely on CIA documents - without interviewing any of the operatives who were involved in the actual cases.

Democratic members of the committee claimed they chose to do so in an effort not to interfere with a separate Justice Department inquiry.








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