Shocking cases in CIA report reveal the extent of "brutal" interrogations

By The Guardian and Reinhart Imberg copyright DIAAL News 2014 Updated at 2014-12-10 12:55:44 -0500


US senators back release of CIA abuse details

CIA torture report: Dianne Feinstein called its findings "shocking" and the CIA's behavior "in stark contrast to our values as a nation"

A tremendous amount of the Senate torture report remains unseen: the Senate on Tuesday released only 525 pages of a classified 6,000-word study. President Obama withheld even more from Senate viewing: 9,400 pages of relevant CIA documentation, according to a footnote. The CIA itself, while an interested party, considers the report even less complete, because the Senate investigators did not interview any CIA officials.

In one case, at a place in Afghanistan called “Cobalt,” believed to be the CIA’s infamous Salt Pit prison – torture chambers were also given other names like Cat’s Eye and the Dark Prison – the CIA presided over the following:

A man named Gul Rahman, suspected of ties to al-Qaida and its Afghan allies, was shackled to the wall of his cell in November 2002. He was wearing nothing but a sweatshirt. All his other clothing was removed after he was found to be “uncooperative”; his uncooperativeness came after he received, per a CIA cable to headquarters, “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower and rough treatment.”

Rahman was found dead the next day. According to the committee, a CIA autopsy determined that Rahman had mostly likely died from hypothermia, in part because he “was forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants.”

Rahman’s death has been public for years. What the CIA did as follow-up has only been known in the broadest of outlines.

No CIA officials were disciplined – let alone charged – for Rahman’s death. Not even a month after he froze to death, CIA approved a plan to strip detainees nude in 45F rooms. Three months after that, one of Rahman’s interrogators was recommended to receive a $2,500 cash bonus for his “consistently superior work”. And for another three or so months, that interrogator continued to manage the Cobalt site and supervise other detentions.

Conditions at Cobalt – a site for what then-director George Tenet called “medium-level detainees,” like Rahman – later shocked visiting representatives from the federal Bureau of Prisons, who had “never been in a facility where individuals are so sensory deprived,” a CIA official would recount. One detainee there “literally looked like a dog who had been kennelled.”

For detainees whom the CIA couldn’t justify holding in Cobalt, the CIA relied on an unnamed partner country, paid off with cash: “I give them a few hundred bucks a month and they use the rooms for whoever I bring over – no questions asked.”

Years later, an internal review recommended a 10-day unpaid suspension for Rahman’s aforementioned interrogator. But a senior CIA official, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, overruled any reprimand. (Foggo would later go to prison in connection with an unrelated fraud case.)

The CIA was not a monolith in favor of torture. Officers questioned its value and voiced disagreement about torturing detainees “whom they determined were not withholding information.” Medical staff – the subject of professional controversy for their involvement in torture at all – were found to question “both the effectiveness and the safety of the techniques.”

The CIA does not contest the Senate assessment that it was ill-suited to establish its detention program; director John Brennan, a former Tenet aide, conceded that on Tuesday. Rahman’s death occurred before Tenet issued detention and interrogation guidelines in January 2003. But by then, about 40 of the estimated 119 detainees the CIA would hold during the 2002-2008 lifespan of the program were already in captivity.

Janat Gul begged the CIA for death.

In another case, delivered to the CIA in July 2004 by a foreign ally, Gul was thought to have intelligence about an attack on the US planned to take place ahead of the presidential election. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, authorized CIA director George Tenet to use all approved torture techniques on him save waterboarding. Soon he was hallucinating, seeing his family in the mirror.

A CIA cable recorded: Gul “asked to die, or just to be killed.”

There had been doubts about the intelligence justifying Gul’s capture even before the CIA had him in custody. One official said in March 2004 it was “vague” and “worthless in terms of actionable intelligence.” In August of that year, CIA officials at Gul’s detention site twice reported they did not think he was withholding information. But the response from headquarters was to continue torturing him, apparently out of fear of missing information on the threat.

By October 2004, Gul’s accuser recanted. It is unclear if that accuser gave up Gul in the first place after he was himself tortured. The CIA transferred Gul to an unknown foreign partner, and he was ultimately freed.

As Gul’s previously unknown case indicates, years of leaks and occasional official disclosures about the CIA’s post-9/11 torture efforts did not reveal a program as brutal, unaccountable and even chaotic as the one portrayed by the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday. The committee’s report portrays a feedback loop: the CIA embraced torture, then failed to question and review its value.

“Having initially cited Gul’s knowledge of the pre-election threat, as reported by the CIA’s source, the CIA began representing that its enhanced interrogation techniques were required for Gul to deny the existence of the threat, thereby disproving the credibility of the CIA source,” the report found.

Nearly 10 months after Tenet issued the guidelines, CIA officials forced Arsala Khan, an Afghan detainee suspected of enabling Osama bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora, to go 56 hours without sleeping, through forced standing. He began to be “visibly shaken,” hallucinated dogs being set upon his family, and grew nearly inarticulate. Sleep deprivation was paused for two days, and then resumed for another 21 hours.

Majid Khan was rectally inserted with a pureed cocktail of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins
By 2005, however, a Justice Department lawyer reviewing the torture program wrote that he understood sleep deprivation “generally has few negative effects (beyond temporary cognitive impairment and transient hallucinations).”

Khan gave his interrogators no functional intelligence. Eventually, the CIA suspected him of not being the man they intended to capture. He would not be let go until after four more years of military detention, despite new intelligence indicating the man who snitched on him to the US had a family vendetta against him.

Related torture techniques that neither Tenet nor the Justice Department formally sanctioned were “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding.” The Senate report says the rectal insertions occurred “without evidence of medical necessity.”

Majid Khan, who once lived in Maryland and is currently at Guántanamo Bay, was rectally inserted with a pureed cocktail of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins. Another detainee subjected to the procedure, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, experienced chronic hemmorhoids, an anal fissure and a “symptomatic rectal prolapse.” Medical officials, impressed with the “ancillary” effectiveness of the technique, were found to view rectal rehydration not as a medical treatment but “a means of behavior control.”

Senior CIA officials became aware of allegations that the rectal exams occurred with “excessive force” at Cobalt. “CIA records do not indicate any resolution of the inquiry” into those allegations, the report said, in a footnote.

The numbers tell a story of disarray within a torture program that was closely held to few within the CIA. At least 17 detainees would be tortured without Tenet’s promised headquarters authorization. According to what the report says is the CIA’s own internal accounting, at least 26 people were wrongfully detained out of 119 – approximately 22%. Michael Hayden, formerly the director of the CIA and the NSA, would tell the Senate in 2008 that the CIA had held fewer than 100 detainees.

Although the CIA would free Janat Gul after his accuser recanted, the total of CIA detainees whom the Senate considered wrongfully detained excludes him.

Spencer Ackerman in New York/ The Guardian

Study of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program - Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary,

US senators back release of CIA abuse details

CIA torture report: Dianne Feinstein called its findings "shocking" and the CIA's behavior "in stark contrast to our values as a nation"

The Senate intelligence committee voted on Thursday to declassify parts of a study into the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture on detainees suspected of terrorist activity.

Diane Feinstein of California, the committee’s chairwoman commented on the study’s results as “shocking” and “in stark contrast to our values as a nation.”

The landmark 11-3 vote, which took place in secret session, now puts the Obama administration at the epicenter of a controversy that it has attempted to avoid for over five years.

The implications of the vote have immediate ramifications for the defendants of 9/11 terrorism charges that are detained at Guantanamo Bay.

The executive summary, findings and conclusions of a report that accuses the CIA of the execution of abusive interrogations, extra-legal detentions and so-called “renditions” of suspected terrorists to partner countries and misleading the administration and the congress about its operations.

“Torture is wrong, and we must make sure that the misconduct and the grave errors made in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program never happen again,” said the independent senator Angus King and the Republican Susan Collins, both of Maine in a statement announcing they would vote for partial declassification, a move that apparently cleared the path to Thursday’s outcome.

The CIA believes the study to be misleading and inaccurate. Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman stated Thursday “The CIA, in consultation with other agencies, will conduct the declassification review.” , further Hayden said, “ The President has been clear that he wants this process complete as expeditiously as possible, consistent with national security, and that’s what we will do.”

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said, it would help the United States “return to the principle in the future that anyone who commits this crime, regardless of rank, will be called to account and perhaps criminally prosecuted”.


By Reinhart Imberg © 2014 Diaal News. All rights reserved