The CIA Torture Scandal

On the 9th December 2014 the US

government dropped a bombshell The Senate Intelligence Committee published the summary of its five-year review of the CIA's detention and enhanced interrogation programme The programme began in the wake of 9/11 as part of counterterrorism operations by the CIA to battle al Qaeda The Senate report found that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were tantamount to torture, and that the torture programme was not effective Worse still, it revealed that the CIA had continually lied to the government both about the severity of its torture techniques and the value of the programme

What's more, the CIA spent 8 months redacting the Senate summary, removing all names and pseudonyms of CIA operatives, and classifying the full 6,000 pages of the report The summary is only 525 pages long The CIA claims that the Senate review misrepresents the enhanced interrogation programme The agency insists that the use of torture was necessary to obtain unique and otherwise unavailable intelligence The CIA says the information gained through torture saved lives

However, the Senate summary states that the 6 million CIA records it studied completely contradict the agency’s claims That is to say, none of the intelligence reportedly gathered from torturing prisoners was unknown to the CIA from another, legal source What’s more, some of the terrorists plots the CIA says the programme helped thwart, were actually prevented before the programme even began The CIA also points out that it was given authority to use these enhanced techniques by the Justice Department and ultimately the White House, under President George W Bush

The CIA even conducted an internal review of the programme, called the Panetta Review However, the Senate investigators claim that the Panetta Review concluded the CIA's torture programme was ineffective, and that the agents in charge of the programme were misrepresenting the results of their interrogations to suggest it was integral to the success of the CIA's counterterrorism efforts The Panetta Review remains classified, and its reported criticisms of the CIA's interrogation methods are unavailable to the public The techniques employed by the CIA included threats of death, threats of rape against detainees' families, sleep & sensory deprivation, waterboarding, ice water baths, forcing inmates to stand on broken legs or ankles, playing russian roulette with prisoners, force feeding and rectal rehydration The rectal feeding was done without medical authorisation, and with deliberately large equipment, resulting in injuries normally associated with violent rape

119 people were detained under the programme; at least 39 of them were tortured Several nearly died in the process – one was killed, by hypothermia during interrogation No CIA employees were disciplined despite his death At least 26 of the detainees were innocent; two of them were tortured based on false information given by another inmate who was tortured The techniques were not only worse than the CIA repeatedly told the outside world, but they were also based on discredited torture methods used during the Cold War and in the CIA's earlier brainwashing project, MK-ULTRA

The methods directly go against the Convention Against Torture ratified by the US in 1990, and could constitute war crimes According to the Senate summary, the CIA repeatedly lied to the Justice Department, the media and President Bush about the extent and effectiveness of their torture programme But former Vice President Dick Cheney says that he and Bush knew everything about the programme Political activists like Democracy Now have called for the Bush administration to be prosecuted Republicans and members of Bush's administration oppose this, and have come out in support of the CIA, although many Republican party members like Senator John McCain have condemned the torture programme

In July 2014, the CIA admitted it had illegally hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee's network to spy on their investigation The CIA will not be charged for hacking the committee Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has come under fire for censuring its involvement in the CIA’s programme, since all of the detainees were held and tortured on black sites outside of the US The British government has yet to admit or investigate any assistance it provided to the CIA To date, no effort has been made or announced to prosecute anyone involved in the detention and enhanced interrogation programme

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