By Mark O’Brien
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States — A Senate committee released the findings of a three-year investigation this week, and officials said the report had “startling details” on the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of counterterrorism efforts.
The 6,000-page report is the most detailed, independent examination of the agency’s methods to “break” dozens of detainees through physical and psychological duress. But declassifying the report to prepare for its release to the public could take months, if not longer.
“The report . . . raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in a statement. She chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, which voted 9-6 on Thursday to approve the report.
“I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes,” she added. “The majority of the committee agrees.”
Those familiar with the report’s findings said it makes a detailed case that the interrogation techniques never produced any counter-terrorism breakthroughs. In some cases, such as the campaign against al-Qaeda, subjecting prisoners to the techniques were counterproductive.
Republicans had largely boycotted the investigation because of inaccuracies, and they faulted Democrats for calling too few witnesses. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the lone Republican who supported approving the report, joining the committee’s eight Democrats.
The report includes information on every detainee in CIA custody, the conditions under which they were held, the interrogation techniques used on them, the intelligence they provided, and the accuracy of CIA descriptions of the program to the White House. More than 6 million pages of documents were reviewed, containing data on post-9/11 interrogation techniques such as waterboarding.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the committee’s ranking Republican, said in a statement that the report “contains a number of significant errors and omissions about the history and utility of the CIA’s detention program,” noting that the investigation did not interview “any of the people involved.”
High-ranking officials from the George W. Bush administration, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, have defended the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other measures. They argued that the techniques provided critical clues to help find Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid in May 2011. But Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) dismissed that suggestion earlier this year.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has long opposed the United States’ use of torture based on his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, issued a statement that the committee’s work shows that “cruel” treatment of prisoners “is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence.”
The report now goes to President Barack Obama and other officials for review. Feinstein said the committee would receive their comments until February 15, at which time it would make the decision on whether to declassify the report for public release.
For further information, please see:
Press TV — Report Finds Harsh CIA Interrogations Ineffective — 15 December 2012
Chicago Tribune — Senate Committee Approves Report on CIA Interrogations, Revives Torture Debate — 13 December 2012
The Huffington Post — CIA Torture Report Approved by Senate Intelligence Committee — 13 December 2012
The Washington Post — Report Finds Harsh CIA Interrogations Ineffective — 13 December 2012