For a party represented by elephants (who never forget), Republicans can’t be excused for their failure to address torture during the War of Terror and in many cases, defending it as necessary and often referring to those opposed to torture as unpatriotic. The New York Times summarized the report well and you can read what they reported here.
According to the Times:
1. The C.I.A.’s interrogation techniques were more brutal and employed more extensively than the agency portrayed.
The report describes extensive waterboarding as a “series of near drownings” and suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three prisoners the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The report also describes detainees being subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” and death threats. Conditions at one prison, described by a clandestine officer as a “dungeon,” were blamed for the death of a detainee, and the harsh techniques were described as leading to “psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
2. The C.I.A. interrogation program was mismanaged and was not subject to adequate oversight.
The report cites dissatisfaction among intelligence officers about the competence and training of interrogators. Those found to have violated agency policy were “rarely held accountable.” The architects of the program had never carried out a real interrogation. The report states that the C.I.A. resisted congressional oversight, restricted access to information, declined to answer questions about the program and “impeded oversight” by the agency’s inspector general by providing false information.
3. The C.I.A. misled members of Congress and the White House about the effectiveness and extent of its brutal interrogation techniques.
The report says that the C.I.A. provided false and misleading information to members of Congress, the White House and the director of national intelligence about the program’s effectiveness. It asserts that a review of cases, in which the agency claims to have collected “actionable intelligence” it would have been unable to obtain by other means, calls into question the connection between the information and any “counterterrorism success.”
4. Interrogators in the field who tried to stop the brutal techniques were repeatedly overruled by senior C.I.A. officials.
C.I.A. personnel reported on multiple occasions to being “disturbed” by waterboarding and concerned over its legality. Officials, including the program’s architects, described the interrogation as a “template for future interrogation” of detainees. In one instance, a senior official pushed back against concern over the “legal limit” of brutal interrogation techniques by stating that the “guidelines for this activity” had been “vetted at the most senior levels of the agency.”
5. The C.I.A. repeatedly underreported the number of people it detained and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques under the program.
The report states that the C.I.A. never produced an accurate count or list of those it had detained or subjected to brutal interrogation techniques. The agency said it detained “fewer than 100 individuals,” but a review of agency records indicated that it held 119. It also underreported the number of detainees who were subjected to torture.
6. At least 26 detainees were wrongfully held and did not meet the government’s standard for detention.
The report found that at least 26 detainees “were wrongfully held,” including an “intellectually challenged” man who was used as “leverage” to obtain information from a family member, two former intelligence sources and two individuals identified as threats by a detainee subjected to torture. Agency records were often incomplete and, in some cases, lacked sufficient information to justify keeping detainees in custody.
7. The C.I.A. leaked classified information to journalists, exaggerating the success of interrogation methods in an effort to gain public support.
The report found that the C.I.A. provided classified information to journalists but that the agency did not push to prosecute or investigate many of the leaks. C.I.A. officials asked officers to “compile information on the success” of the program to be shared with the news media in order to shape public opinion. The C.I.A. also mischaracterized events and provided false or incomplete information to the news media in an effort to gain public support.
Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), senior member of the House Armed Services and House Homeland Security Committees reacted to the report’s findings with this statement:
“Today’s release of the report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program is a needed and long overdue step. The American people deserve transparency about the CIA’s actions, actions that are way out of line with our nation’s values. As a world leader, a bastion of democracy and human rights and a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, the United States should not be engaging in these unconscionable actions. It is especially troubling that the CIA deliberately concealed the true effectiveness of their techniques.
“It has been shown time and time again that the interrogation techniques described in this report do not yield reliable, actionable intelligence. And if the tactics used were ever even partly useful, it was certainly never worth it.
“I hope this report cements our rejection of these methods permanently.”