Shocking scale of CIA torture tactics revealed

24th Dec 2014
Shocking scale of CIA torture tactics revealed

Elham Asaad Buaras

The full shocking scale of how the US used torture in its ‘war on terror’ was laid bare in a damning report on a network of secret prisons used by the CIA around the world.

The Senate Select Committees Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (between 2002 to 2007), revealed torture far beyond anything previously made public.The report released this month, exposed how the CIA, armed with a budget of $200million, covered up the brutal and discredited techniques used on 119 detainees.

Human Right Watch (HRW) said the report confirmed known CIA torture techniques including the use of stress positions, sleep deprivation and waterboarding but it “also contains new details showing that CIA torture was even more egregious than previously thought – painful restraints, use of punitive ‘anal feeding’ and ‘anal rehydration,’ and forcing detainees with broken legs to stand shackled against a wall.”

The report revealed the CIA was aware its illegal conduct hence why at the start of its program in 2002 it drafted a letter to the Attorney General in which it acknowledged that its tactics violated the US torture statute and requested that he provide the CIA with immunity.

LEVEL OF ABUSE
One detainee was so brutalised that he was left mute and on life support. Another, chained naked to the floor, died from hypothermia while a third was hung by his arms from an iron bar for 22 hours. Other abuses included threats to kill or sexually assault family members, including children and some prisoners were handcuffed with their hands above his head for nearly a day.

Gitmo detainee Majid Khan had pureed hummus, pasta and raisins rectally infused, he later bit his own veins in an attempt to commit suicide

At least five prisoners on hunger strike were forced to ingest food through their rectums. One detainee, Majid Khan tried to kill himself by biting his own veins after going through anal feeding. Among those wrongly held was “intellectually challenged” Nazar Ali, “whose taped crying was used as leverage against his family member.”

At least 5 prisoners suffered hallucinations due to sleep deprivation. Two of them were subjected to further sleep deprivation even after their hallucinations began. One agent subjected a detainee to a game of Russian Roulette, where a gun was pointed at the prisoner. Some of the CIA agents had violent backgrounds which should have barred them from the agency.

The report says the CIA, which worked with MI5, MI6 and the Blair Government, repeatedly lied and misled the White House, Congress and the public about its techniques’. The report revealed the CIA lied about how the use of discredited Cold War techniques had produced information which foiled attacks in the UK. CIA officials repeatedly insisted that information extracted from internationally outlawed methods had stopped four attacks against the UK – including a plot to down jets at Heathrow Airport and fly planes into Canary Wharf.

The Committee said the claims repeated in public by former President Bush that the interrogation led to the foiling of attack on the UK had been ‘inaccurate’. In fact, the Heathrow plots had already been foiled by the time any information was extracted from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others.

UK COLLUSION
All references to the UK security services and Diego Garcia, a UK base, used for rendition flights – were blacked out in the report, triggering demands for a similar inquiry in the UK. MPs said there appeared to have been a “pact of non-aggression” between the UK and the US over what to disclose. Tory backbencher Andrew Tyrie, who led a Parliamentary inquiry into rendition, said the Senate report was “no substitute” for a UK inquiry.

The Senate report censored all information on the conduct of UK intelligence services in British Indian Ocean Territory Diego Garcia

PM David Cameron conceded that “things happened that were wrong” after 9/11 when asked if the UK acted on information obtained by torture. Benjamin Ward of HRW said, “A judicial inquiry into UK complicity in torture and rendition was shelved, and the Government has reneged on its promise to hold a second one, giving the task instead to a compromised parliamentary committee.”

POLITICAL FALLOUT
The report, rejected by the CIA, has unleashed a row over how much facts the agency concealed from the former Republican administration. President Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, denied claims in the report that the CIA had kept the worst information hidden. “That’s a point of some contention,” he said, when asked whether the CIA had lied to Bush.

Former CIA Director, Michael Hayden, insisted the White House not only knew of but approved all their interrogation tactics

Former CIA Director, Michael Hayden, retaliated against Washington’s attempts to distance itself from the scandal, insisted that not only was Bush fully aware of the programme but had publicly admitted he had personally approved the use of waterboarding as early as 2002.

However, outgoing member of the intelligence committee, Democratic Senator Mark Udall argued that with the White House’s support the CIA was continuing to mislead.“Director [John] Brennan and the CIA are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture. In other words, the CIA is lying,” Udall said.

Udall first called on Brennan to resign in August, after Brennan conceded that the CIA accessed emails on the Senate’s torture investigators. “The CIA has lied to its overseers and the public”, said Udall who also slammed the White House for not holding anyone “to account”.

Udall pointed to inconsistency between evidence the CIA gave to Congress and an internal report by the former Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, to argue the concealment was recent. “[The CIA] knowingly provided inaccurate information to the committee in the present day,” he said.

Yet Obama’s spokesman defended Brennan, describing him as someone who “adheres to the highest ethical standard”. The White House insists it is up to the Department of Justice to reopen a closed criminal inquiry into whether charges should be brought against CIA officials. Instead, it argues that allowing the report to be published goes a long way to repairing damage to America’s reputation.

Obama also acknowledged that torture had proved counter-productive by damaging America’s moral high ground. He also issued a warning to the CIA that a repeat performance “would be directly violating the orders I have issued as commander-in-chief.”

Obama condemned past actions but refused to say whether there was a cover-up or if people should be prosecuted. “The CIA set up something very fast without a lot of forethought,” he said. “The lines of accountability that needed to be set up weren’t always in place and that some of these techniques that were described were not only wrong but were counterproductive.”

CRITICISM OF OBAMA
Critics argued Obama’s show of sympathy for his predecessor and reluctance to push for prosecution is due to his own mixed record on torture.

The Obama Administration has transferred prisoners into facilities run by allied governments where it was aware that torture had been used – a potential violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

According to a 2011 Washington Post report, top officials at the State Department, CIA, and US military received “multiple warnings” about Afghan facilities via international monitors, but the US continued to hand over detainees to Afghan intelligence long after other countries had stopped.

Full U.S. Senate Report  CLICK HERE
Full Minority views published by the SSCI CLICK HERE

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