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Torture Report: CIA Lying to US Public and Government

Washington Post exclusive shines light on damning contents of classified Senate Intelligence Committee report

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

A Witness Against Torture demonstration in 2012. (Photo: Justin Norman/cc/flickr)A classified Senate Intelligence Committee report charges that the Central Intelligence Agency lied to the U.S. public and government for years about its brutal interrogation techniques by hiding the extent of abuse and misleading about the lives this interrogation saves.

This is according to an exclusive Washington Post report published Tuesday. Citing anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the 6,300 page document, journalists Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima write that the report shows "a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence."

Furthermore, the report details "damning new disclosures about a sprawling network of secret detention facilities, or 'black sites,' that was dismantled by President Obama in 2009," the authors note.

While the Senate Intelligence Committee report was completed over a year ago, it remains secret despite President Obama's previous pledge to declassify the report and widespread calls for its release to the public. Yet, Washington Post sources were able to paint a chilling portrait of its contents, which includes evidence of:

  • Internal divisions and discomfort within the CIA about its secret interrogations program. In one case, CIA officials walked away from a secret prison in Thailand due to discomfort with interrogation techniques being used there. In some cases, "officials at CIA headquarters demanded the continued use of harsh interrogation techniques even after analysts were convinced that prisoners had no more information to give," notes the report.
  • New revelations of torture, including the torture of detainee Ali Abdul Aziz Ali at a black site near Kabul, where he was repeatedly dunked in ice water tanks. "CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said," according to the report. CIA interrogators continued the torture even after it was clear he was cooperating.
  • False claims from CIA officials that "enhanced interrogation techniques" save thousands of lives. Said one anonymous official who was briefed on the report, “The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives. Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee is slated to vote Thursday on whether to declassify the key findings and summary of the report. Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU in the Washington office, told Common Dreams that the report should be declassified and the CIA should not be given authority to redact information. "The only way we as a country can move beyond torture is to know what happened," he said.

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