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Miller reports: "After a contentious closed-door vote, the Senate intelligence committee approved a long-awaited report Thursday concluding that harsh interrogation measures used by the CIA did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs, officials said."

Photo of dog use at Abu Ghraib. (photo: Salon)
Photo of dog use at Abu Ghraib. (photo: Salon)

Senate Report Finds CIA Torture Ineffective

By Greg Miller, The Washington Post

14 December 12


fter a contentious closed-door vote, the Senate intelligence committee approved a long-awaited report Thursday concluding that harsh interrogation measures used by the CIA did not produce significant intelligence breakthroughs, officials said.

The 6,000-page document, which was not released to the public, was adopted by Democrats over the objections of most of the committee's Republicans. The outcome reflects the level of partisan friction that continues to surround the CIA's use of waterboarding and other severe interrogation techniques four years after they were banned.

The report is the most detailed independent examination to date of the agency's efforts to "break" dozens of detainees through physical and psychological duress, a period of CIA history that has become a source of renewed controversy because of torture scenes in a forthcoming Hollywood film, "Zero Dark Thirty."

Officials familiar with the report said it makes a detailed case that subjecting prisoners to "enhanced" interrogation techniques did not help the CIA find Osama bin Laden and often were counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda.

The committee chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), declined to discuss specific findings but released a written statement describing decisions to allow the CIA to build a network of secret prisons and employ harsh interrogation measures as "terrible mistakes."

"I also believe this report will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques," Feinstein said.

That conclusion has been disputed by high-ranking officials from the George W. Bush administration, including former vice president Richard B. Cheney and former CIA director Michael V. Hayden. Both of them argued that the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other measures provided critical clues that helped track down bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in May 2011.

Largely because of those political battle lines, Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee refused to participate in the panel's three-year investigation of the CIA interrogation program, and most opposed Thursday's decision.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, 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 CIA's detention program." He also noted that the review was done "without interviewing any of the people involved."

The 9 to 6 vote indicates that at least one Republican backed the report, although committee officials declined to provide a breakdown.

Other GOP lawmakers voiced support for the report's conclusions. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, issued a statement saying 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."

It could be months, if not years, before the public gets even a partial glimpse of the report or its 20 findings and conclusions. Feinstein said the committee will turn the voluminous document over to the Obama administration and the CIA to provide a chance for them to comment.

When that is completed, the committee will need to vote again on whether to release even a portion of the report, a move likely to face opposition from the CIA, which has fought to keep details of the interrogation program classified.

Even if it were released, the report would probably have little impact beyond providing new ammunition for a largely dormant interrogation debate.

The agency abandoned its harshest interrogation methods years before President Obama was elected, and the Justice Department began backing away from memos it had issued that had served as the legal basis for the program.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department closed investigations of alleged abuses, eliminating the prospect that CIA operatives who had gone beyond the approved methods would face criminal charges.

Civil liberties groups praised the report. your social media marketing partner


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+7 # Tje_Chiwara 2012-12-14 10:52
Ah, but isn't torture kinda like gift-giving . . . it's really done for the benefit and gratification of the giver rather than the recipient, how it changes and pleases the torturer in ways actual effective interrogation can never achieve.
+6 # sibbaldflats 2012-12-14 11:40
So many Republicans - mainstream politicians - vehemently endorse the crimes of torture, partly because they think that's what sells with the public. And this report won't be released publicly for decades, though these crimes were carried out in the public's name and with their money. America's fallen very, very far and its democracy and moral standing's such a hideous joke, the truth has to be hidden.
+5 # Working Class 2012-12-14 12:14
Naturally the R's don't agree. The real shame is the war criminals will never be tried, let alone jailed. When some of these same techniques were used in WWII we tried and executed officers who participated and allowed torture.
0 # Mannstein 2012-12-15 19:15
The Allies used these techniques during and immediately after WWII while at the same time they were trying Germans for similar offences. Bad Nenndorf was a British torture facility which was set up and operated after the war.
+5 # DaveM 2012-12-14 12:22
Torture, sadly, has a very long history. And with that history has come conclusive evidence that it accomplishes nothing "constructive". The person being tortured will eventually confess to practically anything just to get the inhumane treatment to stop.

I agree with the poster above. The purpose of torture is to provide gratification for the torturer. That the United States officially sanctions it is a stain on the face of the entire nation. If we are to claim the moral high ground, we must behave accordingly.
+2 # TrueAmericanPatriot 2012-12-14 12:40
So true, sibbaldflats, so true. Let's do it like this. If Billo, Vannity, Oxyconman, Darth Cheney, or any of these other subterranean serpents come out over the airwaves denying this confirmed report, let's make EACH OF THEM allow JESSE VENTURA to waterboard them on live national television; 3 MINUTES EACH!!! I know; it will probably never happen, but those would be MY TERMS. Cheney would confess that he's Luke Skywalker's real father during his waterboarding.
-1 # 2012-12-14 21:40
Oh how correct you can catch more flies with honey than a sledg hammer. Communists as people parties do have better psyche interogative methods than Republican Yanke capitalist bullyboys waterboards and nail pullers. Just see the way Vietnam sent McCain and Kerry back hiome sympathetic to their cause to know that alternative washing modus operandi.
0 # 2012-12-15 00:34
Thanks for the vote -1 just shows as I well recognise RSN followers don't like being told the Yankee truths.
0 # Mannstein 2012-12-15 19:19
Take my word the Hanoi Hilton had plenty of sadists. I was there and didn't get sent home early.
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-12-14 22:25
So why didn’t they stop using it? cf. Bradley Manning.
+1 # jmac9 2012-12-15 12:46
Taxpayer pay for the existence of government.
NO government activity should be "closed to the public" - the public pays the bills, we, the people, should know what that government is doing - all the time.

The CIA doesn't want the findings public because again it would show the CIA to be a bunch of criminals - torturers - who thanks to Obama administration have been set free from any prosecution - as have the chief criminals - Bush -Cheney - Rumsfeld - Rice.

You don't run a business by throwing your money into the business and then allow to be told by the business that you can't see what's going on with the business that you're funding.
+1 # labman57 2012-12-16 02:29
Those who are formally trained in interrogation techniques consistently agree that the so-called "enhanced" methods that were commonly employed by the CIA were totally inappropriate and tactically inane.

These techniques are commonly used by foreign extremist groups and dictatorial regimes that are trying to get prisoners to confess to crimes that the interrogators know were not committed, i.e., they are not interested in obtaining information, their goal is the confession itself.

In other words, water-boarding is an excellent interrogation technique if your goal is:
a) a false confession
b) retribution
But if your primary objective to obtain useful intelligence, it's going to be counterproducti ve.

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