By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
A United States Senate report on the use of torture to extract intelligence from terrorism detainees accuses the Central Intelligence Agency of severely overstating the usefulness of the information gained. Details of the long-awaited report, produced after a four-year investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have been leaked to The Washington Post. The paper reportsthat the probe is a damning indictment on the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program, implemented during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The report contains over 20 different conclusions. But the most critical are that the CIA misled the government and the American public by: (a) understating the severity of the interrogation methods used; and (b) overstating the actionable intelligence extracted through torture. The Post cites unnamed “US officials” who have reviewed the Senate report as stating that the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program “yielded little, if any, significant intelligence”. According to one source, in some cases the Agency proceeded to waterboard terrorism detainees after recognizing that all actionable intelligence had already been extracted from them.
In one instance, says the paper, nearly all valuable intelligence gained from al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida was extracted by CIA interrogators before he was subjected to waterboarding nearly 100 times. Notably, the Senate report also highlights deep divisions within the CIA, as many units protested the practices employed under the Agency’s interrogation program. But The Post also quotes “current and former officials” who are critical of the Senate report for containing “factual errors” and “misguided conclusions”.
One CIA veteran told the paper that the 6,300-page document reflected “Federal Bureau of Investigation biases”, and that CIA officials are critical of the fact that one of the report’s main authors is a former FBI analyst.
The FBI is thought to have objected to the CIA’s interrogation methods during the Bush administration. IntelNewsregulars will recall that, in March, the CIA entered a public spat with the Senate Intelligence Committee, as the two bodies accused each other of engaging in criminal conduct in the course of the probe. The CIA told The Washington Post that it would not officially comment on the Senate’s report until its final version is officially published. But Committee staffers told the paper that “it could be months” before the report is released to the public.