Senate report: Harsh CIA tactics didn't work
WASHINGTON - Senate investigators have delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits.
The torture report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA deceived the nation with its insistence that the harsh interrogation tactics had saved lives. It says those claims are unsubstantiated by the CIA's own records. It also found that the CIA inflicted worse treatment on prisoners than it told Congress or the public -- including weeks of sleep deprivation, confinement to small boxes, and the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding.
The report also detailed troubling circumstances and failings by the CIA to ensure it was interrogating the correct targets and receiving good information. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation found at one point that the CIA mistakenly interrogated two of its own informants at one point in 2004, shackling them to a wall and depriving them of sleep for 24 hours before finding out who they were.
The report also cites evidence showing the "enhanced interrogation" program did not produce the crucial evidence used to locate a courier for Osama bin Laden who later led them to the terrorist leader. That evidence was actually gathered by other sources including wiretaps and interrogations conducted by other countries, according to the report. Additional information was later gathered by the CIA, without the use of the interrogation program.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the panel's report is a troubling record of a stain on America's history. The California Democrat also said releasing the report was an important step in restoring American values.
President Barack Obama said he hopes the report's release helps leave the harsh torture techniques "where they belong - in the past." The president said in a written statement that the report reinforces his view that harsh interrogations techniques "were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests."
The 500-page report represents the executive summary and conclusions from a still-classified 6,700-page full investigation. The CIA claimed the summary only told "part of the story," and that "there are too many flaws for it to stand as the official record of the program."
Former CIA chief George Tenet defends the interrogation program, saying it saved "thousands of American lives" by taking al-Qaida leaders "off the battlefield." But the report says those claims aren't backed up.
U.S. embassies in Afghanistan and Thailand warned of the potential for anti-American protests and violence in the aftermath of the report's release. In identical notices to Americans in the two countries, the embassies said the release of the report "could prompt anti-U.S. protests and violence against U.S. interests, including private U.S. citizens."
Afghanistan and Thailand were host to two of the secret facilities where prisoners were interrogated with methods the report calls torture.