The 525-page document has been released after a four-year investigation on the CIA’s interrogation and detention programmes after 9/11. This report, which is actually over 6700 long, was very much eagerly awaited by the civil society and human rights NGOs (see our post dated 14 November 2014 on the 53rd session of the UN Committee against torture).
The Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman Dianne Feinstein wrote in the foreword to the report: "(...) it is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured. I also believe that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman and degrading. I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible" (page 4).
The findings of the report are, inter alia:
- The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from the detainees;
- The interrogations/conditions of confinement of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others;
- The CIA impeded both Congress and White House oversight of its activities;
- Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the programme;
- The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Programme more than 6 months after being granted detention authorities;
- The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations.
The report provides dreadful details about the interrogation methods, which amount to torture. For example, we learn that rectal rehydration, rectal feeding, deprivation of sleep and threats to the families of detainees were amongst the methods used in secret CIA prisons where detainees were held incommunicado.
It is now time for accountability as stressed by Ben Emmerson, the United Nations rapporteur for counter-terrorism.