More Details: Rectal rehydration and waterboarding: the CIA torture report’s grisliest findings

Parts of the CIA interrogation programme were known, but the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish, especially knowing much more will never be revealed     CIA’s brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report     Trevor Timm: America tortured more than ‘some folks’ – and covered it up

Parts of the CIA interrogation programme were known, but the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish, especially knowing much more will never be revealed
CIA’s brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report
Trevor Timm: America tortured more than ‘some folks’ – and covered it up

Detainees were forced to stand on broken limbs for hours, kept in complete darkness, deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, sometimes standing. Photograph: Bob Strong/Reuters

The full horror of the CIA interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in the long-awaited Senate report released on Tuesday.

While parts of the programme had been known – and much more will never be revealed – the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish and reads like something invented by the Marquis de Sade or Hieronymous Bosch.

Detainees were forced to stand on broken limbs for hours, kept in complete darkness, deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, sometimes standing, sometimes with their arms shackled above their heads.

Prisoners were subjected to “rectal feeding” without medical necessity. Rectal exams were conducted with “excessive force”. The report highlights one prisoner later diagnosed with anal fissures, chronic hemorrhoids and “symptomatic rectal prolapse”.

The report mentions mock executions, Russian roulette. US agents threatened to slit the throat of a detainee’s mother, sexually abuse another and threatened prisoners’ children. One prisoner died of hypothermia brought on in part by being forced to sit on a bare concrete floor without pants.

The dungeon

The CIA began the establishment of a specialised detention centre, codenamed DETENTION SITE COBALT, in April 2002. Although its location is not identified in the report it has been widely identified as being in Afghanistan. Conditions at the site were described in the report as poor “and were especially bleak early in the program”.

The CIA chief of interrogations described COBALT as “a dungeon”. There were 20 cells, with blacked-out windows. Detainees were “kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud music and only a bucket to use for human waste”. It was cold, something the report says likely contributed to the death of a detainee.

Prisoners were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. About five CIA officers would engage in what is described as a “rough takedown”. A detainee would be shouted at, have his clothes cut off, be secured with tape, hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.

A CIA photograph shows a waterboard at the site, surrounded by buckets and a bottle of an unknown pink solution and a watering can resting on the beams of the waterboard. The CIA failed to provide a detailed explanation of the items in the photograph.

Frozen to death – Gul Rahman

Gul Rahman died in the early hours of 20 November 2002, after being shackled to a cold concrete wall in a secret CIA prison.

Photograph AP

Gul Rahman

Photograph: AP

At COBALT, the CIA interrogated in 2002 Gul Rahman, described as a suspected Islamic extremist. He was subjected to “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower and rough treatment”.

CIA headquarters suggested “enhanced measures” might be needed to get him to comply. A CIA officer at COBALT ordered Rahman be “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor”.

He was only wearing a sweatshirt as a CIA officer has ordered his clothes to be removed earlier after judging him to be uncooperative during an interrogation.

The next day, guards found Rahman dead. An internal CIA review and autopsy assessed he likely died from hypothermia – “in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants”. An initial CIA review and cable sent to CIA headquarters after his death included a number of misstatements and omissions.
Shackled to the wall

The CIA in the first half of 2003 interrogated four detainees described as having “medical complications in their lower extremities”: two had a broken foot, one had a sprained ankle and one a prosthetic leg.

CIA officers shackled each of them in a standing position for sleep deprivation for extended periods until medical staff assessed they could no longer maintain that position.

“The two detainees that each had a broken foot were also subjected to walling, stress positions and cramped confinement, despite the note in their interrogation plans that these specific enhanced interrogation techniques were not requested because of the medical condition of the detainees,” the report says.
‘Rectal feeding’

CIA operatives subjected at least five detainees to what they called “rectal rehydration and feeding”.

One CIA cable released in the report reveals that detainee Majid Khan was administered by enema his “‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was ‘pureed and rectally infused’”. One CIA officer’s email was in the report quoted as saying “we used the largest Ewal [sic] tube we had”.

Rectal feeding is of limited application in actually keeping a person alive or administering nutrients, since the colon and rectum cannot absorb much besides salt, glucose and a few minerals and vitamins. The CIA administered rectal rehydration to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “without a determination of medical need” and justified “rectal fluid resuscitation” of Abu Zubaydah because he “partially refus[ed] liquids”. Al-Nashiri was given an enema after a brief hunger strike.

Risks of rectal feeding and rehydration include damage to the rectum and colon, triggering bowels to empty, food rotting inside the recipient’s digestive tract, and an inflamed or prolapsed rectum from carless insertion of the feeding tube. The report found that CIA leadership was notified that rectal exams may have been conducted with “Excessive force”, and that one of the detainees, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, suffered from an anal fissure, chronic hemorrhoids and symptomatic rectal prolapse.

The CIA’s chief of interrogations characterized rectal rehydration as a method of “total control” over detainees, and an unnamed person said the procedure helped to “clear a person’s head”.

Waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah and KSM

The report suggests Abu Zubaydah was a broken man after his extensive interrogations. In CIA documents he is described as having become so compliant that “when the interrogator raised his eyebrows” he would walk to the “water table” and sit down. The interrogator only had to snap his fingers twice for Abu Zabaydah to lie down, ready for water-boarding, the report says.

“At times Abu Zubaydah was described as ‘hysterical’ and ‘distressed to the level that he was unable effectively to communicate’. Waterboarding sessions ‘resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms’ and ‘hysterical pleas’. In at least one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah ‘became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth’ … Abu Zubaydah remained unresponsive until medical intervention, when he regained consciousness and ‘expelled copious amounts of liquid’.”

The CIA doctor overseeing the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that the prisoner was ingesting so much water that he or she was no longer concerned that regurgitated gastric acid was likely to damage his oesophagus. But, the doctor warned, the CIA should start using saline, because his electrolytes were becoming too diluted.

The forgotten man chained to a wall

One CIA interrogator at COBALT reported that “‘literally, a detainee could go for days or weeks without anyone looking at him’, and that his team found one detainee who ‘as far as we could determine’, had been chained to a wall in a standing position for 17 days’.’ Some prisoners were said to be like dogs in kennels: “When the doors to their cells were pened, ‘they cowered.’”

In April 2006, during a CIA briefing, President George W Bush, expressed discomfort at the “image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself”. This man is thought to be Ridha al-Najjar, who was forced to spend 22 hours each day with one or both wrists chained to an overhead bar, for two consecutive days, while wearing a diaper. His incarceration was concealed from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. At least five detainees experienced disturbing hallucinations during prolonged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation.” One of the prisoners forced to say awake for seven-and-a-half days was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Most of this time he was forced to stand. The report says that former CIS director Michael Hayden was aware that Mohammed had been deprived of sleep for this period.

 At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defence – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on the programme’s specifics until September 2003 Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defence – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on the programme’s specifics until September 2003 Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CIA lied to officials

The White House, National Security Council (NSC) and others were given “extensive amounts of inaccurate and incomplete information” related to the operation and effectiveness of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme. No CIA officer briefed the president on the specific CIA enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006. The CIA did not inform two secretaries of state of the locations of CIA detention facilities, despite the foreign policy implications and the fact that the political leaders of host countries were generally informed of their existence. FBI director Robert Mueller was denied access to CIA detainees that the FBI believed was necessary to understand domestic threats.
The White House kept key members of its team in the dark

At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defence – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on the programme’s specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that the White House was “extremely concerned” that secretary of state Colin Powell “would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”
Wrongfully detained

Among its findings, the report says that: “The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet its own legal standard for detention.”

The CIA acknowledged to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in February 2006 that it had wrongly detained five individuals throughout the course of its detention programme. The report’s review of CIA records indicates that at least 21 additional individuals, or a total of 26 of the 119 (22%), of detainees identified did not meet the CIA’s standard for detention.

The report calls the number “a conservative calculation” and notes it does not include “individuals about whom there was internal disagreement within the CIA over whether the detainee met the standard or not, or the numerous detainees who, following their detention and interrogation, were found not to ‘pose a continuing threat of violence or death to US persons and interests’ or to be ‘planning terrorist activities’.

With one exception, the reports says there are no CIA records that indicate that anyone was held accountable for “the detention of individuals the CIA itself determined were wrongfully detained.”
CIA misled the press

The CIA gave inaccurate information to journalists in background briefings to mislead the public about the efficacy of its interrogation programme, the report reveals.

“In seeking to shape press reporting … CIA officers and the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) provided unattributed background information on the program to journalists for books, articles and broadcasts, including when the existence of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was still classified,” the report said.

It also added that when this still-classified information was published, the CIA did not, as a matter of policy, submit crime reports – highlighting a gulf between officially sanctioned leaks and non-sanctioned whistleblowing, the latter of which is often heavily prosecuted.

The report refers to Ronald Kessler’s book The CIA At War. An unidentified party at the CIA – the name and office is redacted – decided not to open an investigation into the publication of classified information by Kiessler “because ‘OPA provided assistance with the book.’”

An article by Douglas Jehl in the New York Times also contained “significant classified information,” which was also not investigated because it was based on information provided by the CIA.

Both the book and the article, the report continues, contained inaccurate information about the effectiveness of CIA interrogation programs, and untrue accounts of interrogations.

Many of the inaccuracies the CIA fed to journalists, the report says, were consistent with inaccurate information being provided by the agency to policymakers at the time.

This article was amended on 10 December 2014. Colin Powell was secretary of state in the Bush administration, not defence secretary as an earlier version said.

The Most Gruesome Moments in the CIA ‘Torture Report’

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

By Shane Harris – 12.9.14

The CIA’s rendition, interrogation, and detention programs were even more nightmarish than you could imagine.
Interrogations that lasted for days on end. Detainees forced to stand on broken legs, or go 180 hours in a row without sleep. A prison so cold, one suspect essentially froze to death. The Senate Intelligence Committee is finally releasing its review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs. And it is brutal.Here are some of the most gruesome moments of detainee abuse from a summary of the report, obtained by The Daily Beast:Well Worn WaterboardsThe CIA has previously said that only three detainees were ever waterboarded: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd Al Rahim al-Nashiri. But records uncovered by the Senate Intelligence Committee suggest there may have been more than three subjects. The Senate report describes a photograph of a “well worn” waterboard, surrounded by buckets of water, at a detention site where the CIA has claimed it never subjected a detainee to this procedure. In a meeting with the CIA in 2013, the agency was not able to explain the presence of this waterboard.

Near Drowning

Contrary to CIA’s description to the Department of Justice, the Senate report says that the waterboarding was physically harmful, leading to convulsions and vomiting. During one session, detainee Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded at least 183 times, which the Senate report describes as escalating into a “series of near drownings.”

The Dungeon-Like Salt Pit 

Opened in Sept. 2002, this “poorly managed” detention facility was the second site opened by the CIA after the 9/11 attacks. The Senate report refers to it by the pseudonym Cobalt, but details of what happened there indicate that it’s a notorious “black site” in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit. Although the facility kept few formal records, the committee concluded that untrained CIA operatives conducted unauthorized, unsupervised interrogation there.

A Senate aide who briefed reporters on the condition that he not be identified said that the Cobalt site was run by a junior officer with no relevant experience, and that this person had “issues” in his background that should have disqualified him from working for the CIA at all. The aide didn’t specify what those issues were, but suggested that the CIA should have flagged them. The committee found that some employees at the site lacked proper training and had “histories of violence and mistreatment of others.”

Standing on Broken Legs

In November 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to the floor died, apparently from hypothermia. This case appears similar to the that of Gul Rahman, who died of similarly explained causes at an Afghan site known as the “Salt Pit,” also in November 2002. The site was also called “The Dark Prison” by former captives.

The aide said that the Cobalt site was was dark, like a dungeon, and that experts who visited the site said they’d never seen an American prison where people were kept in such conditions. The facility was so dark in some places that guard had to wear head lamps, while other rooms were flooded with bright lights and white noise to disorient detainees.

At the Cobalt facility, the CIA also forced some detainees who had broken feet or legs to stand in stress-inducing positions, despite having earlier pledged that they wouldn’t subject those wounded individuals to treatment that might exacerbate their injuries.

Non-stop Interrogation

Starting with Abu Zubaydah, and following with other detainees, the CIA deployed the harshest techniques from the beginning without trying to first elicit information in an “open, non-threatening manner,” the committee found. The torture continued nearly non-stop, for days or weeks at a time.

The CIA instructed personnel at the site that the interrogation of Zubaydah, who’d been shot during his capture, should take “precedence over his medical care,” the committee found, leading to an infection in a bullet wound incurred during his capture. Zubaydah lost his left eye while in custody. The CIA’s instructions also ran contrary to how it told the Justice Department the prisoner would be treated.

Forced Rectal Feeding and Worse

The CIA forced some detainees who had broken feet or legs to stand in stress-inducing positions, despite having earlier pledged that they wouldn’t subject those wounded individuals to treatment that might exacerbate their injuries.

At least five detainees were subjected to “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration,” without any documented medical need. “While IV infusion is safe and effective,” one officer wrote, rectal hydration could be used as a form of behavior control.

Others were deprived of sleep, which could involve staying awake for as long as 180 hours—sometimes standing, sometimes with their hands shackled above their heads.

Some detainees were forced to walk around naked, or shackled with their hands above their heads. In other instances, naked detainees were hooded and dragged up and down corridors while subject to physical abuse.

At one facility, detainees were kept in total darkness and shackled in cells with loud noise or music, and only a bucket to use for waste.

Lost Detainees

While the CIA has said publicly that it held about 100 detainees, the committee found that at least 119 people were in the agency’s custody.

“The fact is they lost track and they didn’t really know who they were holding,” the Senate aide said, noting that investigators found emails in which CIA personnel were “surprised” to find some people in their custody. The CIA also determined that at least 26 of its detainees were wrongfully held. Due to the agency’s poor record-keeping, it may never be known precisely how many detainees were held, and how they were treated in custody, the committee found.

No Blockbuster Intelligence

The report will conclude that the CIA’s interrogation techniques never yielded any intelligence about imminent terrorist attacks. Investigators didn’t conclude that no information came from the program at all. Rather, the committee rejects the CIA’s contention that information came from the program that couldn’t have been obtained through other means.

“When you put detainees through these [torture sessions] they will say whatever they can say to get the interrogations to stop,” the Senate aide said.

The Senate Intelligence Committee reviewed 20 cited examples of intelligence “successes” that the CIA identified from the interrogation program and found that there was no relationship between a cited counterterrorism success and the techniques used. Furthermore, the information gleaned during torture sessions merely corroborated information already available to the intelligence community from other sources, including reports, communications intercepts, and information from law-enforcement agencies, the committee found. The CIA had told policymakers and the Department of Justice that the information from torture was unique or “otherwise unavailable.” Such information comes from the “kind of good national-security tradecraft that we rely on to stop terrorist plots at all times,” the Senate aide said.

In developing the enhanced interrogation techniques, the report said, the CIA failed to review the historical use of coercive interrogations. The resulting techniques were described as “discredited coercive interrogation techniques such as those used by torturous regimes during the Cold War to elicit false confessions,” according to the committee. The CIA acknowledged that it never properly reviewed the effectiveness of these techniques, despite the urging of the CIA inspector general, congressional leadership, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Contractors and Shrinks

The CIA relied on two outside contractors who were psychologists with experience at the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school to help develop, run, and assess the interrogation program. Neither had experience as an interrogator, nor any specialized knowledge of al Qaeda, counterterrorism, or relevant linguistic expertise, the committee found. In 2005, these two psychologists formed a company, and following this the CIA outsourced virtually all aspects of the interrogation program to them. The company was paid more than $80 million by the CIA.

Lies to the President

An internal report by the CIA, known as the Panetta Review, found that there were numerous inaccuracies in the way the agency represented the effectiveness of interrogation techniques—and that the CIA misled the president about this. The CIA’s records also contradict the evidence the agency provided of some “thwarted” terrorist attacks and the capture of suspects, which the CIA linked to the use of these enhanced techniques. The Senate’s report also concludes that there were cases in which White House questions were not answered truthfully or completely.

Cover-Ups

In the early days of the program, CIA officials briefed the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee. Few records of that session remain, but Senate investigators found a draft summary of the meeting, written by a CIA lawyers, that notes lawmakers “questioned the legality of these techniques.” But the lawyer deleted that line from the final version of the summary. The Senate investigators found that Jose Rodriguez, once the CIA’s top spy and a fierce defender of the interrogation program, made a note on the draft approving of the deletion: “Short and sweet,” Rodriguez wrote of the newly revised summary that failed to mention lawmakers’ concerns about the legality of the program.

Threats to Mothers

CIA officers threatened to harm detainees’ children, sexually abuse their mothers, and “cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat.” In addition, several detainees were led to believe they would die in custody, with one told he would leave in a coffin-shaped box.

Detainees wouldn’t see their day in court because “we can never let the world know what I have done to you,” one interrogator said.

Sexual Assault by Interrogators 

Officers in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program included individuals who the committee said, “among other things, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.”

[ And the worst has yet to be revealed ]

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers music used to torture prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers music used to torture prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

US officials speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera confirmed details techniques used by the CIA during the George Bush administration following the declassification process for the report on its own “enhanced interrogation” procedures used after September 11. Among the techniques used to torture those suspected of being terrorists was exposure to the Californian band on repeat.

One specific segment of the Senate Intelligence Committee report states that a suspect, named as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn Abu Zubaydah, was subjected to the technique at a black site prison out of Guantánamo Bay between May and July in 2002.

The report also reveals the fact that Abu Zubaydah was stuffed into a pet crate and was shackled by his wrists to the ceiling of his cell as well as being subjected to an endless loop of loud music.

Earlier this year, industrial band Skinny Puppy revealed that they invoiced the US government after finding out that their music had allegedly been used as a ‘torture device’ at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.