Friday, 12 December 2014

US torture report both an object lesson and warning for every citizen living in Abbott's Australia *graphic descriptions*

Mr Abbott said that while his government "deplores the use of torture we accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen" [The Australian, 16 November 2013]

Because in Abbott’s Australia the secular state is being slowly destroyed, human rights are not respected, international law is no longer honoured, ‘enemies’ can be denied natural justice and subjected to coercive physically abusive interrogation techniques, journalists can be gaoled if they report on the full range of activities of the nation's security agencies, the courts can be overruled and barefaced lying is considered a political virtue, this U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program has become both an object lesson and a timely warning for every Australian.

Excerpts from the study's 525 page Executive Summary:

The Committee makes the following findings and conclusions:

#1: The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

The Committee finds, based on a review of CIA interrogation records, that the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.

For example, according to CIA records, seven of the 39 CIA detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques produced no intelligence while in CIA custody.* CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were usually subjected to the techniques immediately after being rendered to CIA custody. Other detainees provided significant accurate intelligence prior to, or without having been subjected to these techniques.

While being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence. Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.

At numerous times throughout the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, CIA personnel assessed that the most effective method for acquiring intelligence from detainees, including from detainees the CIA considered to be the most "high-value," was to confront the detainees with information already acquired by the Intelligence Community. CIA officers regularly called into question whether the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were effective, assessing that the use of the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.

#2: The CIA's justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

The CIA represented to the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of Justice, the CIA Office of Inspector General, the Congress, and the public that the best measure of effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was examples of specific terrorist plots "thwarted" and specific terrorists captured as a result of the use of the techniques. The CIA used these examples to claim that its enhanced interrogation techniques were not only effective, but also necessary to acquire "otherwise unavailable" actionable intelligence that "saved lives."

The Committee reviewed 20 of the most frequent and prominent examples of purported counterterrorism successes that the CIA has attributed to the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques, and found them to be wrong in fundamental respects. In some cases, there was no relationship between the cited counterterrorism success and any information provided by detainees during or after the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. In the remaining cases, the CIA inaccurately claimed that specific, otherwise unavailable information was acquired from a CIA detainee "as a result" of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, when in fact the information was either: (1) corroborative of information already available to the CIA or other elements of the U.S. Intelligence Community from sources other than the CIA detainee, and was therefore not "otherwise unavailable"; or (2) acquired from the CIA detainee prior to the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. The examples provided by the CIA included numerous factual inaccuracies.

In providing the "effectiveness" examples to policymakers, the Department of Justice, and others, the CIA consistently omitted the significant amount of relevant intelligence obtained from sources other than CIA detainees who had been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques—leaving the false impression the CIA was acquiring unique information from the use of the techniques.

Some of the plots that the CIA claimed to have "disrupted" as a result of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were assessed by intelligence and law enforcement officials as being infeasible or ideas that were never operationalized.

#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

Beginning with the CIA's first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the CIA applied its enhanced interrogation techniques with significant repetition for days or weeks at a time. Interrogation techniques such as slaps and "wallings" (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity. Records do not support CIA representations that the CIA initially used an "an open, non-threatening approach," or that interrogations began with the "least coercive technique possible" and escalated to more coercive techniques only as necessary.

The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah, for example, became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” Internal CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a "series of near drownings." 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.

Contrary to CIA representations to the Department of Justice, the CIA instructed personnel that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah would take "precedence" over his medical care, resulting in the deterioration of a bullet wound Abu Zubaydah incurred during his capture. In at least two other cases, the CIA used its enhanced interrogation techniques despite warnings from CIA medical personnel that the techniques could exacerbate physical injuries. CIA medical personnel treated at least one detainee for swelling in order to allow the continued use of standing sleep deprivation.

At least five CIA detainees were subjected to "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. The CIA placed detainees in ice water "baths." The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you." CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families—to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to "cut [a detainee's] mother's throat."

#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

Conditions at CIA detention sites were poor, and were especially bleak early in the program. CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a "dungeon." Another senior CIA officer stated that COBALT was itself an enhanced interrogation technique. At times, the detainees at COBALT were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. Other times, the detainees at COBALT were subjected to what was described as a "rough takedown," in which approximately five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.

Even after the conditions of confinement improved with the construction of new detention facilities, detainees were held in total isolation except when being interrogated or debriefed by CIA personnel.

Throughout the program, multiple CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and extended isolation exhibited psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation. Multiple psychologists identified the lack of human contact experienced by detainees as a cause of psychiatric problems.

#14: CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

Prior to mid-2004, the CIA routinely subjected detainees to nudity and dietary manipulation. The CIA also used abdominal slaps and cold water dousing on several detainees during that
period. None of these techniques had been approved by the Department of Justice.

At least 17 detainees were subjected to CIA enhanced interrogation techniques without authorization from CIA Headquarters. Additionally, multiple detainees were subjected to techniques that were applied in ways that diverged from the specific authorization, or were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques by interrogators who had not been authorized to use them. Although these incidents were recorded in CIA cables and, in at least some cases were identified at the time by supervisors at CIA Headquarters as being inappropriate, corrective action was rarely taken against the interrogators involved.

#15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA's claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

The CIA never conducted a comprehensive audit or developed a complete and accurate list of the individuals it had detained or subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques. CIA statements to the Committee and later to the public that the CIA detained fewer than 100 individuals, and that less than a third of those 100 detainees were subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, were inaccurate. The Committee's review of CIA records determined that the CIA detained at least 119 individuals, of whom at least 39 were subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.

Of the 119 known detainees, at least 26 were wrongfully held and did not meet the detention standard in the September 2001 Memorandum of Notification (MON). These included an "intellectually challenged" man whose CIA detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information, two individuals who were intelligence sources for foreign liaison services and were former CIA sources, and two individuals whom the CIA assessed to be connected to al-Qa'ida based solely on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined that they did not meet the MON standard. CIA records provide insufficient information to justify the detention of many other detainees.

CIA Headquarters instructed that at least four CIA detainees be placed in host country detention facilities because the individuals did not meet the MON standard for CIA detention. The host country had no independent reason to hold the detainees.

A full accounting of CIA detentions and interrogations may be impossible, as records in some cases are non-existent, and, in many other cases, are sparse and insufficient. There were almost no detailed records of the detentions and interrogations at the CIA's COBALT detention facility in 2002, and almost no such records for the CIA's GRAY detention site, also in Country

At CIA detention facilities outside of Country the CIA kept increasingly less-detailed records of its interrogation activities over the course of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

CIA officers and CIA contractors who were found to have violated CIA policies or performed poorly were rarely held accountable or removed from positions of responsibility. Significant events, to include the death and injury of CIA detainees, the detention of individuals who did not meet the legal standard to be held, the use of unauthorized interrogation techniques against CIA detainees, and the provision of inaccurate information on the CIA program did not result in appropriate, effective, or in many cases, any corrective actions. CIA managers who were aware of failings and shortcomings in the program but did not intervene, or who failed to provide proper leadership and management, were also not held to account.

On two occasions in which the CIA inspector general identified wrongdoing, accountability recommendations were overruled by senior CIA leadership. In one instance, involving the death of a CIA detainee at COBALT, CIA Headquarters decided not to take disciplinary action against an officer involved because, at the time, CIA Headquarters had been "motivated to extract any and all operational information" from the detainee  In another instance related to a wrongful detention, no action was taken against a CIA officer because, "[t]he Director strongly believes that mistakes should be expected in a business filled with uncertainty," and "the Director believes the scale tips decisively in favor of accepting mistakes that over connect the dots against those that under connect them."  In neither case was administrative action taken against CIA management personnel.

Excerpts from Executive Summary footnotes:

On November 2002, a U.S. military legal advisor visited DETENTION SITE COBALT and described as a "CIA detention facility, noting that "while CIA is the only user of the facility they contend it is a [Country REDACTED] facility.
The U.S. military officer also noted that the junior CIA officer designated as warden of the facility "has little to no experience with interrogating or handling prisoners." With respect to al-Najjar specifically, the legal advisor indicated that the CIA's interrogation plan included "isolation in total darkness; lowering the quality of his food; keeping him at an uncomfortable temperature (cold); [playing music] 24 hours a day; and keeping him shackled and hooded." In addition, al-Najjar was described as having been left hanging—which involved handcuffing one or both wrists to an overhead bar which would not allow him to lower his arms—for 22 hours each day for two consecutive days, in order to "'break' his resistance." It was also noted al-Najjar was wearing a diaper and had no access to toilet facilities……

According to CIA records, Abu Ja'far al-Iraqi was subjected to nudity, dietary manipulation, insult slaps, abdominal slaps, attention grasps, facial holds, walling, stress positions, and water dousing with 44 degree Fahrenheit water for 18 minutes. He was shackled in the standing position for 54 hours as part of sleep deprivation, and experienced swelling in his lower legs requiring blood thinner and spiral ace bandages. He was moved to a sitting position, and his sleep deprivation was extended to 78 hours. After the swelling subsided, he was provided with more blood thinner and was returned to the standing position. The sleep deprivation was extended to 102 hours. After four hours of sleep, Abu Ja'far al-Iraqi was subjected to an additional 52 hours of sleep deprivation, after which CIA Headquarters informed interrogators that eight hours was the minimum rest period between sleep deprivation sessions exceeding 48 hours. In addition to the swelling, Abu Ja'far al-Iraqi also experienced an edema on his head due to walling, abrasions on his neck, and blisters on his ankles from shackles……

See December 1, 2005, Memorandum for the National Security Advisor, Director of National Intelligence, from Porter Goss, Central Intelligence Agency, subject, "Counter interrogation Technique
PDB Draft titled: [REDACTED] December 2005, ALT
ID: 20051217 PDB on Abu Jafar al-Iraqi. Urging the change to the draft PDB, one of the interrogators involved in Abu Ja'far al-Iraqi's interrogation wrote, "If we allow the Director to give this PDB, as it is written, to the President, I would imagine the President would say, 'You asked me to risk my presidency on your interrogations, and now you give me this that implies the interrogations are not working. Why do we bother?' We think the tone of the PDB should be tweaked. Some of the conclusions, based on our experts' observations, should be amended. The glass is half full, not half empty, and is getting more full every day." See email from: [REDACTED].....

Full transcript of Executive Summary here.

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