Senate Report Details CIA Torture and Lies, Parallels TCP Task Force Findings

On December 9, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a long-awaited executive summary of its report on the detention and treatment of suspected terrorists in CIA custody after 9/11.  The report shows that the brutal treatment of detainees held by the U.S. government was more gruesome and more pervasive than previously reported, and yielded no valuable intelligence.  In addition, the report shows that agency personnel repeatedly misled policymakers and the Congress about the level of violence inflicted on detainees and value of the information obtained.

Members of The Constitution Project Task Force on Detainee Treatment, who pushed for public release of the executive summary, responded to the findings of the Senate report:

“By engaging in torture and abuse the U.S. damaged its reputation at home and abroad and broke the trust of important allies.  Worse yet, these actions put our own armed forces personnel, intelligence professionals, diplomats and other Americans who might one day fall into hostile hands at heightened risk of being subjected to the same brutal practices.

“We hope that release of portions of the Committee’s report is a sign of additional transparency to come—in particular, a declassified version of the full report should follow soon.  What we know now demands immediate action.  It is a collective responsibility to ensure that the United States never again sanctions torture under any justification.”

Their full statement is available online.

The findings of the Senate report closely parallel – and complement – those contained in a Task Force report issued in April, 2013, which contained a series of unanimous conclusions and recommendations for reform, including a call for the release of the full Senate report, not only the executive summary.

The Senate report details the capture, detention, interrogation, and conditions of confinement of all known CIA detainees. The report is the product of three years of work, including a review of more than six million pages of classified materials from the agency’s files.  Intelligence Committee Chair Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) called the 6,300-page study “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate, and by far the most important oversight activity ever conducted by this committee.”

The Senate report was adopted on a bipartisan vote in December, 2012.  The committee voted to make the executive summary public, again with bipartisan support, in April.  The document released yesterday is heavily redacted at the insistence of the CIA and the Obama administration.

The Constitution Project Task Force on Detainee Treatment, an 11-member bipartisan blue-ribbon panel, spent two years examining the treatment of suspected terrorists under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.  The Task Force analysis was based on a thorough examination of available public records and interviews with more than one hundred people, including former detainees, military and intelligence officers, interrogators and policymakers.  In addition, Task Force staff and members conducted on-the-ground fact-finding in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom, and also at Guantanamo Bay.


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