17 Disgraceful Facts Buried in the Torture Report

17 Disgraceful Facts Buried in the Torture Report December 10, 2014

The hits just keep on coming:

1. Torture did not lead the CIA to the courier who ultimately helped capture Osama bin Laden.

“The most accurate information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti — facilitator whose identification and tracking led to the identification of UBL’s compound and the operation that resulted in UBL’s death — “obtained from a CIA detainee was provided by a CIA detainee who had not yet been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques; and CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques withheld and fabricated information about Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti.” [Page 379]

2. CIA personnel objected to torture techniques, but were “instructed” by the CIA headquarters to continue.

“The non-stop use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was disturbing to CIA personnel at DETENTION SITE GREEN. These CIA personnel objected to the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques against Abu Zubaydah, but were instructed by CIA Headquarters to continue using the techniques…”Several on the team profoundly affected.. .some to the point of tears and choking up. [Page 473]

3. The two psychologists who helped the CIA create the torture techniques earned over $81 million.

“In 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009. In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.” [Page 11]

4. Colin Powell was not briefed on CIA interrogation methods because he would “blow his stack”.

“At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on program specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that “… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.” Deputy Secretary of State Armitage complained that he and Secretary Powell were “cut out” of the National Security Council coordination process.” [Page 7]

5. The CIA used rectal feeding on detainees.

“At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. …Majid Khan’s “lunch tray” consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was “pureed” and rectally infused. [Page 4]

6. CIA leadership refused to punish an officer who killed a detainee during torture session.

“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… 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.” [Page 14]

7. The CIA tortured innocent people.

“Of the 119 known detainees that were in CIA custody during the life of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held. Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined they should not have been detained….Other KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] fabrications led the CIA to capture and detain suspected terrorists who were later found to be innocent.” [Page 485]

8. The CIA held an “intellectually challenged man” to use as leverage against his family.

“[A]n “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.” [Page 12]

9. The CIA intentionally mislead the media to “shape public opinion.”

“The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism, shape public opinion, and avoid potential congressional action to restrict the CIA’s detention and interrogation authorities and budget.” [Page 8]

10. CIA officers threatened to kill and rape detainees’ mothers.

“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.” [Page 4]

11. The CIA dismissed information that wasn’t obtained through torture, even though it proved to be true.

“KSM’s reporting during his first day in CIA custody included an accurate description of a Pakistani/British operative, which was dismissed as having been provided during the initial “‘throwaway’ stage” of information collection when the CIA believed detainees provided false or worthless information.’” [Page 82]

12. CIA torture techniques included mock burials and use of insects.

“(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.” [Page 32]

13. Some interrogators had previously admitted to sexual assault.

“The Committee reviewed CIA records related to several CIA officers and contractors involved in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, most of whom conducted interrogations. The Committee identified a number of personnel whose backgrounds include notable derogatory information calling into question their eligibility for employment, their access to classified information, and their participation in CIA interrogation activities. In nearly all cases, the derogatory information was known to the CIA prior to the assignment of the CIA officers to the Detention and Interrogation Program. This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.” [Page 59]

14. One interrogator played Russian roulette.

“Among other abuses…had engaged in ‘Russian Roulette’ with a detainee.” [Page 424]

15. The CIA tortured its own informants by accident.

“In the spring of 2004, after two detainees were transferred to CIA custody, CIA interrogators proposed, and CIA Headquarters approved, using the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques on one of the two detainees because it might cause the detainee to provide information that could identify inconsistencies in the other detainee’s story. After both detainees had spent approximately 24 hours shackled in the standing sleep deprivation position, CIA Headquarters confirmed that the detainees were former CIA sources. The two detainees had tried to contact the CIA on multiple occasions prior to their detention to inform the CIA of their activities and provide intelligence. [Page 133]

16. The CIA tortured detainees in a dungeon.

“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 seniorCIA officer stated that COBALT was itself an enhanced interrogation technique.” [Page 4]

17. The CIA spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the torture program.

“CIA records indicate that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs. This included funding for the CIA to construct and maintain detention facilities, including two facilities costing nearly $X million that were never used, in part due to host country political concerns. To encourage governments to clandestinely host CIA detention sites, or to increase support for existing sites, the CIA provided millions of dollars in cash payments to foreign government officials.” [Page 16]

So:  not only evil, but stupid, futile, and wasteful.  The only response to this filth is prayer, fasting, penance, and, for those who spent long years defending it, repentance, confession and absolution.

The response of Dick Cheney: Absolute impenitence, bald-faced lies, and doubling down.  The only people arguing that “it worked” are the filthy liars who ordered it and are now covering their asses. (Laborious reiteration:  even if it had “worked” it would still be a mortal sin.)

The response of FOX news to this filth?  WE ARE AWESOME!

Imagine attempting *that* as you go into the confessional.

Catholics have two very clear choices now: Reject this filth or stand with people whose approach to the confessional is to shout “WE ARE AWESOME!”

Apropos of which, I support the petition to rescind the Franciscan’s Honorary Doctorate to CIA former director Michael Hayden (who oversaw this chamber of horrors), for exactly the same reason that I supported the push to rescind Notre Dame’s honorary degree to Obama.  Catholic Institutions should not reward gross mortal sin.

Oh, and another thing:  one of the little favors the CIA has done for those who have opposed torture from the start is describe what they were doing as “torture”–thereby removing forever one of the central tools of the torture apologist, the fake “confusion” about what O what *is* torture anyway?  When the torturer calls it torture, it’s torture.

“Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!” – Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous

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  • Andy, Bad Person

    Is #13 remotely surprising, given that #5 is even deceptively named “rectal feeding” when it should be more accurately called “anal rape”?

    • TheRealAaron

      I’m not a doctor, but I can’t imagine how “rectal feeding” would work to provide nutrition. Is that something that is ever done in a real medical environment?

      • Ken

        Apparently it was done in WWI and was even attempted when President Garfield was recovering from his wounds. It doesn’t work. There was a brief description of it in the Washington Post. Unfortunately, I read it during breakfast.

    • IRVCath

      In fact, by even the most liberal of readings of Scripture, we can accurately call it “the sin of Sodom.” In California, this very act would be called by the law “the crime against nature,” incidentally, the only part of the old sodomy statute remaining on the books.

      Our government has stooped so far down morally, R and D alike, that they sanction things that even the most hardened criminal in Centinela typically blanches with horror at the very mention of such acts.

  • Ken

    I think we’re “awesome” when we can admit our sins and try to do better. The FOX playbook of dragging out things that democrats did in comparison to their own mistakes is so juvenile that it’s surreal to watch adults make that argument. It’s the same excuse my kids make when I catch them doing something wrong and my kids are 7 and 9. It’s really disappointing that we’re not “awesome” anymore. Were we “awesome” when we were sticking things up the people’s rectums?

    • petey

      “The FOX playbook of dragging out things that democrats did in
      comparison to their own mistakes is so juvenile that it’s surreal to
      watch adults make that argument.”

      this episode (including these comboxes) will provide a compendious collection of rhetorical flimflammery. here we see two errors, ‘tu quoque’ and category confusion. but we shouldn’t make this a Fox v. democrats thing. there were lots of mules supporting this business, and some elephants opposed it including napolitano of Fox (and kudos to walter jones btw for coming right around).

      the moral perversion of children is the worst of the crimes of the bush-obama years. i teach in a middle school, i heard sixth graders say that it was morally justified to kill iraqi and afghan children because “they’re going to grow up to be terrorists anyway.”

      • Ken

        You’re right that I shouldn’t lump everyone together it’s just frustrating to see people aggressively defend this. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Andy

    This morning while praying the Liturgy of the Hours – I wondered about the men who performed these acts – how do/did they feel, what is left or not left of their self awareness and feelings of life. What sorts of lies were they told? We rightfully focus on those who were tortured – but what of those who did these acts? I pray for them as well.

    • Rob B.

      This is an excellent idea. I will include them in my devotions as well.

    • Ken

      In the report some of the agents were having a hard time performing the acts and were having reservations about their actions. Good idea to pray for them.

      • Andy

        I hate to say I am glad they are/were uncomfortable – but still the continued – how?

        • Rob B.

          I wonder what they might have been threatened with…

          • Andy

            I wonder was it threats, was it “brainwashing” on the part of the people in charge, or was it fear that if not me – who? I cannot conceive of doing what they did, but who knows what levers might have been used. THat is even more frightening when I think about it.

            • Rob B.

              A harrowing thought, indeed…

        • Marthe Lépine

          Could be “Just following orders” too, particularly since many were convinced that the “war on terror” was ok.

          • Andy

            Ah yes the defense used at Nuremberg trials – rejected then -should be rejected now.

    • petey

      “I wondered about the men who performed these acts – how do/did they
      feel, what is left or not left of their self awareness and feelings of

      many of them will sleep perfectly well at night. and that’s what we’re up against. not that they did these things, which is horrifying enough, but that they believe in the rightness of it, and in general boykin’s case because our God is stronger.

      so how do we cure that – the idea that god’s imperative gives warrant for the degradation of other humans?

      • Andy

        I have no idea – that level of an ability to depersonalize others is beyond me – that is where prayer comes in.

  • Dan13

    Reading this did not inspire any confidence that things will change:


    “Republicans aren’t the only ones who have benefited from the reduced toxicity of the torture issue. In 2008, John Brennan withdrew his name from consideration as CIA chief because of his association with the Bush-era interrogation techniques at issue in the report. He is now director of the CIA, and a senior White House official repeated on Tuesday that the president has “complete confidence in Director Brennan.”

    Despite the revelations, White House officials said no one associated with the program would be punished, “The policies were authorized as legal, and people acted with that understanding,” said an administration official. The Justice Department has declined to prosecute.”

  • Rolynla

    Those filthy, despicable terrorists deserved everything that got and then some!! I’m sure the families of all who died on 9/11 and the families of those that were beheaded would agree!

    • Rob B.

      Ahhh, the classic “They did it first” defense, beloved of seven year olds everywhere…

      Here’s a newsflash: evil is evil no matter who does it…

      • rolynla17

        Eye for an eye, baby!

        • Rob B.

          See #7 above. This isn’t justice, not even close…

        • chezami

          38 ¶“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 ¶ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.(Mt 5:38–42).

          Since rolynla is actually defending anal rape and Christ makes clear that what we do to the prisoner we do to him, he is in fact literally saying “FU” to Jesus in this passage. It has the virtue of clarity, at least. None of that mealy mouthed euphemizing about “enhanced interrogation” for him.

          And the most hilarious thing? Puritan Catholics who will be more upset that I said “FU” than that a Catholic is cheering for anal rape of prisoners.

          • Rob B.

            You go, Mr. Shea! 🙂

    • chezami

      Thanks for making clear this in not about intel, but about punishment. And that you don’t care if some of the victims were not terrorists and were actually on our side. Mindless bloodlust for Jesus is the message of an an awful lot of “prolife Catholics”.

      • Eric

        Well, obviously this is about punishment. It always has been. Punishent is what God’s all about in the view of most Americans. We either declare humans unworthy of life or declare they’re not human. Nothing new under the sun to be seen here. The important thing is to avoid despair and hatred. Unfortunately, I’m almost always depressed and looking to blame some group so my hatred is “justified”. Ahhhh, nothing new under the sun. I hope the majority of you do better than I do.

    • Balin

      Hey Rolynla baby, you’re sure about that, are you? How sure? Have we ever met? Can you remind me when I gave you permission to speak for me and my family? Please stop.

    • Ken

      “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

      Carrie Fisher

    • Cecelia O’brien

      become the monster to slay the monster??

    • Elaine S.

      I’ve been commenting over at a conservative forum for some time now and while I like a lot of what the commenters say on other issues, I have to say I’ve been appalled at their overall reaction to this report … which is generally along the lines of “none of this was “really” torture, and even if it was, we didn’t force them to choose between being burned alive and jumping 100 stories to their deaths so they got off too easy.” A couple of people have actually argued that we do have to “stoop to their level” in order to defeat them, and anyone who disagrees is immediately slammed as a liberal troll.

      All that said, I do think the timing of the report was highly questionable, and it was written in a manner designed to make the CIA look as bad as possible. I also can’t help but wonder if it isn’t being proferred as a ready-made excuse for blaming the next terrorist attack on the revelations contained (and, therefore, on Bush) and deflecting blame from this Administration and its own policy failures.

      Yes, the terrorists “deserved everything they got and then some,” but we NEVER give our enemies absolutely everything they “deserve” (we certainly didn’t do it to the Germans or the Japanese in WWII) because we profess to be better than that. God doesn’t give us everything we deserve either, and for that we should be grateful.

      • Rob B.

        Elaine —

        I disagree about what you say about the timing of the report. To me, it seems that there’s very little here that benefits President Obama, especially since his own CIA chief has come out against many of the report’s conclusions. An earlier poster said that it got the Jonathan Gruber story off the media, but that story never really had much in the way of legs, in my view. I’ve been wrong before, though…

    • jp

      What about the ones who did not turn out to be filthy, despicable terrorists? Is the phrase “all ….are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights…” not apply to people from all countries? What a strange position for conservatives to take! God-given rights (i.e. presumption of innocence, due process, freedom from cruel & unusual punishments, etc. ) are not universal rights? The CIA gets to decide when to suspend them? Pretty soon up will be down and in will be out. Where is Lewis Carroll when we need him?

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    In light of this report, I’m afraid there’s at least a little lesson in this for us:


  • Newp Ort

    I listened to Hannity on the radio yesterday. He had “experts” on the show who claimed:

    1. It’s good we do this stuff! It will show the terrorists we mean business and they will think twice before messing with us.

    2. at the same time claimed that this report would prompt terrorist attacks and endanger Americans.

    3. Not really torture, cuz it’s not that bad! “I’ve been waterboarded,” one said. We’re just making them uncomfortable.

    4. Not really torture because we’re doing it for a reason, to get info, not just to be mean to captives.

    5. Not really torture because these are bad guys!

    • ivan_the_mad

      Hannity would argue that the sun rises in the west should it further the interests of the GOP.
      ETA: And he’d do so while watching it rise in the east.

      • Rob B.

        “We have always been at war with Eurasia…”

    • chezami

      The man is a whore.

      • NYAttorney

        Slander is a grave sin — why engage in it?

        • jroberts548

          I think you know that’s not slander.

          • NYAttorney

            Because it is in writing, it cannot be slander from a legal standpoint — defamation in writing is libel — but I was not writing from a legal standpoint.

            I don’t think any argument is advanced by name-calling, and it is not a good thing to do in any event — read St Thomas. I think people believe the ordinary rules of life don’t apply to people on the Internet.

            • jroberts548

              It’s also an opinion, rather than a false statement of fact.

              • antigon

                Slander or libel, it was certainly unjust to prostitutes.

      • Sean O

        Absolutely. Hannity is a whore. No shame.

  • Anna

    I hope the International Criminal Court tries to hold the US accountable since obviously our own government doesn’t have either the backbone or the authority (seeing as the ones who are supposed to hold the CIA accountable are themselves complicit) to prosecute.

    Also, the CIA needs to clean house by getting rid of anyone who authorized or participated in this and replacing them with those who refused to participate and requested transfer.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I think that the International Criminal Court is not recognized by the US because they fear that it could be used against them for purely “political” reasons…

  • Jonk

    I don’t really have a very expansive definition of what constitutes “torture.” I don’t think small cells, simple meals, rough language, loud music, temperature and light control, or even verbal threats against family members qualify as torture. I’m not even 100% convinced that waterboarding is really torture (but disagree with it, because tie goes to not doing it). I generally don’t think “stress positions” or limited sleep deprivation are even torture, within reason.

    But 180 hours of it is not “within reason.” That’s torture. Stress positions that intentionally aggravate documented injuries are torture. “Force-feeding” prisoners rectally is torture (though I understand hydration and medication by such methods can be medically called-for in some circumstances).

    Let’s not excuse that crap. It’s evil. It makes us look like the subhuman animals the al Qaeda recruiters tell them we are. And, most of all, *it doesn’t flipping work.* If detention is about physical security from and for the captives, and gleaning whatever information we can from them, none of this insanity accomplishes that. All it does is satisfy our thirst for revenge, and live up to some Hollywood fantasy for what interrogation is supposed to look like.

  • Black JEM

    I find any reliance on anything in this report is dangerous. This is a political hit piece by democrat senator staffers that every CIA director of any administration is coming out of the woodwork to say is flawed.
    The notion of how coercion is appropriate in these types of situations is worthy of debate, including from a moral perspective.
    But anyone who uses this report to fashion that debate is mistaken. It is mostly a fantasy – and therefore unusable in a broader context – including the one the author made here.

    • Rob B.

      Well, it finally happened. The apologists have found us. Incoming!!

      • Ken

        Yes. So far, it seems they have the following defense:
        1) It’s written by Democrats with a bone to pick. They don’t seem to willing to discuss whether or not any of it’s true. They just want the whole thing to go away by dismissing it in total.

        2) It’s purposely putting people in danger overseas because this is going to make people who already hate our guts really, really hate our guts. This is shifting the blame from the people who actually committed these acts to people who exposed the facts.

        3) We shouldn’t admit to any of this because it makes us look bad. I really have no way to explain the logic of this because it’s so childish and immature I really can’t put my head around it.

        4) There is the bloodthirsty kick butt explanation that wants other people to go and commit horrible sins on our behalf. I have a feeling that the people that hold this belief wouldn’t actually want to stick things up other people’s rectums but if it’s CIA guy on the other side of the planet it’s cool with them.

        • Eric

          Given the left’s general okayness with abortion, it does seem a bit nitpicky to condemn the use of torture. They’ve already made it clear we’re the one’s with the power to decide what constitutes a human person. All of a sudden life is precious? How dare we resort to torture?

          Well, life is precious. Torture is wrong. Abortion is wrong.

          I’d be a little less cynical if those casting stones on either side actually believed life is sacred.

          • chezami

            Your complaint would make sense if I did not think abortion an abominable crime against God and man. But using the unborn as human shields to excuse torture is also pretty vile, particularly since the people who do it nearly always claim to be “prolife” and Christian.

            • Eric

              Are you under the impression that I’ve place you on a side (conservative/liberal) here? If so, that wasn’t what I was trying to communicate. I was trying to communicate my frustration at the hypocrisy of both sides on issues related to human dignity.

              BTW, I recently purchased your book on prayer. It’s been really great and helpful. Thank you.

    • Cecelia O’brien

      if it was political – they would have released it before the midterms and Obama and Kerry would not have tried to suppress it. Face the truth – you have been deceived. The Bush administration betrayed us all

    • Jonk

      It’s an incomplete picture, to be sure. For example, I don’t believe for one second that Congress was completely out of the loop on everything.

      But it’s enough of a picture that being really upset about it is entirely justified.

  • Charles E Flynn

    From New Texts Out Now: Lisa Hajjar, Torture: A Sociology of Violence and Human Rights:

    The legacy of American torture confirms timeless truisms about the dubious relationship between pain and truth. “Torture,” as 3rd-century AD/CE Roman jurist Ulpian observed, “is a difficult and deceptive thing[,] for the strong will resist and the weak will say anything to end the pain.” As for truth, according to the German Jesuit Friedrich von Spee in 1631, “It is incredible what people say under the compulsion of torture, and how many lies they will tell about themselves and about others; in the end, whatever the torturers want to be true, is true.” For a contemporary judgment, Darius Rejali (2007, p. 478) explains the ineffectiveness and destructiveness of torture, which fits the US case: “[O]rganized torture yields poor information, sweeps up many innocents, degrades organizational capabilities, and destroys interrogators. Limited time during battle or emergency intensifies all these problems.”

  • linda daily

    Dick Cheney is a piece of human garbage.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Not necessarily. I would say that he was guilty of war crimes and deserves to be prosecuted, but Jesus died for him too.

      • linda daily

        Yes Jesus did die tortured for countless pieces of human garbage, Dick Cheney being one.

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    You know no one will be charged for this. If they did you would have quite a few Congressmen on boths sides of the isle who would be charged. This is why the Justice Department will not pursue charges and the motto of the people will be “Nothing to see, Move along!.”

    • chezami

      Obama worked hard to suppress this. Conservatives should thank him.

      • Jonathan Carpenter

        Not to mention the Democratic Congressmen who knew this was going on. An example would be the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who was on the House Intelligence Committee.