by Michael Smerconish ’18
A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday laid out in explicit detail the brutal realities of the CIA’s use of torture in its post 9/11 War on Terror. The report, which took five years to assemble and which was constructed upon more than 6,000,000 agency documents, paints a horrific image of both the frequency and degree of CIA administered torture.
The 524 page executive summary discusses situations in which sleep deprivation, water boarding, “rectal feeding,” and “rectal hydration” were used as interrogative tactics. Furthermore, the report accuses the CIA of “wrongful” detention of at least 26 of its 119 detainees.
The committee also deemed invalid the CIA’s claim that its interrogation techniques led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. In fact, the report argues that “The vast majority of the intelligence [leading to Bin Laden’s discovery] was originally acquired from sources unrelated to the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program…”
Though current CIA director John Brennan has admitted that the detention program “had shortcomings and that the agency made mistakes,” he has maintained that the program greatly benefited counterintelligence. “The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaeda and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day.”
Following an outpouring of jihadist calls for revenge on the US, many have criticized the decision to publish the report. In Afghanistan and Thailand, the State Department even felt a need to warn US citizens to be wary of potential backlash, a precaution that coincided with heightened security for numerous US embassies.
Despite the concerns, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Intelligence Committee Chairwoman, remained steadfast in the decision to make the committee’s findings public. As she noted to the press on Tuesday, “Releasing this report is an important step to restoring our values and showing the world that we are a just society.”