The CIA’s interrogations of terrorism suspects were “far more brutal” than the agency admitted and produced no actionable intelligence, a damning US Senate report has found.
Senator Dianne Feinstein said that “CIA detainees were tortured” while the agency misled the public and Congress.
She told the Senate floor that the spies made “inaccurate” claims about the usefulness of information provided.
Much of the programme, which ran from 2002-06, was developed by two psychologists with no experience of interrogation or al Qaeda, found the inquiry.
On Tuesday morning, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a 480-page executive summary of the 6,200-page report compiled by Democrats on the panel.
Examples of brutality against some of 119 detainees held under the programme include:
– One detainee interrogated at a secret prison died from hypothermia after being held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor.
– A number of suspects were deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, at times with their hands shackled above their heads.
– Some detainees faced medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” and “rectal hydration”.
– Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times at a Thailand site and on one occasion was “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth”. The CIA planned to cremate him if he died.
– In one facility, guards used “rough takedowns” in which suspects were hooded and dragged down a hallway while being slapped and punched.
– Detainees were confined to small boxes, given diapers instead of toilet access, received “ice baths” or were bombarded with loud noise and music.
– CIA officers threatened to kill some of the detainees, harm their children, or sexually abuse or slit the throat of their mothers.
Many of the suspects developed psychological problems.
Al Qaeda commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – who was waterboarded 183 times – was among detainees who made up stories “resulting in faulty intelligence”, found the inquiry.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Senate floor: “The implications of this report are profound.
“Not only is torture wrong, but it doesn’t work … It got us nothing except a bad name.”
The inquiry, five years in the making, is the first public accounting of the CIA’s “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” programme.
President George W Bush covertly approved the programme in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks, but he was not briefed by the CIA about the details until 2006.
On Tuesday, CIA director John Brennan acknowledged “shortcomings” in the programme, but denied the agency misled anyone and insisted the interrogations produced valuable intelligence.
President Barack Obama said the Bush-era techniques “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners”.
Many Republicans condemned the report, including Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, who said it was “reckless and irresponsible”.
But their colleague, John McCain, who was himself tortured while serving in Vietnam in the 1960s, said the CIA methods “stained our national honour”.
The US has beefed up security at American facilities worldwide to brace for any backlash to the findings.