The Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence has made public a previously redacted version of its C.I.A. Torture Report. The 6,300 page report is the result of an exhaustive five year study of millions of pages of documents documenting the C.I.A.‘s “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post-9/11 era.
See below for our F.A.Q. on the stunning revelations of the report.
6,300 pages? That’s long. Can you give me the TL;DR version?
The C.I.A.‘s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were actually straight-up brutal torture that failed to produce accurate intelligence.
How big a deal is this?
It’s a very a big deal in the sense that the United Nations says that the C.I.A. violated international law and basic human rights and top government officials should be prosecuted. But it’s not a big deal in the sense that powerful white American men in suits rarely get held accountable for the untold horrors they’re responsible for.
Come on, how bad could it be?
The report describes:
* near drownings
* “unnecessary rectal feeding which is a sanitized way of saying guards forced hummus up a prisoner’s ass
* personal death threats
* death threats of family and children
* threats to sexually assault a prisoner’s mother
* prison conditions described as being like a "dungeon”
* detainees kept awake as long as 180 hours (over a week)
* one prisoner suffered extensive injuries to the face, causing him to lose an eye
* one detainee was waterboarded 183 times; as a reminder, waterboarding is the simulation of drowning
* at least one detainee was killed from extensive torture, and nobody was held responsible
* at least 26 of the 119 detainees were wrongfully held
* and other harsh techniques leading to “psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
Damn. That is some fucked up cruel and unusual shit. Didn’t they have to like report to the Senate or something about what they were doing?
The report concludes that the program was “mismanaged” and not subject to adequate oversight. But on top of that, the C.I.A. lied and downplayed the extent of their activities when they did report to the Senate previously, and also lied about how effective the torture was in producing results to the White House.
The C.I.A. lied to the Senate and the White House? Isn’t that, like, illegal?
Well, the report doesn’t say “lied”, it says “provided false information” and “impeded oversight.” But yeah, pretty sure you’re not allowed to do those things either.
So, the C.I.A. is essentially a rogue agency which makes unilateral life-and-death decisions? And we should be extremely terrified of it?
Yes. Although historically, this has always sort of been true and this shouldn’t be a surprise. See Bay Of Pigs, and/or Military Junta In Chile, and/or Iranian Coup d'état, and/or a bunch of other stuff.
Surely some sort of disciplinary measures will be taken against the C.I.A.?
Probably nothing too major, considering they really know their way around a covert assassination.
I don’t like this! I thought that the U.S. was supposed to be the good guys? I mean, maybe it isn’t so bad. So a few people who were never legally charged with a crime and maybe were innocent all along got waterboarded, and in doing so the U.S. violated international law and our own constitution and also basically everything we fundamentally believe to be true about America, but that doesn’t mean that we’re the bad guys here, it just means that, um … I withdraw my question.
What can we do to prevent such a gross undermining of our national values from ever happening again?
Easy. Just somehow disrupt everything we know to be true about human nature and the abuse of power.
Right. Wait - is the Guantanamo Bay detention center still open?!
Fuck. I forgot about that.
Yeah, most people did. Well, most Americans did.
Oh man. Okay, yeah, this is bad. Can’t we just let each of these prisoners waterboard Dick Cheney? Would that make up for it?
Maybe if it were televised, yes.