The Senate Intelligence Committee report on US spy agency CIA’s interrogation methods during George W Bush's presidency says they were not as effective as claimed and were brutal and far worse than represented.
The 528-page executive summary of a classified 6,300 page report released on Tuesday was expected to be critical, according to earlier leaks, and it was.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used methods — called enhanced interrogation techniques — like “waterboarding” (creating suffocation), “walling” (slamming suspect against the wall), slaps, sleep deprivation and “rectal rehydration” (rectal feeding without medical necessity) and ice water baths.
One suspect, Abu Zubaydah, was so badly treated during waterboarding that, the report said, he became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”.
United States President Barack Obama, who ended the use of these measures in his first week in office in 2009, welcomed the release of the report and said it “reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests”.
In a separate statement, CIA said the report had “too many flaws to stand as a public record” of the enhanced interrogation programme.
Security for US facilities and individuals overseas has been stepped up to prepare for any backlash from the publication of the report.
“There are some indications that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to US facilities and individuals all around the world, so the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at US facilities around the globe,” said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest on Monday.
Officials insisted preparations for handling the backlash, if any, have been on for a while ever since the release of the report became a possibility. They were re-emphasised last week.
State department spokesperson Jen Psaki said “all chiefs of mission were asked to review their mission security posture in advance of the upcoming release of the report” several months ago.
“That was something that we reiterated again over the last couple of days given the likely pending release,” she added.
The Senate committee is expected to release a 500-page summary of the report, which runs into about 6,300 pages on Tuesday. A 100-page declassified version of the CIA response is also expected to be made public at the same time.
The CIA has been opposed to release of the report fearing consequences for those named, even by their aliases — won’t be hard to make out who is who among them.
The spy agency used these interrogation methods in the war against terror in the aftermath of 9/11, and claims it has had all the necessary authorisation — and the Bush administration agrees.
“We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” said George W Bush, who authorised them, in a TV interview. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”