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Leaked Senate Report Details: Torture Did Not Lead to Bin Laden; CIA Misled Public

U.S. torture

Leaked details from a still-classified US Senate report confirm the Central Intelligence Agency lied about the extent and efficacy of its highly controversial and illegal torture program in the War on Terror.

These and other potentially damning details have emerged from a classified 6,200-page Senate report that concludes the interrupted drowning torture known as waterboarding and other illegal tortures and abuses yielded no key evidence in the hunt for al-Qaeda chief and 9/11 perpetrator Osama bin Laden.

“The CIA described [its program] … as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives. Was that actually true? The answer is no,” one US official briefed on the report is quoted by Democracy Now!

This contradicts what many top Bush administration officials have long claimed— that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a euphemism for torture, led to Osama bin Laden. Senators from both major parties who are familiar with the details of the classified report say this simply isn’t true.

The report examines the case of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. Intelligence officers have confirmed that the information extracted from Mohammed during his extended torture was inaccurate and unreliable.

In another case, that of senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libi, former CIA deputy director Jose Rodriguez claimed torture provided the “lead information” pointing to bin Laden.

But, “the original lead information had no connection to CIA detainees,” Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) concluded.

In some cases, CIA operatives continued to torture detainees even after it was determined they had divulged everything they knew. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has long been accused of ordering the continued waterboarding of terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times, even after the al-Qaeda operative was “compliant” and had no more information to offer. According to Abu Zubaydah’s interrogators, he was subjected to the extra torture in a bid to force the terrorist to reveal a non-existent Iraq-Al-Qaeda connection.

The classified report also reveals previously undisclosed torture techniques, such as repeatedly dunking prisoners in tanks of ice-cold water.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has long asserted that torture did not lead to bin Laden.

“Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information,” McCain said in 2011.

Among the many illegal torture techniques and other abuses suffered by War on Terror detainees at the hands of their American captors are: homiciderape of men and women, imprisonment of innocent family members as bargaining chips, brutal beatingsdenial of medical treatment, interrupted drowning (waterboarding)solitary confinementsensory deprivationsleep deprivation,food and water deprivationforce-feeding, exposure to (sometimes deadly) temperature extremes, exposure to insects, prolonged exposure to deafeningly loud musicsexual humiliationmenacing and attacking with dogs, shackling in painful “stress positions,” being repeatedly and forcefully slammed into wallsdeath and rape threats against detainees and their relatives, and“Palestinian crucifixion.”

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other administration officials knew that the approved torture techniques, most of which are listed above (although some of the abuses, chiefly the homicides and rapes, were not approved), violated US and international law, including the War Crimes Act, the Federal Anti-Torture Statute, the Torture Victims Protection Act, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which states that “no exceptional circumstance whatsoever… may be invoked as a justification for torture.”

Compounding the abhorrent nature of these abuses is the fact that the vast majority of detainees in US custody in both Iraq and Guantánamo Bay were known to be innocent by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others, but were held anyway. Dozens of innocent Guantánamo detainees, some of them cleared for release since 2004, are still being imprisoned at GITMO.

Many, but not all, of the above torture techniques were approved at the highest levels of the George W. Bush administration. President Barack Obama banned torture, yet reports of its use persisted after he took office and his administration has gone out of its way to protect the Bush torturers from justice and to prosecute government and military personnel who blow the whistle on torture.

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