The 528-page unclassified report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) Detention and Interrogation Program now popularly called CIA torture makes for a riveting reading.
It offers an extraordinary look inside the way the agency inflates the significance of the intelligence it obtains from terror detainees using enhanced interrogation techniques. At one level the unclassified report, which is only a summary of a much larger document that has not been released publicly, is a powerful example of America’s respect for brutally honest introspection. At another, it is a stinging indictment of the entire security apparatus that has exponentially grown in the face of peculiar political indifference.
Intelligence agencies across the world use more or less the same techniques to guard the security interests of their countries. However, it is not often that a report of this kind is made public with the specific intention of changing course. It is anybody’s guess whether a report like this would eventually make any difference at all.
The report is packed with remarkable findings that knock the bottom out of the CIA’s assertions about the usefulness of torture couched as enhanced interrogation techniques. I think it would be enough to illustrate its overall direction by giving just one example of the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the so-called “20th hijacker” who was to be part of the 9/11 attacks but could not make it because he did not get a US visa.
Al-Shibh, who has now been under US detention at Guantanamo for the past 8 years and three months and facing war crimes, was described by the CIA to have been captured as a result of the information provided by Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March, 2002, as part of the 9/11 plot. He too has been at Guantanamo for the past over 12 years.
The extracts I have reproduced here from the unclassified report explain what precisely happened. What is striking is that the report clearly rejects the CIA claim that Zubaydah’s enhanced interrogation led to the capture of al-Shibh.
If you are interested, you can read the full report at: