The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the highly anticipated – and dreaded – 500-page summary of its report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.
While the horrific details of the torturous “enhanced investigations” on suspects and inmates are undoubtedly condemnable, here are some other important takeaways that should not be overlooked.
American taxpayer money was used for torture
To put it simply, U.S. taxpayers inadvertently sponsored a global network of torture sites where techniques such as "rectal rehydration,” ice water baths and waterboarding were used on detainees.
“While the declassified version of the report does not offer a full summation of the program’s costs – and the U.S. intelligence community’s $53 billion black budget remains largely secret, despite Edward Snowden’s leaks – we now have evidence of at least $480 million in funding,” writes Tim Fernholz of The Atlantic.
Dick Cheney is a big fat liar:
In 2011, former Vice President Dick Cheney made the following statement in defense of torture:
"One of the most controversial techniques is waterboarding ... And the one who was subjected the most often to that was Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, and it produced phenomenal results for us." [...]
What Cheney is trying to imply here is that waterboarding Khaled Sheikh Mohammed helped the CIA to capture Osama bin Laden.
However, as it turns out, it is not true.
“In its response to the report, the CIA says that coercive techniques used against another Al Qaeda detainee, Ammar al-Baluchi, led them to the courier. But CIA records cited in the report show the agency obtained information about the courier from a foreign government agent who developed a rapport with al-Baluchi before the CIA took over the interrogation. Under “enhanced interrogation,” al-Baluchi provided inaccurate information about the courier,” adds Fernholz.
After 13 years, we now know that torture does not help fight terrorism:
Following the release of the report, there is – finally – a general consensus on the fact that torture doesn’t work very well.
The so-called information gathered through these medieval techniques produced either faulty intelligence or no intelligence at all.
"The use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information," according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
CIA is a screwed up agency:
…and something must be done about it.
CIA may be the biggest U.S. intelligence agency but it messed up big time and in so many ways.
"While being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence," the report reads.
In addition, the CIA misled the White House, Congress and several other agencies in its pursuit of the controversial program.
The U.S. government is a big hypocrite:
The report also highlights the hypocrisy of the U.S. government pertaining to torture techniques.
Human Rights Watch has released a comparison of statements from the incumbent American governments in the past decade, criticizing other countries for using those same techniques CIA employed on its suspects.
For instance, the State Department’s 2003-2007 Human Rights Reports on Sri Lanka classified “near-drowning” as among “methods of torture.” In the reports on Tunisia from 1996 to 2004, “submersion of the head in water” is classified as “torture.”
All of this happened while the CIA, as it has been revealed from the report, waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times, Abu Zubaydah 83 times, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri almost twice.
So, should the responsible officials be pardoned for all the wrongs they committed? While this is something that remains to be seen, the United Nations and human rights groups are calling for the prosecution of U.S. officials involved in what a Senate report called the "brutal" CIA interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects.