Senate committee adopts interrogation techniques report
December 13th, 2012
07:47 PM ET

Senate committee adopts interrogation techniques report

By Pam Benson

The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to approve an exhaustive study on the CIA's controversial detention and interrogation program that critics have charged was akin to torture.

By a 9-6 vote, the committee signed off Thursday on a 6,000-page classified report that has been in the works for nearly four years. The report is based on the study of six million, mostly CIA, documents and includes 35,000 footnotes and 20 findings and conclusions.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee chairwoman, said after the vote that the study was one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States.

The detention and interrogation was authorized by the Bush administration after the September 11 terrorist attacks but was discontinued by President Barack Obama when he took office in 2009.

The CIA, with help from the military and foreign partners, captured suspected terrorists and detained those considered of high value at secret prisons scattered around the world.

The agency was authorized to use what were called enhanced interrogation techniques on people it thought had critical information that could prevent attacks. Those methods included waterboarding, stress positions, exposure to low temperatures and slaps.

Feinstein, in her statement said, "I strongly believe the creation of long-term, clandestine 'black sites' and the use of so-called 'enhanced-interrogaton techniques' were terrible mistakes."

The study uncovered "startling details" and raised "critical questions about the intelligence operations and oversight," the senator said.

Although Republicans on the committee initially supported the study, they withdrew participation in 2009 after the Obama administration's Justice Department launched an investigation into whether CIA personnel engaged in illegal activities.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, ranking Republican on the committee, voted against the report.

"I opposed this report today, for a number of reasons, including that the vote was rushed before the CIA had the opportunity to provide input and with little time for Members to review it.," Chambliss said in a statement to CNN. " In the limited time, we have had to review it, a number of significant errors, omissions, assumptions, and ambiguities—as well as a lot of cherry-picking—were found that call the conclusions into question. The committee has not interviewed a single person, or offered anyone the opportunity to respond to these findings and correct inaccuracies. I believe the committee has made a mistake in passing judgment without hearing from those involved and it is the committee’s reputation, the CIA’s reputation, and our national security that will pay the price."

Not all Republicans agreed.

In a letter to the committee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, a victim of torture while he was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, called on the members to approve the report and make it public.

McCain said the comprehensive study confirms "that the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country's conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence... It is my hope that we can reach a consensus in this country that we will never again engage in these horrific abuses and that the mere suggestion of doing so should be ruled out of our political discourse, regardless of which party holds power."

Civil liberties and human rights groups applauded the vote.

"The committee took an important step toward making sure that history doesn't repeat itself," said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU. "The investigation and report are also an important precedent for establishing checks and balances between Congress and a CIA that has often flouted both the law and American values."

Melina Milazzo of Human Rights First said the "committee has sent a clear message that torture and abuse have no place in U.S. intelligence operations."

Both organizations called on the committee to make the report public as soon as possible.

The report will first be sent to the president, the CIA and other relevant parties for comment. Feinstein said the committee will make a decision about declassification after it receives executive branch comments.

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Filed under: CIA • Justice Department • Senate
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Steve

    This is a step in the right direction, however it will take many decades for the truth to seep out.

    December 15, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply

    yuck fou sand dan

    December 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  3. michaelfury

    December 14, 2012 at 8:57 am | Reply
  4. Bob

    These are sandni$$rs, why do we care what happens to them? Obama is a coward for not keeping our system in place. It was waterboarding that led to Osama! If we are not torturing them, then why even take them alive?

    December 14, 2012 at 4:16 am | Reply
    • Steve

      You are probably one of the many monsters in our intelligence community. There is no more place for you.

      December 15, 2012 at 1:37 am | Reply
  5. Schmoogalicious

    Torture is nothing but a wretched relic of medieval barbarism, and before 9/11 was roundly rejected as such by everyone in the civilized world, including Americans. Torture is not only vile and barbarous, but worse than ineffective at eliciting useful information. Furthermore, the "ticking time bomb" scenario is an utter myth that has never once actually occurred in the annals of human history. Unfortunately, a large number of Americans panicked after 9/11 and allowed their fear to override all rational thought. Too many people readily rejected all that had been learned about the absurdity of torture over the centuries and TV shows like "24" and now "Zero Dark Thirty" have only reinforced the resurrected myths and irrational beliefs regarding the value of torture. Hopefully this report will discredit torture once and for all and cast it back on the ash heap of history alongside witch burnings, spectral evidence, and medical blood letting where it belongs.

    December 14, 2012 at 3:30 am | Reply
  6. Texas

    If they are muslim terrorists that kill innocent Americans they should be torchered endlessly every day until they wither and die of exposure and starvation. Just remember the people being forced to jump to their deaths from those burning buildings on 911 and ask you REALLY care what we do to them?

    December 14, 2012 at 1:06 am | Reply
    • Schmoogalicious

      Well, Tex, the American military has caused many orders of magnitude more civilians to die horribly than Al Qaeda ever has. In your opinion should American soldiers be tortured endlessly every day until they die of exposure and starvation?

      December 14, 2012 at 3:15 am | Reply
      • wjshelton

        Sorry, Schmoo, but Tex lacks critical thinking skills. I'm afraid he won't be able to answer your question.

        December 14, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • Steve

      You short sighted, simple minded fool.

      December 15, 2012 at 1:39 am | Reply
  7. F111ECM

    Active Duty Retired USAF NCO here. You are sorely mistaken my ignorant friend. Torture is sometimes justified in getting information. Just not wholesale the way it has been used the last few years and definitely not the way it was employed or publicized at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Any idiot should know that you don't take pictures in a prison and you don't publicize the ways or from whom you get information, legally or illegally. It's called Operational Security. And I am never happy when a war is started–it means diplomacy has failed and hotter heads have prevailed. Personally, I'm just happy this nation got these B**S**T*RD(s)!!. There's still a lot more work to do in the defense of our freedoms and there always will be!! My Dad's funeral was on September 11, 2001 in Los Angeles California at 10:AM Pacific time. This was the time all hell was breaking loose in New York, Washington DC, & Pennsylvania. LA/California (my home area of my home state) was the destination city and/or state of all of 4 aircraft hijacked as populated missiles and destroyed on that disastrous day 11 years ago. For me and my family the day was already a sh**ty day. I feel for all of those who lost loved ones that day: Whether In the aircraft, In the towers, or On the ground no matter where it happened. BTW I'm a retired USAF NCO who finished his career with a USAF Special Operations Squadron overseas in NorthEast Asia. My units went to war a few times between 1978-1998 and I'm always sorry when it happens because it means diplomacy has failed and sometimes rash decisions have brought us to the brink again. In my 20 years plus of active duty I attended memorial services for around 30 USAF Airmen: Some pilots & Some ground crew, Some related to combat & Some related to training, & Some just dead because they were in the wrong place at the right time & it was their time. I never want to see someone dead, no matter their religious beliefs, but the world is better off without some people in it. People like Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, & Moammar Khaddafy. God Bless all of our troops past, present and future. Hurrah and Aim High!!

    December 14, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
    • Michael McCollum

      You're full of it. Torture does not "sometimes work" have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Citing your flyboy credits and then discussing the completely unrelated death of your dad does nothing to prove your comment.

      TORTURING: The only purpose of these tactics is to get what you want, not what you need.
      If you knew what you were talking about, you'd know the full body of confession techniques vs intel and interrogation.
      You've spent zero time doing gator work. You know jack crap about building up rapport, fear up, fear down, Trojan Horse Strategy, use of Love of Family, etc.

      So don't pine on as if you know what the hell you're talking about because you were once USAF. You weren't a gator that's for damn sure.

      December 14, 2012 at 4:33 am | Reply
  8. Socrates

    CIA interrogations are conducted by Social Workers.

    December 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  9. Jeff

    What's next, prosecuting the CIA Agents that used these techniques to protect our country. The same techniques that led to the name of the informant who gave us the location of Bin Laden, which led to his death. Instead of focusing on interrogation techniques our government needs to get a little more serious about our financial/budget situation we are in.

    December 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Reply
    • Oh Boy

      "The same techniques that led to the name of the informant who gave us the location of Bin Laden". What comic book did you read this in buddy? Far more intelligent anaylists than you sitting have stated that torture produced lttile to no information. Typical right wing ideiology, throw out the lies and the sheep will believe.

      December 14, 2012 at 12:37 am | Reply
      • Michael McCollum

        Oh Boy, not only analysts, but SERE instructors and professional interrogators have demonstrated that illiciting confessions is vastly different than getting intel.

        December 14, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • Michael McCollum

      Absolutely you should see the prosecution of the agents who were torturing, the contractors involved (Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell) and their higher ups including Deuce Martinez, Jose Rodriquez up to VP Cheney and GWBush. Yep, absolutely.'re flat wrong about the lie on torture helping lead to BinLaden....its fiction best served up as Bigelow's fantasy than reality. But idiots like you will not double check your own assumptions instead you'll parrot the talking point despite reality; thus you have no credibility.

      December 14, 2012 at 4:36 am | Reply
    • Steve

      I sure hope they are eventually charged.

      December 15, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply
  10. jack

    It's a proven fact that torture does not work to get information. So anyone doing it or supporting it is just a sadistic fu(ker

    December 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Reply
    • A

      You said it jack.

      December 14, 2012 at 12:29 am | Reply
  11. Dave Thomas

    I've never voted for Feinstein and her remarks today make me feel good about those decisions. In war I want my leaders to do anything and everything to protect me now matter what. Anything less is what is criminal in reality.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Reply
    • brian

      And that demonstrates that YOU are what is wrong with this country.

      December 13, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
    • Above

      "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
      -Benjamin Franklin

      December 14, 2012 at 4:39 am | Reply
    • Logical

      What about your children's generation? When you engage in actions such as these, you inject more anger & purpose into the minds of your enemy fueling their propaganda campaigns to influence and recruit others.

      Perspective is the only thing that distinguishes you and someone who supports AQ.

      December 14, 2012 at 8:30 am | Reply

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