"We're going to kill your children"

Mock executions and a favored Saddam technique, all endorsed by Cheney. Highlights of the CIA interrogation report

Published August 25, 2009 10:40AM (EDT)

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks about national security at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington May 21, 2009. Cheney on Thursday sharply criticized President Barack Obama's handling of terrorism policy and defended harsh interrogation methods that Obama has labeled torture.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks about national security at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington May 21, 2009. Cheney on Thursday sharply criticized President Barack Obama's handling of terrorism policy and defended harsh interrogation methods that Obama has labeled torture.

"The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it ...The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

– Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on May 21, 2009

Below are excerpts from the now declassified May 2004 inspector general's review of CIA interrogations during the so-called war on terror, which was released by the Obama administration on Monday afternoon in response to an ACLU lawsuit. Page numbers link to the actual page of the report. (You can read 24 selected pages of the report here, or download the whole report.) The report is heavily redacted.

Sometime between 28 December 2002 and 1 January 2003, the debriefer used an unloaded semi-automatic handgun as a prop to frighten Al-Nashiri into disclosing information. After discussing this plan with [blacked out] the debriefer entered the cell where Al-Nashiri sat shackled and racked the handgun once or twice close to Al-Nashiri's head. On what was probably the same day, the debriefer used a power drill to frighten Al-Nashiri. With [blacked out] consent, the debriefer entered the detainee's cell and revved the drill while the detainee stood naked and hooded. [Page 42]

(Darius Rejali, the author of "Torture and Democracy" and an expert on the history on the torture, told Salon that the use of a power drill as an implement of torture is fairly rare, but was favored by one recently deceased despot: Saddam Hussein.)

[Blacked out] staged the incident, which included screaming and yelling outside the cell by other CIA officers and [blacked out] guards. When the guards moved the detainee from the interrogation room, they passed a guard who was dressed as a hooded detainee, lying motionless on the ground, and made it appear as if he had been shot to death. [Page 70]

During another incident [blacked out] the same Headquarters debriefer, according to a [blacked out] who was present, threatened Al-Nashiri by saying that if he did not talk, "We could get your mother in here," and, "We can bring your family in here" ... It was widely believed in Middle East circles that [blacked out] interrogation techniques involves sexually abusing female relatives in front of the detainee. [Pages 42 and 43]

An experienced Agency interrogator reported that the [interrogators] threatened Khalid Shaykh Muhammad [blacked out]. According to this interrogator, the [blacked out] interrogators said to Khalid Shaykh Muhammad that if anything else happens in the United States, "We're going to kill your children." [Page 43]

On another occasion [blacked out] said he had to intercede after [blacked out] expressed concern that Al-Nashiri's arms might be dislocated from his shoulders. [Blacked out] explained that, at the time, the interrogators were attempting to put Al-Nashiri in a standing stress position. Al-Nashiri was reportedly lifted off the floor by his arms while his arms were bound behind his back with a belt. [Page 44]

[Blacked out] interrogator reported that he witnessed ... the use of a stiff brush that was intended to induce pain on Al-Nashiri and standing on Al-Nashiri's shackles, which resulted in cuts and bruises. [Page 44]

The Review determined that interrogators used the waterboard on Khalid Shaykh Muhammad in a manner inconsistent with ... the description of the waterboard in the [Justice Department] opinion, in that the technique was used on Khalid Shaykh Muhammad a large number of times … The Attorney General was informed the waterboard had been used 119 times on a single individual ... Cables indicate that Agency interrogators [blacked out] applied the waterboard technique to Khalid Shaykh Muhammad 183 [blacked out]. [Pages 44 and 45]

In July 2002, [blacked out] operations officer, participated with another operations officer in a custodial interrogation of a detainee [blacked out] reportedly used a "pressure point" technique: with both of his hands on the detainee's neck, [blacked out] manipulated his fingers to restrict the detainee's carotid artery. [Page 69]

In December 2002, [blacked out] cable reported that a detainee was left in a cold room, shackled and naked, until he demonstrated cooperation. [Page 75]

According to [blacked out] and others who have worked [blacked out] "water dousing" has been used [blacked out] since early 2003 when [blacked out] officer introduced this technique to the facility. Dousing involves laying a detainee down on a plastic sheet and pouring water over him for 10 to 15 minutes. [Page 76]

The act of putting a detainee in a diaper can cause abrasions if the detainee struggles because the floor of the facility is concrete. [Page 77]

Inasmuch as (enhanced interrogation techniques) have been used only since August 2002, and they have not all been used with every high value detainee, there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness. [Page 89]

From Appendix F: Draft [CIA Office of Medical Services] guidelines on Medical and Psychological support to detainee interrogations.

In our limited experience, extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new risks. Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excess filling of the airways and loss of consciousness. An unresponsive subject should be righted immediately, and the interrogator should deliver a sub-xyphoid thrust to expel the water. If this fails to restore normal breathing, aggressive medical intervention is required. [Page 9]

By Mark Benjamin

Mark Benjamin is a national correspondent for Salon based in Washington, D.C. Read his other articles here.

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