In the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States began an unrelenting campaign against terrorism around the world. One of the key questions affecting the implementation of the country’s counterterrorism programs was just how far agents can go to obtain information. Specifically, because the United States officially denounces torture as the means of gaining information, the country’s leadership engaged in an active debate about just what constitutes torture. Now, leaked information about a report pertaining to the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation programs are shining new light on the severity of the interrogation methods which were used, and their effectiveness.
A recently issued report by the Senate Intelligence Committee indicates that the CIA had misled the U.S. government for years regarding the severity and effectiveness of its interrogation methods. In particular, the report says that the CIA engaged in a persistent pattern of deception including claiming that information was the result of brutal interrogation methods –when in fact the information had been given before the interrogation methods were used, exaggerating the significance of terroristic plots and prisoners, and even outright misleading the government about the nature of the interrogation techniques.
The report harkens back to the debate many U.S. politicians and those in the media had about whether or not so called “advanced interrogation techniques” would amount to torture or would yield any valuable information.
The Senate report seems to indicate that the CIA operated a vast network of interrogation sites, called “black sites”, where detainees were routinely subjected to interrogation techniques which many would consider torture. But, despite the advanced and sophisticated nature of the agency’s interrogation program, the Senate report concludes that very little valuable information was obtained as a result of the interrogations.
Among the interrogation techniques cited in the Senate report are such procedures as water boarding, and dunking detainees in ice cold water. Though the report is still classified, the Senate Intelligence Committee is actively seeking to produce a declassified version for the public.