Date
17 December 2017
File photo of prisoner cells at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the CIA used extreme interrogation techniques on suspected Al-Qaeda members. Photo: Reuters
File photo of prisoner cells at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the CIA used extreme interrogation techniques on suspected Al-Qaeda members. Photo: Reuters

Emails reveal CIA officers balked at harsh interrogation

A US Senate intelligence committee report on the extreme interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency on Al-Qaeda suspects showed that the frontline officers themselves had expressed reservations about the tactics they were told to use, Bloomberg News reported.

“Several on the team profoundly affected … some to the point of tears and choking up,” the report said, citing an email dated Aug. 8, 2002 about the interrogation of suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded at least 83 times.

“It is visually and psychologically very uncomfortable,” according to another email.

The 499-page report concluded that the CIA torture practices, including waterboarding and rectal force-feeding, were far more brutal than acknowledged and failed to produce useful intelligence.

In e-mails and other communications, CIA officers questioned the use of such techniques and the quality of the intelligence they produced, Bloomberg said.

The committee report said the concerns were regularly overridden by CIA management, and the agency made few corrective changes to its policies governing the program.

The CIA’s chief of interrogations emailed his colleagues in January 2003 that the interrogation plan for suspected al-Qaeda operative Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri was “a train wreak [sic] waiting to happen”. The CIA suspected al-Nashiri was involved in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa and the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

The chief, whose name was removed from the report, said he intended “to get the hell off the train before it happens”, and that he instead would be “retiring shortly”, according to the report.

Frontline personnel told senior leaders in Washington about managers who were incompetent and interrogations that were ineffective or produced false information. Some, like the interrogations chief, said they wanted nothing to do with the program.

“Critiques, criticisms and objections were expressed by numerous CIA officers, including senior personnel overseeing and managing the program, as well as analysts, interrogators, and medical officers involved in or supporting CIA detention and interrogation operations,” according to the summary of the panel’s investigation released Wednesday by Senate Democrats.

US President Barack Obama ordered a stop to the CIA program when he took office in 2009 and supported the report’s release.

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RA/CG

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