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Senate torture report: six top findings

A workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., in 2005. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released an executive summary of its investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program – an investigation launched in 2009 after lawmakers learned that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of detainee interrogations.

The full, 6,700-page study remains classified, but the summary offers a detailed and disturbing glimpse into a rogue CIA that, the report concludes, misled the White House and Congress.

“It is worth remembering the pervasive fear in late 2001 and how immediate the threat felt,” writes Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, who chairs the committee, in a forward to the report. “Nevertheless, such pressure, fear, and expectation of future terrorist plots do not justify, temper, or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security,” she adds. “It is precisely at these times of national crisis that our government must be guided by the lessons of our history.”

Here are six top findings in the report.

1. The so-called enhanced interrogation techniques did not help the CIA get intelligence

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    A workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., in 2005.
    J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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The Senate report takes great issue with claims that the intelligence gleaned from enhanced interrogation techniques helped to save US lives. Again and again, the report found that when subjected to these torture techniques, CIA detainees said whatever their captors wanted to hear. This meant faulty intelligence and wasted time for US intelligence officers tracking down false leads.

“Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities,” the report found.

CIA officers themselves “regularly called into question whether the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were effectively assessing that the use of the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.”

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