Senate torture report: six top findings

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. Here are six top findings in the report.

6. When details of the techniques began to leak out, the CIA misled Justice investigators trying to determine the legality of the program

At first, the Justice Department trusted the CIA, according to the report. This went on for five years, from 2002 to 2007, with the department taking the CIA’s word on items ranging from the conditions in which detainees were being kept to the effectiveness and the physical impact of the enhanced interrogation techniques.

The Justice Department did not try to verify the information it received from the CIA, the report said. Instead, “the legal justifications for the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques relied on the CIA’s claim that the techniques were necessary to save lives.”

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), in reviewing information provided by the CIA, determined that “ ‘under the current circumstances, necessity or self-defense may justify interrogation methods that might violate’ the criminal prohibition against torture,” according to the report, which was quoting OLC conclusions.

OLC memos from 2005 and 2007 relied on CIA case studies of the “effectiveness” of the enhanced interrogation techniques, and determined that these techniques were legal “in part because they produced ‘specific, actionable intelligence’ and ‘substantial quantities of otherwise unavailable intelligence’ that saved lives.” This turned out to be false, the report concluded.

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