The Complete Guide to the CIA Torture Documents Released in June, 2016

by Sébastien Roblin. He holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States.

Waterboarding_by_Joebot_RecreationOn June 13, 2016 the CIA released 50 documents related to the Bush-era interrogation and detention policies as a result of a Freedom Of Information Act request made by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Though these documents contain few new revelations (many of the sensational aspects were summarized in this 2014 article), they nonetheless allow us to see what the CIA was doing and thinking in the words of the agency’s own staff. The portrait these documents paint of a bureaucracy mandating calculated mental and physical abuse that frequently got out of hand is deeply disturbing.

The 50 documents are freely available on the CIA’s website, but their contents are often opaque and it’s hard to know where to find the most interesting details. Some documents are so heavily redacted only a few sentences are visible, while others contains dozens of pages of text.

This article is meant as a comprehensive guide to the contents of those documents so that you can explore them at your convenience. The articles are sorted into the topic they pertain to, and include a direct link to the source document. There is also a link for downloading all 50 documents in one single ZIP file.

• • •

    Table of contents

  1. The Essential Reading
  2. Enhanced Techniques
  3. Legalities — Or, How to Find Your Way Around the Geneva Convention
  4. The Zubaydah Cables
  5. Snafus and Investigations
  6. Misgivings and Complaints
  7. Effectiveness
  8. Miscellaneous Reports
  9. More Information
  10. The Key to Acronyms

• • •

1. The Essential Reading
If you’re interested in only the most essential reports in this new archive, the following four documents will give you the broadest overview of the CIA’s activities and communications. (You will find them again in the subcategories). The first link, to a report by the Inspector General, comprehensively covers many of the issues with the program in its early years.

• • •

eits_1_gfx_fb56c737c65fd1de08cef38eebb5721a.nbcnews-ux-2880-10002. Enhanced Techniques
On November 18th, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush signed a Memorandum of Notification instructing the CIA to explore the option of enhanced interrogation. However, the agency no longer had interrogation experts, and instead had two independent contractor psychologists from the Air Force’s Survival-Evasion-Resistance-Escape (SERE) program devise techniques for the torture of detainees. Ultimately, a list of ten “enhanced techniques” beyond what was permitted in the Geneva Convention was drafted, and described in exacting detail in an CIA’s Office of Medical Services’ manual and various “torture memos”.

These techniques, which included waterboarding, “walling” in confined boxes, and sleep deprivation for days at a time, were rationalized as not causing “severe mental or physical harm or suffering”, and thus permissible. The CIA nonetheless had difficulty making its interrogators observe the prescribed limits, as other documents reveal (see the section on Snafus and Investigations).

OMS Guidelines on Medical and Psychological Interrogation and Detention
(34 pages) Date: 12/2004
Subject: A detailed description of legally and medically approved torture techniques from the CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS).
Representative Quote: “Sanctioned techniques include […] Attention Grasp, Facial hold, Insult (facial) slap, Abdominal Slap, Sleep deprivation (over 48 hours), Water dousing and tossing, Stress Positions, Walling, Cramped Confinement, Waterboard”; “basic diet…need not be palatable, but should include adequate fluids and nutrition”.

Memorandum for the Record Re: Meeting with Department of Justice Attorneys on 13 August 2004 Regarding Specific Interrogation Techniques, Including the Water Board
(4 Pages) Date: 8/27/2004
Subject: Response to U.S Department of Justice concerns about the use of sleep deprivation, water dousing, and waterboard, as well as possibility of edema in detainees.
Representative Quote: “each application [of waterboard] could not last more than 40 seconds (and usually only lasted about 20 seconds)”.
Comments: Heavily redacted. “Attendee: Dan Levin”.

Guidelines on Interrogations Conducted Pursuant to the Presidential Memorandum of Notification of 17 September 2001
(3 Pages) Date: 1/28/2003
Subject: Quick review of “standard techniques” and ten approved “enhanced techniques,” including enclosing detainees in a box with “harmless” insects, and forcing them to wear diapers for prolonged periods of time.
Representative Quote: “Enhanced Interrogation […] is not expected to produce ‘severe physical or mental pain or suffering'”.
Comments: Approved by CIA Director George Tenet.

• • •

John Choon Yoo was Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration. He authored the Presidential Memorandum of Notification, which concerned the use of interrogation techniques by the CIA.

John Choon Yoo was Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration. He authored the Presidential Memorandum of Notification, which concerned the use of interrogation techniques by the CIA.

3. Legalities — Or, How to Find Your Way Around the Geneva Convention
For the interrogation program to function, legal obstacles needed to be dealt with — and its agent needed to be shielded from the law. This was problematic, as both the Geneva Convention and U.S. Title 18 prohibit the use of torture. These documents show the machinations employed to justify the Enhanced Interrogation program, including denying enemy combatants POW status, and detaining them away from U.S. soil. Many of these documents were exchanged with highly-placed officials in the President’s Office of Legal Counsel.

8 November 2006 Meeting with ICRC Reps
(9 Pages) Date: 11/09/2006
Subject: Mostly redacted — concerns meeting with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who find detainee accounts credible.
Representative Quote: “As described to us, albeit in summary form, what the detainees allege actually does not sound that far removed from reality.”
Comments: From CIA Lawyer John A. Rizzo to Michael Hayden, CIA Director. Mostly redacted.

Memorandum of Agreement Between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Concerning the Detention by DOD of Certain Terrorists at a Facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station
(8 Pages) Date: 09/01/2006
Subject: Administrative and legal accord between the military and the CIA on the housing of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Representative Quote: “The ECs [enemy combatants] transferred to the DoD […] are DoD detainees and under the exclusive responsibility and control of the Secretary of Defense.”
Comments: Heavily redacted.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
(13 Pages) Date: Unknown
Subject: Commentary on implications of Hamdan verses Rumsfeld case, which ultimately found trial by Military Commission to be illegal based on the Uniform Military Code of Justice.
Representative Quote:”The implications of this holding on current CIA interrogation practices could be significant. Steve Bradbury’s preliminary view is that the opinion ‘calls into real question’ whether CIA could continue its CT interrogation program involving enhanced interrogation techniques. According to Bradbury, many, if not all of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques […] could be construed as inconsistent with the provisions of Common Article 3 prohibiting ‘outrages upon personal dignity’ and ‘violence to life and person’.”
Comments: All redacted except bottom of page 3.

CIA Detainees at Gitmo
(1 Page) Date: 02/2004
Subject: Letter about transferring detainees out of Guantanamo, as it may be ruled to be U.S. territory, (implicitly under which Title 18 would apply).
Representative Quote: “In light of the Supreme Court’s acceptance of a case presenting the question of whether GITMO is US Territory, we asked DOJ for its advice on whether CIA detainees should remain at GITMO […]”
Comments: From Scott Muller to James L. Pavitt, Deputy Director for Operations for the CIA from 1999 until June 4, 2004.

Recommendation for Additional Approach to Department of Justice Concerning Legal Guidance on Interrogation Techniques

(5 Pages) Date: 5/26/2005
Subject: Advises that the U.S. Department of Justice has approved the enhanced interrogation program, but the Office of Inspector General (OIG) nonetheless has reservations about the program.
Representative Quote: “I believe a strong case can be made that the Agency’s authorized interrogation techniques are the kinds of action that Article 16 undertakes to prevent. By any common understanding of the term, for example, use of the waterboard may well be ‘cruel’. Extended detention with no clothing would be considered ‘degrading’ in most cultures, particularly Muslim.”
Comments: From John Helgerson of the OIG, to Porter Goss, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Letter to Steve Bradbury from
(5 Pages) Date: 5/04/2005
Subject: Response to concerns that cold could lower detainee pain thresholds, responds that this is not the case and argues that enhanced interrogation techniques do not inflict much pain.
Representative Quote: “All pain is subjective, not objective.”; “[…] based on our limited experience and the extensive experience of the military with these techniques, the program in place has effectively avoided severe physical pain and suffering, and should continue to do so.”
Comments: From Office of Legal Counsel to Steven G. Bradbury.

Letter to Dan Levin from
(4 Pages) Date: 8/11/2004
Subject: Request to pass on detainee biography for possible use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
Representative Quote: “We are providing these preliminary biographies in preparation for a future request for a legal opinion on their subsequent interrogation in CIA control.”
Comments: All but first paragraph redacted. To Dan Levin, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.

Letter to Jack L. Goldsmith III from Scott W. Muller
(8 Pages) Date: 3/02/2004
Subject: Notes the addition of three new enhanced interrogation techniques: water flicking, finger press, and water bucket. Includes copy of “Legal Principles Applicable to CIA Detention and Interrogation of Captured Al Qa’ida Personnel”.
Representative Quote: “Water dousing is intended to weaken the detainee’s overall resistance posture and persuade him to cooperate with interrogators by removing his sense of predictability and control.”
Comments: From Scott Muller, to Jack Goldsmith, Assistant Attorney General.

White House Meeting on Enhanced Techniques, 20 June
(4 Pages) Date: 6/20/2003
Subject: Appears to be about assurances that use of enhanced interrogation techniques will not be prosecuted.
Representative Quote: “[…] the Justice Department memorandum provides both legal ‘safe harbor’ (a statement that the conduct described within is lawful, so that no prosecution would be mounted as a result of any such conduct)”.
Comments: All but one sentence on page 2 redacted.

Hostile Interrogations: Legal Considerations for CIA Officers
(6 Pages) Date: 11/26/2001
Subject: This paper argues that “necessity defense” can be made after torturing to justify the act post-facto as necessary to save lives.
Representative Quote: “A policy decision must be made with regard to U.S. use of torture in light of our obligation under international law […] States may be very unwilling to call the U.S. to task for torture when it resulted in saving thousands of lives.”
Comments: This early document uses the word “torture” several times. In later documents the term is replaced with “Enhanced Interrogation”.

• • •

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi al-Qaeda associate captured in 2001. He was waterboarded 83 times and lost an eye in U.S. captivity.

Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi al-Qaeda associate captured in 2001. He was waterboarded 83 times and lost an eye in U.S. captivity.

4. The Zubaydah Cables
A series of cables between July and August 2002 show the CIA’s torture program in its early days as it escalates interrogation tactics used on Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi al-Qaeda operative wounded and captured in Pakistan. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, even after he began cooperating. Despite the CIA’s intent to silence Zubaydah (see entry 2 and 3 below), his lawyer Joe Margulies was later able to reveal some but not all of what he experienced in CIA custody.

Eyes Only – Draft
(2 Pages) Date: 07/08/2002
Subject: Request to use “aggressive methods” that might be illegal under US Title 18 to interrogate Abu Zubaydah. Request to be granted immunity from prosecution.
Representative Quote: “I respectfully request that you grant a formal declination of prosecution, in advance, for any employees of the United States, as well as any other personnel acting on behalf of the United States, who may employ methods in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that otherwise might subject those individuals to prosecution under Section 2340A of Title 18, United States Code, as well as under any other applicable U.S. law.”

Description of Physical Pressures
(3 Pages) Date: 07/09/2002
Subject: An early review of 12 proposed enhanced interrogation techniques, including one which was not later adopted: mock burial. Techniques seem to be proposed specifically for Abu Zubaydah.
Representative Quote: “The individual is placed in a cramped confinement box that resembles a coffin. The individual is moved to a prepared site where he hears digging.”; “If [diapers are] soiled, care would have to be taken to keep human waste out of his leg wound.”
Comments: The reference to a leg wound reveals that this specifically pertains to Zubaydah.

Additional Operational and Security Considerations for the Next Phase of Abu Zubaydah Interrogation
(6 Pages) Date: 7/15/2002
Subject: Indicates extensive efforts are being made to provide medical care for Abu Zubaydah. Notes to keep in mind “liaison equities involving our host [countries]” in the event of his death. Requests guarantee that Abu Zubaydah will not have a chance to speak about his interrogation with the public.
Representative Quote: “Especially in light of the planned psychological pressure techniques to be implemented we need to get reasonable assurance that subject will remain in insolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”
Comments: All but page 5 redacted. Zubaydah was held at several sites, including Poland, which eventually was made to pay Zubaydah and another man 230,000 euros for having been complicit in his torture.

HQS Feedback on Issues Pending for Interrogations of Abu Zubaydah
(5 Pages) Date: 7/18/2002
Subject: Mostly redacted, but includes notice to prioritize interrogation over detainee medical care, and provides assurance that Abu Zubaydah will never be placed in a situation where he will be able to speak to the public about his treatment by the CIA.
Representative Quote: “Interrogation process takes precedence over preventative medical procedures.”; “All major players in concurrence that AZ should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life”.
Comments: Mostly redacted. This is a reply to the earlier cable above.

Eyes Only – Where We Stand Re: Abu Zubaydah
(2 Pages) Date: 7/26/2002
Subject: Legal permission from Office of Legal Counsel to use waterboard on Abu Zubayadah.
Representative Quote: “This afternoon, I received a telephone call from Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo of the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice. Yoo advised me that Attorney General John Ashcroft has approved the use of the water board in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, […]”.
Comments: Everything else in the document is redacted.

Next Phase of Abu Zubaydah Interrogations
(3 Pages) Date: 7/26/2002
Subject: Appears to be request to use waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah.
Representative Quote: “The waterboard technique remains the IC SERE psychologists’ recommended, absolutely convincing technique for the aggressive phase.”
Comments: Rest of document redacted. SERE refers to the Air Force “Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape” program which teaches soldiers how to resist interrogation.

15 Aug Clinical
(2 Pages) Date: 8/15/2002
Subject: A concerned medical report about the poor health of a detainee.
Representative Quote: “We are currently providing absolute minimum wound care (as evidence by the steady deterioration of the wound), subject has no opportunity to practice any form of hygienic self-care (he’s filthy), the physical nature of this phase dictates multiples physical stresses (his reaction to today’s activity is I believe the culprit for the superior edge separation), and nutrition is bare bones (six cans of ensure daily).”
Comments: Heavily redacted. Though unnamed, this refers to Abu Zubaydah. The injury is one in the groin he received during capture. He also lost an eye for mysterious reasons while in U.S. captivity.

• • •

Khalid El-Masri is a German and Lebanese citizen who was mistakenly abducted by the Macedonian police, and handed over to the CIA. While in CIA custody, he was flown to Afghanistan, where he was held at a black site and routinely interrogated, beaten, strip-searched, sodomized, and subjected to other cruel forms of inhumane and degrading treatment and torture. After El-Masri held hunger strikes, and was detained for four months in the "Salt Pit", the CIA finally admitted his arrest and torture were a mistake and released him. On December 13, 2012, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that El-Masri's account was established beyond a reasonable doubt, and that Macedonia was "responsible for his torture and ill-treatment" both in the country and after turning him over to US authorities." It awarded him compensation of 60,000 euros for his abuse.

Khalid El-Masri is a German and Lebanese citizen who was mistakenly abducted by the Macedonian police, and handed over to the CIA. While in CIA custody, he was flown to Afghanistan, where he was held at a black site and routinely interrogated, beaten, strip-searched, sodomized, and subjected to other cruel forms of inhumane and degrading treatment and torture. After El-Masri held hunger strikes, and was detained for four months in the “Salt Pit“, the CIA finally admitted his arrest and torture were a mistake and released him. On December 13, 2012, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that El-Masri’s account was established beyond a reasonable doubt, and that Macedonia was “responsible for his torture and ill-treatment” both in the country and after turning him over to US authorities.” It awarded him compensation of 60,000 euros for his abuse.

5. Snafus and Investigations
As one might expect, there a number of documents investigating how things went wrong with the CIA’s detention and torture program. Some of these cables are reports on the use of unauthorized techniques by interrogators beyond the ten methods prescribed the CIA, such as the use of an unloaded handgun and the sound of a whirring power drill to terrorize a prisoner.

More notable are three major investigations by the Office of the Inspector General, one (in the fifth document) which broadly surveys the many problems of the CIA’s interrogation program over 161 pages, the other two dealing with the death of CIA detainee Gul Rahman (fourth document) and the accidental detention and interrogation of innocent German citizen Khalid El-Masri (see document first document below).

The Rendition and Detention of German Citizen Khalid Al-Masri
(109 Pages) Date: 7/16/2007
Subject: Detailed Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigative report on the mistaken detention for five months of a German-Lebanese citizen Khalid El-Masri. El-Masri was even held for two months after the CIA knew he was innocent.
Representative Quote: “[…] operation was characterized by a number of missteps from the beginning that were compounded by subsequent failures of both legal and management oversight. CIA did not have his [German] passport examined until early March 2004, when it was found to be genuine.”
Comments: The OIG apparently referred CIA agents for prosecution, but was turned down by U.S. Department of Justice. Agents responsible for this incident went on to rise in the ranks, and served as the basis for the protagonist in the film Zero Dark Thirty.

Alleged Use of Unauthorized Interrogation Techniques
(14 Pages) Date: 12/06/2006
Subject: Excessive water was poured on Libyan detainee Abu Hazim al-Libi, causing him to turn blue. Interrogators disagree as to what happened, nobody found at fault.
Representative Quote: “cable specified that KSM [(Khalid Shayk Mohammed)] could not be placed naked on a bare cement floor, but he had to be placed on a sheet or towel”

Alleged Use of Unauthorized Interrogation Techniques
(22 Pages) Date: 12/06/2006
Subject: Another report concerned with the use of excessive water while “water dousing” detainee Mustafa al-Hawsawi.
Representative Quote: “[…] he was put on the table, head down, and water ran into his nose so he could not breath.”

Death of a Detainee in (2003-7402-IG)
(68 Pages) Date: 4/27/2005
Subject: The OIG investigation of the death by hypothermia of detainee Gul Rahman, and in particular the role CIA incompetence covered up by false reports may have played in his passing.
Representative Quote: “Station’s reporting […] contained false statements and material omissions.”; “inaccurate reporting obscured or minimized the circumstances of the death, the involvement of REDACTED in the mistreatment of Rahman, and the absence of adequate supervision”.
Comments: The OIG’s report is much more critical than the CIA’s internal investigation (see below).

Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001 – October 2003)
(161 Pages) Date: 5/07/2004
Subject: The definitive, comprehensive OIG review of the messy early years of the detainee program, reviewing in detail the treatment of individual detainees and multiple failures in terms of personnel, adherence to techniques, and base facility management. Casts doubt that intelligence gained through enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) is better than through standard techniques.
Representative Quote: “During the first four months of operation, individuals with no previous relevant experience, no training, no guidance often conducted the interrogations”; “Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent”; “The EITs used by the Agency under the CTC Program are inconsistent with the public policy positions that the United States has taken regarding human rights.”
Comments: There is extensive supporting documentation at the end, including a “torture memo” on pages 122-139 by Jay Bybee rationalizing how EITs do not actually cause severe harm or suffering.

Report of Investigation – Unauthorized Interrogation Techniques at
(31 Pages) Date: 10/29/2003
Subject: Investigation of one interrogator’s unauthorized use of “props” — a handgun and a powerdrill, to intimidate Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi al-Qaeda operative said to have organized the bombing of the USS Cole.
Representative Quote: “Al-Nashiri was not actively resisting and was responding to questions directly. Headquarters officers disagreed with REDACTED assessment because Headquarters analysts though Al-Nashiri was withholding imminent threat information.”; “[…] Al-Nashiri began to cry when REDACTED racked or pointed the barrel of the handgun at his head”.
Comments: From John L. Helgerson, OIG. The document indicates that use of enhanced interrogation techniques was demanded even after Al-Nashiri had become cooperative.

Death Investigation – Gul Rahman
(36 Pages) Date: 1/28/2003
Subject: CIA report on the death of Gul Rahman who died from hypothermia after being left naked from the waist down in an unheated cell in winter. He had previously rejected food and been subject to unauthorized interrogation techniques.
Representative Quote: “Prisoners are dressed in sweat suits and adult diapers. The diapers are used for sanitary reasons during transportation, and as a means to humiliate the prisoner.”; “His death was not deliberate, but resulted from his incarceration in a cold environment while nude from the waist down, and shackled in a position that prevented him from moving around to keep warm. Additionally this kept him in direct contact with the cold concrete floor leading to a loss of body heat through conduction.”
Comments: The Office of Inspector General’s Investigation (see above) sheds additional light as to what went wrong, and is ultimately much more critical.

• • •

James Elmer Mitchell -- he developed the enhanced interrogation techniques for the CIA.

James Elmer Mitchell — he developed the enhanced interrogation techniques for the CIA.

6. Misgivings and Complaints
Many documents reflect concerns CIA employees had about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Some were upset that cooperative detainees were being tortured (in the eighth document), others were concerned about the ethics of having Contractor psychologists evaluate the effectiveness of their own techniques (in the fifth, sixth and eighth document), and one expresses distaste for the program in general (sixth document). Other emails reveal worries about the image of the CIA program (third document) — even one coming from President Bush himself (second document).

Anticipated Foreign Reactions to the Public Announcement of the Us Secret Terrorist Detention Program
(13 Pages) Date: 9/01/2006
Subject: We know nothing more than the title.
Representative Quote: “Page denied.”
Comments: 100% redacted.

7 June Meeting with DCI (06/07/2006)
(2 Pages) Date: 6/07/2006
Subject: All but one sentence redacted.
Representative Quote: “The DCI [(Director of Central Intelligence)] conveyed that the President was concerned about the image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on themselves.”

Re: Interrogation Program-Going Public Draft Talking Points-Comments Due to /Me by COB Today. Thanks.
(1 Page) Date: 4/25/2005
Subject: Complaints about having to publically admit the existence of the CIA program.
Representative Quote: “I know there is an urgency about the 7th Floor to attempt to defend the CIA program in the public domain. However, we need to have the 7th Floor confront the inconsistency in filing a CIPA [(Classified Information Procedures Act)] declaration in Passaro about how critical it is to keep this information secret, and at the same time planning to reveal the, dam near the enirte program. These goals are not obviously compatible.”

Re: Interrogation Program-Going Public Draft Talking Points-Comments Due to /Me by COB Today. Thanks.
(1 Page) Date: 4/21/2005
Subject: Complaints about having to publically admit the existence of the CIA program.
Representative Quote: “Well, this certainly makes the declaration I just wrote about the secrecy of the interrogation program a work of fiction.”

John Bruce Jessen. He helped James Elmer Mitchell to create the enhanced interrogation techniques.

John Bruce Jessen. He helped James Elmer Mitchell to create the enhanced interrogation techniques.

Interrogation Program – – Going Public Draft Talking Points – – Comments Due to me by COB Today.
(2 Pages) Date: 4/20/2005
Subject: Concerns how to handle ‘going public’ about the program
Representative Quote: “This should be attributed to an ‘official knowledgeable’ about the program (or some similar obfuscation), but should not be attributed to a CIA or intelligence official.”
Comments: Mostly redacted.

8 April Draft Opinion from DOJ – OMS Concerns
(3 Pages) Date: 4/11/2005
Subject: The CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) expresses its displeasure with having to evaluate ethical and medical limits of enhanced interrogation techniques.
Representative Quote: “Simply put, OMS is not in the business of saying what is acceptable in causing discomfort to other human beings, and will not take on that burden.”
Comments: Mostly redacted

Re: RDG Tasking for IC Psychologists
(2 Pages) Date: 06/20/2003
Subject: Expresses reservation about the validity of contractor psychologists self-evaluating the effectiveness of their interrogation sessions
Representative Quote: “No professional in the field would credit their later judgments [those of the independent contractor (IC) psychologists] as psychologists assessing the subjects of their enhanced measures.”
Comments: All but 2 sentences redacted.

RDG Tasking for IC Psychologists
(4 Pages) Date: 6/13/2003
Subject: Appears to express concerns about the role of independent contractor (IC) psychologists in driving the enhanced interrogation program.
Representative Quote: “Any data collected by them from detainees with whom they previously interacted as interrogators will always be suspect.”; “Although these guys believe that their way is the only way, there should be an effort to define roles and responsibilities before their arrogance and narcissism evolve into unproductive conflict in the field.”
Comments: All redacted except for 3 sentences. The psychologists in question are likely James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen.

Email, January 22, 2003
(2 Pages) Date: 1/22/2003
Subject: See below.
Representative Quote: “This morning I informed the office of CTC that I will no longer be associated in any way with the interrogation program due to serious reservation I have about the current state of affairs. Instead, I will be retiring shortly. This is a train wreck waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.”
Comments: Rest is redacted. Apparently the comment of the CIA “chief of interrogations” after receiving the interrogation plan for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Comments: Related to the document below.

Concerns Over Revised Interrogation Plan for Nashiri
(3 Pages) Date: 1/22/2003
Subject: Official expresses concern over the continued torture of detainee al-Nashiri despite the fact that he is cooperating. The official also is concerned that the psychologist should not be conducting interrogations, nor should he be assessing the effectiveness of his own interrogations.
Representative Quote: “[…] We have serious reservations with the continued use of enhanced techniques with Nashiri and its long term impact on him.”; “Subject may come to the conclusion that whether he cooperates or not, he will continually be subjected to enhanced techniques, therefore, what is the incentive for continued cooperation.”; “Another area of concern is the use of the psychologist as an interrogator.”
Comments: Related to the document above.

Re:
(2 Pages) Date: 8/12/2002
Subject: Email urging others not to speculate on the legality of enhanced interrogation techniques as it has been legally approved.
Representative Quote: “strongly urge that any speculative language as to the legality of given activities or, more precisely, judgment calls as their legality vis-à-vis operational guidelines for this activity agreed upon and vetted at the most senior levels of the agency, be refrained from in written traffic (email or cable traffic). Such language is not helpful.”
Comments: Everything else is redacted.

• • •

Porter Goss, 19th Director of Central Intelligence, September 24, 2004 – April 21, 2005 and 1st Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, April 21, 2005 – May 5, 2006.

Porter Goss, 19th Director of Central Intelligence, September 24, 2004 – April 21, 2005 and 1st Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, April 21, 2005 – May 5, 2006.

7. Effectiveness
Several documents show the CIA’s concern with evaluating the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation program. Many of the CIA’s internal assessments were highly positive, some documents (in the third and sixth document) listing a half dozen plots supposedly exposed through use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT). However, other documents point out the conflict of interest in the interrogator’s positive self-evaluations (see Misgivings and Complaints and in the seventh document). Importantly, documents from CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) and from the Office of Inspector General, report that the enhanced techniques did not produce significant new information, or ‘perishable’ intelligence unobtainable by other means.

Summary and Reflections of Chief of Medical Services on OMS Participation in the RDI Program
(89 pages) Date: Hidden
Subject: Medical officer’s heavily-redacted evaluation of EIT effectiveness. The only part that can be read is critical.
Representative Quote: “In practice however, AZ’s cooperation did not correlate that well with his waterboard sessions. Only when questioning changed to subjects on which he had information (toward the end of waterboard session) was he forthcoming. A psychologist/interrogator later said that waterboard use had established that AZ had no further information on imminent threats — a creative but circular justification […] In any event, there was no evidence that the weatherboard produced time-perishable information which otherwise would have been unobtainable.”
Comments: All but one paragraph on page 42 redacted.

Assessment of EIT Effectiveness
(6 pages) Date: 9/02/2005
Subject: CIA Internal evaluation of EIT program — full of praise for the program, but the details are redacted.
Representative Quote: “The EITs, as part of the overall programm, are credited with enabling the US to disrupt terrorist pilots, capture additional terrorists, and collect high volume of useful intelligence on al-Qai’da (AQ). The program accounts for over half of all HUMINT CIA collection against AQ and associated groups, and vast numbers of intelligence reports have been produced as a result: Source validation is another major benefit of the program. There are accounts of numerous plots against the US and the West that were revealed as a result of HVD [(High-Value Detainees)] interogations. Detainee reporting from the RDG program has played a significant role in the capture of nearly all AQ operatives and associates in US custody, no doubt saving countless American lives.”
Comments: To Porter Goss, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Heavily redacted.

Effectiveness of the CIS Counterterrorist Interrogation Techniques
(4 pages) Date: Unknown
Subject: This defense of the enhanced interrogation program makes detailed claims that enhanced interrogation techniques were responsible for acquiring key intelligence in the following cases: the Karachi Plot, Heathrow Plot, “Second Wave” (East Asia to hit LA), the Guraba Cell, Issa Al-Hindi, Abu Talha-al-Pakistani, Hambali’s Capture, Jafaar al-Tayyar, Dirty Bomb Plot, Shoe Bomber, and Shkai, Pakistan as a major al-Qaeda hub.
Representative Quote: “There is no way to conduct such a study [of the efficacy of enhanced interrogation techniques]. What we can do, however, is put forth below the intelligence the Agency obtained from detainees who, before their interrogations, were not providing any information of intelligence.”
Comments: From the CIA Director to the National Security Adivsor. Other sources, including in these documents, contradict some of the assertions that enhanced interrogation techniques were key to obtaining the intelligence.

Effectiveness of the Cia Counterterrorist Interrogation Techniques
(5 pages) Date: 3/02/2005
Subject: Similar to the document above but slightly longer, with more on Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and Abu Zubaydah.
Representative Quote: “According to Zubayda, brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have ‘reached the limit of their ability to withhold it’ in the face of psychological and physical hardships.”
Comments: From Legal Group to Steven G. Bradbury.

Response to Request from Director for Assessment of EIT Effectiveness
(12 pages) Date: 9/23/2005
Subject: Response to request for assessment based on critical Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report. Includes author’s positive sentiments for the program, but all details are redacted.
Representative Quote: “It is clear […] that the program is deemed to be a great success, and I would concur.”
Comments: To Porter Goss, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mostly redacted.

Comments to Draft IG Special Review, ‘Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Program’
(20 pages) Date: 2/27/2004
Subject: Response to draft OIG report. Attempts to prove that Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Hambali provided intelligence as a result of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs).
Representative Quote: “When asked about future attacks planned against the U.S., he coldly replied ‘Soon, you will know.’ In fact, soon we did know — but only after we initiated the lawful use of EITs.”
Comments: From James L. Pavitt, Deputy Director for Operations for the CIA from 1999 until June 4, 2004 to the Inspector General.

Draft Special Review – Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Program (2003-7123-IG)
(18 Pages) Date: 1/13/04
Subject: CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) response to OIG Report draft. Only one paragraph complaining about conflict of interest with contractors self-evaluating the torture they did for $1,800 a day.
Representative Quote: “OMS concerns about the conflict of interest […] were no more graphic than in the setting in which the same individuals applied an EIT which only they were approved to employ, judging both its effectiveness and detainee resilience — and implicitly proposed continued use of the technique, at a daily compensation reported to be $1,800/day […]”.
Comments: Entirely redacted except for page 17.

• • •

8. Miscellaneous Reports

Report of Audit: Cia-Controlled Detention Facilities Operated Under the 17 September 2001 Memorandum of Notification
(58 pages) Date: 6/14/2006
Subject: A generally upbeat Office of Inspector General’s audit of CIA detention facilities — but with concerns about medical facilities and food hygiene.
Representative Quote: “Medical files are not maintained at each detention facility”.
Comments: This report gives the impression of improved managements of detainee facilities since the death of Gul Rahman.

Operational Review of CIA Detainee Program
(3 pages) Date: 5/12/2004
Subject: Informal internal review of detainee program. Describes it as a success and that it is reasonably well handled, but recommends that the Director of Operations should not be involved in long-term holding of detainees.
Representative Quote: “Every operational activity has a margin of error and the Program is no exception; however, the response to correct any deviation from the structured Program has been swift, fair, and complete.”
Comments: From Chief Information Operations Center and Henry Crumpton, Chief National Resources National via Associate Deputy Director for Operations to James L. Pavitt, Deputy Director for Operations for the CIA from 1999 until June 4, 2004.

Proposed Response to Human Rights Watch Letter
(3 Pages) Date: 3/07/2003
Subject: The title says it all.
Representative Quote: None—contents completely redacted.
Comments: From Scott Muller to Deputy Director for Operations for the CIA from 1999 until June 4, 2004.

Eyes only — Status of Interrogation Phase (8/20/2002)
(5 Pages) Date: 8/20/2002
Subject: Report on the seventeenth day of enhanced interrogation a detainee has been subjected too. Includes recommendation to use this interrogation as a template.
Representative Quote: “The aggressive interrogation began the morning 4 August 2002. To date the phase has continued for 17 days. During this time, psychological and physical pressures have been applied to induce complete helplessness, compliance and cooperation from the subject.”
Comments: Mostly redacted.

Pow’s and Questioning
(3 Pages) Date: 2/01/2002
Subject: This appears to argues that if detainees are granted POW status, there will be few alternatives to asking questions in order to gain intelligence — likely implying that they should not be treated as POWs.
Representative Quote: “In short, if a detainee were granted POW status, and therefore is covered by the Geneva convention, there are few alternatives to simply asking questions. […] then the optic becomes how sensible is a particular act that probably violates the convention but ultimately saves lives.”
Comments: All but two sentences above redacted.

• • •

9. More Information
Additional, prior released key documents about CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation program.

Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program
(525 pages) Date: 12/03/2014
Subject: The 6,000-page report details actions by CIA officials and findings of the study of the Detention and Interrogation Program. On December 9, 2014 — eight months after voting to release parts of the report — the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a 525-page portion that consisted of key findings and an executive summary of the full report. It took five years and $40 million to compile the report. The rest of it remains classified.
Representative Quote: “The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.”; “The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.”; “The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.”

• • •

10. The Key to Acronyms
AN: Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi detainee linked to the bombing of the USS Cole.
AZ: Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi al-Qaeda associate captured in 2001. He was waterboarded 83 times and lost an eye in U.S. captivity.
EIT: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques — interrogation techniques which go beyond the level of force allowed by the Geneva Convention. Torture, in other words.
HVD/HVT: High-Value Detainee or High-Value Target. High-ranking individuals believed to possess key intelligence on terrorist activities
OIG: Office of Inspector General. Bureau responsible for oversight and accountability of all branches of the Federal government.
KSM: Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, senior al-Qaeda operative captured in 2003, waterboarded 183 times and tried in U.S. court.
MON: Memorandum of Notification. Refers to September 17th letter from President Bush authorizing CIA to pursue enhanced interrogation measures in order to prevent future terrorist attacks.
OLC: Office of Legal Counsel. Provides legal advice to the Attorney General.
OMS: CIA’s Office of Medical Service.
RDG: Rendition and Detainees Group. The CIA group handling the transportation and interrogation of detainees at secret “black sites.”
SERE: Survival-Evasion-Resistance-Escape, an Air Force training program teaching air men and soldiers how to resist capture and interrogation.

This entry was posted in English, Intelligence, International law, Politics in General, Sébastien Roblin, Terrorism.

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