CIA hid harsh post-9/11 interrogation techniques, Senate investigation finds

Harsh interrogations also kept from then secretary of state, Senate inquiry finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 9:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 9:26pm


A US Senate report on the CIA's interrogation and detention practices after the September 11, 2001 attacks concludes that the agency initially kept then-secretary of state Colin Powell and some US ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons, according to a document circulating among White House staff.

The still-classified report also says some ambassadors who were informed about interrogations of al-Qaeda detainees at so-called black sites in their countries were instructed not to tell their superiors at the State Department, the document says.

The 6,300-page Senate report on the CIA's interrogation programme has been years in the making. The findings are expected to reveal additional details about the CIA's programme and to renew criticisms that the United States engaged in torture as it questioned terrorism suspects after the 2001 attacks.

A congressional official who has read the Senate report confirmed that it made the findings outlined in the document. A former senior CIA official said Powell was eventually informed about the programme and sat in meetings in which harsh interrogation techniques were discussed. But Powell may not have been informed when the techniques were first used in 2002, the official said. A spokeswoman said on Wednesday that Powell would not comment.

The former CIA official said it would be standard practice for ambassadors informed about a covert operation to be instructed not to share it with others who did not have a "need to know", as determined by the National Security Agency. Ambassadors in countries in which the CIA set up black sites to interrogate prisoners were usually told about it, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

The four-page White House document contains the State Department's proposed talking points in response to the Senate report. It is common practice for the White House to solicit talking points from key agencies involved in responding to a major news event, which the release of the Senate report will be.

The Senate report, a summary of which is expected to be made public in the coming weeks, concludes that the CIA used brutal techniques on detainees who failed to produce life-saving intelligence, and then misled Congress and the Justice Department about the interrogations.

Current and former CIA officials hotly dispute the conclusion that the techniques - which included waterboarding or simulated drowning - failed to produce crucial information, as do some Senate Republicans.

The State Department wants to embrace the conclusions of the Senate report and blast the CIA's past practices, according to the document. "This report tells a story of which no American is proud," the document says.