CIA Report Details Interrogation Techniques



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When Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that he would have a prosecutor look into possible abuse of detainees by the CIA, he said he was partly motivated by newly declassified documents from 2004 that provide details of the interrogations and the range of abuses inside the CIA's overseas prisons.

The Justice Department just released parts of the 2004 report, which was previously released in 2007 but was so redacted that it revealed little new information. The less censored version is the largest single release of information about the Bush administration's detainee interrogation program so far.

The use of enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding and stress positions, has been known for some time. What is new is the chronology of other methods interrogators decided to employ on their own.

Interrogators threatened to kill and possibly sexually assault members of detainees' families — which violates anti-torture laws. And there were more basic abuses, such as stepping on shackles, washing someone with a wire brush, blowing smoke constantly in a detainee's face until he started to throw up and dousing detainees with water.

There was also something called "the hard takedown," which essentially meant grabbing a detainee and throwing him to the floor before moving him to a sleep-deprivation cell.

The report describes an episode in July 2002, before the Justice Department had formally authorized harsh methods, in which a CIA interrogator grabbed a detainee's neck and restricted the flow of the carotid artery until the detainee began to faint. The CIA then "shook the detainee to wake him." He did that same pressure-point technique two more times.

There are a number of ominous entries. One begins: "By November 2002, the agency had Abu Zubaydah and another high value detainee, Abd al-Nashiri, in custody." It is followed by a large block of blacked out text and then the sentence "and the Office of Medical Services provided medical care to the detainees." Clearly something bad happened before the medical services were called in, but it is unclear what it was.

Also redacted are the names and locations where these abuses took place.

The report also makes clear that some CIA agents were worried about what they were doing. The report says some CIA agents were worried they would wind up on some "wanted list" and would end up having to appear before the World Court for war crimes because of what they did. Another said "10 years from now, we're going to be sorry we're doing this."

As a general matter, inspector general reports like this one contain a roster of recommendations for the agency under review to follow — generally to ensure that abuses won't happen again.

This report is no different. There are four pages of recommendations, but they are all blacked out.

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