A Primer to Today's CIA Torture Report

Reuters talks to sources who detail the use of a power drill, broomstick
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2014 7:00 AM CST
Updated Dec 9, 2014 7:52 AM CST
A Primer to Today's CIA Torture Report
A protester from the London Guantanamo Campaign group is seen in an orange jumpsuit and in chains outside the US Embassy.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The CIA is bracing for the release today of the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report on its use of torture—which one lawmaker on Sunday warned could bring "violence and deaths" overseas. Here's what you need to know:

  • Who authored the report? Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee; Republicans opted not to participate. Though it was compiled between 2009 and 2013 and runs 6,000 pages, just the executive summary—at roughly 10% the length of the report—will be released.
  • How detailed is it? The New York Times describes it as "by far the most thorough study of the program to date," and the result of a $40 million review of more than 6 million CIA cables, memos, and other records. It boasts 35,000 footnotes, reports the Washington Post.
  • What's omitted from the executive summary: The identities of some CIA workers and the locations and host countries of secret prisons abroad will be redacted. The Daily Beast reports that about 15 staffers ran the CIA program, and that some fear their names could potentially be determined using contextual details. An unnamed intelligence official says the agency has offered to assess potential exposure of those who factor into the report, along with any security concerns potential exposure could bring. The CIA is not, however, providing security.

  • Is what's left all new news? Nope. As the Times notes, we have leaks and Freedom of Information Act requests, among other avenues, to thank for some details that have surfaced over the years about the CIA's interrogation program. For instance, we know about this Polish "black site" prison.
  • So what will we learn? The Guardian reports that the summary details the cases of 20 post-9/11 detainees who were tortured. Reuters talked to sources yesterday who say the details get fairly graphic: One detainee was reportedly threatened in a sexual manner with a broomstick; another detainee was intimidated with a power drill (neither instrument was used).
  • How does the CIA feel about its conclusions? Earlier this year, director John Brennan said the agency agrees with some findings but disputes others. The executive summary that the CIA approved for the public in August was slammed by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein as overly blacked out; what's emerging today is a compromise.
  • We'll learn more about what the CIA thinks: The executive summary will be joined by a CIA rebuttal and a Republican minority report, NBC News reports.
  • What does Dick Cheney think? He's the latest Bush administration official to defend the CIA program. "What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation, and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it," he tells the New York Times. "I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized."
(More CIA stories.)

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