Alexa

`Inhumane' CIA questioning spurs US criminal probe

 Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...
 Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...
 Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...
 Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton takes a sip of water as conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in hot...
 Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...
 Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton wipes his brow as conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the un-ai...

Obama Vacation

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...

Obama Vacation

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...

Obama Vacation

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...

Obama Vacation

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton takes a sip of water as conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in hot...

Obama Vacation

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the gym at the Oak Bluffs S...

Obama Vacation

Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton wipes his brow as conducts the daily press briefing of media at a makeshift filing center in the un-ai...

CIA threats to kill a suspect's children and other cruel interrogation tactics spurred the Obama administration to launch a criminal investigation Monday into "inhumane" methods once secretly used against terror suspects.
A newly declassified internal CIA report found that during the Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, one terror suspect was told his children would be killed if he did not talk, another was led to believe his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him, and a third was threatened with a gun and a power drill.
Attorney General Eric Holder said he had chosen a veteran prosecutor to determine whether any CIA officers or contractors should face criminal charges for crossing the line.
At the same time, President Barack Obama reached deep inside the nation's security agencies to change how such suspects are treated in the future, although the White House pledged it would keep its hands off the professional investigators doing the work.
The 5-year-old CIA report found the agency used "unauthorized, improvised, inhumane" practices in questioning so-called high-value terror suspects.
The documents released by the CIA's inspector general said interrogators went too far, even beyond what was authorized under Justice Department legal memos that have since been withdrawn and discredited.
"Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this, (but) it has to be done," one unidentified CIA officer said in the report, predicting that interrogators would someday have to appear in court to answer for such tactics.
Monday's documents represent the largest single release of information about the Bush administration's once-secret system of capturing terror suspects and interrogating them in overseas prisons.
In one instance, suspect Abd al-Nashiri, alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole, was hooded and handcuffed and threatened with an unloaded gun and a power drill. The unidentified interrogator also threatened Nashiri's mother and family, implying that they would be sexually abused in front of him, according to the report.
The interrogator denied making a direct threat.
Other interrogators told Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, "if anything else happens in the United States, `We're going to kill your children'," one veteran officer said in the report.
Death threats violate anti-torture laws, and the interrogator denied making a direct threat.
In another instance, an interrogator pinched the carotid artery of a detainee until he started to pass out, then shook him awake. He did this three times. The interrogator said he had never been taught how to conduct detainee questioning.
Investigators credited the detention-and-interrogation program for developing key intelligence that prevented multiple attacks against Americans. One CIA operative interviewed for the report said the program thwarted al-Qaida plots to attack the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, derail trains, blow up gas stations and cut the suspension line of a bridge.
"In this regard, there is no doubt that the program has been effective," investigators wrote, bolstering an argument by former Vice President Dick Cheney and others that the program saved lives.
Another CIA document released Monday said the results of the program with the first detainee were "outstanding," and urged its rapid expansion "in the shortest time possible."
The inspector general said it was unclear whether so-called "enhanced interrogation" tactics contributed to that success, according to the report. Those tactics included waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that the Obama administration says is torture. Measuring the success of such interrogation is "a more subjective process and not without some concern," the report said.
For instance, the report describes at least one mock execution, which also would violate U.S. anti-torture laws. To terrify one prisoner, interrogators pretended to execute the prisoner in a nearby room. A senior officer said it was a transparent ruse that yielded no benefit to interrogators.
As the report was released, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed prosecutor John Durham to open a preliminary investigation into the claims of abuse. Durham already is investigating the destruction of CIA interrogation videos and now will examine whether CIA officers or contractors broke laws in handling of suspects.
The administration also announced Monday that all U.S. interrogators will follow the rules for detainees laid out by the Army Field Manual. That decision aims to end years of fierce debate over how rough U.S. personnel can get with terror suspects in custody.
Formation of the new interrogation unit for "high-value" detainees does not mean the CIA is out of the business of questioning terror suspects, deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton told reporters covering the vacationing president on Martha's Vineyard island in Massachusetts.
Burton said the unit will include "all these different elements under one group" and will be at FBI headquarters in Washington.
The structure of the new unit the White House is creating would depart significantly from such work under the previous administration of President George W. Bush, when the CIA had the lead and sometimes exclusive role in questioning al-Qaida suspects.
Obama campaigned vigorously against the Bush administration's interrogation practices in his successful run for the presidency. He has said more recently he did not particularly favor prosecuting Bush administration officials in connection with instances of prisoner abuse.
Nonetheless, the spokesman added, Obama believes the attorney general should be fully independent from the White House, and he has full faith in Holder to make the decision on whether to reopen several such cases with an eye toward possible criminal prosecution. "He ultimately is going to make the decisions," Burton said of Holder.
CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an e-mail message to agency employees Monday that he intends "to stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidance they were given. That is the president's position, too," he said.
___
Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo and Jennifer Loven in Washington and Philip Elliott in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, contributed to this story.


Updated : 2021-03-09 11:42 GMT+08:00