CIA Releases New and Gruesome Details on Its Torture Program

The CIA released 50 new documents yesterday relating to its post-9/11 torture and rendition program. Despite the many disclosures that have come in the course of our decade-long fight to reveal the details of the program, the new revelations still have the capacity to shock.

The documents, released in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, vividly depict the brutality of torture, and further expose the fiction that this abuse is a scientific method for extracting information from victims. The documents also reveal how hard the CIA worked to bury the evidence of its crimes — including by seeking to silence its victims.

A few of the many new findings include:

CIA pressure to “break” detainees was deadly. A newly released CIA inspector general report about the death of detainee Gul Rahman concluded that he was singled out for especially harsh torture because of “pressure” to “break him.” We learned that he was kept nude or in a diaper for most of his detention, “solely for humiliation.” When they ran out of diapers, the guards would use “a handcrafted diaper secured by duct tape.” CIA torturers kept Rahman naked in “cold conditions with minimal food or sleep” and kept questioning him even when he “appeared incoherent.” When they decided he wasn’t sufficiently “broken,” CIA personnel brutalized, starved, and froze him to death — and then lied about it.

We also learned just why the CIA and Bruce Jessen, one of the psychologists who designed the program, considered Rahman “resistant,” leading to torture so extreme that it resulted in his death. Based on pseudoscientific theories of torture and “resistance,” they assessed Rahman to have a “sophisticated level of resistance training,” because — among other reasons — he “complained about poor treatment” and said he couldn’t “think due to conditions (cold).” No one has yet been held accountable for Mr. Rahman’s death, but the ACLU represents Mr. Rahman’s family in suing Jensen and James Mitchell, the other psychologist who collaborated with the CIA in designing and overseeing the torture program...


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