Washington D.C., August 25, 2009 - Today, the National Security Archive posted a side-by-side comparison of two very different versions of a 2004 report on the CIA's "Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities" by Agency Inspector General John Helgerson. Yesterday, the Obama administration released new portions of the report including considerably more information about the use of torture and other illegal practices by CIA interrogators than a version of the report declassified by the Bush administration in 2008. The report was first posted on the Web yesterday by the Washington Independent.
New revelations include:
- Details on a number of “specific unauthorized or undocumented torture techniques” not mentioned in the 2008 release, including the use of guns, drills, threats, smoke, extreme cold, stress positions, “stiff brush and shackles,” mock executions and “hard takedown.” The Bush administration censured almost all portions of the document pertaining to specific torture techniques, save for a few references to waterboarding that omitted nearly all other contextual information.
- A look at the legal reasoning behind the Agency’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the development of Agency guidance on capture, detention and interrogation.
- A brief discussion of the history of CIA interrogation, including the "resurgence of interest in teaching interrogation techniques" in the early 1980s "as one of several methods to foster foreign liaison relationships."
- The conclusion that, while CIA interrogations had produced useful intelligence, the “effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained” is not “so easily measured.”
The National Security Archive also announced today the publication of the Torture Archive -- more than 83,000 pages of primary source documents (and thousands more to come) related to the detention and interrogation of individuals by the United States, in connection with the conduct of hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the broader context of the "global war on terror." The goal of the Torture Archive is to become the online institutional memory for essential evidence on torture in U.S. policy.
With support from the Open Society Institute and the JEHT Foundation since 2006, this initial launch of the Torture Archive includes the complete set of declassified Combatant Status Review Tribunal and Administrative Review Board files from the Pentagon, and thousands of documents resulting from FOIA litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Archive and other plaintiffs. The Torture Archive will continue to add documents as they are released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation or Executive discretion.