Senate probe to admit torture ‘fruitless’

In this photo reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, a Guantanamo detainee holds onto a fence inside the Camp 6 high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base (Reuters/Michelle Shephard/Pool)
The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to announce that questionable interrogation techniques used by the CIA have not resulted in any noteworthy victories in the war on terror.

­Committee investigators believe the collected evidence does not substantiate claims by some Bush supporters that the harsh interrogations led to counter-terrorism coups, people close to the inquiry told Reuters.

The backers of techniques such as water-boarding and sleep deprivation believed torture was necessary to extort valuable information from the high-value prisoners with proven links to terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda. However, three years of studying the records dating back to the previous administration of George W. Bush brought the Committee investigators to the conclusion that this was not the case.

For instance, the Reuters sources claim harsh interrogation techniques did not significantly contribute to tracing and finally eliminating Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

The investigators went through millions of pages presented to the Committee by the CIA. The documents recorded daily operations, including how and when controversial techniques were performed. The inquiry was conducted by the Democrat majority of the Committee – in 2009, Republicans withdrew from the investigation, claiming it would be impossible to question witnesses and put documentary evidence material into the correct context.

The inquiry is expected to consist of about 2,000 pages. It will take time before any conclusions of the Senate’s committee are made public.

Though no official statement on the results of the investigation has been made, the Committee’s chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein made a rather strong statement just days before the elimination of Osama Bin Laden.

"I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and, in my view, nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used,” she said.

According to the records, the Bush administration only used water-boarding on three captured suspects. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, who went through water-boarding interrogation 183 times.

Other coercive techniques included sleep deprivation, making people crouch or stretch in stressful positions and slamming detainees against a flexible wall.

Supporters of harsh interrogation techniques insist such methods not only extract the required information from a detainee, but also break his will and make him co-operate.

Critics of enhanced interrogation accuse torture techniques of providing false data because a tortured person is willing to confess to practically anything to make the abuse stop. They also recall the wave of false terrorist plots reported to law enforcement after the 9/11 terror attacks. 

The Obama administration prohibited enhanced interrogation techniques in 2009.