What You Need to Know About the Senate’s CIA Torture Report

The Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence is expected to make public today a redacted version of the executive summary of its comprehensive investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The comprehensive report has come to be known in shorthand as the “CIA Torture Report.”

The committee’s investigation began in 2009 and three years later morphed into a 6,300 page report with 35,000 footnotes. The CIA’s security concerns about releasing the full report resulted in a compromise earlier this year by the White House and the committee to release a redacted version of the executive summary that was 500 pages in length.

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The report is expected to provide details about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and use of stress positions that human rights groups have described as torture. Concerns that the report’s contents could incite violence overseas have led the Obama administration to raise security precautions at U.S. embassies worldwide.


In 2002, the CIA began a program to seize al Qaeda members and hold them in secret prisons overseas that became known as “black sites.” At those locations, the CIA conducted interrogations of those detainees to learn more about al Qaeda, prevent future plots and eventually find Osama bin Laden. The list of detainees included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of the 9/11 plotters.

In 2002, the Justice Department secretly authorized the use of specific “enhanced interrogation techniques” that would enable CIA interrogators to extract more information from uncooperative detainees. These techniques — or EIT’s as they became known — included the use of stress positions, waterboarding and prolonged sleep deprivation designed to coerce detainees into providing more information.

In September 2006, President Bush publicly revealed the existence of the CIA’s secret prison program and announced that detainees under the agency’s control would be transferred to the detention facility at Guantanamo. Upon taking office in January 2009, President Obama issued an executive order banning the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques.


In March 2009, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence undertook what it expected to be a year-long investigation to review the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. A committee press release said that in addition to researching the program’s history, committee investigators were also tasked with determining “Whether the CIA accurately described the detention and interrogation program to other parts of the U.S. government, including the Office of Legal Counsel and the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

It would also compare the intelligence gathered through both standard and enhanced interrogation techniques. The CIA established a..

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