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US Releases ‘Torture’ Report on Central Intelligence Agency


Senator Dianne Feinstein speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 9, 2014, about the report on CIA interrogation practices.

Senator Dianne Feinstein speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 9, 2014, about the report on CIA interrogation practices.


The United States Senate has released a critical report on the Central Intelligence Agency. The report describes the CIA’s methods for questioning suspected terrorists after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The report provides details of what the intelligence agency’s critics have called harsh interrogation techniques. Dianne Feinstein is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She says the agency had violated U.S. law and American values.

The report tells about the CIA’s use of coercive techniques to question at least 119 people. They were detained between late 2001 and January of 2009. Senator Feinstein defended the release of the report.

“History will judge us by a commitment to a just society governed by law and a willingness to face an ugly truth and say never again.”

The report says the CIA used a number of harsh or severe methods against captured al-Qaida and other militants to get information. The methods included ice baths, sexual threats and waterboarding. In waterboarding, water is poured over a cloth covering the face of a captive. It makes the individual feel as if he or she is drowning.

The report says agency officials failed to take corrective action after the death or injury of CIA detainees. It says they also failed to act after the detention of individuals who did not meet the legal requirement for detention, and the use of unapproved methods of questioning.

U.S. diplomatic, military and business interests overseas are preparing for possible violence because of the report’s release. Many of the CIA activities described in detail took place at secret prisons overseas.

The report says the agency’s methods for questioning suspected terrorists failed to produce any life-saving intelligence. It says the agency provided wrong or misleading information on the effectiveness of its program.

The CIA’s current director, John Brennan, admitted in a statement the agency had made mistakes. But he said the questioning did produce intelligence that helped stop attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.

Senator Feinstein said a small number of people at the CIA were involved in the brutal questioning of suspected terrorists. She said the methods were the work of two outside security contractors with little effective supervision from the agency.

Former President George W. Bush approved the program after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. President Barack Obama banned the techniques when he took office in 2009.

Laura Pitter is with Human Rights Watch. She and her group welcomed the report’s release.

“It was important for the United States to acknowledge wrongdoing, understand what happened, and hopefully these are the first steps towards some kind of accountability.”

CIA employee Jose Rodriguez directed the interrogation program. He said that the Justice department found the program to be legal while it was in effect. In The Washington Post newspaper, he wrote: “We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective.”

He also said information collected through the program helped lead to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who claims to have organized the September 11 attacks.

President Obama noted in a statement that no nation is perfect. But he also said, “one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.”

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA correspondent Sharon Behn provided this report. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

report - v. the story of an event; the results of a study or investigation; a statement in which the facts may not be confirmed

terrorists - n. people who carry out acts of extreme violence as a protest or a way to influence a government

values - n. the quality of being useful, important or desired

severe - adj. not gentle; causing much pain, sadness or damage

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