Rumors and reports of the CIA’s use of torture and extraordinary rendition to garner intelligence in the war on terror have been ongoing since 2003’s Abu Ghraib scandal. After an exhaustive five year investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a massive document (only 528 pages of the 6000 page report has been declassified) that reveals the extent that both the tortures and the deception about the torture had gone on.

The CIA had apparently fractured itself into a sequestered piece which purposefully lied to the larger CIA structure and Congress as well. Often words like “renegade” and “rogue” were used to describe them. Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, then-president George W. Bush allowed the CIA to operate under wider restrictions. His memo allowed them to “undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests.” Like most of Congress, Bush was kept in the dark as to the nature of the tactics used for four years, and expressed discomfort at what was happening. The investigation he launched following diminished a number of these practices, but sent deeper into the shadows. A discovered memo from within the covert “renegade” group spoke of the need to lie to White House officials, naming then Secretary of State Colin Powell as someone who should be kept in the dark out of fear that he would “blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”

In 2007, as Bush’s investigation began to bear fruit, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden testified in a secret Senate panel that “in the history of the program, we’ve had 97 detainees.” According to the report there were up to 119 detainees; 39 had been subjected to various brutal interrogation; 26 of whom were detained accidentally.

Early into president Obama‘s first term, Hayden told a subordinate to “keep the detainee number at 98…pick whatever date I needed to make that happen but the number is 98.”

Practices used on detainees included waterboarding (known to be done to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and roughly 83 more), forced standing in stress positions, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation (of over seven days), rectal hydration and rectal feeding (involving the pureeing of foods), confinement (Abu Zubaida

“The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qa’ida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day,” CIA Director John Brennan said. Brennan was a high ranking CIA agent when these black sites were being set up. Brennan defended (to a point) the program, saying that it “produce[d] intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.”

In an interview Wednesday morning, Hayden too went out on the offensive, saying the interrogative measures “gave us kind of a Home Depot-like storage of information on Al Qaeda on which we relied. We are still relying on it today…The argument they make was that we got zero intelligence that was not otherwise available from this program”

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