US Senate Intelligence Committee torture report: the main findings

Of 119 known detainees, at least 26 were ‘wrongfully held’

Interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the agency

admitted, and conditions of confinement were harsher than it claimed.

The agency’s interrogation techniques were not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.

Multiple detainees fabricated information under torture, resulting in faulty intelligence.


Information from militants obtained by the CIA did not play a key role in locating Osama bin Laden, contrary to the agency's claims.

Claims by the CIA that intelligence gathered through “enhanced interrogation” had resulted in terrorism plots being “thwarted” and lives saved were found to stand in none of the 20 prominent cases examined by the committee.

Beginning with the CIA's first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the agency applied its enhanced interrogation techniques with significant repetition for days or weeks.

Interrogation techniques such as slaps and “wallings” (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity.

Records do not support CIA representations that the agency initially used an “an open, nonthreatening approach”, or that interrogations began with the “least coercive technique possible” and escalated to more coercive techniques only as necessary.

The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting.

Sleep deprivation involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads.

Of 119 known detainees, at least 26 were “wrongfully held” and did not meet a defined detention standard. These included an “intellectually challenged” man whose CIA detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information, and two individuals whom the CIA assessed to be connected to al-Qaeda based solely on information fabricated by a CIA detainee subjected to the CIA’s torture techniques.

Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined they did not meet the detention standard.

Then-president George W Bush was never fully briefed about the interrogation techniques.

Numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems – including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others – that should have called into question their suitability employment .

By 2005, the interrogation programme had been “overwhelmingly outsourced” to a company that was paid $81 million (€65 million).

The CIA sought to mislead the White House, the national security council, the department of justice, the office of its own inspector general, Congress, and the public about the effectiveness of its interrogation techniques.

It also impeded oversight of its detention and interrogation programme by the Department of justice, the White House and Congress.

At least 17 detainees were subjected to CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques” without authorisation from CIA headquarters.

The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the department of justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of its detention and interrogation programme.

The CIA’s activities impeded the national security missions of other agencies, such as the FBI and state department.

The CIA leaked classified information to the media, some of it inaccurate, to try to shape public opinion and counter criticism.

The CIA’s detention and interrogation programme damaged the United States’s standing in the world.