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Internal Government Report To Detail CIA Torture, Secret Detention

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Caitlin Cone-Hoskins
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« on: June 19, 2009, 11:13:40 am »

Internal Government Report To Detail CIA Torture, Secret Detention

Pamela Hess

WASHINGTON The government is preparing to release a long-delayed internal report on the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program. How much of the document will be declassified for public view isn't yet known.

The roughly 150-page report was expected to be released Friday, but a CIA spokesman said Thursday that government officials were still poring through the documents.

"The CIA is reviewing the report to determine how much more of it can be declassified in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act," said George Little, the spokesman.

Responding to reports that CIA officials were pressing to redact large portions of the documents, Little said, "This is not about fighting for or against redactions_ it's about applying the law."

The review by the inspector general for the CIA was completed in May 2004. John L. Helgerson, the now-retired CIA inspector who spearheaded the investigation, said Thursday that the report is "a comprehensive look at everything the agency had been doing related to detention and interrogation."

Helgerson said the review covered "activities within the formal approved program, and it also included a reference to activities that went on outside the formal program."

"We found a great deal running very well. We also found things to be concerned about," Helgerson said. The investigation was conducted in response to concerns expressed by agency employees about the program, he added.

The government released a heavily redacted version of Helgerson's report last year to the American Civil Liberties Union as a result of its ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on the program. All but a few paragraphs and individual words were blacked out.

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Caitlin Cone-Hoskins
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 11:13:59 am »

Helgerson said a large portion of the report addresses CIA activities, sources and methods that should remain classified.

The ACLU is pressing for the full release of the report.

"The public has a right to know what took place in the CIA's secret prisons, and on whose authority," Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement issued this week.

Some of the details that were blacked out last year have since been released in other documents. The Obama administration this spring declassified a slew of Bush-era Justice Department memos on the CIA's interrogation program that outlined the methods and legal rationales for the program.

The interrogation methods included waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that President Barack Obama recently pronounced a form of torture.

The IG review cast doubt on the effectiveness of the harsh interrogation methods employed by CIA interrogators, according to references to the report contained in the Justice Department memos.

The IG review also quoted medical personnel who questioned the safety and effectiveness of the waterboarding, as applied by the psychologist/interrogators who conducted the sessions.

It described the technique as producing the "sensation of drowning and suffocation," according to a footnote in another legal memo, and noted that it was carried out differently than was approved by the Justice Department in a 2002 legal opinion.

It said that the subject's mouth and nose are supposed to be covered with a damp cloth and a small amount of water poured over.

"By contrast, the agency interrogator ... applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee's mouth and nose," the IG review said.

Helgerson said news reports that his review referred several criminal cases to the Justice Department for prosecution are inaccurate. The IG separately referred cases to the Justice Department for its review, and those cases are referenced in the report.

One of them is the only CIA prisoner abuse case to be prosecuted so far. Former CIA contractor David Passaro was convicted in 2007 of felony assault for the death of an Afghan prisoner in 2003. Helgerson's office conducted the criminal investigation that led to the trial, he said.

Helgerson's report drew on 38,000 documents and interviews with more than 100 CIA officials.

Helgerson, who retired from the CIA on May 31, declined to discuss details of the review until its release to avoid disclosing classified information.
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