National Security

Published — December 12, 2014 Updated — December 17, 2014 at 11:55 am ET

Who’s responsible for the CIA’s torture policy?

The Senate intelligence committee report provides some accountability for detainee abuse


Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States government created a network of secret prisons outside its borders to interrogate suspected terrorists without the constraints imposed by international and domestic norms governing prisoners of war.

Some of those who were imprisoned were subjected to extraordinarily brutal interrogations, because CIA officials in Washington believed they were withholding information about future attacks on the United States. As it turned out, some of those who were harshly treated had no such information the CIA had, in effect, bad intelligence and others cooperated more usefully when they were being treated well.

A report issued by Senate intelligence committee Democrats on Dec. 9, the most comprehensive look at the program so far, asserts that the intelligence community gleaned little militarily-significant intelligence from the most brutal of these interrogations which President Obama on Aug. 1 called “torture” and states that the CIA repeatedly and knowingly exaggerated how valuable they were, by making false statements to the media, to Congress, the White House and the Justice Department.

Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit professional group based in New York that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, said on Dec. 16 that the report confirms that U.S. health care professionals systematically tortured detainees, and that without their participation, “this illegal program might have been prevented.” It said these professionals not only breached ethics rules, but violated domestic and international law by “designing, directing, and profiting from the torture program,” engaging in unauthorized medical experimentation, intentionally inflicting pain, inappropriately using forced “rectal feeding,” and withholding needed medical care to promote cooperation. It called for amending laws and conducting a new inquiry, but Congress has little apparent interest in that option and the Justice Department has declined prosecutions.

What follows is a gallery displaying those who played key roles in setting and supporting the CIA’s policies and actions, along with highlights from the Senate report’s disclosures about their involvement.

Douglas Birch contributed to this report. Layout by Chris Zubak-Skees.

John Rizzo photo by Joe Newman (licensed CC BY-SA 2.0)

James Elmer Mitchell screengrab from Vice News

Bruce Jessen screengrab from ABC News

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