On December 11, 2014 CIA Director John Brennan addressed a press conference at the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, defending the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against suspected terrorists that were detailed in the Senate Torture Report. Less than a year later, there are now fresh revelations about CIA torture tactics.
To this date, the CIA maintains that it only subjected three detainees to waterboarding—one of the most discredited forms of torture used by the US government in the last decade. However after further review of last year’s Senate Torture Report, along with new lawsuits and documents, it seems that the CIA water torture program is more expansive than previously thought.
Spencer Ackerman reported Friday that “agency interrogators subjected at least 12 others to a similar technique, known as “water dousing,” which also replicated a drowning sensation or chilled a person’s body temperature—sometimes through “immersion” in water, and often without use of a board. But that’s not all, Ackerman continues that water dousing added an element of hypothermia and that “some detainees reported their CIA captors dousing them with “cold or refrigerated” water, then wrapping them in similarly frigid sheets of plastic, keeping their temperatures low.” But are the two tactics really so different?
The 2014 Torture Report’s findings concluded that certain tactics such as abdominal slaps, routine use of nudity and cold-water dousing that were employed by the CIA went beyond what was allowed by the memos issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which illustrates that the CIA acted without DOJ approval.
The article further details the extent of CIA secrecy over its water torture tactics, stating that “even beyond the dousings, there is some evidence to suggest that the CIA performed more waterboardings than it has thus far admitted.” Last year McClatchy Washington Bureau reported on water dousing, citing the Senate investigation.
The Senate report reads: “Interrogators used the water dousing technique in various ways. At detention site Cobalt (in Afghanistan), detainees were often held down, naked, on a tarp on the floor, with the tarp pulled up around them to form a makeshift tub, while cold or refrigerated water was poured on them. Others were hosed down repeatedly while they were shackled naked, in the standing sleep deprivation position.”
Last week the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of torture survivors Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, as well as the family of Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia in his cell as result of the torture he endured against “James Elmer Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, two psychologists contracted by the CIA to design, implement, and oversee the agency’s post-9/11 torture program”, describing water dousing as “a form of waterboarding.”