The cost of torture

The contractors developing the CIA's interrogation programme were paid $81m by the US government.


    Much has been made of the US Senate’s scathing report on CIA interrogation techniques released on Tuesday.  The focus has been on the human rights abuses documented in the report, including forced enemas, sleep deprivation and waterboarding of terrorist suspects, that took place at secret sites around the world.

    But buried in the 500-page executive summary are details of the torture industry itself and the amount of money people made off it. According to the report, by 2005, "the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the programme".

    Overseeing the programme were two retired military psychologists who had no real interrogation or counterterrorism experience. They had formed a company "to develop, operate, and assess" the CIA’s programme, according to the report, and were paid $81m from the US government for their work.

    As Dianne Feinstein, the US Senator overseeing the intelligence report stated, "The CIA relied on these two contractors to evaluate the interrogation programme they had devised and in which they had obvious financial interests … a clear conflict of interest and an avoidance of responsibility by the CIA."

    Not surprisingly, according to the report, while the two men were in charge, US Justice Department guidelines on torture were routinely ignored but more disturbing was the fact that many of the people picked to do the interrogations, "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".



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