Article Lead Image

The worst things in the CIA torture report

Prepare to get angry.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Dec 9, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 12:52 am CDT

A damning new Senate report says the Central Intelligence Agency conducted brutal torture of prisoners, deceived the government and public about it, blocked oversight, and functioned beyond the law for years following 9/11.

The report is devastating in all sorts of ways, not least of all the specific stories of gruesome torture that show the CIA was engaging in actions “far worse” than what they told government officials.

When it comes to picking out the most horrible, gut-wrenching parts of the report, we’re stuck with an embarrassment of riches.

Here are some of the worst parts of the torture report:

Prisoners were force fed through the rectum, placed in ice water, and told they would be killed.

At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. The CIA placed detainees in ice water “baths.” The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because “we can never let the world know what I have done to you.” CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families— to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to “cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat.

U.S. Senate

Even CIA officers could not stand to see the results of the torture they conducted.

The CIA officers in charge of torture reportedly included individuals who had admitted to sexual assault, among other serious issues.

Here’s one of many instances in which the CIA lied about the rewards of torture.

Despite conducting brutal torture, CIA prisons couldn’t offer medical care to detainees.

The U.S. bribed foreign officials to allow torture to take place.

Psychologists made $81 million for the work they did with the CIA.

U.S. Senate

The CIA held “a number of detainees about whom we know very little.”

The CIA made a prisoner stay awake for over 100 hours.

Doctors described the CIA’s waterboarding as “a series of near drownings.”

This story is developing.

Photo via Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0)

Share this article
*First Published: Dec 9, 2014, 2:30 pm CST