UK

CIA Falsely Claimed 'Enhanced Interrogation' Foiled UK Terror Plots To Justify Brutal Techniques

09/12/2014 18:31 GMT | Updated 10/12/2014 03:59 GMT

The CIA falsely represented its role in a number of UK-related terror plots in a bid to justify its "brutal" interrogation techniques, a US intelligence watchdog has said.

In a long-awaited report, the Senate Intelligence Committee said the capture of al Qaida UK operative Dhiren Barot, arrest of shoe-bomber Saajid Badat and disruption of plans by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to attack Heathrow and Canary Wharf were among the CIA's eight most frequently cited examples of how using torture methods - including waterboarding - "saved lives".

But the Committee said these representations were inaccurate as the arrests of Barot and Badat were down to UK law enforcement, while Mohammed's plans to launch attacks in the UK were disrupted by a series of detentions, none of which were attributable to CIA interrogation.

In a damning indictment of CIA practices after the 9/11 attacks, the report said CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, "decided to initiate a programme of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of US law, treaty obligations, and our values".

Among torture methods approved by the CIA were the use of insects placed in a confinement box, sleep deprivation and waterboarding. Other techniques included the attention grasp, which involves grasping an individual with both hands on each side of a collar opening; walling, which is when an individual is pushed against a wall quickly; and stress positions.

In the report, which is a 480-page executive summary of the more than 6,000-page original, chair of the Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein said: "The major lesson of this report is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the intelligence community's actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards."

The Committee concludes that the CIA's use of interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining co-operation from detainees. It also found that the CIA's justification for the use of these torture methods "rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness".

Among cases cited were a number of UK-linked plots or arrests, which the CIA said were assisted by its interrogation programme. One is the case of convicted terrorist Barot, who was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court in 2006 to life, with a minimum term of 30 years, for planning to plant radioactive, chemical or toxic gas bombs and pack limousines with nails and explosives in the UK and America.

Over a number of years, the CIA used the capture of the north London schoolboy and thwarting of his plots as evidence for the "effectiveness" of enhanced interrogation techniques. The report concluded their claims were "inaccurate".

It said: "The operation that resulted in... Dhiren Barot's arrest, and the thwarting of his plotting, resulted from the investigative activities of UK government authorities."

The CIA also claimed that the smashing of a plot hatched by suspected 9/11 mastermind Mohammed to fly hijacked planes into Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf as evidence for the "effectiveness" of their interrogation tactics. After the Twin Towers atrocity, Mohammed was said to have "sought to target the United Kingdom using hijacked aircraft and surmised that Heathrow Airport and a building in Canary Wharf, a major business district in London, were powerful economic symbols".

It went on: "The initial plan was for al Qaida operatives to hijack multiple airplanes departing Heathrow Airport, turn them around, and crash them into the airport itself. Security was assessed to be too tight at Heathrow Airport and the plan was altered to focus on aircrafts departing from mainly Eastern European airports to conduct attacks against Heathrow Airport. Al-Qaida was unable to locate pilots to conduct these attacks."

The purported disruption of a plot against Heathrow and Canary Wharf was one of the eight most frequently cited examples used by the CIA to justify its interrogation activities, but again the Committee said the claims were "inaccurate".

It said: "The CIA represented that its enhanced interrogation techniques were effective and produced critical, otherwise unavailable intelligence, which thwarted plots and saved lives.

"Over a period of years, the CIA provided the identification and thwarting of the Heathrow Airport plot as evidence for the effectiveness of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. These representations were inaccurate. A review of records indicates that the Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf plotting had not progressed beyond the initial planning stages when the operation was fully disrupted."

Over a period of years, the CIA also flagged the identification, discovery, capture and arrest of Badat to support its controversial practices. Badat was jailed in 2005 after he admitted plotting to explode a shoebomb on a transatlantic flight in December 2001 at the same time as fellow shoebomber Richard Reid, but changed his mind and decided not to go through with it.

Again, the CIA representations were inaccurate, the report added: "UK domestic investigative efforts, reporting from foreign intelligence services, international law enforcement efforts, and US military reporting resulted in the identification and arrest of Saajid Badat."

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