Huffpost Politics
Sam Stein Headshot

IG Report: Waterboarding Was Neither "Efficacious Or Medically Safe"

Posted: Updated:

A CIA inspector general's report from May 2004 that is set to be declassified by the Obama White House will almost certainly disprove claims that waterboarding was only used in controlled circumstances with effective results.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported the impending release of a May 7, 2004 IG report that, the paper added, would show that in several circumstances the techniques used to interrogate terrorist suspects "appeared to violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture" and did not produce desired results. It is difficult, the report will conclude, "to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks."

A fury of speculation ensued among a host of reporter-bloggers, who viewed the forthcoming information as the strongest proof to date that proclamations of waterboarding's usefulness were overblown.

But there is no need to wait for the report's declassification. Information from its pages was already made public in the footnotes of the Office of Legal Counsel memos written by Steven Bradbury in 2005 and released by the current administration less than one month ago.

And the conclusion seems pretty clear: Not only did interrogators, for a period of time, use waterboarding that was deemed by U.S. officials to be more frequent and intense than was medically safe, it did so to apparently limited results.

As the Huffington Post reported back in mid-April, on a footnote on Page 41 of the Bradbury memo, it is written that "Agency interrogator[s]" had "in some cases" used the waterboard in a manner different than the way "used in the [the Marine Corps' Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape] SERE training."

"The difference was in the manner in which the detainee's breathing was obstructed," read the footnote, citing the IG report. "At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject's airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrogator... applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee's mouth and nose."

Medical personnel at the detention facility protested the use of the waterboard in that form, stressing that "there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used by the psychologist/interrogators was either efficacious or medically safe.'"

The important things to take away from the footnote seem clear: for a period of time interrogators were using the waterboard with a "frequency and cumulative use" that had to be toned down. Moreover, they were doing it in a way that was determined to not be "efficacious."

The officials tasked with crafting and implementing the interrogation methods adjusted the techniques to fit within the legal parameters set forth by the Bush Department of Justice. But for a period of time, they were operating in excess and outside those bounds.


Get HuffPost Politics On Facebook and Twitter!