Recently released CIA documents show that their use of waterboarding was more than “a dunk in the water” as claimed by Dick Cheney — the controversial “enhanced interrogation” used by the CIA was reportedly far more brutal on detainees and was concocted and administered with meticulous cruelty.
Waterboarding would have been a luxury compared to the brutality the CIA documents reveal; interrogators used so much water on the detainees that the CIA tried using a special saline solution to minimize the risk of death.
A “specially designed” gurney that tilted backwards at a perfect angle in order to maximize the water entering a prisoner’s nose and mouth to intensify the sense of choking — and to be lifted upright quickly should the detainee stop breathing — was used by the CIA.
The documents spell out exactly what should occur during each two-hour waterboarding “session.” The documents instructed the interrogator to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled to ensure that water, not air, was inhaled in his next breath. Interrogators could use their hands to “dam the runoff” and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee’s mouth.
Six separate 40-second “applications” of liquid were allowed in each two-hour session — interrogators could dump water over a detainee’s nose and mouth for a total of 12 minutes a day. Detainees were kept on a liquid diet of Ensure Plus to keep them alive in the event that they inhaled their own vomit — a common side effect of waterboarding.
The deliberate, methodical, brutal torture — outlined in the recently released CIA documents — was, with coercion from Bush’s White House, condoned by the Bush Department of Justice. Hundreds of pages of documents authorizing or reviewing the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation program’ show that methods used by the CIA went far beyond the training received by U.S. soldiers — a fact that is admitted by the CIA in its own documents.
Detainees Swallowed Large Enough Amounts of Liquid to Kill Them From Hyponatremia
The CIA documents reveal that a saline solution was used in waterboarding because the CIA forced such massive amounts of water into the mouths and noses of detainees that they inevitably swallowed huge amounts of liquid — enough to kill them from hyponatremia, a rare but deadly condition in which congesting enormous quantities of water can result in dangerously low concentrations of sodium in the blood.
Hyponatremia is usually a concern for marathon runners who, on rare occasions, drink too much water. It was feared that hyponatremia could set in during prolonged waterboarding sessions. ‘Based on advice of medical personnel,’ the CIA required saline solution be used instead of plain water in order to reduce the chance of a detainee being killed by hyponatremia. Pneumonia was another risk that could be caused by detainees inhaling so much fluid into their mouths and noses. The CIA felt that saline might reduce the risk of pneumonia when this occurred.
A ‘specially designed’ gurney was used by the CIA for waterboarding detainees. After immobilizing a prisoner by strapping him down, interrogators would tilt the gurney 10-15 degrees downward with the detainee’s head at the lower end. A black cloth would be put over his face and water or saline would be poured from a height of 6 to 18 inches. Slanting the gurney helped the interrogator pour more water directly into the detainee’s mouth or nose. The ‘special gurney’ could be tilted upright quickly if the prisoner stopped breathing.
Detainees were strapped to the gurney for a two-hour ‘session.’ During that session, the continuous flow of water onto a detainee’s face was reportedly not supposed to exceed 40 seconds during each pour with interrogators being limited to performing six separate 40-second pours during each session for a total of six pouring sessions that lasted four minutes.
The CIA documents reveal that detainees could be subjected to two of those two-hour sessions in a 24-hour period, which would add up to 8 minutes of pouring. But the documents say that a detainee could be subject to 12 minutes of pouring during each 24-hour period. The extra 4 minutes allowed by the CIA documents are not explained, raising more questions.
Waterboarding Could Produce ‘Spasms of the Larnyx’ and Stop Breathing
Interrogators were instructed to pour the water when a detainee exhaled so he would inhale water during the pour. Interrogators were also allowed to force the water down the detainee’s mouth and nose by cupping their hands around the detainee’s mouth and nose to dam the runoff, making it impossible for the detainee to breathe while being waterboarded. If a detainee stopped breathing while being waterboarded, interrogators were instructed to rapidly tilt the gurney to an upright position to help expel the fluid.
CIA medical officials drafted documents in 2003 — about a year after the CIA began the torture — describing a more aggressive procedure to get the liquid out and making a drowning detainee breath. Medical officials ordered interrogators to deliver a squeeze-thrust — similar to the actions used during the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim — to expel the water.
Even those actions weren’t always useful. According to a CIA memo, waterboarding could produce ‘spasms of the larnyx’ that might prevent a detainee from breathing, despite the waterboarding being stopped. In those cases, a qualified physician would intervene and if necessary, perform a tracheotomy on the detainee, but the documents do not reveal whether or not tracheotomy’s were ever performed on a detainee.
Doctors were also allegedly present to ensure that detainees did not develop respiratory distress. A pulse oximeter — a device that measures the oxygen saturation level in the blood — was hooked up to a detainee’s finger to monitor the oxygen. The CIA’s waterboarding was so harsh that some detainees tried to give up and drown.
The CIA placed detainees on liguid diets prior to being waterboarded, because during waterboarding, a detainee might vomit and then aspirate — choke on his own vomit. Ensure Plus was recommended by the CIA when putting a detainee on a liquid diet.
Bush DoJ Authorized Waterboarding and Other Forms of Torture
The Bush Justice Department authorized the CIA to use its harsh interrogation method in combination with other forms of torture. Detainees could be kept awake for more than seven days straight by shackling his hands in a standing position to a bolt in the ceiling so they couldn’t sit. Detainees could also reportedly be physically slammed into a wall, crammed into a small box, placed in ‘stress positions’ to increase discomfort and doused with cold water — among other things.
A CIA memo detailing the waterboarding seems to say that the detainees subjected to waterboarding were guinea pigs:
“NOTE: In order to best inform future medical judgments and recommendations, it is important that every application of the waterboard be thoroughly documented: how long each application (and the entire procedure) lasted, how much water was used in the process (realizing that much splashes off), how exactly the water was applied, if a seal was achieved, if the naso- or oropharynx was filled, what sort of volume was expelled, how long was the break between applications, and how the subject looked between each treatment.”
39 people appear to have gone into the CIA’s secret prison network, never to be seen again. It’s known that close to 100 people died and many others were brought close to death as a result of the CIA waterboarding program. There is still a vast network of covert CIA facilities reportedly all over the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe and CIA secret prisons were reported to be operating in Poland and Lithuania. The torture hasn’t stopped.
While pushing his lies and delusions about the Bush administration and trying to rewrite history, Karl Rove has claimed that he is ‘proud’ that Bush used waterboarding that broke the will of terrorists and gave us valuable information — which as most know, is a complete lie — and is trying to say that the CIA methods conformed with international requirements and U.S. law. Rove is still lying, and still trying to keep his ass out of prison where it belongs.
Britain’s ex-MI5 chief says the U.S. ‘concealed suspect mistreatement’ from them, which is hardly surprising since the U.S. lied about so many other things. The CIA documents are a smoking gun that should be used to bring the Bush cabal and their cohorts up on war crime charges. More on the recently released CIA documents can be found at Salon News.