Home / Senate Report on CIA Torture / Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri

Senate Report on CIA Torture

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is a Saudi Arabian national who was suspected of masterminding the bombing of the USS Cole. He was captured in the United Arab Emirates in October 2002 and his interrogation began in December 2002. According to the report, “[A]l-Nashiri was subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques during at least four separate periods,” and in each, the interrogators agreed he was “compliant and cooperative.” However, CIA headquarters believed that al-Nashiri “had not yet provided actionable intelligence on imminent attacks,” and therefore continued using the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.  

After an initial period of interrogation, during which al-Nashiri was “subjected to the waterboard at least three times,” CIA headquarters sent his interrogators back to the United States and “sent a CIA officer who had not been trained or qualified as an interrogator” to take over. Another officer later said that, “his assessment is that the Agency management felt that the [first] interrogators were being too lenient with al-Nashiri.” The new interrogator was said to have “a temper, and… some security issues.” He used “a series of unauthorized techniques against al-Nashiri,” “including slapping al-Nashiri on the back of the head…,implying that his mother would be brought before him and sexually abused, blowing cigar smoke in [his] face, giving [him] a forced bath using a stiff brush, and using improvised stress positions that caused cuts and bruises resulting in the intervention of a medical officer, who was concerned that al-Nashiri’s shoulders would be dislocated.” The interrogator also “placed a pistol near al-Nashiri’s head and operated a cordless drill near [his] body.” But “[a]l-Nashiri did not provide any additional threat information during, or after, these interrogations.”

CIA contract psychologist Bruce Jessen was also involved in al-Nashiri’s interrogation; he “judge[d] al-Nashiri’s suitability for the additional use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and develop[ed] recommendations for his interrogation.” After receiving the interrogation plan, the CIA’s chief of interrogations emailed colleagues to say that “he would ‘no longer be associated in any way with the interrogation program due to serious reservation[s] [he had] about the current state of affairs,’” and that the CIA program was “a train wreak [sic] waiting to happen.” He drafted a cable expressing his “serious reservations with the continued use of enhanced techniques with [al-Nashiri] and its long term impact on him.” He added that the other interrogators “believe[d] continued enhanced methods may push al-Nashiri over the edge psychologically.” He also stated that “a psychologist should not serve as an interrogator.” 

CIA headquarters ignored this warning and “approved a plan to reinstitute the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques against al-Nashiri.” Before being transferred to U.S. military custody in September 2006, CIA psychologists diagnosed al-Nashiri “as having ‘anxiety’ and ‘major depressive’ disorder.” Almost a year “after the final documented use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques against al-Nashiri, an assessment by [a] CIA contract interrogator […] and another CIA interrogator  concluded that al-Nashiri provided ‘essentially no actionable information.’”