Senate Report on CIA Torture
Osama Bin Laden (OBL) Operation
“Shortly after the raid on the Usama bin Ladin (UBL) compound on May 1, 2011, which resulted in UBL’s death,” “CIA officials represented that CIA detainees provided the “tipoff” information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti,” the bin Laden facilitator whose “identification and tracking led to the identification of UBL’s compound and the operation that resulted in UBL’s death.” However, CIA records indicate that ”the information the CIA identified as the most critical—or the most valuable—on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, was not related to the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation technique." According to CIA records, “information from CIA detainees subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques—to include CIA detainees who had clear links to Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti based on a large body of intelligence reporting—provided fabricated, inconsistent, and generally unreliable information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti throughout their detention."
Much information was acquired by the CIA “prior to any reporting on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti from CIA detainees.” U.S. government intelligence had “a phone number associated with Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti …as early as January 1, 2002,” found in March 2002 in Abu Zubaydah's address book under the heading “Abu Ahmad K.” The CIA also “obtained an email address believed to be associated with Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti” and was “collecting and tracking [his] email activity as early as August 24, 2002." The CIA also received from a foreign government an email address that al-Kuwaiti “shared … with Ammar al-Baluchi” (an accused 9/11 plotter), and when KSM was captured in 2003, the CIA found “an email address associated with al-Kuwaiti” on “a laptop believed to be used by KSM.” The CIA received reporting between June and October 2002 from four detainees “in the custody of a foreign government indicating that al-Kuwaiti was engaged in operational attack planning with KSM,” “that al-Kuwaiti was close to KSM” and “worked on ‘secret operations’ with KSM,” that he was “supporting KSM’s operational attack planning targeting the United States” and gave “funding and instructions” to Hassan Ghul.
The CIA received more information between September 2001 and October 2002 from “detainees held in the custody of foreign governments and the U.S. military” regarding “al-Kuwaiti’s age, physical description, and family.” From April to August 2002, three detainees - Ridha al-Najjar, Riyadh the Facilitator, and Abu Zubair al-Ha’iliand - close to OBL and in the custody of foreign governments - provided information that al-Kuwaiti “may have served as a courier for UBL,” “travelled frequently" to "meet with Usama bin Ladin,” and “was one of the few close associates of Usama bin Laden.”
However, CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and other CIA officers gave classified briefings to the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 2 and 4, 2011, "indicat[ing] that CIA detainee information—and the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques—played a substantial role in developing intelligence that led to the UBL operation.” This "testimony contained significant inaccurate information.”
The CIA provided a document to the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 5, 2011 entitled “Detainee Reporting on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti” that identified 12 high-value detainees and 13 mid-value detainees who “discussed Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti's long-term membership in al-Qa’ida and his historic role as a courier for Usama bin Laden.” The document further stated that nine of the high-value detainees “providing 'Tier 1' information were subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques," that two were waterboarded, and four mid-value detainees “who provided general information” were “subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” Another document, provided by the CIA to the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 3, 2012, lists 25 detainees whom the CIA claimed “provided information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti,” 16 of whom were “in CIA custody.” According to CIA statements, 13 of those provided information “after being subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques” and only two (KSM and Abu Zubaydah) had been waterboarded.
However, the May 5, 2011 document omitted the fact that ”the majority of the accurate intelligence acquired on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was collected outside of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, either from detainees not in CIA custody, or from other intelligence sources and methods unrelated to detainees, to include human sources and foreign partners.” Indeed, five of the 12 high-value detainees “provided intelligence on al-Kuwaiti prior to entering CIA custody,” and other high-value detainees not in CIA custody, like Abu Zubair al-Ha’ili, “provided information that “linked Abu Ahmad to Bin Ladin,” and were not included in the CIA list.” It also did not mention that five of the nine high-value detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation “provided information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti prior to being subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” and that three of the other four high-value detainees “were not substantially questioned on any topic prior to the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” The one remaining high-value detainee who was subjected enhanced interrogation techniques—Zubaydah—“did not provide any information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti until August 25, 2005,” and the CIA described this information as “speculative.” Finally, it omitted that two of the four mid-value detainees “provided intelligence on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti prior to entering CIA custody.” Other mid-value detainees “in foreign government custody “who provided general information on Abu Ahmad” … were not included in the list of 13 detainees.”
The October 3, 2012 document misstated the total number of detainees who provided information about al-Kuwaiti by omitting those ”not in CIA custody,” which included "2002 reporting that al-Kuwaiti 'was one of a few close [bin Laden] associates.'" It also left out the fact that ”the vast majority of the intelligence acquired on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was originally acquired from sources unrelated to the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, and the fact that the most accurate information acquired from a CIA detainee was provided prior to the CIA subjecting [him] to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” Indeed, at least seven of the 16 CIA detainees “provided reporting on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti prior to being transferred to CIA custody,” and seven of the 13 detainees “listed as having been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques provided information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti prior to being subjected” to these techniques. The second document also did not mention that five of the remaining six detainees “were not substantially questioned on any topic prior to the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques,” and or that the CIA assessed that all the information they gave was “fabricated and intentionally misleading” or “limited, non-unique.” The remaining detainee, Zubaydah, “did not provide information on Abu Ahmad al Kuwaiti until August 25, 2005, intelligence that … was described by CIA officers at the time as "speculative.”’
Further, both documents omitted the fact that two of the three waterboarded detainees—Abu Zubaydah and KSM— “withheld information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti,” including denying “any significant connection between al-Kuwaiti and UBL.” They “failed to provide accurate information likely known to them about Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti and/or fabricated information to protect [him].” Both documents also failed to mention that according to CIA records, Hassan Ghul, who provided the “most accurate 'Tier 1' information linking Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti to UBL,” described al-Kuwaiti as OBL’s “closest assistant,” and stated that “UBL’s security apparatus would be minimal, and that the group likely lived in a house with a family somewhere in Pakistan”, “opened up right away and was cooperative from the outset” and provided the information ”prior to being subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” Ghul was then transferred to the CIA's Detention Site Black, and CIA Headquarters approved the request to use enhanced interrogation techniques, and [d]uring and after the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques Ghul provided no other information of substance on al-Kuwaiti.”
In addition, the CIA “internally noted that reporting from CIA detainees—specifically CIA detainees subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques—was insufficient, fabricated, and/or unreliable.” Such internal CIA documents include a “report on the search for UBL,” dated September 1, 2005, a “targeting study” for al-Kuwaiti from May 20, 2007, and an intelligence document regarding al-Kuwaiti from November 23, 2007 titled “Probable Identification of Suspected Bin Ladin Facilitator Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti.” Additionally, a CIA cable from May 1, 2008 regarding targeting efforts against al-Kuwaiti states that “HQS judges that detaining [al-Kuwaiti] should be a last resort, since we have had no success in eliciting actionable intelligence on bin Ladin's location from any detainees.” “The initial detainee-related information linking" al-Kuwaiti to bin Laden and KSM "did not come from CIA detainees, but from detainees who were not in CIA custody.”