Washington: When CIA interrogators were torturing accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at a secret prison in Poland in March 2003, a top CIA analyst asked them to show him a photograph of an alleged terrorist named Majid Khan.
The interrogators slapped Mohammed, denied him sleep, rehydrated him through his rectum, threatened to kill his children and waterboarded him 183 times. And he offered up details on Khan.
The analyst later told the CIA's inspector general that Mohammed's information helped lead to Khan's arrest, CIA records show. The watchdog included that as a success story in a 2004 report that became public and for many years stood as the most detailed accounting of the program.
But the analyst, then deputy chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit, knew that Khan already had been captured in Pakistan at the time Mohammed was asked about him, according to the 520-page Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA interrogations that was released this past week.
In other words, what she told the inspector general wasn't true.
The Senate report has exposed years of such CIA misrepresentations that seem designed to boost the case for the effectiveness of brutal interrogations. The CIA acknowledges the misrepresentation about Khan's arrest, while disputing most and playing down others.
But the Senate investigation relied on the CIA's own records to document a pattern of an agency consistently understating the brutality of the techniques used on detainees and overstating the value of the information they produced.
"You've decided to do something and now you've got to justify it, and you may even believe your justifications," said Cynthia Storer, a former CIA analyst whose work has been credited with helping locate bin Laden, and who opposed the torture.
"The CIA lied," Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, one of the agency's toughest critics, said in the Senate a few days ago.
In its written response to the report, the CIA said it was "dismayed" that it had "failed to meet its own standards for precision of language, and we acknowledge that this was unacceptable." But, the agency said, "Even in those cases, we found that the actual impact of the information acquired from interrogations was significant and still supported."