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Torture Report: What $300 Million Bought the CIA's 'Detention and Interrogation' Program

The CIA had 'more money than [it] could possibly spend' to build black site prisons in other countries, bribe foreign officials, and more.
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The CIA had "more money than [it] could possibly spend" to fund its "enhanced interrogation" program, according to the 500-page declassified executive summary of the agency's program released today by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Hundreds of millions of dollars was spent on interrogators while the agency paid bribes to foreign governments willing to look the other way as the CIA set up its black site prisons, where as many as 119 detainees were tortured, the Senate committee's report says.


"CIA records indicate that the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs," according to the Senate report. "This included funding for the CIA to construct and maintain detention facilities, including two facilities costing nearly $[redacted] million that were never used, in part due to host country political concerns."

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To encourage foreign governments to host the CIA's secret prisons and to obtain support for the interrogation program, the "CIA provided millions of dollars in cash payments" to officials. The identities of the countries are redacted from the report, but it is well known that the CIA operated black sites in Poland, Lithuania, Romania, and Thailand.

When foreign governments expressed reservations about allowing the program to operate on their soil, CIA stations in those countries were allowed to put together "wish lists" of "proposed financial assistance" that would be used to get them to change their position. The exact figure for this assistance for this is redacted in the report, but it is in the millions.

"In one case we gave $[redacted],000,001," a footnote in the report says, adding that the CIA chief of station in one country remarked, "Do you realize you can buy Country [redacted] for $[redacted] million?"

Another footnote says, "While CIA Headquarters offered $[redacted] million to Country [redacted] for hosting a CIA detention facility, [redacted] precluded the opening of the facility."


The Senate's executive summary says, "only $[redacted] million was made available to the CIA Station for support to the [redacted] although CIA Headquarters asked the CIA Station to 'advise if additional funds may be needed to keep [the facility] viable over the coming year and beyond.'"

CIA Headquarters added, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary, "We cannot have enough black site hosts, and we are loathe to let one we have slip away."

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In some instances, according to the Senate report, the CIA gave its station chiefs more money than they could process. A redacted cable footnoted in the report referenced an interview with a CIA officer in which he described boxes of $100 bills whose intended recipient or recipients were unknown.

The CIA also rewarded officers even when they made mistakes. After one detainee froze to death at a CIA prison in Afghanistan known as COBALT — a site that cost about $200,000 to construct — because a junior agency officer left him chained to the floor while nude, the CIA Station Chief in [redacted country] recommended that the interrogator receive a "cash award of $2,500" for his "consistently superior work."

The CIA also paid Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, retired Air Force psychologists who were under contract to the CIA and are alleged to be architects of the interrogation program $81 million. In 2006, the value of the CIA's base contract with the company formed by Mitchell and Jessen, a copy of which VICE News sought from the CIA under a Freedom of Information Act request, was "in excess of $180 million." The contract ended in 2009.


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"In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the [contractors'] company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement," the Senate's executive summary says.

One detainee held captive by the CIA required medical care that exceeded $[redacted] million, the Senate study notes.

Follow Jason Leopold on Twitter: @JasonLeopold

Photo via Flickr