A previously classified report on CIA interrogations of terror suspects was released Monday. The Obama administration released the report under legal pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union. The information in the report could lead to prosecutions of some who interrogated suspects during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The report is 109 pages long. Nearly half remains classified and is blacked out.
It details CIA interrogations of high profile, mainly al-Qaida, suspects in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.
It lists methods used on a suspected plotter of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 US sailors. The report says he was threatened with an electric drill while he was wearing a hood.
The report confirms that the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was waterboarded 183 times.
It says interrogators told him his children would be killed if the US came under attack again.
Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a prosecutor to investigate. While supporting his attorney general, President Obama has been reluctant to bring charges against interrogators if they acted within legal guidelines at the time.
"We must leave these methods where they belong - in the past," Mr. Obama said. "They are not who we are and they are not America."
Michael Barone of the conservative American Enterprise Institute says the appointment of a prosecutor is wrong because the Justice Department had already investigated and decided not to press charges. "This almost reeks of double jeopardy, of subjecting people twice to possible prosecution, which is against the spirit, if not the letter of the U.S. Constitution," he said.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in a statement Monday that CIA interrogations produced information that thwarted new attacks.
"We were able to protect Americans, protect people around the world as a result of the information we got out of these enhanced interrogation techniques. They were effective," Barone states.
Are you saying they should be used in the future?
"Well, I think they should be used in accordance with the needs of the president, the administration to protect the people of the United States," Barone said.
In another break from the Bush years, the Obama administration is creating a unit, named the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG. This special team would question terrorism suspects. The responsibilities would be shared between the CIA, the FBI and the White House.
"All the different elements of the intelligence community,to get the best intelligence possible based on scientifically proven methods, consistent with the army field manual," Bill Burton explained.
Whether harsh interrogations were the catalyst that produced valuable information is still unclear. The CIA report says it's difficult to assess that.