The CIA Torture report: What happened to the missing detainees?

Dianne Feinstein presenting the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on torture via Flickr/Adam Kamran

The Bureau is today launching a new investigation in partnership with The Rendition Project to investigate some of the crucial unanswered questions raised as a result of the US Senate’s shocking report on CIA torture.

The investigation is being made possible with the help of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is also today launching a major crowd-funding appeal for donations for this important project.

If you would like to donate, please click here.

Last month, the US Senate Intelligence Committee published a 499-page summary report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program–or torture.

It detailed how, in secret CIA facilities overseas between 2002 and 2007, prisoners were subjected to “enhanced interrogation” techniques, such as waterboarding, beatings and “rectal feeding”.

The committee’s chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, described it as “a stain on our values and on our history”.

However, many believe that in reality the report–and its evidence of potential government criminality–has since been buried and forgotten.

Our investigation is a determined attempt to ensure that is not the case.

At least 119 detainees were put through the CIA’s programme.

Read the full 499-page summary

From the Bureau’s initial research, led by secret prisons and torture expert Crofton Black, we have established only about half of those 119 names were known before the publication of the report.

In conjunction with The Rendition Project, our new investigation will try to establish who the unknown detainees are and what has happened to them.

Only a small handful of the people forced through the programme have been put on trial in the US.

We will also attempt to uncover other information about all the detainees and to discover what else was redacted in the report or held back in the 6,000 pages of unpublished US government material.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is one of the world’s most important organisations promoting press freedom, believes the investigation is so important it has issued a major crowd-funding appeal.

Its co-founder and executive director Trevor Timm said: “Freedom of the Press Foundation is proud to support the Bureau of Investigative Journalism teaming up with the Rendition Project to investigate Bush-era CIA torture.

“There are so many questions left to be answered in the wake of the Senate’s CIA torture report, and investigative journalism may be the only way the public will ever get them.

“The Bureau has done some of the best national security reporting in the world over the past few years, and we hope that this project continues in that tradition.”

Our investigation team

Our partner in the investigation is The Rendition Project, which runs one of the most important data collection sources in the area of secret prisons and torture.

It is run by British academics Dr Ruth Blakeley, Reader at the University of Kent, and Dr Sam Raphael, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Kingston University in Surrey.

It has amassed huge amounts of data on how, since 9/11, the US Government established and operated a system of detention, torture and illegal prisoner transfers–rendition–outside its borders.

The work on this new CIA Torture project will be led at the Bureau by Crofton Black and at The Rendition Project by Dr Raphael, who will work with Bureau journalists and other researchers.

Dr Sam RaphaelSam Raphael, the rendition project, who completed his PhD on terrorism studies at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, is a leading expert on state violence and human rights abuses. He has published works on Colombian state terror, and on the links between US energy security and the provision of counterinsurgency training and arms to oil-rich states outside of the Middle East.


Crofton Black

Before working for the Bureau as a consultant, Crofton Black was an investigator on the Secrets Prisons team at human rights organisation Reprieve. He is a leading expert on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation programme and a specialist in military and intelligence corporate contracting. He studied English and Classics at Oxford University and has a PhD in the history of philosophy from the University of London.


Also helping on the project as investigators and advisers are Dr Ruth Blakeley, of The Rendition Project, and Steve Kostas at the Open Society Foundations.

Dr Ruth Blakeley, the rendition projectDr Ruth Blakeley is a leading expert on the use of state violence, particularly by liberal democratic states, and has published widely on state terrorism and torture.



Steve KostasSteve Kostas is a litigator with the Open Society Justice Initiative. He works on accountability for systematic crimes and gross human rights violations, and has investigated and litigated rendition cases in Europe and Africa.