Exclusive: US Senate Intelligence committee corrects CIA torture report after Bureau probe

US Senate via Flickr

The US Senate Committee on Intelligence has issued a significant correction to an appendix to its report on CIA torture after mistakes were highlighted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

A “notice of errata” was published earlier this month showing amendments for almost half of the 119 prisoners held in the CIA’s rendition and enhanced interrogation programme.

The mistakes, which have been put down to a “technical error”, relate to the number of days the detainees were held by the CIA during the programme.

Of the 119 detainees listed in Annex 2 of the report published last December, 56 had errors attached to their names. The custody period for one prisoner was overstated by about 470 days.

The main report itself remains accurate.

We thank the Bureau for bringing the miscalculation errors in Appendix 2 to our attention.
David Grannis, minority staff director of the Senate committee

The amendments were made after the Bureau, which together with The Rendition Project is investigating many of the details in the torture report, revealed inconsistencies in some figures in the original annex.

As a result the Senate committee discovered other errors and today a spokesman for the committee thanked the Bureau for its work.

The corrections were published on the website of the committee’s former chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, with a date of February 6.

Hassan bin Attash, via Wikimedia
Hassan bin Attash, via Wikimedia

In one instance, the length of CIA custody of Hassan bin Attash – currently still in Guantánamo Bay after capture in September 2002 – has dropped from approximately 590 days to around 120, almost 16 months.

Three prisoners captured in summer 2003 have also undergone substantial revisions to their custody lengths.

Muhammad Khan, initially recorded as having spent between 10 and 19 days in CIA custody, is now recorded as having been there for around 200 days.

The custody lengths for Ali Jan and Modin Nik, meanwhile, have decreased from about 340 to around 280, and from about 200 to around 120 respectively.

As reported by the Bureau last month, three other custody lengths in the original annex were also wrong.

These have now been updated.

Sharif el-Masri was held for about 80 days, and not the figure of about 810 as originally stated, while Janat Gul’s detention period has been revised down from about 920 to about 750. Hambali’s period of detention now reads as about 1,110 days instead of about 1,280.

Most other amendments are for relatively small values, making the detention periods of 49 other prisoners only a few days shorter or longer.

As with the original version, the final digit of the stated number of days in custody has been redacted in the new annex, meaning it is not possible to determine the exact figure.

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The redactions to the Senate’s summary report were made after interventions from the White House.

The precise reasons for the mistakes are not known, but today David Grannis, minority staff director of the Senate committee, told the Bureau: “We thank the Bureau for bringing the miscalculation errors in Appendix 2 to our attention.

“A technical error in the spreadsheet in Appendix 2 of the Executive Summary resulted in miscalculations in the number of days that some detainees were held in CIA custody.

“The dates of custody for CIA detainees as detailed in the body of the Committee Study – including the Executive Summary and the classified Volumes – remain accurate.”

The custody dates in the report are important to researchers and lawyers trying to piece together details about what happened to each detainee.

The executive summary was published on December 9, when Senator Feinstein was chairman of the committee.

Analysing the changes

The Bureau has calculated that in the case of Hassan bin Attash, the amendments now corroborate other publicly available information about his time in custody.

The figure of about 590 days stated in the original report included his entire time in CIA custody, including some 470 days in proxy detention in Jordan, to where he was sent shortly after capture in September 2002.

The amended figure of 120 days excludes his time in Jordan. Publicly available data compiled by The Rendition Project attests that after his 16 months in Jordan, he was returned to CIA custody in Afghanistan, where he remained from January to May 2004.

He was then handed over to the US military at Bagram Air Base.

The main summary of the Senate report contains further information about Ali Jan, Modin Nik Muhammed and Muhammad Khan.

It outlines how Ali Jan was given a “factually incorrect description” when he was transferred by the CIA to the Department of Defense in 2004, owing to confusion between him and another Ali Jan captured the previous year.

The military eventually released him.

Modin Nik Muhammed, meanwhile, was later described by the CIA as having “been purposefully misidentified by a source due to a blood feud”.

The CIA acknowledged that they knew “very little” about Muhammad Khan, despite holding him for more than six months.

* The Bureau will soon release an updated version of its analysis of custody dates of the 119 detainees.

Related story: Revealed: Only 29 detainees from secret CIA torture program remain in Guantánamo Bay

This article is part of a joint investigation with The Rendition Project and is being supported by the Freedom of the Press FoundationTo support the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s fundraising appeal for this investigation, please click here.

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