Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fact Check: CIA’s Use of Rectal Rehydration, Feeding Not Medical Procedures

Friday, US Senator Dianne Feinstein's office issued the following:

Washington—As documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, coercive interrogation techniques included the use of rectal rehydration and rectal feeding of CIA detainees.

Contrary to some claims, this is not a medical procedure, nor was it ever approved by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel as an authorized interrogation technique. On December 10, 2014, the New York-based Physicians for Human Rights stated that “Contrary to the CIA’s assertions, there is no clinical indication to use rectal rehydration and feeding over oral or intravenous administration of fluids and nutrients.”

The report includes ample information about the uses of these procedures, including:

  • Page 73: One detainee, al-Nashiri, launched a short lived hunger strike that resulted in the CIA force feeding him rectally. (Source: CIA cable, May 23, 2004.)
  • Page 82: CIA’s chief of interrogations ordered the rectal rehydration of Khalid Shaykh Mohammed without a determination of medical need, a procedure that the chief of interrogations would later characterize as illustrative of the interrogator’s “total control over the detainee.” (Source: CIA cable, March 5, 2003; interview by the CIA inspector general, March 27, 2003.)
  • Page 83: In March 2003, Khalid Shaykh Mohammed was also subjected to additional rectal rehydration (Source: CIA cable, date redacted), which a CIA officer from the Office of Medical Services “described as helping to ‘clear a person’s head’ and effective in getting KSM to talk.” (Source: CIA email, March 6, 2003, names of sender and recipients redacted.)
  • Page 100, footnote 584: According to CIA records, listed in this footnote, the CIA rectally rehydrated and/or rectally fed al-Nashiri, Khalid Shaykh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Marwan al-Jabbur. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khallad bin Attash and Adnan al-Libi were threatened with rectal rehydration. CIA medical officers discussed rectal rehydration as a means of behavior control. As one officer wrote, “[w]hile IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness of rectal infusion on ending the water refusal in a similar case.” (Source: multiple CIA cables, dates redacted; CIA email, February 2004, names of sender and recipients redacted.)
  • Page 100, footnote 584: The CIA’s June 2013 response to the study does not address the use of rectal feeding with CIA detainees, but defends the use of rectal rehydration as a “well acknowledged medical technique.” CIA leadership, including General Counsel Scott Muller and DDO James Pavitt, was also alerted to allegations that rectal exams were conducted with “excessive force” on two detainees at DETENTION SITE COBALT. A CIA attorney was asked to follow up, although CIA records do not indicate any resolution of the inquiry. (Source: multiple CIA emails, dates and names of sender and recipients redacted.)
  • Pages 114-115: Although Majid Khan cooperated with the nasogastric tube and the provision of intravenous fluids, he was subjected to rectal feeding and rectal rehydration without any evidence he was resisting other feeding methods. The rectal feeding included the rectal infusion of the “pureed” contents of Majid Khan’s “lunch tray,” including hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins. (Source: two CIA cables on September 23, 2004.)


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