From Newsweek: Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions: A long-suppressed report by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general to be re
August 23, 2009

From Newsweek: Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions:

A long-suppressed report by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general to be released next week reveals that CIA interrogators staged mock executions as part of the agency's post-9/11 program to detain and question terror suspects, NEWSWEEK has learned.

According to two sources—one who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on it—the report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."

The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution.

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MADDOW: But we are beginning tonight with some breaking news. NBC News has learned that as early as Monday, the Obama administration plans to release what we on this show have been calling the big kahuna. It`s the report on the Bush administration`s torture program that was made while the program was still going on in 2004. This is the report that supposedly stopped the torture program in its tracks when the report circulated inside the administration.

The CIA inspector general`s report has been described as sickening by some who have seen it. The only version of it that`s been publicly released so far looks like this -- it was released last year, and as you can see, it`s almost completely redacted.

In her book, "The Dark Side," Jane Mayer quotes a source who read the report as saying, quote, "You couldn`t read the documents without wondering why didn`t someone say, `Stop.`"

Well, on Monday, we`ll get a chance to read this report, although we don`t yet know how much of it is going to be redacted this time. Michael Isikoff of "Newsweek" magazine has sources who have both read a version of the report and who have been briefed on it. He has just posted an account at based on those sources, which says that we`re about to learn from this report that in CIA interrogations, at least one prisoner "was threatened with a gun and a power drill" was fired up next to his head to terrify him that he was going to be killed.

The report also apparently says that "a mock execution was staged in room right next to" a prisoner, including firing a gun in that room, so that another prisoner would think that another detainee being held right next to him had just been killed.

Joining us with this exclusive report is MSNBC contributor and "Newsweek" investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff.

Mike, thanks for putting your continued reporting on this on hold tonight in order to bring us up to speed. I appreciate it.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Rachel. Good to be here.

MADDOW: Your sources are describing what are in this report. How confident are you that it`s going to come out on Monday? Do we have any idea, if it does come out, how much is going to be redacted?

ISIKOFF: I`m pretty confident. This report has been delayed four times. The release of this has been driven by the ACLU`s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The CIA and Justice Department has been under directive from the federal judge to release the report. They were going to two or three times before they asked for delays.

This is the deadline. Monday is the deadline. And all expectations are that a declassified version of the report will be released on Monday. It will still contain redactions -- about half of the report, I`m told, will still be redacted. But what`s in the half that is going to be publicly released is going to be pretty explosive.

MADDOW: The context here is critical. And, you know, we`ve seen these memos from John Yoo and other Bush administration lawyers purporting to legally OK what most people and most legal bodies would find to be torture techniques, like waterboarding and sleep depravation. But nobody ever even purported to legally OK mock executions, did they?

ISIKOFF: Right. No. That`s exactly the point. Now, that`s why some of these passages are so significant. And the story that I`ve just posted with my colleague, Mark Hosenball, we wrote the story together. Document - - we document that there are passages in the report that talk about these techniques, mock executions, threatening a detainee with death that clearly seem to go beyond the Justice Department legal authorizations. And that`s why these are so significant.

The federal torture law does forbid anybody, any government official or anybody else from threatening somebody with imminent death. That`s how torture is defined in the law.

So, you know, people will be asking how can a mock execution -- shooting a gun off in a room next to a detainee, cocking a gun, brandishing it in his face, getting a power drill out -- be any -- judged anything other than seeming to threaten that detainee with death?

MADDOW: The allegation about this prisoner threatened with death, a gun and power drill and all of this -- was that one of the interrogations that was videotaped by the CIA? It is possible that there is a tape here?

ISIKOFF: Excellent question. But the detainee who that happened to is accused of Abd al Rahim Nashiri, accused of being one of the architects of the USS Cole bomber. He is one of the three detainees who were waterboarded. But also, he is one of the two detainees whose videotapes were destroyed by CIA -- by the CIA after this report came out.

This report came out in May 2004. The next year as more and more attention about the CIA interrogation program started to get -- be picked up on the media, the CIA, in November of 2005, destroyed the videotapes of the interrogation of Nashiri man Abu Zubaydah. That destruction has been under investigation by a federal prosecutor for over a year, a special prosecutor appointed by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey under President Bush.

MADDOW: Well, as we have talked about on this show before, this I.G. report, at least the reporting on it that we`ve seen so far, says that it includes mention of eight criminal cases of homicide and abuse and misconduct that will reportedly referred to the Justice Department because of this investigation. These cases, as we know, basically languished.

Now, that report is going to come out do, you that I something is going to be done one way or another on these cases?

ISIKOFF: Well, what we do expect, and as we`ve reported before at "Newsweek" and discussed on this show, Attorney General Holder is very close, poised to appoint a prosecutor, some senior prosecutor in the Justice Department to review all of these cases and determine if there`s grounds for further criminal prosecution. And this is going to be a very significant step.

What Justice Department people say is they`re going to be looking at are interrogations -- actions that went beyond what was the legal authorization in those Justice Department memos. So, this Nashiri stuff would seem to fit that bill. We could learn about Holder`s decision on that very shortly after that report comes out on Monday.

MADDOW: One of the other things I`m going to be looking for, of course, based on what we`ve heard about this is whether or not there`s also discussion here about people who were killed in custody, people who died in custody. But we`re going to have to wait until we see what`s unredacted in this.

Michael Isikoff, MSNBC contributor, investigative correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine, has a piece up with his colleague, Mark Hosenball at right now, which is the most advanced reporting I`ve seen on this subject by far. I`m sure we`re going to have plenty more to talk about this Monday after it comes out if, it comes out, Mike. Thanks for joining us.

ISIKOFF: Thank you, Rachel.

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