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CIA torture report: CBS News coverage

The Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday released its long anticipated executive summary of its 6,000-page report on the investigation into the CIA's post-911 interrogation techniques. CBS News has been offering a variety of coverage and analysis on the conclusion of the Senate's three-and-a-half-year investigation.

Find highlights below from CBS News correspondents and analysts on what has become popularly known as the CIA torture report:

The Abu Zubaydah case

Zubaydah, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports, was captured in Pakistan in March, 2002. Before his enhanced interrogation began in August of that year, his interrogators first took the "cooperative approach," through which they discovered the nickname of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, later identified as one of the lead architects of the 9/11 attacks.

New details: Abu Zubaydah interrogation

"The Committee report says the CIA exaggerated the importance of Abu Zubaydah," Martin said on CBSN. "He was not as big a fish as the CIA lead the president and other members of the national security team to believe. So the rest of the government, according to this account of events, sort of signed off on these procedures of the coercive interrogation in the belief that Abu Zubaydah was a bigger fish than he really was. Then he was the first to be waterboarded.

"As this report makes clear, waterboarding was a horrific experience for the person undergoing it, leading to near-drowning," Martin said. "And then we go from there, to alright, he was subjected to these techniques, he did become cooperative, and then the question is, did he provide useful intelligence?"

The CIA's argument

CBS News Washington bureau chief Christopher Isham summarized the CIA's argument for pursuing harsher interrogation methods with Zubaydah:

CIA responds to Senate torture report

"The CIA is arguing that the Abu Zubaydah case, in which up until they applied these harsh techniques, he was providing some information but he was limited, was using counter-interrogation techniques to avoid answering the big questions and was really not providing a lot of real-time, actionable information. And it was only after he was subjected to these harsh interrogation techniques did he become fully cooperative and provide the kind of information that lead them to really understand the organization of Al-Qaeda."

"Deeply flawed report"

Charles Allen, a former intelligence chief with the Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency said he's not read the full report, but that he believes from what he's seen through the sections released to the press that it is "a deeply flawed report."

"It is just wrong," Allen told CBSN. "It's inaccurate. It's a report that tends to apparently deal with salacious aspects of our interrogation program."

Contrary to the report's findings, he said, the CIA's enhanced interrogation methods did yield actionable intelligence.

What a longtime CIA operative has to say about the torture report

"It was crucial to our understanding of the threat and to thwarting plots directed against the United States, both here and abroad... I have 47 years at CIA and I've held senior positions for many of those years, and I can assure you that this information was invaluable, critical to our ability to support policymakers, and to support the military, to support our special forces, to support our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and support our efforts in the tribal areas of Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden and others fled after September the 11th."

Allen also took issue with the report's assertions that the CIA misled Congress, calling them "patently false."

CIA officers do not lie to the Congress. I appeared before the Congress dozens of times and I always told the truth," Allen said. "We have high standards and we have ethics at CIA. We don't lie."

The Senate report is "going to have adverse effects" on the CIA's intelligence gathering, said Allen. "I can see all kinds of difficulties coming as a result of this report being released at this time."

White House response

"Most people at the White House wanted this released," reports CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, because, not only did President Obama say he wanted it released, "but they're also very convinced that what they're doing is right. And the reason they believe this is that they believe that by putting this out they're sort of washing away what they consider to be the sins of the past."

While there are concerns at the White House about a potential impact the report could have overseas, Plante said the president wants to prevent the use of such techniques in the future. "He hopes that the report can leave the situation in a place where these techniques stay in the past and are never used again."

White House responds to torture report

GOP Response

Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a report vigorously defending the interrogation tactics employed by the CIA in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"The rendition, detention, and interrogation program [the CIA] created, of which enhanced interrogation was only a small part, enabled a stream of collection and intelligence validation that was unprecedented," the GOP report concludes. "The most important capability this program provided had nothing to do with enhanced interrogation--it was the ability to hold and question terrorists, who, if released, would certainly return to the fight, but whose guilt would be difficult to establish in a criminal proceeding without compromising sensitive sources and methods... We have no doubt that the CIA's detention program saved lives and played a vital role in weakening al Qa'ida while the Program was in operation."

Who's accountable?

When asked if laws were broken, and what would happen if they were, CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford said: "Did we break the law? No. At least these CIA agents believe that they didn't because they had legal authorization from the Justice Department back in late 2001, 2002 to conduct this interrogation program, which was approved at the highest levels of the (Bush) Administration and briefed with senior members of the Intelligence Committee. So, no, they're going to say they didn't break the law."

Who is accountable for the Senate's CIA torture report?

Why isn't the DOJ going to prosecute?

The reason the Department of Justice under President Obama has announced that it will not prosecute CIA officials at this point in time, Crawford said, "because they believed they were acting within the law. They had the legal justification to conduct this program from the Justice Department's attorneys, authorized by the White House and the National Security Council, who specifically approved these techniques, and members of Congress were briefed. So that's why no persecutions."

Unauthorized techniques?

Crawford reports the some examples of unauthorized techniques include "a photograph that the Committee found of a water board and buckets suggesting that more than the three detainees that we know about were waterboarded. Was that outside the authorization? Were some of these techniques, which really sound kind of grisly to read about -- rectal hydration being one -- were those techniques authorized? No. So would there be a prosecution possible for any agents that conducted those kinds of interrogations and that I think is unclear. We have not seen the final word on that."

Interrogation or torture?

When asked if he considered the CIA's techniques to be torture, Allen a former intelligence chief with the Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency said he would not debate the clinical definition of torture.

The Senate's CIA report: "Interrogation" vs. "Torture"

"But we did not consider it torture," he said. "We considered it interrogation, from which we developed information and leads to thwart attacks on the United States that were very palpable."

He added: "Not all ends justify the means. We are not a totalitarian state. We very rigorously run a very ethical organization that operates within the law. We're operating within the findings and the law at the time with the approval of the White House and the President of the United States, and which we briefed dozens of times to the Congress over a period of years. My view is that the Americans are much safer today as a result of what we did in those early years."

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