CIA officers used power drills, mock executions and threats against children in often futile attempts to break high-value al Qaeda targets, according to portions of a 2004 report by the CIA inspector general that was made public today.
"We now have a document that the world can read that shows in excruciating and disgusting detail that the United States violated its own beliefs and turned to the dark side when it didn't have to," said Richard Clarke, a former national security official and now an ABC News consultant.
Watch Brian Ross' full report tonight on "World News with Charles Gibson" at 6:30pm ET.
The report says the extensive use of waterboarding was well known and fully approved by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, who told Congress last year that his "understanding is that it has been done three times."
But the report reveals Ashcroft "was informed the waterboard had been used 119 times on a single individual."
A spokesperson for Ashcroft, who now runs a private consulting firm, said they had not yet reviewed the report and had no comment at this point.
Other interrogation techniques described include: CIA officers told al Qaeda figure Khalid Sheik Mohammed "We're going to kill your children" if anything else happens to the U.S.; Officers put a handgun and a running power drill next to the head of Abd al-rahim al Nashiri, who attacked the USS Cole; and Officers staged a mock execution, firing off a gun and using a hooded CIA officer to pose as a dead detainee.
CIA Director Leon Panetta, who has reportedly been profanity-laced shouting matches with White House officials just seven months after taking over the spy agency, said Monday the agency "made no excuses for behavior, however rare, that went beyond the formal guidelines on counter-terrorism."
American Civil Liberties Union director Jameel Jaffer, who heads the National Security Program, slammed the use of the interrogation techniques detailed in the report, saying, "It is a violation of the U.S. law to carry out a mock execution."
Following the release of the inspector general's report, Attorney General Eric Holder reversed course and opened a criminal investigation into the CIA's interrogation program, which was a direct result of the 9/11 attacks and demands from the Bush White House that the CIA get tough on terrorism.
Holder and President Obama initially promised that there would be no prosecutions of CIA personnel, but prosecutor John Durham is set to be appointed by Holder to investigate CIA terror interrogations. He has been investigating the destruction of CIA waterboarding tapes and will now also investigate whether CIA interrogators and contractors violated U.S. torture statutes.
Also today, the Obama White House created a new unit that will report to FBI Director Robert Mueller and follow the Army's policies that prohibit waterboarding, effectively removing the CIA from the al Qaeda interrogation business. Mueller and his agents were the first and strongest internal objectors to the CIA's interrogation tactics.
The announcement will be seen as an effort by the Obama administration to "look forward" rather than backward, as a Department of Justice investigation implies.