Here’s What The CIA’s Torture Techniques Would Look Like If George W. Bush Painted Them

December 11, 2014 | Rhett Jones

As outrage continues over revelations that the CIA tortured terrorist suspects and often misled the government about the intel it received, it’s important to remember that the ultimate responsibility for such an enormous apparatus has to fall on George W. Bush — the commander in chief who allowed it to happen and defended the program for years. In addition to the shocking descriptions of what our government did to human beings, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report also makes it clear that the president turned a blind eye to how the CIA implemented orders. It has come to light that Bush expressly didn’t even want to know where CIA black sites were located because he was afraid he would accidentally disclose the information. According to Bloomberg, the White House also specifically requested that the President’s cabinet not be given details on torture techniques.

It wasn’t until 2006, four years after the president signed a sweeping executive order to authorize the program, that he was given a detailed account of techniques the CIA was employing. The President reportedly “expressed discomfort when told about one detainee being chained to the ceiling of his cell, clothed in a diaper and forced to urinate and defecate on himself.” That discomfort apparently wasn’t strong enough for Bush to change his mind that “the United States doesn’t torture people,” as he stated a year later.

Since President Bush never fully looked into the details of the program he put into action, we thought it might be helpful to illustrate some of the gruesome examples of torture mentioned in the report and have him bear witness to them. In recent years, Bush has brushed away his crimes and revamped his public image with silly, innocent paintings. To be sure the president can understand the atrocities committed under his watch, we’ve represented them in an approximation of his own child-like painting style. This is what torture might look like through Bush’s eyes.

Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth,” after he was waterboarded.


The Cobalt interrogation site was kept so dark that guards would wear head lamps to move around.

The aide said that the Cobalt site was dark, like a dungeon, and that experts who visited the site said they’d never seen an American prison where people were kept in such conditions. The facility was so dark in some places that guard had to wear head lamps, while other rooms were flooded with bright lights and white noise to disorient detainees.


A detainee “was chained to the ceiling clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.”

According to CIA records, when briefed in April 2006, the president expressed discomfort with the ‘image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.’


An unnamed CIA officer placed a pistol near a detainees head and operated a cordless drill near his body during interrogations.

Later, during the course of al-Nashiri’s debriefings, while he was blindfolded, [redacted] [CIA OFFICER 2] placed a pistol near al-Nashiri’s head and operated a cordless drill near al-Nashiri’s body. Al-Nashiri did no provide any additional threat information during, or after, these interrogations.


Detainees were fed rectally for no medical reason. The CIA is also accused of performing rectal exams with “excessive force” on two detainees.



(Paintings: Prachi Gupta/ANIMAL New York)