Red Cross Described ‘Torture’ at CIA Jails
The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration’s treatment of al-Qaeda captives “constituted torture,” a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document.
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The report, an account alleging physical and psychological brutality inside CIA “black site” prisons, also states that some U.S. practices amounted to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Such maltreatment of detainees is expressly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.
A copy of the report was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalism professor and author who published extensive excerpts in the April 9 edition of the New York Review of Books, released yesterday.
Danner said the organization’s use of the word “torture” has important legal implications.
“It could not be more important that the ICRC explicitly uses the words ‘torture’ and ‘cruel and degrading,’ ” Danner said in a telephone interview. “The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law.”
He discounted the possibility that the detainees fabricated or embellished their stories, noting that the accounts overlap “in minute detail,” even though the detainees were kept in isolation at different locations.
Human rights groups echoed his assessment.
“These reports are from an impeccable source,” said Geneve Mantri, a counterterrorism specialist at Amnesty International. “It’s clear that senior officials were warned from the very beginning that the treatment that detainees were subjected to amounted to torture. This story goes even further and deeper than many us of suspected. The more details we find out, the more shocking this becomes.”
Tales from torture’s dark world
On a bright sunny day two years ago, President George W. Bush strode into the East Room of the White House and informed the world that the United States had created a dark and secret universe to hold and interrogate captured terrorists.
“In addition to the terrorists held at Guanta’namo,” the president said, “a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.”
At these places, Mr. Bush said, “the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures.” He added: “These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.”
This speech will stand, I believe, as George W. Bush’s most important: perhaps the only historic speech he ever gave. In his fervent defense of his government’s “alternative set of procedures” and his equally fervent insistence that they were “lawful,” he set out before the country America’s dark moral epic of torture, in the coils of whose contradictions we find ourselves entangled still.
What we can say with certainty, in the wake of the Red Cross report, is that the United States tortured prisoners and that the Bush administration, including the president himself, explicitly and aggressively denied that fact.
We can also say that the decision to torture, in a political war with militant Islam, harmed American interests by destroying the democratic and Constitutional reputation of the United States, undermining its liberal sympathizers in the Muslim world and helping materially in the recruitment of young Muslims to the extremist cause.
By deciding to torture, we freely chose to embrace the caricature they had made of us. The consequences of this choice, legal, political and moral, now confront us. Time and elections are not enough to make them go away.
Mark Danner, a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and Bard College, is the author of “Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror.” This essay is drawn from a longer article in the new issue of The New York Review of Books, available at www.nybooks.com.
Red Cross report describes “torture” at CIA jails
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Committee of the Red Cross concludes in a secret report that the Bush administration’s treatment of al-Qaeda captives in CIA prisons “constituted torture,” The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing newly published excerpts from the 2007 document.
The account of alleged physical and psychological brutality inside CIA prisons overseas also states that some U.S. practices amounted to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the newspaper reported.
The secret report strong implies that the United States violated international law prohibiting torture and maltreatment of prisoners, the newspaper said.
Many of the details of alleged mistreatment had been reported previously, but the ICRC report is the most authoritative account and the first to use the word “torture” in a legal context, The Washington Post said.
The publishers of Religion News Blog have often spoken out on the subject of America’s human rights violations.
We have also highlighted the fact that many so-called ‘evangelical Christians’ are just culpable when it comes to the former administration’s criminal behavior. Case in point, the Associated Baptist Press reported in September 2008 that “[a] new survey suggests the very Americans who claim to follow the Bible most assiduously don’t consult it when forming their views about torture and government policy. It shows not only are white evangelical Southerners more likely than the general populace to believe torture is sometimes or often justified, but also that they are far more likely—to tweak a phrase from Proverbs—to “lean on their own understanding” regarding the subject.”
It is this attitude that, in part, enabled and kept enabling George W. Bush and his cohorst to engage in torture and other human rights violations — if not war crimes.
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