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Senate torture report: CIA illegally interrogated terror suspects

By Brett Wilkins     Apr 15, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Central Intelligence Agency officers illegally interrogated terrorism suspects using unapproved techniques, a still-classified Senate torture report states.
Portions of the secret report were leaked to McClatchy Newspapers last week, prompting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to call for an investigation. The probe wouldn't target the Bush administration officials who devised and authorized the use of techniques considered torture under domestic and international law, nor the Obama administration officials who have been protecting them from prosecution, as required by law. Instead, the investigation would focus on finding and prosecuting whoever leaked the shocking details of the classified report to the press.
The CIA's reliance on torture, including techniques far more brutal than previously known, as well as the agency's failure to glean valuable intelligence through torture, has seriously damaged the credibility of the United States, according to details from the 6,300-page Senate report.
The CIA also misled the Justice Department while stonewalling Congress and the Obama administration's efforts to oversee the agency's interrogation program.
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 last week to declassify portions of the damning torture report, an action which must be approved by the White House.
Sen. Feinstein said that declassifying the report will demonstrate that the United States "admits its errors, as painful as they may be, and seeks to learn from them."
Feinstein, who called the report "shocking," added that it "exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation."
"It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen," said Feinstein. "This is not what Americans do."
The report "certainly depicts the program as much, much worse than generally thought," former Navy general counsel Alberto Mora told McClatchy. "Oh my gosh, it's a devastating critique."
Among the approved and unapproved torture and abuse inflicted on terrorism suspects and other detainees in the US-led 'War on Terror' by American military and intelligence personnel and contracted interrogators: homicide, rape, imprisonment of innocent family members as bargaining chips, brutal beatings, denial of sleep, food, water and medical treatment, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement, force-feeding, exposure to (sometimes lethal) temperature extremes, 'music torture,' sexual humiliation, menacing and attacking with dogs, shackling in painful 'stress positions,' interrupted drowning ('waterboarding'), death and rape threats, and being forcefully slammed into walls.
Leading Bush officials knew that the torture techniques they approved violated US and international law, including the War Crimes Act, Federal Anti-Torture Statute, Torture Victims Protection Act, United Nations Convention Against Torture and Geneva Conventions, but sought the counsel of compliant government attorneys who re-wrote the rules of war to allow for torture.
Compounding the horrific nature of this abuse is the fact that the vast majority of War on Terror detainees, especially in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, were known to be innocent by US military and intelligence officials as well as President Bush and his inner circle. In fact, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has stated that Bush, as well as his vice president, Dick Cheney, and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew that many detainees imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay were innocent but kept them locked up for political reasons. There are still scores of GITMO detainees cleared for release, some for more than a decade, languishing in the prison.
Although President Barack Obama has banned torture, the president has broken his campaign promise to hold the Bush torture officials accountable. Not only has the Obama administration failed to prosecute anyone in connection with the torture scandal, it has actively protected Bush officials from facing justice for their policies and actions, which resulted in the deaths of innocent detainees. Obama has also aggressively targeted military and intelligence personnel who have blown the whistle on Bush-era torture.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the Intelligence Committee's ranking Republican, said he voted to declassify the report. But he also refuted the assertion that torture did not lead to the capture of al-Qaeda chief and 9/11 perpetrator Osama bin Laden.
"There is absolutely concrete evidence that has been gleaned from the individuals who have been interrogated in this program that led not only to bin Laden's takedown but to the interruption and disruption of other terrorist plots over the years," Chambliss asserted.
The CIA has promised to cooperate with the Senate.
"The CIA has acknowledged and learned from... the program's shortcomings and has taken corrective measures to prevent such mistakes from happening again," said CIA spokesman Dean Boyd. "At the same time, we owe it to the men and women directed to carry out this program to try to ensure that any historical account of it is accurate."
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