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Senate Panel Faults C.I.A. Over Brutality and Deceit in Interrogations
by New York Times, agencies
9 Dec. 2014
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday issued a sweeping indictment of the Central Intelligence Agency’s program to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, drawing on millions of internal C.I.A. documents to illuminate practices that it said were more brutal — and far less effective — than the agency acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.
The long-delayed report delivers a withering judgment on one of the most controversial tactics of a twilight war waged over a dozen years. The Senate committee’s investigation, born of what its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, said was a need to reckon with the excesses of this war, found that C.I.A. officials routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained, and failed to provide basic oversight of the secret prisons it established around the world.
"It was morally, legally, administratively misguided," Senator Dianne Feinstein said as she released the report.
In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.’s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.”
The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past.
The 600-page executive summary of the report details the techniques used by the CIA on terrorism suspects, including waterboarding, sexual threats, sleep deprivation, and the use of a blacked out "dungeon" where detainees were kept in total darkness and bombarded with loud music.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report also found the CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the program to the White House, Congress, Department of Justice and American people. The CIA even destroyed video tapes of brutal interrogations on the basis that the committee had not asked to see them – when they did not even know they existed.
The report itself took seven years to be compiled and come to light. There were five years of research looking at CIA memos, cables and real-time chats as well as other official documents. It was approved by the Committee for release two years ago and has taken until now to be revealed publicly because of the fighting over what should be redacted.
On the floor of the Senate Committee, Senator Feinstein spoke almost non-stop for an hour, describing a "stain" on the nation"s history that should "never happen again".
Some detainees were held in a "dungeon" without light. Others were subjected to the "most aggressive techniques immediately – stripped naked, diapered, physically struck and put in various painful stress positions for long periods of time".
"They were deprived of sleep for days - in one case up to 180 hours," she said.
"That"s seven and a half days – over a week with no sleep. Usually standing or in stress positions – at times with their hands tied together over their heads – chained to the ceiling."
One "black site" prison the report called COBALT began operating in September 2002.
"The facility kept few formal records of the detainees housed there. Untrained CIA officers conducted frequent unauthorised and unsupervised interrogations using techniques that were not, nor ever became, part of the CIA"s formal Enhanced Interrogation Technique program."
"The CIA placed a junior officer with no relevant experience in charge of the site. In November 2002 an otherwise healthy detainee who was being held mostly nude and chained to a concrete floor died at the facility from what is believed to have been hypothermia.
"The CIA deployed officers who had histories of personal, ethical and professional problems of a serious nature including histories of violence and abusive treatment of others and should have called into question their employment with the United States government, let alone their suitability to participated in a sensitive CIA covert program."
President Obama welcomed the release of the report, but in a written statement made sure to praise the C.I.A. employees as “patriots” to whom “we owe a profound debt of gratitude” for trying to protect the country. But in a later television interview, he reiterated that the techniques “constituted torture in my mind” and were a betrayal of American values.
“What’s clear is that the C.I.A. set up something very fast without a lot of forethought to what the ramifications might be,” he told Telemundo, adding: “Some of these techniques that were described were not only wrong, but also counterproductive because we know that oftentimes when somebody is being subjected to these kinds of techniques, that they’re willing to say anything in order to alleviate the pain.”
In a speech in the Senate, moments after the report was released Tuesday morning, Ms. Feinstein described the tumultuous history of her investigation and called the C.I.A. interrogation program “a stain on our values and our history.”
“History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘never again.’ ”
Many of the C.I.A.’s most extreme interrogation methods, including waterboarding, were authorized by Justice Department lawyers during the Bush administration.
The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that even some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.
The report also said that the C.I.A.’s leadership for years gave false information about the total number of prisoners held by the C.I.A. The committee’s report concluded that of the 119 detainees, “at least 26 were wrongfully held.”
It said, “These included an ‘intellectually challenged’ man whose C.I.A. detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information".
Most of the detention program’s architects have left the C.I.A., but their legacy endures inside the agency. The chief of the agency’s Counterterrorism Center said in April that more than 200 people working for him had at one point participated in the program.
According to the Senate report, even before the agency captured its first prisoner, C.I.A. lawyers began thinking about how to get approval for interrogation methods that might normally be considered torture. Such methods might gain wider approval, the lawyers figured, if they were shown to save lives.
“A policy decision must be made with regard to U.S. use of torture,” C.I.A. lawyers wrote in November 2001, in a previously undisclosed memo titled “Hostile Interrogations: Legal Considerations for C.I.A. Officers.”
The lawyers argued that “states may be very unwilling to call the U.S. to task for torture when it resulted in saving thousands of lives.”
The report describes repeated efforts by the C.I.A. to make that case, even when the facts did not support it. For example, the C.I.A. helped edit a speech by Mr. Bush in 2006 to make it seem as if key intelligence was obtained through the most brutal interrogation tactics, even when C.I.A. records suggested otherwise.
The program included taking dozens of detainees to secret prisons in Thailand, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and other countries.
In September 2006, Mr. Bush ordered all of the detainees in C.I.A. custody to be transferred to the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Taken in its entirety, the report is a portrait of a spy agency that was wholly unprepared for its new mission as jailers and interrogators, but that embraced its assignment with vigor. The report chronicles millions of dollars in secret payments between 2002 and 2004 from the C.I.A. to foreign officials, aimed at getting other governments to agree to host secret prisons.
Cables from C.I.A. headquarters to field offices said that overseas officers should put together “wish lists” speculating about what foreign governments might want in exchange for bringing C.I.A. prisoners onto their soil.
Speaking after the report"s release, Senator John McCain, who had been tortured during the Vietnam War, told the Senate, "I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies. Our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights which are protected by international conventions, which the United States not only joined but for the most part, authored.
"I dispute wholeheartedly it was right for [CIA officers] to use these methods, which this report makes clear were neither in the best interest of justice, nor our security, nor the ideals we have sacrificed so much blood and treasure to defend," he said.
US President Barack Obama, who banned the techniques upon his election said they "did significant damage to America"s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners."
The CIA acknowledged in a statement that "mistakes" had been made and that the program had "shortcomings".
Some of the key findings:
"Enhanced interrogation techniques" were not an effective means of acquiring intelligence. The CIA made inaccurate claims about the effectiveness of the techniques. Interrogations were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others. Detainees were kept in conditions harsher than the CIA admitted. Coercive interrogation techniques were not approved by the Department of Justice or authorised by CIA HQ. The CIA did not count how many individuals it detained, and held people who did not meet the legal standard for detention. CIA operatives were rarely held accountable for serious and significant violations
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/09/world/cia-torture-report-document.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/iraq-war-on-terror/the-cia-torture-report-what-you-need-to-know/ http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/never-torture-again-cia-report http://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/carr/news-events/news/2014-news-archive/torture-senate-report-in-the-news
9 December 2014
UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Ben Emmerson calls for prosecution of CIA, US officials for crimes committed during interrogations.
A United States Senate report has confirmed what the international community has long believed – that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush Administration which allowed to commit gross violations of international human rights law, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights said today.
Released this afternoon, the so-called Feinstein report, after long-time US Senator Dianne Feinstein who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that compiled the document, probes crimes of torture and enforced disappearance of terrorist suspects by the Bush-era CIA.
“It has taken four years since the report was finalised to reach this point,” said Ben Emmerson in a statement.
Now it is time to take action, he added. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” he said.
Identities of the perpetrators, and many other details, have been redacted in the published summary report but are known to the Select Committee and to those who provided the Committee with information on the programme.
“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Mr. Emmerson explained.
International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.
The US is legally obliged, by international law, to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.
“States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes,” Mr. Emmerson said.
It is no defence for a public official to claim that they were acting on superior orders. CIA officers who physically committed acts of torture therefore bear individual criminal responsibility for their conduct, and cannot hide behind the authorisation they were given by their superiors.
However, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorisation of these crimes. Former Bush Administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme should also face criminal prosecution.
“President Obama made it clear more than five years ago that the US Government recognizes the use of waterboarding as torture. There is therefore no excuse for shielding the perpetrators from justice any longer. The US Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible,” he said.
Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to. However, the primary responsibility for bringing them to justice rests with the US Department of Justice and the Attorney General.
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Trafficking in children on the rise, says new UN report
by UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
24 November 2014
One in three known victims of human trafficking is a child, and girls and women are particularly targeted and forced into “modern slavery,” according to the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, released today by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna.
“Unfortunately, the report shows there is no place in the world where children, women and men are safe from human trafficking,” said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov.
“Official data reported to UNODC by national authorities represent only what has been detected. It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse,” he added.
The situation is particularly bad for girls and women. According to the report report, girls make up 2 out of every 3 child victims. And together with women, they account for 70 per cent of overall trafficking victims worldwide.
In some regions – such as Africa and the Middle East – child trafficking is a major concern, with children constituting 62 per cent of victims.
Trafficking for forced labour – including in the manufacturing and construction sectors, domestic work and textile production – has also increased steadily in the past five years. About 35 per cent of the detected victims of trafficking for forced labour are female.
However, no country is immune – there are at least 152 countries of origin and 124 countries of destination affected by trafficking in persons, and over 510 trafficking flows criss-crossing the world.
“This needs to change,” Mr. Fedotov stressed. “Every country needs to adopt the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the protocol and commit themselves to the full implementation of their provisions,” he added.
Often times, however, trafficking mostly occurs within national borders or within the same region, with transcontinental trafficking mainly affecting rich countries.
“Even if most countries criminalize trafficking, many people live in countries with laws which are not in compliance with international standards that would afford them full protection, such as the Trafficking in Persons Protocol.” Mr. Fedotov said.
There are, however, regional variations as to why people are trafficked in the first place. For example, victims in Europe and Central Asia are mostly trafficked for sexual exploitation, whereas in East Asia and the Pacific forced labour drives the market. In the Americas, the two types are detected in almost equal measure.
The report found that most trafficking flows are interregional, and more than 6 out of 10 victims have been trafficked across at least one national border. The vast majority of convicted traffickers – 72 per cent – are male and citizens of the country in which they operate.
The report also highlighted that impunity remains a serious problem: 40 per cent of countries recorded few or no convictions, and over the past 10 years there has been no discernible increase in the global criminal justice response to this crime, leaving a significant portion of the population vulnerable to offenders.
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