Independent study says doctors and nurses aided in torture of US prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and CIA prisons.
US President Barack Obama has said that some of the tactics described in a Senate report on harsh CIA interrogations were “brutal”, “wrong” and “counterproductive”.
He said that the CIA techniques, which were employed in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, “were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests”.
I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong - in the past
“One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them,” Obama told the Spanish-language television network Telemundo.
The US president said that releasing the information was an important step in the process of making sure that such a scenario is never repeated.
“I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong – in the past…,” he said in a statement.
Obama said the report, which condemned the CIA for brutality and deception, made clear that the interrogation programme under the administration of his predecessor, George W Bush was created too hastily and without enough thought about potential consequences.
The enhanced interrogation programme was dismantled by Obama in 2009.
The heavily redacted 480-page report – published on Tuesday – covered the treatment of about 100 suspects rounded up by US operatives between 2001 and 2009 on terrorism charges. The full 6,200-page report remains classified.
The US embassies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Thailand are warning of the potential for anti-American protests and violence after the report. Afghanistan and Thailand were hosts to two of the secret facilities where prisoners were interrogated.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein said the techniques used by the CIA were “far more brutal than people were led to believe” and that “coercive techniques regularly resulted in fabricated information” from detainees.
“There are those who will seize upon the report and say see what the Americans did? And they will try to use it to justify evil actions or incite more violence,” said Feinstein. “We can’t prevent that, but 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.”
WHO WAS WATER BOARDED
The report said harsh CIA interrogations produced much bad information, including a fake story about al-Qaeda recruiting African-Americans. It said the interrogations were ineffective and never produced information that led to foiling of “imminent terror threat”.
The report followed a five-year investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the programme. The CIA maintained that harsh techniques were effective and foiled terrorist plots.
Time for accountability
The report said some detainees were forced to stay awake for over a week at a time, and that several detainees suffered from “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.”
Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from outside the White House in Washington DC, said the aim of the report was to guarantee that torture was never used again in any sort of covert programme.
“But it is not exactly clear why the Senate has that confidence. Remember, no one was prosecuted for the programme,” said Culhane.
Amnesty International said the report made clear that the CIA was acting unlawfully “from day one” and its brutal interrogations were not a rogue operation.
Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty’s US branch, said the programme “gave the green light to commit the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance – with impunity. It’s time for accountability, including a full investigation, prosecutions and remedy for victims.”
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said the report “shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are fiction”.