Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inspector General's Report Released - Detainees Threatened with Death and Rape

Yesterday the Justice Department released the long-awaited 2004 Inspector Generals Report on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. This is the largest single release of information that gives insight into the implementation of policies that were crafted by the Bush Administration and carried out by the CIA.

Some of the new revelations that have come to light in the release of this report are the following tactics:

- Threats of execution using guns and threats of the use of a power drill
- Threats to kill a detainees children
- Pressure points that were used to restrict blood flow via the carotid artery until the detainee faints, then shaking the detainee awake and repeating.
- Threats to rape the female members of the detainees family in front of the detainee.
- Striking a detainee in the chest with the butt of a rifle and kneeing a detainee in the chest.
- Blowing smoke into a detainees face for five minutes.
- Using waterboarding techniques with large quantities of water

Some conclusions that were issued in the IG Report:

250. The Agency's detention and interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world. The eTC Detention and Interrogation Program has resulted in the
issuance of thousands of individual intelligence reports and analytic
products supporting the counterterrorism efforts of U.S. policymakers and military commanders. The effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured,


253.~The Dol legal opinion upon which the Agency relies is based upon technical definitions of t1severell treatment and the "intent" of the interrogators, and consists of finely detailed analysis to buttress the conclusion that Agency officers properly carrying out Errs would not violate the Torture Convention's
prohibition of torture, nor would they be subject to criminal prosecution under the u.s. torture statute. The opinion does not address the separate question of whether the application of standard or enhanced techniques by Agency officers is consistent with the undertaking, accepted conditionally by the United States regarcling
Article 16 of the Torture Convention, to prevent "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Another interesting note:

232. ~'One officer expressed concern that one day, Agency officers will wind up on some '~wanted list to appear before the World Court for war crimes stemming from activities [redacted] Another said, "Ten years from now we're going to be 'sorry
we're doing this ... [but] it has to be done." He expressed concern that the eTC Program will be exposed in the news media and cited particular concern about the possibility of being named in a leak.

The IG apparently had some recommendations, but they were all redacted in the report that was released.

Glenn Greenwald:

To those blithely dismissing all of this as things that don't seem particularly bothersome, I'd say two things:

(1) The fact that we are not really bothered any more by taking helpless detainees in our custody and (a) threatening to blow their brains out, torture them with drills, rape their mothers, and murder their children; (b) choking them until they pass out; (c) pouring water down their throats to drown them; (d) hanging them by their arms until their shoulders are dislocated; (e) blowing smoke in their face until they vomit; (f) putting them in diapers, dousing them with cold water, and leaving them on a concrete floor to induce hypothermia; and (g) beating them with the butt of a rifle -- all things that we have always condemend as "torture" and which our laws explicitly criminalize as felonies ("torture means. . . the threat of imminent death; or the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering . . .") -- reveals better than all the words in the world could how degraded, barbaric and depraved a society becomes when it lifts the taboo on torturing captives.

(2) As I wrote rather clearly, numerous detainees died in U.S. custody, often as a direct result of our "interrogation methods." Those who doubt that can read the details here and here. Those claiming there was no physical harm are simply lying -- death qualifies as "physical harm" -- and those who oppose prosecutions are advocating that the people responsible literally be allowed to get away with murder.

It simply can not become any clearer than this. If the United States expects to be a moral leader and a just leader in the global community there is simply no excuse for not investigating and prosecuting all those involved in the previous administration. A narrow investigation that focuses on the lower-level personnel who carried out these brutal acts of torture is meaningless unless there are also investigations that go straight to the top. As I have stated time and time again, if the United States wishes to never go down this road again, then the only deterrent is to hold those who are responsible for implementing these techniques to account. Anything less is criminal.

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