Human rights groups responded to the release of a U.S. report on CIA torture practices Tuesday, saying the release of the report is positive by more needs to be done to address practices acknowledged in the document.
Released by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the report reveals the extent of the CIA’s use of torture on detainees after September 11, 2001.
According to human rights group Reprieve, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report fails to recognize the child victims of controversial programmes like rendition.
Reprieve provides legal support to torture victims worldwide, including detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
“The names of many victims of rendition and torture are absent – not least that of Khadija al Saadi, who was just 12 years old when she was ‘rendered’ along with her entire family to Gaddafi’s Libya, in a joint CIA – MI6 operation,” Reprieve head Clare Algar stated.
Saadi herself has described the harrowing ordeal of being secretly rendered to Libya as a child, along with her family. “All we could hear was our mother crying, saying that we were being taken back to Libya to be executed … When we landed, I was told to go and say goodbye to my father, who was bound up and had a needle in his arm. I fainted, because I was sure we were going to be killed,” she stated.
While Algar noted the release of the Senate report on torture is “a good start,” she stated that “it is far from the whole picture.”
“We are still a long way from acknowledging the horrors of the CIA’s torture programme, and achieving real accountability,” she stated.
However, the Senate report is unlikely to lead to any major changes at the CIA, according to Sam Husseini, the communications director of the progressive media advocacy group, the Institute for Public Accuracy.
“If there’s going to be any substantial prosecution or structural shift – especially prosecution – it’ll have to come from outside legal entities, outside the United States,” he told teleSUR English.
Husseini argued the report has been released, “at a time when Republicans are becoming more powerful in Congress,” and amid a return to war in the Middle East. Rather, Husseini said it is possible U.S. intelligence reliance on torture could be on the rise again, but through proxies.
Husseini pointed to information on the Syria-based Khorasan group, which Obama administration insiders have claimed had aspirations to attack the United States.
That information was collected by third parties, reportedly by torture, Husseini explained.
“It seems that the most recent pretext (to bomb Syria) – the so-called evidence about this new group that they say was threatening the United States in some way – was obtained by torture,” he said.
According to Husseini, another reason why torture is not going away anytime soon is because it works, “just not in the way its defenders claim.”
“It’s great at producing false but useful information – like when the U.S. turned Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi over to the Egyptian dictatorship, which tortured him into saying that Iraq was cooperating with al-Qaeda,” he stated.
Husseini continued by explaining, “that figured prominently in Colin Powell’s war speech at the U.N., helping provide propaganda for a pretext for war. So torture can actually work quite well.”
Beginning of a Process?
While Husseini was skeptical that torturers could face repercussions in the United States due to the Senate report, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated, “this should be the beginning of a process, not the end.”
“The report should shock President Obama and Congress into action, to make sure that torture and cruelty are never used again,” the ACLU stated.
Describing the report as “shocking,” the ACLU stated the revealing document paints a picture of the CIA acting “more like a rogue paramilitary group than the intelligence gathering agency that it’s supposed to be.”
“The CIA’s wrongful acts violated basic human rights, served as a huge recruiting tool for our enemies, and alienated allies world-wide. Our response to the damning evidence in this report will define us as a nation,” they stated.
While the ACLU has published a lengthy document which it says is a “blueprint for accountability,” another human rights organization, Redress, has simply argued the U.S. government must “investigate, prosecute, punish, and prevent” torture. “Whatever the pressures, governments should not resort to illegal, unproductive, immoral behavior,” Redress chairperson, Sir Emyr Jones Parry stated.
While commending the report as an indication of “transparency,” Parry lamented that the publication did not have “greater emphasis on the survivors of these torture practices and their legitimate rights to justice.”
“It is also vital that a democracy like the USA should now come to terms with what was done in its name and make every effort to stand by the principles and legal commitments which it advocates for others, and must equally apply in its own actions,” Parry stated.
First published by teleSUR English.