U.S. Defies UN Treaty Obligation to Prosecute Officials Who Authorized and Carried Out CIA Torture

Posted Dec. 17, 2014

MP3 Interview with Michael Ratner, president emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights, conducted by Scott Harris


The Dec. 9 release of an executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Torture Report set off a debate across the country on both the legality and morality of President Bush’s authorization to use abusive interrogation methods on post-9/11 U.S.-held detainees. The report provides a detailed account of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program using the agency’s own documents.

Among the most disturbing findings were that the CIA used previously unreported torture techniques, including "rectal feeding" of detainees; CIA officers threatened the lives of detainees’ children; the agency misled members of Congress and the White House about the failure of torture techniques to produce actionable intelligence on terrorist threats; at least 26 detainees were wrongfully held and did not meet the government’s standard for detention; the CIA leaked classified information to journalists, exaggerating the success of interrogation methods in an effort to gain public support – and the agency hired and paid $80 million to inexperienced contractors who helped develop and operate the torture program.

Former Bush administration officials, Republican legislators and conservative pundits defended the torture program, with former Vice President Dick Cheney stating in interviews that he’d authorize the so-called “enhanced interrogation program” again in a minute. A Washington Post-ABC News poll published on Dec. 16 found that by an almost 2-1 margin Americans supported the CIA’s brutal methods, even as about half agreed that the treatment amounted to torture. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-counsel in European legal cases attempting to hold former president George W. Bush and other former U.S. officials accountable for violations of international law. Here, he discusses the most important revelations in the Senate Torture Report and the urgent need for accountability and prosecuting Bush White House and CIA officials who ordered and carried out the torture of U.S.-held detainees.

Find more information on the Center for Constitutional Rights by visiting ccrjustice.org.

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