Red Cross report says detainees at CIA 'black sites' were tortured
The confidential report, published Sunday, could bolster calls for legal action against the Bush administration.
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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) concluded in 2007 that US methods to extract information from prisoners at secret CIA jails as part of the "war on terror" amounted to torture, according to excerpts from a confidential report published on the website of the The New York Review of Books on Sunday.
Though allegations of the torture of terror suspects at CIA-run "black sites" have been widely detailed before, the Red Cross report has "an unusual claim to authenticity," the article's author, Mark Danner, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.
The article in the Times quoted the report's conclusion:
The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The International Committee of the Red Cross interviewed detainees in late 2006 after they had been moved to the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The report was not for public release, but for top CIA and other US government officials' eyes only. It was given to them in February 2007 and labeled "confidential."
The Review article ended by noting that many human rights advocates "urge investigations and prosecutions" of Bush officials who adopted the antiterror methods alleged in the Red Cross report.
President Obama, while declaring that "nobody's above the law, and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing ... people should be prosecuted," has also expressed his strong preference for "looking forward" rather than "looking backwards."
A book on the war on terror, published last year, mentioned the Red Cross report, but relied on "sources familiar with the report." The New York Times last year quoted from the book, Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side," which said that "the Red Cross document 'warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the US government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.'"
The New York Review of Books did not say how it obtained a copy of the report.
At least five copies of the report were shared with the CIA and top White House officials in 2007 but barred from public release by ICRC guidelines intended to preserve the humanitarian group's strict policy of neutrality in conflicts.