"Indisputable" that U.S. practiced torture after 9/11

A lengthy independent review found that the country's highest officials and president condoned torture

Published April 16, 2013 12:23PM (EDT)

While a 6,000-page Senate report on the CIA's use of extraordinary rendition and enhanced interrogation remains shrouded from public view, a new report released Tuesday by a legal research and advocacy group states, in no uncertain terms, that the U.S. practiced torture in the years following 9/11. As the New York Times noted, the report from the Constitution Project "is the most ambitious independent attempt to date to assess the detention and interrogation programs." Based on interviews with former American and foreign officials, as well as former detainees, the report investigated the post-9/11 treatment of suspects at at Guantánamo Bay, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at CIA black sites.

Not only did the task force conclude that U.S. use of torture was "indisputable" but that “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”

Via the NYT:

Interrogation and abuse at the C.I.A.’s so-called black sites, the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba and war-zone detention centers, have been described in considerable detail by the news media and in declassified documents, though the Constitution Project report adds many new details.

It confirms a report by Human Rights Watch that one or more Libyan militants were waterboarded by the C.I.A., challenging the agency’s longtime assertion that only three Al Qaeda prisoners were subjected to the near-drowning technique. It includes a detailed account by Albert J. Shimkus Jr., then a Navy captain who ran a hospital for detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison, of his own disillusionment when he discovered what he considered to be the unethical mistreatment of prisoners.

But the report’s main significance may be its attempt to assess what the United States government did in the years after 2001 and how it should be judged. The C.I.A. not only waterboarded prisoners, but slammed them into walls, chained them in uncomfortable positions for hours, stripped them of clothing and kept them awake for days on end.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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9/11 Cia Extraordinary Rendition George Bush Guantanamo Bay Torture