If there ever was a good reason for President Obama to issue another executive order, here is a good one. He should order that the CIA not publicize a new report about enhanced interrogation techniques. That report should be for Congressional eyes only and restricted to appropriate committee leadership. There is no sense in further agitating a hostile audience of Middle Easterners. Enough has been said publicly. The President should direct the CIA to keep it on restricted distribution.
“This program was a blatant violation of domestic and international law,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington, D.C. office.
It is very likely that the program under George W. Bush violated international law as well as our own. Let the court determine that if charges are brought. Charges are already in process against CACI, the contractor who employed the illegal practices.
Reasons for not publishing the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques report:
- It is inflammatory and would likely incite further violence and retaliation
- The message should be delivered to select members of Congress, the Executive and Judicial branches for remedial action
- The practices have already been amended to eliminate abuse
A positive action would be to explain what is considered in-bounds for interrogation. Furthermore, the practices for capturing and treating enemy combatants needs further public review.
“The term ‘unlawful combatant’ has been used for the past century in legal literature, military manuals, and case law. However, unlike the terms ‘combatant’, ‘prisoner of war’, and ‘civilian’, the term ‘unlawful combatant’ is not mentioned in either the Hague or the Geneva Conventions. So while the former terms are well understood and clear under international law, the term ‘unlawful combatant’ is not.”
Summary discussion about torture and rendition
The CIA has submitted captured combatants to harsh interrogation and imprisonment at hidden locations to evade US law on US territory. George W. Bush acknowledged those practices in 2005 and 2006. Legal scholars have argued that torture may be justifiable. The US “war on terror” introduced these techniques and methods to the mainstream in dealing with enemy combatants.
This reporter has experienced waterboarding as part of US Army training. It is frightening at the time, but entirely survivable. Once it has been used, its effect may be lessened as people may get used to the limits of tolerance.
Other techniques include putting people inside small spaces such as boxes, and leaving them there for extended periods. That can be painful and unhealthy.
Solitary confinement is another technique that is used in American prisons as well as in combat. The absence of human contact for extended periods can be mentally gruelling. The purpose in deploying such techniques is to force people to comply with requests for information. It is to wear captured persons down mentally to make them more compliant.
“Finding of War Crimes culpability
In 2007, Red Cross investigators concluded in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level al Qaeda prisoners constituted torture which could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to the book "’Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals,’" by Jane Mayer a journalist for The New Yorker.
According to the book, the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross found that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major al Qaeda figure captured by the United States, were ‘categorically’ torture, which is illegal under both United States law and international conventions to which the U.S. is a party. A copy of the report was given to the CIA in 2007. For example, the book states that Abu Zubaydah was confined in a box ‘so small he said he had to double up his limbs in the fetal position’ and was one of several prisoners to be ‘slammed against the walls,’ according to the Red Cross report. The CIA has admitted that Abu Zubaydah and two other prisoners were waterboarded, a practice in which water is poured on the nose and mouth to create the sensation of suffocation and drowning.”
“Fears loom over CIA report
By Kristina Wong - 07/06/14 10:30 AM EDT
Security concerns are complicating the release of a controversial report on “enhanced interrogations techniques,” with officials fearing the document could inflame the Arab Street and put Americans in danger.
The White House and the CIA are working on final redactions to a 481-page executive summary of the investigation, which was conducted by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee but boycotted by Republicans, who dispute its findings.
A congressional staffer said the report wouldn’t be ready for a “couple of weeks,” while the CIA said the declassification process should be finished by August 29th.
While an August release seems unlikely, putting the report out in early September might not be an option, as it would fall near the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — a day when terrorist groups typically attempt to strike, as they did two years ago in Benghazi, Libya.
Officials have made clear the release date is a sensitive matter, as Democrats claim the report documents "shocking" brutality during the George W. Bush administration.
In a June 20 court document, the CIA said it would need time before the report is released for the “implementation of security measures to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel and facilities overseas.”
The White House said it is looking to get the report out as “expeditiously as possible” but would be assessing the security situation.
"The president has been clear that he wants this process completed as expeditiously as possible and he’s also been clear that it must be done consistent with our national security," said National Security Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in an emailed statement.
“So, prior to the release of any information related to the former [rendition, detention and interrogation] program, the administration will also need to look at any potential security implications and take a series of steps to prepare our personnel and facilities overseas,” she said.
The State Department reportedly warned the White House last year that the release of the report could strain diplomatic relations and put lives at risk. State was particularly fearful that the committee would expose which countries hosted the secret “black sites” where the CIA took prisoners for interrogations, according to The Daily Beast.”