Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bombshell report on CIA interrogations is leaked.

Yes, it is appalling:

CIA interrogators threatened a captured al-Qaida leader with a power drill and a pistol in what was described as a mock execution, according to a long-suppressed report due to be released on Monday.

Details of the report by the spy agency's inspector general have emerged in the Washington Post and Newsweek. The full findings on the CIA's interrogation programme are to be made public after a federal judge upheld an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union for their release.

The report is understood to describe mock executions where interrogators tried to get detainees to talk by firing a gun in an adjoining room to pretend another prisoner had been killed.

According to leaked information from the report, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was threatened with a drill and gun during his detention at one of the CIA's so-called black site prisons after his capture in 2002. He was subjected to the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding, as were two other al-Qaida leaders.

Nashiri, who remains in detention at Guantánamo Bay, has been accused of masterminding the 1999 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors.

Sources familiar with the report told the Washington Post that Nashiri was threatened with death or grave injury during his questioning. A CIA officer showed Nashiri a gun and suggested he would be shot, and a power drill was held near Nashiri's body and repeatedly turned on and off. US law on torture prohibits a US national from threatening anyone in his custody with imminent death.

But, the inference that Eric Holder plans to go after individual CIA officers who overstepped the Bush regime's scandalous torture process rather misses the point. If one prosecutes the officers who took part in these terrible crimes, without also going after the people at the top who authorised torture, such as waterboarding, then one is in danger of implying that what the Bush regime authorised was legal and that one's only objection is to people who overstepped Bybee and Yoo's highly questionable line in the sand.
The report is understood to be the most detailed review of the agency's interrogation programme and is believed to be highly critical of the techniques used, suggesting that a number of them broke international laws and norms. The document has become deeply controversial within the CIA itself, not least because the agency was advised two months before Nashiri's capture in a memo from Jay Bybee, the head of the justice department's office of legal counsel, that threats of "imminent death" were legal if they did not cause permanent mental harm.
The interrogation procedure itself "broke international laws and norms", and one can understand Holder's revulsion at people who went beyond even what Yoo, Bybee and others authorised.

However, Holder needs to be very careful that he doesn't lend credence to Yoo and Bybee's claims that what they authorised was perfectly legal.

And, if he only prosecutes people who exceeded what Yoo and Bybee authorised, then he implies that what they stated was correct.

That would put the US way outside of international norms. If Holder isn't going to prosecute the people who implemented the policy, then he should beware making an example out of the grunts on the ground who carried it out and got carried away whilst doing so.

Click title for full article.

No comments: