Torture Probe Should Include Cheney, Top Officials

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  • Dale Eisman

Common Cause calls on Special Prosecutor to Include Cheney and Top Justice Department Officials in Investigation of Detainee Abuse and Violation of U.S. Laws Prohibiting Torture

IG Report on Torture of Prisoners Shows CIA Agents Knew They Were Violating U.S. Law

In the wake of the release of a long-classified CIA report on the agency’s interrogation of high-level Al Qaeda detainees and Attorney General Holder’s appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture, Common Cause President Bob Edgar on Tuesday called on the new prosecutor to conduct a thorough investigation of the actions of all personnel involved in the decisions to torture detainees, as well as the activities of those who carried out the torture.

“This documentation shows that top Administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee all sought to flout U.S. law prohibiting torture. Any investigation into torture, abuse, or death of detainees should include those who created the legal and military environment where it occurred,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar.

“Some CIA agents appear to have known they were torturing prisoners, that it was illegal and in fact they even feared that they might be prosecuted for it,” Edgar said. “For too long systemic torture of detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib has been blamed on individual bad actors – when it is clear from the new report that the decision to violate U.S. laws banning torture and cruel and unusual punishment came from the very top and that agency personnel knew what they were doing was illegal.”

The heavily redacted CIA Inspector General’s report, “Special Review of Counterterrorism, Detention, and Interrogation Activities,” was released Monday in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. It states that “the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques used by the Agency under the CTC [Counter Terrorism Center] Program are inconsistent with the public policy positions that the United Sates has taken regarding human rights.” [p.91]

Additionally, according to the report: “During the course of this Review, a number of Agency officers expressed unsolicited concern about the possibility of recrimination or legal action resulting for their participation in the CTC program. . . One officer expressed concern that one day, Agency officers will wind up on some ‘wanted list’ to appear before the World Court for war crimes stemming from activities.”[p.94]

The report reviewed the “authorized” forms of torture including confinement in a small dark space, stress positions, shackling, waterboarding, and sleep deprivation and also noted that, “unauthorized, improvised, inhumane and undocumented detention and interrogation techniques were used.”[p.102] The report also reviewed action taken to investigate and reprimand CIA personnel involved in the death of detainees due to torture and abuse.