2007 Red Cross Report Detailed Torture

News is out about a 2007 secret report by Red Cross officials who visited the 14 "high-value" detainees transferred to Gitmo after stays in CIA secret black hole prison.

The 14 detainees, who had previously been kept in isolation in CIA prisons overseas, gave remarkably uniform accounts of abuse that included beatings, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and, in some cases, waterboarding, or simulating drowning.

Read the details about Abu Zubaydah and the others. The take-away from the report: [More...].

In the wake of the ICRC report one can make several definitive statements:

1. Beginning in the spring of 2002 the United States government began to torture prisoners. This torture, approved by the President of the United States and monitored in its daily unfolding by senior officials, including the nation's highest law enforcement officer, clearly violated major treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, as well as US law.

2. The most senior officers of the US government, President George W. Bush first among them, repeatedly and explicitly lied about this, both in reports to international institutions and directly to the public. The President lied about it in news conferences, interviews, and, most explicitly, in speeches expressly intended to set out the administration's policy on interrogation before the people who had elected him.

3. The US Congress, already in possession of a great deal of information about the torture conducted by the administration—which had been covered widely in the press, and had been briefed, at least in part, from the outset to a select few of its members—passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and in so doing attempted to protect those responsible from criminal penalty under the War Crimes Act.

4. Democrats, who could have filibustered the bill, declined to do so—a decision that had much to do with the proximity of the midterm elections, in the run-up to which, they feared, the President and his Republican allies might gain advantage by accusing them of "coddling terrorists."

5. The political damage to the United States' reputation, and to the "soft power" of its constitutional and democratic ideals, has been, though difficult to quantify, vast and enduring.

< Gov. Richardson Seeks Input on Whether to Approve Death Penalty Abolition | Is Europe Too Much Like Republicans? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I knew I would be sorry I read (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Anne on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 11:12:58 PM EST
    all of that, but I did it anyway.

    Still have no idea why Bush and Cheney and the rest of those who conspired to make all of this possible are still walking around, being paid to give speeches and being treated as having opinions worthy of being spotlighted on national news and talking-head shows.

    I don't see this country ever having any human rights credibility until we bring to justice those who decided that it was okay to abandon several centuries of principle in order to engage in torture.

    Me too (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Amiss on Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 11:29:17 PM EST
    So disgusted with the politicians in DC, both Democrat and Republican.

    They can not call themselves "lawmakers" after that. It is hard for me to sit here and digest that even the Red Cross kept Bush's secrets.


    I registered just to comment on this (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by whatwhat on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 09:49:59 AM EST
    Your reaction is understandable, but because it's likely to be such a common theme in this story, it's important for people who oppose torture (all torture) to understand what's going on, and why.

    First of all: The ICRC did not torture; the ICRC's role is not to report to the public; the ICRC's role is not to be a public advocate.

    The ICRC is responsible to the individuals who are detained. Period.

    It is allowed access to those prisoners because its reports are treated with the utmost secrecy. It is able to learn the names of people who are imprisoned in some of the world's most secretive and horrific places, and report the locations of those prisoners to their families, precisely because governments -- including abusive, torturing, human rights violating governments -- are able to rely upon the fact that ICRC reports will not be made available as a tool to the political opposition.

    The ICRC is not Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, or the ACLU. Those groups are necessary advocates. But precisely because they are advocates, they are not granted the kind of access to detained human beings that the ICRC has. And the only way the ICRC can maintain its neutrality -- and its official status as an apolitical inspection agency -- is to refuse to advocate.

    Another function that the ICRC has is to report to the head of government when human rights abuses are occurring in its prisons. Because of the way in which this is done -- including the secrecy of reports -- two things are guaranteed: a) a country's leadership will be informed of, and therefore responsible for ending, the abusese that are occurring, and b) the chances of retaliation against a prisoner who speaks of abuse are lowered, since it is not simply the local prison guard, but high officials, who are notified of the problem.

    The fact is, we don't need the ICRC to make its reports public. We knew. And to the extent that we didn't, we were told by advocacy groups.

    The US is responsible for torture, and part of why we know that it is responsible is because of the reporting function -- the secret reporting function -- that ICRC serves. And ICRC can almost certainly be given credit for the fact that the families of some of our prisoners know where they are, and even that some of them are still alive.

    ICRC has done exactly what it ought to have done here, with the possible exception of whoever may have leaked the report (it may well have been someone in the US government).

    All manner of government officials, politicians, and news organizations ought to have fingers pointed their way. But re: the ICRC, it is undeserved, unless one fundamentally disagrees with its mission. I think that's a hard argument to make.

    I remember the Red Cross (none / 0) (#4)
    by SOS on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 07:53:23 AM EST
    attempting to bring this to the light of day back in 02.

    Basically they were told to shut up.

    Another Fine Mess Bush Got Us Into (none / 0) (#7)
    by john horse on Mon Mar 16, 2009 at 04:19:42 PM EST
    It just got a lot harder to convict any of these detainees.  Any information obtained through torture is probably now inadmissable.  The "fruit of the poison tree" principle may apply in this case.

    We have George Bush and Dick Cheney to thank if any of these alleged terrorists go free as a result.  They could have played by the rules but instead chose to purposely circumvent the law.  

    Another fine mess that Bush and Cheney got us into.