Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Red Cross report describes acts of ‘torture’ at CIA jails

DAMNING REPORTRights groups said that the ICRC’s findings could represent the most authoritative account to date of claims that terror suspects had been tortured

AGENCIES , WASHINGTON

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) concluded in a secret report that the treatment of al-Qaeda captives in CIA prisons during the administration of former US president George W. Bush “constituted torture,” the Washington Post reported yesterday, citing newly published excerpts from the 2007 document.

The account of alleged physical and psychological brutality inside CIA prisons overseas also said that some US practices amounted to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the newspaper reported.

The secret report strongly implies that the US violated international law prohibiting torture and maltreatment of prisoners, the newspaper said.

The Washington Post said the ICRC findings were based on its access to the CIA’s 14 “high value” detainees after they were transferred in 2006 to the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The ICRC report gave uniform accounts of abuse that included beatings, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and, in some cases, waterboarding, or simulating drowning, the Post said.

The paper said at least five copies of the report were shared with the CIA and top White House officials in 2007.

It said a copy of the report was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalism professor who published extensive excerpts in the April 9 edition of the New York Review of Books, released on Sunday.

“The ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture,” Danner quoted the report as saying.

The report said Danner did not say how he obtained the report.

Many of the details of alleged mistreatment had been reported previously, but the ICRC report is the most authoritative account and the first to use the word “torture” in a legal context, the Post said.

The CIA declined to comment, the newspaper said. It quoted a US official familiar with the ICRC document as saying: “It is important to bear in mind that the report lays out claims made by the terrorists themselves.”

The CIA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bush acknowledged the use of coercive interrogation tactics on senior al-Qaeda captives detained by the CIA in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Bush certified in 2007 that the CIA’s interrogation program complied with the Geneva Convention.

The anti-terrorism policies of the Bush administration drew worldwide condemnation as violations of human rights.

Human rights groups said the ICRC assessment could have legal implications and provide the most authoritative account to date of claims that terrorist detainees were tortured in US custody.

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