U.S. finally comes cleanA U.S. Senate report disclosed the use of appallingly brutal and pervasive torture methods by U.S. intelligence officers to interrogate terrorist suspects and squeeze out information in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman for the Senate Intelligence Committee, said after releasing the 500-page summary after a five-year review of 6.3 million pages of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents that the “CIA actions, a decade ago, are a stain on our values and on our history.” The so-called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques the CIA officials pervasively used against detainees, in fact, were outright torture that included sleep deprivation, shackled coffin confinement, simulated drowning or waterboarding and sexual abuse. The CIA program was carried out from 2002 to 2007 during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Even a United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said the report revealed a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration.” The revelation of the use of torture in interrogations and prisons clearly is a violation of human rights and will deal a heavy blow to America’s reputation as a human rights defender. What’s more, the White House, Congress, State Department and Justice Department did not try to know the true nature of the program or contain its abuses. Senate Republican leaders and CIA officials justified the methods by saying they helped capture important suspects and led to the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The United States cannot evade criticism that it infringed universal human rights to justify its war against terrorism. Emmerson demanded accountability and called for criminal prosecution of U.S. officials who authorized or implemented the program. Feinstein said the truth-telling process on its own won’t remove the stain, but “can and does say to our people and the world that America is big enough to admit when it’s wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes.” Admittance and contrition for past mistakes or misdeeds can pave the way to a better future. President Barack Obama immediately banned enhanced interrogation techniques after his 2009 inauguration, admitting that the methods “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners.” Regardless of the revelation of CIA actions, the UN-led human rights agenda must remain intact. States criticized for human rights violations must stop finding excuses for their abusive excesses. Human rights are common values that mankind must never cease defending.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 11, Page 34