Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What US Did to Terrorism Suspects after 9/11 Was Torture, Report Finds

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What US Did to Terrorism Suspects after 9/11 Was Torture, Report Finds

Article excerpt

The United States government used torture and other illegal interrogation methods in the war on terrorism, an independent task force concluded in a report released on Tuesday.

The group called on the Obama administration and Congress to acknowledge that "the authorization and practice of torture and cruelty after September 11 was a grave error."

The task force, an arm of the nonpartisan Constitution Project, also urged the government to beef up US laws to make clear that torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees are federal crimes.

"It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture," the group said in a 560-page report issued after two years of research. The task force said torture occurred "in many instances and across a wide range of theaters."

It added: "The nation's most senior officials ... bear ultimate responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of illegal and improper interrogation techniques used by some US personnel on detainees in several theaters."

The US government, while acknowledging the use of harsh and coercive interrogation methods against terrorism suspects in the past, has consistently denied that the specially authorized techniques amounted to torture or illegal conduct.

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The Constitution Project task force, composed of a bipartisan group of former senior government officials, rejected those denials.

"This finding, offered without reservation, is not based on any impressionistic approach to the issue," the report says. "Instead, this conclusion is grounded in a thorough and detailed examination of what constitutes torture in many contexts."

Task force members said they compared US interrogation techniques with known instances of torture - including cases in which the US government accused foreign regimes of torture. "The United States may not declare a nation guilty of engaging in torture and then exempt itself from being so labeled for similar if not identical conduct," the report says.

The task force was co-chaired by James Jones, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma and the ambassador to Mexico under President Clinton, and Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas and undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Bush. …

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