A new report by a nonpartisan legal research group says that, despite years of debate and speculation, U.S. agents engaged in torture during interrogations of foreign detainees.
The report by a task force of the Constitution Project, founded in 1996 to monitor government surveillance, openness and checks and balances, said that after a go-ahead by the George W. Bush administration, U.S. forces “used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture.”
“American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading’ treatment,” the 577-page report said, and many “actions violated U.S. laws and international treaties.”
The panel was co-chaired by two former members of Congress — Republican Asa Hutchinson, a former undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Democrat James R. Jones, a former ambassador to Mexico — and sought to forge a consensus on the issue after an exhaustive review. The group’s report said public evidence showed that the CIA waterboarded detainees, used sleep deprivation, held prisoners for long periods without clothing and chained them purposely in uncomfortable positions.
As other critics previously asserted, such harsh treatment did not, in the end, serve U.S. aims. The torture “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive,” the report said. At the same time, there was “no firm or persuasive evidence” that the cruelty yielded valuable information that could not have been gotten in other ways. In fact, the task force said, “There is substantial evidence that much of the information adduced from the use of such techniques was not useful or reliable.”