USA: New report on 'war on terror' calls for Bush and Kerry to tackle 'made in America' torture
Neither presidential candidate mentioned the issue in three televised presidential debates.
The call came as Amnesty International launched a major new 200-page report - Human Dignity Denied: Torture and accountability in the â€œwar on terrorâ€ mapping the extent of US torture and ill-treatment across the globe since 11 September 2001.
Six months on from the publication of photographs showing torture at Abu Ghraib, Amnesty Internationalâ€™s report challenges the notion of torture being committed by â€œjust a few bad applesâ€ and shows that there is still huge scope for it to take place again because the US government has failed to significantly alter policies that have allowed and even promoted torture in breach of its own legal obligations.
The report provides over 65 specific recommendations to the US authorities for tackling torture and offers a 12-point Program for the Prevention of Torture by Agents of the State.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
â€œSix months on from the emergence of sickening images of torture at Abu Ghraib the US government has failed to tackle torture - in fact the conditions that allowed it to infect their military operations are largely unchanged.
â€œAfter 11 September 2001 senior US officials began giving the green light to torture - authorising hooding, stripping, isolation, â€˜stressâ€™ positions, sensory deprivation and the use of dogs in interrogations.
â€œIt has been a case of proclaim your opposition to torture in public, while in private discuss how your President can order torture and how government agents can escape criminal liability for torture.
â€˜â€œWar on terrorâ€™ torture is â€˜made in America tortureâ€™: the presidential hopefuls now need to publicly commit to allowing a comprehensive and independent commission of inquiry into all torture allegations.â€
The report critically examines justifications used by senior members of the US government for aggressive interrogation and abusive treatment and highlights the use of incommunicado and secret detention - in some cases amounting to â€œdisappearanceâ€.
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is singled out for criticism, not least for articulating the US governmentâ€™s selective disregard for the Geneva Conventions.
The report notes that the USâ€™s three-year descent into authorising torture has involved the coining of new euphemisms for torture such as â€œstress and duressâ€ and â€œincentive and removalâ€.
Similarly, â€œGITMO-izeâ€ has been used as a reference to reproducing the harsh regime of GuantÃ¡namo Bay - use of short-chain shackling and deafeningly loud music - in Abu Ghraib.
Amnesty Internationalâ€™s report specifically refutes notions:
- that torture has been adequately investigated,
- that only a â€œfew bad applesâ€ or â€œnight-shift freelancersâ€ were involved, or
- that US military and political policy is now to firmly to prevent â€˜war on terrorâ€™ torture.
Even the recent US Department of Defense-appointed Schlesinger report persisted in justifying as â€œessentialâ€ so-called â€œaggressive interrogationâ€ while maintaining â€œwhat constitutes â€˜humane treatmentâ€™ lies in the eye of the beholder.â€ It did this even while stating that there had already been over 300 cases of alleged abuse - â€œmany of them beyond Abu Ghraibâ€.
Amnesty Internationalâ€™s report examines a pattern of official US authorisation of torture and ill-treatment followed by only a partial rescinding of approval of some measures.
Amnesty International remains alarmed, for example, that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is still apparently authorising abusive measures like sleep deprivation and isolation while additionally reserving the right to personally allow any â€œadditional interrogation techniquesâ€ in specific cases.
Kate Allen added:
â€œThe US government has failed to come clean over torture. We need to know what secret â€˜torture directivesâ€™ exist and what is being done to stop anyone else being tortured in US custody.â€
Read the report online...
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