Red Cross: CIA Interrogation Program Was “Inhuman”

April 7, 2009 5:12 a.m.

The journalist Mark Danner has obtained the entire report on torture by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which he published excerpts from last month. The report has been posted on the website of the New York Review of Books. Danner’s new writeup of it is here.

The major new revelation concerns the active participation of medical officers in the interrogation of terrorism suspects in CIA secret prisons. The report, written in 2007, concludes that these officers committed gross violations of medical ethics, and in some cases participated in torture. The report called the CIA program “inhuman.”From the Washington Post‘s writeup:

Health personnel offered supervision and even assistance as suspected al-Qaeda operatives were beaten, deprived of food, exposed to temperature extremes and subjected to waterboarding … The report quoted one medical official as telling a detainee: “I look after your body only because we need you for information.”


[T]he report alleges that several of the detainees were forced to stand for days in painful positions with their arms shackled overhead. One prisoner reported being shackled in this manner for “two to three months, seven days of prolonged stress standing followed by two days of being able to sit or lie down.”


[T]he report said detainees were routinely threatened with further violence against themselves and their families. Nine of the 14 prisoners said they were threatened with “electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and . . . being brought close to death,” it said.

The Obama administration told the Post that the CIA has long since ended the program.

The big question now is whether the release of the report will add to the pressure on the administration to open an inquiry into whether Bush administration officials broke the law when they ordered harsh interrogation tactics.

For some interesting background on the role of army psychologists in abetting Bush’s torture policy, see this 2007 story from the Washington Monthly.

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