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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/13/09

ICRC's Damning ExposÚ of US Torture

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-- (US 1994 ratified) Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

-- four Geneva Conventions; the first two protect the sick and wounded in battle; the third defines who is a prisoner of war and establishes minimum treatment standards, and the fourth protects civilians and requires that they be treated humanely - not falsely called "unlawful enemy combatants" to get around the law, which doesn't apply anyway as all forms of torture and mistreatment are strictly banned.

The four conventions have a Common Article Three that prohibits all forms of "violence to life and person," including cruel abuse, torture, and all types of humiliating and degrading treatment among other provisions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Established in 1863, it states its purpose as follows:

The ICRC "is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims or war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance." It also strives "to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles." It has a "legal mandate" to do so under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC report was labeled "confidential" and intended only for senior US officials. On February 14, 2007, it was sent to John Rizzo, the CIA's acting general counsel. Danner got hold of it, reported individual accounts in the The New York Review of Books, and stated:

"Because these stories were taken down confidentially in (detainee) interviews by (ICRC) professionals, and not intended for public consumption, they have an unusual claim to authenticity" - all the more so because all prisoners were isolated, yet corroborated each other's accounts.

On April 9, The New York Review of Books published the full report of what ICRC interviewers learned from visitations with 14 CIA-held "high value detainees" transferred to Guantanamo in September 2006. This article summarizes its findings and recommendations.

It's Titled: "ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody"

The ICRC "consistently expressed its grave concern over the humanitarian consequences and legal implications of (America's practice) of holding persons in undisclosed detention in the context of the fight against terrorism."

Beginning in 2002, it made regular "written and oral" requests for information on them - to "various levels of the US Government" without response.

On September 6, 2006, George Bush publicly announced that 14 "high value" detainees were transferred to the Guantanamo-based, CIA-run High Value Detainee Program. Earlier they were at undisclosed locations. Prior to this announcement, ICRC had no knowledge of them or a CIA detention program - even though it requested information on 13 by name.

From October 6 - 11, 2006, ICRC met with all 14 in private for the first time, then again from December 4 - 14. This report described their arrests, transfers, incommunicado detention, and treatment in detail, initially and later on. It also explained their health care, the role of the medical staff, legal ramifications of secret incarcerations, other CIA detainees, and the "future use of the CIA detention program." The Defense Department got a separate report.

Main Elements of the CIA Detention Program

All 14 prisoners described harsh treatment, from the start, lasting for days or months, amounting to physical and psychological torture - "with the aim of obtaining compliance and extracting information." When considered in total and for their duration, the evidence is "all the more disturbing." In addition, all 14 accounts were consistent, adding to their credibility. By "ill-treatment," ICRC meant, singly or in combination, they "amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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