Senate Report Links CIA To Military's Harsh Tactics
NPR.org, April 22, 2009 · The brutal treatment of terror detainees and prisoners by members of the military followed directly from the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques, according to a Senate report that is likely to add fuel to the debate over the United States' use of torture.
The 232-page report released Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee came less than a week after President Barack Obama released Bush-era memos that detailed the use of harsh tactics by the CIA.
The report documents the Bush administration's growing reliance on harsh interrogations that began just two months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. It also ties those unyielding interrogation policies to the abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military authorities at the Abu Ghraib prison as well as to interrogations at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the report shows that abuse of terror detainees and combat prisoners was systematic.
"Authorizations of aggressive interrogation techniques by senior officials resulted in abuse and conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody," Levin said.
The Senate investigation has been in a Pentagon security review since Nov. 21, 2008. Its findings were drawn from more than 70 interviews and 200,000 pages of classified and unclassified documents.
"In my judgment," Levin said, "the report represents a condemnation of both the Bush administration's interrogation policies and of senior administration officials who attempted to shift the blame for abuse such as that seen at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan to low-ranking soldiers."
Obama said Tuesday that Justice Department officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques are not immune from prosecution.
"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions," the president said, "that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that."
Obama also said he could support a bipartisan inquiry into Bush-era detention policies.
Attorney General Eric Holder had no comment. There is a Justice Department investigation into whether department lawyers who wrote the interrogation memos violated professional guidelines. Holder may be waiting to see that report before he makes a decision on prosecutions.
Since last week, the administration has consistently said CIA officials won't be prosecuted for following Justice Department legal guidance in good faith. That language leaves out at least three groups:
- CIA officials who conducted harsh interrogations before the Justice Department provided legal guidance.
- CIA officials who went beyond what the Justice Department said was legal.
- Justice Department officials who provided legal guidance endorsing harsh interrogations.
The three men facing the most scrutiny are former Justice Department officials Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury. Bybee is currently a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Yoo is a professor at the University of California Berkeley.
From NPR staff and wire reports.
Read full report here: Inquiry Into The Treatment Of Detainees In U.S. Custody