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Independent Review Concludes U.S. 'Indisputably' Used Torture

  • RFE/RL

The report focused mostly on the presidency of George W. Bush (left) but also criticized President Barack Obama's administration for what it called "excessive secrecy."

The report focused mostly on the presidency of George W. Bush (left) but also criticized President Barack Obama's administration for what it called "excessive secrecy."

A nonpartisan panel that includes former senior U.S. officials has issued a report stating that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture."

The Constitution Project presented its findings on April 16 at a news conference in Washington.

"The New York Times" carried the Constitution Project findings before the report's release.

An 11-member panel of former congressmen, ambassadors, judges, and administration officials carried out the research over 16 months.

Hutchinson said on April 16 the report found no firm evidence that torture produced useful information.

"There is no persuasive evidence in the public record that the widespread use of torture against suspected terrorists was necessary, that is that it produced significant information of value that could not have been otherwise obtained," Hutchinson said.

Jones said the conclusions were based on extensive on-the-ground research conducted in several countries and at the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities.

"This study encompasses a vast amount of information. A result of more than two years of research, analysis, and deliberation is based on a thorough examination of available public records and interviews with more than 100 people, including former detainees, military and intelligence officers, interrogators, and policymakers," Jones said.

The task force staff and members conducted on-the-ground fact finding in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lithuania, Poland, and the United Kingdom, and also at Guantanamo Bay."

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The report focused mostly on the presidency of George W. Bush (2001-09) but also criticized President Barack Obama's administration (2009-present) for what it called "excessive secrecy."

However, the study found that the Obama administration "has dramatically improved the process of notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross of detainees' status, and providing access to detainees."

The report concludes that both the use of torture and the high level of secrecy surrounding the rendition and torture of detainees has no justification.

Furthermore, it says that torture has "damaged the standing" of the United States and potentially endangered U.S. troops taken captive -- a view echoed by Amrit Singh, senior legal officer for national security and counterterrorism issues at the Open Society's Justice Initiative.

"This is a very credible, independent report that unequivocally finds that the United States engaged in torture. It only demonstrates that the United States' moral authority has been diminished throughout the world," she said.

"The capacity of the United States to call on other governments to respect human rights is severely undermined by the findings in this report."

She added that President Obama "made a mistake" when he rejected calls to investigate potential CIA abuses in his first term because he wanted to look forward and not dredge up the past.
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