December 01, 2014

News Brief: Torture

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence publicly released a redacted version of the Conclusions and Executive Summary Dec. 8 of its “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.” The full study, which was conducted by Intelligence Committee staff between 2009 and 2012 and totals more than 6,700 pages, remains classified but has been provided to the White House, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The contents of the study, which covers CIA actions following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are controversial. The ABA had urged public release of the document with portions that are essential to national security redacted. “Public release of the study would provide long-overdue accountability at home and abroad,” then ABA President Laurel G. Bellows wrote to the White House in June 2013, adding that release also would demonstrate that the United States is committed to fulfilling its international obligations to investigate allegations of torture. Americans also for the first time would be able to evaluate claims about the lawfulness of, necessity for, and effectiveness of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation,” she wrote. ABA policy adopted in 2004 condemns any use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment upon persons within the custody or under the physical control of the United States and any endorsement or authorization of such measures by government lawyers, officials and agents. The detailed policy urges the U.S. government to take specific actions to ensure that all foreign persons within the custody or under the physical control of the United States are treated in accordance with standards that the United States would consider lawful if employed with respect to an American captured by a foreign power. It also urges the U.S. government to pursue vigorously (1) the investigation of violations of law, including the War Crimes Act and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with respect to the mistreatment or rendition of persons within the custody or under the physical control of the U.S. government, and (2) appropriate proceedings against persons who may have committed, assisted, authorized, condoned, had command responsibility for, or otherwise participated in such violations.

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