Right Step on CIA Abuse But…

The Obama administration’s decision to probe cases of prisoner abuse by the CIA in its secret prisons around the world deserves to be widely welcomed.

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Published: Wed 26 Aug 2009, 10:09 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:29 AM

The move, coming as it does within days of its decision to open US prisons in Iraq to the Red Cross, signals that the administration is keen to break from the long years of abuse of human rights and rule of law under the Bush administration.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder has appointed John H. Durham to open at least 12 cases of prisoner abuse by the CIA under the Bush administration in its so-called war on terror.

Such an investigation would reverse the highhanded detention and interrogation policies of the previous administration and open the CIA officials and private contractors to prosecution for abuse of terror suspects.

At the same time, President Barack Obama has ordered changes in future interrogations, bringing in agencies besides the CIA under the direction of the FBI and to be supervised by his own national security adviser. The administration has pledged that questioning would be controlled by the Army Field Manual, with strict rules. The move came as the Justice Department released new shocking details of prisoner abuse by the CIA in a 109-page report.

According to the declassified report, large portions of which have been blacked out, CIA interrogators conducted mock executions, hangings, intimidation with a handgun and power drill to make the suspects sing. In other two instances, they threatened to kill a terror suspect’s children and rape another’s mother before his eyes.

Of course, none of this is likely to come as a huge shock to the world after what it has witnessed in Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Bay. Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s decision to hold the CIA and other agencies to account is a positive development. However, it still has a long way to go before it can finally put an end to the long reign of terror and lawlessness that began under the Bush administration in the name of fighting terror.

President Obama has already decided to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and is taking steps to try the detainees or send them to their respective countries or even rehabilitate them elsewhere. However, there are said to be many such smaller Gitmos all over the world that remain beyond the rule of law and the so-called due process. In Afghanistan, the infamous prison at Bagram airbase is arguably even worse than the one in Cuba. On the other hand, the so-called extraordinary rendition or outsourcing suspects for interrogation in other countries is said to be still practised by the CIA under this administration.

All this has to go and all the US government employees, whether the CIA, FBI or mercenaries like Blackwater, have to be brought under the rule of law, if President Obama wants to see his country’s image as the land of the free restored.



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