Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Secret memos reveal ‘torture’


But Obama says CIA officers won’t be charged for rough tactics used

WASHINGTON — United States President Barack Obama on Thursday blew the lid on harsh CIA terror interrogation techniques approved by ex-President George W Bush, including simulated drowning and sleep deprivation, that critics amounted to torture.

But despite releasing four partially blacked-out memos detailing the tactics, Mr Obama said operatives who carried out the interrogations would not be prosecuted, saying they acted on orders and were defending their country.

“This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Obama’s attorney-general offered the operatives legal help if anyone else takes them to court over the harsh interrogation methods that were approved by the Bush administration.

The Bush administration memos describe the tough interrogation methods used against 28 Al Qaeda terror suspects.

The memos authorised keeping detainees naked, in painful standing positions and in cold cells for long periods of time. Other techniques included sleep deprivation, depriving them of solid food and slapping them.

In releasing the documents, the most comprehensive accounting yet of interrogation methods that were among the Bush administration’s most closely guarded secrets, Mr Obama said he wanted to move beyond “a dark and painful chapter in our history”.

“At a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” he said.

On the other side, human rights advocates argued that Mr Obama should not have assured the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations would not be prosecuted if they used methods authorised by Bush lawyers in the memos.

“Government officials broke very serious laws: For there to be no consequences not only calls our system of justice into question, it leaves the gate open for this to happen again,” said The Centre for Constitutional Rights.

The memos produced by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel were released to meet a court-approved deadline in a lawsuit against the government in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union.


From WEEKEND TODAY, World – 18, 19-Apirl-2009


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