WASHINGTON (AFP) – US rights activists fear their work around the globe may be hampered by revelations of a brutal CIA torture programme, but hope confronting past transgressions can help America rebuild its moral authority.
In excruciating detail, the report describes crude torture methods straight from the pages of Medieval history books – waterboarding, hanging people for hours from their wrists, locking them in tiny coffin-shaped boxes.
One secret black site where CIA officers sought to “break” al-Qaeda suspects in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States was even known as “the dungeon.”
The expose tells how one man died of suspected hypothermia after being left naked and chained to a concrete cell floor, an incident one rights activist said could be seen as “murder.”
“There’s no question that America’s moral authority has suffered greatly from the use of torture and cruel treatment after 9/11,” senior counsel for the US-based non-governmental group Human Rights First, Raha Wala, told AFP.
“Our hope is that by publishing this report, that this might be the first step in a long process by which American policy makers and the American people themselves can come to terms with the abuses committed after 9/11 and really … correct past mistakes in order to regain some of that moral authority.”