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CIA’s ‘interrogation’ cells have been the breeding ground for torture initiatives; why are CIA officials not being convicted for rights violations?
One of the most amusing things you could do – that is, if you seriously have nothing else to waste your time on – is to visit the CIA library (the ‘electronic reading room’, mind you), trawl the section on ‘Frequently Requested Reports’ and read up on human rights. Apart from the rib-tickling irony of CIA itself hosting reports on human rights violations across the world, the fact also is that in many such reports, which the CIA has been forced to make public due to the Freedom of Information Act, one can’t but help notice various portions insidiously blacked out. Obviously, these blacked out portions do not pertain to Superbowl scoring records. “The work of a nation, the center of intelligence...” CIA seems to be truly upholding its advertising slogan.
Books like Ghost plane: the true story of the CIA torture program, and previously classified documents like Family Jewels speak volumes about CIA’s shameful human rights record in the past century. After 9/11, CIA (under the Bush regime) exponentially augmented their programs of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terror suspects. These suspects were, without trial, sent to foreign jails to be tortured by either CIA officials or by local officials using CIA techniques. CIA’s inhuman torture methods kept getting documented in public view through cases like the one by American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit against the CIA in 2005 for detaining a foreign national in a secret overseas prison.
If the movie Zero Dark Thirty documented some of the newer torture methods used by this agency, there’s a growing bank of evidence that is now bringing to the fore that the CIA acted in connivance with a few other governments in these criminal human rights violations. A recent report titled Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition (authored by a team of experts that included Amrit Singh, daughter of India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh), issued by the Open Society Justice Initiative, part of the Open Society Foundation (OSF) contends that “as many as 54 foreign governments hosted CIA prisons on their territories; detained, interrogated, tortured and abused individuals... provided intelligence leading to the secret detention and extraordinary rendition of individuals and interrogated individuals who were secretly being held in the custody of other governments.” The report further mentions that the CIA’s human rights violations have had no accountability under any law. The New York Times further quoted the report in February 2013, mentioning that “President Obama refused to investigate Bush administration officials who bear responsibility for authorizing human rights abuses... did not repudiate rendition... and has adopted the Bush administration’s claim of a right to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists...without judicial review or meaningful Congressional oversight.”
What that means is that there seems to be little or no possibility of America’s justice system reining in this agency. But globally, things have started heating up. In December 2012, the European Court of Human Rights, in a landmark judgement, confirmed that German citizen Khaled el-Masri was detained by CIA agents in 2003 and brutally tortured and sodomized for over an year, before being ‘released’ when CIA realized it had made a ‘mistake’.
Italian courts in the past few months have sentenced many CIA personnel, including Jeffrey Castelli (the former CIA station chief) in February 2013, to multiple year prison sentences for abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a Muslim cleric in February, 2003, and inhumanely torturing him over a period of four years. True to performance, America has refused to hand over any of the convicted CIA agents.
It’s no wonder that the CIA is not the most loved agency across the world. But with the recent judgements coming in, the gates have finally opened to forwarding a global perspective that many CIA personnel – and those globally having complicity with them – should be viewed akin to those German military personnel who tortured and killed Jews during the Holocaust.
Well, if that sounded too strong, do please visit the refreshing CIA website. There’s now a section called the “Kid’s Page”. It starts with the following lines for children, “You may have heard about the Central Intelligence Agency. But, do you know what we really do and how we do it?” As we mentioned, the irony is both criminal and hilarious at the same instance.
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