China, North Korea and Iran - nations often accused of committing human rights abuses - have taken aim at the US over a damning report published yesterday, which revealed the CIA had used interrogation tactics amounting to torture in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report revealed that the CIA deceived US government officials and the public by insisting that brutal tactics, including water-boarding, physical abuse and isolation, helped to gather intelligence which saved lives. The report also said that the CIA's own records fail to back up the agency's claims.
Responding to the findings, Hong Lei, China’s Foreign Minister, told reporters that his nation had “consistently opposed torture” and said that the US should “reflect [on the report], correct its ways earnestly respect and follow the rules of related international conventions”.
Seemingly anticipating the report’s brutal content, China’s Xinhua state news agency dedicated a webpage to the 500-page document, headlined: “How long can the US pretend to be a human rights champion?” the Guardian reported.
The riposte is part of on-going sparring between China and the US on their respective human right’s records, with the former publishing an annual report on the latter’s activities – covering topics from racism to gun crime and homelessness.
CIA torture report: The 10 most harrowing stories
CIA torture report: The 10 most harrowing stories
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1. Of the 119 CIA detainees, 26 should not have been apprehended. Among them was Abu Hudhaifa, who was “subjected to ice water baths and 66 hours of standing sleep deprivation” before the CIA discovered that he was probably “not the person he was believed to be.”
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2. President Bush received his first briefing on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2006, about four years after the programme started. According to CIA records, Bush expressed discomfort with an image of a detainee “chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper.”
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3. The CIA used rectal feeding and rectal rehydration on at least five detainees. Even though detainee Majid Khan was cooperating with feedings, for example, the CIA subjected him to “involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration” and would puree his lunch tray, which was then “rectally infused.”
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4. CIA interrogators threatened to harm the family members of at least three detainees. In one case, a detainee was told that his mother's throat would be cut.
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5. The CIA apprehended two foreigners working for a “partner government” allied with the agency. They were subjected to sleep deprivation and dietary manipulation. The two detainees were trying to give the CIA information on possible future al-Qaeda attacks. It took them months to get released.
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6. Abu Zubaida, the CIA's first detainee, spent 266 hours in a coffin-size confinement box. Zubaida, who was born Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, often “cried, begged, pleaded, and whimpered” and was told that the only way he would leave the facility was in the coffin-shaped box.
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7. When Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times, tried to breathe during the procedure, interrogators held his lips and poured water over his mouth.
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8. The Senate committee found a photo of what looked like a well-used waterboarding station at a site where there was no reported use of the technique. The CIA could not explain the presence of the waterboard.
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9. Of the at least 26 detainees who were wrongfully held, one was “intellectually challenged.” Interrogators taped this detainee crying and used it as leverage against one of his relatives.
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CIA officers would “strip a detainee naked, shackle him in the standing position for up to 72 hours, and douse [him] repeatedly with cold water.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the North Korea' Foreign Ministry, a nation which the UN recently accused of crimes against humanity, asked why the UN is “turning its face from the inhuman torture practiced by the CIA”.
It also highlighted recent protests in the US, after two white police officers were not indicted for killing two unarmed black men.
Iran took a similar stance towards the report. A Twitter account linked to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called the report “shameful”, while an editorial by Fars News Agency labelled it a “pure charade”.
They claim they've a prideful nation; US govts. debased & misguided their ppl who aren't aware of many realities.#TortureReport 10/31/12— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 10, 2014
The news outlet went on to list previous heavy-handed US tactics including using the atomic bomb in Japan in the Second World War, and the deploying Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Iran itself deals with accusations from Human Rights Watch that Iranian authorities subjected political prisoners to abuse, and that women still face “discrimination in many areas including personal status matters”.
“Despite overwhelming evidence implicating numerous US administrations in the sanctioning of extreme war crimes during World War II and afterwards, neither presidents nor their men were ever put on trial. The impotent UN spared them all in a bargain with the devil - an arrangement that still exists today,” it said.
Their comments come as top UN officials said that all senior US officials and CIA agents who authorised or carried out torture as part of former President George W. Bush's national security policy must be prosecuted.
Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said it's ”crystal clear“ under international law that the United States, which ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability.
Responding to the claims yesterday, President Obama said the interrogation techniques ”did significant damage to America's standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies.“
Meanwhile, CIA Director John Brennan said the agency made mistakes and learned from them, but insisted the coercive techniques produced intelligence "that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives."
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content