Leading article: The moral shame of these 'techniques'

Share

Once again the United States intelligence services are exhibiting worrying signs that they consider themselves to be above the law when it comes to counterterrorism. The CIA admitted this week that it had destroyed at least two videotapes showing the interrogation of al-Qa'ida terror suspects. The agency is claiming it did this to protect the identity of CIA agents involved.

But this will not do. When the CIA was being investigated two years ago by the US Congress over a secret detention programme, the agency repeatedly denied that such tapes existed. It is now effectively admitting that it lied to Congress. In addition, the CIA withheld these tapes from the courts and a presidential commission that explicitly demanded the delivery of any video evidence of terror suspect questioning. The agency's failure to comply would seem to be a blatant case of obstruction of justice. The suspicion must be that that the destruction of these tapes was a deliberate attempt to eradicate evidence that could have raised doubts about the legality of the CIA's interrogation techniques. It is now the responsibility of Congress to get to the bottom of this matter.

What we know already about US counterterrorist activities is troubling enough. After the 11 September attacks, President Bush authorised the use of "harsh techniques" in the interrogation of suspected terrorists. The justice department issued a classified legal opinion in August 2002 that provided explicit authorisation for the use of techniques such as "water-boarding", which most international legal experts and credible institutions regard as torture. Intelligence officials claim that water-boarding is no longer practised. But we have no way of verifying this.

But we do know that the former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez had disclosed three years ago that the Bush administration believes anti-torture laws and treaties do no restrict interrogators at overseas prisons because the constitution does not apply abroad. We also know that the White House tried to dilute a ban on torture. And even when President Bush eventually signed the bill into law, he hinted that he reserved the right to ignore it in exceptional circumstances.

A clear pattern has emerged: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, secret prisons, rendition, "harsh" interrogations. The manner in which the US has gone about meeting the threat posed by Islamist terror networks has been a moral disgrace and an affront to international law.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: IT Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Are you someone that "makes th...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join this w...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

£12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn