Accountability for Torture: Questions and Answers
13 May 09 | HRW
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. officials approved various interrogation methods that were illegal under both U.S. and international law.
These included such brutal practices as painful “stress positions,” prolonged exposure to cold, and “waterboarding” (near drowning), which the United States has long prosecuted as a war crime. These techniques were used on detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq, and Afghanistan and in secret CIA prisons. Yet no senior official has been held accountable for these crimes. If the United States is to restore its credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, it should promptly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those officials, regardless of position or rank, who authorized or ordered torture and other mistreatment.
At the same time, it is crucial to understand how the United States came to employ such barbaric methods of interrogation. The American public deserves a full and public accounting of the scale of post-9/11 abuses, why and how they occurred, and who was responsible for them. An independent, nonpartisan commission should be established to examine the actions of the executive branch, the CIA, the military, and Congress, and to make recommendations to ensure that such acts are not repeated.
Some have expressed objections to the prosecution of US government officials for their role in abusive interrogation methods and to the creation of commission of inquiry. We address those objections below. >>>