Medical officers who oversaw interrogations of terrorism suspects in
CIA secret prisons committed gross violations of medical ethics and in
some cases essentially participated in torture, according a
confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Health personnel offered supervision and even assistance as
suspected al-Qaeda captives were deprived of food, exposed to
temperature extremes and subjected to waterboarding, the relief agency
found in a 2007 report, a copy of which was posted on a magazine Web
site tonight. The report quoted one medical official as telling a
detainee: "I look after your body only because we need you for
The new details about alleged CIA interrogation practices were
contained in a 43-page volume written by ICRC officials who were given
unprecedented access to the CIA's "high-value detainees" in late 2006.
While excerpts of the report were leaked previously, the entire
document was made public for the first time tonight by author Mark
Danner, a journalism professor, on the Web site of the New York Review
The confidential report sheds additional light on the CIA's handling
of the detainees, who were detained in secret overseas prisons for up
to four years and subjected to what the agency describes as "enhanced
interrogation techniques." In addition to widely reported methods such
as waterboarding, the report alleges that several of the detainees were
forced to stand for days in painful positions with their arms shackled
overhead. One detainee reported being shackled in this manner for "two
to three months, seven days of prolonged stress standing followed by
two days of being able to sit or lie down."
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In addition to the coercive methods -- which the ICRC said "amounted
to torture" and a violation of U.S. and international treaty
obligations -- the report says detainees were routinely threatened with
further violence against themselves and their families. Nine of the 14
detainees said they were threatened with "electric shocks, infection
with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and . . . being brought close to
death," the report said.
The ICRC report was based on accounts made separately to agency
investigators by individual detainees, all of whom had been kept in
isolation before the interviews, the document states. CIA officials
have confirmed that three of the detainees were subjected to
waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.
The CIA had no immediate comment on the report. Previously, top Bush
administration officials defended the interrogation methods, saying
they were legal and necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. A U.S.
official, commenting on a leak of portions of the report in March,
said: "It is important to bear in mind that the report lays out claims
made by the terrorists themselves."
The report can be accessed at http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf.