WASHINGTON/MIAMI, (Reuters) – An independent task force issued a damning review of Bush-era interrogation practices yesterday, saying the highest U.S. officials bore ultimate responsibility for the “indisputable” use of torture, and it urged President Barack Obama to close the Guantanamo detention camp by the end of 2014.
In one of the most comprehensive studies of U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects, the panel concluded that never before had there been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”
“It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” the 11-member task force, assembled by the nonpartisan Constitution Project think tank, said in their 577-page report.
The scathing critique of methods used under the Republican administration of former President George W. Bush also sharpened the focus on the plight of inmates at Guantanamo, which Bush opened and his Democratic successor has failed to close.
Obama banned abusive interrogation techniques such as waterboarding when he took office in early 2009, but the widely condemned military prison at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba has remained an object of condemnation by human rights advocates.
A clash between guards and prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay camp last weekend and the release of harrowing accounts by inmates about force-feeding of hunger strikers threw a harsh spotlight on the predicament of the inmates, many held without charge or trial for more than decade.