- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

There were no immediate reports of violence, but America’s image took a hit overseas nonetheless Tuesday with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings on torture and the treatment of detainees by the CIA in the post-9/11 global war on terror.

China’s official news agency said in an editorial that the graphic details of the report undercut Washington’s standing to accuse other nations of human rights failings, while officials at Amnesty International and the United Nations said the report would be pointless if it was not followed up with prosecutions of those responsible.

Poland, a close U.S. ally and the host site for one of the CIA’s network of secret prisons, said the revelations in the report could strain relations with Washington even while helping the country uncover the full extent of its cooperation in the terror detainee program. Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz warned that the committee’s publicizing of her country’s role could make U.S. allies less willing to cooperate with Washington on intelligence matters in the future.

China, long a target of U.S. complaints over its human rights record, seemed to take particular pleasure in the embarrassment caused by the report’s release, with the Xinhua editorial linking the CIA torture charges to the racially charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and the revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“America is neither a suitable role model nor a qualified judge on human rights issues in other countries,” the state news service said in its editorial. “Yet, despite this, people rarely hear the U.S. talking about its own problems, preferring to be vocal on the issues it sees in other countries, including China.”

Britain’s left-leaning Independent newspaper wrote that “now we know how bad things were, and how out of control the CIA was, as it leapt into action in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks,” adding that many U.S. intelligence officials still contend that what they did was not torture.

Both private groups, such as Amnesty International, and the U.N.’s top human rights official said the U.S. government and its allies were obliged to follow up on the report’s charges of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other practices that they said are strictly forbidden under international law.

“The declassified information contained in the summary, while limited, is a reminder to the world of the utter failure of the USA to end the impunity enjoyed by those who authorized and used torture and other ill treatment,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americans director for Amnesty International.

The Obama administration “must disclose the full truth about the human rights violations, hold perpetrators accountable and ensure justice for the victims,” she added. “This is not a policy nicety, it is a requirement under international law.”

Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, called for the release of the full Senate report and said those found responsible “must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.”

Mr. Obama has condemned the George W. Bush administration policies as torture, but said early in his administration he would not seek to prosecute those who authorized the programs or those who carried them out.

Obama administration officials said they have been working for five months to prepare U.S. embassies and military personnel for potential violent reactions to the release of the Senate report. Secretary of State John F. Kerry ordered all chiefs of mission at U.S. diplomatic posts to conduct “emergency action” reviews of their security situations.

“The State Department reviewed its security posture in every single post around the world,” said a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity. “The report’s release could be exploited by violent groups at home and overseas.”

Officials said they will be monitoring social media, in particular, to gauge threats from extremist groups abroad and in the U.S.

The preparations have also included consulting with foreign heads of state about the report’s release, and warning U.S. citizens abroad to be on alert for potential retaliation.

Some U.S. critics predicted a more modest reaction, saying many elements of the Bush-era antiterrorism programs were already widely known.

“I don’t think it will be teaching us anything we didn’t already know,” Moazzam Begg, a former British inmate of the Guantanamo detention site, told the Reuters news agency. “It doesn’t make anything better.”


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