Amnesty International today urged a criminal investigation into the role of former US President George W Bush and other officials in the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees held in secret US custody after the former president admitted authorizing their use.
In his memoirs, published yesterday, and in an interview on NBC News broadcast on 8 November 2010, the former President confirmed his personal involvement in authorizing “water-boarding” and other techniques against “high value detainees”.
“Under international law, the former President’s admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA’s obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.
“His admissions also highlight once again the absence of accountability for the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance committed by the USA.”
In his memoirs, former President Bush focused on the cases of two detainees held in the secret programme.
Abu Zubaydah was held at various undisclosed locations from April 2002 to September 2006. In August 2002, he was subjected to “water-boarding” in which water is used to begin the process of drowning, more than 80 times.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested on 1 March 2003 in Pakistan and transferred to secret CIA custody. That same month he was “water-boarded” 183 times, according to a report by the CIA Inspector General.
After three and a half years being held incommunicado in solitary confinement in secret locations, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was transferred to military custody in Guantánamo, where he and Abu Zubayhdah remain held without trial, along with more than 150 others.
Water-boarding was far from the only technique alleged to have been used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubayhdah and others held in the secret programme that violated the international prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Other techniques included prolonged nudity, threats, exposure to cold temperatures, stress positions, physical assaults, prolonged use of shackles, and sleep deprivation.
“Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W Bush,” said Claudio Cordone.
“In the absence of a US investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”