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September 2, 2009
What does a CIA interrogation probe mean for Pakistan?

Protesters in Washington D.C. voice their opposition to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in April.

The Obama administration continues to revisit the anti-terror policies of the Bush era.   But civil liberties advocates say that the CIA is not cooperating with President Obama.

Worldfocus contributing blogger Sana Saleem argues Pakistanis have a right to know details of the alleged abuse. Read the full post here. An excerpt is below.

The heart-wrenching stories of torture have raised grave concerns globally. Many across the world have questioned these treatments, weighing them as staunch violations of human rights. Most importantly, the American people have shown great concern over the severity of these torture tactics and have demanded public release of the interrogation memos of the CIA.

Despite President Obama’s assurance to the CIA officers regarding prosecutions, the concerns of the American people and the world seems to linger on. Reuters reports that sleep deprivation, “insult slaps,” water dousing and “walling,” or slamming a detainee’s head against a wall, were techniques used by CIA interrogators to break high-value detainees, according to an agency memo. The memo goes on outlining that the the goal of interrogation is to create a state of learned helplessness and dependence conducive to the collection of intelligence. Further elaborating the memo the Washington Post stated that after removing the hood, the interrogator opens with a slap across the face — to get the detainees attention — followed by other slaps, the guidelines state…

“Twenty or thirty times consecutively” is permissible, the guidelines say, “if the interrogator requires a more significant response to a question.” And if that fails, there are far harsher techniques to be tried.

This does not end here according to a memo, released under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Amnesty International USA and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Certain interrogation techniques place the detainee in more physical and psychological stress and, therefore, are considered more effective tools,” these include waterboarding, electrocuting, fake executions and various other methods of psychological and physical torture. Moreover, the new released memo discloses detailed information of types of psychological torture. BBC reports that on various occasions Agents threatened to kill a key terror suspect’s children and sexually assault another’s mother. The US Justice Department is reported to be reopening a dozen prisoner abuse cases, for which John Durham has been appointed as a special US prosecutor for investigations.

For many of us the question is not only about prosecutions, the concern is way beyond that of prosecutions, it is mainly about the truth that should be made public. The detailed reports on abuse and torture and the assurance that the US is determined to mark an end to it, are of primary concern. The strong emphasis laid on the release of the memos is proof enough that the people demand a detailed answer. An investigation about how and to what extend were the tortures carried out and whether or not the authorities are serious about ‘changing their ways’ seems to be the demand…

This is the time to introspect, to ask questions, to explain and to act on. I believe that the truth must be revealed. We have all heard stories of the horrendous torture, its time to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Especially in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiments continue to be on the rise. If truth is told and prosecutions are sought, a lot will change. It will reflect that the US is serious about strengthening its ties with the Muslim world in particular and is seriously concerned about its global image.

This could be a significant step forward towards the Muslim world, which currently feel ‘threatens’ by the existence of such techniques, provided that these could (and have) lead to innocent people admitting to crime under torture.

As we proudly claim to be the first hand ally of the United States, we deem it our right to know just how far has the US gone to get the ‘desired confessions.’ As a Pakistani, I consider this my right to know details regarding the abuse done. A natural right considering that many Pakistani nationals and foreign nationals arrested from within Pakistan are still detained in Gitmo. With President Obama in the White House, America promised a change not only in America but also on the global front, it’s time we witness that in action and not in mere words.

– Sana Saleem

Photo courtesy of Flickr user under a Creative Commons license.

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1 comment


CIA should not probe for terrorist toture. it is procedure to get information from the people who determine to inflict a gerat damage. these people are mentally ill and the country has to use any means necessry to protect the country . under this circustance, the torture procedure is justified

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