Vice President for Torture: “VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. ‘Cruel, inhuman and degrading’ treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.

His position is not just some abstract defense of presidential power. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have ‘disappeared,’ like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including ‘waterboarding,’ or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees. Official investigations have indicated that some aberrant practices by Army personnel in Iraq originated with the CIA. Yet no CIA personnel have been held accountable for this record, and there has never been a public report on the agency’s performance”

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