By Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA Director of Security with Human Rights
Today John Brennan, director of the CIA, gave a live press conference responding to the Senate’s landmark report on the CIA torture and secret detention program. He acknowledged “mistakes.” He said that the program was “flawed.” He said that the CIA had now improved “management” and “planning.”
But words like these do not reflect the full gravity of torture and enforced disappearances. They downgrade this program of systematic human rights violations to a series of unforeseen complications. They make torture seem like a bad choice – instead of the crime that it is.
Here’s what Brennan should have said, without qualification:
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment can never be justified. They are never legal. Even in a time of war or threat of war, even in a in a state of emergency that threatens the life of the nation, there can be no exemption. The same is true of enforced disappearances.
When the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and enforced disappearances is violated, the United States has obligations. It has to be fully investigated — impartially and independently. Anyone found responsible must be brought to justice.
No one can render these crimes lawful – no lawyer, no president, no doctor and no interrogator.
The release of the summary of the Senate torture report is a wake up call. It’s time to end impunity for human rights violations. It’s time for accountability.