Centre for Research on Globalisation
[ home ]



Proposed U.S. Torture Policy?


by Partners for Civil Justice


Partners for Civil Justice , January 2002

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,   23  January 2002

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ashcroft Justice Department are considering using torture as an approved policy of the United States against those in detention who assert their legal rights to remain silent. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Government is discussing using "pressure tactics, such as those employed occasionally by Israeli interrogators, to extract information" from persons in their custody in the Government's broad reaching "terrorism" investigation.

A senior FBI official told the Post, "We're into this thing for 35 days and nobody is talking...frustration has begun to appear." This disturbing revelation appears in an article in the October 21, 2001 edition of the Washington Post. This information is likely being discussed now to gauge the public's response to the use of torture, or to prepare the public for plans to use Israeli-style interrogation in the United States.

According to a 1998 report by B'Tselem, an Israel based human rights organization, Israeli interrogators used "routine torture" in their interrogation of Palestinians. The interrogation tactic uses a combination of sleep deprivation, isolation, psychological torment and direct physical force including beatings, kickings, violent shaking, painful shackling and use of objects designed or used to inflict extreme pain. An interrogee may be shackled to a specially modified chair (to cause pain) with his or her head covered with a filthy sack that has an overwhelming stench of vomit or human refuse. Interrogations routinely span months, with constant intermittent periods of interrogation and force lasting for days without interruption.

LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, has reported to the UN Commitee Against Torture that Israel systematically used torture against persons in detention with treatment so severe that Palestinians have died in custody under circumstances that strongly indicate torture.

Israeli authorities, like the U.S. representatives quoted in the Washington Post article, justify these methods as necessary on national security grounds. In addition to the fact that torture is a gross violation of human rights and U.S. law, torture is not a reliable method of extracting information, resulting often in false confessions and risk to the lives of innocents and civilians wrongly charged or suspected.

Torture violates the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, United Nations treaties which the United States has ratified. Provisions of the Geneva Convention which apply in wartime also ban the use of torture, as does the United States Constitution through its Due Process clause.

Richard L. Thornburgh, Attorney General under the Reagan and Bush presidencies, stated to the Washington Post, "We put emphasis on due process and sometimes it strangles us."

The U.S. Government has deprived over 1000 persons in the U.S. of their liberty in recent weeks, in a mass sweep of interrogations and detentions that has raised concern and outcry from civil rights and civil liberties attorneys nationwide.

As a related matter, the U.S. Government has, at its School of Americas, historically provided training in mechanisms of torture, terror, and human rights abuses to be exported to Latin American countries for the furtherance of U.S. political goals. For more info, go to www.soawatch.org

Copyright 2002. Partners for Civil Justice. Reprinted for fair use only. 

The URL of this article is: