The New York Review of Books has published the complete 43-page report by the International Committee of the Red Cross detailing the gruesome torture and abuse of “high value” prisoners held by the United States government at overseas CIA prisons, known as “black sites.” Although confidential, journalist Mark Danner had obtained a copy of the report, which was delivered to the U.S. government in February 2007, and first published excerpts from it in March.
While Attorney General Eric Holder has not shown much interest in prosecuting the perpetrators and policymakers behind the torture policy, the publication of the complete ICRC report, which describes such “enhanced interrogation techniques” as waterboarding; forcing detainees to stand, shackled, in painful stress positions for days; severe beatings; forced nudity; exposure to extreme hot and cold and threats to the prisoners’ families — all of which the ICRC said “amounted to torture” and violated of domestic and international law — could put additional pressure on the attorney general and on President Obama. Both have insisted that they want to “look forward” rather than backward, though both have also said that if crimes occurred, they should be prosecuted.
In addition to threats to their families, nine prisoners, interviewed independently, told ICRC officials that they were threatened with “electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and . . . being brought close to death,” according to the report.
The report also says that medical staff directly participated in the torture, in some instances. It quotes one doctor telling a prisoner, “I look after your body only because we need you for information.”