CIA Tortured Prisoners: Red Cross

2007 report is first to use 'torture' in legal context
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2009 5:02 AM CDT
Pierre Krahenbuhl, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross speaks during a press conference at the ICRC office in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – The Red Cross concluded in 2007 that the Bush administration's treatment of al-Qaeda detainees "constituted torture," the Washington Post reports. Fourteen prisoners transferred from multiple CIA "black site" prisons overseas to Guantanamo all described similar patterns of beatings, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme heat and cold, and in some cases waterboarding. As the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, the Red Cross's use of the term "torture" has the force of a legal finding.

One prisoner was shot in Pakistan and survived thanks to CIA-arranged medical treatment—only to be shackled to a chair for weeks, slammed into walls, waterboarded and placed in a coffin-like box after beatings, according to the Red Cross findings. The report was shared with the CIA and the White House but kept secret in order to maintain the strict neutrality of the Red Cross in conflicts. A professor obtained a copy of the report and published excerpts in the current issue of the New York Review of Books.