A two-year-long non-partisan study has concluded it is "indisputable" that the United States engaged in the practice of torture in the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The 577-page report by the Constitution Project also makes clear that the highest officials of the U.S. government were responsible. The policy is unprecedented in the United States, the report said, in "the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody."
The study, by an 11-member panel convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, was to be released on Tuesday morning, the New York Times reported, though by Tuesday noon, it still had not been posted on the organization's website. The panel was co-chaired by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, a Republican from Arkansas, and James R. Jones, a Democrat and a former ambassador to Mexico.
Both former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney have admitted authorizing waterboarding of high-ranking al-Qaeda prisoners, a process that simulates drowning for a detainee who is tied to a board while water is poured down his nose and throat. The report says the CIA also slammed detainees into walls, chained them in uncomfortable positions for hours, stripped them of clothing, and kept them awake for days on end. A series of memos from the Office of Legal Counsel from the U.S. Department of Justice during the Bush administration claimed the methods, officially known as "enhanced interrogation techniques," were legal under certain conditions. While human rights organizations and some news commentators denounced the measures as "torture," most major news organizations shied away from the word. As the Times acknowledged Tuesday: "News organizations have wrestled with whether to label the brutal methods unequivocally as torture in the face of some government officials' claims that they were not."
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