December 09, 2014
Statement by the President Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.
In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.
Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.
As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.
Secretary Kerry on Release of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report
Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Department of State – Washington, D.C.
Release of this report affirms again that one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course. This marks a coda to a chapter in our history.
President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.
Now this report sheds light on this period that’s more than five years behind us, so we can discuss and debate our history – and then look again to the future.
As that debate is joined, I want to underscore that while it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant to reexamine this period, it’s important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s minds. Every single day, the State Department and our diplomats and their families are safer because of the men and women of the CIA and the Intelligence Community. They sign up to serve their country the same way our diplomats and our military do. They risk their lives to keep us safe and strengthen America’s foreign policy and national security. The awful facts of this report do not represent who they are, period. That context is also important to how we understand history.
UN expert calls for prosecution of CIA, US officials for crimes committed during interrogations
9 December 2014 – A United States Senate report has confirmed what the international community has long believed – that there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush Administration which allowed to commit gross violations of international human rights law, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights said today.
Released this afternoon, the so-called Feinstein report, after long-time US Senator Dianne Feinstein who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that compiled the document, probes crimes of torture and enforced disappearance of terrorist suspects by the Bush-era CIA.
“It has taken four years since the report was finalised to reach this point,” said Ben Emmerson in a statement.
Now it is time to take action, he added. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” he said.
Identities of the perpetrators, and many other details, have been redacted in the published summary report but are known to the Select Committee and to those who provided the Committee with information on the programme.
“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability,” Mr. Emmerson explained.
International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.
The US is legally obliged, by international law, to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.
Guantanamo Bay detention camp
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp, also referred to as Guantánamo, G-bay or GTMO (pronounced ‘gitmo’), is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which fronts on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At the time of its establishment in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous persons, to interrogate “detainees” in an optimal setting, and to prosecutedetainees for war crimes.Detainees captured in the War on Terror, most of them from Afghanistan and much smaller numbers later from Iraq, the Horn of Africa and South Asia were transported to the prison.
The facility is operated by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) of the United States government in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Detainment areas consisted of Camp Delta (including Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which is now closed).
After Bush political appointees at the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal black jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty detainees to Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise and that the courts have jurisdiction: it ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on 29 June 2006, that detainees were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Following this, on 7 July 2006, the Department of Defense issued an internal memo stating that detainees would, in the future, be entitled to protection under Common Article 3.
President Obama’s attempt to close the camp
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama described Guantánamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and promised to close down the prison in 2009. After being elected, Obama reiterated his campaign promise on 60 Minutes and the ABC program This Week.
On 22 January 2009, President Obama stated that he ordered the government to suspend prosecutions of Guantánamo Bay detainees for 120 days to review all the detainees’ cases to determine whether and how each detainee should be prosecuted. A day later, Obama signed an executive order stating that Guantánamo Detention Camp would be closed within the year. His plan encountered a setback when incoming officials of his administration discovered that there were no comprehensive files concerning many of the detainees, so that merely assembling the available evidence about them could take weeks or months. In May, Obama announced that the prosecutions would be revived. On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In November 2009, President Obama admitted that the “specific deadline” he had set for closure of the Guantánamo Bay camp would be “missed.” He said the camp would probably be closed later in 2010, but did not set a specific deadline.
State names new envoy for Guantanamo Bay
6/30/15 10:07 AM EDT By Martin Matishak – TheHill
Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed a new envoy to negotiate the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Lee Wolosky, who served in the National Security Council during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, will act as State’s special envoy for Guantanamo closure, Kerry announced Tuesday.
Wolosky is “ideally qualified to continue the hard diplomatic engagement that is required to close Guantanamo in accordance with President Obama’s directives,” Kerry said in a statement.
He said Wolosky would “assume lead responsibility for arranging for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees abroad and for implementing transfer determinations, and overseeing the State Department’s participation in the periodic reviews of those detainees who are not approved for transfer.”
Wolosky succeeds Clifford Sloan, who stepped down from the special envoy post around the end of last year.
The president pledged during his campaign to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in his first week in office. But Obama has met stiff resistance on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have passed multiple laws that tie the president’s hands on closing the controversial facility.
Last week, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter expressed serious doubt that the detention facility could be shuttered before Obama leaves office.
Earlier this month, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he expects Carter to submit a plan for closing the prison to lawmakers sometime soon.
U.S. closes maximum security unit but five tied to 9/11 plot still held
SEP 9, 2016 AFP-JIJI
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has closed a maximum-security detention center at Guantanamo Bay, an official said Thursday, as the controversial prison’s population continues to dwindle.
Guantanamo’s Camp 5 lockup, built in 2004 at a cost of $17 million, closed Aug. 19 and will be converted into a medical center with a psychiatric wing for detainees, facility spokesman Navy Capt. John Filostrat told AFP.
Only a “handful” of detainees had remained at Camp 5 after 15 inmates were transferred to the United Arab Emirates last month, the biggest single release under President Barack Obama.
The few former Camp 5 inmates are now housed in an adjacent medium-security jail, Camp 6, where they have access to communal areas and computers through which they can Skype family members, Filostrat said.
Twenty of the 40 or so detainees now at Camp 6 have been cleared for transfer and are optimistic they may be released before Obama leaves office in January.
“It’s fair to say there’s a sense of anticipation, maybe hope even,” Filostrat said.
Still, a few detainees continue to protest their indefinite detention by hunger striking.
Many have been locked up for more than a decade without any formal charges being brought, with only limited access to lawyers and amid allegations of detainee abuse.
The riskiest remaining detainees, including the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, are incarcerated at another, secret prison camp called Camp 7 located elsewhere on the base.
Camp 5 once housed noncompliant inmates and hunger strikers. The facility had special equipment in place to protect jailors from “splashing” — the grim practice of prisoners hurling bodily fluids and excrement at guards.
Filostrat said a small number of men at Camp 6 are continuing their hunger strikes and are force-fed, but noted “90 percent are very compliant.”
Camp 5’s closure means the overall guard and staffing force for Guantanamo Bay’s entire prison operation will shrink from 1,950 to about 1,550. Most of the reductions come from military police units that no longer will be sent there.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, about 780 inmates have been housed in the U.S. military-run facility which Obama has repeatedly tried to close.
- 2/23/16 President Obama on Plan to Close the Prison at Guantanamo Bay
- 2/23/16 Background Press Call on the Closing of the Prison at Guantanamo Bay
- 1/20/17 President Obama shrinks Guantanamo population to new low