After years of torture and ‘no trial’ a leak containing the report of the US Senate Intelligence Committee on CIA torture found that “CIA methods were brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policy makers”. It is a six thousand plus page report that took around four years to complete and still remains largely hidden from public view. The report explicitly refers that CIA misled the media and the public about the effectiveness of cruel and unusual interrogation. “The CIA manipulated the media by coordinating the leak of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques”, wrote the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Now the “most civilized” nation of the world is being apprehended for misleading the media and using extreme interrogation methods, dubbed as “brutal and far worse” than had ever been shared with the US and international media before. If we objectively analyze this entire situation, we will come to know that the US policy makers who ordered and approved the ‘CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program’ are as criminal as the militants of Al-Qaeda but former attained the legal justification for their acts-of-terrorism.
The post 9/11 counter terror episode has seen some of the worst human rights violations in the history of mankind. USA while planning, devising and executing its counter-terror strategies went beyond countering terror, like violating the international humanitarian law and human rights in Afghanistan, Iraq and even in Pakistan. Detention centers, incidents of inhumane behavior by US/NATO troops, civilian killings and drone attacks have received a wide range of condemnation and criticism from across the globe, particularly from the international NGO’s and humanitarian organizations.
US manipulated the international laws and negated the IHL and human rights issues. If we take US invasion and policies as belligerent and an aggressive course of action, we will come to know that US has poorly failed in containing terrorism, rather they have spread hatred among the suffering masses. Even in USA the situation is very different, as many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars regretted their participation in these wars and returned their medals back at a NATO summit in Chicago. Many civil rights movements, human rights organization and veterans’ organizations are now protesting over the Iraq and Afghan invasions which have left both the countries devastated.
Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights
Just as terrorism has damaged humanity and has had an impact on human rights, same has been the case with the methods used in counter terrorism. No international law allows any human rights violations during countering or combating terrorism, yet many fundamental and basic human rights have been violated by states while fighting terrorism. In 2003, Human Rights Watch presented a briefing paper for the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in which it was mentioned that terrorism is an adverse of human rights and all the governments have a duty to safeguards their citizens from any such violence. International cooperation is also demanded from the nations in order to punish the criminals involved in terrorism. In combating and countering terrorism, the respective governments must make sure that counter-terrorism measures do not violate the international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law.
Usually it is assumed and argued that while combating or fighting terrorism inevitably one has to violate human rights, which is absolutely incorrect. If the states cannot secure human rights, it cannot secure itself. Mary Robinson, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights clarified this that long term guarantee of security is only achieved by giving respect and ensuring human rights and humanitarian law.
As Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of UN explained that in any counter-terrorism strategy, respect for human rights should be seen as an effective approach not as a barrier to it. It is quite evident that at all international forums, protection of human rights and humanitarian law has been given high importance especially for counter terrorism and it is obligatory for all states to abide by the resolutions.
US Detention Centers
USA built three covert detention centers in Batagram (Afghanistan), Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) and Abu-ghuraib (Iraq) after 9/11, where they have been keeping the suspects, who are reportedly missing from their own countries. Smith in his book “Eight O’clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Seeking Justice in Guantanamo Bay” also revealed that the detention centers exposed the horrific tales of torture and inhumane treatment. He said that there was lack of evidence, proof against detainees, judicial trial and law.
Ross also shed light on the human rights abuses by US forces in the detention centers in Guantanamo and Bagram. He pointed out that both US military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) workforce inflicted extreme level of torture and used very coercive methods of interrogation. The most common way of torturing was to deprive the detainees from sleep for long hours, beatings, hurting stress positions, forced nakedness, abusive interrogation and solitary imprisonments. Despite worldwide condemnation for these horrific torture tales, USA continues to hold hundreds of men in Guantanamo Bay, without any regard for the international human rights and humanitarian law.
There is a need to highlight that while countering terror, there was no need to disgrace the bodies of the dead or to give extreme level torture to the detainees at Guantanamo and Bagram. One of the ‘greatest’ democracies of the world is involved in the most severe cases of human rights violations while manipulating and overlooking the set standards of the international law. There is a need to uphold the humanitarian law rather to manipulate it while countering terror. Counter-terrorism can be executed within the frameworks of human rights and humanitarian law, but there is a need to accept and recognize others as humans and the set moral standards. USA has to reformulate its policy towards this war, as it will take almost another decade or more to reconstruct what it destroyed during its war against terror.
If this world could witness the Nuremberg Trials, cited as one of the greatest trials in history, then why can we not have the same level of justice in the present day world? We need to prosecute all those who are responsible for the ‘crimes against humanity and against peace’ post-9/11, including the regime of Bush and allies. Those responsible for the blood of thousands of innocent women and children, the ‘Fallujah Massacre’ and the three covert detention centers in Batagram (Afghanistan), Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) and Abu-ghuraib (Iraq) should be brought before the court. Though, the United States and the Iraqi government signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and under which the government of Iraq will have “limited jurisdiction” to prosecute U.S. military personnel and contractors who commit crimes on Iraqi soil. However the international community should come forward and punish those who were involved in these heinous crimes and misconduct.
The Nazis established the ‘Gas chambers’ and the US government made the detention centers, to torture and annihilate the human beings they captured. The US elites who drafted, ordered and executed the war strategies post 9/11 that resulted in war crimes are ‘war criminals’ and they should be presented before the International Criminal Court and should be tried by an International Military Tribunal. If we as human beings believe in justice then these ‘war criminals’ should not go unpunished.