UN: Prosecute Those Involved in CIA Torture

UN official calls for the prosecution of those responsible for the harsh interrogation tactics revealed in the report on CIA torture.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

CIA Headquarters (file)
CIA Headquarters (file)

A United Nations official on Tuesday called for the prosecution of those responsible for the "criminal conspiracy" revealed in the report on CIA torture, NBC News reported.

This includes senior U.S. government officials who authorized the harsh interrogation tactics, the UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, said.

In its report, the Senate Intelligence Committee found that CIA interrogation techniques, employed for days or weeks at a time, never led to "imminent threat" intelligence, the figurative ticking time bomb often cited as justification. In some cases, the means were counterproductive, according to the report.

"It is now time to take action," Emmerson said in a statement quoted by NBC News. "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."

Emmerson said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had a legal duty to bring criminal charges. He noted that the report 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 systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law."

"The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability," he added, noting that international law prohibited granting immunity to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture.

Following the release of the Senate report, the Justice Department issued a statement saying it stood by its decision not to bring any criminal charges against those involved when it conducted its own probe five years ago.

Speaking later Tuesday on MSNBC, Holder said he'd ordered "two serious investigations into these matters" starting back in 2009 and had a "very seasoned prosecutor" lead the effort.

"We took them very seriously, extremely seriously," he said. "The person who was responsible for the investigation did, I think, an extremely thorough job."

People were interviewed and grand jury work was done, Holder said, but his team ultimately concluded that they couldn't make a prosecutable case. One of the reasons that determination was made was because the Justice Department had said enhanced interrogation techniques were legal, an opinion that has since been withdrawn, Holder added.

"I can't honestly say that crimes were committed. But I will say this. What we saw in these enhanced interrogation techniques was not consistent with who we are, who we say we are as Americans," he said. "They might have been legal in the strictest sense of the word, but they were immoral."