Press Conference: Release of Task Force Report on Detainee Treatment: The Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment is an independent, bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel charged with examining the federal government's policies and actions related to the capture, detention and treatment of suspected terrorists during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.
The U.S. tortured people. A nonpartisan, 577-page report on the United States’ interrogation program concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” and that top officials were responsible for it. The 11-member panel was organized by the Constitution Project and was led by two former members of Congress: a Republican, Asa Hutchinson, and a Democrat, James Jones. The report confirms that waterboarding was more widespread, and was practiced against Libyan militants as well as Al Qaeda prisoners. Torture also damaged the U.S.’s standing in the world and risked the safety of U.S. troops. “As long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United States could again engage in torture,” says the report.
“I had not recognized the depths of torture in some cases,” Mr. Jones said. “We lost our compass.”
While the Constitution Project report covers mainly the Bush years, it is critical of some Obama administration policies, especially what it calls excessive secrecy. It says that keeping the details of rendition and torture from the public “cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security” and urges the administration to stop citing state secrets to block lawsuits by former detainees.
The report calls for the revision of the Army Field Manual on interrogation to eliminate Appendix M, which it says would permit an interrogation for 40 consecutive hours, and to restore an explicit ban on stress positions and sleep manipulation.
The core of the report, however, may be an appendix: a detailed 22-page legal and historical analysis that explains why the task force concluded that what the United States did was torture. It offers dozens of legal cases in which similar treatment was prosecuted in the United States or denounced as torture by American officials when used by other countries.