Feb. 2007: Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross

The “strictly confidential” International Red Cross (ICRC) Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody follows several other reports: Nov. 2004 and April 2006. The detainees had been transferred in 2006 from undisclosed CIA detention facilities to DoD Guantanamo prison where the ICRC was granted access to these 14 for the first time in Oct. 2006. In addition to its finding that the interrogation methods amounted to torture, and the health personnel involved were in gross violation of medical ethics, the suspicion is raised that some unaccounted for prisoners were killed:

“The ICRC clearly considers that the allegations of the fourteen include descriptions of treatment and interrogation techniques—singly or in combination—that amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment…This regime was clearly designed to undermine human dignity and to create a sense of futility by inducing, in many cases, severe physical and mental pain and suffering…”

“The alleged participation of health personnel in the interrogation process and, either directly or indirectly, in the infliction of ill-treatment constituted a gross breach of medical ethics and, in some cases, amounted to participation in torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

“the ICRC remains gravely concerned by the fact that a significant number of other persons have passed through this detention program and may have been subjected to similar, if not the same, conditions and treatment. The ICRC has not received any clarification of the fate of these persons… the ICRC remains gravely concerned by the fate of the other persons previously held in the CIA detention program, who remain unaccounted for. It continues to request that the relevant US authorities provide clarification concerning the fate of all persons for whom it has information.” (p. 25-27)

Those concerns, it appears from Jane Mayer’s reporting, were anticipated by Vice President Cheney who had warned that if the prisoners were transferred from the CIA to Guantanamo “people will want to know where they have been – and what we’ve been doing with them.” She also noted that although the Bush Administration was dismissive of the ICRC report – which remained top secret — officials at the White House were fearful of criminal prosecution, a fear that was validated by Alberto Gonzales. (Scott Horton. Six Questions for Jane Mayer, Harper’s Magazine, 2008)