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10 Dec, 2014 17:40

Efficiency no justification for criminal activity - Snowden on CIA torture report

The world cannot accept efficiency as an excuse for what is essentially “criminal behavior” on the part of the CIA, former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden told Amnesty International via a Paris-Moscow video link.

Snowden, who still resides in Russia under an asylum request, told Amnesty International that morality cannot be tossed aside for the sake of so-called “efficiency” when it comes to the activities of the CIA.

A government could say that rape has a positive effect because we have a declining demographic crisis in the country... Efficiency has no place in the debate about right and wrong,” Snowden said, agreeing to the question about whether the US is in deep moral crisis.

READ MORE: CIA torture did not help foil UK terror plots

New @AmnestyNI blog: the paper trail linking the UK's torture of the 'Hooded Men' to the CIA justifications http://t.co/ESJkesheey

— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) December 10, 2014

The Senate’s report is a good step forward in terms of acknowledging the reality of what we have done. But this does nothing in terms of holding the officials who ordered this behavior and the officers who actually directly engaged in torture to account.”

Snowden highlighted specific incidents, calling for accountability rather than apparent rewards for undertaking actions tantamount to torture – and some even resulting in death.

Individuals actually lost their lives – they died – after being chained to a concrete floor in an unheated room, half naked. And rather than having the officer who ordered that behavior be prosecuted, he actually received a monetary bonus from the CIA of $2,500. These are things that leave a stain on the moral authority of the US government,” he said.

Watch full recording of Snowden‘s video link:

The interview on Wednesday took place within the framework of the International Day of Human Rights, which fell a day after the release of a shocking report on the extent of the CIA’s rendition and torture programs worldwide.

He denounced the activities of the CIA , saying they used “the powers of total war but applied in times of relative peace.”

AFP Photo / Brennan Linsley / Pool

In other comments, Snowden said he feels very secure in Moscow and even takes the metro “like everybody else.” However, he wants to go home. “I would love to go back to the US,” Snowden stated, adding that Western Europe could also be good.

The United States Senate intelligence committee released on Tuesday its long-awaited congressional report detailing the CIA’s use of torture on prisoners in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The roughly 6,000-page report was finally published by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and gave the panel’s findings following a four-year- investigation conducted at a cost of more than $40 million.

READ MORE: Facing justice: UN, HRW, Amnesty call for prosecuting US officials for torture

Among the report’s findings: the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence; the CIA’s justification for the use of such tactics rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness; the interrogations and conditions of confinement of detainees was “far brutal and far worse” than the CIA claimed; and that the CIA “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.”

Snowden currently lives in Russia, where he received a three-year residence permit in August 2014. Snowden faces conviction and imprisonment in the US should he choose to return.