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17 Apr, 2009 09:08

No punishment for CIA officers who tortured detainees - Obama

U.S president Barack Obama announced that CIA officials that used torture techniques during Bush's administration will not be prosecuted.

The U.S president and Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Bush-era CIA officials should not be held legally accountable for implementing harsh interrogation tactics against foreign detainees in the war on terror because the methods, which have been criticized as torture, were defined as legal at the time.

The statement comes after U.S. government released four memos where Bush-era lawyers gave CIA interrogators the go-ahead to "get tough" on detainees.

Human rights advocates argued that Obama should not have assured the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations would not be prosecuted if they used methods in the memos authorized by Bush lawyers. Obama disagreed, saying in a statement, “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” At the same time, other human rights activists applauded Obama for releasing the memos that provide more material than what the community has already known.

The protection, however, would not extend to CIA officials who acted beyond the boundaries laid out by the Bush-era memos. Obama said he believes the content of these documents has to be disclosed. According to him, it is now time to understand what has happened and move on in a world where the US is not engaged in torturing detainees.

Methods in the memos include keeping detainees naked for long periods, depriving them of food,  keeping them in a painful standing position for long periods, beating and kicking.

A 2002 memo argues that ‘waterboarding’, a type of simulated drowning, does not inflict severe pain or suffering. The memo also approves such techniques as putting a suspect into a box with insects, facial slaps and sleep deprivation.