‘Torture - a policy choice of the US’
While torture is illegal under domestic and international law, without any accountability there is no guarantee that future US administrations won’t pursue the same kind of policy, Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told RT.
RT:Dick Cheney admits the government knew about CIA torture. Do you realistically see top figures from the Bush administration face the music over this?
Andrea Prasow: I don’t expect there will be prosecutions at the top. President Obama has made it clear that he has no intention of prosecuting anyone for the CIA torture program. I hope that this report changes his mind, and if it does those investigations really must go all the way to the top.
RT:The US Justice Department says there's not enough evidence in the Senate's report. Is it permanently slamming the door on ever prosecuting the people who authorized and conducted torture for the CIA?
AP: On Tuesday, 500 additional pages of evidence were released. Keep in mind it’s only a summary of a 6000-page detailed report, and those 500 pages alone clearly make the case for prosecution, at least criminal investigation.
RT:Do you think there is enough publicly available information for prosecutions?
AP: First of all, there is absolutely enough publicly available information for prosecutions, but what there isn’t is political will. I hope we’ll see it soon as other countries are calling the US, calling President Obama and demanding that he actually commits to his pledge to ban torture by prosecuting people for it.
RT:Do you think other nations or The Hague could launch their own probe against them? If yes, when would it happen?
AP: The US hasn’t signed the statute of the International Criminal Court, so that’s not possible. But other countries can exercise universal jurisdiction over these crimes and countries that were involved in these crimes – Poland, Lithuania, Afghanistan, Thailand – they have also opened up cases. Probably it won’t happen tomorrow. Accountability may be a long-term project.
RT:The report on inhumane tactics doesn't even mention the word 'torture'. Why?
AP: Unfortunately, when President Obama made a positive statement on Tuesday after this report was released, he didn’t use the word ‘torture’ either. The reason is ‘torture’ is a legal term; torture is a crime. Unfortunately, people don’t want to be required to investigate. If Obama calls this conduct ‘torture’ then he knows that this should be investigated and likely prosecuted.
RT:But it’s possible that this could happen again. What’s your take on it?
AP: Exactly. Right now torture is essentially a policy choice of the US. It is illegal under domestic and international law. But with no consequences what is to stop a future administration from doing it?
RT:Is there anything good that came out from this report?
AP: Absolutely! As much as many of the details of the CIA torture program were known to the public before, having them compiled in this really thoroughly detailed report is incredibly helpful. People are reading this, they didn’t really have the details before. I think the general public is horrified.
RT:Do you really think the American public didn’t know about this?
AP: I think that people tried to ignore it and when it’s on the cover, when everything is on newspapers and television channels, they have to confront this reality.
RT:So is there enough evidence to see more people brought to account?
AP: I do think so. There has been a fair bit of outrage already and that will continue.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.