The Constitution Project released their report from the Task Force on Detainee Treatment which concluded that the United States did use torture following the attacks of 9-11. (emphasis added throughout)
Findings and Recommendations …
#1 U.S. forces, in many instances, used interrogation techniques on detainees that constitute torture. American personnel conducted an even larger number of interrogations that involved ‘cruel, inhuman, or degrading’ treatment. Both categories of actions violate U.S. laws and international treaties.
The Task Force — headed by former members of Congress Republican, Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, and James R. Jones, a Democrat — is described as
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 project was undertaken with the belief that it was important to provide an account as authoritative and accurate as possible of how the United States treated, and continues to treat, people held in our custody as the nation mobilized to deal with a global terrorist threat.
The video below is of the press conference when the Task Force released its report.
The report notes that
… President Obama declined to undertake or commission an official study of what happened, saying it was unproductive to ‘look backwards’ rather than forward. Senator Leahy (D — VT) introduced legislation to establish an independent commission to look into the U.S. behavior in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but Congress did not to act on it. … …
… In the course of the nation’s many previous conflicts, there is little doubt that some U.S. personnel committed brutal acts against captives, as have armies and governments throughout history. But there is no evidence there had ever before been the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after September 11, directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.
Democracy Now reports that the study
… found no compelling evidence torture produced helpful information that could not have been found without it. … The report also criticizes a lack of transparency by the Obama administration, saying its practice of hiding details about rendition and torture ‘cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security.’
The torture report discarded the euphemism of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and said that U.S. forces engaged in torture. By examining court cases of torture and cases by the United States against other countries, the authors concluded that ‘The United States may not declare a nation guilty of engaging in torture and then exempt itself from being so labeled for similar if not identical conduct.’
The report rejected the contention that torture resulted from of a “few bad apples,” as Bush said following the release of sickening photos showing American soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. The authors cited two decisions as key to this conclusion: Bush’s declaration that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees in Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and his authorization to allow the CIA to use brutal techniques against some detainees. The report also cited comments by Vice President Dick Cheney that the U.S. must work on ‘the dark side’ and other similar comments leading to the perception that such practices would be tolerated.
(U.S. Constitution via Constitutional Project)