Friday, October 5, 2007

United States under fire for authorizing torture techniques on terror suspects

The United States (US) is under fire again after new allegations chronicle accounts of secret memos that authorize the use of painful physical and psychological interrogation methods on terror suspects. The White House is denying the claims and issued a statement defending its interrogation policy, stating that the US is well within the law and the Geneva Conventions.

The New York Times (NYT) reported on Thursday that memos from the justice department authorized simulated drowning, head-slapping, exposure to frigid temperatures and lengthy periods of sleep deprivation as legally acceptable techniques by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (Click here to read the NYT article)

Human rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First are calling for an independent probe into the justice department's opinions on torture.

According to the New York Times report, the 2005 memo which explicitly allowed using the painful methods in combination came months after a 2004 legal opinion in which the justice department publicly declared torture abhorrent.

The White House and US justice department have said the 2005 memo did not change the 2004 policy.

The United States Congress has prohibited cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of terror suspects.

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