NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of classified pieces of information from the National Security Agency, told Amnesty International that Americans committed “inexcusable crimes” when they conducted torture on detainees.
The former system administrator for the CIA, who still resides in Russia under an asylum request, spoke from Moscow to an event in Paris about the recent release of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee’s report on CIA torture during the George W. Bush administration. He described the CIA’s brutal techniques as “deeply corrosive to the morals of the United States.“
Snowden reportedly said during a recent video conference for Amnesty International’s celebration of the International Day of Human Rights:
“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.”
“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 Central Intelligence Agency of $2,500. These are things that leave a stain on the moral authority of the United States government.”
Facts Revealed in the Report
The recently-released U.S. Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA, which was based on the examination of more than six million internal CIA documents and cost more than $40 million, had revealed the brutal use of torture on prisoners in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The executive summary of the report exposed that the treatment in secret prisons a decade ago was worse than the government told Congress or the public.
The NY Times reported that five hundred pages were released, representing the executive summary and conclusions of a still-classified 6,700-page full investigation. The released pages included the names of CIA personnel, countries that hosted the agency’s secret prisons and some other details blacked out.
The report also uncovered the facts about what is called the “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” program to torture the prisoners. The program included weeks of sleep deprivation, slapping and slamming of detainees against walls, confining them to small boxes, keeping them isolated for prolonged periods and threatening them with death, claiming that former U.S. President George W. Bush was never briefed by the agency on specific techniques such as waterboarding (a simulated drowning technique) until 2006.
The CIA misled Congress and the White House about the harsh methods of torturing and insisted, in the same time, that the interrogations had helped save lives!
The BBC reported these facts as they revealed in the report:
- Detainees were subjected to repeated waterboarding, slapping, stress positions and sleep deprivation.
- Saudi al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end.
- Suspects were threatened with severe harm – psychologically and physically.
Read more: Q and A About the C.I.A. Torture Report
The world-famous National Security Agency leaker says he is “deeply saddened and to a great extent angered” both by what he read and by the tone of the conversation. He also talked about his work at the CIA and suspicions of agency actions during his tenure.
Snowden regretted that “this does nothing in terms of holding the officials who ordered this behavior, and the officers who actually directly engaged in torture, to account.”
He reportedly said:
“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 criticized torture defenders, he called for accountability rather than apparent rewards for undertaking actions tantamount to torture – and some even bringing about death.
Watch the full video:
The UN and prominent human rights groups have demanded prosecution of the responsible US officials listed in the Senate’s report.
Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, called on prosecutors across Europe to “get active” and prepare to seize any CIA agents and US officials involved in torture who enter their territories, according to The Guardian.
He reportedly said:
“We’re preparing reams of dossiers, and demanding of prosecutors that they do the same for those who are named in the report and those known as the higher-ups who directed and conducted this system.”
Kaleck is the director of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin. He also added:
“If these people enter European territory, they need to know that they’ll run into severe trouble.”
Lately, “CitizenFour,” a documentary about Edward Snowden and NSA spying, has won the International Documentary Association top award for best feature, after it was named the best non-fiction film of 2014.
Snowden’s release of NSA files has been called the most significant leak in US history.