Commentary: Report finally defines 'torture'

This editorial appeared in the Centre Daily Times.

As president, George W. Bush said U.S. antiterror interrogators were using "an alternative set of procedures" that to this day former Vice President Dick Cheney contends were "absolutely essential" to stopping another Sept. 11, 2001-style attack.

But the International Committee of the Red Cross says the CIA's treatment of key terror suspects held at secret agency prisons abroad amounted to torture.

If those tactics actually kept the nation safe — and there's no way to know that without a closer look at the Bush antiterror track record — then it came at a terrible price for American prestige and standing in the world community. A country that tortures can no longer claim the moral high ground, even if it's the world’s greatest democracy.

But torture is the only way to describe the interrogations as detailed by the Red Cross in a just-disclosed report. The aid group wrote its 2007 account of prisoner interrogations on the basis of in-depth interviews with 14 top al-Qaida members being held in the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

To read the complete editorial, visit the Centre Daily Times.