Evidence of wider US waterboarding: HRW

A Human Rights Watch report paints a more complete picture of the US` close cooperation with the regime of Libya`s Muammar Gaddafi.

Updated: Sep 06, 2012, 14:50 PM IST

Cairo: Human Rights Watch said it has uncovered evidence of a wider use of waterboarding in American interrogations of detainees than has been acknowledged by the United States, in a report on Thursday that details further brutal treatment at secret CIA-run prisons under the Bush administration-era US programme of detention and rendition of terror suspects.

The report also paints a more complete picture of Washington`s close cooperation with the regime of Libya`s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The US handed over to Libya the Islamist opponents of Gaddafi that it detained abroad with only thin "diplomatic assurances" that they would not be mistreated, and several of them were subsequently tortured in prison, Human Rights Watch said.

The 154-page report features interviews by the New York-based group with 14 Libyan dissident exiles. They describe systematic abuses while they were held in US-led detention centres in Afghanistan some as long as two years or in US-led interrogations in Pakistan, Morocco, Thailand, Sudan and elsewhere before the Americans handed them over to Libya.

"Not only did the US deliver (Gaddafi) his enemies on a silver platter, but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first, said Laura Pitter, counterterrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

"The scope of the Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged," she said.

The report comes days after the Justice Department announced it would not bring criminal charges against any CIA personnel over severe interrogation methods used in the detention and rendition programme. Investigators said they could not prove any interrogators went beyond guidelines authorised by the Bush administration. Rights activists and some Obama administration officials say even the authorised techniques constituted torture, though the CIA and Bush administration argue they do not.

Any new instances of waterboarding, however, would go beyond the three that the CIA has said were authorised.

Former US president George W Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney and the CIA have said that the method was used on only three senior al Qaeda suspects at secret CIA black sites in Thailand and Poland Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Aby Zubayda and Abd al-Rahman al-Nashiri, all currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The technique involves pouring water on a hooded detainee`s nose and mouth until he feels he is drowning.