Human Rights

CIA Kept Prisoners Alive to Keep Torturing Them, Lawyer Says

Human rights lawyer John Sifton says the CIA tried to prevent detainees from dying, "which might sound humanitarian, but was kind of sickening."

According to human rights lawyer John Sifton, the CIA tortured detainees so severely that it had to take measures to keep them alive so they could continue being tortured.

Sifton, who is currently the director of One World Research, explained to an interviewer for Russia Today that there was both a CIA detention program and a military detention program, which was modeled on that created by the CIA.

"The CIA program was by far the most secretive," Sifton noted. "That's the one that only had a few dozen detainees at any given time -- but it's the one that saw the biggest abuses, the most serious forms of torture."

"In the military, there was actually a larger number of deaths than with the CIA," he continued. "The CIA engaged in some horrendous abuses, but they appear to have taken precautions to have actually prevented people from dying -- which might sound humanitarian, but in fact was kind of sickening."

"The military wasn't so careful," according to Sifton. "The military subjected a lot of people to the same techniques, but without the precautions, and as a result a large number of detainees in military custody died. … While they didn't use the worst forms of torture, like waterboarding, they often used sleep deprivation, forced standing, stress positions. … When you combine these techniques … they cause excruciating pain … and the military used them on thousands and thousands of detainees."

Sifton commented that what he found most shocking was "the cold, clinical fashion in which they went about designing the program. They didn't want to commit outright physical torture … so they went to psychologists and lawyers and they tried to design a program which was, in their minds, legal. … They tried to make it legal and safe, but they just made it even more grotesque."

Now, Sifton says, "Our information is that the Obama administration essentially put the CIA out of business with respect to detaining people. They no longer have their own secret prison program." Because nobody has been held accountable, however, and much of what went on is still being concealed, it "causes a moral culpability issue worldwide. President Obama may have closed the prisons and ended the programs, but … it creates a stain that has yet to be cleansed."

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