13 December, 2014
The United States increased security at U.S. offices around the world this week after the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report. The report describes how the Central Intelligence Agency treated terror suspects after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It accuses the agency of misleading Congress and the American people about its methods for gathering information.
The report tells about the CIA's use of forceful methods to question at least 119 people. Those individuals were detained between late 2001 and January of 2009.
Critics say the report shows the CIA was torturing terror suspects. The report says the CIA kept some detainees in small places, and forced others to stay awake in a standing position for long periods. Another interrogation method was waterboarding, which makes the individual feel as if he or she is drowning.
Former President George W. Bush approved the interrogation program after the 2001 attacks on the United States. President Barack Obama banned the techniques when he took office in 2009.
The release of the report has led to widespread calls for legal action against U.S. officials. Laura Pitter is with Human Rights Watch.
"Really the ones to blame in this case are the senior U.S. officials that authorized the abuse, knowing that it was illegal. They're the ones at the top that need to be held accountable for these crimes."
The report says several U.S. allies provided assistance to the Central Intelligence Agency. This week, Poland's former president admitted for the first time that he approved a CIA base on Polish territory. But Alexander Kwasniewski also said he did not know that torture was taking place.
He said, "The Americans turned to the Polish side to request a quiet place where it could conduct operations to effectively obtain information from persons willing to cooperate with the U.S. side. We agreed to this."
Four years ago, a parliamentary investigation in Lithuania found that the CIA operated a base near the capital, Vilnius. That investigation may now be reopened.
Britain has also been linked to the CIA program. Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about the issue this week. He said that an investigation has been opened.
"So I'm confident this issue has been dealt with from the British perspective, and I think I can reassure the public about that. But overall, we should be clear torture is wrong."
Many terror suspects were taken to the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay. Among them was British citizen Moazzam Begg, who was released after three years. He said on Wednesday that the recent executions of Westerners by Islamic State militants can be linked to the CIA's actions.
"ISIS was born in the dungeons of Abu Ghraib. It was born in the dungeons of the Iraqi prisons that were under U.S. occupation, and that's where this hatred and animosity has festered."
There are fears that the terror threat to the United States and its allies will intensify. Jihadist groups have reportedly used social media to call for a reaction to the report.
Charles E. Allen is a former assistant director of the intelligence agency. He said the threat had increased.
"Yes, it will threaten Americans. Our people need to be protected, their identities need to be protected, and I'd hate to see any blood come from this. But I fear there will be an attack."
Security has been strengthened at U.S. embassies to guard against possible attack.
I'm Christopher Cruise.
Correspondent Henry Ridgwell reported this story. George Grow wrote it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter edited it. Christopher Cruise read and produced the program.
Words in This Story
security - n. freedom from danger or harm; protection; measures necessary to protect a person or place
intelligence - n. the ability to think or learn; information gathered by spying
terror - adj. causing great or extreme fear
torture - v. to cause severe pain; n. the act of causing severe pain in order to harm, to punish or to get information from
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