WASHINGTON – Fifty-four foreign governments assisted the CIA in a global campaign that included harsh interrogations of suspects, a rights advocacy group said Tuesday as it pressed for greater accountability.
The report by the George Soros-backed network of Open Society Foundations marks the most comprehensive list of countries that helped the United States in what critics saw as excesses by President George W. Bush’s administration in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Bush authorized “extraordinary renditions” — the transferring of individuals without legal process — to allow U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies to interrogate alleged extremists outside the protections guaranteed on U.S. soil.
The group found evidence that 54 foreign governments supported the system by actions such as hosting CIA prisons, interrogating suspects, allowing airspace for secret flights or providing intelligence. Many of the cases involve countries that have long fought Islamic militants in their home territory, such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The report also listed close U.S. allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Thailand. It also listed Iran, saying that despite poor relations with Washington, Tehran indirectly handed over at least 10 suspects — mostly Arabs — to U.S. custody via the Afghan government.
The report called for accountability both in the United States and overseas, saying there was “no doubt” that Bush administration officials authorized what it called human rights violations, thereby hurting the moral standing of the U.S.
But it said that other nations also bore responsibility: Only Canada has apologized for its role, while three other countries — Australia, Britain and Sweden — have offered compensation to individuals.
The report was released two days before a Senate panel considers President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. Brennan, Obama’s one-time deputy national security adviser, is likely to face questions about interrogation policies.
Obama ordered an end to harsh interrogations when he took office in 2009. But Open Society Foundations criticized the president for still allowing renditions if other countries promise to treat prisoners humanely.
The group named 136 individuals subjected to extraordinary detention and rendition. As the report focused on secret CIA operations, it did not cover the Pentagon’s controversial detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The CIA kept some prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and also secretly held detainees in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand, the report said.
In detention, some prisoners were thrown against fake walls, forced into stressful physical functions, involuntarily stripped naked and slapped, the report said.