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CIA torture methods ‘are war crimes,’ says former Guantanamo chief prosecutor

December 9th, 2014
07:00 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The abuses committed in the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation" program during the George W. Bush Administration were war crimes in the eyes of international law, Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay Colonel Morris Davis told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“These are also crimes in the international community, and we can’t, and we have no authority outside our borders to excuse this conduct so these are war crimes, are violations of the Convention against Torture.”

The U.S. Senate has for the first time laid bare the shocking wrongdoings carried out in the CIA’s network of black site detention centers between 2002 and 2008, following the September 11th attacks.

Colonel Davis said he “wasn’t shocked by the particulars and the techniques that were employed.”

“We’ve all heard about waterboarding and some of the other things that were done to the detainees as part of the program. I think what was breathtaking to the public looking at this is the quantity, the scope and the extent and the pervasiveness of this program that we’ve used for a period of time on a number of individuals.”

“I think another thing that will be shocking to people,” Davis added, “is how much we contracted out to private industry, and how people became millionaires off of this torture program.”

The damning report, which was five years in the making, also accuses the CIA of deceit at the highest level, cover-ups and obstruction of Congress, and says the program was far less effective than claimed by the agency.

“I’m not aware of a single plot that was averted, a life that was saved, because of the torture program.”

“I think, clearly, there was a tremendous amount of harm and damage that was done that’s going to take years, and years, and years of effort to try to mitigate, but they never identify a specific benefit that makes this program worthwhile and I think the reason for that is because there is none.”

Davis, who is a lawyer, was told to deal with the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 based on information gathered by the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. He stepped down in late 2007 stating at the time that fair trials were impossible under the system, which had become deeply politicized by the Pentagon.

“It’s interesting at the contrast [that] most of us that spoke up against torture were persecuted, and those that pervade torture profited. So it’s a bit of indication today, having this report come out, that what we stood up for and fought for was the right thing to do and it represents American values and American principles.”

While Davis hopes “that going forward we put the blame where it ought to be, and that’s at the top, not at the bottom,” he made the point that “the President [Obama] has again indicated today that he’s taking primarily a look forward, not back approach, so I would be surprised to see him pursue criminal accountability here in the U.S.”

When Amanpour asked Davis if this was “a rogue CIA operation,” Davis replied “I think that’s an accurate description.”

“Looking back in hindsight, I think in the aftermath of 9/11 you can understand people in fear and panic, doing things in the benefit that in the calm of day you regret. But we continued these programs long after the initial shock of 9/11 wore off, and again we contracted a lot of it.”

“So it really is a sad chapter in our nation’s history.”

Click above to watch the full interview.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Torture • U.S. Politics • War Crimes
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