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The recent disclosure of covert "black site" prisons operated by the CIA in Eastern Europe and Thailand, and allegations that at least four detainees in those prisons died under interrogation have sparked an acrimonious human rights debate in Washington: Is the use of torture ever justified in the war on terror? Senator John McCain (R-Az) has introduced a bill that would completely ban the use of "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" on all prisoners, including suspected al-Qaeda members and other foreign terrorists. McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, says that the secret prisons are hurting America's image abroad. The McCain bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate (90 to nine) but has met with staunch resistance from members of the Bush administration. Vice President Cheney and CIA chief Porter Goss in particular argue that the CIA must be permitted to use "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" on certain detainees if it is to win the war on terror.

According to human rights groups, the United States is currently holding up to 10,000 suspected terrorists in detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and several other countries. About 100 of these detainees are being held in CIA-run prisons. The United States is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which it ratified in 1994. However, the Bush administration maintains that the ban on "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" does not apply to foreign terrorist suspects being held outside the borders of the United States.

From CIAO's database:

Pugwash Meeting on Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan Dialogue: The Prospects Ahead

Path to Kashmir Resolution will be Arduous, but Uneasy Truce Should Hold

The Kashmir Policy of the United States: A Study of the Perceptions, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Opening a Window in Kashmir

Imbalance of Powers: How Changes to U.S. Law and Security Since 9/11 Erode Human Rights and Civil Liberties (PDF)

In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all

Human Rights Defenders on the Frontlines of Freedom: Protecting Human Rights in the Context of the War on Terror

How Terrorism Affects American Diplomacy (PDF)

Civil Liberties and Counter-Terrorism: A European Point of View (PDF)

Implications of the Events at Abu Ghraib Prison for the PfP Countries: Reflections of a Former Intelligence Officer (PDF)

America After 9/11: Public Opinion on the War on Terrorism, the War with Iraq, and America's Place in the World (PDF)

Outside Links*:

Human Rights Watch

Department of Homeland Security

DCI Counterterrorist Center

"War on Terror" (Amnesty International)

The Case for Torture Warrants

U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine [].