U.S. under fire over Senate's report on CIA torture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday faced criticism from the United Nations as well as governments that Washington often reprimands for human rights violations over a Senate report on CIA torture techniques in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some U.S. allies, who could face embarrassment or legal liability for any role in the CIA’s “enhanced interrogations” during the George W. Bush administration, either condemned the CIA’s methods or played down any involvement their governments might have had in them.

“The CIA’s practice of torture is gruesome,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild. “Nothing justifies such methods. Everybody involved must be legally prosecuted.”

Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said according to the Convention Against Torture, not even a state of war justified torture.

In a statement issued in Geneva on Human Rights Day, he said, “The convention lets no one off the hook – neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders.”

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A White House spokesman said the U.S. Justice Department had reviewed the interrogations and found no reason to indict anyone.

Poland long denied allowing U.S. intelligence to use a secret site in the country for interrogations but on Wednesday former President Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged his government let U.S. officials run a facility there. But when asked at a news conference in Warsaw if he knew what his NATO ally was doing, said: “About what the CIA was doing? No. Inside the site, no.”

China, Iran and North Korea, regularly under fire for their human rights records, prodded Washington on its methods.

“China has consistently opposed torture,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing. “We believe that the U.S. side should reflect on this, correct its ways and earnestly respect and follow the rules of related international conventions.”

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A Twitter account associated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said the report showed the U.S. government was a “symbol of tyranny against humanity.”

“They claim they’ve a prideful nation; US govts. debased & misguided their people who aren’t aware of many realities,” said one tweet.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused the United Nations of ignoring “inhuman torture practiced by the CIA” while focusing too much on Pyongyang’s human rights practices.

The Senate report concluded CIA interrogation tactics were ineffective and often too brutal. U.S. officials had been concerned the report would incite attacks and endanger the lives of American hostages held by Islamic militants but there had been no incidents a day after the report’s release.

Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by James Dalgleish