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Citizens’ group wants US to be accountable for CIA renditions

RALEIGH, N. C. – Efforts to prosecute the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and four co-defendants are jammed in the part about the lingering question Americans are still not resolved: torture.

Interrogators in secret CIA prisons have repeatedly struck Ammar al Baluchi’s head against the walls, leaving the 9/11 planner, and a nephew of the attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with brain injury and memory loss, one of Baluchi’s attorneys, Air Force Lt.-Col. Sterling Thomas, said before a court proceeding this week at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Thomas’ accusations that resonate with The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, a private, 11-member group of citizens whose mission is to highlight and denounce the practice. Last week, the organization recommended Thomas as one of the speakers at an anti-torture teach-in attended by approximately 100 people in Raleigh.

“The science, the facts and the law, and minced, against the pro-torture argument is, but that they not be heard very well,” Thomas said. “So part of the discussion to be taken by those who are disturbed” by. “These people are often citizens who stand up.”

The academics, lawyers, retired military officers and clergy, that the commission are planning public discussions in North Carolina and Washington, D. C., and aim to report in the next summer with recommendations for county, state and federal officials.

“We do not have the power to lock someone. We do not have the power to make people pay” compensation commission co-chairman and ex-Guantanamo-attorney Frank Goldsmith noted in the last week of the meeting. “But we can make the findings. … We can call for action.”

Such non-governmental research committees are rare, although others have managed to bring to the attention of American military atrocities in Vietnam and war crimes in Bangladesh during the 1971 civil war. However, one of the lawyers, which is the cradle of the boundaries of the hard interrogation tactics used under President George W. Bush dismissed the North Carolina group’s hearings as little more than a publicity stunt.

“I … don’t see why the state of North Carolina, has a particular interest or reason to the keeping of a research on a question of national security, the former deputy assistant attorney-general, and Berkeley law school professor John Yoo said in an e-mail. “Each state will have its own special panel on every controversial issue of foreign policy? This is the reason why the Constitution vests in the federal government.”

Some of the tactics used by CIA interrogators are now widely seen as torture. A 2014 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded, the agency understated the brutality of the techniques while exaggerating the value of the information obtained by the use thereof.

The spy agency is “not always meet the high standards that we set for ourselves and that the American people expect of us,” the CIA said in a comment. In a separate report, the CIA, the inspector general said that the interrogation program cobbled together in the months after the 9/11 attacks sometimes exceeded even Bush flexible guidelines when it allowed such tactics as simulated drownings, mock executions and threats against members of the family.

The detention and interrogation program ended, after President Barack Obama took office in 2009. It “is thoroughly examined in the course of a number of years,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani wrote in an e-mail.

Americans are evenly divided on the question whether torture is acceptable in some circumstances, according to the Pew Research Center poll taken in the two weeks prior to the 2016 elections. President Donald Trump’s campaign included promises to restore of waterboarding and other extreme forms of torture.

The North Carolina group started ramping up about the time Trump was president, but it is a consequence of the more than ten years of campaigning by Raleigh-area activists against taxpayer support for a company linked to the CIA clandestine transfer of terrorism suspects.

For the last ten years, the activists have resigned Aero Contractors Limited, a private airline from an airport of the province is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Raleigh. Aero Contractors has delivered about 50 people to secret prisons from Thailand to Poland for interrogation and torture, according to Sam Raphael, a senior lecturer in international relations at London’s University of Westminster, which is the documentation of the CIA’s rendition program.

Aero Contractors do not return calls seeking comment.

Raphael, who spoke at the commission hearings in Raleigh, said that he hopes that the citizens’ research convinces Americans that their government is engaged in “the crime on a global scale” while striving to ensure that they are safe from terrorists.

“The overarching goal is to make the truth of what happened to … to strive for a certain level of responsibility and justice for those who suffer … and to ensure that the truth be known, so that it is not repeated in the future,” he said.

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Follow Emery P. Dalesio on http://twitter.com/emerydalesio . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/emery .

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