Senate report on CIA torture spurns warning to U.S. citizens in Thailand

"U.S. citizens should pay attention to their surroundings and take appropriate safety precautions."

Mar 1, 2020, 3:09 pm*

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Patrick Howell O'Neill

American citizens in Thailand were warned Tuesday that the release of the Senate’s torture report could prompt protests and violence against U.S. interests—including the citizens themselves.

“U.S. citizens should pay attention to their surroundings and take appropriate safety precautions, including avoiding demonstrations or confrontational situations,” the American embassy in Thailand announced in a statement.

The report asserts that the Central Intelligence Agency lied extensively about the brutality and effectiveness of a secret global torture program begun in the wake of 9/11.

Thailand was featured prominently in the report as the host of a secret prison known as Detention Site Green. The prison was home to torture so extensive that CIA personnel objected to the practices but were ultimately ignored.

”Several on the team profoundly affected… some to the point of tears and choking up,” the report states.

A decade of American torture authorized by George W. Bush included force-feeding through the rectum, physical assaults, mock burial, deliberate hypothermia, waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, deprivation of solid food, and forced nudity. 

The report redacted many specifics about Thailand including the exact involvement of the country’s government and security services.

Torture was ended on Thai soil by 2004 when a bigger prison was built in Poland and the detainees were moved to Europe.

Critics of the report have claimed it would put American interests and lives in direct danger of “serious damage.”

“What will be new tomorrow is the references to our partners, people that helped, places that were willing to hold prisoners,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said the day before the report’s release. “There’s nothing there are going to glean from the standpoint of what the American response was. This is a report that will really expose a lot of the cooperation we have around the world.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who leads the Senate intelligence committee disagreed.

“This clearly is a period of turmoil and instability in many parts of the world,” she said today. “Unfortunately, that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future whether this report is released or not. There are those who seize upon this report, who say ‘See what the Americans did?’ and they will try to use it to justify evil actions and violence. We can’t prevent that. But history will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and a willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘Never again.’”

Speaking to critics who said the timing of the report’s release was poor, Feinstein said, “There may never be a right time to release this report. The instability we see today will not be resolved in months or years. But this report is too important to shelve indefinitely.”

There have been no reports of any violence taking place as a result of the release of the report at this point.

Photo via Mike Behnken/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Dec 9, 2014, 7:50 pm