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CIA's torture guide is out, US defensive

Times of India | December 5 2005

The torture methods of the CIA were revealed on Sunday, provoking a new row over US flights carrying alleged terror suspects passing through Britain.

Six 'enhanced interrogation techniques' have been authorised for use by the US intelligence agency in secret prisons in Eastern Europe and on the British island of Diego Garcia. None of them would be legal if used by American authorities inside the US and all are outlawed in Britain.

The torture row escalated as US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice faces tough questioning from German leaders on Monday. New chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to raise the flights issue with Rice.

She will be asked to explain 437 occasions on which American aircraft used German airspace or airports in flights which her critics suspect were used to fly suspects to and from the secret 'black site' prisons at military bases.

Similar flights carrying prisoners in a process known as 'extraordinary rendition' have been regularly recorded in Britain, notably at Scottish airports.

The programme in place since the September 11 attacks involves a fleet of 30 planes flying terrorist suspects around the globe. They have stopped off in the UK more than 200 times.

The nature of the treatment handed out to some detainees provoked fierce condemnation from human rights groups in Britain.

The six methods range from the fairly mild such as grabbing a prisoner's shirtfront and shaking him, or slapping him around the face to inflicting serious hardship.

The two most severe tortures are the 'cold treatment', in which a prisoner is constantly soaked with cold water, and 'waterboarding', in which a prisoner's head is forced under water.

One prisoner is said to have died in Afghanistan after an inexperienced officer miscalculated the time he could endure under the cold treatment. The six tortures, revealed by the ABC News channel, are certain to further inflame Muslim and Arab suspicion of America.

In Britain, Opposition politicians and human rights groups responded with outrage. Liberal Democrat spokesman Michael Moore said: "We think the whole practice of rendition is extraordinary and shocking and it is very clear to us that this looks like torture."

"Regardless of its legality under the US law, it's clear that it is illegal under international law. We are concerned about the complacent attitude of our government on this."

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