International figures keywords:
Extraordinary tape destruction at CIA torture camp
LAST WEEK it was disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had destroyed video tape evidence of prisoners ("detainees") being tortured at the US-run Guantanamo Bay concentration camp in Cuba.
CIA officials lamely excused this cover up by arguing that publication of the tapes could open up CIA operatives to retaliation. Which kind of infers that they were engaged in torturing prisoners?
It appears that the CIA only acknowledged their existence after the New York Times told them last week that they intended to publish the story.
The White House claimed that president George Bush (the 'commander in chief') had no prior knowledge of the tapes' existence or their destruction.
The Democrat senator Edward Kennedy said: "We haven't seen anything like this since the 18-minute gap on the tapes of Richard Nixon."
The notorious camp, where hundreds of US suspected 'terrorists' have been held, was established in January 2002 after the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington DC. There have been 34 suicide attempts at the camp since its establishment.
In February 2006, a United Nations human rights report called on the United States to immediately close the Guantanamo detention centre, saying that some of the treatment meted out to detainees there amounted to torture. The UN said the US should release the 500 prisoners or bring them to trial. The US rejected the report's findings.
Nearly 800 prisoners have passed through Guantanamo. Of the roughly 350 still incarcerated, US officials said they intend to eventually put 60 to 80 on trial and free the rest.
Also, last week, it was rumoured that four of the five British residents currently being held at Guantanamo Bay without charge are to be released. However, the UK government has not confirmed the prisoners' release and no date has been set.
Washington has consistently maintained that the prisoners are dangerous and president Bush described those being held as "bad people".
One of the prisoners, Omar Deghayes, says he was arrested at Karachi airport in Pakistan and then taken to Morocco as part of the CIA's 'extraordinary rendition' process (ie kidnapping), where he was severely tortured prior to being taken to the Guantanamo camp.
* Ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou told ABC news that "water-boarding" (simulated drowning) was used when his CIA team questioned suspected al-Qaeda chief recruiter Abu Zubaydah.