Human Rights Watch issued an extensive report today alleging that during the Bush Administration, U.S. agents tortured 14 men who were opponents of the late Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi. The men were rebels and members of the Libyan Islamic Fighter Group.
During the Libyan civil war last year, the Libyan Islamic Fighter Group joined NATO and other Libyan rebels in overthrowing Gadhafi, who was eventually killed. Human Rights Watch says some of the interviewed men who allege mistreatment "now hold key leadership and political positions in (Libya)".
Laura Pitter, the author of the HRW report, says in a statement that news of the alleged torture is only now coming to light. That's because after the detainees went into U.S. custody, they were held in third countries, such as Afghanistan, before being rendered to the Gadhafi government in Libya. After Gadhafi's fall, HRW discovered documents about their detention at the home of Gadhafi's intelligence chief.
Pitter's report alleges the 14 men were arrested after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks; they were never charged and then were transferred to third countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. She alleges some of most serious abuses occurred at two camps run by the U.S. in Afghanistan, where the men were tortured, and subjected to waterboarding. The report says abuse occurred in other third countries before the men were rendered to Libya.
HRW's descriptions of the abuse are graphic. Among other charges of abuse, the men allege they were chained to walls naked, held in painful stress positions for extended time, beaten, held in pitch-black cells and subjected to water torture.
NPR's Dina Temple Raston tells NPR's Newscasts that the CIA would not comment on the specific allegations, but said only three detainees were waterboarded under their program. The HRW allegations appear to involve separate cases that occurred in 2003, the same time the U.S. was pressuring Libya to give up weapons of mass destruction and assist in terrorism cases.