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Internal whistleblowing failed to stop torture, notes Edward Snowden

[Cross-posted from Whistleblowing Today] Edward Snowden told attendees at an Paris conference that he was “deeply saddened and to a great extent angered” by what he read in the US Senate report on CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects. The conference, sponsored by Amnesty International, was held Wednesday, Human Rights Day.

Speaking by video link from Moscow, the NSA whistleblower said, “Individuals actually lost their lives and rather than having the officer who ordered that behavior be prosecuted he actually received a monetary bonus from the CIA of $2500.”

Snowden noted, “Torture cannot be justified under international law…on the basis of emergency circumstances or the orders of higher government officials.” Nevertheless, torture proponents are making those arguments and thus threaten to overturn standards established at the Nuremberg Trials (where Nazi German leaders were prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity).

“If we can argue that torture is justified…because they have a positive effect,” said Snowden, “what could we not justify?”

He pointed out that the CIA’s program stopped only after newspapers told the public what had been done in secret…not as a result of whistleblowers, described in the Senate report, who reported concerns within the system.

“The report tells us that individuals did believe these programs were wrong, they did know that they had a moral obligation to resist, and they tried to do so within the system, and that it failed,” said Snowden.

It is critical that we provide whistleblower protections..whether within our countries–within the us or in countries like France that recognize and protect the value of human rights, who can say if, regardless of what country you hail from, if you reveal evidence of serious wrongdoing, we will help to correct these problems and we will protect you against unjustified retaliation.

 

Related WT articles: Senate report: CIA lied about torture of detainees

Resources

Full transcript of Snowden’s interview available at Free Snowden website

Amnesty International–France website

Le Figaro (French langugage) news coverage of the event

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report, “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” released Tuesday, December 10, 2014. (528 pages) View online at Wikipedia or download as PDF file (63 MB) at Wikimedia Commons.