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CIA torture on terror suspects: Malaysia must explain

A summary of a longer report detailing the use of torture by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been released by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The report contains graphic details about the harsh interrogation methods the CIA was alleged to have used on captured terror suspects.

The report have ramifications for Malaysia because it highlights the role that our country and other allies in the “Global War of Terror” played in the practice of “extraordinary rendition”, that is to say, the covert capture and transfer of such suspects to various clandestine detention facilities set up for such purposes.

In the summary however, names of the US allies have been redacted.

Indeed, in February 2013 the Open Society Justice Initiative released a report entitled “Globalising Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition” which alleged that Malaysia had assisted the CIA in this manner in at least two cases.

It would appear that—Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s hysterical denunciations aside—Malaysia seems to have little or no qualms with collaborating with the United States in such actions.

While stopping terror plots is paramount, Malaysia should not have compromised its moral integrity in this way.

The war against terrorism and extremism is a war of values.

These two threats can only be defeated if our societies remain dedicated to preserving civil liberties and personal freedoms even as we work to protect the lives of its citizens.

Indeed, the efficacy and quality of intelligence that the practice of extraordinary rendition has produced has repeatedly been questioned. There also have been allegations that innocent people were unjustly subject to extraordinary rendition.

The summary revealed that at least one individual died from torture and 26 from over a hundred detainees were wrongfully held.

Paranoia, the suspension of civil liberties and the demonising of dissent in the name of distorted notions of “security” will simply play into the hands of those who would wish to hurt and ultimately destroy civilization.

We must not forget the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Both the US and Malaysia owe their public, as well as the world at large, an explanation over this sordid and sorry affair.