A U.S. Senate committee's report on CIA interrogation techniques under the Bush administration has produced shock waves felt around the world and has prompted widespread calls for prosecution of officials who were involved.
“The ones to blame in this case are the senior U.S. officials that authorized the abuse knowing that it was illegal," said Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch. "They are the ones at the top that need to be held accountable for these crimes.”
In a statement, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism said the United States was legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice.
The CIA has argued that the interrogations helped prevent further attacks after those that occurred on September 11, 2001. The Senate report disputes that claim.
Several U.S. allies have been implicated in the so-called rendition of terror suspects into CIA facilities.
Poland’s former president admitted for the first time Wednesday that he authorized a CIA base on Polish territory. Alexander Kwasniewski said he did not know that torture was taking place there.
"The Americans turned to the Polish side to request a quiet place where it could conduct operations to effectively obtain information from persons willing to cooperate with the U.S. side," Kwasniewski said. "We agreed to this.”
A 2010 parliamentary investigation in Lithuania also concluded that the CIA operated a base outside the capital, Vilnius, known as Detention Center Violet. That investigation may now be reopened.
Britain is also implicated. Questioned on the issue Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said an inquiry was underway, "so I am confident this issue has been dealt with from the British perspective, and I think I can reassure the public about that. But overall, we should be clear: Torture is wrong.”
Many terror suspects were transferred to the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Among them was British citizen Moazzam Begg, who was released after three years.
He said Wednesday that the recent beheadings of Western hostages by the terror group Islamic State — who dressed the victims in orange jumpsuits — can be traced back to the CIA’s actions.
“ISIS was born in the dungeons of Abu Ghraib," Begg said. "It was born in the dungeons of the Iraqi prisons that were under U.S. occupation, and that's where this hatred and animosity has festered.”
There are fears that the terror threat to the United States and its allies will intensify, amid reports of demands for retaliation from jihadist groups on social media.
Charles E. Allen, a former assistant director of the CIA, said the threat had increased.
“Yes, it will threaten Americans," he said. "Our people need to be protected, their identities need to be protected, and I'd hate to see any blood come from this, but I fear there will be an attack.”
Security has been stepped up at U.S. embassies in Europe and around the world as a precaution against possible attacks.