World News Brief, Wednesday August 26

Report confirms "inhumane" CIA tactics, investigation launched (+ analysis, background and full report);

Top of the Agenda: Detainee Abuse Investigation

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder named veteran federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate prisoner mistreatment (NYT) by CIA interrogators, after the Justice Department released a CIA inspector general's report on the abuse in prisons overseas.

The inspector general's report details the use of "unauthorized, improvised, inhumane and undocumented" interrogation tactics, including the use of guns, power drills, rifle butts, and threats to kill prisoners and their children. The full inspector general's report is available here (PDF).

The Obama administration also announced it will set up a new specialized FBI interrogation unit (Reuters) for terrorism suspects. The unit will work out of FBI headquarters in Washington and answer to the National Security Council. The team will be limited to interrogation limits outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual.

The administration also said the practice of rendition of suspects to prisons overseas would continue, but that it will closely monitor the situation to ensure detainees are not tortured (NYT).

In a recent Working Paper, CFR's Daniel Prieto examines the deep partisan and ideological disagreements surrounding U.S. counterterrorism policy and civil liberties. He argues that "it is critical that the United States achieve a new bipartisan national consensus on how to confront and defeat the threat posed by al-Qaeda and associated groups, yet stay true to U.S. values."

The Los Angeles Times says U.S. President Barack Obama will face major challenges as a result of the investigation's launch, noting that Obama had already stated his desire to avoid just such a probe.

TIME asks whether the harsh interrogation tactics worked, or if they were even necessary, and says a definitive analysis of the inspector general's report is difficult, considering how much of it was redacted.

The Washington Post looks at the Bush and Obama administrations' distinct reactions to the inspector general's report.

Newsweek says prosecutions as a result of the investigation are by no means inevitable, and quotes Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, calling the scope of the investigation "simply anemic."

Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, says the investigation should extend to top Bush administration officials (Huffington Post), not just CIA interrogators.

Politico looks at divisions over Holder's decision in Washington and in the CIA.

Holder's full statement on detainee interrogations and the special prosecutor can be read here.


PACIFIC RIM: North Korea Invitation

North Korea invited Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, to visit in September for talks on its nuclear arms program (Yonhap). If Bosworth accepts the invitation, it would be the first bilateral meeting between the Obama administration and the North Korean government.

South Korea: South Korea launched its first rocket into space today (Korea Times), but failed to put a scientific satellite into orbit. The launch comes a week after South Korea aborted the mission due to a pressure gauge malfunction (Bloomberg). North Korea said earlier this month it would "closely watch" to see whether the UN Security Council reacts to the launch, although South Korea is not under Security Council sanctions.

China: A Chinese government official denied widespread media reports that more than two hundred people will likely go on trial (Global Times) in the city of Urumqi this week over allegations of involvement in recent ethnic violence in Xinjiang province. At least 197 people were killed in the July violence, in which members of the Uighur ethnic group clashed with Han Chinese.



Attacks kill twenty in Iraq.
Preliminary election results in Afghanistan.

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