By Ahmed Reda
Dec 12, 2014:
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a report detailing the enhanced interrogation and torture techniques of the CIA after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Although the American media and certain government officials were surprised by the findings in the report, many in Egypt can relate to the stories of abuse and torture.
After all, Egypt was a popular destination for torture outsourcing for the U.S. Back in 1995 under President Clinton, the US began exporting people suspected of involvement in terrorism to Arab nations, especially Egypt. The CIA report redacted the names of the partner nations, but in 2005, then Egyptian Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif, claimed that out of the 100 to 150 people exported by the U.S., 60 to 70 of them were sent to Egypt. Other destinations for these detainees included Libya and Syria, which also experienced mass protests and revolutions during the Arab Spring. These acts translated to similar acts among Egyptian citizens and in fact, it was the torture and killing of an Egyptian citizen, Khaled Said, that was a catalyst in the uprising in Egypt.
These cases of torture of prisoners continued by the police and military after the removal of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and especially after the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi by the military regime in a coup d’état in 2013. The current regime in Egypt, which still remained powerful even after the removal of Mubarak, has arrested and imprisoned many members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other political dissidents. In many cases, these detainees have been exposed to the same torture techniques referenced in Egypt’s past and in the CIA report. In late 2013, Egyptian American activist, Mohamed Soltan, was arrested and illegally imprisoned despite no evidence linking him to terrorist activities. In response, he has gone on a hunger strike and his health is deteriorating rapidly. The U.S. has done little to pressure Egyptian authorities to release the dual citizen.
Egypt is the fourth largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, raking in about $1.4 billion a year. Most of this foreign aid goes towards military assistance. The propping up of a powerful military regime in addition to the cases of torture has caused animosity among many Egyptians, especially the ones directly impacted, towards U.S. foreign policy when it comes to Egypt and its support of other dictatorial regimes in the Middle East. In fact, the U.S. embassy in Egypt has released security warnings to U.S. citizens in Egypt ahead of the CIA report release. The UK and Canadian embassies also closed their offices in Egypt.
Till this day, the U.S. continues to provide billions of U.S. taxpayers’ money to help support regimes in the Middle East that restrict freedom, kill their own citizens, and prevent democracy. To make matters worse, The CIA sends detainees to these countries to do the dirty work for them. As the CIA report pointed out, these torture techniques were not effective in gathering security intelligence. These acts, along with the support of repressive regimes, are more effective in causing animosity towards the U.S. and fueling terrorism, not to mention a waste of taxpayers’ money.