WASHINGTON (sputnik) — Torture is being practiced in the United States’ prison system, formerly incarcerated Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower John Kiriakou told a public meeting in Washington, DC.
“I want to talk about the kind of torture that still goes on in our own prisons today,” Kiriakou said on Wednesday. “I want to talk about why the UN [United Nations] Special Rapporteur on Human Rights is not allowed into our prisons,” he added.
Kiriakou was recently released from house arrest after serving more than 23 months in a maximum security US federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania for exposing the CIA’s post-September 11 torture program.
While serving his sentence, Kiriakou witnessed prisoners being beaten, having medication withheld, living in dangerously overcrowded conditions as well as being kept in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.
“I have come to believe that solitary is a form of torture,” he commented.
After leaving prison, Kiriakou announced he will focus on prison and criminal justice reform at the social justice organization, the Institute for Policy Studies.
Kiriakou stressed that the lack of effective oversight by the US Congress means the un-redacted US Senate Intelligence committee torture report, documenting the CIA's enhanced interrogation program, will likely not come to light.
“There is no oversight on Capitol Hill,” Kiriakou said on Wednesday commenting on the possibility of the full torture report being released by Congress. “We have these oversight committees… they act as nothing more than cheerleaders for the agencies they are supposed to have jurisdiction over.”
Kiriakou was responsible for confirming that the CIA used waterboarding during prisoner interrogations. He is currently the only individual connected to the CIA torture program who has faced criminal repercussions.
An outgoing member of the Senate could choose to release the full report, Kiriakou said, “because they are exempt from prosecution.”
Civil liberties groups attempted to convince outgoing Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Udall to release the full report when he was voted out of office in 2014, but were not successful.
The United States has the world’s largest prison population. Nearly one-tenth of US citizens are incarcerated, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The United States accounts for 25 percent of the world’s total prison population.