“A gentleman’s club for psychopaths, sociopaths, lunatics, misfits” was Pravda’s verdict on the CIA after Tuesday’s release detailing years of torture conducted by U.S. agents.
And the Russian newspaper wasn’t alone in the strength of its condemnation. State media and regimes around the world — some accused of the egregious crimes against humanity themselves — lined up to take a swipe at America, following the Senate committee’s release.
To many, it undermined U.S. efforts to prevent rights abuses conducted overseas.
“America is facing a turning point and now needs to reflect on its own human rights abuses,” according to a Chinese-language article in state-owned national broadsheet Huan Qiu Bao.
The 499-page executive summary of a still-classified CIA report on torture provides Beijing with further ammunition in its ongoing spat with Washington over its own record on civil liberties.
Since 1998, China has issued an annual study on U.S. human rights abuses — a direct retort to the U.S. State Department’s reporting on the Asian superpower.
The stated motive behind Beijing’s report, according to Chinese officials, is to observe the hypocrisy of Washington’s taking of China’s one-party leaders to task for quelling dissent and censoring the flow of information.
State media seized on Tuesday’s excruciating details of CIA torture to advance that narrative on Wednesday.
Huan Qiu Bao noted that the Senate report — which said techniques like “rectal hydration” and threats to sexually abuse the mothers of detainees had been ineffective in extracting information on security threats — “weakens” not only Washington’s voice on international human rights issues, but the United States’ overall foreign diplomacy.
Xinhua reported in English that the “U.S. government should clean up its own backyard first and respect the rights of other countries to resolve their issues by themselves.”
North Korea also attacked U.S. foreign diplomacy, with its harsh words for Washington focused mainly on America’s influence at the United Nations.
It comes on the back of efforts of a U.S.-led group of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) member states to address North Korean rights abuses this month.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) accused the UNSC of “turning its face from the inhuman torture practiced by the CIA over which the U.N. Anti-Torture Committee expressed particular concern and which is dealt with in the 6,000 page-long report presented by the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. Senate."
It also noted “despicable human rights abuses as white American policemen's brutalities of shooting and strangling black men to death,” a nod to the killings of unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, in two separate incidents at the hands of white police officers.
If charged by the UNSC for abuses including the imprisonment of more than 200,000 North Koreans — including children — at labor camps, the KCNA article charged, the UNSC “will prove itself its miserable position that it has turned into a tool for U.S. arbitrary practices just as everybody can hear everywhere.”
With the U.S. perennially taking Moscow to task for its persecution of political dissidents and a 2013 law against gay “propaganda,” Russian media likewise relished in being able to report Washington’s complicity in torture.
Pravda — a mouthpiece of the country’s Communist Party — ran an op-ed Wednesday lampooning the U.S. intelligence community. It called the CIA “a gentleman’s club for psychopaths, sociopaths, lunatics, misfits … bastards from the four corners of the Earth, committing murder, overthrowing democratic governments and imposing Fascists, repressive, sexist, homophobic and racist regimes which support the policies of the U.S. Government (aka lobbies which pull the strings of those who stand for election at all levels of governance).”
In Iran, the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei jumped at the opportunity to point out American hypocrisy, tweeting scorn at American human rights rhetoric.
And, in a signal of potential reverberations for U.S. foreign policy, media from Washington’s allies were likewise aghast at the torture details — and the potential that such acts were conducted on its soil only made things worse.
In Poland and Morocco, hosts of so-called “black sites,” or CIA-run secret detention centers, pundits expressed concern over their government’s roles in the abuse — although the names of countries hosting the black sites had been redacted from the report.
Radio Poland reported that Warsaw has demanded a copy of the unedited 6,000 pages, at a time when it stands convicted by the European Court of Human Rights for having hosted one prison. Warsaw continues to deny the court’s ruling that it knowingly facilitated CIA torture on its soil.
Meanwhile, independent Moroccan magazine TelQuel published an article detailing the torture techniques described in the report and added that in his April meeting with King Mohammed VI, Secretary of State John Kerry lauded Rabat’s cooperation on “counterterrorism” efforts.
Indeed, the condemnation was universal. Or at least nearly so. In France, president of the far-right Front National Marine Le Pen — whose father and party founder Jean Marie Le Pen has on multiple occasions been accused of racist speech and Holocaust denial — told national TV news channel BFMTV that “there are cases … where [torture] is necessary to make someone talk” in cases where national security is under siege.
Still, Le Pen echoed Pyongyang and Beijing saying that after the revelation of U.S. torture methods, “What I do want to say is that the U.S. should stop forcing its morals on other countries.”