Ridge: We were wrong to torture 
America's first homeland security secretary has accepted some
criticisms of the US "war on terror" made in a recent report by legal
Tom Ridge told the BBC that the report's attacks on extended detention and 
torture were justified. 
But he also said the US had been dealing with a new kind of threat. 
The report the International Commission of Jurists said anti-terror
measures worldwide had seriously undermined international human rights
After a
three-year global study, the ICJ said many states had used the public's
fear of terrorism to introduce measures including detention without
trial, illegal disappearance and torture. 
It said the framework of international law that existed
before the 9/11 attacks was robust and effective, but had been actively
undermined by the US and the UK. 
“ When you are taking upon [yourself] the responsibility to prevent acts
I think you do need to engage in slightly different tactics in order to
ensure that it happens  ” 
Tom Ridge, former US homeland security secretary 
Mr Ridge, who was appointed to the new post of homeland security
secretary after the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the US, said the ICJ
was on "solid ground" in its commentary "with regard to torture and
sustained detention without due process". 
In an interview with the BBC's World Today programme he
said that regardless of what terrorism suspects had done, the US still
needed "to afford them some sense of due process." 
"It has taken a while for us to get to that point but we are certainly there 
now," he said. 
He added that there was now a consensus in the US and beyond that
water-boarding - a harsh interrogation technique that simulates
drowning - was torture, saying there had been no allegations of its use
since 2003. 
'Dealing with it'  
However, Mr Ridge also defended US policy, saying counter-terrorism
work was now about detaining people before they were able to commit
terrorist acts. 
"The criminal justice system is about prosecution and counter-terrorism is 
about prevention," he said. 
"When you are taking upon [yourself] the responsibility to prevent acts
I think you do need to engage in slightly different tactics in order to
ensure that it happens." 
Mr Ridge said the US and other countries had had to
deal with a new kind of enemy - "individuals who sought to kill
innocent civilians, accepted a belief system that the end justified the
Many suspects had "embraced an ideology, a belief
system, that said it's perfectly all right in order to advance a cause
to kill innocents along the way", he said. 
"They had no loyalty to a country so they're not the
traditional prisoner of war, they don't wear the uniform of a country
so we can't treat them as we have done in previous wars." 
Mr Ridge added: "How we dealt with them in terms of
returning them to their potential country of origin was a difficult
issue that not only the United States but other countries have had to
deal with. 
"So, we're in the process of dealing with it." 
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/02/21 15:40:46 GMT


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