Described as a "potential war crime" by human rights groups, the Central Intelligence Agency's practice of taking naked photographs of detainees before sending them off for torture has been made public. A former U.S. official called the still-classified photos "very gruesome" in a statement to the Guardian, who revealed the troubling practice on Monday.
"Is the naked photography a form of sexual assault? Yes," Dr. Vincent Iacopino, medical director of Physicians for Human Rights, tells the Guardian. "It's a form of sexual humiliation." Though the total number of detainees impacted by this post-9/11 tactic is not known, the Guardian says the "identities of some" of the photographed detainees is known but will not be revealed out of respect.
Citing "knowledgeable sources," the supposed reasoning for the photographs was to protect the CIA from potential legal ramifications of torture-related injuries stemming from U.S.-friendly intelligence agencies. Photographed detainees are described as "blindfolded, bound" and possessing "visible bruises," with a few shots even including the presence of possible CIA officials.
Sadly, this latest development in the nation's maddening penchant for dehumanizing interrogation methods is not the first of its kind. As noted in the Senate's investigation into the George W. Bush-era torture programs released back in 2014, CIA officials frequently forced detainees to remove all clothing. In fact, as noted in the Guardian's extensive report, this practice was even used in conjunction with other torture methods, including one instance that ultimately ended in the death of one captive.