The report summary disclosed not only that "waterboarding" - used to simulate the sensation of drowning in detainees - was a preferred method of interrogation by the CIA, which was already known, but also that the agency widely used mock executions, sexual threats and degrading treatment against inmate in its Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba and other secret ”secret CIA prisons”.
Some U.S. allies, who could face embarrassment or legal liability for any role in the CIA's "enhanced interrogations" during the George W. Bush administration, either condemned the CIA's methods or played down any involvement their governments might have had in them.
"The CIA's practice of torture is gruesome," German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild. "Nothing justifies such methods. Everybody involved must be legally prosecuted."
Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said according to the Convention Against Torture, not even a state of war justified torture.
In a statement issued in Geneva on Human Rights Day, he said, "The convention lets no one off the hook - neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders."
Amnesty International spokesman Ole Hoff-Lund tells Anadolu Agency that the report is a milestone opportunity for European governments to introduce a more critical approach to co-operating with the U.S. intelligence agency.
He says: "The CIA as an organism is clearly infected by a rotten culture."
"For years European governments have been reluctant to investigate CIA-prisoner transports across European airspace, referring only to "a foreign intelligence service", which really meant the CIA."
"Now that the true status of this agency is blown wide open, the argument can no longer be used," says Hoff-Lund.
The revelations raise another serious question, according to Danish chairman of Dignity, Danish Institute Against Torture, lawyer Thorkild Høyer.
“The leaders of the West face a moral dilemma that could blow right up in their faces. How are we to promote democracy and Western values throughout the world when we allow this kind of misbehavior in a governmental institute?" he asks.
"We are losing credibility by not taking action, and it is far more serious than the atrocities themselves."
"The time for the Western leaders to take a clear stand is now; we should distance ourselves from this automatic 'we believe in the US-approach' that has dominated politics in Europe for the last decade," says Høyer.
Amnesty International earlier called the declassified information "a reminder to the world of the utter failure of the U.S.A. to end the impunity enjoyed by those who authorized and used torture and other ill-treatment".
A White House spokesman said the U.S. Justice Department had reviewed the interrogations and found no reason to indict anyone.
Poland long denied allowing U.S. intelligence to use a secret site in the country for interrogations but on Wednesday former President Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged his government let U.S. officials run a facility there. But when asked at a news conference in Warsaw if he knew what his NATO ally was doing, said: "About what the CIA was doing? No. Inside the site, no."
China and North Korea, regularly under fire for their human rights records, prodded Washington on its methods.
"China has consistently opposed torture," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing. "We believe that the U.S. side should reflect on this, correct its ways and earnestly respect and follow the rules of related international conventions."
North Korea's Foreign Ministry accused the United Nations of ignoring "inhuman torture practiced by the CIA" while focusing too much on Pyongyang's human rights practices.
The Senate report concluded CIA interrogation tactics were ineffective and often too brutal. U.S. officials had been concerned the report would incite attacks and endanger the lives of American hostages held by Islamic militants but there had been no incidents a day after the report's release.
Bush administration policy
And Ben Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, said all CIA and other U.S. officials involved in the torture and detention program must be prosecuted.
Emmerson said: "There was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the administration of George W. Bush which allowed gross violations of international human rights law to be committed."
"The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes," he said.
Spokesman Hoff-Lund adds that the bringing of perpetrators of a well-described crime to a court of justice should be a matter of "simple procedure".
He says: "I expect a legal process in the U.S. following this scandalous exposure of one of the nation's secret services. But it is very important that the nation in question is also a leading power in NATO, where decisions are made on a daily basis that concern our future."
"An intelligence operation like this, on a massive scale and going on for years, has to have been approved at the very highest level of U.S.-politics, and I find this fact most disturbing regarding our NATO-relations," says Hoff-Lund.
The Senate committee’s report summary details how the CIA used techniques against detainees who had been forcibly "disappeared".
It also shows that the CIA actively tried to hide the realities from public oversight, stating that the conditions of confinement of detainees was “far brutal and far worse” than the CIA had claimed and that the CIA “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program".
The near 500-page summary report, released by the Democratic-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, includes claims that one suspect died of hypothermia while lying naked, chained to a floor.
According to Amnesty International, it provides “damning detail of some of the human rights violations that were authorized by the highest authorities in the US after 9/11".
According to excerpts, some detainees were stripped naked and shackled, then led along dirt hallways while being beaten by CIA officials.
Other prisoners were told they would never leave alive, and others that their mothers would be raped or killed.
'Hallucinations and paranoia'
Routinely, detainees were force-fed rectally, despite officials having no medical necessity for their actions, Russia Today reported, adding that, as a result, detainees suffered from rectal prolapses and other after-effects.
Other detainees suffered "hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation" as a result of their treatment, the report revealed.
The summary of the report was finally published by the Senate Intelligence Committee for the first time on Tuesday, exposing the panel’s findings following a four-year-long investigation.
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein, said her panel’s probe showed that the CIA undermined "societal and constitutional values that we are very proud of".
A Twitter account associated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said the report showed the U.S. government was a "symbol of tyranny against humanity."
"They claim they've a prideful nation; US govts. debased & misguided their people who aren't aware of many realities," said one tweet.
“Any noble man would feel the sweat of shame about #GTMO; then-US.Pres. order on torture is shameful”, he stated.
European states which assisted the CIA in the program also came in for criticism, after Amnesty International attacked them for aiding the CIA and other U.S. authorities in the secret detention of people labelled "terror" suspects.
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said: "This report provides yet more damning detail of some of the human rights violations that were authorized by the highest authorities in the U.S.A. after 9/11."
"Despite much evidence having been in the public realm for years, no one has been brought to justice for authorizing or carrying out the acts in these CIA programmes,'' she said.
Amnesty International said in its report that Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden, and the UK were among EU states which worked with U.S. intelligence agents in carrying out the detention and torture program.