UNITED NATIONS  - Noting that a US Senate report released on Tuesday revealed a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration”, a UN human rights expert called for prosecution of US officials who ordered crimes, including torture, against detainees.

Ben Emmerson, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said senior Bush administration officials who planned and authorized crimes must be prosecuted, along with as CIA and other US government officials who committed torture such as waterboarding.

“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Emmerson said in a statement issued in Geneva. “The US Attorney General is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.”

The CIA routinely misled the White House and Congress over its harsh interrogation program for terrorism suspects, and its methods, which included waterboarding, were more brutal than the agency acknowledged, a Senate report said on Tuesday.

Emmerson, a British international lawyer serving in the independent post since 2010, welcomed the belated release of the report, commending the Obama administration “for resisting domestic pressure to suppress these important findings”.

“It is now time to take action. 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.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, should not have to face the death penalty, his lawyer said Tuesday, following revelations of torture in a scathing US Senate report. “It’s not legal, humane, or fair to execute a person after torturing him,” David Nevin told AFP.

Mohammed is known to have been waterboarded 183 times in secret CIA prisons and in March 2003 he was subjected to five waterboard sessions over 25 hours.

“Holding a real execution of Mr Khalid Sheikh, after 183 mock executions, is cruel and unusual punishment,” prohibited under the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution, Nevin said.

“The brutality revealed in the details of the torture is quite shocking,” he said, and “produced absolutely no useful information.”

Afghanistan’s new President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday condemned CIA torture detailed in a US Senate report, at a specially-convened press conference in Kabul. “All the accepted principles of human rights or those of US laws have been violated by a number of CIA staff and contractors,” he said. “The Afghan government condemns these inhumane actions in the strongest terms.”

The European Union on Wednesday said a US Senate report exposing brutal yet ineffective CIA torture of Al-Qaeda suspects was a “positive step” in recognising the programme’s failings.

“The report raises important questions about the violation of human rights by the US authorities,” European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray said, noting that US President Barack Obama had ended the programme in 2009 when he took office.

“This report is a positive step in confronting publicly and critically the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation programme.”

China urged the United States on Wednesday to “correct its ways”, after the US Senate said in a report the CIA misled the White House and public about its torture of detainees and acted more brutally and pervasively than it acknowledged.

“China has consistently opposed torture. We believe that the US side should reflect on this, correct its ways and earnestly respect and follow the rules of related international conventions,” China foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily briefing.

Poland put pressure on the United States into ending its brutal CIA interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects in a secret prison on Polish soil in 2003, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski said Wednesday.

“I told (then US president George W) Bush that this cooperation must end and it did end,” Kwasniewski told TOK FM radio. He was speaking a day after a scathing US Senate report revealed the CIA had used methods amounting to torture to interrogate prisoners after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.