"Enhanced Interrogation Methods": How legal memoranda manipulated Federal and International laws prohibiting torture and coercion.


In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, executive branch lawyers acting as legal council for the President issued several memoranda which interpreted various laws prohibiting torture or "cruel, inhuman, and degrading conduct" as not applying to the executive branch's treatment of "unlawful enemy combatants" within military intelligence interrogations and detention. This paper highlights several specific legal memoranda's interpretations during the period of 2001-2003 by re-examining the various authorities that the memorandum dealt with (e.g. Treaties such as the 3rd Geneva Conventions, UN Convention Against Torture, The War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute). Relying on these collected legal interpretations, the Defense Department promulgated a system of "enhanced interrogation methods" which sanction treatment which would not have been allowed otherwise. This took the form of a "menu" of several interrogation techniques that in and of themselves may or may not constitute a specific act of torture, but whose cumulative effect administered over an extended time period brings the system within the purview of the Torture statute and broader Constitutional and International violations.

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