Penetrating the minds and souls of alleged terrorists while still upholding the constitution, federal law, and the human rights obligation to treat the suspects with dignity and without torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment was not the immediate objective for high-ranking American officials and military interrogators in the early years following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001. Although the United States was a party to the Geneva Conventions (GC), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention Against Torture (CAT)—all three of which prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (CIDT)—the U.S. chose to ignore the restrictions of these documents.4 Propelled by the fear of another attack comparable to that of September 11th,5 the administration violated these treaties, focusing instead on the short-term goal of obtaining intelligence at any cost to deter another major attack.6 Today, anyone who has followed the evolution of U.S. interrogation methods post-9/11 knows all too well that the United States pursued an admitted policy of harsh treatment, which has been defined by many commentators as comparable to CIDT and torture.7 And the devastating consequences of our unlawful behavior have become evident over the years.


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