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Beyond the Law: The CIA Torture Memos

62 pages1 hour


In April 2009, President Obama's administration declassified four memoranda from the Office of Legal Counsel to the Central Intelligence Agency relating to the "interrogation of high-value Al Qaeda detainees."
The memoranda listed a number of methods of interrogation. The lawyers who wrote the memoranda expressed the opinion that these methods did not, either individually or in combination, violate the United States statute which purported to implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture in relation to conduct outside the United States.
The memoranda provide considerable insight to the activities and methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency at Guantánamo Bay. The descriptions of the interrogation techniques in the memoranda are detailed and striking.
What were the techniques and what was their purpose? How did the lawyers reach their conclusions that the techniques did not amount to torture? What do they tell us about US adherence to the rule of law?

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