Seton Hall Law School releases monumental report on U.S. torture

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research has issued a report, “How America Tortures,” that documents the U.S. Torture Program from the words of those who created and approved the program, as well as those who implemented it, along with descriptions of how it was implemented and applied.

In addition, the report gives, for the first time, descriptions from those who were tortured during the War on Terror — including graphic representations of the torture drawn by Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, aka Abu Zubaydah, the man for whom the 10 approved techniques specified in “The Torture Memos” were initially designed.

Abu Zubaydah was held in secret prisons by the CIA for four and a half years, is still detained in Guantanamo Bay, and is as yet uncharged with any crime. He was subjected to all 10 techniques and has provided illustrations of his experience of eight of them. Historically significant, the graphic portrayals of Abu Zubaydah are published for the first time in “How America Tortures.”

“In many ways, these illustrations of Abu Zubaydah are a testament to the triumph of the human will,” said professor Mark Denbeaux, director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research and a co-counsel for Abu Zubaydah’s defense. “He was subjected to treatment so egregious that the CIA sought and received official governmental assurances that their prisoner would ‘remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.’ The CIA even arranged for his cremation in the event he died, assuring what they hoped would be his silence even beyond the grave.

“But with this report,” added Denbeaux, “he is silent no more.”

The “testimony” from Abu Zubaydah confirms information from many of those who were tortured under the program, as well as CIA cables, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report and numerous other government documents, many of which have recently been declassified.

“What was officially approved was bad enough, but what we found was worse,” said Seton Hall Law Center for Policy & Research Fellow Niki Waters, one of the co-authors of the report. “The lack of clarity and seemingly purposeful ambiguity in defining what was allowed and what was not allowed during interrogations led to gross abuse. The government failed to account for persistent and unapproved techniques alongside those that were approved. But willful blindness isn’t really much of a defense, is it?”

The full report, “How America Tortures,” may be found at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3494533. Be forewarned, the drawings of torture are graphic.

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