Bringing Back Torture Wouldn’t Just Be A Mistake—It Would Be Illegal

Rachel Barr
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

After just a few weeks in office Donald Trump has already threatened to violate international law. I’m not talking about his executive orders banning refugees from entering the United States,[1] or his re-implementation of the global gag rule;[2] I’m talking about his desire to revive enhanced interrogation techniques, also known as torture. On January 25, it was reported that a draft executive order, entitled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” if signed, would begin a review process that could eventually lead to the re-opening of C.I.A. black site prisons, and the reinstatement of torture.[3] The order would specifically have revoked the Obama-era order that closed the black site prisons and limited interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual, which “prohibits waterboarding, prolonged sleep deprivation and other enhanced interrogation techniques.”[4] As of February 4, it appears as though the administration has walked back the terms of the order and, in the latest draft, no longer plans to revoke Obama’s executive order or pursue an evaluation of whether C.I.A. black site prisons and torture should be used.[5] Continue reading