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Papers and Reports on US Torture

Broken Laws, Broken Lives cover image

Beginning in 2005, PHR published a series of reports and papers documenting investigations carried out since 2001 about the US government's authorization and use of extreme and abusive interrogation methods which could only be characterized as torture.

PHR Anti-Torture Expert Stephen N. Xenakis Testifies at Senate Judiciary Committee on Closing Guantananmo

Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, PHR's anti-torture expert, testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications, on July 24, 2013. He asked for an immediate end to the force feeding of Guantanamo detainees. He stated that force feeding is painful and degrading and violates medical guidelines by undermining the doctor-patient relationship and by engaging health professionals in the use of force against detainees.

Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in the US Detention System

Solitary confinement is a generic term used to describe a form of segregation or isolation in which people are held in total or near-total isolation. People in solitary confinement are generally held in small cells for 23 hours a day and rarely have contact with other people. Solitary confinement has historically been used to control and discipline detainees in a variety of settings, including federal and state prisons, local jails, and immigration and national security detention facilities. Unlike incarcerated prisoners, immigration and national security detainees are held not as punishment for a crime but as a preventive measure. Indeed, it is unlikely that these detainees will ever be charged with a crime.

Break Them Down: Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces

As evidence of US national security interrogation practices emerged, it became clear that psychologically abusive methods of interrogation were at the core of US intelligence gathering. Break Them Down, published by PHR in May 2005, was the first comprehensive review of the use of psychological torture by US forces, examining the devastating health consequences of psychological coercion and explaining how a regime of psychological torture was put into place in the US "war on terror".

Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality

Following the enactment of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, PHR united the legal expertise of Human Rights First with PHR’s medical expertise to issue the report Leave No Marks in August 2007, demonstrating that ten "enhanced" interrogation methods purportedly used by the CIA amounted to war crimes. The report demonstrated that interrogation techniques are likely to cause severe or serious physical and mental harm to detainees, and that the authorization of these techniques, whether practiced alone or in combination, may constitute torture and/or cruel and inhuman treatment, and may place interrogators at serious legal risk of prosecution for war crimes and other violations.

Broken Laws, Broken Lives - Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact

Broken Laws, Broken Lives showed the human consequences of harsh and unlawful US interrogation practices. This landmark report for the first time revealed and documented medical evidence confirming the first-hand accounts of the excruciating pain and continued suffering of men who, never charged with any crime, endured torture at US detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay.

Based on internationally accepted standards for clinical assessment of torture claims, the report documents practices used to bring about long-lasting pain, terror, humiliation, and shame for months on end. PHR-mobilized health professionals conducted intensive clinical evaluations of the men, resulting in this landmark analysis which illustrated the horrific physical and psychological impact of US interrogation and detention practices during the “war on terror” period.

Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Revealed in the May 2004 CIA Inspector General's Report

Aiding Torture, a white paper published by PHR in August 2009, examines specifics of the May 2004 CIA Inspector General's Report, which demonstrated that health professionals played a leading role in establishing an unethical medical premise upon which attorneys rationalized an illegal program of torture.

Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the "Enhanced" Interrogation Program

PHR's 2010 publication, Experiments in Torture, is the first report to reveal evidence indicating that CIA medical personnel allegedly engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture. In their attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime — illegal experimentation on prisoners. Experiments in Torture details the involvement of US military and intelligence health professionals in experiments on detainees captured by the US after September 2001. Those experiments observed and analyzed the physical and psychological impact on detainees of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

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