Larry Siems's blog

Where We Are Now

In June, while we were marking Torture Awareness month with our Document a Day feature, the U.S. continued its undignified slink away from accountability—most notably when the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in Maher Arar's lawsuit against the United States for his rendition and torture.

Document a Day: The Secret Beginning

We end this month with the still-classified document that launched the torture program, President Bush’s September 17, 2001 directive giving the CIA the authority to disappear detainees and interrogate them in secret prisons. The directive literally created the extralegal space for the CIA to conduct its experiments with torture.

Document a Day: Layers of Concealment

Although we will never see the 92 interrogation videotapes that the CIA destroyed in 2005, last year a federal judge ordered the CIA to fill the gap left by the destruction by releasing any records describing the contents of the tapes. Unsurprisingly, the CIA has refused to release almost all of those records, the bulk of which are the cables that flew back and forth between the CIA headquarters and the "black site" in Thailand where CIA interrogators were torturing Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Document a Day: Obstructing Justice Overseas

With more of those who were criminally mistreated turning to courts in their own countries for recognition of their ordeals, the efforts of U.S. officials to suppress evidence and escape accountability now extend overseas.

Document a Day: More “Missing” Evidence

The CIA wasn't the only agency to videotape interrogations—or to make tapes disappear.

Document a Day: The Waterboarding Tapes We’ll Never See

When he ordered the government to release images of detainee abuse, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein noted:

[T]he pictures are the best evidence of what happened, better than words, which might fail to describe, or summaries, which might err in their attempt to generalize and abbreviate.

Document a Day: What We’ve Seen, What We Haven’t Seen

Document a Day: I Believe the Technique Used Was Acceptable

A graphic example of the shocking lack of accountability for the gravest human rights abuses, these documents follow the murder of Iraqi general Abed Hamed Mowhoush in US custody in December 2003.

Document a Day: Generic Torture

Under the breezy cover note “Dan, a generic description of the process,” this “Background Paper on CIA's Use of Interrogation Techniques” is one of the most chilling torture documents excavated to date.

Document a Day: Looking for Cover

As protests over prisoner abuse mounted, top Bush administration officials produced new rounds of self-serving documents and legal opinions aimed both at preserving the torture program and protecting themselves from possible prosecution.

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