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It’s Time for a Reckoning on Torture

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15.09.2021

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 will soon be followed by the 20th anniversary of one of the most brutal responses to it: the January 2002 opening of the Guantánamo Bay military prison to hold detainees captured in America’s counterterrorism campaigns. The Biden administration is making efforts to finally close the facility, where detainees have been tortured and held indefinitely under the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

But the horrors of Guantánamo will not disappear by simply shutting down the facility. There must be a proper reckoning with the legacy of torture at Guantánamo Bay, one of several sites the United States used to torture detainees in secret.

Without this reckoning, the Biden administration’s statements in support of human rights will continue to ring hollow. Worse, it will continue to send a message of tacit endorsement to authoritarian governments around the world that systematically torture their own citizens—often in the name of counterterrorism.

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 will soon be followed by the 20th anniversary of one of the most brutal responses to it: the January 2002 opening of the Guantánamo Bay military prison to hold detainees captured in America’s counterterrorism campaigns. The Biden administration is making efforts to finally close the facility, where detainees have been tortured and held indefinitely under the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

But the horrors of Guantánamo will not disappear by simply shutting down the facility. There must be a proper reckoning with the legacy of torture at Guantánamo Bay, one of several sites the United States used to torture detainees in secret.

Without this reckoning, the Biden administration’s statements in support of human rights will continue to ring hollow. Worse, it will continue to send a message of tacit endorsement to authoritarian governments around the world that systematically torture their own citizens—often in the name of counterterrorism.

As then-Sen. Joe Biden said in 2007, “We need to send a clear message that torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees, is unacceptable, is not permitted by U.S. law, period.” As vice president in 2013, Biden expanded on these views, stating, “I think the only way you excise the demons is you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforwardly.”

If President Biden is truly committed to excising those demons, there are........

© Foreign Policy


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