Human Rights


Torture’s Fallacies — and Criminality

Actor Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in the Fox TV show "24" using torture to extract information.

In America’s fascination with fictional entertainment, torture has been a popular plot device as some tough-guy “hero” extracts a clue from a hardened “bad guy,” most famously with Jack Bauer in “24.” But real-world torture elicits false information – and is a grave crime of state, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

The Crazy US ‘Group Think’ on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on May 8, 2014, as part of the observance of the World War II Victory over Germany.

Exclusive: Congress has voted to up the ante in the showdown with Russia over Ukraine, embracing a new Cold War and the neocon scheme for “regime change” in Moscow. But – amid the tough-guy-ism – there was little consideration of the risks from destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia, writes Robert Parry.

How Torture Puts Americans at Risk

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

Exclusive: Polls show that most Americans – and an overwhelming majority of “conservatives” – view post-9/11 torture as justified, presumably because it made them feel safer. But torture may actually have made them less safe, as retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce explains.

Addressing the Cuban Five Injustice

Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2003. (Photo credit: Antonio Milena - ABr)

America’s hypocrisy on terrorism included the U.S. government prosecuting and imprisoning five Cuban agents who were actually trying to thwart terrorist operations in Miami. President Obama’s prisoner swap with Cuba finally addressed that upside-down justice, as Marjorie Cohn reports.

Letting a Cuban Terrorist Go Free

Luis Posada Carriles

From the Archive: As much as U.S. officials have decried “terrorism” – even equating harboring a terrorist with the actual deed – they have applied a completely different standard to “our” terrorists who are protected from extradition and treated with kid gloves, as Robert Parry reported in 2011.

Europe Presses Israel on Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As Israel heads into a historic election, more European parliamentarians are urging recognition of Palestine and an end to the Israeli occupation. But it’s unclear if Israeli voters will heed the sentiments for peace or dig in deeper for more repression, as John V. Whitbeck explains.

Torture Impunity and Police Shootings

President George W. Bush signing Military Commissions Act of 2006.

A danger from the “war on terror” was always that it would encourage the spread of an authoritarian U.S. state, ignoring international law abroad and constitutional rights at home, a process that is now growing more apparent with impunity for both torturers and police who kill minorities, writes Nat Parry.

Giving the Torturers a Pass

President George W. Bush pauses for applause during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003, when he made a fraudulent case for invading Iraq. Seated behind him are Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (White House photo)

During Watergate, senior U.S. officials went to jail for lying and obstructing justice. Many politicians have gone to prison for taking bribes and for corruption. But it’s somehow unthinkable to prosecute Bush administration officials implicated in torture and murder, an attitude that Marjorie Cohn rejects.

America’s Earlier Embrace of Torture

Dan Mitrione, Director of the U.S. AID Office of Public Safety in Uruguay, accused of teaching torture techniques.

Many well-meaning Americans are shocked by the torture disclosures in a Senate report and can’t believe U.S. officials would sanction acts such as waterboarding and “rectal feeding.” But the uglier truth is that the CIA has long taught and encouraged torture in U.S. client states, as Jonathan Marshall notes.

Pinochet’s Mad Scientist

Chile's Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who seized power in a U.S.-backed coup in 1973 and helped create Operation Condor, a campaign of assassinations across Latin America and even into the United States. Pinochet died in 2006.

From the Archive: Much like the 9/11 attacks, the Cold War plunged the U.S. government into the “dark side,” especially in Latin America where the CIA colluded with torturers and assassins, leading to grisly murders and enduring mysteries, as Samuel Blixen described in 1999.