UWE expert available for commentary on US Government report on CIA use of torture during the War on Terror

Issue date: 10 December 2014


Expert in criminal justice, Professor Phil Rumney, is available for commentary on the US Senate report on the CIA's use of torture during the War on Terror.

In relation to the report Professor Rumney said, “What is very clear is that the CIA lied repeatedly about the use of torture during its high value detainee interrogation programme. It is evident that many claims of success as part of the programme were either completely untrue or exaggerated. This programme was not controlled or well managed and employed people with a history of abusive behaviour. The report shows that serious abuses of human rights were carried out including: beatings and assaults, sexual abuse, torture, mock executions and waterboarding”.

Professor Rumney has written about the effectiveness of interrogational torture as a counter terrorism measure and the way in which interrogational torture can serve to undermine counter-terrorism strategies by provoking retaliation and hardening the resolve of terrorist groups and their supporters. He has recently completed a book 'Torturing Terrorists: Exploring the limits of law, human rights and academic freedom' that examines the debate over the legalisation of interrogational torture.

The book considers the theoretical, policy and empirical arguments relevant to the debate concerning the legalisation of interrogational torture. Torturing Terrorists examines, as part of a consequentialist analysis, the nature and impact of torture and the implications of its legal regulation on individuals, institutions and wider society. In making an argument against the use of torture, the book engages in a wide ranging interdisciplinary analysis of the arguments and claims that are put forward by the proponents and opponents of legalised torture.

The book considers the effectiveness of torture in producing 'ticking bomb' and 'infrastructure' intelligence and examines the use of interrogational torture and coercion by state officials in Northern Ireland, Algeria, Israel, and as part of the CIA's 'High Value Detainee' interrogation programme.

As part of an empirical slippery slope argument, this book examines the difficulties in drafting the text of a torture statute; the difficulties of controlling the use of interrogational torture and problems such a law could create for state officials and wider society. Finally, it critically evaluates suggestions that debating the legalisation of torture is dangerous and should be avoided.

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