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Interrogation and TortureIntegrating Efficacy with Law and Morality$
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Steven J. Barela, Mark Fallon, Gloria Gaggioli, and Jens David Ohlin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190097523

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190097523.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 January 2022

A Qualified Defense of the Obama Administration’s Record on Torture

A Qualified Defense of the Obama Administration’s Record on Torture

(p.337) 12 A Qualified Defense of the Obama Administration’s Record on Torture
Interrogation and Torture

John T. Parry

Oxford University Press

The Obama administration successfully dismantled the remaining pieces of the Bush administration’s torture apparatus. But these efforts encountered increasingly bitter opposition from torture apologists, who obstructed efforts to impose any kind of accountability and who continued to press arguments that torture prevented terrorist attacks and that opposition to torture was a form of weakness. In addition, although the administration adopted an anti-torture position, the torture question was not high on its agenda. Thus, when it encountered resistance, the administration abandoned the effort to impose criminal accountability for the deaths and serious injuries caused by the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. It also dropped efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center. By the time President Obama left office, his administration’s record on torture was more mixed than many people initially would have predicted. Some of the blame for that mixed record rests with the administration. But anti-torture advocates also hoped for too much. The Obama political agenda was about much more than torture, and the administration made rational political decisions to focus its resources on other issues once it had formally dismantled the Bush administration policy. In addition, a true anti-torture policy would require cooperation from Congress, which is something Obama rarely was able to obtain. In the end, the Obama administration was able to reorient U.S. policy away from torture, but it was unable to prevent the crystallization of a political discourse and culture in which torture remained a legitimate option.

Keywords:   torture, Obama accountability, prosecution, Guantánamo Bay, politics, Senate report, CIA, criminal investigations, HIG

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