Talk:Torture and the United States

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other wiki articles[edit]

This should be referenced: "Allegations of state terrorism by the United States" - one might even go so far as to say the two should be merged.Cinnamon colbert (talk) 22:05, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


This artical in general shows a lack of citation in general.


"These practices include: extended forced maintenance of "stress positions" such as standing or squatting; psychological tricks and "mind games"; sensory deprivation; exposure to loud music and noises; extended exposure to flashing lights; prolonged solitary confinement; denigration of religion; withholding of food, drink, or medical care; withholding of hygienic care or toilet facilities; prolonged hooding; forced injections of unknown substances; sleep deprivation; magneto-cranial stimulation resulting in mental confusion; threats of bodily harm; threats of rendition to torture-friendly states or Guantánamo; threats of rape or sodomy; threats of harm to family members; threats of imminent execution; prolonged constraint in contorted positions (including strappado, or "Palestinian hanging"); facial smearing of real or simulated feces, urine, menstrual blood, or semen; sexual humiliation; beatings, often requiring surgery or resulting in permanent physical or mental disability; release or threat of release to attack dogs, both muzzled or un-muzzled; near-suffocation or asphyxiation via multiple detainment hoods, plastic bags, water-soaked towels or blankets, duct tape, or ligatures; gassing and chemical spraying resulting in unconsciousness; confinement in small chambers too small to fully stand or recline; prolonged underwaffler immersion just short of drowning (i.e. dunking); and extended exposure to extreme temperatures below freezing or above 120 °F (48 °C)."

Where did that paragraph come from? Any basis?

"agents have anonymously confirmed to the Washington Post in a December 26, 2002 report that the CIA routinely uses so-called "stress and duress" interrogation techniques (e.g. water boarding), which are claimed by human rights organisations to be acts of torture, in the US-led War on Terrorism. These sources state that CIA and military personnel beat up uncooperative suspects, confine them in cramped quarters, duct tape them to stretchers, and use other restraints which maintain the subject in an awkward and painful position for long periods of time."

Which Washington Post artical? --TheResistance 21:35, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Torture in subheads[edit]

I've restored "torture" to the subheadings, reverting in part recent changes. We have to tread carefully here, but I'm resting this on several points of clarity:

  • Government denials do not, in most cases, change the definition of torture itself
  • Substantial, confirmed evidence of torture in each of the categories discussed here (Abu Ghraib abuse in Iraq; Maher Arar's case in extraordinary rendition)
  • The State Department's description of techniques involved as torture

Remember, this is not an article about interrogation, extraordinary rendition, slavery etc., but rather about torture and its relation to these elements of United States policy.

Also, an editing opinion:

  • The debate on "acceptable" techniques should not be read as an interpretation that these techniques are not torture, especially because some participants in the debate have openly advocated torture. So while I hear Philip's point about our text (and we should clarify just what the debate means), this is not a case of redefining torture on the fly.

--Carwil 14:50, 5 April 2007 (UTC)


  • Keep - article should be kept separate, so it is easier to find and has room to expand. EnviroGranny 02:11, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

NYTimes Article[edit]

This article is a pretty informative summary of the administration's and especially Alberto Gonzales' position towards torture and interrogation methods. I'm lacking the time at the moment to include some of the material, maybe someone else might give it some effort? 14:18, 4 October 2007 (UTC)


Should the article include various statements and studies which have been made regarding the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of US torture? --NeuronExMachina 16:35, 2 November 2007 (UTC)


This page really needs to be rewritten from a neutral point of view. The opening statement makes allegations with no references, implying that people in America "look the other way" when it comes to torture. The following are drastic POV issues:

  1. In the Legislation and treaties regarding torture section:
"The United States Administration has created a category called unlawful combatants, that have no basis in U. S. or international law, to deprive such persons of protection under the Geneva Convention as prisoners of war, and keeps and interrogates them on foreign or "ambiguously foreign" soil such as Guantanamo Bay." which is not only factually incorrect, it is inflamitory, and has no sources.
  1. Ending judicial review of torture against terror suspects states the following -
"military tribunals of so-called enemy combatants and to hold them indefinitely without judicial review under the terms of habeas corpus." The unlawful combatants category is created by the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions allow for a prisoner to go before a military tribunal if there is doubt about there status. Habeas Corpus and a judicial review would only apply to a US citizen, on US soil. It would be crazy to believe that criminal evidence rules would apply to a battlefield.
  1. The Domestic police and prisons section makes the leap that stun belts are torture without any basis.
  2. The Legal maneuvers by the Bush administration section has "However, many influential U.S. thinkers also believe that Rumsfeld himself is a major part of the problem, quote the New York Times columnist Bob Herbert" which is blatently NPOV.

The list goes on with dozens of other violations of the WP:NPOV policies. Please try to keep articles nonbiased and sourced. Just list facts and people will come to the correct conclusion. There is no reason to embelish or spin. Douglas 07:31, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Without a doubt this article is far below spec; the vast majority of the first half is unsourced and strictly opinion/conjecture (biased at that). Something needs to be done. I cannot see a way to salvage much of what currently heads this article at this point in time. Thomquaid (talk) 08:33, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

"While the United States is a party to international conventions against torture, torture has been practiced within its borders and on its government's behalf outside of its borders. Torture in the United States includes torture within prisons, immigration detention facilities and military compounds. A variety of other relations exist between torture and the United States. Historically, torture has been practiced as part of the institution of slavery, in jails and prisons, and in warfare. American government officials have participated in torture abroad, maintained interrogation facilities where torture is practiced and trained foreign officials in interrogation methods that include torture."

doesnt that seem very biased and unbalanced? somebody should fix this —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:18, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

The lead is unsourced because it's the lead, summarizing what's below. If you can source qualifications, please add them. Note that nothing here says torture is widespread or rare, just that it exists. Douglas, thanks for pointing out some POV issues. "Unlawful combatants" is not a Geneva convention category, per sources on its wikipedia page. Stun belts is fixed, I hope. Thomas, care to lay out what you're talking about?--Carwil (talk) 22:26, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
On point 1, I think the Geneva Convention states "Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." Which means that the statement is factually correct in that the USA may not indefinitely detain people by disputing their status as prisoners of war. However, you can reword point 1 to be more NPOV if that's warranted. (talk) 01:05, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Not quite. Article 4 applies in wars between two or more nations. Article 3 applies to wars "not of an international character," which is mainly what we're dealing with in the war on terrorism, and it has no case for POW status. Furthermore, there are provisions in the Fourth Geneva Convention that also allow for holding security detainees for as long as militarily necessary. There are some restrictions in Protocol 1 that the SCOTUS says should be followed, but POW status does not apply.
The arguments over POW status are mainly over. It appears most of the detainees' lawyers want nothing to do with the GCs. That being said, please be careful not to remove too many references to the GCs in these articles. While it needs to be corrected about what applies, those advocates who once claimed to care about the GCs should not be allowed to bury the topic now.
One of the many problems with this article is that it stretches the definition of torture, and in how it implies that torture was official policy. Sensory deprivation is not torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 19:03, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
OR (talk) 21:24, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

Removed tag as no discusion for a month. (Hypnosadist) 06:55, 16 January 2008 (UTC)


This article seems to do a good job of summarising US participation in torture around the world and in the US itself. The lack of mention of Vietnam does seem to be a considerable omission. Surely there were widespread practices of torture in the Vietnam war? Pexise (talk) 20:03, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Yes, American pilots were certainly tortured in the Vietnam war. They're tortured in every war. (It was usually pilots or flight crews, as the NVA and VC didn't take prisoners that often, and so you had to be worth something to be taken alive.) But that's not really a topic for this article. I suppose you want something against the U.S. That would fit more with the spirit of WP.
While there are always some wild stories about U.S. handling of POWs, they're not really reliable. Not being the primary party in the war, the U.S. didn't hold the enemy POWs anyway. The prison camps were operated by the government of South Vietnam.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:34, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

What about My Lai. Even the Wikipedia article about it states that it was torture caused by America.

Merged Torture_(US_law_definition)[edit]

I have merged these two articles per AfD consensus. I have only done the minimum amount of cleanup, it will need some attention from those well versed in the subject matter in order to integrate the content. Gigs (talk) 01:07, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Got to say I disagree with that merge. Yes, the merged article needed a lot of work, but there is a clear case for separating off the detail of the definitional and legal issues from the debate about historical and current practice. There is overlap of course, but surely a decent stab at a proper separation would have been better than merging. The result now is an unholy mess. Disembrangler (talk) 07:26, 18 June 2009 (UTC)


According to the following article: "Associated Press reporter Pamela Hess described Prof. O’Mara’s article,”Torturing the Brain: On the folk psychology and folk neurobiology motivating ‘enhanced and coercive interrogation techniques’” (PDF), as showing that the CIA’s “severe interrogation techniques appear based on… a layman’s idea of how the brain works as opposed to science-based understanding of memory and cognitive function.” (Bmaz who blogs at Emptywheel also reported on this.)" The article goes on to say that paper in question (unknowingly) cites CIA research papers. Geo Swan (talk) 20:47, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

  • Jeffrey Kaye (2009-09-25). "CIA/SERE Experiments Evidence of Attempt to Mislead on OLC Torture Memos". The Public Record. Retrieved 2009-09-26.
I'm not surprised that they referred to CIA research papers without realizing it. There isn't that much else to go by.
The rest is just one opinion. The recently released CIA papers report that they did get results. The main complaint is that there's no "proof" that the results weren't due to some other reason.
As we've seen before, stress positions and sleep deprivation had been used by the British in WWII. I haven't seen anyone say that was ineffective.
I don't think anyone doubts that stress is bad for memory, but that's a far cry from saying the the subjects can't remember anything at all. I can easily imagine them missing frequencies, phone numbers, an odd name here and there, but who seriously believes they can't remember the basic plot??? That's ridiculous. And once broken, the subject can be questioned for details after a bit more sleep.
That "psychological damage" is also wishful thinking. A SERE student can go back to flying very expensive aircraft within two or three days. The biggest concern is probably the fact that the survival portion of the training had left them without regular food for a few days before that.
I'll believe they oppose torture when they start asking their Islamist friends to oppose torture.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 03:43, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

There's a vast difference between SERE students' and actual prisoners' level of stress. SERE students know for sure they wouldn't be killed or defaced. On contrary, torture-based interrogation techniques are specifically aimed towards making prisoner belive for real, that he would be defaced and killed, to break him down. Real and prolonged threat to one's life can permanentely damage his mental health as seen in various soldiers' and crime victims' cases.

The section "What is torture?" is disingenous. The title is, as stated, "What is Torture?", but the answer is to the question of "what is torture defined as in the United States from the period of 2001-present?". Every piece of research is derived from legal opinions that are drawn from within the executive branch of US government and is from within the last decade. This section absolutely does not define what torture is, it defines what the American executive branch from 2001-2010 defines torture as. It is harmful to Wikipedia as it is unabashedly biased. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:23, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Add link?[edit]

Could you mention or add a link to the book by William Blum Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower tells how America has used & taught torture to "stop the spread of communism?" Stars4change (talk) 00:47, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Proposed overhaul of articles on Bush-era torture[edit]

Following recurring issues on Enhanced interrogation techniques, I propose an overhaul of articles on Bush-era torture in the following manner:

  • A main article Torture in the War on Terror or Torture in the Bush era mentioning all cases of torture, notably
    • Torture in Afghanistan
    • Torture in Guantanamo, including discussion of the various tricks designed to overcome international and national laws against torture
    • Torture in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca; mention that part of the torture in Abu Ghraib was publicly deplored and punished (England et al.) while another part was not (death of Manadel al-Jamadi), mention similarities in "techniques" between Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib (dogs etc.; cf. Sands)
    • Torture abroad, the "Guantanamo Express" and so-called "extra-ordinary renditions", including suspect disappearance or death of prisoners (like Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi)
  • An article on euphemisms for torture in history, including "Verschärfte Vernehmung" (Third Reich), "interrogatoire poussé" (French Algeria), etc.; possibly it could also discuss techniques of stealth torture and establishment of torture regimes in democracies, or that could be the subject of a specific article
  • An article on the specific framework defined by the Bush administration. An overhaul of Enhanced interrogation techniques could be used for this purpose provided that it be clearly indicated that it comes into the context of the broader Torture in the War on Terror, and mentions
    • the various instances in which interrogation by US government officials went beyond the limited scope of the so-called "Enhanced interrogation techniques" without publicly punishing the offender (for instance in the case of Manadel al-Jamadi), or
    • in suspect cases like the alleged suicides in Guantanamo that repeat plain cases like the "suicides" or "escapes" of detainees in French Algeria (the three deaths of "Camp No").

Rama (talk) 09:58, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

A few problems with that. As mentioned in Enhanced interrogation techniques, some of these are considered to be torture under the laws of the U.K., but not in the U.S. That's why the New York Times and the Washington Post do not refer to them as "torture."
Wikipedia and its servers are in the U.S.
Our NPOV and BLP policies are strict. We can't even call people a WP:TERRORIST without a firm footing. If we're going to become less cautious about the word "torture" then we also need to revisit words like "terrorist."
"Verschärfte Vernehmung" and "interrogatoire poussé" were not euphemisms. Compare them to the Five techniques. Some of them might well have been torture, but the standards for what constitutes torture have slipped considerably since then.
Manadel al-Jamadi's death was not condoned by the U.S. government. A failed prosecution is not the same thing as approval.
The "deaths" in "Camp No" are complete fiction.
It's nice to see Rama acknowledge that EIT had a "limited scope."
-- Randy2063 (talk) 20:44, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
Randy --
  • There is nothing POV about calling torture torture. Just like calling a person a murderer or assassin, if they murdered or assassinated someone is not POV. Other than the U.S. government, which maintains that it doesn't torture people ("we just harshly/enhanced-ly/brutally 'interrogate' people..."), most reliable sources -- including the UN, Geneva Conventions, etc. and just about every national government on the planet -- simply refer to it as torture. Since they call it torture, we can too ... Wikipedia is not the New York Times or Washington Post. Those are corporate newspapers, and while they are free to use euphemisms like "brutal methods" instead of torture, their choice to do so is not relevant here. We should, of course, mention that the U.S. government claimed that what the rest of the world called torture was merely "enhanced interrogation" or "brutal methods", but we shouldn't give undue weight to it, since it's the minority view. It's a significant minority view, though, so I'm not saying we shouldn't mention it. Just that it should be mentioned in the context of an article on torture. -- Jrtayloriv (talk) 05:18, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
You're wrong on several counts.
First, you should can the "corporate" newspaper line. It's like a parody of the '60s. If you actually read the sources, you'll find the NYT and Washington Post would dearly love to call it torture, but they have a NPOV policy. This is why they let their opinion columnists call EIT torture but not their reporters.
(We're supposed to have an NPOV policy, too, but it's obviously got limited value around here.)
Second, the Geneva Conventions don't call EIT torture either. They're ambigious about it. (The ICRC's GC commentaries occasionally remark on portions of the GC that were removed before signing it, and perhaps they might explain that there.) If the GCs did specifically call EIT techniques torture then the U.S. would either not have been approved EIT or they wouldn't have ratified the GCs (which has also got limited value around here).
Well, at least now you're on record saying that you think Wikipedia should have looser NPOV standards than the New York Times. I suggest you work on getting that added to the WP:STYLE manual. It would have saved us a lot of time.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 06:04, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
"The Geneva Conventions don't call EIT torture either"? What on Earth is that supposed to mean?
Do not confuse the policy as admitted by the administration, and the facts on the ground. We are talking about the facts, here. The facts comprise water torture, people killed by hypothermia, people who have died under stress positions, rape, etc. They comprise the Abu Ghraib torture. These incident unambiguously constitute torture, have been called torture by everybody including the Bush administration. I would be hard-pressed to find somebody not calling them torture, and if we did, they would fall hard in WP:UNDUE. Rama (talk) 13:59, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
It means exactly that. The GCs are a series of treaties with limitations built into them. Policy is what this is about. The "facts on the ground" follow the policy better than they do in most wars.
There are always scandals. Do you think the Allies didn't have their own rapists and thugs during WWII? Of course, they did. Some got away with it, some were caught but not found guilty, some were convicted and sentenced, and some were executed. The Geneva Conventions and the ICC (for whatever that's worth) recognize this fact. That's why most people don't call FDR a war criminal (although the far-left did call him a war-monger before they switched sides).
There have been over 1.5 million U.S. troops in Iraq. To say that every crime or mistake leads to the top is political garbage. The Abu Ghraib investigations began before that scandal broke.
Furthermore, this is a war. Torture is forbidden, but rough treatment short of torture is to be expected. As in any operation of this massive size, the line will sometimes be crossed. Most of those cases have been investigated long before you heard about them. It's obvious that the U.S. military's concern for the laws of war are greater than that of our enemies. Less obvious, but nonetheless entirely true, is the fact that the U.S. military's concern (and that of the Bush administration) for the laws of war are greater than that of their critics.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 16:54, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
All that is equally valid about France vs. FLN. And dang, Torture during the Algerian War. Rama (talk) 17:32, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
There certainly are some similarities then and now. As Time magazine said of one of France's critics:
"The painful identification that the reader feels with Alleg cannot blot out the nagging realization that, as a Communist, Alleg himself has been a consenting party to the same tortures and to a degradation of man that, for its wholesale scale, dwarfs the war-begotten atrocities of El Biar."
Likewise in this war, the abuse and humiliation of the inmates at Abu Ghraib pale in comparison to the sheer horror that is condoned by the other side.
But I don't mean to dwell on the comparisons. The main point is still one of law. Whether you like it or not, "torture" has a legal definition. It shouldn't be shoehorned here without concern for NPOV and BLP.
If you disagree then you should go to WP:RSN and see about getting the New York Times and the Washington Post removed from RS.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 18:05, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Stop trying to
1) limit the definition of torture to that of the Bush administration
2) limit the discussion to that of the incidents condoned by the Bush administration
Rama (talk) 20:29, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not doing that at all. You're the one who's trying to limit the discussion toward that opposed to the Bush administration. I was all too happy to include both views.
The Bush administration did not condone any incidents that went beyond what was authorized.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 21:12, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
You misunderstand me, or more probably you feign to. The question is not of presenting arguments from all sides (I am all for quoting arguments by Bush officials), but to frame the problem
1) in terms of international law rather than in terms of "Bush law"
2) in terms of what actually happened rather than in terms of what was supposed to happen.
3) what the "other side" does in entirely irrelevant and I would really like you to stop ranting about it. You are free to think that the USA are to be compared to Al Qaida and judged by the same standards, but not to litter talk pages with it.
Whether you like it or not, Abu Ghraib happened; part of it was sanctionned by the Bush administration, another part was not; to what extend the two are connected, what is the level of discipline in the US military, these things are important.
In Algeria, the French soldiers supposedly behaved in the finest traditions of honour and republican ethics; a tiny minority of them were in fact torturing shamelessly, officially without authorisation from their hierarchy, in fact with discreet nods from some. That has to be documented properly, and it is as much true of the USA than it is of France. Rama (talk) 22:35, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
I understand you all too well.
What you think of as "international law" is a collection of treaties. When applied to the U.S., it is the treaties that we have ratified that matter, and only to the extent of the understanding that we have approved them. America diplomats even said as much when they ratified UNCAT. It does not matter what some bureaucrat in Europe understood these treaties to mean. They're just grandstanding, anyway.
What you think of as "Bush" law doesn't matter either. The Supreme Court does, and they haven't made a ruling. (And don't bother bringing up previous court cases about waterboarding, etc. They're not precisely the same.)
Hence, the NYT and Washington Post are correct in not jumping the gun. NPOV matters to them even if you don't think it matters here.
As for Abu Ghraib, your misunderstanding of the events don't matter either.
I don't know why you're so insistent on rendering a verdict. We're supposed to document what happened. We can say that Europeans say one thing (for now, anyway), the Bush administration said something else, and the Obama administration says something else again. When the Supreme Court rules, we can add that.
-- Randy2063 (talk) 23:25, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
  • As far as the scope you mentioned for "Torture in the War On Terror" -- I think that is an excellent idea.
  • I don't feel that Torture in the Bush Era is as good of a title for a variety of reasons -- most of all that they are continuing now, and that it somehow implies that Bush was "in charge", rather than just a figurehead/spokesman for big capital, and that they were his policies rather than of a large number of people in the federal government bureaucracy.
  • I'm not so sure that an entire article along the lines of List of euphemisms for torture is warranted unless we can come up with quite a few examples. Even then I'm skeptical. Perhaps just a section in the article torture? What need do you see for this article?
  • I like your ideas for Enhanced interrogation techniques as far as using that article to discuss the legal framework, and then making clear that in reality, the framework never served as a limitation, and if they needed to beat/choke someone to death or sodomize them with a broomstick, they just went ahead and did it. Basically, mentioning that in the article and linking with a hatnote to the main article Torture in the War on Terror would be sufficient in my view.
-- Jrtayloriv (talk) 05:18, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
The proposal "Torture in the Bush Era" is just an attempt at finding a title equivalent to "Torture in the War On Terror" that would not parrot the buzzword "War On Terror"; I also find that it doesn't fly very well, and the term "War On Terror" has become so dated now that it can probably be used in the title without implying that we condone the notion at all, provided it be appropriately put between quotes in the article.
I was not so much thinking of a List of euphemisms for torture as to something along the lines "Enhanced interrogation techniques (term)", a bit like there is a War on Terrorism (historical).
In Enhanced interrogation techniques, there might be a necessity to refer to particular incidents at some points in the article, but I am essentially agreed that it should focus on the content of memos by Bybee, Yoo, Dunlavey, Beaver and such, and official declarations by officials. The heart of the matter is that there should be no possible confusion between the content of the memos and the incidents on the ground; for now, it's a bit "it's not been said exactly like this in the press conference, so it can't have happened". Rama (talk) 13:45, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Legal Justifications[edit]

The sentence "It is the position of the United States government that the legal memoranda constituted only permissible legal research, and did not signify the intent of the United States to use torture which it opposes" appears to have been itself inserted by someone in that Government. It should at the very least have a citation attached. Someone should comment on whether these were indeed merely "research memoranda" or whether they had impact on actual policy or practice.Paulhummerman (talk) 03:14, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Countries with US training section[edit]

The "Torture (Countries With US Training)" section seems misleading, biased, and doesn't seem to add much. It gives an accounting of all the US military aid to the country and all the US-trained military and police in the country, from 1946 to 1975. So to the casual reader, given the inclusion in this article, it seems like the US gave $2.8 billion to Greece, $6.5 billion to South Korea, $16 billion to South Vietnam, and trained hundreds of thousands of their military and police, all so the US could export torture. But I imagine that almost all the aid had nothing to do with the torture. Obviously, the aid to South Vietnam and South Korea was about the Korean War and the Vietnam War. A casual reader might think the number of US trained military/police was the number of military or police in the country trained in torture, but i suspect the vast majority of these officers were trained in traditional, legitimate defense or police work. Maybe it goes to show that the US should have screened its allies better, but it doesn't contribute much to the article otherwise. You definitely need text explaining why Chomsky included the chart. You also need text explaining Amnesty's criterion for what it takes to be a "torture country." Will one abusive police officer get you on the list? What if a country had regime change during the years, and the old leader tortured, but the new leader didn't? A much more useful chart would be something like number of military personnel from a country trained in the School of the Americas. That's a really useful statistic about US encouraging of torture, but this chart is irrelevant at best, misleading at worstWldcat (talk) 05:41, 1 September 2011 (UTC)


WP:AND says (in part) "Titles containing "and" are often red flags that the article has neutrality problems or is engaging in original research: avoid the use of "and" in ways that appear biased. For example, use Islamic terrorism, not "Islam and terrorism"; however, "Media's coupling of Islam and terrorism" may be acceptable. Avoid the use of "and" to combine concepts that are not commonly combined in reliable sources." Like this one, for example.

There doesn't appear to be a "Torture and the Native Americans." For laughs, the Algonquins (among others, I suppose) cut the knuckles off their captives to see whether they would scream or not. They thought it hilarious if they did. Well, no tv in those days. What are you going to do for entertainment? Nor "Torture and Ancient Rome," nor (there has to be an article someplace) "Torture and Nazi Germany." For current countries, we have articles on the worst (North Korea, Russia (I assume they mean USSR), Iraq (former?), Iran, and, at the other extreme, The United States, United Kingdom and Canada! Go figure! Student7 (talk) 22:32, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Definition wrong[edit]

Not that anyone seems to care, but the lead states "US government." But the text contains not only US government, but state government, county government, and (I suppose) municipal government. If you want to make this a list of every government level in the U.S., it could at least be specified in the lead. Student7 (talk) 15:57, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Iraq Torture centres trained, equipped and overseen by US[edit]

A BBC/Guardian combined report has found that the US funded and oversaw systematic torture by Iraqi paramilitary during the Iraq War. James Steele (US Colonel), who had in the 1980s overseen the training of death squads in the "dirty war" in El Salvador, was put in charge of training Shia paramilitary and attended their torture interrogations. Torture centres were set up with millions of dollars of US funding. Torture involved severe beatings, electric shocks, hanging upside-down, use of drills and ripping out fingernails, among other methods. Some detainees died. US soldiers were present at interrogations of this kind and were directed not to intervene. Steele spent a great deal of his time in these centres, along with Colonel James Coffman, General Petraeus' special adviser, who worked side by side with Steele in the torture centres, according to witnesses. General Petraeus also worked closely with Steele, and according to witnesses Petraeus was aware that torture was being used, and even requested that videotapes of it not be shown on Iraqi television. The US embassy was aware of these abuses, and notified Washington of them.

Steele had been appointed and sent to Iraq by Donald Rumsfeld, and Steele's memos were granted such high status during his operations there that President Bush received them. Steele was also previously involved in the Iran-Contra affair in Nicaragua (one of six planners including Oliver North) and was appointed by Dick Cheney to set up the police force in Panama following the overthrow of Noriega. So he was closely connected with top US officials running the Iraq War: Rumsfeld, Cheney, Petraeus. Washington was aware of the abuses of this Iraqi paramilitary that they were funding and equipping, and knew the track-record of the man they'd commissioned to train them.

And to top it all off, the leaks by Bradley Manning provided key evidence and were instrumental in enabling the investigation to even begin.

Not sure how all this should be incorporated in this page, but I think it should be. Especially as it's received virtually zero coverage in US corporate media (though plenty in Europe). See also the DemocracyNow report which contains transcripts of some portions of the documentary, and interview with the film's executive producer. Fuzzypeg 14:17, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Oh, and it might be worth adding that these tortures and the numerous murders by the Iraqi paramilitary were blamed for being a major cause of civil war in Iraq. Fuzzypeg 14:24, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Weak lead[edit]

The lead concludes with
" U.K. judge observed 'America's idea of what is torture ... does not appear to coincide with that of most civilized nations'.[2] A two-year study by a U.S. independent group concluded that it was "indisputable" that U.S. forces had employed torture as well as "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment in many interrogations; that "the nation's most senior officials" bear ultimate responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of these techniques, and that there is substantial evidence that information obtained by these methods was neither useful nor reliable.[3]"

The problem here is that the U.S. Government had concluded something else which preceded these statements. The "U.K. judge" is just one person and doesn't even represent the U.K.

The "2-year study" was by the hyper-named "Constitution Project" which originally was made to sound official. Its report sets that straight. Obama refused to appoint a scapegoat-finding commission when first elected, therefore, the CP decided to set things right. The CP is a self-appointed bunch of people, mostly lawyers with an axe to grind, but with a few military and Republicans sprinkled in for effect.

Neither of these "rebuttals" comes even close to refuting the prior denial by the U.S. Government. It would be almost better to say: "there were disagreements," or "not everyone agreed." or something. At least this is not an overweening attempt to try to be equal to the U.S. Government.

You need a heavy hitter here. These are weak and, upon analysis, would make a reader think that there were few substantial objections. Student7 (talk) 01:55, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Title inaccurate?[edit]

The title is "Torture in the United States." Much of the article is devoted to torture that is supported by the US outside of the US, or torture inflicted by the US outside of the US. The title needs tweaking at the very least. "Torture policy of the United States,"? "Torture supported by the United States"? Something to indicate more precision.

The alternative is to delete all material that is non-WP:TOPIC (outside of the United States), and place the currently non-topical material in some other article. This might actually be for the best, as it would disassociate torture inside the US from outside, which is quite different.

Also, it should contain the word "government" someplace, since torture by varying members of society is not supposed to be included, according to the lead. So, at the very least "Torture by the United States Government" or something close to that. Student7 (talk) 13:51, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

There was an undiscussed move on March 2 from Torture and the United States to Torture in the United States by User:XXzoonamiXX. The Torture in X is standard for Category:Torture by country, which generally makes sense, but is a problem for the USA. As with Human rights in X, the "by government actors" is assumed since the topic of torture commonly designates by state actors (the relevant policy is WP:COMMONNAME). Still I think there is a case for renaming and/or defining a clear scope to the article. There are really four areas that I think need to be covered:
  1. Torture by the United States government in its territory
  2. Torture as human rights abuse practiced in United States territory
  3. Torture by the United States government outside its territory
  4. United States foreign/military policies that interlock with non-US government actors practicing torture outside of the United States, such as extraordinary rendition US military training in practices of torture, and the Phoenix Program
We could cover all four with Torture and the United States, or split the topic into Torture in the United States/Torture and the United States government, or alternatively Torture in the United States/Torture and United States foreign policy. The latter two would require carefully deciding whether, say, Federal prisons, immigration detention, and the torture of detainees held within the USA by the US government should be part of the first or the second article. Thoughts?--Carwil (talk) 16:29, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia policy prefers no "and" titles. They seem ambiguous. The clear topic is "torture" when used as "Torture in.."
Note that the article Use_of_torture_since_1948#North_Vietnam has "trouble" inserting American torture incidents.
Note that there is nothing for Use_of_torture_since_1948#Russia despite it's being part of the USSR which is missing. And the KGB having a policy of torture "since 1948." I'm not suggesting that we solve another article's problems here, but just saying that focusing too much on Torture in the US, and having too many articles, may be a bit WP:UNDUE at this point in time. Student7 (talk) 21:20, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

George Bush quote[edit]

I don't have any dog in the fight as to if it makes him look like a hypocrite or not, but the addition of that quote in that specific location, without any context, discussion or explanation is strange is feels like it's bordering on pushing a specific agenda. Can we at least give some conversation in the article as to why it is included and how it applies? Bali88 (talk) 05:02, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

Go ahead and add any context you want; the quote certainly seems relevant, though. The section talks about torture abroad, and Bush is talking about the American mission abroad. Vanamonde93 (talk) 05:25, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
With both personalization and individual examples, the intent appears to be mainly political, and not an effort to document the topic in an objective manner. Specifically, the Republicans are bad and torture people, the Democrats are good and don't. Is there a message I have missed?
This subjective approach tends to cloud the object of the article. It should not be merely a political attack, nor appear to be. Student7 (talk) 23:02, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
I think it's reasonable to include a discussion of the criticism surrounding the topic and certainly if that quote was discussed in the media, we should include the quote and the discussion of it. Including it randomly without context doesn't seem very neutral to me. Bali88 (talk) 23:54, 24 September 2014 (UTC)

Torture abroad?[edit]

The title is "Torture in the United States" but includes torture outside of the United States. Possibly the article title should be changed to something else. Or the material moved to a separate article. Student7 (talk) 21:20, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

I think it's clear that it's torture by the united states in other parts of the world. If you think it might be unclear, you could say "torture abroad by the US government" or something. Bali88 (talk) 01:31, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
I think you are talking about a subsection title inside the article. I am talking about an article name change. "Torture by the United States" sounds funny. "Torture as a United States government policy" sounds more accurate but a trifle long-winded. I think we need to upgrade accuracy though. Most American citizens did not participate in this torture, per se, though they may have agreed with the policy. But it needs to be properly attributed IMO. Student7 (talk) 21:17, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

If you would not, yourself, appreciate being tortured then never ever agree to laws or policies that condone torture, ANYWHERE! The One True God. OneTrueGod (talk) 00:00, 4 August 2017 (UTC)

Torture within U.S.[edit]

Is the early statement "Torture is illegal and punishable within U.S. territorial bounds" actually true? If so, where is it substantiated? I'm no expert on US law, but the UN Committee Against Torture's report on the USA in 2006[1] expressed concern that, at that time, torture was not a federal offence within the USA, as follows:

Para 13: "Notwithstanding the statement by the State party [i.e. the USA] that “every act of torture within the meaning of the Convention [against Torture] is illegal under existing federal and/or state law”, the Committee reiterates the concern expressed in its previous Conclusions and Recommendations with regard to the absence of a federal crime of torture, consistent with article 1 of the Convention... The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party should enact a federal crime of torture consistent with article 1 of the Convention..."

If no one is aware of any subsequent US legislation to make torture a federal offence within the USA, I suggest that the sentence be amended to read: "Torture is not a federal offence within U.S. territorial bounds." — Preceding unsigned comment added by AlanS1951 (talkcontribs) 13:38, 14 December 2014 (UTC) AlanS1951 (talk) 13:50, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^
There is probably no specific federal law relating to torture. The reason is that there is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly forbids this and is therefore not explicitly within the federal jurisdiction but is (supposedly) left to the states.
Having said that, a federal prosecutor might try someone under violation of their civil rights, a bit more vague than torture. And not explicit. Student7 (talk) 21:10, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

I am so glad to see more articles exposing the true existence of torture. It is necessary for all countries to punish all forms of torture the same as the highest penalty for assault. If countries are not currently punishing due to grey areas in the laws OR due to government individuals condoning it, then it must be categorised under the assault laws, immediately, from this day forward. The One True God. OneTrueGod (talk) 23:49, 3 August 2017 (UTC)


Torture and the United States? (talk) 18:49, 30 August 2016 (UTC)

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