UK government shamefully cooperated with U.S. in torture of al-Qaeda suspects

We Americans have had a painful and difficult national debate over the past 20 years relative to torture. Torture was official U.S. government policy from 2002 until at least 2005, and that iteration was not formally outlawed until passage of the McCain-Feinstein Amendment in 2015. (The torture program was a highly-classified secret from 2002 until I revealed it in a nationally-televised interview in December 2007.)

In truth, torture has been illegal in the U.S. since at least the end of World War II. In 1946, the U.S. Government executed Japanese soldiers who had waterboarded American prisoners of war. In January 1968, the Washington Post ran a front-page photograph showing an American soldier waterboarding a North Vietnamese prisoner.

On the day the photo ran, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered an investigation. The soldier was arrested, tried, convicted of torture, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Torture was clearly a crime in 1946 and in 1968. But somehow, due to the legalistic gymnastics of the Bush Administration, torture was somehow magically legal in 2002. The law hadn’t changed; Americans had. It took us until 2015 to come to our collective senses again.

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