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Document a Day: Tortured to Death

Larry Siems,
The Torture Report
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June 4, 2010

In October, 2002, the lead lawyer for the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center told U.S. military personnel at Guantánamo that the laws banning torture are “vaguely written” and that torture is “subject to perception.” Notes from that meeting quote Jonathan Fredman as saying, “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong.”

More than 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody in Guantánamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The U.S. military itself called 34 of these confirmed or suspected homicides. This is one of them: a 47 year-old Iraqi man whose autopsy report concludes “The severe blunt force injuries, the hanging position, the obstruction of the oral cavity with a gag contributed to this individual’s death. The manner of death is homicide.”

This image is in fact a painting by the artist Jenny Holzer — a remarkable example of the many ways in which American citizens are pressing for accountability for torture. The actual, complete autopsy report is here.


To read more about and see documentary evidence of the Bush administration’s torture program, go to

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