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Ten Questions: #9

Larry Siems,
The Torture Report
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December 10, 2010

When the United States appeared before the U.N. to defend its human rights record, State Department legal advisor Harold Koh assured the world that the U.S. had “thoroughly investigated” alleged abuses of detainees in U.S. custody, and that “appropriate corrective action has been taken.” Koh also asserted that the Justice Department’s initial investigation into torture was actively looking into allegations of abuse by the CIA and other civilian agencies.

Drawing largely from material that has been covered in, we have come up with 10 follow-up questions for the U.S. about its compliance with domestic and international prohibitions against torture.

A 2006 report by Human Rights First titled Command’s Responsibility found that nearly 100 detainees had died in U.S. custody in the global “war on terror.” This number does not include battlefield deaths; it counts only deaths during interrogation in U.S.-run facilities and people killed after they had surrendered to U.S. forces. According to military records available to Human Rights First investigators at the time, 34 of these deaths were either confirmed or suspected homicides, and at least 11 more to have been the result of abuse or detention conditions. Since Human Rights First’s report came out, military documents and credible media accounts indicate that many more detainees have died in U.S. custody. Please provide a list of all investigations into deaths of detainees in U.S. military custody, any criminal and administrative proceedings stemming from investigations, and any resulting sanctions. What is the highest rank of U.S. servicemembers punished in connection with the death of a detainee?

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