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Article
United States v. George Tenet: A Federal Indictment for Torture
Faculty Scholarship
  • William J. Aceves, California Western School of Law
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2015
Disciplines
Abstract

This Article addresses the absence of accountability for torture in the War on Terror. Part II examines the U.S. obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute acts of torture regardless of where such acts occurred. It also reviews the domestic legislation that implements this international obligation. Adopted by Congress to implement the Convention against Torture, the Torture Statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A) establishes criminal liability for torture committed outside the United States. Part III then reviews the first and only case ever brought under the Torture Statute. Roy Belfast, Jr., a U.S. citizen, was prosecuted and subsequently convicted in 2008 for committing torture in Liberia. The Belfast case addressed several issues relating to the Torture Statute, including the definition of torture, the extraterritorial application of U.S. law, and the viability of potential defenses.

Using the Belfast prosecution as a model, Part IV examines the criminal liability of George Tenet, who served as the Director of Central Intelligence during the time when several detainees listed in the SSCI Report were tortured. Tenet was responsible for the development and implementation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program. He personally authorized the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on "high value" detainees who were held at CIA "black sites" around the world. Finally, Part V provides a criminal indictment of Tenet based on the treatment of four detainees: Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abd al-Rahim al- Nashiri, and Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh. These detainees were held by the CIA at various facilities around the world during Tenet's tenure as the Director of Central Intelligence. Under the guise of enhanced interrogation techniques, the CIA subjected each detainee to horrific treatment. They were, in fact, tortured.

Citation Information
New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (JILP), Vol. 48, No. 1, 2015