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The Oath

Premiere Date: September 21, 2010

The Oath in Context

U.S. Policy in the Wake of 9/11: Interrogation, Torture and Coercion

In the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the George W. Bush administration began to develop a legal framework that would give Bush the authority to order suspected "enemy combatants" to be interrogated aggressively and detained for indeterminate periods of time.

A 2003 legal memo issued by the U.S. Department of Defense essentially asserted that international treaties did not apply to U.S. interrogators in foreign countries. The memo also legalized harsh interrogation methods that many consider to be torture.

This legal framework served as a basis for some of the most controversial tactics used by U.S. interrogators, including those employed at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Under the legal justifications set up by the Bush administration, interrogators used contested techniques, such as sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, nudity, forced stress positions, harsh lights, extreme hot and cold temperatures and — perhaps the most widely debated technique — waterboarding, a form of partial suffocation.

Credit: Jane Houle

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