President Obama Bans Torture
In one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama banned the CIA from using “enhanced interrogation” techniques, which were widely regarded as torture. These techniques, used by CIA interrogators under President George W. Bush in the war on terrorism, included hypothermia, stress positions and waterboarding. Since the U.S. had ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture (October 21, 1994), the use of torture by Americans was illegal. An infamous “torture memo” by members of the Bush administration, dated August 1, 2002, had argued that the techniques used during the years of the Bush administration were not torture.
While civil libertarians applauded Obama’s ban on torture, they were generally disappointed by the fact that he kept in place many of the basic principles and policies of the Bush administration in the war on terrorism. See the critical 2010 ACLU report, “The New Normal” (below).
Obama: “By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to improve the effectiveness of human intelligence-gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment [emphasis added] of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions [emphasis added], and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, I hereby order as follows: . . .”
Read Obama’s Executive Order: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=85669
Read the best book on President Obama and the war on terrorism: Charlie Savage, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency (2015)
Read the 2010 ACLU report: https://www.aclu.org/national-security/establishing-new-normal
Learn more about torture in the war on terrorism: Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror (2006)