Torture, Ethics, Accountability?

71 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2022

Date Written: 2022


Torture—including waterboarding—has been banned under international and domestic law in the United States dating back to World War II when the U.S. sought to hold Japanese interrogators accountable for waterboarding American prisoners of war. Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Bush administration sought legal justification from White House counsel to detain and initiate interrogation practices long considered to constitute acts of torture. After legal memos were drafted, psychologists and physicians along with nurses and other medical professionals engaged in waterboarding and other forms of abusive interrogation often resulting in no reliable intelligence from detainees. None of the professionals involved in this torture have been charged with criminal misconduct, convicted, or sentenced for their participation. If the international and domestic legal systems are unable to hold these licensed professionals accountable, licensure boards and ethics committees should exercise their power to consider removal of licenses for violation of professional ethics codes, if not criminal misconduct.

Keywords: international ethics, ethics, legal ethics, international law, torture, professional responsibility, medical ethics, psychological ethics

Suggested Citation

Katner, David R., Torture, Ethics, Accountability? (2022). 53 Loyola University Chicago Law Journal 513 (2022), Tulane Public Law Research Paper No. 22-5, Available at SSRN:

David R. Katner (Contact Author)

Tulane University - Law School ( email )

New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
504-865-5153 (Phone)

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