Executive Plans and Authorizations to Violate International Law Concerning Treatment and Interrogation of Detainees

55 Pages Posted: 19 May 2006

See all articles by Jordan J. Paust

Jordan J. Paust

University of Houston Law Center


In the author's words:

"A common plan to violate customary and treaty-based international law concerning the treatment and interrogation of so-called terrorist and enemy combatant detainees and their supporters captured during the US war in Afghanistan emerged within the Bush Administration in 2002 . . . (the plan) was approved in January 2002 and led to high-level approval and use of unlawful interrogation tactics that year and in 2003 and 2004. A major part of the plan was to deny protections under the customary laws of war and treaties that require humane treatment of all persons who are detained during an armed conflict, regardless of their status and regardless of any claimed necessity to treat human beings inhumanely. The common plan and authorizations have criminal implications, since denials of these protections are violations of the laws of war, which are war crimes."

The author goes on to review the laws of war and human rights, and their applicability to events which took place during the 2001 Afghan War. The author then goes on to detail the memoranda created by the Bush administration that purported to justify the denial and abrogation of these rights. Finally, the author examines the interrogation practices and procedures implemented at Abu Ghraib and similar locations, and their significance.

Keywords: Geneva convention, human rights, laws of war, war crimes, United States Afghanistan, Taliban, international law, treaty, interrogation, Gonzales memo, torture , Abu Ghraib, Dunlavey memo, stress positions, Convention Against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

JEL Classification: K00, K14, K33, K42, Z00

Suggested Citation

Paust, Jordan J., Executive Plans and Authorizations to Violate International Law Concerning Treatment and Interrogation of Detainees. Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 43, 2005, U of Houston Law Center Paper No. 2006-A-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=903349

Jordan J. Paust (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

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Houston, TX 77204-6060
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