CIPS Policy Brief No. 10, November 2010

  • In his memoirs, George W. Bush admits in writing that he personally approved waterboarding of some terrorism suspects.
  • This admission raises legal problems for him as an individual and for the U.S. government, which has previously prosecuted individuals for waterboarding in both civilian and military settings.
  • The Convention Against Torture requires that all signatory states investigate alleged offenders in their territory, regardless of their citizenship. Recent precedent suggests that heads of state are vulnerable under these laws.

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Ian Hurd is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, and in 2010-11 is a fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.