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Legacy of U.S. Torture

Last updated: January 17, 2024

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government made numerous illegal and unwise decisions that led to the widespread and systematic use of torture and cruelty in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, Guantánamo, Afghanistan and secret prisons around the world. Progress was made, but vigilance is required and important work remains to be done.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the CIA built a torture program, holding more than one hundred Muslim men captive in secret “black site” prisons around the world and subjecting them to abuses that many Americans rightly associate with foreign dictators, tyrants and terrorists. The torture program had profound consequences for its victims, for U.S. national security, and for the United States’ reputation in the world.

On January 11, 2002, the United States opened the detention facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly eight hundred Muslim men and boys have been held there over the years, all but a handful without charge or trial. Thirty-five remain, twenty-three of whom have never been charged with a crime.