Press Release

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Torture Speaks: Seton Hall Law Report Documents U.S. Torture Program as Described by Both the Torturers and the Victims

Report includes the first visual representations of the torture: the original graphic works of the man for whom the torture program was designed, Abu Zubaydah.

Newark, NJ – December 4, 2019 - Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research has issued a report, “How America Tortures,” that documents the U.S. Torture Program from the words of those who created and approved the program as well as those who implemented it along with descriptions of how it was implemented and applied.

In addition, the report gives, for the first time, descriptions from those who were tortured during the War on Terror – including graphic representations of the torture by Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn (Abu Zubaydah), the man for whom the ten approved techniques specified in “The Torture Memos” were initially designed.

Abu Zubaydah was held in secret prisons by the CIA for four and a half years, is still detained in Guantanamo Bay, and is as yet uncharged with any crime. He was subjected to all ten techniques and has provided illustrations of his experience of eight of them. Historically significant, the graphic portrayals of Abu Zubaydah are published in “How America Tortures” for the first time.

“In many ways, these illustrations of Abu Zubaydah are a testament to the triumph of the human will,” said Professor Mark P. Denbeaux, Director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research and a a co-counsel for Abu Zubaydah’s defense. “He was subjected to treatment so egregious that the CIA sought and received official governmental assurances that their prisoner would ‘remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.’ The CIA even arranged for his cremation in the event he died, assuring what they hoped would be his silence even beyond the grave. “But with this report,” added Professor Denbeaux, “he is silent no more.” The “testimony” from Abu Zubaydah confirms information from many of those who were tortured under the program, as well as CIA cables, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report and numerous other government documents, many of which have recently been declassified.

“What was officially approved was bad enough, but what we found was worse,” said Seton Hall Law Center for Policy & Research Fellow Niki Waters, one of the co-authors of the report. “The lack of clarity and seemingly purposeful ambiguity in defining what was allowed and what was not allowed during interrogations led to gross abuse. The government failed to account for persistent and unapproved techniques alongside those that were approved. But willful blindness isn’t really much of a defense, is it?”

The full report, “How America Tortures,” may be found here.

Founded in 1951 and located in Newark, Seton Hall University School of Law is New Jersey’s only private law school and a leading Catholic law school in the New York metropolitan area. Seton Hall Law is dedicated to preparing students for the practice of law through excellence in scholarship and teaching, with a strong focus on clinical education. Since 2006, Center for Policy & Research reports addressing issues surrounding the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba have been introduced into the Congressional Record by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and as part of a Resolution by the European Parliament. Center reports have been cited by media throughout the world, including television and radio networks such as CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, PBS, BBC, Fox News, and the Christian Broadcasting Network; newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall St. Journal, Toronto Star, Guardian (UK), Der Spiegel (Ger.), Le Monde (Fr.), Times of India, Jerusalem Post, New Zealand Times, Manila Times; magazines such as Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Harpers, The Nation, Mother Jones, and The Economist; and Web-based news sources including The Huffington Post, Salon,, Daily Kos, Yahoo News, AOL News, Amnesty USA, and others simply too numerous to list.

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Janelle Costa
Director of Communications
Office: 973-642-8583

December 338, 2019