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Hundreds of credible allegations of abuses against detainees in U.S. custody abroad have not been adequately investigated or prosecuted.

In order to remedy the serious problems documented here, the DAA Project makes the following recommendations:

  • Congress should appoint an independent commission to review U.S. detention and interrogation operations worldwide in the “war on terror.” Such a commission should identify and analyze the systemic failures that have lead to widespread torture and abuse, and make detailed and specific recommendations to ensure that reforms are instituted.

  • The Secretary of Defense and Attorney General should order their departments to move forward promptly with investigations of allegations of torture and other abuse of detainees in U.S. custody abroad, to initiate prosecutions where evidence is uncovered, and to instruct relevant authorities to ensure that appropriate criminal action be undertaken against all persons implicated in killings, torture, and other abuse, whatever their rank or position.

  • The Secretary of Defense should appoint a single, high-level, centralized convening and prosecuting authority (i.e., a single authority who can convene and prosecute courts-martial) across the branches of the military to investigate all U.S. military personnel—no matter their rank—who participated in, ordered, or bear command responsibility for war crimes or torture, or other prohibited mistreatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The creation of this authority should be designed to bring uniformity, certainty, and a greater degree of independent oversight to the process of discipline and punishment in the military; it should allow for investigations and punishments of abuses at all levels of the military. The Secretary of Defense should also issue instructions down the military chain of command specifying that commanders should not use administrative investigations or non-judicial hearings for detainee cases in which claims of serious abuses including homicide, torture, aggravated assault, or sexual abuse have been substantiated.

  • Congress should implement a check on officer promotions, by requiring that each branch of the military certify, for any officer whose promotion requires Senate confirmation, that the officer is not implicated in any case of detainee torture, abuse, or other mistreatment, including through the doctrine of command responsibility.

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