Made at UCL


Uncovering war crimes in the land of the free

UCL researchers uncovered controversial interrogation techniques used as part of the ‘war on terror’ which drew worldwide attention and led to international legal proceedings.

Uncovering war crimes in the land of the free

Torture Team is a research project that has directly influenced legal proceedings and investigations into the treatment of suspected terrorists.

The project, led by Professor Philippe Sands QC (UCL Laws), exposed controversial interrogation techniques employed by the US military, and authorized by President Bush and his Administration as part of the ‘war on terror’, after the attacks of 9/11. 

The Torture Team conducted an in-depth analysis of official documents and personal interviews with key members of the US military and Bush Administration.

The research exposed how US military went from using interrogations strictly regulated by federal law, the US Army Field Manual 34-52 and the Geneva Conventions to allowing severe interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, forced nudity, stress positions and waterboarding.

Philippe later published the findings in his book Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, where he details their investigation to establish if the treatment of Guantánamo detainees met international legal criteria of a war crime.

The project has directly influenced international legal proceedings, government investigations and worldwide public debate on the legality of the treatment of suspected terrorists. 

The Torture Team was also adapted into a dramatic performance for the stage in 2008 and 2011 at both the Tricycle Theatre and the Hay Festival with performances from Joanna Lumley and Damien Lewis, to name but a few.



  • Credit: Tayeb Mezahdia, Source: Pixabay