David Luban is University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgetown, and is currently Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, United States Naval Academy. His latest book, Torture, Power, and Law will be published later this year. (February 2014)

Syrian Torture: What the US Must Do

Free Syrian Army soldiers in a captured Syrian government prison, Darkoush, Syria, April 23, 2013

The atrocities committed by all sides in the increasingly violent Syrian civil war cry out for some form of international accountability. The “Caesar” photos, released in late January, up the stakes dramatically by providing remarkably specific evidence of mass murder and torture by agents of the Syrian government.

The Defense of Torture

In the new kind of war, where no enemy commander has the authority to surrender, the war ends only when we say it is over. Yoo reassures us that “there is no reason to believe it will go on for a generation.” There is equally no reason to believe it will go on for less, and the potential internment of enemy combatants for decades on end differs only in name from what Yoo denies it is: indefinite imprisonment.9