Torture Team

Torture Team is a research project undertaken by Professor Philippe Sands, Director of the UCL Laws Centre for International Courts and Tribunals, to investigate how the decision was made by the Bush Administration to allow the United States military to use ‘enhanced interrogations techniques’ with suspected terrorists as part of the US ‘war on terror’.  The research is based on an in-depth analysis of official documents and personal interviews with key members of the US military and Bush Administration carried out by Professor Sands in 2006-07.

His book, Torture Team, examines how the 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 water boarding.

The Torture Team Project has directly influenced international legal proceedings, government investigations and worldwide public debate on the legality of the treatment of suspected terrorists. It has:

  • influenced legal investigations by the US Congress and the Spanish judiciary
  • influenced policy development on detainees, the Geneva Conventions and national and international laws
  • increased public debate worldwide about principles of international law governing detainees through large-scale public events and extensive media coverage

Unusually for academic research, Torture Team was adapted into dramatic performances, performed on stage by some of the world’s leading actors, including a performance in May 2008 at London’s Tricycle Theatre, with a cast that included Joanna Lumley, Corin Redgrave and Vanessa Redgrave, and a 2011 performance at the Hay Festival, with a cast including Ralph Fiennes, Gillian Anderson and Damien Lewis.

Learn more about Torture Team

Review: Torture Team ‘So much for the rights of man’ by Raphael Behr in the Guardian, 4 May 2008

Listen Listen to the Torture Team performed by Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes, Jay Sanders, Philippe Sands and Gillian Anderson at the 2011 Hay Festival.

Insight with Philippe Sands: Torture Team
The Frontline Club London, 23 September 2008


Philippe Sands, Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values
Philippe Sands, Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values (2008)