“A Hell of a Lot Worse Than Waterboarding”?: Law and American State Violence From Bush to Trump

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Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Tuesday, May 7, 20193:00PM - 5:00PM108N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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Donald Trump has notoriously promised to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” along with other unlawful practices. Furthermore, his administration has advanced policies that undermine international human rights commitments, particularly related to migration and refugees. While Trumpism is undoubtedly shocking, it exists within a continuum of American challenges to international law, justified in the name of national security. Drawing from Sanders’ new book, Plausible Legality (Oxford University Press, 2018), this talk traces how the Bush and Obama administrations, to varying degrees, legally rationalized torture, targeted killing, and mass surveillance after 9/11. What do these largely successful efforts to construct legal cover for human rights abuses tell us about the capacity of legal rules to constrain state violence, both in the past and today? Can the law prevent “worse” from occurring in the future?


Daria Dumbabze


Dr. Rebecca Sanders
Department of Political Science, University of Cincinnati


Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Munk One Program

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