This article is concerned with the return of torture and other related abusive conduct to the British counter‐insurgency arsenal following the initiation of military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s. It focuses primarily on how judges have engaged with the challenges that this torture and abusive conduct have posed, both in their capacity as judges proper and also as appointees to a range of inquiries that have been initiated in the wake of these actions. The article contrasts the post‐2001 work of judges with that during an earlier episode when such state abuse was also evident, Northern Ireland in the 1970s. [---]