Chat with Marjorie Cohn, hosted by Stephen Soldz.
Waterboarding. Sleep deprivation. Sensory manipulation. Stress positions. Over the last several years, these and other methods of torture have become garden variety words for practically anyone who reads about current events in a newspaper or blog. We know exactly what they are, how to administer them, and, disturbingly, that they were secretly authorized by the Bush Administration in its efforts to extract information from people detained in its war on terror. What we lack, however, is a larger lens through which to view America’s policy of torture — one that dissects America’s long relationship with interrogation and torture, which roots back to the 1950s and has been applied, mostly in secret, to “enemies,” ever since. How did America come to embrace this practice so fully, and how was it justified from a moral, legal, and psychological perspective?
The United States and Torture opens with a compelling preface by Sister Dianna Ortiz, who describes the unimaginable treatment she endured in Guatemala in 1987 while the United States was supporting that country’s dictatorship. Then a psychologist, a historian, a political scientist, a philosopher, a sociologist, two journalists, and eight lawyers offer one of the most comprehensive examinations of torture to date, beginning with the CIA during the Cold War era and ending with today’s debate over accountability for torture.
Ultimately, this gripping, interdisciplinary work details the complicity of the United States government in the torture and cruel treatment of prisoners both at home and abroad and discusses what can be done to hold those who set the torture policy accountable.
Contributors: Marjorie Cohn, Richard Falk, Marc D. Falkoff, Terry Lynn Karl, John W. Lango, Jane Mayer, Alfred W. McCoy, Jeanne Mirer, Sister Dianna Ortiz, Jordan J. Paust, Bill Quigley, Michael Ratner, Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, Philippe Sands, Stephen Soldz, and Lance Tapley.
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. The 2008 recipient of the Peace Scholar of the Year Award, she has testified before Congress about Bush Administration torture policy. (New York University Press)