- Hardcover: 1284 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (January 26, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521853249
- ISBN-13: 978-0521853248
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 2.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib First Edition Edition
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*Starred Review* Bush administration officials and top military brass continue to maintain that the well-documented abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib were the isolated actions of a few rogue guards. Not so, say the editors of this book. Greenberg is the executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, and Dratel is a prominent defense attorney currently assisting in the defense of detainees at the Guantanamo base in Cuba. As their introductory essays make clear, they believe the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the claimed abuses at Guantanamo are the direct result of administration policies. They do not prove their case conclusively, but their compilation of administration documents is still riveting, chilling, and infuriating. They clearly reveal that, at the highest levels, the Bush administration sought legal justification to circumvent both the Geneva Convention and other international accepted norms regarding the interrogation and treatment of military detainees. We have top Justice Department officials claiming "non-state actors" are not protected by the Geneva Convention. We have Department of Defense officials approving "non-injurious physical contact," which, of course, opens the door to a wide variety of abusive and degrading practices. This vitally important book reminds us that the pursuit of intelligence by "unorthodox" means is a dangerous and slippery slope. Jay Freeman
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"The book is necessary, if grueling, reading for anyone interested in understanding these wartime prison abuses." -Register-Guard
"It will chill your bones." -Village Voice
"The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib thoroughly documents repeated and shocking perversions of justice. The torture of prisoners became standard practice as the internationally accepted tenets of the Geneva Convention were bypassed and ignored. This is not a collection of complex legalese but pages where a clear episodic story unfolds free of bias and spin. The documents and their authors speak for themselves; key individuals approved torture as a coercive interrogation technique while others, namely Secretary of State Colin Powell, strongly opposed it. This is required reading for everyone concerned with fairness, justice, and difficult choices made under the pressures of our post 9/11 world." -Nadine Strossen, President, American Civil Liberties Union
"The Torture Papers may well be the most important and damning set of documents exposing U.S. government lawlessness ever published. Each page tells the story of U.S. leaders consciously willing to ignore the fundamental protections that guarantee all of us our humanity. I fear for our future. Read these pages and weep for our country, the rule of law and victims of torture everywhere." -Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
"The minutely detailed chronological narrative embodied in this volume..possesses an awful and powerful cumulative weight.[...]The book is necessary, if grueling, reading for anyone interested in understanding the back story to those terrible photos from Saddam Hussein's former prison, and abuses at other American detention facilities." -New York Times Book Review
"This vitally important book reminds us that the pursuit of intelligence by "unorthodox" means is a dangerous and slippery slope." - Booklist (starred review)
"This is a commendable, timely, and useful collection of key documents. The material goes far in helping us to understand the logic and advice that led to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. From awful advice spring awful events." - Philippe Sands QC is a practising barrister in the Matrix Chambers and a professor of international law at University College London. He is the author of Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules.
"Not since the Pentagon Papers have we seen such an important set of classified documents as the memoranda, reports and orders on detention and interrogation that began emerging into public view in the United States. Cambridge University Press is serving an important need in providing these papers in one authoritative and well-organized collection." - Mary Ellen O'Connell, William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law & Fellow of the Mershon Center for International Security, The Ohio State University
"With this superb collection of documents, we can begin to see the contours of our new post 9-11 world: from the reinterpretation of laws and treaties that once seemed immutable, to the pressure on soldiers and CIA officers in the field to set aside old rules in the hunt for useable intelligence. The papers speak for themselves and readers can decide whether the trade-offs are worth it or not." - Dana Priest, National Security Reporter, The Washington Post.
" The Torture Papers then, is no historical artifact. It's why we do what we're (still) doing. It's a monument to denial, arrogance and hypocrisy. It's why they hate us. " - Ted Rall, San Diego Union-Tribune
"Let us hope this book will have a wide readership and will embolden our supine mass media to engage in more research and expose the machinations of the far-right Republicans and their allies." -Political Affairs, Thomas Riggins
"...this should interest the new secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the indispensable 1,249-page thoroughly documented "The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib" (Cambridge University Press) adds that our State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices "have expressly characterized as 'torture' or 'other abuse' tying detainees in painful positions; incommunicado detention; depriving detainees of sleep ... long periods of imprisonment in darkened rooms ... and instilling detainees with the false belief that they are about to be killed." --Nat Hentoff, WorldNetDaily Commentary
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Some 28 memos are included in their entirety that cover the period from Sept. 25, 2001 into 2004. A number of reports are reproduced as well, written by the Bar of the City of New York, The American Bar Ass'n, former defense secretary Schesllinger's report on DoD detention operations, some briefing papers, DoD responses to AP reports, and the Fay/Jones report on Abu Ghraib. There simply is nothing like having the original documents at your fingertips. The book also includes a list of pertinent documents that at the time of publication had not been publicly released; most if not all of these are now available on the internet (e.g., the key John Yoo March 14, 2003 memo).
There are also helpful introductions (including a short one by Anthony Lewis of the NYT); a list of interrogation techniques; recommended readings; a listing of torture related laws and conventions; biographical sketches of the key players (except David Addington for some reason); a timeline; and some cases relevant to the incidence of torture. Also included is an afterword with some additional documents which had been released just as the book was going to press. The book nicely complements any of the current volumes out on this issue, such as Goldsmith's "The Terror Presidency" (also reviewed on Amazon). An indispensable resource in this important area.
Some insight, however limited, can be gained from Memo 11, which is one of the memorandums that Bush put forward regarding the treatment of detainees and the prisoner-of-war status of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. After reading Memo 11, the question immediately arises: Why did the memorandums and discussion continue even after Memo 11 (the Bush memorandum to the Vice President, et al)? After all, in this memo, Bush explicitly states that the Geneva provisions do not legally cover Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But Bush emphasizes that even though he accepts the legal conclusions of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice regarding the inapplicability of the Geneva convention to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and that he therefore has the "authority under the Constitution" to suspend Geneva, he nevertheless decides to "decline to exercise that authority." However, Bush is careful to note that he "reserves the right" to exercise this authority in future conflicts. In addition, he orders that detainees be treated humanely, according to the principles of Geneva, "including those who are not legally entitled to such treatment." Thus it appears that any further legal argumentation by anyone in the administration regarding the use of torture should be viewed as purely academic. But as this book clearly shows, there was still much discussion on these matters after Memo 11 was sent (February 7, 2002). The need for further discussion is not clear even after reading the memorandums that were sent between various individuals after Memo 11.
Torture has been practiced by many different individuals, political and religious groups, and regimes throughout history. Whether it is the Catholic Church in the Inquisition, the Chinese government under Mao ZeDong, or American military personnel in Iraq, the practice of torture is not exclusive to "leftist" or "rightist" political groups. The use of torture though to gain information is an implicit admission of the inability to collect real intelligence, either because of laziness or incompetence. Those individuals who practice torture for this reason no doubt understand this. They fully understand that torture is useless in gaining helpful information from prisoners. Therefore their decision to engage in the torture of prisoners is no doubt a result of their sadistic nature, which can be brought out not only in the theatre of war but also under the protection of religious and governmental institutions. These institutions, despicable and contemptible as they are, deserve every legal penalty available against them. Of course, legal penalties presuppose the existence of institutions that have the legal authority to carry them out. Considering the status and jurisdiction of international law in the last few years, the number of these institutions is in rapid decline, leaving the practical application of torture open to any country that desires to carry it out.