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The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib First Edition Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521853248
ISBN-10: 0521853249
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"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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Product Details

  • 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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This exceedingly important book documents the incremental slide into justifying the use of torture by the United States government and is a shocking depiction of just how easily and swiftly the downfall can occur. The various lawyers are shown being pumped for the legal grounds, in case of exposure. The assault on the Geneva Convention is depicted, and it seems the figures involved can't grasp the ominous implications, and don't want to. Their minds are made up. The dates of the various key memos begin shortly after 9/11 and show the onset and then its downhill all the way. It seems that with this administration it was an accident waiting to happen, and the excuse of 9/11 triggered a monster lurking in the predispositions of the Bush regime. This is a massive tome of nearly a thousand pages large size, but is extremely well done, and clear for all its detail. The record now speaks for itself and we have ample proof of the mindset of the Bush gang in action.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The editors of this book have done a fine job, and the publisher should be commended for bringing this sizable collection to print. Due to the size of the book, long periods of time would be required to read all of the memorandums in it. A great deal of information can be gained however from the perusal of even a small number of these memorandums. They give an inside view of the workings of a collection of individuals who are far from the combat sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, and whose goal is to make sure that they will be insulated from any legal consequences of their actions and recommendations. Joshua L. Dratel, one of the editors of the book, states this clearly when he asserts that the implicit message in the memoranda is that the policy makers who wrote them actually detest the American system of justice and find it impractical as a tool for fighting terrorism. This reviewer is in full agreement with Dratel's commentary. Indeed, the memoranda definitely support the notion that its authors consider it axiomatic that the Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and other bodies of law are impotent in the face of international terrorism. They have let the events of 9/11 lower considerably their confidence in rational, legal procedures for the resolution of conflicts. Dratel states it concisely and correctly when he states that the events of 9/11 `cannot serve as a license - for our government in its policies, or for ourselves in our personal approach to grave problems - to suspend our constitutional heritage, our core values as a nation, or the behavioral standards that mark a civilized and humane society.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Karen Greenberg, Joshua Dratel and the Cambridge University Press have produced a valuable resource for anyone interested in the controversy surrounding the United States' detention and interrogation of terrorists, suspected terrorists and other combatants in the War on Terror.

The introduction by Anthony Lewis and essays by Ms. Greenberg and Mr. Dratel argue that the memorandums, legal briefs, reports and interviews compiled in this volume conclusively prove President Bush and his administration systematically sought to circumvent US and international laws, conventions and treaties, with the ultimate goal of actively sanctioning and engaging in activities that any reasonable person would view as torture. As stated in the preface, "...this volume document[s] the systematic attempt...to authorize the way for torture techniques and coercive interrogation practices, forbidden under international law..." While strictly true, this statement is also misleading. It's clear that some of the interrogation techniques extensively documented and admitted by the military and administration violate some "international" laws, such as human rights conventions adopted by the member states of the European Union. That these techniques violate international treaties and conventions to which the US is signatory is somewhat less clear. This book provides no new information to bring that debate to a close, although the documents will reinforce the opinions of those driven by ideology to the presumption of guilt.

Messrs. Lewis' and Dratel's essays are direct and somewhat vitriolic in their criticism. Mr. Lewis labels the US prosecution of the War on Terror as "the cause of evil", firmly establishing the ideological prism through which he views the torture controversy. Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE TORTURE PAPERS contains 1,242 eye-popping pages of documents--memos, legal opinions, reports, interrogation transcripts, etc.--gathered and conveniently ordered in one handy volume. The government documents show, among other things, that what happened at Abu Ghraib was not the result of a few bad apples on the nightshift, as the Pentagon has maintained, but was a result of the Bush administration's own operational rationale (i.e., by direction of the civilians installed by Bush/Cheney at the Pentagon and Justice Department). The reasoning behind both the war and the manner in which it was conducted is all laid out in amazing detail in the official documents. They themselves have provided the "smoking gun." It's all here folks, in their own words, if you take the time to read it. Unfortunately, even Democrats in Congress don't take the time, which is shamefully obvious in the congressional hearings.

Despite the extensive documentary evidence collected in this book, the Bush administration maintains that "we don't torture." Journalists don't seem to be able to cut through to the main issue, rarely--if ever--confronting Bush with the most damning documents. Moreover, journalists pose inadequate questions that fail to clarify. Just yesterday I watched Larry King interviewing Dick Cheney. Larry King brought up the subject of torture. Cheney claimed that they don't torture. Larry pressed Cheney a little and Cheney admitted that they use certain techniques, but never said what those interrogation techniques were. That was that.

But philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Ludwig Wittgenstein emphasize how different people mean vastly different things by the same words. Just because you share a word in common doesn't mean you're thinking the same thing by it.
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