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The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse Hardcover – January 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“This is an extraordinarily important book. Marjorie Cohn has gathered some of the most knowledgeable and thoughtful voices who understand and oppose the horrific decision by the Bush/Cheney administration to employ torture to fight terrorists. In these pages they explain not only what was done but why it was so terribly wrong.”

-John W. Dean,former Nixon White House counsel and author of Conservatives Without Conscience

"Marjorie Cohn, law professor and president of the National Lawyers Guild, has collected 14 incisive and comprehensive essays which, taken together, serve as a detailed indictment of the Bush administration for its acts of commission and the Obama administration for its acts of omission."
-San Francisco Daily Journal

“A critical collection of essays on the United States’ descent into torture. The contributors, who include some of the nation’s most important human rights advocates and scholars, tell the untold story of how the country that was instrumental in drafting the Convention Against Torture has itself violated that document’s fundamental obligations, and what we should do about it.”

-David Cole,author of The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable

"The United States of Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse is an interdisciplinary work detailing U.S. participation in 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." 
-Z Magazine

"If this collection of authoritative and proficient essays does not convince every reader that key Bush officials and their lawyers should be prosecuted, it leaves no doubt that probable cause exists to justify the Justice Department opening a series of comprehensive investigations with ample resources and subpoena power to determine whether such crimes were committed and whether indictments should be issued...Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and anyone who cares about restoring respect for the Rule of Law in America should first read The United States and Torture, and then do the right thing."-The Los Angeles Daily Journal

"An excellent addition to the cannon of work relating to the post-9/11 embrace of torture by the Bush Administration as well as the subsequent erosion of constitutional and international legal principles."

-Adam L. Kress,Law and Politics Book Review

“Because whistleblowers leaked the Abu Ghraib photos and some of the torture memos, the torture and abuse committed by the United States entered the national discourse. This book is the result of those efforts and this critical work by leading scholars and journalists who courageously provide a roadmap for holding Bush officials accountable for their war crimes.”

-Daniel Ellsberg,author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

“This book is incredible. The truth is right there on the pages, assembled for everyone to see and read and understand. Finally. Accountability is the first step in healing as a nation. The last line of the final chapter says it all: ‘Let us begin.’ Indeed, we must.”

-Janis L. Karpinski,author of One Woman's Army: The Commanding General

"This gripping collection of essays explores how the United States has used torture both domestically and abroad since the 1950s . . . Strongly recommended to any reader interested in developing a deeper understanding of the government's torture policies."

-Rachel Bridgewater,Library Journal

“A magnificent, though deeply disturbing collection of essays on torture, considering its history, its use since September 11, and the obstacles to holding those responsible accountable. This is the best collection of essays on the topic and it leaves no doubt that the nation has not yet come to grips with the inhumanity perpetrated under the guise of national security.”

-Erwin Chemerinsky,Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine, School of Law

About the Author

Marjorie Cohn is Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (January 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814717322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814717325
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,619,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Code of Hammurabi, unlike the rule of the Pharaohs, constrained government by the rule of law. The law of the United States, beginning with the Constitution, accepts that precept, that government must be limited in order to prevent an accumulation of power that destroys individual liberty, undermines the ability of the collective to thrive, and abolishes the trust necessary for self-government in a civil society. "The United States and Torture," edited by Marjorie Cohn, contains fifteen essays, to remind us that our own government is currently unconstrained, and will remain unconstrained until the officials responsible for authorizing and implementing torture, not "enhanced interrogation techniques," but torture, are brought to justice in our own country.

We have heard a lot about torture, but what makes this book unique is that it begins with the personal and then like an Aristotelian debate, the essays drawn from history, law, psychology, philosophy, and ethics argue against torture to create a full condemnation and call for its abolition. The personal is shattering: Sister Dianna Ortiz's account, difficult to read, of her kidnap and torture in Guatemala reminds us that the torture is intended to break the human spirit, to destroy our connection to family, friends, children, loved ones, to permanently turn the survivor outside of society. Her brave work in starting the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, headquartered in Washington DC, reminds us that there has been no accountability, no matter which administration resides in the White House. Sister Dianna has refused the role of outcast.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to help correct the recent U.S. embrace of torture. Government policy and popular attitudes have dangerously evolved in the direction of accepting the unacceptable. Ms. Cohn's excellent compilation of essays, written from a wide array of individual perspectives, highlights the need for reform. It presents a comprehensive critique that will be especially useful to policymakers, scholars, journalists and above all, citizens.
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Format: Hardcover
In this brilliant and inspiring new work of interdisciplinary scholarship, prominent anti-torture crusader and Professor of Law Marjorie Cohn has crafted the definitive closing argument to any lingering debate concerning the illegality and inadmissibility of torture in a civilized society. Drawing on the combined expertise of leading authorities in diverse fields of academia and the professions - from history, psychology and journalism to sociology, political science and the law - this superbly edited anthology features more than a dozen thoroughly researched and skillfully crafted essays on everything you ever wanted to know about torture but were afraid to ask. From its harrowing first-person account of an American nun abducted and tortured in Guatemala, to the history of American research and development of torture techniques, to the practice of torture in secret foreign sites and in U.S. prisons, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever pondered the moral, legal or philosophical underpinnings of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." Each essay is extensively annotated for your further reference or additional research.

Many of the contributors to this anthology are already household names, noted as much for their stellar professional accomplishments and advocacy as for their political activism on matters of significant public interest. And Professor Cohn - herself a highly respected legal analyst and political commentator - has authored a comprehensive introduction to this book that by itself is well worth the price of admission. As editor, Cohn has assembled in this work a cast of luminaries, whose combined effort has yielded a study of extraordinary insight and scholarship, a volume that will both illuminate and inspire, and engage our attention for a long time to come.

A masterpiece!

Hugh Hamilton
Executive Producer & Host
WBAI Pacifica Radio - New York
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Format: Hardcover
Most of us, thankfully, don't and will not have exposure to torture, so we tend to think of it in abstract terms - clean-cut with no gray areas. There are bad people, so sometimes it's necessary to use unsavory means to obtain information for the greater good. Unfortunately, the reality and its application are quite messy with far-reaching consequences. The consequences of torture cannot be isolated to individuals and often bring negative repercussions to our country's reputation and security. Even at pragmatic level, torture doesn't seem to work, and the various essays in the book argue the point in clear, unbiased tone. I also recommend Sister Dianna Ortiz's 'The Blindfold's Eye', a personal account of the deep and lasting scar that torture can leave on its victim.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel like I can no longer have any conversations with anyone about US policies, terrorism, torture, anything really ... unless the other person has already read this important book. It's written so well and by people we should be listening to. Get this book.
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