The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib

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Overview

The Torture Papers document the so-called 'torture memos' and reports which US government officials wrote to prepare the way for, and to document, coercive interrogation and torture in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib. These documents present for the first time a compilation of materials that prior to publication have existed only piecemeal in the public domain. The Bush Administration, concerned about the legality of harsh interrogation techniques, understood the need to establish a legally viable argument to justify such procedures. The memos and reports document the systematic attempt of the US Government to prepare the way for torture techniques and coercive interrogation practices, forbidden under international law, with the express intent of evading legal punishment in the aftermath of any discovery of these practices and policies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Michiko Kakutani
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.
— The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521853248
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/26/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 1284
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 9.96 (h) x 2.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen J. Greenberg is the executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law.

Joshua L. Dratel serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and is currently assisting in the defense of Guantanamo detainees.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction Anthony Lewis; 2. From fear to torture Karen J. Greenberg; 3. The legal narrative Joshua L. Dratel; 4. Timeline; 5. Missing documents; 6. Biographical sketches; 7. Memoranda.

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