Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable

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The New Press, Sep 8, 2009 - Political Science - 304 pages
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On April 16, 2009, the Justice Department released never-before-seen secret memos describing, in graphic detail, the brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” Now, for the first time, the key documents are compiled in one remarkable volume, showing that the United States government’s top attorneys were instrumental in rationalizing acts of torture and cruelty, employing chillingly twisted logic and Orwellian reasoning to authorize what the law absolutely forbids.

This collection gives readers an unfiltered look at the tactics approved for use in the CIA’s secret overseas prisons—including forcing detainees to stay awake for eleven days straight, slamming them against walls, stripping them naked, locking them in a small box with insects to manipulate their fears, and, of course, waterboarding—and at the incredible arguments advanced to give them a green light.

Originally issued in secret by the Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005, the documents collected here have been edited only to eliminate repetition. They reflect, in their own words, the analysis that guided the legal architects of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

Renowned legal scholar David Cole’s introductory essay tells the story behind the memos, and presents a compelling case that instead of demanding that the CIA conform its conduct to the law, the nation’s top lawyers contorted the law to conform to the CIA’s abusive and patently illegal conduct. He argues eloquently that official accountability for these legal wrongs is essential if the United States is to restore fidelity to the rule of law.
 

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Contents

Title Page
Memorandum for Alberto R Gonzales Counsel to the President
Degrading
APPENDIX
Memorandum for John Rizzo Acting General Counsel of the Central
MEMORANDUM FOR JAMES B COMEY DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
MEMORANDUM FOR JOHN A RIZZO SENIOR DEPUTY GENERAL
III
MEMORANDUM FOR JOHN A RIZZO SENIOR DEPUTY GENERAL
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About the author (2009)

David Cole is the George Mitchell Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center. He is also a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation. He is the author of No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System, the American Book Award-winning Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism, and The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable and is a co-author (with James Dempsey) of Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security and (with Jules Lobel) of Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror, both published by The New Press. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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