A Question of Torture

CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror

American Empire Project

Alfred McCoy

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book

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“An indispensable and riveting account” of the CIA’s development and use of torture, from the cold war to Abu Ghraib and beyond (Naomi Klein, The Nation)

In this revelatory account of the CIA’s fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert program of interrogation. A Question of Torture investigates the CIA’s practice of “sensory deprivation” and “self-inflicted pain,” in which techniques including isolation, hooding, hours of standing, and manipulation of time assault the victim’s senses and destroy the basis of personal identity. McCoy traces the spread of these practices across the globe, from Vietnam to Iran to Central America, and argues that after 9/11, psychological torture became the weapon of choice in the CIA’s global prisons, reinforced by “rendition” of detainees to “torture-friendly” countries. Finally, McCoy shows that information extracted by coercion is worthless, making a strong case for the FBI’s legal methods of interrogation.
 
Scrupulously documented and grippingly told, A Question of Torture is a devastating indictment of inhumane practices that have damaged America’s laws, military, and international standing.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One

Two Thousand Years of Torture
 
In April 2004, the American public was stunned when CBS Television broadcast photographs from Abu Ghraib prison, showing Iraqis naked, hooded, and contorted in humiliating positions while U.S. soldiers stood over them, smiling.1 As the scandal grabbed headlines around the globe, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assured Congress that the abuse was “perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military,” whom columnist William Safire branded as “creeps.”2 Other commentators—citing the famous Stanford prison experiment in which ordinary students

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About the Author

Alfred McCoy

Alfred W. McCoy is a professor of history at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia and Closer Than Brothers.

Alfred McCoy

Alfred McCoy

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Available Formats and Book Details

A Question of Torture
CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror
Alfred McCoy

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
December 2006
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805082487
ISBN10: 0805082484
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 320 pages, Includes one black-and-white illustration and two tables
$19.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
April 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429900683
ISBN10: 1429900687
304 pages
$7.99
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Holt Paperbacks

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