A Question of Torture

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

American Empire Project

Alfred McCoy

Metropolitan Books

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A startling exposé of the CIA’s development and spread of psychological torture, from the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and beyond
In this revelatory account of the CIA’s secret, fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy uncovers the deep, disturbing roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Far from aberrations, as the White House has claimed, A Question of Torture shows that these abuses are the product of a long-standing covert program of interrogation.
Developed at the cost of billions of dollars, the CIA’s method combined “sensory deprivation” and “self-inflicted pain” to create a revolutionary psychological approach—the first innovation in torture in centuries. The simple techniques—involving isolation, hooding, hours of standing, extremes of hot and cold, and manipulation of time—constitute an all-out assault on the victim’s senses, destroying the basis of personal identity. McCoy follows the years of research—which, he reveals, compromised universities and the U.S. Army—and the method’s dissemination, from Vietnam through Iran to Central America. He traces how after 9/11 torture became Washington’s weapon of choice in both the CIA’s global prisons and in “torture-friendly” countries to which detainees are dispatched. Finally McCoy argues that information extracted by coercion is worthless, making a case for the legal approach favored by the FBI.
Scrupulously documented and grippingly told, A Question of Torture is a devastating indictment of inhumane practices that have spread throughout the intelligence system, damaging American’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

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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

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

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
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Metropolitan Books

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