The Politics of Torture
Bush Administration claims of moral superiority are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. Its record is littered with ghost detainees, ghost flights, kidnappings, extraordinary rendition, black sites, secret prisons, extrajudicial executions. And a pattern of torture. From Guantanamo to Iraq to Afghanistan, the U.S. has created an archipelago of gulags. Incidents of torture, when they are discovered, are routinely attributed to a few out of control rogue elements like Charles Graner and Lynddie England. They and a handful of low ranking soldiers have been punished but the higher ups have gotten a free ride. Evidence amassed by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch strongly suggest that torture is part of U.S. policy. The Leader of the Free World reassuringly asserts, “If they are saying we torture people, they’re wrong. Period.”
Alfred McCoy is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of the classic The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. He is the recipient the Association of Asian Studies’ Kahin Prize. He is also the author of Policing America’s Empire, Torture and Impunity and In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.