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

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Henry Holt and Company, Apr 1, 2007 - History - 304 pages

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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User Review  - dougwood57 - LibraryThing

Alfred McCoy, a distinguished professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, has long been a thorn in the side of the CIA. In the pages of this brief book McCoy traces the history of modern ... Read full review

A question of torture: CIA interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The well-documented prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guant�namo Bay are not aberrations, as the Bush administration claims, but rather the continuation of a half-century of torture by the ... Read full review


Mind Control
Propagating Torture
A War on Terror
Impunity in America
The Question of Torture
Legalizing Torture

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About the author (2007)

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.

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