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Torture and the Ticking Time Bomb in the Era of Global Terror (February 2018): Government Documents

By Julie Beicken

Government Documents

The declassified memoranda that detail the actions outlined above are available to the public and contained within a few volumes. The most comprehensive is The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, edited by Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel, who have amassed the most essential documents for understanding how torture was legally and morally justified in the War on Terror. Including brief but compelling introductions from both editors as well as a time line of documents and events, the book contains hundreds of pages of significant government documents, including the “torture memos” and reports on the incidents at Abu Ghraib released after events there came to light.

Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond, edited by Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh, is an important collection of correspondence and memoranda relating primarily to the use of torture in Guantánamo. While many of the documents are redacted, they provide a good overview of what was taking place at the prison.

Most recently, The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, released in 2014, includes about 600 declassified pages of the 6,000-page report issued by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2012. The report, highly critical of the CIA’s indefinite detention and cruel interrogation practices utilized in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, finds that the enhanced techniques employed were not effective in gathering useful information or in leading  to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Interestingly, the report reveals that prior to 9/11, the CIA had claimed that torture does not result in good intelligence, but nevertheless relied on it extensively in the War on Terror.

Other notable volumes include Torture and State Violence in the United States, edited by Robert Pallito, and The United Nations Convention against Torture: A Commentary, by Manfred Nowak and Elizabeth McArthur. Pallito’s volume explores the disjuncture between the position of the US on torture in documents ranging from the Constitution to intelligence manuals and the reality of the repeated use of torture throughout US history. Nowak and McArthur provide commentary on UNCAT, which is most useful for attorneys.