Friday, June 13, 2008

Torture and Truth

Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror by Mark Danner

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Beyond a short introduction, this is basically a document dump of the memos and position papers circulating through the Bush White House as they formulated a strategy that would unshackle what they perceived to be unnecessarily binding restrictions on the gathering of military intelligence. The Geneva Convention along with the body of international law accumulated over the centuries was all rendered "quaint" (in Alberto Gonzales' term) and obsolete in a post 9/11 world in which the US was the world's lone superpower. The shocking thing about this was the casualness with which the administration proceeded to poke around for legal loopholes to overturn established international law. Bush wanted the gloves taken off and this set in motion a coldly bureaucratic search for a solution to this problem. Moral considerations were given little to no weight, it was as if a branch manager at a Staples was given the task of increasing quarterly paper sales by 3.5%. Only instead of paper sales, these were human beings. In the case of Abu Ghraib most of the detainees had no business being there and whose presence only provided more fuel for the insurgency, which then fueled more detainments, in a closed feedback loop.

I gave this 3 stars only because of hundreds of pages of government documents with no narrative tying them together, it's unreadable for 99% of the population. It's too bad, because this is essential stuff. The media should have been much more vigilant in breaking the documents down to a level where a national discussion could have taken place. It's essential that the electorate know exactly what measures the government is taking to ensure our safety and whether those measures align with our American values and whether they are actually making us safer.

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