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1 Hawthorne Politics- Activism and Peace Studies

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

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A startling exposé of the CIAs development and spread of psychological torture, from the Cold War to Abu Ghraib and beyond

    In this revelatory account of the CIAs 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 CIAs method combined “sensory deprivation” and “self-inflicted pain” to create a revolutionary psychological approachthe first innovation in torture in centuries. The simple techniquesinvolving isolation, hooding, hours of standing, extremes of hot and cold, and manipulation of timeconstitute an all-out assault on the victims senses, destroying the basis of personal identity. McCoy follows the years of researchwhich, he reveals, compromised universities and the U.S. Armyand the methods dissemination, from Vietnam through Iran to Central America. He traces how after 9/11 torture became Washingtons weapon of choice in both the CIAs 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 Americans laws, military, and international standing.

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.

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 approachthe first innovation in torture in centuries. The simple techniquesinvolving isolation, hooding, hours of standing, extremes of hot and cold, and manipulation of timeconstitute an all-out assault on the victim's senses, destroying the basis of personal identity. McCoy follows the years of researchwhich, he reveals, compromised universities and the U.S. Armyand the method's dissemination, from Vietnam through Iran to Central America. He traces how after 9/11 torture became Washingtons 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, A Question of Torture is a indictment of inhumane practices that have spread throughout the intelligence system, damaging American's laws, military, and international standing.

"An indispensable and riveting account of how monstrous CIA-funded experiments on psychiatric patients and prisoners in the 1950s turned into a template for what he calls 'no-touch torture.'"Naomi Klein, The Nation

 
"From the start of the Cold War to the early nineteen-sixties, the C.I.A. spent billions of dollars developing psychological tools for interrogation. The agency cast a wide net, funding a Canadian study that involved administering electric shocks to subjects in drug-induced comas, and recruiting people like Kurt Plotner, a Nazi scientist who, in his search for a truth serum, had tested mescaline on Jewish prisoners at Dachau. The eventual conclusion was that cheap, simple methods (for example, enforced standing) worked best, and were also more acceptable to the public than outright physical violence. McCoy skillfully traces the use of these methods from the Phoenix program in Vietnamwhich was designed to ferret out high-level Vietcong, although of the more than twenty thousand people it killed most were civiliansto the actions of agency-trained secret police in Honduras in the nineteen-eighties, and the treatment of hooded detainees at Abu Ghraib."The New Yorker
 
"McCoy argues persuasively and clearly . . . [and his] writing effectively leads the reader through the presentation, using precise clear examples . . . This is a disquieting read, the kind of reading more Americans should partake of to understand how their country is really working.”Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicle
 
"The history of American torture research is elegantly laid out in Alfred McCoy's book . . . [He] shows how the use of isolation, standing, exposure to hot and cold, light and dark, noise and silence, sleep deprivation, hooding and stress positions creates a total assault on all senses and sensibilities."Jonathan P. Baird, The Concord Monitor
 
"This book is unique . . . in connecting the dots all the way back to early cold war mind-control research, reminding readers that the CIA has been an innovator in modern torture methods. Incorporating simple yet brutally effective techniques of psychological manupulation involving isolation, disorientation, and destruction of personal identity, McCoy argues, the modern CIA interrogation manual is premised on university and army research into the psychology of coercion. As in his earlier work on CIA complicity ni the global heroin trade, McCoy is adept at tracing the inertia of government practice; his research on the effect of torture on the Philippine armed forces likewise shows policy in practice and demonstrates that psychological torture is at least scarring as thumbscrews. Timely and compelling."Brendan Driscoll, Booklist

Book News Annotation:

Bypassing the morality, McCoy (history, U. of Wisconsin-Madison) investigates the policy of torture largely from a pragmatic perspective. Against the background of the question whether at times there might be circumstances so desperate that torture is effective and even justified, he plumbs the hidden history of torture inside the US intelligence community over the past half century. The War on Terror first appears halfway through. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

"An indispensable and riveting account" of the CIA's development and use of torture, from the cold war to Abu Ghraib and beyond (Naomi Klein, The Nation)

In this revelatory account of the CIA's fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert program of interrogation. A Question of Torture investigates the CIA's practice of "sensory deprivation" and "self-inflicted pain," in which techniques including isolation, hooding, hours of standing, and manipulation of time assault the victim's senses and destroy the basis of personal identity. McCoy traces the spread of these practices across the globe, from Vietnam to Iran to Central America, and argues that after 9/11, psychological torture became the weapon of choice in the CIA's global prisons, reinforced by "rendition" of detainees to "torture-friendly" countries. Finally, McCoy shows that information extracted by coercion is worthless, making a strong case for the FBI's legal methods of interrogation.

 
Scrupulously documented and grippingly told, A Question of Torture is a devastating indictment of inhumane practices that have damaged America's laws, military, and international standing.

Synopsis:

In this revelatory account of the CIAUs secret, 50-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy uncovers the deep, disturbing roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Far from aberrations, these abuses are the product of a long-standing covert program of interrogation.

About the Author

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805080414
Subtitle:
CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror
Author:
Mccoy, Alfred W
Author:
McCoy, Alfred
Author:
McCoy, Alfred W.
Publisher:
Holt Paperbacks
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Law Enforcement
Subject:
Military - Intelligence/Espionage
Subject:
Intelligence service
Subject:
Political Freedom & Security - Law Enforcement
Subject:
Modern - 21st Century
Subject:
Political Freedom & Security - Intelligence
Subject:
Government - U.S. Government
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Intelligence service -- United States.
Subject:
Political Freedom
Subject:
Security/Law Enforcement
Subject:
Intelligence & Espionage
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
United States - 21st Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series:
American Empire Project
Publication Date:
20061226
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 bandw illustration; 2 tables
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » Activism and Peace Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Human Rights

A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805080414 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
"An indispensable and riveting account" of the CIA's development and use of torture, from the cold war to Abu Ghraib and beyond (Naomi Klein, The Nation)

In this revelatory account of the CIA's fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert program of interrogation. A Question of Torture investigates the CIA's practice of "sensory deprivation" and "self-inflicted pain," in which techniques including isolation, hooding, hours of standing, and manipulation of time assault the victim's senses and destroy the basis of personal identity. McCoy traces the spread of these practices across the globe, from Vietnam to Iran to Central America, and argues that after 9/11, psychological torture became the weapon of choice in the CIA's global prisons, reinforced by "rendition" of detainees to "torture-friendly" countries. Finally, McCoy shows that information extracted by coercion is worthless, making a strong case for the FBI's legal methods of interrogation.

 
Scrupulously documented and grippingly told, A Question of Torture is a devastating indictment of inhumane practices that have damaged America's laws, military, and international standing.

"Synopsis" by , In this revelatory account of the CIAUs secret, 50-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy uncovers the deep, disturbing roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Far from aberrations, these abuses are the product of a long-standing covert program of interrogation.
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