A Question of Torture by Alfred McCoy
CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (American Empire Project)

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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.


About Alfred McCoy

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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.
Published April 1, 2007 by Metropolitan Books. 316 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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NPR coverage of A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror by Alfred W. McCoy. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.

May 22 2006 | Read Full Review of A Question of Torture: CIA In...

Daily Kos

When her previous police chief quit last month - the day before the court-appointed monitor reported that OPD was STILL not in compliance - of course the media's frame was that Quan's vacillation and lack of leadership had driven off a popular and effective COP.

Jan 31 2012 | Read Full Review of A Question of Torture: CIA In...

Daily Kos

there are thousands - make that millions - most likely billions of people doing good in this world.

Sep 16 2009 | Read Full Review of A Question of Torture: CIA In...

The Nation

When the cadre blamed the Americans for the deaths of women and children, Russo took a new tack, initiating what he called a “friendly chat” about world politics, the American role in Vietnam, and the civil rights movement in the US .

Jul 24 2015 | Read Full Review of A Question of Torture: CIA In...

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