Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free

Glen Newey writes:

In the phrase often used by administration insiders, after 9/11 ‘the gloves were off.’ At times the rhetoric suggested that the 2001 attacks had sprung a Carl Schmittian state of exception on the US, with George W. Bush as the unlikely apotheosis of Marshal Hindenburg. Indeed, when he signed the Detainee Treatment Act in 2006, which incorporated an amendment initiated by John McCain outlawing the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of suspects in US government custody, Bush declared that he would interpret the act in a way ‘which will assist in achieving the shared objective . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks’. But on the whole, considerable effort was devoted to making the advice on torture fit the law; or, as Sands suggests, conversely: law was stretched or lopped to fit the Procrustean bed of policy.

(LRB 29 January 2009)

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