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

McCoy, Alfred
Publisher:  Metropolitan Books, Henry Colt & Co.,, New York
Year Published:  2006
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX11741

Chronicles the US government's use of terror as a political instrument

A Question of Terror chronicles the US government's use of terror as a political instrument from the Cold War to 9/11. This history begins with the US learning from the Soviet show trials in the 1930's that psychological torture and other means of interrogation were successful. Dating from Truman in 1947 the CIA used unethical methods such as sensory deprivation and the use hallucinogens against unknowing or unwilling hospital patients. By 1963 these techniques plus the use of physical brutality became standard operating procedures. During the Vietnam War tens of thousands of Vietnamese were tortured then killed. The British used the same techniques in Northern Ireland against the IRA. The CIA also furnished Latin American and African pro-American dictatorships with the means to conduct torture against their own citizens. Although these techniques of torture are outlawed under International law, United Nations and the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice after 9/11 the use of torture became public policy under Bush. Liberals remained silent on the issue as Conservatives promoted it. McCoy questions the supposed efficacy of torture since there is only unspecified intelligence reports on its success. He ends with a commentary on how the use of torture can lead to years of mental health disorders and the very act of torturing leads to the dulling of sensibilities and the creation of sadists.

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