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The Torture Papers
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Book description

The Torture Papers document the so-called 'torture memos' and reports which US government officials wrote to prepare the way for, and to document, coercive interrogation and torture in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib. These documents present for the first time a compilation of materials that prior to publication have existed only piecemeal in the public domain. The Bush Administration, concerned about the legality of harsh interrogation techniques, understood the need to establish a legally viable argument to justify such procedures. The memos and reports document the systematic attempt of the US Government to prepare the way for torture techniques and coercive interrogation practices, forbidden under international law, with the express intent of evading legal punishment in the aftermath of any discovery of these practices and policies.


‘The Torture Papers may well be the most important and damning set of documents exposing U.S. government lawlessness ever published. Each page tells the story of U.S. leaders consciously willing to ignore the fundamental protections that guarantee all of us our humanity. I fear for our future. Read these pages and weep for our country, the rule of law and victims of torture everywhere.’

Michael Ratner - President of the Center for Constitutional Rights

‘With this superb collection of documents, we can begin to see the contours of our new post 9-11 world: from the reinterpretation of laws and treaties that once seemed immutable, to the pressure on soldiers and CIA officers in the field to set aside old rules in the hunt for useable intelligence. The papers speak for themselves and readers can decide whether the trade offs are worth it or not.’

Source: Dana Priest, National Security Reporter, The Washington Post

‘Not since the Pentagon Papers have we seen such an important set of classified documents as the memoranda, reports and orders on detention and interrogation that began emerging into public view in the United States. Cambridge University press is serving an important need in providing these papers in one authoritative and well-organised collection.’

Mary Ellen O'Connell - William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law and Fellow of the Mershon Center for International Security, The Ohio State University

‘This is a commendable, timely, and useful collection of key documents. the material goes far in helping us to understand the logic and advice that led to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. From awful advice spring awful events.’

Phillippe Sands QC is a practising barrister in the Matrix Chambers and a professor of international law at University College London

‘The Torture Papers … provides a damning paper trail … the minutely detailed chronological narrative embodied in this volume … possesses an awful and powerful cumulative weight … the book is necessary, if grueling, reading for anyone interested in understanding the back story to those terrible photos from Saddam Hussein’s former prison, and abuses at other American detention facilities.’

Source: The New York Times

‘… the collection does offer much food for thought, even to the sceptically-minded, and both the editors and CUP deserve praise for bringing it out with such due despatch.‘

Source: Journal of the Commonwealth Lawyer's Association

'The Torture Papers is an important publication by Cambridge University Press. It will be an essential reference source for libraries.'

Source: Public Administration today

' … most of the legal opinions and policy papers drawn up in the respective departments of the US administration … are systematically and chronologically reproduced … The editors Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel have done excellent work by bringing these revealing memoranda and reports together in a systematic manner … The Torture Papers will continue to serve as a double-faced testimony. They show that The Road to Abu Ghraib is a dramatic aberration. The papers also show that the critical role of the media, human rights organizations and professional associations of lawyers and judges is crucial for upholding the rule of law.'

Source: Netherlands International Law Review

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