The Torture and Prisoner Abuse Debate

The Torture and Prisoner Abuse Debate

The Torture and Prisoner Abuse Debate

The Torture and Prisoner Abuse Debate


Revelations about U.S. torture and prisoner abuse in blatant violation of the long-established and universally recognized Geneva Conventions have horrified most Americans. Nevertheless, it has been argued that the high stakes of the War on Terror have made the protections offered by the Conventions obsolete, or that the abuses are the work of a few rogue soldiers and officers. This book reaches past the headlines into the historical record to document POW torture and also domestic prisoner abuse dating well back in our history as well as government and military knowledge of and collusion in such ostensibly illegal and reprehensible acts. Is torture and prisoner abuse justified in the name of some greater good? As a society we shall have to decide. The historical record presented here can contribute much to an informed national discussion.


Timeline anchoring the discussion in time and place

Bibliography of print and Internet resources guiding further exploration of the subject

Charts and tables analyzing complex data, including survey results


This introduction provides readers with an overview of the current debate about torture. It begins with a description of the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs and outlines the circumstances leading up to their publication. It highlights the Bush administration’s position on abuse allegations from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, various prisons in Afghanistan, and locations in Iraq. It also examines the opposing viewpoint, which holds that the United States has and currently is torturing prisoners and detainees at locations overseas, as well as outsourcing torture to other nations known to do so. in addition, the chapter discusses public support for torture, as well as for the death penalty and harsh interrogations and conditions for prisoners domestically.

The abu ghraib photographs

Abu Ghraib, 20 miles west of Baghdad, was a notoriously brutal Iraqi prison under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. First created in 1959 by an Iraqi ruler, General Abdul Karim Kassem, the prison was intended to be one of the finest and most secure in all the world. When Saddam Hussein’s Arab Baath Socialist Party attempted to assassinate Kassem, the construction dragged to a halt. Hussein was ordered to be executed, but he escaped from prison in 1967 and, in 1968, led a coup that overthrew the Iraqi regime. He then took over the prison project, and the facility opened in 1970. the number of detainees grew over the following two decades, and despite being . . .

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