Mark Danner. Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror. New York: New York Review Books, 2004. Paperback, 580 pp.
Empires are not the creation of ruthless politicians alone. For their existence also apathetic citizens are needed. In 2004, this was graphically illustrated in the outrageous human rights abuses by US military personnel on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. When these abuses were brought to light, government officials, the media, and private citizens evinced a callous indifference. The military had done wrong, but all too few were willing to stand up for those prisoners of war whose rights, under the Geneva Convention of 1949, had been trampled on.
Danner is an award-winning staff writer of The New Yorker and the author of several books, including The Road to Illegitimacy. In the present volume, he courageously tackles this unpalatable but crucial topic, which should have all citizens of the United States’ professed democracy shaking in their boots. The decisive question is whether the brutalities committed at Abu Ghraib prison were sanctioned by the US government in its almost religious but entirely Quixotic zeal to stamp out terrorism.
The core of the book is made up of Danner’s series of three articles published in The New York Review of Books shortly after the horrific affair was made public. This is supported by two more articles that provide a context for the US military’s imperialist excesses, including the author’s 2003 reporting of the war in Iraq itself. The bulk of the book, however, consists of documentation, which extends from p. 77 to the last page of the present volume. These materials include damning top-secret documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, governmental memos, and reports, as well as photographs.
America , quo vadis?
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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