Tortured Logic: Thumbscrewing International Law
Scoop Link: Torturers used to practice their craft behind a wall of secrecy. Now some U.S. officials are defending torture as a
necessary tool in the “war on terror.”
By Eyal Press
Eyal Press is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, and
When U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld charged in March that Iraq had violated the Geneva Conventions by parading
captured U.S. soldiers on television, the U.S. media were awash with stories about the fine-points of international law.
Article 13 of the Geneva Conventions does in fact state that prisoners “must at all times be protected…against insults
and public curiosity.” But there is something else that the Geneva Conventions prohibit: torture. And on this score,
Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration have been notably less attentive to the letter of the law.
Recent revelations in the media suggest that torture is becoming acceptable in some quarters of the U.S. government,
with terrorism replacing communism as the official rationale. And as during the cold war when U.S. trainers taught
torture techniques, Washington’s tolerance of such practices could have a ripple effect around the world.