Americans debate torture
Some of us on the eastern side of the great ditch have been bemused by what appears to be a certain ambiguity in American attitudes to torture. Waterboarding and other ‘harsh’ interrogation techniques had their defenders during the GW Bush administration and it was some time into that dismal period before the use of torture in the context of the so-called ‘war on terror’
became a live issue, or so it seemed from here.
The article’s special interest lies in the fact that Professor Danner has somehow managed to get hold of a copy of a secret report on torture by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which almost always insists on the strict confidentiality of its reports — for the obvious reason that governments are unlikely to agree to allow Red Cross access to prisons and detention centres if there’s any danger that their resulting reports are going to be made public. In an equally fascinating interview and Q&A session on C-Span (also available on the Web) Mark Danner understandably declines to say how he obtained this Red Cross document, on which much of his NYR article is based.
The New York Review of Books biography of Mark Danner says that he is a —
longtime staff writer at The New Yorker and contributor to The New York Review of Books, [and] the author of three books: The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War; The Road to Illegitimacy: One Reporter’s Travels Through the 2000 Florida Recount; and Torture and Truth. Danner’s work has been honored with many awards, including a National Magazine Award, three Overseas Press Awards, and an Emmy. In June 1999, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. He is Professor of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College. He divides his time between Berkeley and New York. His work is archived at http://www.markdanner.com/.
He deserves a medal.