The United States government has explicitly endorsed techniques long recognized internationally to be forms of torture. Marjorie Cohn’s remarkable multidisciplinary anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse, is an eye-opening examination of U.S.-sponsored torture from the Cold War era to the Obama administration.


When I was a child in Reagan’s America, a common theme in Cold War rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions through cruel violence, and did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the Communist state. As much as any other evil, torture differentiated the bad guys, the Commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the U.S. system might be, it had civilized standards that the enemy rejected.

Anthony Gregory is a former Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of American Surveillance.
Civil Liberties and Human RightsCrime, Criminal Justice, and PrisonsDefense and Foreign PolicyLaw and LibertyTerrorism and Homeland Security
Other Independent Review articles by Anthony Gregory
Fall 2014 Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces
Summer 2011 “The Tissue of Structure”: Habeas Corpus and the Great Writ’s Paradox of Power and Liberty
Summer 2011 The Struggle to Limit Government