Enhanced interrogation under George W. Bush
April 19, 2014 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend neutral documentation of "enhanced interrogation" / "torture" under the Bush presidency, the changes during the War on Terror?

I'm looking for a news magazine style article that calmly explains America's changes in policy about prisoner interrogation in the post-9/11 era. Something that documents what new techniques were used, the reasons for those techniques, and what executive orders, DoJ memos, etc justified those. This topic is hugely politicized (I have strong opinions myself) but I'm looking for something detached from that which just documents undisputed facts of Bush-era interrogation policies. E.g: a summary of John Yoo's memos and the role they played, not a screed indicting him. I realize the story is changing rapidly, particularly given the completion of the Senate Intelligence Committee report, but would prefer something with a bit of historical perspective over something up-to-the-minute.
posted by Nelson to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
the senate intelligence committee report will be the gold standard of what you're looking for, depending on how much of it we plebeians will be allowed to read. i suspect that unpleasant facts are about to emerge.
posted by bruce at 8:20 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with Bruce, especially as you want neutral stances.
If you google site:billmoyers.com with "enhanced interrogation" you will find stuff going back to the memos you mention. I find Moyers thoughtful and respectful of opinions that he does not hold but a lot of people disagree with me.
If you google pbs.org with "interrogation", you will get lots of interesting hits as well but once more, right-wingers question that organization's political leanings.
posted by PickeringPete at 8:35 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can compare the recent Army Field Manuals on Interrogation, which changed in 2006.
posted by rhizome at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2014

You want Jane Mayer's The Dark Side. You might also check out Mark Danner's writing on the New York Review of Books; a number of his essays were gathered into Torture and Truth, but he's continued writing about the issue since that came out.
posted by asterix at 11:34 AM on April 19, 2014

I disagree with Pickering Pete -- Bill Moyers is hardly neutral. I mean, I hate the Bush administration as much as anyone, but Moyers is about as partisan as you can get. Interesting reportage, and standing up for the little guy for sure, but not at all neutral in the sense that I believe you are looking for.
posted by intermod at 9:28 PM on April 19, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. I know at the time it was happening various newspapers wrote good detailed stories on the DoJ memos and the public debate on waterboarding and the rumors about how we learned various things from captives. Was hoping someone had collected that in a retrospective, but maybe no one has yet. Hopefully there will be some thoughtful journalism after the inevitable leak of the Senate report.

I emlinkened some of the suggestions above:
posted by Nelson at 7:23 AM on April 20, 2014

The problem is defining what is neutral or, more importantly, what is perceived as being neutral. If you are using that as your primary search driver, then you probably need to look at legal sources. For example, here is a link to a legal debate on torture that cites the

If you are more interested in something of the times that pulled everything together, Frontline (under pbs.org as I suggested above) did a good job. TheAtlantic.com and Harper's.org also had articles but I think those would be considered liberal sources.

Since I touched a nerve mentioning Bill Moyers, I will say that his interview with Kevin Phillips, at one point a Republican strategist, and his interview with Richard Viguerie, a Conservative, led me in both cases to buy their books to further explore their ideas. However, if you are intending to cite sources that absolutely everyone considers neutral, you will have a challenge.
posted by PickeringPete at 8:59 AM on April 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks again for the help. I fear I made the question too specific by specifying "neutral sources"; a surprisingly hard thing to come by. FWIW I found this 2009 NYT article useful, it's a fairly direct factual summary of the DoJ's release of the CIA's 2002 memos. Only one aspect of the whole story, but clearly told.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2014

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