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American Methods | Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jocelyn Burrell,

Torture and the Logic of Domination

by Kristian Williams

“I’m told that these photographs that are coming out now are nothing more than the same things that came out before, if not identical of the same type of behavior.” —Donald Rumsfeld, 2/16/06

More of the same. So went the offcial Pentagon response after new photos of US soldiers torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison were leaked to Australian media. Like Rumsfeld, many of us seem to be suffering a terrible sense of déjà vu:

  • again, evidence that torture is not aberrant but a standard tool in the US “war on terror”
  • again, the media fixed on the “problem of the photos,” not the reality of open criminality they expose
  • again, the administration scrambling to direct public outrage away from questions of accountability with the false “choice” between protecting American lives and upholding the law—moral standards be damned

One voice in surprising, if sad, agreement with our secretary of defense is Kristian Williams, author of the forthcoming American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination. But what Williams observes in these new photos is “identical of the same type of behavior” we’ve seen along a much longer historical continuum that stretches back to first contact and slavery, persisting today in the routine maintenance of the world’s largest prison system, in the state’s management of political dissent, and in the “unremarkable” structural inequities and violence that shape everyday life in the United States.

For a superb overview of the use of torture in the war on terror, read Seymour Hersh’s Chain of Command and Jennifer K. Harbury’s Truth, Torture, and the American Way. To fully grasp how we got to Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in the first place, reach for American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination.

Available in May 2006 | 0-89608-753-0 | paper | 288 pages | $18


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