Interrogation's Law

50 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2009 Last revised: 6 Oct 2009

Date Written: April 17, 2009


Conventional wisdom states that recent U.S. authorization of coercive interrogation techniques, and the legal decisions that sanctioned them, constitute a dramatic break with the past. This is false. U.S. interrogation policy well prior to 9/11 has allowed a great deal more flexibility than the high-minded legal prohibitions of coercive tactics would suggest: all interrogation methods allegedly authorized since 9/11, with the possible exception of waterboarding, have been authorized before. The conventional wisdom thus elides an intrinsic characteristic of all former and current laws on interrogation: they are vague and contestable, and thus, when context so demands, manipulable.

Suggested Citation

Levi, William Ranney, Interrogation's Law (April 17, 2009). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 118, p. 1434, 2009, Available at SSRN:

William Ranney Levi (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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