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: Suggested Citation