How the U.S. Became a Nation that Tortures its Prisoners
The best thing I’ve seen written lately about Abu Ghraib is
of Torture by Mark Danner in The New York Review
of Books. Danner does a good job of summarizing what we know about the
treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo,
etc. and how this
relates both to changing government policy and to the science of coercive
interrogation and torture as it was developed by the
The current U.S.
government, Danner says, “made a series of decisions about methods of warfare
and interrogation… [that] transform[ed] the United States from a nation that
did not torture to one that did. And the decisions were not, at least in their
broad outlines, kept secret. They were known to officials of the other
branches of the government, and to the public.”
billion, compiled by the White House Office of Management and Budget, is
the administration’s most comprehensive tally of the war’s financial costs.
Of the total, $97.2 billion has been for military operations, $21.2 billion
for rebuilding Iraq’s economy and government, and $1 billion for
administrative expenses there…
By the time the final Iraq figure for is
in, American spending there could easily exceed $160 billion for
. That would nearly double
the combined costs, in today’s dollars, of the Revolutionary War, the War of
1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
In comparison, there was an article in the Economist
about a gathering of economists, including multiple Nobel prize winners, to
try to advise the world on where its money would be best spent when it comes
to improving lives. They looked at policies designed to amelioriate problems
with disease, sanitation, malnutrition, trade policy, climate change, and
government and ranked these various policies as to which had the best bang for
the buck. Number one on their list was a set of policies designed to prevent
Yup. For less than a quarter of what we’ve spent on the invasion and
occupation of Iraq (population 25 million), we could prevent thirty
million new cases of AIDS. But I’m
sure you wouldn’t rather have Saddam back in charge.
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