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Administration of Torture

Administration of Torture

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Last week, in the wake of an article in The New York Times, about a secret Justice Department memo, endorsing "harsh interrogation techniques," President Bush categorically denied that the United States has tortured, or does torture, prisoners. Since 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union has requested information from the government, about interrogation techniques. Their Freedom of Information Act request yielded hundreds of thousands of documents, some more legible than others. Since then, ACLU lawyers, including Amrit Singh and Jameel Jaffer, have been sifting through transcripts, messages, and memos. Their new book, Administration of Torture, includes a handful of them. Semantics are important in all of this. What constitutes "torture"?