Monday, February 21, 2011

Law professor says Egypt was a common destination for torture of detainees sent by U.S.

by Marjorie Cohn and Amanda Bronstad, ZNet, Feb 18, 2011

Source: National Law Journal

On Feb. 11, outgoing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, leaving the country’s government under military rule and its hopes for democracy uncertain. Also unclear is whether the country’s history of human rights abuses and torture will continue in Egypt, according to Marjorie Cohn, editor and co-author of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse. The book, published last month, is a collection of essays on torture in various countries, including Egypt.

Cohn, who is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, talked to The National Law Journal about her new book’s relevance in light of the recent events in Egypt. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

NLJ: Why did you decide to publish this book?

MC: I had been researching and writing and speaking about the policy of torture and abuse that came to light during the Bush administration. So I collected a number of people from different disciplines to write chapters that would shed light on different aspects of this problem of torture and the U.S. involvement in it. Unfortunately, people don’t get the full picture from the mass media about what the United States is doing — the policy of cruel treatment set during the Bush administration and the history of U.S. involvement in torture, which goes way back. The CIA wrote a torture manual. The School of the Americas in the United States trained many dictators from Latin America and military leaders in the art of torture, and the CIA pursued a program of research on psychological torture. It didn’t start with the Bush administration. It was a continuation of a long policy in this country of not just engaging in torture ourselves but also supporting, training and financing repressive governments that torture and abuse their people.

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