CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Leo and Koenig on Coercive Tactics and the War on Terror

Portrait Richard A. Leo  (University of San Francisco - School of Law) and Alexa Koenig  (University of San Francisco) (pictured) have posted Police Interrogation and Coercion in Domestic American History: Lessons for the War on Terror (University of Chicago Press, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This chapter discusses the history of the "third degree" to shed more light on the current torture debate. We note that there are numerous parallels between third degree techniques employed by American domestic interrogators in the early twentieth century and coercive techniques used by American military interrogators more recently. This domestic history of torture suggests important lessons for better understanding the dynamics and consequences of military torture and highlights possible pathways to reform. Abandoning abusive interrogation practices in favor of more professional approaches can strengthen institutional legitimacy, restore faith in our systems of justice, improve morale, and result in more reliable intelligence.

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I was glad to see that one of John T. Parry's articles was at least cited in a footnote (n. 90), for their chapter appears to confirm the bulk of his argument in "Torture Nation, Torture Law" (2009):

"This Article...suggests that torture may be compatible with American values in practice and with the legal system we have constructed to serve those values. Further, the creation of what Luban correctly calls a “torture culture” began well before September 11. Put another way, many fear that the revelations of abuses committed in the war on terror put the United States at risk of becoming a torture nation. This Article explores the ways in which the United States is already a torture nation and suggests that being a torture nation could be as important a part of the U.S. legal and political system as the ban on torture. To guide that exploration, I illustrate some of the ways in which past practice and mainstream legal doctrine provide a solid foundation for the abuses of the war on terror." (references omitted) See:

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Jan 16, 2010 5:07:48 PM

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