How the Gloves Came Off

Lawyers, Policy Makers, and Norms in the Debate on Torture

Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault

Columbia University Press

How the Gloves Came Off

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Pub Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9780231180788

280 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9780231543255

280 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.95

How the Gloves Came Off

Lawyers, Policy Makers, and Norms in the Debate on Torture

Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault

Columbia University Press

The treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, Guantánamo Bay, and far-flung CIA "black sites" after the attacks of 9/11 included cruelty that defied legal and normative prohibitions in U.S. and international law. The antitorture stance of the United States was brushed aside. Since then, the guarantee of American civil liberties and due process for POWs and detainees has grown muddled, threatening the norms that sustain modern democracies. How the Gloves Came Off considers the legal and political arguments that led to this standoff between civility and chaos and their significant consequences for the strategic interests and standing of the United States.

Unpacking the rhetoric surrounding the push for unitary executive action in wartime, How the Gloves Came Off traces the unmaking of the consensus against torture. It implicates U.S. military commanders, high-level government administrators, lawyers, and policy makers from both parties, exposing the ease with which powerful actors manipulated ambiguities to strip detainees of their humanity. By targeting the language and logic that made torture thinkable, this book shows how future decision makers can craft an effective counternarrative and set a new course for U.S. policy toward POWs and detainees. Whether leaders use their influence to reinforce a prohibition of cruelty to prisoners or continue to undermine long-standing international law will determine whether the United States retains a core component of its founding identity.
Arsenault's book provides a much-needed historical context for the torture policy that emerged during the post-9/11 years. It is comprehensive, well researched, and, at the same time, digestible. Karen J. Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security at Fordham Law School
One of the most perplexing and disturbing outcomes of the 9/11 attacks and the rise of global terrorism was America's adoption of torture against captured suspected terrorists—so-called detainees. This outstanding book by Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault lays out—in a reliable, scholarly, and readable manner—how this overreach occurred, how it profoundly violated U.S. norms and devotion to human rights, and what might be done to ensure a more appropriate balance between security and liberty for the United States in the future. For my own teaching and research endeavors, I keep this important volume close at hand. Loch K. Johnson, Regents Professor, University of Georgia
This is a thoughtful and provoking account of how the United States abandoned its own—and the world's—legal and normative prohibitions against the use of torture. At its core are a compelling story about how once-cherished legal norms can unravel and the poignant observation that there is no single culprit but rather a system of actors—including top policy makers, their lawyers, and interrogators—aided by shifting public attitudes and cultural norms. Emilie Hafner-Burton, University of California, San Diego
I recommend that you read this book. It will provoke thoughts within you, but it will also provide you a broader
and deeper insight into human nature, regardless of where you lie on the line between assuring national
security and upholding agreed-upon legal norms against torture. Sonu Chandiram, Biz India
This is a ell-written, superbly researched work that should find its way onto the bookshelves of every person interested in how the US government journeyed into the abyss of torture during the global war on terrorism. J. R. Hedtke, Cabrini College, Choice
Acknowledgments
Part I. Background
1. Introduction
2. History of POW Treatment in the United States: From the Revolutionary War to the Korean War
3. Modern POW Treatment in the United States: The Vietnam War, the Geneva Conventions, and the Pre-9/11 Era
Part II. Evolution of Norms Around POW Treatment
4. POW Treatment and Lawyers
5. POW Treatment and Policy Makers
6. POW Treatment and Interrogators
Part III. Conclusion
7. Implications and Recommendations
Appendix A: Who's Who
Appendix B: Timeline of Major Events
Appendix C: Acronyms
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault is a visiting assistant professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She has worked in the defense and security sectors of the U.S. government and is the recipient of Georgetown's Dorothy Brown Award for excellence in teaching and the School of Foreign Service Faculty of the Year Award.