Friday, June 08, 2007

Pg. 69: Tara McKelvey's "Monstering"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Tara McKelvey's Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War.

About the book:
In April 2004, the Abu Ghraib photographs set off an international scandal. Yet until now, the full story has never been told. Tara McKelvey — the first U.S.journalist to speak with female prisoners from Abu Ghraib — traveled to the Middle East and across the United States to seek out victims and perpetrators. McKelvey tells how soldiers, acting in an atmosphere that encouraged abuse and sadism, were unleashed on a prison population of which the vast majority, according to army documents, were innocent civilians.

Drawing upon critical sources, she discloses a series of explosive revelations: An exclusive jailhouse interview with Lynndie England connects the Abu Ghraib pictures to lewd vacation photos taken by England's boyfriend Charles Graner; formerly undisclosed videotapes show soldiers "Robotripping" on cocktails of over-the-counter drugs while pretending to stab detainees; new material sheds light on accusations against an American suspected of raping an Iraqi child; and first-hand accounts suggest the use of high-voltage devises, sexual humiliation and pharmaceutical drugs on Iraqi prisoners. She also provides an inside look at Justice Department theories of presidential power to show how the many abuses were licensed by the government.

Among the praise for Monstering:
Tara McKelvey is an extraordinarily gifted writer and Monstering is an extraordinary book. While much of the focus on torture has been limited to a few celebrated cases, McKelvey shows that the technique was both widespread and accepted throughout occupied Iraq. In Monstering, she brings the reader not just to Abu Ghraib, but to the Black Room, a torture chamber run by a special CIA and military task force. In the end, the most troubling revelation in the book is not that there are monsters, but that they look like you and me.
--James Bamford, bestselling author of The Puzzle Palace and A Pretext for War

The tale of the Iraq war and the so-called war on terrorism is riddled with nightmarish accounts of torture and abuse. But for all the attention devoted to these matters in recent years, the full story has not come out. Monstering, though, takes the reader into this hellish and secret world and advances the story, disclosing new revelations of U.S. power gone wrong and detailing how the Bush administration destroyed America's image across the globe. McKelvey has produced a frightening, disturbing and valuable book.
--David Corn, bestselling author (with Michael Isikoff) of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War

Some say it is the Devil who resides in the details; some say it is God who is found there. With Monstering, McKelvey reminds us that sometimes—usually—both exist in the same room, the same body, the same mind. McKelvey has gone deeper into what it means to be an American in our post 9/11 world than most of us can fully contain in our heads, and she has emerged with an amazingly lucid act of reportage.
Monstering is not simply about the handful of soldiers depicted in the Abu Ghraib photographs, and it is not even simply about the still-hidden chain of command, those at the top, who led us into this hell. With painstaking detail and unflinching humanity, McKelvey reveals that the current crisis is about all of us, a hell of our own making.
--Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

From “How could it have happened?” to “How could it not have happened?” McKelvey’s investigation into the stories of individuals who perpetrated, witnessed and suffered from US detention policy in Iraq is a careful expose -- must-reading for all those who seek to understand more fully the unfortunate, sordid side of the war on terror.
--Karen J. Greenberg, co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib

The story of the infamous Abu Ghraib photograph has been told again and again. But curiously, very few journalists have ventured beyond the accepted story and attempted to uncover new material, new evidence and to provide a new perspective. McKelvey has done so. Her reporting breaks new and important ground -- from interviews with ex-prisoners from Abu Ghraib, through the comic-book farce of the false identification of the Hooded-Man, to the spectacle of American servicemen left high and dry in an under-financed, ill-prepared war. More importantly, her new book has provided an account that embraces the scope of the human tragedy and reminds us of the human cost of war.
--Errol Morris, Academy-Award-winning filmmaker, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara
Tara McKelvey is a senior editor at The American Prospect and a research fellow at New York University School of Law's Center on Law and Security.

The Page 69 Test: Monstering.

--Marshal Zeringue