Just interrogation.

Author:Waldron, Jeremy
Position:LETTERS - Letter to the editor

Michael Mukasey's review of Paul Lauritzen's The Ethics of Interrogation ("Torture and Terror," August/September) is actively misleading in at least one respect. In the course of correcting what he calls "factual errors" in the book, Mukasey says that in fact "there were no interrogations at Abu Ghraib" and that the abuses that took place there happened "for no purpose related to the gathering of intelligence."

But the 2004 Taguba Report on the Abu Ghraib abuses found "that contrary to the provision of AR 190-8, and the findings found in MG Ryder's Report, Military Intelligence (MI) interrogators and Other US Government Agency's (OGA) interrogators actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses" and that this request was part of what led to the abuses by the reservist MP unit at the prison.

It doesn't follow that the interrogators were responsible for the abuse, but the report indicates that the abuse was certainly connected to the conduct of interrogations and that one of the things in the abusers' minds was that the interrogators wanted and approved of some abuse. I don't know whether Mukasey intended to mislead your readers, but he should certainly apologize to the author of the book under review for accusing him of factual error.

Jeremy Waldron


The seal of the Department of Justice consists of an eagle hovering over the red, white, and blue shield of the United States. In one set of talons there is an olive branch; in the other, there are arrows. The motto on the seal reads, roughly, "Who prosecutes on behalf of Lady Justice." The seal of the Justice Department is also that of the Office of the Attorney General, and judging from his review of The Ethics of Interrogation, former attorney general Michael Mukasey takes the motto seriously and believes in the efficacy of the arrows.

One of the foundational commitments motivating The Ethics of Interrogation was that robust debate among professionals is central to democratic practice, and so I welcome Mukasey's highly critical assessment of my book. I am grateful for his willingness to take seriously the work of an outsider to his profession, even if he sharply disagrees with my analysis. There are many points on which we disagree, but there is one worth highlighting, namely, our respective views of the relationship between professional responsibility and the rule of law.


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