Getting Away with Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes, and the Rule of Law (Hardcover)

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That American forces should torture prisoners in their “war” on terror is disturbing, but more shocking still is that the highest officials of the Bush-Cheney administration planned, authorized, encouraged, and concealed these war crimes. When the Supreme Court ruled that the officials were bound by the Geneva Conventions, a Republican Congress responded by granting amnesty to all responsible, from lowly interrogators to the president, while conservative judges erected a wall of secrecy to protect them even from civil liability. Meanwhile, timid Democrats have shown little stomach for repealing the amnesty law and bringing those responsible to justice.

Many Americans, including those who endorsed torture to find “ticking bombs” that never were, are now embarrassed by credible reports of CIA kidnappings for purposes of torture, secret prisons into which prisoners have disappeared without a trace, and rigged tribunals to convict al Qaeda’s criminals on evidence obtained by torture. But the problem is not just embarrassment; it is the widespread acceptance of unaccountable, secret government that now threatens to destroy the very foundations of constitutional government. The moral standing of the United States will not be restored, Christopher Pyle argues, until a concerted effort is made to bring our secret government under the rule of law.

About the Author


In 1970, Christopher Pyle disclosed the military’s surveillance of civilian politics in a pair of award-winning articles. As a former captain in Army intelligence, he also recruited 125 former agents to tell what they knew about that spying to Congress, the courts, and the press. Those disclosures ended the Army’s domestic spying and began a series of investigations into the misuse of intelligence agencies that historians now refer to as the Watergate era. Pyle worked on those investigations a consultant to Senator Sam J. Ervin’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights and Senator Frank Church’s Select Committee on Intelligence. Since 1976, he has taught constitutional law and civil liberties at Mount Holyoke College and written extensively on freedom of expression, equal protection of the laws, and rights of privacy. Pyle is the author of four books, the most recent, Extradition, Politics, and Human Rights, analyzes how the United States went from being a nation of asylum for foreign revolutionaries in the nineteenth century to become the long arm of foreign injustice in the twentieth. He lives in South Hadley, MA.

Praise For…


“This riveting book by one of the unsung heroes of the Watergate era shows that it is not enough to prosecute the war criminals; we must undo the elected monarchy that short-sighted Democrats and Republicans have constructed, revive checks and balances, and restore the rule of law.”—Nadine Strossen, professor of law, New York Law School, and former president, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008)

— Nadine Strossen

Getting Away with Torture is a timely tour de force. Pyle’s thought-provoking analysis of President George W. Bush's ‘war on international terrorism’ is as enlightening as it is disturbing. A must-read.”—David M. O'Brien, Leone Reaves and George W. Spicer Professor, Department of Politics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

— David M. O'Brien

“An exceptional study of the very deliberate steps taken after 9/11 toward unconstitutional government, a series of grave misjudgments by executive officials, Congress, the courts, and the general public. Christopher Pyle is to be commended for an unflinching condemnation of public policy that has left America weaker politically, economically, morally, and legally.”—Louis Fisher, author of The Constitution and 9/11: Recurring Threats to America's Freedoms

— Louis Fisher

“Christopher Pyle has written a deeply documented and riveting exposure of the systemic torture policy that has discredited us among our allies and--as shown in a recent bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report--has served the terrorists as a very useful recruiting tool. Getting Away with Torture is a permanent contribution to restoring our Constitution and our moral credibility in the world.”—Nat Hentoff, syndicated columnist, United Media Syndicate; senior fellow, CATO Institute; author of The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance and Living the Bill of Rights

— Nat Hentoff

“A study of the steps taken by the Bush Administration after 9/11 to wage its war on terrorism. The result of those steps, [the author] writes, was that the U.S. became a country that is ‘no longer a constitutional government under law.’ This is an unsettling book -- not to mention the disturbing photos of prisoner abuse and the self-satisfied visages of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al that are contained within. Nor does he take the easy out of concluding that, with the election of Barack Obama, we have turned the page.”—Amherst [MA] Bulletin

— Amherst [MA] Bulletin

“A welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the subject. . . . As can be expected from an author of such distinction, Getting Away with Torture is an exceptionally well-sourced book. [The author] follows the paper trail of torture memos leading to abuses at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in meticulous detail. . . . Curbing government secrecy will be a long, often frustrating battle. . . . These depressing trends make it imperative that Pyle’s book is read as widely as possible."—Z Magazine

— Z Magazine
Product Details
ISBN: 9781597973878
ISBN-10: 1597973874
Publisher: Potomac Books
Publication Date: June 2009
Pages: 370
Language: English