Alfred McCoy on the Secret History of US Torture

Astute students of contemporary political history will recognize Alfred McCoy as the author of one of the most important works of the last 50 years, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, a book that for the first time (well, except for Allen Ginsberg’s work on the subject) laid bare in copious, empirical detail and beyond refute that the CIA has a long history of being in active cahoots with drug dealers. Ain’t read it? Shame on you. Required reading (preferrably the second edition), even if it is rather hefty.

McCoy’s latest book, just out and another must-read, is titled A Question of Torture (Henry Holt & Co., 2006), which I happen to have just started and, even this early on, very highly recommend. As we have come to expect of Prof. McCoy, it is scrupulously documented and deeply disturbing. Currently I’m only on chapter 2, but already I’m impressed with his conscision and perspicacity. He — quite rightly — begins with the CIA’s early mind control and interrogation experiments (BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MK-ULTRA, MK-DELTA, MK-NAOMI, and others) and works from there to trace the profoundly disturbing but vitally important suppressed history of our government’s decades-long dance with the Dark Side viz. torture.

Most importantly, per our current situation as citizens of an ostensible democratic republic, McCoy makes it crystal clear from the get-go (again with that assiduous documentation) that seemingly innoccuous Gitmo ploys like hooding “detainees” and such have their basis in what are actually truly horriffic psychological torture techniques with genesis in criminal programs like MK-ULTRA.

The point? Well, aside from “you mustrun out right now and get the damn book already”, you should also take the time to read this typically excellent interview with McCoy on Democracy Now!

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