Review of Lisa Hajjar’s The War in Court: Inside the Long Fight Against Torture

Reviewed by Michael Brier

From its inception, the United States’ War on Terror was shrouded in doublespeak. The Bush administration rebranded torture practices as “enhanced interrogation techniques.”[1] Pursuant to a November 2001 military order issued by President Bush, those whom the United States detained as enemies in the War on Terror were classified as “unlawful enemy combatants”[2] rather than prisoners of war. Whereas prisoners of war are guaranteed basic rights and protections by the Geneva Conventions, the newly invented unlawful enemy combatants would be guaranteed none. In May 2003, six weeks after the U.S. Army invaded Iraq, Bush delivered his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, celebrating victory in Iraq. After that six-week conflict gave way to a protracted, eight-year-long war, Bush admitted that the Mission Accomplished speech “sent the wrong message.”[3] Even the term “War on Terror” is misleading, at best. Though absurd, these euphemisms, misrepresentations, and public relations stunts masked a disturbing reality: an eight-year period during which the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency detained and tortured thousands of people without any due process.[4]

[1].      P. 149.       

[2].      P. 8.       

[3].      Aliyah Frumin, 10 Years Later: Mission Accomplished?, NBC News (Mar. 1, 2013, 3:20 PM),‌/id‌/wbna51736273 [‌/V4TY-NWZT].  

[4].      P. xix.