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December 26, 2005 Issue

Cover art by: Cover by Steven Brower and Janna Brower after Ben Shahn, icons by Steven and Janna Brower


  • Features

    Hypocrisy Trumps Clemency

    The refusal of the California governor, who built his fame feeding adolescent fantasies of killing, to grant clemency to a former gang leader who tried to dissuade kids from violence only adds to the widening discomfort over the death penalty in America.

    Bruce Shapiro

  • Two Prisoners Named Williams

    The lives and deaths of two prisoners intersected this week--Stanley Tookie Williams and Richard Williams, flawed men whose political perspectives and pursuit of personal redemption were inspired by a radical social consciousness.

    Dan Berger

  • Pro-Alito Buzz Cloaks a Draconian Agenda

    Advocates of Samuel A. Alito's nomination to the US Supreme Court praise him for "judicial restraint" and "not legislating from the bench." But the buzzwords conceal a political agenda that would scuttle precedent, strike down hard-won legislation and render other laws toothless.

    Seth Rosenthal

  • Limbo to Close: Mass Evictions Expected

    The Vatican is about to close limbo, the theological netherworld where unbaptized babies, prophets and philosophers were believed to reside in lieu of heaven. This is causing a whole new set of problems.

    Nicholas von Hoffman

  • Remembering Eugene McCarthy

    Eugene McCarthy's political life was full of contradictions: A conventional cold war liberal and fierce anti-Communist, in the Vietnam era, he was transformed into the standard-bearer of the liberal antiwar movement, a true hero.

    Jon Wiener

  • Amid Hostage Vigils, Peace Work Endures

    The remaining members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad say their work will go on regardless of what happens to their four colleagues still held hostage. CPT workers were among the first to expose abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and continue to document the excesses of the US occupation.

    David Enders

  • Jonathan Kozol: Listen to the Children

    Jonathan Kozol, honored with the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, has spent his professional life actively listening to children and passionately advocating for the education they deserve.

    Emily Lodish

  • Pilgrimage to Guantánamo

    Twenty-five members of the Catholic Worker movement are walking across Cuba to the US Naval prison at Guantánamo Bay in hopes of meeting with more than 500 detainees, the first time peace activists have brought their protests to the tropical gulag. If they are turned away, the pilgrims plan on conducting a vigil outside.

    Dan Bell

  • Wrongly Held, Never Tried, Fighting Back

    The Tipton Three embody a nightmare scenario of the "war on terror": Young British men visiting Pakistan for a wedding wound up accused of terrorism in Afghanistan, imprisoned and tortured at Guantánamo Bay, then released with no charges. Now they're telling their story in the docu-drama, The Road to Guantánamo.

    Sarah Goldstein

  • Harold Pinter: Art, Truth and Politics

    The pursuit of truth in drama is elusive, but in life it is mandatory, wrote Harold Pinter, who died Wednesday at 78. When he won the 2005 Nobel Prize for literature, he condemned the United States for its actions in Iraq and and called on its citizens to reject the manipulation of political language.

    The Nation

  • Torture Tree

    As The Nation's editors have written in the lead editorial of this special edition on torture, there is no longer any point in

    Steve Brodner and Peter Ahlberg

  • Bitter Memories of a ‘Dirty War’

    The current debate in the United States over the use of torture in the interrogation of terror suspects has prompted Patricia Isasa, a teenage torture victim in Argentina's "dirty war," to speak out against the School of the Americas, a longtime training ground for torture techniques.

    Michael Fox

  • The Torture Tree

    The Nation

  • An Army of Lawyers

    Human rights organizations have coordinated an investigation into torture and an extensive defense of detainees, organizing lawyers who represent clients from nonprofits to oil and gas companies. But the issue of torture needs to transcend the legal world.

    Lisa Hajjar

  • Secrets and Lies

    By the time the first prisoners were taken in Iraq, a green light to abuse had been issued in writing. Now torture is cloaked in a veil of secrecy, with obscured statistics, dismissal of human rights reports and outright denial. Torture has proved to be a window into the Bush Administration's pursuit of the war on terror.

    Karen J. Greenberg

  • Pop Torture

    Pop culture does more than validate the claim that torture could help foil bombs seconds before detonation.

    Richard Kim

  • Rogue Scholars

    Defenders of torture dwell not only in the White House and Pentagon, but in the halls of academia. When prominent law professors and academics cite the fantastic "ticking-bomb theory," they not only spread misinformation and foster a perpetual state of fear, but they use their credentials to legitimize a culture of torture.

    Tara McKelvey

  • Disco Inferno

    Military detainees have been subjected to starvation, sleep deprivation and now Metallica and Britney Spears. Blasted at high volume, torture music has become a weapon of war, used to destroy the minds of Muslim detainees. It's time for musicians to speak up.

    Moustafa Bayoumi

  • The Silence of the Doctors

    The overlooked players in the torture scandal are the medical personnel who supervise--and often participate in--acts of torture. Military medical professionals have reportedly tailored torture sessions to the personalities of detainees, at a time when their professional conscience should have told them to take an ethical stand. Though they're not the usual suspects, they should be investigated as well.

    Jonathan H. Marks

  • Seeds of Abu Ghraib

    Americans wondered how Army Specialist Charles Graner could torture detainees in the gruesome Abu Ghraib scandal. In war, people do things that would otherwise be unthinkable. But this former corrections officer with a record of spousal abuse has always been at war.

    Sasha Abramsky

  • Brass Tacks

    "Do what has to be done" is the motto of the investigative arm of the US military. But when the understaffed institution regularly loses evidence and delays autopsies, it does too little. When it attempts to protect evidence by detaining witnesses, it does too much. A look at the inherently flawed investigations of detainees.

    Tara McKelvey

  • The Torture Administration

    Despite what we know of history, it comes as a shock to discover that American leaders would open the way for torture of prisoners, that the President would fight legislation prohibiting inhumane treatment, and that Congress would barely react. A moment of historical reckoning has come: It is time to establish an independent commission with a special prosecutor and bring executors of abuse to justice.

    Anthony Lewis

    • Editorials

      Minority/Majority

      The Democratic Leadership Council purports to speak for Democrats, yet still employs former Christian Coalition official Marshall Wittmann to parrot dishonest right-wing talking points about the war. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi joins Representative Jack Murtha to demand withdrawal from Iraq.

      David Sirota

    • In Fact…

      UTNE'S ANNUAL

      the Editors

    • Human Rights at Work

      Labor issues involve not only economic rights, but also human rights, in the US, but especially in nations around the world where the right of free speech and assembly is not a given.

      David Moberg

    • Beyond Braceros

      In a misguided GOP reform effort, Congress is ready to pass measures that would militarize border controls, violate workers' rights and give corporations a new bracero program. Immigrant rights groups, unions, civil rights organizations and working families push for something better.

      David Bacon

    • Conspiracy to Torture

      No nation is immune from the insidious downward spiral signified by torture. In this special issue, The Nation confronts the sweeping moral seriousness what the torture conspiracy will do to America and its democratic institutions. The facts are known: Now it's time to hold the conspirators accountable.

      the Editors

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    • Columns

      Human Rights, Rendered Meaningless

      The outsourcing of torture to other countries is a devilishly clever legalistic fiction that allows the Bush Administration to systematically violate basic human rights of terror suspects while claiming it does not condone or practice torture.

      Robert Scheer

    • ‘Never Before!’ Our Amnesiac Torture Debate

      Does it lessen the horror to admit that this is not the first time the US government has used torture to wipe out political opponents? The exclusion of the impact of the School of the Americas on war crimes in El Salvador, Argentina and Panama from our current debate on torture is evidence of our collective amnesia.

      Naomi Klein

    • All the News That’s Fit to Buy

      Bush brings a robust simplicity to the business of news management: Where possible, buy journalists to turn out favorable stories. And if you think you can get away with it, shoot them or blow them up.

      Alexander Cockburn

    • A Transcript

      9/11 Commission calling, with questions on accountability. But from the White House side of the line come on answers, only talking points.

      Calvin Trillin

    • Books and the Arts

      Remembering Eugene McCarthy

      Eugene McCarthy's political life was full of contradictions: A conventional cold war liberal and fierce anti-Communist, in the Vietnam era, he was transformed into the standard-bearer of the liberal antiwar movement, a true hero.

      Jon Wiener

    • Harold Pinter: Art, Truth and Politics

      The pursuit of truth in drama is elusive, but in life it is mandatory, wrote Harold Pinter, who died Wednesday at 78. When he won the 2005 Nobel Prize for literature, he condemned the United States for its actions in Iraq and and called on its citizens to reject the manipulation of political language.

      The Nation

    • Imitation of Art

      The Chronicles of Narnia is the perfect combination of Christian allegory and The Lord of the Rings, a well-crafted commodity and nothing more. The Ice Harvest, an anti-Christmas film noir, has an unexpected depth of feeling. Memoirs of a Geisha is all prestige and promotions.

      Stuart Klawans

    • The Look of Truth

      Photographs are supposed to be unbiased recognitions of reality, but they're really self-portraits of the photographer. The Ongoing Movement, a blend of biography and analysis, examines what happens when photographers create deliberately untruthful pictures.

      Peter Plagens

    • Octoberfest

      Four editors of October magazine trace the history of contemporary art. Though Art Since 1900 seeks to be comprehensive, its writers leave out entire movements and impose moralistic judgments on the artists and art they profile.

      Barry Schwabsky

    • Pop Torture

      Pop culture does more than validate the claim that torture could help foil bombs seconds before detonation.

      Richard Kim

    • Rogue Scholars

      Defenders of torture dwell not only in the White House and Pentagon, but in the halls of academia. When prominent law professors and academics cite the fantastic "ticking-bomb theory," they not only spread misinformation and foster a perpetual state of fear, but they use their credentials to legitimize a culture of torture.

      Tara McKelvey

    • Disco Inferno

      Military detainees have been subjected to starvation, sleep deprivation and now Metallica and Britney Spears. Blasted at high volume, torture music has become a weapon of war, used to destroy the minds of Muslim detainees. It's time for musicians to speak up.

      Moustafa Bayoumi

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