As The Nation’s editors have written in the lead editorial of this special edition on torture, there is no longer any point in arguing whether US policy condones cruel, degrading and torturous treatment of prisoners.
Practices authorized by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a small scale in Afghanistan have now metastasized to a worldwide network of prisons and detention centers and surrogates ranging from private contractors to foreign authoritarian governments. This wide-ranging conspiracy to facilitate torture has depended on the collusion or complacency of many sectors of American society.
The new torture complex cannot be attributed to the few “rotten apples”–the military “grunts” Bush Administration officials attempted to blame in the early days of the scandal. In the illustration, which can be downloaded in pdf format, artists Steve Brodner and Peter Ahlberg have used the metaphor of a tree to create a compelling visual image of the torture complex, rooted in the White House and Pentagon, with branches extending out to the Justice Department, political leaders, academics, medical professionals, media and ordinary soldiers.