The sad fact is that our relationship to torture and other atrocities is more complicated and less innocent than we or President Bush would like to believe. This article examines that relationship and the ways in which we try to distance ourselves from torture and atrocity. Part II briefly explores our notions of exceptionalism and innocence. Part III then turns to our efforts to evade responsibility for torture and atrocity. First, it briefly discusses ways in which we try to deny our own acts of torture and abuse through rhetorical misdirection and by relegating torture to the shadows. Part III's primary focus, however, is on our practice of "othering" torture, and on extraordinary rendition as an instantiation of that practice. The second portion of Part III looks at instances where we have taken advantage of a division of labor in which others act as our torturers, or at least torture with our knowledge and acquiescence, and it situates extraordinary rendition in that practice. Finally, it looks at some of the consequences of othering torture. Part IV takes up the theme of innocence, once again. It is commonplace to hear these days that America "lost its innocence" on September 11, 2001. Part IV briefly examines this notion of loss of innocence.
Place of Original Publication
Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law
37 Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law 277 (2006)
Strassfeld, Robert N., "American Innocence" (1997). Faculty Publications. 110.