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THE SUBJECT OF TORTURE: RHETORICAL INVESTIGATIONS OF DETENTION AND INTERROGATION POLICY IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM

Vicaro, Michael (2013) THE SUBJECT OF TORTURE: RHETORICAL INVESTIGATIONS OF DETENTION AND INTERROGATION POLICY IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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Abstract

The term “torture” typically evokes images of physically brutal violence. Coercive interrogation techniques used in the Global War on Terrorism, however, tend not to correspond with this image. These techniques, sometimes called “no-touch” torture, can dismantle an individual’s sense-making and relational faculties without overt violation of the body. Critics who assume that torture is primarily physical violence often characterize contemporary techniques as less-than or other-than torture. Such views reinforce moral and legal vocabularies that do not grasp the most relevant features of the new interrogation paradigm. This dissertation develops an alternative vocabulary better suited to address the subject of contemporary torture. The study begins with an examination of the creation of “unlawful enemy combatant status” and the suspension of Geneva Convention protections for suspected terrorists. It shows how the Bush administration used official rhetoric to produce a new subject position defined as without the rights of either civilian detainees or military prisoners of war. The dissertation then turns to a close reading and critique of the language of the federal statute prohibiting torture. It argues that the definition of the term “torture” in 18 U.S.C. § 2340 implicitly permits “no-touch” torture and creates a sphere of impunity around U.S. interrogators’ preferred techniques. The following chapter focuses on the supermax detention cell, which has become an essential component of the new detention and interrogation paradigm. It argues that these high-tech sensory and communicative deprivation facilities allow military personnel to produce conditions tantamount to torture without the interpersonal interaction that more traditional forms of torture require. Next, the dissertation examines the use of hunger striking as a means of resistance to these detention and interrogation procedures and develops an analysis of transformative political rhetoric in hostile environments. Finally, the study addresses the experience of beauty as a means of recovery and renewal in the midst of world-unmaking violence.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Published
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vicaro, Michaelmpv5@psu.edu
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPoulakos, Johnpoulakos@pitt.eduPOULAKOS
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberMalin, Bretonbmalin@pitt.eduBMALIN
Committee MemberBeverley, Johnbrq@pitt.eduBRQ
Date: 30 September 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 April 2013
Approval Date: 30 September 2013
Submission Date: 23 July 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 198
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rhetoric, Torture, Detention, War on Terrorism
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2013 21:26
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:11
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18505

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