A handy torture primer.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
Sept. 27 2006 3:21 PM

What Is Torture?

An interactive primer on American interrogation.

Congress is expected to pass legislation that would raise new questions about what forms of torture might be legal amid criticism that the detainee treatment bill gives the president too much power in determining acceptable interrogation techniques. Last year, Slate's Emily Bazelon, Phillip Carter, and Dahlia Lithwick developed an interactive primer to address the murky issue of what constitutes torture: "The very word 'torture' encompasses too many possibilities. Is scaring a prisoner with a dog really torture in the first place or just a modified fraternity prank? Is hooding a terrorist all that bad? Without a larger context, it's impossible to know how to frame these issues. Which explains why the American public finds itself either 'for' or 'against' torturing alleged terrorists, without having developed nuanced ideas of what such positions mean."

Click here to read "What Is Torture?" by Emily Bazelon, Phillip Carter, and Dahlia Lithwick.