November 16, 2007
What Is Torture?
"Give me Liberty or give me Death." To put this famous saying attributed to Patrick Henry somewhat differently, we easily recognize that death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Indeed, there seems a large class of worse circumstances, though we generally don't categorize them or, perhaps more importantly, often lack adequate language to describe them. Worse than death: it's a subtle difference that doesn't lend itself to formulation in terms of rules. Perhaps that's why, when we find such rules, we elevate them to preeminent positions in international law. Here, I talk with Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, to get a better sense of what the world is thinking, and doing, about a most peculiar abomination. And, no, the U.S. is not off the hook. It was extremely generous of Prof. Nowak to take time to talk with me, for which I'm most grateful. Please pay close attention and help redistribute widely. Total runtime an hour and eight minutes.