Tara McKelvey

Tara McKelvey, a senior editor at the Prospect, is a research fellow at NYU School of Law's Center on Law and Security and the author of Monstering: Inside America’s Policy on Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War.

Recent Articles

First Do Some Harm

Mohammed, a 36-year-old graduate of Baghdad University's College of Art, says he was examined by an American physician in a detention facility near Baghdad International Airport shortly after being arrested in late 2003. “The doctor said, ‘Maybe you have a bullet wound you are not aware of,'” recalls Mohammed, sitting in a hotel room in Amman, Jordan, with a journalist and two American attorneys a year later. “I said, ‘Do you want me to take off my pants?' He said, ‘No, I'll just lift up your pant leg.'” The physician pronounced Mohammed fit and ready for interrogation. But if the physician had been familiar with the ethical guidelines of the American Medical Association (AMA), he would have known that what he'd done was in violation of the AMA code, which states that “physicians should not treat individuals to verify their health so that torture can begin or continue.” And if the physician had remained in the vicinity after conducting a medical exam, he would have heard the screech of...

Downsizing, Iraq-Style

On July 6, President George W. Bush celebrated his 59th birthday in Copenhagen with a friend, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. It was an important moment for Bush, and not only because of the Greenland stamp collection he received as a birthday present. He also got a chance to show his appreciation to members of a club that has become increasingly unpopular: the “coalition of the willing.” There are roughly 520 Danish troops stationed in Iraq, and Bush paid tribute to their families. Unfortunately for Bush, there may be a lot fewer people around to thank at his next birthday party. Chances are the Danes will remain members of the coalition. Rasmussen has repeatedly pledged his allegiance to Bush and the U.S. efforts in Iraq. But the Spaniards have famously pulled out of the group, following the March 2004 election of a socialist government headed by Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The Italians confirmed on July 8 that their 3,160 troops would start leaving Iraq...

The Interrogation Room

Erik Saar, a clean-cut, former Bible-college student dressed in a white shirt, looks like someone who's just left the Army and still kind of misses it. Saar, 30, speaks nostalgically about his days as a sergeant and Arabic linguist -- right up to the moment when he was sitting in an interrogation room at Guantanamo Bay and watched things go terribly wrong. Sitting in a Starbucks in Rosslyn, Virginia, Saar talks about female interrogators, thongs in a supervisor's office, and, of course, Newsweek 's “Periscope” item. What was your first impression of Guantanamo Bay? I got there on December 10, 2002, and stayed until June 20, 2003. It was 80 degrees and sunny every day. And there was Camp Delta. It hit me as an unfortunate realty of war. On day one, or even during the first two months, I did not say, “Wow, what a terrible place this is.” I felt like, “This is what you do when you need to defend yourself.” To be honest, it sometimes has appeared in the media that my book is nothing more...

War Requiem

Marla Ruzicka always knew how to get people's attention, Lieutenant Lars Ewing told the hundreds of people crammed into Room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building for her memorial service on May 14. Plainly struggling to retain his composure, Ewing -- after turning his head to the side, scrunching up his face, and uttering an audible, “Whew” -- told the gathering a story about his childhood friend, a 28-year-old human-rights worker who was killed in Iraq by a terrorist's bomb on April 16. In particular, he recalled one instance when Ruzicka pulled up in front of Ewing's house with a newly bought car and tried out the thunderous horn. “I didn't care how the car drove,” Ewing recalled her saying. “I just wanted something with a loud horn.” Ruzicka did more than get people's attention. Through her organization, Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, she got them to support her cause. In April 2003, Senator Patrick Leahy, after prompting from Ruzicka, introduced a bill that...

Morgantown Firebrand

Wearing a lilac sweater, crushed velvet pants and a star necklace, Asra Q. Nomani hardly looks like a revolutionary. But she's helped shake up a mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia, -- and, indirectly, mosques everywhere -- with her demands that women take on leadership roles and, at the very least, be allowed to sit near men during prayer services. For that (and for organizing a women-led Friday prayer in New York last month), she's received a death threat and been criticized by Muammar Quaddafi, who said the prayer service could inspire a terrorist attack and create “a million Osama bin Ladens.” Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, talks about hajj, foreign policy, and her friend Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded in Pakistan in January 2002. How do you find the courage to do this stuff? When I was on hajj, I committed myself to public service, and when I returned home to Morgantown, I signed up to be a volunteer at a domestic-violence clinic...

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