Alfred W. McCoy

Alfred W. McCoy is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a TomDispatch regular, and author most recently of the book, Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation (University of Wisconsin, 2012) which explores the American experience of torture during the past decade. Previous books include: A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (American Empire Project); Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, and The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. He has also convened the “Empires in Transition” project, a global working group of 140 historians from universities on four continents. The results of their first meetings were published as Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State.

Articles by this author

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 1:21pm
Surveillance and Scandal: Time-Tested Weapons for US Global Power
For more than six months, Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) have been pouring out from the Washington Post , the New York Times , the Guardian , Germany’s Der Spiegel , and Brazil’s O Globo , among other places. Yet no one has pointed out the combination of factors that made the NSA’s expanding programs to monitor the world seem like such a slam-dunk development in Washington. The answer is remarkably simple. For an imperial power losing its economic grip on the planet and h
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Monday, July 15, 2013 - 7:28am
Surveillance Blowback: The Making of the U.S. Surveillance State, 1898-2020
The American surveillance state is now an omnipresent reality, but its deep history is little known and its future little grasped. Edward Snowden’s leaked documents reveal that, in a post-9/11 state of war, the National Security Agency (NSA) was able to create a surveillance system that could secretly monitor the private communications of almost every American in the name of fighting foreign terrorists. The technology used is state of the art; the impulse, it turns out, is nothing new.
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Friday, November 9, 2012 - 7:24am
Beyond Bayonets and Battleships: Space Warfare and the Future of U.S. Global Power
It’s 2025 and an American “triple canopy” of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere. A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy’s satellite communications system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances. Along with the country’s advanced cyberwar capacity, it’s also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created and an insurance policy for U.S.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 11:44am
Impunity at Home, Rendition Abroad: How Both Parties Made Illegality the American Way of Life
After a decade of fiery public debate and bare-knuckle partisan brawling, the United States has stumbled toward an ad hoc bipartisan compromise over the issue of torture that rests on two unsustainable policies: impunity at home and rendition abroad.
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Monday, April 25, 2011 - 8:14am
Washington on the Rocks: An Empire of Autocrats, Aristocrats, and Uniformed Thugs Begins to Totter
In one of history’s lucky accidents, the juxtaposition of two extraordinary events has stripped the architecture of American global power bare for all to see. Last November, WikiLeaks splashed snippets from U.S. embassy cables, loaded with scurrilous comments about national leaders from Argentina to Zimbabwe, on the front pages of newspapers worldwide. Then just a few weeks later, the Middle East erupted in pro-democracy protests against the region’s autocratic leaders, many of whom were close U.S.
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