Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination


Before the US invasion of Iraq, before the American public saw the infamous photos from Abu Ghraib, the CIA went to the White House with a question: What, according to the Constitution, was the line separating interrogation from torture—and could that line be moved? The White House lawyers' answer—in the form of legal documents later known as the "Torture Memos" —became the US's justification for engaging in torture.

The Torturer in the Mirror shows us how when one of us tortures, we are all implicated in the crime. In three uncompromising essays, Iraqi dissident Haifa Zangana, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and professor of sociology Thomas Ehrlich Reifer teach us how physically and psychologically insidious torture is, how deep a mark it leaves on both its victims and its practitioners, and how necessary it is for us as a society to hold torturers accountable.


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“This is an indispensable, powerful, well-written book about torture that packs a lot into a few clearly written pages. It dispenses with the endless scholasticism that seems to be the rage in America when writing about the US torture program. This book says something new—read it and be surprised.”


Haifa Zangana was just eight years old in 1958 when Iraqis flooded the streets in celebration of their newfound freedom from British colonial rule, which had begun in 1917. Zangana then came of age in one of the most open societies in the Middle East—until it was shut down in the 1970s by the tyrannical Ba’ath Party. Joining in armed struggle against Saddam Hussein, Zangana was captured, imprisoned, and tortured as a young woman. She was released from Abu Ghraib after six months of detention, and has lived in exile ever since. Today, Haifa Zangana is a novelist, a weekly contributor for al-Quds newspaper, and a commentator for the Guardian, Red Pepper, and al-Ahram Weekly. She lives in London.