In April 2004, the Abu Ghraib photographs set off an international scandal. Yet until this book, the full story behind that scandal has never been told. Tara McKelvey-the first U.S. journalist to speak with female prisoners from Abu Ghraib-travelled to the Middle East and across the United States to seek out victims and perpetrators. McKelvey tells how soldiers, acting in an atmosphere that encouraged abuse and sadism, were unleashed on a prison population of whom the vast majority, according to Army documents, were innocent citizens. She gained unprecedented access to soldiers, officers, administration officials, and suspected terrorists. She also provides an inside look at Justice Department theories of presidential power to show how the many abuses were licensed by the government.