Friday, April 17, 2009

Call it what you want, it's torture

The Administration released several memos written by the Bush Justice department to assess the legality of torturing prisoners. You can go here and get links to the full PDFs.  The didn't redact much, mainly the names of individuals involved in the torture itself.  Just to be clear, these memos were written for the head of the CIA. The idea torture happened without knowledge of the higher-ups is patently false.

"In this phase, you would like to employ ten techniques that you believe will dislocate his expectations regarding the treatment he believes he will receive and encourage him to disclose the crucial information mentioned above. These ten techniques are: (1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box, and (10) the waterboard."  [By the way, it turns out that Abu Zubayah, didn't actually have any useful information]

"Finally, you would like to use a technique called 'the waterboard'. In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until covers both the nose and mouth. ....This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of 'suffocation and incipient panic', i.e. the perception of drowning.....After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths....The procedure may then be repeated."

"Section 2340A [of the U.S. code] defines torture as: an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody of physical control."

"The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict 'severe pain or suffering'."  

Just for some context - this is one of the pictures in a Cambodian museum that commemorates the torture done to citizens under the Khmer Rouge.  

From Scott (2007) - A History of Torture through the Ages, water-boarding was called the 'Spanish Water Torture' during the Inquisition, when it was used to illicit conversions or confessions of heresy.   From Delarue (1964) - The Gestapo: A History of Horror, the German secret police used to use water-boarding to extract (mainly false) confessions.

Good company to be in: Khmer Rough, Inquisition, Nazis.   A proud moment for America.

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