Yes, It’s Torture

Kevin Drum asks (rhetorically), Torture?:

President Bush announced yesterday that 14 “high value detainees” would be transferred from secret CIA prisons to Guantanamo Bay. ABC News describes the interrogation techniques that have been used on on them:

The first — the attention grab, involving the rough shaking of a prisoner.

Second — the attention slap, an open-handed slap to the face.

Third — belly slap, meant to cause temporary pain, but no internal injuries.

Fourth —long-term standing and sleep deprivation, 40 hours at least, described as the most effective technique.

Fifth — the cold room. Prisoners left naked in cells kept in the 50s and frequently doused with cold water.

The CIA sources say the sixth, and harshest, technique was called “water boarding,” in which a prisoner’s face was covered with cellophane, and water is poured over it (pictured above) — meant to trigger an unbearable gag reflex.

Is this torture?

I can’t see how anyone can call waterboarding anything other than torture. I’d also include some of the others on this list — even “open” or “belly” slapping prisoners sounds like a milder form of torture and, whatever you call it, is banned by both the Geneva conventions and every code of practice we use domestically.

And it’s all wrong.

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7 Responses to Yes, It’s Torture

  1. Katherine says:

    Cold cell is torture. The hypothermia death in Afghanistan ought to be sufficient evidence of that.

    I swear, though, I didn’t really understand “cold cell” until my heat broke this winter during a snow storm. The temperature went down to about fifty degrees inside the house–maybe a little less, maybe 46 or 47.

    When it’s fifty outside, I put on one sweater or a light jacket and I’m fine. It’s very different when you’re sitting still for hours, and when you can’t just duck into a store to warm up. I can’t even tell you how many layers I needed before I was comfortable; it was just ridiculous. And it was a miserable day even without those lawyers.

    So the thought of being at about the same temperature, naked, handcuffed, forced to stand still or chained to a concrete floor, and having cold water periodically poured on you….that’s torture.

  2. Katherine says:

    D’oh. “a miserable day even without those lawyers.” should be “a miserable day even with all those layers.”

  3. Marty Lederman says:

    Don’t buy into the Administration’s worldview, which depends on drawing equisite lines between “torture” and everything else. Torture is at the far end of a much wider category of unlawful conduct. In particular, if it’s “cruel treatment,” Geneva Article 3 prohibits it. And this is all right-down-the-middle cruel (although other techniques in the recent Dana Priest story *might* not be).

  4. denny says:

    are u shitting me? we use the same things on our own troops! they used the cold room and blasting red hot chili peppers to get info about terrorists guess what its not torture! blasting music and 50 degree temps are not torture and they apparently work because we have taken out many terrorists with it. we are at war should we put them in a nice cozy room and say will u please tell us? pretty please? no u have to get the information for yourself and if you are ignorant enough to call this torture than what happens when they kill more americans because we couldnt get enough information using your loony interogation ideas? we need to actually act to stpo terrorists not just pretend they dont exist we wil end up dead.

  5. Scott says:

    “Not Torture”

    Ok, if he feels it’s “not torture”, perhaps he should publicly do it to a family member of his. You know, just to show us all that it’s really ok and that we’re all upset about nothing.

    Perhaps, George Senior! We can set him up, naked in a cell and do all of these methods on him for 90 or so days. Make it a webcast! I can see it now! http://chillywetdaddy.whitehouse.gov.

    Fox News can check in every day and watch Bush Sr. “chill out”.

    Until is see that happen, they are all a bunch of whack-job theocrats torturing other whack-job theocrats.

    The US constitution was a beautiful thing. The envy of all the world. I’ll miss it.

  6. Joe says:

    For the people who think this is necessary due to the material that is potentially being obtained, I say that the solution to this isn’t making the law easier. This should be a case of each interrogator taking personal responsibility for their actions. Like in the military – ‘if you violate orders and you are right, then you showed initiative. If you were wrong, you go to the stockade.’ This is the correct solution, IMHO. Personal responsibility, and facing the consequences of a wrong decsion. If you are an interrogrator, and you decide to cross the line, and it gets an important confession, then people will likely look the other way. Otherwise…you go to jail. There should be no official legal cover for these actions.

  7. Michael Keenan says:

    In Jean Amery’s, The Minds Limit, his capture and descent into
    torture by German Nazi’s, starts by pointing out that his torturers showed no “banality of evil” in their faces. First there is the “laugh” and then the “first blow.” The prisoner then realizes that they are
    “helpless”. Lost is the “trust in the world.” Certainly there is no “mutual aid in nature.” No. It is time for the “business room.” More commonly refered to as the “Black Room” in today’s parlance. But before describing his own torture the author makes “good on a promise I gave.” Not that they where not specialists in torture, but more so his conviction that “torture was the essence of Nationalist
    Socialism….more accurately stated, why it was precisely in torture that the Third Reich materialized in all the density of its being.” I ask you dear Citizens should we also “codify” that the detainees at Camp Xray can also be children as recently reported in the news? Not only does that sound slightly like the rule of anti-man but I do believe anti-child included. And if that is so then the rule practiced as such has “expressly established it as a princple.” So just what else in “essence” does go on at Camp Xray? “Tricks”? Plead mercy, pray tell? And now comes Abu Graib. Refuse Himmlers offer for a Certificate of Maturity in History and stop those jet flights I would suggest, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld. Nay, to forsake the Constitution and be depraved of our humanity would be more painful in the end. Slavery to torture is all you will get. Go tell that to the Marines. And why Mr.Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld haven’t you two already tendered your resignation? At least Hitler was restrained from jettisoning the Geneva
    Conventions even with his back against the wall in February of 1945. I smell now the chief prosecutor Jackson’s closing arguments at the Nuremberg trials.

    I am Citizen Michael John Keenan

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