Friday, 17 April 2009

Torturous Logic: Show Your Working

The "torture memos" have been released. I considered wading through the 100 or so pages, but so many others are doing it better that I suspect I'd be entirely superfluous.

One thing that I do want to flag up, though, is this quote from Ackerman.
Most of this story -- the torture techniques (except for the insects); the OLC blessings and reblessings -- has been thoroughly reported already.
(Emphasis mine). The US was using insects in interrogation sessions? That almost literally makes my skin crawl. Doubtless a large part of that is my phobia of insects, but then that's kind of my point. I can't imagine being tortured. Not really. I've never really been in the amount of pain and discomfort such things are designed to inflict. What I can imagine, though I'd really rather not, is the terror someone could force me to feel with the simple application of an awful lot of bugs. I can't imagine going through a few more minutes of being in close proximity of even a small number of, say, cockroaches before I'd be willing to admit to absolutely anything. It's my Room 101. I'm not sure it's rational to be more bothered by the States picking up techniques from 1984 than from the Japanese in WWII, but that's where I seem to be.

I'm sure for some people this all sounds weird, getting freaked out by a couple of flies or what have you. The point is, though, that the interrogators used this tactic on someone they knew had the same phobia. Moreover, they combined it with sticking the victim inside a "confinement box" at the same time.

I have no doubt on a rational level that were I to be subjected to water-boarding, or sleep deprivation, or the deliberate infliction of muscle fatigue (all of which are included as viable methods in the memos), that I probably wouldn't hold out for long. The deliberate installation of what I can only describe as mortal terror, though, is the first method I've come across that immediately strikes me as something I couldn't stand even for the shortest amount of time. Quite aside from the morality issues involved, how could anyone possibly use this technique and claim the resulting information was remotely reliable?

h/t to Robert Farley.

Update: forgot to include the actual link to the memos.

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