A Bushie Says The T-Word

A Bush official finally says what no objective individual could at this point deny:

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

Notice that torture renders bringing terror suspects to justice legally impossible. So we get bad information; and they get to avoid true legal or moral accountability for their acts of terror (if they committed any).

What Crawford grasps is that torture is not defined by some cartoonish Jack Bauer-style sadism. It need not leave any physical marks (that's why some of the techniques used by Bush were studied and used by the Gestapo). Things that might seem banal on paper - "sleep deprivation," for example - in practice when maintained for a sufficient amount of time can be among the worst torture there is. Put these techniques together - hypothermia, sleep deprivation, repeated beatings, constant nudity, sensory deprivation - and they become something often worse than an electric shock.

The definition of torture is when the victim has no effective choice but to say something, true or false, to end the ordeal. You can bring a victim to that point of surrender of his or her soul and will in many different ways. Maybe Bush was in denial; maybe Cheney wasn't. But the objective truth of what they did cannot be denied.

And must be faced.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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