Outside The Box

A reader makes an important clarification about the tiny box in which prisoners were kept for up to seven days by U.S. military:

You left an important factor out. Suppose the doctor at camp has already identified you as claustrophobic. Now is it torture?

It qualifies as such by the Geneva Conventions definition. And Rumsfeld's own explicit guidance for interrogation techniques allowed the unethical use of medical and psychological records to devise specific torture methods for individual prisoners. Yes, that violates Geneva. But we already know what Rumsfeld thinks of Geneva. I should also pre-empt the flood of emails about this post by simply saying: a) yes, al Qaeda would torture captured American soldiers whatever our policies are; and b) yes, even the worst forms of torture we have employed cannot be measured up against the Jihadists' barbarism. But torture is always wrong; and this war is both military and ideological. Before the Bush-Cheney torture policy, the U.S. could protest the abuse of its soldiers in enemy captivity and be supported by its allies and their populations. Generations of American soldiers had cemented the concept of America as a decent country for whom torture was unthinkable. No longer. And so the enemy gains in the long war; and we lose. That's the point. Winning is the point.