"The permissible methods for the spy agency remain classified, and on a visit to our offices last week Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would say only that the CIA would engage in no conduct that "shocks the conscience." He added that this concept was context-dependent, since the "shock" threshold may be higher with the likes of KSM - who planned 9/11 - than for ordinary detainees. At least we hope it is. In theory, this means there's still room to employ some of the aggressive techniques - such as stress positions, sleep deprivation, temperature extremes - that have been used successfully against al Qaeda bigwigs. But in practice we fear those approaches are a thing of the past," - the Wall Street Journal editorial board, revealing that the Bush proposal leaves wide open all sorts of abuses to be regarded as "legal" under the Geneva Conventions.
Note the Orwellian euphemism: "temperature extremes." Let's follow Orwell's example and ask directly what that actually means in real English. Here's one account from the field:
"When the Navy SEALS would interrogate people, they were using ice water to lower the body temperature of the prisoner and they would take his rectal temperature in order to make sure that he didn't die. I didn't see this, but that's what many, many prisoners told me who came out of the SEAL Compound, and I also heard that from a guard who was working in our detention facility, who was present during an interrogation that the SEAL had done."
Here's another account of "temperature extremes" as an interrogation technique:
"[T]he cells were entirely unheated. There were radiators in the corridor only, and in this "heated" corridor the guards on duty walked in felt boots and padded jackets. The prisoner was forced to undress down to his underwear, and sometimes to his undershorts, and he was forced to spend from three to five days in the punishment cell without moving (since it was so confining). He received hot gruel on the third day only. For the first few minutes you were convinced you'd not be able to last an hour. But, by some miracle, a human being would indeed sit out his five days, perhaps acquiring in the course of it an illness that would last him the rest of his life."
That example is from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago." Bush's version is arguably worse. The victim is stripped of clothes entirely, is shackled to a chair or from a railing, is kept in an air-conditioned room around the 50 degree mark, barred from sleeping, and repeatedly doused with water until hypothermia sets in. In one of the few actual logs we have of a high-level interrogation, of Mohammed al-Qhatani, this method was used repeatedly over 55 days of forced sleeplessness, and the use of threatening dogs. At one point, American medics - yes, the medical profession has been coopted into torture as well - had to administer three bags of medical saline to Qhatani, while he was strapped to a chair, and aggressively treat him for hypothermia in hospital. Then he was sent back into the
torture coercive interrogation cell.
The important thing to remember: Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney authorized this. This was no alleged bunch of bad apples. This is an interrogation technique directly authorized by president Bush, as it was by the Soviets. Once upon a time, the Wall Street Journal pioneered resistance to Soviet barbarism. Now they "fear" that the United States won't follow Stalin's example. This is what we fought the Cold War for?
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