The Distraction Of Waterboarding

A fascinating interview with Darius Rejali, whose new book, "Torture And Democracy," casts a penetrating eye on prisoner abuse throughout history:

The historical record is clear. Waterboarding is torture, and yes focusing on just waterboarding is a distraction. Waterboarding is serious, but only the tip of the iceberg. There have only been three documented cases of waterboarding, but the CIA has subjected at least 30 others to “enhanced interrogation” as Director Hayden says, so there are other kinds of techniques as well. And there are unaccounted prisoners last seen in US custody as well as secret prisons out there where these things continue to happen.

One day we’ll know more, but the historical record now shows that American interrogators and soldiers, whether authorized or not, have used forced standing, forced kneeling, sleep deprivation, exposure to extremes of heat and cold, beatings on the soles of the feet, sexual humiliation, and psychological coercion, as well as some cases, electrotorture. So it would be a mistake then to confuse the forest from the three tallest trees in it. Waterboarding highlights the huge dangers of torture, but it is only the beginning of political literacy not the end of it.