A reader writes:

What I find striking is the clinical, dispassionate approach to the administration of torture.  The fantasized, intense, urgent torture interrogations of Jack Bauer seemed so focused on obtaining information in comparison. But these accounts paint an entirely different picture.  The focus seemed to be not on information, but inflicting as much pain as possible without causing death.  The detainees were treated like test subjects. 

I am sure this is because the orders handed down focused on the torture, not the practical aspects of interrogation. I imagine the interrogators were flooded with memos authorizing certain techniques – how to apply these techniques – what the limits were – how to break down a subject mentally without killing them – and so forth. What was absent, I imagine, is the memo specifying what information is useful to the global war on terror. The result: a one-legged man standing for days with a doctor to make sure his stump doesn’t swell too much. All pain, no gain. No information. No attack thwarted. No purpose but torture itself.

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