If They Die, You're Doing It Wrong

Marcy Wheeler studies the case of "04-309," the only name we have for a 27-year-old Iraqi who was tortured and died:

Now I'm no doctor--and I definitely can't make sense of the cardiac findings. But it sounds like "stress positions," "sleep deprivation," "walling," and "water dousing" are all leading candidates to have caused the death of 04-309. Or, to use the terms used for techniques approved for use by one Special Forces group in Iraq until May 18, 2004, about a month after 04-309's death, "safety positions," "sleep adjustment/sleep management," "change of environment/ environmental manipulation," and "mild physical contact." It doesn't really matter what you call the techniques, though, because they amount to torture that--in the case of an apparently healthy 27 year old man--appear to have killed him in three days time.

A lot of people--from the CIA to Cheney to the torture apologists--want this debate to be about waterboarding, a technique they've only admitted to using with three detainees, and a technique that--as far as we know--did not kill anyone in US custody. But that distracts from the other techniques that just as much torture, the ones that were killing Iraqi civilians in a matter of days.