Marc Ambinder addresses the subject of torture today. Ambers poses the following analogy:
An American CIA interrogator whose techniques yield valuable information is much less reprehensible than a Gestapo torturer whose techniques resulted in the death of Jews or gypsies. Doesn't mean the CIA guy was right, but it's still hard to disagree with that sentence.
But that is the wrong analogy. The sadism and murder of Jews and gypsies in Nazi Germany do not fall under a torture category. The Nazis were not trying to get information out of them as prisoners of war; they were trying to annihilate them as a race and murder as many of them as possible.
For torture to be torture, it must be a government-authorized official's application of "severe mental or physical pain or suffering" in order to acquire information from an individual suspected of having it. So the correct analogy would be the torture via EITs of terrorist insurgents to get information to avoid guerrilla attacks in a war zone. And we have a very good precedent for that in military history. Here's a document from Norway's 1948 war-crimes trial detailing the prosecution of Nazis convicted of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (the phrase in its original German is "verschaerfte Vernehmung)" in the Second World War. Here's a document detailing Nazi bureaucratic description of these techniques. You will note the striking similarities between its content, its legalisms, its bureaucratic tone, and the recent CIA documents pried out of the US government's hands by the ACLU: