Talk To Me Like I'm Stupid: How American Is Torture?

We have a great debate going below over whether Bush's admission to torturing KSM actually represents a real break from and American system of justice. My sense is that torturing people we deem as alien--domestic or otherwise--is not really new at all, but that presidential sanction of torture might be. Truthfully, I'm out of my league--I just don't know the history well enough.

So let's crowdsource it. The rules are the same as always with a couple of additions. If you're like me, and don't really know the history, please don't initially comment. You can ask questions, or comment on other comments. But statements like "I think it's awful that we torture" don't help and will be deleted. The guiding rule here is this--It's OK not to know. Just don't act like you do.

Second, we're not debating whether water-boarding is torture. That's over for me. If you consider water-boarding "enhanced interrogation" you should avoid this thread. Those are the rules. I await your answers.