Torture, really?

While we’re on the subject of torture, it’s questionable whether the practices that the Justice Department outlines really falls under the descirpiton of brutal torture. It’s certainly not cruel and unusual punishment as prohibited by our Constitution. Some examples:

  • forcing detainees to go nude
  • feeding detainees bland, weight-loss shakes (which contain all essential vitamins, minerals, and calories) instead of real meals—not a starvation diet by any means
  • forcing detainees to put their hands against the wall and hold that position (athletes must endure much, much, much worse)
  • waterboarding (which has received much criticism), in which detainees have water poured over their clothed mouth from a height of 6-18 inches for no more than 40 seconds while lying on a board—no physical harm done
  • grasping the individual with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening (something your mother might do to you to get your attention)
  • hold the detainee’s head immobile. One open palm is placed on either side of the individual’s face. The fingertips are kept away from the detainee’s eyes.
  • dousing detainee with cold water, which does not touch the eyes, nose, or mouth (something my big brother has done to me numerous times…)

Basically, none of the methods caused lasting physical harm or damage. Most were nothing worse than what military recruits experience at boot camps or what frat boys experience during hazing. I’ve even seen worse on The Biggest Loser.

In fact, the CIA wouldn’t have been allowed to do what many athletic teams and frats force their new members to do because of the risk of injury. The CIA probably wouldn’t have even been allowed to make the detainees run a mile on a trendmill because of the risk for heart problems…

While we can debate the effectiveness of these strategies, I don’t think they merit the description that many assign to it of  “brutal torture.” Uncomfortable, yes. Brutal, no.

Description of techniques: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/04/17/us/politics/20090417-interrogation-techniques.html

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