Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rationalizing torture - I

The Bush administration's 'torture memo's' were released by the Obama administration today. The clear, cold and calculated scientific logic used in rationalizing torture methods seems almost Kafkaesque. 

Jay Bybee's memo is especially egregious

With the facial slap or insult slap, the interrogator slaps the individuals face with fingers slightly spread. The hand makes contact with the area directly between the tip of the individuals chin and bottom of the corresponding earlobe. The interrogator invades the individuals personal space.
...Cramped confinement involves the placement of the individual in a confined space, the dimensions of which restrict the individuals movement. The confined space is usually dark. The duration of confinement varies based upon the size of the container. For the larger confined space, the individual can stand up or sit down; the smaller space is large enough for the subject to sit down. 
... Wall standing is used to induce muscle fatigue. The individual stands about four to five feet from a wall, with his feet spread approximately to shoulder width. His arms are stretched out in front of him, with his fingers resting on the wall. 
... Finally, you would like to use a technique called the 'waterboard'. In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individuals feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth. This causes an increase in carbon dioxide level in the individuals blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of "suffocation and incipient panic" i.e. the perception of drowning. The individual does not breathe any water into his lungs. During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three to four full breathes. The sensation of drowning is immediately relieved by the removal of the cloth. The procedure may then be repeated. The water is usually applied from a canteen cup or small watering can with a spout.
All of the memos can be downloaded here.

1 comment:

Sindhu Gangadharan said...

Oh God this is really horrendous!!