"Discomfort" or Torture?

Former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin tells NPR, "We may have made a few terrorists uncomfortable for a short period of time in order to get information that we felt was essential to protecting the United States."

By which he means:

In November 2002, a detainee died from hypothermia after he was held "partially nude and chained to a concrete floor."

Some detainees were kept awake for up to 180 hours, "usually standing or in painful stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads."

Some naked detainees were "hooded and dragged up and down corridors while being slapped and punched."

"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal feeding' or 'rectal hydration' without documented medical need."

Detainees were kept in total darkness and shackled in isolated cells, bombarded with loud noise and given only a bucket in which to relieve themselves.

The CIA may have waterboarded more than the three detainees it said it waterboarded.

...chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.

Multiple CIA detainees subjected to the techniques suffered from hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia and tried to mutilate themselves.

...became completely unresponsive after a period of intense waterboarding.

At least 26 were held "wrongfully," partly because there was no information to justify their detention.

The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting.

Detainees were often held down, naked, on a tarp on the floor, with the tarp pulled up around them to form a makeshift tub, while cold or refrigerated water was poured on them.

Others were hosed down repeatedly while they were shackled naked, in the standing sleep deprivation position.

...the CIA instructed personnel that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah would take "precedence" over his medical care.

CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families—to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to "cut [a detainee's] mother's throat."

Quotes from NPR, CNN, and SF Chronicle articles; and from the document itself.

And it goes on and on and on and on....

Is this what you consider acceptable treatment of prisoners?  Would we ever accept this if done to U.S. military personnel?  Is this simply making them uncomfortable?  How could anyone read those descriptions and say all we did was, "made a few terrorists uncomfortable."?

2 thoughts on “"Discomfort" or Torture?”

  1. Yeah, part of what I read described one prisoner who was shackled in a standing position and kept awake until his legs swelled, then treated with blood thinners twice so they could continue to keep him in a standing position. When you have to provide medical intervention so that you can continue 'interrogating' someone without them passing out or dying that might be a problem. I just read "All the Light We Cannot See" - which is fiction based in WWII - but the main character is recruited for one of the elite Nazi youth training programs. Part of their training is that they haul a prisoner out in the snow and each boy is required to dump a bucket of ice water on him, even after he is already dead. Eerily similar to some of the US interrogation techniques.

    1. Some of the things are disturbingly similar to tactics used by the Gestapo (water dousing and waterboarding). Others are straight out of "1984". For instance, in the book they threaten to put a cage containing rats over the guy's head because the guy is afraid of rats. We did that but actually did it, not just threaten, with insects because the prisoner was afraid of insects.

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