So is "enhanced interrogation" torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. VerschÃ¤rfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the "third degree". It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.
The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in 1948. The victims were not in uniform – they were part of the Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation – and the Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the Geneva conventions).
The Nazis even argued that "the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement". This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration's house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.
The US-run court at the time clearly rejected Cheney's arguments. Base-line protections against torture applied, the court argued, to all detainees, including those out of uniform. They didn't qualify for full PoW status, but they couldn't be abused either. The court also relied on the plain meaning of torture as defined under US and international law: "The court found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment . . ."
The definition of torture remains the infliction of "severe mental or physical pain or suffering" with the intent of procuring intelligence. In 1948, in other words, America rejected the semantics of the current president and his aides. The penalty for those who were found guilty was death. This is how far we've come. And this fateful, profound decision to change what America stands for was made in secret. The president kept it from Congress and from many parts of his own administration.
"Bush's torturers follow where the Nazis led," by Andrew Sullivan. The Sunday Times. October 7, 2007.
"...change what America stands for...." That's propaganda. The U.S. has been engaged in torturing people and training others to do it all along. Everyone who has read much history knows this. Andrew Sullivan knows it too. He's just playing dumb. There has always been a large sadistic element in official government. They've just not been exposed quite this way before. In addition, much of what is leaking is leaking as a method of desensitizing the general population and to supposedly legitimize torture. After all, just look at Fox's TV hit, "24" in which the torturer is the hero.
This is just Satan hardening hearts to devour souls.
The Empire is decadent and will fall.