The White House just released a series of documents relating to the Bush administration’s legal justification for the use of interrogation techniques that can reasonably be considered torture. One of the documents released this afternoon includes an August 2002 memo from Jay Bybee of the United States Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel. In it, Bybee offers his opinion that a number of interrogation techniques proposed for a captured al Qaeda operative do not violate American and international prohibitions against torture. Among the techniques proposed are a number of harsh interrogation methods that we have heard of over the past few years, such as water boarding and stress positions. But there was one technique previously unknown to me: putting the subject in a confined box with an insect he is told has a stinger.
As you can see from the excerpt above, Bybee concludes that this technique is OK so long as the subject is told in advance that the insect will not kill him or cause severe pain. Ugh.
I think this statement from the current occupant of the White House says it all:
In one of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.