Here’s an interesting case. In the Iraq court-room yesterday, a woman described being tortured by Saddam’s thugs in Abu Ghraib, back when he controlled it. Her account of torture is as follows:

“They forced me to take off my clothes,” said the woman, referred to only as Witness A by the court. “They kept my legs up. They handcuffed me and started beating me with cables. It wasn’t just one guard, it was many guards.” …
“I agree that things in Abu Ghraib were, until recently, bad, but did they use dogs on you? Did they take photographs?” asked one defense attorney, attempting to raise the issue of U.S. prisoner abuse at the prison.
“No,” she replied.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s definition of torture, this woman wasn’t subjected to “anything close” to torture. Repeated beatings are specifically not torture, as argued by AEI legal scholar, John Yoo, who helped craft Bush administration policies. The woman was not water-boarded, she was not shackled in stress positions, she was not subjected to hypothermia, she was not sexually abused and she was not threatened by dogs. She did not, in other words, come even close to being tortured, according to the Wall Street Journal. Do they still abide by their position? Does vice-president Cheney agree that she was merely subjected to “coercive interrogation techniques”?

By the way, my response to Charles Krauthammer’s argument for legalizing torture by the United States will appear in this week’s New Republic. I’ll link as soon as it’s posted.


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