What was news to me was that in that the New York Times ran a story in the 1960's about fraternity hazing (torture) at Yale that included branding pledge brothers with a hot iron. That article ran with a quote from then fraternity-member George W. Bush:
“it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn’t hurt any more than a cigarette burn.”
Well, cigarette burns hurt asshole. But it also brings to mind the President's steadfast refuals to define what torture really is. Here he is earlier this month:
The Preznit contends that the only way to save the American Way of Life (TM) is to let the CIA do what we all know they hunger to do, namely roughing up swarthy brown guys in their custody.
Except he's saying that it's not torture. That'd be illegal.
And that's why the appointment of the new Attorney General is such a big deal. Prominent Republicans, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham (who folded his opposition to waterboarding after Bush came to South Carolina to fundraise for him) admit that a practice we use (waterboarding) to interrogate prisoners is in fact illegal, but they refuse to do anything about.
The job of the new AG would be to prosecute wrongdoing within by the administration if he believes that what they're doing is torture. That's why (some of) the Democrats are being such persnickety assholes about whether Mike Mukasey (the guy Bush has recommended for the job) thinks water boarding is torture or not. If he does, he's obligated by his job to prosecute it. If he doesn't think it's torture, then we're back to dealing Abu Gonzales. Of course, the Democrats are such a bunch of spineless wimps that they're naturally backing down on fighting this:
Schumer held a closed door meeting with Mukasey on Friday in which the nominee appeared to offer a crucial assurance: If Congress chose to enact a law banning so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, Bush would have to follow it.The reason that's such a pile of crap is that the US has in the past prosecuted American soldiers for waterboarding prisoners of war. Plus there's the Geneva Conventions that we're signed on to, as well as last year's Military Commissions act of 2006. But instead, Mukasey is saying that if Congress passes another law against water boarding, he'd enforce it.
“He flatly told me that the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law,” Schumer said. “He also pledged to enforce such a law and repeated his willingness to leave office rather than participate in a violation of law.”
Which brings me back to George Bush and his love of branding people with hot irons. He probably just loves this shit. He probably gets off on knowing the new ways that our less-ethical interrogators have cooked up to 'scare' the truth out of anyone we capture on the battlefield in this never-ending war on terror.
Such is life in the early 2000's. Torture is not torture except when it benefits us politically to tell the base we're bad enough to torture Arabs Who Want To Kill Us (TM). That's what you get for thinking that common human decency had a pig's chance at a roast in Washington DC.