You need to read Terry Karney’s reactions on reading the torture memos.
I was beginning to wonder at myself. It wasnâ€™t until I was deep into the third memo (which is a detailing of the various â€œtechniquesâ€ being used, and the rationalisations for them being legal, that I really started to be disgusted. It was the detailing of how sleep deprivation was to be enforced which got me. I canâ€™t imagine doing that to someone. I just canâ€™t.
Part of that is years of being intimate with torture. There is no way to be a good interrogator and not look into torture. To be a good interrogator one has to be curious, and torture is the uncle we donâ€™t like to talk about, because heâ€™s a little off.
Itâ€™s not that Iâ€™ve not walked right up to that line. In some example exercises I came right up to it. And I stopped the event. The subject was willing, and I wasnâ€™t going to do anything which caused permanent physical, or mental, harm, but if Iâ€™d done it, Iâ€™d have been on the other side of the lines Iâ€™d drawn. It was tempting, seductively so. If Iâ€™d done it, heâ€™d have talked. He was getting ready to cry. I hadnâ€™t touched him. I hadnâ€™t even fixed him to the chair (which probably made it worse, he could move, but he couldnâ€™t get away). I had absolute power over him (insofar as the LT would have let me go, which; it turns out, was further than I was willing to let me go).
And in a follow-up, Terry points out the obscene illogic of the standards established in the memos:
The only way to avoid being tortured is to give up information. If one doesnâ€™t have the information, than one is doomed to be abused. The most willing â€œdetaineeâ€ will not be believed, unless he has information about high value targets. This is defined as a â€œvery highâ€ standard.
What it actually is, is no standard. Everyone is presumed to be knowledgeable, and the only way to avoid being tortured to get at that knowledge is to have it to give up.
Honest ignorance will get you tortured. Devotion to the truth of one’s ignorance will only “prove” that one is a die-hard fanatic. And “die-hard fanatics” need to be abused, so they will “give up” the information we knew they had. Catch-22.