The Torture Memos

Econo-Girl is repeating the same blog title to gather search engine steam on this topic.

The federal statute making torture criminal is found in 18 U.S.C. sections 2340-2340A. The statute cites the definition of torture: "means an act committed by a person acting under color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control."

The 2004 Torture Memo restricted its analysis to "(1) the meaning of severe; (2) the meaning of "severe physical pain or suffering"; (3) the meaning of "severe mental pain or suffering"; and (4) the meaning of "specifically intended." " See page 5 of the Department of Justice, Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Memorandum for James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney General, Re: Legal Standards Applicable Under 18 U.S.C. sections 2340-2340A, dated December 30, 2004. This memo is commonly known as one of the Torture memos, and will be referred to here as Torture Memo II.

The last post discussed and gave examples from the Torture Memo II of what was not severe.
Footnote 13 of Torture Memo II cites dictionary definitions of torture to bolster the view that to be considered torture, severity of pain or suffering must be present. Readers can look at dictionaries themselves. However, Econo-girl considers it significant that examples of what would constitute torture are given within the context of references to dictionary definitions.

Specifically, burning, crushing and wounding are the actions mentioned in Torture Memo II footnote 13 as examples of what would constitute torture.

This is important because almost nowhere else in the document is specific guidance given as to what torture actually is. Much describes what it is not.

So one thing we know is that burning, crushing and wounding are referred to as concrete examples of torture in Torture Memo II. The authors are careful to note that "[w]e emphatically are not saying that only such historical techniques - or similar ones - can constitute "torture" under sections 2340-2340A." So torture is recognized as being broader in scope that burning, crushing and wounding. But in terms of drawing a line, that is the only one I have seen so far.

Stay tuned.

p.s. I removed the Sitemeter thing because it bugged my Mom.


TT said...

If it were left exclusively up to me,I hate to tell you this,but I would make pigs-in-a-blanket out of them like General Pershing if it meant timely information to save coalition lives.You Pickle-Factory-Civies are going to lose this war for us.

Do you remember in the early eighties when they took Russian hostages in Beirut?Do you remember how fast they let those Russians go and WHY?

Also,do you remember to what they did to Bill Buckley?!!

I would examine my position if I were you,young lady.

TT said...


I just found out that you got fired for criticizing tourture on your blog!

What a crock of crap!!!!!

You don't need them anyway EC.

Mike Hayden's got something for em'

...they'll see!

Good Luck and speak your mind!
-even If I disagree with you!

kate said...

That's sad to hear that she get fire because of criticising. it's just saying whats on your mind. Right? uhmm...