That doesn’t necessarily close the question on EITs and whether or not they constituted torture [a point I've made before]. However, thanks to the political reality in the Beltway at the moment, the interrogators who employed EITs within the contemporaneous parameters created by the Bush administration won’t get prosecuted in Eric Holder’s investigation. Instead, they will focus on those who violated the boundaries, which leads to some pretty ridiculous outcomes. The DoJ
apparently wants to investigate an interrogator who blew cigar smoke into the faces of terrorists, another who used a drill and a gun to intimidate a detainee, and yet another who threatened to get a terrorist’s family members and kill them.
Are we to believe that the men who killed 3,000 men, women, and children were so sensitive that those threats would leave them psychologically scarred for life — but mass murder didn’t? Will the DoJ now prosecute police officers who blow smoke in subjects’ faces, either inadvertently or deliberately, during interrogations? Isn’t this defining torture down to an absurd level? If anything, it shows that the statutes governing torture are ridiculously vague.
The attempt to define torture down to include some of the relatively innocuous enhanced interrogation methods in my view erodes the moral force of the argument against genuine torture.
If we accept the common international law definition of torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person" (U.N. Convention Against Torture), we have to exclude many of the methods encompassed by the term "enhanced interrogation techniques," and many of the methods used against hardened Jihadists.