Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: Definition of torture not met

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, who demands federal prosecution of Bush administration officials for “torture” of Islamofascist terrorists, should get a grip.

His passionate column draws attention to the fact that torture is banned by international treaty (“Obama should prosecute CIA torturers,” CDT, Dec. 14).

He fails to mention that treaty’s definition of torture (Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment) and U.S. law enacted to implement it.

That definition boils down to this: an action by government agents that causes detainees to experience severe physical or mental pain or suffering.

It’s the only relevant standard of reference for evaluating legality of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were sanctioned by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and used by the CIA on Islamofascist terrorists during the Bush administration and that Roth and other liberals mischaracterize as “torture.”

EITs are not torture because they do not cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering. We know this from experience of U.S. military personnel who have been subjected to EITs, including CIA-style waterboarding, as part of SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training.

President Abraham Lincoln supposedly once posed a riddle to a child (“If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?”) and corrected the child’s prompt but incorrect answer by stating the obvious: Simply calling a dog’s tail a leg does not make it one.

So it is with liberals’ mischaracterization of EITs.

Phil Edmunds