Ms. Toensing was chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration.
" The European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ireland v. United Kingdom (1978) specifically found that wall standing (to produce muscle fatigue), hooding, and sleep and food deprivation were not torture.
The U.N. treaty defined torture as "severe pain and suffering." The Justice Department witness for the Senate treaty hearings testified that "[t]orture is understood to be barbaric cruelty . . . the mere mention of which sends chills down one's spine." He gave examples of "the needle under the fingernail, the application of electrical shock to the genital area, the piercing of eyeballs. . . ." Mental torture was an act "designed to damage and destroy the human personality."
The treaty had a specific provision stating that nothing, not even war, justifies torture. Congress removed that provision when drafting the 1994 law against torture, thereby permitting someone accused of violating the statute to invoke the long-established defense of necessity."
She explains why these particular techniques were approved and why certain restrictions were attached -- to make sure that no detainee was subjected to torture.
" The OLC memos reminded their recipients that torture is illegal, and conscientiously advised their recipients how to carefully conduct enhanced interrogations without crossing the line to illegality. Excesses by interrogators would probably have been more likely, not less, if the memos had not been written.
So surely we should call the memos the anti-torture memos."