Is Death an “Enhanced” Form of Life?

Although a regular listener of National Public Radio, I am scandalized to hear that they have adopted an official policy in future news stories not to refer to the interrogation tactics of the previous administration as torture (spelled t-o-r-t-u-r-e) but as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Now where do you suppose they got that term?

A soon to be released 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, even in its heavily edited form, tells us that over 100 detainees died under these techniques, from physical stress, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, and other interrogation tactics. Some of these deaths were blamed on interrogators who went too far (one would have to admit that to kill the person you are interrogating is in fact going too far), but the rest can be laid at the Bush Administration’s door. Actually, to be intellectually honest, all these deaths should be laid at their door, since it was Bush-Cheney & Co. who authorized these techniques in the first place, opening the door not only to abuse, but also to the risk of death.

To NPR I would mention that one does not die from “enhanced interrogation techniques.” But torture can and does kill, and evidently it did. Unless, of course, NPR considers death to be merely an “enhanced” form of life. In that case, I suppose, no harm, no foul.

My wife brought to my attention an interesting article “How to Make Terrorists Talk” in the June 8 issue of Time Magazine. In it are described some of the various creative, non-violent techniques at the disposal of interrogators. For example, after 9-11 Osama bin-Laden’s former bodyguard was induced to spill a wealth of valuable information and names of al-Qaeda operatives by offering him sugar-free cookies (he was a diabetic). If that is the case, your grandmother might be a more effective interrogator than most CIA agents. A little common humanity may go father with many than waterboarding. “Try one of these, Abu; they’re oatmeal raisin.”,9171,1901491,00.html

For more info about the CIA report, see Glenn Greenwald’s blog of Tuesday June 30, 2009 “The suppressed fact: Deaths by U.S. torture” at


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