Eyal Press is a Nation contributing editor and the author of Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times and Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict That Divided America. He is also a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.
As noted in my last post, some conservatives have perused the contents of the newly released torture memos and concluded that they do not, in fact, authorize torture. Today's New York Times informs us that these conservatives are not alone. As Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti report in this excellent article, the SERE tactics authorized under Bush were created to give US soldiers and pilots a sample of the torture methods used by Communists during the Korean War. "The Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture,'" a 1956 government study of shackling, sleep deprivation and other techniques used by Chinese Communists noted. The logic didn't quite persuade the authors of the study:
But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.