If you draw a distinction between enhanced interrogation and torture, you need to shut the fuck up.

In Mother Jones yesterday, Kevin Drum puts National Review’s Andrew McCarthy on blast:

Suppose any other country in the world did what we did. Waterboarding. Sleep deprivation. Physical abuse. Stress positions. Rectal feeding. Nudity. Extreme heat and cold. All for months or years in an effort to turn prisoners into broken husks. Let’s say that it was Putin’s Russia or Khamenei’s Iran, and the victims were American captives. What would you call it then? Enhanced interrogation? I doubt it. You’d call it torture, and you’d loudly insist that it was barbaric and an act of war. And you’d be right.

So why the semantics? I think it’s in how we learned about torture as kids. Tidbits from Medieval history are the true ghost stories of childhood. Who needs a monster under the bed when you can just open up a textbook and see all the incredible toys humans invented to cause the most agonizing pain possible? We see drawings of people being sawed in half, or having their limbs ripped off. The lesson we teach isn’t “this happened” as much as it is complimenting ourselves for how far we’ve come. Why, by Vietnam, they’d only stick bamboo shoots under our fingernails (those little rascals)! 

When someone starts with semantics like “enhanced interrogation,” the argument that follows will be some variation of “torture works.” But because advocates are also regular people, they know torture is bad as truly as they believe that mommy is good, and rightfully, that makes them uncomfortable. So they call it something else. It’s PR for the soul.

But can we drop the charade? Just because we didn’t use a Rube-Goldberg machine for crushing bones doesn’t make it not torture. It’s causing severe physical and emotional distress in order to facilitate cooperation. It’s torture. So let’s shut the fuck up already with this “enhanced interrogation” bullshit.