The OPR Torture Memos Report: What Is Enhanced Interrogation Technique Number 12?:
Pages 35 and 36 of the July 29, 2009 report by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, regarding the torture memos used by the Bush administration to create a legal framework for, you know, torture, contains a list of interrogation techniques that were approved for use on Abu Zubaydah, also known as "the evillest man who ever lived (until the next one comes along)." We've known about these. They include waterboarding and walling. There's also sleep deprivation, described as "The subject is prevented from sleeping, not to exceed 11 days at a time."

Lest you think Zubaydah was being let off easy by being forced awake for 11 days, there's this footnote: "As initially proposed, sleep deprivation was to be induced by shackling the subject in a standing position with his feet chained to a ring in the floor and his arms attached to a bar at head level, with very little room for movement." In other words, sleep deprivation through crucifixion pose. So you know all those Wizard of Id cartoons you never laughed at? It was like that, with the arms a bit lower and still not funny.

There's 11 proposed techniques described. Then, at the bottom of page 36, there is a twelfth. Number 12 has been redacted. An ominous black box of authority covers it. If, as seems, the techniques are listed by increasing severity, from "attention grasp" to waterboarding, what comes next?

Number 12 seems to be the subject of discussion later, on page 54. John Yoo, in a rare moment of restraint, says to the OPR, "I had actually thought that we prohibited waterboarding. I didn't recollect that we had actually said that you could do it." Except, you know, they did it. Then the report says that the Office of Legal Counsel "told the CIA that approval of the remaining techniques could take longer if [redacted] were part of the EIT program. [CIA Legal Counsel John] Rizzo remembered Yoo asking how important the technique was to the CIA because it would 'take longer' to complete the memorandum if it were included." So John Yoo didn't tell the CIA, "No, you can't [fill in the blank with your favorite torture here - let's go with "put electrodes on his testicles"]." What he said was, "If you want to put electrodes on his testicles, it's gonna take us a little more time to come up with bullshit justification for it."

The report as a whole is fascinating stuff, like reading the heavily redacted Federalist Papers of the damned. On page 57, lawyers discuss things like whether or not Abu Zubaydah is allergic to certain insects. Then Deputy Attorney General Patrick Philbin gets worried about how indefinite the description of "severe pain" was: "He said he thought the clinical terminology of the statute was 'imprudent' to use in this context and that it did not provide 'useful, concrete guidance concerning what amounts to "severe pain."' Philbin said this was a practical concern and turned on the fact that there is no readily identifiable level of pain that precedes medical events such as organ failure." Again, the discussion was not whether or not to do it. It was on how best to hide it. This was where Yoo said, "They want it in there." The "they" presumably being the White House and/or the CIA who wanted to cover asses.

Yes, much of the parade of horrors that Yoo, Jay Bybee, and, it seems, Jennifer Koester helped give the veneer of honorable behavior is well-known. And Yoo revels in being as much of a dick as possible about this. When he said, blithely, "Sure," to the question of whether the president had the legal authority to order the massacre of a village of resisters, one merely has to ask, "And how would Americans feel if the Mexican president believed he had the authority to send his troops to kill everyone in Laredo?" Twee academic Yoo seems to have gotten caught up in his moment of finally being able to play the cowboy and not that poor, pantsed nerd whose tiny dick gets laughed at by the cheerleaders.

But the Rude Pundit keeps coming back to number 12. On page 84 of the report, the CIA Counter Terrorism Center says they believe that Abu Zubaydah was "still withholding information," even though he had been through the EIT program. "Senior CIA officials reportedly made the decision to resume the use of the waterboard," the report says. That's followed by a redacted part of the sentence. But whatever else was done, it allowed interrogators to agree after "that the subject was being truthful."

Number 12 must have been a hell of a thing. We should be proud as Americans to have constructed such a well thought-out system of forced confessions and brutality in our name.