"A year on, the [Obama] administration continues to look the other way when it comes to full disclosure of and remedy for human rights violations perpetrated by the U.S.A. in the name of countering terrorism." – Amnesty International
What is Torture? It can be physical or physchological, quick or unhurried. It implies lasting trauma unbefitting a human. The U.N. defines torture as:
" ...any act by which severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession…" (U.N. Convention Against Torture).
By this definition the U.S. continues to practice torture. Yes, Obama outlawed some especially shocking forms of torture — water boarding, for example — but other types of torture were not labeled "torture" and thus continue.
Surprisingly, this fact was recently discussed at length in The New York Times, under an Op-Ed piece appropriately entitled Torture's Loopholes. In it, an ex-interrogator explains some of the more glaring examples of how the U.S. currently tortures and argues for the practices to end. In reference to Obama's vow to end the systematic, obscene torture under Bush, the article states:
"…the changes were not as drastic as most Americans think, and elements of our interrogation policy continue to be both inhumane and counterproductive."
The author says bluntly, "If I were to return to one of the war zones today… I would still be allowed to abuse [torture] prisoners."
The article also explains how the U.S. "legally" continues a practice that thousands of people in the U.S. prison system already know to be psychological torture:
"…extended solitary confinement is torture, as confirmed by many scientific studies. Even the initial 30 days of isolation could be considered abuse [torture]."
Other forms of torture commonly practiced — since they are part of the Military's updated Field Manual — are "…stress positions [shackling prisoners in painful positions for extended periods of time], putting detainees into close confinement or environmental manipulation [hot or frigid rooms]…"
Also mentioned as torture is sleep deprivation, a tactic used in combination with 20-hour interrogation sessions. The author concludes that these practices do "not meet the minimum standard of humane treatment, either in terms of American law or simple human decency." (January 20, 2010).
Unmentioned by the article are other forms of torture institutionalized under the Obama administration. One is "sensory deprivation," a deeply traumatizing psychological torture described in detail in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. The new Army Field Manual says that the tactic — though not called "sensory deprivation" — should be used to "prolong the shock of capture," and should include "goggles or blindfolds and earmuffs" that completely disconnects the senses from the outside world, where the captive is able to experience only the thoughts in their head.