And so the torture was intensified, with individuals tortured by combinations of sleep deprivation, repeated near-drowning, slamming against plywood walls by the neck, forced to stand in a stress position by shackles, etc. Was this sadism? No. It was bureaucracy. You have to monitor what is being done to prisoners, especially to avoid future prosecutions for doing what every legal authority had previously understood to be war crimes. Michael Chertoff told John Yoo in 2002 that
... the more investigation into the physical and mental consequences of the techniques they did, the more likely it would be that an interrogator could successfully assert that he acted in good faith and did not intend to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.
Thoreau, always at his best at his most intemperate, sums up my feelings rather nicely:
Screw it, I’ll just go ahead and Godwin this right now: If the allegations in this report by Physicians for Human Rights are accurate, then we’re talking Mengele stuff here.