Many of us share Jane Mayer's disgust at the revelations about CIA torture ("Torture and the Truth," Dec. 22 & 29, 2014 [The New Yorker]), and the dishonesty whereby the CIA hid the hideous effects of their "enhanced interrogation" program. But I was disappointed that Ms. Mayer continues to imply that the U.S. gave up torture when President Obama issued his famous executive order in January 2009, when the President formally announced the Army Field Manual was to be the interrogator's only guide for interrogation techniques.
But numerous human rights and legal groups have said the Army Field Manual still includes techniques that amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Indeed, in November 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture, which monitors adherence to a UN treaty against torture to which the U.S. is a signatory, stated in a review of U.S. practices that the U.S. needed to review Appendix M of the Army Field Manual. The reason? The manual allowed the use of sleep and sensory deprivation, and that kind of treatment of prisoners goes against treaty obligations. In the case of sensory deprivation, the Committee called the manual's use of the technique "torture" which can "create a state of psychosis with the detainee."
The UN report did not go unnoticed. The story made headlines in the New York Times and other newspapers. It is a shame that it is ignored in the pages of The New Yorker, and that a false picture about the current state of U.S. interrogation procedures is propagated.
[Note: the only change I've made in posting this is to add whatever is in brackets, as well as the embedded links. These minimal additions are added for the convenience and potential interest of readers.]