One of the most damning aspects of the new report on torture put out by the Constitution Project is a comparison of what the Bush administration said about the techniques they authorized for use on detainees when those same things were done by other countries. From the report:
The State Department criticized Jordan in its 2006 Human Rights report for subjecting detainees to “forced standing in painful positions for prolonged periods.” In its 2000, 2001 and 2002 reports on Iran, “suspension for long periods in contorted positions” is described as torture. In its 2001 and 2002 Human Rights report on Sri Lanka, “suspension by the wrists or feet in contorted positions” and remaining in “unnatural positions for extended periods” are described as “methods of torture.”…
In the section entitled Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the 2003 – 2007 Bush State Department Human Rights report on Sri Lanka described “near-drowning” as “torture and abuse.” In its Human Rights Reports for Tunisia from 1996 to 2004, “submersion of the head in water” is deemed “torture.” In the 2005 and 2006 Human Rights Reports for Tunisia, this practice is considered “torture and abuse.”
When other countries do those things, it’s torture. When we do them, it’s not. Must be that “American exceptionalism” thing the right is so fond of.