If the Detainee Dies, Doing Sleep Deprivation Is Wrong

afghandrawing1.thumbnail.jpgOne of the most shocking quotes from the Senate Armed Services Committee torture report came from Jonathan Fredman, then the Counsel for CounterTerrorism Center at CIA, now working for the Director of National Intelligence, told some interrogators at Gitmo, "It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong." Fredman is reported to have said that on October 2, 2002. A month later, on November 1, 2002, the staff JAG for a Special Ops unit in Bagram judged there was a risk to participating in CIA interrogations; "we are at risk as we get more ‘creative’ and stray from standard interrogation techniques and procedures taught at DoD and DA schools and detailed in official interrogation manuals." A month after that, two prisoners at Bagram died as a result of torture; Habibullah on December 3 and Dilawar on December 9 or 10.

This is not news. Their deaths–particularly that of Dilawar–have received a good deal of attention. There was an extensive report on their treatment in the NYT. (And as Loo Hoo notes, Dilawar was the subject of Taxi to the Dark Side.)

What I did not know, though, is that the criminal report on their deaths found the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation, "combined with other mistreatment," to have "caused" or have been "direct contributing factors" in the two homicides. From the SASC report:

In December 2002, two detainees were killed while detained by CITF-180 at Bagram. Though the techniques do not appear to have been included in any written interrogation policy at Bagram, Army investigators concluded that the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation combined with other mistreatment at the hands of Bagram personnel, caused or were direct contributing factors in the two homicides. 1174 In the wake ofthe deaths of Habibullah and Dilawar, CITF-180 and the SMU TF began developing written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for interrogations. [my emphasis]

This report was dated October 8, 2004.

Mind you, this is the best demonstration available that (as Jeff Kaye has explained) "sleep deprivation"–as described in the torture program–is never just sleep deprivation. 

What this … demonstrates is the proclivity of the CIA and other government torturing agencies to twist the meaning of words, and stuff into the nomenclature of one "technique" or procedures a veritable cornucopia of different torture methods. In this "enhanced interrogation" version of sleep deprivation, forced sleep deficit was combined, as we can see, with shackling, forced positions and forced standing, humiliation, manipulation of diet, sensory overload, and possibly other torture procedures.

Rather, "sleep deprivation" is the excuse for shackling prisoners, in the case of Dilawar, hanging him from the ceiling by his arms.

That October 8, 2004 criminal investigation report, then, was effectively an admission that the "sleep deprivation," as practiced, combined with other harsh treatment (in the case of Dilawar, extensive beatings to his legs while he was hanging from his arms), could kill.

Now look at that date once more: October 8, 2004, well before Stephen Bradbury published an OLC memo on May 10, 2005, approving the use of sleep deprivation in combination with other harsh techniques. The memo, of course, makes no mention of the criminal investigation that concluded that sleep deprivation combined with other harsh techniques had killed two men. But the report sure seems to be in the background of everything Bradbury wrote in that memo, such as:

…the CIA has found that many of the at least 25 detainees subjected to sleep deprivation have tolerated it well. The general conditions in which sleep deprivation takes place would notchange this conclusion. Shackling is employed as a passive means of keeping a detainee awake and is used in a way designed to prevent causing significant pain. A detainee is not allowed to hang by his wrists.

Except, of course, when they are, and such shackling from the wrists in the name of sleep deprivation causes death, huh Mr. Bradbury?

Now, aside from the fact that the memo seems designed to deny that criminal investigators had already found that "sleep deprivation" used in conjunction with other methods had killed two men, we have no way of proving that Bradbury saw the criminal report before he wrote the memo (or, for that matter, ever). 

Yet it’s worth looking at the timing and author of the long NYT story describing the treatment of Dilawar and Habibullah. The author, Tim Golden, is the same person who, the following year, published extensive details (from a leaked copy) of the memo Gordon England and Philip Zelikow wrote in June 2005 proposing more humane treatment of detainees. The story on the Bagram detainees also depended on leaked materials," a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army’s criminal investigation into the case" (which appears to be the report the Senate Armed Services Committee document cites.  And the date? May 20, 2005, just days after Bradbury published his memo declaring sleep deprivation combined with other harsh methods to be perfectly legal and safe. 

While we can’t be sure, the timing and the similar reporting circumstances suggest Golden’s Bagram story may have been another attempt on the part of dissidents within the Administration to push back against Bradbury’s "Combined Techniques" opinion. If so, it would suggest Bradbury knew or should have known about the conclusion of the investigation into Dilawar’s death, yet repeatedly claimed that "sleep deprivation" combined with other harsh treatment does not severely harm detainees. 

In any case, it explains one more reason why Jim Comey predicted we’d be ashamed once we saw that "combined techniques" memo.

(The image, of Dilawar, was first published in the NYT article on his treatment.)

52 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    In any case, it explains one more reason why Jim Comey predicted we’d be ashamed once we say that “combined techniques” memo.

    And as Occams Hatchet describes in a diary at DK, it’s probably also why Cheney and others involved do not want the photos of abuse released. OH looks back at the Nuremberg Trials, where the showing of a film from the concentration camps put all the dry, dusty memos into start relief.

    The film lasted just under an hour. The effect on the mood in the courtroom can hardly be overstated. Some people could not bear to watch; one woman fainted. And as the images from the projector continued to flicker across the screen that fateful afternoon, the veneer of arrogance and invincibility that had been a hallmark of the Nazi true believers for 12 long years finally cracked.

    Reading a memo is bad enough, but confronting the visual images of what that memo authorized is worse by several orders of magnitude.

    • Rayne says:

      Speaking of confronting images, I noticed a little detail last evening while browsing through EW’s Torture Timeline:

      October 11, 2007: Michael Hayden announces investigation into CIA’s IG, John Helgerson. Hayden discusses “number of detainees subjected to” torture with John Murtha.

      October 25, 2007: DOJ informs Leonie Brinkema that they’ve discovered three interrogation tapes.

      November 2, 2007: Cheney Counsel Shannen Coffin leaves, with little notice.

      November 9, 2007: Bill Nelson briefed on torture.

      December 6, 2007: NYT reports that CIA destroyed tapes.

      December 11, 2007: Hayden briefs SSCI on torture tapes, reading techniques used on Abu Zubaydah (including waterboarding) during hearing (Feinstein, Wyden, Bauh, Mikulski, Feingold, Nelson, Whitehouse, Levin, Warner, Hagel, Hatch, Snowe, Burr).

      December 14, 2007: Michael Mukasey refuses to share information on torture tape inquiry with Congress, citing the need to avoid politicization of investigation (he would later change his mind).

      December 19, 2007: A fire breaks out in an electrical closet in Dick Cheney’s office.

      January 2, 2008: Mukasey announces criminal investigation of torture tape destruction.

      Bold item my addition. Quite the coincidence — the tapes go missing, Mukasey flip-flops on an investigation, and there’s a fire in between.

      I’m debating about the best approach to a FOIA asking for an itemization of the fire damage in Deadeye’s office…

      • Citizen92 says:

        As has been pointed out before, work for Dick Cheney has gone up in smoke before.

        Addington seldom goes out socially, instead staying at his office until late at night to make sure that everything is buttoned up to his liking. Almost pathologically private, he keeps his office door locked at all times, colleagues say, because of the national security documents in his files.

        Addington not only recalls virtually every memorandum he has written in the past 25 years, but also used to have a complete set of all his files in his house. Several years ago, however, lightning struck a power line, setting his home on fire. Much of his collection of papers and political memorabilia was burned. His wife, Cynthia, and their three daughters were fine, but the loss of his extraordinary collection reportedly was very hard for him to accept.


        As for tracking down records, you should go after:

        -GSA. They own the real estate and buildings. They’re responsible for construction and restoration work on the OEOB.
        -DC Fire & EMS. They responded and put out the blaze. They would most certainly have had to file reports.
        -US Secret Service (DHS). They were responsible for securing the scene, specifically the “uniformed division” of the USSS.

        Some records are off limits, at least for 15 years. As you know, Bush changed longstanding course and made the Office of Administration FOIA-exempt (which the Obama Administration has disappointingly decided to continue). This office oversees most facilities related matters on the “18 Acres” and would undoubtedly also have been a lead in reconstruction. But any of those records are off limits until the archive opens in 15 years.

      • emptywheel says:

        You mean sort of the way that just after the CIA leak investigation was announced, the WH magically lost a bunch of emails, starting with teh days when Libby and CHeney were sorting out their story?

        • Rayne says:


          Boy, it sure seems odd that the VP’s office wasn’t outfitted with a sprinkler system, especially in the electrical closet where IT/network equipment might best be located.

          Sprinkler system in such a closet would ordinarily be a best practice, at least in the corporate world.

          But that’s like the missing emails; I haven’t run into a corporate IT guy yet who doesn’t think the number of emails and the archiving (or lack thereof) is fishier than hell.

          Citizen92 (14) — thanks for the pointers, will help immensely. Would have been nice if Jane Mayer had slipped in the year of Addington’s house fire, wouldn’t it?

          Loo Hoo (17) — thanks. Watch for those little overlaps in timelines and events, they are coming fast and furious.

    • rkilowatt says:

      abt 1948 watched 15-20 min of those films. The effects persist. None of the images were mild or pleasant. They were beyond any questioning of credibility. They were meant to indelibly impinge. As you note, images are powerful… because they mimic our minds and thought mechanisms.

  2. oldnslow says:

    Thank you Marcy. Even though it increasingly sickens and shames please keep up the stellar reporting. (last sentence s/b saw not say)

  3. JimWhite says:

    Last year, ondelette wrote a post about the shackling in stress positions and described its relationship to methods in the Spanish Inquisition: strappado and squassation. He linked these practices to the death of Manadel al Jamadi at Abu Ghraib, but that death was a year after the deaths discussed here from what appears to be the same treatment.

  4. katiejacob says:

    I remember reading the NYT’s report on the beating and death of Dilawar (something like his legs were turned to mush)so long ago. It seems like so many crimes have been uncovered and documented i.e. made public. But this is a very odd world where the evidence is right there; people are informed about what happened,and yet murder, torture, the sodomizing of children in front of their mothers, the convienient ”suicide” of al Libi,warantless spying on the e-mail and phone communications of millions of Americans, lying the nation into war: the most serious of crimes imaginable,go unpunished. Worse is that they evoke so little response from the people in whose name this nation is governed.

    • Mary says:

      It’s hard to process sometimes, isn’t it. They’ve made this nation torture compliant on whim and don’t have any cares or concerns about how that destroys it.

    • Palli says:

      That old US exceptionalism again. The US continued allowing slavery for decades after the rest of the western world had outlawed it.

      to Peterr & rkilowatt: This President will not waste the photos…they will out at the right time…when Americans will have to look at them and see. That moment is not yet
      This President has the blood of the slave and the slaveholder in his veins.

      • dakine01 says:

        This President has the blood of the slave and the slaveholder in his veins.

        Actually, no he does not.

        President Obama’s father was from Kenya so he does not have the blood of US slaves (his wife does however). And Kansas was settled more by folks who were against slavery so it came into the Union as a free state.

        • Palli says:

          Any black person in the US has the viseral understanding of slavery….African or passing. John Brown knew his state had slavecatchers. Actually I don’t want to be stubborn but empathy Obama has.

          • 4jkb4ia says:

            I cannot imagine that it is “visceral” for someone like Colson Whitehead or Obama’s kids, who have been raised with parents who want them to take full advantage of the opportunities they were given. Even for the descendants of Holocaust survivors, “visceral” isn’t enough. You need to be able to work through and claim your history.

  5. Mary says:

    While Dilawar was military *interrogation* rather than CIA, his torture killing also highlights both why Toensing was full of it with her “torture to keep America safe” and why the “combined techniques” Bradbury memo is really shocking.

    Dilawar was a just an Afghan guy – managed to get enough money for a car and started acting as an Afghan version of a cabbie. He was not al-Qaeda, he was not Taliban, he was just a young guy in his own country, trying to make a living using his car for cab services.

    What Bradbury’s “combined” memo did was abandon the fiction that OLC was authorizing the torture for high value al-Qaeda operatives or even low value unlawful enemy combatants and make it clear that the CIA could engage in all and any combinations of “the techniques” with respect to anyone they picked up – any detainee could be subjected to the techniques. He frames that as a hypothetical and if you look at his Jan2009 memo and its references to it being a mistake to try to engage in broad hypotheticals instead of narrow points it’s pretty clear that he’s using that memo (probably after Mukasey’s heads up on the OPR investigation) to try to clean up his file.

    But anyone who talks about ticking time bombs and the fear after 9/11 needs to understand that years after 9/11 Bradbury was generating his “combined” memo and saying that all the torture could be used in any combinations against any detainee – – not because there was some necessity exception, but because such things were not torture.

  6. marksb says:

    This is not news. Their deaths–particularly that of Dilawar–have received a good deal of attention.

    Ah but I bet a survey would show that 99% of Americans don’t know this. Traditional media certainly won’t say so–the idea of saying this is still controversial–if Pelosi said this it would be like her saying last week that the CIA lies to Congress: it’s true, but everybody’s got to report it like it’s an unproven, wild accusation that needs rebutting by the usual suspects.

  7. phred says:

    IIRC back in the era of crucifixions, if a person was taking too long to die, their legs would be broken to hurry the process along. When I first heard about Dilawar’s death, being hung up and having his legs beaten, all I could think of was this aspect of crucifixion, where death was the intended outcome.

  8. emptywheel says:


    Actually, the interrogation appears to have involved the Special Mission Unit that (in Iraq) claimed they had carte blanche to torture even until 2004. The SASC report implies, but does not make it crystal clear, that the deaths came after SMU TF was looking for techniques at Gitmo and the CIA program.

    In other words, this is the nexus of where the CIA program traveled to the defense program (even with SMU TF claiming they might qualify for the CIA standard). That’s what led to the deaths.

    • Mary says:

      Reliance opinions are fact specific – they might claim they qualify for the standard but they are not covered by the opinion, it is a CIA opinion. The reasoning is the opinions are so bad that there is no cut off of who would be covered under the rationale, but the Bradbury opinion isn’t issued for reliance other than by CIA. And a lot of the torture came from the guards back in the cell as well as from the interrogators. The guards apparently got a kick out of how he screamed for Allah when they landed those blows on his crushed legs, so they all took turns – bring the family, fun for all.

      Another problem with the military response to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. You jazz up a bunch of 18-22 yos to go and take vengence for 9/11 in a country they know nothing about and with no Geneva Conventions and who could have imagined anything might go wrong? That Mullen is still, even now, having to remind that killing civilians isn’t a great game plan for stabilizing a country.

      But back to Dilawar, another element of the bigger picture is what happened to his cab fares who were originally taken in for questioning with him and were then in essence witnesses to his torture murder by the US. Gosh, what’s a torture regime without a place to disappear civilian witnesses and luckily we had GITMO. That’s where they were shipped after the killing.

      That’s the domino effect on suspension of law and of the GCs. There was always an easy path – torture, murder, cover up. And now the institutions of this nation – the Presidency, the Congress, the Department of Justice, the televised media — have all joined together to make the nation compliant with that approach. They’ve all joined together, in what might have been contentious or uneasy alliances but in ones that were unshaken, to reshape the nation. The DOJ has known all these stories and many more forever and they still all stand shoulder to should to defend torture and torturers. None of them can even muster a semblence of a gag reflex anymore.

      • Palli says:

        Like the images in theWithout Sanctuary collection of American lynching photography, images of American torture will out- both as government documentation and wartime sourvenirs.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Exactly. The SMU TF is the special forces operation, Task Force 121 (and went by other names), which McChrystal, Obama’s new general in Afghanistan, had ultimate responsibility for, operating at Camp Nama.

      JPRA/Special Forces/CIA/private security and “recovery” contractors… these organizations’ personnel and cultures have blurred together over the past decades, in the operational stew that is covert ops and clandestine warfare. This is why, for instance, per the SASC, SMU TF could request one of the observers from JPRA by name to come and investigate them. (Unfortunately for SMU TF, one of the other observers was Col. Kleinman.) This also is why, for instance, the school for the interrogators turned out to be JPRA’s Personnel Recovery Academy (PRA) (see Jessen’s suggestion to use PRA in his Exploitation Plan, as discussed in the SASC report).

      I know this nexus well, as via Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology), these individuals also operated (or some of them did) at the American Psychological Association, where they secured institutional approval for what they were doing (via the PENS process, and other resolutions passed).

      Thanks, Marcy, too, for helping get the word out about how the language used to describe the military/CIA’s interrogations often hides or obfuscates what happened, rather than elucidating it. The investigators’ conclusion re the death of Dilawar was a good catch, and captures the duplicity of what Bradbury and others were doing.

    • Nell says:

      Are you sure? I thought Willie Brand and the other soldier who killed Dilawar were regular GIs.

      I want Dan McNeill in the dock someday along with other brass who allowed this poison to spread. He was in charge in Afghanistan at the time,and certified that Dilawar and the other prisoner killed died of natural causes. He’s since been promoted, just like McChrystal and Miller. Command responsibility means absolutely nothing in the military today.

      • emptywheel says:

        I think, like Abu Ghraib, you had guys who were supposedly the interrogators, and those “loosening up” the detainees. So you’ve got a range of background/clearance to torture.

  9. RAMA says:

    Every time I hear about this ‘sleep deprivation’ crap that consisted of hanging guys in shackles from hooks in the ceiling, I can’t help but recall the punishment of those implicated in trying to kill Hitler with a bomb in that bunker. The SS hung those guys, repeatedly, with piano wire apparently suspended from hooks in the ceiling until they confessed to what the SS wanted to hear.

    I keep thinking, well at least the CIA didn’t use piano wire. But then I also keep thinking about those 2,000 photos of torture yet to come out into the light of day. And then I watch the talking heads and read the serious columnists claiming that torture’s a dirty business but we ought to give everyone involved a pass and I wonder, what vicious, brutal alternate reality have I woken up in and when will the nightmare end?

    One thing you’ve got to give Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and the rest credit for: In just eight short years they completely destroyed the United States of America’s moral underpinnings and replaced them with some sort of 21st Century degenerate amalgam of Heinrich Himmler, Uncle Joe Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot mixed with a good dollop of Ayn Rand and John Birch. I’m not sure anymore whether I’m more angry or sad at what has been done to our nation.

    • JohnJ says:

      I’m not sure anymore whether I’m more angry or sad at what has been done to our nation.

      This lack of reaction that the American people are showing is more along the lines of rape of the willing. If I don’t start seeing some outrage by the American people, I don’t hold much hope for our rehabilitation. “Christian Nation” my ass.

  10. Rayne says:

    Hey Citizen92 — you seem quite familiar with DC. Any chance you could find out what the fire code requires for commercial and government buildings with regard to sprinkler systems?

    Many municipalities require them and they often do not grandfather older buildings since their older wood frames are the worst kind of tinder.

    • Citizen92 says:

      If your question relates to the OEOB (Old Exec Office Building, Dick Cheney’s suite of staff offices) the building has no sprinklers, but it is currently undergoing a much-needed renovation of life and safety systems. At the time of the fire, it is my understanding that they had not yet gotten over to the VP’s side, which is the second floor, east.

      I have been in that building before, spent a lot of time there. Quite frankly I’m not surprised that there haven’t been fires before. The building itself is solid, iron and granite. The only woods in the place are on the windows, the interior doors and the furniture. It’s not going to fall down except in an earthquake. But it was built in the 1800’s. Over the years, “upgrades” such as electricity, computers and countermeasures have greatly taxed a building that was never meant to do what it is doing now.

      Even if the DC Municipal Regulations required sprinklers in old government buildings (it doesn’t), DC would have no say as to how the Federal government outfits a Federal building. And the OEOB is an historic building, to boot, which precludes any major renovations to the historic structure.

  11. Mary says:

    One of the things that really struck me about what we’ve become was reading that the cab fares lied to Dilawar’s mother and told her that the Americans had treated him extra nicely bc of his heart condition, so she wouldn’t know that the Americans tortured her son to death, just to do it.

    And that’s what Obama and the instituional CIA and DOJ want to protect – they want to make sure that government can do things so shocking and shameful that the witnesses will lie about it to the families of the victims, bc telling the truth would be so hurtful to those families. And they don’t give a damn – just collect their power bases, scratch each others backs and go on.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The combination of techniques and the use of the passive voice make it virtually impossible to prove exactly who murdered the victim. It could be sergeant A, contractor B, officer C, or man-in-black D. So, too, prolonged periods with no one in attendance, except by video, who might call for medical attention or document when the victim died. So, too, the absence of credible autopsy and other undoctored records. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt expires along with the victim, leaving only lesser felonies (e.g., obstruction) and “the system” as the murderer.

    The medically-trained and the symbologists here will have already observed that the shackled stress position used in your illustration closely resembles crucifixion.

    It’s likely to have similar effects. These include intense pain and heart stress, and great difficulty breathing. With creeping exhaustion from sleep deprivation and other abuse, the arms are no longer capable of relieving chest pressure, and the victim suffocates. Exquisitely horrific symbology for the christianist president and his whisperer-in-chief.

  13. JohnLopresti says:

    After several weeks, finally had time to begin reading Sasc report. Initial impression of syntax of narrative of Fredman remark at the October 20 2002 meeting, cited in diary above, was he was voicing sarcasm at the quality of Olc memoBybee1, though this is an unclassified report and more memos such as Bybee2 likely were available; I follow the matter only desultorily and without much structured approach. Fredman’s words quoted appeared to be from meeting notes provided to Sasc, and seemed excerpted from a much more protracted presentation. In the Sasc report they appear in the initial section entitled Executive Summary, as part of the 4th of 16 subsections, at p.xvii/xxix (pdf19/263). In this Sasc document, p.”1″ begins immediately after the Executive Summary. Beginning on p.1., the Sasc document has even the headers and footers of each page redacted.

    On further review of the Sasc document’s narrative of the Fredman remark, it seemed perhaps the critics who depict it as cavalier in the sense that it was providing intell’s carte blanche to gtmo administrators with respect to latitute of permissible abuse, probably are accurate in their initial insights of what the session was about. Maybe a congressional hearing could clarify better the actual context, as the image seems too abstracted by the writing quality in the Sasc document’s rendition.

  14. TheraP says:

    Thank you for this, EW. It powerfully buttresses the arguments that torture was occurring and that water torture is just one tiny piece of a torture process that is and was completely antithetical to our democratic ideals, our Constitution and international law. I put a blog up yesterday which details the 13 “principles” of neocon (straussian) ideology and how they provide a blueprint for the bush spiderweb of deceit and mayhem. And I plan to do post on how that ideology led to and underpins torture. I’ll definitely link to this post of yours.

    Incidentally, I posted a link to your Salon article on the thread of that blog of mine from yesterday.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you and phred point out, the intense leg beatings would have hurried along the suffocation and death that is the intended outcome of crucifixion. The leg beatings might also have produced clots that could migrate and result in heart attacks or stroke.

    You have long pointed out that these techniques are not about producing information. They are specifically and sadistically intended to produce horror. They do, at those who designed them and draped them in the American flag.

    That’s one reason it was essential to have “legal opinions” that the Geneva Conventions, the CAT and similar laws don’t apply, one part in a carefully designed machine. Like AG Ashcroft’s clothing of the revealing classical statutes at the DoJ, I don’t think those will be enough to hide the actions or the criminal intent of those that lived in the house that Cheney built.

    Only by actively hiding such things until evidence grows cold and victims and perpetrators die, and by actively preventing his DoJ from doing its job, could Mr. Obama shield them. Why would he want to?

    • cinnamonape says:

      I wonder if the Christians out there realize this was how Jesus and the two criminals (and tens of thousands of others crucified by the Romans) perished.

      “…it appears likely that the mechanism of death in crucifixion was suffocation. The chain of events which ultimately led to suffocation are as follows: With the weight of the body being supported by the sedulum, the arms were pulled upward. This caused the intercostal and pectoral muscles to be stretched. Furthermore, movement of these muscles was opposed by the weight of the body. With the muscles of respiration thus stretched, the respiratory bellows became relatively fixed. As dyspnea developed and pain in the wrists and arms increased, the victim was forced to raise the body off the sedulum, thereby transferring the weight of the body to the feet. Respirations became easier, but with the weight of the body being exerted on the feet, pain in the feet and legs mounted. When the pain became unbearable, the victim again slumped down on the sedulum with the weight of the body pulling on the wrists and again stretching the intercostal muscles. Thus, the victim alternated between lifting his body off the sedulum in order to breathe and slumping down on the sedulum to relieve pain in the feet. Eventually , he became exhausted or lapsed into unconsciousness so that he could no longer lift his body off the sedulum. In this position, with the respiratory muscles essentially paralyzed, the victim suffocated and died. (DePasquale and Burch)

      “Due to the shallow breathing, the [crucified] victim’s lungs begin to collapse in small areas. causing hypoxia and hypercarbia. A respiratory acidosis [note: this also occurs with water boarding…hypercapnia or CO2 poisoning], with lack of compensation by the kidneys due to the loss of blood from the numerous beatings, resulted in an increased strain on the heart, which beats faster to compensate. Fluid builds up in the lungs.

      Under the stress of hypoxia and acidosis the heart eventually fails. There are several different theories on the actual cause of death. One theory states that there was a filling of the pericardium with fluid, which put a fatal strain on the ability of the heart to pump blood (Lumpkin). Another theory states that Jesus died of cardiac rupture.” (Bergsma)

      The actual cause of Jesus’ death, however, “may have been multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia and perhaps acute heart failure.” (Edwards) A fatal cardiac arrhythmia may have caused the final terminal event. (Johnson, Edwards)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Have you a cite? As you point out, under their occupation of Palestine, the Romans crucified tens of thousands of Judeans (not just the three described in Christian texts). Mr. Bush was able to do it more efficiently with drones, and Mr. Obama continues that practice in Afghanistan.

        Dominic Crossan also points out the near absence of archaeological evidence that any of its victims were buried. Unusual given the number of victims, suggesting that most were left as carrion for vultures and dogs, to insult their families and religion, and pour encourager les autres.

      • cinnamonape says:

        “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” by William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AMI JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association March 21, 1986, Volume 255 which includes illustrations [Copyright 1986, American Medical Association]

        “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” is informative, both in a historical framwork as well as medically…but perhaps is not fully clinical in its approach.

    • Palli says:

      As a child of a WWII POW, I agree with your understanding of the horror…horror for other prisoners. These photos probably show public torture…on the parade grounds or in shared or adjacent cells…Americans will see color photos that will read no less terrible than the grainy B&W film of Nazi death camps or even the more “sanitized” the video of Roots.
      As others have observed here and, certainly as I am an artist, I suspect the images Cheneites are most afraid of being exposed are the ones os iron shackles.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that’s right. Obama’s decision had little to do with safeguarding our troops – the standard GOP and now Democratic trope used to excuse embarrassing policies. (The US has already adequately inflamed Middle Eastern radicals and those just trying to get to work, or to get safe water, food, schools and roadways.)

        His non-disclosure of the graphic record of his predecessor’s torture regime is about circling the wagons to protect American politicians at home – primarily from the wrath of their own people, but also from foreign governments who might seek to hold them accountable in the face of their refusal to “self-regulate”.

        Somehow, Mr. Obama’s “agenda” has become divorced from actually governing. It seems focused on remaining as governor, not in taking care of the needs of the governed.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Obama’s ‘decision’ “… to protect American politicians …”

          After Obama has ‘protected’ and showered even greater wealth on America’s Own Ari$tocracy, he must needs also protect the the other ‘half’ of the Ruling Cla$$, who, of course are … the Political Cla$$. Together, for that is where their primary ‘interests’ lie, these two groups are both “Too Big To Fail” and much too important (and powerful) to be held to ANY kind of account.

          I agree with your assessment that the true purpose of torture, beyond the claim of ‘finding’ the evidently absent evidence of linkage between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, was, as you say, “specifically and sadistically”, to horrify, in fact to terrify those being ‘ministered to’ (and, presumably, anyone else in the world who might become uppity) with such fundamental depravity as to make clear that none would ever dare to cross the will or whim of a society which has neither respect for humanity nor ANY compunction as regards doing ANYTHING, at all, to have its way.

          We treated our allies with disdain (and threats of economic ’sanctions’, if, indeed, some stories making the rounds are true) and maligned most derisively any who dared challenge our ‘perspective’.

          I find it hard to imagine that this was not ‘bipartisan’, and so far, nothing has occurred on Obama’s ‘watch’ to convince me otherwise, especially since members of both parties likely profit, literally, from the ‘endless war on terror’ and the ‘complicity of silence’, which continues, does little to tug my imagination in any other direction.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I’d have to agree that withholding the pictures was almost certainly greeted with glee by everyone on the Right and Left except Kucinich, Whitehouse, Brown, Feingold and the other DFH’s in Congress.

  16. Mary says:

    If you have the time, even though this piece is now 2 1/2 years old, it is worth the read:

    Military Justice? by Lt. Col. Gary Solis

    It shows the kinds of damage that the DOJ and WH have been willing to inflict on even our most important national institutions, all to keep themselves safe from ever having to allocute.

  17. timbo says:

    Somebody mentioned the White House emails. Good catch. What bothers me is the lack of interest from the Democrats in those emails now that they’re (supposedly) in power…

  18. klynn says:

    In any case, it explains one more reason why Jim Comey predicted we’d be ashamed once we saw that “combined techniques” memo.

    Marcy, thanks for this post. I have been working on many angles regarding Comey’s “combined techniques,” comment. I still think induced hypothermia was used for reduced injury and cardiac arrest treatment.

  19. MattYellingAtTheMoon says:

    Hermann Goering was not tortured and given full due process, this while he was openly admitting to the organization of the concentration camps. Committing torture/war crimes has done nothing but stain American ideals for a long time, if not forever.

    -BTW, Rumsfeld is denying involvement in the Biblical quote controversy:

  20. johnhkennedy says:

    Bush/Cheney and their Torture Lawyers took the indefensible and made it debatable.

    We need a Special Prosecutor appointed to control the giving of immunity to witnesses.

    Calling For A Special Prosecutor
    for all Torturers at ANGRYVOTERS.ORG


    Over 250,000 have signed

    Join Us


  21. SparklestheIguana says:

    Since you mention Tim Golden, it ought to be pointed out that Carlotta Gall wrote the first NYT article about Dilawar’s death. She’s the one who tracked down his family in Afganistan. They had the death certificate, but because they couldn’t read English they didn’t know what it said, and that the ME had checked homicide as manner of death.

    (from Taxi to the Dark Side)

  22. stevelaudig says:

    it is called ”special circumstances” homicide. Torture resulting in death and in many states of the united states seeking the death penalty is allowed. not much different from sylvia likens, john wayne gacy,

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