The UN defines torture as:
Article 1: "For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions." Article 2: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." Article 11: "Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to preventing any cases of torture." Article 13: "Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given." This "Convention Against Torture" Charter was ratified by the United States in 1994. Thus we must abide by the treaty as if it was our own law. According to the US Constitution: Article 6: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." Article 4: "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." 8th Amendment: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Article 1: Congress shall have the power "To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States" The Definition of a US citizen is: "Citizenship is granted at birth to persons born in the US, persons born abroad with at least one US citizen parent, persons granted lawful permanent residence, or persons naturalized." Thus the controversy stems over what the definition of "torture" is. According to the UN torture includes "severe pain and suffering." More specifically, the controversy is in regards to whether water boarding can be defined as "severe." This can be left up to the reader to decide, however, we should remember the punishments that were present throughout the Dark Ages and the Spanish Inquisition (as well as numerous other occasions). I would personally define "severe" as extreme pain - such as ripping off a nail, whipping someone numerous times, and/or being forcefully raped. I put all the extra stuff from the Constitution in this post in case a reader questions whether the 8th Amendment should be applied to the torture controversy. The 8th Amendment states that "cruel and unusual punishment" shall not be inflicted. Remember, the Constitution and its protections only apply to US citizens which is defined by Article 1 (and thus Congress). A enemy combatant or anyone captured overseas (unless originally born here) will probably not be regarded as a US citizen. Thus the 8th Amendment and its protections does not apply to this individual. If they were included as a US citizen then I could see where an argument could come up in regards to water boarding being considered "unusual." However, the Constitution states "cruel AND unusual." Again, the reader can decide whether water boarding is actually "cruel." I would definitely not consider it cruel. To me, "cruel" includes the gas camps used in Nazi Germany and the horrible experiments they conducted as well. Water boarding does not actual harm (it is sort of a fake drowning scenario) and is far more heinous than the previously mentioned conditions used in WWII. Hopefully this helps a little bit. I personally think this whole situation is a political one used to divert attention from other more important things going on in this nation (such as the Credit Card bill). I do believe torture is morally wrong - but when has the US ever been moral? I think the detaining of 300 individuals in Guantanamo and its controversy is also ridiculous. Again, remember these are not US citizens and thus they should not receive the same liberties as such (even though the Supreme Court recently rule that they do in fact have protections).