The OLC memos released today make for chilling reading. They also make it clear that we’re talking about interrogation methods that were whipped up by a group of people who were incredibly eager to torture some of their fellow human beings. They reflect the mindset of a group that regards the legal prohibition on torture as really sad, and thus something they need to find a way to get around. They achieved this by first concocting this weird definition of torture and then deviously coming up with all kinds of ways of torturing people that don’t fit the definition.
But all that this business about trapping someone in a confined box with insects shows is that the definition is wrong. The bug box, the slap, the stress positions, the waterboarding, etc. have all the hallmarks of torture. If they were done to your dad, you would call it torture. But some folks who are both creative and demented managed to come up with a bunch of ways of torturing people that didn’t fit the weird definition of torture they dreamed up.