Title 18 part I Chapter 113C
(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
This is the US law against torture. If you read the section under offense you will notice it mentions offensives that occur outside the USA. Under jurisdiction it mentions any US national. It applies to any US Citizen not just soldiers. There is no exception for enemy combatants, or terrorists, or mean people who scare you until you wet yourself.
There has been a lot of talk about how the Attorney general said water boarding is not illegal. I believe he did. He was wrong! He is probably the only legal expert, of his stature, to come to this conclusion. Unfortunately it has created a bit of a quagmire. The people doing the interrogations took his word for it that it was legal. This will make it very difficult if not impossible to get a conviction for torture on any of these people. The mistake most people make is; they think that makes it legal. It doesn’t!
People get away with crimes because of technicalities all the time. It doesn’t mean they did something legal. What it really means is our legal system, is set up in a way that, would rather set free the guilty, than incarcerate the innocent. This is one of the great things about America. We are known as the land of the free for a reason.
The definition of torture is
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.
Notice under “C” it mentions the threat of imminent death. Now if you ask anyone who is any way associated with water boarding or the water cure as it is more commonly known, they will tell you it makes you believe you are drowning. I am not sure what it would take to convince our former attorney general that someone thinks they are about to die. Most reasonable people would associate the thought “they are drowning” with the fear of imminent death.
While it is true that out laws don’t specifically say “water boarding is torture” they don’t list anything specifically as torture. The laws leaves the courts with some interpretation leeway as far as what torture really is. I find it hard to believe anyone who is familiar with exactly how water boarding is done, can really think it doesn’t fall under the definition of torture. Just remember that all the arguments that say water boarding is legal, can also be applied to cutting of someones fingers, one at a time with a pair of dull garden shears, then starting on their toes. After all US law doesn’t specifically outlaw that either.