- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
All of Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee’s just-declassified memo on the interrogation of Al Qaeda commander Abu Zubayda makes for pretty chilling reading. But for me, the extensive discussion over the circumstances under which it would be permissible to lock him in a box with an insect (he apparently was known to have a fear of them) really stands out as evidence of officials having completely lost touch with reality:
In addition to using the confinement boxes alone, you also would like to introduce an insect into one of the boxes with Zubaydah. As we understand it, you plan to inform Zubaydah that you are going to place a stinging insect into the box, but you will actually place a harmless insect in the box, such as a caterpillar. If you do so, to ensure that you are outside the predicate act requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain. If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so, then, in order to not commit a predicate act, you should not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death. [Redacted section] so long as you take either of the approaches we have described, the insect’s placement in the box would not constitue a threat of severe physical pain or suffering to a reasonable person in his position.
The rest of the memos are here.