Rumsfeld refused to use the word “torture.” “I’m not a lawyer,” he said. “My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture … And therefore I’m not going to address the ‘torture’ word.”
What is almost as disgusting as the reports of Torture against these prisoners is Rumsfeld’s persistent insistence on applying a nice thick even coat of bullshit on top of it.
But he is right, actually. Perhaps there is a method to his madness here: “Torture” usually refers to physical and mental pain with the aim of extracting information or forcing action. Plain old “abuse” could be incurring physical and mental pain without any aim at all other than the sadistic personal pleasure of the persons administering the abuse. I guess Rummy must be afraid that if it were alleged (or discovered) that these actions were the result of operations to get information out of these prisoners (perhaps as part of his failed hunt for WMDs?), and thus were indeed categorized as real actions of torture ordered by their superiors, then the stench of this scandal would rise much higher than the rank of these few grunts that were caught in these recent incidents. I hadn’t really though about it until he made that distinction and I questioned why he would go out of his way to that. So I’m no longer just disgusted by the situation – I’m now suspicious of what the deeper meaning is behind all this too, thanks to Rummy’s clarification of the difference between torture and abuse.