Bend Me, Shape Me, Tie Me to a Surfboard


Headline news  is full of the  Torture Memo, written in 2002 by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee to the CIA. It outlines the sorts of things that  Bybee, on behalf of everyone, decided would and would not be allowed while “interrogating” suspected terrorist types.

I’ve made a chart for easy reference: 



Waterboarding[1] Anything with the intent to inflict severe pain or suffering
Confinement in a space small enough to restrict movement Leaving him in the small space for more than 2 hours
Putting a harmless insect in the small space with the detainee if he has a fear of insects Not telling the detainee that the insect is harmless
Keeping the detainee naked and in a diaper Leaving the detainee in a soiled diaper (exactly who’s being tortured here?)
Putting detainee on a liquid diet  
Slapping the face or abdomen with the back of the hand  
Stress positions  
Water dousing[3]  
Facial hold[4]  
Wall standing  
Sleep deprivation  

Some of these are nasty. Some of these I don’t get. The rest remind me a lot of being a mother with an infant.

If I’m every captured by the CIA, I’d spill my guts, and the guts of everyone I know, right away. I reckon they’re going to get what they want from me in the end anyway, so I might as well save myself a lot of agony. I’ve learned this valuable lesson by parenting a teenager.

However, if, for some reason I have a very important secret that I stubbornly believe I need to hang on to no matter what, here are some ways they could torture it out of me quickly.

  1. Make me sit in a full-day management meeting.
  2. Sit me in a confined space and pipe in techno-pop.
  3. Tie me to a comfy chair and make me watch back-to-back episodes of CSI Miami.
  4. Teach me to knit.
  5. Force me to call Bell Canada tech help or anyone at Air Canada.
  6. Tell me I have to ride the #8 bus to Gatineau every morning and every afternoon during rush hours for a month.
  7. Threaten to move my workspace next to Fragrant Ilene’s (Woman-of-a-Thousand-Fragrances-that-She-Wears-all-at-Once)
  8. Lock me in a room full of mosquitoes and crickets.
  9. Lock me in a room with someone whose iPod is on loud enough for me to hear.
  10. Give me moment-by-moment updates on Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
  11. Make me wait for hours in a room full of crusty 5-year old magazines.
  12. Sit next to me or facing me and chew gum.  

[1] Immobilizing the victim on his back on a board, with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die. It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, ultimately, death

[2] A flexible false wall is built. The detaineel is placed with his heels touching the wall. The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. The detainee’s shoulder blades that hit the wall. The head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel to help prevent whiplash.

[3] Dousing the detainee with cold water with buckes or hoses.

[4] The facial hold is used to hold the head immobile. One open palm is placed on either side of the individual’s face. The fingertips are kept well away from the individual’s eyes.