According to Article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, torture is defined as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed…”
The Office of Legal Counsel, in the US Department of Justice, redefined torture (somewhere between 2002-03) to enable effective conduct of war on terror to equate torture with pain, particularly pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.”
Now, Prof. Jack Goldsmith, of Harvard Law School, one of the key, but reluctant architects of the “Torture Memo” is arguing in a new book–The Terror Presidency–that this opinion “defined torture far too narrowly” and that he objected to the “extremely broad and unnecessary analysis of the president’s commander in chief power” in the various internal classified and unclassified memos.
In an extensive interview to the New York Times Magazine, Prof. Goldsmith is arguing that President Bush “badly overplayed a winning hand,” and that he “could have achieved all that he (Bush) wanted to achieve, and put it on a firmer foundation, if he had been willing to reach out to other institutions of government.” Prof. Goldsmith reserves the harshest words for David Addington, who was Vice President Cheney’s legal adviser, describing him as overbearing, zealous, aggressive, and too contemptuous of other branches of the U.S. government. Prof. Goldsmith estimation is that the United States might have violated various aspects of the Geneva Conventions and the United States Constitution, which forbids torture.