Sleep Deprivation Is Torture

“The former C.I.A. officer, who is knowledgeable about the interrogation program, explained that, ‘Sleep deprivation works.  Your electrolyte balance changes.  You lose all balance and ability to think rationally.  Stuff comes out.’  Sleep deprivation has been recognized as an effective form of coercion since the Middle Ages, when it was called tormentum insomniae.  It was also recognized for decades in the United States as an illegal form of torture.  An American Bar Association report, published in 1930, which was cited in a later U.S. Supreme Court decision, said, ‘It has been known since 1500 at least that deprivation of sleep is the most effective torture and certain to produce any confession desired.’ Under President Bush’s new executive order [of July 20, 2007], C.I.A. detainees must receive the ‘basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.’  Sleep, according to the order, is not among the basic necessities.”

Jane Mayer, “The Black Sites: A Rare Look Inside the C.I.A.’s Secret Interrogation Program,” The New Yorker Magazine, August 13, 2007

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