What's being called the Torture Memo (written in 2003 and made public yesterday) sheds a bold light on upper official decrees on the definition of torture at the beginning of the Iraq War. The memo contains language telling Pentagon senior leadership that inflicting pain would not be considered torture unless it caused “death, organ failure or permanent damage.”
It is the most fully developed legal justification that has yet come to light for inflicting physical and mental pressure on suspects, and it was declassified in response to a request by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act. Campus Progress has a great breakdown of the quotes and arguments from the memo.
While top Pentagon officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, have said they never condoned mistreatment of prisoners, the role played by senior officials at the Pentagon has never been fully explained. Given the way some of the soldiers were held personally accountable for the events at Abu Ghraib, do you think the "culture of abuse" actually came as a directive from the top?