Answering Derschowitz

Harvard Law professor Alan Derschowitz poses the question,

When you torture somebody to death … everybody would acknowledge that’s torture. But placing a sterilized needle under somebody’s fingernails for fifteen minutes, causing excruciating pain but no permanent physical damage – is that torture?

Jim Henley replies.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JakeV says:

    Dershowitz’s mouth certainly seems to outrun his brain sometimes.

  2. Karl Maher says:

    Hell yes that’s torture. Not that there’s anything wrong with it…

  3. McGehee says:

    I’m unclear on what Dersh’s point is — considering that he was all in favor of torturing terror suspects, back before there was hope that Abu Ghraib could be used to turn public opinion against Dubya…

  4. Gottlieb Almanegro says:

    Being tied in a chair with your eyes propped open and forced to watch Derschowitz rambling on inanely on TV …. now that would be torture.

  5. Fersboo says:

    Using pepperspray to swab the eyes and mouths of protestors and/or criminals that are actively resisting arrest and/or removal would also be considered torture by the above definition.

  6. Anderson says:

    This from the guy who’s all upset about how eyewitness ID isn’t reliable enough to convict people. (I agree with him on that, to some extent.) I guess we could replace line-ups with needle-ins until somebody confesses.

  7. LJD says:

    What about sleep deprivation? It could be said that making your kids get up in the morning for school is a form of torture.