That's a strong indication that a technique called the "Cold Cell" -- in which a detainee is stripped nude while his surroundings are chilled to 50 degrees and he's doused with cold water -- is either no longer part of interrogators' repertoire or has been modified from its original form. It's less clear whether there's a loophole for some of CIA's more infamous techniques, including waterboarding, which sources tell Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times was "abandoned years ago."
Not mentioned, however, are similar injunctions on sleep deprivation or sensory manipulation, such as barraging a detainee with light or noise for extended periods of time to induce disorientation. Both practices are thought to be in recent usage by CIA interrogators. And while senior officials wouldn't give any comment on those or other techniques, an alert reporter on a Friday conference call with anonymous senior officials caught the lack of reference to sleep deprivation. From the transcript:
QUESTION: Hi. I have a couple quick questions. One is in the provision that talks about how the detainees ought to receive the basic necessities of life, there's food and water, shelter from elements, and so forth, is there a reason that sleep is not included in that category? Can you say, regarding protection from extremes of heat and cold how someone would define what constitutes an extreme?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think these are standards and terms that are traditionally used in the Geneva conventions and consistently applied. And each of them would -- the term like extremes of heat and cold I think would be given a reasonable interpretation based on circumstances. But I think it's intended to be clear that we're not talking about forcibly induced hypothermia or any use of extreme temperatures as a practice in a program like this. And so I think that is intended to be clear.
And as to sleep, that's not something that is traditionally enumerated in the Geneva Convention provisions. And beyond that I'm not in a position to comment about particular --
The official, according to the transcript, doesn't say anything more. The lack of reference to sleep deprivation or sensory manipulation in the order suggests that the approach taken by the Bush administration is that on so-called "torture lite" interrogation methods, only what's expressly prohibited by Geneva is expressly prohibited by CIA interrogators. Combined with the "considering the circumstances" caveat, that leaves a lot of leeway for an interrogator to abuse a detainee.