Sleep deprivation

11 days, shackled standing up. John Yoo said it could be done in your name.

… is among the most insidious forms of torture. It leaves no physical trace, but four days without sleep will reduce most people to madness. The extent of lasting damage will, of course, vary from individual to individual. And no, this has nothing to do with the chronic sleep deficit – also, confusingly, called “sleep deprivation” – characteristic of contemporary life. We’re talking about being shackled for days on end in a standing position, so that if you fall asleep you take your full weight on your arms, waking you up.

Reading the OPR memo about Yoo and Bybee (p. 35), I learned (what apparently was already known) that OLC approved, in writing, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days. John Yoo teaches law at Boalt Hall. Jay Bybee exercise the awesome powers of a federal judge.

Feh.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

24 thoughts on “Sleep deprivation”

  1. aw boo hoo, this post makes me sad and disgusted with what a sissy the modern man (especially the modern academically-trained man) has become. Four days without sleep was a regular occurence for most kids going through college. I guess that's self-imposed torture??? What a joke. What a big fat joke. I can't stand cry babies, especially cry babies who whine about four days without sleep but don't like to talk about body parts being blown apart and heads being chopped off by terrorist attacks. Disgusting!

  2. Bux fails reading comprehension:

    "We’re talking about being shackled for days on end in a standing position,"

    Quite the difference, eh?

  3. If Bux believes that his buddies spent four days straight without sleep, I'd like to sell him a bridge. The difference between a couple of hours a night and no sleep whatever is the difference between tiredness and psychosis. As to the question of courage, the terrorists have so terrified Bux and the GOP that they want to shred our values and blast apart our institutions and adopt those of our enemies. Not me. I think the country is strong enough to win this war our way.

  4. Bux, do tell about when you stayed awake for 96 hours. I once worked ~40 hrs; even in pleasant circumstances, it was disorienting and painful. I don't think I could stay awake 72 hrs without "help".

  5. "John Yoo teaches law at Boalt Hall. Jay Bybee exercise the awesome powers of a federal judge.

    Feh."

    Barack Obama and Eric Holder have the power to put both Yoo and Bybee in the dock on war crime charges.

    Double feh.

  6. "Barack Obama and Eric Holder have the power to put both Yoo and Bybee in the dock on war crime charges.

    Double feh."And Obama and Holder have the moral and legal obligation to put Yoo and Bybee in the dock on war crime charges. If they don't then the next administration will have the power and obligation to put Holder and Obama themselves in the dock on war crime charges.

    Triple feh.

  7. I understand the position of the President and his chief of staff that it's too divisive to pursue these men and their crimes. (I understand but do not agree). If we let them quietly fade away, we can focus on the future. Thing is, they're not interested in quietly fading away. They are constantly in our faces, bragging about the chickenshit stuff they've done (and it takes a special kind of coward to abuse a man in chains), causing exactly the kind of division the President hopes to avoid.

    OK, if they want a forum to argue the legality and necessity of their conduct, I think the government ought to give them one.

  8. somebody show me the link to the study showing that sleep deprivation for four days leads to permanent long-term damage (physical or psychological). And how is sleep deprivation adopting our enemies' values? Again, our enemy blows up body parts and chops off heads, they don't use sleep deprivation. The difference is clear. Of course those terrorists who were "sleep deprived" always had the option to talk. It obviously wasn't painful enough for them to start spilling secrets. Torture is one of those words that is popular to throw around, with no real definition given to it. What is torture? In my book, torture brings demonstrated long-term physical or psychological damage. Losing a body part is gonna leave a permanent mark. Losing your head is, well….why don't people get it.

  9. Bybee is beyond reach, but Yoo is not. One of the Berkeley members of the Reality-Based Community needs to tell us what you are doing about this. You raise hell about the athletic program pretty well, and that is a good thing. How about putting Chris Edley through the same?

  10. …and admittedly I don't remember far enough back to school to remember exactly how much sleep my college buddies went without (and again, where's the research on where the line is anyways??). But I know for a fact that a general surgeon friend of mine going through residency spent four days in a row on call without sleep. Talk to a surgeon. It happens.

  11. "But I know for a fact that a general surgeon friend of mine going through residency spent four days in a row on call without sleep. Talk to a surgeon. It happens."

    Not any more, if anyone ever worked for 96 hours straight (i.e., never took a nap in one of the residents' bedrooms). Residency is harsh, but this gratuitous, caffeine-supported, on-call ordeal has been ruled out of bounds as it has become apparent that physicians so abused are likely to practice very, very bad medicine. And btw Bux, you know nothing of the sort, unless you were there following your surgeon friend around and also stayed up for the 96 hours. I teach medical students and deal with residents; they like to brag about how superhuman they are. A lot.

    But I don't expect you to believe me. Knock yourself out, Bux. The Institute of Medicine is ready when you are:
    http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2008/Resident-Duty-Hou

  12. Great, so per Bux's 4:29 anyone being tortured has only themselves to blame: they shoulda talked!

    Given that Bux explicitly approves of torture, is it worth debating Bux on what constitutes torture?

  13. Stop feeding the troll, folks. Whether physicians or college kids stay up for 96 straight hours really isn't the point, and you all know it. The issue of contention here is whether this type of activity is justified, considering the type of atrocities these terrorists engage in. It's pretty unpopular, especially in left-wing circles, to answer that question in the affirmative, and thus Bux and his ilk try to change the subject. That's the same reason that you hear Republican politicians hemming and hawing in response to questions about torture with "Oh I don't know," and "I have to see the facts," and "I'm not quite sure what that entails." We know what they believe – that torture to gather information from terrorists intent on blowing up our civilization is justified. It's just a pretty hard thing to say straight out, but its the heart of the issue.

  14. It's worth reminding apologists that we torture not just confirmed monsters but also others. See the current Harpers on the three tortured to death at gitmo: two were due to be released within weeks.

  15. I know, TomF. But feeding trolls is worth it sometimes just for the exercise. But here's the thing about torture. We didn't need it, want it, or use in during WWII, and despite what Bible Spice and the Teabaggers et al. say, that was a real existential threat. Various and sundry more-or-less hapless men and boys sold to us by warlords in Afghanistan, not so much.

  16. I agree with CharlieCarp's 4:26 p.m. comment, but, even if Cheney and the other torturers were to shut up and fade away, we should still prosecute, because to prosecute would be to focus on the future. The main purpose of criminal law is deterrence, and, if we don't prosecute, then we are inviting future administrations to torture. Obama is lying when he asserts that to prosecute is to focus on the past, and he ought to be called on it.

  17. It's very convenient that Richard Bruce Cheney and Bux and their ilk so often remind us that they are willing, even eager, to stoop to the torture of possibly-innocent persons.

    Sometimes recognition of evil requires subtlety, but these guys proudly wear the bright-yellow shirts with "EVIL" printed in big black letters front and back — pretty hard to miss.

    These are bent hnau.

  18. "It’s very convenient that Richard Bruce Cheney and Bux and their ilk so often remind us that they are willing, even eager, to stoop to the torture of possibly-innocent persons."

    Not "possibly innocent." Definitely innocent. There are numerous cases of Bush's having tortured innocent people, including the three who were tortured to death and claimed to have been suicides. 93 percent of the Guantanamo prisoners have been innocent (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16784), and surely they didn't torture only the remaining 7 percent (who are also innocent because they have not been proven guilty in a court of law).

  19. Clearly torture: It's essentially impossible for somebody to voluntarily stay awake that long without chemical assistance, to be compelled to do it against one's will without it is unquestionably a form of torture. Might not leave scars, but that can be said for many means of inducing pain.

  20. It's more than that, joel; it's not only that they're willing to torture "possibly-innocent persons"–torture itself is evil, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the recipient. Such a practice says more about the one delivering it than whomever is on the receiving end.

    I would agree that this is may be a minority position, perhaps, based on what we are willing to tolerate with impunity in our domestic prisons. Whenever you read the comments tagged to a news story about some awful crime, you can witness the joyful glee of the commenters that the criminals will certainly suffer unspeakable acts including violent rape and vicious beatings at the hands of their fellow inmates once they reach "the pen." Other commenters describe their fantasies in great and glorious detail, about exactly how they would personally "punish" the perpetrator. Ours is apparently a populace that rejoices in retributive "justice," the more depraved the better.

    Yes, it is worse when an innocent person is confined and tortured, but it is only a matter of degree not a distinction. Torture itself is evil, and the mark of a true psychopath, collective or individual. Any culture that tolerates it is experiencing its death throes.

  21. Unfortunately, a large majority of modern conservatives have embraced the Cheney model on torture. I'd be really pissed if anywhere near the number of my fellow liberals went anywhere near this far. But add it to the growing pile of bat-shit on the right.

    A long-standing critique on the right has been the left's supposed moral relativism. I think that accusation is actually wrong, but I'll get to that in a minute. What's really bizarre to me is that contemporary conservatism gets about as close to moral relativism as you'd find. I know very few people who would agree with the premise: different people have different morals and so it is wrong to criticize someone else's behavior, even if you disagree with it.

    Many liberals are sensitive to the fact that those with power have often taken advantage of other peoples in the name of righteous moral authority when in reality all they were doing is justifying their own sick fantasies of domination and exploitation. But you'd be hard-pressed to find any liberal who actually believes that it is OK for someone else to do something that he himself considers wrong. He may not want to start a war over it, but he'll still oppose it on principle.

    The right, especially in its Christianist form, as often confused this proper definition of moral relativism with the empirical fact that human morality is relative to human thought; i.e. we decide our own morality. Thus while the general universality of human cultural morality is indicative to common biological and cultural structures, the existence of many nuanced moral beliefs is a testament to a relativity. I think the confusion lies in the fundamentalist belief in absolute moral truths as handed down from God, specifically via biblical teaching.

    And yet here we find the purest example of people who could truly be considered relativists in the proper sense: because American superiority is ordained by God, then basically whatever we can claim to do in the name of America is morally correct. The bible doesn't specifically forbid using "enhanced interrogation" on your enemies, and because doing so could be rationalized as good for America, then it is perfectly acceptable. The moral has become entirely subjective to the interpretive whims of he who acts in God's name.

    This was always the problem with the fundamentalist argument for absolute morality. Even if an absolute existed, it would still have to be revealed somehow to man. And yet we end up right back at the beginning: stuck trying to decide which interpretation of the divine is correct. And aside from actually experiencing some clairvoyant direct line to God, we're forced to use reason.

    Karen Armstrong refers to fundamentalists being left to "practice poor reason & poor religion", in that the one inevitably interferes with the other. In this way, those who take a fundamentalist approach to American identity and morality will essentially be practicing poor reason and poor patriotism.

  22. One of the things the trolls provide is a window into an — apparently — particularly twisted, broken version of human thinking about the minds of other humans. In the arguments about how long people stay up when macho-tripping or working for a cause they believe in (even ignoring the order-of-magnitude difference in times between those times and the tortures authorized by Bybee and Yoo) they completely overlook the difference in power relations between such situations and actual torture. There is simply no comparison between pain that's under the sufferer's control and pain being inflicted by people whose main purpose is to make it clear that the sufferer has no control whatsoever.

    I think, btw, that this, uh, confusion is one of the things underlying the common correlation of pro-torture attitudes with homophobia and intolerance of practices such as BDSM. If you can't or won't understand the difference between consensual and nonconsensual bodily interactions, then bdsm is simply assault and battery, and being the object of a man's sexual attentions — well, it's like being a sorority sister alone in a frat house.

  23. Eli: "A long-standing critique on the right has been the left’s supposed moral relativism. I think that accusation is actually wrong, but I’ll get to that in a minute. What’s really bizarre to me is that contemporary conservatism gets about as close to moral relativism as you’d find. I know very few people who would agree with the premise: different people have different morals and so it is wrong to criticize someone else’s behavior, even if you disagree with it. "

    One of the striking features of the right is their freudian projection. If you want to know what they'll do/try to do in a situation, just look at what they accuse Democrats of doing. If you see the right doing something, rest assured that they'll accuse Democrats of doing that as soon as possible.

  24. Bux, occasionally and voluntarily I go long stretches without sleep in the course of my work. By "long stretches" I mean 24, sometimes 48, on two horrific occasions 72 hours.

    Years ago, when I served in the army, I (more or less) occasionally and (more or less) voluntarily went long stretches without sleep. By "long stretches" I mean 24, sometimes 48, on several horrific occasions 72 hours or a bit more.

    Having done so, I cannot imagine — physically cannot imagine — going 264 hours without sleep. And that's before adding the involuntary, chained-in-a-stress-position, at-the-mercy-of-some-sadistic-Jack-Bauer-wannabe aspect of it.

    What I do now (I like to think) contributes a little to greater national and international prosperity. What I did then (I like to think) contributed a little to greater national and international security.

    For all the lack of sleep, I don't regret what I did or what I do. Save for this: I regret that any prosperity I may help provide, that any protection my earlier service may have afforded, benefit a festering scumsack like you.

    Please note that I am not expressing any political disagreement here. Political disagreement is irrelevant to my point. There are few, if any, political questions as to which I would agree with Brett Bellmore. Yet he manages to be wrong about virtually everything without having resigned his membership in the human race as you have done.

    Note to the proprietor: My words to Bux in the fifth paragraph above probably violate your comments policy. I cannot pretend those words were merely intemperate or heat-of-the-moment. They were deliberate and carefully considered. I apologize to you and the non-Bux commenters for lowering the tone, and understand that you might think it appropriate to delete or disemvowel my comment or to ban me. Fair enough. But I will not apologize to Bux; it is he, and people who think (or recite) as he does, who owe an apology to human civilization.

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