Introduction Chain of Command Legal Memos The Military Reports Conclusion

What is torture? Euphemisms like "stress position" cover a wide range of practices, from the merely uncomfortable to the wickedly cruel and painful. At Slate, we have wrestled with the definitions of abuse and torture and how best to present these morally and legally complicated terms. The taxonomy follows the legal maxim of res ipsa loquiturlet the thing speak for itself. The tactics below are listed in order from least to most severe.

Photograph of Iraqi prisoner interrogation by Rita Leistner/Zuma Press. All illustrations by Stein Hansen.

Direct questioning
"Fear up"
Pride and ego
Good cop/Bad cop
Dietary manipulation
Exploiting individual phobias
Mild, non-injurious physical contact
Mock executions
Sleep deprivation
Sexual humiliation
Religious desecration
Stress positions
Water boarding
Physical beatings