“To Disturb Profoundly the Senses”
‘an unclassified narrative’ from the Office of Legal Counsel, for the President
August 2002 – May 2005
“You have asked for the standards of conduct. For an act to constitute it must inflict what actions reach the threshold of ‘choice’ that is difficult to endure. Drawing distinctions among gradations (for example, severe, mild, moderate, substantial, extreme, intense, excruciating, or agonizing) is obviously not an easy task. We think the meaning of ‘severe’ is relatively straight forward a totality-of-the-circumstances approach; reservations, understandings, declarations deterioration of language function an impermissible rewriting the inability to retain any new information. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts positioned against the walling wall. Such compulsions or obsessions must be ‘time consuming.’
Page 1 of 4
(The avoidance canon has special force) Our starting point must be the language employed to watch the torture of others. This canon of construction some sort of escalating fashion, culminating with though not necessarily ending with technique the uncertainty of what will happen next the only way he can influence his surrounding environment where statutes couple words or phrases, ‘the mere mention of which sends chills down one’s spine.’ We also understand that you do not have any facts in your possession contrary to the facts outlined here which may ultimately be useful to us when pieced together, you on-site psychologists! Ten techniques that you believe will dislocate expectations generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions
Page 2 of 4
of course, in no way are intended to be [an] exhaustive list. Z. showed signs of symptomatic nervous system arousal, which you think was possibly fear; under this calculus the nation’s right to self-defense has been triggered to take a specific act out of context (the ‘chiffon’ method) and buttress the inference. An individual placed in the box even an individual with a fear of insects would not reasonably feel threatened with severe physical pain or suffering if a caterpillar was placed in the box.
Page 3 of 4
‘Other’ signals that the words to which it attaches are of the same kind, type, or class as the more specific item previously listed: You would like to place Z. in a cramped confinement box with an insect. There are no cases that analyze what the lowest boundary of what constitutes fear, or melancholy a good faith belief what is already obvious from the texts. In the same motion of the grasp, the individual is drawn toward the interrogator— the ‘emotional love approach’. We reach this conclusion based on the clear language that there can be no limitation to try to define the precise meaning would cross the threshold that permissible meaning which fits most logically and comfortably into the body.”
Page 4 of 4
Author’s Note: “To Disturb Profoundly the Senses” is a deconstructed appropriation of material from the so-called “Torture Memos” penned by the Bush Six at the Office of Legal Counsel.
JOSHUA WEINER is the author of three books of poetry, The World’s Room, From the Book of Giants, and most recently, The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish (2013), and is the editor of At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn. He is a recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013-2014). His poems and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The American Scholar, Village Voice, Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, Threepenny Review, Poetry, Washington Post, Slate, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Maryland and lives with his family in Washington DC.
Read more work by Joshua Weiner:
Two poems in B O D Y
Poems and an interview at Blackbird
Poem at American Life in Poetry
Poems and articles at The Poetry Foundation
Joshua Weiner reading with Emily Berry for the Transatlantic Poetry series
B O D Y‘s review of A Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish