You may have some hesitations (as I do) about whether waterboarding or putting a caterpillar in someone’s room can reasonably be called torture. See a couple of posts below.

But there is no doubt about the enhanced business disagreement techniques used by Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan — one of 22 royal brothers of the President of the United Arab Emirates (which include Dubai.)

This link takes you to a clip of an ABC report, which includes parts of the torture video smuggled out of the UAE by US businessman Bassam Nabulsi.

The man being tortured is Mohammed Shah Poor, an Afghan and former business partner of Sheikh Issa’s. Issa tortured Shah Poor for more nearly fifty minutes, assisted by a number of men in UAE police uniforms.

A rifle was shot into the ground around Shah Poor, blasting sand into his eyes. Sand was pushed into his eyes and mouth. He was poked with with an electric cattle prod. He was repeatedly beaten on the buttocks with a board with a nail protruding from it. He was kicked in the head multiple times, lighter fluid was poured on his genitals and set alight. Finally he was run over with Sheikh Issa’s Mercedes.

The tape is gruesome. It has also been censored, because some parts of the tape were thought too horrific for viewing.

I am not suggesting that because worse things are done elsewhere, that makes it OK for us to treat people in cruel or brutal ways.

But the Sheikh’s torture tape puts the debate in some perspective.

Despite the media fuss, not a single person at Guantanamo was actually injured. The ‘enhanced’ techniques in question made three known terrorists scared or uncomfortable. The memos make it clear that CIA personnel and legal advisors were trying to act in ways that would be effective in gaining information to prevent further attacks and save lives, and which were also reasonable and legal.

Were they wrong?