The Banality of Evil

I'm reading through one of the Office of Legal Counsel memos by Jay Bybee, giving the greenlight to torture Abu Zubayda.

News to me: in the finest legalese, Bybee authorized the CIA to throw the guy in a coffin-like-box... with insects.

But the grotesque, lawyerly logic Bybee uses to justify waterboarding is what really gets to me:

Thus, although the subject may experience fear or panic associated with the feeling of drowning, the waterboard does not inflict physical pain. As we explained in Section 2340A Memorandum, "pain and suffering" as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering."... Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat "suffering" as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe suffering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.

Note: This guy is now a 9th Circuit Judge.

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting that like many examples of grotesque OLC lawyering, this memo was the brainchild of John Yoo, signed by Bybee.