The last time I was at the Catholic church on-campus, there was a woman who was asking the congregation to sign an anti-torture petition that would be sent to congressmen and other officials. She approached me and asked if I would like to sign the petition, and I said that anti-torture a good thing to petition against. But first, could she please tell me what the petition actually says?
"It says that you're against torture in all its forms, and that the United States must stop torturing people."
Well, sure. Does it go on to specifically denounce any particular forms of torture, or give a definition of what the signers believe torture to be?
"No, but...torture is torture."
On that note I informed her that I would not be signing the petition, which she took to mean that I wanted her to convince me that the petition wasn't a waste of my time and ink.
The problem here is that "torture" is being fundamentally redefined in the American legal system. If the position of the petition is merely "Torture is wrong in all its forms," then all the men in power have to do is redefine the legal definition of torture (which is in fact what has already been done). Since no definition of torture was provided in the petition, it is bankrupt of meaning and power.