May 22, 2007

The American Way: Induced Hypothermia, Sleep Deprivation and Water-Boarding?

Tom Maguire writes:

...Cecil Turner dropped this ABC News article on torture on me - apparently the CIA has used its full menu of approved techniques on roughly 12 terrorists. That is more than one in a million, but pretty rare.

And the menu is hair-raising - the open hand face slap, the attention-gaining shirt grab, the pink belly (OK, they call it the open hand belly slap, but I remember 4th grade), and a few more dramatic techniques (standing, sleep deprivation) culminating in waterboarding. Sorry, no wedgies or swirlies.

This medieval torture exhibit is a lot scarier and does emphasize the value of defining one’s terms for the sake of a rational discussion. Presupposing people are seeking a rational discussion, of course.

I quote the above, not to embarrass Tom Maguire, but as his comment is rather evocative-- in its striking juvenilia--of the quality of the debate in the right blogosphere about torture. As there is no medieval rack involved, nor "wedgies or swirlies,” the various “enhanced interrogation techniques” are deemed totally acceptable, and it can only be preening moralists or hysterical anti-American leftists that could possibly be opposed to use of same. From this flawed premise, millions of Americans are now endorsing actions that are tantamount to war crimes (by a plain reading of applicable international treaty law, Article III of the Geneva Convention, and constitutional standards, see more below) in the form of government sanctioned torture. After all, the tactics Tom Maguire argues CIA interrogators have a legal right to employ include the following:

Long Time Standing: Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

Let’s take each of these in turn.

1) Long Term Standing, as the CIA is using it per the above, is basically a particularly harsh form of sleep deprivation, combined with a 'stress position'. Menachem Begin, Israel’s former Prime Minister, was tortured using sleep deprivation by the Soviet Union. He described it in this fashion:

In the head of the interrogated prisoner a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep, to sleep just a little, not to get up, to lie, to rest, to forget....Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger or thirst are comparable with it…I came across prisoners who signed what they were ordered to sign, only to get what the interrogator promised them. He did not promise them their liberty. He promised them—if they signed—uninterrupted sleep! And they signed....And having signed, there was nothing in the world that could move them to risk again such nights and such days....The main thing was—to sleep.

This is torture, as practiced during the Cold War by the KGB, and Tom Maguire stands four-square behind it, indeed deems it appropriate to joke about.

2) The Cold Cell, otherwise known as induced hypothermia. As the NGO Physicians for Human Rights has pointed out, “The Cold Cell” technique can lead to “reduced psychological function and mental capacity; loss of muscle function, harm to the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems; and even death.” Indeed, detainees in U.S. captivity have died as a result of hypothermia.

Again, this is torture, and Tom Maguire supports it with barely contained glee, if the comment quoted above is any indication.

3) As for water-boarding, forget about its origins during this or that Inquisition, let us instead look at more recent history, and recall how it was condemned by U.S. personnel in previous wars:

Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in Vietnam 40 years ago. A photograph that appeared in The Washington Post of a U.S. soldier involved in water boarding a North Vietnamese prisoner in 1968 led to that soldier's severe punishment. "The soldier who participated in water torture in January 1968 was court-martialed within one month after the photos appeared in The Washington Post, and he was drummed out of the Army," recounted Darius Rejali, a political science professor at Reed College. Earlier in 1901, the United States had taken a similar stand against water boarding during the Spanish-American War when an Army major was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for water boarding an insurgent in the Philippines. "Even when you're fighting against belligerents who don't respect the laws of war, we are obliged to hold the laws of war," said Rejali. "And water torture is torture."

In short, Maguire approves, indeed proudly cheer-leads, the use of torture such as protracted sleep deprivation, induced hypothermia, and water-boarding, as a regularized policy to be undertaken under the auspices of the C.I.A. In this, he differs even from Glenn Reynolds, who had written: "But regardless of what rules Congress adopts, I'm certainly against the Cheney proposal to exempt the CIA. First of all, if this sort of thing is too wrong for Americans to do, it's too wrong for any Americans to do, period. Right?” (Yet Reynolds, given his incessant joking about Guantanamo, the detention center that is in many ways emblematic of how deeply flawed interrogation tactics took root during the Bush Administration, and given his oft-stated musings about whether ‘torture-lite’ really constitutes torture, has very little credibility as an intellectually honest opponent of torture, despite his protestations to the contrary).

But for Maguire, the CIA carve-out is just fine. Given this stance, in effect, he wants us to join countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Chile and Afghanistan who have historically used sleep deprivation to torture prisoners:

• In Saudi Arabia in 2001, seven foreign nationals, including Canadian and British citizens, who were accused of planting bombs, were subjected to sleep deprivation while undergoing interrogation, as reported in press stories around the world, which eventually led to false confessions. • In Iran, political prisoners are commonly subjected to sleep deprivation, according to the U.S. State Department and recent Human Rights Watch research. • In Chile, during Pinochet’s reign in the 1970’s, detainees were often kept sleep deprived. Human Rights Watch (then Americas Watch) reported the allegations of a community leader who was kept awake for 48 hours continually. • In Afghanistan, Soviet forces and their allies deprived detainees of sleep for days on end during interrogations (Source: Human Rights Watch).

Many of these same countries have used water submersion techniques, as well as induced hypothermia, of course. The use of such tactics, as has been well documented, puts us in sharp violation of existing legal and treaty obligations. In short, it turns the U.S. from a leading protector of human rights on the world stage to something of a rogue nation, at least when it comes to torture policy.

For instance, the United States is a signatory to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”). It defines torture as:

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

When the U.S. ratified CAT, the Senate defined "cruel, inhuman and degrading" as any practice that would violate the Fifth, Eighth or 14th amendments. Secretary of State Condi Rice has reportedly assured some of her European counterparts that, pursuant to such an interpretation, techniques like water-boarding, cold cell and long-time standing would no longer be permissible. However, Administration lawyers like David Addington have made the argument that some of these tactics are permissible under a 'shocks the conscience' reading of the U.S. Constitution, and so it is all but certain these techniques remain in active use by CIA interrogators today. Related, these techniques are in violation of Article III of the Geneva Convention. As the Washington Post previously editorialized:

Common Article 3, which prohibits cruel treatment and humiliation, is an inflexible standard. The U.S. military, which lived with it comfortably for decades before the Bush administration, just re-embraced it after a prolonged battle with the White House. The Army issued a thick manual this month that tells interrogators exactly what they can and cannot do in complying with the standard. The nation's most respected military leaders have said that they need and want nothing more to accomplish the mission of detaining and interrogating enemy prisoners -- and that harsher methods would be counterproductive.

Mr. Bush wants to replace these clear rules with a flexible and subjective standard -- one that would legalize any method that does not "shock the conscience." What shocks the conscience? According to Mr. Bush's Justice Department, the torture techniques described above -- and at least in the past, water-boarding -- do not, "in certain circumstances." So Mr. Bush's real objection to Common Article 3 is not that it is vague. It is that it will not permit abusive practices that he isn't willing publicly to discuss or defend.

The position that Tom Maguire advocates, under a plain reading of either CAT or Article III, has us running afoul of both, with terrible ramifications for our international reputation. This is why five of the former Joints Chief of Staff, as well as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz, all stood behind McCain in attempting to preclude the watering down of Article III (note even with regard to so-called 'enemy combatants' rather than POWs, most if not all of these leading observers would have Article III apply fully to them as well, given the Geneva Convention requirement they too "be treated with humanity").

I’d stand with these men, before I’d stand with Mitt Romney, Richard Cheney or John Yoo. Wouldn’t you? But, you say, than we’ll have no good intelligence? The chances of my home being vaporized in a nuclear dust-cloud will have just ratcheted up, just so human rights purists like you sitting in Manhattan can keep their hands lily-white? Well, no, this is bunk. As Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Lt. General Jeff Kimmons put it:

No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that. And, moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, through the use of abusive techniques, would be of questionable credibility, and additionally it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there. Some of our most significant successes on the battlefield have been-in fact, I would say all of them, almost categorically all of them, have accrued from expert interrogators using mixtures of authorized humane interrogation practices.

Indeed, we’ve had in effect Army Field Manual 34-52, which governs intelligence interrogation methods, a manual that has stood us in good stead for many decades. And we’ve been able to garner huge amounts of intelligence using said methods. As it states:

While using legitimate interrogation techniques, certain applications of approaches and techniques may approach the line between lawful actions and unlawful actions. It may often be difficult to determine where lawful actions end and unlawful actions begin. In attempting to determine if a contemplated approach or technique would be considered unlawful, consider these two tests: 1) Given all the surrounding facts and circumstances, would a reasonable person in the place of the person being interrogated believe that his rights, as guaranteed under both international and US law, are being violated or withheld, or will be violated or withheld if he fails to cooperate; [and] 2) If your contemplated actions were perpetrated by the enemy against US PWs, you would believe such actions violate international or US law. If you answer yes to either of these two tests, do not engage in the contemplated action. If a doubt still remains as to the legality of a proposed action, seek a legal opinion from your servicing judge advocate.

Why can’t these guidelines, well enshrined in law and prior practice, and in keeping with America’s best historical values, still be the undisputed standard by which all government agencies conduct themselves when interrogating detainees in their charge? Why instead, through dubious legal machinations that may yet be overturned, have CIA interrogators been potentially exposed to actions that could be categorized as war crimes? Why, in short, is the current sitting President of the United States very likely allowing war crimes (at least by the standards of commonly accepted international treaties and protocols) be conducted by special CIA interrogators?

Look, if we’re going to have this debate, let’s have it, but let’s have it honestly. Let’s not hide behind Orwellian fudging and obfuscatory verbiage. Reporters need to ask the serious candidates, which is to say, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards—are you in favor of allowing the use of sleep deprivation, induced hypothermia and water-boarding by agencies of the U.S. Government? Under a current reading of Article III of the Geneva Convention and CAT, do you believe these techniques violate either of them, in the context of the 5th, 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution? If no, explain how they don’t, and let us judge the persuasiveness of the defenses of the pro-torture right, but in front of the entire nation and world.

Meantime, let the Democratic candidates (and perhaps John McCain) explain how these techniques do violate these basic international human rights standards. And then let us see whether the Republican Party can win the 2008 election on the basis of fear, on the basis of a platform that allows for freezing people to the point their life is imperiled, or inducing the feeling in detainees they are drowning to death, or depriving them of sleep for such protracted periods that long term deleterious mental health impacts may result. Yes, let us debate these issues, but clearly and out in the open.

To the press corps, I say, the next time a Presidential candidate says “I’m not for torture, only enhanced interrogation techniques”, ask them whether induced hypothermia, sleep deprivation and water-boarding are torture? Then remind them of our treaty obligations under CAT. Ask them whether they think the "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be acceptable pursuant to Article III of the Geneva Convention? Do they wish to repudiate them? Or do they think we can do these things and not run afoul of these standards? Again, how? What will become increasingly clear is that leading Republican candidates are running on a platform that has us repudiating our treaty obligations and watering-down our constitutional standards.

So the American people will have a choice: are we to slide towards rogue nation status on such issues, or repudiate the profoundly damaging legacy of the last 6 years and regain the mantle of leading avatar of human rights in the international arena? I hope and trust Abraham Lincoln’s ‘better angels’ of human nature will prevail in this great country, and no major political party will be voted into power that is in favor of authorizing the use of techniques--by any instrumentality of the US Government--that constitute torture under internationally recognized norms.

Put differently, how many well-meaning Tom Maguire's are out there, thinking they're doing the right thing, but unaware of the gravity of the issue? I don't know, but deep down, I still trust in the fundamental decency of the majority of the American people. They will see through the hyperbole of the 'ticking-bomb' scenario, they will realize that a legal right to torture by any Government agency will reverberate through others, they will understand that our previously acceptable interrogation tactics are more than adequate to the job. In short, they will be judicious and reasonable and pragmatic. They will act like Americans often have, since the inception of the Republic, which is to say, with honor and fearlessness, not ugliness and cowardice.


Posted by Gregory at May 22, 2007 12:05 AM
Comments

Greg, don't you know that Jack Bauer would never let any soft sissy things like human rights to keep him from torturing whoever he needed in order to keep America Safe?! Far better that we torture 100 brown-skinned Moslems to death rather then let one American be hurt! (Satire!)

Posted by: David All at May 22, 2007 12:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And, Greg, why do you hate America?! (Satire)

Posted by: David All at May 22, 2007 12:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry for the double post.
Seriously, Greg, keep up the good work in going after these Apologists for Torture. Their way must not become America's way.

Posted by: David All at May 22, 2007 12:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Torture as defined by the US military, US criminal code, and the Convention against Torture should be illegal, period. No attempts to skate around it, claim exceptions or exemptions, define it down, or obfuscate it.

If there is a circumstance (the ticking nuke, yadda yadda), whoever authorizes torture--or carries it out a la Jack Bauer--must be aware that they will face the legal consequences of doing so. If one feels that they must disobey the law in order to save New York, then they must act on that principle and accept the risk.

Posted by: Tom S at May 22, 2007 12:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you do this guy far too much credit by discussing his drivel.

look, he's another of the pro-torture three-card-monte artists.

Here's how the scam is run:

1) When you are advocating hypothetical torture, you use arguments that show that Everything is Permitted (usually variants on that worst of all bad arguments, the ticking time-bomb).

2) Then when you are apologizing for actual tortures committed by the Bush regime, you say But We Don't Permit Anything Bad, i.e. you minimize and soft-pedal what we do, so as to try to pretend we are different from barbarians. Sure we water-board people and beat them to death. But we don't *torture* them, and we surely don't *behead* them.

But the thing is, you can't have it both ways.

If the time-bomb is ticking, and the only way to stop it is to behead one of the alleged terrorists, then Tom Maguire's own favorite argument says that he must--MUST--go ahead and behead that guy. And if the only way to stop the bomb is to film the beheading, then Tom Maguire must--MUST--star in a film in which he beheads someone.

So the force of Step 1) automatically undermines the apologies of Step 2).


As always, torture leads to hell.

Posted by: knock at May 22, 2007 01:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Djerejian is still apparently determined to regard Maguire as "well-meaning" and "serious" in his thought processes -- although, as he points out, Maguire (and Turner) carefully ignored those paragraphs in the very same ABC article describing the, er, somewhat more violent interrogation techniques that the CIA is enabled to use. (And not just the CIA; see the multiple accounts, in that list of Sullivan references I mentioned, about this frequently being done elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with sometimes fatal results -- and virtually no punishment for the main actors involved.)

For the record, Greg: Maguire is about as morally serious as the Joker, and always has been. He regards himself as a wit, but, alas, is only half right.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 01:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And, alas, it now appears that Turner is no more serious. Live and learn.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 02:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To stick my oar in one more time: you'll note that most of Dherejian's quotes here can be found in that list of references I provided to Turner a bit further down on the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" thread. You know; the ones where he said he was exhausted after reading the first four references out of 67?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 02:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Regarding the CIA's techniques: the key question, once again, is: who gives the go-ahead order? At some point, in the current system, a single man is allowed to do so by himself -- which is how we end up getting routine tortures instead of those one-in-a-million cases that McCain is talking about. it's setting up THAT firewall that is crucial; if we don't talk about how to do so, the torture advocates will beat us over the head endlessly with the Ticking Nuclear Bomb scenario as a justification for everything that's been going on up to now. (This, after all, is how you get to the point of that Military Times poll, cited by Sullivan yesterday, in which 70% of the 5000 repondents said that torture should be routinely used in POW interrogations whenever it might provide "valuable information" or "save the lives of troops" -- which is to say, virtually always.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 02:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Correction: Turner's complaint about how exhausting he found it to read even a few of the references I gave was in the "Maguire's Flim-Flam" thread (which is a more appropriate place for it anyway).

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 02:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We always hear that John McCain was tortured in VietNam, but I don't recall hearing what exactly that consisted of. Was it physical mutilation (burned flesh, torn-out fingernails) that perhaps even the Maguires of the world would agree is torture? Or was it the sort of process that is discussed here?

Posted by: Tillman Fan at May 22, 2007 02:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It was mostly beatings, spending days with his arms tied agonizingly behind his back (leading to permanent nerve damage) -- that sort of thing. In short, the sort of thing that even Maguire would call torture, although he'd then declare that it was frequently justified and make a joke about it. (See his recent quote of Nietzsche's "That which does not kill me makes me stronger", followed by his own line "So don't call it torture -- call it character development.")

May I suggest that what we're seeing at this point is the division of military supporters into the Captain Mandrakes (as typified by Greg) and the Gen. Rippers (as typified by Maguire)?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 02:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Can someone with a legal mind answer the following in simple terms -

How does the CIA or any other part of the US government go about getting the "legal right" to incarcerate and/or "use coercive interrogation techniques" on a foreign national in foreign soil. How does the concept of "legal right" apply here? Doesn't there have to be some sort of previously agreed upon treaty between the US and that foreign country for such a "legal right" to exist? If so, wouldn't such a treaty be reciprocal?

Thanks much...

Posted by: dm at May 22, 2007 02:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The other thing about forced standing is that if the prisoner refuses to stand or falls over, they tend to cuff him back up. This is (1) extremely painful, and (2) dangerous.

The CIA program did not involve 12 prisoners either. No real surprise that Maguire doesn't know what the hell he's talking about I suppose.

Posted by: Katherine at May 22, 2007 05:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Forced standing is also implicated in at least one death and probably several more.

Posted by: Katherine at May 22, 2007 05:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For a perfect example of the harebrained extent to which the CIA is overusing torture on orders from this administration, see http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007504.php . (This is one of those items that Cecil Turner couldn't read because it was too exhausting for him.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 05:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

By the way, when I remarked that Maguire -- despite Djerejian's sentimental wishful thinking -- is not morally serious or "well-meaning" and never has been, I was thinking of that occasion a few days ago on which he giggled about how hilarious frequent torture of the undeserving can be:

"Sort of in the 'Note to Self' file: At some point in a discussion of 'torture' versus 'enhanced interrogation techniques', someone ought to quote Nietszche's 'That which does not kill me makes me stronger'. Don't think of it as torture -- think of it as character development."

In short, when I comapre him to the Joker, I'm not exaggerating.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 05:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

enjoy the thread while you have it to yourselves. You do see the problem, I'm sure--your argument presupposes that everyone who disagrees with you is either unreasonably frightened by a non-existent scenario (who here anticipated jets as bombs?), or a sadist... there is no middle ground.Ridicule JMH as you will, his point in another thread is valid: show us where other countries have honored us for the moral superiority that you say is our now dishonored tradition. Somehow the charm of American exceptionalism that you now defend so eloquently seems to have eluded them.

Posted by: Arthur at May 22, 2007 05:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arthur - read the thread. Torture DOES NOT WORK. It does NOT yield intellegence that is reliable or helpful. So there is no 'moral tradeoff' - there is no benefit to weigh against the moral problems of inflicting pain on another person.

So - if you advocate inflicting pain on a person for no reason and you aren't a sadist - then what are you?

Posted by: JohnN at May 22, 2007 06:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arthur, let's cut the nonsense. George Washington during the revolution, and the Roosevelt Administration during the Pacific War, both flatly forbade torture despite the fact that our enemies in those wars totally refused to reciprocate. They did so because -- as they said -- they were aware that torture produces little useful intelligence, but DOES mass-produce long-term America-haters. Now consider how important that is in the current conflict, in which our potential body of enemies includes a billion people in a worldwide religious community that we can't begin to occupy.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 06:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Every time one of us argues against torture, its apologists can be relid on to drag out the Ticking Nuclear Bomb argument. The obvious reply is that in the current system -- in which a single man can decide by himself to order torture -- it is going to happen in a hell of a lot more situations than that. As a perfect example of its harebrained overuse under orders by the Bushites, see http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007504.php .

And Katherine is entirely right that it's been used -- sometimes fatally -- far more than "a dozen times" with what has obviously been high-level permission, and not just by the CIA. I'll have to go through my list of Sullivan references to find all the examples -- there have been quite a few elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to third-person accounts -- but we can start by looking at the activities of Task Force 6-26:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/international/middleeast/19abuse.html?ei=5088&en=e8755a4b031b64a1&ex=1300424400&partner=rssnyt&pagewanted=print

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 07:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arthur: who here anticipated jets as bombs?

Gosh, yes, good point, Arthur. It's not like the possibility of using an airliner as a flying bomb aimed at a major landmark in DC actually featured in a bestselling Tom Clancy novel or anything.

And certainly no one ever uncovered a previous AQ plot to crash a hijacked airliner into CIA headquarters in 1995.


Posted by: ajay at May 22, 2007 10:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Don't forget Stephen King's "The Running Man." The main character, Richard, committed suicide by ramming a airliner into the largest building, the Network, killing probably thousands.

Great book, btw. :)

Posted by: Dan at May 22, 2007 11:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And don't forget that the plot of the pilot TV episode of "Lone Gunmen", an X-Files spin off, featured a government plot to stage a terrorist incident by flying a passenger plane into the WORLD TRADE CENTER. That episode aired in March of 2001!

Posted by: vanya at May 22, 2007 12:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

They are marvelously dishonest lovebirds chirping in a gilded cage, Arthur.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 12:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No one has satisfactorily answered my contention that there is a scenario in which each of you would demonstrate your essential humanity, and deliberately inflict pain on someone else.

It has not been demonstrated that waterboarding is ineffective.

It has not been demonstrated that our nation's use of torture as compared with other nations' use of torture has caused our overall stock to diminish. What other nation is so self-conscious of its methods? Thanks, partly, to birds like you.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 01:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Then again, I can see how you might consider yourselves Canaries in a Coalmine. The idea of deliberately inflicting pain by a bureaucracy with immense state power, is chilling.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 01:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your essay was extremely eloquent, but I just thought I'd mention that torture also induces mental illness in the perpetrator.

Posted by: 14All at May 22, 2007 01:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Once only, Kim:

(1) No one has satisfactorily answered my contention that there is a scenario in which each of you would demonstrate your essential humanity, and deliberately inflict pain on someone else.

That's because your scenario is irrelevant. If my wife were murdered right in front of me, and the jury acquitted the killer for some reason, might I perhaps murder him? Sure. That does not make it right for me to do so. Same with your "essential humanity" scenario, which seems to amount to "original sin."

(2) It has not been demonstrated that waterboarding is ineffective.

That is not where the burden of proof lies, my friend. Do we have to demonstrate that slavery is economically inferior to a free labor market? No, because slavery is wicked. Or, another way: "it has not been demonstrated" that waterboarding is superior to standard interrogation techniques. (We have heard that vaguely alleged, by Tenet and other torturers who have a vested interest in justifying their own misdeeds; but that is not a demonstration.)

(3) It has not been demonstrated that our nation's use of torture as compared with other nations' use of torture has caused our overall stock to diminish.

First, no such demonstration is needed -- if torture is wicked, then we shouldn't care what it's done to our rep. Second, the statement is almost certainly false, or perhaps just misleading. America's public image has been tanking in whatever polls could measure "our overall stock"; that is doubtless in part because of the mere fact of the Iraq war, but doubtless our embrace of torture also plays a part in that decline. And why would we be comparing ourselves with nations that torture -- China, etc.? It's like patting ourselves on the back for not being Nazis.

All this is fairly obvious, which is one reason no one has been taking your little snarky one-liners seriously, Kim. This is all a game to you -- great. It's not a game to me. This evil is being done under my flag, in my name. I want the torturers tried and convicted in open court, and the world reminded that America has values and stands by them.

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, Bill Whittle's got the Iterated Prisoners' Dilemma for all you caged birds.

Not a game, A. Sorry you misunderstand me.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 02:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Scott Horton linked to the Roman Catholic encyclical Veritatis splendor, which is informative on the subject of "intrinsic evil" that so appeals to Kim:

Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature "incapable of being ordered" to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed "intrinsically evil" (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object". The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: * * * "whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; * * * all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator".

Gotta love the Catholics -- they have it all spelled out, somewhere or other.

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 02:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Baptise 'em all; let God sort out the believers.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 02:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1. I could bring you the question brought to Dukakis, but I'll not bother because you seem to cede that there is a possible scenario under which you would condone deliberately inflicting pain on another.

If 1, then 2, which is that waterboarding may be as effective and humane a technique as is possible.

Then: Why would you use another technique?

I believe that objective observers see that the United States is more careful, and self-reflective, about the use of intelligence gathering where the rubber meets the road, than nearly anyone else.

How's Abu Ghraib doing now?
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 02:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Remember, rapport takes time. Which is running out for you.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 02:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not a threat. I'm simply running out of expectations of gaining actionable intelligence here short of throwing cold water in your face.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 02:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim: "No one has satisfactorily answered my contention that there is a scenario in which each of you would demonstrate your essential humanity, and deliberately inflict pain on someone else."

So, how common should this be in wartime, Kim, and who should make that decision? And is it being done too often under the current administration? Which, of course, are the real questions here, since I imagine we can all agree on the Ticking Nuclear Bomb scenario.

As for " the Dukakis scenario": so you favor torturing POWs if it saves even a single American's life? Which, once again, would have meant wholesale torture by our side during both the Revolution and the Pacific War (and probbly during every war)?

As for "gaining actionable intelligence here": Djerejian had a lengthy post on that subject about 6 months ago, and -- as I've repeatedly said -- there are rare situations in which I'd go further. Provided, that is, that that decision -- in any individual case -- is made by more than 1 man. Such as, say, by an equivalent of the FISA Court (with a large supermajority required to approve it).

Of course, we can always dig up even longer-shot Jack Bauer scenarios: what if there isn't time for the Court to meet, etc. That's what Presidential pardons, and the power of juries to acquit unless they reach a unimous verdict, is for.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
I believe that objective observers see that the United States is more careful, and self-reflective, about the use of intelligence gathering where the rubber meets the road, than nearly anyone else.

I believe that objective observers see that I am very, very handsome.

Oh sure, there are some people who don't agree -- who, indeed, claim that I am quite ugly. But that merely goes to demonstrate their lack of objectivity.

Posted by: grh at May 22, 2007 03:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

there are rare situations in which I'd go further. Provided, that is, that that decision -- in any individual case -- is made by more than 1 man. Such as, say, by an equivalent of the FISA Court (with a large supermajority required to approve it).

Bruce, I hate to ask (since you've "repeatedly said" it), but what are these rare situations where you think torture might be a good idea?

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 03:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think you misunderstand me about the Dukakis thing. I was vague. I was referring to when someone asked him what he would do to stop the rape of his wife.

grh, Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who's the Meanest of them All?
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 03:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim has yet to figure out the correlation between being "misunderstood" and failing to write anything coherent.

I had lots of comp students like that, so it's not an uncommon failing.

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 03:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I may withdraw the dishonest charge, Bruce. You have good questions about the application, and cede a scenario.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 03:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OK, Anderson, at 2:49, I should have written 'If 1, and 2'...then why would you use any other technique.

And I might add, when time is very sensitive.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your argument for jury nullification to make right what is illegal illustrates the contortions necessary for you to maintain your position. What next? Anarchy?
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 03:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Or what, a Majestic Executive pardonning? Pardon me while I smirk.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 03:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Watch Mandrake magically rip off his costume. Was the hand too quick for you, A?
=================================================

Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 03:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I do not have the time for this today (unfortunately). But I am going to drag a comment from an "andy" from the Anonymous Liberal's site that's worthy of discussion from the absolutists on this blog

The logic of "you need torture in extreme situations" applies to everything that we think should be illegal. Should we have speed limits on roads? No, because there are situations where the right thing to do, we would almost all agree, is to go faster than the posted limit. Should you wait for the red light when no one is coming and your passengeris about to give birth? Probably not, so lets get rid of traffic lights. No swimming area? Can't have that, what if you have to rescue someone who fell in? Every law is like that.


The key is, as AL points out, that if the situation is so dire then you are willing to take the consequences of breaking the law. Secondarily, we all know from experience, the law itself, we know from experience, is not uniformly applied. If you break a law in extreme and morally justified situations then every step of the system, from the probability of arrest, to prosecution, to jury, is lenient. So, when you think you are really justified in breaking the law you think its worth gambling on the reduced legal consequences.

We make things illegal not when we think they should absolutely never be done, but when we think they should only be done in such extreme situations that 1) the perpetrator's calculus includes the possible legal consequences, and 2) society at large agrees with the exception. Otherwise we could have no rules and no laws.

This is not to say that rules are made to be broken or that everyone should make an independent moral judgment about every rule when contemplating obeying.
But that, as AL points out, that if one takes account of the most extreme situations when making rules, we could have no rules.

When we talk about the CIA prisons -- we are talking about 14 people. Do they fit in this sort of exception? Is it right that they would do so?

(Hat tip to commenter "Crust" on Maguire's site)

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 22, 2007 04:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I do not have the time for this today (unfortunately). But I am going to drag a comment from an "andy" from the Anonymous Liberal's site that's worthy of discussion from the absolutists on this blog

The logic of "you need torture in extreme situations" applies to everything that we think should be illegal. Should we have speed limits on roads? No, because there are situations where the right thing to do, we would almost all agree, is to go faster than the posted limit. Should you wait for the red light when no one is coming and your passengeris about to give birth? Probably not, so lets get rid of traffic lights. No swimming area? Can't have that, what if you have to rescue someone who fell in? Every law is like that.


The key is, as AL points out, that if the situation is so dire then you are willing to take the consequences of breaking the law. Secondarily, we all know from experience, the law itself, we know from experience, is not uniformly applied. If you break a law in extreme and morally justified situations then every step of the system, from the probability of arrest, to prosecution, to jury, is lenient. So, when you think you are really justified in breaking the law you think its worth gambling on the reduced legal consequences.

We make things illegal not when we think they should absolutely never be done, but when we think they should only be done in such extreme situations that 1) the perpetrator's calculus includes the possible legal consequences, and 2) society at large agrees with the exception. Otherwise we could have no rules and no laws.

This is not to say that rules are made to be broken or that everyone should make an independent moral judgment about every rule when contemplating obeying.
But that, as AL points out, that if one takes account of the most extreme situations when making rules, we could have no rules.

When we talk about the CIA prisons -- we are talking about 14 people. Do they fit in this sort of exception? Is it right that they would do so?

(Hat tip to commenter "Crust" on Maguire's site)

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 22, 2007 04:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

When we talk about the CIA prisons -- we are talking about 14 people. Do they fit in this sort of exception? Is it right that they would do so?

No, they don't fit, unless per hypothesis one of them was captured in the kind of circumstances that made it appear that immediate jeopardy was in play.

Regardless, the oft-made point is surely correct: if you are so sure that lives are hanging in the balance -- more precisely, if you have an objective basis for being sure, one that could be communicated to a jury -- then presumably, petty little laws aren't going to bother you much anyway.

That's the problem with a "torture warrant," btw -- where it would arguably be necessary, it would surely come too late.

Look at Lt. Cmdr. Diaz, who just got 6 months for trying to publicize data that the U.S. was treaty-bound to have made public in the first place. He broke the law to do what he thought was right, and now he's paying the price.

(I remain skeptical that this ticking-bomb stuff would work, b/c it's precisely where the bomb is ticking that the prisoner has the best incentive to hold out against the torture ... resist a few minutes, and the infidels die!)

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 04:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, Anderson, you say this. "Unless per hypothesis one of them was captured in the kind of circumstances that made it appear that immediate jeopardy was in play" Do you see how the torture scenario creeps in on little cat feet?

You are explicitly recognizing the circumstances under which you would authorize torture. I remain satisfied that you are morally pure enough not to do it yourself, and salute your stand.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 04:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you stuff your ears up with conceit, you won't be able to hear the ticking over my cheering. That way you can neglect the 'immediate jeopardy' part.

What the world needs is more geometry. Or maybe just Anderson does.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 04:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

kim: let me put it this way. Under what circumstances, and using what methods, would the Vietnamese People's Army have been justified in torturing US POWs during the Vietnam War?

Posted by: ajay at May 22, 2007 04:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First, I've never understood the point (besides trying to deflect honest, productive discussion) of parsing/spinning/whatever the definition of torture. I would think it's pretty clear, torture is anything you wouldn't want done to you against your will, regardless of whether it might result in your death. Or, if you need more incentive, anything you wouldn't want done to your wife or your kid or your mom. It's interesting how disinterested people are about how torturous something is when it's not happening to THEM. I have a feeling they'd come to a different conclusion about what's really torture if it was.

Second, we shouldn't torture because torture is what evil, ultimately ineffective regimes do. On another thread, someone brought up torture in WWII. Yeah, that's a good idea, let's copy the Nazis, who lost the war. If they ever got useful intelligence from torture, it clearly didn't help them out that much.

As far as the claim that torture definitely does/could work, I'd like some concrete, verified examples, not made-up ticking time bomb scenarios. People will say idiotic things like, "if torture could have prevented Sept. 11, would you authorize it?" We didn't need torture to prevent Sept. 11, all we had to do was pull our heads out of our asses and pay attention to what was right there in front of us. The piss-poor security of commercial airline travel in the US was well-known to everyone with more than two brain cells for a long time, but the airline lobbies paid a lot of money to make sure they weren't required to improve it. There were plenty of opportunities to prevent Sept. 11, all ignored by the people in charge.

Torture is for lazy people who don't want to do their jobs the way they should be done. You build an intelligence network by cultivating contacts and paying attention, not yanking people off the street and sending them far away to be abused by 20-year-old prison guards. It also helps if your intelligence network is supported by a competent military presence, planned and operated by competent civilian bosses. Torture is not worthy of us as a nation, and we don't need it. And if we do, if it's really down to this or nothing, then we should give up right now and leave Iraq and Afghanistan forever, because we've already lost.

Posted by: LL at May 22, 2007 04:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree, LL, the best intelligence is gathered leisurely, analyzed carefully, and applied judicially. Nice birdcage, too.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks, Greg, for your thoughtful and well supported post. As usual.

Active promotion of the illegal use of torture, the anti-Constitutional suspension of habeas, and the corruption of the DOJ in the deliberate pursuit of voter intimidation and election manipulation are the three great institutional achievements of the Bush administration. Its defining characteristics are incompetence and mendacity.

We won't have to wait long for the judgement of history on this president. The King is dead. Long live the King.

Posted by: ADAMS at May 22, 2007 04:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Strike three, Schumer's out.
===================

Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 04:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Torture is for lazy people who don't want to do their jobs the way they should be done.

This is about how it happened, in part. We had a sudden need to interrogate lots of people whose culture & language were not high on our list of FBI/CIA specialties -- how bizarre was that??? -- and you got a bunch of readily frustrated people banging their own heads metaphorically against the wall, which led to some non-metaphorical banging of other people's heads against the wall.

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 04:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First, to Greg: thank you, and well done.

For Arthur, who writes:
"Ridicule JMH as you will, his point in another thread is valid: show us where other countries have honored us for the moral superiority that you say is our now dishonored tradition. Somehow the charm of American exceptionalism that you now defend so eloquently seems to have eluded them."

Where to begin?

1) Do you really believe that America has never been seen as an example of what a country should aspire towards, by any country, at any point in time?
a) If you do believe that (which I do not credit), then it would be hard to make any credible claim to objective moral superiority or intrinsic worth of any sort, wouldn't it? All that remains is brute force and pure survival. I doubt that you would want to see such standards applied to a country's internal affairs, to say nothing of your daily life. What is your argument for believing that this should be the only operative standard for foreign affairs? Is that not, on some level, analogous to being a good father and husband towards one's family, but a pure psychopath with respect to the larger community? (see, e.g., Tony Soprano?)

b) If you don't believe that, then your argument is essentially disingenuous. You recognize that America does stand for something, and has been recognized as standing for something in at least some quarters, at some times, but wish to be freed of the "burden" of any moral constraints to suit the exigencies at ahdn, without conceding that this course of behavior may have undesirable consequences on our standing in the world. Good luck with that.

2) What of our treaty obligations, which are, after all, supposed to be binding? Should we really feel free to disregard international treaties and domestic laws based solely on our practical calculations of self-interest at the time? On what inexhaustible source of hypocrisy will we draw when we wish to condemn other countries for not abiding by their treaty obligations when it's inconvenient for them?

3) But even more fundamentally, would the fact that American exceptionalism has not been universally recognized by other nations and adversaries (including, of course, AQ) a sufficient justification for abandonning any moral constraints? How is that different, at bottom, from saying that you will no longer attempt to be a "good" person because you are not universally recognized and lauded as one? Is your moral calculus really that facile? Is that what you teach your children?

The whoe obsession with the ticking bomb scenario and the question of what constitutes "acceptable" "enhanced" interrogation reminds me of the perhaps apocryphal story about someone (George Bernard Shaw?) who offered a lady a million pounds to sleep with him for one night. When she agreed, he said. "what about for 100 pounds"? Shocked, she replied, "what do you think I am, a whore?" He answered, "we've already established that, now we're just dickering over the price."

Think long and hard before you accept the offer that the torture merchants dangle before us. There's no million dollar payoff for what you would so quickly surrender.

Posted by: retr2327 at May 22, 2007 05:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Not a canard and you've misrepresented his second offer. And I agree, we are looking at a slippery slope.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 05:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is indeed thrilling to hear all the eloquent discourse about the Americans spreading the ideals of the enlightenment among the lesser of the world, like sweetness and light. Top of the morning matins to your Oncle Ubu, y'hear?
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 05:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for a good summation and analysis of an important issue. Authoritarian conservatives continue to prefer fantasy to reality.

Posted by: Batocchio at May 22, 2007 06:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Unconscious irony is the best. Or did you just not read the comments?
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 06:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look, if we’re going to have this debate, let’s have it, but let’s have it honestly.

Sorry, I can't be joining in until my brown shirt gets back from the cleaners - removing those blood stains is such a chore.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at May 22, 2007 06:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"When we talk about the CIA prisons -- we are talking about 14 people. "

Utterly, utterly, utterly false; probably off by an order of magnitude, even if you exclude prisoners in military prisons who were interrogated by the CIA. The Eastern European black sites are a small fraction of the CIA archipelago.

Posted by: Katherine at May 22, 2007 06:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I tot I taw a puddy tat.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 06:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've been checking my schedule, Greg, and I don't think I have time for you. But let me tell you about the time al-Qaeda tried to teach a little Red Cross Lady about pain.

Drawing, Greg, maybe you should think about drawing. Draw the Big Picture into four parts in the Big Square. Meanwhile, I'm going swimming.

Dives offstage.
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Posted by: kim at May 22, 2007 07:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't know what Belgravia's policy is about deleting off-topic, cluttering comments, but this would be a good time to apply it. Just sayin'.

(Anderson checks in later, goes, "hey! where are my comments?")

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 07:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Sorry, I can't be joining in until my brown shirt gets back from the cleaners - removing those blood stains is such a chore.

See Greg.

You might as well be calling out Dan Rhiel.

Witt? Check

A shred of intellectual honesty? Sorry, I loaned it to Clarice who promptly lost it at the local titty bar.

Posted by: Davebo at May 22, 2007 07:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And to prove my point.

Tom will take the Dan Riehl (mispelled before) reference as a compliment.

Posted by: Davebo at May 22, 2007 07:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Put differently, how many well-meaning Tom Maguire's are out there . . .

Since you put it precisely, that way: zero!

Posted by: Jim Henley at May 22, 2007 07:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nice to see that Tom retains his moral seriousness. As I say, you're trying to debate moral issues with the Joker, Greg. He's more likely to be found wearing an acid-squirting flower than a brown shirt.

Meanwhile, Speak of the Devil:

While taking my mother for a medical exam this morning, I ran by pure chance across the March 2007 issue of "Details" and its interview with Mohammed el-Masri, which is also available at http://men.style.com/details/features/full?id=content_5345&pageNum=1 . It's VERY interesting, especially given the evidence it explicitly provides that a good many other people besides el-Masri may have been atrociously abused (and he WAS atrociously abused, as you'll see, although they never quite got around to waterboarding or Long Time Standing him) entirely because of mistaken identity. To quote ex-operatives Robert Baer and Vince Cannistraro, the CIA at that point were acting like "imbeciles" on orders from the Bush Administration, and the article leaves no doubt that Honest George Tenet was right in the middle of it (unsurprisingly). At that time the Germans were cooperating, but they (and the rest of Europe) got over it fast after they realized that they were dealing with a bunch of arrogant fools -- as have most of our Arab Ext. Rend. partners, according to Baer, after "we turned Saddam Hussein over to a Shia lynch mob."

The strongest moral outrage of this whole affair stems from the fact that we are unquestionably STILL holding (and doing God knows what to) not just a few prisoners, but a large number of them, on the basis of mistaken identity -- apparently just to make Rummy and his superiors look as though they were doing more to apprehend genuine terrorists than they actually are. See:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008230.php
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008244.php
Yes, yes, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. However, it's perfectly possible to break eggs without making an omelet, which seems to be a speciality of this administration.

Oh, and Tom: Be sure and tell us how many jokes you can squeeze out of this article.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 08:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Come now, Henley, it's a common enough name ....

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 08:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One practical argument against torture that gets little play: A policy or pattern of ill-treating prisoners discourages our enemies from surrendering.

Posted by: Crust at May 22, 2007 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One practical argument against torture that gets little play: A policy or pattern of ill-treating prisoners discourages our enemies from surrendering.

Cf. the fierce resistance shown by the Russians in 1941 after it became clear that the Germans were not playing by Hoyle, and the even fiercer resistance shown by the Germans in 1945 on the Eastern Front when the Russians came by to return the favor.

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 09:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In the latter case, many German troops fled in order to be able to surrender to the British and US forces. Wonder why?

Posted by: Tom S at May 22, 2007 09:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Come on, people! Why do you need to persuade the enemy to surrender when -- as that Bush aide told Ron Suskind -- you can Change Reality Through The Power Of Your Will? Like little Anthony in "It's A Good Life", you can simply wish them all into the cornfield.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 22, 2007 09:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg the Pretender,

Alright, alright, alright. I've had enough of this complete bullshit. I used to like you Greg, I really did, but this torture thing has mushed your previously pragmatic and realistic brain. I have a simple question for you, very simple. I ask this question to all who cry and scream when it comes to the torture debate:

Would you rather hurt a terrorist, or have a single dead innocent person on your hands for not having done so?

It's really that god damn simple. And you are all, ALL, lying to yourselves if you say you choose the latter. Either that, or you are actually a terrorist.

Yes, torture is wrong. So is murder - yet our police murder people every single day. What you gonna do guys? Outlaw police shooting criminals? Outlaw war? Where does it end? It's all the same damn thing when you set the circumstances equal.

Whether you torture the guy or kill the guy, if you don't, he's going to have someone else, an innocent person, killed.

If you'd rather be on the side of the criminal than the innocent, then fine. But then look at yourself and see what you've become.

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 10:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Seriously, Greg, keep up the good work in going after these Apologists for Torture. Their way must not become America's way."

Posted by: David All at May 22, 2007 12:37 AM |

I agree with your post,David, but it seems as if torture HAS become America`s way.I think the task is to put a permanent stop to this.An Apologist for Torture is a Torturer,period.Call these people what they are without any bullshit political rhetoric.

Posted by: Sully18 at May 22, 2007 10:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, the question is whether Seixon is serious, or is mocking the pro-torture "position." For the first 5 1/2 paragraphs of his post I was convinced that he was serious, and was ready to pen an angry response. Then I read the last sentence, and I realized that he was indeed mocking the pro-torture position:

"But then look at yourself and see what you've become."

Indeed. A fitting epitaph for our nation.

Posted by: LarryM at May 22, 2007 10:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah yes, Sully18, when I defend a cop who's mistakenly shot someone who wasn't a criminal, I'm an Apologist for Murder. Keep on chanting it, it sounds true! The only colors are black and white! There's no use for any other color!!! Pleasantville forever!

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 10:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Would you rather hurt a terrorist, or have a single dead innocent person on your hands for not having done so?

I started to write, "so why don't we torture criminals," but seeing as Seixon is okay with police "murdering people every single day," I guess that wouldn't be very persuasive.

Creepy people like you, Seixon, are part of the problem we are trying to address.

Posted by: Anderson at May 22, 2007 10:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LarryM,

No, you're just an idiot who can't understand that you're, hmm how to put this, ah I will use the rhetorical strategy of Greg and this Sully18 person: You are a Terrorist Apologist.

See, I know you're not. You're not a Terrorist Apologist. You hate terrorists. You'd probably kill one if you had to. Or would you? You wouldn't torture one to save your mother, so why would you kill one? In fact, why is it OK for our soldiers to kill terrorists at all? Isn't that worse than torture? Now I digress. Back to the matter.

For all of you calling "us" Apologists for Torture, we could easily turn that around and call you Apologists for Terrorists. However, since I'm not a monochrome-visioned MORON, I won't, since I recognize that your logic and morality brain waves are getting mixed up. Your morality is betraying your logic, ending up killing your mother instead of hurting the terrorist.

Now you have betrayed your mother, for what? A terrorist. This isn't what you wanted, but it's what your ideology has just left you with because you won't let it go.

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 11:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anderson,

Yeah buddy, keep dancing around the question. That's all you pretenders can do, anyways. I'm keeping it real. When will you guys?

Or should I call all your mothers and tell them that they'd rather not hurt a terrorist and let her die instead?

Of course, if there are other ways than torture to save her, go for it. If not.... then? In most cases, there will be. But not always. If you call water-boarding torture... well then.

Would you rather water-board a terrorist, or have your mother die for not having done so?

Just answer the god damn question you cowards.

Why is it that I never get a god damn straight reply when I ask people this? Oh, right, because they are ideological cowards.

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 11:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon,

Whether you are serious or not, every word you write discredits the pro torture position, such as it is. So please, keep posting.

But, assuming for a moment that you ARE serious, and as much amusement as you are providing for the readers of this thread, for your own sake and the sake of those who you love, I'd advise you to seek professional help.

Posted by: LarryM at May 22, 2007 11:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LarryM,

Wonderful. Instead of actually just answering a simple question, you pussy out and then say I need professional help. I'd say that discredits your position, as you are unable to defend it because my simple little question lets all the air out of your phantom ideological position.

I've been asking this very simple question for years, and I have yet to get a single straight response.

You're all ideological cowards. You'd rather defend your ideology than an innocent person. How is that any different than Stalinism? I hear Castro sends critical journalists to mental institutions - is that where I'm headed guys? Too tough to answer, so you send me to the crazy house?

Again - you're all cowards. Someone be a man and answer the question. I mean, I expected nothing less out of my liberal friend who envisions a career working for the Red Cross, the UN, or something like that. She's a good soul. She's innocent. She's kind. She's wonderful.

Yet she cannot answer this simple question, for it haunts her liberal mind that she would be forced to choose between two evils, a world she'd rather pretend doesn't exist. Even though she has visited that very same world in Africa.

Isn't that what they call cognitive dissonance?

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 11:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon,

Do you ENJOY raping and vivisecting 3 year old children, or are you disgusted with yourself but impelled to do so by forces which you don't understand?

Answer the question you intellectual coward!!!!!!

Posted by: LarryM at May 22, 2007 11:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Having read the rest of your post, all I gotta say is: bravo. Bravo.

If Tom Maguire supports using a technique 1 out of 1000 times, you say he "cheerleads it". If he supports using a technique 1 out of 10,000 times, you say he "gleefully" supports it. You're a charlatan smearing your own ego with lies.

You start comparing us to Saudi Arabia and China, since they use some of the techniques described as in use by the CIA. Oh, OK. So when Saudi Arabia water-boards a guy for failing to beat his wife properly, that is the same as the CIA water-boarding a guy to save innocent lives.

Yeah. Bravo. Golf clap. Anyone with a brain can see you are making a complete fool of yourself and using the worst of moral relativism.

Why don't you compare US police shooting criminals while in pursuit with Nazis shooting the heads off Jews while you're at it? You've got a damn good start going here.

Equivocating CIA agents trying to save innocent people with the Gestapos running countries like Saudi Arabia - bravo, bravo. I'm sure the lads at the CIA will be pleased. Someone tell Valerie Plame.

Free your mind, you have let this issue completely venomize your brain. You're not thinking rationally, logically, clearly, or any synonym thereof.

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 11:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LarryM,

Why would I ever rape or vivisect a 3-year old child? To what end? For what purpose? How in the world does that compare to my question?

Or are you going for the head-fake, that there will NEVER be a situation like the one I described? Never is a pretty heavy word there, son. Be careful now. I hope your mother never gets in the situation I described, and you are responsible for interrogating the man who can save her. Because you'll end up with one dead mother. Because you're a coward.

If I had to rape and vivisect a 3-year old child to save my country, then by Jimmy, I'd do it. See. I'm not a pussy. I'm keeping it real. Your turn.

Posted by: Seixon at May 22, 2007 11:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon: By your reasoning, ROUTINE torture of POWs is acceptable, since wartime torture is justified to save "even one innocent life". By the same token, of course, regular torture of suspects by the police is acceptable. But there are those little side effects...

In the case of war: George Washington during the Revolution, and the FDR Administration during the Pacific War, flatly forbade it despite the fact that our enemies in those cases didn't reciprocate in the slightest. Why? Because -- as they both said -- it produces very little useful information, but lots and lots of permanent hatred on the part of one's enemy. The moral argument against it and the strategic argument against it fuse into each other.

There may indeed be rare situations in which this factor has to be overridden: our famous "Ticking Bomb". But how big does the bomb have to be? The Revolution and the Pacific War were both wars of national survival; lots of Americans' lives (including civilian lives) were at stake in them, too. So, to override this rule and for torture to do more strategic good than harm (even overlooking its corrosive effects on a nation's moral character), the bomb has to be very big indeed, and we have to make damn sure that we don't leave any door open to start allowing torture for smaller and smaller reasons. And giving any one man, by himself, the power to make that decision is asking for disaster.

So I repeat (for the millionth time): there are only two possible ways to handle such rare exceptions The first is to allow torture only if it's allowed, in any individual case, by a fairly large number of individual, separate judicial opinions -- that "Permissible Torture Court" proposal I keep catching flak for. The other way is the way proposed by a lot of other people here: keep torture illegal, so that anyone who orders it in a specific case knows that he's risking his freedom if -- and only if -- both a D.A. and all 12 members of a regular jury (and, in the case of the President, 2/3 of the Senate)agree that, in that case, it was NOT "justifiable assault" for the defense of others. That rule allows a lot of emergency freedom, right there.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 12:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Would you rather hurt a terrorist, or have a single dead innocent person on your hands for not having done so?

We have information that says you, Seixon, are a terrorist threat. Now, you could just give up the information about your cell and their intended target willingly, or we could put you through some 'enhanced interrogation techniques'.

Yeah, yeah, we know you're innocent. That's what the last guy said before we put him on the ol' washboard. Didn't take long before he gave up your name. So, are you going to play nice, eh?

Posted by: Doug H. at May 23, 2007 12:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A few points in favor of coercive methods:

I'd draw the line between coercive methods and torture by excluding from torture any methods used during the survival training of our own soldiers, which includes waterboarding, cold and standing, etc. Under all law, one cannot "consent" to torture. Therefore, either those training methods are torture against our own soldiers, and illegal, irrespective of "consent", or they are something else.

I'd use those coercive methods selectively and only against illegal combatants.

I think preserving the possibility of coercive methods in the mind of our enemies makes other, non-coercive methods of interrogation more effective. Let our enemies know there is no possibility of rough treatment, and they will train their terrorists to be cocky. Conversely, let them fear the worst, and good treatment becomes a productive tool of interrogation.

Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 12:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Djerejian:

...even with regard to so-called 'enemy combatants' rather than POWs, most if not all of these leading observers would have Article III apply fully to them as well, given the Geneva Convention requirement they too "be treated with humanity'"
The term "enemy combatant" above and in your previous post on Tom Maguire obscures the distinction between "unlawful enemy combatants" and POWs that is fundmental to any discussion about where elements of the Geneva Conventions apply, and where they do not. Considering the attention you're devoting to the legal arguments here, I find it hard to believe that this is a careless omission.

Until now, apparently, enemies who fail to identify themselves and who hide themselves amongst civilians have always been accorded an entirely different status, under law, than uniformed military personnel. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of POW's even make distinctions between the comforts to be accorded officers and enlisted men. It may be the opinion of your "leading observers" that we should no longer make distinctions, large or small, at all, but such a position is, in fact, a dramatic departure from equally long standing rules of war. Even in George Washingon's America, unlawful combatants -- not just spies -- were executed. Would a reasonable person prefer hanging to sleep deprivation? Perhaps not.

If it is blasphemous simply to suggest that the bulk of the Geneva Conventions' provisions governing the treatment of POW's are predicated on an entirely different form of warfare than that in which we are now engaged, why then is it acceptable to ignore the reciprocity that is fundamental to the Conventions, as a legal compact? You can claim the moral highground on any basis you like, of course, but if you intend to claim the legal highground, then it is surely incumbent upon you to address the legal status of combatants.

Isn't the issue of reciprocity really at the very heart of the moral and legal controversy where terrorism is concerned? Why has it become a virtual thought crime to wonder if traditional codes sufficiently account for an enemy who is not subject to any governing authority, nor party to any compact, and who rejects the very concept of mutuality upon which international agreement ultimately rests? Indeed, such enemies pose a stark challenge to the comforting illusion that there is really any such thing as "civilized" war in the first place. If nothing else, they confound the argument that our own treatment of combatants, not to mention civilians, is likely to bear practical fruit.

Dismissing a term like "enhanced interrogation techniques" as mere euphamism for "anything goes" is a conceit designed to throw anyone who questions the absolutist view into the "pro-torture" camp. If politicians prove less then willing to discuss specific thresholds, you might look to yourself for the reason. The unremitting bombast which immediately greets such openess makes the political cost prohibitively high. So too, does the insistance that aggressive interogation never works often pave the way for casting apostates as gleeful sadists in lieu of having to address the potential human cost of the lines you choose to draw.

Considering how routinely Republicans are tarred as armchair warriors, your obvious umbrage at being labelled an armchair moralist is an ironic twist. I agree that the ticking time bomb scenario is almost entirely apocryphal, but its purpose is to set the armchair decision making process in a context which requires acknowledging that the moral consequences of such decisions cut two ways -- an admission that purists seem loathe to make. Rather than just expressing horror at the number of our troops who appear surprisingly complacent about the potential use of torture, perhaps we should at least contemplate the possibility that most of us, when faced with actually losing real comrades we love and respect, day in and day out, might not be so quick to claim that the moral equation here is crystal clear.

As a postscript:

But for Maguire, the CIA carve-out is just fine. Given this stance, in effect, he wants us to join countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Chile and Afghanistan who have historically used sleep deprivation to torture prisoners.
It's hard to beat this for intellectual flexibility. You reserve your scorn for Tom Maquire, yet handily rub the tarnish off the Senator from Arizona, and candidate for leader of the free world, who voted that carve-out into existence -- by assuring us, in your previous post, that you're confident he'll repudiate such pragmatism if he's elected President. In Djerejian world, actually voting for the carve-out doesn't, "in effect," mean McCain "wants us to join countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Chile and Afghanistan." Oh no, it's supporting that vote, instead of relying on some prognosticated future reversal, that's morally derelict.

The fact that you assume McCain affirmed the bill in order to better his chances of becoming president apparently poses no ethical hurdles. Of course, in the likelihood that he loses the election battle, and thus the opportunity for such presidential back tracking, I suppose you can still blame Maguire for not voting McCain into office to halt that inevitable slide into Saudi waters he helped initiate in the Senate.

Posted by: JM Hanes at May 23, 2007 01:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JM Hanes:

Excellent retort! I only wish it were higher on the thread. I dare Djerejian to post your rebuttal more prominently.

Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 01:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So here we go again: the fact that military torture may be strategically justifiable in some extremely rare cases somehow proves that it should be frequent -- and that its ordering by a single man (at whatever stage in the miliary hierarchy) should be legalized. Take it up with the Father of Our Country, who -- as has been noted more times in these threads than I care to count -- said that military torture is NEVER justified even when the enemy refuses to reciprocate, for elementary strategic reasons as well as moral ones. Which the Roosevelt Administration also said in connection with Japan. Even if you assume that they may not quite have been correct with that "never", "almost never" holds up very well.

As for McCain: uh, Mr. Hanes, if you read Djerejian's earlier postings on this, you'll note that he's been quite savage on attacking McCain's sellout.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So tell me, Edhesq: Are Long Time Standing and Cold Cell, in the forms described by CIA sources in that ABC report that Djerejian quotes, used in our soldiers' "survival training"? (The latter is documented, in prisoner-interrogation records publicly unearthed during this conflict, as having caused near-fatal hypothermia several times.) And was the US military wrong to officially label waterboarding "torture" -- and its use by either the enemy or US troops a crime -- during the Aguinaldo Rebellion, World War II, AND Vietnam?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Correction: change that "near-fatal hypothermia" to "fatal".

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For some reason (maybe length), Greg's site ate my attempt to post this earlier today -- so I'm trying again. It's important.

While taking my mother for a medical exam this morning, I ran by pure chance across the March 2007 issue of "Details" and its interview with Mohammed el-Masri, which is also available at
http://men.style.com/details/features/full?id=content_5345&pageNum=1 . It's VERY interesting, especially given the evidence it explicitly provides that a good many other people besides el-Masri may have been atrociously abused (and he WAS atrociously abused, as you'll see, although they never quite got around to waterboarding or Long Time Standing him) entirely because of mistaken identity. To quote ex-operatives Robert Baer and Vince Cannistraro, the CIA at that point were acting like "imbeciles" on orders from the Bush Administration, and the article leaves no doubt that Honest George Tenet was right in the middle of it (unsurprisingly). At that time the Germans were cooperating, but they (and the rest of Europe) got over it fast after they realized that they were dealing with a bunch of arrogant fools -- as have most of our Arab Ext. Rend. partners, according to Baer, after "we turned Saddam Hussein over to a Shia lynch mob."

The strongest moral outrage of this whole affair stems from thefact that we are unquestionably STILL holding (and doing God knows what to) not just a few prisoners, but a large number of them, on the basis of mistaken identity -- apparently just to make Rummy and his superiors look as though they were doing more to apprehend genuine terrorists than they actually are. See:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008230.php
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008244.php

Yes, yes, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. However, it's perfectly possible to break eggs without making an omelet, which seems to be a specialty of this administration.

It'll be interesting to see how many jokes Maguire can squeeze out of this article.
article.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For some reason (maybe length), Greg's site has eaten my attempt to post this twice earlier today -- so I'm trying again. It's important.

While taking my mother for a medical exam this morning, I ran by pure chance across the March 2007 issue of "Details" and its interview with Mohammed el-Masri, which is also available at
http://men.style.com/details/features/full?id=content_5345&pageNum=1 . It's VERY interesting, especially given the evidence it explicitly provides that a good many other people besides el-Masri may have been atrociously abused (and he WAS atrociously abused, as you'll see, although they never quite got around to waterboarding or Long Time Standing him) entirely because of mistaken identity. To quote ex-operatives Robert Baer and Vince Cannistraro, the CIA at that point were acting like "imbeciles" on orders from the Bush Administration, and the article leaves no doubt that Honest George Tenet was right in the middle of it (unsurprisingly). At that time the Germans were cooperating, but they (and the rest of Europe) got over it fast after they realized that they were dealing with a bunch of arrogant fools -- as have most of our Arab Ext. Rend. partners, according to Baer, after "we turned Saddam Hussein over to a Shia lynch mob."

The strongest moral outrage of this whole affair stems from the fact that we are unquestionably STILL holding (and doing God knows what to) not just a few prisoners, but a large number of them, on the basis of mistaken identity -- apparently just to make Rummy and his superiors look as though they were doing more to apprehend genuine terrorists than they actually are. See:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008230.php
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008244.php

It'll be interesting to see how many jokes Maguire can squeeze out of this article.
article.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For some reason (maybe length), Greg's site has eaten my attempt to post this three times earlier today -- so I'm trying yet again, this time as a 2-part item. It's important.

(1) While taking my mother for a medical exam this morning, I ran by pure chance across the March 2007 issue of "Details" and its interview with Mohammed el-Masri, which is also available at
http://men.style.com/details/features/full?id=content_5345&pageNum=1 . It's VERY interesting, especially given the evidence it explicitly provides that a good many other people besides el-Masri may have been atrociously abused (and he WAS atrociously abused, as you'll see, although they never quite got around to waterboarding or Long Time Standing him) entirely because of mistaken identity. To quote ex-operatives Robert Baer and Vince Cannistraro, the CIA at that point were acting like "imbeciles" on orders from the Bush Administration, and the article leaves no doubt that Honest George Tenet was right in the middle of it (unsurprisingly). At that time the Germans were cooperating, but they (and the rest of Europe) got over it fast after they realized that they were dealing with a bunch of arrogant fools -- as have most of our Arab Ext. Rend. partners, according to Baer, after "we turned Saddam Hussein over to a Shia lynch mob."

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(2) The strongest moral outrage in this whole affair stems from the fact that we are unquestionably STILL holding (and doing God knows what to) not just a few prisoners, but a large number of them, on the basis of mistaken identity -- apparently just to make Rummy and his superiors look as though they were doing more to apprehend genuine terrorists than they actually are. See:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008230.php
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008244.php

Yes, yes, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. However, it's perfectly possible to break eggs without making an omelet, which seems to be a specialty of this administration.

It'll be interesting to see how many jokes Maguire can squeeze out of these articles.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 01:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What is all this parsing of the word 'torture'?

If you are convinced there is divine forgiveness for doing what's necessary to save a loved one from the blood-thirsty clutches of
a rabid Islamofascist, why draw the line at waterboarding?

How about the death of a thousand cuts? Strapping them to anthills
and dousing them with honey? How about lining up non-combatants
in a gallery and treating them to a session of lawn-bowling with the heads of their countrymen?

Why do you want to sanitize the inherent right to do whatever is necessary to protect the innocent?

Posted by: Semanticleo at May 23, 2007 02:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce:

You argue against yourself, thrice, I think.

My point was that you can draw distinctions between methods as to what is and is not torture. You are now the one drawing distinctions between degrees within methods as to what is and is not torture. Who's dancing on the head of a pin now?

Again, either waterboarding is or is not torture. I said "not" because it is used in survival training, otherwise a long line of US presidents and SecDefs are culpable for the torture of US military personnel. Consent is not a defense.

Note also, I said such methods should be used sparingly, in our proper discretion, against unlawful combatants only, not lawful POWs. I'm not sure about Aguinaldo, but wasn't that before that whole silly Geneva receprocity framework was established? Or was that a step backward? Moreover, I'm stunned that you believe the US military in its sole discretion should decide what is and is not a "crime."

Finally, I have nothing against the US government in its discretion renoucing such methods in any conflict, Aguinalso or elsewhere, even against unlawful combatants. Again, now it's you who is saying the government must use these methods in all instances. Please, check your sadism at the door!

Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 02:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why do you want to sanitize the inherent right to do whatever is necessary to protect the innocent?

Because as long as one can keep redefining torture, one can still fool themselves into thinking one is a free and enlightened civilized person and not some swarthy barbarian.

Posted by: Doug H. at May 23, 2007 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Again, either waterboarding is or is not torture. I said "not" because it is used in survival training, otherwise a long line of US presidents and SecDefs are culpable for the torture of US military personnel. Consent is not a defense.

We also expose our troops to chemical weapons as a part of basic training, so I guess we're good to go with dropping our chemweaps load on insurgent redoubts.

Note also, I said such methods should be used sparingly, in our proper discretion, against unlawful combatants only, not lawful POWs.

How so? Who gets the first call? Who gets the final call? What happens if/when things get out of hand?

Posted by: Doug H. at May 23, 2007 02:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

edhesq:

Thanks, I'd settle for not having to run a gauntlet of senseless insults in order to comment on controversial topics, whether here or elsewhere. Unfortunately, that's about the only advantage of being slower off the drawing board than most. I thought your own post on coercive methods provides a clear and useful jumping off point when it comes to addressing how torture is, or possibly should be, defined. Hope you won't mind my having taken the liberty of quoting your comment (with a link to the original) over on the so-called Flim Flam Man's site.

Posted by: JM Hanes at May 23, 2007 03:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce:

I'm not sure attacking Tom Maguire for derision after having "been quite savage on attacking McCain's sellout," himself, makes Mr. Djerejian look any more consistent.

Posted by: JM Hanes at May 23, 2007 03:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The term "enemy combatant" above and in your previous post on Tom Maguire obscures the distinction between "unlawful enemy combatants" and POWs

Right. Remind me where "unlawful enemy combatant" is a term used in Geneva?

When you begin your argument with b.s. "distinctions" invented for the purpose of violating the law, those of us who have been PAYING ATTENTION FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS lose interest in the rest of your argument.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 03:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(Leaving aside, to underline the obvious, that the U.S. anti-torture statute -- which Congress defined as barring treatment that would not pass the Bill of Rights -- applies across the board, Geneva be damned.)

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 03:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JM Hanes says:
"Thanks, I'd settle for not having to run a gauntlet of senseless insults in order to comment on controversial topics, whether here or elsewhere."

JM, you are so right. Why just a couple days ago on another blog I made a reasoned post on why we should re-enslave the negro race. I used no insults, just relentless logic. Yet I was insulted left and right, called racist and worse. I guess my opponents just could rebut my logical arguments.

Posted by: Cracker Jack at May 23, 2007 05:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Doug, you said:

"We also expose our troops to chemical weapons as a part of basic training, so I guess we're good to go with dropping our chemweaps load on insurgent redoubts."

I believe what you refer to is training in the use of non-leathals (also routine in civilian law enforcement training), and the use of non-lethals to train in the use of protective gear to be used against lethals. But I think you're mixing up prisoner treatment and rules of combat.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't standard tear gas prohibited under the current laws of war, but routinely used in civilian police and prison operations? Unlike protections afforded captured prisoners of war, however, use of chemicals in warfare is barred for reasons in addition to the protection of enemy combatants, such as the protection of civilian populations.

Moreover, I don't know that we expose our soldiers to chemicals in an unmittgated manner that is substantially certain to result in death, disfigurement or permanent disability. And as a rule of thumb, I don't think we should do so in coercive interrogation either -- precisely because that steps over the line beyond what is done to our own in training.

I stand by my observation (above) that it's the opponents here who invoke the most macabre methods to be used on a routine basis, I suupose to prove themselves morally superior. Meanwhile, I don't see any serious comment on this side that doesn't think we should be selective and careful about the methods we use.

"How so? Who gets the first call? Who gets the final call? What happens if/when things get out of hand?"

You could say the same about any decision made in war. Establish a chain of command. Procedures, even if classified, can be codified in an interrogation manual.

But keep in mind my strongest argument (above) for limited use of coercive interrogation methods: the uncertainty it is likely to engender in the mind of the prisoner going in, such that the routine use of surprisingly good treatment and non-coercive methods becomes a more a effective method of interrogation.

Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 06:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anderson:

"Right. Remind me where "unlawful enemy combatant" is a term used in Geneva?"

Maybe if you had been "PAYING ATTENTION" for more than "FOUR YEARS," or didn't lose interest in other people's arguments so quickly, you'd realize that the concept is not exactly new.

Posted by: JM Hanes at May 23, 2007 06:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I stand by my observation (above) that it's the opponents here who invoke the most macabre methods to be used on a routine basis, I suupose to prove themselves morally superior.

Or to advertise what happens when you open up Pandora's Box.

You could say the same about any decision made in war. Establish a chain of command. Procedures, even if classified, can be codified in an interrogation manual.

OK, then what chain of command? What procedures? How do you keep things from degenerating into another Abu Ghraib?

But keep in mind my strongest argument (above) for limited use of coercive interrogation methods: the uncertainty it is likely to engender in the mind of the prisoner going in, such that the routine use of surprisingly good treatment and non-coercive methods becomes a more a effective method of interrogation.

Or to convince the enemy to fight to the last man, lest they find themselves facing a fate worse than death.

Posted by: Doug H. at May 23, 2007 08:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Another thing: Why change the regs and manuals? We've gone through - and won - World War 2 and the Cold War without having to resort to torture, why change now? How is the threat we face now worth lowering our moral superiority?

Posted by: Doug H. at May 23, 2007 08:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Really, Mr. Hanes and Edhesq. Waterboarding was officially defined as "torture" in WW II, and forbidden against Japanese POWs. It was defined as torture in the Vietnam War, and legally forbidden against Communist POWs -- another case of non-reciprocation, by the way, for the same combined moral/strategic reasons as with the Revolution and WW II. I think we can safely say that George Washington would have regarded it as such, and forbidden it as he forbade all other torture of British POWs, despite THAT lack of reciprocation. So let's stop the asinine hair-splitting, shall we?

As for Djerejian being "inconsistent": he's praised McCain for paying SOME attention to the issue -- which is considerably more than you can say for Maguire, Romney and their fellow ghouls -- at the same time that he's attacked him for folding on it previously when the crunch came. Inconsistency? Right...

And your idea that we should THREATEN to use it far more often than we actually do use it -- which has also been dragged out by "Cassandra" in her own half-assed attack on Gens. Krulak and Hoar (along with the "reciprocity" argument) -- has two huge holes. First, it's going to be very hard to make that threat convincingly unless we actually do use it pretty frequently. Second, giving the people of the Moslem world the belief that we frequently torture their prisoners, without actually doing so, is, shall we delicately say, having the worst of both worlds strategically.

And as for Edhesq's mindboggling argument that I'm actually more pro-torture and "sadistic" than he and other torture apologists are: well, my God. I'M not the one saying, with a straight face, that waterboarding isn't torture. I'M not the one saying that it's perfectly OK to allow one man -- by himself -- to order, with legal impunity, the torture of a person (or more than one person), just so long as that one man is located somewhere in the "chain of command". And I'M definitely not the one making merry little jokes about the whole affair. Grow up.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 08:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anderson,

You pussy. You still didn't answer. Others here have stated agreement with me - because it's simple. You are telling yourself that I advocate torture as a first solution to everything, so thus you cannot possibly agree with me. Greg is doing the same to Tom. Yet that isn't our position. We are talking about those rare times when you know for a fact that the terrorist has info that can save lives, and you have exhausted every other option at your disposal.

Torture
It's simple math.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 10:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmmm. That last part should have been:

Torture < Death

And I might add that no part of my argument includes the legality of using torture in those rare circumstances it may be required. Keep it illegal, fine, but i would expect the president or the cia still to do it when necessary, even if that means someone goes to prison for it.

Oh and Greg, i have the same position as Clinton and McCain, however little you'd like to admit it. These men know the stakes - you apparently live in another world.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 11:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh and one last thing (damn I hate doing this on a mobile) - I'm strictly talking about using torture against terrorists. Using it against POWs should not be acceptable because war is war. There are no 'innocent' fighting in a war. Terrorists, by definition, kill innocent civilians for the purpose of inciting fear among a populace. Attacking the military with a bomb is an act of war, and the assailant would be best described as a militant in that case. Terrorists kill civilians. Militants kill soldiers.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 11:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce said:

"And as for Edhesq's mindboggling argument that I'm actually more pro-torture and "sadistic" than he and other torture apologists are: well, my God. I'M not the one saying, with a straight face, that waterboarding isn't torture."

It's not my "argument," it's an observation about your's. You argue the imperative that these and much more extreme methods (that I would classify as torture) must be used in every instance of interrogation without discretion. Likewise, Doug trots-out the wierd stuff about the use of "chemical weapons" to compare with the use of, well, water.

Doug said:

"OK, then what chain of command? What procedures? How do you keep things from degenerating into another Abu Ghraib?"

This reminds me of the argument used against homosexuals in the military: "how do you keep things from degenerating into another Fire Island or Cher concert." Rules and discipline!

"Or to convince the enemy to fight to the last man, lest they find themselves facing a fate worse than death. "

Now with the "worse than death" sophistry. Again, this is a reason why the other side has to argue the slippery slope and must invoke the truly sadistic as a straw man, because the argument doesn't hold-up against the coercive methods being advocated here. Discomforture is not "worse than death."

Finally, in your rage you loose sight of my larger point here, which is to argue that the uncertainty engendered by the selective use of coercive methods on a limited basis can enhance the effectiveness of noncoercive methods that should be used routinely on a much wider basis.

Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 01:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We are talking about those rare times when you know for a fact that the terrorist has info that can save lives, and you have exhausted every other option at your disposal.

Already addressed above, leaving aside the rather fantastic nature of the hypo.

Oh and one last thing (damn I hate doing this on a mobile)

Don't feel like we're forcing you or anything.

JM Hanes, the lack of a citation is telling ... not that I'm surprised or anything.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 02:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It's not my "argument," it's an observation about your's. You argue the imperative that these and much more extreme methods (that I would classify as torture) must be used in every instance of interrogation without discretion. "

I suggest that you go back and examine Bruce's arguments, because that isn't even close to an accurate interpretation.

Bruce thinks that there are instances where torture can be "justified", and has proposed that all "torture" should be illegal unless authorized by a special court -- I disagree with that, solely because I think that torture should never be given the imprimature of official legality, regardless of the justification.

It should also be noted that I disagree with the idea that US Courts should be the forum in which torture cases should be tried, especially when the idea is that this is a way to prevent torturers from being punished when torture is "justified." It would be impossible to find a jury of American citizens who could be "impartial" when arguments are allowed that the nation's security was at stake. Those who torture should be turned over to the World Court or other international judicial fora for prosecution -- and the question of "justification" should only be relevant to the punishment. Regardless of the "justification" there should still be punishment, the "justification" should only dtermine the severity of the punishment.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 23, 2007 02:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It's not my "argument," it's an observation about your's. You argue the imperative that these and much more extreme methods (that I would classify as torture) must be used in every instance of interrogation without discretion. "

I suggest that you go back and examine Bruce's arguments, because that isn't even close to an accurate interpretation.

Bruce thinks that there are instances where torture can be "justified", and has proposed that all "torture" should be illegal unless authorized by a special court -- I disagree with that, solely because I think that torture should never be given the imprimature of official legality, regardless of the justification.

It should also be noted that I disagree with the idea that US Courts should be the forum in which torture cases should be tried, especially when the idea is that this is a way to prevent torturers from being punished when torture is "justified." It would be impossible to find a jury of American citizens who could be "impartial" when arguments are allowed that the nation's security was at stake. Those who torture should be turned over to the World Court or other international judicial fora for prosecution -- and the question of "justification" should only be relevant to the punishment. Regardless of the "justification" there should still be punishment, the "justification" should only dtermine the severity of the punishment.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 23, 2007 02:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Two questions for supporters of the use of torture by the US:

1) Can any of you provide an example where the initiation of a policy of using torture to get intelligence from a few selected prisoners did not almost inevitably spiral into a massive and indiscriminate use of torture?

2) Serving and past JAG and intelligence personnel are almost unamimous in condemming the use of torture (broadly defined) from both a moral and a utilitarian standpoint. Assuming that none of the proponents actually have any experience in the field, why do you armchair Torquemadas insist that you know better?

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 02:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Congratulations, Bruce, on being Godwinned for merely recognizing that sometimes the deliberate infliction of pain is the right thing to do. I'm sorry you find it necessary to invoke jury nullification or majestic pardon as the only ways to validate the right course. P. luk. is so sure an American jury would nullify that he would bump such decisions to some 'higher authority', not for better judgement, but to keep American hands unsullied. And the purist Anderson, who readily finds justification for torture if time is of the essence(your 5/22 4:27 post, A), is so self-contradictory as to be incomprehensible.

I don't believe torture yields actionable intelligence reliably. I agree that rapport is more effective, if possible. If waterboarding is effective, safe, and humane why shouldn't it be used when time is of the essence? I don't think any other method of inflicting pain is anywhere nearly as useful as 'the confrontation of mortality'.

I share your concerns, Bruce, about the pragmatic details. Who's is this to decide?

I'm sorry to open the curtain in your safe dark place. You'll get used to the light.

It is fun to fly free, but there are hawks and cats, and you must hurt them.
===========================================


====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 03:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom S said"

"Can any of you provide an example where the initiation of a policy of using torture to get intelligence from a few selected prisoners did not almost inevitably spiral into a massive and indiscriminate use of torture?

This is the "slippery slope" / categorical imperative argument previously made, and answered, which I may have overly imputed to Bruce's position (above). If I did, I appologize to Bruce.

"Serving and past JAG and intelligence personnel are almost unamimous in condemning the use of torture (broadly defined) from both a moral and a utilitarian standpoint."

Two words: career suicide. Plus, this consensus you present doesn't address my twin points about utility of "nonuse" and morality of "narrowly applied."

"Assuming that none of the proponents actually have any experience in the field, why do you armchair Torquemadas insist that you know better?"

I don't. I'm not advocating mandatory use of coercive methods. Indeed, I counsel and laud forebearance (above). I just recognize value in the limited OPTION, both when used in limited instances and unused in most others. Again, my argument is the limited availability of coercive methods makes noncoercive methods more effective.

Instead, it's opponents here who presume to know what does and does not work in every instance.

Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 03:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Scott Horton:

About two years ago, I was asked to give an address concerning the organized bar’s engagement on the torture issue before a gathering of bar association presidents from throughout the Western hemisphere.

When it was over, a former president of the Argentine bar came up to me. “You must fight this with every ounce of energy you possess,” he said. “Because in the end, you will find that this torture is not about intelligence gathering, or ticking bombs or any other such nonsense. It is a talisman. A talisman of power. A government that can torture and do it with impunity can do anything. No law stands in its way. The very idea of the rule of law crumbles into dust. It means brutal tyranny.”

At the time, I thought this was a bit crazy, but I knew what the Argentines had gone through and I respected the comment. As time progresses, I see exactly what he meant.

(Paragraphing added.)

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 03:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is obvious that this government cannot torture with impunity. Thanks to birds like you.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 03:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I can understand how that Argentine sees that the rule of law can degenerate to brutal tyranny on little provocation, but I'd say that a Talisman of Power might be for the US to find a way to codify adverse questioning, when time renders persuasion inapplicable. There are laws, and there are laws.

Hey, we've done so. Mirabilu. Sure, the code needs adjusting; that's what you birds are for.
===============================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Someone ought to write 'The Face of Intelligence Gathering' for the gathered flock.

The point is not to confront your own mortality for your country; it's to get the other guy to confront his own mortality for his country.

Simpletons.
==============

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 03:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Semanticleo, look up 'Diving Reflex'.
=======================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If I had to rape and vivisect a three-year-old to save my country, would I do it? Not a chance. And not because I'm a pussy. It's because as much as I love my country, I answer to a higher authority. A nation is a man-made object. I am a human being before I'm an American, I am a creature of God, and there are certain moral principles that are absolute and trump nationalism. It's what Thomas Jefferson referred to as "self-evident" truths. You don't have to look further than Nazi Germany to see why that's important. If "saving" my country requires me to debase everything it's supposed to stand for, what's the point?

Posted by: Fred App at May 23, 2007 04:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Edhesq:

In the case of torture, the "slippery slope" argument is not an intellectual construct; it is based on actual historical experience in a number of countries over the last five decades.

Having spent portions of the last 20 years studying, comparing and analyzing countries' counterterrorist policies and actions, I will claim a degree of expertise in this.

For example, in Israel, a special commission was set up to study and determine the types of torture that may be used, and the parameters under which it may be used. After less than decade, it became so obvious that the methods and parameters were being abused that the Israeli Supreme Court stepped in and banned all forms of torture. As to its effectiveness...has Israel's terrorist problem disappeared? improved? gotten worse? taken on a whole new dimension?

Torture is self-perpetuating. You torture one person, he/she gives up some names. They are impossible to corroborate, since giving you information you already know will invite further torture. The people whose names are given are arrested. Are you going to waste time using accepted interrogation techniques to get actionable intelligence from these people (most of whom are unlikely to have any useful information)? Within two to three steps it is possible to be torturing hundreds of people on an almost routine basis. This is what the French did in Algeria. This is most likely what happened at Abu Ghraib. You will get actionable intelligence at some point, as a pig hunting in a dunghill will find something to eat. The French used it very effectively in Algiers, breaking up the terrorist cells in the city. They won the battle, and ensured that they would lose the war. Do I have to tell you why? Think Gestapo, Resistance, Torture.

Since you actually attempt to make an argument, and since it offends you so, I do not include you among the armchair Torquemadas. That does not make your reasoning correct, however.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 04:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The answer is, S, that waterboarding is a smart bomb on the central nervous system. All this other crap is primitive. And the confrontation of mortality is not unusual in the wild.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Fred, you completely missed a huge point; you'd do nothing to stop evil.

TS, how, after taking a right and necessary step, do you avoid the slippery slope? This is where a useful and humane code could be a true Talisman of legitimate Power.
================================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I got it. Torture should be safe, legal, and rare.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A whole new metaphor opens in front of me. Can I have a new thread, please?
================================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Two more you can add to the pussy list: Charles C. Krulak, commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999, and Joseph P. Hoar, commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994.

I feel safer knowing girly-men like Chuck and Joe are no longer charged with defending my freedom and safety.

Posted by: Tony Comstock at May 23, 2007 04:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon,

You are one sick twisted f*ck, lemme tell ya'.

I would not want to live at so high a price.

Posted by: John at May 23, 2007 04:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon:

"If I had to rape and vivisect a 3-year old child to save my country, then by Jimmy, I'd do it. See. I'm not a pussy. I'm keeping it real. Your turn."

Good god, what the HELL is wrong with you?

Posted by: firebrand at May 23, 2007 04:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Based on past experience, it is as possible to circumscribe torture as it is to be a little bit pregnant. It just doesn't work like that.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 04:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

John, you'd happily let others die so you could be sinless?

Work with it Tom; you're catching on.
========================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

firebrand, he is simply using an extreme example because you are too dishonest to recognize the point that sometimes it is the right thing to do to deliberately inflict pain. That's what the hell is wrong with you.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I see that it's Free Time at Kim's facility again.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 04:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kimmy:

I am sure that a few seconds of waterboarding would force you to admit that you agree with my views on torture (perhaps it would only be necessary to show it to you...). Would I trust the sincerity of your confession? I'd probably have to do it a few more times to convince myself of your sincerity..yet even then, I might not be convinced. Besides, seeing a little shit like you screaming and puking is kinda fun! I'll send you back to your cold room (you are soaking wet now, by the way). I'll probably have to talk to you again about it, because you know..I'm just not sure. Sleep tight!

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 04:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

firebrand quotes and asks: "Seixon:

"If I had to rape and vivisect a 3-year old child to save my country, then by Jimmy, I'd do it. See. I'm not a pussy. I'm keeping it real. Your turn."

Good god, what the HELL is wrong with you?"

Easy - Seixon is a Repiglican. Repiglicans get a vicious little thrill out of the idea that someone, somewhere in the world, is being tortured on their behalf.

They're all vicarious serial sadists.

Posted by: MoeLarryAndJesus at May 23, 2007 04:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Are you out of breath, yet, Tom? I've said, Anderson, that unconscious irony is the best. But there is such a thing as surfeit, and satiety.
========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

kim:

Preventing a horrible tragedy (for example, the destruction of a country if one does not rape and vivisect a 3-year old) does not sanction the performance of a terrible act to prevent that tragedy (for example, raping and vivisecting a 3-year old). Deliberately inflicting pain is never the right thing to do. Jesus Christ, I can't even believe this is a debatable issue.

Posted by: firebrand at May 23, 2007 04:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Besides, Tom, I was talking to Semanticleo about waterboarding. Why don't you go baptise some babies.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

firebrand, Tom S has a nice cozy bed for you to slumber in and dream. Surely it would be a nightmare to dream that people exist who would hurt you unless you hurt them back.

Go read Bill Whittle about Nice, Retaliatory, Forgiving, and Non-envious. So far you are in the non-retaliatory group. Why would you not retaliate if hurt?
=======================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kimmy:

Getting a little too close to home? Hey it's just a smart bomb! You'll be fine! No ill effects! Have a nice life, and if you crap your pants every time you hear a shower come on, well it's a small price to pay.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon,

The answer to your question is simple. I would rather allow my mother to die than water-board a terrorist. More to the point, my mother would rather that I let her die than that I water-board a terrorist. To do otherwise would require me to oppose those things in life she found most important - Nonviolence. Forgiveness. Compassion. To do otherwise would require me to do no less than abandon the teachings of Jesus himself.

Our beliefs mean nothing if they do not match our actions. If I become evil to stop evil, I become that which I seek to oppose.

You accuse those of us who oppose torture in any and all forms of moral relativism. But you have it backwards. You claim that it is moral to end one life if it will save another. But this is only possible if one life is worth relatively more than another. You claim that those who oppose torture might as well equate the CIA with the Nazi holocaust. And yet, by your own logic, it would be "moral" to end 300 million lives to save a nation.

Not convinced? Let me try it another way: On this issue, I choose to stand with George Washington, Jesus Christ, Ghandi, The Pope, and Martin Luther King. You, by contrast, choose to stand with Stalin, Pol Pot, Torquemada, and Osama bin Laden. Who a man stands with says as much as what a man does.

Posted by: Alex at May 23, 2007 04:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're driveling, and it is frightening.
=================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Alex, where would the teachings of Christ be if He hadn't had followers who wouldn't turn the other cheek?
=============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kimmy:

So you are now admitting that you see torture as a means of retaliation? Somehow, this doesn't shock me.

Oh well, so much for the "safe legal and rare" construct.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 04:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sure, let the need to retaliate be rare. You haven't read Bill, yet.
=======================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 04:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


"Ticking Time Bomb":

"There's a mini nuke somewhere in New York City and it's going to go off in less than an hour!"

"Oh crap! Round up all suspects!"


"I don't know"


"It's in the bus station - locker 322!!"

Everybody rushes off to the bus station, but unfortunately locker 322 doesn't even exist.

Woops, that suspect was innocent as it happened. He just said something to stop the torture.

Wait! Here's another guy! We're pretty sure he's connected to al Qaeda!


"I don't know"


"It's in the observation deck at the Empire State Building!"

Nope, not there.


"There's five bombs! One is on the Brooklyn Bridge, one is in Grand Central Station "

Everybody rushes off once again, but alas there's no bomb in any of those places ...

The thing is, somebody in pain is under no obligation to tell the truth. A lie is as good as the truth as far as getting the torture to stop at least for a while. (In fact, maybe better, if your interrogators like to think they're getting something spectacular out of you.)

I never understood with depictions of torture in the media, why torturing or threatening people would result in the truth, especially in a situation where it takes substantial time and trouble to check whether it is the truth or not.

A terrorist with a ticking time bomb planted someplace is surely capable of lying, at least for a while, until the ticking stops ... Sure, you can make him scream out -- something.

Posted by: TheWesson at May 23, 2007 05:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Remember too, Tom, that in combat the point is to deliberately inflict mortality on your opponent, short of that, pain, and short of that, the confrontation of mortality. You conflate 'torture' with 'the deliberate infliction of pain' and they are not the same. But I understand the need to do these semantic tricks to fool yourself into thinking you've made a point.
====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Snark aside, those who feel that torture must play a role in countering the the threat that terrorism presents to the United States must demonstrate that torture is effective, and that the price that the US has already paid and will continue to pay is worth it. Anyone who lives in the "reality-based" community is going to have a tough time doing so.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 05:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

question:

if the torture-loving perverts on this thread--the kimmys, seixons, and maguires--were all Al Qaeda plants, attempting to overthrow the American value system and corrupt the core of America from within,

would they write any differently than they do?

I don't think so.

Not that I think they really are Al Qaeda moles.

I just think they are very scared, twisted little boys who are so frightened of the big bad enemy that they have decided to imitate him. In fact, they worship him. They worship the islamic beheaders, the stone-throwers, the bone-breakers, and they want to be *just like them*.

Without the trouble of growing a beard, of course.

a few decades ago, these were the same guys who collected nazi paraphernalia. Their bed-wetting fear always transmutes into the desire to copy the bad-guys tactics.

and so we get the pro-torture right.

Posted by: knock at May 23, 2007 05:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Fair questions, Tom. I think there is an emerging consensus that in time sensitive situations, waterboarding is effective, otherwise, rapport is by far better. I believe that the self-examination this nation undergoes with respect to this issue is available for the purview of the world's aware and thoughtful community, and they recognize that we are amazingly ethical for as powerful as we are.
========================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

God.

God who?

Godwins. Gobs of 'em.
=================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Please, a new thread where we can be safe legal and rare. The Thought Gestapo is all over this one.
======================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Emerging Consensus? Well, if I'm right, who needs a committee?
=========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom S. said:

Torture is self-perpetuating. You torture one person, he/she gives up some names. They are impossible to corroborate, since giving you information you already know will invite further torture. The people whose names are given are arrested.

And what if by chance this person went to school with you in college, and one of the names he gives happens to be yours, or one of your brothers? After all, the terrorist doesn't care if the names he gives are other terrorists, he just wants the torture to stop. So then the CIA, or military, or secret police (whatever) pay you a call and decide you're holding back vital info. You say, "Well, that's stupid. I'm not a terrorist! I'm innocent!!!". But isn't that what all terrorists say?

Posted by: sonicfrog at May 23, 2007 05:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kimmy:

Torture did not defeat the RAF in Germany
Torture did not defeat the Red Brigades in Italy
Torture did not defeat the Irgun and LEHI during World War II (Hagana used torture during what is called the "Saison" to try and prevent those groups from attacking the British)
Torture did not defeat the FLN in Algeria
Torture did not defeat the IRA in Northern Ireland
Torture has not defeated the Palestinians
Torture has not defeated the LTTE in Sri Lanka
Torture has not defeated ETA in Spain
Torture has not defeated the insurgents in Iraq

This is a small sample of actual cases. In national liberation insurgencies, torture tends to increase recruiting. Ironically, this is proved daily in Iraq. What makes it ironic is that the US started out as the "liberators," and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib went a long way toward changing that perception.

Combating a worldwide terrorist threat requires knowledge of the enemy, patience, long-term intelligence work, occasional and appropriate use of military force, a great deal of police work, international cooperation, the necessity of staying within the rule of law (making changes if necessary through accepted legal and political ends), and being able to frame the terrorist as the enemy in the populations in which they operate. Torture has a negative impact on all of this.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 05:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I see your rape and vivisection of a 3-year-old and raise you... the rape and vivisection of a soft and fuzzy kitten! Yeah! Cause that's how I roll! Hardcore and all that...

I would also:

* Take 12 items into the 10 items or less line at the store
* Cough without covering my mouth in a crowded elevator
* Push an old lady down the stairs
* Run over a wheelchair-bound person in my car (extra points if the person is an ethnic minority)
* NOT RSVP a wedding and then show up anyway, get really drunk and make fun of the bride's dress

Anything for the safety and security of the homeland. Yeah, I'll make these sacrifices, and more, even if it costs me my soul.

Posted by: LL at May 23, 2007 05:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

kim,

No, I would rather die than be saved by such means.

MoeLarryAndJesus,

I've voted Republican all my life. Chumps like you are how we got BushCo into power in the first place; by failing to be a legitimate alternative, you lunatic leftists with your blind vitriol guaranteed the ascent of our current fascist state. Congrats; nicely done.

Posted by: John at May 23, 2007 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with your last paragraph, Tom. This is why we don't torture, and our intelligence gathering is codified. Yet everyone here implicitly or explicitly understands the need for exceptions; how do you go about that. Well, here we are; does waterboarding sufficiently safely, effectively, and humanely fill that need?
==================================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

John chirps from high in his safe perch. You birds are hopeless.
=========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 05:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

seixon, you're the worst kind of pussy.

Posted by: TB at May 23, 2007 05:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim:

No, sorry. Waterboarding is torture by any definition except yours and some of the minds within the Bush administration (and their water carriers).

As General Petraeus tells us (fairly recently and fairly often) a single atrocity will undo months of positive work in fighting an insurgency. In fighting terrorism, torture has the same effect.

Keeping torture (broadly defined) illegal keeps right on our side. There may indeed be circumstances when torture is used to prevent Manhattan turning into a mushroom cloud. An open trial in which the evidence of the threat is presented, the steps taken to prevent it is described, the evidence considered and verdict rendered. Not too much to ask, is it?

If one could compile a list of everything possible that a government could do to make a terrorist movement prosper and expand, the Bush Administration has managed to check off many of them. Condoning torture is one of them.

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 06:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Fred App,

"If I had to rape and vivisect a three-year-old to save my country, would I do it? Not a chance. And not because I'm a pussy. It's because as much as I love my country, I answer to a higher authority. A nation is a man-made object. I am a human being before I'm an American, I am a creature of God, and there are certain moral principles that are absolute and trump nationalism. It's what Thomas Jefferson referred to as "self-evident" truths. You don't have to look further than Nazi Germany to see why that's important. If "saving" my country requires me to debase everything it's supposed to stand for, what's the point?"

What is moral about tossing 300 million people to death just because you don't want to feel icky for raping a child? The child will survive. So will you. Does the lives of 300 million people really mean so little to you? In other words, your own dignity and your own "principles" mean more than the lives of 300 million people?

What's moral about that? It sounds like you are a selfish bastard, is what it sounds like. It's not like your enjoying raping the kid. You're doing it for a moral purpose - saving 300 million people.

Then again, you'd probably say no to raping a child even if it meant saving civilization, just because, you know, you'd FEEL all nasty about yourself afterwards. And we can't have that now can we. Screw the human race, as long as you don't FEEL bad.

And this, my friends, is my point. You liberals are all selfish bastards, you put your ideology ahead of peoples' lives, you put your own feelings above the lives of millions. That is only moral in the sense that... no, it's completely immoral you god damn morons.

John

"You are one sick twisted f*ck, lemme tell ya'.

I would not want to live at so high a price."

I'm a sick twisted fuck because I wouldn't blink at saving 300 million people by raping a child? Now, first of all, the chance that this would ever happen is about a google to 1, so I'm not particularly afraid of having to carry out this deed. Second of all, I know with myself that I would be doing it to save 300 million people, not because I'm a sick twisted fuck that gets off on raping children. Third of all, I'm not a degenerate liberal touchy-feely moron who thinks that their own dignity and the sensibilities of a child are more important than the lives of 300 million people. Or even one person.

Rape is a lesser evil than death. Yet you would apparently let 300 million people die, just so you didn't have to feel bad about yourself. Again, you are an ideological coward, and you'd rather see people die than foul up your own little precious world.

Let me tell you, THAT is fucked up.

firebrand,

"Good god, what the HELL is wrong with you?"

You see, I'm able to maintain the logic center of my brain at all times, and do not let feelings take over, such as you are doing. What you're doing is irrational.

Just look at it mathematically:

Rape

Which do you choose? Rape naturally, it's a lesser evil than Death. It's the same as 1

Of course, you're probably thinking to yourself that I would enjoy raping a child, because well, you don't agree with me and thus you must demonize me the best you can so that you FEEL good about yourself and your ideology.

Again, as the others I responded to, you are making this all about YOU, and YOUR feelings, and YOUR dignity. You would rather people die than give up those things, because you, like many liberals of today, are selfish bastards on concerned with getting yours, getting your way, getting everything everyone else in the world doesn't have because you FEEL entitled to it.

Yes, raping a child is reprehensible. Yet letting someone else die because you wouldn't violate your own and the child's dignity for a short period is even more reprehensible.

Alex,

"The answer to your question is simple. I would rather allow my mother to die than water-board a terrorist. More to the point, my mother would rather that I let her die than that I water-board a terrorist. To do otherwise would require me to oppose those things in life she found most important - Nonviolence. Forgiveness. Compassion. To do otherwise would require me to do no less than abandon the teachings of Jesus himself."

Cock and bull. You may think well of your mother, as you should, but when this situation actually came to pass, do you really, really, really think that she'd rather you not touch a hair on a bastard terrorist and let her die? Pllleeeeeeeeeeassse. Again, you, like Greg, are PRETENDING. You're not facing up to the real world because you have never had to face such a harsh choice in your life, and you will continue to pretend it will never happen. Which it probably won't - for you.

But fine, if your mother says not to torture the guy, then that's a different thing. Then the victim has given you orders not to do it. That was not part of the scenario I laid out.

Would you also not kill a man who had a gun pointed at your mother saying he was going to shoot her? Would you also not kill a man who had a gun pointed at your child?

Is your hang-up specifically on torture because you have been brainwashed to have certain feelings about it? That's what I'm getting at here, because it is completely irrational.

"Our beliefs mean nothing if they do not match our actions. If I become evil to stop evil, I become that which I seek to oppose."

You're an idiot. How are you evil for torturing an evil person to save the life of an innocent person? How is that evil? So basically what you're saying is that we shouldn't have fought Hitler, because killing is evil? Does that make any fucking sense? No, it doesn't. So why do you trot it out for torture? Because you've been brainwashed to have an irrational position on the matter.

Greg compared the CIA carrying out torture to Saudi Arabians doing it. The only thing here is - they do it because they are evil. They do it to punish people. To scare people. To incite fear. To show who's boss.

That's not why we do it, or why we should be doing it.

Can you seriously not see the difference between shooting someone in cold blood, and shooting someone to save someone else? Are you seriously that brainwashed? Are you only capable of seeing black and white?

"You accuse those of us who oppose torture in any and all forms of moral relativism. But you have it backwards. You claim that it is moral to end one life if it will save another."

Eh, torture doesn't involve killing, as that would, you know, kill the person with the information needed to save the other person. You struck out already. Bravo. But for sake of argument, let's follow through with your mistake.

Yes, it is moral to kill someone to save someone else. That's what cops all over the world are faced with every single day. You have a guy with a gun pointed at an innocent person, and you have no idea what he's going to do. What to do? To save the INNOCENT person, you have to shoot the guy. He dies. You've killed someone to save another. Is this wrong?

In that case, you have just outlawed something that police have been doing for centuries, and still do to this day. Congratulations. You've also taken the side of the KILLERS and MURDERERS because you apparently cannot see the difference between an INNOCENT person and a person seeking to kill another.

"But this is only possible if one life is worth relatively more than another."

No. If one life is innocent, while the other life is trying to kill the innocent, then they are not equals. You seriously don't get this? Holy crap.

"You claim that those who oppose torture might as well equate the CIA with the Nazi holocaust. And yet, by your own logic, it would be "moral" to end 300 million lives to save a nation."

Huh? Dude, seriously, get some glasses, because you apparently cannot read, or you need some reading comprehension skills. I have not argued anywhere to kill 300 million lives to save a nation. Not a single place. A nation is nothing if it is not comprised of people. I argued that I would rape a child to save 300 million people, not the other way around. READ. Can ya do that?

And yes, Greg is in fact well on his way to equating what the CIA does to what the Nazis did, because like you, he sees no difference between torturing people for the hell of it (Nazis) and torturing people to save lives (CIA). When people can't see such a basic difference, they are being blinded by their ideology, or just being lying charlatans. Pick your poison.

"Not convinced? Let me try it another way: On this issue, I choose to stand with George Washington, Jesus Christ, Ghandi, The Pope, and Martin Luther King. You, by contrast, choose to stand with Stalin, Pol Pot, Torquemada, and Osama bin Laden. Who a man stands with says as much as what a man does. ""

See. Exactly. You did what Greg did, you equated me to Nazis, even though I do not advocate anything resembling their practices. They tortured people for fun, to scare people, to incite fear, because they hated Jews.

I would torture someone to save another person's life. That's not what the Nazis were doing. That's not what Stalin was doing. That's not what Pol Pot was doing. That's not what Osama bin Laden does.

So why have you put me amongst them?

Ah, because you are a ideological charlatan who would rather appear to win an argument than save an innocent person's life.

And if you really believe that George Washington, the Biblical character Jesus, Ghandi, the Pope, etc are not in the same boat as me - then you are a fool. Ghandi was not as "innocent" as you like to think he was, but of course like a good dupe, you believe the hype about the guy instead of the whole truth.

It's a debate trick to bring up George Washington as some sort of moral compass. Yet eh... didn't he have slaves? Ooops. And you think he wouldn't torture someone to save an innocent person's life? Yet he had slaves?

Again - I cannot save you from your irrational, illogical, and ahistorical beliefs. Only you can save yourself from the brainwashing you have endured.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 06:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And now you're taking Bruce's position that we must depend upon jury nullification to make right what is illegal? What next, anarchy?

I've a mischievous idea. Let's see how Angelina Jolie presents the question. Thanks, C.
===================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Semanticleo hasn't the decency to hat tip me for 'safe, legal, and rare'.
===========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Imagine Angelina was married to Daniel Pearl, and there was a choice of torturing some people to find her husband.
============================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, this gurl's got streed cred in Africa. She knows a little about deliberate infliction of pain.
====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Special for ADAMS: Did you see Goodling testify to McNulty's perjury this morning? Where's the outrage from Schumer?
====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh and one last thing (damn I hate doing this on a mobile) - I'm strictly talking about using torture against terrorists. Using it against POWs should not be acceptable because war is war. There are no 'innocent' fighting in a war. Terrorists, by definition, kill innocent civilians for the purpose of inciting fear among a populace. Attacking the military with a bomb is an act of war, and the assailant would be best described as a militant in that case.

Who gets to decide who is a terrorist and who is a soldier? The Nazis firebombed London, an act that was designed to maximize civilian deaths, but they were certainly a regular army. The Russian army was said to have raped every woman in Eastern Germany on its march to Hitler's bunker. They wore uniforms and represented their country.

What about now? Do we tell our soldiers in Iraq that they can beat an Iraqi to death if he takes a shot at the Blackwater guy, but not if he takes a shot at them? So now the message we send by paying the Merc $100,000 more to do the same job is reinforced; we tell our soldiers they aren't worth anything.

Your silly ticking-time-bomb scenario is pure cinema and amounts to: let's set US policy based on some writer's fetishist TV show.

While we're at it, why not ask the Jedi Council to fight Islamofascism for us. They'll borrow a time-traveling phone booth from Bill and Ted and ask a young, Scottish James Bond for backup. After we win, we'll finish building that parking garage on top of Spaceley Tower to give George Jetson an easier commute. Each year, we'll mark our victory with a rave in Zion's temple.

Better yet, let's just leave leaflets in the terrorists' houses that dare them to look in a mirror and say "Candyman" five times.

Posted by: Steve W at May 23, 2007 06:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why does hyperbole not make perfect sense to a hyperbolist?
=====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Steve, you got the guy who knows where Angelina Jolie's husband is. Your her Dad. Your move.
==============

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Are you going to waterboard him, or do it Paki style? Best yet, establish rapport.
========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 06:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Steve, you got the guy who knows where Angelina Jolie's husband is. Your her Dad. Your move.

The above doesn't even represent the beginnings of thinking about a complete thought, so I'll stay put, thank you.

Posted by: Steve W at May 23, 2007 06:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Staying put means Daniel Pearl dies, putz.
==========================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This whole argument advocated by Seixon and to some extent Kim is so 'strawman'. How exactly is it that we'd have to torture the subject 'cause we know for a fact that he's planted some sort of WMD somewhere? How did we acquire that bit of information, through torture?

Those drafters of the Geneva Conventions were such pussies weren't they (and lump the Founders in there while we're at it; their ideas were so quaint and antiquated anyways)

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 07:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh my Christ! Now Seixon's gone from 'saving the life of your mother' to 'saving the lives of 300 million people.' What's next? The solar system at risk? The entire galaxy?

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 07:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve W,

Same advice to you as I gave someone else: try actually reading what I have written before firing up the keyboard. You completely missed the mark. But let me entertain you:

"Who gets to decide who is a terrorist and who is a soldier?"

The dictionary, my friend. A soldier who kills a whole civilian family out of rage, or whatever, is still a soldier: a soldier who has committed a war crime. A terrorist is specifically someone who kills civilians to incite fear in the general populace, not a party to a regular army. And what does all of this have to do with the topic??? Nothing! Tangents are the best friend of those losing a debate.

"What about now? Do we tell our soldiers in Iraq that they can beat an Iraqi to death if he takes a shot at the Blackwater guy, but not if he takes a shot at them? So now the message we send by paying the Merc $100,000 more to do the same job is reinforced; we tell our soldiers they aren't worth anything."

No, our soldiers are not to do any torture EVER. That's for the CIA to do when they have information that the detainee/terrorist has information that can save civilian lives outside of the theater of war. It's not all that hard to grasp the concept. You're just trying to make this harder than it is, again, to derail the debate.

"Your silly ticking-time-bomb scenario is pure cinema and amounts to: let's set US policy based on some writer's fetishist TV show."

Are you saying that there is a 0% probability of such a scenario ever happening? I've seen weirder shit happen in my lifetime, things I never imagined would happen. Trying to pretend that something won't happen does you no good when it actually does and you stand there like a deer in headlights because you've been too dumb to make a plan.

It's the typical liberal response to a dilemma: deny its existence. Liberals cannot and will not choose between two evils because in their fairytale world, there always exists magical option number 3!

But I will play your little mind-fuck game and we'll pretend that my scenario is purely theoretical. Now, given it's purely theoretical, answer the question. What, you don't want to answer a theoretical question? Why? Never went to school? Never took any theoretical questions on an exam, did you? Oh you did? So what makes this one any different?

Coward.

"While we're at it, why not ask the Jedi Council to fight Islamofascism for us. They'll borrow a time-traveling phone booth from Bill and Ted and ask a young, Scottish James Bond for backup. After we win, we'll finish building that parking garage on top of Spaceley Tower to give George Jetson an easier commute. Each year, we'll mark our victory with a rave in Zion's temple."

This is exactly why people like you should never be trusted to run the United States of America. You compare the scenario of a terrorist knowing information that can save even a single life with Jedis, time-travel, and James Bond. I'm guessing you'd piss your pants if you even knew the kinds of things George Tenet knows about what's gone on in the shadows while selfish aloof pricks like you were taking all their freedoms for granted.

"Better yet, let's just leave leaflets in the terrorists' houses that dare them to look in a mirror and say "Candyman" five times."

Yes, yes. It's all a fucking joke to you. Haha. A terrorist with knowledge that can save lives. Haha, so funny. I mean, it's not like if we caught Mohammed Atta before 9/11 that he would know anything about the plot. It's a fairytale! Don't worry about it focker, it's just like Star Wars! It's all a fantasy!

Again, bravo, bravo. It is people like you who will get us all killed one day because you are too caught up with your own feelings and ego to see the big picture.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 07:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oops, time for Operation Kitten Calendar. Week 2 is coming up. What have we become?
===================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Patrick,

"This whole argument advocated by Seixon and to some extent Kim is so 'strawman'. How exactly is it that we'd have to torture the subject 'cause we know for a fact that he's planted some sort of WMD somewhere? How did we acquire that bit of information, through torture?"

Oh, I don't know, say... wireless surveillance? Let's just pretend, since you guys love pretending so much, that we've intercepted communications between this terrorist we have and the other terrorists, and they talk about the bomb they have, how many people they think it should kill, how they made it, yet they leave out the details about where and when while we're listening. The other terrorists tell the one we've apprehended to make sure and meet up at the planned time and place, so we know he knows where and when, not to mention WHO.

So we manage to apprehend this one terrorist, but not the others. Now, is it so far-fetched for you that we can get the info we need out of this guy, and know that he has it for a fact? Is it still a strawman to you?

No, it's not. You just want to make it a strawman so you won't be forced to do what every douche bag fears: choosing the lesser of two evils! Oh noes!

"Oh my Christ! Now Seixon's gone from 'saving the life of your mother' to 'saving the lives of 300 million people.' What's next? The solar system at risk? The entire galaxy?"

I'm only having to do that because chickenshits like you won't answer the god damn question when I only say one person. I'm trying to gauge just how many people you ideological cowards are willing to let go in order to defend your "principles". So how many is it? A galaxy?

How many people have to die before you will give up your "principles"?

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 07:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Patrick, the precise extent to which you cannot imagine a scenario in which you would deliberately inflict pain is the precise measure of the amount of straw in your brain bucket.
============================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BREAKING NEWS!!!

Seixon admits to raping three year old children!!!

Perhaps we should torture him to divulge the salient details!!

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 07:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I say that because the neural bundle ordinarily housed there would do it in a New York heartbeat. What have we become? Human. Hurray. Let's try and manage to be human.
====================================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And please, Patrick, stop striking out so violently; you only hurt yourself.
==================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

kim,

Sorry about firing up the language, but you know, I am just god damn sick of these pretenders and smear merchants. McCain would do it. Bill Friggin Clinton would do it. But they call people like me and Tom Maguire "Apologists for Torture"?? Where in the hell do they get off?

Any person who would choose death over torture simply because they are clinging to an ideological position is nothing more than an imbecile. They would go along with murder, abortion, and any number of other things, but when you say the t-word, then all of a sudden their brain shuts down and they're calling everyone a Nazi.

W. T. F. Is. Wrong. With. You. People.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 07:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I guess I don't understand why anyone would waste more than a minute refuting the flawed logic of such obvious trolls. As if one could PERSUADE someone to step from the path of evil. It doesn't work, guys. Leave off engaging "Kim" and "Seixon" as they clearly get off on outraging rational souls.

Don't feed them, is all I'm sayin'.

Posted by: the THINKING Kim at May 23, 2007 07:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

tTK, thinks evil is simple, and would not stir it from its path.
=====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Don't waste your time looking, let not persuasion pass your ears, speak not, nor engage, lest ye be outraged.
====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 07:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

tTK,

I'm not the one who came up with the raping a 3-year old child scenario to avoid having to answer a simple rational question. That was all "your" guys.

And I would put the same question to you as the others:

What is evil about saving someone's life?

What is so outrageous about beating up a terrorist to save someone's life? Is not the act of beating someone up less lethal than the vanquished life of an innocent person?

You would allow your own mother to die for an idea?
You would allow an entire civilization to die for an idea?

Is that rational?

Think about it, "thinking" kim.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 07:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Touche Kim, touche. At least you have some semblance of a sense of humor.

Sorry though, never watched '24' so I'm not terribly sympathetic to the 'Jack Bauer' wing of the Republican Party. And, if we are the ones engaging in torture, all the more reason for the 'terrorist' to want to inflict more damage and pain against their perceived enemy. Quid pro quo (Abu Ghraib anyone?) So, in my 'straw headed' opinion, torture supports the terrorists. I would go even further and say that since the purpose torture is to inflict terror on the recipient, the torturer becomes the terrorist as well.

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 07:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, Patrick, another honest one.

Sure, torture is terrible, it should be the last response. But retaliation is often, rightfully, the first response. There is a difference. What is it?
==============================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim: "It is obvious that this government cannot torture with impunity. Thanks to birds like you."

And he regards this as an INSULT. Anderson is right; we are definitely dealing with a situation where one of the nurses unwisely left her office unlocked.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 23, 2007 08:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom S said:

"Torture is self-perpetuating. You torture one person, he/she gives up some names. They are impossible to corroborate, since giving you information you already know will invite further torture. The people whose names are given are arrested."

As for efficacy, I don't see how noncoercive methods are any more effective. But I do think the psychology of noncoercive methods is enhanced by the POSSIBILITY of coercion. And I agree confessions made under coercive methods should not be admissible for the purpose of proving guilt. But I think confessions of guilt extracted for use in trials are qualitatively different than information sought in the effort to disrupt terrorist operations. Not always the extreme ticking bomb scenario, but damn close.

I think Tom S raises an excellent moral point, however, when it comes to fleshing-out what limitations should be imposed on a coercive interrogation policy. Employing these methods should be based on more than just raw statements made by another person, particularly one under coercive interrogation himself. Independent corrobative evidence -- e.g., testing positive for explosives tied to a inchoate or consumated attack, or suveillance that provides clear and convincing evidence that a suspect is the mastermind at the heart of a terror cell -- are some appropraite limitations that should be imposed on the (classified?) policy permitting coercion, not torture.


Posted by: edhesq at May 23, 2007 08:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I should have written: Let's try to manage our being human.
=====================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh Bruce, one step forward, two steps back. Tell me about al-Asbi.
======================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce, that was a compliment, backhanded and metaphorical, I admit. I'm grateful for honest partisans. You are rare. You, at least, admit a plausible and rightful scenario for torture, but want to keep it illegal, which makes no sense to me.

The metaphor, in case you haven't been paying attention, is that most of you against whatever you perceive 'torture' to be are rara avis, a protected species in a favored environment, a gilded cage, upholstered, and replete with hypocrisy.
============================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim wrote:

"Rape is a lesser evil than death. Yet you would apparently let 300 million people die, just so you didn't have to feel bad about yourself. Again, you are an ideological coward, and you'd rather see people die than foul up your own little precious world."

I'm not a particularly religious person, but I do try to hold to some moral values.

By that standard you cite above, we must infer that Jesus should have fallen down and worshipped Satan. The end, afterall, justifies the means, doesn't it?

Isn't that what this is all about?

I guess Jesus was an ideological coward, too.

Posted by: Walt S at May 23, 2007 08:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

However, that you would consider it an insult means that you haven't been paying attention. Either that or you deliberately framed it to portray it as an insult. Which is it? Ignorance, or deception? Inquiring minds want to know.
=======================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Walt S, check your references. It is a sin to lie.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Patrick,

"Sorry though, never watched '24' so I'm not terribly sympathetic to the 'Jack Bauer' wing of the Republican Party. And, if we are the ones engaging in torture, all the more reason for the 'terrorist' to want to inflict more damage and pain against their perceived enemy. Quid pro quo (Abu Ghraib anyone?) So, in my 'straw headed' opinion, torture supports the terrorists. I would go even further and say that since the purpose torture is to inflict terror on the recipient, the torturer becomes the terrorist as well."

1. I don't watch 24.
2. I'm not a Republican.
3. Terrorists need a reason to inflict more damage and pain? Since when? What, they're going to start beheading our soldiers twice since we torture them? Yeah, and I'm sure Kim Jong Il cried himself to sleep when Bush called him evil. Again, you show a trait of many liberals, that they think of truly evil people as if they were just like you and me. They're not. Figure it out.
4. Abu Ghraib? A few US soldiers went on a power-trip and did things that were not written in any manual, by any order of any official, were not the techniques approved by Rumsfeld, and they also had sex with each other in front of prisoners. What is your point? That bad things happen during wartime? OMG RLY? German, British, Danish, and other European soldiers have been convicted of war crimes. Yet you don't see anyone calling for their defense ministers to be tried for war crimes. Why? Ah... I know, do you?
5. Ah yes, the torturer, who is trying to save someone else's life, becomes just like the terrorist who is doing his best not to give up the information that will lead to an innocent person's death. Good fucked up logic there, son. Go back to school and learn something. You know, like 1 is less than 2.

Walt S,

First of all you attributed something to kim that I wrote. Second of all, I have no idea what you mean by:

By that standard you cite above, we must infer that Jesus should have fallen down and worshipped Satan. The end, afterall, justifies the means, doesn't it?

Sorry, for those of us who don't read the Bible, want to let us in on the secret here? If it is meant to say that if Jesus worshipped Satan, he could have saved all mankind, then yes, he should have done it. What, is he more important than mankind? Oh wait, I guess as an atheist I don't really have the same feelings about Jesus as maybe others would.... Tough one.

The end can justify the means, yes. Or are you one of the fools who lives in terms of absolutes? A monochrome man? Another member of Pleasantville?

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 08:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim,

I admit that I'm certainly no expert in these matters. Just for the record though, even being the 'cowardly' liberal that I am, I used to support the notion of torture being permissible in extreme circumstances. That is, of course, until I started researching the efficacy of torture techniques by people in the IC who had some former experience in the matter.

What intriqued me most, and caught my attention in the first place, is that they had become adamantly against the policy. Why? Not only was it far more likely that intelligence procured from torture would turn out to be bogus, they also discovered that techniques opposite to torture (ie., exploiting the suspects religious beliefs and developing a rapport on those grounds) were shown to be far more effective, the big bonus being that the particular suspect would not be bent on revenge for the torture that he'd experienced.

I'm lazy, but I will look up the articles and post the links if you want. ( I know I read one very good one in Atlantic Monthly, that liberal rag)

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 08:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Come, come, now, S. Agnosticism I could understand, but atheism requires faith.
=================================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Personally, P, I don't think any torture works at all, except possibly 'confrontation of death'. The deliberate infliction of pain is often a correct retaliatory response to some behaviours, though, and is, of course, the point of combat.
=================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 08:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To save all of human existence, I'll kill angels... not just angels, I'll kill baby angels. But first, I'll put them in a cage. Because they have wings, like birds. If that makes no sense to you, well, you just haven't been paying attention.

I will out-Bauer Jack Bauer. I will make "Hostel" and all 3 "Saw" movies look like "Amelie."

Seriously. To save 300 million people, I'll do it. Could I practice on Donald Trump first, though? Just 'cause I wouldn't want to screw up the saving of 300 million people, so I'd have to practice the torture first, to make sure I do it right. I've only seen torture on TV, I've never done it myself, so not sure where to start. Do you start with the freezin' or the hot? Or do you stretch them out first to make sure they're limber enough for the freezin'? How about the water torture? Should it be hot water, cold water, room-temperature water? What kind of towel or whatever goes over the face? Cheap terrycloth or do you have to go up to the primo stuff made up Egyptian cotton? More absorbent, you know. So many decisions to be made before you get down to the good torturin'. I hope they have a brochure or something. Torture For Dummies. That's the ticket.

Birds, birds, birds!

Posted by: LL at May 23, 2007 08:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Edhesq:

That sort of thing already goes on: "if you don't give us something useful, we'll put you on a plane to..." an ally that does torture. Heck, you could tell the suspect that we'll release him and issue a statement that he has been of great help to us in attempting to find...whoever. You think his buddies will welcome him back with open arms?

Posted by: Tom S at May 23, 2007 08:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

hey anderson didn't you once tell me that " you eat a lot of cheese."

Posted by: jay at May 23, 2007 08:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Patrick,

I don't see why you ever needed to change your position. Yes, obviously torture is not the best answer in a number of scenarios, and there are many other tools at our disposal that will probably do a better job 99% of the time. But what we're discussing here is the 1% of the time it doesn't. What then?

If you and Greg and all the rest put down your swords and just listened to "us", then you'd realize that we're only for using torture as a last resort when nothing else has worked. The main focus should always be to save innocent lives, and when you have exhausted every other option, torture has to be the final straw, however horrible it is to use that option.

I don't really care whether or not you legalize it, I would go to prison for saving someone's life by torturing someone. Just like I would risk going to prison to save a child by shooting a madman who had a gun pointed at them.

What matters is that the job gets done, and that the god damn liberal pussy squad doesn't stand in the way of saving innocent people to protect their ideological faith.

kim,

Atheism is the absence of faith, so.... How does it require faith?

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 09:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LL,

Hmmm. I think we'll leave it to the professionals. You seem to be having too much fun with this torture thing. It's not something to take lightly, as you are. Torturing someone is a heavy burden, but saving a life for having done so is the moral thing to do if it is necessary.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 09:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sexion wrote:

"Walt S,

First of all you attributed something to kim that I wrote. "

My apologies to both of you. My error.

"Second of all, I have no idea what you mean by: By that standard you cite above, we must infer that Jesus should have fallen down and worshipped Satan. The end, afterall, justifies the means, doesn't it?

Sorry, for those of us who don't read the Bible, want to let us in on the secret here? If it is meant to say that if Jesus worshipped Satan, he could have saved all mankind, then yes, he should have done it. "

Yes, you interpretedit correctly. And if you don't understand the subtleties of the argument, then I can see why you have qualms about making the arguments you've been making.

I'd argue that its a short step from "any torture to save one life," to similarly the absolutist thinking of "better dead than Red" or "we had to destroy Hue to save it." All of this sounds good on paper or on a screen, but the real world is seldom reduced to such simple equations present in such start black/white finality.

"What, is he more important than mankind? Oh wait, I guess as an atheist I don't really have the same feelings about Jesus as maybe others would.... Tough one."

I'm beginning to think that a lot of things may be more important than mankind, if mankind can't raise itself above the morality you espouse. Many of the higher vertebrates demonstrate are better at living together than humans.

And, hey, I'm an atheist, too, but that doesn't mean I can't hold certain values that can't be reduced to simple mathematics. I cited that particular example (Jesus/Satan) because I felt that most reading here would understand. You clearly did, or you wouldn't have characterized it correctly, as you did.

"The end can justify the means, yes. Or are you one of the fools who lives in terms of absolutes? A monochrome man? Another member of Pleasantville? "

Are you suggesting that your willingness to advocate the torture (and, perhaps, deaths) of hundreds of terrorists to save just one American life isn't an application of ABSOLUTES?

Posted by: Walt S at May 23, 2007 09:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon,

2. I'm not a Republican.

Sorry pal, considering what you're advocating, pardon me if I'm not willing to take you at your word on that one. What, I imagine you're an 'independent' like 'Big Daddy' Bill O'Reilly?

3. Terrorists need a reason to inflict more damage and pain? Since when?

It never ceases to amaze me that people like you have never asked yourselves why these people bent on terrorism would want to engage in such acts in the first place. No wait!? It's because they hate our freedoms! If you're willing to study the history of terrorism, it's a method of last resort, an act of desperation. Desperate about what? The fact that for the last half century, American Foreign policy helped to prop up authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and turned a blind eye while they oppressed their populations? But no, of course not; 'terrorists' are just automatons.

4. Abu Ghraib? A few US soldiers went on a power-trip and did things that were not written in any manual, by any order of any official, were not the techniques approved by Rumsfeld

not approved by Rumsfeld!!??. You're kidding me right? It was an isolated incident, huh? Of course they acted on their own volition! And no one ever anticpated the breach of the levies!

Puhlease! Makes your view even less worthy of merit.

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 09:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Atheism is the absence of faith, so.... How does it require faith?

There may be a distinction is between a positive belief that there is no God, and mere absence of any belief in God, but that is above my epistemological pay scale.

Atheists are chided for believing that there is no God without (supposedly) having any better proof than a theist does.

The points are debatable, but I think agnosticism is a cleaner choice, if only that it spares one some tedious and unresolved philosophical issues. I am something of a bad Christian myself, so my opinion may be suspect.

NOTICE: No 3-year-olds were harmed in the making of this comment.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 09:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Walt,

"I'd argue that its a short step from "any torture to save one life," to similarly the absolutist thinking of "better dead than Red" or "we had to destroy Hue to save it." All of this sounds good on paper or on a screen, but the real world is seldom reduced to such simple equations present in such start black/white finality."

Ah, the Slippery Slope again. Sorry, homie don't play that. Keyword in what you've written though: seldom. That means that at some point, the scenario I laid out will happen, and a choice will have to be made, and I hope we side with the innocent instead of the terrorist.

"I'm beginning to think that a lot of things may be more important than mankind, if mankind can't raise itself above the morality you espouse."

Again, I fail to see the morality in preserving one's own dignity instead of saving someone's life. Can you please explain how that is moral?

"And, hey, I'm an atheist, too, but that doesn't mean I can't hold certain values that can't be reduced to simple mathematics. I cited that particular example (Jesus/Satan) because I felt that most reading here would understand. You clearly did, or you wouldn't have characterized it correctly, as you did."

Mathematics is the language of logic, and values should be based on logic, otherwise it quickly approaches theism, which is irrational. The reason why I understood your example was mostly due to logically deducing what point you were trying to make, since I have infinitely little knowledge of the contents of the Great Book.

"Are you suggesting that your willingness to advocate the torture (and, perhaps, deaths) of hundreds of terrorists to save just one American life isn't an application of ABSOLUTES?"

I have not made any such argument, sir, and nor is such an argument absolutist as it depends entirely on the circumstances, and also on the conditions that all other options have failed.

My position is that it is better to torture one person, if one must, than have another innocent person die instead. The person tortured will still be alive, after all, which is more than one could say for the person who would be killed if it wasn't done.

You'll see that the if contained within this statement nullifies any claim that it is an absolutist position.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 09:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An innocent and understandable error, WS, you've bravely acknowledged more guilt than necessary.

It's the golden mean we're after here, folks. Absolutes are absurd.
======================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 09:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

yay, yay, i like butts do you i like BUTTS

Posted by: jay at May 23, 2007 09:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

yay, yay, i like butts do you I like BUTTS

Posted by: jay at May 23, 2007 09:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

yay, yay, I like butts. Do you?. I like BUTTS.

Posted by: jay at May 23, 2007 09:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On second thought, torturing Jay might be all right.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 09:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Patrick,

Sorry pal, considering what you're advocating, pardon me if I'm not willing to take you at your word on that one. What, I imagine you're an 'independent' like 'Big Daddy' Bill O'Reilly?

I have precisely the same position on this issue as Bill Clinton, so pardon me if I call you an idiot.

It never ceases to amaze me that people like you have never asked yourselves why these people bent on terrorism would want to engage in such acts in the first place. No wait!? It's because they hate our freedoms! If you're willing to study the history of terrorism, it's a method of last resort, an act of desperation. Desperate about what? The fact that for the last half century, American Foreign policy helped to prop up authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and turned a blind eye while they oppressed their populations? But no, of course not; 'terrorists' are just automatons.

Oh, I have asked myself this, and I have thought about it at length. There are different types of terrorists, some of which are exactly "automatons". However, then you have the Osama bin Ladens and the Mohammed Attas. These are the ideologues who brainwash the automatons to do their bidding, often giving them false reasons and propaganda to carry out their deeds.

Terrorism, for these people, is not an act of desperation. Osama bin Laden grew up a wealthy man in Saudi Arabia. His beef with the USA, and the West, is their lack of religious morals, according to him. He hates that the Saudis are friends with the US because of it. He feels the Saudis are being tainted by amoral infidels. This is why he wants to take over Saudi Arabia and remove the royal family.

This is not desperation. This is a battle of ideals, of religion. Just like he and many other Muslims believe that Jews are innately evil, they believe many of us to be innately evil for the mere fact that we're not Muslims.

They need no other excuse to kill us than that, and the fact that you don't understand that says a lot.

The Chechnyan terrorist is not the same as the al Qaeda terrorist. Not all terrorists are the same, or act for the same reason.

not approved by Rumsfeld!!??. You're kidding me right? It was an isolated incident, huh? Of course they acted on their own volition! And no one ever anticpated the breach of the levies!

Please tell me what act carried out by Charles Graner & Co was an approved interrogation technique by Donald Rumsfeld. Oh, and I might remind you that Rumsfeld called off most of the approved techniques he had for Gitmo before the Iraq war even began. Oh, and general Sanchez ordered every soldier in Iraq to follow the Army Field Manual in August 2003. Oh, and they ordered all the military to follow the Geneva Conventions. Oh, and Rumsfeld ordered the military to treat prisoners humanely in January 2003 in an order.

The ACLU have all the documents proving all of this. It's funny how they never trot out any of these facts from their own documents, eh?

Oh, and are you really so retarded that you are beyond believing that Charles Graner (a person who was previously fired at a jail for abusing prisoners... hello?) & Co acted on their own? So does that mean all the German, British, and Danish soldiers also acted under the orders of Rumsfeld? Or are only American soldiers unfit to act of their own volition?

Come on, let's see how deep your brainwashing goes.

Oh, and in fact, they did not warn of the breach of the levies. You didn't see AP's correction? The levies were supposed to contain a category 3 storm - the storm when it hit the levies was a category 1. Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers built the levies poorly back in the day, and they couldn't even withstand a category 1.

Am I blowing your mind? This is all stuff that has been documented at length, by the way. Of course, the Think Progress and DailyKos crowd has shielded any of this from coming out on their sites, so it's not all that certain you may have seen any of it.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 09:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim,

The problem with your last argument is...Who decides? Who draws that line? Who makes the determination that in this or that particular case, torture is permissible?

I just want to point to you that you're perched on a precariously slippery slope.
What harm would a 'little bit of torture' do, right? The prohibitions against torture in the Geneva Conventions and in our own domestic laws are there for a reason, to prevent exactly that. A 'little bit of torture' is like being 'a little bit pregnant'.

You would risk going to prison to save a child by shooting a madman who had a gun pointed at them? Interesting that you would use that analogy. Just last year, here in Los Angeles, a police officer did just that. Rather than wait for the 'madman's' passions to cool so he could be properly convinced to turn himself in,
the cop, in his haste, attempted to shoot the madman, and shot the child instead.

I would hope that would give you some pause for thought.

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 09:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Anderson,

Atheists are chided for believing that there is no God without (supposedly) having any better proof than a theist does.

Of course they are chided for that, by theists, but this rests upon the logical fallacy that one has to prove a negative. Theists claim God exist, thus they must prove that he does. Atheists need do nothing, for they need make no claim.

The points are debatable, but I think agnosticism is a cleaner choice, if only that it spares one some tedious and unresolved philosophical issues. I am something of a bad Christian myself, so my opinion may be suspect.

Agnosticism is the politically correct form of atheism, basically. Although, if God proved his existence, it's not like I would continue being an atheist.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A terrorist is specifically someone who kills civilians to incite fear in the general populace, not a party to a regular army...And what does all of this have to do with the topic??? Nothing! Tangents are the best friend of those losing a debate.

Then the Nazi bombing of London, an operation with as much of a civilian psychological element as a strategic one (unfueled by "rage or whatever"), marks the Nazis as both terrorists and a regular army, eliminating your simple line.

What were Hiroshima and Nagasaki designed to do if not to "specifically incite fear in the general populace" by killing unbelievable numbers of civilians and thus undermine Japanese support for continuing the war. Seeing how this ended the war in our favor, minimized US casualties and ultimately turned Japan into an ally, I think this was a fantastic idea. But you, with your dictionary have just called Truman a terrorist, friend.

This is not a tangent. In voicing your support for torture, it is your position that "soldiers" can't be tortured and "terrorists" can. The Mehdi Army and the Badr brigade fit both your definitions.

Again, who decides who gets tortured and who doesn't?


No, our soldiers are not to do any torture EVER

Good. But if the CIA can torture, why can't Naval Intelligence torture? And if Naval Intelligence can torture, what about the Marines assigned to a Naval Intel officer? And if those marines can torture, why can't they torture after they leave the intel unit? And if those marines can torture, why can't the rest of their new unit, ad infinitum.


Are you saying that there is a 0% probability of such a scenario ever happening?

I'm not, but you seem to be suggesting a 100% probablility of this happening every day. You suggest it happens so often that an entire policy needs to be shaped around it.

Last time I checked there was no example of torture producing information that prevented a country from being Nuked and plenty examples of torture producing bullshit confessions and false leads-see Menachem Begin, Solzenitzhen, John McCain and the foreign health workers in Libya who falsely confessed to purposely infecting children with AIDS. Remember, it wasn't torture that procured the tip that stopped those nuts in NJ--it was citizen vigilance, which is far more effective and not at all odious.

And even if your little fantasy does ever happen, you can bet that the law-breaking torturer will never be prosecuted. What Jury will ever convict someone of breaking a law to save millions of lives? What prosecutor would bring the charges?


Liberals cannot...

Try again. I've only voted against two Republicans in my life (for any office whatsoever) and their names were Bush and Santorum.


You compare the scenario of a terrorist knowing information that can save even a single life with Jedis, time-travel, and James Bond. I'm guessing you'd piss your pants if you even knew the kinds of things George Tenet knows about what's gone on in the shadows while selfish aloof pricks like you were taking all their freedoms for granted.

What I compare is a scenario that has never happened except on a fantastical S&M television show with a scenario that has never happened except in fantastical movies.

If I knew what George Tenet knew, I suppose I'd be thinking about sandwiches or shoes as he clearly was when he was supposed to be thinking about intelligence reports in August, 2001. Tenet put it best: "wasn't there some guy in flight school whose instructor tipped us off that he was acting strange?" (to paraphrase). Righteous citizen vigilance ignored. Fuck what George Tenet thinks. He is more responsible for 9/11 than anyone other than the hijackers and al Qaeda. Though this is, indeed, a tangent.


Yes, yes. It's all a fucking joke to you.

That there are those who want to throw out the examples and advice of Generals, Intelligence experts, Moral leaders and past Presidents and turn us into a "compassionate" mirror of the Soviet Union because they were scared by a fetishist, fictional television program would, indeed, be a gas if it weren't so serious and so sad.


But I will play your little mind-fuck game and we'll pretend that my scenario is purely theoretical. Now, given it's purely theoretical, answer the question. What, you don't want to answer a theoretical question? Why? Never went to school? Never took any theoretical questions on an exam, did you? Oh you did? So what makes this one any different? Coward.

I didn't follow any of this except that you're trying to tell me you're still at University and are likely very short.


It is people like you who will get us all killed one day

And it is people like you who are killing the traditions of Edmund Burke, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, etc. and replacing them with Bush's freedom-killing "Democracy"-spreading "Compassionate Conservatism" which looks a lot like Authoritarian Trotskyite Marxism to me. If liberty ever dies, it will be people like you holding the gun that killed it.

Posted by: Steve W at May 23, 2007 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If liberty ever dies, it will be people like you holding the gun that killed it.

But it was *necessary* to rape and murder Liberty in order to save Security!

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 09:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That's a sock-puppet calling itself jay.
=========================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 10:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve,

Truman bombed Japan to end the war, not to incite fear among the Japanese. There's a distinct difference there, especially since ending the war would mean an end to Japanese and Americans killing one another. And of course, this was done by the military of the United States, an act of war, during a war. That doesn't fit the definition of terrorism.

And as I already told you, torturing POWs is not on the bill here, as you have entirely different rules in war than you do when you're protecting civilians from terrorists outside the theater of war.

Good. But if the CIA can torture, why can't Naval Intelligence torture? And if Naval Intelligence can torture, what about the Marines assigned to a Naval Intel officer? And if those marines can torture, why can't they torture after they leave the intel unit? And if those marines can torture, why can't the rest of their new unit, ad infinitum.

Whoever is under the command of the Pentagon does not torture. Period.

I'm not, but you seem to be suggesting a 100% probablility of this happening every day. You suggest it happens so often that an entire policy needs to be shaped around it.

I have written many words here, but none as you describe here. It is a figment of your imagination, you are projecting and overcompensating.

Last time I checked there was no example of torture producing information that prevented a country from being Nuked and plenty examples of torture producing bullshit confessions and false leads-see Menachem Begin, Solzenitzhen, John McCain and the foreign health workers in Libya who falsely confessed to purposely infecting children with AIDS. Remember, it wasn't torture that procured the tip that stopped those nuts in NJ--it was citizen vigilance, which is far more effective and not at all odious.

Last time I checked, the US government doesn't publicize every single usage of torture in their history, so you have no way of knowing whether or not is has helped at any time. Yet George Tenet has written in his book that "torture" did in fact help prevent attacks. Giving examples of improper uses of torture isn't anything other than disingenuous. I can do that with just about anything under the sun, does that mean everything under the sun should be outlawed because someone somewhere at some time misused it?

And even if your little fantasy does ever happen, you can bet that the law-breaking torturer will never be prosecuted. What Jury will ever convict someone of breaking a law to save millions of lives? What prosecutor would bring the charges?

You know, that sounds exactly like what Bill Clinton said, when he was stating for the record that no sane person would be against saving lives if it meant you had to torture someone to do it.

Me. Bill Clinton. Who would have thought, eh?

What I compare is a scenario that has never happened except on a fantastical S&M television show with a scenario that has never happened except in fantastical movies.

A bold assertion, seeing as how you have absolutely no idea what lies in the files at the Pentagon or the CIA. But that's just the thing, isn't it? You'd rather pretend that it wasn't the case so that your little ideological game can continue unabated.

That there are those who want to throw out the examples and advice of Generals, Intelligence experts, Moral leaders and past Presidents and turn us into a "compassionate" mirror of the Soviet Union because they were scared by a fetishist, fictional television program would, indeed, be a gas if it weren't so serious and so sad.

Oh how naive you are. What, you believe Jimmy Carter??? The man who has been pegged as lying in his book by his own people?? Look, naive little man, even Bill Clinton is on board here. Is he a scared little shit watching 24? No, he's not. I've never watched 24. Not once.

9/11 happened. Didn't it? Now let's pretend we caught Mohammed Atta before it did. We try everything, he won't tell us anything. Now what? Just let him sit there and watch as 3,000 go up in smoke? Or torture the bastard and save them?

Is that really just a "fetishist, fictional television" plot?

No, it's not, so stop saying it is to ply your own ego and ideology.

I didn't follow any of this except that you're trying to tell me you're still at University and are likely very short.

See, you're a god damn pussy. You won't even answer a theoretical question because answering it hurts your brain because you have to choose the less of two evils, a feature your brain has suppressed.

At 6 feet tall and with a salary that is likely more than yours at quite a young age, I don't think this is the time to trot out personal attacks while you're pussying out on answering a simple theoretical question.

And it is people like you who are killing the traditions of Edmund Burke, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, etc. and replacing them with Bush's freedom-killing "Democracy"-spreading "Compassionate Conservatism" which looks a lot like Authoritarian Trotskyite Marxism to me. If liberty ever dies, it will be people like you holding the gun that killed it.

Ah yes, Thomas Jefferson, the man who owned slaves. What a moral compass.

Slavery or Torture. Hmmm, that's a tough one, I must admit.

As long as we can never ask John Locke his opinion on this matter, trotting him out as some sort of person on your side is a bit of political theater, isn't it? Why, yes it is.

But I digress, me and Bill Clinton need to get back to torturing people, because you know, that's what we love doing and all. After that we're going to get some slaves from Africa, something you apparently approve of....?

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 10:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Taking lightly? Nay... as for torture professionals, are we talking regular Army professionals or contract professionals? Because I don't want to wake up at 0500 every morning just to be able to torture someone, but if I can roll out of bed at about 9 am, that's cool.

As for torturing to save a life, well, that depends on who's life we're talking about. A three-year-old? Maybe. Does the 3-year-old whine a lot and run around a store or restaurant? Then that 3-year-old is on his/her own. Sorry, but we gotta draw a line somewhere. Would I torture someone to save Brad Pitt? Sure. I like Brad Pitt well enough. He's easy on the eyes, I've enjoyed some of his movies. I wouldn't torture someone to save Paris Hilton. I think we're ALL in agreement on that one.

If we're going to get all jiggy with the torture, we should have some sort of torture matrix. Who you have to torture (hard-bitten Al Qaeda terrorist, old lady, 3-year-old) to save (soldier, unpleasant civilian, supermodel, Brad Pitt). And then we'll spin a wheel to choose the method (freezin', heat, water, a picture of Donald Trump's face, etc.).

That's what got those other torture people in trouble. No rules except "no torture." But clearly, someday, somebody might have to torture someone to save 300 million people or even the whole universe. Because that's how it works, you know. Torture the Iraqi baby or millions of people die. It's just that simple. You wouldn't torture a baby to save millions? Coward.

Posted by: LL at May 23, 2007 10:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon,

I'm not so much of a moron to admit that I might have been mistaken, so please enlighten me. What torture techniques did former President Clinton advocate?

Concerning Al-Qaeda and their 'wanabees', certainly their religious fundamentalist views are at the core of their terrorist convictions. Usama bin Laden was much inspired by his lieutenant, Zawahiri, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was formed to try to combat the oppression by sucessive authoritarian governments in Egypt. They see secular government as inherently evil, of course. Many Christian Fundamentalists here in this country share their views. Paint them 'terrorists' too, I guess.

Charles Grainer & Co. received no instructions from higher ups? None at all?
I guess that very contentious Senate debate last year (you remember? the 'torture' bill that Senators McCain and Graham so valiantly fought against? Then caved to?) was all about prohibited interrogation techniques that our government wasn't using, huh?

And I imagine morons the world over would agree that when Hurricane Katrina hit the levies, it was a category 1, except for that fact that, yes, when Katrina had crossed over the Florida peninsula and entered the gulf, it was a 'category 1', then churned itself into a category 5 when it made landfall
on the gulf coast.


Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 10:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What a Lovely Lilting melody you find through the dissonance, LL.
==========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 10:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What torture techniques did former President Clinton advocate?

Without reading Seixon's comment, Clinton did authorize extraordinary renditions for the purposes of having, say, Egypt torture our prisoners.

Reprehensible and probably culpable, though for some reason or other, the Bush DOJ has not felt like prosecuting Clinton ... can't think why not.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 10:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pretty sure it was 4 at landfall. Where did that high dry air come from?
=============================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 10:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry to double up, but this was interesting in the Wiki article's discussion page:

Somehow nowhere in these 3 sections is it mentioned that this program originated for the purpose of sending these people back to countries where they had committed crimes and where there were existing charges against them, rather than transferring them to the US where no charges existed and even up until 2005, where laws were insufficient to charge them with anything. No mention whatsoever for the genesis of this program.

Interesting, but not I think relevant to the issue of whether or not the practice violated the law against sending prisoners to where they are likely to be tortured.

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 10:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wonder what Greg's going to think when he comes back from work and takes a look at what we've been doing to his comment section. Sheez! It'll probably be another two months before he posts again!

(I think there is a serious argument to be had here, but I don't think anyone was having a successful go of it today. *phew*)

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 23, 2007 10:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let me guess, A, maybe extraordinary circumstances? Who knows? This why it should be procedural. It's the Talisman of Legitimate Power.
===========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 10:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Watch, AM

Torture should be the last resort in extraordinary circumstances and then it should be waterboarding.
========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 10:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

LL,

Torture the Iraqi baby or millions of people die. It's just that simple. You wouldn't torture a baby to save millions? Coward.

Actually, I would, if that's what it would take to save millions. The well-being of one baby is not more important than the lives of millions. And yes, it is simple. When you stop thinking with your feelings, and start thinking with your brain, you might figure it out one day.

Patrick,

I'm not so much of a moron to admit that I might have been mistaken, so please enlighten me. What torture techniques did former President Clinton advocate?

Well that's the thing, he didn't say, because he's a smart politician. All he said is that no one would fault a president for ordering torture of a terrorist to save lives, and he's right.

They see secular government as inherently evil, of course. Many Christian Fundamentalists here in this country share their views. Paint them 'terrorists' too, I guess.

Once Christian fundamentalists start flying airplanes into skyscrapers, I will.

Charles Grainer & Co. received no instructions from higher ups? None at all?

There is no evidence that they did. Their sexual acts seem also to indicate that they were pretty much making it up as they went along...

I guess that very contentious Senate debate last year (you remember? the 'torture' bill that Senators McCain and Graham so valiantly fought against? Then caved to?) was all about prohibited interrogation techniques that our government wasn't using, huh?

The CIA has obviously been using things like water-boarding at secret prisons and at Gitmo. What does that have to do with Abu Ghraib? Ah, nothing. Oh, and that debate was a dog and pony show, as McCain has now made clear, since he supports the same position as me and Mr. Clinton. Or does the concept of politicians giving off an appearance of opposing something that they actually don't boggle your mind too much?

They are, after all, politicians.

And I imagine morons the world over would agree that when Hurricane Katrina hit the levies, it was a category 1, except for that fact that, yes, when Katrina had crossed over the Florida peninsula and entered the gulf, it was a 'category 1', then churned itself into a category 5 when it made landfall
on the gulf coast.

Actually, it was a category 5 when it was out in the Gulf sipping on that sweet sweet warm water, and then lost more and more steam as it went towards land. It's simple science. Land = resistance = storm dissipates. The part of the storm that hit New Orleans was category 1. New Orleans only sustained winds of 95mph.

When it made landfall, it was a category 3, but the brunt of the storm went east of New Orleans, leaving only category 1 winds for New Orleans' levies.

Sorry to bust your propaganda bubble, but that's how it went down.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(I think there is a serious argument to be had here, but I don't think anyone was having a successful go of it today. *phew*)

It went downhill after you left, so clearly, you are responsible!

Posted by: Anderson at May 23, 2007 10:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hell, just splash Holy Water toward them. Shouldn't 'Confrontation with Eternal Damnation' work even more effectively than 'Confrontation with Death'?
=========================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 10:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon, what do you believe about the source of the high dry air that deflected and weakened Katrina at the last moment? I think it was coincidental. And thanks for the 3. I thought so, but averaged that and 5. What part of New Orleans got 95 mph? Oh, an average?

Why didn't Bush put his finger in that levee?
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 11:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anybody who thinks "24" and particualry its leading charecter, Jack Bauer is connected to reality is living in a complete fanatsy!. Jack Bauer is no more real-life then that other charecter with initials JB is, i.e. James Bond! Indeed Jack Bauer is an edgier tightly wond Bond for the 21st Century. A can-do action hero who is a ticking time-bomb in his own right!

Amazing how some people can justify torture in just about any case by proposing some far out thriller type of scearnio. Sexion & others who justify torture are those who really would destroy civilization in order to "save" it. Not realizing that they, by their methods, have destroyed that which they were fighting to save!

Washington & Jefferson were slave owners and therefore nothing they wrote or said should be taken seriously. Well, there goes the Declaration of Independence, not to mention the Constitution! Guess its back to good old Law of the Warlords as far as Sexion is concerned!

Posted by: David All at May 23, 2007 11:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And a big WERD to LL by the way. Appropriately hilarious posts!!

Posted by: Patrick at May 23, 2007 11:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have no clue about any high dry air. Weather is chaotic, is there any other explanation than that? NASA measured 95mph in the Eastern part of New Orleans. The levies were poorly constructed ages ago, the Army Corps of Engineers covered that fact up for decades. However much people want to blame Bush for what happened, the only reason so many people died is because the local authorities did not follow their own emergency planning and did not use all the resources at their disposal. Not to mention the genius stroke of the governor waiting until 2 days after the storm to request federal troops.........

But anyways. Back to business!

I'd like to back kim's statement: "Torture should be the last resort in extraordinary circumstances and then it should be waterboarding."

Sounds good to me.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 11:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David All,

Yes, I'm destroying civilization by torturing a terrorist to save lives. You're a smart one, aren't you.

And you obviously didn't understand the reason why I pointed out the slavery of Jefferson and Washington. Holding out these men as some sort of moral standard is ridiculous, as is pointing to them for having written the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence should be assessed on its own merits, not by supposed moral qualities of those who wrote it.

Since you couldn't be bothered with answering my simple "thriller type scenario", you can go pussy along now. In other words, go put your head in the sand and leave the saving of the society you adore to us adults.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 11:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, and David, while you have your head in the sand, can you please ask the victims of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing what they thought of their "thriller type scenario"? Thanks, you're a peach.

Posted by: Seixon at May 23, 2007 11:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Heh, heh. The high dry air came from Texas, probably. Just another of Bush's miracles.
================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 11:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The deliberate infliction of pain is just the extension of intelligence gathering by other means.

Careful, that's a trap.
================================================

Posted by: kim at May 23, 2007 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Truman bombed Japan to end the war, not to incite fear among the Japanese.

Wrong. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were so horrific and fear-inspiring to the Japanese people that the Japanese government ended the war. As intended. So you've still defined Truman and the pilots who dropped Big Betty as terrorists.

Once last time, who says who can be tortured and who can't?


so you have no way of knowing whether or not is has helped at any time.

Of course I do. The White House loudly proclaims every thwarted terrorist plot for points in the polls, as will all subsequent White Houses. The only one that could have come from torture was the one about a bunch of guys who wanted to cut the Brooklyn Bridge in half with blow torches. Maybe that would work on 24 (you tell me), but I'm going to say that wouldn't have been a legitimate attack.

The cases I cited of torture's uselessness weren't cited so I could say torture was applied by an evil regime, the point was that the information given by the four examples had one thing in common: it was all bullshit.


Yet George Tenet has written in his book that "torture" did in fact help prevent attacks.

Yet Tenet is rightly discredited as an imbecile, left, right and center. If you had read Tenet's book, you would notice that he frequently, accidentally paints himself as a clueless buffoon. The same picture is painted in Ricks's "Fiasco," and Woodward's "State of Denial." You should read Tenet's book before you try to tell me what's in it.


What, you believe Jimmy Carter???

Actually I was referring to Washington and every later president not named Bush, Jr (or, according to you, Clinton).


Now let's pretend we caught Mohammed Atta before it did.

Then we've got his blackberry and his cell phone. I'll trust his recent calls list much more than the lies he tells us when we ask him or the lies he tells us when we electrocute his balls.

I'd advise you to reread the article you're commenting on, while paying particular attention to the quote from former Israeli PM Menachem Begin. Torture produces information, true. But it doesn't always produce correct information.

Your way is more likely to send us on a wild, time-wasting goose chase than mine.

If we've got Atta, then we've already got everything we need to stop 9/11 before we ask him a question (which is not saying we shouldn't ask).

And before you tell me that going through his electronic records will take too long, I'd advise you to educate yourself on the very procedures you support. Here's why it's clear that you are pro-torture because you watch some TV show. On that TV show torture produces immediate, true confessions. In real life, "softening up a detainee for interrogation" involves a complete psychological will-breaking. This can take weeks (if not months), and the information is still unreliable, because, while you may now be dealing with a detainee who is cooperative (not resisting is probably a better way to put it), you may also dealing with a detainee who is delusional and psychotic.

You'll want to look that last word up in the dictionary. It doesn't mean what you think it means.

Again, read anything Alexander Solzhenitzyn, John McCain or Begin have written about the psychological effects of torture. It's irrelevant that they were tortured by "Evil Regimes." They all say the same thing: "I would tell the torturers whatever they wanted to hear simply so they would stop torturing me." They never say they told the torturers the truth; McCain explicitly says he didn't tell the truth.

Torture produces information the torturer wants to hear WHETHER IT'S TRUE OR NOT. That's why volunteer nurses in Libya would confess to purposely infecting children with AIDS.


See, you're a god damn pussy. You won't even answer a theoretical question because answering it hurts your brain because you have to choose the less of two evils, a feature your brain has suppressed.

At 6 feet tall and with a salary that is likely more than yours at quite a young age, I don't think this is the time to trot out personal attacks while you're pussying out on answering a simple theoretical question.

I didn't answer your "theoretical question" because you didn't ask one. You told me to answer your "theoretical question," said something about your creative writing class and called me a coward for, apparently, failing to stand up to your cyber-self.

Unless your question was this: "Are you saying that there is a 0% probability of such a scenario ever happening?" in which case my answer was three paragraphs long.

Now you brag about a job that pays you seven figures to comment on a journalist's blog, while presumably playing the choking game with your dorm roommate. What a Napoleonic complex we have.


Now to summarize your arguments: A terrorists is anyone who is a terrorist and should be legally tortured by any intelligence apparatus that doesn't deal with the Pentagon, and whose children should be raped so they can give us questionable information about a scenario I saw on television, and that information is going to be three episodes, uh, I mean weeks, too late. And fuck the founders because they owned slaves, so the Constitution is the real evil. Bill Clinton is my favorite president ever, but Steve W is the real liberal, and because he can't follow my half-baked, twisted helix of conflicting logic we are all going to be killed. And fuck all these pussies and fuck all these cowards and I just learned a new word today, fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck.

Sound about right?

What a way to spend a day off.

Posted by: Steve W at May 23, 2007 11:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

THIS is the most hilarious thing I've read today:
"Actually, I would, if that's what it would take to save millions. The well-being of one baby is not more important than the lives of millions. And yes, it is simple. When you stop thinking with your feelings, and start thinking with your brain, you might figure it out one day."

What you don't know is that I'm from Oklahoma and had a chance to torture a baby to prevent the bombing of the federal building, but one look at that adorable little face and I just couldn't do it. I pussied out. My bad. Sorry, 169 dead people, if not for that one baby, you'd all be alive today. Damn feelings, always gettin' in the way of baby torturing.

UNLESS... that baby could grow up and invent a cure for cancer or the formula for cold fusion or a network TV schedule not full of reality shows. Well, shit, now we're back to where we started. Is it better to save millions by torturing a baby, or do we save millions by saving the cancer-curing baby? I think we have a new thread topic. I'm not even going to mention Hurricane Katrina and how much it loves the terrorists, because I can't wrap my mind around that.

Posted by: LL at May 23, 2007 11:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The above paragraph that starts with "At 6 feet tall" was supposed to be a quote. It was written by Napolean, not I.

Posted by: Steve W at May 24, 2007 12:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve,

Wrong. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were so horrific and fear-inspiring to the Japanese people that the Japanese government ended the war. As intended. So you've still defined Truman and the pilots who dropped Big Betty as terrorists.

First, the United States military did this, as an act of war. Second, you drop the ball here as you point out yourself that this was done to influence the government of Japan, not to simply incite fear within the populace. Third, the result was an end to the war, an end to hostilities; terrorism is to incite fear and terror, not to end wars and hostilities.

Nice try though.

Of course I do. The White House loudly proclaims every thwarted terrorist plot for points in the polls, as will all subsequent White Houses. The only one that could have come from torture was the one about a bunch of guys who wanted to cut the Brooklyn Bridge in half with blow torches. Maybe that would work on 24 (you tell me), but I'm going to say that wouldn't have been a legitimate attack.

Ah yes, because there is no other reason to proclaim that one has thwarted an attack, is there? It's always for politics. Right? Anyways... Just because the Bush administration has publicly announced some cases, does that mean there aren't others that they are keeping secret? Of course not. You have no idea. Neither do I. But you are pretending you do.

As always, pretending. It's what you do best.

The cases I cited of torture's uselessness weren't cited so I could say torture was applied by an evil regime, the point was that the information given by the four examples had one thing in common: it was all bullshit.

That's great. When I feel like getting in an anecdote fight, I'll let you know.

Yet Tenet is rightly discredited as an imbecile, left, right and center.

Yet the reasons for that are not because they water-boarded people and saved lives. He's described as such because he was a poor director of the CIA, pandered while he was in the job, and is pandering now that he's out of it.

Actually I was referring to Washington and every later president not named Bush, Jr (or, according to you, Clinton).

Yes, because none of them ever did anything tantamount to allowing torture. JFK sent over a thousand soldiers to invade Cuba. They were wiretapping MLK on his watch. They were ramping up involvement in Vietnam. Reagan and Iran-Contra. I mean, come on. You have a naive view of our presidents, not to mention you are comparing presidents who had a national security issue like al Qaeda to deal with , with ones who did not. Yeah, I'm sure Abe Lincoln didn't do anything we'd find abominable these days. Right. Keep dreaming your sugar dreams.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, shit smells and fire is hot. Oh, and we've been torturing people whenever necessary to save peoples lives.

Then we've got his blackberry and his cell phone. I'll trust his recent calls list much more than the lies he tells us when we ask him or the lies he tells us when we electrocute his balls.

We've got his blackberry and cellphone? How do you know? What if he doesn't have them on him? What if we can't find them? You make crass assumptions in order to defuse the scary scenario I talked about, because you want to avoid it at all costs.

I'd advise you to reread the article you're commenting on, while paying particular attention to the quote from former Israeli PM Menachem Begin. Torture produces information, true. But it doesn't always produce correct information.

No, not always, but it can. As I have stated about a billion times now, this is about the cases where we have exhausted all other options. When oh when will you get that into your head?

Torture produces information the torturer wants to hear WHETHER IT'S TRUE OR NOT. That's why volunteer nurses in Libya would confess to purposely infecting children with AIDS.

Yes, I'm sure the government of Libya would never lie to us about those confessions.... Only Bush lies, Ghaddafi, never! This is all besides the point.

We're talking about in those rare cases where all other options are exhausted, and torture is our last hope. Get. It. Into. Your. Head.

I didn't answer your "theoretical question" because you didn't ask one.

I asked it long ago, and it's essentially the ticking bomb scenario.

Would you rather torture a terrorist, or have a person die for not having done so?

The conditions here are that you have exhausted all other options, you know for a fact that the terrorist has knowledge that will save this person, and this is all happening outside the theater of war.

GO.

Now you brag about a job that pays you seven figures to comment on a journalist's blog, while presumably playing the choking game with your dorm roommate. What a Napoleonic complex we have.

Again, I haven't said anything of the kind. I might also inform you that I live in Norway, and that I am on sick leave.

Now to summarize your arguments: A terrorists is anyone who is a terrorist and should be legally tortured by any intelligence apparatus that doesn't deal with the Pentagon, and whose children should be raped so they can give us questionable information about a scenario I saw on television, and that information is going to be three episodes, uh, I mean weeks, too late. And fuck the founders because they owned slaves, so the Constitution is the real evil. Bill Clinton is my favorite president ever, but Steve W is the real liberal, and because he can't follow my half-baked, twisted helix of conflicting logic we are all going to be killed. And fuck all these pussies and fuck all these cowards and I just learned a new word today, fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck.

Again, I haven't said anything of the sort, you wanker. I have even stated the opposite of many of these things, but you're too hung up on yourself and your "principles" to care.

Whatever. You haven't pointed out a single instance of conflicting logic. Sorry for the profanity, but I am just really fed up with fakers and pretenders like you who only seek to escape reality in order to keep your precious ideological core intact.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go watch a movie. Don't think this heated debate is making me any less sick....

LL,

I don't see what's so funny with 169 people dying instead of hurting a baby. One hurt baby is worth 169 dead people? Really? What kind of math is that? Compassionate math?

Yeah, fuck you 169 people, this baby is worth more than all of you put together!

That's just sad man. Or do you have some kind of special feelings for babies....?? Special love for babies? Member of NAMBLA or something?

Because... I really don't get how you can put one baby above the lives of 169 people. Please explain.

Posted by: Seixon at May 24, 2007 12:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve W.:

Actually Hiroshima and Nagasaki--and the theoretical prospect of more to come--convinced the Emperor and most of his cabinet that defeat was inevitable. The armed forces went along only after a mutiny was quelled. The Japanese people were kept in almost perfect ignorance until the Emperor's broadcast. Other than that, good post.

Seixon:

Can we now agree that waterboarding a baby to save the lives of somewhere between one and 300,000 people is OK? Your style resembles the Ace of Spades only with more bluster and less coherence.

Posted by: Tom S at May 24, 2007 12:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The geneva convention says no physical or mental torture-period.
End of debate. Now if we want to be like the rest of these animals of the world-lets get it on and forget all this democracy bull crap.

Posted by: jpb at May 24, 2007 12:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom,

Yes, if water-boarding a baby would be necessary to save a life. Of course, such a scenario is infinitely more ridiculous than the ticking bomb scenario that everyone here seems so scared of facing head-on. Thus the entire invention of the baby scenarios to ridicule a 9/11-type scenario, for simple cowardly ideological reasons.

And I assure you that my style here is not reflective of my usual style. I'm sick. I'm tired. I'm pissed off at the antics of (usually astute) people like Greg who only seek to smear those who disagree with him, especially when patron saint McCain agrees with those who he is smearing.

It comes to a point where you've just had enough.

Posted by: Seixon at May 24, 2007 12:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

jpb,

Geneva Conventions governs war. We're talking about terrorists vis a vis civilians outside the theater of war.

Also, do you see no difference between torturing people to save peoples lives and torturing people for the hell of it? Why is everyone here so absolutist when it comes to torture? What about murder? What about abortion? What about assault? Why is it only torture that is given the zero-tolerance rule? Can anyone explain it?

Murder in some circumstances - fine.
Abortion in ... any circumstance - fine.
Assault in some circumstances - fine.
Torture in any circumstance - NOOOOOO.

This is irrational, illogical, and I'd like any of you to explain the associated cognitive dissonance on display when it comes to this issue.

Posted by: Seixon at May 24, 2007 01:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A P wrote

I wonder what Greg's going to think when he comes back from work and takes a look at what we've been doing to his comment section. Sheez! It'll probably be another two months before he posts again

precisely what I was thinking...
but hopefully Greg won't wait two months. The problem seems to be with short-attention span types, so a week should be sufficient.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 24, 2007 01:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sexion wrote:

"Murder in some circumstances - fine.
Abortion in ... any circumstance - fine.
Assault in some circumstances - fine.
Torture in any circumstance - NOOOOOO.

This is irrational, illogical, and I'd like any of you to explain the associated cognitive dissonance on display when it comes to this issue."

Its also irrational and illogical to spin the meanings of words to make your argument seem stronger...

Murder is a socially unacceptable form of killing. If its "murder" its not fine.

Killing is sometimes OK when sanctioned by group consensus or groupvalues (as in executions for breaking society's laws, in time of war, in self defense, etc.)

Abortion is sometimes fine -- kind of depends where you live. In some states in this country its fine. In others its much less than fine. Its "fineness" may vary with the operant laws and with the moral or religious beliefs of the community in which it is practiced.

Assault is, by definition, not fine. It may be a physical attack that isn't sanctioned. But its only when its NOT FINE that it is considered an actionable offense. Even the Supreme Court long ago recognized "Fighting words."

In all but the last case, torture, you simply missed the boat.

The biggest argument against torture is that it doesn't work as intended. Most of the folks defending its use seem to offer up precious little evidence that it DOES work -- only that they believe it COULD work.

The example cited most often the use of torture based on the SURE KNOWLEDGE that a terrorist has knowledge from which torture will extract necessary information, thereby preventing great loss of life.

Such SURE KNOWLEDGE is something found most often in TV series like "24" and in discussions like this; it is not something encountered in the real world, especially in the real world of intelligence. SURE BELIEF exists -- but belief and knowledge aren't the same thing.

(And yeah, I worked in the intelligence community many, many years ago... While I've been out of the loop for a long time, I don't think people have changed THAT much.)

Posted by: Walt S at May 24, 2007 01:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Walt,

OK, but you have people who say torture does work, and others who say it doesn't. Then you have a fight between people on how to define torture, say like water-boarding. Most reports I have seen say that water-boarding works, and in my personal opinion, it is not torture because it does not cause any great physical or psychological pain.

And yes, sure knowledge that a terrorist knows what you want to know is probably very rare - but that's just the thing, it isn't impossible.

Thus, in those cases where it is possible, it needs to be utilized if all else fails.

This is an argument about the 0.001% of times where there is no other way and you have to do it, and I cannot fathom why people like Greg are so against it in that small amount of cases. It borders on insanity.

Not to mention that he smears everyone, like Tom Maguire and I, as if we love torturing and as if we advocate using it all the time. Why the smears? Why the lying? Why the exaggerations? Why the misrepresentations?

Ah, because he is stuck on stupid - stuck on an ideological purity that is devoid of realism.

Posted by: Seixon at May 24, 2007 01:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sexion,

You say you would be willing to torture a baby to save the lives of others and that failing to do so would be selfish and cowardly. Would you be willing to go to prison, to sacrifice yourself, to save their lives as well?

If not - if the threat of prison would stop you from doing what is necessary to save those lives - then you are in no position to call anyone a selfish coward because they would baulk at torturing a child. You would be the selfish coward because of your unwillingness to sacrifice under the same conditions under which you would willingly inflict pain on others.

If you would be willing to go to jail, then why worry about the legal status of torture? Since you are willing to torture a child and go to prison to save lives, then even if torture is against the law you would do it anyways. I read a letter from a former army interegator and opponent of legalized torture who said "Yes, there are circumstances where I would use torture, but I don't want it legalized. I am willing to die for my country so I'm certainly willing to go to prison for it". The majority of true patriots feel the same way. I'd work over a "terrorist" if I thought I could save hundreds of lives - and I'd do it even knowing that I could face prosecution.

If anything, the threat of jail would keep sadism is check and make sure the torture only happened when the torturer was willing to risk themselves as well as their captive. The only reason to remove the threat of prosecution is to encourage torture in circumstances in cirucmstances where the payoff is not that clear cut - in cases that are much more dubious than a "ticking bomb".

What this really comes down to isn't some bullshit "ticking bomb" scenario. You want Americans to be able to torture suspected terrorists even when we have no reason to believe there is a "ticking bomb" and no reason to think this guy has knowledge to the contrary. You want us to torture people who might be be terrorists anytime we think he might have information that might save the lives of people. You talk about "ticking bombs" but like the rest what you really want is regular, systematic, torture in non-emergency circumstances.

Posted by: r4d20 at May 24, 2007 03:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I changed my mind, THIS is the funniest thing I've read all day:

"That's just sad man. Or do you have some kind of special feelings for babies....?? Special love for babies? Member of NAMBLA or something?"

Actually, I do love babies... with fava beans and nice Chianti.

Help me, Jebus, I make a little lighthearted joke about the horrible deaths of 169 people, and all of a sudden, I'm a child molestor, which is... bad? Unless it's to save millions, then rape away, I guess. Molesting little kids for funsies, bad. Molesting little kids for the good of the homeland, honorable, right and just. K, good to know. Just in case I'm ever faced with a situation where I HAVE to rape a kid or torture a cripple or something. That probably happens all the time. What if I have to choose between raping and killing? What do I do then? Someone please tell me, cause I'm confused. First, we were raping/killing to save millions. Now it's down to 169. What's the acceptable ratio? What if it's only to save, say, 5 other people? OK then? Or does it have to be double digits, at least?

Posted by: LL at May 24, 2007 03:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jesus Christ. What a freak show.

You have to wonder about people who are so emotionally invested in defending torture that they'd write what look to be several dozen pages, probably representing ten hours' work for each of these nutjobs, in such a short span of time... Feverishly reloading the pages and pounding out their rejoinders: "Birds! Birds!!"

It's spectacles like these that really highlight the sickness the internet breeds, particularly on the right.

Posted by: vg at May 24, 2007 05:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Truth, vg. I also love the frequent use of the terms "pussy" and "cowardice". Says a lot about someone when they base their manhood on the right to torture.

Posted by: Doug H. at May 24, 2007 05:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sexion:

You've worked yourself into such a convoluted mess rationalizing the use of torture that you can't see the monster you've become. I mean, you've basically stated that under certain circumstances, you'd be willing to rape and vivisect a 3-year old child. Does it not enter into your head that in doing so, you've already sacrificed your humanity?

Posted by: firebrand at May 24, 2007 06:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

here's the thing about torturing a baby to save humanity: if another person tells you it's necessary, he's lying. You shouldn't trust him. You're just going to end up with a dead baby. If you think God is telling you to do it, or perhaps the voices in your head, you're a lunatic. You shouldn't trust yourself.

If the leader of your country tells you he needs the power to torture people in case he catches a terrorist hours before an attack and he knows the bombs ticking, and he knows that torture will work, and he knows that nothing else will, and whatever stupid conditions you want to add--he's lying, or he's kidding himself. You shouldn't trust him. Every single leader of every single country in known history who has said this power was necessary to protect the innocent from criminals, terrorists, enemies of the state, has ended up torturing more innocents than they've saved. The actual history of how actual torture actually works in the actual world is just ugly, and when you get into the details it's almost impossible to defend. So instead we have to hear this Jack Bauer fantasy crap, from people who congratulate themselves on their realism.

Posted by: Katherine at May 24, 2007 06:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And they rustle quietly to themselves. Time to put out the light. There is an honest one here; Patrick. Bruce and Tom S tried. P. luk. is right; I'll fly, but it isn't from lack of attention span. The feeding is sparse. You'd complain if you knew any better. Keep the faith, G.
==============================

Posted by: kim at May 24, 2007 11:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sexion wrote:

"And yes, sure knowledge that a terrorist knows what you want to know is probably very rare - but that's just the thing, it isn't impossible.

Thus, in those cases where it is possible, it needs to be utilized if all else fails."

If all all fails?

Isn't that the intellectual equivalent of telling your sex partner that you'll only push it in part way? Or letting the camel's nose slip under the edge of the tent? Its only a nose, for heaven's sake!

If you can get folks to buy into the extreme case, then its just a small step to convincing them to buy into a less extreme case. Soon, we'll be creating our own Gulag system (if we haven't already done so), and then what?

I'll tell you what: we will have become like the people we're trying to fight. I'd argue that you've got to draw a line somewhere -- even if its costly and painful to do so. Drawing a line just left (or right) of that very, very rare .0001% possibility is just the first step.


Posted by: Walt S at May 24, 2007 01:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh yes, Walt has some honesty, too. Note your confusion about the line; where to put it. But you agree a line must be drawn. OK, separating what from what? Do you see?

A wonderfullly evocative description of the slippery slope. That one is unforgettable. Thanks.
========================================

Posted by: kim at May 24, 2007 01:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Oh yes, Walt has some honesty, too. Note your confusion about the line; where to put it. But you agree a line must be drawn. OK, separating what from what? Do you see?"

It wasn't confusion -- it was simply an attempt to show that its almost impossible to draw a line near an infinitely small point.

Where do I draw my line? No torture. (What is torture? We can debate that point, but I suspect we can come up with a consensuse pretty quickly.)

When I read about how the "terrorist" Padilla now responds, after several years of "interrogation" and incarceration, I was sickened. I suspect Padilla would've done bad stuff, had he been free to do so, but I'm equally convinced that our government did bad stuff, too in their handling of him. I can't condemn him for bad intent and hold our government blameless for bad behavior.

On a different course: what we haven't heard much about in this discussion is the use of various drugs to draw out the information required. Is that because THAT approach doesn't work, either? Or is it because the "patients" often die when they use those tools, too?

(An observation: anybody willing to torture a baby for any reason must be into torture for its own sake, as I can't imagine a baby being able to tell you damned thing about terrorist bomb placement, etc. Seems as though a little clear thinking would have thrown that stupid example out earlier in this discussion, recognizing it for what it was -- BS -- having no real relevance in this discussion.)

Posted by: Walt S at May 24, 2007 02:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

anybody willing to torture a baby for any reason must be into torture for its own sake

I was guessing it was Osama's baby or something. We threatened to torture KSM's kids, but he shrugged it off. If only Seixon had been there ...

Posted by: Anderson at May 24, 2007 02:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, the Muslim brotherhood was formed in 1928, by Hassan Al Banna, a young school teacher at the time of Prime Minister Saad Zaghul, the Brits had formally withdrawn most of those forces at the time,
all though they did return in force around '39, the
Egyptian authorities were
not particularly brutal as
one recalls. Much like Post-mandate Iraq, there was this turn toward Fascism, among the officer
corps that included Sadat,
Naguib and young Nasser,
the MB didn't particularly
take sides in this conflict, reserving their
energies by the '48 war, where they sought to drive
Israel into the sea. It was around that time, that
they engaged an offensive
against the government of
the time, which claimed the
life of Prime Minister Nograibi Pasha, and ultimately Sheik Al Banna,
himself. The next offensive didn't really arise until after Qutb's
"road to Damascus" trip
from Colorado, and after
Nasser's consolidation of
power, spurred by the same
clowns, Copeland & Eichelberger, who would
recruit exile Baathist such as young Hussein, Qutb
was imprisoned in that last round up and that where he wrote
"Milestones", the bible of
the Salafi, which would ultimately lead to his death. His brother Mohammed, fled to Saudi Arabia, where he became one of Osama's instructors
of King Ibn Al Aziz university, along with Abdullah Azzam, the real founder of Al Queda.

Posted by: narciso at May 24, 2007 04:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My, this argument has been churning around futilely since I last posted, hasn't it? Let me catch up on one point: Kim's straight-faced, if idiotic, statement that Anderson and Lukasiak "Godwinned" me.

We all agree that there may be some extremely rare situations where interrogative military torture is justified. We all agree that allowing one man -- no matter where he is in the "Chain of Command", up to and including the Oval Office -- to make, by himself and with impunity, the decision as to what those cases are is a recipe for disaster (as we are now seeing). We disagree -- maybe -- on which of two alternative solutions to resolve this problem is best.

Godwinned?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 24, 2007 07:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Goodness, another limp-wristed military officer has just agreed entirely with Krulak and Hoar -- this one being the guy who was officially assigned to lead the military's internal investigation of Abu Ghraib. (Note how he too explicitly pins the blame for that business on upper-echelon Bush officials who carefully, and deliberately, left the limits on permissible torture completely open):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/22/AR2007052201402_pf.html
(courtesy of Sullivan)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 24, 2007 07:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We all agree that there may be some extremely rare situations where interrogative military torture is justified.

"We all agree"? Who we?

If it's "justified," then we are just haggling over price, as the joke goes.

Posted by: Anderson at May 24, 2007 08:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry to double up, but the excellent letter that Bruce linked is relevant to my question to Bruce. The author quotes Generals Krulak and Hoar:

"The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality."

Bruce, please explain how "We all agree that there may be some extremely rare situations where interrogative military torture is justified" does not "broach torture as a possibility."

Posted by: Anderson at May 24, 2007 08:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's say, for argument's sake, I'll go with Kim's and Seixon's position that torture is permissible in extreme circumstances, say, to a determined enemy of the USA. Let's be even be more specific and say a determined enemy of the Constitution of the United States.

Could I then please be allowed to perform enhanced interrogation techniques on Karl Rove? He says he'll defy a Congressional subpoena. There is a very strong evidence that he's violationed of a whole slew of federal statutes. If he resists the subpoena, shouldn't he be tortured to find out the truth?

I really don't want to engage in torture myself, but hey, I'd be willing to do it if it's our Constitution and Bill of Rights at stake. So could I? Please?

Posted by: Patrick at May 24, 2007 08:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I really don't want to engage in torture myself, but hey, I'd be willing to do it if it's our Constitution and Bill of Rights at stake. So could I? Please?

Sorry, Patrick, but you would enjoy that too much. Gives the wrong sort of impression, you understand.

It would be a good test of Kim's and Seixon's theories to see how the waterboard improved Gonzales's memory. But that would be wrong.

Posted by: Anderson at May 24, 2007 08:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

("Waterboard Karl Rove" gets 37 google hits -- bumpersticker material, methinks.")

Posted by: Anderson at May 24, 2007 09:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

firebrand,

You've worked yourself into such a convoluted mess rationalizing the use of torture that you can't see the monster you've become. I mean, you've basically stated that under certain circumstances, you'd be willing to rape and vivisect a 3-year old child. Does it not enter into your head that in doing so, you've already sacrificed your humanity?

Yes, I'm such a monster, I would rather rape a child than have a person die. Death is forever. Rape isn't. Figure it out, genius.

Walt,

Step away from the Slippery Slope. Thanks.

(An observation: anybody willing to torture a baby for any reason must be into torture for its own sake, as I can't imagine a baby being able to tell you damned thing about terrorist bomb placement, etc. Seems as though a little clear thinking would have thrown that stupid example out earlier in this discussion, recognizing it for what it was -- BS -- having no real relevance in this discussion.)

It was a theoretical question, and I answered it as such. If it stood between raping a child, and having a person die, I would rape the child. It's simple logic. Rape is less evil than death. Only those who get caught up in emotions and get these irrational thoughts about things cannot answer a simple theoretical question like that.

You break it down into the simplest of terms, and answer the god damn question. You don't wuss out and say, "oh, well, that's a silly question, I don't want to answer it." Well, unless you're a pussy, that is.

Bruce,

We all agree that there may be some extremely rare situations where interrogative military torture is justified.

No, you see, the twits here, like Greg, do not agree with this, because they are irrational emos that cannot just think logically. That's what the whole brou-ha-ha is about, and when Greg and the rest can't deal with their problem of not being able to choose the lesser of two evils, they lash out and smear everyone who tries to force them to do so.

Patrick,

Could I then please be allowed to perform enhanced interrogation techniques on Karl Rove? He says he'll defy a Congressional subpoena. There is a very strong evidence that he's violationed of a whole slew of federal statutes. If he resists the subpoena, shouldn't he be tortured to find out the truth?

Is there danger of anyone being hurt more than torture by Rove doing so? If not, why are you even asking other than being a smart ass?

Anderson,

Why would we waterboard Gonzalez for anything? Suddenly you've taken our ticking bomb scenario to include testifying, in your view, improperly before Congress?

There's no wonder we can ever have a reasonable debate on this subject. You guys just see things completely in black and white, and there is just no point in debating with you at all. If we allow torture in a very limited set of circumstances, you take that as being allowed all the time for anything by anyone anywhere.

Why do you consistently do this, other than being a poor debater?

Posted by: Seixon at May 24, 2007 09:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anderson:

Assume we go to the situation before the last torture bill. This would mean that the CIA prison stuff is arguably against the law, but Tenet and others are willing to go forward with it because of their belief that they need to get information about plots, and get that information quickly.

These folks did what they did, likely knowing that there was the possibility they would be prosecuted for any misjudgement they made. And the people they exercise their techniques against -- according to the reports I have seen -- were really the high-up Al Qaeda people who really were about murdering as many people as they could.

I have always said, when commenting on this issue, that the torturing (I'll use that word to avoid a semantic debate) of people like KSM did not bother me. I'll hold with that. This is a person whose goal is to kill me and my friends, and lots of others. He has decided to make himself less than human. Now does this mean I think anything goes? No. Do I mind if a line is overstepped in his interrogation. No.

But the way of bureaucracy is always to take any mandate they get and apply it as often as feasible. This is the danger of putting any standards in law. You'll just end up expanding the torture pool. This is why, like John McCain, I think I can only deal with a system where, informally, exceptions do happen, but the person making that excepton is in jeapordy as a result. That way -- you'll get violations of the rules under pressing circumstances -- but are unlikely to get violations when the circumstances press. (And yu will likely get leaks when bureaucrats overreach.)

And, in case you were wondering -- your three year-old is safe with me...

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 24, 2007 09:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

but Tenet and others are willing to go forward with it because of their belief that they need to get information about plots, and get that information quickly

Belief on what basis?

See, all anybody has to do is go to the jury and say, "well, it was always POSSIBLE that torture might've worked, so we had to do it."

So much for the law. Who was it who commented that torture cases should be tried before the World Court or some other int'l body?

Incidentally, Tenet et al. did what they did, before the 2006 bill was passed, in the shadow of the "torture memos" assuring them that what they were doing was perfectly legal. When the SCOTUS ruled that Geneva IV applied, apparently that brought the program to a screeching halt. All of a sudden, torture just didn't seem all that important. Funny, that.

Posted by: Anderson at May 24, 2007 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks to all you good and decent Americans for refusing to treat us badly, even when some bad ones kill you and you familiys.

Posted by: Ashari Kohibi at May 24, 2007 10:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AM,

This is why, like John McCain, I think I can only deal with a system where, informally, exceptions do happen, but the person making that excepton is in jeapordy as a result. That way -- you'll get violations of the rules under pressing circumstances -- but are unlikely to get violations when the circumstances press.

Sounds good to me. Now will you get people like Greg to stop smearing everyone else for holding what is essentially the same position as you, and possibly even himself (if he ever gets the balls to say it out loud)?

Posted by: Seixon at May 24, 2007 10:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon:

Lie down, put a cold cloth over your head, and relax. What set Greg--and would set most people with an operating conscience--off was the last Republican debate, where most of candidates fell over themselves describing how they would use torture to protect the United States. They--of course--parsed and nit-picked, claiming that certain methods were not actually torture, and of course denied that they would ever use what they would call torture (limbs are safe and no one will die). It was a disgraceful display.

This was followed by what passed for analysis by the amen corner, which carried on with the same attempts to call torture methods by some less provocative names, without being able to actually describe how these methods would work without going into the demonstrated pitfalls and and moral blind alleys that torture leads to. If you want to get infuriated over something, get angry over how some of these people compare torture methods to fraternity hazing or high school hi-jinks by the football team.

The burden of demonstrating that torture can be used discriminately and effectively, while minimizing damage--if possible--does not rest with torture's critics. They can--and have--repeatedly, often based on their experience, stated that torture is not effective, that it becomes institutionalized and widespread almost immediately, and that it does severe harm to the subjects, the torturers, the country that carries it out, and the prospects of victory over the enemy.

This is then answered by hypotheticals. Nothing else. How you can protest that only you are looking at how the "real" world operates, and then use a hypothetical situation, demonstrates that you have no idea how the real world operates. Of course it is Hobbesian; that is why you have laws, you know those pesky things that get in the way of policy decisions, which keeps us above the state of nature "red in tooth and claw." Break the laws, face the consequences, do not weaken them in order to avoid consequences, which seems to be how the Bush administration operates. Is the United States now stronger and safer because of this administration's attempts to weaken and evade its laws and obligations?

Posted by: Tom S at May 25, 2007 12:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What he said (Tom S, that is).

Posted by: LL at May 25, 2007 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"So much for the law. Who was it who commented that torture cases should be tried before the World Court or some other int'l body?"

that was me. And that my point was that that torture needs to be completely illegal, and that the nullification through a "necessity" defense not be available in US courts because of jury bias.

There is another reason why torture cases should always be turned over to an international body..."graymail". Any torture case would amost by definition require the disclosure of specifics "sources and methods" employed by the US government in interrogations---- the government would likely claim that such disclosure represented a threat to National Security, and the case would be thrown out.

There has to be certain knowledge that engaging in torture will have enormous consequences for the person who thinks that torture is "necessary." This means understanding that he will face a court of truly impartial judgement, and is likely to not be able to present many of the facts that support the "necessity" defense because they are classified.

We have 150,000 young americans in Iraq who we demand be willing to give up their lives (supposedly) in the defense of the United States because the President says it is "necessary." Military and civilian interrogators (and their superiors right up to the White House) must know that they are (merely) giving up their freedom --not their lives -- in authorizing or engaging in torture "in the defense of the United States."

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 25, 2007 01:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anderson:

My (from memory -- a dubious instrument) understanding was that the torture memos related more to what the military was up to, not the CIA. I have not read Tenet's book, so I would d not know if he was worried about any legal ramifications to what he was doing.

I want people who feel the need to torture (or enhance their interrogation techniques, if you prefer) to always feel like their actions could put them in jail or subject them to crticism. This will limit it to cases like we had in 2001-2002, when we knew we had an organization capable of inflicting mass casualties in America, but did not know what they had up their sleeve.

Is this selective enforcement? Oh yes. But this is the only way I think you can keep something like this from spreading way beyond situations where the live of many citizens are in the balance.

As for luka's world court idea -- I have to say I don't like it. Since the US remains the world superpower (despite dubya's best efforts), any organization that is supposed in some way to gvern the way the world operates it is going to have an institutional rivalry with the US. That strikes me as a bias against US interests that is as strong as the jury bias luka fears.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 25, 2007 02:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

P. Lukasiak:

It doesn't have to be a jury trial (most trials these days are not). Even with the ICC, the understanding is that it would step in only in cases where the the criminal justice system in a given country is too corrupt or subservient to political interests to see justice done.

However, the US must recognize and participate in the ICC (currently it does not). This provides a last resort against some of what you fear. With the US participating, it will also serve to make the ICC less potentially anti-American, as AM fears.

I must confess that the prospect of Wolfowitz, Feith, and Rumsfeld being unable to travel abroad for fear of arrest does not bother me at all.

Posted by: Tom S at May 25, 2007 03:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In P. Luk's book that's a double play. I didn't bother saying you were honest, AM, because I didn't think you needed the reassurance.

If in combat, a young soldier knows that the maximum effort, short and long term, will be undertaken to elicit maximum intelligence from an opponent he has risked his life to capture, then he is a whole lot less likely to take matters into his own hands. After all, having the man who just tried to kill you confront his own mortality, is small beans to those out where there are hawks and cats. I don't see why a civilization as sophisticated as ours can't get a decision tree about 'torture' so that intelligence is most effective, quickly and slowly, and bad intelligence gathering in combat is discouraged.
=============================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 03:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

that was me. And that my point was that that torture needs to be completely illegal, and that the nullification through a "necessity" defense not be available in US courts because of jury bias.

Thanks -- I apologize for not reviewing the thread, but it's a long one.

A.M.: I want people who feel the need to torture (or enhance their interrogation techniques, if you prefer) to always feel like their actions could put them in jail or subject them to crticism. This will limit it to cases like we had in 2001-2002

Again, A.M., you're mistaken, AFAIK -- the CIA made damn sure it got legal memos covering its techniques. Some of those, like the one expressly authorizing waterboarding & other tortures, have not yet been leaked.

As for "subject them to criticism," I am not sure exactly what that would deter.

Torture is wrong, period. There may be tragic instances where someone confronted with the prospect of alternative evils chooses torture ... if we can sufficiently identify with that choice, we may pity the person who made it. But Greek tragedy is not a basis for policy or law.

Posted by: Anderson at May 25, 2007 03:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is this man in front of me more useful alive or shall I confront him with death until he can no longer do so to me?
===================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 03:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Every soldier tortures, so you don't have to.
============================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 03:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jeez, Kim:

The man that the "young soldier" has just captured has already been confronted by his own mortality--at that very moment--if not before.

"Civilized," modern, countries such as France, Britain, and Israel have all attempted to do so. All have failed. The Bush Administration attempted to do so. How is it going? If it was a success, we would not be having this discussion.

Posted by: Tom S at May 25, 2007 03:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Twelve seems to be fairly sophisticated and selective refining. Remember, I don't think anything but waterboarding works. It will be improvised in the field if a mechanism for rapid acquisition of pertinent intelligence is not made available.
===============================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 04:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Of course the prisoner has just been made aware of his mortality. That's part of the point. If he has pertinent information(who doesn't on the battlefield), what's the big deal about confronting him again? Maybe something as benign as pointing a gun at his head?

I'm trying to make the point today that you don't need a 'ticking' or absurd scenario; look to the face of battle.
================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 04:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There is a perfect foil to perfect American power.

If an opponent knows upon capture he will waterboarded, housed and fed, he'll enter battle easily. If an American knows upon capture he will be tortured to the ennuyance of his captors, then killed, he'll enter battle most cautiously.

This virtually places American military power on a defensive, civil police basis, as it should be.
===============================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 04:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Toy with that 'greek tragedy' a bit, Kitto Kato. Maybe leave a little cheese out.
==========================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 04:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Question for Bill; under what conditions does iteration reveal the truth? Stone wills do not a prion make.
=======================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 04:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Best exit by Godot's bus; the moody, arachnic, sit in the back.
==========================================

Posted by: kim at May 25, 2007 04:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim:

I don't want to seem rude, but do you have the slightest idea what you are talking about?

As anyone who claims any knowledge of how terrorist groups will tell you, they are highly compartmentalized, use cut outs to pass communications along, and try very hard to make sure as few operatives as possible know any more than the minimum necessary for a given mission.

The person most likely to be captured is the mope who fires an AK-47 at a patrol. All he will know is that someone named Ahmed told him to do that at a particular time--if that. Torturing him will get you that information, which may narrow the scope of the investigation down to all men in the area named Ahmed (assuming that it wasn't a false name to begin with). What torture will also get is anything that the person will think you want to hear. The result will send the investigation off down any number of blind alleys.

You may have some kind of misplaced jones about equipping patrols with their own waterboards to use on anyone they happen to come across. Please explain what the hell you propose to accomplish with this, without attempting to put yourself inside the head of "young soldiers."

Posted by: Tom S at May 25, 2007 04:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is Kim posting puzzle clues from old issues of Harper's or the Atlantic?

I've never seen anything quite this weird in the trolling dep't.

Posted by: Anderson at May 25, 2007 04:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

Your May 22nd post essentially asks "If fully debated, would America support torture?" You are correct in asserting that we must quit with this "enhanced interrogation technique" BS and ask the question with clarity. That said, I'm not sure we'll like the answer.

It seems to me we're living in a time of growing nationalism. Nationalism, in and of itself, isn't bad (in truth, it is a neutral). In the right cases, it can lead to a righteous reawakening. These circumstances, however, have "America First" tendencies, a rather odious trend.

If the hysteria (distressingly bipartisan) over immigration is an indication, average Americans are experiencing a fear of "The Other." Obviously, this applies to Mexicans, but it no doubt, whether we admit it or not, also applies to Muslims. After all, the "logic" goes, "They" want to kill/ruin "Us." Clearly, if you believe in such a view, torture is not only acceptable, it is the only rational thing to do. You are right, torture brings us down to OBL's level (or closer to it, more accurately), but when people automatically make the "Us v. Them" distinction, they've already decided, no matter what we do, that "We" are better than "Them." In that light, torture won't phase folks.

Politically, while Americans turned against Bush/Cheney policy and the Iraq mess, I'm not convinced they actually questioned policy as much as they did execution. In essence, the belief that Americans voted to use more "soft power" isn't clear to me.

Ultimately, until we have an administration that truly speaks to, as you wrote, "our better angels," this feeling won't go away. Fear is powerful. That doesn't mean we quit the fight. Never. I just hope we're not deluding ourselves about our current state.

Posted by: Kevin A. at May 25, 2007 05:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great debate. Other than disparaging remarks which we could certainly now do without (guilty and penitent) it's a good hashing out of ideas. I don't know how much longer this will last, so here goes.

Seixon,

My post about torturing Karl Rove was, ummm.....a bit of snark but I was trying to illustrate a point, albeit one that others (h/t to Tom S especially) have made far better than I, but I'll indulge myself anyways.

I believe, in my partisan, straw-headed way, that Karl Rove is an enemy of the state; his machinations are corrosive to the very idea that we are a nation of laws and he needs to be brought to justice.

Now, because I feel this way, could I not rationalize that he is eligible for torture? Because that's the argument here; that torture should of course be prohibited except in extraordinary cases that it is deemed necessary. And I deem that it might be necessary. I believe that he is a threat to this nation and that he must be made to tell the truth by whatever means necessary.

and Kim,

That's the problem with the idea of 'exceptions' that the drafters of the Geneva Conventions so quaintly realized. If you don't make it an absolute prohibition, ways will always be found to 'rationalize' it in 'extreme circumstances'.

Back in the day, in the early Reagan years, I got my first credit card and I was just so proud. But I promised, promised myself, "I will only use this in cases of emergency". You can imagine how long that lasted.

Posted by: Patrick at May 26, 2007 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kevin A.,

When I was reading your post, that Sesame Street melody started wafting through my head that I remember from childhood, "two of these things are not like the other...."

What do Mexicans and Muslims have in common? This is at the crux of this immigration debate. Now, many white conservatives would singe their tongues on hot coals rather than admit it, but it's because this is a 'white' nation and they are fraught, fraught I say, with the idea that it might not always be so in the future.

So, from now on, everytime you hear a white conservative say through clenched teeth that 'we are a Christian nation' or some such drivel, remember what they 'really' mean.

(I'm white, by the way)

Posted by: Patrick at May 26, 2007 06:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What a bunch of pompous know-it-alls. You all need a thousand words to say what normal people could in ten because you love listening to yourselves.

Posted by: Norm at May 28, 2007 08:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator".

I wasn't aware the Catholics were consigning their god to non-omnipotent status. Comforting thing to have a god that is immune to the presence of inherent evil; hell, next thing ya' know they'll assume the Muslim jihadist perspective and posit that god honors (posthumously) that evil.

-resh

Posted by: reshufflex at May 29, 2007 09:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What a bunch of pompous know-it-alls. You all need a thousand words to say what normal people could in ten because you love listening to yourselves.

I don't think that's quite right. I think people need to talk about this, because if present policy is allowed to stand, it is a huge change from what Americans have supported in the past. Twenty years ago, there would be no dialog regarding the torture of prisoners. Most Americans would simply have said, "No. We don't do that. The Soviets might, the North Vietnamese might, the Chinese might, but not us."

Now, though, many Americans seem to think torture is a good idea. Or at least Torture Lite. At least some of the time. Is it because of the shock to our sense of security because of 9/11? Is it because we think the TV show 24 in any way represents reality? I do not know.

I only know I want no part of it. And that if torture gets codified into American legal systems, I won't be able to live in the country I was born in any more. Kim can chirp "waterboarding is safe and humane!" until her gills fall off, but I think every decent human being knows it is torture.

BTW - what's up with showing up at the end of a comment thread and calling all the posters pompous know-it-alls? What are you, then, lad?

Posted by: Jan Lewis at May 30, 2007 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And that if torture gets codified into American legal systems, I won't be able to live in the country I was born in any more."

Can we get past the melodrama, please. I hate to break the news to you but "torture" has been part of our jurisprudence since Plymouth Rock. We just call it by other names, like bondage and imprisonment.

And before you raise your eyebrows dismissively, when's the last time you spent a moment, a month or an extended weekend in the Eastern State Correctional Facility at Graterford? Or perhaps you can tell us how long you'd last at Rikers Island awaiting a hearing before a "torture-free" jurist? Go share an 8x10 concrete cell in the isolation ward at Sing-Sing for a summer in the fine company of tattoo Jose,' and get back to us....

And I shalln't even bother recounting the dispiriting legacy of Black Codes, Jim Crow or the Reconstructionist bylaws.

This notion that our legal system has been awash in a kind of Platonic purity is to torture our past-and our present. Reserve it for the virgins in criminal justice 101, please. The sad truth is that we have always condoned torture, just as common "civility" in every society has forever paid quiet homage to barbarity.

Sorry that the latest species of inhumanity has you left you aflutter. But your crocodile tears are a bit late to the party.

-resh


Posted by: reshufflex at May 30, 2007 02:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If anybody's still here, see this Marty Lederman post on today's NYT article: Phil Zelikow denounces the CIA program as "immoral," a study group says we haven't even *tried* serious interrogation, & much, much more.

Posted by: Anderson at May 30, 2007 03:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Reshufflex wrote:

"And before you raise your eyebrows dismissively, when's the last time you spent a moment, a month or an extended weekend in the Eastern State Correctional Facility at Graterford? Or perhaps you can tell us how long you'd last at Rikers Island awaiting a hearing before a "torture-free" jurist? Go share an 8x10 concrete cell in the isolation ward at Sing-Sing for a summer in the fine company of tattoo Jose,' and get back to us...".

I'll agree that all of that is horrid, distasteful, and not something to be proud of. We don't always protect folks as well as we should. (You'd probably say that was wrong, wouldn't you?)

One big difference, in my mind, is that the things you've cited are generally inflicted upon people who have been tried and convicted, not people who are simply suspects. (The holding cells cited above are a clear exception.)

Padilla, for example, was obviously on the wrong track and intent upon doing harm to other Americans -- but without due process, was forced to undergo a lot unpleasantries that have, it appears, sorely (and perhaps permanently) damaged the guy. Torture? By most standards. Two wrongs don't balance each other out.

You are right -- we have a checkered history. But, accepting some of the worst parts of that history, trivializing it, and then using it to justify further badness (isn't that what you're doing) isn't really a laudatory approach.

Posted by: Walt Sherrill at May 30, 2007 04:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And then there's this, from WWII:

Some of the experts involved in the interrogation review, called "Educing Information," say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion. "It far outclassed what we've done," said Steven M. Kleinman, a former Air Force interrogator and trainer, who has studied the World War II program of interrogating Germans. The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., "had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly," and prepared for four to six hours for each hour of questioning, said Mr. Kleinman, who wrote two chapters for the December report. Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in Iraq in 2003, called the post-Sept. 11 efforts 'amateurish' by comparison to the World War II program, with inexperienced interrogators who worked through interpreters and had little familiarity with the prisoners’ culture. The Intelligence Science Board study has a chapter on the long history of police interrogations, which it suggests may contain lessons on eliciting accurate confessions. And Mr. Borum, the psychologist, said modern marketing may be a source of relevant insights into how to influence a prisoner’s willingness to provide information. "We have a whole social science literature on persuasion," Mr. Borum said. "It's mostly on how to get a person to buy a certain brand of toothpaste. But it certainly could be useful in improving interrogation." Robert F. Coulam, a research professor and attorney at Simmons College and a study participant, said that the government’s most vigorous work on interrogation to date has been in seeking legal justifications for harsh tactics. Even today, he said, "there's nothing like the mobilization of effort and political energy that was put into relaxing the rules" governing interrogation.
Posted by: Patrick at May 30, 2007 07:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

W.Sherrill-

"One big difference, in my mind, is that the things you've cited are generally inflicted upon people who have been tried and convicted, not people who are simply suspects."

"Tried and convicted?" How comforting. Justice can now rest. Youre aware that most folks in prison are black, right? And youre aware that their being "tried and convicted" is virtually a foregone conclusion, right? (FYI: Mostly on plea agreements). If a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich, then a black man facing a state criminal proceeding is Swiss cheese. And in the south, he's mincemeat.

"Padilla, for example, was obviously on the wrong track and intent upon doing harm to other Americans -- but without due process,..."

Right. Due process. We aint all OJ. Smoke some more weed. The point is that getting oneself all worked up over a real or imagined terrorist being tortured and that serving as some sort of dispositive commentary on our decaying jurisprudence is rather hollow when nary a peep has been heard (usually by the same liberal horde) about our more proximate inmates.

Here's a novel idea: instead of worrying about, what? 100 terrorists possibly getting their (what-me?!) faces rearranged in Gitmo by some deranged CIA cult that sleeps with the darkside of the ex-Bush illuminati, how 'bout we focus on, oh, 250,000 kids per annum from the hood who've been tortured since birth? Just an idea.

Nah. Fcuk it. Our cri de coeur has more sting when we get to use the phrases Geneva Convention and illegal combatants. Now everybody on-line, suddenly, is Oliver Wendell Holmes and a constitutional law graduate. Torture this....


"But, accepting some of the worst parts of that history, trivializing it, and then using it to justify further badness (isn't that what you're doing) isn't really a laudatory approach."

I've justified squat. Don't need to. I've merely added perspective, some context, to these selective wails of torture that seem all the rage. Wake me up when our own folks can more routinely escape the patibulary tree, metaphorically speaking, of course. Then we can worry about some clown named Padilla, who'd know real torture when he gets a 10-year bit upstate.


-resh


Posted by: reshufflex at May 31, 2007 01:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,
Tom Maguire is beyond embarrassment, so don't worry about the possibility it might happen.

Posted by: Marky at May 31, 2007 07:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I didn't read the whole thread, but about the torturing of toddlers: John Yoo has said that the President has the inherent authority to order a child's testicles to be crushed.
This country may not be Nazi Germany yet, but it's not for lack of trying on the part of Yoo, Rove et al.

Posted by: Marky at May 31, 2007 07:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

reshufflex wrote:

"I've justified squat. Don't need to. I've merely added perspective, some context, to these selective wails of torture that seem all the rage. Wake me up when our own folks can more routinely escape the patibulary tree, metaphorically speaking, of course. Then we can worry about some clown named Padilla, who'd know real torture when he gets a 10-year bit upstate."

[“Patibulary.” That was a new one for me, and I read a lot… This forum is nothing, if not interesting.]

Don’t need to?

If we can overlook some of most important and long-established legal rules before things get really nasty, what's going to happen if things get really nasty.

Already we've seen American citizens who are ACCUSED of being "Enemy Combatants" thrown into jail and interrogated without a chance to defend themselves or to show that the accusations are false. Given that, what's to keep Government from claiming others – like you and me -- are also enemy combatants?

Torture, from my perspective, is a real concern because its use shows an unwillingness to observe the rules by those whose job it is to enforce the rules.

If the rules governing due process, habaes corpus, and wire taps are already compromised, and torture is a means justified by the end, what's next?

You seem to be saying that because we've not worried about other bad situations in our legal systems (and in American prisons), these newer problems are just trivial by comparison.

What do you propose, then?

Posted by: Walt Sherrill at May 31, 2007 06:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I second what Walt Sherrill says in the above post. How would Sexion & Reshufflex like to be mistaken as terrorists or maybe just a regular criminal? They don't think that will happen to them, it will only affect Moslems and other Black & Brown People? (Hey, we might as well get rid of these outdated concepts of habeas corpus, bail, fair trials & innocent untill proved guilty for every suspect, not just those accused of terrorism)

For an article about how the same phrase, "enhanced interrogation" and the same methods of torture were used by the Gestapo and what happened to those who used them see Andrew Sullivan's piece at http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/05/verschfte_verne.html

Posted by: David All at May 31, 2007 10:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

W/S-

"[“Patibulary.” That was a new one for me, and I read a lot… This forum is nothing, if not interesting.]"

Suggest you urge your reading lust to include Hugo's, "Last Days of a Condemned" and, namely, his pretext thereof entitled, '' Essay on Capital Punishment.''

I assure you that the patibulary tree will eagerly await you, as it did in Hugo's milieu too often, which prompted him to act via art as the bleeding heart.

"You seem to be saying that because we've not worried about other bad situations in our legal systems (and in American prisons), these newer problems are just trivial by comparison.

What do you propose, then?"

Our legal system is less injured by episodes of torture than it is by a constancy of inequity. For every one Padilla physically abused, there exists 1000 men in black or brown judicially wronged. Your loud cry is muted by a louder silence that society has long embraced; and that is the silence that condones expedient, utilitarian justice. The blind-eye within us. Get her done. We need to have our green-lawn neighborhood safe.

I propose that you quit having the tail wag the dog. Americans will burp and hiccup and exhale their moral disgust when they hear soapbox crusaders like you wax indignant about torture. Sure they will. For a moment.

But they won't really give a shit. Not really. Not in the heartland. Not in the classroom. Not in the bathroom. Not even in the courtroom. That's because we're creatures, victims and practioners of violence. (Tell me, now, secretly-just whisper it-how often you have committed psycho-rape, in the quiet of the night, and under the guise of that genuine affection? Never? Of course.)

Our cold-blooded DNA is now a hardwired meme, and that means that torture, ethically, is just the next floor up on the escalator of mood-swing penality. Fret over the putative torture of a suspected terrorist? You must be joking. Better we waste our time chasing phlogiston.

You want to stop torture? Change the way men see one another. Reshape the landscape. I wish you good luck. Not even Jesus was successful. Nor is Allah. We're not as far removed from the Nazis as we'd like to pretend. Not really. We're just safer.

For now.

-resh


Posted by: reshufflex at May 31, 2007 11:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You seem to say we can do virtually nothing about the injustices inflicted on black men and brown men -- because of more profound problems that underlie all of this.

Sounds as though you're saying there's no hope -- not just with addressing torture but with more critical issues.

So, how does your response, which seems genuinely heartfelt, really differ from the hardened Marine Recon troope who says, "Kill'em all and Let God Sort'em out"?

Well, you may be right, but if I can influence and fight part of the problem, I will -- until I'm convince (as you seem to be) that its wasted effort.

I don't think its the tail wagging the dog, as much as dog that has tremors.

Perhaps you're right -- but for a number of years, that ugly behavior (torture) wasn't even debated here in the US. It may have been done, but it certainly wasn't justified -- and it was closeted.

And I agree, we're not as far removed from Nazi as we'd like to think -- but isn't that true of any group or society? Humans don't see to function well in high concentrations, or with larger groups than a tribe or family (and some of those groups don't work for crap.)

One of the things that has helped us stay AS REMOVED (from the Nazis) as we have been is the rule of law. Hitler twisted the laws and ignored them. I'm concerned that it might be happening again.

Posted by: Walt Sherrill at June 1, 2007 03:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian, an international lawyer and business executive, comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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