May 17, 2007

Krulak on Torture (Sorry, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques)

Krulak/Hoar:

The American people are understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. But it is the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp. Regrettably, at Tuesday night's presidential debate in South Carolina, several Republican candidates revealed a stunning failure to understand this most basic obligation. Indeed, among the candidates, only John McCain demonstrated that he understands the close connection between our security and our values as a nation.

Tenet insists that the CIA program disrupted terrorist plots and saved lives. It is difficult to refute this claim -- not because it is self-evidently true, but because any evidence that might support it remains classified and unknown to all but those who defend the program.

These assertions that "torture works" may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. We don't know what's been gained through this fear-driven program. But we do know the consequences.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture -- only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works -- the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real "ticking time bomb" situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of "flexibility" about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone -- the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

To understand the impact this has had on the ground, look at the military's mental health assessment report released earlier this month. The study shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners in some situations. This underscores what we know as military professionals: Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences. Revelations of abuse feed what the Army's new counterinsurgency manual, which was drafted under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, calls the "recuperative power" of the terrorist enemy.

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, that is precisely the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits and thus loses its "recuperative power."

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

This is not just a lesson for history. Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.

It is time for us to remember who we are and approach this enemy with energy, judgment and confidence that we will prevail. That is the path to security, and back to ourselves. [emphasis added]

Charles Krulak (whom I met at an informative CFR event in London a few years back where he discussed the so-called "three-block war") was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999, and Joseph Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command in the early 90s. These are honorable military men of long experience and proven courage, not hacks playing to a peanut gallery for predictable applause from fearful masses looking for state protection under the guise of absurdly misguided notions of doubling Gitmo or taking the gloves off Jack Baeur style.

Indeed, those who would glibly declare "whatever" as they jump on the "enhanced interrogation techniques" bandwagon would do well to weigh people like Krulak and Hoar's thoughts on the matter, for they have far more standing, gravitas, and insight into the issue than such bloggers, not to mention Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani (this is nothing personal to Tom M, with whom I've been friendly, I just happened to pop over to his site and caught sight of the 'whatevs' post, and I guess it struck me as rather glib).

Meantime, I would urge all my readers to follow this old link and take the time to read the linked opinion (or at least the excerpted portions which, in particular, shed more light on the bolded portion of Krulak's piece above, which is to say, there is no such thing as a little torture, as the Law Lords wrote: "Once torture has become acclimatised in a legal system it spreads like an infectious disease, hardening and brutalising those who have become accustomed to its use").

Or as Justice Jackson put it in his Korematsu dissent:

"...once judicial approval is given to such conduct, it lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need. A single instance, if approved to meet the threat of international terrorism, would establish a principle with the power to grow and expand so that everything that falls within it would be regarded as acceptable."

This nation went through a very painful trauma with 9/11. But we cannot allow a combination of slavish faith in government protection via torture (or torture-lite), pop culture (see "Jack Bauer" anesthetizing dumbed-down television viewers to the horror of what state-sanctioned torture represents), and racially-tinged Islamophobia to lead us to accept a Romney-esque stance, which is to say, throw more of the assorted brownies into extra-territorial cages where basically all detainees are considered ticking bombs (when instead none really are, this is rather Hollywood scripted fare, truly one in a million stuff on the probability curve--as al-Qaeda operational cycles take years from planning to execution--so one has ample time to pursue more reliable interrogation tactics), and so it's off to the Gitmo races with water-boarding, sleep deprivation and menstrual 'blood' swabbing galore.

Some might be OK with the America this represents in the mirror, but I'm not, and nor are most of our leading uniformed men who've actually served and better understand the implications of tossing aside "quaint" notions like Geneva Convention norms, even if (supposedly) only within the rubric of CIA rather than US Army interrogation programs. I can't say it better than the Law Lords here:

That word honour, the deep note which Blackstone strikes twice in one sentence, is what underlies the legal technicalities of this appeal. The use of torture is dishonourable. It corrupts and degrades the state which uses it and the legal system which accepts it. When judicial torture was routine all over Europe, its rejection by the common law was a source of national pride and the admiration of enlightened foreign writers such as Voltaire and Beccaria. In our own century, many people in the United States, heirs to that common law tradition, have felt their country dishonoured by its use of torture outside the jurisdiction and its practice of extra-legal "rendition" of suspects to countries where they would be tortured: Just as the writ of habeas corpus is not only a special (and nowadays infrequent) remedy for challenging unlawful detention but also carries a symbolic significance as a touchstone of English liberty which influences the rest of our law, so the rejection of torture by the common law has a special iconic importance as the touchstone of a humane and civilised legal system. Not only that: the abolition of torture, which was used by the state in Elizabethan and Jacobean times to obtain evidence admitted in trials before the court of Star Chamber, was achieved as part of the great constitutional struggle and civil war which made the government subject to the law. Its rejection has a constitutional resonance for the English people which cannot be overestimated.

Frankly that in the 21st Century we here in the United States are debating the merits of habeas corpus and torture is profoundly shocking, and brings to mind Settembrini and Naphta's exchanges in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, which is to say, history doesn't advance in linear fashion defined by consistent progress, but perhaps moves more cyclically, with advances in human civilization constantly threatened by reverses. Or, as Dostoevsky put it in The Idiot: "Yes, the laws of self-preservation and of self-destruction are equally powerful in this world." Tom Tancredo, the crudest proponent of torture at the recent Republican Presidential debate, inadvertently stumbled upon this more profound issue, when he said (to cheap applause and laughter):

Well, let me just say that it's almost unbelievable to listen to this in a way. We're talking about -- we're talking about it in such a theoretical fashion. You say that -- that nuclear devices have gone off in the United States, more are planned, and we're wondering about whether waterboarding would be a -- a bad thing to do? I'm looking for "Jack Bauer" at that time, let me tell you. (Laughter, applause.)

And -- and there is -- there is nothing -- if you are talking about -- I mean, we are the last best hope of Western civilization. And so all of the theories that go behind our activities subsequent to these nuclear attacks going off in the United States, they go out the window because when -- when we go under, Western civilization goes under. So you better take that into account, and you better do every single thing you can as president of the United States to make sure, number one, it doesn't happen -- that's right -- but number two, you better respond in a way that makes them fearful of you because otherwise you guarantee something like this will happen.

Western civilization would indeed be grievously threatened by a terrorist nuclear attack in a major city, to be sure, but today we are perhaps at greater threat of imperiling Western civilization by contemplating discarding legal protections that have been with us since the Magna Carta was enshrined in 1215 (habeas corpus) or having the leading democracy on the planet accept torture as a legitimate tool of state power, which reverses basic human advances secured in the Enlightenment. Indeed, a nuclear attack, apart from the human carnage, would be equally threatening because it would doubtless lead to the erosion of bedrook legal principles that secure the basic democratic governance structures of this country. This is why Phil Bobbit spoke of 'stockpiling laws' (like we do vaccines) in this interview with the Spectator a few years back:

Secondly I think when you go to weapons of mass destruction you’re talking about just a completely different level of horror and disruption. And I think that these debates now, although I’m perplexed sometimes by the course they take, are really very, very important. We must come, as societies, to some understanding of what we’re facing, and in these times of tranquillity organise ourselves and debate about what we will do if a catastrophe should come to pass. We should stockpile laws for such an eventuality, just as we stockpile vaccines. Then I think we have an excellent chance of getting through these attacks with systems of consent in place. But if we don’t do that, if we say oh, get real, this isn’t another second world war, surely you’re exaggerating the threat, this couldn’t possibly threaten our society now! It hasn’t yet! And if you don’t use the democratic process to put laws in place now, then in a way you become the ally of the terrorists because when a truly terrible series of mass atrocities really does occur and you don’t have anything to fall back on, that’s when you get martial law, that’s when you get the system that’s in democratic collapse, and you become the source of terror yourself. No, Bin Ladin isn’t going to invade and occupy Westminster and put Mullah Omar in the House of Lords, he’s not going to take over. If Britain becomes a state of terror it will be because we did it to ourselves and we did it because we did not prepare when we had the time and the peace to do so by law and by consensual systems.The United States can do the same thing. If we are busy throwing away laws, the one steady craft we have to get through this, Washington will turn us into a state of terror, we’ll do it. We’ll embrace it enthusiastically.

These, really, are the stakes.

Posted by Gregory at May 17, 2007 01:30 PM
Comments

Hi,

I frequent the Belgravia Dispatch often, and as I suspect like other readers, I generally do not comment on a blog unless I disagree. However, I'm breaking the trend now, because I found this post rather compelling.

Setting briefly aside the unconscionability of allowing torture of any kind, the points which I found most convincing were:

1) The incredibly corrosive nature of allowing any leeway with respect to torture can easily undermine one of the pillars on which our society rests – ie, the legal system.

2) Democracies are not as weak as one might think, and if terrorists prevail it will likely result from liberal democracies undermining themselves. Despite much of the myth making surrounding Ignatieff’s The Lesser Evil, the old Harvard prof makes some good points, including this one. Terrorists do not aim to take over liberal democracies, but rather to cause them to implode.

Great post !

Posted by: Canadian Tar Heel at May 17, 2007 05:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree. If you'd have told me ten years ago that this nation would be debating whether to use torture, and whether Habeas Corpus was really called by our Constitution I'd had said you were mad.
We've slipped so far down the slope that I'm not sure we can back up.

Posted by: gregdn at May 17, 2007 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, as long as we keep feeding the masses banalities in the form of walmart, megachurches, and American Idol, I think Yoo's dream of a new American suit-and-tie fascist state will be well within reach.

Posted by: no worries here at May 17, 2007 09:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Naphta and Settembrini certainly seem to have been right. My only hope is that there's a way out of it short of Settembrini's solution. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book.)

Aside from whether there's an inexorable law of history at work here (one thinks also of Immanuel Kant's dictum that progress in history will happen over a VERY long time-scale, thirty steps forward and twenty-nine steps back), one wonders exactly what the Republican base's newfound thirst for blood and authoritarian rule says about American civil society. I used to think that, when push came to shove, my fellow Americans across the spectrum had a near-universal commitment to civic values such as due process (however construed), the rule of law, and disgust for crimes against human dignity. Now I'm far from sure. Was this present before 9/11, but something about our civil society kept a lid on it? Did 9/11 induce it, like a wound going septic?

Posted by: Brian at May 17, 2007 10:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Brian: "Was this present before 9/11, but something about our civil society kept a lid on it? Did 9/11 induce it, like a wound going septic?"
Brian, I am afraid the answer to both question is yes. 9/11 affected the US & its people, greatly. It scared us, made us fearful and ready to rally behind whoever was in charge and do whatever they said had to be done in order to prevent an equal or greater terrorist attack. We did not pause to question what we were told to do or not to do or to ignore (Guantamano, enemy combatants, idefenite detention without trial, etec.) Few people question these things at the time or for several years thereafter. It is only in the last two or three years that as the Iraq War dragged on, no WMDs found there or anywhere else our troops were at that a majority of people have awaken and shaked off the Fear induced by 9/11 and started to realize the depth this reckless, incompetent Administration has led us into. And I say we, I include myself in this.
And yes, there will be realize be fearmongers lurking in the shadows waiting for the right climate to flourish in. Our Eternal Virgilance has to be directed at them as while as the Terrorists.

Posted by: David All at May 17, 2007 10:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Meant to say: " will always be fearmongers lurking"

Posted by: David All at May 17, 2007 11:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Don't ever even as a joke use the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" and certainly don't apologize for calling torture what it is

Posted by: sm at May 18, 2007 12:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Right-Wing Nationalists are a couple of terrorist acts away from becoming full fledged Fascists.

This group is so without self-reflection and irony, they would commit mass death in the name of Liberty.

Posted by: someotherdude at May 18, 2007 02:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Torture does work--when you already know what you want the victim to say. Marvin Harris had a good deal to say about this in a book called Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture (ISBN 0-679-72468-0). Can't recommend it enough.

He talks about witch-hunts, but the principles still apply. The idea behind torture then was to generate a culture of fear, not of torture directly, but of the witches that torture manufactured. Same thing now with 'terrorism'.

Terrorism itself is a minor problem. 29,569 Americans killed in 2004 by other Americans using guns, and let's not even talk about the far larger number slaughtered by cars. Barring perhaps a thousand Americans killed occupying Muslim lands in the same year, the number killed by Islamists was what, zero?

There are really only two ways any ruling class can legitimize its power: one is to provide good governance, the other is to pose as a defender against external threats. From the point of view of those at the top, the great thing about the 'defender of the people' pose is that pressure to rein in corruption completely evaporates--it simply becomes irrelevant.

Hence the 'War on Terror', a conflict plainly designed to have no end, as the methods used to pursue it are creating an ever-expanding pool of angry and bitter people, who have genuine cause to hate America. So you see, torture does have a purpose, just not the one the politicians claim for it.

The whole 'terrorist' paradigm is a nice trap, actually. It's bullshit, of course, but since it is tied in to the war in Iraq, the American people as a whole are in a bind. To reject the 'War on Terror' as a description of reality, they have to accept that the war in Iraq is fundamentally criminal. I suppose they could always disown responsibility for the war, but that would mean accepting that they no longer live in a democracy, an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Posted by: RLaing at May 18, 2007 02:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

this is nothing personal to Tom M, with whom I've been friendly, I just happened to pop over to his site and caught sight of the 'whatevs' post, and I guess it struck me as rather glib

"Been friendly"? I hope the present tense is appropriate.

And yes, I was a bit glib, but one of my many concepts is that "torture" is an elusive concept. Quoting a commenter above:

If you'd have told me ten years ago that this nation would be debating whether to use torture, and whether Habeas Corpus was really called by our Constitution I'd had said you were mad.

I think we are debating whether, for example, playing loud music is "torture". I don't believe any of the Republican candidates would favor electric shocks, dismemberment, or beatings, for example. Is waterboarding, which is scary but part of SERE training for our own troops, "torture" in the medieval sense? I don't know why we can't debate that. And the debate moderator did posit a ticking bomb scenario.

As to the corrosive effect of the use of "torture" - I agree that Rumsfeld messed up the distinctions with Abu Ghraib, but - I don't know why we can't have a "No Enhanced Techniques" rule for the military and separate rules for special prisoners in special CIA prisons. That was the plan in Iraq, as I understand it - Krulak/Hoar say a breakdown in discipline is inevitable, but I don't see why. What happendd to "People follow orders or other people die"?

Anyway, this from Krulak/Haor is laughable:

Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars.

Check a few beheading videos and tell me whether the enemy really needed our use of torture as their motivater.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at May 18, 2007 02:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think we are debating whether, for example, playing loud music is "torture".

Why does GD respect this guy? WHO is debating that, exactly? Save it for the Rush Limbaugh Gospel Hour.

Is waterboarding, which is scary but part of SERE training for our own troops, "torture" in the medieval sense?

Medieval has nothing to do with it; it's torture in the UN Convention Against Torture sense. Severe mental pain -- you want to say feeling like you're drowning isn't that? Go ahead, it'll be like a signed confession of your own stupidity.

(Leaving aside the not slight difference between CONSENTING to be waterboarded as part of one's training, and having it FORCED on you ... over and over ... until you tell them what they want to hear. Is that really difficult to grasp? How can anyone make the "SERE" argument in good faith? I don't think you did, actually.)

When your pet technique is one that's been employed chiefly by the Spanish Inquisition, the NKVD, and the Khmer Rouge, that should tell you something.

separate rules for special prisoners in special CIA prisons.

Yes, that *was* "the plan," wasn't it? And yet the plan failed, and torture "spread like wildfire," just like the generals you mock said it does.

Why should we act like the burden of proof is on those who oppose torture? It's not. You've got two top generals who say it's no good ... why should we listen to some Republican tool with a blog instead of them? THAT is the first question Maguire should be answering.

Posted by: Anderson at May 18, 2007 04:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, dudes, but we don't really care what the UN says about torture, or anything else for that matter. If you want to know what torture really is, I've devoted a couple of posts over at napoleon15.blogspot.com to the subject. Suffice it to say, loud music and sleep deprivation are not torture. If the USA was actually practicing torture such as I described in my post, you would have reason to complain.

Posted by: napoleon15 at May 18, 2007 04:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, dudes, but we don't really care what the UN says about torture

Pretty wacky of us to sign the convention then, wasn't it?

I will note an error in my previous comment -- the sensation of drowning is physical, not "mental."

Posted by: Anderson at May 18, 2007 04:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I posted the following almost verbatim at Napoleon15 blog site after hearing him so dismissively refer to "loud music" as not being torture. It absolutely is torture. Does anyone remeber "A Clock Work Orange" which by the way is not where I get my 'fun facts' on how musice can be used to torture people.

"Many of the techniques used today are sometimes even worse than the non-lethal techniques of years ago, because they have been scientifically engineered to be worse. The "loud music" (and "yelling" which is always paired together helps to hide the nefarious nature of it) "We can't yell at them?" people insist this is "hogwash." But it is the loud music they forget about, not just obnoxiously loud music but really loud music (over 120-130 decibels you can feel sound). It is so loud you can feel it and loud enough to literally split your ear drums, and make your ears bleed and make your brain shake within your cranium. Loud enough to disrupt the functioning and homeostatis of your internal organs and systems. After 24 hours of this it is enough to do absolutly crippling damage to a person that is irreprable. I know you are probably going to think I am some sort of wussy liberal or crazy leftist for saying so but this meets my definition of torture, even if not yours.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at May 18, 2007 05:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Waterboarding is an easy case; it's a mock execution, which the law defines as torture. It's actually an especially brutal mock execution, because it physically feels like you are drowning--"severe physical suffering" for sure. (Pain, I couldn't speak to, never having been waterboarded).

"Stress positions" are, in many cases, far more painful than a beating. They have this tendency to lead to prisoners' deaths. As has hypothermia, at least once.

I won't convince Maguire and neither will you, btw. He's a genteel apologist for torture, perhaps, but after a certain point an assumption of good faith is not warranted. Anyone who talks about "loud music" as if it's turning up the stereo a bit...

Posted by: Katherine at May 18, 2007 06:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom MacGuire's point about the desirability of debate on the line between acceptable interrogation techniques and torture is fine as an academic matter.

The problem is that we have five-odd years of experience now. We can't address Krulak and Hoar's argument that very aggressive interrogation techiniques used in a restricted way by a severely restricted number of people will inevitably end up being used less discriminately by much larger numbers of people without addressing the fact that this is precisely what happened, to the great detriment of American interests particularly in Iraq.

Whether or not this was inevitable, in an intellectual sense, is not nearly as interesting a question as it might have been in late 2001. We don't get to go back to the beginning, alter a few variables, and see if a new trial would disprove the Krulak/Hoar hypothesis. I might have argued with the hypothesis a few years ago, but whether it is right in the abstract now has to take a back seat to the fact that it has been manifested in real life.

Posted by: Zathras at May 18, 2007 06:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The word 'torture' is re-iterated again and again without any effort to define it. The result is that my 'harsh treatment' becomes some one else's 'torture'.

However, one thing is true beyond any argument - torture in the extreme sense of the word - *does* work. Simply read the history of the underground networks in Germany and occupied Europe during WWII.

Again and again, as in the discussion above, I see the old confusion between police and intelligence interrogations. The former are looking for a *confession* and so it is true that the prisoner will tell you what you want to hear (which *may* or may not be true), where-as the latter are looking for *information*.

Let me provide my own definition of what I call 'harsh treatment'. At no time should the prisoner be touched by hand or instrument apart from necessary shackling and guiding (they would be hooded). No technique should be used which a normally healthy man or woman would not recover from in a matter of hours. No information gathered from these techniques should be used in a court of law. There should be a maximum time limit. On that basis, anything else goes!

I absolutely agree with the main post that the rules of interrogation should be debated and agreed *before* the need for them is obvious amongst the radio-active ruins! It is, in my view, exactly the 'shock-horror' of 9/11 that led to the over-hasty set-up of Guantanamo. (None the less, I suspect an unbelievable amount of information was, and is, gained from that place.)

For us in the UK, at the moment, I see no need for an interrogation centre to be set up - *but the plans for it* should be.

Posted by: David Duff at May 18, 2007 08:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, one other thing. Please don't quote the English Law Lords. They're so wet you could shoot snipe off them! The current Lord Chief Justice recently opined that burglars should not be sent to prison. Having recently been burgled you can imagine my response to that!

Posted by: David Duff at May 18, 2007 09:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

However, one thing is true beyond any argument - torture in the extreme sense of the word - *does* work. Simply read the history of the underground networks in Germany and occupied Europe during WWII..... No technique should be used which a normally healthy man or woman would not recover from in a matter of hours.

are you suggesting that the methods used in occupied Europe were among those that could be recovered from in a matter of hours?

My solution is simple. Keep torture illegal -- and prosecute those who engage in torture to the fullest extent of the law. If there really is a "ticking time bomb", and our leaders are convinced that a suspect has vital information, they should be willing to sacrifice their freedom and authorize torture, then resign and turn themselves over for prosecution to international authorities within 24 hours --- this would ensure that torture was employed only in the most extreme cases, and demonstrate to the world that the US does not condone torture.

**************
Today's Time story on the search for the 3 missing Americans includes this quote

"As of Wednesday at noon, the unit responsible for the area — Second Brigade, 10th Mountain Division — said it had received more than 140 tips, in addition to intelligence gleaned from the more than 700 detainees arrested since the search started. "

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/18/world/middleeast/18search.html?hp

One can only imagine how the arrest (and treatment) of these 700 "detainees" has contributed to the "recuperative powers" of anti-US forces in the region.

(there is also the question of force deployment here. According to the Times article "[t]housands of soldiers are searching for three missing Americans taken during the attack". That is "thousands of soldiers" who have been diverted from their primary missions in order to assuage a PR disaster, and maintain morale among the troops. While the US should make a considerable effort to find captive soldiers, the deployment of "thousands" strongly suggests that the military recognizes that its current strategy is doomed to failure, and that gains will not materialize that would balance the loss of three members of the US military.)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 18, 2007 01:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If we are busy throwing away laws, the one steady craft we have to get through this, Washington will turn us into a state of terror, we’ll do it. We’ll embrace it enthusiastically.

The enduring lesson of 9/11 is that the United States is a great country but Americans are not a great people. Nothing will change that.

I hope torture defenders are thinking about the American soldiers captured in Iraq.

Posted by: odradek at May 18, 2007 01:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have a hope that the debate reflects not a national deterioration, but rather how completely the current leadership of the Republican party (not to say, therefore, the Republican party generally - call me a pollyanna but I gotta believe most people are still in touch with their humanity) has lost it's way, is without a moral compass, flailing in the stinking, mucky bog of unbridled jingoism because they have nothing else to offer a public hungry for solutions and instead can only try pathetically to whip up and appeal to the basest of our human emotions. I hope that the remaining statesmen of the Republican party will come forward and lead. Our country thrives with two functional political parties; if one becomes bankrupt of leadership and implodes, there is no opposing voice coming from a place of reason to challenge the policies of the remaining party.

Posted by: Liz at May 18, 2007 02:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mr. Lukasiak, I was not suggesting anything concerning the methods used by the Gestapo in WWII. I was merely refuting the silliness of the oft-repeated mantra that "torture doesn't work". The fact is that it works a treat!

Nor was I suggesting that we use it. However, I was advocating the pre-planning for the use of 'harsh treatment' should, as seems dead certain, militant Muslims increase the power and scope of their attacks on us. That is why I approve the words of Phil Bobbit quoted above.

Posted by: David Duff at May 18, 2007 02:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David Duff, you describe "harsh treatment" as follows:

"At no time should the prisoner be touched by hand or instrument apart from necessary shackling and guiding (they would be hooded). No technique should be used which a normally healthy man or woman would not recover from in a matter of hours. No information gathered from these techniques should be used in a court of law. There should be a maximum time limit. On that basis, anything else goes."

Would you include threatening a man's wife and children with rape and torture? What if you had the wife in child in custody? Or in the same room as the suspect, with a gun to their heads? How about simulated execution? Water-boarding? Other forms of extreme psychological pressure? Is post traumatic stress syndrome a real "injury"? Is anything that "doesn't leave a mark" on the body okay?

More to the point, the "harsh treatment" you describe is, generally speaking, already permitted under the law (besides the psychological torture I mention). Sleep deprivation and loud music probably aren't torture if there is a reasonable "maximum time limit" and a "normally healthy man or woman" would recover in a matter of hours. But then, such techniques are not very "harsh" when you constrain them in these ways, are they? Any one of us could deal with a few hours of loud music - so what's the point of having a "maximum time limit"? Torture-lite techniques only become effective when there are no maximum time limits - when the constant presence of loud music and the total lack of sleep finally starts to take its toll on the human psyche. Three hours ain't gonna do it. Neither is 12 hours. 36 hours? Now you're getting warmer. That's when the delusions, paranoia, and psychosis start kicking in. How about 22 hours a day for a month (with three hours of daily interrogation in between)? That's how you really soften them up.

What will your "maximum time limit" be?

When it gets down to it, you can't have it both ways. Something that is "somewhat harsh" isn't going to have the coercive impact you're looking for. There is no point in keeping a prisoner awake for 15 hours...or forcing them to listen to two or three consecutive Mettalica albums. If you want the "harsh" effect - the torture effect, really - you need to carry these techniques to the extreme. Otherwise it's pretty pointless. You can't get the desired effect of torture without...you know...torturing. You're not going to annoy the terrorists into confessing, after all.

Besides, you sound like a reasonable guy. The military's own records document them using senstory deprivation, ultra-loud music, cold rooms, stress positions, and sleep deprivation for weeks on end, until the detainees suffer total mental and physical breakdowns. Even if decent people can disagree about "maximum time limits" and degrees of reasonable harshness, we should be able to agree that what the military has been doing goes far, far beyond human decency.

Posted by: owenz at May 18, 2007 03:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, I don't have Marshall McLuhan on my side, but John McCain agrees with me that in extreme cases torture is appropriate - is that even more impressive?

Just re-read his debate answer or his follow-up with Sean Hannity - I'll even add emphasis so the clear and deep thinkers here can prepare criminal indictments.

SEN. MCCAIN: If I knew for sure that they had that kind of information, I, as the president of the United States, would take that responsibility. That is a million-to-one scenario. But only I would take that responsibility.

The use of torture -- we could never gain as much we would gain from that torture as we lose in world opinion. We do not torture people.

When I was in Vietnam, one of the things that sustained us, as we went -- underwent torture ourselves, is the knowledge that if we had our positions reversed and we were the captors, we would not impose that kind of treatment on them.

It's not about the terrorists, it's about us. It's about what kind of country we are. And a fact: The more physical pain you inflict on someone, the more they're going to tell you what they think you want to know.

It's about us as a nation. We have procedures for interrogation in the Army Field Manual. Those, I think, would be adequate in 999,999 of cases, and I think that if we agree to torture people, we will do ourselves great harm in the world.

Do you suppose it is a coincidence that he mentioned "one in a million" and 999,999?

Here he is with Hannity, for those who couldn't keep up:

HANNITY: He just mentioned the issue of this scenario that Brit Hume brought up about interrogation. And you took a different stand than some of your colleagues. Do you want to expand on that a little bit?

MCCAIN: Well, I have the same standard as Colin Powell, General Vessey, literally every retired military person. It's interesting, the divide between those who have served in the military and those who haven't. It's fascinating. I read a letter from Colin Powell when we had the debate on the floor of the Senate. That's probably why we got 95 votes.

In an extreme situation the president takes responsibility, and we do whatever is necessary to prevent an attack. Otherwise, we don't torture people. And if you think that you get accurate information out of torturing people, then I don't think you know enough about the technique in the situation.

HANNITY: Let me help you out. But how far can we go in a scenario like that? I guess this is a difficult question. In other words, we know what torture is. You can define it if you are cutting off their limbs, if you are beating them. But how aggressive can we get in ...

MCCAIN: Well, let's talk about waterboarding. That kept coming up. Do you know where that was invented? In the Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition. Do we want to do things that were done in the Spanish Inquisition except in the most extreme case? I don't think so.

Presumably some of you will want to pretend he is not endorsing torture in extreme cases there, but the rest of us can read, thanks.

And perhaps I can solicit a bit of help from the deep-thinkers here - folks who support enhanced interrogation do so because they are:

(a) racist (the original post includes the phrase "racially-tinged Islamophobia")

(b) sadistic

(c) sociopathic

(d) all of the above.

I don't dare propose (f) which is that wartime forces a number of ghastly situations onto people and nations.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at May 18, 2007 03:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

According to America’s right-wing; rape is bad however sexual molestation is good.

Posted by: someotherdude at May 18, 2007 03:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David Duff, you describe "harsh treatment" as follows:

"At no time should the prisoner be touched by hand or instrument apart from necessary shackling and guiding (they would be hooded). No technique should be used which a normally healthy man or woman would not recover from in a matter of hours. No information gathered from these techniques should be used in a court of law. There should be a maximum time limit. On that basis, anything else goes."

Would you include threatening a man's wife and children with rape and torture? What if you had the wife in child in custody? Or in the same room as the suspect, with a gun to their heads? How about simulated execution? Water-boarding? Other forms of extreme psychological pressure? Is post traumatic stress syndrome a real "injury"? Is anything that "doesn't leave a mark" on the body okay?

More to the point, the "harsh treatment" you describe is, generally speaking, already permitted under the law (besides the psychological torture I mention). Sleep deprivation and loud music probably aren't torture if there is a reasonable "maximum time limit" and a "normally healthy man or woman" would recover in a matter of hours. But then, such techniques are not very "harsh" when you limit them in these ways, right? Any one of us could deal with a few hours of loud music - so what's the point of having a "maximum time limit"? Torture-lite techniques only become effective when there are no maximum time limits - when the constant presence of loud music and the total lack of sleep finally starts to take its toll on the human psyche. Three hours ain't gonna do it. Neither is 12 hours. 36 hours? Now you're getting warmer. That's when the delusions, paranoia, and psychosis start kicking in. How about 22 hours a day for a month (with three hours of daily interrogation in between)? That's how you really soften them up.

What will your "maximum time limit" be?

When it gets down to it, you can't have it both ways. Something that is "somewhat harsh" isn't going to have the coercive impact you're looking for. There is no point in keeping a prisoner awake for 15 hours...or forcing them to listen to two or three consecutive Metallica albums. If you want the "harsh" effect - the torture effect, really - you need to carry these techniques to the extreme. Otherwise it's pretty pointless. You can't get the desired effect of torture without...you know...torturing. You're not going to annoy the terrorists into confessing, after all.

Besides, you sound like a reasonable guy. The military's own records document them using sensory deprivation, ultra-loud music, cold rooms, stress positions, and sleep deprivation for weeks on end, until the detainees suffer total mental and physical breakdowns. These techniques are effective because there is no time limit. The media likes to portray the torture-lite techniques as if they were a menu, with the military using one at a time on some hapless detainee. The military’s own records indicate this is not the case – that all of the techniques are used at the same time, over extremely long periods of time, with the express purpose of breaking the detainee’s mind completely. Detainees will face a constant barrage of cold rooms, sleep deprivation, loud music, and water boarding for weeks on end, without end. And they break. Totally.

Even if decent people can disagree about "maximum time limits" and degrees of reasonable harshness, we should be able to agree that what the military has been doing goes far, far beyond human decency.

Posted by: owenz at May 18, 2007 04:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Better yet, the Republican Party’s mantra: “We don’t rape, we sexually molest.”

Posted by: someotherdude at May 18, 2007 04:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Well, I don't have Marshall McLuhan on my side, but John McCain agrees with me that in extreme cases torture is appropriate - is that even more impressive?

Well, you'll have that in a presidential primary with a party of wing nuts.

But then again, McCain was against torture before he was for it so I suppose that makes him an unacceptable flip flopper.

Obviously, to defeat our enemies we need intelligence, but intelligence that is reliable. We should not torture or treat inhumanely terrorists we have captured. The abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war effort. In my experience, abuse of prisoners often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear—whether it is true or false—if he believes it will relieve his suffering. I was once physically coerced to provide my enemies with the names of the members of my flight squadron, information that had little if any value to my enemies as actionable intelligence. But I did not refuse, or repeat my insistence that I was required under the Geneva Conventions to provide my captors only with my name, rank and serial number. Instead, I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse. It seems probable to me that the terrorists we interrogate under less than humane standards of treatment are also likely to resort to deceptive answers that are perhaps less provably false than that which I once offered.
Posted by: Davebo at May 18, 2007 04:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom Maguire skipped one:

(e) Bed wetters.

Posted by: odradek at May 18, 2007 04:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Owenz, I have some small experience of this and I can tell you that men who are tired, cold, hungry, thirsty, disorientated and fearful will do or say all sorts of things and will allow themselves to be trapped and tricked into indiscretions they would not normally permit themselves. Of course, once you get a tiny hook into one of them it's only a matter of time before you get many others, and so it goes on. And, I might add, all without laying a finger on them and I can assure you that a healthy man or woman would recover within hours.

As to the time limit, I was *deliberately* vague for two reasons. First, different prisoners would be graded differently from 'rank & file' to 'Generals' and each would need a different approach and a varying time. Second, it would be a big mistake to indicate to your enemy how long they might have to resist. The powers that be would have to decide but then keep it to themselves.

Posted by: David Duff at May 18, 2007 05:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have no idea what methods "worked a treat" in occupied Europe, but my guess is that those methods worked best against people who were not trained agents, and thus had few if any techniques for resisting torture. Also, I don't know what "worked" means: did the Gestapo get false confessions of resistance activity? Undoubtedly. Did they get names? Very likely - and if some of those names were people who were not, in fact, Resistance agents, would the Germans have cared, and would we ever know? No on both counts.

What we're talking about here isn't false confessions, but actionable intelligence. And we're not talking about torturing someone who used to be a baker or a school teacher, but someone who is a trained agent - someone, moreover, motivated to count their own life as nothing if the plot succeeds.

The value of a captive is inversely proportional to what torture would get out of that person: the more likely they are to have usable information, the less likely they are to give accurate, usable information under torture. A cook, a chauffeur, an errand runner is, perhaps, more likely to break... but what can they tell you that's going to do you any good? Maybe they'll give you the name of their cadre leader. Great: now you have to find and capture him, - which, one, will take time; and two, chances are he'll be a lot better at giving you false information.

Also, and it's a shame to have to keep pointing this out, but trained, experienced, professional interrogators keep lining up one after the other to say torture does not work.

I'd listen to them before I'd listen to people who persist in believing that Jack Bauer is a real person, and that "24" portrays real events. It absolutely floored me how many of the GOP candidates seem not to realize that. I wish, oh how I wish, all you "24" fans would just have conventions where you dress like your favorite characters and buy memorabilia, or even write fanfic torture porn, rather than demand that real life follow your fantasies.

Posted by: CaseyL at May 18, 2007 08:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Also, and it's a shame to have to keep pointing this out, but trained, experienced, professional interrogators keep lining up one after the other to say torture does not work.

Did you ever meet a house painter who advocated aluminum siding?

From the Times recently:

“The detainee gave us names from the highest to the lowest,” Captain Fowler told the Iraqi soldiers. “He showed us their safe houses, where they store weapons and I.E.D.’s and where they keep kidnap victims, how they get weapons, where weapons come from, how they place I.E.D.’s, attack us and go away. Because you detained this guy this is the first intelligence linking everything together. Good job. Very good job.”

The Iraqi officers beamed. What the Americans did not know and what the Iraqis had not told them was that before handing over the detainees to the Americans, the Iraqi soldiers had beaten one of them in front of the other two, the Iraqis said. The stripes on the detainee’s back, which appeared to be the product of a whipping with electrical cables, were later shown briefly to a photographer, who was not allowed to take a picture.

Maybe it works sometimes. Or maybe multiple cultures have been wasting their efforts for multiple millenia.

Or from a different perspective, in this Times magazine piece Joseph Lelyveld (a former exec editor there) interviewed experts worldwide and concluded, among many other things, that the experts think that the *threat* of physical coercion is a useful interrogation tactic but they offer few examples of torture itself providing actionable intelligence.

So - can I publicly threaten to torture people, even if I don't actually do it? Won't that shatter my world standing?

And I continue to be utterly unimpressed by Kurlak/Hoar (and I am sure the feeling would be mutual):

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture -- only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works -- the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real "ticking time bomb" situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of "flexibility" about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone -- the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

Well, Rumsfeld's critics fault him for introducing some flexibility in the DoD after the CIA was given special interrogation rules. Which is it - was Rumsfeld at fault, or was the spread of torture through the military "like wildfire" inevitable after Tenet and Bush worked out a CIA deal?

Since the generals cite "any degree of "flexibility" about torture at the top", I infer that Rumsfeld could have simply said the military does not get to use CIA rules, and we would have avoided problems at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. In which case, where's the fire?

Posted by: Tom Maguire at May 18, 2007 10:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So Maguire is arguing that waterboarding (one of the commonest techniques used by the Inquisition and Pol Pot, and described by the US military courts trying Japanese military officers as "torture"), or long-term sleep deprivation (one of the favorite techniques of Stalin, and described by both Solzhenitsyn and Menachem Begin as "torture") may not be torture? Interesting.

As for his statement that there are "one in a million" cases in which it may be permissible (our famous Ticking Nuclear Bomb), dare one point out that George Washington and the US government in the Pacific War both said it was flatly impermissible -- despite the fact that America's survival was definitely in danger, and that our opponents weren't reciprocating, in both cases? They did so on the grounds that torture provides very little useful information, but DOES mass-produce new America-haters. Which, of course, is especially true in the current case, given that our enemy is potentially the world's entire population of Moslems.

And can we compromise on the idea that -- in those extremely rare cases in which torture may be morally and strategically defensible -- the decision as to whether to use it had damned well better not be left to one man, whether that man is a local CIA officer, the Secretary of Defense, or the President? If we are going to insist on going ahead with this, set up a Permissible Torture Court similar to the FISA Court, and require a supermajority vote of the justices to approve it. And call the court that, rather than engaging in dangerous euphemisms of the type we're so familiar with by now.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 18, 2007 11:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Postscript for Maguire, since he apparently is one of those who can't keep up: note McCain's statement that "In an extreme situation the president TAKES RESPONSIBILITY, and we do whatever is necessary to prevent an attack."

Obvious translation: in an extreme situation, the President orders torture even though it is still illegal -- and is then willing to run the risk of being impeached and prosecuted if 2/3 of the Senate, a D.A., and all 12 members of a jury agree that it was NOT justified under the circumstance. All of which is readily agreed to by virtually all strong opposers of torture (see Brad Delong on the subject, as just one example). What the President, and his underlings, do NOT do is hide behind legal technicalities, as Maguire apparently still wants them to do.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 18, 2007 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Never thought the day would come when it took a pair of retired four-star Marine Generals to remind the elected Civilian leaders of this country of such elemental decency of not allowing torture and of the need to follow such basic international agreements as the Geneva Conventions. And yes, the US should follow these Conventions even if the Enemy does not. In WWII, we treated the relatively few Japanese POWs according to the Geneva Conventions even Japan did not and was treating our POWs with savage brutality resulting in deaths of thousands of American, British, Fillipino and other Allied soldiers.

Proposed Republican Slogans for 2008 Presidential Campaign:

1.) War is Peace!

2.) Freedom is Slavery!

3.) Ignorance is Strength!

(Seem to recall these slogans from someplace, cannot recall exactly where though!)

PS: One more suggestion, perhaps the Republicans can re-write post 9-11 history by replacing true facts with "good facts" that support their Party Line*

*Hat tip to Sci-Fi series in which a future Earth Govt. was re-writing history with that phrase. Can anybody guess which series that was?

Posted by: David All at May 18, 2007 11:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I also see that Maguire, in his 10:24 PM entry, is now peddling the same hilarious "compromise" as "Cassandra" over at http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/ : don't necessarily use torture, but leave all your prisoners with the IMPRESSION that you MIGHT use it. It's just a wee bit hard to see how we could pull this off without actually engaging in torture fairly often; and it's also rather hard to see how conveying the public impression that we are using torture although we actually aren't using it wouldn't create the worst of all possible worlds, given what it would continue to do to our image in the eyes of the world's Moslems.

As for his pooh-poohing of the idea that the fact that our troops know that torture is sometimes permissible wouldn't encourage them to use it themselves -- especially since the government has never gotten around to stating the specific conditions under which torture is or absolutely is NOT allowed -- really....

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 19, 2007 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I seem to recall that during "the good war" against Fascist Germany and Imperial Japan American service men were not particularly squeamish about torture and summary execution of prisoners. It was probably not authorized "at the highest levels," but only because those exalted personages simply assumed that those in contact with the enemy would do anything and everything to win. Interestingly, torture did not become a raging disease among them, else we would have seen the fruits of it among the returning GIs. No such thing happened. Most were grieved by the foul nature of the deeds that victory required of them in that struggle, and I know men who will never be at peace with themselves on that account. The charge that any recourse to organized unpleasantness against our foes will utterly corrupt us is thus refuted.

That was, of course, then, this is now. Now victory has been ruled off limits, the extreme efforts and sacrifices required to achieve it are no longer needed and are discouraged and outlawed. We fight now, not to achieve a physical victory over a cruel and ruthless foe, but to demonstrate to a jeering, unconvinced world that we are morally superior. Now we must refrain form fanning the enemy's ire, lest he grow even more wrathful. As if his attacks against us over the last two and a half decades were prompted by something other than self generated rage nurtured to incandescent heat prior to any actual contact with us, their declared foe. Now those who gladly throw themselves on our guns for a chance to kill us and gleefully torture and decapitate their captives, and celebrate it in technicolor, are the victims of our cruelty. Granted that sacred victim status, they are exonerated because their deeds have become invisible, whereas we are condemned because everything we do, say, or hope for is invincibly tainted by our failure to achieve a perfection impossible to achieve, but to which we nevertheless aspire. We aspire to a higher ethic, but they don't. Nor, in large measure, do those who sanctimoniously stand aside and critique us for that lack of perfection, it seems to me, aspire to it, but cloak themselves in it's veneer.

In a fight to the death, and make no mistake about it, the fight we are in with radicalized, militant Islam is a fight to the death, there are no fouls, no referees, and no second place prizes. Why they hate us is immaterial. That they have attacked us is sufficient reason to fight with everything we have, no holds barred. Moral suasion is off the table not because we have withheld it, but because they not amenable to it. The good opinion of the rest of the world is immaterial. They disapprove? Horrors! We can talk it over one the fight is won.

That begs the question: is the fight worth winning? I look at it this way. Is my wife worth fighting for? My children? My family and friends? My community? My country? My church? To all of these I answer "Yes." What will I do to defend them? Anything it takes. Even waterboarding a prisoner. Even holding an enemy prisoner captive for as long as his side has not been crushed and sued for peace. Even killing him outright if he comes at me with blood in his eye.

All this hand wringing is so much effete twaddle, unless the morally superior man grants that the sanctity of his hearth, the graves of his fathers and the temples of his gods are bereft of value.

Posted by: Tamquam at May 19, 2007 04:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Right. Of course every single Moslem on Earth has been murderously opposed to us from the very beginning, and so getting caught torturing them on a wholesale basis (including innocent ones) doesn't turn any additional ones against us. After all, as we all know, that's why refusing to legalize the torture of captured Japanese POWs turned out to be such a disastrous decision. (And, by the way, not only did the US military during WW II "probably not authorize it"; they explicitly forbade it, in forceful terms, for exactly the strategic reasons I've mentioned. And this was after Pearl Harbor.)

Still, if there was a Nobel Prize for Irrelevant Purple Prose, Tamquam would definitely have hooked it with this entry.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 19, 2007 05:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."

- George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775
___________________

Why does Tamquam hate the Father of Our Country?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 19, 2007 05:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

'CaseyL' wonders what I mean by methods that "worked a treat" in occupied Europe during WWII. I meant that the Gestapo rolled up network after network including the (in)famous Red Orchestra.

Also, Casey misunderstands the nature of the game. You never break *every* prisoner, all you need is a few. Indeed, it is not necessary to even 'break' a prisoner to get information from him. And even information that proves false is sometimes useful.

But I re-iterate, I am not advocating Gestapo methods. There is an inbetween area that I call 'harsh treatment', the details of which should be worked out NOW whilst they are not required so that we are ready if matters escalate.

Posted by: David Duff at May 19, 2007 10:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tamquam is confused and ignorant when attempting to use the alleged mistreatment of prisoners by the US in World War II as an excuse for advocating similar usage now. If Tamquam knew anything about the conduct of war, he/she would know that the most dangerous period for a prisoner after surrender on the battlefield is the time it takes from attempting to surrender to arrival in the in the POW cage. Unlike now, almost all mistreatment and atrocities occurred during that time period. Now, however the mistreatment is much likely to occur off the battlefield, far away form the rage and emotions that usually drive battlefield atrocities.

Posted by: Tom S. at May 19, 2007 05:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All this hand wringing is so much effete twaddle, unless the morally superior man grants that the sanctity of his hearth, the graves of his fathers and the temples of his gods are bereft of value.

Lord, have mercy!

You write effete twaddle!

Posted by: someotherdude at May 19, 2007 07:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yeah. George Washington not only wrote equally ornate language; he wrote it in a much better cause.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at May 19, 2007 10:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ref to previous post:
One slogan I forgot, but should be the first one since it seems to be the most important one as far as most Republican Presidential Candidates are concerned:

TORTURE IS GOOD!!!


(Thank you, Party of Lincoln!)

Posted by: David All at May 21, 2007 11:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian 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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