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Cole embraces preventive detention for Al Qaeda conflict

David Cole, a longtime, trenchant critic of the Bush administration's war-on-terror tactics, defends preventive detention, albeit with due process protections and other limitations. The world is upside down! For Cole, preventive detention is justified because the conflict with Al Qaeda is war-like enough to bring into play traditional military detention rules; more process—lawyers love process!—is needed because of the differences between this conflict and traditional war. I don't know whether Cole has changed his mind or has always believed that the Bush administration's basic approach was right but just went too far. Nothing in his earlier writings suggested to me the latter view but perhaps I did not parse the text carefully enough. He supports "Closing Guantanamo" (the title of his piece -- did the editors read it before publishing it?), but the purely symbolic nature of this move has become blindingly clear.

In my response, I argue that limiting preventive detention to the conflict with Al Qaeda will, in practice even if not by design, create a two-track system: preventive detention for Muslim terrorist suspects, ordinary criminal process for terrorist suspects who belong to other religions or to secular movements. Not a good way to "reboot" our relations with Muslim countries, and in tension with rule-of-law commitments to equal application of the law. Liberty will yield to equality: a general preventive detention system, modeled on that of France, lies in the future, I predict. The problem is not so much that of Muslim extremists with violent aims as the miniaturization of weapons technology, which can be exploited by terrorists of all stripes as well as ordinary criminals. Joanne Mariner defends conventional criminal processes. Bobby Chesney questions the application of Cole's approach overseas.

CDU (mail) (www):
The problem is not so much that of Muslim extremists with violent aims as the miniaturization of weapons technology, which can be exploited by terrorists of all stripes as well as ordinary criminals.


What miniaturization are you referring to? Aside from nuclear weapons, the weight to raw destructiveness ratio of weapons hasn't really changed much since the invention of dynamite. Range and accuracy have greatly increased, but those increases really don't benefit terrorists (neither is really relevant to a truck bomb, for instance).
12.12.2008 9:36am
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Eric! Eric! Eric!
In your rush to think yourself vindicated you miss what he said.


If the United States could lock up German soldiers during World War II without trying them criminally, why should it not have the same option for al Qaeda fighters? The fact that the armed conflict with al Qaeda is not a war between nations ought not disable the government from holding its enemies preventively while the conflict goes on.


GCIII Article 4 definitions encompass many of these prisoners with them having POW status which would mean they could have been held to end of the hostilities.

GCIV Article 5 detention of security detainees is also permitted.

This is not - by a stretch - the kind of preventive detention regimes that have been suggested. There is no national security court. There is no separate track for Muslim extremists. There is no movement away from the war model or the criminal model. What there is is a meaningful review quickly as to whether a person should be held (as was done over and over in the First Gulf War) and their status, rather than the kind of blanket fiat approach of the Presidential terribly erroneous February 7, 2002 order.

For persons captured away from the battlefield or in countries in which we are not in conflict, it is possible that Cole is seeing a possibility of them being detained and held upon some basis that can stand up for review by a court. Those persons are being assimilated to security detainees in an occupied area. I think that in practice this will be unworkable because the security risk of such persons will be difficult to prove. On the other hand, Judge Leon seemed to have enough information on one of the Bosnian six to be able to make that distinction in a manner that looked reasonable.

And now, for all you crusaders for torture out there, with the Senate report Report on detainee abuse blames top Bush officials is out and we can see in the Unclassified Executive Summary of Senate Armed Service Committee report is devastating in taking us back toDecember 1, 2001 in the conspiracy to torture. If that is the way the detention is going to operate, then it will be illegal and a crime under any new administration also.

Cole seems to be telling us to go back to the POW model of World War II which worked provided we have meaningful review to make sure we most likely have the right persons in detention. To herald that as some enthusiasm for preventive detention is simply disingenuous Eric and shame on you.

Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 10:00am
A.S.:
Seems to me to be evidence in favor of the Orin Postulate:

1) Republicans Must Now Oppose Executive Power; Democrats Must Be In Favor Of It. In the last few years, Republicans have been the defenders of executive power: A muscular executive has been needed to fight the war on terror. On the other hand, Democrats have opposed a strong executive on the ground that it threatens the rule of law. Please note that these arguments must now switch. Republicans must now talk of the dangers of executive power; Democrats must now speak of how a strong and agile executive branch is necessary to a modern democracy.


Funny how Cole comes to this conclusion just after Obama is elected. Coincidence, surely.
12.12.2008 10:04am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Bush is (almost) gone.
It's all good, now.
12.12.2008 10:26am
Elliot123 (mail):
What benefit does the US get from the Geneva Convention?
12.12.2008 10:38am
ForWhatItsWorth:
Ellito123: "...What benefit does the US get from the Geneva Convention?...."

None whatsoever. The GC has never stopped any nation with which we have been at war from torturing our people beyond belief. Never, not even once.

The GC would really only work if a democracy was fighting a democracy, and that never happens. When you are dealing with the likes of Tojo, Hitler, Stalin, Uncle Ho, Bin Laden, etc.... there is absolutely zero chance that the GC will ever be followed.
12.12.2008 10:46am
JB:
Benjamin Davis posted, longer-winded and better-supported, than what I was going to say.

What are the disadvantages to holding these people as POWs? The advantages are that you can hold them until the end of the conflict without being questioned as to their status.

As far as I can tell, the only disadvantage is that then the Geneva Convention applies to them, which limits what you can do to them. If you weren't planning on doing it anyway, there's really no downside.

Elliot123,
The US will only win this war by exterminating the entire Muslim world and all its allies (which will eventually include the rest of the world), or by winning the hearts and minds of the non-terrorist Muslims such that the terrorists can no longer recruit. The first alternative is obviously both impossible and beyond morally repugnant; in order to do the second, we must obey the Geneva Convention.

You may disagree with the people we're trying to convince, but the fact remains that we must convince them, and that means making arguments that they will accept, not arguments that you will.
12.12.2008 10:49am
MarkField (mail):

What benefit does the US get from the Geneva Convention?


The same benefit all of us get from moral behavior. Read your Socrates lately?
12.12.2008 11:06am
hawkins:

The GC has never stopped any nation with which we have been at war from torturing our people beyond belief. Never, not even once.


Does this mean that every nation we've ever had a war with has tortured "tortured our people beyond belief"? I dont know the answer.
12.12.2008 11:22am
Steve H:
Cole's proposal sounds similar to an idea I was pushing on a lefty site a few days ago (and getting hammered for).

I don't think that this is an example of the Orin Postulate, however, because this proposal, as I understand it, grants powers that are very, very limited compared to the powers Bush claims. Most importantly, this proposal (I believe) would require that the executive (i) comply with laws passed by the legislative branch, i.e., Congress, and (ii) be required to prove their case against a detainee in court, i.e., the judicial branch.

In contrast, the Bush Administration and their supporters have argued for unlimited and unreviewable power to detain, a power that trumps any federal law, simply because the President is the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." I believe that *that* was the main liberal objection to the Bush policies in this area (at least, it has always been my main objection).
12.12.2008 11:27am
Bama 1L:
Am I the only one disappointed to find this post does not concern Juan Cole?

When you are dealing with the likes of Tojo, Hitler, Stalin, Uncle Ho, Bin Laden, etc.... there is absolutely zero chance that the GC will ever be followed.

I hate to do this, but can we take Hitler off the list, please?

The Germans generally obeyed relevant international conventions with respect to American prisoners. The exceptions are so few as to be notorious: Malmedy, surprisingly unsystematic mistreatment of Jewish POWs, etc. I don't think it can be seriously argued that we did not benefit from the POW rules in the European theater.

Furthermore, many Germans' decisions to capitulate were made in light of their reasonable and correct expectation we would treat them humanely.
12.12.2008 11:30am
Elliot123 (mail):
"in order to do the second, we must obey the Geneva Convention."

Is it reasonable to think we have only two alternatives? Surely Geneva isn't the only alternative to extermination.

"The same benefit all of us get from moral behavior. Read your Socrates lately?"

No, I haven't. Have you? What are the benefits to the US of the Geneva Convention?
12.12.2008 11:31am
SG:
The US will only win this war by exterminating the entire Muslim world and all its allies (which will eventually include the rest of the world), or by winning the hearts and minds of the non-terrorist Muslims such that the terrorists can no longer recruit. The first alternative is obviously both impossible and beyond morally repugnant; in order to do the second, we must obey the Geneva Convention.

What backing is there for your assertion that Muslims will be inclined to view us favorably if we abide by the Geneva Convention? I'm not saying it's not true, only that I've seen know evidence to support the notion that Muslims care about the Geneva Convention one way or the other.

You may disagree with the people we're trying to convince, but the fact remains that we must convince them, and that means making arguments that they will accept, not arguments that you will.

Right back at ya... Clearly you support the Geneva Conventions, but that doesn't mean that the Muslims view it as sine qua non of morality. Is that an argument that they will accept?

And for the record, abiding by the Geneva Conventions doesn't just mean no coercive interrogations, it means no interrogations at all. That's what we give up by abiding by the Conventions. Also by granting Geneva privileges to combatants who don't reciprocate, we discard the incentive for other combatants to abide by Geneva.

By their actions (fighting out of uniform, targeting civilians, etc.) Al Qaeda members have made a choice not to accept the responsibilities of Geneva. Why should they receive the benefits?
12.12.2008 11:32am
FredC:
"[Closing Guantanomo] but the purely symbolic nature of this move has become blindingly clear."

I don't know why you degrade symbolism, here. Symbolism ain't nothing. If closing G inhibits our allies from suggesting we have a gulag [in Cuba of all places], then that is indeed worth a great deal.
12.12.2008 11:36am
wfjag:

Cole seems to be telling us to go back to the POW model of World War II which worked provided we have meaningful review to make sure we most likely have the right persons in detention.

So, if someone is found on or near the battlefield, not in uniform but carrying arms, explosives, or false identification, summary execution is authorized?
12.12.2008 11:43am
Don de Drain:
wfjag--

I believe the WWII rules authorize summary execution under those facts. I also believe those rules do not mandate summary execution, nor do they make summary execution a wise policy. Summary execution would have a somewhat deleterious effect on your ability to gather intelligence from that person.

But if that person was in the process of attempting to detonate some explosives at the time, summary execution is probably a good idea.
12.12.2008 12:06pm
Don de Drain:
Oh wait. I guess if you caught them trying to detonate a bomb, you would not have time to check their false ID before shooting them.
12.12.2008 12:07pm
Norman Bates (mail):
If we deal with agents of Al Q'aida captured during overseas combat as POWs and treat them as prescribed and proscribed in the Geneva Conventions, wouldn't that lead obviously to the conclusion that un-uniformed agents of Al Q'aida and their associates who operate in the United States can be treated as spies in wartime usually are, i.e., granted a summary trial and then hung?
12.12.2008 12:09pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If Gitmo is closed, it doesn't eliminate the Gulag claim.
The US left, dems, media, and, shortly thereafter, everybody else who wishes us ill will designate wherever the Gitmo Goons end up as a "new Gulag". No benefit to us, although building a new one every month might be part of O's public works economy stimulation.
12.12.2008 12:12pm
SG:
Summary execution would have a somewhat deleterious effect on your ability to gather intelligence from that person.

If Geneva applies to said person, then you have no right to interrogate them. That also has a deleterious effect on you ability to gather intelligence.

Geneva creates obligations as well as rights. If a party rejects the obligations, they don't get the rights. We may as a matter of policy choose to grant them those rights anyways, but we are under no moral obligation to do so.

And if you believe that Geneva is more moral than the alternative, then there's a good argument that granting rights to someone who has rejected their obligations is actually an immoral position.
12.12.2008 12:12pm
MarkField (mail):

No, I haven't. Have you? What are the benefits to the US of the Geneva Convention?


I don't ordinarily recommend Plato (I share Jefferson's and Adams's dislike of him), but in this case I will. Try the Republic and then we can talk.

We do what's right because doing so makes us better people. We define ourselves by how we behave towards others, and we become virtuous by practing virtue (to borrow now from Francis Hutcheson).

If you insist on some marketplace-type benefit, look no further than WWII (as Bama1L pointed out).
12.12.2008 12:17pm
Al Maviva:
Funny how Cole comes to this conclusion just after Obama is elected. Coincidence, surely.

Cole has been right all along. You just haven't listened closely enough. Just like Obama never said we'd be pulling out of Iraq. These are definitely *not* the droids you're looking for.

What benefit does the US get from the Geneva Convention?

If we (very ostentatiously) pretend to follow it, the leading newspapers in the capitals of some of our nominal allies will shut up and pretend to like us for a little while until they find something else about us to hate, like the inherent racism of our society that makes it impossible for a black man to get ahead, or for a woman to achieve a position of power, or maybe our unfettered capitalist markets that have made all of us poorer and poorer, at least since Reagan started that irresponsible deregulation in the 80's. Or something else.
12.12.2008 12:17pm
MarkField (mail):

Geneva creates obligations as well as rights. If a party rejects the obligations, they don't get the rights.


Except that Geneva expressly states the contrary.
12.12.2008 12:19pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):

What backing is there for your assertion that Muslims will be inclined to view us favorably if we abide by the Geneva Convention? I'm not saying it's not true, only that I've seen know evidence to support the notion that Muslims care about the Geneva Convention one way or the other.


The ICRC noted that in the Iran-Iraq War (two Muslim nations) both sides complied with the Geneva Conventions with regard to the treatment of the POW's. Similarly with the Iraq Army against the US in first Gulf War. So many surrendered precisely because they knew they were going to be treated humanely.

READ THE REPORT I linked to above - starting with Petraeus.

Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 12:23pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
So, if someone is found on or near the battlefield, not in uniform but carrying arms, explosives, or false identification, summary execution is authorized?


No, if they are threatening shoot them. If you capture them, hold them as POW's or security detainees. Summary execution is SO 19th century.

Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 12:26pm
Don de Drain:
SG--

I need to go review my copy of the Geneva Conventions. Do they really say that you can't interrogate the hypothetical person described by wfjag but you can summarily execute them?
12.12.2008 12:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bama:

many Germans' decisions to capitulate were made in light of their reasonable and correct expectation we would treat them humanely


This important point is consistently overlooked. The pro-torture crowd tends to ignore various unintended consequences of condoning torture. Abusing prisoners is not just immoral but dumb.

It's to our advantage, in this war and every other war, if our opponents are inclined to surrender easily, rather than choose to fight to the death. Now that we've announced that the US indulges in waterboarding and other forms of torture, every opponent in this and every future war now has extra motivation to avoid surrendering (unlike in the past, when they knew they would be treated humanely once in US hands).

This means every US soldier, in this and every future war, is facing extra danger, because they will be facing enemies who will be incrementally more inclined to keep fighting rather than surrender.

I think considerations like this are being taken into account by the 30 retired admirals and generals who signed a letter saying this:

We believe it is vital to the safety of our men and women in uniform that the United States not sanction the use of interrogation methods it would find unacceptable if inflicted by the enemy against captured Americans. That principle, embedded in the Army Field Manual, has guided generations of American military personnel in combat. …
12.12.2008 12:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
sg:

abiding by the Geneva Conventions doesn't just mean no coercive interrogations, it means no interrogations at all … If Geneva applies to said person, then you have no right to interrogate them.


Wrong. GC only prohibits interrogations of POWs. GC does nothing to prohibit interrogation of non-POWs who are detained for whatever reason. This includes civilians, criminals and/or spies. They are protected from abuse, but they are not protected from interrogation.

Your phrasing ("if Geneva applies to said person") reveals your fundamental ignorance about GC. Certain portions of GC (Common Article 3) apply to all persons. No exceptions.

by granting Geneva privileges to combatants who don't reciprocate, we discard the incentive for other combatants to abide by Geneva


Wrong. GC grants certain privileges to all detainees, but it grants even more privileges to POWs. Therefore there is still an incentive to "reciprocate," because those who fail to do so are granted only limited privileges.

By their actions (fighting out of uniform, targeting civilians, etc.) Al Qaeda members have made a choice not to accept the responsibilities of Geneva. Why should they receive the benefits?


Those who are found "fighting out of uniform" do indeed fail to "receive the benefits" of being a POW. Nevertheless, they are still entitled to certain protections, as expressed in Common Article 3.

Even Bush finally was forced to acknowledge that. whitehouse.gov refers to Common Article 3 as "The Standard That Now Applies To The Treatment Of Detainees By U.S. Personnel In The War On Terror."
12.12.2008 12:28pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I would think that preventative detention would create a few other issues that are not discussed here. For example, see the case of Jose Padilla, where an American citizen was detained without trial and the Bush Administration claimed the right to do so indefinitely (or rather until the Supreme Court was set to hear arguments on the case).

There is absolutely no reason to think that Al Qaeda's efforts are limited to foreigners and every reason to think that some citizens are involved.

My own view is that preventative detainment for American residents is possible ONLY if Congress suspends habeas corpus. If we limit this to people captured in active theatres then I don't think you will get a lot of argument but this doesn't really do a lot.
12.12.2008 12:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
don:

Do they really say that you can't interrogate the hypothetical person described by wfjag


No. In other words, sg is plain wrong.
12.12.2008 12:29pm
MarkField (mail):
Elliott123, I just had a better idea: don't read the Republic. Instead, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Much more entertaining.
12.12.2008 12:35pm
SG:
No. In other words, sg is plain wrong.

I believe the hypothetical under consideration was that we are granting Al Qaeda prisoners POW status. In that case, we can not interrogate them.

But we can't summarily execute them either, regardless of their POW status. WWII rules don't apply anymore - the relevant convention was adopted in 1949.

FWIW, I actually agree with what you've written. Irrespective of their status as POWs, any prisoner taken has certain rights including a minimal standard of treatment. Legitimate POWs receive additional rights, including the right not to be interrogated.

And I don't know what MarkField was talking about. There are a set of obligations a combatant has in order to receive POW rights (GCIII Article 4). There are minimal rights that apply to all and are not reciprocal, but POW rights certainly are. If you are found to not have abided by the requirements (essentially carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war), you don't enjoy the POW protections of the Conventions.
12.12.2008 12:52pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Elliott123, I just had a better idea: don't read the Republic. Instead, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Much more entertaining."

What do you think Jefferson, Adams, Socrates, and Plato would think of Buffy? I suspect Buffy shares Jefferson's and Adams's dislike of Plato, (as I certainly do) but sometimes the one has to sacrifice for the common good.

What do you think of Buffy? Perhaps some lurking scholar can tell us what Buffy thinks of Geneva, with a passing reference to Lincoln?
12.12.2008 12:55pm
Matt T (mail):

What benefit does the US get from the Geneva Convention?

Do you think we would have seen the mass surrenders of Iraqi troops in Gulf War I and OIF, if the forces to which they were surrendering did not have the reputation of treating captives fairly? How many of these troops would have fought on, inflicting US casualties, if they expected to be brutalized and humiliated, or perhaps detained for life? Adherence to the Geneva Conventions is an internationally recognized symbol of commitment to humane treatment.
12.12.2008 1:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
sg:

I believe the hypothetical under consideration was that we are granting Al Qaeda prisoners POW status.


OK, thanks for the clarification. I didn't realize that's what you meant.
12.12.2008 1:08pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Do you think we would have seen the mass surrenders of Iraqi troops in Gulf War I and OIF, if the forces to which they were surrendering did not have the reputation of treating captives fairly?"

How did the Iraqis know this?
12.12.2008 1:10pm
FredC:
Buffy thinks Geneva is a state of mind formulated, first, almost four score and seven years ago.
12.12.2008 1:12pm
A.S.:
I don't think that this is an example of the Orin Postulate, however, because this proposal, as I understand it, grants powers that are very, very limited compared to the powers Bush claims.

Of course it is an example of the Orin Postulate. As Prof. Posner has already posted:

Lawyerly talents will be harnessed to the rationalization process—what was illegal under Bush turns out not to be illegal under Obama because of some subtle variation in the structure of the project...


See, preventative detention was awful, horrible, fascist, illegal under Bush because blah, blah, blah. But, see, under Obama, preventative detention would be just fine and dandy because, well, we will subtly tweak the test as to whether the detention was proper.

All of a sudden, the issue is no longer preventative detention. Sure, the executive branch can detain prisoners indefinititely No problem! Indefinite detention is perfectly reasonably. The prisoners don't need to be give access to the criminal courts. Of course not. That would be silly. Because, see, now instead of a hearing that determines X and Y, we will instead have a hearing that determines X, Y and Z! And that Z, it makes all the difference between Bush's fascist, illegal, criminal actions and the firsthcoming reasonable, steady, heroic actions that would just so happen to occur once Obama takes office.
12.12.2008 1:18pm
yonason (mail):
"Not a good way to "reboot" our relations with Muslim countries,"

Why is it that we have to "reboot" anything? They are the ones exporting terror and causing most of the problems in the World today. If anyone needs to change, it's them, not us.
12.12.2008 1:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
SG:

Detainees are presumed to be POWs until established otherwise under the GCs correct? I.e. you can have a competent tribunal to determine whether a given individual is not entitled to that status, but until then, POW rules apply, or am I missing something?
12.12.2008 1:22pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
What are the disadvantages to holding these people as POWs? The advantages are that you can hold them until the end of the conflict without being questioned as to their status.

As far as I can tell, the only disadvantage is that then the Geneva Convention applies to them, which limits what you can do to them. If you weren't planning on doing it anyway, there's really no downside.
Read those GC's more thoroughly. If they apply, then we can't interrogate -- not just torture -- the prisoners at all. Name, rank, and serial number.
12.12.2008 1:25pm
wfjag:
Dear Don de Drain:
Please refer to customary international law. The GC provide a safe harbor for those persons who meet the 5 tests for their applicability. Persons not in uniform, etc., are classifed as spies, saboteurs and guerrillas and under customary international law may be summarily executed (and, to briefly respond to your response to me -- I used the word "authorized" and not "mandated", the word you used. This is a legal discussion, and not a review of command policy).

You can, of course, try the people. The most famous example is the trial of Major Andre, UK Army, found out of uniform but with the plans to West Point in his boot. In the 19 days between his capture and execution, Generals Washington and Gates exchanged 3 communications, including complete (albeit unsuccessful from Andre's point of view) negotiations for his release and exchange for someone in British custody (Washington wanted one B. Arnold, supposedly a Brigadier in the Continential Army who was then in British hands exchanged for Andre), and a trial before a Board of Officers which was prosecuted by the Judge Advocate General of the Continential Army, and a clemecy appeal to and consideration by General Washington (again, albeit unsuccessful from Andre's point of view -- including a rejection of his requested method of execution -- he wanted firing squad, but got hanging, like a common criminal, instead).

So, even with procedures that comply with customary international law, execution may not be summary, but, can nonetheless be expeditious.

I'm just trying to see if Cole (and his apologists) understands what he's now advocating? And, if so, why were much more rigorous procedures tried by the Bush 43 administration (which admittedly didn't meet full criminal trial in a US Dist. Ct. due process standards) so objectionable? Cynics might conclude that his prior objections were motivated for partisan political reasons, rather than based in legal standards. So, if we're going back to what worked in WWII -- prior to the GCs, which were drafted after WWII -- then we're looking at customary international law (like what happened to Andre and most of the Germans who snuck into the US after being dropped off by a U-boat and were supposed to plant bombs in munitions factories, etc., or to German Soldiers caught out of uniform but armed behind allied lines in WWII).
12.12.2008 1:27pm
SG:
Detainees are presumed to be POWs until established otherwise under the GCs correct? I.e. you can have a competent tribunal to determine whether a given individual is not entitled to that status, but until then, POW rules apply, or am I missing something?

A competent tribunal is only required if there is doubt as to a prisoner's status. If there is doubt, they are entitled to POW status until a competent tribunal resolves the matter. But since Al Qaeda expressly does not adhere to the laws of war, there is no doubt to their status - they're not POWs and a competent tribunal is not required to make the determination.

Which doesn't mean we wouldn't want to give them a hearing. Only that there not entitled to it, nor to the benefit of the doubt.
12.12.2008 1:28pm
JB:

What backing is there for your assertion that Muslims will be inclined to view us favorably if we abide by the Geneva Convention? I'm not saying it's not true, only that I've seen know evidence to support the notion that Muslims care about the Geneva Convention one way or the other.


The allegation leveled against us that has gotten the most support is that we have no respect for their dignity, and will enslave them/trash their symbols/render their civilization subservient. That we don't care about international agreements and will do whatever we want.

I'm not sure how to explain it more simply than that: In Muslim eyes, we are the invaders. It is ok to surrender to invaders who will ultimately treat you humanely, but if they show no sign of willingness to do that then you resist.It's not the Geneva Convention itself, it's the knowledge that we are bound by some standards of decency that they are looking for.

"Why is it that we have to "reboot" anything? They are the ones exporting terror and causing most of the problems in the World today. If anyone needs to change, it's them, not us."

You are right on a moral level, but not on a strategic level. We are the ones trying to convince them to do something--stop harboring terrorists who periodically blow up our stuff. That means that we need to make arguments that appeal to them. It doesn't matter whether they're right, or true, it matters whether they will accept them. This is a basic principle of strategy and negotiations. It shouldn't be difficult to grasp.
12.12.2008 2:09pm
Matt T (mail):

How did the Iraqis know this?

Coalition forces sprayed Iraq with probably millions of pamphlets and radio broadcasts that promised fair treatment, and those promises were backed by the reputation for honor enjoyed by US and UK military forces. A reputation that the Bush administration has undermined.

The GC provide a safe harbor for those persons who meet the 5 tests for their applicability. Persons not in uniform, etc., are classifed as spies, saboteurs and guerrillas and under customary international law may be summarily executed...

I don't think I've heard a lot of argument from Bush critics that Al Queda operatives and nonuniformed insurgents may legally be executed, provided they receive a fair hearing to determine they actually are AQ. There's a counterinsurgency argument that it might not always be smart to do so, but not much legal argument.

The primary arguments are against "humiliating and degrading treatment," which is prohibited for all detainees by CA 3, and indefinite detention without a fair hearing to determine status.

These have always been the primary objections of Bush's critics on policy toward non-citizen detainees; Posner's "world is upside down" only if he actually believed the Bush apologists' straw man argument that opponents wanted to turn hardened terrorists loose.
12.12.2008 2:11pm
s. s3v:
I don't have my Cliff Notes with me, but does the Republic really say we should be moral because it makes us better people? Or just happier people?

Or does it say the best government is where a select few should rule without check, protected by unquestioningly loyal communal-living bred-for-war auxiliaries (from amongst whom the rulers are selected), lording it over the mass of men who are without political rights, and that in general poets and artists should be banned except to the extent they encourage the state propaganda that justifies the status quo via myths of metal or earth or some such? (with service comes citizenship/political power?)

Doesn't it say the philosopher-kings should do whatever is in the best interest of the state? This isn't very helpful since we still end up with the question of "whether torture is in the best interest of the state." The same with exhortations to "do what's right;" if justice is doing what we ought to do, what if I think torturing people who try to kill me is perfectly right?

Moreover, I don't remember the Republic taking a stand on whether the private morality arising from goatherder-created religions (any religion emphasizing humility is for peasants, face it) should be the basis of imperial governance, after all, their concerns are quite different.
12.12.2008 2:31pm
Steve H:
See, preventative detention was awful, horrible, fascist, illegal under Bush because blah, blah, blah. But, see, under Obama, preventative detention would be just fine and dandy because, well, we will subtly tweak the test as to whether the detention was proper.

If by "blah, blah, blah", you mean "they were claimed to be unlimited by law and unreviewable by any court," then you are right.

And if you truly believe that the difference between unlimited and limited executive power is just a "subtlety," so be it.
12.12.2008 2:36pm
RPT (mail):
Part of the problem here is that there was no factual and only a highly disputed legal basis for the Iraq invasion in the first place, and that most of the detainees had no connection with Al Qaeda, as a result of which their lack of uniforms is nonsensical. They were not part of any organization, not involved in any hostilities prior to or at the time of capture, and thus of course would not have any uniforms.
12.12.2008 2:39pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
What does alleged mistreatment of Al Qaeda detainees have to do with uniformed members of the Iraq Army surrendering?

Were any Iraq POWs ever sent to Gitmo?

The enlisted men and junior officers were merely released. I'm not sure what we did to the generals.

Conscript soldiers are going to surrender no matter what our reputation is. The first Iraqis who surrendered to the moral Iranians had no idea that they would not be killed or tortured. Yet they did anyway.
12.12.2008 3:01pm
SG:
The allegation leveled against us that has gotten the most support is that we have no respect for their dignity, and will enslave them/trash their symbols/render their civilization subservient. That we don't care about international agreements and will do whatever we want.

9/11 (and the Millennium plot and the African embassy bombing and the 1st World Trade Center bombing) occurred before there was any question about the applicability of the GC to Al Qeada. I just don't believe that it's a motivating factor.

And lets not forget that "respect for their dignity" included not publishing Mohammed cartoons. Are you prepared to give up your 1st Amendment rights to win hearts and minds? Where do you draw the line and say no more?

To be clear, I'm not saying we should discard the GC. I'm not even saying that following them isn't a net positive in this conflict (I'm uncertain). I'm disputing your notion that it Al Qeada types (or muslims generally) would view us favorably if we showed more respect to international law. I see no evidence that Islamic fundamentalist have any particular love of or respect for international law. Nor any particular interest in mutual respect and tolerance for that matter. We're simply not going to win those hearts and minds.
12.12.2008 3:11pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
The US has never benefitted from the Geneva Conventions against an Asian enemy.

Japan: Battan Death March etc. Korea: Brainwashing. Vietnam: Ask John McCain Gulf War: Ask Scott Speicher if you can re-animate him. Iraq War: All soldiers captured during the "insurgency" were murdered

The Geneva Conventions bind us and never them.
12.12.2008 3:12pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JB.
I think you assume too much when you explain what argument would most impress the Moslem world in general.
Remember, they started in on the infidels about fourteen hundred years before Bush was elected.
I don't know what argument the Hindus used, but it apparently didn't work, since some reports are that up to 80 million Hindus were killed.
True cultural relativists would not automatically assume that what impresses us would impress the folks in other cultures.
What if the strong horse/weak horse argument is the most impressive and mercy seems like weakness?
12.12.2008 3:17pm
reciprocity? don't kid yourself:
This comparison with Germans is wrongheaded and misleading. If the Jihadis are to be likened to any Axis power, they should be likened to the Japanese, who were brutal and distinctly unimpressed by the Allies' adherence to the laws of war. The point of terrorism is of course not to reciprocate, but to violate the laws of war as heinously as possible.
12.12.2008 3:22pm
MarkField (mail):

I don't have my Cliff Notes with me, but does the Republic really say we should be moral because it makes us better people?


I decided my earlier comments probably came across as condescending, so I'm going to let it go. But yes, Socrates does argue this in the Republic.


Or does it say the best government is where a select few should rule without check, protected by unquestioningly loyal communal-living bred-for-war auxiliaries (from amongst whom the rulers are selected), lording it over the mass of men who are without political rights, and that in general poets and artists should be banned except to the extent they encourage the state propaganda that justifies the status quo via myths of metal or earth or some such? (with service comes citizenship/political power?)


It says this too. That's why I dislike it.


Doesn't it say the philosopher-kings should do whatever is in the best interest of the state?


Yes, but it argues that it's in the best interests of the state to act justly.
12.12.2008 3:26pm
GEORGE LARSON (mail):
I believe the Japanese knew about our "lenient" surrender policy for their soldiers and sailors in WWII and failed to surrender as the Germans did. I believe our policy was irrelevant because of cultural differences. Surrender was a disgrace in Japan. Surrender was not an option for the Red Army in WWII, the Chinese and North Koreans in the Korean conflict and those who returned to their homeland after the war found this out. But even getting a few to surrender is better than having them all fight to the last man. It saves your own resources and even if you don't interrogate them it does provide intelligence.
12.12.2008 3:26pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm

It's going to be curious how much "down the memory hole", backtracking, fudging and blustering there will be when Obama declares that there is a viable reason to hold detainees indefinitely and subject them to interrogation.

Just like when Bill Clinton and Al Gore started rendition in the 1990's.
12.12.2008 3:29pm
.....and?:
And you think al Qaeda operatives eager and willing to die for their objectives are not exhibiting a cultural difference? The cult of martyrdom is not so different from Bushido or Kamikaze pilots in practice.
12.12.2008 3:34pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

"But even getting a few to surrender is better than having them all fight to the last man. It saves your own resources and even if you don't interrogate them it does provide intelligence."

Really?

So let's say there's a conflict in North Korea, the 2nd Korean War, and you're the Allied Commander while I'm the Big Bad Commie.

You're saying then that it's a good thing to take my soldiers prisoner? Remember this will use up valuable vehicles for transport. For food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Transporting these prisoners to your rear echelons will tie up vast resources, the road and rail networks and a vast number of your own highly trained soldiers to guard and watch them.

Soooooooo.

What if I held my actual military formations back while:

1. Transport in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of untrained farmers and peasants.

2. Shoot each one in an arm with a low-caliber pistol, perhaps a .32 or something similar.

3. Drive these unarmed, yet wounded, "soldiers" into your lines so you could capture them.

4. Let you spend valuable time and resources trying to apply the GC to these "soldiers".

...

Who just won? Here's a clue: I did. Because when I attack you, your formations will be paralyzed.
12.12.2008 3:36pm
JB:

And lets not forget that "respect for their dignity" included not publishing Mohammed cartoons. Are you prepared to give up your 1st Amendment rights to win hearts and minds? Where do you draw the line and say no more?


You are treating them as far too unitary and undifferentiated, and the same for our goals. When we say "We respect your culture, but we respect our principle of free speech more, so we won't do anything about the Danish cartoons," we are undercut by the fact that we violate other of our principles in order to more effectively torture Muslims.

The entire Muslim world did not wake up one day and decide to hate the USA. Some Muslims hate us, and they point to a specific pattern of actions by which they claim the USA disrespects the entire Muslim world. Because the arguments the USA has put forth against them have been rendered specious by our treatment of prisoners, the USA has made no headway in arguing against that.

If we're going to ask the world to judge us by our principles and not theirs, then we have to do the same. We can't violate our principles because the enemy does too. If we're going to ask the world to accept our principles, we can't act like assholes in the process.

Richard Aubrey:
At the risk of appealing to the argument from authority, I've gone there. I've been to Egypt, Jordan, and the West Bank, and talked to random people there in Arabic.

You are making the argument from ignorance--We don't know the truth, so what if I'm wrong? But we aren't ignorant. We know what the answer is. We can willfully ignore it and pretend we don't, but then we will be defeated.

80 million Hindus were killed, but under Akbar the Great Hindus filled high places in the government and enjoyed a cultural renaissance. This is not an inevitable clash of civilizations.
12.12.2008 3:44pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
On the North Korean hypothetical, please let us not play these games. You just seem to underestimate our current military. It would seem in a situation where force can be projected in the Air, on the ground and on the sea that ways would be found to get at the regular troops behind the peasants and farmers.
Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 3:57pm
Philistine (mail):

The GC provide a safe harbor for those persons who meet the 5 tests for their applicability. Persons not in uniform, etc., are classifed as spies, saboteurs and guerrillas and under customary international law may be summarily executed


Umm... Except that there's more than one Geneva Convention. And the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically states that you can't summarily execute spies and sabateurs.

And, of course, Common Article 3 also prohibits summary executions.
12.12.2008 4:18pm
MarkField (mail):

Just like when Bill Clinton and Al Gore started rendition in the 1990's.


I'm not sure how reliable it is, but Wikipedia says the first extraordinary rendition was by Reagan. However, it appears Clinton did much more.
12.12.2008 4:26pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Some Muslims hate us, and they point to a specific pattern of actions by which they claim the USA disrespects the entire Muslim world."

What are those specific actions?
12.12.2008 4:30pm
MarkField (mail):

What are those specific actions?


Torturing people.
12.12.2008 4:47pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Because jihadists use Gitmo and Abu Ghraib in their recruiting, we should of course consider whether there is a way to remove or undermine that opportunity. That is a far cry from leaping to the conclusion "Oh, it will definitely help us." I sense there is a divide here between those who have concluded that it won't help and those who think it will. Both present evidence, neither seems to regard the other's evidence as worth much.

There is also a smudginess along the lines of how one interprets and applies GC, with very quick accusations that your disagreement = complete abandonment of moral principles. Technical adherence to GC can still include immoral treatment, and technical violation may not be immoral by some other standard. I don't want to open the door to just any interpretation - we signed it and have some obligation to the sense of it even if no other nations adhere to it. But the constant assuming of bad faith also gives recruiting advantage to our enemies. I was pleased at the irony of the acknowledgement that such advantage given to enemies could indeed be "incremental."

There are costs associated with the loss of ability to interrogate. There are costs already paid of those released who have returned to the battlefield against us. These may not be determinative - whatever helps us in our PR battle is of great importance - but I don't like to see them slighted as if they were nothing.

As to Plato (and Socrates), I am uncertain how to apply their general observations on morality to actions they would not have considered immoral. I tend to agree that most aggressive interrogation techniques should be considered torture. But I am mindful that they would hardly have been considered so fifty years ago, and would not even have been remarked on 150 years ago. Our standards have risen, and that's a good thing. That does not make all distinctions meaningless.
12.12.2008 4:49pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Cole's proposed procedure for differentiating terrorists meriting infinite detention from those who aren't could be much simplified, as follows:
If a prisoner is captured when a Democrat is President, they merit indefinite detention. If a Republican is President, they don't.

Elliot123 asked:
"Some Muslims hate us, and they point to a specific pattern of actions by which they claim the USA disrespects the entire Muslim world."

What are those specific actions?

Breathing.
12.12.2008 4:59pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
MarkField,

You left out that the American offense ("torure") which merited the 9/11 attacks was the Bzyantine torture of Arab prisoners captured when the Arabs were conquering Syria from Bzyantium.
12.12.2008 5:01pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
bama 1l: "....I hate to do this, but can we take Hitler off the list, please? ..."

Uh, no we can't. I know way to many veterans of that war who would disagree with you entirely. Of course, it might depend on what you call torture, but the SS mangled alot of folks, both our troops as well as French civilians thought to be members of the underground and on and on. Never mind the jews..... well, no MIND the jews!

Where was the GC when it came to the jews? They were innocent civilians even. If you want to discount the german jews as not being covered under the GC, fine.... how about Poland?

How about the Russian soldiers? On and on and on.

Oh, and of course the germans would surrender to us because they KNEW we would follow what they themselves did not. The GC don't just apply to torture, either.

I will give you that "some" of the professional german officers/soldiers abided by rules that would come close to the GC..... unfortunately, they weren't the ones in charge of most of the camps.
12.12.2008 5:20pm
GEORGE LARSON (mail):
Ed,

Can you give an example of your tactic actually working? It would require a lot of prior planning and cooperative civilians. Wouldn't your troops time be better spend actually fighting?

The mass surrenders of the Red Army at the start of Barbarossa did not paralyze the German forces. At that time Germans did not slaughter hundreds of thousands of Red Army prisoners.

You don't need trucks. POWS and the ambulatory wounded can march back on foot. Wounded can be carried. You can leave the medic behind with the wounded. They can be imprisoned in their own territory or even paroled. Food can be there own rations or MREs. The badly wounded can be stabilized and left behind to be collected later. They are not entitled to any better food or medical attention than your own soldiers. You will not be getting 3 meals a day and access to a hospital so they won't either. Attacking elements are not going to stop to collect prisoners unless that is part of their mission. Prisoners will be left behind for the MPs and follow on forces.

Munitions and smart bombs are finite and expensive you don't want to waste them till you get to the ones who will not surrender. Soldiers have to carry their ammunition.

I agree that many terrorists probably have a values that will not consider surrender an option. That can change. Consider the Tamils. They "invented" suicide bombing. They are now surrendering.

Enemy civilians are not POWS, even if they are wounded civilians. We already had to face this in Korea in 1950. Large numbers of North Koreans fled south to escape during the fighting and we had to sort out the soldiers from the civilians, from the enemy agents from communist South Korean civilians. Ever heard of Koji Do?
12.12.2008 5:21pm
GEORGE LARSON (mail):
What are those specific actions?

I do not accept the supremacy of their beliefs and I will not pay their tax for not being a Muslim.
12.12.2008 5:28pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Matt: "....Do you think we would have seen the mass surrenders of Iraqi troops in Gulf War I and OIF, if the forces to which they were surrendering did not have the reputation of treating captives fairly? How many of these troops would have fought on, inflicting US casualties, if they expected to be brutalized and humiliated, or perhaps detained for life? Adherence to the Geneva Conventions is an internationally recognized symbol of commitment to humane treatment....."

Sorry partner, I was there. They didn't surrender easily because they thought we were "nice." They surrendered because we overwhelmed them. We couldn't be stopped, they knew it and they gave up. The ones that didn't, died and that was a fair number. Those that didn't follow our instructions died, like on the Kuwait road. They surrendered easily because they figured they had a better chance of survival than they did fighting...... if they fought, they would lose and they would die.

I can go into some detail if you like, but you may not really want to hear the hows and whats. Oh, and don't for one minute think Desert Storm was a cakewalk...... it was anything but a cakewalk. We just simply overwhelmed them with force from a direction they weren't expecting..... they were caught with their pants down.... simple as that. Still, the ones who fought were tough. They were scared as hell when they surrendered, too...... Many thought we were just going to "do them." We had to convince them otherwise.

They had no idea we were "nice guys"
12.12.2008 5:32pm
Steve H:

Cole's proposed procedure for differentiating terrorists meriting infinite detention from those who aren't could be much simplified, as follows:

If a prisoner is captured when a Democrat is President, they merit indefinite detention. If a Republican is President, they don't.



Yes. Because there is absolutely no difference between what Cole proposes and what the Administration was doing.
12.12.2008 5:34pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Steve H.,

Yes, there is a difference. The difference is that anything Democrats do is right, proper, nice and the American way. Anything Republicans do is wrong, improper, awful, and an atrocity. Because Democrats are right, proper, nice and American, while Republicans are wrong, improper, awful, and evil.

This is called moral relativism.
12.12.2008 5:56pm
Steve H:

Steve H.,

Yes, there is a difference. The difference is that anything Democrats do is right, proper, nice and the American way. Anything Republicans do is wrong, improper, awful, and an atrocity. Because Democrats are right, proper, nice and American, while Republicans are wrong, improper, awful, and evil.

This is called moral relativism.



Hm. There's also a phrase that describes falsely claiming that the only difference between the proposals is the identify of the party in the White House. It's called dishonesty.
12.12.2008 5:58pm
A.S.:
If by "blah, blah, blah", you mean "they were claimed to be unlimited by law and unreviewable by any court," then you are right.

The Bush Administration certainly does not claim that preventitive detention is unlimited by law and unreviewable by any court. In fact, preventitive detentions are specifically reviewable by the DC Court of Appeals.
12.12.2008 6:08pm
Elliot123 (mail):
MarkField,

What American torture of Muslims precipitated the African embassy bombing, USS Cole, and 9/11. Your link deals with post 9/11.
12.12.2008 6:13pm
Steve H:

The Bush Administration certainly does not claim that preventitive detention is unlimited by law and unreviewable by any court. In fact, preventitive detentions are specifically reviewable by the DC Court of Appeals.



The only reason the Bush Administration is now before the DC courts is because the Supreme Court and Congress forced them to. And isn't the Administration still claiming in its signing statements that it doesn't actually *have to* subject detentions to court review?

Actually, are you sure that everyone in Guantanamo has a right to have all detentions reviewed in the DC courts? I thought that DC review was only available on appeal from a military tribunal hearing, and the Administration has discretion whether to bring someone before a tribunal.
12.12.2008 6:34pm
MarkField (mail):

You left out that the American offense ("torure") which merited the 9/11 attacks was the Bzyantine torture of Arab prisoners captured when the Arabs were conquering Syria from Bzyantium.


Speaking both for myself and for others, I can only say "Huh"?


What American torture of Muslims precipitated the African embassy bombing, USS Cole, and 9/11. Your link deals with post 9/11.


The whole context of the post involves Cole's comments about Al Qaeda and the Taliban. That clearly refers to post-9/11 events.

In any case, the fact that we may not have been torturing people before that date (but see Clinton's renditions) is pretty much irrelevant to the point anyway. If, today, more people hate us because we torture people -- hate us so much that they come and kill US soldiers in retaliation -- that's a response to your question.
12.12.2008 6:47pm
John Moore (www):
The Euros who so are despise us for our use of torture are not exactly consistent.

Check out this example of 2002 German use of torture in a "ticking bomb" scenario (kidnapping).

This, btw, was just with a criminal.

Apparently the high minded Europeans, so fond of ever more restrictive treaties, don't practice what they preach (note the involvement of the European Court of Human Rights).

Hey, Ben - here was a simple, real "ticking bomb" scenario where the threat of torture, backed up by true intent, worked.

So much for the idea that "torture doesn't work."
12.12.2008 6:54pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
John,

In case you did not notice, when they found the boy, the boy was dead. Under the ticking time bomb, the bomb has exploded. Sorry does not get you where you want to go. Just looking at the bodies now.

And the Germans did prosecute the officer - no ex ante permission to torture. The police officer did a crime and was prosecuted for it. I do not believe, if I remember correctly that it worked.

Now just add this to your facts 1) Do you really have the right guy? 2) Do you really know there is a time bomb in your city? and on and on and on. Torture does not work. Just ask all those generals bitching about what Rumsfeld and his hoodlums did.

Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 7:10pm
A.S.:
I thought that DC review was only available on appeal from a military tribunal hearing, and the Administration has discretion whether to bring someone before a tribunal.

Whether or not legally required, the Bush Administration has determined to bring all of the detainees before a review tribunal.

Accordingly, the difference between Cole's proposal and the Bush Administration practice is, in fact, a mere tweak to the review standard.
12.12.2008 7:13pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
The Bush proposal narrowed significantly the type of review by the DC Circuit so as to make it a meaningless formal review. That is a big difference from Cole.
Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 7:42pm
John Moore (www):

In case you did not notice, when they found the boy, the boy was dead. Under the ticking time bomb, the bomb has exploded.

Relevance?


Nice try, Ben, but the example stands. The kidnapper, under the mere threat of torture, revealed information that he was withholding - information that *could* have led to a rescue. Unless you allege either:

1) all subjects that can be coerced into yielding useful information will do so with only the threat of torture,

OR

2) subject who would have given up information with mere threat of torture would not give up the information if actually tortured.

Which is it?
12.12.2008 7:45pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
MarkField,

You just demonstrated your ignorance of the enemy. Your original point was classic "blame the victim".

Your positions and arguments in this matter are based on what we are while you turn a willful blind eye to what the enemy does.
12.12.2008 8:13pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
John,

Why is it just a nice try? The boy is dead/the bomb has exploded. You want me to speculate under two other hypotheticals. But these hypotheticals are just like the ticking time bomb scenario - fictions. You give me a real world case as "proof" and I show you it is not. Nice try John but I won't go there with you.

Also, as you note, it is the threat of torture with the kid. Now how about giving me a case in which someone has actually been tortured which is at the heart of the ticking time bomb. Give me the case.

I did hear of a case in WWII of a real ticking time bomb on a boat. They got some of the people who put it there (somewhere in Italy). They did not torture them trying to get the answer. Sorry I do not have the precise cite to that story.

And yes, I know the self-serving statements from this administration that say all this stuff was given up from torture. I do not believe it. I doubt there is a torturer who would say that what he/she did did not work. I do not believe them either because these are again self-serving statements.

Sorry, torture does not work.

Glad to see Holsinger is here who cited to torture working in the Algerian War. I am still getting the books from the library and will read where they are supposed to say torture worked there. Heard since a quote from Fanon in Max Anderson's statement on December 8, 2008 as a member of the Berkeley City Council which says torture did not work in Algeria.

Best,
Ben


Further the ticking time bomb is not the threat of torture but is actually torturing. Under any of those, it still does not work as a ticking time bomb scenario using the example that you have presented.
12.12.2008 8:37pm
MarkField (mail):

You just demonstrated your ignorance of the enemy. Your original point was classic "blame the victim".


Again I say, "Huh"?
12.12.2008 9:25pm
John Moore (www):
Ben,

You are requiring "proof" in the most absurd way. That incident shows what anyone with common sense knows: coercion works to extract useful information. That the information led to a dead body instead of a live one says absolutely nothing about that assertion. Nothing. It is a red herring and nothing else.

That the instant example did not go all the way to actual torture likewise does not reduce its effectiveness.

You can cling to "torture doesn't work" absolutism forever, but you must know that you are wrong.
12.12.2008 10:00pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Mr. Field,

You might try studying the speeches and writings of Arabic terrorist leaders to other Arabs. They are rather candid about their grievances, which go back a very long time, though I was facetious about the Byzantines. But the Spanish are still around, at least for the moment.

It is characteristic for you to instead focus on the progaganda emitted by Arab terrorist leaders at non-Arabs. You believe it because it is convenient for you to believe it. This is very telling.
12.12.2008 10:08pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Mr. Davis,

Torture works as an interrogation tool. It is a flipping disaster as a means of population control, at least when used by a democracy.

It also appears that torture is counterproductive when used in music, theater or the movies.

So perhaps you should be more clear in defining what you mean by torture being ineffective. Is it ineffective in cooking?

It seems to be effective for some time when used by tryannical regimes for population control, though a reasonable argument can be made that the mass rapes perpetrated by Soviet occupation forces in Germany guaranteed that its population would remain utterly hostile for many generations.

When you get Heggoy's Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Algeria, check out the Battle of Algiers in the index. The French broke leadership cells with "brilliant police work unmarred by torture."
12.12.2008 10:21pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
John,

You provided the example, I said it did not prove what you want. You are now saying "common sense" that coercion works to extract useful information. Way a minute fella, you were talking about torture before. Is coercion some euphemism you are adding to muddy the waters. Sorry, nice try, but we do not get there.

Now here is another thing from the real world. Read the Senate Armed Service Committee report here.

Here are the two paragraphs that go to your point from page 16.

"Conclusions on SERE Training Techniques and Interrogations

Conclusion 3: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training -- such as stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, and treating them like animals -- was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SERE resistance training is to increase the ability of U.S. personnel to resist abusive interrogations and the techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.

Conclusion 4: The use of techniques in interrogations derived from SERE resistance training created a serious risk of physical and psychological harm to detainees. The SERE schools employ strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students during training. Those controls include medical and psychological screening for students, interventions by trained psychologists during training, and code words to ensure that students can stop the application of a technique at any time should the need arise. Those same controls are not present in real world interrogations."

I keep being called an absolutist as if that is wrong because what I read tells me that torture does not work. All you folks who think from "common sense" torture does work are wrong from what I see from people who know more about this than both of us. Now, if you want to go there with John McCain on that a Carl Levin, go there, but they put their name to that report and it was signed by all 25 senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee - Republicans and Democrats. Deal with it you crusaders for torture. You have allowed yourself to drink some strange Koolaid out of the post 9/11 fear. There is a reason that torture is jus cogens under international law and criminal in domestic law. You guys appear to want to have to be retaught that lesson. That's fine, but some of us do not need to remake the wheel each generation.
Going to sleep.

Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 10:33pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Mr Holsinger,

Help me here.


The French broke leadership cells with "brilliant police work unmarred by torture."


Gee that seems to say the French did NOT torture in Algeria. I understood you were saying the opposite when this was going around a few weeks ago and saying it worked. I will look at the Battle of Algiers in the index. I lived in France and I know people of that era who were French talked about the French having tortured people in the Algerian War. There is a French general who refused to torture also. So I am missing what you are trying to say.

As to cooking, music, movies, and theater - I thought we were talking about torture in the real world of the kind discussed in the Senate report above - not torture in fiction.

As to torture to terrorize populations, yes torture can be terror. So can blowing up trains in railway stations. Let me know what YOU mean by torture working more specifically. My understanding has been the torture was to get "actionable intelligence" and, as the Senate Report, says it was not helpful.

As to terrorizing populations, well your comments with regard to the Soviets suggest that torture we are doing will have the same effect that the Soviet rapes had on Germans - except it will be folks we might have reached in the Middle East who will feel that way about us. Not an edifying result for the United States.

Now going to sleep.

Best,
Ben
12.12.2008 10:43pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Mr. Davis,

Coercion works as an interrogation tool. So does torture. So do many other things. One time the Syrians brought in an interrogee's mother to tell him what a bad boy he was for being a terrorist, and that allegedly broke him. I say allegedly because, while I don't doubt that someone's mom telling him he was adopted works in inducing confessions, I have my suspicions about what else the Syrian interrogators may have been doing to him at the time.

Competent interrogators tend to get results with whatever technique they happen to be trained with.

The difference between torture and other interrogation techniques is the skill required of the interrogator, and speed. Inexperienced, or simply stupid, interrogators can moderately effective to reasonably effective and reliable results with torture, particularly from untrained interrogees, while use of other techniques by equally skilled personnel would produce either amusement or annoyance in the same interrogees.

And interrogators can obtain effective and reasonably reliable results from interrogees FASTER with torture than with any other technique save maybe bribery. This is particularly true when both sides are relatively untrained.

So you had better compare apples to apples, and oranges to oranges, here because your statements are creating more and more doubt in my mind about your good faith.
12.12.2008 10:50pm
oh please. get real.:
Of course torture works. The Nazis tortured their way to information about the Czech underground and the location of the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich. Those who claim otherwise are delusional and willfully sticking their heads in the sand. People who claim it "doesn't work" usually have a romantic view of their own powers of resistance. It's macho nonsense. You'll break and sing like a simpering crybaby. Please don't kid yourself with the hero shit you see in Hollywood movies.

Does torture always work? No. People are different. Some are stubborn to the limits of human endurance. But does it work sometimes, or even much of the time? Yes. Admitting this won't kill you. It doesn't hurt to acknowledge the utility of torture while asserting its moral impermissibility.

This reluctance to acknowledge a terrible truth (that torture does work) stems from moralists averting their eyes, afraid that should they admit that it works, it would lend to those who torture a utilitarian justification for what they do. This is of course a form of rank dishonesty. It's as if you need a fiction to maintain your moral composure, otherwise your moral position disintegrates. It reminds me of people who need religion -- for that is what this is: a religious belief that torture never works -- to validate their morality. Surely it is the fact that one refrains from torture despite its utility that imbues that choice with moral significance?

Whether you like it or not, torture has worked. French military types in Algeria have employed it to great effect, with claims that it yielded useful intelligence. The reason you hear only a one-sided story that it "doesn't work" (leading to wishful thinking and the torture-doesn't-work spiel as an article of faith among anti-torture advocates) is because those who have seen it work tend not to shout about it from rooftops. To do so would be to implicate themselves in something monstrous, so right off the bat you already have highly self-selective accounts on the utility of torture that will almost universally trend in one direction. Because which "expert" would come right out and claim that it works, prospectively hurting himself? That's right. Few to none. Yet when such a person does come forward (e.g. a French general in Algeria called Aussaresses) his views are discounted by those who would prefer to maintain a pretty fiction against an ugly reality.

It is dishonest. Nobody argues that murder "doesn't work" (war is after all a species of large scale homicide) in order to come to the conclusion that it is wrong. So why argue that counterfactual in the case of torture? It is dishonest and unhelpful.

The economics of torture from the victim's perspective is fairly straightforward. Is there an incentive to talk and a cost to not talking? If there is, he'll talk, balancing it against the costs of talking (damage to his pride, patriotism, integrity, whatever). It strains credulity to imagine that man is suddenly no longer susceptible to incentives or economically rational behavior in the special case of torture. Punitive sanctions in the criminal law seek to deter by making the costs of criminal behavior prohibitive to large classes of people. It makes staying on the straight and narrow an attractive choice. Punitive sanctions aka torture in the interrogative context makes providing useful, confirmable intelligence an attractive choice by a similar mechanism. Unless you think that economically rational behavior breaks down in one context but not the other -- an ad hoc, unwarranted supposition -- it follows that torture is necessarily effective at yielding useful intelligence at least some of the time.

It should be apparent by now that the "torture doesn't work" crowd are uncritically subscribing to a fiction. As if they fear losing the utilitarian argument guts their position of moral significance (it doesn't). Let it go.
12.13.2008 4:32am
MarkField (mail):
opgr:

Torture opponents are fully aware of and to some extent agree with the points you make (though your post would be more persuasive if you gave actual examples instead of offering sweeping generalities). You're missing the issues they raise. First, torture is undependably successful. That means that it causes even guilty people to confess to things which aren't true as well as to things which are. That actually makes intelligence gathering harder because each false lead has to be checked. Second, it assumes that the suspect does, in fact, know something. Some suspects don't. Some are even innocent. Torturing them is, I assume you agree, a very serious wrong. Third, it doesn't work in a larger sense that there's blowback: we increase the number of enemies, we make them more determined, and we corrupt our own intelligence services. All things considered, the "utilitarian" argument in its favor is pretty weak.

Personally, I don't care if torture "works" in some sense or not. It's categorically wrong and we shouldn't do it.
12.13.2008 11:05am
Benjamin Davis (mail):
I guess what people are saying is torture works because it breaks people. So what you want is to break people.

I have no romantic notions about my ability to resist talking under torture and say anything that will get the person torturing me "TO STOP TORTURING ME!" I will say I am Osama Bin Laden. I will say I killed the torturer's mother. I will say that Saddam has nuclear weapons. I will say anything - anything. I will freaking sign a confession saying that I plotted to kill (fill in the blank).

The question is whether torture gives you the kind of actionable intelligence you need. The Senate report says it is inconsistent with getting actionable intelligence.

Let's see, we have gone back to the Nazis in Czechoslovakia here and to the French in the Algerian colonial war. OK I will stipulate if a person is a Nazi and if the person is like the French in Algeria - then torture works to break people. Now, let me turn around and ask, as an American am I to have my government to act like the Nazis in Czechoslavakia and the French in Algeria. Just let me know what kind of fascists I am surrounded by?

I do not have the ability or inclination to chase down the historical record on the Nazis in Czechoslovakia or to chase down the French in Algeria (except still waiting for the books that Holsinger noted). I have the inclination to listen to the people who have been there and done that in fighting external enemies of the United States and those folks stand with me. Please continue to stand with the torturers folks - the company you keep, the company you keep.

Best,
Ben
12.13.2008 11:58am
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Let me go further down this rathole with my fellow Americans. I believe that in the war in Sierra Leone they cut off people's arms. I believe that the Belgians use to cutoff people's hands in the Congo. I believe the Nazis would kill 10 persons for each Nazi killed in Italy. I believe that in the Middle Ages people were put on the rack. I believe that people use to be lynched in the American south. Since torture works to break people, I believe that in all those settings people were broken. Now, since I am now in that space of breaking people that you seem to relish and enjoy what have I become? For those who say "oh no do not go that far" it is just a question of torture technique. Folks would say "Well, waterboarding is not cutting off someone's hand! We aren't barbarians!"

If you want to access the evil in each human soul, then please keep pushing this way. History has plenty of examples of how evil we can become. Let me know when you wake up from your long nightmare of horror and realize what you have become.

Not me.

As to law, just a quick note my fellow Americans. Torture is a crime in domestic and international law.

Best,
Ben
12.13.2008 12:17pm
oh please. get real.:
Since I wrote that it "yielded useful intelligence," obviously I couldn't have meant that it only "breaks" people without yielding actionable intelligence.

Your entire response, Davis, is therefore a non sequitur.

Nor does the Senate report excerpted say that torture never yields actionable intelligence. Rather, it says that the problem of false positives and false confessions is inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence. (True.) But the prior statement is not equivalent to the latter statement. You can parse it creatively all you like, but it is a far cry from the claim that "torture never works" in eliciting actionable intelligence.

Assuming that you are a terrorist and that you did have useful intelligence, you'd give it up to your torturers when they demand useful, confirmable intelligence. You wouldn't be glibly claiming that you were Osama bin Laden (glibness being another macho pretense), but rather providing everything that might be of possible value to your interrogators because they'd only want verifiable intelligence that is independently confirmable or indeed, self-confirming. Either way, you'd give it all up, and they'd confirm or disconfirm it as the case may be. Sure, there'll be a lot of noise in the data; but from their perspective, some information that pans out is better than no information that never pans out.

"Torture opponents are fully aware of and to some extent agree with the points you make"

Well, not Davis apparently. He pushes the same fiction that is uncritically repeated by most. It is unnecessary.
12.13.2008 2:33pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Went to see The Day the Earth Stood Still - lousy movie but great interrogation scene for you guys.

Yup not Davis, the logic of your analysis "oh please, get real" is impeccable. It goes from supposition to supposition and leads to its inevitable result. I will not walk down your supposition path. I question every step of that path.

"Assuming that you are a terrorist and that you did have useful intelligence, you'd give it up to your torturers when they demand useful, confirmable intelligence."

Point 1 - Me, yeah. Some terrorist, I don't know. I vaguely remember the story of some Iraqi general being tortured to death in Abu Ghraib by CIA types. Oops, guess he did not give up the goods before his body gave out. Or, oh the torture technicians were not Holsinger's uber-torturers. Just hacks - totally unprofessional. Whatever.

"You wouldn't be glibly claiming that you were Osama bin Laden (glibness being another macho pretense),"

Point 2. Who said anything about being glib? I am saying anything that I think might stop the torture. I am saying ANYTHING.

"but rather providing everything that might be of possible value to your interrogators because they'd only want verifiable intelligence that is independently confirmable or indeed, self-confirming."

Point 3, Right, confirmation from the next schlub they torture who is willing to say ANYTHING. Or no, stuff we think we already know -we just need confirmation. Oh boy, the stuff from the torture confirms it. Hooray! Saddam has nuclear weapons!

"Either way, you'd give it all up, and they'd confirm or disconfirm it as the case may be."

Point 4. I would give up anything I could and the next tortured guy would give up anything. I am still looking for the actionable intelligence. The confirm or disconfirm of course would be from non-tortured people - why? because what they say would be considered reliable, right? But wait a minute. If what they say is reliable, then what does that mean about the stuff we got from the tortured guy? I am running in circles here folks.

"Sure, there'll be a lot of noise in the data; but from their perspective, some information that pans out is better than no information that never pans out."

Point 5. I love the "a lot of noise in the data". So antiseptic and so analytical. There even might be some screaming going on by the datapoint. Not sure I hear that noise being counted in the data - but again why should I quibble.

"Some information that pans out" as opposed to information that comes from other non-torture techniques in the Army Field Manual (available online somewhere but how used is secret). Someone with more experience with interrogation in this war than all the commentators on this website including me reports what he did worked better here in this op-ed from a couple of weeks ago at the Washington Post entitled I'm still tortured by what I saw in Iraq. Helped us get Al-Zarqawi for example. And the torture led to dead Americans. But hey, sorry to be in the real world.

Best,
Ben
12.13.2008 5:12pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Oh sorry, forgot something. The rest of what I said I do not think is a non sequitur - rather it forces you to walk out of your analytical frame that is oh so rational and look at the horror that you blithely try to convince people is ok. No it is not ok. It is a crime and its horrible. Deal with it and really get real. I love the folks who hide behind avatars.
Best,
Ben
12.13.2008 5:23pm
oh please. get real.:
1. "look at the horror that you blithely try to convince people is ok"

Nowhere did I say it was "ok." On the contrary, I've said that it was "monstrous," "wrong," and "morally impermissible." Either you are dishonest, or you can't read. (And we already know that you can't read.)

2. "Who said anything about being glib? I am saying anything that I think might stop the torture."

Since my hypothetical involved the torturers requesting only verifiable, actionable intelligence, saying "anything" won't stop the torture. Only useful, verifiable intelligence will. Given that, you'll spill the beans for precisely the reasons enumerated in my first comment. Perhaps you're having trouble with reading again?

3. "Or no, stuff we think we already know -we just need confirmation."

Are you an imbecile? If you said "there is a cache at location X" and your interrogators went to location X and indeed find a cache, that information is self-verifying. They needn't have "known" anything before hand.

4. "I am still looking for the actionable intelligence."

That's what I specified: useful, verifiable intelligence. Can't you read? Why are you feigning as if that wasn't part of my remarks?

5. "The confirm or disconfirm of course would be from non-tortured people - why? because what they say would be considered reliable, right? But wait a minute. If what they say is reliable, then what does that mean about the stuff we got from the tortured guy?"

It means that what was extracted by torture was independently confirmed by operators on the ground, showing that information extracted under duress was reliable. The people doing the confirmation need not have known of the information before hand. See 3. It's not words against words, but words checked against reality. No circles are involved, aside from your serial lack of imagination.

That every quibble of yours is a deliberate misreading of my remarks suggests to me that you have no serious response. If you did, you wouldn't have to misrepresent what I say through omission (2 &4), misconstrual (3 &5), or outright fabrication (1).

All you've shown thus far is that your commitment to the "torture never works" myth has the strength of dogma. Again, it is an unnecessary fiction.
12.13.2008 6:34pm
John Moore (www):
@Ben

The example I gave shows that threat of torture worked to produce actionable intelligence.

Your failure to follow the obvious logic of that example, not to mention your denial of all of history, is hard to explain.

It is wrong. It is *obviously* wrong. Whenever you are pressed, you take side tacks, distractions, word games or whatever.

@opgr

I have been through this on several threads with Ben. Good luck. Even my own experience with SERE school was thrown out by him. Hey, our instructors must not have known what they were saying when telling us that torture would work to get the enemy what he wanted.

As you say... OH PLEASE GET REAL - Ben
12.13.2008 7:30pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Well thanks again fellows. I have walked down the path with you again. I have pointed you to things that say what you say does not work. Real things in the real world. And once again you want to stick with your torture works theory, shifting the line of attack each step of the way to come up with a hypothetical that you think makes it clearer and clearer that torture does work. Again, please enjoy being that way. Not me. And I will go on and on. I guess your dogma is your dogma (I hope you see your dogma). And feel free to call me all the names that you want. Please call me dogmatic. Please call me what you want. I have three threads coming at me, I have had this conversation on this website so many times and I have tried to convince but no doubt have failed. So be it again. Torture does not work.

It is also a crime under domestic and international law. I would advise you not to do it, because dumbasses like me will come after you and put you in jail.
Best,
Ben
12.13.2008 8:37pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Just got this in. Folks who believe like me that criminal prosecution of torturers is definitely in order. High-level civilians and generals. Enough with the low-level schlubs who betrayed their oath doing the bidding of these high-level types.

Nation's Largest Anti-War Coalition Resolves to Work for Prosecution of
War Criminals
12.13.2008 9:43pm
oh please. get real.:
Davis,

"shifting the line of attack each step of the way to come up with a hypothetical that you think makes it clearer and clearer that torture does work"

No lines were shifted. I've stated the hypothetical exactly as it was and it remains unchanged. You've omitted, misconstrued, and misrepresented the hypothetical over the course of this thread and you were swiftly corrected every time. The "shifting," if any, is entirely of your own making and either a function of your inability to read, or a result of your dishonesty.

"have pointed you to things that say what you say does not work."

Nothing you have said has shown that torture "does not work." Even your Senate report, as explained above, says no such thing. On the other hand, I've provided examples (Aussaresses, Reinhard Heydrich) that you do not dispute, I've remarked on the behavioral calculus of torture, the crux of which you do not address, and I've made an argument the logic and premises of which you fail to refute. Perhaps aware of the inadequacies of your own position, you then resorted to misrepresening what I said in the course of your response (for instance claiming that I've said that torture was "ok," when in fact I said the opposite). These various misrepresentations were corrected in turn.

Finally, you imply that I've suggested that torture is not illegal under domestic law and the preemptory norms of international law. I have made no such suggestion, contrary to your innuendo.

My argument establishes one conclusion only: that the "torture never works" fiction is false, and a dishonest article of faith. Rhetorical bombast and sheer insistence does not make this piece of dogma any less of a falsity.

John,

"Whenever you are pressed, you take side tacks, distractions, word games or whatever."

An apt description of what I've had to contend with. I've come to the conclusion that engaging Davis's various deceptions is for the most part a waste of time.
12.13.2008 9:45pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The whole context of the post involves Cole's comments about Al Qaeda and the Taliban. That clearly refers to post-9/11 events.

In any case, the fact that we may not have been torturing people before that date (but see Clinton's renditions) is pretty much irrelevant to the point anyway."


Well, when I asked about the specific pattern of actions that distressed Mulsims, you provided post 9/11 events.

But they attacked before 9/11. So, what is the pattern of events that caused the pre 9/11 attacks? It would appear post 9/11 torture is not necessary for Muslims to attack.

Is it possible they don't need a pattern of torture to attack? Is it possible nobody knows why they attack? Is it possible they have motivations which are not simple reactions to what we do? I know they are another culture, but can they think for themselves, or do they need us to guide their lives?
12.13.2008 10:09pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Ben,

Will torture work on you? In the real world?
12.13.2008 10:11pm
MarkField (mail):

Well, when I asked about the specific pattern of actions that distressed Mulsims, you provided post 9/11 events.


Yes, because that was the context of the whole discussion.


But they attacked before 9/11. So, what is the pattern of events that caused the pre 9/11 attacks? It would appear post 9/11 torture is not necessary for Muslims to attack.


There doesn't need to be an explanation for the earlier attacks. There only needs to be an explanation for attacks now. Nor does the reason need to be the same for both events.

If torture now motivates attacks on our soldiers, that seems to be an important factor in whether we use it.
12.13.2008 10:24pm
John Moore (www):
The idea that torture is a significant motivator for Islamic terrorism is nonsense.

Much of the Muslim world gets its news from extremely biased sources, and conspiracy theories and paranoia are rampant. Egypt has been treating its citizens to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a long discredited anti-Semitic chekist document. Al Jazeera consistently misrepresented American actions and terrorist actions.

Furthermore, most in the Mideast have never believed in our good intentions or actions. We could be eating Arabs and it probably wouldn't make any difference (a lot of them believe Jews eat Muslim babies as a religious ceremony).

The modern incarnation of Islamist jihadism and terrorism dates back to the '60s in Egypt. It received a great boost with the revolution in Iran and the successful uses of terror against the west - especially in Lebanon (Marine barracks, hostage taking).

Major Jihadist attacks against the America, pre-911, include the Marine barracks bombing (technically, a military action), the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center which was intended to kill 50-100 thousand people, the subway and bridges plot shortly thereafter, the bombings of our embassies, and the attack on the USS COle.

Torture explains none of these.

On the other hand, there are plenty of alternative explanations:

The Arab world has been visibly incapable of generating either economic growth or good government for hundreds of years. This leads to resentment against the successful.

The Muslim religion, as interpreted by many of its followers, was and is a warrior religion.

Israel, backed by the US, is a constant insult to the Arab and radical Muslim world. This is especially true since it is a successful, militarily remarkable democracy.

Strict Islam (which is where the biggest threats arise) creates a lot of frustration for young men, due to its sexual repressiveness. Combine that with a constant bombardment of American entertainment. It shows a sexually exaggerated caricature of the real America and constantly paints some Americans and institutions (preachers, businessmen, CIA) as evil (and the women as sluts). At the same time, it flaunts America's material success. This combination is a big, big problem.

Between Arab/Iranian propaganda and the trash entertainment we export, we provide great recruiting material. A few cases of actual torture are nothing in comparison.

Of course, the outrageous behavior of a few troopers at Abu Ghraib, magnified by our own media and then by the middle eastern media, didn't help.

But which do you think was worse in the young male Arab mind - "stress positions" or pictures of an American woman lording it over naked male Iraqi prisoners? I guarantee it was the latter. It was a terrible insult right at the heart of the culture.
12.13.2008 11:50pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
OK one more trip down this lane.

Elliott123

Torture will break me. I will say anything to get it to be stopped. In the real world. I will say whatever the torturer seems to want to hear. I will admit to anything.

Oh please get real

Googled him (best I can do tonight)

Aussaresses - guy who tortured and killed people thinks torture works and he was right to do it. France prosecutes him for apology for war crimes. I do not believe him, because he is a torturer.

Reynold Heydrich (google again did not help) - Nazi and Nazi torture being argued as proving that torture works. I do not believe that either.

SERE training as proof that torture works. SERE is defensive training. Use of those techniques as offensive tools dismissed by Malcolm Nance former SERE trainer. I do not believe that torture works.

Is my point getting through to you folks?

Best,
Ben
12.14.2008 1:00am
John Moore (www):
Ben, once again you twist.

SERE training: I was taught, by SERE instructors who themselves had been tortured as POWs, that torture works to produce useful intelligence. I was taught more detail, which remains classified, so I won't share it.

That you can quote one SERE trainer, who has never been a POW and never been an interrogator, hardly refutes that.

Torture works. The whole frigging world has known that for a few thousand years. Get it? It works. It produces actionable intelligence. It worked for the Gestapo; it worked for the KGB; it works for the Jordanians; it worked for Saddam; it works for the Egyptians; the threat of it worked for the Germans in the example I gave. it'd worked for all sorts of folks.

Your assertion flies in the face of all common sense, history, available information, and human nature.

Give it up, Ben. It works.

Why don't you just go make your anti-torture arguments on more solid ground - like morality and ethics (and international law if it turns you on). Stop the fantasizing.
12.14.2008 2:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Whether or not torture 'works' is an interesting question, but I'm interested in a somewhat different question. Can anyone show proof that torture has ever saved lives? That question has been raised in threads here, here, here, here, here and here. As far as I can tell, no such proof has ever been provided. This strikes me as important, for reasons I described here.
12.14.2008 2:56am
MarkField (mail):
Some people seem to have the weird idea that everyone who attacks us must have the same motivation. That's silly -- lots of people do very similar things based upon very different motivations. Some people voted for John McCain because they thought he would make a great president. Others because they couldn't stand his opponent. Nobody thinks we need to come up with a universal explanation why people vote; polls always show that different considerations affect voters.

The same is true of why people attack us. Not all of them have the same motivation. The link I provided gave evidence of that motivation for some fighters. The efforts to show that other people couldn't have had that motivation simply miss the point.
12.14.2008 11:14am
John Moore (www):
@jukeboxgrad

Can anyone show proof that torture has ever saved lives?

Why is that relevant? The issue is not whether it has saved lives, but whether it could do so, in a way sufficient to justify its use.

My simple example of the threat of torture producing the location of a (dead) kidnap victim provides pretty good supporting evidence (not proof). It is reasonable to deduce that this same situation could have produced a live, saved kidnap victim.
12.14.2008 12:56pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Thanks not giving it up. I think the fundamental difference is on the word "works". I say torture breaks people and in that sense it "works." I say that people will say anything when broken.

Now, in saying "anything" is it possible that what they say will be true? Obviously, yes. Now, in saying "anything" is it possible that what they say is false? Obviously, yes. Now, in saying "anything" is it possible that people will lose their minds? Obviously, yes. Now, in saying "anything" is it possible that people will not lose their minds? Obviously, yes. Now, in saying anything, is it possible people will die under the torture before they say something truthful? Obviously, yes. Those are the only five that come to mind to me in this thought experiment. No doubt there are more.

Because someone says the truth under the torture you seem to be saying that if what is true = actionable intelligence then - voila! - torture works. That's the periscope that you look through. That seems to me to be way too narrow a vision of what the word "works" is supposed to carry.

What if the person is truly saying they are innocent and that they know nothing? Because in the real world, you are not sure you have the real bad guy who knows the stuff. How can the torturer believe the broken person who says what the torturer does not want to hear? How can I believe what the torturer tells me about what he got from the tortured?

And, from what I read, when you do have the really bad guy you get farther not torturing. That's what I learned from reports of Allied interrogators of the Nazis in WWII. That's what I learned from the guy who did interrogations in Iraq.

For me, and this is where we will fundamentally depart forever, I say nothing the torturer says about torture working is reliable and nothing the tortured says from torture is reliable - because this stuff is coming from torture which is evidence provided by a broken person.

I do believe that is one of the reasons that European courts moved away from trial by torture hundreds of years ago - because of the unreliability of the product of it - not out of any particular moral concern.

Now maybe they did catch a witch or two at Salem in the trial by torture but that to me does not lead to the conclusion that torture works. That is just way too narrow a periscope for me on this very heavily laden subject.

I am sorry that I frustrate you guys with that approach. Maybe it is because I sense that the legal underpinnings for the prohibitions on torture do have moral aspects as well as efficiency aspects. You are asking me essentially to say that this is an evil that works. Will not have that pass my lips or fingers.

I can continue as long as you want but I would prefer to move to another place. I am 52, I have seen so many posts on torture where invariably there are people who come in to defend its utility. I do not really remember periods in my life in which I had to deal with ordinary citizens of the United States and in the media having such enthusiasm for torture. Or maybe it is a grim kind of "means justify the ends" view but it does not feel that way. Rather it feels like a fascination with it. It reminds me of the images of all kinds of people standing around and watching a lynching - that weird fascination with a taboo. I am troubled that I have to spend time on this.

I have most recently been called a "torture extremist" just for insisting that torture is a crime and that the people who put it in place as well as the people who did it should be prosecuted for it. That folks with no blood on their hands but who made sure that blood flowed (a formulation that was said by a former Vietnam War Vet on the Berkeley City Council named Max Anderson on December 8) get prosecuted for what they put in place. It is like it is ok for the low-level folks to be convicted and go to jail, but that the high-level folks get off scot-free. People say, that's the way it is. It seems to me that that is the way it is only if enough people are willing to go along with that being the way it is. If people insist, then the top level folks get prosecuted too. Now, I can understand that if there are people who liked what the top level people did they would not want them prosecuted, but I have a hard time letting them get off scot-free with a "my bad." Not for having gone to such an evil place intentionally and in violation of very very basic rules of domestic and international law. Aren't there people a little disturbed by the state servitors torturing people in their names? I am very disturbed by it.

Best,
Ben
12.14.2008 1:19pm
John Moore (www):
@Ben
Because someone says the truth under the torture you seem to be saying that if what is true = actionable intelligence then - voila! - torture works.


Are you being purposefully obtuse?

Torture works, in the context of intelligence, means what a normal person would think it means: it provides useful information that would not be obtained, in the same timely manner, without it.

Is that simple enough for you?

You are asking me essentially to say that this is an evil that works. Will not have that pass my lips or fingers.


Yes, that is EXACTLY what we want you to say. In other words, we'd like you to say the truth, even when that truth hurts. You have just admitted that you will never admit to the utility of torture, because you object to it on moral grounds. At least that clears up the argument.

All of your blathering about why torture doesn't work is really a cover for your stated refusal to ever say it works - truth be damned!

In the real world, it is possible for something to be evil and for it to work. In fact, I believe you have admitted that above. Tyrants use torture to break people, to drive them insane, to create terror. It works for them. That is a great evil.

So what is it about torture for intelligence that you find more evil than torture for the purposes of totalitarian terror?
12.14.2008 6:07pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):

Yes, that is EXACTLY what we want you to say. In other words, we'd like you to say the truth, even when that truth hurts. You have just admitted that you will never admit to the utility of torture, because you object to it on moral grounds. At least that clears up the argument.


Great. The truth. The ambit goes from torture for actionable intelligence to torture for the purposes of totalitarian terror. I have been down this path with you before on quantitative and qualitative analyses of legitimacy of torture. I can switch this to looking at this through a lens that views time in the short-term vs. a lens that looks at this long term. Or a lens that looks only at domestic settings vs. a lens that looks at this from a transnational perspective. On and on we can change the shape of the box to leave the inescapable answer to always be that one of us is saying the truth and the other is not. That's the truth and the truth sets you free.


In the real world, it is possible for something to be evil and for it to work. In fact, I believe you have admitted that above. Tyrants use torture to break people, to drive them insane, to create terror. It works for them. That is a great evil.

So what is it about torture for intelligence that you find more evil than torture for the purposes of totalitarian terror?


Again the definitional game on "works". Now we turn to torture for the purposes of totalitarian terror. Let's now switch to this box.

Yes and tyrants get deposed and the tortured come back and take their revenge. So if you want to expand the box out, depending on what time frame you want to use, you end up with torture does not work even in the totalitarian terror method. Unless of course, no one resists the tyrant and goes along with the torture. But, from what I have seen, people do resist tyrants and overcome them - with help from abroad and also by their own efforts internally. Some tyrants do torture and die in their sleep - so that they stayed in power I guess and died in bed is proof positive that torture for terror "works." From that, I do not get to the place where you seem to want me to go which is a more general vision that torture works. But, now I expect you to try to renarrow your point of view to try to take these words in a broad context and make them mean something in the much narrower context of torture for intelligence.

But, I fail to see what tyrants torturing people for terror has to do with whether torture works in intelligence gathering.

And, just in case it is not clear to you, I have a big problem with totalitarian terror whether through torture or otherwise.

As to comparative evils, again this quantitative/qualitative game is one that you love to play. I have a problem with my country torturing people for intelligence gathering. I live now and I am dealing with that now.

I have problems with lots of other kinds of evils in the world including tyrants torturing people for totalitarian terror. If I had more energy, I would address each of those that occur in my life time. I do not have that energy. I do what I can on what I think I can address.

I come back to the essential point which was torture for intelligence. Torture for intelligence does not work. It is unreliable - both for what the torturer says and for what the tortured person says.

See above for arguments.

As to arguments by abuse or attempted intimidation of me, these leave me cold. Stop attempting to bludgeon me into submission. It will not happen. Deal with it.

And that torture is illegal and a monstrous evil should not be seen as detracting from my position but rather reinforcing it.

Best,
Ben
12.14.2008 7:42pm
glarson (mail):
A thought on torture saving lives.

Torture is a way to gain intelligence information. I recall reading John Keegan's book, Intelligence in War. He spent a lot of time on WWII and concluded that our ability to read German and Japanese messages did not shorten the war or save many lives. WWII was simply nations using almost all the means they had available to inflict as much death as possible. The carnage dwarfed any benefits of MI. If Military Intelligence is not effective then torture would not be either. I personally think Keegan was exaggerating. There have been times when MI has been decisive like Jackson's Valley campaign in the Civil War, but it did not win the war for the South. Intelligence might be more useful in dealing with terrorists.
12.14.2008 8:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Why is that relevant [can anyone show proof that torture has ever saved lives]?


I anticipated that question, and already answered it in a prior thread. And in my comment here I pointed to that prior thread.

I think you're not paying attention.
12.14.2008 10:47pm
John Moore (www):
@Benjamin Davis

How would I intimidate you? That's silly. You're text on a computer screen and so am I!

Instead, I seek to show the logical contradictions in your argument.

How are we to interpret the following statement of yours?
I am sorry that I frustrate you guys with that approach. Maybe it is because I sense that the legal underpinnings for the prohibitions on torture do have moral aspects as well as efficiency aspects. You are asking me essentially to say that this is an evil that works. Will not have that pass my lips or fingers.


It pretty clearly means that you will refuse to state that this evil works because it is evil - regardless of whether it is the truth. How else do we interpret the above?

Then, you say that torture is effective for other purposes (breaking people, etc). If we apply your same moral principle, one has to deduce that torture for other purposes is not as evil as torture for intelligence, in your mind. Otherwise, you would likewise not be willing to let that pass your lips/fingers.
12.14.2008 11:38pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
John,
I think what I have said speaks for itself. And I have shied away from basing arguments on moral principle all the way along in this.

Yet, I think it is perfectly permissible to make arguments against torture on moral, efficiency, or criminal grounds. No doubt there are other forms of argument against torture.

Torture for intelligence purposes is something that my government is doing and that I think I am capable of doing something about as a citizen and so I take it on. Torture for the other reasons I do not yet see how I can take those on with my limited energy level. I am finding stopping torture for intelligence purposes and getting the high-level civilians and generals criminally prosecuted a big enough challenge. If I, with the help of others, succeed in stopping my government from doing that and criminally prosecuting the high-level civilians and generals in US domestic courts for orchestrating torture, I hope that it might cause some pause for those who do torture for any purpose (in my government or in other governments).

Torture whatever the purpose is evil. More evil or less evil is quibbling about which circle in hell. It's all hell. I do not see how what I said leads to a conclusion that I believe that some kind of torture is less evil than other kinds of torture because I recognize that torture to terrorize may work to terrorize persons for some period of time or torture to break persons does in fact break persons.

I think the logic path that you are making flows from a focus on "works" having some meaning for you that it does not have for me.

Best,
Ben
12.15.2008 1:10pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ben is afraid. If he admitted torture succeeds in gathering useful intel, then he'd have to admit he wants us to go without useful intel, which might cost lives. He doesn't want to admit his scruples have a chance of costing some of us our lives.
Too bad he's so afraid. And dishonest.
12.15.2008 1:31pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

He doesn't want to admit his scruples have a chance of costing some of us our lives.


Why shouldn't torture have a role in our criminal justice system? Since "torture succeeds in gathering useful intel," why shouldn't we be using it to get child molesters to tell us about other child molesters they might know? Why shouldn't we be using it to get serial killers to tell us about other serial killers they might know?

After all, if we go "without useful intel, [this] might cost lives." So are you going to claim that police should torture, or are you going to admit that your "scruples have a chance of costing some of us our lives?"

I notice that you ducked the last time I asked you this exact question. Maybe that's because you're "afraid. And dishonest."
12.15.2008 2:54pm
John Moore (www):
@JBG

Why shouldn't torture have a role in our criminal justice system?


The old false equivalency argument.

How about: because we choose not to do it?

How about: its use against our own citizens can lead to tyranny?

How about: criminals don't try to kill thousands of people or use WMD's?
12.15.2008 3:17pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, juke, neither.
But you are too dishonest to admit I did address the question.
First, one cannot prove that which has not yet happened.
And one cannot prove that which did not happen.
For example, intel, (gained not from torture) causes the patrol to take a route other than that planned. Thus, they avoid an ambush.
What can be proven? Juke would say, nothing. The ambush party might have all gotten dysentery and gone home. There is no way of knowing who, among the patrol, would have been killed. There is no way of knowing if the patrol would have spotted the ambush first and prevailed with no loss of life. Or maybe gotten lost and accidentally missed the ambush. The same would be true if the intel had been gained through torture.
Intel, gained through torture or not, allows one to avoid certain situations, act with valuable knowledge in other situations and prevail, and so forth. There is no way of knowing who would have died, or if any would have died, absent that intel because we don't know--it not having happened--how it would have shaken out.
McClellan had all the info he needed before a big Civil War battle. Didn't do him much good. It did, however, cause him to do things differently, affecting who and how many died. Can anybody "prove" who would have died and who would have lived had that cigar not been found? Of course not. War and near-war are rife with accidental meeting engagements, accidental intel dumps, unforeseen catastrophes (or "miracles", depending) and counterfactuals can only be speculated about. Nothing about a counterfactual can be proven, although the folks whose idea of war began with Avalon Hill and small squares of cardboard are willing to spend a lot of time at it.
So proof of the kind juke is claiming to want cannot exist.
That doesn't mean anything, of course, since juke knows he's asking a bogus question.
He's a formidable researcher and he never makes a mistake. Which is to say, when he's wrong, he's wrong on purpose.
12.15.2008 4:24pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):

Ben is afraid. If he admitted torture succeeds in gathering useful intel, then he'd have to admit he wants us to go without useful intel, which might cost lives. He doesn't want to admit his scruples have a chance of costing some of us our lives.
Too bad he's so afraid. And dishonest.


Thanks for all the compliments but really you shouldn't have!
Best,
Ben
12.15.2008 4:48pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Not at all, Ben.
In fact, I'm ready to do it again. That's the kind of guy I am.
But I figure you can solve this whole thing by saying, "I don't care if intel gained by torture saves lives. We should, as a society, be prepared to make that sacrifice."
Won't hurt. Since you probably won't be the one hurt. No problem.
12.15.2008 4:51pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
I'd love to say that to make you feel good but since I do not think that torture for intel leads to reliable results - see various reasons and persons I cited to above who are not Nazis or torturers in Algeria who happen to agree with me - I can't lie for you. Call me unscrupulous! But, I am sure you can find plenty of people who'll pleasure you that way. Many on this blog.
Best,
Ben
12.15.2008 5:48pm
bushbasher:
"the Bush administration's basic approach was right but just went too far".

yep, locking people up in kennels on a whim, torturing people, keeping them in secret prisons and killing them. just an itsy bitsy bit too far.
12.15.2008 6:01pm
wfjag:
Dear Philistine:
You are, of course, correct about GC IV Arts. 29 &30 provisions as to "spys." That's not, however, contrary to what I wrote.

First, GC IV does not purport to give protections to saboteurs and guerrillas.

Second, there's nothing within GC IV implying that "spies" provided a right of trial by Art. 30 include spies from any country that is not a signatory to the GC. So, there's no reason to conclude from GC IV itself that a "spy" for a non-state actor, like a terrorist group, falls within the meaning of Art. 29, so that the limited protections of trial provided by Art. 30 apply.

Third, the same may be said of any prohibition on summary execution supposedly provided by Common Article III. GC IV was negotiated in 1949, and like the other GCs, involved negotiations between the post WWII "Great Powers." There is no reason to believe that the idea of a movement that was unconnected to a national government which would wage "war" on sovereign nations (other than in a civil war or "war of national liberation" context) was contemplated during the drafting of the GCs.

Finally, even as to "spies" within the meaning of GC IV Art. 29, other than providing that they will be provided a "trial", not much in the way of substantive or procedural rights are spelled out.

So, it looks like whatever "rights" someone falling outside of the safe harbor provisions of GC IV may have are dependent on the domestic laws and policies of the nation who captures that person. One of the commentators above (I believe it was Ben) said that one of the objections to the Bush administration's approach was its restriction of judicial review by the USDC for the Dist. of Columbia and the DC Ct of Appeal. Although this is an objection, it's not an objection based on the Geneva or Hague Conventions, or any other treaty. It's an objection to domestic criminal procedure and post-tribunal-trial review of a law enacted by Congress.

Accordingly, I still don't get Cole's objections to the Bush admin policies in light of his recent position -- unless I cynically conclude that his prior objections were because there was a Republican administration and Republican controlled Congress (till Jan 2007 when the Dems took over) and now there is a Democrat administration that will take office in Jan 2009 and a Dem controlled Congress, so that what was once illegal and forbidden is now legal and permitted.
12.15.2008 6:35pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Here is another torturer I also do not believe. From, Dick Cheney today on ABCNEWS.COM.


"In his first exit interview and first television interview since the November election, Cheney held fast to his views on coercing information out of alleged terrorists, saying waterboarding was an appropriate means of getting information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Cheney resisted those who say the Bush administration has overstepped its bounds on torture, saying national intelligence is an art, not a science.

Watch "World News With Charles Gibson" tonight for more and watch "Good Morning America" Tuesday at 7 a.m. ET.

"On the question of so-called torture, we don't do torture," Cheney told ABC News. "We never have. It's not something that this administration subscribes to.

"I think those who allege that we've been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don't know what they're talking about."

Cheney was also asked whether he authorized the tactics used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do," Cheney said. "And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it." "
12.15.2008 8:45pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

its use against our own citizens can lead to tyranny


It's obviously quite possible for a terrorist to also be a US citizen. Are you saying that terrorists who happen to be US citizens should be exempt from torture? Even if lives are at stake?

criminals don't try to kill thousands of people


You seem to be saying that torture is OK because it saves lives. But if torture saves lives, then how come you can't provide an example where torture saved lives?

You also seem to be saying that torture is OK only if lots of lives are at stake. But why isn't it OK to torture in order to save just one life? You seem to have some threshold in mind, which happens to be a number greater than one. What's the magic number, and how did you pick it?
12.15.2008 10:20pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

you are too dishonest to admit I did address the question


I guess you must have used some kind of invisible ink, since I asked the question here, and after I did so, you never posted again in that thread. And at this moment, that thread is still open.

proof of the kind juke is claiming to want cannot exist


Except I'm not looking for perfect proof. I'm merely looking for some reasonable approximation of proof. But you don't have any. Likewise for Moore and all the other torture fans. And that's important, for reasons I explained here.
12.15.2008 10:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
wf.
Does cynicism equal clear-sightedness?
Can the latter be dismissed by referring to it as the former?
12.15.2008 11:55pm
John Moore (www):
It's obviously quite possible for a terrorist to also be a US citizen. Are you saying that terrorists who happen to be US citizens should be exempt from torture? Even if lives are at stake?

In general, yes.

You seem to be saying that torture is OK because it saves lives. But if torture saves lives, then how come you can't provide an example where torture saved lives?

Still dancing with that strawman, eh?
12.16.2008 12:33am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Still dancing with that strawman, eh?


Still being evasive, eh? Before you asked why the question was relevant, even though I had already explained why the question is relevant. And now instead of addressing the question, you're still ducking.

And I suggest you find out what that term means, since you're using it incorrectly.

And speaking of ducking, you're ducking the last set of questions I asked you here.
12.16.2008 12:47am
John Moore (www):
@JBG

Sorry, a little tired. I mean swimming with that red herring. And that is exactly what it is. Please provide evidence that evidence of a life saved by torture is necessary to justify torture.

I am ducking no questions.
12.16.2008 1:40am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Please provide evidence that evidence of a life saved by torture is necessary to justify torture.


How timely and ironic. Thanks for that nice example of a straw-man argument. I didn't say answering the question was 'necessary.' I claimed that it's relevant, and I explained why here. You're not even making a pretense of addressing those arguments.

I am ducking no questions.


And you're also not even making a pretense of addressing the last set of questions I asked you here.
12.16.2008 1:48am
John Moore (www):
The argument is merely a rhetorical tactic. But since you insist (presumably so you can then dispute the facts):

I didn't say answering the question was 'necessary.' I claimed that it's relevant, and I explained why here...

But if torture saves lives, then how come you can't provide an example where torture saved lives?



You say its not necessary to provide an example. Then I don't choose not to.
12.16.2008 1:56am
John Moore (www):
Sigh... editing.. .should have been:

Then I choose not to.
12.16.2008 1:57am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
So when you said "I am ducking no questions," what you really meant was "I choose not to" answer questions. Cause that's somehow different from "ducking." Thanks for clearing that up.
12.16.2008 2:00am
John Moore (www):
You're welcome.
12.16.2008 2:12am
John Moore (www):
BTW, that is not the same as saying I cannot provide an answer.

I choose not to because the question is irrelevant, in spite of your reference. It is in fact a mere rhetorical trick and does not deserve an answer. If you think otherwise, justify it.
12.16.2008 2:15am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
If you think otherwise, justify it.


I did, here. But you're pretending to not notice what I said there. Just like you're pretending to not notice the last set of questions I asked you here. I guess this is your way of telling us that you don't expect to be taken seriously.

It is in fact a mere rhetorical trick


English translation: 'any issue that's too hard for me to address is a mere rhetorical trick.'
12.16.2008 7:21am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Juke.
The only ticking bomb scenarios I have heard of are in Israel where there are enough bombs for the situation to arise. I don't believe the Israeli cops have released their methodology.
A poster referred to a German case where, had the luck been better, a kid's life would have been saved, and Dershowitz refers to a similar case in, I believe, Tampa. In the latter case, Dershowitz said, the kid was found alive.
There are two, no bombs.
However, the problem with your bogus question remains in that it always implies "compared to what?" And since the other thing, the thing that didn't happen didn't happen, there is no way to prevent you from playing stupid games with it.
So, who wants to bother with your question. Nobody. We're just interested in pointing out how useless it is.
You may as well ask how many lives any intel has saved. Any intel, gained however.
Interesting story about WW II. The Germans had Plan A to attack in France to end the Phony War. One of their staff officers took an ill-advised flight which strayed over French or Belgian territory and was shot down. He had Plan A with him. On a matter of caution, the Germans went with Plan B. No idea if the Allies got the intel from the German. Problem was, Plan B sent the Germans, inadvertently, through the weaker part of the Allied position. IOW, the Germans got the relative combat power of their enemies wrong. Backwards.
Had the Germans thought Plan A was intact, the Allies might have stopped them immediately. No WW II. There was that much difference in combat power between the stronger Allied position and the weaker position.
How many lives did that intel save?
So the point is that intel is sometimes useful and sometimes not and getting it through torture doesn't change that.
12.16.2008 8:31am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

The only ticking bomb scenarios I have heard of are in Israel


Show us the citation where support can be found for the claim that torture actually saved lives.

Dershowitz refers to a similar case


Show us the citation. I think Dershowitz made reference to the same German case that you and Moore are excited about. Unfortunately, no lives were saved. And that's a highly relevant fact.

There are two


Your vague claims about something you almost maybe remember reading somewhere are proof of nothing. Especially because you have a track record of inventing your own facts and then refusing to take responsibility for doing so. It's reasonable to take this into account when pondering the credibility of various undocumented claims you make (which seem to the only kind you ever make).
12.16.2008 9:52am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
Dershowitz was referring to Tampa, afaik, but not Germany.
You can demand cites all you want. Do you think any number of cites would change your mind? Me either.
And, if you're right about the two kids, who were not alive when found, then their lives were not saved.
So? Had their situations of captivity been less brutal, they might have lived. I think you strayed into your territory here, the one where you don't want people to know you live.
As I say, you want proof of counterfactuals and that, by definition, cannot happen.
Adios, my friend.
12.16.2008 10:58am
John Moore (www):
Juke,
Your insistence on examples to prove the theory of the usefulness of torture is tiresome and irrelevant. When I say "rhetorical trick," I mean an attempt to divert the argument, for pure rhetorical advantage, into an irrelevancy. It won't work, and your rationalizations don't change that.

A dieu
12.16.2008 12:18pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

Dershowitz was referring to Tampa, afaik, but not Germany. You can demand cites all you want.


It's more of an observation than a "demand." The observation is that your regular MO is to present all sorts of interesting 'facts,' and then run for cover when challenged to show proof. Therefore only a fool would take you seriously.
12.16.2008 1:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

an attempt to divert the argument, for pure rhetorical advantage


English translation: 'you can count on me to continue to duck and evade, and pretend I've answered questions that I haven't actually answered.'
12.16.2008 1:24pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"There doesn't need to be an explanation for the earlier attacks. There only needs to be an explanation for attacks now. Nor does the reason need to be the same for both events."

If torture was not needed for 9/11 and pre-9/11 attacks, then we cam conclude there was another reason for it. What was it? Does anyone know?

Let's say torture is a reason after 9/11. Now, if we stop torture, why should we think the reason for pre-9/11 attacks no longer motivates attacks? Especially if we don't know it.
12.16.2008 6:22pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Torture will break me. I will say anything to get it to be stopped. In the real world. I will say whatever the torturer seems to want to hear. I will admit to anything."

An honest man. So, we can conclude torture works in getting a subject to talk. It works on me, too.

So, now we can move on to how you know what he wants to hear? Does any interrogation subject know what the interrogator wants to hear? How does he determine this?

Does every interrogator have a set of predetermined answers written on a yellow sticky?

In the real world, of course.
12.16.2008 6:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
If torture was not needed for 9/11 and pre-9/11 attacks, then we cam conclude there was another reason for it. What was it? Does anyone know?


OBL often cited the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia as a justification for 9/11, and as a reason to fight against the US. In 1996, he said this:

I believe that sooner or later the Americans will leave Saudi Arabia and that the war declared by America against the Saudi people means war against all Muslims everywhere. Resistance against America will spread in many, many places in Muslim countries. Our trusted leaders, the ulema, have given us a fatwa that we must drive out the Americans. The solution to this crisis is the withdrawal of American troops ... their military presence is an insult for the Saudi people


In 2003, we pulled our troops from Saudi Arabia. In other words, we gave him what he demanded. Appeasement? Capitulation? You decide.

I think many people are not aware of these facts.
12.16.2008 10:19pm
John Moore (www):

In 2003, we pulled our troops from Saudi Arabia. In other words, we gave him what he demanded. Appeasement? Capitulation? You decide


It didn't do a thing for OBL. It wasn't appeaseement or capitulation, he knew that and we knew that. We didn't need the troops there any more.

By that time, his focus was on Iraq, where we kicked Al Qaeda's butt. Al Qaeda declared Iraq to be "the central front."

Besides, that really misses the point of Al Qaeda in general. They are one major part of a Jihadist movement with far more ambitious goals: a Sunni world caliphate. Iran represents another major part (a Shiite world caliphate).
12.16.2008 11:21pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
By that time, his focus was on Iraq, where we kicked Al Qaeda's butt. Al Qaeda declared Iraq to be "the central front."


Except that before we got there, Al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq. They're there because of us.

And if "we kicked Al Qaeda's butt," then why are we still there?

By the way, you shouldn't put "the central front" in quote marks, as if some AQ leader made that exact statement. They didn't. I think the closest you can get to this is a statement made by Zawahiri in 2005. He said Iraq "is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era."
12.16.2008 11:37pm
John Moore (www):
They aredn't.
12.17.2008 1:06am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Huh?
12.17.2008 1:11am
John Moore (www):
Al Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq. Don't you pay attention to the news? There may be a few operators left, but they have no significant ability there any longer. It is now safer in Baghdad than in northern Mexico or South Africa. The Iraq was is over. We won. Live with it.

Zawahiri's statment is equivalent, obviously.
12.17.2008 2:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
It is now safer in Baghdad than in northern Mexico


That's not saying much. Mexico is a very dangerous place.

The Iraq was is over.


Great news. Thanks for telling me. So we can leave now, right?
12.17.2008 2:11am
John Moore (www):
Soon. We have already drawn down troops to below surge levels.

How long did we stay in Germany and Japan after WW-II was over?
12.17.2008 12:10pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
We have already drawn down troops to below surge levels.


As usual, you're wrong:

After other support and logistics units are withdrawn under the new orders, the American troop levels in Iraq would drop to about 138,000 by March [2009], still several thousand more than were there in January 2007, when Mr. Bush announced the "surge" that brought the total over 160,000.

How long did we stay in Germany and Japan after WW-II was over?


You said "the Iraq was is over." When did it end? We've lost about 60 troops since 9/1/08. At what rate were our troops in Europe being killed "after WW-II was over?"
12.17.2008 1:32pm
John Moore (www):
The war is over.

At what rate were our troops in Europe being killed "after WW-II was over?"


I suppose if we had bombed Iraq flat like Germany, and occupied it with, say 500,000 troops, that might be a slightly relevant question.
12.17.2008 4:04pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"OBL often cited the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia as a justification for 9/11, and as a reason to fight against the US."

Well, it makes much more sense to blame it on troops in Saudi than torture that had not yet occured. But, what if OBL decides he doesn't want the US buying oil from Saudi, since American money defiles the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, or selling it copies of the NYT because Bill Keller is an Enemy of God? What do we do? Will that be an example of a pattern of disrespect?

In terms of the Arab view on torture, they think it's common sense. They have a much different view of it than so many Americans have. There is an unfortunate phenomenon among Americans who have spent little time overseas. They think everyone shares their western values, thinks like they do, and they can speak for these other cultures. They don't.
12.17.2008 7:14pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"In 2003, we pulled our troops from Saudi Arabia. In other words, we gave him what he demanded. Appeasement? Capitulation? You decide."

Since the troops were enforcing the no-fly zone, and by 2003 Saudi was not needed, the troops left.
12.17.2008 7:16pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
the troops were enforcing the no-fly zone


We had 5,000 troops there. It took that many to enforce the no-fly zone? Really?
12.18.2008 2:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Yes. Several aquadrons with all the support were at Dhahran. This took more than the normal squadron compliment because the services of the base also had to be provided.

The largest contingent was at a vary large control center 25 miles south of Riyadh. Their mission was to control all the air operations, train the Saudis, and turn it over to them.

After the Khobar Towers bombing, additional combat troops were added to all facilities, increasing manpower everywhere there were Americans.
12.18.2008 3:00pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Some people were convinced that the real reason we were there was to keep the royal family in power. And they are not universally popular, which is understandable.
12.18.2008 5:15pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

I suppose if we had bombed Iraq flat like Germany


What's the total tonnage we've dropped on Iraq, and how does that compare with what we dropped on Germany?

The war is over.


Why are you refusing to answer my question about when the war ended? And if the war is over, why are we still above pre-surge troops levels? And why did you make a false statement about the current troop level? And why have you failed to take responsibility for making that false statement? And why would you expect anyone to take you seriously, when you routinely make bogus statements and then duck when this is proven?
12.18.2008 5:16pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Some people were convinced that the real reason we were there was to keep the royal family in power. And they are not universally popular, which is understandable."

I imagine some people are convinced of that. Many in Saudi are convinced Zionists have managed to introduce pig fat into the glue used for postage stamps, so they will never lick them. I suppose that's just part of the Zionist pattern of disrespect for which Israel must pay.

Most people were particularly disturbed that after years of sinking billions and billions into defense, the Saudi defense force couldn't handle a foreign foe. The armed forces could handle the population very well, but nobody else. All the money had gone to Switzerland in cross commissions among the royal family and its agents.

The Saudis had two armies. One was the National Guard, and the other was the Army. Each reported up a different chain of command, and each was drawn from different tribes, and that served to keep the royal factions balanced. They also had a large National Police. These three could handle the population quite well. They didn't need American help.

Besides, by 2000 the US troops in Saudi were not the kind one uses for population control.

One thing that puzzled the Saudis was why the Americans left. The US had the place. It was theirs. Then they left. That didn't make sense to many Saudis.
12.18.2008 5:35pm

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