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The Torture Memos:
The ACLU has links to the four torture memos released today here. I'm reading them now, and may post some thoughts later on.

  FIRST UPDATE: I'm initially struck my how little information is redacted, and by how much information the memos reveal about the details of the interrogation practices. Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future.
RPT (mail):
This will be a challenging thread. Perhaps comments should be restricted to those who have read the memoranda, which total nearly 100 pages.
4.16.2009 5:31pm
fennel:
Initial thought, after reading the first memorandum. The legal conclusions in these sorts of advisory opinions are easy to manipulate using stipulated or hypothesized "facts." For example, the government lawyers accept as true that waterboarding causes no long term mental suffering. I was struck by the "not my problem, I just do the law part" tone of applying these sorts of "facts" to the governing law.
4.16.2009 5:38pm
Anderson (mail):
For example, the government lawyers accept as true that waterboarding causes no long term mental suffering.

I think this may implicate good faith/bad faith on CIA's part. Did they do any research into the experiences of past victims of waterboarding, for instance? Or just rely on their pals at SERE?

Anyway, I can now see how the pattern will work:

CIA: We relied in good faith on legal advice!

OLC: We relied in good faith on the facts as presented to us!


No one's responsible, no one's guilty. All we have is victims, but no perpetrators.
4.16.2009 5:42pm
OrinKerr:
fennel,

Yes, the stipulated facts are key here. (Although I gather that is how OLC normally works?)
4.16.2009 5:42pm
badger (mail):
"Because releasing a detainee from the shackles would present a security problem and would interfere with the effectiveness of the technique, a detainee undergoing sleep deprivation frequently wears an adult diaper...Diapers are checked and changed as needed so that no detainee would be allowed to remain in a soiled diaper, and the detainee's skin condition is monitored...You have informed us that diapers are used solely for sanitary and health reasons, and not in order to humiliate the detainee"

"Dietary manipulation involves substituting a bland, commercial liquid meal for a detainee's normal diet. We understand that its use can increase the effectiveness of other techniques, such a sleep deprivation. As a guideline, the CIA uses a formula...that insures that caloric intake will always be set at or above 1,000 kcal/day. By comparison, commercial weight-loss programs used within the United States are not uncommonly limit intake to 1000 kcal/day regardless of body weight.
4.16.2009 5:44pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
I've only skimmed the first memo, but I'm stumped trying to figure out what could possibly be blacked out following the sentence:

"You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him"
4.16.2009 5:45pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

As a guideline, the CIA uses a formula...that insures that caloric intake will always be set at or above 1,000 kcal/day. By comparison, commercial weight-loss programs used within the United States are not uncommonly limit intake to 1000 kcal/day regardless of body weight.

Why would they follow "weight-loss programs" guidelines instead of the FDA or USDA or whatever's 2,000 kcal gold standard? And whats with the grammar "are not uncommonly limit intake"?
4.16.2009 5:49pm
cboldt (mail):
Lots of interesting revelations. In the 1st Bradbury Memo of May 10, there is a revelation that waterboarding was conducted 25 months earlier.
4.16.2009 5:50pm
godelmetric (mail):
"With respect to the small confinement box, you have informed us that he would spend at most two hours in this box... while you have informed us that he will never spend more than an hour at a time in the smaller box."

I can't think of a way to parse those two statements, which are literally two sentences apart. (Section III of the 2002 memo.) If a first year associate wrote that they'd get fired.
4.16.2009 5:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
They have 2 passages that give away the game.

1 is where they discuss Hilao and its conclusion that various forms of water torture are indeed torture. And all they really say to distinguish the case is "but our water torture is SUPERVISED!" Like that (and not the fact that it is a mock execution, which has been a recognized form of torture for centuries), is the dispositive issue.

The other is where they discuss SERE and say "well, of course, SERE is different in that it's a controlled environment and the subjects know the torture is going to stop and can stop it whenever they want to, but we still think SERE experiences are relevant". But, that's precisely the difference between a torture training program and torture! Talk about begging the question!
4.16.2009 6:00pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Based on the President's statement, I think the reason for redacting so little is likely that it was part of the deal... they won't prosecute the agents and folks who relied on the advice, but they've got to come clean about all the gory details of the advice.
4.16.2009 6:01pm
sureyoubet:
So I read the description of the 10 techniques in the first memo on the ACLU site. While waterboarding indeed sounds like a form of torture to me, what I found surpising and shocking was that there had to be a memo written to permit grabbing someone by the shirt collar ("attention grasp") slapping, "facial hold"...

Maybe I'm just a Jack Bauer wannabe at heart or something, but geez....you need a legal memo to say you can "attention grasp" a suspected or known terrorist?
4.16.2009 6:02pm
Anderson (mail):
Based on the President's statement, I think the reason for redacting so little is likely that it was part of the deal

I think that's exactly right.

Marc Ambinder is gamely trying to read something into the "good faith reliance" part, but I think that's optimistic.
4.16.2009 6:05pm
Alex Blackwell (mail):
One common redaction I noticed is: "See April 22 [redacted] Fax at 4." Presumably this redaction is more an attempt to disguise the date/time group of an electronic transmission, which is a COMSEC procedure to prevent retrospective code breaking/descrambling of secure transmissions.
4.16.2009 6:07pm
Anderson (mail):
what I found surpising and shocking was that there had to be a memo written to permit grabbing someone by the shirt collar ("attention grasp") slapping, "facial hold"...

First, they're assault. Try them on passersby sometime.

Second, they present fairly obvious room for abuse over time. How measured are these techniques in practice?
4.16.2009 6:07pm
Anderson (mail):
Interesting, Alex -- I had guessed there was someone's name (as in, "fax to ___") there.
4.16.2009 6:08pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

As a guideline, the CIA uses a formula...that insures that caloric intake will always be set at or above 1,000 kcal/day.

For comparision, "America's Toughest Sheriff" serves his inmates 2,500 (down from 3,000) a day.

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Southwest/10/29/chain.gang.reut/
4.16.2009 6:09pm
Oren:

Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future.

Or that they have judged that the procedures' effectiveness is not mitigated by detainees' foreknowledge of them.
4.16.2009 6:13pm
Sagar:
It is nice of Obama to state that the CIA guys will not be prosecuted.

wonder how that will go with some of the people on the left and his detractors on the right.
4.16.2009 6:13pm
Sagar:
Anderson:"First, they're assault. Try them on passersby sometime"

i am trying to understand your position against torture; but are you really advocating that the CIA should treat suspected terrorists just as you would treat a fellow citizen passing by?
4.16.2009 6:17pm
sureyoubet:
"First, they're assault. Try them on passersby sometime."

Well, I wouldn't try holding a "passerby" locked up in an interrogation room either. So what?
4.16.2009 6:18pm
PLR:
Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future.
Or that they have judged that the procedures' effectiveness is not mitigated by detainees' foreknowledge of them.

Bradbury withdrew them himself a few months ago, right?

But reading between the lines here, from today we learn that the DOJ will not prosecute the torturers. I might add "especially because it was the DOJ that told them it was OK!"

That still leaves open the possibilities that (a) the DOJ will prosecute former officials who gave the legal advice, and/or (b) a special prosecutor (now there's an idea) can prosecute all responsible parties without worrying about those niggling conflicts issues.
4.16.2009 6:20pm
Anderson (mail):
Google suggests

... Re: assault, I am pointing out that there are laws against it, and that these laws are not magically suspended b/c the victim is a suspected terrorist.

I would note also that these methods seem likely to violate Common Article 3.

Still, if these methods, as described, were "all" we had done, I don't think there would be quite the uproar.
4.16.2009 6:22pm
Anderson (mail):
Oh, sorry, premature post. "Google suggests" that Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto got about 1,000 calories a day, tho I would hesitate to accept that figure w/out some more authoritative sourcing.
4.16.2009 6:23pm
Alex Blackwell (mail):
Your initial thought might be correct, Anderson. Indeed, I would have thought in a date/time group deletion that deleting the date was more important than deleting the year.

The redaction could instead refer to another classified designator for a person, organization, or it could refer to a codeword. Note the classification/compartment redaction on one of the memos: TOP SECRET//[redacted]/NOFORN. I assume the redaction there refers to a classified codeword compartment such as, for example, TALENT KEYHOLE.
4.16.2009 6:24pm
Bart (mail):
The Bybee Memo is better thought out than the Yoo memo.

I was struck by the substantial amount of thought which CIA put into ensuring that these techniques safeguarded the target. Because CIA is relying upon the military SERE program, the Company may simply have adopted the substantially the same training given to SERE instructors to protect military students while placing them in a highly realistic and stressful interrogation environment. In other words, to stress the hell out of hardened soldiers without causing any real harm.

The Bybee memo confirms the claims in the Red Cross report about "walling" that had been previously undisclosed in leaks.

The memo also confirms the CIAs previous description of its waterboarding technique, putting the lie to previous unsubstantiated claims that the technique involved the forced entry of water into the stomach and lungs to cause physical damage as employed by the "water cure" by our troops in the Philippines, the Japanese during WWII and the Inquisition.

However, the memo indicates that the detainee's claims to the Red Cross concerning long time standing involving being shackled and the duration of other techniques are enormously exaggerated or lies.

Finally, it appears that the evidence relied upon to find that these techniques do not result in severe physical pain or prolonged severe mental pain consists of decades of experience in the SERE training of our own troops. That would have made a very interesting defense if any "torture" charges had ever gone to trial. We would not torture our own troops, so how can CIA be guilty of torturing al Qaeda?

Very interesting stuff so far.
4.16.2009 6:31pm
Anderson (mail):
Yah, I saw that footer too -- interesting. These memos will reveal all kinds of subtle details to journalists who've been studying this stuff.
4.16.2009 6:32pm
Anderson (mail):
However, the memo indicates that the detainee's claims to the Red Cross concerning long time standing involving being shackled and the duration of other techniques are enormously exaggerated or lies.

One, the memos do not necessarily represent what was actually done -- just what the CIA said was done.

Two, the prisoners were not in a position to check their watches &see how long they'd been standing, etc. Disorienting them temporally was part of the game.
4.16.2009 6:33pm
Constantin:
Orin, on the conclusion in your First Update, why then did the president leave himself the loophole to do just these things in his much-talked-about executive order? That document clearly did not prohibit such enhanced techniques in all circumstances.
4.16.2009 6:39pm
Bart (mail):
Anderson (mail):

what I found surpising and shocking was that there had to be a memo written to permit grabbing someone by the shirt collar ("attention grasp") slapping, "facial hold"...

First, they're assault. Try them on passersby sometime.


We are talking about torture, not assault.

When capturing and detaining a fully privileged POW, a soldier will commit common law assault against the POW during the capture to the same extent or a bit rougher than an arrest of a civilian criminal suspect. That is why we have laws protecting the police from assault charges in using reasonable force to perform a lawful duty. Similarly, that is why civilian assault laws do not apply to soldiers on the battlefield.

When my platoon captured Iraqis, that standard procedure was to push them down onto the ground until they were prone, search them for weapons and intelligence, bind them, blindfold them and then shove them into a vehicle for transport. If they resisted during the process, the soldiers were permitted to essentially beat them into compliance. To my recollection, only a couple Republican Guard thugs copped and attitude, refused to cooperate and had to be dealt with roughly.

Wartime is not playtime.
4.16.2009 6:43pm
Alex Blackwell (mail):
Marc Ambinder, blogging at The Atlantic, speculates on the redactions as well:

The names of CIA case officers and agency officials who participated in the interrogations were blacked out, a concession, government officials said, to the national security officers who acted in good faith. Other redactions seem to include the details of other intelligence community collection programs and the names of some detainees.
4.16.2009 6:43pm
PQuincy1:
"Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future."

I don't follow the logic behind Orrin's statement, here. I find it difficult to believe that the effect of torture is substantially mitigated by knowing one will be tortured, or even by knowing the range of possible tortures. To be sure, torture has a large psychological dimension, as indicated in the standard procedures for judicial torture in the late Middle Ages and early modern period, which typically required showing the subject the 'instruments' and demonstrating how they would be used, but without using them, and then asking (again) for a confession.

But this clear legal precedent, which the Bush DOJ lawyers may have overlooked, would suggest that knowing how one is to be tortured is likely to increase, not decrease, the effectiveness of the procedure overall. Remember, judicial torture, while not ubiquitous, was certainly common from thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, and the very considerable experience developed over this period circulated in both guides of various kinds as well as in the traditions and transmitted experience of hangmen's guilds and the like.

I mean, torture as part of the judical process is nothing new, right? Bybee, Yoo et al. were just being good conservatives, going back to well-established methods from the past.
4.16.2009 6:47pm
Bart (mail):
Anderson:

One, the memos do not necessarily represent what was actually done -- just what the CIA said was done.

Think about this for a moment. CIA came to DoJ to get its blessing and thus a legal defense from any potential future DoJ prosecution for a very detailed and specific set of techniques. Why go through the effort if you are going to use other techniques and thus lose the legal protection you are seeking?
4.16.2009 6:48pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Finally, it appears that the evidence relied upon to find that these techniques do not result in severe physical pain or prolonged severe mental pain consists of decades of experience in the SERE training of our own troops. That would have made a very interesting defense if any "torture" charges had ever gone to trial. We would not torture our own troops, so how can CIA be guilty of torturing al Qaeda?

See my earlier comment. Participants in SERE knew the torture was limited in time and had the ability to stop it. Detainees had no such knowledge or control. Indeed, Bybee admits this is a very relevant distinction; he just goes on and ignores it after admitting it.
4.16.2009 6:51pm
sureyoubet:
Likely to violate Common Article 3?

Common Article 3 prohibits:

"Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;" and

"Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;"

I guess we live on different planets if you think that grabbing someone's shirt collar or holding both sides of their face while taking care not to get your fingers near their eyes is "likely" to constitute "violence to life and person" or "outrage" on personal dignity.

Indeed, if I saw a parent do a "facial hold" on their misbehaving child in the grocery story, I would be impressed with their restraint compared to the ones I see swat their behinds.
4.16.2009 6:53pm
Apodaca:
soldiers on the battlefield

But we're obviously not talking about battlefield capture, but rather about treatment once the person has been captured, disarmed, and detained.

Bart, your indefatigable dissembling is truly a wonder to behold. It reminds me of the classic Doonesbury strip (from memory below) in which Richard Nixon's spokesman Ron Ziegler answers a press question:
Q. Ron, what do you do every morning after you look into the bathroom mirror and say to yourself, "I'm about to begin another day of lies, evasion, and deceit"?

A. I shave.
4.16.2009 6:57pm
Bart (mail):
PQuincy1:

"Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future."

I don't follow the logic behind Orrin's statement, here. I find it difficult to believe that the effect of torture is substantially mitigated by knowing one will be tortured, or even by knowing the range of possible tortures.


This is not torture and does not even get close to inflicting severe pain. Rather, the techniques here are meant to disorient and play mind games on the subject.

The military runs SERE school specifically to train the military in techniques in how to resist and defeat just such techniques.

The Obama Administration's detailed disclosure of techniques and, more importantly, disclosure of the limits beyond which we will not go will allow the enemy to train their terrorists in how to defeat this kind of interrogation. With the right training and if you know what to expect, all of these techniques (except the waterboarding which Obama has promised not to use) can be resisted for long enough to allow the terrorist's cell to redeploy and hide.

I assure you that our enemies will be studying these memos closely. They are a treasure trove of intelligence. Their release, while interesting, was exceedingly stupid and counter productive.
4.16.2009 7:00pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

I assure you that our enemies will be studying these memos closely.

Reminds me of an exchange between a Dick stooge and a Democratic House member in a Hearing
Dem: (some question)
Dick's stooge: I'm not going to answer that because al Qaida may be watching this on satellite tv.
Dem: Yes I'm sure Osama is glad to watch you

Their release, while interesting, was exceedingly stupid and counter productive.

Gee I don't know, I think George ignoring that memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" was much more stupid and counter productive.
4.16.2009 7:10pm
Sagar:
ruuffles,

i see you are very upset that George "ignored" the memo that Bil LAden Determined to Strike in US - why not tell us what he should have done, in addition to lawyering up?

in another thread you or someone else said "increasing security at important buildings" - did you have AA guns in mind to shoot down jetliners?
4.16.2009 7:13pm
Oren:

This is not torture and does not even get close to inflicting severe pain. Rather, the techniques here are meant to disorient and play mind games on the subject.

Actually, I'm inclined to agree (provided we are using torture as defined in the USC, not colloquially) aside from the waterboarding bit.

On the other hand, most of it certainly cruel (forced standing, stress positions ...) but the USC does not define torture quite that broadly.
4.16.2009 7:18pm
PC:
Remember, judicial torture, while not ubiquitous, was certainly common from thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, and the very considerable experience developed over this period circulated in both guides of various kinds as well as in the traditions and transmitted experience of hangmen's guilds and the like.


Which is why we know torture works. Just look at how many witches admitted to flying to their coven at night to have intercourse with Lucifer.
4.16.2009 7:36pm
Bart (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

BD: Finally, it appears that the evidence relied upon to find that these techniques do not result in severe physical pain or prolonged severe mental pain consists of decades of experience in the SERE training of our own troops. That would have made a very interesting defense if any "torture" charges had ever gone to trial. We would not torture our own troops, so how can CIA be guilty of torturing al Qaeda?

See my earlier comment. Participants in SERE knew the torture was limited in time and had the ability to stop it. Detainees had no such knowledge or control. Indeed, Bybee admits this is a very relevant distinction; he just goes on and ignores it after admitting it.


You have obviously never undergone SERE training. The purpose of SERE (and apparently the similarly constructed CIA program) is to make the student think that the interrogators will go much further than they actually can. Indeed, the Bybee memo specifically addresses this objective.

This is done by breaking down the student's ability to rationalize his environment through sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion, ongoing and irritating discomforts (not pain), changes in diet, irregular lighting or no lighting at all to disorient the student as to time, blindfolding to disorient the student as to space, and noise to keep the student from being able to think straight.

As a result, a three day SERE interrogation session seems like weeks (which may account for the terrorists' exaggerations of time to the Red Cross). By the second day, supposed tough guy soldiers are sobbing, pissing and shitting themselves and are completely paranoid. They think that the instructors have gone off the reservation, can do anything to them that they please and no one will ever find out. In reality, the entire process is a mind f_ck and they are in no real danger. Once the students realize this after the fact and are further trained in resistance techniques, they will do far better in the field under real conditions.

[This why disclosure of these techniques to the enemy so they can train against them is an exceedingly STUPID idea. SERE and its techniques have been classified from the outset specifically to avoid providing information to the enemy.]

Torture sessions based on the simple infliction of pain are not nearly as effective. I would recommend that anyone who wants a good idea what a real torture session is like and how it can be fairly easily defeated, go read Bravo Two Zero by SAS Sergeant Andy McNab about how the Iraqis used torture against he and a couple captured team mates and how they were able to rationally game the Iraqis until enough time had passed so that other SAS patrols had been rerouted or withdrawn.
4.16.2009 7:49pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Bart:

I don't doubt that SERE is intense, that the people who go through it are brave, and that it is an effective program to train people to resist torture.

Nonetheless, it can simply never be comparable to go through a program that is administered by your own superiors and which can be stopped at any time to a program that is administered by enemy interrogators holding you captive and where no indication is given that the procedure will stop at any point.

Really, this distinction is so basic even a first grader can see it. So this is a point you are deliberately choosing to miss; you are arguing in bad faith a position you do not really believe.

As I said, even Bybee acknowledges it in his memo.
4.16.2009 7:57pm
martinned (mail) (www):
Re Bravo Two Zero: People really should read that book, even if it has received some criticism as to its historic reliability. For one thing, those SAS guys had a cover story to use if they should be unable to stick to their first cover story.
4.16.2009 8:00pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Charter of the International Military Tribunal (London 1945)

Article 6. * * *

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;

(b) WAR CRIMES: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

(c)CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.

Article 7.

The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.

Article 8.

The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires.


http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/imtconst.asp#art6
4.16.2009 8:28pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Just look at how many witches admitted to flying to their coven at night to have intercourse with Lucifer.


Well played sir.

Also I'd just like to say that a lengthy discussion of the "face hold" technique is perhaps missing the point.
4.16.2009 8:28pm
ddarko:

[This why disclosure of these techniques to the enemy so they can train against them is an exceedingly STUPID idea. SERE and its techniques have been classified from the outset specifically to avoid providing information to the enemy.]


Save your straw man arguments for your mock war game fantasies. You sound exactly like one of those military guys that Defense Secretary Gates criticizes for building weapons and strategies designed to fight against mytical, hypothetical enemies rather than the enemies we actually face. There is not a shred of evidence, intelligence or anecdote that Al Qaeda or other terrorists train or even have the capacity to train their recruits with the methodical rigor that would let them take advantage of such information. This possibility, which you try and fail miserably to raise as an objection to releasing details, was something intelligence worried about with the Soviets. Newsflash: the Cold War ended. Al Qaeda and other terrorists focus on SUICIDE attacks. They do not train or worry about resisting interrogation because their methods, if successful, tends not to leave anyone alive to interrogation.

Why not immediately classify the Army Field Manual so the enemies doesn't read about the approved interrogation methods in there? Perhaps we can also classify the Geneva Convention and other documents related to the treatment of prisoners because we want to keep our enemies disoriented and unsure how we're going to treat them once they're captured? My gosh, there's an absolute MOUNTAIN of information floating out there that's just screaming for national security classification. The mind boggles.
4.16.2009 8:31pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):

It is nice of Obama to state that the CIA guys will not be prosecuted.

Not by the feds, at least.

If any torture happened in Los Angeles, California, the L.A. County District Attorney can try the suspects in L.A. County Superior Court.
4.16.2009 8:40pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):

When capturing and detaining a fully privileged POW, a soldier will commit common law assault against the POW during the capture to the same extent or a bit rougher than an arrest of a civilian criminal suspect. That is why we have laws protecting the police from assault charges in using reasonable force to perform a lawful duty. Similarly, that is why civilian assault laws do not apply to soldiers on the battlefield.

There have always been exceptions to the applicability of common law assault.

After all, soldiers are not guilty of murder for initiating lethal attacks on the enemy.

However, the UCMJ article on assault applies to the conduct of soldiers towards enemy POW's.

If intelligence agents tortured terror suspects in Los Angeles, California, they would be subject to prosecution by the district attorney for assault and battery, at the very least.
4.16.2009 8:44pm
ddarko:
But reading between the lines here, from today we learn that the DOJ will not prosecute the torturers. I might add "especially because it was the DOJ that told them it was OK!"

That still leaves open the possibilities that (a) the DOJ will prosecute former officials who gave the legal advice, and/or


I agree. Yoo, Bradbury and Bybee are not in the clear at all. The Obama statement is very precisely drafted to assure the actual interrogators/torturers (it is genuinely painful as an American to have to write the second description). But the men who drafted these memos are still, at least hypothetically, still out in the cold. Whether the Obama administration has any more appetite to go after political officials than it does intelligence personnel is an open question. But even after today's statement, the possibility that Yoo, Bradbury and Bybee be prosecuted has not been foreclosed.
4.16.2009 8:45pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@C. Gittings: Wouldn't it have been easier to quote the statute of the ICC? After all, that's the most recent authoritative statement on the definition of various war crimes.

I'm not sure what the purpose of your quote was, but for example art. 27 of the Rome Statute affirms the "irrelevance of official capacity", art. 30 explains the scienter element of the crimes, but probably you were looking for something like this:


Article 32
Mistake of fact or mistake of law
1. A mistake of fact shall be a ground for excluding criminal responsibility only if it negates the mental element required by the crime.
2. A mistake of law as to whether a particular type of conduct is a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court shall not be a ground for excluding criminal responsibility. A mistake of law may, however, be a ground for excluding criminal responsibility if it negates the mental element required by such a crime, or as provided for in article 33.

Article 33
Superior orders and prescription of law
1. The fact that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been committed by a person pursuant to an order of a Government or of a superior, whether military or civilian, shall not relieve that person of criminal responsibility unless:
(a) The person was under a legal obligation to obey orders of the Government or the superior in question;
(b) The person did not know that the order was unlawful; and
(c) The order was not manifestly unlawful.
2. For the purposes of this article, orders to commit genocide or crimes against humanity are manifestly unlawful.
4.16.2009 8:56pm
Leo Marvin (mail):

Nonetheless, it can simply never be comparable to go through a program that is administered by your own superiors and which can be stopped at any time to a program that is administered by enemy interrogators holding you captive and where no indication is given that the procedure will stop at any point.

No one would dispute that blows to the head and body, capable of causing brain or organ damage, are torture. Equally indisputable is that boxing, MMA and other violent sports that include such blows aren't torture. The ability of a participant to stop the onslaught on command is obviously a definitive difference.
4.16.2009 9:02pm
druceratops (mail):
Dilan,

While your point is well taken regarding the difference between simulated and actual interrogation, the idea of comparability is pretty subjective. What is your criteria for declaring the situations as "comparable" or not?

Bart contends that the circumstances are comparable because the techniques are the same and because SERE has been refined specifically to place the subjects into a mindset where they no longer perceive themselves to be in a controlled situation (e.g., that I am aware of, there is no "safe" word for the SERE participant to end the treatment). That is the whole point of the simulation - to evoke the fear and emotions that will arise in the event of actual capture. How often and to what extent to they succeed in convincing the subject that they are no longer in a controlled situation? I don't know. Enough to think that there is at least some relevance to comaprisons against actual interrogations? I cannot dismiss it.

How do we factor in the captives initial perceptions regarding the limitations on techniques that he expects will be employed by U.S. personnel during the interrogation? Is it any way analagous to the SERE participant thinking that he will not be harmed because this is a controlled simulation? I would think probably in kind, but not in degree. Does that make them "comparable" or not "comparable"?

Anyway, while you make an important point, I disagree that it is as clear cut as you contend --> "...first grader can see it..."
4.16.2009 9:06pm
Crawdad (mail):
ddarko,

You really should refrain from talking about something you know nothing about. As someone who used to move in those circles, interrogation/Arabic translator, and who still knows people involved both overseas and here I can tell you that you are dead wrong.

The real Al Qaeda operatives, for instance, don't carry out the suicide missions themselves, they use young idealistic recruits or people who have been radicalized for that particular mission. Not all of their attacks or methods involve suicide attacks by the way.

A very good friend of mine who occasionally advises military interrogators, has gotten feedback that the prisoners at Gitmo have been quite adept at resisting interrogation. They have used very sophisticated resistance techniques too, both at the individual level and as groups, so they had to have had some training.

The Army Field Manual re: interrogation is a joke. Every person I know who went through interrogation training knows this so who cares who reads it.

I know several people who were waterboarded as part of their training for SERE. The longest I've ever heard of anyone lasting was about 15 seconds. It is quite terrifying and probably does reach the threshold of torture.

The difficulty remains, what is torture and what is not. These physical methods are really nothing compared to the psychological damage a skilled interrogator can inflict given just a couple of days. I saw people struggle with this sort of damage after going through SERE school even though they knew it was training.
4.16.2009 9:13pm
ddarko:
From the Bradbury memo:


By its terms, Article 16 [of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment] is limited to conduct within "territory under [United States] jurisdiction. We conclude that territory under United States jurisdiction includes, at most, areas over which the United States exercises at least de facto authority as the government. Based on CIA assurances, we understand that the interrogations do not take place in any such areas.


What does this mean? Bradbury's memo was written in May 2005, after the 2004 Rasul v. Bush decision that gave Guantanamo prisoners the writ of habeas corpus based, in part, on the fact that Guantanamo was a territory that the U.S. exercised exclusive jurisdiction and control. Bradbury seems to acknowledge this decision by admitting the law applies in any "area over which the United States exercises at least de facto authority as the government." But the government has acknowledged that at least one prisoner was waterboarded in Guantanamo. Did the CIA lie to Bradbury?
4.16.2009 9:16pm
Lucius Cornelius:
So, let me get this straight. The interrogation techniques described in the memos constitute "torture" and are a violation of international law. But, I guess it is okay for Al Qaeda to kill prisoners by cutting their heads off.
4.16.2009 9:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Bart contends that the circumstances are comparable because the techniques are the same and because SERE has been refined specifically to place the subjects into a mindset where they no longer perceive themselves to be in a controlled situation (e.g., that I am aware of, there is no "safe" word for the SERE participant to end the treatment). That is the whole point of the simulation - to evoke the fear and emotions that will arise in the event of actual capture.

Yeah, but the fact that in the circumstance of actual capture by the enemy, the detainee knows that he has been actually captured by the enemy is impossible to simulate. Bybee acknowledged this, and Bart knows it too. He's just playing dumb.
4.16.2009 9:26pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
It's a crime by the state and it is our moment of truth.
Best,
Ben
4.16.2009 9:30pm
ddarko:
A very good friend of mine who occasionally advises military interrogators, has gotten feedback that the prisoners at Gitmo have been quite adept at resisting interrogation. They have used very sophisticated resistance techniques too, both at the individual level and as groups, so they had to have had some training.

....

I know several people who were waterboarded as part of their training for SERE. The longest I've ever heard of anyone lasting was about 15 seconds. It is quite terrifying and probably does reach the threshold of torture.


Bart's argument was that these techniques need to be kept secret to ensure they can't be trained against. Assuming for the sake of argument that your contention is accurate and there is some degree of resistance training, that still makes rubbish of his argument. They seem to have become "quite adept" at resisting long before these memos were released. As to whether they will resist more effectively, we might as well argue about how many angels fit on the head of a pin. It is all moot since these interrogation methods have been ended.
4.16.2009 9:32pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Is "Dud" the Latin term for "Torture Memo"?

This is it, the long awaited smoking gun that would send Bush Cheney et al to prison for life?

Caterpillars and grabbing collars.

Just like the Nazis.

The reason Holder isn't prosecuting is that, even in DC, he can't get convictions for the trivia described in these memos.

BTW, the Spanish attorney general has killed, at least for now, the investigations there too. Tough luck.
4.16.2009 9:32pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Lucius Cornelius:

So, let me get this straight. The interrogation techniques described in the memos constitute "torture" and are a violation of international law. But, I guess it is okay for Al Qaeda to kill prisoners by cutting their heads off.

Please stop. You're giving straw men a bad name.
4.16.2009 9:36pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future.


Yes, our drones are just going to kill them in Pakistan instead of capturing and then interrogating them.

No due process or habeus proceedings required.

I'm ok with that, others mileage may vary.
4.16.2009 9:36pm
bluecollarguy:

There is not a shred of evidence, intelligence or anecdote that Al Qaeda or other terrorists train or even have the capacity to train their recruits with the methodical rigor that would let them take advantage of such information.


9/11/2001 and the events leading up to it, for example the training required to fly a jet into a building, makes your comment a bit silly.

But we do know this, 5.56 to the pirate forehead when one American life is at stake is good to go with the current administration while stressing jihadists with knowledge of plots that might kill many more is not.

So, does the urgency trump the numbers or does the 5.56 simply inflict less stress?
4.16.2009 9:38pm
Cornellian (mail):
I have no doubt we'll get full confessions from Cheney, Addington, Yoo and Bybee after they've gone through a few hours of "enhanced interrogation techniques." Then I'd like to see them argue that the confessions are inadmissable because they were obtained through torture.
4.16.2009 9:39pm
SG:
Is "Dud" the Latin term for "Torture Memo"?

No kidding. So instead of pushing someone against a false wall (with head and neck support to avoid whiplash), instead we'll forgo any possible intelligence value and just launch Hellfires and kill them outright, along with their wives and children.

Somehow that's more moral...
4.16.2009 9:40pm
Barry Fisher (mail):
These memos should be required reading for every first-year law student in the country.
4.16.2009 9:44pm
ddarko:

9/11/2001 and the events leading up to it, for example the training required to fly a jet into a building, makes your comment a bit silly.


What's silly is your attempt to completely distort and twist my quote. I was referring to training to resist interrogation or torture, not training in general such as training in piloting or bomb making. Crawdad has replied that he believes I am factually wrong, that training to resist questioning is something that is done. He may well be right but your characterization of my remarks are clearly wrong.
4.16.2009 9:45pm
bluecollarguy:
What's silly is your attempt to completely distort and twist my quote. I was referring to training to resist interrogation or torture, not training in general such as training in piloting or bomb making.

I distorted nothing. I twisted nothing. I simply pointed out that your assertion was silly. It gets even sillier now that you refer to "piloting" as general training. Jihadists are in the business of terror not transportation.
4.16.2009 10:05pm
FE:
Can someone explain wall standing to me? The Bybee memo describes it this way: "Wall standing is used to induce muscle fatigue. The individual stands about four to five feet from a wall, with his feet spread to approximately shoulder width. His arms are stretched out in front of him, with his fingers resting on the wall. His fingers support all of his body weight." How can you touch the wall from 4 to 5 feet away? And how can your fingers support all of your body weight?
4.16.2009 10:09pm
cboldt (mail):
-- How can you touch the wall from 4 to 5 feet away? And how can your fingers support all of your body weight? --
.
I'm a lawyer, Jim, not an engineer.
.
Maybe the letter is technically flawed on that point, but it seems about right figuring that an arm is just shy of 3 feet long. I don't know for a fact what "wall standing" is, exactly, but pictured it as similar to the "assume the position" used by LEO's to search suspects. Legs spread, bend forward and support some weight on an object that one faces, with the weight distributed between the hands and feet so it is difficult to assume an erect standing position. By guess, the body is at a 20-30 degree from erect inclination.
.
I was curious how a person can be "forced" to maintain the position for extended periods. What are the consequences of "giving up" on something resembling expiration of endurance? "Too pooped to lean, screw you."
4.16.2009 10:24pm
John Moore (www):
Dilan Esper writes:

Participants in SERE knew the torture was limited in time and had the ability to stop it.

Apparently you haven't experienced SERE. When I went through, we did not know that we would not be harmed - in fact we had to sign a waiver allowing the instructors to do *anything* they wanted to. Furthermore, we were informed that failing the course would result in permanent revocation of every security clearance. On top of that, people were physically harmed by beatings (not permanently as far as I know).

After being in the environment for awhile, it became difficult to know for sure that it was training. More than once, during quiet times outside of interrogation, I wondered if I was in NVA custody just wishing I was in training.

During interrogations the thought that it was training was simply not there. The techniques were too effective and intense to provide any opportunity for such thoughts - or much of any thought other than in the immediate.

This was the most professional and effective military school I ever attended. It was a profound experience and left me with great respect and sorry for our POWs, who were undergoing things far worse than we, or any Al Qaeda member, ever encountered.

Bart has it right. Don't presume to know about the SERE experience just by your normal every day experience.
4.16.2009 10:25pm
ddarko:
I distorted nothing. I twisted nothing.


Really, what is the point of making such transparently false statements when the evidence is all there to see? You quote my statement where I said there's no evidence that Al Qaeda has been trained to resist interrogation. You replied:


9/11/2001 and the events leading up to it, for example the training required to fly a jet into a building, makes your comment a bit silly.


In other words, the "training required to fly a jet into a building" demonstrated that Al Qaeda is quite capable of methodically training its operatives, thereby demonstrating how silly I am. But of course, I had never said Al Qaeda didn't do any kind of training; I just questioned its capacity to train to resist interrogation. Your distortion is 100% transparent and plain to see. You can continue to make stuff up but I'm done refuting your bad faith distortions. I trust people who are posting here in good faith can easily spot your transparent ploys.

And by the way, Al Qaeda didn't train its operatives in piloting. A flying school in Florida did.
4.16.2009 10:27pm
John Moore (www):
ddarko writes:

Newsflash: the Cold War ended. Al Qaeda and other terrorists focus on SUICIDE attacks. They do not train or worry about resisting interrogation because their methods, if successful, tends not to leave anyone alive to interrogation.

Al Qaeda training definitely includes how to deal with capture, including interrogation. Your ignorance is surprising.


and


Bart's argument was that these techniques need to be kept secret to ensure they can't be trained against. Assuming for the sake of argument that your contention is accurate and there is some degree of resistance training, that still makes rubbish of his argument.

Anyone with a clue about military conflict understands that you don't give out any information unless you need to. Information doesn't have a binary effect as you imply - useful or useless. It is all useful to some extent.

There is another reason to keep this information secret: so future SERE students won't know what to expect. That is part of the effectiveness of the training (and, duh, of interrogation of real bad guys).
4.16.2009 10:28pm
John Moore (www):

And by the way, Al Qaeda didn't train its operatives in piloting. A flying school in Florida did.

Were you a Clinton spokesperson in a past life?

Al Qaeda instructed its operatives to get flight training, and paid for it. That means they trained their operatives in piloting.
4.16.2009 10:30pm
Anderson (mail):
Torture myth # 5, from Prof. Rejali:

5 You can train people to resist torture.

Supposedly, this is why we can't know what the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" are: If Washington admits that it waterboards suspected terrorists, al-Qaeda will set up "waterboarding-resistance camps" across the world. Be that as it may, the truth is that no training will help the bad guys.

Simply put, nothing predicts the outcome of one's resistance to pain better than one's own personality. Against some personalities, nothing works; against others, practically anything does. Studies of hundreds of detainees who broke under Soviet and Chinese torture, including Army-funded studies of U.S. prisoners of war, conclude that during, before and after torture, each prisoner displayed strengths and weaknesses dependent on his or her own character. The CIA's own "Human Resources Exploitation Manual" from 1983 and its so-called Kubark manual from 1963 agree. In all matters relating to pain, says Kubark, the "individual remains the determinant."

The thing that's most clear from torture-victim studies is that you can't train for the ordeal. There is no secret knowledge out there about how to resist torture. Yes, there are manuals, such as the IRA's "Green Book," the anti-Soviet "Manual for Psychiatry for Dissidents" and "Torture and the Interrogation Experience," an Iranian guerrilla manual from the 1970s. But none of these volumes contains specific techniques of resistance, just general encouragement to hang tough. Even al-Qaeda's vaunted terrorist-training manual offers no tips on how to resist torture, and al-Qaeda was no stranger to the brutal methods of the Saudi police.
4.16.2009 10:38pm
bluecollarguy:

"And by the way, Al Qaeda didn't train its operatives in piloting. A flying school in Florida did."

Any particular reason why a flying school in Florida decided to train "operatives" to fly jets into buildings?

Stop digging.
4.16.2009 10:39pm
Cornellian (mail):
Can someone explain wall standing to me? The Bybee memo describes it this way: "Wall standing is used to induce muscle fatigue. The individual stands about four to five feet from a wall, with his feet spread to approximately shoulder width. His arms are stretched out in front of him, with his fingers resting on the wall. His fingers support all of his body weight." How can you touch the wall from 4 to 5 feet away? And how can your fingers support all of your body weight?

That seems like a pretty clear explanation to me. Stand 4 feet from a wall, put your arms out towards the wall (fingers outstretched) then lean towards the wall until your fingers are touching the wall and keeping you from falling over. Then see how long you can sustain that position.
4.16.2009 10:40pm
Lucius Cornelius:
Oh Leo, can't I be sarcastic?

There is torture and there is torture. By diluting the meaning of the word, we run the risk of negating the public's opposition to genuine torture.

It is more likely that the US officials and intelligence operatives responsible for the coercive interrogation of THREE Al Qaeda terrorists will be prosecuted than it is that Al Qaeda terrorists engaging in genuine torture will be captured and prosecuted.
4.16.2009 10:48pm
ddarko:


Al Qaeda instructed its operatives to get flight training, and paid for it. That means they trained their operatives in piloting.


You can't see the difference between a group that has the capacity within ITSELF to provide a kind of training and having to rely on an OUTSIDE group or experts to provide that training because the group doesn't have the expertise or facilities? That is a meaningful difference and the one I was highlighting by pointing out Al Qaeda itself didn't train its pilots. It wasn't a Clintonian evasion or attempt to say Al Qaeda somehow wasn't responsible, which is how you seem to have interpreted it. Of course, colloquially speaking, Al Qaeda trained its operatives in piloting by paying for flight school but more precisely, it did not. The actual training and education was unwittingly done by someone else. I had no intent to mitigate Al Qaeda's responsibility, just pointing out an operational limitation of the group at the time.
4.16.2009 10:49pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Apparently you haven't experienced SERE. When I went through, we did not know that we would not be harmed - in fact we had to sign a waiver allowing the instructors to do *anything* they wanted to. Furthermore, we were informed that failing the course would result in permanent revocation of every security clearance. On top of that, people were physically harmed by beatings (not permanently as far as I know).

As I said earlier, at some point, you just have to say that people don't want to acknowledge the truth and leave it at that.

But anyone who REALLY BELIEVES that the cases of (1) a member of the United States Armed Forces being tortured as part of a training program, who-- whatever they make you sign and whatever they tell you-- basically knows that his own superiors will not actually injure them and will cease the torture and graduate the participant from the program eventually, and (2) a detainee being held in an isolated cell in the middle of nowhere, with interrogators who are doing all sorts of physical harm to him and who are threatening to kill him or put him in extreme pain, and who offer no way out other than to talk are functionally the same (let alone the same for purposes of torture law) is a complete idiot.

But, as I said, I don't really think you guys are idiots. I just think you won't concede a point you know to be true because you want to protect your ideology and the Bush Administration's policies. Dishonest, yes. Idiots, no.
4.16.2009 11:00pm
bushbasher:
"Perhaps comments should be restricted to those who have read the memoranda, which total nearly 100 pages."

perhaps comments should be restricted to those who are purely and simply disgusted by the condoning of physical abuse to the level of torture by the worst kind of psychopathic legal weaseling.
4.16.2009 11:03pm
ddarko:

There is another reason to keep this information secret: so future SERE students won't know what to expect. That is part of the effectiveness of the training (and, duh, of interrogation of real bad guys).


I think future military trainees will have to deal with having to bite the forbidden fruit. Your statement is also at odds with your other remarks that the training is so intense, you lose your grip on the knowledge that it is training. If it's so, a little foreknowledge won't make a whit of difference.

And while you seem to be holding out hope that in 2012, a pro-torture president will be elected that will interrogate the "real bad guys" with these methods, I wouldn't hold my breath. That these techniques have been outlawed and forbidden is why their exposure is moot.
4.16.2009 11:13pm
FE:
Cornellian, I agree that your explanation seems to be the best way of understanding wall standing, based on the description in the Bybee memo. But there's still something missing, as cboldt pointed out. How can you be forced to stand in such an awkward position? Do your interrogators cause you "discomfort" until you resume the position? When you can't take the "muscle fatigue" and collapse on the floor, how do your interrogators determine if you're just faking?
4.16.2009 11:13pm
Bart (mail):
ddarko:

BD: [This why disclosure of these techniques to the enemy so they can train against them is an exceedingly STUPID idea. SERE and its techniques have been classified from the outset specifically to avoid providing information to the enemy.]

Why not immediately classify the Army Field Manual so the enemies doesn't read about the approved interrogation methods in there?

These techniques are classified and are only vaguely referenced in an appendix of Army Interrogation Manual.
4.16.2009 11:40pm
Cornellian (mail):
But there's still something missing, as cboldt pointed out. How can you be forced to stand in such an awkward position?

Presumably they enforce that through some kind of backup threat, e.g. stand in that position or we'll throw you the coffin with the bugs for a few hours.
4.16.2009 11:46pm
Bart (mail):
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Presumably this signals that the Administration has decided that it won't in any way rely on these procedures in the future.

Yes, our drones are just going to kill them in Pakistan instead of capturing and then interrogating them.

Actually, Fox News reported as part of a larger segment this evening on attempts to extend habeas corpus review into Bagram that a CIA source confirmed by a second source reported that CIA has forgone attempting to capture multiple identified high value targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, choosing instead killed them while they had the opportunity.

We are going to end up doing that with the Somali pirates as well to avoid release and return.
4.16.2009 11:48pm
Cornellian (mail):
Bart's argument was that these techniques need to be kept secret to ensure they can't be trained against.

I don't buy the premise that torture is effective in the first place and whatever sympathy I might have had for the secrecy argument pretty much evaporated once it became clear that it was simply an excuse to cover up torture.
4.16.2009 11:50pm
Bart (mail):
Anderson (mail):

Torture myth # 5, from Prof. Rejali: You can train people to resist torture.

Everyone breaks under torture sooner or later. We were trained to hold out as long as possible so any intelligence gained from us is no longer actionable.

This is the entire purpose of SERE. The military does not put their people through this hell just for laughs and giggles. The training works.
4.16.2009 11:56pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Hilzoy nails it:


"You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects.(...) As we understand it, you plan to inform Zubaydah that you are going to place a stinging insect into the box, but you will actually place a harmless insect in the box, such as a caterpillar. If you do so, to ensure you are outside the predicate death requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain. If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so, you should not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death."


Compare:

"'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.'

"The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O'Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

'The worst thing in the world,' said O'Brien, 'varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.'

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

'In your case,' said O'Brien, 'the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.'"

4.17.2009 12:03am
zuch (mail) (www):
Bart:
The Bybee memo confirms the claims in the Red Cross report about "walling" that had been previously undisclosed in leaks.
Oh. IC. The ICRC reports that you said were based on complete fabrications by the detainees in collusion with their lawyers and human rights workers because they're been trained by Al Kaheeda to lie about all this.... yes, IC.....

Cheers,
4.17.2009 12:04am
zuch (mail) (www):
Bart:
As a result, a three day SERE interrogation session seems like weeks (which may account for the terrorists' exaggerations of time to the Red Cross)....
Bart obviously hasn't read Phillipe Sands's book, "A Question of Torture". But we know that most of these detainees have been there well over half a decade, Bart's "three day[s]" notwithstanding [but with much "standing"].

Cheers,
4.17.2009 12:10am
John Moore (www):
Dilan Esper writes:

But, as I said, I don't really think you guys are idiots. I just think you won't concede a point you know to be true because you want to protect your ideology and the Bush Administration's policies. Dishonest, yes. Idiots, no.

I am starting to think you guys are in fact idiots, if you can't understand the psychological impact of the sort of program like SERE. All right, not idiots... just haven't been outside of your cocoon.

Of course SERE is not identical to being interrogated for real. But it is damned serious and when you are in the middle of it, you don't really appreciate that it is "just training," You haven't been there, so don't call me a liar on this.
4.17.2009 12:14am
John Moore (www):

Bart obviously hasn't read Phillipe Sands's book, "A Question of Torture". But we know that most of these detainees have been there well over half a decade, Bart's "three day[s]" notwithstanding [but with much "standing"].


The intense interrogation program did not last half a decade.
4.17.2009 12:16am
John Moore (www):
ddarko babbles:

And while you seem to be holding out hope that in 2012, a pro-torture president will be elected that will interrogate the "real bad guys" with these methods, I wouldn't hold my breath. That these techniques have been outlawed and forbidden is why their exposure is moot.


You may not have noticed, but Obama reserves the right to use all of these techniques except the effective one: wateboarding.

Which brings up the point that it might be more humane to go direct to waterboarding, get the information, and be done with it. The total duration of unpleasantness is then cut down to minutes.
4.17.2009 12:18am
John Moore (www):
Cornellian (mail) writes:


I don't buy the premise that torture is effective in the first place


Then you are either an idiot, willfully blind, or know nothing of human behavior and history.

The effectiveness of torture has been very well established (for exmaple, did you happen to actually read the memos?). Denial of that is just stupid.
4.17.2009 12:20am
Putting Two and Two...:
One way to compare SERE training with the Bush administration program would be to compare the number of body bags and/or psychologically damaged survivors, no?

How many U.S. soldiers have died during SERE training?
4.17.2009 12:21am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Bart, scrambling to explain away the obvious: the W Administration condoned torture and war crimes.
This why disclosure of these techniques to the enemy so they can train against them is an exceedingly STUPID idea. SERE and its techniques have been classified from the outset specifically to avoid providing information to the enemy.
Ah, Bart, we learned about those techniques from the enemy, remember? They're based on what happened to our prisoners when captured by the Chinese and North Koreans. Everybody who cares knows all about them already.

Meanwhile, in respect to your valiant attempt to distinguish our careful, non-torturous waterboarding from the wicked illegal water torture we imprisoned Japanese for when they had the temerity to do it to us, please note that the apparatus you describe and endorse appears to be identical to the one in the Khmer Rouge torture museum. The technique is apparently identical, too. Should the USA apologize to Pol Pot for all those nasty things we said about him?
4.17.2009 12:22am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
John Moore, in your comments that torture is effective, would you please explain your solution to the problem of false positive confessions? Paying attention to the witches mentioned who confessed to fornicating with Satan would be a good start. Cardinal Mindszenty and the Iranian Jewish shoe salesman, who also confessed, could comprise the Advanced Placement test.

Torture proponents love to talk about the terrible plots they solved with barbaric methods (e.g., Judeobolshevism), but when marked to market, the results seem very small.
4.17.2009 12:26am
John Moore (www):

John Moore, in your comments that torture is effective, would you please explain your solution to the problem of false positive confessions?

False positives are a problem even for police interrogations. Everyone has to deal with them. Over the last few thousand years, lots of interrogators have figured out how. I'm sure you can too if you put your mind to it.

Remember, the purpose of real interrogations is to gather information. In that sense, there is no false "positive," since you aren't trying to prove anything. You betray your bias by your terminology. Interrogation is always a battle of will and wits between the interrogator and the subject - that should be obvious. Training against interrogation (such as SERE) teaches you two things... that you will inevitably reveal all, and how to postpone that event as long as possible in as confusing a way as possible.
4.17.2009 12:33am
John Moore (www):

How many U.S. soldiers have died during SERE training?

About one a year at the school I went to. Your point?
4.17.2009 12:34am
ddarko:

The effectiveness of torture has been very well established (for exmaple, did you happen to actually read the memos?). Denial of that is just stupid.


What "works" is that people talk. But do they speak the truth or say anything to make the torture stop? Torture that produces lies or false positives is worthless and ineffective.

Ask John McCain and his "confession" extracted under torture.
4.17.2009 12:35am
John Moore (www):
ddarko continues with black and white thinking:

I think future military trainees will have to deal with having to bite the forbidden fruit. Your statement is also at odds with your other remarks that the training is so intense, you lose your grip on the knowledge that it is training. If it's so, a little foreknowledge won't make a whit of difference.


Part of being interrogated is surprise and uncertainty. The best way for students to experience that is to be as little informed as possible about the details.

Which, of course, is bloody obvious if you just think about it.
4.17.2009 12:38am
Cornellian (mail):
Cornellian (mail) writes:
I don't buy the premise that torture is effective in the first place

Then you are either an idiot, willfully blind, or know nothing of human behavior and history.

The effectiveness of torture has been very well established (for exmaple, did you happen to actually read the memos?). Denial of that is just stupid.


Effectiveness at what? Getting people to talk? Big deal. If you think torture produces accurate intelligence by all means cite your source.

And you have apparently never read a legal memo in your life. Lawyers who write legal memos take the facts as they are given.
4.17.2009 12:39am
John Moore (www):

What "works" is that people talk. But do they speak the truth or say anything to make the torture stop? Torture that produces lies or false positives is worthless and ineffective.


See my comments two above your post where you committed this tired old fallacy.

If you don't like stressful interrogation or torture if you choose to call it that, just admit it. Don't make really dumb assertions about its failure to work, after it has been used successfully for useful information gathering through all of history.
4.17.2009 12:40am
MLS:
Bart:

It seems you are wasting your time and energy on persons who appear to believe that war is a "gentleman's game".

I daresay there are some who would opine that a well executed "wedgie" is likewise torture.
4.17.2009 12:40am
John Moore (www):
MLS... well said
4.17.2009 12:41am
ddarko:

Remember, the purpose of real interrogations is to gather information. In that sense, there is no false "positive," since you aren't trying to prove anything.


Except when you are:


Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who ran Al Qaeda's Khalden training camp in Afghanistan, told authorities that Iraq provided chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda operatives, and that information wound up in Secretary of State Colin Powell's Feb. 7, 2003 speech to the U.N. making the case for war in Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted, saying he made it all up under coercive interrogation. And, as human rights lawyer Michael Ratner told FRONTLINE, after undergoing a year and a half of coercive interrogation at Guantanamo, his clients known as the "Tipton Three" admitted to being present at a speech by Osama bin Laden at an Al Qaeda training camp. British authorities later uncovered evidence that the men were in the U.K. at the time they had admitted to meeting bin Laden.


Or are we still looking for those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
4.17.2009 12:49am
Cornellian (mail):
If you don't like stressful interrogation or torture if you choose to call it that, just admit it.

And if you want to give the government the freedom to torture people then ask Congress to change the law to authorize it and admit what kind of country you want to live in. Don't torture in secret while claiming you don't.
4.17.2009 12:52am
ddarko:

If you don't like stressful interrogation or torture if you choose to call it that, just admit it. Don't make really dumb assertions about its failure to work, after it has been used successfully for useful information gathering through all of history.


And don't make stupid, categorization statements that false positives don't happen or pooh-pooh their danger or that torture is the panacea that will get us everything we want if only we weren't lily livered pansies.

Talk about black-and-white thinking.
4.17.2009 12:53am
ddarko:
If you don't like stressful interrogation or torture if you choose to call it that,


I'm sorry, who's the one who used to be a Clinton spokesperson?
4.17.2009 12:54am
ddarko:

It seems you are wasting your time and energy on persons who appear to believe that war is a "gentleman's game".



And yet, it's those who fancy themselves as the Jack Nicholson character in A Few Good Men - or is it now Jack Bauer? - are always the one most prone and enthusiastic about euphemisms and bureaucratic, clinical language. It's not dead, innocent bystanders. It's "collateral damage." It's not torture, it's "stressful interrogation."
4.17.2009 1:11am
Cornellian (mail):

It seems you are wasting your time and energy on persons who appear to believe that war is a "gentleman's game".

Please by all means tell us how we tortured our way to victory over the British during the Revolutionary War and over the Confederacy during the Civil War, both of which were far greater threats to the Republic than Al Qaeda is today.
4.17.2009 1:20am
ddarko:

If you don't like stressful interrogation or torture if you choose to call it that, just admit it.


When have I ever made any attempt in the tone or content of my comments to hide my hatred of torture? And that my opposition to it is driven not only by what it does to another human being but also by questions of its efficacy? The two are not mutually exclusive nor can the question of efficacy be simply dismissed as a dodge.

And I cannot stress enough the utter and complete irony of your sentence. In the very sentence where you accuse me of not being upfront, you insist on using the term "stressful interrogation" to describe what is going on. It's "torture" if I "choose to call it that" but to you, it's "stressful interrogation."

George Orwell could not have written it better.
4.17.2009 1:33am
My Middle Name Is Ralph:
I'm still trying to figure out how waterboarding worked. The memo says no water in the lungs, the subject could breath, mouth and nose covered with cloth, and water continuously poured over cloth. If you are able to breath in any air under these conditions, how are you not also getting some water in your lungs. Something is not adding up.
4.17.2009 2:02am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
How many U.S. soldiers have died during SERE training? About one a year at the school I went to.

There is no chance that this is true. There would be lawsuits-- and even if they were dismissed on state secrets grounds (highly unlikely) or on the grounds that the waivers were valid (also somewhat unlikely) or Rokster v. Goldberg grounds (possible), we'd still see reported decisions dismissing them.

Nobody's ever sued for wrongful death relating to SERE training, because nobody has died during one.
4.17.2009 2:17am
John Moore (www):
Oh my, what a collection of strawmen.

MLS has it right. Someone gave you guys a wedgie in grade school, and you haven't gotten over it.
And don't make stupid, categorization statements that false positives don't happen


What is a false positive in an interrogation to seek information? Oh that's right, I already explained why the concept is meaningless.

that torture is the panacea that will get us everything we want if only we weren't lily livered pansies.

Shoe... fit... wear it.

Oh, and nobody said torture is a panacea. For that matter, I don't consider ANYTHING in those memoranda to be torture, but for you guys that can't deal with the wedgies, I'm sure the bugs in the box will drive you battye.
4.17.2009 2:18am
John Moore (www):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):


Nobody's ever sued for wrongful death relating to SERE training, because nobody has died during one.


Not everyone in the US automatically files a lawsuit when something bad happens.

How long do you think SERE training has been going on? How many people do you think have been through it? How many SERE schools are there?

You don't have a clue... which is hardly surprising.
4.17.2009 2:19am
John Moore (www):
Ralph,
Read more closely. The subject cannot inhale for up to 40 seconds. Not because of water in the lungs, but because the water on the cloth blocks air flow.
4.17.2009 2:21am
My Middle Name Is Ralph:
John

I would usually consider a response beginning with "read more closely" in response to an honest question somewhat petty and snide. But, when the responder failed to take his own advice, I can own shake my head at his stupidity.

From the 2002 memo at p 4., "Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth." You failed to read closely. The subject can inhale as airflow is only slightly restricted (at least according to the memo).
4.17.2009 2:46am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
John:

Look, you can play the Black Arts card all you want, but the fact is, even top secret military programs that result in deaths lead to lawsuits. (Ever hear of Area 51?) It would be pretty straightforward to find evidence of deaths in the SERE programs if they existed; they do not.

If you know of any governmental or private sector reports that document the alleged 1 death a year in these programs, it would be fascinating if you shared them with us. But it's pretty obvious you are just BS'ing here.
4.17.2009 2:48am
My Middle Name Is Ralph:
Query: is there any threat of imminent death that Bybee's reasoning would conclude is torture, provided that the threat was promptly removed? For example, would putting a loaded gun to the head of a detainee and threatening to shoot him be torture under the 2002 memo's interpretation of section 2340A? I think not.

Bybee states that torture requires prolonged mental harm, which is mental harm lasting months or years. Bybee concludes that waterboarding does not result in prolonged mental harm, even though it does constitute a threat of imminent death, because "you have advised us that the relief is almost immediate when the cloth is removed from the nose and mouth." Presumably, removing the gun from the detainee's head and telling him that you are not going to shoot him after all would result in even more immediate relief than that provided by removing the cloth in waterboarding (or at least the CIA could so advise Bybee). Ergo, no torture. Very convenient.
4.17.2009 3:03am
ddarko:
What is a false positive in an interrogation to seek information? Oh that's right, I already explained why the concept is meaningless.


When the "information" is made up and fictionalized? Oh that's right, I'm too dumb to understand your sophisticated grasp of the topic.
4.17.2009 3:25am
ddarko:
MLS has it right. Someone gave you guys a wedgie in grade school, and you haven't gotten over it.


Gosh, that is a sophisticated argument. Can you opine on the childhood implications of your chest-thumbing "you can't handle the truth" smugness?

That's really what it boils down to you, isn't it: mine is bigger than yours. Given your propensity for silly name-calling, it's pretty clear who was most likely bullied and teased as a kid.

Shoe... fit... wear it.
4.17.2009 3:48am
Ricardo (mail):
Bybee states that torture requires prolonged mental harm, which is mental harm lasting months or years. Bybee concludes that waterboarding does not result in prolonged mental harm, even though it does constitute a threat of imminent death, because "you have advised us that the relief is almost immediate when the cloth is removed from the nose and mouth." Presumably, removing the gun from the detainee's head and telling him that you are not going to shoot him after all would result in even more immediate relief than that provided by removing the cloth in waterboarding (or at least the CIA could so advise Bybee). Ergo, no torture. Very convenient.

Indeed, the memo states that as the saturated cloth is kept over an individual's nose and mouth, breathing is restricted and the CO2 concentration in the blood increases. That's not "simulated" drowning -- it's what happens if you hold your breath and stick your head underwater. Perhaps the only difference is that small amounts of oxygen may reach your blood allowing the treatment to last longer than if your breathing were cut off completely. Still, there's nothing simulated about it: if applied for 5 or 10 minutes, you would die for sure.

I'm always amazed at the kind of logic that would remove mock executions from the definition of torture. Under this world view, the mock executions state department personnel were subjected to in Tehran during the hostage crisis were mere frat hi jinks. I doubt Reagan saw things that way.
4.17.2009 4:08am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Dilan Esper,

As for liability, I thought the military already had total immunity from suit over how soldiers die. When even other service members have such immunity I would expect the institution as a whole would keep immunity as well.

That doctrine may well be old enough that people aren't going to file suits with so little merit as to be legally frivolous.
4.17.2009 6:07am
Lucius Cornelius:
ddarko, I oppose the use of torture as well. Mutilating victims while questioning them is shocking to my nature; it should be shocking to any rational person's nature.

However, Using the term "torture" to the methods described in the memos "stressful interrogations" is misleading. These techniques, even the form of waterboarding described here, do not strike me as shocking (mostly because of the concern for making certain that no actual permanent injury is sustained by the subject). I do not believe it is Orwellian "newspeak" to say "coercive interrogation" or "stressful interrogation." I got the sense that there was a limit to how far the interrogators would go...which is different than a torture situation when there is no such limit. If shaking someone by their collar or giving them an open handed slap across the face is "torture" then we are diluting the term too much.

I believe that the types of information we can gain using these techniques is limited. The subjects will always try to mislead the questioners. But if you can get the subject tired and confused, they might inadvertently give away information.
4.17.2009 6:23am
mls (www):
I thought I had posted this comment yesterday, but apparently not. (Incidentally, I am not the MLS who posted earlier)

Mark Field- I question whether distinction between malum prohibitum and malum in se has any utility in the kinds of questions we are addressing. Acts of statecraft, particularly in wartime, do not lend themselves to that distinction.

You say that Roosevelt’s violation of the Neutrality Act was not malum in se. But one could easily characterize the illegal supplying of arms to a military combatant as “malum in se.” I suspect that, for example, many people (possibly including you) would so characterize Iran-Contra.

You and I recognize, with substantial benefit of hindsight, that U.S. involvement in WWII was necessary and inevitable, and thus stand ready to forgive, if not applaud, Roosevelt’s actions. But this isn’t based on the inherent morality or evil of the actions Roosevelt took, but on an assessment of the consequences of his actions.

Conversely, we can all agree that the actions approved by OLC were “malum in se” since they involve the infliction of human suffering. But that suffering pales in comparison with, say, the deaths (including innocent civilian deaths) that we have routinely inflicted in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Not to mention Hirsoshima, Dresden or the Japanese internment camps.

You may believe that the infliction of suffering was the actual purpose of the interrogations approved by OLC. If that were the case, there would indeed be a moral distinction between these interrogations and other wartime actions. But I don’t see any evidence to suggest that the motivation for the interrogations was anything other than a belief, however misplaced, that these were the best, and possibly only, methods that could obtain information needed to stop terrorist attacks on the U.S.
4.17.2009 6:49am
zuch (mail) (www):
John Moore:
The intense interrogation program did not last half a decade.
And you know this how?!?!? How long have we been force-feeding some of the detainees?

But as Sands recounted, the specific case of torture there (gathered from the gummint logs) lasted for months.

Cheers,
4.17.2009 7:09am
zuch (mail) (www):
John Moore:
The effectiveness of torture has been very well established (for exmaple, did you happen to actually read the memos?).
The memos arguing for torture stated that torture is effective? Colour me surprised; I'd have thought the very opposite. Needless to say, because I assume for purposes of argumentation (concerning the correctness of the memos) that everything else in the memos is correct, I must assume this as well. Case closed, book 'em .. and throw away the key.

Cheers,
4.17.2009 7:14am
Anderson (mail):
If you are able to breath in any air under these conditions, how are you not also getting some water in your lungs. Something is not adding up.

I've seen reports from people familiar with SERE and waterboarding who say that some water does indeed get into the victim.

Regardless, the point above is valid: "artificial drowning" is a bit like "artificial smothering"; either you is, or you ain't.

... As for the people who think torture is wonderful, despite its being banned by every civilized country, besides the interrogators who insist it's a third-rate way to extract information ... well, at the risk of redundancy, let me quote Darius Rejali's op-ed one more time:

"The larger problem here, I think," one active CIA officer observed in 2005, "is that this kind of stuff just makes people feel better, even if it doesn't work."
4.17.2009 8:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lucius:

These techniques… do not strike me as shocking (mostly because of the concern for making certain that no actual permanent injury is sustained by the subject)


It's quite possible to apply an electric shock to your genitals while also "making certain that no actual permanent injury is sustained by the subject." So according to you, that's not "shocking?" (Ha ha.) And it's not torture? Really?
4.17.2009 8:40am
devoman:
Dilan Esper asserts that there is a substantive difference between SERE training and being tortured by an enemy.

John Moore asserts the difference is not substantive.

It should be easy to determine. John, if you had been offered the choice of SERE training or being renditioned to the Saudis for training, what would you have chosen? If your answer is along the lines of "it makes no difference to me", then I take your point.
4.17.2009 8:43am
Anon321:
The release of these memos makes me wish that Marty Lederman was still blogging.
4.17.2009 8:57am
shertaugh:
Most interesting thing I've read about this issue is over at Marty Lederman's old haunt -- Balkinization.

Take a look at guest blogger Will Levi's post (which I cannot link to right now) called "A History of Coercive Interrogation."

Challenges some basic assumptions running through both sides' arguments the past few years.
4.17.2009 9:03am
Bart (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

How many U.S. soldiers have died during SERE training? About one a year at the school I went to.

There is no chance that this is true. There would be lawsuits...

You are again exposing your utter ignorance about the military.

The military tries to make its training as realistic as possible. As a result, dozens of soldiers die in training every year. The calculation is that this training will save far more lives in war than are lost in training. The incredibly low casualty rates in our last few wars seem to prove the point.

Unless there is some gross negligence involved, it is exceedingly difficult to sue the military for a training death. Courts grant the military a great deal of leeway as they should. Moreover, nearly every soldier obtains cheap life insurance, which is paid out to survivors, taking away the primary incentive to sue.
4.17.2009 9:21am
pintler:
On SERE training, I think people on both sides of the debate might want to think hard:

On one hand, I have read of people who are most of the way through SEAL or fighter pilot training, which means they are some extremely intelligent, resourceful people, who crack during SERE. IIUC, that means you start flying trash haulers or go back to Cooks &Bakers school, so the fact that not everyone makes it through provides strong evidence that the program does indeed do a very artful job of simulating very bad things.

OTOH, imagine going to a convention of Viet War POW's and explaining to them how SERE school was darn near just as bad as the real thing. I think if you tell them 'you have no idea how bad SERE is - you weren't there' they may feel that your lack of experience with a real POW situation may not qualify you to judge how close SERE may be to the real thing.

I was going to refer people to the autobiography of James Rowe, who was held as a POW in S. Vietnam for 5 years, and I note that after that experience he was one of the founders of SERE. Maybe that says something to both sides of the debate.
4.17.2009 9:22am
Bart (mail):
shertaugh:

Most interesting thing I've read about this issue is over at Marty Lederman's old haunt -- Balkinization. Take a look at guest blogger Will Levi's post (which I cannot link to right now) called "A History of Coercive Interrogation."

I am looking forward to this article. Levi's thesis is that coercive interrogation has along history in the military and CIA and the torture definitions were made intentionally vague to accommodate it.

So much for the fiction that this all started with Mr. Bush.
4.17.2009 9:26am
ddarko:
Lucius,

I have got to strongly disagree with you. I think it falls into the trap that the memos do. These interrogations do not take place in some controlled, sterile lab environment where voltages are precisely calibrated, pressure minutely increased and decreased, etc. They involve people under extraordinarily difficult, stressful, emotional, unpredictable situations. The rules are frequently, even OFTEN, ignored or not followed. The water does not stop after 10-15 seconds. It goes on. Medical personnel do not immediately rush in and stop when the prisoners shows signs of undue stress. The most perverse thing about the memos is how they pretend these techniques can be applied vigorously; "beat him for under 10 seconds is OK; over 10 is illegal." Come on. Prisoners died in these interrogations. Not just in Guantanamo but in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib. Maybe Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury sleep at night pretending that their fine, lawyerly distinctions were being followed instead of ignored. The memos themselves that in numerous situations, the guidelines were ignored.

And please do not fall into the trap of trying to atomize these techniques and view them in isolation and say what's a little slapping around? With the release of these memos, the meaning of convening authority Susan Crawford's admission of torture back in January becomes much, much clearer:
The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge
4.17.2009 9:32am
Cornellian (mail):
I love the part where one of the memos notes that the State Department regularly condemns other countries for doing this stuff and calls it torture when they do it.
4.17.2009 9:47am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bart:

dozens of soldiers die in training every year


I guess you don't notice how you're contradicting yourself. You (collectively) are essentially making both of the following statements:

A) What we do to our captives is no more than what we do to our own troops at SERE. And we would obviously not subject our own soldiers to conditions that are truly harmful or dangerous, so therefore it's obvious we're not subjecting our captives to real danger or harm.

B) What we do at SERE is so rough it actually kills people.

Feel free to explain how you manage to believe both A and B at the same time.

The calculation is that this training will save far more lives in war than are lost in training.


If we're willing to apply such a calculation to our own troops, then surely we apply a similar calculation when we torture detainees. We figure it's OK if a few of them die under torture, as long as most of them don't. Right?
4.17.2009 9:57am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cornellian:

one of the memos notes that the State Department regularly condemns other countries for doing this stuff and calls it torture when they do it.


Yes. The Bush State Dept described sleep deprivation as a form of torture. But what they meant, of course, is that it's only torture when other folks do it.
4.17.2009 10:00am
zuch (mail) (www):
Bart:
Levi's thesis is that coercive interrogation has along history in the military and CIA and the torture definitions were made intentionally vague to accommodate it.

So much for the fiction that this all started with Mr. Bush.
A fiction of your own "straw man" construction. Those of us that have read "A Question of Torture", "The Torture Papers", "Legacy of Ashes", "Overthrow", etc., are quite aware of the long history of torture by the U.S. and those regimes that it has supported.

Albeit that's a tu quoque fallacy as a defence at best, I'd say.

But feel free to put together a long and informative post on your blog as to the long and honourable history of the U.S. in torture. Maybe you'll reach a different audience.

Cheers,
4.17.2009 10:06am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
er soronel:

there is no blanket military immunity. rather there are various doctrines that confer immunity on the military in specific situations. but a death in training is the sort of thing that would result in a lot of outrage and attempts to plead around these doctrines.

the lack of a lawsuit is basically proof that these claimed deaths never happened.
4.17.2009 10:19am
Cornellian (mail):

Yes. The Bush State Dept described sleep deprivation as a form of torture. But what they meant, of course, is that it's only torture when other folks do it.

Or to put it another way, all those times Bush was saying "we do not torture" he actually meant that "we don't torture because I've redefined the word to exclude anything we do."

John Ashcroft was right - Cheney, Addington, Yoo and Bybee will be judged harshly by history, even if they escape legal judgment during their lifetimes.
4.17.2009 10:21am
Bart (mail):
jukeboxgrad (mail):

bart: dozens of soldiers die in training every year

I guess you don't notice how you're contradicting yourself. You (collectively) are essentially making both of the following statements:

A) What we do to our captives is no more than what we do to our own troops at SERE. And we would obviously not subject our own soldiers to conditions that are truly harmful or dangerous, so therefore it's obvious we're not subjecting our captives to real danger or harm.

B) What we do at SERE is so rough it actually kills people.

Feel free to explain how you manage to believe both A and B at the same time.

Easily. A tiny danger of accidental death due to unknown health problems or remote chance does not equal torture, which is the intentional infliction of severe pain, not does it violate any Geneva Convention.
4.17.2009 10:32am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
bart:

you are being dishonest again. i didn't deny that soldiers die in training; there are plenty of reported lawsuits over training accidents.

i said the claim of 1 death a year in SERE is BS, as this could be easily confirmed if true. and lawsuits would be one way to confirm it.

and there is no blanket military immunity. only in specific sorts of claims.
4.17.2009 10:32am
rosetta's stones:

mls: "You and I recognize, with substantial benefit of hindsight, that U.S. involvement in WWII was necessary and inevitable, and thus stand ready to forgive, if not applaud, Roosevelt’s actions. But this isn’t based on the inherent morality or evil of the actions Roosevelt took, but on an assessment of the consequences of his actions."


Actually, mls, I don't recognize that US involvement in WWII was necessary and inevitable, nor that an assessment of the consequences of FDR's actions reads positive(and they were almost certainly illegal, albeit ultimately politically saleable, much like W's "torture", which hadn't the benefit of a Fed sponsored propoganda and censorship campaign).

WWII cost mucho cash, resulted in a 1/2M US deaths, millions of other deaths worldwide, totalitarian domination of all of Eastern Europe for a 1/2 century (and yet today in many ways), ongoing totalitarian domination of China, a multitude of smaller scale conflicts worldwide (the global shooting never really stopped after Tokyo Bay as we know), a 1/2 century of costly Cold War, the creation of a military welfare system in Europe, and we can go on and on....

There were better outcomes, and perhaps there are better outcomes we could have had in recent times, had we made other decisions.

I don't personally worry about a few terrorists getting slapped around, and agree with your basic premise that the magnitude of deaths in the balance far outweighs the harm of slapping around terrorists (which can and does lead to actionable intelligence as we know). If we feel it's beneath us to do it... fine. But the discussion is to be had on another plane.

We have choices, and best to fully look at the choices of the past, not blindly take them as correct. And what are the costs of those choices... the outcomes?

I think that's why Barrack's got his feet planted on both sides of this. He has been made aware of those outcomes. I tend to think the Oval Office does that to a fellah.
4.17.2009 10:38am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

... Re: assault, I am pointing out that there are laws against it, and that these laws are not magically suspended b/c the victim is a suspected terrorist.


I eagerly await your lawsuits filed against every and all prisons in this nation, all of which have your definition of "assault" by their employees as part of their compliance protocol.

Some people are so far gone, they've gone beyond parody...
4.17.2009 10:51am
Bart (mail):
Dilan:

Under the Feres Doctrine arising from the decision in Feres v. United States, 340 U. S. 135 (1950), the United States is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to members of the armed forces sustained while on active duty and resulting from the negligence of others in the armed forces. Thus, a suit for accidental death caused by the negligence of a SERE instructor during SERE training would be barred by sovereign immunity.
4.17.2009 11:00am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
It would not surprise me that the liability waiver mentioned above is yet another psych measure rather than actually required for legal cover.
4.17.2009 11:11am
DennisN (mail):
@ pintler:


imagine going to a convention of Viet War POW's and explaining to them how SERE school was darn near just as bad as the real thing.


The issue is not that it's "darn near just as bad as the real thing," or that they can be directly compared retrospectively by subjects of either experience. It's that at the time, you may not be able to tell the differece. At the time is all that matters for the interrogation. As John Moore pointed out, it's a mindf**k. If it's done properly, you can make someone believe damnear anything. Most interrogation involves messing with someone's mind; tampering with their sense of reality.

Once you believe the right things, you break. Then you talk. You tell a mixture of truth and lies, whatever you think will get you off the hook.

Truth, lies, it's all information to be put into the meatgrinder of intelligence. You can learn as much from lies as from truth.

Does waterboarding rise to the level of torture? I don't believe it does. Obviously others do, and we ain't gonna add much light to this argument by shouting "Yes it Is." "No it isn't."
4.17.2009 11:31am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
@martinned:

"Wouldn't it have been easier to quote the statute of the ICC? After all, that's the most recent authoritative statement on the definition of various war crimes."


The Rome statute is not in force for the United States, but the IMT Charter, and the US executed Nazi and Japanese war criminals for violations of article 6.

The purpose of quoting it was simply to demonstrate the absolute absurdity of the Obama administration's statements yesterday. Under the Bush administration, DOJ, DoD, and CIA all degenerated into criminal organizations in the same sense that the Nazi SS was a criminal organization, and the fact that their crimes were less numerous and didn't reach quite the same overall depths of depravity, doesn't change the fact that these crimes were in fact crimes.

These people were not acting in good faith, AT BEST, they were acting in negligence and derilicition of duty. The legal "advice" they were given was not advice at all, but uncomplicated fraud calculated to subvert the laws of the United States.

Now if you want US Statutes, they violated lots of them, but the IMT Charter just makes absolutely plain that there was no doubt at that what they were doing was unlawful.

And Obama isn't doing the United States any favors by coddling criminals and disloyal derelicts who are willing to ignore or own laws. I've never thought that we should prosecute every last interrogator or guard complicit in these crimes, but they should all be severely disciplined, and anyone who actually carried out torture should be dishonorably discharged from their service. The people we need to prosecute are the people who issued the orders and the lawyers who providedd the fraudulent legal cover, for they are the worst criminals in the history of this country.

And it isn't about retribution, it's about justice and the basic integrity of our institution. These people set out to subvert the laws of the United States in toto -- there is no crime more dangerous to our security that that.
4.17.2009 11:33am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

And Obama isn't doing the United States any favors by coddling criminals and disloyal derelicts who are willing to ignore or own laws... The people we need to prosecute are the people who issued the orders and the lawyers who providedd the fraudulent legal cover, for they are the worst criminals in the history of this country.


Oh please, don't have Obama throw me into that brair patch!
4.17.2009 11:37am
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):

But the men who drafted these memos are still, at least hypothetically, still out in the cold.

Was it illegal for the lawyers to give that legal advice.

Is legal malpractice a crime?

And where did the torture take place?
4.17.2009 11:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bart:

A tiny danger of accidental death due to unknown health problems or remote chance does not equal torture


Except that your pal moore was not telling us that people died during SERE because of "unknown health problems or remote chance." He was suggesting that people died during SERE because SERE is so tough and realistic. But if SERE is tough enough to kill people, then obviously so are our 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'

================
dennis:

Does waterboarding rise to the level of torture? I don't believe it does.


What you "believe" isn't what matters. What matters is that there's a long history (pdf) of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture.
4.17.2009 11:39am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Under the Feres Doctrine arising from the decision in Feres v. United States, 340 U. S. 135 (1950), the United States is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to members of the armed forces sustained while on active duty and resulting from the negligence of others in the armed forces. Thus, a suit for accidental death caused by the negligence of a SERE instructor during SERE training would be barred by sovereign immunity.

You ignore that (1) Feres is limited to negligence claims arising through accidents while soldiers are on active duty and (2) FTCA liability is not the only basis to sue the military. This is what I mean by there being specific immunity doctrines and not generalized immunity.

It is quite accurate to say that successful lawsuits against the military are rare, but lawsuits certainly get filed, and you can find plenty of reported decisions in such cases. The idea that nobody would ever sue for a death in a SERE exercise if one happened would only be made by someone who doesn't know many personal injury lawyers.
4.17.2009 11:46am
Tanker J.D.:
I read the first memo. It discusses a whole lot of facts. That the CIA officers assess the subject's mental health and design a technique so that it will not cause "severe" and "prolonged" mental harm pretty much negates the specific intent to cause "severe" and "prolonged" mental harm that defines the crime. That's the legal analysis. All the rest is teeth-gnashing complaints about the state of the law and the moral and ethical questions involved. Well, that's a different question, and you can't imprison folks for doing things that aren't illegal even if you find them morally reprehsible. Otherwise, we'd let conservatives lock up women who have abortions. It seems that the "liberals" that normally champion the leniency doctrine don't like it in this case. See generally.
4.17.2009 11:51am
Bart (mail):
Dilan:

You are tap dancing now.

You are welcome to offer your claimed alternative legal basis for a lawsuit against the government for the negligent death of a soldier undergoing SERE training.

Also, you are welcome to document your search of lawsuits that is the basis for your claim that none have been filed.

In any case, given that the Feres Doctrine long preceded SERE training and Rule 11 sanctions plaintiffs for filing frivolous suits, it would not surprise me if no suits have ever been filed for a service member's death in SERE training. Thus, a lack of suits is hardly a rebuttal to the claim of one death per year in SERE training.
4.17.2009 11:59am
Bart (mail):
C. Gittings (mail) (www):

@martinned: "Wouldn't it have been easier to quote the statute of the ICC? After all, that's the most recent authoritative statement on the definition of various war crimes."

cg: The Rome statute is not in force for the United States, but the IMT Charter, and the US executed Nazi and Japanese war criminals for violations of article 6.

The IMT Charter is also not enforceable under the US criminal code. The only provision of the US criminal code which applies is the torture statute.

You are welcome to offer a rebuttal to the legal arguments made in the memos concerning liability under this statute.
4.17.2009 12:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
You are welcome to offer your claimed alternative legal basis for a lawsuit against the government for the negligent death of a soldier undergoing SERE training. Also, you are welcome to document your search of lawsuits that is the basis for your claim that none have been filed.

Bart, you practice in criminal defense law. So you don't know about how plaintiff's lawyers will plead creatively.

There are plenty of suits filed against the military each year. Most lose. But the idea that plaintiff's lawyers are quaking in their boots because of Feres and Rule 11 sanctions is just dumb.

In any event, as I noted, the absence of lawsuits is 1 of several indicators that the "1 death a year" was a lie. We'd also have government reports on the issue. It would be easily accessible if it were true. We'd have media stories quoting grieving families.

Your side has the burden of proof on this issue-- your ideological comrade put out a total BS factoid and you are trying to shift the burden of proof because you must know it is BS.

Bart, at some point you are going to have to resolve to tell the truth. You have, in other contexts, claimed to be a social conservative, but you spend your entire time on the internet bearing false witness. If there really is a God, She will have quite a lot to say to you about this.
4.17.2009 12:06pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Tanker J.D.:
I read the first memo. It discusses a whole lot of facts. That the CIA officers assess the subject's mental health and design a technique so that it will not cause "severe" and "prolonged" mental harm pretty much negates the specific intent to cause "severe" and "prolonged" mental harm that defines the crime. That's the legal analysis.
That I consulted with an astrologer and they assured me in no uncertain terms that the bullet from my gun would not kill the unfortunate recent decedent, but would simply put him into another astral dimension of ecstasy, negates my specific intent to kill. Glad you're my lawyer.

Cheers,
4.17.2009 12:07pm
Suzy (mail):
I have an honest question here--this is not motivated by any attempt to score a point in argument. I merely do not understand: what national security damage could be caused by making the contents of these memos public? In short, I don't feel like they tell us anything about what went on that we didn't already know or could easily guess, so what is the risky disclosure? The WSJ editorial by Mukasey &Hayden laments that the President has tied his hands and future hands--as if we might want to go back to waterboarding, and couldn't do it now that they know we do it. But didn't they already know?

If I had to take a guess--in my position of total ignorance and no military training--about what went on in a CIA interrogation, I would assume it was like the conditions described in the memos. I'd guess they would try to confuse people manipulation of sleep and diet and surroundings, I'd assume they'd rough up someone short of leaving permanent marks, and I'd assume they'd try to find out what was most valued and feared and use it somehow in the questioning (bugs? heights? concern for your grandmother's well-being? whatever). If the memo says x and y are the legal limits, why would our enemies assume we would never go beyond x and y? Isn't that the point--that we did regularly go beyond where we publicly said we were going?

So if someone knows and can clue me in, I honestly would appreciate that. I don't want to just have a one-sided understanding. What am I missing here, that we've given away as vital info with this disclosure?
4.17.2009 12:14pm
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

bart:

you are being dishonest again. i didn't deny that soldiers die in training; there are plenty of reported lawsuits over training accidents.

i said the claim of 1 death a year in SERE is BS, as this could be easily confirmed if true. and lawsuits would be one way to confirm it.


Another way would be news reports. I've read lots of news reports of soldiers killed in training as a result of hypothermia, parachute failed to deploy, accidental explosion, etc. I've never once read a story about someone dying in the torture part of SERE training. If it is occurring at 1 or more per year, there would be reports. Where are they? I call BS.
4.17.2009 12:19pm
rosetta's stones:

Esper: "...the absence of lawsuits is 1 of several indicators that the "1 death a year" was a lie. We'd also have government reports on the issue. It would be easily accessible if it were true. We'd have media stories quoting grieving families."


Why would you expect government reports on the issue? I can't get my military buddies to discuss much of anything classified or close to interesting, why would the government do so?

And thousands of military die every year. During the Cold War, perhaps 2-3,000 or so each and every year died. You're thinking 1 particular death per year is gonna make news, a death the military has motivation to keep quiet?

The guy may be lying, but you're not persuasively showing it.
4.17.2009 12:19pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
John Moore wrote:


How many U.S. soldiers have died during SERE training?

About one a year at the school I went to. Your point?



I call bullshit.

Training accidents do happen, but they inevitably lead to the end of people's careers and immediate changes in training guidelines. If one soldier died in training, then the training would change. I can't believe that you would charge American soldiers with being cavalier about killing their brothers - "oh well, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet."

As an example of an even less serious change made in the training, the sexual assault portion of the training was changed after people complained (and one sued). The sexual assault preparation has more relevance to how our captured soldiers are treated, but we discontinued it.

Your addendum about "the one I went too" doesn't impress an image of your badassness on my consciousness - it makes me more sure that you are a poser.
4.17.2009 12:24pm
Bart (mail):
Dilan:

I am also a civil defense attorney and I am well aware of creative plaintiff pleading. However, until you offer an example of such a creative pleading to get around the Feres Doctrine to bring suit for the negligent death of a service member in SERE training, you are simply making up unfounded spin.

I am personally unaware of the death rate in SERE training. However, when I served in the Army, we lost a few men every year in comparable Ranger and SF training. One death a year in SERE training does not appear to be overstated at all. SERE is one of the most rigorous training programs offered in the military.
4.17.2009 12:28pm
Oren:

I merely do not understand: what national security damage could be caused by making the contents of these memos public? In short, I don't feel like they tell us anything about what went on that we didn't already know or could easily guess, so what is the risky disclosure?

One model of interrogation dynamics is about power. The detainee is made to think that he is completed under the interrogators control. In order to drive this point home, the interrogator must cross what the detainee thinks are the limits on his power. For instance, if the detainee thinks that the interrogator cannot lay hands on him at all, something as simple as grabbing him by the collar will produce a very large psychological effect because it violates the rules the detainee thought apply.

If the detainee knows the real limits in advance, it is much harder for the interrogator to establish that he is in complete control of the situation because, in reality, he is not -- the rules constrain him and the detainee knows it.

In short, the detainee must think he is entirely at the interrogator's mercy.
4.17.2009 12:28pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Bart,

Nonsense.

In the first place, I've already discussed the "arguments" regarding 18 USC 2340 as much I am going to with you. They clearly were acting in violation of the torture statute, and the only opinion regarding the fraudulent Bush alibis I'm interested in is that of an impartial jury in criminal trial.

In the second place, the torture clearly involved violations of a number of other statues besides 18 USC 2340, including:

18 USC § 113 (assault within special maritime and territorial jurisdiction)

18 USC § 371 (conspiracy)

18 USC § 1111 (murder)

18 USC § 1201 (kidnapping)

18 USC § 1512 (tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant)

18 USC § 1519 (destruction, alteration, or falsification of records)

18 USC § 2441 (war crimes)

And to whatever extent the US armed forces were involved:

10 USC § 881 (conspiracy)

10 USC § 893 (cruelty and maltreatment)

10 USC § 897 (unlawful detention)

10 USC § 928 (assault)


Which is something else I've already discussed with you as much I am going to.

The proposition the 1 + 1 = 0 or 3 is NOT something that people can have reasonable disagreements about or rely on in good faith.
4.17.2009 12:35pm
Bart (mail):
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

The news media only reports what the military tells them. They have no access to SERE apart from infrequent and very carefully controlled tours approved by the military. Unless a death happened in front of the reporter in one of those tours, the media would never know.

Dilan:

Any internal military reports on classified SERE training would be similarly classified. These folks would simply be included in the overall non combat death figures issued by the military each year.

Smallholder:

Officers and NCOs do have careers derailed by training accidents found to be negligent. However, these folks usually do not announce their negligence and discipline to the press. Such disclosures would hardly be resume enhancers when the former officer or NCO is looking for employment as a civilian.
4.17.2009 12:38pm
Anderson (mail):
The rules are frequently, even OFTEN, ignored or not followed.

Every state that tortures, &for which we have records -- Britain, France, Israel -- bears this out.

Torture brutalizes the torturer. Victims reach thresholds that the torturer then tries to push them beyond.

As for the CIA's "doesn't cause severe/prolonged mental harm," the $64,000 question is, *based on what*? On the experiences of our people captured in Korea, on whom much of the SERE program was based? On the experiences of victims of similar tortures worldwide?

Apparently not. CIA relied on reports from SERE, whose lack of relevance has been amply shown above, and -- as Jane Mayer demonstrated in The Dark Side -- were being pushed by some CREEPY "psychologist" characters who were pretty damn eager to try out the real thing (and whose names are blushingly redacted from the memos).
4.17.2009 12:41pm
Bart (mail):
Charles:

You are welcome to cite your legal basis for jurisdiction in a federal court for alleged violations of the US criminal code allegedly perpetrated by CIA in foreign countries.

The torture statute expressly provides such jurisdiction.
4.17.2009 12:43pm
DennisN (mail):
@ jukeboxgrad


What you "believe" isn't what matters. What matters is that there's a long history (pdf) of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture.


The paper is less than convincing. The majority of the cases cited involved the much more severe water cure along with beatings and other actions. The few cases that appeared to compare to controlled waterboarding happened in a venue significantly different from the military interrogation of terrorists.

But as you say, what I believe is irrelevant.
4.17.2009 12:44pm
Oren:


As for the CIA's "doesn't cause severe/prolonged mental harm," the $64,000 question is, *based on what*? On the experiences of our people captured in Korea, on whom much of the SERE program was based? On the experiences of victims of similar tortures worldwide?

How exactly do you expect an interrogator that wants to comply with 18USC2340 to make that determination?

I mean, the guts of the question: what methods constitute severe physical or mental pain remains unanswered.
4.17.2009 12:45pm
Anderson (mail):
If the detainee knows the real limits in advance, it is much harder for the interrogator to establish that he is in complete control of the situation because, in reality, he is not -- the rules constrain him and the detainee knows it.

That's the argument, but in practice, a prisoner held by CIA in some unknown location will not be in much of a position to say, "ha, I've read those memos, you can only do so much."

The interrogator, who should not be trying to abuse the guy anyway, can still say things like "oh come now, you didn't REALLY think we published EVERYTHING, did you?"

Or: "Well, I know what President Obama says, but I don't see him here in the room -- do you?"

Or: "I agree with you, but unfortunately, not everyone I work for does. That's why I would really like this conversation to be productive for both of us."

Really, effective interrogation isn't rocket science. You take advantage of the prisoner's fear, loneliness, and human desire for empathy, to "befriend" him and encourage him to identify with you. The Luftwaffe's # 1 interrogator had this down to a T, and I don't see why the U.S.A. should have any difficulty training and hiring top-notch interrogators ... IF getting valid intel is so important.

The HUGE amount of effort expended on justifying and practicing torture, suggests that valid intel was never really the motive. Cheney or somebody (and the CIA does not seem to have been herded into this like innocent lambs) WANTED TORTURE, and they got it. Oooh. Touch them. They bad.
4.17.2009 12:48pm
MarkField (mail):
mls, no I don't agree that selling arms to one combatant is malum in se. It's no violation of any standard that I've ever heard of, absent some statutory or treaty prohibition.

The fact that the CIA may have had good motives for torturing someone hardly removes the torture from the malum in se category. It could just as well argue for killing the detainees on that ground, but in the absence of a recognized defense -- and no such defense exists for torture -- the act remains malum in se.
4.17.2009 12:48pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Any internal military reports on classified SERE training would be similarly classified.

Since when is SERE training secret? I've known about it for years (long before the current torture controversy), and I can remember when I was a teenager seeing a news report where the reporter actually went through some of it.
4.17.2009 12:50pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
rosetta's stones wrote:

Why would you expect government reports on the issue? I can't get my military buddies to discuss much of anything classified or close to interesting, why would the government do so?

And thousands of military die every year. During the Cold War, perhaps 2-3,000 or so each and every year died. You're thinking 1 particular death per year is gonna make news, a death the military has motivation to keep quiet?

Training deaths are huge. When I was at ROTC advanced course at Bragg (No, I'm not pulling a John Moorish chest-thumping here - I'm no badass, but I did serve and can speak with authority about the military experience), a whole portion of the training was tossed out because somewhere in the country a ranger had drowned during a bridge crossing exercise. We were supposed to have constructed a rope bridge across a fast-flowing stream, but in the previous week someone else doing the training had gotten a leg caught under a log and drowned. The army wants realistic training but isn't going to throw away lives willy-nilly. As another example, I remember a couple weeks at the National Training Center when I had to walk around in rear areas gigging National Guardsmen for where they relaxed because some idiot had fallen asleep in the shade of a tank and gotten smooshed by the track when the exercise restarted.

As to the thousands of deaths, that statistic includes ALL deaths, not training deaths - accidents, heart attacks, and whatnot. In actuarial terms, the rate of death in the army is almost identical to the death rate in the civilian world if you control for age - 18-20 year olds drive too fast, get depressed and commit suicide, and sometimes do other dangerous adolescent things. The army tries to deal with that too - I remember getting counseled by a Brigadier General because I got a speeding ticket on base when I was a new LT.

And we do see reports of training deaths - I googled and came up with page after page of training death articles - most of which included career-ending discipline for everyone involved. Here a just three examples:

Again, most of those deaths that Rosetta cited were the result of normal actuarial tables -

Training deaths are newsworthy because lessons can be learned - and are learned.

The "one a year" death in SERE training is baloney.
4.17.2009 12:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
And a quick bit of research confirms, while some parts of SERE training is classified, the program itself is not, and indeed its graduates can wear a patch on their uniform indicating that they completed the training (not the sort of thing that suggests a super-secret program).

So the idea that if there were an accidental death in SERE training, the report would necessarily be classified is ludicrous.
4.17.2009 12:53pm
Anderson (mail):
How exactly do you expect an interrogator that wants to comply with 18USC2340 to make that determination?

Oren, what are you talking about? I'm not talking about some low-hanging interrogator. I'm talking about the CIA, PRELIMINARY to any use of "enhanced interrogation methods."

They don't have researchers at CIA? They don't have the capacity to learn what Alfred McCoy &others have somehow been able to learn about torture, using the library?

There aren't reams of reports of victims of Soviet, etc. torture, for the agency to peruse?

THAT DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN DONE. They went with what the SERE guys told 'em, is the message that I get from the memos. As opposed to records of actual torture.

I do not think that comes anywhere close to a good-faith effort to provide OLC with the pertinent facts. And if you do think so, then please explain why.
4.17.2009 12:54pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Links wouldn't go through the first time. Here's try two:

USA Today

Army Times

NY Times

Military Deaths (page 5)
4.17.2009 12:54pm
John Moore (www):
Dilan Esper :


but a death in training is the sort of thing that would result in a lot of outrage and attempts to plead around these doctrines.

the lack of a lawsuit is basically proof that these claimed deaths never happened.


In other words, absence of proof is proof of absence.

I went through SERE school in 1968. At that time, it wasn't nearly as popular for anyone injured for any reason to file a lawsuit - especially patriotic family members of military members. Attendance of SERE school was voluntary - in the sense that those military specialties that required it were voluntary. It was also, as many have mentioned, classified.

You can call BS all you want, but you're just getting it all over yourself.

We were required to take an "unlimited duty" physical before going in (which hints at how stressful it was, physically and mentally). We were required to sign a waiver. It may be that the waiver had no legal value, and was just a psychological trick to convince us that we were in real danger. If so, it worked.

As Oren wrote:


One model of interrogation dynamics is about power. The detainee is made to think that he is completed under the interrogators control. In order to drive this point home, the interrogator must cross what the detainee thinks are the limits on his power. For instance, if the detainee thinks that the interrogator cannot lay hands on him at all, something as simple as grabbing him by the collar will produce a very large psychological effect because it violates the rules the detainee thought apply.

If the detainee knows the real limits in advance, it is much harder for the interrogator to establish that he is in complete control of the situation because, in reality, he is not -- the rules constrain him and the detainee knows it.


To increase your education about SERE, since you seem to think it means nothing but resisting interrogation, let me introduce you to the acronym:

S - Survival (in the wild)

E - Evasion (avoid being captured)

R - Resistance (how to behave when in captivity and in interrogation)

E - Escape

ALL of those things were trained, and all involved some hazard. For instance, when we entered the "R" phase, we had not eaten '''anything''' for a week.
4.17.2009 12:59pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zuch:

another astral dimension of ecstasy


This might a good moment to point out that I consistently appreciate the way you write.

============
suzy:

If the memo says x and y are the legal limits, why would our enemies assume we would never go beyond x and y?


These are good questions. Moore has been telling us that SERE is so intensely disorienting that subjects completely lose track of the fact that they are not actually in enemy hands. At the same time, we're supposed to believe that a future detainee will be able to resist us based on his recollection of something he read in one of these memos, and his belief that the information is trustworthy, and directly relevant to his current experience. That doesn't make sense. As Anderson explained.

============
dennis:

The majority of the cases cited involved the much more severe water cure along with beatings and other actions.


We have also engaged in "beatings and other actions." And we are completely trusting the CIA with regard to how "severe" they were in applying waterboarding.

And there is nothing in the case history to show that waterboarding is OK as long as it's not "the much more severe water cure." There is no clear line between what we did and "the much more severe water cure."

The few cases that appeared to compare to controlled waterboarding happened in a venue significantly different from the military interrogation of terrorists.


I don't know what you mean by "venue" and I don't understand why "venue" matters.
4.17.2009 1:02pm
John Moore (www):
pintler:


OTOH, imagine going to a convention of Viet War POW's and explaining to them how SERE school was darn near just as bad as the real thing. I think if you tell them 'you have no idea how bad SERE is - you weren't there' they may feel that your lack of experience with a real POW situation may not qualify you to judge how close SERE may be to the real thing


Well, you wouldn't have to tell them about SERE, because they all went through it before captivity. That's one reason they did so much better than Korean War POW's, which was the impetus for SERE in the firstt place.

Second, only an idiot would consider SERE "equivalent" to the Vietnam POW experience.

In spite of your straw man argument, my point was that SERE was so intense as to lead to the state of mind approximating that of true interrogation - at least for a little while. In that it worked. In terms of long term suffering and degradation, it was not similar.

Furthermore, the NVA used actual torture, not just the restricted techniques mentioned in the memo. SERE does not simulate that because it does not want to cause permanent damage.

In that sense, SERE was in fact a good model for a real interrogation program based on modern sensibilities.
4.17.2009 1:03pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
It was also, as many have mentioned, classified.

I have no comment about SERE in 1968. But SERE now (which is the issue with these torture memos) is not a classified program, though it has classified elements.
4.17.2009 1:07pm
John Moore (www):

Moore has been telling us that SERE is so intensely disorienting that subjects completely lose track of the fact that they are not actually in enemy hands. At the same time, we're supposed to believe that a future detainee will be able to resist us based on his recollection of something he read in one of these memos, and his belief that the information is trustworthy, and directly relevant to his current experience. That doesn't make sense.


Replace "completely" with "temporarily" and the first sentence is correct.

The contradiction you try to draw is based on absolutist thinking (is this something you guys pick up in law school?). The reality is that all of this is a matter of degree. Knowing what is in those memos may aid future detainees in resisting interrogation... in delaying the process... because of the reduction of the fear factor.

Of course, the best solution to this is waterboarding, which produces results quickly and is not as dependent on uncertainty (as demonstrated by the fact that SERE graduates, who are incentivized not to break, normally do break).
4.17.2009 1:07pm
Bart (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

And a quick bit of research confirms, while some parts of SERE training is classified, the program itself is not, and indeed its graduates can wear a patch on their uniform indicating that they completed the training (not the sort of thing that suggests a super-secret program). So the idea that if there were an accidental death in SERE training, the report would necessarily be classified is ludicrous.

:::sigh:::

An accidental death report would include the circumstances of the death including the training being performed. I guarantee you that any report discussing classified training would be likewise classified the same as these DoJ memos were classified for discussing classified CIA interrogation methods. Believe me, the military view is, when in doubt, classify it.

Dilan, it is painfully obvious (except perhaps to you) that you have absolutely no idea of which you are speaking when it comes to the military. An word of advice - when the top of the pit you are in is almost over your head, stop digging.
4.17.2009 1:08pm
John Moore (www):
Hey Juke... you are refuted directly by this thread. You write:
jukeboxgrad:

Except that your pal moore was not telling us that people died during SERE because of "unknown health problems or remote chance." He was suggesting that people died during SERE because SERE is so tough and realistic.


Actually, here is exactly what I wrote:



How many U.S. soldiers have died during SERE training?




About one a year at the school I went to. Your point?
4.17.2009 1:12pm
PC:
Is legal malpractice a crime?

It was in World War 2.

And where did the torture take place?

Well, there was the cab driver that was beaten to death in Afghanistan. There was the Iraqi general that was beaten to death in Iraq. There was the (innocent) Canadian citizen that was handed over to Syria for torture by proxy. And there was the (innocent) German citizen that was kidnapped on vacation and sodomized by our boys in Afghanistan. We can also get into the things on tape that weren't released from Abu Ghirab, like children being raped in front of their parents.

How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?
4.17.2009 1:12pm
Bart (mail):
Anderson (mail):

If the detainee knows the real limits in advance, it is much harder for the interrogator to establish that he is in complete control of the situation because, in reality, he is not -- the rules constrain him and the detainee knows it.

That's the argument, but in practice, a prisoner held by CIA in some unknown location will not be in much of a position to say, "ha, I've read those memos, you can only do so much."

:::chuckle:::

That is precisely what KSM tried when he was captured by the CIA. al Qaeda had studied how the Clinton Administration had treated their captures after the 1993 WTC attack a civilian criminal defendants with a right to silence and an attorney. The first thing KSM reportedly demanded from CIA was an attorney.

I would have loved to have been there to see KSM's face when the CIA interrogators laughed at him and told him there was a new sheriff in town and al Qaeda had no constitutional rights.
4.17.2009 1:13pm
bloodstar (mail) (www):
Further question, there may be some evidence that the restrictions listed here were exceeded during the "enhanced interrogations", if during the questioning, things went further than listed in the memos, should those people be prosecuted?

I'm asking this as a hypothetical.
4.17.2009 1:14pm
Bart (mail):
Assuming against evidence that SERE trainees know the trainers' limits and the al Qeada do not know the CIA's limits (until Obama told them, that is), the fear of the unknown that CIA can inflict that SERE cannot is not itself the infliction of severe pain required to prove torture.

Instead, the proper measure is whether the SERE methods adopted by CIA intentionally inflict severe pain and are thus torture. They do not come close. SERE does not torture its trainees and CIA did not torture al Qeada using these same methods.
4.17.2009 1:22pm
geokstr:

Anderson:
The HUGE amount of effort expended on justifying and practicing torture, suggests that valid intel was never really the motive. Cheney or somebody (and the CIA does not seem to have been herded into this like innocent lambs) WANTED TORTURE, and they got it. Oooh. Touch them. They bad.

Why do those on the left insist on seeing outright EVIL when assessing the motives of those they disagree with?

Of course, I guess it's not possible that after 19 fanatics managed to hijack 4 airliners, run two into the most famous buildings in NY, and another into our own military headquarters in our own capital, killing thousands, that someone like the Satan-loving baby-killer Cheney might have thought there could be HUGE benefits to getting as much intel as quickly as possible. Perhaps that's why they had this so-called "HUGE" effort to justify interrogation techniques that the average jihadist would consider kindergarten namby-pamby pussied methods in comparison to what they do every day.

No way - it must be that Cheney was channelling Dr. Mengele, his childhood hero, right?

I am so tired of the left's notion that briefly waterboarding the three top prisoners, subjecting others to such cruelty as having female interrogators, one of whom actually moved her body towards the prisoner causing him untold humiliation, is right up there with slowly sawing off the heads of journalists and other noncombatants, breaking legs and arms, chopping off body parts, daily beatings to the point of near death, and lots of other subhuman activities. And they do this not for gaining sensitive information, which is readily available in the NY Times, but to show how much they respect, love and honor infidels.

Ever since phony moral equivalence became popular as a tool of the left during the cold war, they have used it to bash anyone who disagrees with them.
4.17.2009 1:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

I went through SERE school in 1968.


SERE was founded in 1981. More here:

Colonel Rowe retired from the United States Army in 1974. In 1981, he was recalled to active duty to design and build a course based upon his experience as a POW. Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is now a requirement for graduation from the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course. SERE is taught at the Colonel James "Nick" Rowe Training compound at Camp Mackall, North Carolina. It is considered by many to be the most important advanced training in the special operations field.


And here:

In 1981, Rowe used the lessons he had learned in captivity to form the Special Forces Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course.


And here:

During the 1980s, lieutenant Colonel Nick Rowe established the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE, school at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School. Rowe returned to active duty so that he could teach Soldiers to survive, to evade capture and to resist exploitation, using the lessons he learned while being held by the Viet Cong for more than five years.


Same info here.

You also said this:

you wouldn't have to tell them [Viet War POW's] about SERE, because they all went through it before captivity. That's one reason they did so much better than Korean War POW's, which was the impetus for SERE in the firstt place.


Multiple references indicate that the "impetus" for SERE was Vietnam, not Korea.

you are refuted directly by this thread


Really? You said people die during SERE. If your point was not to suggest that SERE is so tough that it kills people, then what was your point?

=============
bart:

the fear of the unknown that CIA can inflict that SERE cannot is not itself the infliction of severe pain required to prove torture


Wrong. Mock execution is legally defined as a form of torture, and it embodies nothing other than fear of the unknown: whether or not the person is actually going to pull the trigger of the gun they're pointing at me.
4.17.2009 1:27pm
Bart (mail):
jukeboxgrad (mail):

bart: the fear of the unknown that CIA can inflict that SERE cannot is not itself the infliction of severe pain required to prove torture

Wrong. Mock execution is legally defined as a form of torture, and it embodies nothing other than fear of the unknown: whether or not the person is actually going to pull the trigger of the gun they're pointing at me.

Generalized fear of the unknown is not a mock execution. A mock execution involves an act making it appear to the subject that he will be executed.
4.17.2009 1:35pm
rosetta's stones:

Smallholder: "Again, most of those deaths that Rosetta cited were the result of normal actuarial tables -

Training deaths are newsworthy because lessons can be learned - and are learned.

The "one a year" death in SERE training is baloney."


Small, I went to the site, and it lists 1,000 military deaths per year as "accident" over the last 30 years or so, so we'll exclude the other 1-2,000 deaths per year which you claim are actuarially normal. But again, you're assuming that one death of those 1,000 per year is going to make flaming headline news, despite the military's motivation to tamp that down, and leave that one death per year under the heading of "accident"?

That's not persuasive, certainly not enough to conclusively call the guy a liar.
4.17.2009 1:36pm
rosetta's stones:

"...the Satan-loving baby-killer Cheney..."


I knew it... I knew it... I KNEW it!
4.17.2009 1:42pm
John Moore (www):
jukeboxgrad:


SERE was founded in 1981.


Thanks for enlightening me. I realize now how incorrect my writing was. Actually, I went through in Dec 1967, not 1968. Typo.

Sigh.

Did you really think there was only one SERE school? In only one branch of service?

The slightest bit of Googling brings up lots of threads where people are recounting having been to SERE way before '81.

I went to SERE at Warner Springs, CA (founded 1953). In 1967, it was teaching about 10,000 students a year.

You said people die during SERE. If your point was not to suggest that SERE is so tough that it kills people, then what was your point?


To directly answer the question (see above, twice), and in doing so to ask the point of the question.


Mock execution is legally defined as a form of torture, and it embodies nothing other than fear of the unknown: whether or not the person is actually going to pull the trigger of the gun they're pointing at me.


Did it occur to you that the interrogatees, unless they are idiots, realize that the water board is to get information, not execution? If execution were desired, or even mock execution, there are much simpler techniques - such as the use of a standard issue 9mm (or, when I was in, a .45).
4.17.2009 1:44pm
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

Further question, there may be some evidence that the restrictions listed here were exceeded during the "enhanced interrogations", if during the questioning, things went further than listed in the memos, should those people be prosecuted?


I wonder why videotapes of the "enhanced interrogation" sessions were erased?
4.17.2009 2:01pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan, it is painfully obvious (except perhaps to you) that you have absolutely no idea of which you are speaking when it comes to the military. An word of advice - when the top of the pit you are in is almost over your head, stop digging.

Bart, darling, what you are supposing is that there is a military training program which is only partially classified (and which the military actively promotes) that kills someone every year, and that not only are all the death reports classified and have withstood FOIA challenges, but there have been no lawsuits, no media reports, no reports of grieving or pissed off relatives, etc., with respect to these incidents.

You like to assume a position of superiority-- damn it, I served in the military and therefore you can't know anything about the subject. I think it's great that you served in the military. But it is possible to have served in the military and to still be full of ****. And I am afraid you prove that on a frequent basis.
4.17.2009 2:05pm
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

the fear of the unknown that CIA can inflict that SERE cannot is not itself the infliction of severe pain required to prove torture.


You should read the torture statute before talking about what you do not understand. Torture is clearly defined to include more than the infliction of severe physical pain. It expressly includes the infliction of severe physical suffering, severe mental pain, or severe mental suffering as well. I'm beginning to understand why some people think certain things are not "torture." They just do not understand the legal (or common) definition of the word.
4.17.2009 2:06pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Did it occur to you that the interrogatees, unless they are idiots, realize that the water board is to get information, not execution? If execution were desired, or even mock execution, there are much simpler techniques - such as the use of a standard issue 9mm (or, when I was in, a .45).

You know, I've had plenty of experience in torture law, but this is the first time I've ever heard the "mock executions are governed by a subjective standard" argument.

I guess NO mock execution is really a mock execution, because the detainee will always subjectively realize that they are not REALLY going to kill him, right?
4.17.2009 2:09pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Bart,

You might try reading the statutes.

18 USC 2441 applies to any offense committed by or against a US national or service member "inside or outside the United States".

The sections of Title 10 I cited are all from the punitive articles of the UCMJ, and apply to the US armed forces wherever they happen to be serving.

18 USC 113 applies to assaults "within [the] special maritime and territorial jurisdiction" just like the title says. Such jurisdiction is defined by 18 USC 7, and is quite comprehensive in this particular context.

18 USC 1512(h)states "[t]here is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section," and like the conspiracy statute (18 USC 371), I read it to have the same jurisdiction as the statute which is the object of the conspiracy or tampering; see also 1512(i). Ditto for 18 USC 1519.

Now cease with your endless dishonesty.
4.17.2009 2:10pm
John Moore (www):

I guess NO mock execution is really a mock execution, because the detainee will always subjectively realize that they are not REALLY going to kill him, right?


No. Sometimes they really do kill him. However, they aren't likely to use a waterboard to do it!
4.17.2009 2:12pm
John Moore (www):
Dilan writes;

You like to assume a position of superiority-- damn it, I served in the military and therefore you can't know anything about the subject. I think it's great that you served in the military. But it is possible to have served in the military and to still be full of ****. And I am afraid you prove that on a frequent basis.


You really should learn when to give up a losing fight.

The fact that you don't understand the military is blatantly obvious from your postings - at least to those of us who have served. Furthermore, since your entire argument is based on the fallacy that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, it's even more pathetic.

Here's a tip: look at the date when I went through SERE and when they were losing 1 student a year at that school. Do you presume a stasis - that they are still losing one a year? I didn't claim that, but you appear to assume that.
4.17.2009 2:15pm
John Moore (www):

You know, I've had plenty of experience in torture law


Considering how esoteric the subject is, just what is your experience?
4.17.2009 2:16pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
PS:

The federal murder and kidnapping statutes both have subsections which explicitly apply them within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.
4.17.2009 2:18pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
@geokstr:

"Why do those on the left insist on seeing outright EVIL when assessing the motives of those they disagree with?"

It has to do with the fact that it's obvious that your motives are just as evil as it gets. Dick Cheney and George Bush have murdered a lot more people than Al Qaeda has over the last eight years.

I don't have to believe you're another Mengele to think you're at least another Goering or Jodl. A Nazi is a Nazi, and I've listened to you folks spout the same excuses the Nazis used for nearly eight years. This nation has no worse enemies than you people.
4.17.2009 2:27pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The fact that you don't understand the military is blatantly obvious from your postings - at least to those of us who have served. Furthermore, since your entire argument is based on the fallacy that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, it's even more pathetic.

No sale. You are the one who made up the completely BS lie that one person died a year in SERE training. You are the one who is supposed to come up with the evidence to support this lie. And you are the one who hasn't done so, because you made it up.

I was simply pointing out the absence of evidence that would certainly exist if you were telling the truth. But you weren't, so you didn't.
4.17.2009 2:30pm
John Moore (www):

It has to do with the fact that it's obvious that your motives are just as evil as it gets. Dick Cheney and George Bush have murdered a lot more people than Al Qaeda has over the last eight years.

I don't have to believe you're another Mengele to think you're at least another Goering or Jodl. A Nazi is a Nazi, and I've listened to you folks spout the same excuses the Nazis used for nearly eight years. This nation has no worse enemies than you people.


1)Projecting a bit?

2)Or just claiming to be a mind reader.

3)Or paranoid?

4)Or just an idiot?

I go with 1,2,3 and 4.

It is refreshing, however, to actually see the accusation out in the open, as opposed to underlying damn near everything the left says about the rest of us. Such transparent moral righteousness is much preferred to the unacknowledged but ever present kind.
4.17.2009 2:32pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Considering how esoteric the subject is, just what is your experience?

I was one of the counsel for the Plaintiffs in Alvarez-Machain v. United States (for 8 years) and Doe v. Unocal (for 6 years), and worked on a bunch of other cases, e.g., Siderman v. Republic of Argentina, Hilao v Marcos, etc. I have litigated claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act as well as 28 USC 1350. I have argued interpretations of the Convention Against Torture and have written published articles about refouler and withholding of deportation.

So yeah, I know something about this. But certainly not as much as you and Bart. After all, you served in the MILITARY.
4.17.2009 2:34pm
Oren:


Oren, what are you talking about? I'm not talking about some low-hanging interrogator. I'm talking about the CIA, PRELIMINARY to any use of "enhanced interrogation methods."

They don't have researchers at CIA? They don't have the capacity to learn what Alfred McCoy &others have somehow been able to learn about torture, using the library?

There aren't reams of reports of victims of Soviet, etc. torture, for the agency to peruse?

THAT DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN DONE. They went with what the SERE guys told 'em, is the message that I get from the memos. As opposed to records of actual torture.


I still don't understand how you want them to go from a factual description of the interrogation method to a judgment of whether it comports with 18USC2340.

They have researchers, they did the background and then they came to their conclusions. They don't have to go with the conclusions of McCoy (or anyone else) that they don't feel are correct.
4.17.2009 2:36pm
John Moore (www):

No sale. You are the one who made up the completely BS lie that one person died a year in SERE training.

You are the one who is supposed to come up with the evidence to support this lie. And you are the one who hasn't done so, because you made it up.

Oh really? Why? Because you are too dense to understand that if you run 10000 people through a very physically demanding and psychological stressful exercise, one of them is likely to die? That's .01%. There is no burden on me to prove the obvious to you.


I was simply pointing out the absence of evidence that would certainly exist if you were telling the truth.


And you have no possible way to show that this evidence would actually exist, because you don't have a clue about the situation, as is obvious from your many postings.

I get a little tired of someone who thinks his law degree and his superior conscience makes him omniscient telling me that I'm a liar.

I told the truth. You can't refute it, so you just have to attack me.

Stick it where the sun doesn't shine.
4.17.2009 2:37pm
John Moore (www):

So yeah, I know something about this. But certainly not as much as you and Bart. After all, you served in the MILITARY.


Okay, so you know about the law.

But that still doesn't make you knowledgeable about the military. And when discussing what happened at SERE school, the latter is relevant and the former a distraction.
4.17.2009 2:39pm
Bart (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

BD: Dilan, it is painfully obvious (except perhaps to you) that you have absolutely no idea of which you are speaking when it comes to the military. An word of advice - when the top of the pit you are in is almost over your head, stop digging.

Bart, darling, what you are supposing is that there is a military training program which is only partially classified (and which the military actively promotes) that kills someone every year, and that not only are all the death reports classified and have withstood FOIA challenges, but there have been no lawsuits, no media reports, no reports of grieving or pissed off relatives, etc., with respect to these incidents.

Dilan, darling, that is your allegation, not mine, and an allegation is all that it remains. I challenged you to provide us with evidence of your inquiries that form the basis of this allegation and you have not provided any because you are simply speaking out of your hind quarters.
4.17.2009 2:45pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Bart, John has the burden of proof. He's the guy who made the affirmative claim that 1 person died a year.

You don't have any evidence for that claim. So all you have is a bare attempt to shift the burden of proof. Which is what you do when your falsehoods don't stand up.
4.17.2009 2:57pm
Bart (mail):
C. Gittings (mail) (www):

Bart, You might try reading the statutes.

It's not up to me to make your case.

18 USC 2441 applies to any offense committed by or against a US national or service member "inside or outside the United States".

I agree. However, the operative provisions of 18 USC 2441 - (d)(1)(a)7(b) - essentially repeat the torture statute. Thus, we are back to square one.

The sections of Title 10 I cited are all from the punitive articles of the UCMJ, and apply to the US armed forces wherever they happen to be serving.

CIA does not fall under the UCMJ.

18 USC 113 applies to assaults "within [the] special maritime and territorial jurisdiction" just like the title says. Such jurisdiction is defined by 18 USC 7, and is quite comprehensive in this particular context.

Not quite comprehensive enough to reach Polish, Thai or Afghan facilities where the CIA was a guest and does not exercise legal jurisdiction. CIA can read the US Code. This is why the 14 high value detainees were not brought to Gitmo until CIA as through with them.

18 USC 1512(h)states "[t]here is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section,"...

Witness tampering? Please. Pray tell what crime about which was KSM going to testify prior to his capture?

You do not even attempt to apply any of the other statutes you listed above, so I am taking that as an admission that a federal court would lack jurisdiction.

That motion to dismiss took maybe 10 minutes to win.
4.17.2009 3:03pm
John Moore (www):
Dilan,

Someone asked me how many died in SERE training. I responded with the number I was given back when I attended.

You attempt to make a big deal of this is just pathetic.

First of all, I don't even know the relevance of the question (in fact, I asked that with my answer). Second, it is bloody obvious that people die in those sorts of situations. The fact that, after 40 years, and working as an engineer, I cannot magically produce documentary evidence of what I was told, hardly means that it is a lie.

In fact, I would say that the burden of proof is very strongly on you to back up your assertion of that lie.

I can only conclude that you keep harping on this because you just can't stand to lose.

Get a life. Better yet, join the military and learn how the rest of the world works. It would be good for you (as long as you stayed out of JAG) and might not hurt the military too much.

This is my last word on this ridiculous subject.

Thus, you can go away happy, convinced by our logic that wouldn't last a millisecond in court, that you have caught me in a lie.
4.17.2009 3:03pm
John Moore (www):
COrrection: "our" should be "your" of course
4.17.2009 3:03pm
Bart (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

Bart, John has the burden of proof. He's the guy who made the affirmative claim that 1 person died a year.

Agreed.

You don't have any evidence for that claim. So all you have is a bare attempt to shift the burden of proof. Which is what you do when your falsehoods don't stand up.


To start, I have made no allegation concerning the average number of annual deaths in SERE training. Unlike you, I do not make allegations for which I have no proof or personal knowledge. This is John's contention.

In any case, this is a strawman argument. You offered a rebuttal allegation for which you could provide no foundation. I called you on it and your strawman is pretty much an admission you simply pulled the rebuttal allegation out of your hind quarters. You have no idea how many lawsuits have been filed or stories reported concerning deaths in SERE and are simply arguing from speculation.
4.17.2009 3:10pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
John Moore,

I'm not projecting a damn thing, and you'll have to show me where I've said anything that involved mind reading. I've spent the last seven and half years investigating the war crimes of the Bush administration more than full time. What I've been reading are the briefs and memoranda issued by the US government, the articles and papers written by various apologists, and the news reporting, day in and day out.

Facts are facts, and the facts here speak for themselves -- your dishonesty, hypocrisy, and depravity are nothing that could be accurately described as my "idiocy".
4.17.2009 3:10pm
zuch (mail) (www):
JBG:
This might a good moment to point out that I consistently appreciate the way you write.
Must be the drugs. ;-) Caffiene primarily, at least during the day....

I do try to keep it light-hearted and down-to-earth, and avoid the academic stratosphere of high-flauting -- umm, "faluting" -- words ... but I do try to insert a bit of real lawyerin' in as well.

Thanks, and best to you as well for your untiring and indomitable efforts to keep the RWers here honest.

Cheers,
4.17.2009 3:18pm
John Moore (www):
Gittings:

It has to do with the fact that it's obvious that your motives are just as evil as it gets.


Mind reading.
4.17.2009 3:32pm
DennisN (mail):
@ jukeboxgrad


We have also engaged in "beatings and other actions." And we are completely trusting the CIA with regard to how "severe" they were in applying waterboarding.


I am specifically referring to the memos, which described the procedures in detail, and specifically excluded the incorporation of beatings or even insult slaps with waterboarding. If those actions occurred, then they are outside the scope of the memos, and any legal protection to be gained by a good faith reliance on them.

I presume, in those cases, the actors could be prosecuted. Perhaps they even should be.


And there is nothing in the case history to show that waterboarding is OK as long as it's not "the much more severe water cure." There is no clear line between what we did and "the much more severe water cure."


And there is nothing in the Wallach paper that establishes that it is not legal under the conditions of the memos. That is what the memos were intended to establish. There are plenty of instances in the World where there is no bright line. Nevertheless, there is a line.


I don't know what you mean by "venue" and I don't understand why "venue" matters.


The warderboarding incidents in the Wallach paper involved the waterboarding of civilian suspects by state authorities. They involve different laws that may not apply to this argument.
4.17.2009 3:41pm
DennisN (mail):
@ C. Gittings


I don't have to believe you're another Mengele to think you're at least another Goering or Jodl. A Nazi is a Nazi, and I've listened to you folks spout the same excuses the Nazis used for nearly eight years. This nation has no worse enemies than you people.


Godwin.
4.17.2009 3:43pm
John Moore (www):

I wonder why videotapes of the "enhanced interrogation" sessions were erased?


Two reasons:

1) The inevitable witch-hunt would have caused them to leak into the public domain, ultimately to be used in terrorist training camps, and

2) To protect the interrogators from reprisals by allies of the terrorists, and

3) To protect the interrogators from the witch hunters
4.17.2009 3:56pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Bart,

The sheer extent and brazenness of your dishonesty are simply astonishing.

With regard to special maritime and territorial jurisdiction, 18 USC 7(3) provides jurisdiction for:


"Any lands reserved or acquired for the use of the United States, and under the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction thereof, or any place purchased or otherwise acquired by the United States by consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of a fort, magazine, arsenal, dockyard, or other needful building."

That would apply to any CIA facility anywhere in the world, Poland included. See also 18 USC 7(9):

"With respect to offenses committed by or against a national of the United States as that term is used in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act --

"(A) the premises of United States diplomatic, consular, military or other United States Government missions or entities in foreign States, including the buildings, parts of buildings, and land appurtenant or ancillary thereto or used for purposes of those missions or entities, irrespective of ownership; and

"(B) residences in foreign States and the land appurtenant or ancillary thereto, irrespective of ownership, used for purposes of those missions or entities or used by United States personnel assigned to those missions or entities."


This also would apply to any CIA facility anywhere in the world, Poland included. Note also that the only way anyone got to Poland was by flying in plane.

I never said the UCMJ applied to the CIA; where it would apply is to any US service member who aided or abetted any of the crimes committed by the CIA, such as personnel at Gitmo or Bagram etc, and the commanders responsible for those facilities. Either before or after the fact.

As for KSM, who said anything about him being a witness before he was taken into custody?

He's a victim of and witness to crimes after he was taken into custody. Like for example, when they threatened to kill his wife and children.

And 18 USC 2441(c) applies to such crimes regardless of 18 USC 2441(d).

But you know all that, because I've explained all of it to you before.
4.17.2009 4:01pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
DennisN,

BS: You folks wore that dodge out long ago. Sometimes you call someone a Nazi just because that's what they really are.

And not backing down one bit: you people are nothing BUT new-age Nazis &Stalinists -- congenital liars, gangsters, and bigots.
4.17.2009 4:09pm
John Moore (www):
Godwin
4.17.2009 4:16pm
RPT (mail):
"Bushbasher:

[quoting rpt] "Perhaps comments should be restricted to those who have read the memoranda, which total nearly 100 pages."

perhaps comments should be restricted to those who are purely and simply disgusted by the condoning of physical abuse to the level of torture by the worst kind of psychopathic legal weaseling."

BB:

You may have misunderstood my neutral point, as I meant only that the memos must be read to be appreciated. My "appreciation" is pretty close to yours.

From the legal analysis perspective, the memos are circular. The writer appears to know little if anything of the underlying reality and relies exclusively upon the factual assertions and assumptions of the "client" that there is no wrongful intent, that the conduct is not harmful, or severe, etc., and then opines that because these facts are true, the conduct is legal and proper. This is worthless circularity. Made As Instructed" as the saying goes in the appraisal business.

Imagine a CPA who signs off on tax returns without seeing any client documents. Imagine a CEO who signs off on an report without reading it. That's what these memos represent. "No good lawyer" can assert that they are anything other than a "get out of jail free card".

Finally, to Bart and John Moore, and others, anyone can make arguments based on what their friends or acquaintances or personal experience in the military tells them. No one else here can verify or disprove your assertions. It's like the Firesign Theatre "Uniform Code of Military
Toughness". I would appreciate more comments on the topic, that is, the memos themselves, and less of the "quien es mas macho" stuff.
4.17.2009 4:20pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
John Moore, that's not mind reading, it's just simple arithmetic.

The crimes were committed over a period of seven years, the evidence of the crimes is completely obvious and undeniable, and you people are still making excuses for them and arguing that black is white and up is down.

What possible motivation could you have?

My basic inference is that you sincerely believe that committing such crimes is just a good idea, and that you have deluded yourself into believing, against any rational concept of law, that such crimes are not crimes at all.

I don;t need to know exactly why a child molester does what they do to know that it's wrong to do it. This is no different: I don't care what your excuse is -- there is no excuse.
4.17.2009 4:22pm
John Moore (www):
When you use the term "you" in conversation with somebody on this board, you are accusing them (us) of this or equating us to those who did this.

As for us making excuses...

We have different beliefs than you about what is necessary. For that, you assert we are akin to Nazi's.
4.17.2009 4:34pm
John Moore (www):

Finally, to Bart and John Moore, and others, anyone can make arguments based on what their friends or acquaintances or personal experience in the military tells them. No one else here can verify or disprove your assertions. It's like the Firesign Theatre "Uniform Code of Military
Toughness". I would appreciate more comments on the topic, that is, the memos themselves, and less of the "quien es mas macho" stuff.


You seem to have some problem with facts presented that you cannot challenge. I prefer to provide the results of my personal experience, since it is relevant to the discussion.

If your entire world revolves around that which you can prove by a cite, then I hope you aren't involved in making national security decisions.
4.17.2009 4:39pm
John Moore (www):
RPT...

Furthermore, if you look at my assertions regarding SERE, I have said little. The only thing I volunteered relevant to this debate is that the experience is so intense that you temporarily forget that it is training.

So what's your problem?
4.17.2009 4:42pm
Anderson (mail):
Why do those on the left insist on seeing outright EVIL when assessing the motives of those they disagree with?

Can't help you with the general question, but returning to the actual topic at hand, these were the facts on 9/12/2001:

(1) Torture is a dumb way to obtain intel, besides being immoral, illegal, and imprudent.

(2) Professional interrogators have non-torture methods that are at least as effective as anything else, which have been repeatedly proved valid in WW2 and later.

(3) Obtaining valid intel re: al-Qaeda was a very, very high national security priority.

Now, given those 3 facts, what did we do? Did we pay any price to obtain or train the best interrogators available, professionals fluent in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, or whatnot?

Or, did we immediately set out to obtain legal justifications for torture?

The latter. From that, we can infer incompetence or evil. The former is quite plausible in the Bush administration, but frankly, given the overwhelming importance of getting the best intel available, I am skeptical of the incompetence dodge here.

Here's a passage from Jane Mayer that I find myself quoting frequently at the VC:

On September 17, 2001, President Bush signed a secret Presidential finding authorizing the C.I.A. to create paramilitary teams to hunt, capture, detain, or kill designated terrorists almost anywhere in the world. Yet the C.I.A. had virtually no trained interrogators. A former C.I.A. officer involved in fighting terrorism said that, at first, the agency was crippled by its lack of expertise. “It began right away, in Afghanistan, on the fly,” he recalled. “They invented the program of interrogation with people who had no understanding of Al Qaeda or the Arab world.” The former officer said that the pressure from the White House, in particular from Vice-President Dick Cheney, was intense: “They were pushing us: ‘Get information! Do not let us get hit again!’ ” In the scramble, he said, he searched the C.I.A.’s archives, to see what interrogation techniques had worked in the past. He was particularly impressed with the Phoenix Program, from the Vietnam War. Critics, including military historians, have described it as a program of state-sanctioned torture and murder. A Pentagon-contract study found that, between 1970 and 1971, ninety-seven per cent of the Vietcong targeted by the Phoenix Program were of negligible importance. But, after September 11th, some C.I.A. officials viewed the program as a useful model. A. B. Krongard, who was the executive director of the C.I.A. from 2001 to 2004, said that the agency turned to “everyone we could, including our friends in Arab cultures,” for interrogation advice, among them those in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, all of which the State Department regularly criticizes for human-rights abuses.

CIA didn't know what it was doing, and, perhaps due to bureaucratic rivalry, didn't turn to FBI, which interrogates suspects for a living; instead, they turned to states whose "interrogations" typically involve electric shocks &worse.

I tend to assume that Cheney and Addington pushed for torture from the get-go, but that's an inference. Especially after seeing the new memos, I am inclined to wonder whether some rogue leaders at CIA (such as Jose "Eraser" Rodriguez) decided that 9/11 was a great opportunity to quit being pussies and start torturing like a REAL intel outfit.
4.17.2009 4:43pm
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

Two reasons:

1) The inevitable witch-hunt would have caused them to leak into the public domain, ultimately to be used in terrorist training camps, and

2) To protect the interrogators from reprisals by allies of the terrorists, and

3) To protect the interrogators from the witch hunters


You have a funny way of counting to two.
4.17.2009 4:52pm
Anderson (mail):
You have a funny way of counting to two.

In real life, he does the budget for the Pentagon.
4.17.2009 5:00pm
John Moore (www):

You have a funny way of counting to two.

I'm practicing at being an anti-torture demagogue.
4.17.2009 5:03pm
John Moore (www):

CIA didn't know what it was doing, and, perhaps due to bureaucratic rivalry, didn't turn to FBI, which interrogates suspects for a living; instead, they turned to states whose "interrogations" typically involve electric shocks &worse.

I tend to assume that Cheney and Addington pushed for torture from the get-go, but that's an inference. Especially after seeing the new memos, I am inclined to wonder whether some rogue leaders at CIA (such as Jose "Eraser" Rodriguez) decided that 9/11 was a great opportunity to quit being pussies and start torturing like a REAL intel outfit.


You assume a lot. You also ignore the natural reaction of bureaucracies when confronted with a problem - which is to do something, whether they are prepared or not.

It takes a paranoid to convert natural human and organizational reactions to a horrific attack into Nazi-style evil intent.


(1) Torture is a dumb way to obtain intel, besides being immoral, illegal, and imprudent.

Stressful interrogation techniques are the normal way of obtaining information, even by police. In this case, the coercion went much further, as appropriate for the circumstances. It is NOT a dumb way to obtain intel - sometimes it's the ONLY way.


(2) Professional interrogators have non-torture methods that are at least as effective as anything else, which have been repeatedly proved valid in WW2 and later.

And I can find chiropracters who claim they can cure cancer. Nail, meet hammer.

The fact that lesser coercive techniques work with some subjects, and that strong techniques fail to work with others, does not mean that the lesser coercive techniques are always the right approach.
4.17.2009 5:09pm
Anderson (mail):
You assume a lot.

Well, given "our" government's secrecy, we have to make reasonable assumptions. But as you can note, I try to be clear when I'm assuming.

You also ignore the natural reaction of bureaucracies when confronted with a problem - which is to do something, whether they are prepared or not.

I don't ignore it. I just don't think it's an excuse for committing war crimes. The Nazis had themselves convinced they were "responding" to a Jewish "threat"; it doesn't excuse them that they were sincere.

Re: torture, I'm familiar with several sources demonstrating that professional interrogators reject torture as inferior on the merits, in addition to its other flaws. (For instance.)

Against that, all we seem to get from you is "no it isn't, no it isn't, no it isn't."

So I am going to go with the more authoritative sources, rather than embrace an infamously wicked, universally condemned practice because some guy on the internet says it's wonderful. Perhaps that's mistaken of me.
4.17.2009 5:24pm
RPT (mail):
"John Moore:

If your entire world revolves around that which you can prove by a cite, then I hope you aren't involved in making national security decisions."

John:

Reality and evidence and real (not fabricated or stovepiped, i.e. "Curveball", Chalabi &Wolfowitz and Feith) intelligence does matter in making national security decisions. Bad decisions about war and torture based on ego, bluster or ideology have long term consequences; dead and injured soldiers and civilians and trillions of dollars in wasted resources. That's what we have here.

Furthermore, all sides of the ideological spectrum will agree that "cites" do matter in legal debates. In fact, both facts and law are extremely important in legal matters; much more so than unchallengable hearsay. It is not acceptable to make decisions based on intuition or ideology. The WMD issue is a prime example. This debate is another. Many contend that the torture authorized and carried out by the Bush Administration was not lawful (i.e. "cites") or effective ("evidence"). If you don't have the law and you don't have the facts, arguing that you are the toughest guy around won't get you very far in a legal blog debate.
4.17.2009 5:33pm
John Moore (www):

Re: torture, I'm familiar with several sources demonstrating that professional interrogators reject torture as inferior on the merits, in addition to its other flaws.


See above re: chiropracters.


I don't ignore it. I just don't think it's an excuse for committing war crimes.

I don't either.

However, your constant comparison with Nazi's is not only trite, but terribly out of proportion. There is both a qualitative and an enormous quantitative difference between even the worst our government is accused of and anything the Nazi's (or Soviets, or Saddam, or Iran or Cuba) did/do.
4.17.2009 5:35pm
John Moore (www):

It is not acceptable to make decisions based on intuition or ideology. The WMD issue is a prime example.


Actually, both intuition and ideology are appropriate factors to consider in situations where one cannot possibly get good information. Intuition is a non-linear method of deriving information. Ideology is a set of heuristics that can be useful if not applied blindly.


If you don't have the law and you don't have the facts, arguing that you are the toughest guy around won't get you very far in a legal blog debate.
4.17.2009 5:37pm
Anderson (mail):
Here via TPM is an interesting bit:

In an interview with TPMmuckraker, James Horne, a leading authority in the field of sleep research, said he was "surprised and saddened" to see Bush officials "misrepresent" his research to argue that such sleep deprivation does not cause serious harm to its subjects.

* * * Informed by TPMmuckraker that his work had been put to this use, Horne -- who heads the Sleep Research Centre, at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, U.K. -- was indignant. He explained the crucial difference between his controlled experiments, in which subjects were under no additional stress, and the CIA's use of sleep deprivation on interrogation subjects.

"As soon as you add in any other stress, any other psychological stress, then the sleep deprivation feeds on that, and the two compound each other to make things far worse. I made that very, very clear," he said. "And there's been a lot of research by others since then to show that this is the case."

* * * Further, Horne continued, sleep-deprived subjects become so confused that they're highly unlikely to offer useful intelligence. "I don't understand what you're going to get out of it," he said. "You can no longer think rationally, you just become more of an automaton ... These people will just be spewing nonsense anyway. It's pointless!"


Cherrypicking without regard to obvious distinctions. How unexpected.
4.17.2009 5:39pm
John Moore (www):
Oops - hit post meant block-quote again...


If you don't have the law and you don't have the facts, arguing that you are the toughest guy around won't get you very far in a legal blog debate.

This debate has ranged far and wide past the simple legal debate. For example, the issues about SERE school involve the determination of both the effectiveness and the characterization of water-boarding.

Furthermore, I am hardly arguing that I'm the toughest guy around (where did u get that?). I simply had a datapoint that most here do not possess. Choose to consider me a liar, or choose to consider my observation useful. Not that since I posted it, it was backed up by another. It is hardly irrelevant, however.
4.17.2009 5:41pm
Anderson (mail):
However, your constant comparison with Nazi's

"Constant"? You brought them up, sir. Where are my "constant" comparisons?

As for your, uh, constant references to chiropractors ... fine. You want to mock professionals who served their country both honorably and well, so that you can defendn people who did neither, then be my guest.
4.17.2009 5:41pm
John Moore (www):
Finally, this may be a legal blog, but the debates frequently range beyond pure legal arguments - for example, I see many assertions about ethics/morality from the "anti-torture" side. So if those are relevant, so is my observation.
4.17.2009 5:42pm
Mark Field (mail):
When the subject is torture, it's hard to find comparisons other than Nazis or their ilk. If it will make you feel better, though, we'll all switch to Stalin.
4.17.2009 5:55pm
geokstr:

C. Gittings:
@geokstr:

"Why do those on the left insist on seeing outright EVIL when assessing the motives of those they disagree with?"

It has to do with the fact that it's obvious that your motives are just as evil as it gets. Dick Cheney and George Bush have murdered a lot more people than Al Qaeda has over the last eight years.

I don't have to believe you're another Mengele to think you're at least another Goering or Jodl. A Nazi is a Nazi, and I've listened to you folks spout the same excuses the Nazis used for nearly eight years. This nation has no worse enemies than you people

Are you calling me evil, Mr Gittings, and saying that I'm a Nazi, and saying this country has no worse enemy than me?

I'd love to have you say that to my face, sir, but doubt you have the cojones to do so. I voluntarily fought for this country. Have you?

Isn't there supposed to be some moderation to prevent this sort of slimy direct personal attack on this site?
4.17.2009 6:09pm
PC:
Stressful interrogation techniques are the normal way of obtaining information, even by police.

And in Chicago they go that extra mile!

Serious question: if this behavior does not constitute torture why are the police not allowed to use it? Why are we tying the hands of our domestic law enforcement by preventing them from using these enhanced methods?

Paging Justice Scalia.
4.17.2009 6:33pm
John Moore (www):

Serious question: if this behavior does not constitute torture why are the police not allowed to use it? Why are we tying the hands of our domestic law enforcement by preventing them from using these enhanced methods?


Because Americans, being dealt with by American police, should be in a privileged position.

Also, there is a difference between crime and war, although our new Administration seems to have forgotten it.

Yes, I do not believe in universal jurisdiction.
4.17.2009 7:50pm
PC:
Because Americans, being dealt with by American police, should be in a privileged position.

Jose Padilla being an exception?
4.17.2009 8:00pm
John Moore (www):
Was Jose Padilla waterboarded?
4.17.2009 8:35pm
PC:
Was Jose Padilla waterboarded?

No, he was just held extra-judicially and subjected to treatment that would drive a normal person insane. Which is fine(?) because he was a terrorist. And now the big eye of government releases a report about right-wing extremists (dare I say terrorists?) and maybe that sort of governmental behavior isn't so good.

All of our soldiers that are coming home that are involved in any of these "situations" need to be reintegrated back into society. Of the handful that I know, I'm pushing them away from law enforcement.
4.17.2009 8:54pm
John Moore (www):
I do not agree with the treatment to which Jose Padilla was held. He is an American.


And now the big eye of government releases a report about right-wing extremists (dare I say terrorists?) and maybe that sort of governmental behavior isn't so good.


For Padilla, it was inappropriate already. So what's new?



All of our soldiers that are coming home that are involved in any of these "situations" need to be reintegrated back into society. Of the handful that I know, I'm pushing them away from law enforcement.


Nice of you to honor our veterans.
4.17.2009 9:01pm
zuch (mail) (www):
John Moore:
I wonder why videotapes of the "enhanced interrogation" sessions were erased?
Two reasons:

1) The inevitable witch-hunt would have caused them to leak into the public domain, ultimately to be used in terrorist training camps, and

2) To protect the interrogators from reprisals by allies of the terrorists, and

3) To protect the interrogators from the witch hunters


Obligatory link. I just can't help myself; there's no place more deserving to bring it up. ;-)

As to the second ite... -- umm, third item: You misspelled "prosecutors". This is what's called "destruction of evidence", which is a serious crime.

Cheers,
4.17.2009 9:06pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
No: Jose Padilla was subjected to an extreme regimen of sensory deprivation for several years.

And he's not the only US citizen who was run through the mill either: John Lindh and Yaser Hamdi are also US citizens.

Then we have Captain James Yee, USA, and Sr. Airman Ahmad Al Halabi, USAF. Yee was incarcerated for several months in the same facility as Hamdi and Padilla, and his book describes his treatment in detail.
4.17.2009 10:14pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):

Well, there was the cab driver that was beaten to death in Afghanistan.

Beaten to death by whom ?
4.17.2009 10:14pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):


This also would apply to any CIA facility anywhere in the world, Poland included. Note also that the only way anyone got to Poland was by flying in plane.


And CIA facilities in Poland have huge neon signs identifying them as such, right ?

I suppose one could easily find a CIA safehouse by watching out for signs in big, bold letters.
4.17.2009 10:19pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):


Not quite comprehensive enough to reach Polish, Thai or Afghan facilities where the CIA was a guest and does not exercise legal jurisdiction.

If it were shown that CIA agents did torture overseas, why not extradite them to those countries where they committed the crimes?
4.17.2009 10:21pm
John Moore (www):

If it were shown that CIA agents did torture overseas, why not extradite them to those countries where they committed the crimes?


The late '70s Church committee hearings and their consequences should prove instructive here. The CIA had been involved in activities far worse than anything in this discussion, and had been for 30 years or so.

The Church committee "investigated" these (about the way McCarthy "investigated" the army) and the result was an almost total loss of HUMINT capability by the agency.

This is the problem with post facto prosecutions/witch-hunts. This is the reason for the memos.

If CIA officials engaged in what was clearly, to them, illegal behavior, they should be quietly prosecuted, here in the USA. Otherwise, they should be left alone to do their very difficult job.
4.17.2009 10:27pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
John Moore,

"When you use the term "you" in conversation with somebody on this board, you are accusing them (us) of this or equating us to those who did this."

"As for us making excuses..."

"We have different beliefs than you about what is necessary. For that, you assert we are akin to Nazi's."


NO: I don't assert that your beliefs about what is necessary are akin to those of the Nazi's because they differ from mine, but because they are essentially IDENTICAL to those of the Nazis.

And I'll be very happy to explain the difference --

It's necessary to breathe oxygen. That which is probable, suspected, or desired is not necessary; a necessity is certain. Further, an argument that claims to justify anything is formal nonsense which justifies nothing.

Now go right ahead and explain your different criteria for calculating what is or isn't "necessary" -- I'm all ears.
4.17.2009 10:36pm
John Moore (www):
C. Gittings,

You're behavior is identical to that of a Stalinist.

Prove me wrong.
4.17.2009 10:42pm
rosetta's stones:
Goodness... such vitriol. "Hitler", "war crimes", "evil". These must be some awful people.

However, I don't see Holder and Obama teeing up any prosecutions, so evidently they disagree with that hysteria. Have they joined the Fourth Reich, too?

Holder can be Martin Borman. And Barrack? I'll have to think about that one. I'm thinking Karl Doenitz, maybe.

I sorta sympathize with the hyperbolic souls ranting this way... that's a heavy burden to be carrying. When Barrack leaves office, with terrorists still locked up, and probably still in Guantanamo, they may need both sympathy and medication.

And for giaia's sake, people, give it a rest weeping for KSM.

I admire your passion, but you are at the extreme here. The proof of that came out of Washington yesterday.
4.17.2009 11:35pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
John Moore,

BS. Now do you have something coherent to say or not?

You are advocating CRIMES in violation of the laws of the United States, and that's just a plain fact.

Those crimes include the murder of innocent children -- among so many other vile things -- on the grounds of something which you fraudulently assert is "necessary" but manifestly doesn't amount to anything more substantial than your own malicious bigotry, prejudice, and double standards.

And sorry, I'm just not confused about it.
4.17.2009 11:42pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
@geokstr:

Are you calling me evil, Mr Gittings, and saying that I'm a Nazi, and saying this country has no worse enemy than me?

I'd love to have you say that to my face, sir, but doubt you have the cojones to do so. I voluntarily fought for this country. Have you?

Isn't there supposed to be some moderation to prevent this sort of slimy direct personal attack on this site?


I was just replying to your slimy neo-fascist screed, but I'd be happy to say it to your lying face. I'm not in the habit of backing down from thugs who threaten me with violence for telling the truth.

How typical such threats are from you right-wingers. equally typical that you want the moderators to censor someone for calling you on your BS.

As for your service, that doesn't figure in this one way or the other. It so happens that I have not been in the military; it also happens that I've spent the last seven and half years trying to serve the United States to the best of my abilities as an unpaid volunteer. None of that figures here either.

What's matters here are the facts and the law, and you're just wrong on both. Evil was your word, applied to motives not persons -- accepting your usage at face value, I don't that your motives are evil in the sense that they are wrong, malicious, and ultimately, criminal in intent.

Sorry to have to be so blunt, but torture just isn't a close call, and all the excuses you folks pile on top of the question just makes you look worse.
4.18.2009 12:03am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Well Obama is a good man who is being misled by his subordinates and his political instincts. Not exactly a first in US politics, but I have to say that I am disappointed.

I also have to say that he's a lot better than any Republican would be. Or was.
4.18.2009 12:07am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Well, at least since Eisenhower.
4.18.2009 12:14am
John Moore (www):
Gittings... troll... crawl back under your bridge, you fool
4.18.2009 12:26am
PC:
Nice of you to honor our veterans.

I do what I can. If I don't have a job available, I pass it on to others that might. Pre-recession/depression it was hard for a 1st sgt to get a good job. These days? Eh.
4.18.2009 1:03am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
John Moore,

How typical -- and chicken-shit -- of you.
4.18.2009 1:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
geo:

is right up there with slowly sawing off the heads of journalists and other noncombatants


No one is claiming that there's no difference between what we do and what they do. The problem is that what we do is not different enough. You have made AQ your reference point, which means you have exceedingly low standards.

===============
bart:

Generalized fear of the unknown is not a mock execution.


I didn't claim that it was. But you were suggesting that fear of the unknown could not possibly be a form of torture, because it "is not itself the infliction of severe pain required to prove torture." Trouble is, "the infliction of severe pain" is not "required to prove torture" (I see that ralph also explained this). Mock execution is just an example of how to torture without "the infliction of severe pain."

===============
moore:

Did you really think there was only one SERE school? In only one branch of service?


Sorry, my mistake. I should have been more specific in making my point.

I realize we did survival training before 1981. But I think most of the torture-related commentary in various places about SERE (like this article) uses that term to make reference to the specific program at Fort Bragg, which was founded in 1981 by Rowe. (I also realize there have been subsequent offshoots of that program.) Is what the Army has been doing since 1981 at Fort Bragg the same thing that the Navy was doing in 1967 at Warner Springs? I'm sure there's at least some overlap, but I don't think anyone here is in a position to say exactly how much. So I think it invites confusion to describe the 1967 Navy program as "SERE."

You said people die during SERE. If your point was not to suggest that SERE is so tough that it kills people, then what was your point?


To directly answer the question (see above, twice), and in doing so to ask the point of the question.


The point of the question was to highlight the fact that the number of people killed by SERE is either quite small or none (even though there are thousands of trainees). Whereas more than a trivial number of our detainees have died during interrogation. Which means that it's not valid to compare SERE to what we do to detainees. But that's what you (and lots of other people) have been doing.

Did it occur to you that the interrogatees, unless they are idiots, realize that the water board is to get information, not execution?


Waterboarding is a form of asphyxiation. Asphyxiation leads to death 100% of the time, for 100% of humans, if sustained for just a few minutes. The whole point of waterboarding is to cause the subject to feel like they are about to die. That is the natural reaction to the experience of asphyxiation. Feel free to explain why any captive should feel particularly confident that his captors might not go a little too far. Considering the numbers of prisoner deaths which our military ultimately classified as homicides, such confidence would be highly irrational.

Sometimes they really do kill him. However, they aren't likely to use a waterboard to do it!


Why not? We've shown that we're willing to beat prisoners to death. Why not let them drown? It has this advantage over using a bullet: the killer (if they are ever accused) might be in a better position to pretend that it was an accident: 'The guy died even though I was following the official CIA waterboarding guidelines. And I dare you to prove that I wasn't following those guidelines.' That kind of argument is tougher to present if a bullet is found inside the prisoner's skull.

your entire argument is based on the fallacy that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence


I guess if we looked hard enough, we'd find proof to support your claim that SERE is deadly. Which reminds me of this: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

It's funny how the same people who were wrong about everything still expect their unsubstantiated claims to be taken seriously.

I wonder why videotapes of the "enhanced interrogation" sessions were erased?


Two reasons:

1) The inevitable witch-hunt would have caused them to leak into the public domain, ultimately to be used in terrorist training camps, and

2) To protect the interrogators from reprisals by allies of the terrorists, and

3) To protect the interrogators from the witch hunters


Hmm, let's see. So we're supposed to trust that our torture bureaucracy is competent enough to faithfully follow the torture guidelines written in the torture memos. And to make sure that this doesn't turn into various forms of abuse and illegality.

On the other hand, our torture bureaucracy is not competent enough to make sure that a videotape is kept secure and doesn't fall into the wrong hands. And therefore all such evidence must be conveniently destroyed.

Makes perfect sense!

Serious question: if this behavior does not constitute torture why are the police not allowed to use it? Why are we tying the hands of our domestic law enforcement by preventing them from using these enhanced methods?


Because Americans, being dealt with by American police, should be in a privileged position.


So when police arrest non-citizens they should be able to use the "enhanced" methods, right?

===============
dennis:

there is nothing in the Wallach paper that establishes that it [waterboarding] is not legal under the conditions of the memos.


Waterboarding is using water to asphyxiate. This is true under all conditions, including "the conditions of the memos." The Wallach paper (pdf) describes many variations on waterboarding, but they all have this in common: they involve using water to asphyxiate, and they were treated as a form of torture by US courts.

The warderboarding incidents in the Wallach paper involved the waterboarding of civilian suspects by state authorities. They involve different laws that may not apply to this argument.


The Wallach paper doesn't just cover "the waterboarding of civilian suspects by state authorities." It also covers the waterboarding of detainees in war. And aside from that, torture is torture, regardless of this distinction.

===============
ejercito:

Well, there was the cab driver that was beaten to death in Afghanistan.


Beaten to death by whom ?


By US troops. A government coroner said we beat him so badly his legs were "pulpified ... I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus." Dilawar was beaten to death even though "most of us were convinced that the detainee was innocent." Obviously what Dilawar experienced is torture by any standard. And the penalties that were applied are so lenient that they can't be considered anything other than a joke. Three months in prison for beating an innocent man to death?
4.18.2009 1:58pm
John Moore (www):

JBG
I realize we did survival training before 1981. But I think most of the torture-related commentary in various places about SERE (like this article) uses that term to make reference to the specific program at Fort Bragg, which was founded in 1981 by Rowe. (I also realize there have been subsequent offshoots of that program.) Is what the Army has been doing since 1981 at Fort Bragg the same thing that the Navy was doing in 1967 at Warner Springs? I'm sure there's at least some overlap, but I don't think anyone here is in a position to say exactly how much. So I think it invites confusion to describe the 1967 Navy program as "SERE."


JBG, you reveal your ignorance here.

When I went to that school in 1967, it was called SERE. It meant "Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape." It involved, among other things, a shockingly effective simulation of actual enemy interrogation techniques.

There is no confusion except in your mind. That school is still in operation, and still called SERE. It is the one that SEALs went to, along with aviators.
4.18.2009 2:19pm
John Moore (www):

We've shown that we're willing to beat prisoners to death.

As a matter of policy? I think not.


The point of the question was to highlight the fact that the number of people killed by SERE is either quite small or none (even though there are thousands of trainees). Whereas more than a trivial number of our detainees have died during interrogation. Which means that it's not valid to compare SERE to what we do to detainees. But that's what you (and lots of other people) have been doing.


And I answered the question according to my experience, and have been called a liar about it by people offering zero evidence. I did not make the initial claim that SERE was deadly and my arguments do not rely on it at all.

Perhaps if you were badgering a hostile witness, you could get away with this sophistry. But you aren't. Hence twisting my response to a question about deaths into an assertion that "SERE is deadly" is a requirement for SERE to be a valid data point can be easily exposed as nonsense.



It's funny how the same people who were wrong about everything still expect their unsubstantiated claims to be taken seriously.


You mean those people who confidently asserted that SERE started in 1981? Or do you mean those who claim to know that, of the many tens of thousands of people who went through the severe physical and mental stress of SERE training, NOT ONE OF THEM DIED?

Feel free to explain why any captive should feel particularly confident that his captors might not go a little too far.


Because some IDIOT declassified all of our interrogation te chniques.
4.18.2009 2:32pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
When I went to that school in 1967, it was called SERE.


I'm not saying it wasn't (although that's what I implied in my first comment, and I admitted that was my mistake). All I'm saying is that in the torture discussion, it's common to use that term ("SERE") as a reference to a program that was conducted in a different place, at a different time, by a different branch of the military. And I don't think you're in a position to tell us exactly how the 1967 program compares with the 1981+ program.
4.18.2009 2:33pm
John Moore (www):

On the other hand, our torture bureaucracy is not competent enough to make sure that a videotape is kept secure and doesn't fall into the wrong hands. And therefore all such evidence must be conveniently destroyed.


The "wrong hands" are congress who would immediately leak it, as they so frequently do, for political reasons. The "wrong hands" are policy opponents who would do the same thing. Do we remember the little leak about Osama Bin Laden's sat phone intercepts, for example?

Let us also remember, as we debate this, that all of these techniques were reviewed, in detail, multiple times, by the leaders of BOTH PARTIES in congress. So presumably you are also accusing Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as being in favor of illegal torture, right?
4.18.2009 2:39pm
John Moore (www):

So when police arrest non-citizens they should be able to use the "enhanced" methods, right?

No, but when counter-intelligence officials capture foreigners whom they have good information are involved in terrorist plots and are affiliated with international terrorism, AND the methods are important to thwarting an attack, yes they should. However, I recognize that the Constitution prevents that on US soil.
4.18.2009 2:41pm
John Moore (www):

All I'm saying is that in the torture discussion, it's common to use that term ("SERE") as a reference to a program that was conducted in a different place, at a different time, by a different branch of the military. And I don't think you're in a position to tell us exactly how the 1967 program compares with the 1981+ program.


No, when "SERE" is mentioned, it refers to the set of military schools, operated by different branches, under that name and using similar techniques.

I actually am in a position to know how the current program compares to the one in 1967, and the only significant difference I am aware of is that the school I went to used something other than waterboarding (more brutal, less effective). Because of that information, I'm also limited in what I can say about the whole subject.
4.18.2009 2:44pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I needed to take a day off from the Internet to deal with the blasé attitude America takes towards torture. It all reads like what the Germans would be saying about their practices, if they had won and there was no one around more powerful than they.

JTFR, I very much believe John Moore is who is says he is. I wouldn't say that about the pseudonymous person who claims to be a SERE grad on this thread. Besides being unable to follow elementary jurisdictional arguments, he writes with a level of sadistic glee about torture I don't associate with the US military, rather with people who watch too much 24 in mommie's basement. (I discount all first-person claims by pseudonyms unless the positive evidence of specialized knowledge is compelling.)

I think it's quite possible that 1 person a year dies in SERE training.

I also find Moore's response to my question about torture and false confessions inadequate. We seem to have obtained a great deal of bogus information from torture, such as the info on bio and chem weapons that are nonsense. I have no doubt that many of the "threats" that we have been saved from by torture are equally illusory. Such stories of ticking bombs are routine in torture states. I am sure that some of the information we got under torture is true. It seems, however, to have a much worse S/N ratio that lawful methods of interrogation. That means lawful interrogation is a lot more useful if you need accurate information.

When the Nazis needed true information because of limited defensive resources, they used lawful methods. When they didn't care about killing innocent civilians, then, well, we know what.

On the other hand, maybe telling the American public scary rubbish while intimated that even worse was being hidden away for our own good was viewed as one of the benefits of the torture regime.

As far as whether waterboarding is torture, I repeat my challenge. My earlier link has a photo of the Khmer Rouge waterboarding apparatus. Unlike the Japanese techniques that everyone agrees are so barbaric, how does it differ from the method approved by the OLC memos? Do we owe Pol Pot an apology?
4.18.2009 3:11pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

The "wrong hands" are congress who would immediately leak it


You're essentially saying that the military is inherently more trustworthy than Congress. Why do you hate democracy? Because one of the core elements of democracy is that Congress has power over the military. And not the other way around.

If you don't trust that the people can be trusted to elect trustworthy representatives, then you would probably be more comfortable in a police state. Which is what you seem to be trying to create.

Do we remember the little leak about Osama Bin Laden's sat phone intercepts, for example?


This is yet another example of you promoting mythology.

So presumably you are also accusing Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as being in favor of illegal torture, right?


I don't have enough facts to make a definitive judgment about what they did and did not support. But if they were "in favor of illegal torture," they should get a fair trial along with the rest of the gang.
4.18.2009 3:59pm
John Moore (www):

You're essentially saying that the military is inherently more trustworthy than Congress. Why do you hate democracy?


Mind reading again...

It is a fundamental principle of security to minimize the number of people with exposure to classified information.

The rest of what you write about this is simply raving.

I don't have enough facts to make a definitive judgment about what they did and did not support. But if they were "in favor of illegal torture," they should get a fair trial along with the rest of the gang.
4.18.2009 4:47pm
John Moore (www):

I don't have enough facts to make a definitive judgment about what they did and did not support. But if they were "in favor of illegal torture," they should get a fair trial along with the rest of the gang.


You don't have enough facts about this, even though it was widely reported, along with the fact that they were concerned that these measures may not have gone far enough, but you have enough facts to accuse me of lying about SERE school.

I see.
4.18.2009 4:48pm
John Moore (www):

JTFR, I very much believe John Moore is who is says he is. I wouldn't say that about the pseudonymous person who claims to be a SERE grad on this thread.

Err, I seem to be the only person on this thread claiming to be a SERE grad.

So what the hell are you talking about?
4.18.2009 4:54pm
John Moore (www):

We seem to have obtained a great deal of bogus information from torture, such as the info on bio and chem weapons that are nonsense.

Do you have any evidence that this information came from "torture?"


I have no doubt that many of the "threats" that we have been saved from by torture are equally illusory.Such stories of ticking bombs are routine in torture states.

In other words, if "torture states" do it, then when anyone else does it, it is equally a lie. Elementary logic error.

I am sure that some of the information we got under torture is true. It seems, however, to have a much worse S/N ratio that lawful methods of interrogation. That means lawful interrogation is a lot more useful if you need accurate information.

More black and white thinking. All interrogation has a problem with SNR. Intelligence and counter-intelligence involves gathering lots of information of widely variable relevance and accuracy, and attempting to tease out the truth from it.

But you knew this, I suspect.
4.18.2009 4:59pm
John Moore (www):

I needed to take a day off from the Internet to deal with the blasé attitude America takes towards torture. It all reads like what the Germans would be saying about their practices, if they had won and there was no one around more powerful than they.

Yeah, real blasse'. And I'm sure the Gestapo (or the NVA or the Checka/NKVD/KGB) took great care to draw careful lines on their practices. After all, hanging people from meat hooks, beating them to the edge of death, burning them with hot objects, torturing their relative sin front of them, and other practices are really equivalent to waterboarding a select THREE well-identified international terrorists.

Godwin was right.
4.18.2009 5:03pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

It is a fundamental principle of security to minimize the number of people with exposure to classified information.


It is a fundamental principle of democracy that the people, through their elected representatives, are ultimately in control of what the military does (and this includes quasi-military forces, like the CIA). And this principle means nothing if the military gets to decide that certain things must be completely hidden from Congress.

Mind reading again...


What I'm doing is not called "mind reading." It's called 'paying attention.' I'm paying attention to the position you're expressing (that security concerns are a valid reason for the military to destroy evidence and hide information from Congress), and pointing out that it's a position that is at odds with a fundamental principle of democracy. Why do you hate democracy?

You don't have enough facts about this, even though it was widely reported


It's nice to know that you have such great faith in the press. I have a feeling that faith is highly selective.

I'm not inclined to assume that something is true just because it was (allegedly) "widely reported." It was also "widely reported" that Saddam had WMD.

And speaking of mythology, when are you going to take responsibility for spreading that bogus satellite phone story?

We seem to have obtained a great deal of bogus information from torture, such as the info on bio and chem weapons that are nonsense.


Do you have any evidence that this information came from "torture?"


Torture tends to produce unreliable information. A Senate report (when it was still in GOP hands) details a relevant example (pdf, p. 79-82):

In January 2004, Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, the source of reports on al Qa'ida's efforts to obtain CBW training in Iraq, recanted the information provided. Al-Libi said he had a "strong desire to tell his entire story and identify why and how he fabricated information since his capture." Al-Libi claimed that he fabricated "all information regarding al-Qa'ida's sending representatives to Iraq to try to obtain WMD assistance." Al-Libi claimed that to the best of his knowledge al-Qa'ida never sent any individuals into Iraq for any kind of support in chemical or biological weapons, as he had claimed previously [REDACTED].

([REDACTED]) Al-Libi told CIA debriefers in January 2004 that when he was detained by the United States in early 2002 one of his American debriefers had told him that he had to tell "where bin Laden was and about future operations or the U.S. would give al-Libi to [another foreign service.]" [REDACTED] Al-Libi claimed that the debriefers told al-Libi that he would have to sleep on the floor of his cell if he did not talk. Later, according to al-Libi, debriefers repeated the threat to send al-Libi to a foreign country [REDACTED], instructed him to remove his heavy socks and gloves, and placed him on the floor of his cell. Although al-Libi was only on the cold floor for fifteen minutes, he claimed he "decided he would fabricate any information the interrogators wanted in order to gain better treatment and avoid being handed over to [a foreign government.] [REDACTED].

(U) According to al-Libi, after his decision to fabricate information for debriefers, he "lied about being a member of al-Qa'ida. Although he considered himself close to, but not a member of, al-Qa'ida, he knew enough about the senior members, organization, and operations to claim to be a member." "Once al-Libi started fabricating information," he claimed, "his treatment improved and he experienced no further physical pressures from the Americans."

([REDACTED]) After his transfer to a foreign government [REDACTED], al-Libi claimed that during his initial debriefings "he lied to the [foreign government service] [REDACTED] about future operations to avoid torture." Al-Libi told the CIA that the foreign government service [REDACTED] explained to him that a "long list of methods could be used against him which were extreme" and that "he would confess because three thousand individuals had been in the chair before him and that each had confessed."

([REDACTED]) According to al-Libi, the foreign government service [REDACTED] "stated that the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This was a subject about which he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story." Al-Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50 cm x 50 cm." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, al-Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al-Libi did not satisfy the interrogator, al-Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al-Libi told CIA debriefers that he then "was punched for 15 minutes."

(U) Al-Libi told debriefers that "after the beating," he was again asked about the connection with Iraq and this time he came up with a story that three al-Qa'ida members went to Iraq to learn about nuclear weapons. Al-Libi said that he used the names of real individuals associated with al-Qa'ida so that he could remember the details of his fabricated story and make it more believable to the foreign intelligence service. Al-Libi noted that "this pleased his [foreign] interrogators, who directed that al-Libi be taken back to a big room, vice [sic] the 50 square centimeter box and given food."

([REDACTED]) According to al-Libi, several days after the Iraq nuclear discussion, the foreign intelligence service debriefers [REDACTED] brought up the topic of anthrax and biological weapons. Al-Libi stated that he "knew nothing about a biological program and did not even understand the term biological." Al-Libi stated that "he could not come up with a story and was then beaten in a way that left no marks." According to al-Libi, he continued "to be unable to come up with a lie about biological weapons" because he did not understand the term "biological weapons."

(U) In February 2004, the CIA reissued the intelligence reporting from al-Libi to reflect the recantations.


What's interesting about this episode is that it tends to create the impression that we're happy to use torture to produce bad information, as long as the information is politically useful.

And did you really not know about al-Libi? Because you seem to present yourself as someone who is supposedly well-informed on these matters.

I'm sure the Gestapo (or the NVA or the Checka/NKVD/KGB) took great care to draw careful lines on their practices. After all, … beating them to the edge of death…


Dilawar and others weren't beaten "to the edge of death." They were beaten to death, period. So you should review your smug assumptions on our "great care to draw careful lines."

And only a person with exceptionally low standards would take comfort in the fact that the Nazis did certain things we don't do. Big deal. 'Not as bad as Hitler' is hardly a ringing endorsement.
4.18.2009 6:27pm
John Moore (www):


It is a fundamental principle of security to minimize the number of people with exposure to classified information.



It is a fundamental principle of democracy that the people, through their elected representatives, are ultimately in control of what the military does (and this includes quasi-military forces, like the CIA). And this principle means nothing if the military gets to decide that certain things must be completely hidden from Congress.


It was the CIA, not the military. Congress was supervising the whole thing, so it all fit within our Democratic system.


What's interesting about this episode is that it tends to create the impression that we're happy to use torture to produce bad information, as long as the information is politically useful.

Only a fool would get that impression.

I'm not going to once again explain what should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it, other than to say that coercive interrogation is one method in the arsenal of intelligence gathering, and it is not useless, in spite of the clearly agenda based arguments to the contrary.


Dilawar and others weren't beaten "to the edge of death." They were beaten to death, period. So you should review your smug assumptions on our "great care to draw careful lines."

We were discussing the people in the memos. Dilawar is irrelevant.


And only a person with exceptionally low standards would take comfort in the fact that the Nazis did certain things we don't do. Big deal. 'Not as bad as Hitler' is hardly a ringing endorsement.
4.18.2009 7:02pm
John Moore (www):

And only a person with exceptionally low standards would take comfort in the fact that the Nazis did certain things we don't do. Big deal. 'Not as bad as Hitler' is hardly a ringing endorsement.


Nice trick. You bring up the Nazi comparison, I show how wrong it is, and you respond with this tripe.
4.18.2009 7:03pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

It was the CIA, not the military. Congress was supervising the whole thing, so it all fit within our Democratic system.


I know that theoretically "Congress was supervising the whole thing." But you defended the destruction of the tapes. You suggested that it was necessary to destroy them to keep them out of the "wrong hands:"

The "wrong hands" are congress who would immediately leak it, as they so frequently do, for political reasons.


In your view, it's OK to undermine the principle of Congress "supervising the whole thing." In your view, giving Congress information about CIA activities means we're putting information in the "wrong hands." Why do you hate democracy?

What's interesting about this episode is that it tends to create the impression that we're happy to use torture to produce bad information, as long as the information is politically useful.


Only a fool would get that impression.


If we weren't content to generate bad (but politically useful) information, then why did we keep beating al-Libi for information about BW even after he told us he didn't know what the words even meant? And why did we start treating him better after he started making up stories?

coercive interrogation is one method in the arsenal of intelligence gathering, and it is not useless


In the instance of al-Libi, it was worse than useless. It generated fiction (although it was fiction that had political value; in other words, torture is effective at generating phony confessions). Why should anyone believe that any other instance of using torture would be different?

We were discussing the people in the memos. Dilawar is irrelevant.


Dilawar was murdered by the same administration that created the memos. And the abuse-tolerant philosophy embodied in the memos created the conditions that led to his death. And of course that's the same philosophy that you're promoting.

You bring up the Nazi comparison, I show how wrong it is


You are correct to point out that we're different from the Nazis. Trouble is, we're not different enough. Why are your standards so low?

And did you really not know about al-Libi? You really didn't know that our bogus intel regarding CBW was obtained via torture?

And why are you refusing to take responsibility for promoting that bogus satellite phone story? Why do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you have a track record of spreading misinformation, and then ducking responsibility when caught doing so?
4.18.2009 9:09pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Mr Moore, I disagree again. The Nazis were fanatical about cataloging, drawing lines, creating arbitrary distinctions. Their base was lower than ours. And yet the fact remains, and you have chosen not to engage this fact, that when the Nazis needed to know how to deploy their limited anti-aircraft capabilities, they turned captured Allied airmen over to a totally non-violent interrogator and were well-satisfied with the results. Nazis also applied genocide and indiscriminate brutality, but not for this purpose.

To the extent we can piece things together on the outside of the James Bond wannabes who pretend that behind the black curtain they are saving us, most if not all of the true information we have obtained from detainees was obtained lawfully. And we also have stories of hideous plots that were thwarted thru torture, including one example that literally required time travel, in that the interrogation took place after the attack was to have taken place.

Torturers generally believe they are using bad means to desirable ends. That creates a great incentive to use torture to fabricate those ends. The Communists created large conspiracies out of daisy-chained tortured confessions, of which not a shred existed in reality.

I did not agree with some of the other posters about SERE, but I agree completely that the leaks from this program were used by the cloWn show for political reasons.

At the risk of being tedious, I also notice no one has bothered to refute the fact that our waterboarding technique appears to be the same as Pol Pot's. I ask again: should a disclaimer be placed in the Cambodian torture museum to the effect that use of the displayed apparatus is not torture when done by the CIA?
4.18.2009 9:22pm
John Moore (www):
JBG
Do u have anything relevant to add, or are you just trying to score points?
4.18.2009 10:05pm
John Moore (www):
AL

So your argument is that waterboarding is a useless intelligence technique, in spite of evidence provided.
4.18.2009 10:08pm
John Moore (www):

And did you really not know about al-Libi? Because you seem to present yourself as someone who is supposedly well-informed on these matters.

When you mentioned CBW, I thought you were referring to the most common and controversial issue in that regard: the alleged possession of those by Saddam.

The Al-Libi affair shows one thing: interrogation is difficult. Does that surprise you?
4.18.2009 10:12pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Do u have anything relevant to add, or are you just trying to score points?


It is indeed relevant to notice your practice of making bogus claims, and then refusing to take responsibility, when caught. Why did you try to spread that false satellite phone story?

And how can you claim to support democracy when you promote the idea that the CIA should destroy evidence instead of giving it to Congress?

The questions I'm asking you are relevant. The question you just asked is pure evasion.

The Al-Libi affair shows one thing: interrogation is difficult.


The al-Libi episode shows that torture is good for one thing: generating false confessions.

So your argument is that waterboarding is a useless intelligence technique, in spite of evidence provided.


What "evidence provided?" Any minute now you'll let us in on the secret and tell us where that evidence is hidden. Then again, maybe the evidence has to stay hidden, because you don't want it to end up in the "wrong hands."
4.18.2009 10:58pm
John Moore (www):

The al-Libi episode shows that torture is good for one thing: generating false confessions.

Really? So you would generalize, from that one episode, that torture is only capable of generating false confessions?
4.18.2009 11:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
So you would generalize, from that one episode, that torture is only capable of generating false confessions?


Where is your evidence that it has ever been good for anything else? And what about the al-Libi episode provides a basis for thinking that it is unique, in this regard?
4.18.2009 11:52pm
Nekulturny (mail):
How can this contention that "torture doesn't work" be taken seriously? Let me pose an example.

Let me tape you to a chair. Give me a pair of pliers, or a knife, or an extension cord plugged into a reliable electrical grid (thank you, Taken).

What is your PIN number? Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

Any of you geniuses think you could hold out for five minutes? A half hour? A day?

Now perhaps you'll say "But I can give you a wrong number."

OK, so I go to the bodega and try to take out a hundred bucks. Assuming I'm alone, you have a few minutes to gnaw at the duct tape, if you can reach it. But when I get back after three failures (if I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, or less if I'm worried about locking out your account), we just start all over again. This time, no more Mr. Nice Guy.

So how's my signal-to-noise ratio looking?

Now maybe I can get you to say that you started the Chicago fire, too. But if I'm not trying to get you lined up for a show trial, if I'm not trying to put words in your mouth and I'm not just the kind of guy who likes to watch 'em dance, then I probably want actionable information that can be confirmed or refuted. So in many circumstances, I think this is a valid analogy.

So who wants to volunteer. Somebody said they weren't afraid of bullies or something like that. You, sir? Let's just get a waiver signed, and I'm ready when you are.

...Of course, you might hold out a little longer if, say, I wanted to know when your kids got home from school. Or maybe not; I don't think any more of your character than you seem to think of your opponents'. Equally, if I want to know where you're holding my daughter, I personally might go a little farther than I would for a new pair of Nikes.

Speaking of which, the comparisons to Nazis are sadly unoriginal. Nobody ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? The Chinese water torture? Metropolitan France? I hate to tell you this, but everybody does it, everybody always has, and it's not because people are sadists but because, in many cases, IT WORKS.

The other thing you could say is, "But if you just asked me nicely, of course I'd give you a hundred bucks." Well, I'm fairly certain they asked in various nice ways first. Let me try it: Can I have a hundred dollars, please?

The first guy to leave a hundred-dollar bill, under the ashtray of the first table at the Tatiana Grill on the boardwalk on Brighton Beach, gets a written apology from me.

Now go ahead and call me a Nazi or a Chekist. I promise to be both shocked and saddened.
4.18.2009 11:53pm
Nekulturny (mail):
BTW, I'm confused about the apparent contention that coercive interrogation was not used on Allied troops, intelligence operatives, or resistance fighters. I'm sure that other methods were also tried, but Carl Sandburg's The Man With Broken Fingers is the first contemporary reference that pops up in mind. Also, in comparison to today's foe, perhaps a consideration of Kempetai practices would be even more apposite.

Oh BTW - this just in from Instapundit:




GRISLY SLAYINGS BRING MEXICAN DRUG WAR TO U.S.: “Five men dead in an apartment. In a county that might see five homicides in an entire year, the call over the sheriff’s radio revealed little about what awaited law enforcement at a sprawling apartment complex. . . . Some of the men showed signs of torture: Burns seared into their earlobes revealed where modified jumper cables had been clamped as an improvised electrocution device. Adhesive from duct tape used to bind the victims still clung to wrists and faces, from mouths to noses.” I spent a fair amount of time in — well, near — Columbiana as a kid. It does seem a far cry from the Mexican drug wars, but they’ve come a long way.


I posted the above before I read this, I swear. But you tell me - who thinks the killers got the info they wanted, and who thinks they were defeated by false positives and all that?
4.19.2009 12:11am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
How can this contention that "torture doesn't work" be taken seriously?


Pay no attention to history:

Truth is, it's surprisingly hard to get anything under torture, true or false. For example, between 1500 and 1750, French prosecutors tried to torture confessions out of 785 individuals. Torture was legal back then, and the records document such practices as the bone-crushing use of splints, pumping stomachs with water until they swelled and pouring boiling oil on the feet. But the number of prisoners who said anything was low, from 3 percent in Paris to 14 percent in Toulouse (an exceptional high). Most of the time, the torturers were unable to get any statement whatsoever.

And such examples could be multiplied. The Japanese fascists, no strangers to torture, said it best in their field manual, which was found in Burma during World War II: They described torture as the clumsiest possible method of gathering intelligence. Like most sensible torturers, they preferred to use torture for intimidation, not information.


More here.
4.19.2009 12:14am
Nekulturny (mail):
Okay, maybe. They are certainly entitled to their opinions although I'm sure that people with contrary opinions and appropriate experience are discouraged from speaking out.

OTOH I bet that I do better than 3-14% on your PIN numbers, real or faked. (The medieval Frogs didn't have electricity or scopolamine, of course.) I bet none of you would say nothing. Think of all the police confessions said to be coerced - they didn't remain silent. Why do you think they have suicide pills?

And again, do you contend that KSM and the others waterboarded DIDN'T break? That fellow who finally coughed up the Bojinka plot held out a while, I admit, but not forever. I don't deny, nor would KUBARK, that the simple goon-squad beating stuff was silly and ineffective. But a targeted approach might do better than you care to accept.

Another fictional approach - anybody here read James Clavell's Noble House? What is your opinion of those methods as used by the Hong Kong police and British intelligence?

I personally think the worst problem with torture, coercive interrogation, or whatever is the psychic damage done to the men who have to do the work. For that reason alone I feel its use should be limited. It is also true that things can get out of hand and this is a problem that has to be managed somehow.

Making a witch hunt of it is perfectly ludicrous and, frankly, from Al Gore's "Of course it's illegal, that's why it's a covert operation, go grab his ass" to (fictive) President Josiah Bartlett's (fictive) hit on the Defense Minister of Kumar, to the knife-work in the swamps of the Indian Wars, sometimes people have to do things they do not like. Just remember that it will be your ox that is gored some day.

Hopefully H. Beam Piper's veridicator will be realized some day and then we'll at least know when they're lying. Meanwhile, if there were truth drugs, reliable, effective and non-painful or -damaging, would that be OK with y'all?
4.19.2009 12:49am
John Moore (www):
Nekulturny - nice handle - especially in this discussion
4.19.2009 1:03am
John Moore (www):

I personally think the worst problem with torture, coercive interrogation, or whatever is the psychic damage done to the men who have to do the work. For that reason alone I feel its use should be limited. It is also true that things can get out of hand and this is a problem that has to be managed somehow.


I agree with this, when the interrogation is done in an attempt to gain information to protect the nation (i.e. as it is with the US) as opposed to its use as part of a authoritarian government's attack on its own people.
4.19.2009 1:26am
Nekulturny (mail):
John Moore,

Sure, I assume above the use of coercion as the necessary, purposive, utilitarian evil that I see it to be, like war or any other inhumanity of man to man.

I don't propose it as justice (though necklacing or being eaten by sharks might seem a suitable fate, no earthly penalty can really repay the evil they have done) or as a continuation of politics by other means. And I would also say you couldn't do that to say Russian or Chinese troops in a stand-up war.

For AQ and other hostem humani generis, there are no rights at all that I recognize - "To be dealt with as wolves are." The only reason to take prisoners is for intelligence exploit. Even so, if there is no utility to it, I don't favor needless brutality. THAT would lessen us.

Re: fear of death - if KSM et al weren't aware that all they had to do to make it stop was to talk, they're stupider than I can possibly imagine. Why else would they think they were there?
4.19.2009 3:24am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nek:

Okay, maybe. They are certainly entitled to their opinions


I didn't cite Rejali expressing his "opinions." I cited Rejali reporting the results of a historical analysis, based on the records of 250 years of torture by French authorities. Do you understand the difference between 'fact' and 'opinion?' I guess not.

I'm sure that people with contrary opinions and appropriate experience are discouraged from speaking out.


Really? You think that someone has done an historical analysis that proves the opposite of what Rejali proved, but is being "discouraged from speaking out?" Because Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, National Review and Weekly Standard have formed a conspiracy to hide that study from the public? That's fascinating. What else have the aliens been telling you?

The medieval Frogs didn't have electricity or scopolamine, of course.


Yes, they just had things such as "bone-crushing use of splints, pumping stomachs with water until they swelled and pouring boiling oil on the feet." And everyone knows that those things aren't really torture, because they don't involve "electricity."

And they also had waterboarding, of course.

do you contend that KSM and the others waterboarded DIDN'T break?


I guess that depends how you define "break." Yes, torturing KSM was a great success:

As for K.S.M. himself, who (as Jane Mayer writes) was waterboarded, reportedly hung for hours on end from his wrists, beaten, and subjected to other agonies for weeks, Bush said he provided “many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans.” K.S.M. was certainly knowledgeable. It would be surprising if he gave up nothing of value. But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”


Yes, torture is a great idea if you want to generate lots of bullshit.

if KSM et al weren't aware that all they had to do to make it stop was to talk, they're stupider than I can possibly imagine.


KSM did plenty of talking. Too bad "90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit." The ones who are "stupider than I can possibly imagine" are us.

if there were truth drugs, reliable, effective and non-painful or -damaging, would that be OK with y'all?


Narcoanalysis is unsafe, unreliable and unethical. See here and here. Your hypothetical is so removed from reality that it's pointless. You might as well ask if it's OK to read your mind by looking at your palm.

"To be dealt with as wolves are"


Although I realize that there are people like Palin who like to shoot wolves from helicopters, most people think wolves shouldn't be tortured.

if there is no utility to it, I don't favor needless brutality


What a saint you are. So you are only in favor of brutality is there is "utility to it." Tell us again what makes you different from our enemies?

===================
moore:

when the interrogation is done in an attempt to gain information to protect the nation (i.e. as it is with the US) as opposed to its use as part of a authoritarian government's attack on its own people


Every authoritarian government that has attacked its own people has said that it is only trying to "protect the nation." And has maybe even believed it. But of course that could never happen here, right? I guess that means you have lots of faith in government. How conservative of you.
4.19.2009 10:11am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
nekulturny: What happens when they start torturing me for the PIN to my son's ATM card (which I don't know)?

The information (leave alone moral) problems with torture are two-fold: those who somehow manage to resist, which may include some who would have broken with a more civilized approach to interrogation, and the BS obtained as false positives in trying to stop the torture.

Besides an unwillingness to apologize to other countries' torturers, the pro-torture crowd always concocts an unrealistic scenario in which the interrogator knows just what the victim knows, knows what to ask, and knows when to stop asking because subsequent answers will be mere noise. You would think such omniscient interrogators wouldn't need to conduct any questioning, much less torture.
4.19.2009 1:13pm
John Moore (www):
Andrew, why don't you answer nekulturny's question, eh? Too tough?
4.19.2009 2:52pm
John Moore (www):

Every authoritarian government that has attacked its own people has said that it is only trying to "protect the nation." And has maybe even believed it. But of course that could never happen here, right? I guess that means you have lots of faith in government. How conservative of you.

Relevance to this debate?
4.19.2009 2:53pm
Anderson (mail):
But you tell me - who thinks the killers got the info they wanted, and who thinks they were defeated by false positives and all that?

Did anyone ever say that torture never gets valid intel? I certainly haven't.

The point, for those interested, is that civilized interrogation methods *also* get the *same* valid intel -- and frequently better, with fewer false positives, no debasement of the interrogators, and no blowback from violation of fundamental international law.

Am I supposed to be surprised that a bunch of narcothugs don't know how to interrogate properly? Of course not.

What's surprising is the number of people who think that such thugs should be our models.
4.19.2009 3:28pm
John Moore (www):

The point, for those interested, is that civilized interrogation methods *also* get the *same* valid intel -- and frequently better, with fewer false positives, no debasement of the interrogators, and no blowback from violation of fundamental international law.

Uh huh. If you repeat that long enough, we'll have to believe it just from all the noise you're making.

A more accurate statement would be that some sources claim, based on some data, that this is the case.
4.19.2009 3:38pm
Nekulturny (mail):
juke:


What a saint you are. So you are only in favor of brutality is there is "utility to it." Tell us again what makes you different from our enemies?



Um, that I'm on your side, and they're against you? Or am I wrong about what side you're on? - You'll take that as an insult; it's not.

That I will die defending you and your family and your way of life, whereas they will die in order to destroy yours?

Not good enough? Sorry. Oh well. Speaking of sainthood, do you even believe in heaven and/or hell? Just curious since it seems to be you who is vying for the title of neo-Christ.



Really? You think that someone has done an historical analysis that proves the opposite of what Rejali proved, but is being "discouraged from speaking out?"



I think that if I or anybody said something like,


"My name is Larry Fennell, my SSN is XXX-XXX-XXXX, my I live at 214 Crescent Drive, Milpitas, CA. During the Vietnam War in 1966-70 I performed what you call "torture" on thirty-one VC prisoners and 211 suspected VC sympathizers, as well as one Russian colonel and his co-pilot shot down over Da Nang whom SOG managed to capture, before they could take their cyanide tablets. Here are the records.

My experience showed that the field telephone, mock executions and pulling teeth were, in that order, the quickest and most effective ways of extracting factual information, but YMMV. A guy in the Philippines got great results from holding bags over their heads sprinkled with a few drops of gasoline - the fumes drive 'em crazy - but I only learned about that later, never had a chance to try it out myself. Most of my subjects died one way or the other but I managed to keep both Russians alive for exchange later, and there are still a few Viets who remember me,"



you would sprain a finger dialing whatever war crimes body came up first in Google. So Larry has little incentive to talk. I think you could say that the Larrys are discouraged, yes. I have no idea of Rejali's credentials, motivations or methods but I will note that they haven't stopped the French from continuing to use such techniques.


As for the rest of it - I was trying to engage with you seriously, but you've turned on the invective and it's really not worth my time anymore. I bet you think stem cell cures for everything are just around the corner but you can't believe, hypothetically, that a new psychopharmaceutical battery could get good results? No, this is where you and honest sincere debate part ways, and I will wish you a good trip.


Andrew:


nekulturny: What happens when they start torturing me for the PIN to my son's ATM card (which I don't know)?


So we're admitting you've cracked like a boiled egg at the first flip of the switch, or what? John Moore is right, you're evading the question. I will say that I don't know why I would ask you for such information - it's possible but not likely that you would have it.

Probably what I would do is get you to lure your son in to be captured, or maybe his girlfriend if he gives her the combo, or maybe use the girlfriend to bring him in. At least you can tell me where your son hangs out so I can have him picked up. Once you're cooperating, you yourself will help think of ways to get me what I want.

But yes, there is little point in asking you things you don't know. That does sound pretty stupid on the face of it. So I would ask you things you do know.

As for the soft approach, sure, I'd try that first. Maybe I'd put you in a cell with a guy you thought was on your side and get you to confide in him. Maybe I'd befriend you. Maybe I'd film you with hookers and blow and blackmail you into cooperation. There are lots and lots of ways. I'm just saying that these methods work too.

As for BS to stop torture: if I can't somehow deal with the problem of people lying to me, I don't belong in interrogation or investigation at all. Everybody lies, even the innocent. As was mentioned earlier or elsewhere, Curveball, Chalabi and others lied their asses off without any torture whatsoever. Fortunately since we didn't torture them, however, we were magically able to see through their lies and the invasion of Iraq was prevented. - D'oh!

Anderson:


Did anyone ever say that torture never gets valid intel? I certainly haven't.


I interpret that belief as being widely held among my interlocutors here, yes. Don't think I named you.


The point, for those interested, is that civilized interrogation methods *also* get the *same* valid intel -- and frequently better, with fewer false positives, no debasement of the interrogators, and no blowback from violation of fundamental international law.


I'm interested. (Is this what you call a strawman approach? Who are you talking to/about?) I may or may not agree with a varying degree of intensity - IOW, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

If the narcos could have got the info by playing Mr Nice Guy, they would probably never have been sent out to do the zap-o-gram, because the dead men would have given up their stash or whatever on a previous occasion. Don't judge everyone else by your own standards. Maybe you would have told them where the cocaine or the cash was at the first knock on the door. Then again you don't deal with narcos, do you?

Again, I don't see why torture would get more false positives than using Andy Sipowicz's techniques, or Frank Pembleton's techniques, or Joe Friday's techniques. Even so, perhaps in the final analysis, this is outweighed by the false negatives avoided. Who knows? The people with an agenda, or the people who are responsible for getting results and who are perfectly empowered to use unicorns and faeries, bribes, silk sheets and caviar, or any other means of persuasion? You think we wouldn't pay KSM to turn chieu hoi for us?

As for the burden on the interrogators, I quite agree, and have said torture should be - what was Clinton's phrase? safe, legal and rare?

Well anyway, rare. I'd rather finesse "legal" by simply NOT TALKING ABOUT IT, TYVM, but that doesn't seem to be on the table if you're a Republican - I'm sure BO will have no trouble - and as for safe, well, as James Bond said to Rosie Carver, I certainly wouldn't kill them BEFORE they talk.

As for international law? Well, 1) AQ has no rights, in fact as my very liberal politician cousin/auntie explained to me once, Foreigners have no rights; 2) Fuck international law if it interferes with what's good for us. I'm one of these people who's more concerned about what's good for us than what's good for everybody else. Again, sorry.
4.19.2009 4:58pm
Anderson (mail):
If you repeat that long enough, we'll have to believe it just from all the noise you're making.

Well, I've provided *some* evidence for my position; you've presented ... I'm sorry, it's a non-positive integer, isn't it? Correct me if I'm wrong.

If the narcos could have got the info by playing Mr Nice Guy

Interrogation requires training, as our untrained interrogators in Iraq quickly found out.

Again, I don't see why torture would get more false positives than using Andy Sipowicz's techniques, or Frank Pembleton's techniques, or Joe Friday's techniques.

Hm. A torture victim (1) wants the suffering taken away ASAP and (2) hates and resents the people hurting him. He therefore wants to say *something* to get the torture to stop, but has no real incentive to help the interrogator, whom he presumably was opposed to at start, and now utterly mistrusts. And you don't see why this would yield a disproportionate number of false positives? How about looking at all the bogus accounts of nonexistent terror plots that Zubaydah spilled, once CIA HQ decreed its "certainty" that he was concealing such plots and they had to be tortured out of him?

Or look what torture has actually been used for by its best-known practitioners: extracting confessions. How many people confessed to being witches? Trotskyites? etc.?

If you're actually curious, take a look at the Atlantic article I linked before, and then google around on the name of the Luftwaffe interrogator mentioned therein.
4.19.2009 5:22pm
Anderson (mail):
Shite, forgot the link re: untrained interrogators in Iraq.

Rapport-building was being used among the smarter interrogators; among the more experienced interrogators. And I think that's the only thing I ever saw work, was rapport-building. So it was sort of 50-50, at that point.

But then I got out and worked with other units … and they weren't as interested in rapport-building. That took too much time, they felt, and it wasn't how they wanted to see themselves as interrogators. They wanted to be like Hollywood interrogators, you know.

The whole interview with Lagouranis is very much worth reading, again for those genuinely interested in facts on the subject.
4.19.2009 5:25pm
Nekulturny (mail):

(link)
Anderson (mail):

If you repeat that long enough, we'll have to believe it just from all the noise you're making.



Well, I've provided *some* evidence for my position; you've presented ... I'm sorry, it's a non-positive integer, isn't it? Correct me if I'm wrong.


You're not talking to me, right, but to the author of that statement? I believe that you and I at least have managed to remain civil so far.



If the narcos could have got the info by playing Mr Nice Guy



Interrogation requires training, as our untrained interrogators in Iraq quickly found out.


I'm sure that in all sincerity you don't suspect me of considering coercive interrogation, torture, or whatever KUBARK (and I hope the people using this document as a club have actually read it through), called it.

You need linguists, you need computers and voice-stress analyzers and whatever the modern Voight-Kampff equivalent is, you need cultured people who can make a nice pot of tea and serve it in the proper handleless cup, you need walking-around money and urban renewal projects money and all of that.

Sure, but that's a different topic altogether. They are not mutually exclusive nor are they redundant. We are not arguing the prosecution of the war here, we are arguing torture and the memos actually, so in fact we have gotten off base, no?



Again, I don't see why torture would get more false positives than using Andy Sipowicz's techniques, or Frank Pembleton's techniques, or Joe Friday's techniques.



Hm. A torture victim (1) wants the suffering taken away ASAP and (2) hates and resents the people hurting him.



Actually, looking at Stockholm Syndrome (which also includes physical duress as an essential part of a balanced breakfast, but not the whole enchilada), a transference (IIRC) is achieved wherein the captive comes to identify with the captor. (No doubt good-cop-bad-cop also plays a part in this and I think it is essential to do at least the more involved interrogations as a team effort.)

At the least, coercive or hostile interrogation (and this really cannot be avoided, AQ aren't coming in volunteering witness statements) typically seeks the psychological disorientation of the subject, so they don't know who is friend or foe.




He therefore wants to say *something* to get the torture to stop, but has no real incentive to help the interrogator, whom he presumably was opposed to at start, and now utterly mistrusts. And you don't see why this would yield a disproportionate number of false positives?



And the murder suspect on Homicide or The Wire also has no real need for the product the detective is trying to sell them, a long jail sentence, yet police IRL often get confessions and usually get statements. He has no real incentive to help the investigator, though. Even statements of innocent men often involve lies. So I believe you get a lot of false positives in police work as well.

Interestingly, these often lead to cracking the case. It is possible that lies also inform the interrogators. So the false positives are grist for the mill, too.




How about looking at all the bogus accounts of nonexistent terror plots that Zubaydah spilled, once CIA HQ decreed its "certainty" that he was concealing such plots and they had to be tortured out of him?



And a serial killer will conceal some of his murders, while inventing others. Is your demand perfection, then?





Or look what torture has actually been used for by its best-known practitioners: extracting confessions. How many people confessed to being witches? Trotskyites? etc.?


Again, I would say not to use it for such purposes. If we do not use it with the intent to gain false information (i.e., I started the Chicago fire), perhaps we will be less likely to gain false information. You are arguing for "Mend It Don't End It."




If you're actually curious, take a look at the Atlantic article I linked before, and then google around on the name of the Luftwaffe interrogator mentioned therein.
4.19.2009 5:22pm


Okay, but I am working now. I will have a look later.
4.19.2009 7:05pm
Nekulturny (mail):
I'm sure that in all sincerity you don't suspect me of considering coercive interrogation, torture, or whatever KUBARK (and I hope the people using this document as a club have actually read it through), called it, as a substitute for intelligence.


Fixed.
4.19.2009 7:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Andrew, why don't you answer nekulturny's question, eh? Too tough?


What a joke. These threads are full of questions that you've refused to answer because they must be "too tough" for you. There are examples in many places, like here.

Every authoritarian government that has attacked its own people has said that it is only trying to "protect the nation." And has maybe even believed it. But of course that could never happen here, right? I guess that means you have lots of faith in government. How conservative of you.


Relevance to this debate?


The "relevance to this debate" is stunningly clear. The fact that you're blind to it is stunningly revealing.

You would like to see the government empowered to torture. You also defend the idea that the torturers destroy evidence of torture, because it's important to keep such information out of the "wrong hands" (Congress).

If our government is empowered to torture people, and to do so while being unconstrained by oversight by the people's elected representatives, then what constraint is there on government power? Do you really not find it possible to imagine various things that might go wrong under such conditions? Very, very wrong? Do you really not understand that you are expressing a blind faith that American governments would never torture people for the 'wrong' reasons, but only for the 'right' reasons? Do you really not understand that 'conservatives' are supposed to be people who oppose unconstrained government power?

Your pal nek said this:

Just remember that it will be your ox that is gored some day.


Do you understand why that's something you should think about?

If security is so paramount for you, then why not just go further and advocate a monarchy? Do you really not understand that a democracy is always going to be fundamentally more difficult to defend than a dictatorship? If we can't be safe without giving the government the power to torture at will, then why not just give the government complete information about our every move? If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, right? We would surely be much safer then. Why not do that? Don't you realize there "are many lives in the balance?"

You're a perfect illustration of the following phenomenon: modern Republicans aren't conservatives. They are authoritarians. John Dean has written thoughtfully about the impact of authoritarianism on the GOP (link, link, link, link). And so have others. You vividly demonstrate what they're talking about.

A more accurate statement would be that some sources claim, based on some data, that this is the case.


And you are making claims based on no data at all. Where is your proof that torture is effective? Or more effective than other methods? You have claimed to have presented such evidence. Where is it hidden?

===============
nek:

What a saint you are. So you are only in favor of brutality is there is "utility to it." Tell us again what makes you different from our enemies?


Um, that I'm on your side, and they're against you? Or am I wrong about what side you're on? - You'll take that as an insult; it's not.

That I will die defending you and your family and your way of life, whereas they will die in order to destroy yours?


I was raised to believe that the American "way of life" embodies respect for human dignity and the rule of law. You are not "defending" that way of life. You're attacking it. Our enemies also don't respect human dignity or the rule of law, and they believe that utilitarian brutality is proper. Just like you. What makes you different from our enemies?

Larry has little incentive to talk. I think you could say that the Larrys are discouraged, yes.


If Larry's decision to torture actually saved American lives, then he does have an incentive to talk. There are lot of people like you who would treat him as a hero. He would be an honored guest on Rush's show, and his book would sell more copies than Joe Wurzelbacher's.

And if Larry's decision to torture didn't save lives, then his story proves my point: that torture doesn't generally produce useful, valuable information.

And aside from that, there are many, many ways for the Larrys of the world to get their message out (if they have one), without taking on personal responsibility. Here's one: make statements anonymously. Rush, Sean et al would be happy to convey those statements to the public, while protecting Larry's anonymity. Where are those statements? If there are such stories to be told, we would have heard them by now, one way or another.

And aside from that, history has been going on for a long time. Likewise for torture. There is an enormous amount of historical data regarding torture that was done by people who are now dead. It doesn't matter whether or not those torturers want to talk. The records they left behind are available for study by historians like Rejali. Trouble is, what those records show is that torture doesn't work.

I have no idea of Rejali's credentials, motivations or methods but I will note that they haven't stopped the French from continuing to use such techniques.


Torture has been going on for a long time, and it probably won't end anytime soon. That doesn't mean it works. It just means that there have always been, and will always be, people like you who like to make irrational and immoral excuses for torture.

I was trying to engage with you seriously


You dismissed Rejali's analysis of historical data as just someone's "opinions," as if there is no difference between fact and opinion. And without saying anything to "seriously" respond to his analysis. And you've said nothing to "seriously" explain why no one (as far as we can tell) has used historical data (as Rejali did) to prove that Rejali is wrong. If this is your idea of how to "engage … seriously," that's your problem.

But yes, there is little point in asking you things you don't know. That does sound pretty stupid on the face of it. So I would ask you things you do know.


It's nice to know you have such a clear picture of how to use torture to get the job done. The only mystery is why the CIA tortured KSM themselves instead of contracting the job to you. Because on their own, what the CIA torture produced from KSM was mostly "total fucking bullshit."

I'd rather finesse "legal" by simply NOT TALKING ABOUT IT


I see you're with Moore. You have unlimited faith in government, and it's better if citizens don't know what Big Brother is doing behind closed doors.
4.19.2009 8:54pm
John Moore (www):

You would like to see the government empowered to torture.



Let's be precise: I would like the goverment empowered to use all of the techniques actually reported to have been used in the memos (up through waterboarding). I would like those powers to be constrained in such a ways as to minimize the use to when it was necessary and to prevent the use against American citizens.


Do you really not understand that you are expressing a blind faith that American governments would never torture people for the 'wrong' reasons, but only for the 'right' reasons?



I recognize that anything the government is empowered to do may be abused or accidently misapplied. For example, I know there are innocent people being held in our prisons, in spite of our efforts to avoid that, and I recognize that this is an unfortunate consequence of using imprisonment as a way to reduce crime. I know that I could find myself ensnared in such a consequence. Even so, I am not so stupid as to argue that hence, because of the risk of abuse, we should just give up on the approach.

As to the rest of your extrapolations about the meanings of my policies, they are exactly that: extrapolations, fairly extreme.

I recognize that government is required for some functions, including military and intelligence actions. I also know that they can and will screw up, and that in general, government is the worst way to accomplish most goals.

Now, since you have thoroughly analyzed my logic and concluded thata I am an authoritarian, perhaps I should apply the same to you. Throughout this discussion, you have insisted I answer irrelevant questions (for example, in the latest posting, about UBL's cell phone controversy). You have insisted on beating minor issues to death (the number of people who have died in SERE school_. You have repeatedly called me a liar. You have exaggerated and mischaracterized my rather simple position.

Your own position appears to be that of a naive puritan and a blind proceduralist. You appear to be one who would persecute people who acted in good faith on your behalf, because they failed procedurally to meet your standards. In general, you are a good argument for the policy that prosecutors should never be allowed to seek higher office.

I have unfortunately allowed myself to be baited by you and others into this ridiculous tit for tat. Shame on me.
4.19.2009 9:14pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
jbg,

If our government is empowered to torture people, and to do so while being unconstrained by oversight by the people's elected representatives, then what constraint is there on government power? [...] Do you really not understand that 'conservatives' are supposed to be people who oppose unconstrained government power?

I think the argument you need to make here is that if you give government unlimited power to torture, eventually it will wield its power to do something really reprehensible... like raise taxes.
4.19.2009 9:33pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I'm sorry, Nek, I was mostly looking in the other threads.

It's very revealing that the pro-torture side always comes up with strange ticking bomb scenarios in which the torturer knows whom to torture, when he has the truthful information, when to stop torturing before the information becomes untrue babble meant to stop the torture. You would think such omniscient torturers, who exist ONLY in fiction, would already know the PIN number, too.

To answer your question, in the ticking bomb case with my child I would do anything. That does not mean society should do it. If I thought I would get away with it, I would kill anyone who merely took my kid's lunch money. That doesn't make it a good plan or lawful or commendable.

Leaving the morality aside, when the Nazis were resource-constrained, they didn't torture to get information. Other techniques worked better. (Torture remained as a tool of intimidation.) Neither you nor Moore have ever refuted the implications of this established fact. Instead, you robotically assert that because some of the information obtained from torture is true (I do not dispute that) it must be of some intelligence value. That doesn't compute, because the nonsense obtained under torture increases the overall entropy. The evidence in Iraq (as with the Nazis, etc.) again suggests that the chaff overwhelms the wheat.

So far, Nek, neither you nor Moore has brought in anything but vague, fictional examples of torture working better than other methods of interrogation.

I do appreciate your honesty that you prefer the Biggest Prick theory of international law. It goes well with your handle and will simplify the discussion. I must say, though, that if we can fuck international law, why exactly was the 9/11 attack so heinous? If, say, bin Laden had decided to fly planes at buildings in Teheran (he hates Iran too), that would be OK?

Now, time is short, so I will make just one other point. Chalabi and Curveball lied in their own interests. Bringing them into a discussion of how torture will get us good intelligence is an argument in extremely bad faith, just an attempt to use what we called dumptruck arguments in the hope that my unwillingness to refute every single stupid one will let you claim some sort of victory.

Oh, and (1) why are you proud of being a nekulturnik and (2) do you draw any lessons from the failure of Soviet brutality? Answer or concede!
4.19.2009 9:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

I would like the goverment empowered to use all of the techniques actually reported to have been used in the memos (up through waterboarding).


If waterboarding is OK, why not electric shock? Both can be done in a way that causes no permanent physical harm. This is one of many questions you've been ducking. Then again, maybe electric shock is OK with you. I don't recall you saying it's not.

I would like those powers to be constrained in such a ways as to minimize the use to when it was necessary and to prevent the use against American citizens.


And those powers will be "constrained" by whom? You've said it's OK to hide evidence from Congress, because that would be putting the evidence in the "wrong hands." Which means you trust Big Brother to 'constrain' himself. How conservative of you.

I know there are innocent people being held in our prisons, in spite of our efforts to avoid that, and I recognize that this is an unfortunate consequence of using imprisonment as a way to reduce crime.


The key difference is that our system of justice doesn't tolerate "people being held in our prisons" without judicial review. That's called checks and balances. But you think it's OK for the federal government to torture people and then destroy the evidence, in order to avoid review by another branch of government. In other words, you have unlimited faith in Big Brother. How conservative of you.

As to the rest of your extrapolations about the meanings of my policies, they are exactly that: extrapolations, fairly extreme.


And when you suggest that in the absence of torture, many Americans will die, what is that other than "extrapolations, fairly extreme?"

I recognize that government is required for some functions, including military and intelligence actions. I also know that they can and will screw up, and that in general, government is the worst way to accomplish most goals.


If you have such a low opinion of government, it's very peculiar that you would trust government with unconstrained power to torture.

you have insisted I answer irrelevant questions (for example, in the latest posting, about UBL's cell phone controversy)


It was you, not anyone else, who decided to make a reference to a mythological story about UBL's phone. And it is not irrelevant to point out that you made a bogus claim and then refused to take responsibility for doing so (and still refuse to take responsibility for doing so). This is helpful context with regard to evaluating all the claims you make.

You have insisted on beating minor issues to death (the number of people who have died in SERE school_.


When you make questionable claims, you should expect to be questioned. If you don't like that, then you should keep your questionable claims to yourself.

You have repeatedly called me a liar.


I have questioned your claims when they deserved to be questioned. Where have I outright called you a liar? I don't recall doing that. At least not recently. If I did it in a prior thread, then there was a good reason for it.

You have exaggerated and mischaracterized my rather simple position.


As usual, you are making claims without bothering to show a shred of evidence. Where have I "exaggerated and mischaracterized?"

You appear to be one who would persecute people who acted in good faith on your behalf, because they failed procedurally to meet your standards.


The question is not whether or not someone was able to meet my "standards." The question is whether or not the law was broken. The GOP used to be the party of law and order. Those days are gone.

===============
lm:

if you give government unlimited power to torture, eventually it will wield its power to do something really reprehensible... like raise taxes.


Bingo. As usual, you hit the nail on the head. The GOP wants to turn us into Singapore, where economic freedom is high and political freedom is low.
4.19.2009 9:51pm
Nekulturny (mail):
nek:

What a saint you are. So you are only in favor of brutality is there is "utility to it." Tell us again what makes you different from our enemies?



Um, that I'm on your side, and they're against you? Or am I wrong about what side you're on? - You'll take that as an insult; it's not.

That I will die defending you and your family and your way of life, whereas they will die in order to destroy yours?

I was raised to believe that the American "way of life" embodies respect for human dignity and the rule of law.

So America was a no-good un-American country until Miranda? "The third degree" was a tool in many American police departments well into the 20th Century. I believe that during the Civil War, to address a reference earlier in the thread, parties to the assassination of President Lincoln were "put to the question" as well.

I haven't any resources just at hand to cite, but if FDR put nisei into camps and US GIs cut gold teeth out of the skulls of Japanese soldiers, sometimes while they were still alive, torture decisions would seem likely to be made on a strictly utilitarian basis. I'm pretty sure that the Brits used physical coercion, too.


You are not "defending" that way of life. You're attacking it. Our enemies also don't respect human dignity or the rule of law, and they believe that utilitarian brutality is proper. Just like you. What makes you different from our enemies?

My actions would be calculated to protect your welfare. Theirs would be calculated to injure it. I really can't make it much simpler for you. Even wars between say a 60% evil country and a 70% evil country must be fought, sides must be taken, and you know what? Even the subjects of the 70% evil country are often patriotic and want to win. For a 10% evil country to fight a 90% evil country, the decision shouldn't be hard to make. You remind me of those WWII types who wanted the US to lose because we oppressed blacks. Just imagine the red ruin Hitler's machine would have wreaked in Africa, say, had they won. But no, it was a white man's war.

Your resistance to this notion, even as a proposition to be debated, places me in doubt of your sincerity. Why discuss when you already know the answers? If I believed that torture did not work I would oppose its use. I don't want to broadcast videos of mutilations and beheadings to strike terror into the Ummah.

Are you a vegetarian? Meat doesn't come out of vats yet, nor does leather. I wonder what you think of hunters.




Larry has little incentive to talk. I think you could say that the Larrys are discouraged, yes.



If Larry's decision to torture actually saved American lives, then he does have an incentive to talk. There are lot of people like you who would treat him as a hero. He would be an honored guest on Rush's show, and his book would sell more copies than Joe Wurzelbacher's.

Larry would like to not go to jail. There are plenty of anecdotes of coercion working, discussed by foreigners immune to our laws. I wonder if they would convince you.

And if Larry's decision to torture didn't save lives, then his story proves my point: that torture doesn't generally produce useful, valuable information.

Great, so find me your ineffectual torturers who are sorry about all the time they wasted. Shall I hold my breath?

And aside from that, there are many, many ways for the Larrys of the world to get their message out (if they have one), without taking on personal responsibility. Here's one: make statements anonymously. Rush, Sean et al would be happy to convey those statements to the public, while protecting Larry's anonymity. Where are those statements? If there are such stories to be told, we would have heard them by now, one way or another.

I have said that there are. You would never be satisfied that they were not provocateurs or fakes, would you? Not openly, but I bet you'd want to tear apart the EIB studios trying to get into Rush's records.

And aside from that, history has been going on for a long time. Likewise for torture. There is an enormous amount of historical data regarding torture that was done by people who are now dead. It doesn't matter whether or not those torturers want to talk. The records they left behind are available for study by historians like Rejali. Trouble is, what those records show is that torture doesn't work.

Trouble with that is, nobody wants to take my bet. Show of hands, who thinks they can keep from telling me their PIN under the circumstances I described? This wouldn't be the first scientific research that turned out to be wrong.


I have no idea of Rejali's credentials, motivations or methods but I will note that they haven't stopped the French from continuing to use such techniques.



Torture has been going on for a long time, and it probably won't end anytime soon. That doesn't mean it works. It just means that there have always been, and will always be, people like you who like to make irrational and immoral excuses for torture.

Ooh, "people like me." What are the "people like you" like? And for you to claim that I "like making excuses" is more ineffective personalization.

I was trying to engage with you seriously



You dismissed Rejali's analysis of historical data as just someone's "opinions," as if there is no difference between fact and opinion. And without saying anything to "seriously" respond to his analysis. And you've said nothing to "seriously" explain why no one (as far as we can tell) has used historical data (as Rejali did) to prove that Rejali is wrong. If this is your idea of how to "engage … seriously," that's your problem.

ISTR you crammed in a bunch of claims about it doesn't work, blah blah blah, of whom Rejali was only one. It's harder to cleanly bat away a hurled bucketful of water than it is to deflect the bucket.

But yes, there is little point in asking you things you don't know. That does sound pretty stupid on the face of it. So I would ask you things you do know.


It's nice to know you have such a clear picture of how to use torture to get the job done. The only mystery is why the CIA tortured KSM themselves instead of contracting the job to you. Because on their own, what the CIA torture produced from KSM was mostly "total fucking bullshit."


If you ever find out, please let me know. Probably my rate is too high. I don't answer for the CIA's competence. They certainly seem to have trouble keeping secrets.

I'd rather finesse "legal" by simply NOT TALKING ABOUT IT



I see you're with Moore. You have unlimited faith in government, and it's better if citizens don't know what Big Brother is doing behind closed doors.

I think there are some things it is better to draw a kindly veil over. The idea that I have unlimited faith in government is good - for a laugh. I just think that people don't want to face it if they don't have to. It is not necessary to include a DVD of slaughterhouse operations with every rib roast.
4.19.2009 10:49pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I'm sorry, Nek, I was mostly looking in the other threads.

That's all right. I assumed you were talking to someone else anyway, just wanted to be sure.

It's very revealing that the pro-torture side always comes up with strange ticking bomb scenarios in which the torturer knows whom to torture, when he has the truthful information, when to stop torturing before the information becomes untrue babble meant to stop the torture. You would think such omniscient torturers, who exist ONLY in fiction, would already know the PIN number, too.

I don't know what to make of this. I gave a very concrete example and you want to dress it up. I'll bet a hundred bucks that I can get your PIN out of you inside a hundred minutes. Deal or no deal?

To answer your question, in the ticking bomb case with my child I would do anything. That does not mean society should do it. If I thought I would get away with it, I would kill anyone who merely took my kid's lunch money. That doesn't make it a good plan or lawful or commendable.

Funny, society usually has powers the individual doesn't have. I appreciate your candor, though. So you'd put your hands on the kidnapper, but not allow police or private professionals to do it? Are you just angry or do you want your daughter back? I think it's safe to say that they would do a better job than you, and be more concerned for his welfare than you. You'd be more likely to kill him getting the information - either before or after.

Leaving the morality aside, when the Nazis were resource-constrained, they didn't torture to get information. Other techniques worked better. (Torture remained as a tool of intimidation.) Neither you nor Moore have ever refuted the implications of this established fact.

What we've just established with your remark, is that the specter of coercion is a useful tool. So even if you don't ever use it, it's nice to know the option is there. I do think you have it backwards, though, on the resource constraint.

Instead, you robotically assert that because some of the information obtained from torture is true (I do not dispute that) it must be of some intelligence value. That doesn't compute, because the nonsense obtained under torture increases the overall entropy. The evidence in Iraq (as with the Nazis, etc.) again suggests that the chaff overwhelms the wheat.

You think that a guy strung out with various coercive techniques (including sleep deprivation, stress positions, hunger) is better positioned to tell CREDIBLE lies than a fat dumb and happy apparatchik with all his wits about him? Robotically, I don't.

Less chaff is better, but I maintain that


So far, Nek, neither you nor Moore has brought in anything but vague, fictional examples of torture working better than other methods of interrogation.

It's an alternative. There are times when other methods will work better or work also. I haven't cared to take the trouble to source stuff for you all, which is basically because I don't sleep, eat and breathe this stuff, but I have read accounts to the contrary. But John Moore has cited his own real world experience, which I find even more convincing than my own reading or than the Frenchman's work.

I do appreciate your honesty that you prefer the Biggest Prick theory of international law. It goes well with your handle and will simplify the discussion. I must say, though, that if we can fuck international law, why exactly was the 9/11 attack so heinous? If, say, bin Laden had decided to fly planes at buildings in Teheran (he hates Iran too), that would be OK?

From their POV I'm sure it seemed like the right thing to do. Doesn't mean I have to see it their way.

I didn't think international law was our only defense, though. International law didn't stop 9/11 or did I miss the memo? IL seems to do very little for us.


Now, time is short, so I will make just one other point. Chalabi and Curveball lied in their own interests. Bringing them into a discussion of how torture will get us good intelligence is an argument in extremely bad faith, just an attempt to use what we called dumptruck arguments in the hope that my unwillingness to refute every single stupid one will let you claim some sort of victory.

This is nonsense. (I like the cant phrase "nonsense on stilts" but am not sure this qualifies.) You complain of the SNR of torture, but we have seen that plenty of noise can be produced by any intelligence method.In this wise Curveball seems very apt. Would you prefer I bring in Martha Stewart as an example of lying to law enforcement in a non-coercive interrogation? And again, her lies led to her conviction. I'm not sure why you resist this.

Oh, and (1) why are you proud of being a nekulturnik and (2) do you draw any lessons from the failure of Soviet brutality? Answer or concede!

1) a) Ever hear of irony, Andrew? ;> b) this is not my usual nick, I use it for discussions I don't care to be held accountable for. Call it my appello advocatus diaboli.

2) Soviet brutality never failed them. Read Solzhenitsyn. Brutality never even served to delegitimize the Soviet system internally or externally.
4.19.2009 11:40pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I'm sorry, Nek, I was mostly looking in the other threads.

That's all right. I assumed you were talking to someone else anyway, just wanted to be sure.

It's very revealing that the pro-torture side always comes up with strange ticking bomb scenarios in which the torturer knows whom to torture, when he has the truthful information, when to stop torturing before the information becomes untrue babble meant to stop the torture. You would think such omniscient torturers, who exist ONLY in fiction, would already know the PIN number, too.

I don't know what to make of this. I gave a very concrete example and you want to dress it up. I'll bet a hundred bucks that I can get your PIN out of you inside a hundred minutes. Deal or no deal?

To answer your question, in the ticking bomb case with my child I would do anything. That does not mean society should do it. If I thought I would get away with it, I would kill anyone who merely took my kid's lunch money. That doesn't make it a good plan or lawful or commendable.

Funny, society usually has powers the individual doesn't have. I appreciate your candor, though. So you'd put your hands on the kidnapper, but not allow police or private professionals to do it? Are you just angry or do you want your daughter back? I think it's safe to say that they would do a better job than you, and be more concerned for his welfare than you. You'd be more likely to kill him getting the information - either before or after.

Leaving the morality aside, when the Nazis were resource-constrained, they didn't torture to get information. Other techniques worked better. (Torture remained as a tool of intimidation.) Neither you nor Moore have ever refuted the implications of this established fact.

What we've just established with your remark, is that the specter of coercion is a useful tool. So even if you don't ever use it, it's nice to know the option is there. I do think you have it backwards, though, on the resource constraint.

Instead, you robotically assert that because some of the information obtained from torture is true (I do not dispute that) it must be of some intelligence value. That doesn't compute, because the nonsense obtained under torture increases the overall entropy. The evidence in Iraq (as with the Nazis, etc.) again suggests that the chaff overwhelms the wheat.

You think that a guy strung out with various coercive techniques (including sleep deprivation, stress positions, hunger) is better positioned to tell CREDIBLE lies than a fat dumb and happy apparatchik with all his wits about him? Robotically, I don't.

Less chaff is better, but I maintain that


So far, Nek, neither you nor Moore has brought in anything but vague, fictional examples of torture working better than other methods of interrogation.

It's an alternative. There are times when other methods will work better or work also. I haven't cared to take the trouble to source stuff for you all, which is basically because I don't sleep, eat and breathe this stuff, but I have read accounts to the contrary. But John Moore has cited his own real world experience, which I find even more convincing than my own reading or than the Frenchman's work.

I do appreciate your honesty that you prefer the Biggest Prick theory of international law. It goes well with your handle and will simplify the discussion. I must say, though, that if we can fuck international law, why exactly was the 9/11 attack so heinous? If, say, bin Laden had decided to fly planes at buildings in Teheran (he hates Iran too), that would be OK?

From their POV I'm sure it seemed like the right thing to do. Doesn't mean I have to see it their way.

I didn't think international law was our only defense, though. International law didn't stop 9/11 or did I miss the memo? IL seems to do very little for us.


Now, time is short, so I will make just one other point. Chalabi and Curveball lied in their own interests. Bringing them into a discussion of how torture will get us good intelligence is an argument in extremely bad faith, just an attempt to use what we called dumptruck arguments in the hope that my unwillingness to refute every single stupid one will let you claim some sort of victory.

This is nonsense. (I like the cant phrase "nonsense on stilts" but am not sure this qualifies.) You complain of the SNR of torture, but we have seen that plenty of noise can be produced by any intelligence method.In this wise Curveball seems very apt. Would you prefer I bring in Martha Stewart as an example of lying to law enforcement in a non-coercive interrogation? And again, her lies led to her conviction. I'm not sure why you resist this.

Oh, and (1) why are you proud of being a nekulturnik and (2) do you draw any lessons from the failure of Soviet brutality? Answer or concede!

1) a) Ever hear of irony, Andrew? ;> b) this is not my usual nick, I use it for discussions I don't care to be held accountable for. Call it my appello advocatus diaboli.

2) Soviet brutality never failed them. Read Solzhenitsyn. Brutality never even served to delegitimize the Soviet system internally or externally. Look at all the fellow travelers constantly excusing them. Why can't we get that kind fo service?
4.19.2009 11:40pm
Nekulturny (mail):
In case my last remark is misinterpreted, I bow to no one in my loathing for the Soviet system.
4.19.2009 11:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nek:

"The third degree" was a tool in many American police departments well into the 20th Century.


We also used to keep slaves. I guess you're nostalgic for that too.

if FDR put nisei into camps and US GIs cut gold teeth out of the skulls of Japanese soldiers, sometimes while they were still alive


Past crimes are not an excuse for current crimes. And aside from that, you shouldn't allege past crimes unless you're in a position to show evidence. And aside from that, there's a fundamental difference between an atrocity committed by an individual soldier, as compared with an official torture policy carefully constructed by top government lawyers.

My actions would be calculated to protect your welfare.


You think my welfare is enhanced by undermining the rule of law. That means your concept of "welfare" is painfully superficial.

For a 10% evil country to fight a 90% evil country, the decision shouldn't be hard to make.


Whether our enemies are 10% evil or 90% evil, they have won without firing a shot if we start by sacrificing our own laws and values.

Your resistance to this notion


I have no idea what "notion" you're talking about. The "notion" that we can protect American values by betraying them?

If I believed that torture did not work I would oppose its use.


You should explain why you think it works despite a distinct absence of evidence that it works, and the presence of evidence that it doesn't.

I don't want to broadcast videos of mutilations and beheadings to strike terror into the Ummah.


Why not? You said brutality is proper as long as it's utilitarian. Terror has utility.

Larry would like to not go to jail.


I have explained that Larry is free to tell his story anonymously. Why hasn't he?

There are plenty of anecdotes of coercion working, discussed by foreigners immune to our laws.


Where are those anecdotes hiding?

Great, so find me your ineffectual torturers who are sorry about all the time they wasted. Shall I hold my breath?


I have already presented historical evidence that torture is "ineffectual." I probably shouldn't "hold my breath" waiting for you to show historical evidence with a contrary finding.

I have said that there are [anecdotes describing torture's effectiveness]


So why are you hiding them? Where are they?

What are the "people like you" like?


The difference between "people like you" and "people like me" is that the latter believe in the rule of law and the former do not.

I don't answer for the CIA's competence.


But even though you think they're incompetent, you'd like to see them have greater power to torture without oversight. Right?

I think there are some things it is better to draw a kindly veil over.


In other words, it's "kindly" of Big Brother to take care of business behind a "veil." Because citizens should just trust that Big Brother is doing the right thing. Instead of supervising it and making sure. Right? How conservative of you. And you also think that this position of yours is consistent with claiming that you don't have "unlimited faith in government." How logical of you.

So far, Nek, neither you nor Moore has brought in anything but vague, fictional examples of torture working better than other methods of interrogation.


John Moore has cited his own real world experience


Moore has claimed this much "experience" doing interrogation, with or without torture: none. So it indeed still the case that "neither you nor Moore has brought in anything but vague, fictional examples of torture working better than other methods of interrogation."

I bow to no one in my loathing for the Soviet system.


Then why are you suggesting that we should emulate them in some manner?
4.19.2009 11:57pm
Nekulturny (mail):
juke, your coach has just turned into a pumpkin.

Your own signal-to-noise ratio has exceeded my filter's ability to ignore and I won't try to get any more intelligence out of you; you can't get blood out of a turnip. All you have to offer is rudeness.

As I won't sink to your level, I won't take up any more of your time nor allow you to waste mine. Who washes an ass' head wastes both his time and soap. Believe what you like; this is pretty much the case with all mankind anyway. Consider yourself conversationally taken out behind the barn and shot, or traded back to the Saudis for a player to be named later.

Note that Anderson and Andrew, to name two, are acting civilized and I am not pulling the plug on them, so don't allow yourself to consider this a surrender. I'm just ignoring you as inconsequential, as you want us to ignore AQ. In time perhaps they will even love Big Brother, but meanwhile they ain't offensive timesucks who cannot master their passions.
4.20.2009 12:51am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I won't take up any more of your time


I suppose that's your way of admitting that you have no proof to support the various claims you've been making (in particular, your claims about the effectiveness of torture). And I suppose it's also your way of telling us that you're not going to explain why government should torture behind a "veil." I guess it has something to do with your great respect for the rule of law:

I'd rather finesse "legal" by simply NOT TALKING ABOUT IT


You're not going to tell us why you hate democracy, so we'll just have to guess.
4.20.2009 3:31am
Nekulturny (mail):
No, juke, it just means I won't choose to address you anymore, and won't feel bound to pay you any attention at all.

I will do my best to answer anything the others ask. We are disagreeing, but civilly, and even finding common ground. You, however, are past your sell-by date. You are pining for the fjords. You are an ex-parrot!

Now go away, before I taunt you a second time. I refuse to allow myself to grow annoyed at your foolishness. It would be a form of torture, and I'm sure you wouldn't want that on your conscience.
4.20.2009 6:55am
Nekulturny (mail):
Oh, I will just add this last - anytime you want to take me up on my bet, juke, just let me know. In your case I think the over/under would be about thirty seconds, unless you manage to get me riled, in which case I might either start off really strong, or maybe not hear your answer for a while. If I kill you without getting the PIN number I will cheerfully concede to having lost the bet.

So other than that, or if you come to your senses altogether, TTFE. Meanwhile, I take your ignoring this test case as an admission that torture works.
4.20.2009 7:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nek:

I won't choose to address you anymore


Promises, promises. Aren't you the same nekulturny who just said "I won't take up any more of your time?" Since you just addressed me, was the choice to address me a choice made by someone other than you? I guess it must be, since you said that's a choice you won't make anymore. So are you going to let us in on the secret and tell us whose choice it was?

and won't feel bound to pay you any attention at all.


You mean you previously felt "bound" to read my posts, and respond to them? Bound by whom? The mysterious person who is making your choices for you? I suggest you get yourself unbound as quickly as possible. Because that sounds like an uncomfortable position to be in. Unless you're in that position by your own choice, of course. In that case presumably you've given yourself a safe word so you can get yourself to unbind yourself when you're tired of being bound by yourself.

Anyway, since you're having so much trouble exercising your will, I can understand your fascination with imposing it on someone else.
4.20.2009 8:27am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Nek, if the brutal Soviet system worked so well for them, how come my uncle was born before it and has survived it? The more brutal side has lost any number of wars. It's hard to understand how someone who loathes the Soviet system and loves the American system wants to import Soviet techniques to replace civilized norms.

Of course you would get my PIN number out of me. You don't really need a complicated scenario for that; you could get it out of me with a couple slaps. The PIN number doesn't mean so much. Heck, I may get restitution from the bank.

If I were a dedicated revolutionary, it might be a different story. Do you know the story of the siege of the Alcazar in the Spanish Civil War? The Loyalists (who were, as a forced choice, the preferable side) took the son of the commander of the fascist forces within the fortress, telephoned the commander, and threatened to execute the son on the spot if the fortress wasn't surrendered. No surrender. The son was indeed executed on the spot, and later the siege was relieved.

Would you like to explain (as your co-torturers have not) why the Luftwaffe never used torture when interrogating captured Allied airmen, and they needed to optimize their inadequate defenses (that is, they couldn't afford false positives).

The PIN story is not how detainee interrogation works. We don't know what the detainees know. We have know way of knowing where the true information begins and ends. The idea that torture protects us through the intelligence we obtained is not supported by this war, nor by other wars. The extent to which it protects us by scaring others or by titilating ourselves is harder to ascertain, but an awful lot of experts (e.g. SERE instructors) believe the net effect is a big minus.
4.20.2009 1:56pm
John Moore (www):

Would you like to explain (as your co-torturers have not) why the Luftwaffe never used torture when interrogating captured Allied airmen

This is an easy one. The Germans, for all their crazy ideology, had a sense of honor about how they treated POWs (or at least, fellow 'Aryans').
4.20.2009 2:02pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Well yes there is that. The Allied airmen were "white men" to the Nazis, protected by convention, arrested in uniform and all that. Unlike in Japan, in Germany the POWs typically got their Red Cross packages.

Unless they were Jews, no particular ideological point in oppressing them, esp. as Churchill &the Allies had plenty of ability to take reprisals (it would be like us cutting off KSM's head or Zubaydeh's on C-SPAN in exchange for Daniel Pearl or Nick Berg or Matt Maupin, which I believe the Geneva Conventions more or less allow us to do). The Luftwaffe was losing plenty of airmen to the Allies and had reason to be delicate. Same reason they didn't use gas - the Wehrmacht couldn't devise a gas mask suitable to protect a horse, and a surprising proportion of their logistics depended upon animal-powered transport. More to the point we could have gassed the crap out of them too (and would have if you believe Churchill).

You are also speaking of a considerable skills transfer requiring cooperative transfer of tacit knowledge. This inherently would be a more delicate task than learning "Where is your base? Who is your leader? Did you blow up the souk yesterday? Who was with you? What are your recognition codes? What are your cell numbers?"

Essentially they are asking the commandant nicely, to give up the fortress and hand over the keys. The Allied airmen weren't, I think, supposed to give up that information. And there would be innumerable opportunities for "noise" that would be slow to filter out.

Incidentally, I think the Luftwaffe also used booze and cigs among other rewards. So the use of drugs is OK by you?
4.20.2009 3:04pm
Anderson (mail):
Alistair Horne, in his 2006 introduction to his classic book on the Algerian war, A Savage War of Peace:

From the Inquisition to the Gestapo and the "Battle of Algiers," history teaches us that, in the production of reliable intelligence, regardless of the moral issue, torture is counter-productive.

Americans have a strange inhibition about learning from history -- our assumption is always that other guys made mistakes because they were dumb, or bad, but that *we* are going to do it *right*. Hence invading Iraq to democratize it, torturing prisoners, etc.
4.20.2009 3:12pm
Nekulturny (mail):
As for your uncle, bless him by all means. Jewish? Dissident? Because all my relatives in Eastern Europe ceased to exist during WWII, they did a special on Byela Tserkov, so my great-aunt and grandpa also were before and after the Bolsheviks, but only because they came to America. (Sorry if that made 'em quitters. You hear such things a lot in the Cuban context.)

I am not sure what Uncle proves, though. What I said, and I could chide you for not attending, is that brutality did not bring down the Soviet system, it did not diminish the luster or legitimacy of the Soviet gov't domestically or abroad, it did not fail to keep allies and subjects in check. And to this day Putin is whacking journalists at no cost.

Maybe rather than pulling the mote from our eye, it would be better to go over there and pull the d--d log out of the Russians' eye. Perhaps harsh methods wouldn't look good to us if the other guy wasn't getting such good results with them.

And you know what else? Sometimes when somebody comes to drop a bomb on your mother, as Orwell said, the sanest (or least absurd) response is to go drop two bombs on his mother. I don't know if Orwell ever visited Chicago of course ;>
4.20.2009 3:17pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Not sure what the point of the Alcazar story is, except that fascists are noble and/or indifferent to the deaths of their sons and other people who are not them. (Would it be racist to point out that we are speaking of the Spanish here? It's exactly what I would expect of a Spaniard - pundonor and all that. Try it on an Englishman or a Frog. Or an Iraqi or Soviet.)

Working over family members, or the threat of same, is classically one of the most effective techniques. Kudos to Franco's guy. I'm sure he got his medal and took much retribution.

In real life, of course, IANAT (I Am Not A Torturer), NAIAI (Nor Am I An Investigator/Interrogator), and IANACE (I Am Not A Crook/Collectivist Either), so there's really nothing that I want from you IRL. This (the PIN scenario) is a concrete real world example that anyone can understand. If you have some other secret that you think you would try to hold onto better, we could work with that as an example.
4.20.2009 3:28pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Anderson, so we can drop the War on Poverty now? Whew.
4.20.2009 3:30pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Reading backstory as asked - on trained vs untrained - Men like Moran will always be rare. If I were a POW in a room with a Russian or Chinese Moran, I would be doing my country a service to kill him, if his approach extended to leaving me unchained. (AQ doesn't go in for Morans, I think.)

That also reminds me - Japs, or Nips as I suppose I should say, were notably easy to crack ONCE TAKEN ALIVE. As they held our POWs in contempt for being taken alive, so they held themselves in contempt for being captured. The (e.g.) Wehrmacht structures for maintaining prisoner cohesion did not exist among the Japanese. Inasmuch as they had orientation for this circumstance, they would probably have been indoctrinated to expect brutality of the sort they meted out, so the contrast might have been a shock to their system. AQ regrettably doesn't share their naivete.
4.20.2009 4:25pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Oh yes and on Scharff, the website I read says he was the exception to the rule at Dulag Luft. He was also apparently something of an autodidact.
4.20.2009 4:42pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Nek: That uncle is on my dad's side, lifelong Brooklynite. That side was all in the US by 1900. It's my mother's side that's more like your story. My maternal grandmother was one of 11 children, she and two sisters came to the US in the 1910s-20s. Those who didn't come: one died even before the war, almost everyone else obliterated. One cousin survived Auschwitz (but disappeared after going to Canada) and another was serving already as a medic in the Soviet Army, eventually ended up in Netanya.

As I read Scharff's story, yes, he was an autodidact, but his methods worked better than the alternative, enough so that eventually he ended up in charge and training others.
4.20.2009 10:55pm
Michael Ejercito (mail) (www):



Whether our enemies are 10% evil or 90% evil, they have won without firing a shot if we start by sacrificing our own laws and values.


So then the Japanese won World War II because we interned American citizens who happened to have ancestors that came from Japan?

Unless you want to argue that the internment was consistent with American values...
Yes, they just had things such as "bone-crushing use of splints, pumping stomachs with water until they swelled and pouring boiling oil on the feet." And everyone knows that those things aren't really torture, because they don't involve "electricity."

And they also had waterboarding, of course.

And how does waterboarding compare with the other methods?
4.24.2009 11:45pm
Nekulturny (mail):
Andrew - my point re 'autodidact' was that he was the exception rather than the rule. He was also a product of luck - his bosses died in a plane crash and they gave him the job. Gestapo, Abwehr, Luftwaffe generally went for the not-nice, overwhelmingly with non-Allied servicemen.
4.27.2009 1:43am

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