pageok
pageok
pageok
Radio Host Waterboarded, Says It's Torture:

Talk radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller had himself waterboarded on his radio program to see whether it constitutes torture.

With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand, Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.

. . . Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back . . . It was instantaneous . . . and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face . . . I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "

In this regard, Mancow's experience was much the same as Christopher Hitchens and former OLC official Dan Levin.

Hank Bowman, MD (mail) (www):
Then the USAF owes me big time for waterboarding me during my SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training.

Where do I collect?

Torture? The SOB's that cut off Daniel Pearls head, or flew the airliners into the ground, or told them to do so, are the torturers.

And the punishment should fit the crime.
5.22.2009 9:34pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Having your breathing cut off instills a kind of primal fear. I came across this effect while studying obstructive sleep apnea in the 1980s. A variant of water boarding was used during the Iraq-Iran war, and it's pretty effective. Of course some people can resist it but not everyone.

As far as I'm concerned it's torture. But sometimes torture needs to be used if the costs of not torturing come too high. Ask yourself-- would you prefer to be water boarded or step on a land mine? We do horrible things to people in a war, and I don't see why torture should have some kind of special status. If you can roast an enemy alive, why can't you torture him? Especially if your enemy won't himself follow any rules of war. Who but a fool would adhere to Marquis of Queensberry rules in a fight when your opponent won't do likewise?
5.22.2009 9:51pm
Anonymoose (mail):
Dr. Bowman: The actual hijackers on 9-11 who were aboard those planes are beyond the reach of human justice now. To my knowledge Mr. Pearl's murderers are not in custody. Moreover, any of those alleged to be Mr. Pearl's murderer's should be tried and convicted before any form of punishment takes place. Unless, of course, you believe that it's OK to torture innocents to make yourself feel better.
5.22.2009 10:02pm
Oren:

The SOB's that cut off Daniel Pearls head

Funny, decapitation is historically considered to be a merciful method of capital punishment. La Guillotine was the epitome of that trend ...
5.22.2009 10:03pm
Anonymoose (mail):
Mr. Zarkov, those who become the monster to fight the monster are still monsters. We are better than them. More than the simple feeling of moral superiority this gives us, it has true utility in undermining and defeating our foes.
5.22.2009 10:04pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Hank Bowman, MD: Did you ever ask why they waterboarded you during SERE? Unless I am very mistaken, the purpose is to prepare you for being, let's see, ummmh, tortured?

A. Zarkov: Based on what we know so far, we tortured people to get evidence of a link between Sadam and Al-Qaeda that would have justified the Iraq invasion after the fact. Not exactly a ticking time bomb scenario, and the unspecified "cost of not torturing" you are referring to appears to be about zero in this setting.
5.22.2009 10:05pm
Constantin:
Well that settles it, then.

I do not think waterboarding is torture, and am glad we used it. But that doesn't mean I'm signing up for my turn on the bench. Any more than I want to spend a year in prison or have my face plastered in the paper as a pervert.
5.22.2009 10:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Commenterlein:

"Based on what we know so far, we tortured people to get evidence of a link between Sadam and Al-Qaeda that would have justified the Iraq invasion after the fact."

Let's say that's true for the sake of argument. That would be an unjustified act of war, but not the only kind of unjustified act. Bombing a civilian target with no military utility would be another. Just because some uses of torture are not justified does not mean all uses are.
5.22.2009 10:15pm
Cornellian (mail):
But sometimes torture needs to be used if the costs of not torturing come too high.

I think the fact that we beat the British during the Revolutionary War, the South during the Civil War and the Nazis during WW2, all without torturing the British, Southerners or Germans, suggests that perhaps your assumption that torture "needs to be used" is quite mistaken.
5.22.2009 10:16pm
RPT (mail):
Still waiting for Sean Hannity...
5.22.2009 10:16pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"... those who become the monster to fight the monster are still monsters."

Would you rather be a live monster or a dead saint?
5.22.2009 10:16pm
Gaius Obvious:
To my knowledge Mr. Pearl's murderers are not in custody.

Khalid sheik Mohammed, who is in custody at Guantanamo, and was waterboarded, admitted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl.

KSM: "I Beheaded Reporter Daniel Pearl"
5.22.2009 10:18pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Still waiting for Sean Hannity...

This probably scared him, or more likely FoxNews lawyers, off.
5.22.2009 10:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I think the fact that we beat the British during the Revolutionary War, the South during the Civil War and the Nazis during WW2, all without torturing the British, Southerners or Germans,..."

What makes you think all those wars were fought without ever resorting to some form of torture? After all after WWII the Allies did engage in brutal acts against both POWS and civilians with no military reason-- the war was over. For example see the book After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation. There are other books that provide similar information.

There's another distinction. In those wars we fought enemies who had similar creed-- even the Nazis did not systematically mistreat American POWS (they did mistreat Russians). But Japan provides a good counter example. Japan did torture American POWS, despite the fact that we did not torture their soldiers, at least on a systematic basis.

Finally winning a war without torture does not mean that we could not have lowered our causalities. Sometimes you can fight with one hand tied behind your back and still win.
5.22.2009 10:30pm
Shivering Timbers (mail) (www):
Would you rather be a live monster or a dead saint?

Since we all reach the same destination sooner or later, I think it does matter how we get there.
5.22.2009 10:33pm
Anderson (mail):
But Japan provides a good counter example. Japan did torture American POWS, despite the fact that we did not torture their soldiers, at least on a systematic basis.

Yes, and that's why Japan won -- because torture is such a valuable method of collecting intel.

A little reading will disclose to you that the Japanese generally tortured out of sheer brutality, and preferred more human methods when they actually had something to learn.
5.22.2009 10:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Khalid sheik Mohammed, who is in custody at Guantanamo, and was waterboarded, admitted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl."

But it sounds like Khalid was proud of his act, "I decapitated with blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, ..." and might not have needed any torturing. But if anyone deserves some torturing it's surely Khalid. Funny how liberal Jews are so tolerant of the people who want to destroy them. My people vex me.
5.22.2009 10:38pm
J. Aldridge:
Mancow wouldn't had suffered very much, really. He would had told his captors everything he knew and would been sent back to his cell.
5.22.2009 10:39pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

Funny, decapitation is historically considered to be a merciful method of capital punishment. La Guillotine was the epitome of that trend ...


No, Oren, the guillotine was adopted because traditional methods of beheading were incredibly inhumane. There are numerous recorded incidents of botched beheadings, where the executioner took multiple strokes to kill the condemned.

Pearl was not killed by guillotine.
5.22.2009 10:41pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Anderson:

"Yes, and that's why Japan won -- because torture is such a valuable method of collecting intel."

Japan lost despite the use of Kamikazes. Does that mean that Kamikazes had no military utility? Do you actually think that the Japanese military refrained from torture out of their respect for the laws of war?

You are trying to say that torture can never have utility in a military situation and that's pretty hard to believe.
5.22.2009 10:42pm
neurodoc:
Khalid sheik Mohammed, who is in custody at Guantanamo, and was waterboarded, admitted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl.

KSM: "I Beheaded Reporter Daniel Pearl"
Right, and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who amounts to an argument against life-without-parole for terrorists, was probably a co-conspirator in Pearl's murder. (Why does the Wikipedia entry describe Pearl as an "Israeli-American" when Pearl was a US citizen born in the US?)

Whether waterboarding is counted as torture or not, it bothers me not at all that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboarded multiple times. Indeed, if such means were not employed to extract all the intelligence that could be gotten from him, I would despair over our approach to the likes of KSM. Too bad we aren't privileged to know what information they got out of him so we could answer those who maintain that nothing useful can be gained through "enhanced interrogation techniques" (EIT).

One wonders whether this talk show host was more "sensitive" than those who had no near-drowning experiences as children. Reportedly, some of those subjected to waterboarding, including KSM, have been able to hold out for much longer than the 6-7 seconds that the talk show host managed before he bailed. They may go through something like SERE to prepare them for capture and EIT.
5.22.2009 10:51pm
Mike& (mail):
As far as I'm concerned it's torture. But sometimes torture needs to be used if the costs of not torturing come too high. Ask yourself-- would you prefer to be water boarded or step on a land mine? We do horrible things to people in a war, and I don't see why torture should have some kind of special status.

This is exactly right. War is hell. When the Air Force drops a bomb on a target, some people survive. They have third degree burns, missing limbs. The pain is way worse than waterboarding. Anyone who doubts this can go see some people in a burn unit. The pain is so intense that I don't even know how they survive.

Somehow, though, torture is "different." Drop a bomb on a target, thus imposing insane pain on people. That's just war. Make a guy think he's drowning, and suddenly you're a moral monster.

Why?
5.22.2009 10:52pm
RPT (mail):
I think Dr. H hit it right first: it's all about revenge.
5.22.2009 10:54pm
zuch (mail) (www):
I want to waterboard Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Dick Ctheney. I'd also like to attach electrodes to their genitals but my neurophysiology training didn't teach me how to make microelectrodes that small. Does that make me an evil person?

Cheers,
5.22.2009 10:55pm
zuch (mail) (www):
The SOB's that cut off Daniel Pearls head, or flew the airliners into the ground, or told them to do so, are the torturers.
Tu quoque. We're not as bad as HItler, yeah, hoo-rah!

Cheers,
5.22.2009 10:57pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

Just because some uses of torture are not justified does not mean all uses are.



Actually, both by US law and international agreement, there is no justification for torture. Period.
5.22.2009 10:57pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):



Would you rather be a live monster or a dead saint?

False dichotomy, a classic logical fallacy.
5.22.2009 10:58pm
zuch (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov:
Would you rather be a live monster or a dead saint?
Easy. A dead saint. And you?

Cheers,
5.22.2009 11:01pm
neurodoc:
Anderson: Yes, and that's why Japan won — because torture is such a valuable method of collecting intel.
There must be some smidgeon of logic in that, but damn if I can identify it.

Anderson: A little reading will disclose to you that the Japanese generally tortured out of sheer brutality, and preferred more human methods when they actually had something to learn.
So, the Japanese employed torture when they want to punish or amuse themselves, while when they "actually had something to learn" they "preferred more human (sic) methods"? What evidence to support that categoric assertion? How about vivisection, that was about the pursuit of scientific knowledge?

And though you quoted A. Zarkov ("But Japan provides a good counter example. Japan did torture American POWS, despite the fact that we did not torture their soldiers, at least on a systematic basis.") as if you were about to answer him, you then ignored his point.
5.22.2009 11:02pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Gaius Obvious:
Khalid sheik Mohammed, who is in custody at Guantanamo, and was waterboarded, admitted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl.
... and crucified Jesus, and offed the Romanovs, and kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.

Cheers,
5.22.2009 11:03pm
gdb (mail):
zuch said:
I want to waterboard Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Dick Ctheney. I'd also like to attach electrodes to their genitals but my neurophysiology training didn't teach me how to make microelectrodes that small. Does that make me an evil person?


In sum, yes it does. You are not in a position to extract lifesaving information, your intent is to simply inflict pain, and you have chosen to use this technique on someone for a personal, vindictive reason. That's the mirror of the line of questioning that AG Holder responded to that confirms that waterboarding is not, by definition, torture.
5.22.2009 11:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I want to waterboard Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Dick Ctheney."

What information do you want from them?
5.22.2009 11:12pm
neurodoc:
RPT: I think Dr. H hit it right first: it's all about revenge.
No, he's wrong, or your spin on his comment is wrong; it's not all about revenge. The only relevance to revenge is that many of us have much lesser qualms about waterboarding and the like when the subjects, e.g., KSM, are so deserving of harsh treatment.
5.22.2009 11:12pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
If you do it to your own guys, it isn't torture.

Now it turns out we do it even to hardened DJs.

It ain't torture.
5.22.2009 11:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Easy. A dead saint. And you?"

Since I don't believe in saints I'll go for the live monster because my notion of what it takes to make one a monster goes way beyond using torture for self defense against an implacable foe.
5.22.2009 11:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Actually, both by US law and international agreement, there is no justification for torture. Period."

Sometimes the law is an ass. Slavery was once legal.
5.22.2009 11:15pm
Derrick (mail):
What information do you want from them?


There links to 9/11?
5.22.2009 11:17pm
neurodoc:
zuch: Gaius Obvious:

Khalid sheik Mohammed, who is in custody at Guantanamo, and was waterboarded, admitted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl.

... and crucified Jesus, and offed the Romanovs, and kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.
So you don't think that KSM was in fact the person who beheaded Pearl or you don't really care whether he was? (And "proudly boasted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl" would be more informative than saying simply that he "admitted" it.)
5.22.2009 11:18pm
Mikey:
I think Zarkov's question about being "a live monster or a dead saint" hits a lot closer to the truth than many want to admit.

The way I'd ask it, is a little different: "what happens when the only way to prevail is for (at least some of) us to take actions indistinguishable from those of our enemies?"

Assuming for the sake of argument that such a situation arises, do we take the "moral high road" and sacrifice ourselves, or do we do what is necessary to prevail? And if that step becomes necessary, what do we do with ourselves afterward?
5.22.2009 11:19pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):
You would think after YEARS of debating torture, we'd be in capable of a more advanced discourse at this point. And yet the same points are brought over and over again by torture apologists, points which bear little relation to anything our government actually did. For example:


Then the USAF owes me big time for waterboarding me during my SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training.

Where do I collect?


Yes, you were subjected to a method of torture...to prepare you for torture. Your point defeats itself.


Let's say that's true for the sake of argument. That would be an unjustified act of war, but not the only kind of unjustified act. Bombing a civilian target with no military utility would be another. Just because some uses of torture are not justified does not mean all uses are.


This is a very odd argument to make in context. If you will recall, the entire justification for torture to this point has been to "save lives." Cheney continues to make that argument to this day. So an entire legal regime was constructed around the idea that torture-an otherwise horrifying and illegal act-was so necessary to save American lives that it MUST be used. And then lo and behold, we find out that actually, it was also employed in an attempt to obtain evidence to justify a war that some members of the Bush administration wanted beginning shortly after 9/11, evidence that was already believed to exist but needed confirmation via torture. So suddenly we go from "torture is necessary to prevent attacks and save lives" to "torture is necessary to establish our justification to invade another country." So it must be noted that when we're sitting around having discussions about the merits of torture, we should attempt to discuss what it was actually used for, and not simply what it COULD be used for in all sorts of hypothetical situations.
5.22.2009 11:20pm
neurodoc:
Derrick: What information do you want from them?

There links to 9/11?
Not nearly as important as information to help us apprehend others and/or otherwise foil their continuing efforts to inflict harm on us.
5.22.2009 11:22pm
Mikey:

So it must be noted that when we're sitting around having discussions about the merits of torture, we should attempt to discuss what it was actually used for, and not simply what it COULD be used for in all sorts of hypothetical situations.


Makes sense, although it would necessitate the Obama administration revealing whatever benefit was gained by the use of harsh interrogations. Thus far, they have not.

I say let us see it all--if you're going to reveal the ugly side, let us know the results, so we can determine "what it was actually used for." People who today support harsh interrogations/torture may change their minds if they learn the benefit was negligible.
5.22.2009 11:25pm
Loophole (mail):
I fail to see how torture could have any actual value in discovering the truth. A person being tortured will tell the torturer whatever it takes to stop the torture from continuing. This is much more likely to be what the torturer wants to hear than the actual truth (which may, in fact, be something that the torturer doesn't believe or doesn't want to hear).

That's why torture would be attractive to a regime trying to "prove" a desired conclusion.
5.22.2009 11:37pm
Adam B. (www):
If waterboarding is both (a) effective and (b) not torture, then why didn't we do it on more than three people?
5.22.2009 11:40pm
mcbain (mail):

Sometimes the law is an ass. Slavery was once legal.


justifying torture by bringing up slavery. beautiful.

sometimes when you really, really, really need a pyramid there is only one way to do it. too bad the law is an ass.
5.22.2009 11:41pm
Oren:

Mancow wouldn't had suffered very much, really. He would had told his captors everything he knew and would been sent back to his cell.

Unless they were convinced that he knew something that he didn't. In which case, who knows how long it could take.
5.22.2009 11:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"... justifying torture by bringing up slavery. beautiful.'

No read carefully. That's a response to the assertion that the subject is beyond debate because that's the law.
5.23.2009 12:00am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I have never once heard Cheney or his acolytes on this board say that the Germans, Japanese, Iranian mullahs, or Communists are also entitled to torture in defense of their realms. For them, it's the ICAT all the way. Their torturers also thought they were patriots with an excellent excuse for their brutality. Our excuses are not one bit better.
Do you actually think that the Japanese military refrained from torture out of their respect for the laws of war?
I'd say this proves the point: the Japanese and Germans were brutal. However, they found they got better intel with means other than torture. Torture's S/N ratio is poor, which is why its fetishists are always concocting fictitious ticking bomb scenarios where their perversion turns into heroism.

Incidentally, there is reason to believe that KSM's confession to beheading Daniel Pearl personally is false. Certainly there's no reason to think statements obtained by torture are true.
5.23.2009 12:00am
autolykos:

A little reading will disclose to you that the Japanese generally tortured out of sheer brutality, and preferred more human methods when they actually had something to learn.


I'm not going to claim to be an expert on Japanese interrogation techniques, but I'm pretty sure that's not true. I recall hearing one anecdote from a former Navajo-American member of the armed forces that the Japanese managed to capture. He recounted brutal torture (including making him stand barefoot in the snow for hours at a time) as the Japanese tried to extract the Navajo code out of him. Of course, since he didn't know the code, he didn't have anything to tell them (except, for example, that the word they were trying to figure out was turtle - he had no idea that turtle was code for tank).
5.23.2009 12:02am
Owen Hutchins (mail):


Sometimes the law is an ass. Slavery was once legal.

Nice Red Herring. But most of the time, the law isn't an ass, and torture is wrong, and illegal.
5.23.2009 12:04am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"However, they found they got better intel with means other than torture."

How do you know that? Give us a reference. I find that hard to believe. I do think that torture will rarely produce good intelligence, but "rarely" does not mean never.
5.23.2009 12:19am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Nice Red Herring. But most of the time, the law isn't an ass, and torture is wrong, and illegal."

Ok the law is rarely an ass. But as I wrote above "rarely" does not mean never.
5.23.2009 12:21am
Relic (mail):
Loophole:
That applies more to binary questions (Are you guilty?) more than it does open ended questions. In binaries they'll say what the torturer wants (yes I'm guilty) to get the torture to stop. In open-ended questions the subject will give false answers instead. That is somewhat countered with the use of control questions, which is to say, questions the torturer knows the answer to. Also, the intelligence community and Mr. Cheney both seem to be of the opinion that waterboarding led to a capture of at least one other terrorist mastermind.

Adam B.:
It's time intensive and requires medical personnel on hand. Other interrogation techniques were used before waterboarding.

Lazarus:
When fictitious ticking time bombs are found to be real, the public, the media, and commentators on teh internetz get really, really, mad when they learn it could have been averted. Al Qaeda is an active terrorist organization who clearly intends to pull off another attack on American soil. Feel free to die, but it's not just your life your wagering.

autokylos:
Care to tell me how they knew he was a Navajo? I find it difficult to tell the various tribes apart based on physical features alone. I doubt the Japanese would be able to tell a Native American on sight, let alone what tribe he was from.

Further:
Can we get a better definition of torture than the one that's been floated here (pain inflicted to get information)? I can't think of a usable one that would include psychological techniques as a definite conviction. I also don't take "it feels like torture" as a good indicator.
5.23.2009 12:21am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Many of you make me laugh, crying and whining about the poor scum that we waterboarded. So what? F them.

A guy above answered the question "[w]ould you rather be a live monster or a dead saint?" with "[s]ince we all reach the same destination sooner or later, I think it does matter how we get there." In my view, I would like to prolong my final destination as long as possible, and the final destination of my fellow Americans. I have no sympathy for any of the scum we have in Gitmo, who would kill everyone in my city in a econd if given the chance. You people who scream about torute, you go right ahead. Enjoy that moral superiority you feel all you want. Believe me, if your hero Obama thought that waterboarding the scum in Gitmo was the difference between him getting re-elected or not, there would be no drinking water for anyone within 50 miles.

Lastly, you liberals who want to waterboard Limbaugh make me laugh. All he does is give opinions. Funny how you all of a sudden aren't as gung-ho on free speech when it isn't leftist tripe.
5.23.2009 12:24am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Sigh. Relic, turn off your TV. See? No ticking time bomb. Unless you count the LA bomb plot that was exposed before the waterboarding, but which the torture acolytes claim credit for anyway.

The ICAT prohibits torture in all cases "whatsoever". Do we mean what we say when we sign such treaties? Who gets to decide the exceptions? Only Team USA, or the other guys too?

Given the enthusiasm for torture shown here—largely retributive and not investigatory—maybe we should apologize to the Japanese and Germans and admit the ICAT was a big mistake.

The chief British interrogator of WW2 despised and rejected torture. But, what would he know compared to someone like Dick Cheney, meditating in his cave?
5.23.2009 12:31am
Albert:
"But sometimes torture needs to be used if the costs of not torturing come too high"

I support torture in some cases. Law enforcing agencies can not work without it. Torture is necessary for hardcore criminals. Without torture they will not admit their crimes against humanity and reveal their dangerous future plans. Hair loss treatment
5.23.2009 12:32am
zuch (mail) (www):
gdb:
[zuch]: I want to waterboard Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Dick Ctheney. I'd also like to attach electrodes to their genitals but my neurophysiology training didn't teach me how to make microelectrodes that small. Does that make me an evil person?
In sum, yes it does. You are not in a position to extract lifesaving information, your intent is to simply inflict pain, and you have chosen to use this technique on someone for a personal, vindictive reason....
Wow. Really? Nevermind that the CAT expressly forbid such regardless of motive. So anyone that didn't get "lifesaving information" is either evil or stoopid (along with those that ordered it). Nice to know.

But I'd point out that any desires I might have are not criminal. I'll let you know if I ever act on them, and then you can lock me up alongside of the folks that have been doing this stuff already. M'kay?

Cheers,
5.23.2009 12:49am
Loophole (mail):
Brian G - Your apparent support of torture (so long as it is only used on the people that "we" decide are "poor scum") reveals, I think, an unjustified confidence in our government's ability to decide who among them is really "scum."
5.23.2009 12:55am
Roger Schlafly (www):
This proves nothing, except that Mancow did not enjoy the experience. Was it painful? Did he have nightmares about it? How did it compare to other unpleasant experiences? Did it meet the criteria in the legal definition of torture?

Some people might say that being deposed is torture, but such an opinion has no legal significance.
5.23.2009 12:55am
zuch (mail) (www):
Brian G:
Lastly, you liberals who want to waterboard Limbaugh make me laugh. All he does is give opinions....
... and tell Republicans who step out of line or diss him to kiss his ... ring (whereupon they do that).
...Funny how you all of a sudden aren't as gung-ho on free speech when it isn't leftist tripe.
Chill out. It's not big thing. Limpballs has said it's just fraternity hazing for big boys.

Cheers,
5.23.2009 12:59am
GatoRat:
One big problem with this entire discussion is that the word Waterboarding is used to describe many different methods of interrogation. To put it another way, ask a hundred people to describe waterboarding and you'll end up with a hundred different descriptions, some of which would be very difficult to characterize as torture, others which would be viewed torture by just about everyone.

But, of course, this is the entire point of the posturing of the anti-torture crowd. Definitions don't matter; emotional arguments do.
5.23.2009 1:00am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The chief British interrogator of WW2 despised and rejected torture."

I suspect selection bias here. He got the kind of people and the kind of situations where torture would not be efficacious.
5.23.2009 1:00am
Relic (mail):
'Fraid I don't watch much TV. USA mostly, when I do. Again, what is your definition of "torture"? I know several techniques which would qualify, but all are far, far, more severe than waterboarding. We can't really have a meaningful conversation, or much of a conversation at all, if the definition of torture is "whetever I say it is".

Also: do you mean to imply that Al Qaeda is not a threat, and does not intend to attack the United States again? If yes, what do you base this belief on?
5.23.2009 1:02am
Loophole (mail):
Conservative/Libertarian Torture Supporters: How is it that the big bad government can be so incompetent when it comes to domestic issues, but yet infallible when it comes to extracting information from foreigners?
5.23.2009 1:05am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I really love when Roger Schlafly drops in with his torture quibbles. Here we have an admission against interest that it's torture, and he isn't satisfied. Now, the legal definition of torture doesn't stretch to undergoing a procedure for radio ratings or journalistic curiosity. The predicate
the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering
Looking at that video, I'd say we have severe suffering. (Soon "severe" will be vague, like "reasonable doubt" and other quaint terms.) And why I like seeing it from Schlafly is his own mother got her start in right-wing politics as a champion for Cardinal Mindszenty, who was allegedly tortured into a confession by the Hungarian Communists. And yet, he apparently had nothing more than a little sleep deprivation! Asked your mom to apologize to the Commies, yet? Or, as I have already pointed out, are we exempt from the rules?
5.23.2009 1:08am
Relic (mail):
Loophole:
Wrong once, or wrong most of the time, does not mean wrong all of the time. The foreigners in question were known to be high level terrorists from the start. It could therefore be assumed with certainty that they had valuable information. There are, as mentioned above, methods used to check how long it takes before real information could be expected to be revealed.
5.23.2009 1:11am
Relic (mail):
Lazarus:
Who?
OK, again, what's the definition of torture? Is battery "torture"? It has both pain and suffering, and in severe intensities. Is waterboarding torture under that definition, given that what occurs may be suffering, but isn't pain, in the sense that it's usually used? It's an extremely unpleasant sensation which, as mentioned above, triggers a primal fear instinct, but the body suffers no harm after, and no harm during. Not in the way that, say, electrodes to the genitals, force positions (is that the term?), or cutting fingers off would.
5.23.2009 1:17am
Gaius Obvious:
Care to tell me how they knew he was a Navajo?

Isn't that on the soldier's dog tag under 'religious preference'? It would say "Navajo" there wouldn't it? Since each tribe has different religious customs each tribe is its own religion.
5.23.2009 1:19am
Relic (mail):
Obvious:
Not all members of a tribe are members of the same religion. If my memory serves, the most common forms of worship were animism and ancestor worship. You would probably find a lot of Christians in the tribes too, given the efforts of the Europeans.
5.23.2009 1:25am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I suspect selection bias here. He got the kind of people and the kind of situations where torture would not be efficacious.
Save the data! Fantasize a situration which works! Perhaps you could supply us with examples of British (or American) anti-German investigators who got good solid intel from torture.

Have you noticed that the intel we were looking for was a false connection between Saddam and bin Laden?

It was not found useful to enumerate prohibited torture techniques, because it would be too easy to modify a technique and claim it was legal. The ICAT has a clear definition, though,
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession…
Now, as to whether waterboarding is torture, here we have an admission against interest from a victim. But that's not all, we have a history of stating waterboarding is torture when done by state police, by Japanese, and by the Khmer Rouge. In previous threads it's always asserted that Japanese waterboarding was more brutal, but this is all working backwards from a belief we can't be torturing. In practice, our methods were used by the Japanese (although not exclusively), and the picture of waterboarding in the Khmer Rouge torture museum is identical to our own apparatus. All in all, that's a strong case that there is more to Waterboarding is Torture than my say-so.
5.23.2009 1:27am
Loophole (mail):
Relic - I guess I just don't trust the government as much as you seem to. I'm not expert on the issue, but I believe we used torture-like methods on more than just a few high-level terrorists. We certainly physically degraded the men held in Iraq at Abu Ghraib. And I believe it has been established that some of the people at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib were innocent. Also, we tortured at least one American citizen who was detained for years without having the benefit of counsel or a hearing.

I find this to be an appalling, un-American disgrace. We are better than that, or at least we used to be. And, in any event, what is the point? It's pretty well accepted that torture isn't a good way to get accurate information. If we aren't getting anything of value, why risk abuses of power by our own agents, corrupting our stance as a civilized nation, enflaming the passions of our enemeies, and subjecting our own soldiers to revenge?
5.23.2009 1:27am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
adler:

Talk radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller had himself waterboarded on his radio program to see whether it constitutes torture.


That's a misrepresentation of what he intended. According to his own statement that you cited, he wasn't intending "to see whether it constitutes torture." It was his intention "to prove it wasn't torture." Not the same thing.

================
bowman:

Then the USAF owes me big time for waterboarding me during my SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training.


According the Senate Armed Services Committee, "the Navy is the only service that used waterboarding in SERE training" (link; see p. 93 in the pdf).

This isn't the first time we've heard surprising claims.

================
commenterlein:

we tortured people to get evidence of a link between Sadam and Al-Qaeda that would have justified the Iraq invasion after the fact


Small correction: the period of peak torture coincided with the peak period of lying about WMD. Waterboarding stopped in 3/03, virtually at the exact moment the war started. So it seems that we were mostly looking for false confessions to justify the invasion before the fact, not after the fact.

================
adam:

If waterboarding is both (a) effective and (b) not torture, then why didn't we do it on more than three people?


A good question. And here's a followup: if we need torture to keep us safe, why did Bush stop waterboarding in 3/03?

================
zarkov:

Japan did torture American POWS


Yes, and one method they used is waterboarding. And when the Japanese did waterboarding the way we did it, we called it torture and we prosecuted them. Now that we've done the same thing, should we apologize to them?

Sometimes the law is an ass.


The Convention Against Torture was signed by the US during the Reagan administration, and Reagan proudly announced that. I guess that makes Reagan an ass.

Anyway, if you think this "law is an ass," then the proper response is to change the law, not break it. That is, if you respect the rule of law.

================
gaius:

Khalid sheik Mohammed, who is in custody at Guantanamo, and was waterboarded, admitted that he was the one who beheaded Daniel Pearl.


If I waterboarded you 183 times, I could probably get you to make the same confession. See here:

There's never been evidence corroborating Mohammed's involvement in Pearl's murder -- other than Mohammed's confession, which came after, not before, he was tortured.

As Lawrence Wright wrote in the New Yorker last year: "Among the things that Mohammed confessed to [after being waterboarded] was the murder of Daniel Pearl. And yet few people involved in the investigation of Pearl's death believe that Mohammed had anything to do with the crime; another man, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was convicted of killing Pearl."

In fact, Peter Bergen wrote in the Washington Monthly that Mohammed's claim of killing Pearl is the single best illustration of the unreliability of confessions gained by torture: "According to a Western official who was deeply involved in the Pearl investigation, there is simply no evidence that KSM killed him."


I see Andrew also pointed this out.

================
neuro:

Too bad we aren't privileged to know what information they got out of him [KSM]


I guess you haven't bothered reading the OLC torture memos. They do indeed make claims about "what information they got out of him." Trouble is, those claims require a belief in time travel.

The idea that we got valuable information via torture is a fantasy:

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.


If torture ever saved any lives, we would have seen proof of that ages ago.

many of us have much lesser qualms about waterboarding and the like when the subjects, e.g., KSM, are so deserving of harsh treatment.


If people who commit violence against us are "deserving of harsh treatment" (i.e., torture), does that mean it was proper for Vietnam to torture McCain? Or was it only proper if his bombs were killing civilians? Or what if his captors thought he had valuable military information they could use to defend themselves? Would that have made the torture OK?

================
mike:

Somehow, though, torture is "different." Drop a bomb on a target, thus imposing insane pain on people. That's just war. Make a guy think he's drowning, and suddenly you're a moral monster. Why?


Because there's a fundamental moral difference between violence on a battlefield versus violence you commit against a person after they're in your custody and unable to defend themselves or escape.

It's amazing that this even needs to be explained.

================
gdb:

the line of questioning that AG Holder responded to that confirms that waterboarding is not, by definition, torture


"the line of questioning that AG Holder responded to" doesn't confirm what you claim it confirms.

================
eagar:

If you do it to your own guys, it isn't torture.


You're repeating the same bogus talking point even though you've already been shown proof that it's bogus.

================
mikey:

So it must be noted that when we're sitting around having discussions about the merits of torture, we should attempt to discuss what it was actually used for, and not simply what it COULD be used for in all sorts of hypothetical situations.


Makes sense, although it would necessitate the Obama administration revealing whatever benefit was gained by the use of harsh interrogations. Thus far, they have not.


The weirdness of your premise is expressed in the following question:

If there exist documents that prove that torture prevented attacks on the US, and those documents can be released without jeopardizing national security, why didn't the Bush administration release them before leaving office?


I wonder what your answer is.

The pro-torture crowd has already presented the best proof it could possibly find. Trouble is, that proof requires a belief in time travel.

================
autolykos:

A little reading will disclose to you that the Japanese generally tortured out of sheer brutality, and preferred more human methods when they actually had something to learn.


I'm pretty sure that's not true.


From a 1943 Japanese manual entitled “Notes for the Interrogation of Prisoners of War:”

Care must be taken when making use of rebukes, invective or torture as it will result in his telling falsehoods and make a fool of you. The following are the methods normally to be adopted: (1) Torture which includes kicking, beating and anything connected with physical suffering. This method is to be used only when everything else fails as it is the most clumsy one. Change the interrogating officer when using violent torture, and good results can be had if the new officer questions in a sympathetic manner.


From a 1963 CIA interrogation manual:

...the threat to inflict pain . . . can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain....In general, direct physical brutality creates only resentment, hostility and further defiance


See pdf, p. 12.

By the way, one of the many false claims made by Cheney et al is that torture was "used only when everything else fails." There's lots of evidence contrary to this claim.

================
zarkov:

However, they found they got better intel with means other than torture.


How do you know that? Give us a reference. I find that hard to believe. I do think that torture will rarely produce good intelligence, but "rarely" does not mean never.


I just cited Soufani.

I don't think anyone can prove that we got no valuable information from torture. After all, it's sometimes possible to get valuable information from a stopped clock, or from Ouija board. But there is a distinct lack of evidence showing that we ever got anything from torture that we could not have gotten without torture.
5.23.2009 1:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
relic:

the intelligence community and Mr. Cheney both seem to be of the opinion that waterboarding led to a capture of at least one other terrorist mastermind


Could you be more specific? Because the pro-torture crowd has a distinct track record of making shit up. For example, NR has claimed that waterboarding KSM helped us capture Padilla. Trouble is, the latter was arrested before the former. More time travel. Let me know if NR ever runs a correction. (By the way, both arrest dates were public information at the time that article was written.)

Can we get a better definition of torture


There are many ways to answer that question, but here's one: it's torture if we said it's torture when someone else (i.e., the Japanese) did it to us.

And let me ask you something about your personal definition of torture. Let's say I shackle you in a standing position so you are continuously deprived of sleep, and forced to remain standing. Given a sufficiently long duration, could that ever be considered torture? How long before you call it torture? How many hours? 10? 100? 1000? 10,000?

We can't really have a meaningful conversation, or much of a conversation at all, if the definition of torture is "whetever I say it is".


We can't really have a meaningful conversation, or much of a conversation at all, if the same procedure is called torture when someone else does it, but not when we do it.

do you mean to imply that Al Qaeda is not a threat


If AQ is such a terrible threat that we can't survive without torturing people, why did we stop waterboarding in 3/03?

The foreigners in question were known to be high level terrorists from the start.


Let us know when you're in a position to demonstrate that we only tortured "high level terrorists." Dilawar was tortured to death even though we thought he was innocent.

It's an extremely unpleasant sensation which, as mentioned above, triggers a primal fear instinct, but the body suffers no harm after, and no harm during. Not in the way that, say, electrodes to the genitals


I can attach electrodes to sensitive parts of your body in a way that does no permanent physical harm. Does that make it not torture? I can also sodomize you in a way that does no permanent physical harm. Also not torture?

Please note that these techniques are implicitly permitted by the OLC memos.
5.23.2009 1:30am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Relic, I'm not sure electric shocks to the genitals cause permanent physical harm. In any event, permanent physical harm simply isn't a necessary condition for torture. (I suspect waterboarding interrogations may cause permanent psychological harm.)

In a previous thread, Anderson, Jukeboxgrad, and myself never got an answer to why, on the "permanent physical harm" and "pain to the level of organ failure" (Yoo/Bybee) definition, forced sodomy of prisoners would be torture. You can try too.
5.23.2009 1:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schafly:

This proves nothing, except that Mancow did not enjoy the experience.


What's been proven is that his knowledge of the subject is superior to yours. Unless you want to get in line and then tell us it was simply something you "did not enjoy." And since his knowledge is greater than yours, a reasonable person will pay attention to him and ignore you.

================
gatorat:

One big problem with this entire discussion is that the word Waterboarding is used to describe many different methods of interrogation


One big problem with your premise is that you're ignoring the plain fact that when the Japanese did waterboarding the way we did it, we called it torture and we prosecuted them. Not some other way. The way we did it.

Except I don't think there's any evidence that they ever did it 183 times to one person.

And the way we shackled people for long periods was also torture.
5.23.2009 1:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
andrew:

In a previous thread, Anderson, Jukeboxgrad, and myself never got an answer


There's a long list of questions that the pro-torture crowd is too cowardly to answer. Here's one of my favorites: if a future enemy waterboarded an American 183 times, would you refrain from accusing that enemy of torture? Would you defend that enemy's right to claim that they had only used "enhanced interrogation techniques," as defined and approved by the good old USA?

That question has been asked many times, but I've never seen an answer. Even though I've read thousands (literally) of comments here regarding torture.
5.23.2009 1:42am
11-B/2O.B4:

Assuming for the sake of argument that such a situation arises, do we take the "moral high road" and sacrifice ourselves, or do we do what is necessary to prevail? And if that step becomes necessary, what do we do with ourselves afterward?



Not at all. Here's what you do. First, banish from your mind the possibility that you, personally, will do a damn thing. You will give money to a vast bureaucracy, which will pay young men ~$.98 per hour to kill/capture/interrogate your enemies for you. We'll do our best, most of the time, to get the right people, but the fog of war is thick, and in a war, shit happens. Sometimes our guys get overzealous, and we have to reign them in. We do this on our own. Your "choice" is a false one, because it's not one you have to make. The only choice that is yours is whether or not you're going to Monday-morning-quarterback the actions of people whose training exceeds yours, and whose conditions and instructions you couldn't possibly understand.

We are the original "department of homeland security", the US military. It is right and proper for the political process to decide who they want us to destroy, but it is the lowest of political cowardice to presume to tell us how to do our jobs.

As for us, ain't no saints in the Infantry.
5.23.2009 1:44am
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):
Wow... so many small people in this thread who want to piss all over Reagan's shining city upon a hill.

Some lines should not be crossed by civilized nations under any circumstances. This was one of them. And every mealy-mouthed defense of barbarism that gets tossed out there, by Dick Cheney on national television or by some thuggish shmuck in a comments thread, just shames the country further.
5.23.2009 1:46am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Indeed, JBG, I brought back that oldie-but-goodie upthread. I do believe, though, that we have made some progress in that half of the Cheneyites have admitted waterboarding is torture, just that Al Qaeda are such terrible people that we should inflict it on them (no matter what the stupid law says). I usually read this and assume their uncles agreed that gassing was genocide but that the Judeobolsheviks…
5.23.2009 1:47am
Relic (mail):
Lazarus:
So it's only torture if they ask a question after the session? You're source relies on emotional arguments to make his psychological trauma case. KSM clearly wasn't all that fazed by it, since he, by his own admission, went under the treatment 183 times. He also neglects that the Japanese who were tried for torture did far worse than the water cure to people who were legitimate POWs. The status of terrorists who do not belong to the armies of any nation, signatories of Geneva or not, means that the case for giving them POW status is debatable at best. Your working from the belief that it IS torture, they work from the belief that it's not, your really no different. Our practices do differ from the Japanese in these respects: the mouth and nose are protected by a piece of cloth or plastic, we inform the waterboardee that he will not die, and we have medical personnel both controlling the use of the practice itself and close by in case of emergencies.

Lazarus:
The federal government has two jobs- to ensure cooperation between the states and to protect the states from foreign threats. It should be doing these jobs. Your assertion that Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are synonymous is just atrocious. Compare the activities that occurred at both facilities. It should be readily apparent that the comparison is apples to oranges.

I find you childish and overly emotional. "We" weren't and aren't anything. "We" includes serial killers, serial rapists, child rapists, regular murderers, and regular rapists. "We" are a collection of jackasses, by and large unconcerned with the fates of our fellow man. "We" are also a collection of farmers, scientists, preachers, and politicians. You are not a nation. We declare ourselves "American", but do not agree what that term means. I don't really care what happens to you. You don't really care what happens to me. But you DO care what happens to these cuddly terrorists. You don't care that they're out to destroy both you, your community, and your nation for no other reason than your refusal to believe in what they believe in. It upsets you that these people may have experienced some emotional damage? IN A WAR? Really? If you found out that there was simply no other way to gain this information other than harsh interrogation techniques, would you change your mind? If you found out that every non-"torture" technique that could reasonably be tried had occurred before waterboarding would you change your mind? Or would you sentence thousands of your fellow citizens to death for no other reason than the sake of your conscience?
5.23.2009 1:56am
John Moore (www):
Well, I see the anti-waterboarding moral posturers have dragged out all the usual tropes:
We didn't torture in our other important wars, and we won them
Not true, and invalid parallel.

If we don't torture them, they won't torture us

Total BS


It's illegal (by my definition and my favorite legal expert a, b, c), therefore its evil

Inverted logic

Wateboarding is torture because [x,y,z] say it is

How do they compare it with fingernail extraction and severe beatings?


You can never get valuable intel from torture

One of the most common, and most laughable, fallacies


Waterboarding makes us as bad as our enemies

You can't really believe that


Abu Ghraib is related to the torture controversy

A way to justify all sorts of assertions about waterboarding (it helped recruiting terrorists, etc), except Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with it,


I can find an expert to say X, you cant

It is a lawyer blog, after all
5.23.2009 2:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
11-B/2O.B4:

it is the lowest of political cowardice to presume to tell us how to do our jobs


Let us know what kind of "political cowardice" it takes to blame abuse on "a few bad apples," when it was actually an official policy, approved by the torture enablers at OLC.

And I thought you would never reappear. Why did you disappear when I asked you to tell us how many times you had been waterboarded? And are you going to finally answer that question?

===================
andrew:

I brought back that oldie-but-goodie upthread


Yes you did raise the issue, but I think you could have been less subtle. I like to present the issue in the form of a direct question.

we have made some progress in that half of the Cheneyites have admitted waterboarding is torture, just that Al Qaeda are such terrible people that we should inflict it on them


It is progress, because we're getting closer to the truth. More and more people are revealing that they condone torture not because it's good at getting information, but because they seek to impose revenge and punishment.
5.23.2009 2:02am
John Moore (www):
Loophole (mail):

Conservative/Libertarian Torture Supporters: How is it that the big bad government can be so incompetent when it comes to domestic issues, but yet infallible when it comes to extracting information from foreigners?

Easy. Even Libertarians recognize you need a government to provide police powers (and the more sensible ones recognize national defense). That means you are entrusting government, fallable though it is, with the power to capture, detain and kill people, and to wage war with terrible weapons. Next question?
5.23.2009 2:04am
Relic (mail):
jukeboxgrad:
K, I'll give you an answer. There are two things I care about the enemy doing, dying or surrendering. If they waterboard in the same way we waterboard, then no, I wouldn't say that they are torturing them. But really, I don't care what they do. I care what we do. You don't either.
5.23.2009 2:05am
Linda Mae (mail):
Wow! Does this mean new legislation making it illegal for kids to continue to throw each other into the pool? No more cannonball jumps? No more diving under water to grab your friend's ankles and pull him under? No more squirt guns? No more spraying your friends with a garden hose? No more romantic scenes in movies, TV shows and "trashy" romance novels when the hero pulls the girl under water and ....well. I loved the scene with was it Kirk Douglas and Deborah Kerr on the beach in the surf? No more bobbing for apples?

I suggest readers find the Red Museum - it reviews what Saddam Hussein did in his torture. To me, if one lives, it is not torture to be compared to one who dies. Or has fingers, toes, eyes, ears, genitals still where they are supposed to be.

To call waterboarding torture is to demean what is done in countries which do torture and inflame what was done here to 3 - remember - 3 - prisoners of war who had info we needed. I do not apologize for that. I do, however, express my disgust to those who do call water boarding torture and put it into the same category of behavior as was done by Saddam. To remove one's head is the most severe example. A Japanese soldier was tried for war crimes. He "water boarded" with sand, did a little kicking and punching and bone breaking, burning, and a few more things which I won't go into here. It is on line if you want to see it. Also, check out the Red Museum in Iraq if you really want to be educated as what the world considers to be torture. Obama does us no good to put us into the same category with Saddam - Saudi Arabia (even though he bowed to their king), Hamas, and other countries who are guilty of such actions. Shame on him and shame on those who agree with Obama. Politics has no place in national security.
5.23.2009 2:06am
ValentinoRossi:
As a member of the Illinois General Assembly Barack Obama has supported partial birth abortion and denial of care for babies who are survivors of attempted abortions, yet he now declares that waterboarding of terrorists at war with America to be torture and not permissible. I don't understand.
5.23.2009 2:16am
Roger Schlafly (www):
What's been proven is that his knowledge of the subject is superior to yours.
Yes, and he says that it was way worse than he thought it would be. I accept that. But he only compared it to nearly drowning as a child. Maybe he has a phobia about drowning.

Because Mancow and Hitchens have this superior knowledge, it would be useful if they compared it to other things that are possibly torture. Without such comparisons, their stories do not add much to the political debate.
what was done here to 3 - remember - 3 - prisoners of war who had info we needed.
There weren't even prisoners of war. They were not uniformed soldiers. They were terrorist suspects.
5.23.2009 2:18am
John Moore (www):
Anton Sirius:

Wow... so many small people in this thread who want to piss all over Reagan's shining city upon a hill.

Some lines should not be crossed by civilized nations under any circumstances. This was one of them.

Wow... so many people with such a shrunken sense of proportion.

If you have any knowledge of history, you know that civilized nations do far worse all the time, when the need arises.

For a start, why is waterboarding a known or highly suspected terrorist worse than firing a missile into a civilian village in a country we are not at war with, based on possibly faulty intelligence that there is a high ranking terrorist there? Bush did it. Obama does it.

But hey, let's try out your views...

Al Qaeda, working with the Taliban, gets a Pakistani nuke (this is becoming more probable, unfortunately).

We know about it, but we don't know where it is.

Al Qaeda says they will set off that bomb in a major US city sometime in the next few months unless we all convert to Islam.

We capture a high ranking Al Qaeda guy who has been communicating with operatives (whom we haven't identified) in the United States.

You live in LA. You daughter lives in DC. Your parents live in Manhattan.

Shall we waterboard the guy, or just whisper sweet nothings in his ear?
5.23.2009 2:20am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schlafly:

he says that it was way worse than he thought it would be


That's not all he said. He said it was torture. Please let us know what makes your knowledge of the subject superior to his.

Because Mancow and Hitchens have this superior knowledge, it would be useful if they compared it to other things that are possibly torture.


That would only be "useful" if you're trying to claim that waterboarding isn't torture because some other form of torture is even worse. That's like saying I can rob your house and claim I'm not a thief because I stole less than Bernie Madoff.

Your standards are too low, but we already knew that.

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

Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with it


You are utterly shameless about making false claims (link, link). And this claim of yours is also false.

why is waterboarding a known or highly suspected terrorist worse than firing a missile into a civilian village in a country we are not at war with, based on possibly faulty intelligence that there is a high ranking terrorist there?


That asinine question was already asked and answered.

Shall we waterboard the guy, or just whisper sweet nothings in his ear?


That asinine question was already asked and answered.

================
relic:

the Japanese who were tried for torture did far worse than the water cure to people who were legitimate POWs


I see that you are someone else who repeats false claims even after they are shown to be false. When the Japanese did waterboarding the way we did it, we called it torture and we prosecuted them.

Our practices do differ from the Japanese in these respects: the mouth and nose are protected by a piece of cloth or plastic


I wonder what you mean by "protected." You seem to be asserting that water does not pass through the cloth. Trouble is, that assertion is false. And there is ample reason to understand that water enters the lungs (link, link).

we inform the waterboardee that he will not die


And why should they believe that? After you've been waterboarded, say, 100 times, and you've already dreamed up all the false confessions you can possibly imagine, and you find that they still want to do it again, it would be reasonable to suppose that this time they actually intend to kill you. It would also be reasonable to suppose that they're really just doing it for fun or punishment, and they don't care that much about whether or not you live or die.

And even if you truly believed that they truly wanted to keep you alive, it would be irrational to be overly confident about their ability to do this in a reliable manner. Accidents can happen, especially if someone is being repeatedly brought to the "verge of death and back again."

Given the number of prisoners who we tortured to death, these would he reasonable assessments on the part of the prisoner.

we have medical personnel both controlling the use of the practice itself


The Japanese also had doctors who participated in torture. So what?

Your assertion that Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are synonymous is just atrocious.


Then take your complaint to the 11 GOP Senators (i.e., 100% of the GOP Senators on the Armed Services Committee) who signed a report drawing the connection you deny.

If you found out that there was simply no other way to gain this information other than harsh interrogation techniques


There's no evidence that this fantasy scenario of yours has ever happened. But if it does, then the proper solution has already been proposed.

If they waterboard in the same way we waterboard, then no, I wouldn't say that they are torturing them.


Thank you for that answer. Now please answer my question about shackling.
5.23.2009 2:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
relic, I appreciate you stating your belief that waterboarding someone 183 times isn't torture, even if someone else was doing that to us. You should know that this belief puts you somewhere beyond the position of Jonah Goldberg:

Sounds Like Torture to Me … I think waterboarding someone 183 times in a month does amount to torture no matter how you slice it.
5.23.2009 2:33am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Relic, we aren't dealing with the Geneva Convention here, so whether the detainees are terrorists is immaterial. (Cheney did, by the way, want to waterboard a legitimate Iraqi POW to get fake intel about their link to Al Qaeda; the Army refused.)

Some of the Japanese we convicted had committed graver crimes. Some had not. The most serious charges Asano and (IIRC) Sakawa were basically our style of waterboarding.

I find it almost amusing that someone who dreams of scenarios to let his id run free calls others "emotional". The lizard brain at work.

It's not so much that I care what happens to terrorists, but that I want the government of which I am a citizen to follow the Rule of Law and to behave in a civilized manner. A government that tortures does neither. George Washington condemned the torture of British and Hessian prisoners. This isn't new, liberal weakness.

And, of course, we have to go back to the tired hypothetical that there was no other way to find the information. Back to the goddamn TV show. Except we have trained interrogators all over the place from many different wars—including the eventual chief interrogator for the Luftwaffe[!]—who say this isn't going to happen. Suppose the only way to save European Civilization was by massacring all the Jews… can I get to play the false dichotomy gotcha game, too?
5.23.2009 2:35am
John Moore (www):

It's not so much that I care what happens to terrorists, but that I want the government of which I am a citizen to follow the Rule of Law and to behave in a civilized manner. A government that tortures does neither.


Well, then move to Europe... they're civilized... oops, that's right, the Germans recently decided to torture that kidnapper, didn't they.

I want to live in a society with no criminals, no terrorists, and no looney liberals. Ain't gonna happen. Perhaps you shold learn to live with the reality of what it takes to actually survive in the world.


And, of course, we have to go back to the tired hypothetical that there was no other way to find the information.

Blah blah and then you dig up the usual cherry picked interrogators who say that THEIR way is so much better.

That's the tired argument - the preposterous implication that in all cases, other techniques will be more efficaciousthan water-boarding, or stress positions, or pink underwear, or whatever it is you think civilized nations don't inflict on those who threaten them.
5.23.2009 2:41am
Relic (mail):
Jukeboxgrad:

You missed it. I don't care. What they do is irrelevant. I'll explain it, real simple.
They want me dead because I don't believe what they believe. I don't want to be dead. Solution: Do nothing, because no aggressive action has been taken.
They start making good on this threat, and ram skyscrapers into buildings. This is starting to represent a threat to me, so I ask our government to take care of these people, preferably by killing them. I don't care how they die. I don't care how they felt when they died. I don't care what they do with the people they captured. I don't care how they feel about their treatment in prison. They signaled they will stop at nothing to kill me when they performed the afore-mentioned stunt with the airplane. They get two choices, stop or die. I'll say it again. I don't care what your sense of morals is. You don't care what my sense of morals is. All your interested in is stroking your ego and feeling better about the group you belong to. I don't care what the enemy does, and neither do you.

I would like to point out one thing though. The person who died with the pretend moral high ground while the person on the low ground survives is still dead. Moreover, the knuckledragger gets more influence on future policy. I'll say this one more time, it doesn't matter if you chose to die a saint if your actions or policies cost the lives of thousands of others.
5.23.2009 2:44am
w I Got a Free iPhone With Free iPhone Apps (mail) (www):
I was just now looking for info about this when I came upon your post. I'm simply visiting to say that I truly enjoyed reading this post, it's very well written. Are you planning towrite more on this? It appears like there's more depth here for more posts.
5.23.2009 2:46am
John Moore (www):
Oh boy, now we have a spammer (free iPhone guy - don't click on his link).
5.23.2009 2:47am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Yes, Moore, I prefer to live in a civilized place, and you prefer a sadistic one.

Oddly enough, there isn't any evidence that waterboarding makes us safer—that cherry-picked General Petraeus said it was a great recruiting tool for the bad guys. But it makes you feel tough, and that must be worth it. Try re-reading Himmler's Posen speech; it's full of the same sentiment.

Why don't you just go to Craigslist and find a submissive, sparing us the national embarrassment.
5.23.2009 2:47am
Relic (mail):
Lazarus:
You base your assertion that I dream of scenarios to "let my id run free" on?
5.23.2009 2:49am
John Moore (www):
Laz,

Yes, Moore, I prefer to live in a civilized place, and you prefer a sadistic one.

What does it say about you that you consider torture for intelligence gathering to be sadism?
5.23.2009 2:56am
John Moore (www):

that cherry-picked General Petraeus said it was a great recruiting tool for the bad guys

Abu Ghraib was a great recruiting tool for bad guys, which is one reason the press was utterly irresponsible in putting those photos all over the place for a couple of months.
5.23.2009 2:58am
Relic (mail):
Lazarus:
The world isn't a civilized place.
There's no evidence that waterboarding has made us less safe, either. You've cherry-picked your source and he's cherry picked his. Are you going to start a link fight now?
5.23.2009 2:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

the Germans recently decided to torture that kidnapper, didn't they


No, they didn't. But you're continuing your long track record (link, link) as a brazen bullshitter. No, the Germans didn't decide "to torture that kidnapper." They threatened to torture him (which may or may not fit a legal definition of torture, but it's different from what you implied, unless you want to concede that a threat of torture is a form of torture).

As a result of the threat of torture, the judge ruled that certain information gained was inadmissible. Another result is that the police chief who ordered the threat has been required to pay a fine of $14,400.

And speaking of Germany: they have issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents.

Perhaps you shold learn to live with the reality of what it takes to actually survive in the world.


It's no surprise that those who think that torture is required "to actually survive in the world" also feel the same way about making shit up.

What does it say about you that you consider torture for intelligence gathering to be sadism?


What does it say about you that you're still claiming that the purpose was "intelligence gathering," even though there's plenty of evidence that the real purpose was to produce false confessions for the purpose of selling the war?

And what does it say about you that you repeatedly invent your own facts?

Abu Ghraib was a great recruiting tool for bad guys, which is one reason the press was utterly irresponsible in putting those photos all over the place for a couple of months.


The photos weren't a recruiting tool. The abuse portrayed in the photos was a recruiting tool. And that abuse was a result of policies established at senior levels.

And when we hide the next batch of photos, we give the bad guys a platform to argue that we have something to hide. Hiding the photos doesn't make the problem go away. We make the problem go away by punishing the people who set the policy of abuse.

==================
relic:

They want me dead


You have said a bunch of things that have nothing to do with answering various questions I asked you. Maybe this is your way of letting us know that you intend to duck those questions.

There's no evidence that waterboarding has made us less safe


Actually, there is. People with actual military experience have pointed out that it is to our advantage for future enemies to believe that we will treat them humanely after they surrender. And they have also pointed out that our torture policy has already cost American lives.

Are you going to start a link fight now?


If you can present evidence to support the various claims you're making, I wouldn't call that "a link fight." I would call that helpful. But so far it seems that evidence is something that doesn't interest you much.
5.23.2009 3:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
relic says "there's no evidence that waterboarding has made us less safe." Let's consider an alternate perspective:

…there are more reliable and effective ways [than torture]. Resorting to torture isn't heroic, it's stupid. Reliance on it has resulted in strategic mistakes and has made the nation less safe. The torture chorus has yet to document a single instance of a "but for" success, and that refusal looks more and more like a criminal cover-up.

I taught interrogation and the law of war for 18 years to U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine interrogators. The truth is that torture is just as likely to lead to false information or no information, not solid intelligence. History is replete with victims who have refused to talk or lied or died under torture. American torture has killed or addled suspects who might have provided vital intelligence if interrogated humanely.

One problem with TV fiction is that viewers assume that if Jack Bauer can break some fingers and crack the case in an hour, anyone could. Unfortunately that is exactly the message that some have gleaned from this program. After watching torture work over and over again, some junior soldiers (and, sadly, some very senior policy makers who ought to know better) have copied the tactics they have seen on "24" and other action programs, according to evidence gathered by journalists and Human Rights First. Military educators have also reported that "24" is "one of the biggest problems" they have in their classrooms.

…I understand that Human Rights First brought Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the Dean of the Academic Board, US Military Academy at West Point, to Hollywood to talk to Kiefer Sutherland and the Executive Producers of the program. "I told them to stop showing torture in a way that suggests torture is effective," Finnegan told The New Yorker after the visit. To date, the producers of "24" have ignored Finnegan's request.…

For a look at what really works in the interrogation booth, I recommend a look at Matthew Alexander's book, "How to Break a Terrorist" or Eric Maddox's book "Mission: Blacklist #1." These interrogators - acting separately - developed the intelligence that led to al Zarqawi (the former head of Al Qaeda in Iraq) and Saddam Hussein. As their books show, what works in the field is patient interrogation tactics that depend on brains not brutality.


Hmm, let's see. Some guy on the internet named 'relic' thinks that torture hasn't made us less safe. On the other hand, David Irvine is a retired general who taught interrogation for 18 years. He disagrees with relic.

Kind of hard to figure out whose opinion should carry more weight. Then again, we could also decide to accept military advice from the guy who dodged the draft in a creative manner.
5.23.2009 3:26am
LM (mail):
Brian G:

Many of you make me laugh, crying and whining about the poor scum that we waterboarded. So what? F them.

First it was OK to break the torture laws because when bombs are ticking, survival is the operative rule. It was never clear how many bombs endangering how many lives it took to justify how many torture sessions, but "ticking time bomb" at least implied a narrow exception. I doubt the torture advocates had any idea what they were buying into defending when it inevitably came out that we had tortured much too long and often to claim we were stopping a ticking time bomb. So now the rationale is expanding to fit the facts. We're only giving the f'ers what they deserve, even if it debases our laws and values.

But that's an argument for punishment, not prevention. Are we really saying it's OK to punitively torture people who did terrible things (and we know this because they admitted it under torture)? That excuse wouldn't fly in a criminal court. Why should it here? Because of the ticking time bomb? No, we killed that argument by torturing some people so long it became a lifestyle. They don't make fuses that long. So if the legal/moral rationale isn't, "we just hate them so f'ing much, torturing them is OK because... Oh Shut up!" then what is it?

I have zero sympathy for KSM. Let him fry if he's convicted. What's more, I'm one of those people who does believe there could be a narrow justification for torture in a ticking time bomb scenario, should one ever exist. But Holy Slippery Slope Batman! Look what that argument has been turned into. We must have lynched some guilty horse rustlers, but I don't hear serious people claiming a place for that in civilized society. Why this? I'd expect self-described libertarians to think twice about turning a blind eye to government punitively (i.e., repeatedly) torturing anyone, much less people we haven't convicted, tried or even accused outside the court of public opinion.
5.23.2009 3:50am
Grover Gardner (mail):

I want to live in a society with no criminals, no terrorists, and no looney liberals. Ain't gonna happen. Perhaps you shold learn to live with the reality of what it takes to actually survive in the world.



Do you think we should torture criminals, then? That any police chief in any small town should be allowed to torture a suspect, provided he or she thinks the threat is serious enough? Talk about a society one wouldn't want to live in...
5.23.2009 3:51am
John Moore (www):

What's more, I'm one of those people who does believe there could be a narrow justification for torture in a ticking time bomb scenario, should one ever exist. But Holy Slippery Slope Batman! Look what that argument has been turned into


Yeah, we really slid. 3 terrorists waterboarded, when we really did have need to find out what was going on.

Waterboarded, not beaten, not dismembered, not subjected to fingernail extraction.

In 2002 and 2003, the ticking bomb scenario was realistic.

It will be against soon, whether it is the Iranian bomb, a stolen Paki bomb, or some other nasty plot the bad guys come up with.

It isn't a nice world out there, and there are folks who are very, very determined to do us grievous harm, and they have done it already.
5.23.2009 3:55am
John Moore (www):

Do you think we should torture criminals, then? That any police chief in any small town should be allowed to torture a suspect, provided he or she thinks the threat is serious enough? Talk about a society one wouldn't want to live in..

Well, I wouldn't want to live in that society. Nobody here has proposed it.

Got another straw man?
5.23.2009 3:56am
LM (mail):
... and who do I have to torture to keep my ID from switching back and forth (and how long haven't I noticed that it switched back to "LM"?)
5.23.2009 4:00am
Grover Gardner (mail):

For a start, why is waterboarding a known or highly suspected terrorist worse than firing a missile into a civilian village in a country we are not at war with, based on possibly faulty intelligence that there is a high ranking terrorist there? Bush did it. Obama does it.


Who's arguing that it's "better" to kill civilians based on faulty intelligence?

Do you think it's right?
5.23.2009 4:01am
John Moore (www):
Well, once again the moralists have failed to take the proportionality challenge.

Waterboarding 3 terrorists was an enormous blight on our society, apparently. Our new president fires missiles into civilian homes, without any judicial proceedings or warrants, and kills and maims innocents. The torture moralists are not in high dudgeon about that.

Figures.
5.23.2009 4:01am
John Moore (www):
Www. Time warp. In software, we call that a "race condition"

Grover, yes, I do think its right under the right circumstances.

What do you say about Obama's policy that I described?
5.23.2009 4:02am
John Moore (www):
LM:

... and who do I have to torture to keep my ID from switching back and forth (and how long haven't I noticed that it switched back to "LM"?)

The same guy who has caused my firefox to keep losing session cookies.

I think roasting over hot coals would be appropriate - ya agree?
5.23.2009 4:04am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Well, I wouldn't want to live in that society. Nobody here has proposed it.


On the contrary, you just did. You used the example of the German police chief to justify your position that we need to learn how to survive in the world.


Waterboarding 3 terrorists was an enormous blight on our society, apparently. Our new president fires missiles into civilian homes, without any judicial proceedings or warrants, and kills and maims innocents. The torture moralists are not in high dudgeon about that.


Maybe you missed that the President apologized for the most recent incident. And yes, a lot of "moralists" are in high dudgeon about drone bombings.
5.23.2009 4:15am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Grover, yes, I do think its right under the right circumstances.


I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you're referring to here. You think it's right to bomb civilians based on faulty intelligence?
5.23.2009 4:17am
Grover Gardner (mail):

It isn't a nice world out there, and there are folks who are very, very determined to do us grievous harm, and they have done it already.


You keep bringing this up as though 1) nobody knows that and 2) it somehow justifies abandoning our values as a society.
5.23.2009 4:30am
LM (mail):
John Moore:

Yeah, we really slid. 3 terrorists waterboarded, when we really did have need to find out what was going on.

How many time were they waterboarded, and over how long a period? And though I do assume all three were bad guys, if the purpose was to get life-saving information, why should that matter? If the Pope or the Dalai Lama withheld the same information, shouldn't we use the same techniques on them? If not, doesn't that mean the torture was at least partially punitive?

In 2002 and 2003, the ticking bomb scenario was realistic.

I've never heard of a time bomb fuse that burns from 2002 to 2003. This is exactly the sort of slippery slope I was referring to. You've taken an exception that's only justified as a last resort and only under extreme time pressure, and you've bootstrapped it into an all-purpose, whenever there's a potential threat, justification for whatever. It's the same reasoning that turned imagined WMD's into a ticking time bomb that justified invading Iraq.
5.23.2009 4:38am
LM (mail):
JM:

The same guy who has caused my firefox to keep losing session cookies.

I think roasting over hot coals would be appropriate - ya agree?

If that's why I constantly have to reset my Google preferences, I'd go with something stronger. Like, say, waterboarding.

(I know people who walk on hot coals for fun. I don't anyone who gets waterboarded for fun.)
5.23.2009 4:46am
AlanDownunder (mail):
Why distract ourselves by debating whether non-fatal enhanced interrogation is torture when cases of fatal enhanced interrogation are awaiting prosecution?
5.23.2009 5:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

It isn't a nice world out there, and there are folks who are very, very determined to do us grievous harm


That has always been true, and it's always going to be true. So if that's enough to make you wet your bed, you should get some rubber sheets.

There's also going to be an excuse for torture (and you vividly demonstrate the human facility for inventing such excuses). That's the whole point. While it's true that torture is generally less effective than other methods of getting information, it's important to understand why this doesn't matter:

The absolute prohibition on torture is not based on a consensus that it never works. Rather, it is based on the sad realization that the impulse to torture is ever-present; that human beings who are frightened or zealous or full of rage -- as human beings invariably are -- will feel a powerful need to torture and a powerful justification for acting on that need. It is useful to recall the understandable fear and anger after September 11 not to justify or excuse torture, but to understand that it is precisely at the moment of most stress that the norm against torture must be powerfully affirmed.

… Torture remains a constant across time and across culture. Equally universal is the human ability to wrap sadism in an overarching moral narrative. Torturers never assert that they take satisfaction in domination; that imposing cruelty assuages their anger; or that inflicting pain satisfies righteous anger against guilty outsiders. Torture is always presented as a sad necessity to a greater good. To recognize the power and ubiquity of the urge to torture is not to say that the articulated threats are not real. But history shows that torture always seems to be the solution and a solution imposed with increasing cruelty and frequency as panic and frustration increases. Can it really be the case that when Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was waterboarded for the tenth, hundredth, or hundred eighty eighth time that the interrogators or Vice President Cheney honestly believed they would obtain a better result that time than all the times before? …

There is an absolute prohibition on torture not because the impulse is alien to human nature but because it is so deeply familiar. When torture does not work, the urge is to turn up the voltage and to widen the dragnet. We do not allow torture in the ticking time bomb scenario because when the would-be torturer looks out on the landscape, he sees it littered with ticking time bombs and people who might know something about them. We do not balance the costs and benefits to see if torture works because there will always be some argument that can be made that it works or it might work or people believed at the time that it would. By refocusing on whether torture worked, Vice President Cheney wants to deflect attention from the fact that civilized legal systems make torture criminal precisely because we are ever tempted that it might work.
5.23.2009 8:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

3 terrorists waterboarded


It's hard to find a sentence of yours that doesn't contain some kind of lie or distortion. We tortured a lot more than just "3 terrorists."

when we really did have need to find out what was going on


The evidence shows that we tortured because "we really did have need" to produce false confessions in order to sell the war. And those false confessions were indeed used to sell the war. As Cato Institute observed:

Of Course It Was Torture … Imagine if, shortly after 9/11, someone had told you that the US government would adopt an interrogation policy based on Chinese Communist techniques designed to elicit false confessions. You'd have thought that person was pretty cynical. But he'd turn out to be exactly right. … Beaten savagely by Egyptian torturers, one victim of our "extraordinary rendition" program concocted a story about Saddam Hussein giving Al Qaeda WMD training. That story made it into Colin Powell's UN Security Council speech selling the Iraq War.


The evidence also shows that legal methods were producing results, and then when torture was introduced it "backfired."

Waterboarded, not beaten


We did indeed torture people to death via beatings (and other methods), and a bipartisan Senate panel has unanimously concluded that this abuse was a result of policies established at a senior level.

Our new president fires missiles into civilian homes, without any judicial proceedings or warrants, and kills and maims innocents. The torture moralists are not in high dudgeon about that.


This could have something to do with the fact that there's a fundamental moral difference between violence on a battlefield versus violence you commit against a person after they're in your custody and unable to defend themselves or escape.

======================
alan:

cases of fatal enhanced interrogation


We did indeed torture many people to death, and this is largely overlooked.
5.23.2009 8:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
relic:

the Japanese who were tried for torture did far worse than the water cure to people who were legitimate POWs


I already proved you wrong, but you should also realize that you're contradicting McCain. But you know more about torture than he does, right?
5.23.2009 9:41am
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
Could the blog address the following point?

Suppose waterboarding is torture, regardless of the motivation. Has this radio host thus conspired to commit torture (on himself) and is subject to the penalties of the federal statute?

The same point applies, of course, to the SERE training.
5.23.2009 9:57am
Anderson (mail):
Autolykos, upthread: I'm not going to claim to be an expert on Japanese interrogation techniques, but I'm pretty sure that's not true.

Sure, Japanese not trained in interrogation would torture for much the same reason as the torture fans in this thread claim they would. The guy on the street often thinks torture is more effective than it really is (see "24").

Darius Rejali, who knows more about these horrors than I hope to ever have to learn, writes:

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.
5.23.2009 10:09am
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
I've answered my own question, as far as getting off the radio host, if not the SERE program:

The statute is found http://assembler.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/pIch113C.html


(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

Now that I see it, I see that the radio host is exempt (not "under color of law") and the SERE waterboarding arguably so (not "under his custody or physical control"). It might also be that the military and CIA are exempt, by the "color of law" condition, since in doing this to foreigners I don't know if they are bound by normal law.
5.23.2009 10:14am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
eric:

Suppose waterboarding is torture, regardless of the motivation.


It doesn't really make sense to say "regardless of the motivation," because the legal definition requires a certain intent to be present:

“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering


So let's say I partially drown you as a result of installing bad plumbing over your cell. The pipes break and a lot of water pours on you. Not torture, because my acts were not "specifically intended" to inflict severe suffering. But when I waterboard you during an interrogation, my acts are indeed "specifically intended" to inflict severe suffering. The whole idea of interrogation via torture is that you are being coerced to speak in order to make the suffering stop. If I didn't believe that waterboarding caused you to suffer (because, let's say, I knew that you had been magically born with gills), I would have no interest in using the technique to interrogate you.

I see that the radio host is exempt (not "under color of law")


That's one reason he's exempt, but there are also other reasons:

- The Torture Act only applies outside the US
- He is a volunteer, which means he is not in anyone's "custody or physical control"

and the SERE waterboarding arguably so (not "under his custody or physical control")


There's nothing "arguably" about it. SERE trainees are volunteers, and they are free to stop the procedure at any time (just like the radio host). Therefore they are not in anyone's "custody or physical control." Also, the Torture Act only applies outside the US.

It might also be that the military and CIA are exempt, by the "color of law" condition, since in doing this to foreigners I don't know if they are bound by normal law.


No, "military and CIA are [not] exempt, by the 'color of law' condition." On the contrary. That condition ("color of law") means that you are acting on behalf of a government agency, and ostensibly exercising power granted to you by that agency. You are performing acts while having, or while pretending to have, some official status. So it most definitely applies to "military and CIA."

since in doing this to foreigners


The Torture Act makes no exception for "doing this to foreigners." Torture is torture, regardless of who the victim is.
5.23.2009 10:59am
rosetta's stones:

Some lines should not be crossed by civilized nations under any circumstances. This was one of them. And every mealy-mouthed defense of barbarism that gets tossed out there, by Dick Cheney on national television or by some thuggish shmuck in a comments thread, just shames the country further.


My friend, we crossed that line... many, many years ago.

It's funny to read the Pacific War being bandied about ahistorically in here, a war wherein the US government sanctioned firebombings that killed millions. Forget about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Long before that, the US air arm was going up and down the Japanese coastline, burning out cities completely, and overwhelming any possible lifesaving infrastructure.

They built mock ups in Nevada, based upon Japanese architectural methods, and developed the precise napalm formulation to incinerate that architecture.

That would be residential architecture, in case the point's not clear.

Look up that video of one of the pilots, describing the smell of roasting meat, at 20,000 feet of altitude.

This is what makes the shriekers in here stand out as zealotous... that they ahistorically excise their analysis from reality... and the data.

We crossed that line many, many years ago, my friend. We obliterated it.

And, we have been standing on both sides of it all along, I suspect. Such is the way, in war.

You might want to reconsider your shrieking, and shameless blather on this subject, because it isn't making the point you think... and it can't really do so.

There is certainly a case to be made against waterboarding, but I won't consider that case, because I don't favor such methods. But you're obtuse if you think that case includes some moral component by which you stand with the angels. You don't.
5.23.2009 10:59am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
In my time zone, relic and Moore, it was bedtime. Luckily for me, your sleep deprivation Internet flame war program hasn't gone into effect.

The contrast in argumentation styles here is telling. Juke, Anderson, and I are providing quote after quote from tribunal decisions, from military investigators in several wars and from several armies (Here is another one, our interrogator of Japanese POWs), fact-laden, link-laden stuff.

We're not speaking the same language as relic, Moore, and friends. We're talking past each other. They're living in an emotional world where we need to torture mostly to revenge the humiliation of 9/11 and to scare terrorists (not that torture has been known to scare terrorists, didn't work for the Nazis, but they're projecting their own timorous reaction on others). In their dangerous world, the fact we tortured people is proof enough that it was necessary to stop the ticking bomb, even though the ticking bomb, like the WMD in Iraq, has never been found. They can't point to actual benefits of torture—the CIA's first attempt was patently false, as it implied time travel backwards—but the world is a dangerous place and we can't really mean the ICAT. They crow we haven't taken up the challenge of refuting the plot of the latest 24, as if we also have to figure out how to stop the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. If Cheney were just on Celexa, this whole mess devised by the frightened would never have happened.

And I still don't see any admission that despite the no excuses "whatsoever" language of the ICAT, we would be as generous with others—say, Saddam Hussein—when they felt torture was necessary for defence of the realm. Saddam, indeed, was closer to the truth: his regime has fallen. It's difficult to imagine that happening to the Obama Administration, no matter what the hysteric Linda Mae thinks.
5.23.2009 11:08am
Roger Schlafly (www):
This thread seems to have provoked some Bush-hating anti-torture fanatics, but it hasn't told us anything about whether waterboarding meets the legal definition of torture. We learned that Mancow found that waterboarding was way worse than he thought it would be, but he might think the same about a supermax prison. Does Mancow's experience show that there is some error in the Yoo torture memos? If so, I would like to see it explained.
5.23.2009 11:19am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Incidentally, it's worth pointing out that Moore is more than willing to Blame America First, as long as it's not blaming Cheney-America.
Abu Ghraib was a great recruiting tool for bad guys, which is one reason the press was utterly irresponsible in putting those photos all over the place for a couple of months. [emphasis added]
Now, this is probably false: Iraqis knew perfectly well what was going on in Abu Ghraib from people who were released. For them, new boss, same as the old boss. (Sorry, Linda Mae, but them's the breaks.) When the photos came out, most Americans saw SGT Darby as a hero who was putting an end to the malefaction of a few bad apples. I'll credit Moore in one way: he realizes this wasn't really bad apples, but a program intended for spooks only that crossed over to a sadist-led batch of ordinary turnkeys.
5.23.2009 11:22am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Roger, tell us how, for you, we determine if Act X meets the ICAT definition of torture. Once you explain your criteria, we can try to meet it. As it is now, I think we're playing a guessing game and you're cheating. You haven't acknowledged, for example, criminal conviction of US Army, American State Police, Japanese, and (I believe) Khmer Rouge interrogators. On my planet, the judgment of these tribunals would have some weight, but I'd like to know the rules on yours.

While you're at it, ask your Mom if the very same techniques constituted torture when applied to Cardinal Mindszenty. Or is torture a mobile definition, that the same act is torture when inflicted on a Catholic prelate, but A-OK when done to a Muslim terrorist?
5.23.2009 11:27am
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):
@ rosetta's stone:


We crossed that line many, many years ago, my friend. We obliterated it.


Ah, I see. So because the US government did Very Bad Things before I was born, I have no right to be outraged over the Very Bad Things done in my name during my lifetime.

Do you mind if I come over to your house and steal everything you own? After all, people have committed and gotten away with robbery before, so you should have no complaints.
5.23.2009 11:34am
Anderson (mail):
and the SERE waterboarding arguably so (not "under his custody or physical control")

Yes, this seems to be the latest meme (Al at Yglesias's blog was trying it out yesterday).

SERE students are not in the "custody" of waterboarders, nor under their "physical control." They consent to being tied down, but they are not obliged to participate or to continue if they change their minds. If I have the say-so whether to be tied down or not, I am not under "physical control."

I doubt very much you can find a district court in this country that would hold SERE students to be victims of torture or under anyone's "physical control" during SERE waterboarding. And it certainly wouldn't hold up on appeal.
5.23.2009 11:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
rosetta:

It's funny to read the Pacific War being bandied about ahistorically in here


It's funny to read people who don't realize it's not 1945 anymore. During WWII the 1949 Geneva Conventions did not exist. Likewise for the ICAT, or the Torture Act. If you don't like those laws, then lobby Congress to change them. But until that happens, those laws are in force, and those who condone torture are undermining the rule of law. Why do you hate democracy? Because without the rule of law, there is no such thing.

Aside from that, past (alleged) crimes are no excuse for current crimes. You might as well claim that slavery is OK because we used to do slavery.

We crossed that line many, many years ago


Please describe the prior period in American history when torture of captives was an explicit policy, approved in writing at the highest levels. The one who is being ahistorical is you. There is a long tradition of American leaders condemning torture, going back to Washington. It took the Cheney regime to break that tradition.

if you think that case includes some moral component by which you stand with the angels


It's not a question of standing "with the angels." It's a question of standing with George Washington. It's also a question of respecting the rule of law.
5.23.2009 11:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schlafly:

it hasn't told us anything about whether waterboarding meets the legal definition of torture


Feel free to explain why we called it torture when the Japanese did waterboarding the same way we did it.

This question has already been raised in this thread, many times. You and all your ideological pals have pointedly failed to address it.

Does Mancow's experience show that there is some error in the Yoo torture memos?


Feel free to explain why the OLC torture memos never once mention the fact that there is a long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture (pdf). Does that fit your idea of a good faith legal analysis? I guess it does. But other people think an omission like that indicates an absence of good faith.

Doug Kmiec "was once head of the Office of Legal Counsel, during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush." He mentions this idea: the possibility that the memos were "crafted in order to support preexisting policies and acts." Kmiec made the same point elsewhere:

the look of the opinion — that it was written to justify after the fact — is a breach of the practice of that office


You should tell us what you know that Kmiec doesn't.

It's apparent that the memos were written specifically to provide cover for crimes that were already underway.
5.23.2009 11:36am
rosetta's stones:

So because the US government did Very Bad Things before I was born, I have no right to be outraged over the Very Bad Things done in my name during my lifetime.


The shrieking outrage expressed by some is out of scale with the actions against which they shriek, and as discussed above, is incongruous with actions sanctioned before and after they were born... as well as those sanctioned today... even if we don't include waterboarding.

You're imagining to claim some moral high ground, but there's none to claim. It's just ahistorical and obtuse.
5.23.2009 12:08pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Every time I read the torture apologists on this list, it convinces me more that we need criminal prosecution of the high-level civilians and military generals who put in place the torture regime for which low-level grunts were court-martialed, served time, and dishonorably discharged.

I see no situation where torture of someone in the custody and control of our forces is a good thing.

The distinction between what happens on the battlefield when you are attempting to reach a military objective against hostile forces and what happens when a person is captured by hostile forces would seem a pretty fundamental and basic difference of circumstance. If folks on this list can not see the difference between when you are shooting at somebody and when you capture them and they are completely in your control, then seems like people are willing to be barbarians out of fear. It is pitiful.

Best,
Ben
5.23.2009 12:14pm
MarkField (mail):

If folks on this list can not see the difference between when you are shooting at somebody and when you capture them and they are completely in your control, then seems like people are willing to be barbarians out of fear. It is pitiful.


What really stands out in these threads is the level of whimpering fear displayed by the torture apologists. They're like the little children of Rome, terrified for generations with "Hannibal ad portam". Thank god that progress has given them Depends and rubber sheets.

Patrick Henry is rolling over in his grave at the sheer cowardice of it.
5.23.2009 12:25pm
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):

You're imagining to claim some moral high ground, but there's none to claim. It's just ahistorical and obtuse.


You (choose to) completely miss the point. That 'moral high ground' is a set of ideals for which we should always strive. The fact that we've fallen short in the past doesn't mean we should stop trying to live up to them -- if anything, it means the exact opposite.

I can claim a moral high ground because I am a citizen of a country that has staked out that moral high ground, both through recognition of natural law (those 'inalienable rights' some guy wrote about a while back) and through a codified tradition of societal laws. We don't cede that high ground when our government breaks those laws. We cede it when those laws are broken and nothing is done about it.

That's the way the law -- and moral authority -- works. It requires enforcement, otherwise it is meaningless. There's no magical Morality Fairy waving her wand and granting people that high ground. You have to fight to keep it.

If you personally feel that the WWII fire bombings were violations of those laws that require belated enforcement, you are free to start a campaign to try and accomplish that. My efforts are directed elsewhere, for the reasons I stated above.

Right now though, all you're doing is pissing on Reagan's shining city upon the hill.
5.23.2009 12:41pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
The commentors who note that WW2 was a long time ago and under different laws are correct. What makes WW2 relevant though, is that most of those same commentors are taking the position that Franklin Roosevelt and 99% of other Americans were guilty of atrocities for which they should have been imprisoned for many years(if only our modern laws had been in force).

This is in place with the general liberal rejection of American civilization, as being, for the vast majority of history, a culture unworthy of being called civilized, one of which we should all be ashamed. Note that the rejection is not of policies that were controversial at the time-- e.g., the Japanese-Americans internment-- but of policies that commanded univeral support and thus can be said to fully represent the American vision.
5.23.2009 1:06pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Mark Field writes
What really stands out in these threads is the level of whimpering fear displayed by the torture apologists.
No, no, Mark. They’re the tough guys, because they’re willing to forfeit the moral high ground for the tough things that need to be done to save Aryan Civilization from the ever-ticking bombs.
I want to also mention a very difficult subject ... before you, with complete candor. It should be discussed amongst us, yet nevertheless, we will never speak about it in public. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30 to carry out our duty as ordered, and stand comrades who had failed against the wall and shoot them -- about which we have never spoken, and never will speak. That was, thank God, a kind of tact natural to us, a foregone conclusion of that tact, that we have never conversed about it amongst ourselves, never spoken about it, everyone ... shuddered, and everyone was clear that the next time, he would do the same thing again, if it were commanded and necessary. I am talking about the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people…But altogether we can say: We have carried out this most difficult task for the love of our people. And we have suffered no defect within us, in our soul, or in our character.
I mean, Mark, from whom should Americans take their cue on torture? From George Wussington, or from real men like Jack Bauer and Nathan Jessep (what?! they aren’t real? well, no matter…).
5.23.2009 1:08pm
rosetta's stones:

"I can claim a moral high ground because I am a citizen of a country that has staked out that moral high ground..."


...no country can stake out "moral high ground"... and those who staked out this country knew that best. Your shameless attempts to do so expose you as one of the obtuse shriekers, both ahistorical and obtuse to what is happening around you today, even as you shriek over matters far further down on the shriekability scale.

And by the way, the scale is scaled in corpses, both today's and yesteryear's.
5.23.2009 1:08pm
PamelaPeft (mail) (www):
hi, thanks,The article was very well written, very helpful to me
5.23.2009 1:11pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
Thank you, those who pointed out carefully why the torture statute doesn't apply to SERE and the radio host. But I'm still unclear on some points.

Suppose we had SERE training going on in Europe. Would that be covered by the statute?

Voluntariness does not enter into the definition of the crime. "custody or physical control" is the key. If a prisoner in Afghanistan volunteered to be waterboarded, and waterboarding is torture, the prisoner is still under custody of the government and so the statute would still apply.

This is not unreasonable, because voluntariness is not a defense for lots of crimes. That you volunteer to be cannibalized does not eliminate the crime, for example.

Thus, the question is whether a soldier is under custody or physical control of the government. Those are terms of art in law, so I don't know the answer.
5.23.2009 1:12pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Eric R., let's just look at the beginning of the ICAT. Emphasis added.
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
Training soldiers to resist (unlawful) enemy interrogation is not one of the reasons necessary to establish the act is torture. (I think the issue of consent, while obviously also a reason to believe SERE is not torture, is less evident from the plain language of the ICAT.)

Unless you are also prepared to argue that we must prosecute police who buy drugs, or sell SAM missiles, as part of an undercover sting operation, I'd suggest defending torture with some better arguments. And saying I believe FDR was a war criminal is not one of them. I have no such belief; it is simply an illogical allegation hurled by bullies unable to admit that US Government affection for torture is newly-found under Cheney and not traditional.
5.23.2009 1:20pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
rosetta:

actions sanctioned before and after they were born … It's just ahistorical and obtuse


The one who is being "obtuse" and "ahistorical" is you. When did any president prior to the Cheney administration ever issue an official policy explicitly approving the torture of captives? Answer: never. Notwithstanding your "ahistorical" insinuations. You're continuing your regular practice of making claims contrary to reality.

==============
eric:

Franklin Roosevelt and 99% of other Americans were guilty of atrocities


"99%" of Americans helped FDR carry out atrocities? Really?

policies that commanded univeral support and thus can be said to fully represent the American vision


Slavery also once "commanded universal support" (or support at least as universal as the support for interning Japanese-Americans). Does this mean slavery "can be said to fully represent the American vision?" I guess to you it does.

Your standards are too low, but we already knew that.

the question is whether a soldier is under custody or physical control of the government


The answer to your question is no, because a volunteer soldier trainee is obviously not in anyone's "custody or physical control" (and that's part of how torture is defined in the Torture Act).

And as andrew explained, ICAT defines torture in a manner that excludes training.
5.23.2009 1:27pm
Ethesis (mail) (www):
Timbers


Would you rather be a live monster or a dead saint?


Is really the essence of it all.

Xanthippas

You would think that given the number of studies about Viet Nam and what the VC did not gain by torture, and that the North did not obtain from torture, that we would have a better handle on how useless torture is, all in all.

Lazarus

I am amazed by people's inability to appreciate the reasons that people who had no qualms about torture used other methods when they wanted real information. /Sigh.

Moore


Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with it


You got that right. Abu Ghraib was nothing more or less than prison guards gone wrong. Happens all the time. It is a complete side show to the other issues.

jukeboxgrad

Thanks for the links.

-----------------------------------------------------

I think part of the problem is that the difference is between torture and intimidation. Torture fails. Intimidation often works, but the essence of it is the threat not the carrying through of the threat.
5.23.2009 1:41pm
Pamelaspat (mail) (www):
great post hope to see some additional comments next Tuesday…kisses
5.23.2009 2:00pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Do you think we should torture criminals, then?'

According to the norms of the GC, we do that every day around the clock.
5.23.2009 2:26pm
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):

...no country can stake out "moral high ground"... and those who staked out this country knew that best.


Interesting. So your opinion, fundamentally, is that those British colonists in the 1700s had no moral authority by which to rebel against their monarch. All that high-falutin' talk about "inalienable rights" and "establishing justice" and what not is just babble, but might makes right and they won so no one bothered to call them on their BS. Until you did, just now, of course.

The words this country were founded on are as meaningful as you want them to be, rosetta. I find it sad and pitiable that you've chosen to read them as hollow.
5.23.2009 2:33pm
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):
@ Harry Eagar


According to the norms of the GC, we do that every day around the clock.


I'm hoping, if there's any good to come out of a national conversation over "what is torture, anyway?", it's that we stop the (mis)use of solitary confinement in our prison system.
5.23.2009 2:36pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Recruiting tool? Please. I am sure Johnny Jihadi loved America until he read about Gitmo, and then all of a sudden became a radical America-hater who wanted to blow himself up and take as many Americans with him.

Only a dope actually believes that recruitment nonsense. I am sure that 99% of the people who say it don't believe it, but because it fits the narrative that America sucks, they use it.
5.23.2009 2:37pm
rosetta's stones:
Well no, AS, that's just a bunch of strawman nonsense that you fantasize as my belief. The obtuse are prone to fantasy.

The founders knew they held no "moral high ground", and more importantly, that no system of government they'd develop could have a "moral high ground", and so set about their work of curtailing the power of the one they did develop. Your failure to recognize this is just additional of your obtuseness, and ahistoricalism.

But carry on, with your fantasy and shrieking.
5.23.2009 2:46pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
[jukeboxgrad] Feel free to explain why we called it torture when the Japanese ...
Have you tried asking the folks who called it torture? Maybe they can explain it to you.
5.23.2009 2:49pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Recruiting tool? Please. I am sure Johnny Jihadi loved America until he read about Gitmo, and then all of a sudden became a radical America-hater who wanted to blow himself up and take as many Americans with him.
Well, we can believe the Americans on the ground (e.g. Petraeus), or the random bloviations of an anonymous Internet clown. You don't think, say, the depredations of the Nazis brought recruits into the resistance movements? Wasn't there a big upsurge in American recruitment right after 9/11? After hearing about Abu Ghraib torture of random Iraqis (the full version, too, including women and children, which we still don't have here in the USA), you don't think a lot of Iraqi fence-sitters decided to take up Al Qaeda's offer of assistance in killing Americans in their own defense?

Who is the ignorant dope here? Team Yellow talks about how they understand the cruel world, and then their reasoning crashes on every single example out there: WW II, the American Revolution, Iraq. They understand their own sick masturbatory fantasies; world history, not so much.
5.23.2009 2:51pm
John Moore (www):
Andrew J. Lazarus

The contrast in argumentation styles here is telling. Juke, Anderson, and I are providing quote after quote from tribunal decisions, from military investigators in several wars and from several armies (Here is another one, our interrogator of Japanese POWs), fact-laden, link-laden stuff.

. We are simply not going to play your game of cherry picking quotes and ignoring human nature, history and especially historical and current proportional perspective. It is misleading, tedious and pedantic.

They're living in an emotional world where we need to torture mostly to revenge the humiliation of 9/11 and to scare terrorists (not that torture has been known to scare terrorists, didn't work for the Nazis, but they're projecting their own timorous reaction on others).

You can't really believe that. That's simply an inflamatory ad hom - either that or you are as dumb as a doorknob.

In their dangerous world, the fact we tortured people is proof enough that it was necessary to stop the ticking bomb, even though the ticking bomb, like the WMD in Iraq, has never been found

That is supposed to be logic? That we take the use of EIT as proof that it was necessary?

You continuously refuse to address the very real ticking bomb scenarios I have posted in several threads on this topic. It's telling.


And I still don't see any admission that despite the no excuses "whatsoever" language of the ICAT, we would be as generous with others—say, Saddam Hussein—when they felt torture was necessary for defence of the realm. Saddam, indeed, was closer to the truth: his regime has fallen.

Let's see...
Saddam, like our leaders, was democratically elected

Saddam had lawyers draw up documents precisely defining what techniques were allowed and what were not

Saddam's strongest technique was limited waterboarding

Saddam only applied his strongest technique to three people

Saddam never used his torture for sadistic pleasure

Saddam never used interrogation techniques to instill fear

Yeah, we're just like Saddam. Typical lefty "logic."



Incidentally, it's worth pointing out that Moore is more than willing to Blame America First, as long as it's not blaming Cheney-America.

Abu Ghraib was a great recruiting tool for bad guys, which is one reason the press was utterly irresponsible in putting those photos all over the place for a couple of months. [emphasis added]


Now, this is probably false: Iraqis knew perfectly well what was going on in Abu Ghraib from people who were released. For them, new boss, same as the old boss. (Sorry, Linda Mae, but them's the breaks.) When the photos came out, most Americans saw SGT Darby as a hero who was putting an end to the malefaction of a few bad apples. I'll credit Moore in one way: he realizes this wasn't really bad apples, but a program intended for spooks only that crossed over to a sadist-led batch of ordinary turnkeys.


Considering that the Abu Ghraib abuses shown in the photos happened only once or a few times, it is unlikely that Iraqis knew about them. Furthermore, photos of an American woman lording it over a bunch of naked Iraqi males is a much more powerful recruiting technique in the Arab world than the many true and false rumors floating around the arab world.

The highly publicized abuses in Abu Ghraib were NOT the spook techniques (your constant confabulations to the contrary). Nevertheless, sending pictures of them around the world caused Americans and Iraqis to be killed. Some hero!
5.23.2009 2:55pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Dick Ctheney
Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Ctheney R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!!
5.23.2009 2:56pm
John Moore (www):
Anton Sirius:


We crossed that line many, many years ago, my friend. We obliterated it.

Ah, I see. So because the US government did Very Bad Things before I was born, I have no right to be outraged over the Very Bad Things done in my name during my lifetime.

You can be as outraged as you want. You can be outraged that we eat meat if you want.

That our government did these things (widely acclaimed by the people at the time) in a war that our society considers one of our greatest moral and military triumphs should at least cause you question the proportionality your own definition of "Very Bad Things." You might also consider the "Very Bad Things" that our government is doing right now that I hear few "torture" whiners condemning: firing high explosive missiles into civilian villages in a country we are not at war with, based on no judicial proceedings at all, and based on the same kind of intelligence that led to the waterboarding.

I notice most of the whiners hear ignore that issue just as they ignore the "stolen Pakistani bomb" scenario.
5.23.2009 2:59pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Schlafly makes another great contribution. Apropos of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal he writes,
Have you tried asking the folks who called it torture? Maybe they can explain it to you.
Well, I'd guess there all dead. But your mom and sister[?] with the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation are alive. Call them. Ask them why they believed that these techniques were torture when applied to a right-wing Catholic prelate. Third time I have made this suggestion. I'm worried that you aren't really interested in getting an answer.
5.23.2009 3:00pm
John Moore (www):

Only a dope actually believes that recruitment nonsense.

Like the high ranking Al Qaedan's who told us its value, or the Al Qaedan's who used and use those photos in their recruitment propaganda?

I *wish* we were fighting only dopes. Instead we seem to be defending a lot of dopes from the terrorists.
5.23.2009 3:01pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Yes, Moore, we are "cherry-picking" quotes from generals, interrogators, court decisions, and historians. That's called production of evidence about the illegality and ineffectiveness of torture. You, on the other hand, are going with gut instinct, or what you like to call "human nature". Human nature is bestial, torture is bestial, torture must be acceptable if we can concoct some silly little story (ticking bomb, Jewish bankers, whatever). Wouldn't you then agree that the ICAT is a silly waste of time (and the Geneva Conventions, too—if a uniformed soldier knew of the ticking bomb, the uniform would hardly be a reason to exempt him from the treatment)?

You know, when JBG questioned your military bona fides, I thought he was slandering you, and I said so, little as I like disagreeing with JBG. Seeing your contempt for any sort of moral behavior, prissied up with self-serving cowardly excuses, I am wondering if he wasn't right after all.
5.23.2009 3:08pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Well, once again we can contrast the pro-torture crowd's gut instinct with the written record. Moore:
Considering that the Abu Ghraib abuses shown in the photos happened only once or a few times, it is unlikely that Iraqis knew about them.
Let's cherry-pick General Taguba [emphasis added]:
That between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.
Who could have guessed that a chicken with its head cut off could post comments.
5.23.2009 3:15pm
John Moore (www):

You know, when JBG questioned your military bona fides, I thought he was slandering you, and I said so, little as I like disagreeing with JBG. Seeing your contempt for any sort of moral behavior, prissied up with self-serving cowardly excuses, I am wondering if he wasn't right after all.

Getting a little personal, aren't we.

I really don't give a damn if you or JBG believe me, because I am not going to convince you fools of anything.

As to my military service, I'm proud of having volunteered and served, and clearly I learned some things about human nature and interrogation that you can only dispute by cherry picking quotes from people who agree with you.

As to the ICAT, I do believe that it, like many international conventions, is a silly waste of time, because it will primarily serve our enemies. US law, OTOH, is a different matter.

And once again, you have failed to address the Paki stolen bomb scenario, like usual.
5.23.2009 3:19pm
cubanbob (mail):
"zuch (mail) (www):
I want to waterboard Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Dick Ctheney. I'd also like to attach electrodes to their genitals but my neurophysiology training didn't teach me how to make microelectrodes that small. Does that make me an evil person?

Cheers,"

Personally I would like to stick a funnel up Obama's ass and yours and that of every progressive in government as well as those in the media and academia and pour hot lead in to it. Just like the Syrians do. Does that make me an evil person? Cheers to you as well.

Bush made one huge mistake early on when he gave the scum any semblance of rights. They have no rights. None at all. They are not uniformed soldiers of any recognized nation state let alone any signatory state. Torture the scum until they have nothing of value to provide and then kill them. Their lives have no value whatsoever. Their lives regain value after they surrender and cease being the enemy.

To say that torture never works is an outright lie. It works exceedingly well which is why it has been used for so long. Contrary to the romantic myth about the resistance movements against the Germans, the Germans were on the whole rather successful in suppressing resistance movements until allied armies were within reach of the occupied area. The allies had no qualms about summarily executing Germans caught out of uniform on the battlefield and the Germans executed for war crimes were not executed for killing allied troops caught on the battlefield out of uniform. They were executed for genocide but not for killing spies and saboteurs.

Now torturing a captive for shits and giggles as often times the Germans and the Japanese as well as the Communists did and the Jihadi's do is something virtually all can agree is a wrong. Continuing to torture a captive for information when it is clearly evident the captive does not know the information is also something virtually all can agree is also a wrong. However if torture is required to extract vital information from an illegitimate combatant then not doing so and exposing your people to serious danger is a wrong as well. Reference is made by some commenters about US troops being tortured by the Communist in Vietnam and its lack of effectiveness. Mainly it was ineffective since the prime purpose was to humiliate and degrade the troops, not to seek any specific actionable intelligence. McCain did not know much. He was tortured because he was the son and grandson of admirals, not for any real intelligence purposes. International law is a set of agreements that are adhered to simply because it benefits the signers. We by and large did not kill or torture German troops caught in the battlefield in uniform because it benefited us; they in turn did not largely murder Western Allied prisoners or torture them because it suited the Germans as well not to do so. No great concept of morality or some higher law, simply expedience and mutual benefit.

It is an irony that in the last one hundred years the only enemy that treated American prisoners of war relatively decently were the Germans. Not the North Korean Communists, The Soviets (clandestine captures of US military), The Chinese Communist, The Vietnamese Communists, The Iraqi's and numerous Islamic terrorists groups. As for how many terrorists Abu Ghraib reportedly created and added to the AQ ranks, the number pales in to insignificances compared to the recruitment in to the US Armed Forces by the acts of 9/11. Those on the left with their phony moral posturing are really nothing more than shills for the enemy. But then again like in 1861, the party of treason is the Democratic Party.
5.23.2009 3:27pm
DCP:

Saying that we sanctioned "torture" with regard to waterboarding is like saying we sanctioned murder (infanticide) with regard to abortion. People are just naturally going to interpret those terms differently based on their personal feelings and the different situations.

It's not that most are O.K. with torture or a blatant disregard for the laws and policies surrounding it; it's that given the context they don't view the actions involved as torture per se. Others feel the opposite. In other words we simply have a subjective moral difference on where to draw the pragmatic line between what constitutes torture (impermissible) and what constitutes other custodial interrogation techniques (permissible).
5.23.2009 3:28pm
RPT (mail):
"jbg:

If torture ever saved any lives, we would have seen proof of that ages ago."

To get back into the legal realm again, Cheney had the power to declassify any documents showing what the torture regime accomplished when he was vice-president. He asserts that he knew of them and had actual physical custody of them, but declined to do so, for reasons he or his daughter has not explained. Based on his own words, the legal presumption is that the documents to which he now refers and wants released do not support his position.
5.23.2009 3:32pm
Prawo Jazdy:
Based on his own words, the legal presumption is that the documents to which he now refers and wants released do not support his position.

What "legal presumption" would that be?
5.23.2009 3:41pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Welcome, Cubanbob. Let's try not to have too many non sequiturs, OK?
They have no rights. None at all. They are not uniformed soldiers of any recognized nation state let alone any signatory state.
Wrong. The ICAT is universal and does not contain an exception for spies, terrorists, or anyone else. Don't confuse the ICAT with the Geneva Conventions. The Supreme Court held, against the argument of the Bush Administration, that GC Common Article 3 is also universal in application although of the Third GC applied only to lawful POWs, but whether this decision is correct is irrelevant to the torture issue.
To say that torture never works is an outright lie.
I agree with you, both in specific reference to the Germans, and in general, that torture can be an effective tool of intimidation. (It isn't lawful for that purpose either, of course.) The claim here is that it is an effective tool of intelligence-gathering, and that I dispute. Except, I might add, when the pro-torture crowd claims, probably incorrectly, that announcing we are no longer going to use "enhanced interrogation" will swell the ranks of our enemies, which seems to me to be an accidental admission that notwithstanding the pretty ticking bomb story, our torture is also being done for reasons other than accurate intel.

Incidentally, as far as I can tell the death rate of American POWs in North Vietnamese custody was comparable to the current death rate of detainees held at Bagram and elsewhere in our black prison network. I'm not sure of any reason, other than wishful thinking about our own goodness, to believe that the conditions of North Vietnamese captivity were worse than we are using against others.
5.23.2009 3:44pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
@DCP
it's that given the context they don't view the actions involved as torture per se.
When done to us, torture. When done by us, not torture.

I guess you could call that context, but I'd choose a more pejorative word, myself.
5.23.2009 3:53pm
John Moore (www):
OK, I'll go into the Taguba report, since it is at the heart of the ridiculous conflation of the outrageous and widely publicized Abu Ghraib abuses and the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques program.


As to the amount and time of the abuse in question:
I think it important to point out that almost
every witness testified that the serious criminal abuse
of detainees at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) occurred in late
October and early November
2003. The photographs and
statements clearly support that the abuses occurred
during this time period
.

In other words, a few weeks.

The central arguments of the those who wish to use Abu Ghraib in the torture abuse are:

-The actions were part of the torture policy.

-The actions were approved or encouraged at the high levels.

-The actions were typical of American activity in Iraq (this was more the argument during the 2004 election than on this blog).

The report, on the other hand, shows that the problem was the terribly inept leadership of the reserve 800th MP Brigade (BG Karpinski and down) and the immoral behavior of "several" of the soldiers therein - hardly an indictment of either American activity in Iraq in general or the enhanced interrogation program [emphasis added]:


Several US Army Soldiers have committed egregious
acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu
Ghraib/BCCF and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key
senior leaders in both the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th
MI Brigade failed to comply with established regulations,
policies, and command directives in preventing detainee
abuses at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) and at Camp Bucca during the
period August 2003 to February 2004.

Due to the nature and scope of this investigation, I
acquired the assistance of Col (Dr.) Henry Nelson, a USAF
Psychiatrist, to analyze the investigation materials from
a psychological perspective. He determined that there
was evidence that the horrific abuses suffered by the
detainees at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) were wanton acts of select
soldiers in an unsupervised and dangerous setting. There
was a complex interplay of many psychological factors and
command insufficiencies.


Note even in these conditions, many soldiers and units did not engage in these activities supposedly encouraged by top levels:

Throughout the investigation, we observed many individual Soldiers and some subordinate units under the 800th MP Brigade that overcame significant obstacles, persevered in extremely poor conditions, and upheld the Army Values. We discovered numerous examples of Soldiers and Sailors taking the initiative in the absence of leadership and accomplishing their assigned tasks.


Untrained:

There is abundant evidence in the statements of
numerous witnesses that soldiers throughout the 800th MP
Brigade were not proficient in their basic MOS skills,
particularly regarding internment/resettlement
operations.
...

I find that without adequate training for a civilian
internee detention mission, Brigade personnel relied
heavily on individuals within the Brigade who had
civilian corrections experience, including many who
worked as prison guards or corrections officials in their
civilian jobs. Almost every witness we interviewed had
no familiarity with the provisions of AR 190-8 or FM 3-
19.40. It does not appear that a Mission Essential Task
List (METL) based on in-theater missions was ever
developed nor was a training plan implemented throughout
the Brigade.

During the course of this investigation I conducted
a lengthy interview with BG Karpinski that lasted over
four hours, and is included verbatim in the investigation
Annexes. BG Karpinski was extremely emotional during
much of her testimony. What I found particularly
disturbing in her testimony was her complete
unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of
the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused
or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her
command to both establish and enforce basic standards and
principles among its soldiers.


Unmilitary (for those without military experience, these findings are critical because they show how individual malefactors would feel free to engage in abuse):

In addition to poor morale and staff inefficiencies, I find that the 800th MP Brigade did not articulate or enforce clear and basic Soldier and Army standards.



The following is virtually unheard of in military units:

There was no clear uniform standard for any MP
Soldiers assigned detention duties. Despite the
fact that hundreds of former Iraqi soldiers and
officers were detainees, MP personnel were allowed
to wear civilian clothes in the FOB after duty hours
while carrying weapons.
[illegal combatants]


Again, a sign of almost total breakdown of military discipline (saluting of officers is normally only avoided in direct combat situations where the salute might cue a sniper):

Saluting of officers was sporadic and not enforced.


Poor leadership

I find that individual Soldiers within the 800th MP
Brigade and the 320th Battalion stationed throughout Iraq
had very little contact during their tour of duty with
either LTC (P) Phillabaum or BG Karpinski.
5.23.2009 3:57pm
John Moore (www):
Regarding the danger of publishing the photos - again from Taguba:

The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements (ANNEX 26) and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of these photographs and videos, the ongoing CID investigation, and the potential for the criminal prosecution of several suspects, the photographic evidence is not included in the body of my investigation.


"Extremely sensitive" in this case, given the other clauses, refers to the military sensitivity of these photos being released - because of the propaganda (and recruitment) value.
5.23.2009 3:59pm
John Moore (www):
DCP:


Saying that we sanctioned "torture" with regard to waterboarding is like saying we sanctioned murder (infanticide) with regard to abortion. People are just naturally going to interpret those terms differently based on their personal feelings and the different situations.

Well said.
5.23.2009 4:04pm
John Moore (www):
RPT

To get back into the legal realm again, Cheney had the power to declassify any documents showing what the torture regime accomplished when he was vice-president. He asserts that he knew of them and had actual physical custody of them, but declined to do so, for reasons he or his daughter has not explained. Based on his own words, the legal presumption is that the documents to which he now refers and wants released do not support his position.


Oh please. Cheney, unlike many, actually cares about not releasing classified information if it can aid a current or future enemy. Now that Obama let the cat out of the bag, the harm of releasing those documents is gone, compared to the prior situation.
5.23.2009 4:06pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Moore, I agree that the crew doing the torture at Abu Ghraib were unmilitary and generally ill-disciplined and poorly led. You can find traces in the report, though, of how these slobs were trying to fit into a pattern established elsewhere.
(U) SPC Sabrina Harman, 372nd MP Company, stated in her sworn statement regarding the incident where a detainee was placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes, and penis, "that her job was to keep detainees awake." She stated that MI was talking to CPL Grainer. She stated: "MI wanted to get them to talk. It is Grainer and Frederick's job to do things for MI and OGA to get these people to talk."
OGA means spook. That's how the techniques spread.

Recently Taguba was asked,
Is there still a lot of dirty laundry out there that we don't know about?

I think so. This notion that a lot of constitutional legal experts -- lawyers with great intellect, well-educated -- came up with such despicable and questionable legal findings that were contrary to the definition of defending the Constitution? And then they framed this as if the executive branch had the authority to extend beyond the Constitution to establish a policy of torture and illegal detention?
Guess that means he thinks it was torture.
5.23.2009 4:27pm
mattski:
Cheney, unlike many, actually cares about not releasing classified information if it can aid a current or future enemy.

That's not true, John.
5.23.2009 4:28pm
mattski:
whoops--forgot blockquote tags
5.23.2009 4:34pm
LM (mail):
Cubanbob,

Personally I would like to stick a funnel up Obama's ass and yours and that of every progressive in government as well as those in the media and academia and pour hot lead in to it.

And you see no inconsistency between admitting you'd like to torture the President of the United States and continuing to comment as if you expect to be taken seriously?

Torture the scum until they have nothing of value to provide and then kill them. Their lives have no value whatsoever.

What do you think is worth defending about this country, aside from it being where you (I assume) happen to live? You know what I think of your opinion, so I'll understand if you don't feel like satisfying my curiosity, but the curiosity and question are sincere.
5.23.2009 4:54pm
John Moore (www):
Mattski,

Not Valery Plame again!

YOMV (Your Opinion May Vary)


5.23.2009 5:01pm
MarkField (mail):

It's not that most are O.K. with torture or a blatant disregard for the laws and policies surrounding it; it's that given the context they don't view the actions involved as torture per se. Others feel the opposite. In other words we simply have a subjective moral difference on where to draw the pragmatic line between what constitutes torture (impermissible) and what constitutes other custodial interrogation techniques (permissible).


Actually, there are several arguments floating back and forth among the flotsam and jetsam of the torture apologists' sewer:

1. It was torture, but "they" deserved it.

2. It was torture under current law, but it shouldn't be.

3. It's not torture under current law.

Your argument addresses only #3. The flaw in your argument is that there's a long history of waterboarding being considered torture. The Spanish Inquisition used waterboarding to question heretics and it was universally denounced as torture. We prosecuted soldiers in the Philippines Insurrection when they waterboarded. The MS Supreme Court held in the 1920s that waterboarding constituted torture (and it's worth noting that in that case the victim was black and the perpetrators white). We prosecuted Japanese soldiers after WWII for waterboarding. The Khmer Rouge was condemned for waterboarding and museums even display the waterboards as examples of that horror. A federal Court of Appeal said in 1983 that waterboarding performed by American law enforcement officers on criminals was torture. Our State Department has listed waterboarding as torture performed by other states. Posters in these threads have linked numerous recent examples of testimony by those who've undergone the procedure (including Mancow) that it's torture. Hell, Jonah Goldberg, of all people, agreed that waterboarding KSM 183 times constituted torture.

This isn't a question of liking strawberry more than chocolate. It's a case of torture apologists bobbing and weaving in a desperate effort to avoid discussing the only relevant issue: that current law makes this torture a crime.
5.23.2009 5:03pm
Gaius Obvious:
The chief British interrogator of WW2 despised and rejected torture.

The British tortured. It was simply kept secret all these years for obvious reasons.

The secrets of the London Cage

· Beatings, sleep deprivation and starvation used on SS and Gestapo men
· POW camp in Kensington kept secret and hidden from Red Cross

"The London Cage was used partly as a torture centre, inside which large numbers of German officers and soldiers were subjected to systematic ill-treatment. In total 3,573 men passed through the Cage, and more than 1,000 were persuaded to give statements about war crimes. The brutality did not end with the war, moreover: a number of German civilians joined the servicemen who were interrogated there up to 1948."
5.23.2009 5:03pm
jdh (mail) (www):
Torture apologists will concoct any outrageous fantasy, misconstrue perfect clear language, blatantly lie about known facts, and ignore history to justify their sickness. It's not about revenge or protection or anything else. Torture apologists are sexually aroused by physical dominance and inflicting pain and terror on others. They are perverts, the child molesters of polite society.
5.23.2009 5:04pm
John Moore (www):

What do you think is worth defending about this country, aside from it being where you (I assume) happen to live?

My answer...

First, that's a very good start and historically one of the most important things, except to trans-national progressives.

Beyond that, there are plenty of things worth defending, and in the light of contemporary or historical perspective, the torture issue is not nearly as dramatic or extreme as many make it out to be.
5.23.2009 5:04pm
John Moore (www):
jdh

Torture apologists will concoct any outrageous fantasy, misconstrue perfect clear language, blatantly lie about known facts, and ignore history to justify their sickness. It's not about revenge or protection or anything else. Torture apologists are sexually aroused by physical dominance and inflicting pain and terror on others. They are perverts, the child molesters of polite society.


jdh is a troll. He is sexually aroused by annoying people into responding. I think that makes me guilty of internet molestation of an idiot.
5.23.2009 5:05pm
John Moore (www):
MarkField

1. It was torture, but "they" deserved it.

Straw man


2. It was torture under current law, but it shouldn't be.

True

3. It's not torture under current law.

Very arguable.


The flaw in your argument is that there's a long history of waterboarding being considered torture.

mens rea
5.23.2009 5:07pm
cubanbob (mail):
"RPT (mail):
"jbg:

If torture ever saved any lives, we would have seen proof of that ages ago."

To get back into the legal realm again, Cheney had the power to declassify any documents showing what the torture regime accomplished when he was vice-president. He asserts that he knew of them and had actual physical custody of them, but declined to do so, for reasons he or his daughter has not explained. Based on his own words, the legal presumption is that the documents to which he now refers and wants released do not support his position.
5.23.2009 3:32pm"

Obama can prove or disprove Cheney tomorrow by releasing the documents. That he has not done so is an admission the Cheney is right.


"Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Welcome, Cubanbob. Let's try not to have too many non sequiturs, OK?
They have no rights. None at all. They are not uniformed soldiers of any recognized nation state let alone any signatory state.
Wrong. The ICAT is universal and does not contain an exception for spies, terrorists, or anyone else. Don't confuse the ICAT with the Geneva Conventions. The Supreme Court held, against the argument of the Bush Administration, that GC Common Article 3 is also universal in application although of the Third GC applied only to lawful POWs, but whether this decision is correct is irrelevant to the torture issue.
To say that torture never works is an outright lie.
I agree with you, both in specific reference to the Germans, and in general, that torture can be an effective tool of intimidation. (It isn't lawful for that purpose either, of course.) The claim here is that it is an effective tool of intelligence-gathering, and that I dispute. Except, I might add, when the pro-torture crowd claims, probably incorrectly, that announcing we are no longer going to use "enhanced interrogation" will swell the ranks of our enemies, which seems to me to be an accidental admission that notwithstanding the pretty ticking bomb story, our torture is also being done for reasons other than accurate intel.

Incidentally, as far as I can tell the death rate of American POWs in North Vietnamese custody was comparable to the current death rate of detainees held at Bagram and elsewhere in our black prison network. I'm not sure of any reason, other than wishful thinking about our own goodness, to believe that the conditions of North Vietnamese captivity were worse than we are using against others.
5.23.2009 3:44pm"

Lets keep the pimping for the enemy down to a minimum please.

This scum is outside our frame of law. Again Bush made the mistake early on by simply making that, ICAT, one of the rules of engagement. ICAT is a treaty and as such can be abrogated in total or in part at any time and can be interpreted by the government to specifically exclude AQ and the like and any coverage of those who belong to these groups at any time. So what the Supreme Court has ruled is a nullity if the government simply abrogates the treaty or treaties. This scum are not ordinary criminals caught on US soil and hence subject to our constitutional protections which the government cannot abrogate. It is telling that Obama for all of his rhetorical bullshit and apologia has not actually repudiated the Bush-Cheney policies and reserves the right to do continue them as long as he sees fit. Again as I said in another comment, Obama has proven Cheney correct by not releasing the documents that Cheney claimed proved his point that the methods produced valuable intelligence. An inconvenient truth for progressives. Torture is not the first method our intelligence apparatus uses, it is the last one when all else fails.

Our intelligence officers are not Nazi's, Communists, Fascists or Islamacists. Torture is not something they resort to for shits and giggles. It is not something they enjoy doing or wish to do. It's something that at times they have to do to protect us from them. So let's see if Obama is man enough to put his money where his TelePrompTer is and release the documents Cheney claims proves him right. If and when he does, then get back to us. In the meantime I say we ought to give the detainees in Guantanamo a retroactive abortion and recycle their worthless carcasses by feeding them to the sharks.
Fidel has already conditioned the sharks with poor Cubans so why not give the sharks a real Jihadi treat?

But do go on, demonstrating by your words that enemy life is more valuable than American lives, proving once again that the left and it's party, the Democratic Party is the traditional party of treason since 1861.
5.23.2009 5:11pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Gaius Obvious, you are quite right, and I wasn't aware of that. You may find this discussion interesting for its discussion of why the Cage's policy was probably not officially approved. Much of the ill-treatment there, especially after the war, was evidently more as punishment than any type of investigative tool.
5.23.2009 5:11pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Cubanbob, in our country (maybe yours is different) the President can't just suspend the law against torture. The ICAT is now part of American law [18 USC 2340], with a few modifications that aren't relevant here. It simply isn't within Bush's authority to decide some part of the US Code isn't in the RoE. If you think we should be torturing terrorists, then work to change the law. Saddam's successors and colleagues in Burma, Zimbabwe, etc. will be eternally grateful.

Neither Stephen Douglas nor Abraham Lincoln agreed with your claim that the Democrats (now far, far more numerous than the rump Torture Republicans) are the party of treason.
5.23.2009 5:17pm
Loophole (mail):
I used to like this blog, but I can't take it anymore. I'm sure I won't be missed.
5.23.2009 5:22pm
John Moore (www):

Cubanbob, in our country (maybe yours is different) the President can't just suspend the law against torture. The ICAT is now part of American law [18 USC 2340], with a few modifications that aren't relevant here.

You think the additions of the word "severe" are irrelevant to a debate as to whether waterboarding is torture. Interesting.
5.23.2009 5:23pm
DCP:

@ Lazarus


When done to us, torture. When done by us, not torture.

I guess you could call that context, but I'd choose a more pejorative word, myself.



Uhh, where's the context in that? Since when does the United States (I assume that's the "us" above) go around flying passenger planes into skyscrapers, sawing people's heads off with a kitchen knife or brainwashing some poor kid into strapping himself with explosives and charging a busload of Israeli school children.

You can't separate the treatment from the acts that give rise to them.

If any American radical begins to engage in terrorist acts against say, France, and French intelligence officials reasonably believe that French lives are in jeopardy and that waterboarding this crazy American will generate information that will prevent further harm then they have my unconditional blessing to break out the water hose.

And what does it say that SO MANY of those shrieking about waterboarding (I'm not necessarily including you in this) are simultaneously begging for people like Cheney, Limbaugh, etc. to be waterboarded? I mean if it is that horrific and unthinkable, why would you wish it upon someone else in the same rant in which you are denouncing it? I don't hear anti-death penalty advocates begging for certain governors to be electrocuted.
5.23.2009 5:33pm
Ben P:

Straw man


How can it possibly be a straw man when it's been argued over and over again in this very thread?
1

Torture? The SOB's that cut off Daniel Pearls head, or flew the airliners into the ground, or told them to do so, are the torturers.

And the punishment should fit the crime.

2

But it sounds like Khalid was proud of his act, "I decapitated with blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, ..." and might not have needed any torturing. But if anyone deserves some torturing it's surely Khalid. Funny how liberal Jews are so tolerant of the people who want to destroy them. My people vex me.

3

No, he's wrong, or your spin on his comment is wrong; it's not all about revenge. The only relevance to revenge is that many of us have much lesser qualms about waterboarding and the like when the subjects, e.g., KSM, are so deserving of harsh treatment.

4

Many of you make me laugh, crying and whining about the poor scum that we waterboarded. So what? F them.
5.23.2009 5:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ethesis:

You would think that given the number of studies about Viet Nam and what the VC did not gain by torture, and that the North did not obtain from torture, that we would have a better handle on how useless torture is, all in all.


North Vietnam used torture the same way we did: to produce false confessions that had political utility. And it was effective in both instances. McCain produced false confessions under torture, and so did the people we tortured.

If you need false confessions for the purpose of selling a war, then torture is indeed not "useless." As General Irvine said:

… they built the CIA's surreal secret interrogation program around the same brutal coercion that had successfully forced American POWs to lie to their North Korean and Chinese captors. In other words, they assumed that the very brutality which had forced American soldiers to lie would magically force a Muslim terrorist to tell the truth, even if he had to be waterboarded 183 times.


Since false confessions were the goal, it made perfect sense to use torture techniques we imported from China and North Korea.

Thanks for the links.


You're welcome.

================
brian g:

Only a dope actually believes that recruitment nonsense.


Matthew Alexander was a military interrogator in Iraq. He "personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and … supervised more than 1,000." He said this:

Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. … at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse.


"Dope" is a good word for someone who thinks you're more credible than he is. How many interrogations did you conduct in Iraq?

I am sure that 99% of the people who say it don't believe it, but because it fits the narrative that America sucks, they use it.


Alexander "served for 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, began [his] career as a Special Operations pilot flying helicopters, saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, became an Air Force counterintelligence agent, then volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior interrogator." He must have done all that because he thinks "America sucks."

I see you have lots of respect for people who serve.

And here's more proof that you're wrong, from the Senate Armed Services Committee:

AI Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them. They are recruited based on false propaganda that says the United States is out to destroy Islam. Treating detainees harshly only reinforces that distorted view, increases resistance to cooperation, and creates new enemies. In fact, the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States" cited "pervasive anti U.S. sentiment among most Muslims" as an underlying factor fueling the spread ofthe global jihadist movement. Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008 that "there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U. S. combat deaths in Iraq - as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat - are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."


That finding was signed by 11 GOP Senators (i.e., 100% of the GOP Senators on the Armed Services Committee).

================
schlafly:

Have you tried asking the folks who called it torture?


Have you considered actually answering the question, instead of hiding behind cowardly evasions? "The folks who called it torture" have described what they called torture:

...they laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air.... They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breath without sucking in water


Here's another description:

I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let up until I’d get my breath, then they’d start over again.


Those are descriptions of what the Japanese did to American POWs. We prosecuted the Japanese for doing this (pdf). Feel free to explain where you see a meaningful difference between what they did and what we did.
5.23.2009 5:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

You continuously refuse to address the very real ticking bomb scenarios. … you have failed to address the Paki stolen bomb scenario


You have an odd concept of "very real." You define it as 'things that exist nowhere outside my imagination.'

And "you continuously refuse to address" the fact that your bomb fantasy has already been addressed.

Yeah, we're just like Saddam.


No, we're not. We're different. Trouble is, not different enough. And your agenda is to shrink the difference even further.

the Abu Ghraib abuses shown in the photos happened only once or a few times


It has already been demonstrated that you are utterly shameless about making false claims (link, link). And this is yet another false claim. The Senate Armed Services Committee found that detainee abuse took place much more than "once or a few times."

The highly publicized abuses in Abu Ghraib were NOT the spook techniques (your constant confabulations to the contrary)


The "confabulations" are all yours. The Senate report documents how wrong you are.

the ridiculous conflation of the outrageous and widely publicized Abu Ghraib abuses and the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques program


You are promoting the same bogus "bad apples" theory that we heard from Wolfowitz five years ago. Trouble is, a bipartisan Senate panel concluded unanimously that Wolfowitz's bogus claim is bogus. You need to get in touch with Rush and Sean and have them issue you some new talking points. The ones you're using have expired.

As to the ICAT, I do believe that it, like many international conventions, is a silly waste of time, because it will primarily serve our enemies. US law, OTOH, is a different matter.


"US law" prohibits torture. You seem to have not noticed. You also seem to have not noticed that according to the Constitution, treaties we sign have the force of US law.

Now that Obama let the cat out of the bag, the harm of releasing those documents is gone, compared to the prior situation.


As usual, you're being completely incoherent. First of all, there was no cat and no bag. Most of the technical details in the memos had already been made public via other sources, like the leaked Red Cross report. Mostly what we learned directly from the memos was how shoddy the legal analysis was.

And aside from that, this has nothing to do with separate memos that allegedly prove how many lives we saved via torture. If releasing those memos now does not harm our security, then it would not have harmed our security for Cheney to release them a few months ago, when he was still in office. So why didn't he? Answer: because they don't exist.

It's not torture under current law.


Very arguable.


Feel free to explain why we called it torture when the Japanese did waterboarding the same way we did it.

The flaw in your argument is that there's a long history of waterboarding being considered torture.


mens rea


Feel free to explain how we differ from the Japanese in this regard. Because we are fundamentally virtuous and they are fundamentally evil?

You think the additions of the word "severe" are irrelevant to a debate as to whether waterboarding is torture. Interesting.


You think you can repeat the same brazen lie that has already been exposed, and think that you will still be taken seriously by anyone other than fools. Interesting.
5.23.2009 5:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cuban:

Continuing to torture a captive for information when it is clearly evident the captive does not know the information is also something virtually all can agree is also a wrong.


Maybe you'd like to address this question:

Can it really be the case that when Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was waterboarded for the tenth, hundredth, or hundred eighty eighth time that the interrogators or Vice President Cheney honestly believed they would obtain a better result that time than all the times before?


(Although that should say 183, not 188.)

Obama can prove or disprove Cheney tomorrow by releasing the documents.


Only if the documents exist. If Obama releases what exists, Cheney will claim that Obama is hiding something, even though he isn't. This is very much the same strategy that Cheney used when he required Saddam to prove that he didn't have WMD by showing us his WMD. It's impossible to present something that doesn't exist.

ICAT is a treaty and as such can be abrogated in total or in part at any time


Have you ever read the Constitution? Treaties have the force of law. And as andrew pointed out, so does the Torture Act. Why do you hate democracy?

Torture is not the first method our intelligence apparatus uses, it is the last one when all else fails.


You are repeating one of Cheney's favorite bogus talking points. Trouble is, it's bogus.

================
dcp:

it's that given the context they don't view the actions involved as torture per se


Feel free to explain why we called it torture when the Japanese did waterboarding the same way we did it.

You can't separate the treatment from the acts that give rise to them.


If that's what you think, then you should work to change the law. Because the law makes no exception for certain acts of torture based on "the acts that give rise to them." That is, the law makes precisely the separation which you claim "can't" be made.

they have my unconditional blessing to break out the water hose.


Your "blessing" has no particular relevance or importance. Likewise for your opinion. What matters is the law.

================
prawo:

What "legal presumption" would that be?


Feel free to answer this question:

If there exist documents that prove that torture prevented attacks on the US, and those documents can be released without jeopardizing national security, why didn't the Bush administration release them before leaving office?


================
gaius:

The British tortured … beatings, sleep deprivation and starvation


Does this mean you're agreeing that sleep deprivation is a form of torture? That's helpful, since it means you're agreeing we tortured.
5.23.2009 5:53pm
autolykos:

Care to tell me how they knew he was a Navajo? I find it difficult to tell the various tribes apart based on physical features alone. I doubt the Japanese would be able to tell a Native American on sight, let alone what tribe he was from.


How in the holy heck would I know? I saw a tv show on the History Channel. There was a guy on there who claimed to be a Navajo who was captured by the Japanese. Maybe he was lying. Maybe the Japanese interrogated every native american they caught. How would I possibly know the answer to your question?
5.23.2009 5:55pm
cubanbob (mail):
"Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Cubanbob, in our country (maybe yours is different) the President can't just suspend the law against torture. The ICAT is now part of American law [18 USC 2340], with a few modifications that aren't relevant here. It simply isn't within Bush's authority to decide some part of the US Code isn't in the RoE. If you think we should be torturing terrorists, then work to change the law. Saddam's successors and colleagues in Burma, Zimbabwe, etc. will be eternally grateful.

Neither Stephen Douglas nor Abraham Lincoln agreed with your claim that the Democrats (now far, far more numerous than the rump Torture Republicans) are the party of treason.
5.23.2009 5:17pm"

You must have missed the part of Jefferson Davis and the majority of the CSA government being Democrats before the succession. Or the Democrat Copperheads in the North. Traitors then and traitors now. Aiding and abetting the enemy is treason. Just like the anti-war left in the 1960's. You may also have missed the part when Lincoln imprisoned a few Democrats for aiding the enemy and deporting some from the US.

Now since you point out the section of statue, I stand corrected. Still it proves my larger point that Bush should have had it repealed as law after 9/11 instead of abrogating the treaty as I originally posted. After 9/11 Congress would not have batted an eyelash in repealing the statute, see Nancy Pelosi's tortured lies about not knowing about enhanced methods at the time when they all were in favor of it. They were for it before they were against it. And if there should be another terrorist attack on US soil, they will be for it again before they are once again against it.

Interesting that you gloss over Eric Holder's rather tortured interpretation that enhanced methods are not torture and Obama's explicit failure to categorically order that these methods never be used again, instead reserving the right to use enhanced methods. It's only torture when Republicans are in charge. Not when Democrats are preventing harm to the nation. I suppose Obama and his administration are not pure enough for you either. Just as I suppose you opposed Clinton for his renditions as well. Do keep gloating about the torture Republicans. It blinds you to the fact that the Obama Comedy Hour is rapidly starting to loose it's ratings and the show will be cancelled in 2012 when the new network takes the sweeps.
5.23.2009 6:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cuban:

Bush should have had it repealed as law after 9/11 instead of abrogating the treaty


Trouble is, Bush decided that breaking the law would be less work than changing it. And unless you think the president is above the law, then the law should be enforced.

Obama's explicit failure to categorically order that these methods never be used again, instead reserving the right to use enhanced methods


I guess you should explain your "explicit failure" to be familar with Obama's Executive Order:

Sec. 3.  Standards and Practices for Interrogation of Individuals in the Custody or Control of the United States in Armed Conflicts.

(a)  Common Article 3 Standards as a Minimum Baseline.  Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.


"All circumstances" means "categorically."

the fact that the Obama Comedy Hour is rapidly starting to loose it's ratings and the show will be cancelled in 2012 when the new network takes the sweeps.


Keep hope alive. With any luck at all, the GOP will run Palin/Wurzelbacher on a pro-torture platform. Or maybe Cheney/Limbaugh. Or maybe Gingrich/Steele. So many great choices!
5.23.2009 6:24pm
Danny (mail):
Hearing such ardent support for torture makes me think that 21st century Americans don't deserve the constitution that the founding fathers wrote for them. For a legal blog I am surprised that so many contributors are against following US law, which clearly forbids torture. Of course this refers to wartime and to scary enemies, unless the government decided to torture people who don't pay their parking tickets. That's why we call them "war crimes".

1. The ends justify the means. Really legal scholars? Is that a principle of American law, or of a totalitarian government?
2. "We must torture to protect you". People who torture are macho, people who are against torture are weak on terrorism. At its core an aesthetic argument. But it sounds more like echoing the rhetoric of a military junta than like the American legal tradition.
3. These enemies are different. So why write laws at all, if they don't apply across the board? If the political class is above the law, or the government can randomly pick who is and is not subject to the law, then why not spare the legislators their efforts? Send them home, and just have faith in the Leader / Decider / Duce, he knows best.

I appreciate that the terrorists got some of you good and scared, or that maybe you want to feel tougher than the next guy. But personally I think democracy has served the US rather well. That is sort of the US's strong point, once you get rid of that you will be just like any corrupt country of the Americas, like 1970s Argentina or Chile, only with bad food and who can't dance.
5.23.2009 6:35pm
rosetta's stones:

But personally I think democracy has served the US rather well. That is sort of the US's strong point, once you get rid of that you will be just like any corrupt country of the Americas, like 1970s Argentina or Chile, only with bad food and who can't dance.


Well, democracy is still serving us fairly well, and in the case of terrorism issues we seem to have concensus across the political spectrum (notwithstanding the hysterically shrieking portion of the spectrum, which is only of small bandwidth as we know).

Obama, Holder and Pelosi appear to have/will go along with the policies that the Bushitler administration and previous Congresses developed. They recognize all this as policy issues, all shrieking notwithstanding.

So we have concensus within our democracy on these issues. Not surprising, as the actions in question are well represented in our history, tradition and law (The Brits were not the only ones to be running a little extra-Geneva information gathering operation during WWII, in case you didn't know.)

Unfortunately, our democratic concensus also appears to be taking us in directions far more negative to our future prosperity, which will eventually lead us to the Argentinian model you mention.
5.23.2009 6:50pm
cubanbob (mail):
jukeboxgrad (mail) you skirt the issue as well: Holder, like the Bush Administration never stated that water boarding was torture. Holder has gone to great lengths to avoid calling it torture. So as long as it is not labeled torture by the the Obama AG it's perfectly legal. So the executive order is a sham.

"Trouble is, Bush decided that breaking the law would be less work than changing it. And unless you think the president is above the law, then the law should be enforced. " So has Obama. Besides water boarding perhaps you can explain ripping off share holders, bond holders and creditors for tens of billions in addition to the above and so much more.

"keep hope alive. With any luck at all, the GOP will run Palin/Wurzelbacher on a pro-torture platform. Or maybe Cheney/Limbaugh. Or maybe Gingrich/Steele. So many great choices!" Every one of them infinitely superior to the present crowed of knaves, thieves and traitors running the current presidential and congressional circus.

Danny (mail): so far you made an accurate description of the Obama Administration and the Democrat Congress.

As for Argentina and Chile, leftist revisionism does not hide the true facts. Allende was overthrown by the armed forces for precisely trying to subvert the Chilean government and constitution and institute a Communist regime. As for Argentina, I was there in the late seventies and while I am no fan of the Junta, you conveniently overlook the regime putting down a Communist guerilla insurgency that was as every bit as evil if not more than the generals.
Pick a better group of heros to use as sock puppets.

As for your point number 3, Obama is distinctly starting to act like a typical Latin American Caudillio in his early stages. Nationalizing industries, firing business executives, passing laws of dubious legality, imposing great costs on those who he does not favor. You confuse democracy which is a process with rule of law, just like Chavez.
5.23.2009 7:15pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cuban:

Holder, like the Bush Administration never stated that water boarding was torture.


Yes, he "never stated that water boarding was torture," except for when he did: "Waterboarding Is Torture, Holder Tells Senators."

And even if he hadn't said so, it would still be torture. And aside from that, Obama's EO doesn't just forbid torture. It also forbids CID (cruel, inhuman, degrading). Even those who try to claim that waterboarding doesn't cross the line into torture are not wacky enough to claim that it fails to cross the line into CID.

So you are managing to be wrong in about three different ways, all at the same time.

So the executive order is a sham.


Yes, if you manage to invent a bunch of your own facts, then the executive order is a sham. But why not? After all, it's a free country.
5.23.2009 7:41pm
Danny (mail):

As for Argentina and Chile, leftist revisionism does not hide the true facts. Allende was overthrown by the armed forces for precisely trying to subvert the Chilean government and constitution and institute a Communist regime.



Wow, thanks for the straw man. If you are against a military dictatorship and torture you're with the reds. You must have a truly authoritarian mindset because you are only able to think in terms of different flavors of tyranny. But neither is traditional in the US, nor should we be importing such models
5.23.2009 8:00pm
EH (mail):
I just have to laugh at how much of this thread has been consumed by someone who started off by paraphrasing Col. Jessup and then has the temerity to request others to join him in "the real world." DNFTT
5.23.2009 8:32pm
ArthurKirkland:
Just as bin Laden and Bush became co-dependents, each the other's best recruiter for a flawed ideology, some of the voices on this blog appear to have become counterproductive.

Were I a proprietor of an academically inclined blog, even a conservative blog with a strongly conservative clientele, this thread in general and cubanbob's contributions in particular would make me wonder where I made the wrong turn.
5.23.2009 9:07pm
Mikey:
Jukeboxgrad responds to me responding to someone else:




So it must be noted that when we're sitting around having discussions about the merits of torture, we should attempt to discuss what it was actually used for, and not simply what it COULD be used for in all sorts of hypothetical situations.




Makes sense, although it would necessitate the Obama administration revealing whatever benefit was gained by the use of harsh interrogations. Thus far, they have not.




The weirdness of your premise is expressed in the following question:

If there exist documents that prove that torture prevented attacks on the US, and those documents can be released without jeopardizing national security, why didn't the Bush administration release them before leaving office?



I wonder what your answer is.



My answer is "I don't know." The Bush administration didn't release any documents. But I don't think it matters, because my reason for making that statement was to suggest how we might, in the words of the poster to whom I was responding, "attempt to discuss what it was actually used for." That's all.
5.23.2009 9:24pm
Mikey:





Assuming for the sake of argument that such a situation arises, do we take the "moral high road" and sacrifice ourselves, or do we do what is necessary to prevail? And if that step becomes necessary, what do we do with ourselves afterward?




Not at all. Here's what you do. First, banish from your mind the possibility that you, personally, will do a damn thing. You will give money to a vast bureaucracy, which will pay young men ~$.98 per hour to kill/capture/interrogate your enemies for you. We'll do our best, most of the time, to get the right people, but the fog of war is thick, and in a war, shit happens. Sometimes our guys get overzealous, and we have to reign them in. We do this on our own. Your "choice" is a false one, because it's not one you have to make. The only choice that is yours is whether or not you're going to Monday-morning-quarterback the actions of people whose training exceeds yours, and whose conditions and instructions you couldn't possibly understand.

We are the original "department of homeland security", the US military. It is right and proper for the political process to decide who they want us to destroy, but it is the lowest of political cowardice to presume to tell us how to do our jobs.

As for us, ain't no saints in the Infantry.


Hey, 11B, I'm a veteran, too. I've had that training, operated under those conditions, and received those instructions, and I understand them quite well. So before you go making assumptions about the people to whom you're responding, step back and pull your head out of your fourth point of contact.

Yes, "shit happens," but I'm not talking about that. I'm not talking about actions taken in combat, where confusion reigns and reactions must be instinctive. I'm talking about actions taken when there is ample time for planning and reflection, specifically involving individuals detained by the United States who may have information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks.
5.23.2009 9:37pm
RPT (mail):
"JP:

What "legal presumption" would that be?"

That if you are in possession of evidence which you assert will support your position and you do not produce it, it can be presumed that your assertion is wrong.

John Moore:

The problem with your argument against cherry-picking sources is that you have not cited anyone with actual percipient knowledge who agrees with you.

Re Obama not rebutting Cheney with documents, this is not a debate. Obama has better things to do than to respond to every faux-challenger, or his daughter. The Yoo, et al, memos had nothing of a confidential nature in them. The reason they were classified and never circulated internally was best described by James Comey. Cheney lost the debate internally and his position was rejected within the Bush administration second term. He is out of office, free to enjoy his KBR Halliburton plunder and is motivated by a desire to justify his own prior acts. The more he speaks the more clear it is that he was and is motivated primarily by fear. His approach to national security rejected the advice he received from the Clinton administration re the danger of terrorism. His actions before and on and after 9/11 were those of a fearful and incompetent and guilty man. Please explain his five draft deferments without reference to anyone's else service or lack of service. Please explain why he has never and will never subject himself to an interviewer who is not a complete or near complete brown-noser, much less under oath. He is the consumate chickenhawk.
5.23.2009 10:13pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mikey:

The Bush administration didn't release any documents.


Wrong. Bush clearly demonstrated years ago that he was perfectly happy to leak classified information if it served his political interests. Aside from the obvious example of Plame's identity, there's also this:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media


Also described here:

Defendant's participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 [2003] occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President had specifically authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE


And here:

Bush authorized disclosure of classified information on Iraq's weapons program to rebut war critics, a former top administration aide told a grand jury, according to documents filed in federal court.


And here:

Libby said that he was authorized by the President and Vice President to leak classified information to New York Times reporter Judith Miller


Later Bush released other portions of the NIE. So your claim is false.

Therefore it's ludicrous to suggest that there are documents which prove that torture worked. If this was true, Cheney would have been waving them under Brit Hume's nose years ago. And definitely prior to 11/2/04. Likewise for 11/4/08.

my reason for making that statement was to suggest how we might, in the words of the poster to whom I was responding, "attempt to discuss what it was actually used for."


We know what the torture "was actually used for." It was used to produce false confessions that were needed to sell the war.

I'm talking about actions taken when there is ample time for planning and reflection, specifically involving individuals detained by the United States who may have information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks.


Except that it doesn't look like we were looking for "information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks." It looks like we were looking for false confessions that were needed to sell the war.

If we were looking for "information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks," it seems very odd that the waterboarding ended exactly when the war started: 3/03. At that exact moment AQ suddenly lost interest in conducting "horrendous terrorist attacks" against the Fatherland? I don't think so.

==============
rpt:

He is out of office, free to enjoy his KBR Halliburton plunder and is motivated by a desire to justify his own prior acts.


True. He also seems motivated by a desire to sell his book.
5.23.2009 11:09pm
Mikey:

mikey:

The Bush administration didn't release any documents.



Wrong. Bush clearly demonstrated years ago that he was perfectly happy to leak classified information if it served his political interests. Aside from the obvious example of Plame's identity, there's also this:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media



Also described here:

Defendant's participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 [2003] occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President had specifically authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE



And here:

Bush authorized disclosure of classified information on Iraq's weapons program to rebut war critics, a former top administration aide told a grand jury, according to documents filed in federal court.



And here:

Libby said that he was authorized by the President and Vice President to leak classified information to New York Times reporter Judith Miller



Later Bush released other portions of the NIE. So your claim is false.

Therefore it's ludicrous to suggest that there are documents which prove that torture worked. If this was true, Cheney would have been waving them under Brit Hume's nose years ago. And definitely prior to 11/2/04. Likewise for 11/4/08.

my reason for making that statement was to suggest how we might, in the words of the poster to whom I was responding, "attempt to discuss what it was actually used for."



We know what the torture "was actually used for." It was used to produce false confessions that were needed to sell the war.

I'm talking about actions taken when there is ample time for planning and reflection, specifically involving individuals detained by the United States who may have information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks.



Except that it doesn't look like we were looking for "information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks." It looks like we were looking for false confessions that were needed to sell the war.

If we were looking for "information necessary to detecting and nullifying horrendous terrorist attacks," it seems very odd that the waterboarding ended exactly when the war started: 3/03. At that exact moment AQ suddenly lost interest in conducting "horrendous terrorist attacks" against the Fatherland? I don't think so.


When did this become about the Plame thing? Bush did not release any documents regarding harsh interrogations (at least not the sort Obama released). I was specifically referring to that, not to any other documents or leaks. Nothing to do with Plame, so I am not sure why you are bringing that up.

Perhaps Cheney et al. did in fact attempt to use waterboarding to derive some justification for the Iraq war. That would be rather abominable, I think. But if there's documentation of that, we haven't seen it yet.

I could just as easily say there are no documents that demonstrate a lack of effectiveness for harsh interrogations, because if there were, Obama would have released them along with the OLC memos, to demostrate that the techniques authorized were not only excessive, but ineffective.

You seem to be drawing a lot of unsupported inferences regarding my position.
5.23.2009 11:39pm
John Moore (www):
RPT:T

he problem with your argument against cherry-picking sources is that you have not cited anyone with actual percipient knowledge who agrees with you.


Go back and look at my Taguba citeson Abu Ghraib.

I have also cited my own SERE experience, because I DO have knowledge from that.

Beyond that, I have a life to live so playing "who can cherry pick the best" would leave me as much of an internet drudge as JBG, whose posts I just scroll by.
5.24.2009 12:57am
epeeist:
I may not be stating anything new, but must vent...

1. To permit torture of suspected terrorists is to understand and accept that mistakes will be made and sometimes there will be torture of those who are not terrorists and have not done anything wrong.

If one is okay with that, say so. If not, don't make specious arguments about "they're all terrorists who deserve it", because they are not, in fact, all terrorists who deserve it (mistaken identity, Iraqis deliberately claiming people they dislike are terrorists to get bounties, etc.).

2. To state that waterboarding is not torture and is acceptable when there is a need to obtain information is to legitimize use of this or similar methods generally, including against Americans. Not just U.S. military, let's say a U.S. tourist in Mexico is arrested and waterboarded and dies of a heart attack (as has happened to at least one if not several of those waterboarded by the U.S., if I recall correctly). Mexican police say "we suspected he was a drug smuggler with knowledge of an impending assassination of several police officers, by use of a time bomb, which was a 'ticking bomb' scenario justifying waterboarding, which isn't torture anyway. Too bad he died, now we'll never know if he was really guilty."

If one is okay with foreign governments using torture (or, if you don't consider it torture, waterboarding) against Americans who are merely suspected of wrongdoing, say so.

3. If torture is acceptable in a "ticking bomb" scenario, do you agree that e.g. suspected kidnappers (Americans, on U.S. soil, arrested by the police, accomplices may kill the victim) may be tortured to extract information?

If you're okay with domestic police forces using torture against Americans suspected of crimes in which knowledge may save lives, say so.

I'm reminded that former Pres. Bush gave Timothy McVeigh an extra month extension on his death sentence because certain evidence only came to light later and he said it was necessary and fair (or words to that effect) that his lawyers have time to review the information in case there was anything significant. So a convicted, child-murdering terrorist gets protected by the President of the United States, but we can do what we want to people outside U.S. territory even years after their capture (like they'll know of any "ticking bombs" by then!)?
5.24.2009 1:03am
Roger Schlafly (www):
Andrew, I don't know whether the Communist treatment of Cardinal Mindszenty met the ICAT definition of torture. I don't see how it relates to the present discussion either. But if you want to research that and post the info, go ahead.

Jukeboxgrad also wants to make WWII comparisons. Does that relate to Mancow's experience somehow?
5.24.2009 1:24am
John Moore (www):
eppeist:
1. To permit torture of suspected terrorists is to understand and accept that mistakes will be made and sometimes there will be torture of those who are not terrorists and have not done anything wrong.

If one is okay with that, say so.

Nobody in favor of waterboarding has denied that mistakes are made. On the other hand, many use the argument that the possibility of waterboarding an innocent person is enough to damn the entire practice, even though they do not say the same of the US justice system. Would you rather be wrongly waterboarded over a few weeks, or wrongly imprisoned for life?

2. To state that waterboarding is not torture and is acceptable when there is a need to obtain information is to legitimize use of this or similar methods generally, including against Americans.

Only under equivalent circumstances.
Not just U.S. military, let's say a U.S. tourist in Mexico is arrested and waterboarded and dies of a heart attack (as has happened to at least one if not several of those waterboarded by the U.S., if I recall correctly). Mexican police say "we suspected he was a drug smuggler with knowledge of an impending assassination of several police officers, by use of a time bomb, which was a 'ticking bomb' scenario justifying waterboarding, which isn't torture anyway. Too bad he died, now we'll never know if he was really guilty."


No. Not equivalent. Mass casualty attacks are different from the killing of several police officers - in or outside the US>



3. If torture is acceptable in a "ticking bomb" scenario, do you agree that e.g. suspected kidnappers (Americans, on U.S. soil, arrested by the police, accomplices may kill the victim) may be tortured to extract information?

No. And it isn't acceptable against US citizens on US soil, unless they are engaged in terrorism and it is judicially santioned. We are defending the US, and our citizens should get preferential treatment. Furthermore, the example you gave was irrelevant since it did not involve a mass casualty attack. Finally, note that the German police recently decided to torture a suspect in exactly the situation you gave, and were only stopped by the suspect consequently giving up the information they need.


I'm reminded that former Pres. Bush gave Timothy McVeigh an extra month extension on his death sentence because certain evidence only came to light later and he said it was necessary and fair (or words to that effect) that his lawyers have time to review the information in case there was anything significant. So a convicted, child-murdering terrorist gets protected by the President of the United States, but we can do what we want to people outside U.S. territory even years after their capture (like they'll know of any "ticking bombs" by then!)?

Not even close. There was no compelling reason to not delay in the case of McVeigh's execution - no lives to be saved, no terror attacks to be prevented.

Me thinks your sense of balance is... well... unbalanced.
5.24.2009 1:26am
Danny (mail):
Waterboarding is a form of torture, and torture is against the law in the US. There is no ambiguity here. If you are defending torture you are defending a criminal activity, just like defending rape or murder. I know that Ronald Reagan was a liberal pansy because he signed the UN convention against torture but that is the law of the land.

Defending torture is an authoritarian vice, it is a severe betrayal of democratic American principles. I am ashamed that the country has been spooked into such a dark place as to have so many defenders of torture.
5.24.2009 1:38am
John Moore (www):
<blockquote>
Waterboarding is a form of torture, and torture is against the law in the US. There is no ambiguity here. If you are defending torture you are defending a criminal activity, just like defending rape or murder.
</blockquote>
So waterboarding is like rape and murder? I don't think so.

As to it being against the law, there's a sitting judge who strongly disagrees with you, so it's isn't that clearcut.
<blockquote>

Defending torture is an authoritarian vice, it is a severe betrayal of democratic American principles.
</blockquote>
What do you say about life imprisonment? Is that an authoritarian vice? Is it against democratic American principles? If not, why is it different from waterboarding?
5.24.2009 2:51am
LM (mail):
JM,

What do you say about life imprisonment? Is that an authoritarian vice? Is it against democratic American principles? If not, why is it different from waterboarding?

Assuming you're talking about a life sentence for a convicted criminal, because it's not torture? And it's legal? Of course, if you mean someone you have locked in your basement, then yes, you're correct. That would be authoritarian vice, contrary to democratic American principles.
5.24.2009 4:31am
Prawo Jazdy:
That if you are in possession of evidence which you assert will support your position and you do not produce it, it can be presumed that your assertion is wrong.

That might be a reasonable inference, but it's certainly not a legal presumption. The latter has a specific meaning in law.
5.24.2009 7:39am
Owen Hutchins (mail):

What do you say about life imprisonment? Is that an authoritarian vice? Is it against democratic American principles? If not, why is it different from waterboarding?



And yet another Red Herring argument. Try to stick to the topic.
5.24.2009 8:16am
rosetta's stones:

"...an authoritarian vice, it is a severe betrayal of democratic American principles."


Don't look now, Danny, but the "authoritarian voice" you mention now seems to be emanating from the Obama Administration and the Pelosi House, who seem to be affirming most of the previous administration's policies, meaning it is truly "democratic" in nature (both lower and upper case d).

Now, you can argue the merits of democracy, but you shouldn't ignore the results of it when they're staring you in the face.
5.24.2009 8:57am
mattski:

Cheney lost the debate internally and his position was rejected within the Bush administration second term. He is out of office, free to enjoy his KBR Halliburton plunder and is motivated by a desire to justify his own prior acts. The more he speaks the more clear it is that he was and is motivated primarily by fear. His approach to national security rejected the advice he received from the Clinton administration re the danger of terrorism. His actions before and on and after 9/11 were those of a fearful and incompetent and guilty man. Please explain his five draft deferments without reference to anyone's else service or lack of service.

It is not a coincidence that, in the aggregate, the pro-torture crowd lack military experience and expertise. The--visceral--urge to inflict pain on defenseless detainees comes much more naturally to cowards than it does to people who have practiced, experienced and understood actual warfare.
5.24.2009 9:43am
11-B/2O.B4:
./sigh


JBG, you really have no moral compass do you? For your (shaky) record, I did not "disappear" after you asked your retarded question about the exact number of times I had been waterboarded. The implication being that because I'd been waterboarded fewer times than Khalid, I was just as unqualified to express an opinion as those I had excoriated in my previous post. I answered that post, but not the question precisely, for a few reasons, the first being that it's personal, and moot to the discussion, the second being that you're changing the subject when it gets uncomfortable. "What? Someone knows more about this than me? Better make some ad-hominem BS up and muddy the waters so I don't have to actually debate". The last reason being that I can't honestly give you or anyone the exact number, because I don't recall myself. I'd been awake for four days at the time, so I was in and out of it. I do know I had three separate "sessions", so I can estimate, but what's the point? This is all a sideshow to the fact you don't want to deal with the issue I raised, which is that this is a psychological method, not a physically damaging one. And as I said before, once you stipulate that "torture" is dependent on the subjective level of individual mental "suffering" that occurs, you create a legal minefield. No one has a better appreciation for the nastiness of this procedure than I, but I try to think things all the way through before I choose a side.

And finally, if I "disappear", it's because I have better things to do than spend four hours a day ratting about internet message boards, even ones the caliber of Volokh.

Cheers, happy Memorial Day weekend. Do me a favor and go honor your betters.
5.24.2009 9:47am
Desiderius:
War is hell, and not the least part of that hell is the recriminations from one's own moral certainty brigade, at least if one comes from a country that's worth a damn. The alternatives may well be worse.
5.24.2009 9:54am
Desiderius:
John Moore,

"mistakes are made"

You can do better than passive voice.
5.24.2009 9:55am
Desiderius:
"Radio Host Waterboarded, Says It's Torture:"

Radio Host speaks, Progressive intellectuals, in 180 degree turn, Take him seriously, Set aside tar, feathers, momentarily.
5.24.2009 9:57am
Danny (mail):

What do you say about life imprisonment? Is that an authoritarian vice? Is it against democratic American principles? If not, why is it different from waterboarding?


I do think the US tends to be a little too harsh on sentencing (just as Europe tends to be too light), and I'm against giving life sentences to minors, who could probably be rehabilitated. But there are obviously some people who deserve it. Proportionality is a subjective cultural issue, we can sit around debating it in an individual case.
When someone is sentenced to imprisonment there is a trial and a process and the sentence is imposed as an appropriate punishment.

Torture is not a punishment. It's a situation where a torturer has complete physical control over the victim. He imposes mental and physical suffering on a helpless person so severe that the victim will say anything to make it stop. Torture is by definition then immoral. You can make a utilitarian argument that committing a crime against one person will save others.. It's not ethically convincing but it is even less of a moral quandry since the expert interrogators (and I rely on expert opinions, since I am not an armchair soldier or interrogator) say it produces false information. So torture is by definition irrational and unproductive. Interrogators have techniques (I don't know, probably psychologically intimidating people, offering incentives, and some physical discomfort, without crossing the line into torture) to make people talk. It is authoritarian for the government to be doing secret, irrational things to people. Why shouldn't all of the people in Guantanamo have been treated like Timothy McVeigh (or someone accused of being like him)?


Don't look now, Danny, but the "authoritarian voice" you mention now seems to be emanating from the Obama Administration and the Pelosi House, who seem to be affirming most of the previous administration's policies, meaning it is truly "democratic" in nature (both lower and upper case d).


Agreed. My point is not that Democrats are democratic and Republicans are authoritarian, but that whatever political party is in power in the US needs to respect the rule of law which in the US includes stopping and prosecuting torture. So far I see a political class from both parties which is above the law, criminals and enablers/complicit.
5.24.2009 10:27am
Cornellian (mail):
The--visceral--urge to inflict pain on defenseless detainees comes much more naturally to cowards than it does to people who have practiced, experienced and understood actual warfare.

Perhaps even to someone who takes 5 educational deferments to get out of serving in Vietnam. It's so easy to play "tough guy" from the comfort of your office in D.C.
5.24.2009 10:38am
pluribus:
Desiderius:

War is hell, and not the least part of that hell is the recriminations from one's own moral certainty brigade, at least if one comes from a country that's worth a damn. The alternatives may well be worse.

This does not mean that in war anything goes. We do have a large and well-honored law of war, going back far into our history, and memorialized in our laws on many levels--statutes, case decisions, treaties, and the Constitution. There are some things we just don't do. We don't use mustard gas on the battlefield. We don't target civilian noncombatants. We don't deprive people of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. We don't torture prisoners, whether taken on the streets of an American city, or on a battlefield. I loathe people who smugly talk about the perils of "moral certainty," providing moral cover for the long-discredited philosophy that the end justifies the means. There was a reason wny George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill rejected torture as a tool of war--and it was not because they underestimated the dangers of redcoats, rebels, or Nazis. It was because they adhered to certain legal and moral principles.
5.24.2009 11:03am
Commenter ex machina:
It would seem to me that if you can do a particular interrogation technique 183 time to a person, and there are still no serious long-term repurcussions to that person, calling that technique "torture" strains the term beyond meaning.
5.24.2009 11:34am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mikey:

When did this become about the Plame thing?


When Cheney started promoting the wacky idea that there are memos that make him look good, but which for some strange reason were kept secret by Bush for years and years (even though releasing them would ostensibly do no harm to national security). That idea is wacky because Bush et al have a distinct track record of leaking classified information if there is even slight political utility in doing so. Therefore only people with amnesia could take Cheney's current charade seriously.

Bush did not release any documents regarding harsh interrogations


Bush et al did indeed provide a constant series of leaks to the press designed to make his torture policy look good. Consider this (12/13/05):

11 of 12 captured al Qaeda kingpins who have talked only did so after being waterboarded


We waterboarded 11 people? We're no longer hearing that claim. And according to Soufani, legal methods were working well, before torture was introduced.

And then of course there's the story of Kiriakou:

Zubaydah started to cooperate after being waterboarded for “probably 30, 35 seconds,” Mr. Kiriakou told the ABC reporter Brian Ross. “From that day on he answered every question.”


We now know that Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. That darn liberal media.

So the issue is not whether or not Bush decided to "release any documents regarding harsh interrogations." The point is that Bush has never been shy about leaking classified information if he thought it could help him (and above I provided other examples). So if there was classified information which demonstrated the effectiveness of torture, we would have heard about it a long time ago.

And, in fact, we have already heard about it, to the extent that it exists. On 2/9/06, Bush made a major speech describing what a great job he had been doing disrupting plots. And the OLC memos claim that torture was the basis for the most important of those disruptions (by the way, Cheney just falsely claimed that Obama had redacted such claims from the OLC memos). Trouble is, that claim requires a belief in time travel.

Perhaps Cheney et al. did in fact attempt to use waterboarding to derive some justification for the Iraq war


We are past the stage of "perhaps."

if there's documentation of that, we haven't seen it yet


The evidence that's already available is quite strong.

I could just as easily say there are no documents that demonstrate a lack of effectiveness for harsh interrogations


You could say it, but you'd be wrong:

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.


That IG report is "based on more than 100 interviews, a review of the videotapes and 38,000 pages of documents." So if they couldn't find "conclusive proof" of the effectiveness of torture, it's highly rational to assume that such proof is never going to be found. Which is another indication that Cheney is full of it, as usual.

I could just as easily say there are no documents that demonstrate a lack of effectiveness for harsh interrogations, because if there were, Obama would have released them along with the OLC memos, to demostrate that the techniques authorized were not only excessive, but ineffective.


If you follow the link I just provided, you will see that Obama does indeed plan to release the IG report, and then what is already obvious is going to become even more obvious: "the techniques authorized were not only excessive, but ineffective."

And why didn't he release the IG report "along with the OLC memos?" Here's one very plausible reason: because it will have much more impact when released separately. As it is, it's unfortunate that the OLC memos were released at virtually the same instant as the Senate report. As a result, the latter got virtually no news coverage, even though it's quite important.
5.24.2009 12:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Go back and look at my Taguba citeson Abu Ghraib.


Your "Taguba citeson Abu Ghraib" do nothing to contradict the findings of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And those 11 GOP senators are finally catching up with the reality that people like Taguba described years ago:

senior defense officials were involved in directing abusive interrogation policies


So Taguba himself contradicts the claims you are trying to make with your "Taguba citeson Abu Ghraib."

I have also cited my own SERE experience, because I DO have knowledge from that.


Why are you implying that you were waterboarded? You have already admitted that you were not.

the German police recently decided to torture a suspect in exactly the situation you gave, and were only stopped by the suspect consequently giving up the information they need


More baloney, which I already pointed out here. You don't know that the German police ever intended to actually impose physical torture. All you know is that they threatened to do so. And you are conveniently forgetting to mention that the police chief who did this was tried and sentenced for issuing the threat.

So waterboarding is like rape and murder? I don't think so.


How is it different from rape? You can be raped in a way that leaves no permanent physical damage. And the OLC memos implicitly approve rape as an interrogation technique. So what is the rational basis for your oracular pronouncement that somehow rape and waterboarding are fundamentally different? And that you approve the latter for interrogation, but not the former?

there's a sitting judge who strongly disagrees with you, so it's isn't that clearcut


The "sitting judge" who claimed that waterboarding is not torture is Bybee. And what's "clearcut" is that he supported that claim by ignoring the long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture. What's also pretty "clearcut" is that he produced that bogus analysis because he wanted to become a judge:

Bybee's friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. The reason he went back to Washington, Guynn said, was to interview with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for a slot that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, "Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?" Guynn said.


Who says torture isn't effective? It can definitely be effective at advancing your career.

What's also "clearcut" is that he produced an analysis which implicitly declares that such things as sodomy and electric shock are also not torture. Which is a pretty strong clue that his analysis is bogus.

What's also "clearcut" is that he never would have been confirmed as a judge if the OLC torture memos had not been a secret at the time he was confirmed.

So the opinion of your "sitting judge" isn't worth much. Doug Kmiec headed OLC under Reagan and Bush I, and he has been harshly critical of your "sitting judge."
5.24.2009 12:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schlafly:

Jukeboxgrad also wants to make WWII comparisons.


There are some WWII comparisons that are highly relevant.

And I wonder why you're still evading the question I asked you here.

Does that relate to Mancow's experience somehow?


The fact that we called it torture when the Japanese did waterboarding the same way we did it does indeed "relate to Mancow's experience somehow," and is also much more relevant than "Mancow's experience." Because it reflects the judicial history of the US, and not just one man's opinion (although Mancow's opinion is indeed strong evidence, since he has made an admission against interest).

=====================
rosetta:

the "authoritarian voice" you mention now seems to be emanating from the Obama Administration


What is "emanating" from you is complete baloney, as usual. Obama's Executive Order forbids not just torture but also CID.

who seem to be affirming most of the previous administration's policies


Your understanding of what's actually happening is roughly as correct as your statements about the Brooklyn Bridge.

=====================
11-B/2O.B4:

I answered that post, but not the question precisely, for a few reasons, the first being that it's personal, and moot to the discussion


If your SERE experience was "personal," why did you decide to show up here and announce you had been waterboarded "multiple times?" And why are you still refusing to say exactly what you mean by "multiple?"

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that SERE rules stipulate that no one is waterboarded more than twice. So either you used "multiple" as a euphemism for "twice," or you're a bullshitter.

I do know I had three separate "sessions"


I guess now we know you're a bullshitter.

The implication being that because I'd been waterboarded fewer times than Khalid, I was just as unqualified to express an opinion as those I had excoriated in my previous post


It's not just that you were waterboarded fewer times. It's that the CIA procedure and the SERE procedure are fundamentally different.

you're changing the subject when it gets uncomfortable


What a nice example of projection. The one who's "changing the subject when it gets uncomfortable" is you. It was not my idea to talk about how many times you were waterboarded. That idea was yours.

you don't want to deal with the issue I raised, which is that this is a psychological method, not a physically damaging one


You don't want to deal with the issue that's been raised, which is that torture does not necessarily entail procedures that are "physically damaging."

once you stipulate that "torture" is dependent on the subjective level of individual mental "suffering" that occurs, you create a legal minefield


The US courts that have repeatedly declared that waterboarding is torture did not get sidetracked in your imaginary "legal minefield."

No one has a better appreciation for the nastiness of this procedure than I


The people who actually experienced the CIA procedure (and not just the radically more benign SERE procedure), and experienced it scores of times (and not just twice) do indeed have "a better appreciation for the nastiness of this procedure" than you do.

I have better things to do than spend four hours a day ratting about internet message boards


If you don't have time to defend your bogus claims, then you should refrain from making bogus claims.
5.24.2009 12:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
desid:

Radio Host speaks, Progressive intellectuals, in 180 degree turn, Take him seriously, Set aside tar, feathers, momentarily.


Duh. There's no "180 degree turn." He's being taken seriously because he made an admission against interest.

=====================
cornellian:

The--visceral--urge to inflict pain on defenseless detainees comes much more naturally to cowards than it does to people who have practiced, experienced and understood actual warfare.


Perhaps even to someone who takes 5 educational deferments to get out of serving in Vietnam. It's so easy to play "tough guy" from the comfort of your office in D.C.


But you should give him credit for what he was willing to do in order to get those deferments.

=====================
commenter ex machina:

It would seem to me that if you can do a particular interrogation technique 183 time to a person, and there are still no serious long-term repurcussions to that person, calling that technique "torture" strains the term beyond meaning.


I could electrify your genitals 183 times without causing any permanent physical damage. Does that mean you haven't been tortured?

It's truly perverse to claim that the high number of repetitions is proof that it wasn't torture. On the contrary.

=====================
mattski:

It is not a coincidence that, in the aggregate, the pro-torture crowd lack military experience and expertise


Indeed. And the military experience they sometimes claim to have often embodies various surprising features. Meanwhile, numerous actual military leaders with actual military experience have condemned torture.

But the Bush maladministration has no respect for actual experience (exhibit A: Michael 'heckuva job' Brown). So they thought it was a great idea to put our terrorist interrogation program in the hands of two people who "neither had an intelligence or interrogation background or had experience with Muslim terrorists." Which is not the only sign that Bush's torture policy was inspired by a TV show.
5.24.2009 12:09pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
@Schlafly
Andrew, I don't know whether the Communist treatment of Cardinal Mindszenty met the ICAT definition of torture. I don't see how it relates to the present discussion either.
Although I think your lack of comprehension is feigned, I'll explain it slowly. You seem very dubious whether waterboarding is torture, but you refuse to explain how we can prove that it's torture. That makes the task you set for us pretty much impossible, doesn't it? Like talking to someone who has beans stuck in his ears. But it turns out that your own mother knows something on the subject, at least when torture techniques are applied to Catholics. I was hoping you would make a phone call or two so I could try to show that waterboarding meets the Schlafly Family Torture Definition, but you don't even see the utility of this. Or rather, you do: the minute you come up with a definition of torture consistent with the Schlafly Family Definition, you will be forced to admit the Cheney Administration shares an ugly trait with Hungarian Communists. Which is why you equivocate.
5.24.2009 12:09pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
I think we have an answer from O about torture. We're just outsourcing it:


U.S. Relies More on Allies in Questioning Terror Suspects
By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to current and former American government officials.

-------

In the past 10 months, for example, about a half-dozen midlevel financiers and logistics experts working with Al Qaeda have been captured and are being held by intelligence services in four Middle Eastern countries after the United States provided information that led to their arrests by local security services, a former American counterterrorism official said.


O doesn't seem to share the outrage about "kangaroo courts" anymore either:


Obama to Keep Tribunals; Stance Angers Some Backers

By WILLIAM GLABERSON
Published: May 15, 2009

The White House said Friday that the administration would prosecute some detainees being held at the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in a military commission system, a much-criticized centerpiece of the Bush administration’s strategy for fighting terror.



I guess these explains why the lefties here are resorting to record levels of insults on this thread. They are kinda frustrated that things aren't going their way.
5.24.2009 12:15pm
Danny (mail):
There are other ways of getting information out of people.. why don't we talk about the alternatives to torture that really do get intelligence?

I also sometimes have to get information out of an uncooperative Arabic-looking man. There are many options: food bribery; emotional blackmail; forming an Axis of Evil with his mother

I don't know how much these enhanced techniques can be extrapolated to other situations, but I think that other techniques are out there.. professional interrogators (like Soufan) please give details
5.24.2009 12:44pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Rosetta stone says something strange. (Again)
Obama, Holder and Pelosi appear to have/will go along with the policies that the Bushitler administration and previous Congresses developed. They recognize all this as policy issues, all shrieking notwithstanding.
Yes, the policy Obama announced was (a) the closing of Guantanamo and (b) repudiation of torture. Torture seems to have waned in the latter days of the Bushitler Administration, as Darth Cheney lost internal power struggles to Rice. But the formal repudiation of our past practices does not strike me as continuity.

It's remarkable how Cheney-patriots hate America and want to paint it as the land of war crimes, in this war and in earlier wars. Their cowardice, that they ask us to share, is almost unfathomable.
5.24.2009 1:04pm
Desiderius:
Pluribus,

"We do have a large and well-honored law of war, going back far into our history, and memorialized in our laws on many levels--statutes, case decisions, treaties, and the Constitution."

Which was exactly my point - it's what makes our country worth a damn. Doesn't mean that strenuous efforts to uphold that law are any less hellish on those who have fallen afoul of it, often unwittingly, and even wittingly in what they perceived to be service of said country.

"I loathe people who smugly talk about the perils of "moral certainty," providing moral cover for the long-discredited philosophy that the end justifies the means."

I assure you, there is nothing smug about acknowledging the limits of human knowledge, including said acknowledgment. Thankfully, there are elements in play beyond the human and prior to mere knowledge. Epistemological humility scarcely provides sufficient moral cover for a philosophy that has long been discredited within its strictures, and even due to them.

"There was a reason wny George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill rejected torture as a tool of war--and it was not because they underestimated the dangers of redcoats, rebels, or Nazis. It was because they adhered to certain legal and moral principles."

Case in point.

There is no empirical moral certainty in this world, to attain it requires a faith commitment, and in the spirit of Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill I speak of faith not exclusively, or even primarily, in the religious sense, but in the semper fidelis sense, the full faith and credit sense, the "We hold these truths to be self-evident" sense, which, apart from faith is mere tautology.

The key word in that faith statement is "We" - it is a statement of shared faith, shared commitment to common principles, and such a shared faith offers gains beyond the reach of mere empiricism. The price to be paid for that gain is an unwarranted moral certainty that threatens not only the otherwise ubiquitous utility of said empiricism, but more seriously the bonds of community transcending blood that that faith engendered in the first place.

A country with no sense of moral certainty is one devoid of faith and thus dying and fit to die, but that shared faith also imposes the obligation to make a, yes, good faith, effort to determine how those with whom one shares one's faith understand it, live it out, to appreciate their logic, and that requires suspending that certainty, at least temporarily.
5.24.2009 1:15pm
pluribus:
Desiderius:

A country with no sense of moral certainty is one devoid of faith and thus dying and fit to die. . .

I wholeheartedly agree.

[B]but that shared faith also imposes the obligation to make a, yes, good faith, effort to determine how those with whom one shares one's faith understand it, live it out, to appreciate their logic, and that requires suspending that certainty, at least temporarily.

I might agree with this if I understood the point you are trying to make. But then again maybe I wouldn't.
5.24.2009 1:30pm
Desiderius:
pluribus,

"I might agree with this if I understood the point you are trying to make. But then again maybe I wouldn't."

The point is that moral certainty is neither an unalloyed good nor its opposite, but need be handled with care and mercy, as I should think the western history of religious/ideological persecution should make abundantly clear.

The lines you quoted would suggest that, for starters, we assume that those with whom we disagree are acting from principle as much as we are, absent clear evidence to the contrary, and to keep mindful that those principles themselves are one and the same, despite the divergent applications thereof.
5.24.2009 1:56pm
MarkField (mail):

Although I think your lack of comprehension is feigned


I've read enough of Roger's posts to believe that you ought to give him the benefit of the doubt.
5.24.2009 2:15pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Yes, the policy Obama announced was ... repudiation of torture.


I don't think O has the same definition of "repudiate" as you.

"The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects"

How do you think Arab intelligence agencies interrogate?
5.24.2009 2:37pm
John Moore (www):
11-B/2O.B4:

Those of us who have been through SERE and are still in favor of enhanced interrogation can expect to be thoroughly and dishonestly attacked. The fact that I even served has been questioned.

OTOH, if anyone claims to have been through SERE and is against the interrogation program, you can be sure they will be received with glee.

Ignore JBG, he is a total waste of time. Not so true of some of the others.
5.24.2009 3:08pm
John Moore (www):
Danny:

There are other ways of getting information out of people.. why don't we talk about the alternatives to torture that really do get intelligence?

Yes, there are, which is no doubt on of the reasons that waterboarding was only used three times, very early in the war when information was most critically needed and the threat was most acutely felt and least well understood.

Sometimes, though, the other techniques don't work, or you don't have time to use them.

That's stark rality.
5.24.2009 3:11pm
Jam:
jukeboxgrad : Kudos and standing ovation to you.

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

Please, everyone. Not all Christians, evangelicals, [paleo]conservatives with a libertarian bent DO NOT condone or approve of torture.

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Romans 3
5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" 8Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.

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

I consider waterboarding torture. Waterboarding is a controlled drowning. Water do get into the lungs. The victim is not allowed to succumb to the asphixiation.

My personal experience that leads me to conlude that waterboarding is torture is that I grew up in water, so to speak. One of my water activities was spear fishing; snorkel and mask, free diving. I could hold my breath under water for a little over 4 minutes and I could spearfish to a depth about 35ft. Not record breaking but about 2 minutes of dive time while moving around the bottom, looking for fish among the corals.

I have experienced breathing a little of water.

When a child I experienced being held underwater because someone else though it was fun. I never allowed my children to hold another perons under water. My children were given explicit verbal permission to use whatever force was necessary to come up for air, if they were being held under water.

My only experience coming close to drowning was while surfing big waves in Rincon, around 1977. Although I did not inhale, I was at the point of desperation and was about to inhale when I broke the surface.
5.24.2009 3:13pm
epeeist:
To John Moore:

Fine, a mass attack example.

The Atlanta Olympics bombing. A security guard was falsely believed and reported to be involved (his lawsuit was later dismissed because he was found to be a "public figure" which I thought was ridiculous).

Consider a similar situation. There's a bombing at a mass public event and there is (genuine, reasonable) worry there may be more bombs. A security guard is (genuinely) suspected though there is not much evidence. Is torture of the suspect justified because of the danger of a terrorist mass attack on U.S. soil against U.S. citizens? If not, why not? If the security guard is a legal U.S. resident but not a citizen, does that make it more okay to torture him?

My McVeigh example was not about this specific issue, but more generally (and in fairness I was not explicit) an example of the sort of due process protection he received, a terrorist and mass murderer, he had a trial, etc., so why not for other accused terrorists?
5.24.2009 3:14pm
John Moore (www):

Is torture of the suspect justified because of the danger of a terrorist mass attack on U.S. soil against U.S. citizens? If not, why not? If the security guard is a legal U.S. resident but not a citizen, does that make it more okay to torture him?

At some point, with appropriate legal protections and judical involvement (not possible under current law), I'd say the kinds of EIT's we used on Al Qaeda would be okay - but as in anything like this, you have a slippery slope. Is the bomb nuclear? Is it likely to kill 5 people, 100 people, 1000 people, 1 million people? Is the probability you have the right guy 1% 95%? In other words, you have to determine that point, which could lead us down endless twisty little passages, all alike.


so why not for other accused terrorists?

It depends on whether:

A) they are Americans

B) the action was part of a war

C) the action took place in the US

Obviously, giving "due process" that McVeigh got is not possible in the many cases of terrorists captured overseas in battle.
5.24.2009 3:27pm
Just an Observer:
Hank Bowman, MD:

Then the USAF owes me big time for waterboarding me during my SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training.


Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today:

And remember waterboarding comes out of your Survival, Evasion and Escape techniques. And those were intended to be torture to show our guys what they should be subjected to.


There's your answer. You volunteered to experience "torture" techniques. If you think you are owed back pay, see the chaplain.

But since you were a volunteer, not a captive, and the waterboarding did not occur outside the United States, the SERE trainers did not violate the Torture Act.

Those who waterboarded the Al Qaeda captives did violate that statute, as well as the War Crimes Act.
5.24.2009 4:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mark:

Although I think your lack of comprehension is feigned


I've read enough of Roger's posts to believe that you ought to give him the benefit of the doubt.


Sometimes it's really hard to tell if the problem is integrity or intelligence. I think often the correct answer is both.

=============
bob:

The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects


That sentence implies ("now") that something new is going on. But that's not true. The article goes on to explain that what's happening is the continuation of a policy that was already in place under Bush, and that probably goes back much further than Bush. Keep in mind that rendition goes back at least as far as Reagan.

We can't fight terrorism ourselves, and we also can't fight terrorism just by getting help from countries that have torture policies that resemble ours. But now that we've stopped our own torture program we have somewhat more credibility when we insist that our allies do the same thing. We'll have even more credibility if we punish our own torturers.

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

Those of us who have been through SERE and are still in favor of enhanced interrogation


Why are you implying, again, that you were waterboarded at SERE? You have already admitted that this never happened. Do I have to show you where you made that admission?

can expect to be thoroughly and dishonestly attacked


You're being attacked because you routinely make shit up (link, link). And it's quite remarkable to see you brazenly repeat a brazenly false claim even after the falsity of the claim has been exposed.

And where is your proof that any attack against you has been 'dishonest?'

And it is indeed interesting to notice the various SERE graduates who show up here and make various surprising claims (link, link, link).

The fact that I even served has been questioned.


Really? Show us exactly where. Now that you have created a distinct track record of making false claims, only a fool would accept any of your claims without seeing exact proof.

Sometimes … the other techniques don't work, or you don't have time to use them. That's stark rality.


The "stark reality" is that legal techniques were working, and then when we substituted torture, it "backfired." Another "stark reality" is that torture is always illegal, even when it's allegedly necessary and/or effective. Another "stark reality" is that in our situation the torture appears to have been neither of those things (necessary or effective).

Unless you define "effective" as Bybee getting the judgeship he wanted, and Cheney getting the war he wanted.

=============
JaO:

But since you were a volunteer, not a captive, and the waterboarding did not occur outside the United States, the SERE trainers did not violate the Torture Act.


I also think that bowman's USAF SERE trainers did not waterboard him, because according to the Senate Armed Services Committee, "the Navy is the only service that used waterboarding in SERE training."

=============
jam, thanks for the kind words.
5.24.2009 5:20pm
rosetta's stones:

Yes, the policy Obama announced was (a) the closing of Guantanamo and (b) repudiation of torture.


Actually, Lazarus, you're mistaken. Obama released a statement, basically boob bait for the shriekers. You swallowed the boob bait.

Guantanamo will be open for business a year from now (and much longer than the year I predicted back in January upon Obama's statement). And as mentioned above by another, coercive interrogations are alive and well, as sanctioned by the Obama administration, which also will soon be executing the military commission concept. But, you keep swallowing the boob bait.

Meanwhile, careful observers will observe that Obama, Holder and Pelosi are busily affirming most/all of the previous administration's policy.

And to be explicit, the Obama Administration's and the Congress' actions are of a policy discussion. That would be policy, to the exclusion of other shriekings the shriekers make here.
5.24.2009 5:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
rosetta:

coercive interrogations are alive and well


If you mean "coercive interrogations" being done by certain countries in the Middle East, that might be true, but it's always been true, and our ability to prevent it is limited.

If you mean something else, then you should say what you mean and prove it. Because in the absence of proof, it's reasonable to assume that your claims are complete bullshit.

Obama, Holder and Pelosi are busily affirming most/all of the previous administration's policy.


When you don't make even a pretense of addressing the proof that you're wrong, you succeed only in demonstrating that you don't expect to be taken seriously. But we already knew that.
5.24.2009 5:45pm
Danny (mail):
John Moore

Sometimes, though, the other techniques don't work, or you don't have time to use them.

That's stark rality.


So where do we draw the line? We are talking about whether waterboarding is OK, but even that seems to be a subject of such debate because we aren't clear about what waterboarding is. It seems that there is a range of techniques of varying danger and severity that fall under the term "waterboarding". From the SERE training, which apparently everyone has survived, to uncontrolled and potentially lethal waterboarding. Every non-soldier who undergoes it seems to come out with the same opinion: it is absolutely torture. I see a pattern. Also when Christopher Hitchens got waterboarded he had to sign a paper saying that there was a risk that he would die or suffer brain damage during the waterboarding. So that would seem to clearly bring waterboarding as usually practiced under the definition of torture.

There are different degrees of torture, of course. Breaking a finger is not the same thing as putting someone in an iron maiden. I guess I would rather be put in coffin with a big insect than have a finger broken, but I would rather have a finger broken than be put in a coffin with a rat. So what is the cutoff? How about pulling out a single fingernail for national security?

Sleep deprivation for a week can kill people. That is torture. We did that.

This is such a dangerous road to go down. Why do it? I believe that the ticking time bomb scenario is so vanishingly rare as to be irrelevant. When the US opened the torture door a crack we instantly got Abu Ghraib, the real deal, and 100 fatalities. How will our citizens and democracy ever be safe if we don't outlaw ALL torture?
5.24.2009 5:51pm
pluribus:
Desiderius:

The point is that moral certainty is neither an unalloyed good nor its opposite, but need be handled with care and mercy, as I should think the western history of religious/ideological persecution should make abundantly clear.

So torture is neither an unalloyed good nor its opposite (an unalloyed evil?). Terrorism is neither an unalloyed good nor its opposite. It "all depends," right? I love bright lines like that! Moral relativism has its place, I guess, but is it enshrined in our Constitution, statutes, and treaties? I'd prefer to leave the moral relativism to the philosophers and the legal rules to the lawyers and judges--and to the president, who is sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Maybe that's one reason why I go to legal blogs instead of philosophy or morality blogs.
5.24.2009 6:03pm
rosetta's stones:

I'd prefer to leave the moral relativism to the philosophers and the legal rules to the lawyers and judges--and to the president, who is sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.


Danny, the lawyers, judges and president are doing all that, and they evidently disagree with your analysis. They disagree with you on this policy.
5.24.2009 6:10pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
danny:

the ticking time bomb scenario is so vanishingly rare as to be irrelevant


True. And the question of how to handle that scenario has already been addressed.

How will our citizens and democracy ever be safe if we don't outlaw ALL torture?


We have already done that ("outlaw ALL torture"). So the appropriate question is a little different than the one you raised. The appropriate question is "how will our citizens and democracy ever be safe" if we set a precedent that the president is above the law.
5.24.2009 6:10pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Andrew, you are asking me to consult with my relatives, propose our own definition of torture, and then explain to you how that definition can be met.

The answer is no, I don't have a personal definition of torture. If you want to know whether Cheney violated the American torture law, then I suggest using the definition that is in the statutes. You might also look at precedents in applying the law.

The experience of Mancow and other journalists is illuminating because it tells us more about what waterboarding is like. But it does not tell us whether the statutory elements of torture are necessarily satisfied. Hardly anyone in this discussion even mentions those elements.
5.24.2009 6:28pm
MarkField (mail):

Sometimes it's really hard to tell if the problem is integrity or intelligence. I think often the correct answer is both.


I was always fond of Churchill's resolution of this dilemma, but your's has its merits also.
5.24.2009 6:51pm
GD:
At the end of the day, the "empathy" of most libs lies with the terrorists (and not with Republican leaders faced with difficult choices).
5.24.2009 7:51pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schlafly:

You might also look at precedents in applying the law.


That suggestion is screamingly ironic, since "look at precedents" (i.e., the most relevant ones, which pertain to waterboarding) is exactly what you've been refusing to do. And of course it's also what the OLC torture memos failed to do.

==============
mark:

Churchill's resolution of this dilemma


I think you're flatteringly overestimating my erudition, which I'm sure is not comparable to yours. Threads like this remind me of certain Churchill quotes (e.g., "there's less to him than meets the eye") but I can't think of the one you mean.

Here's another one that comes to mind but is also probably not the one you mean: "tell the privy seal, I am sealed to the privy, and can only deal with one shit at a time."

==============
gd:

Republican leaders faced with difficult choices


You mean, say, the choice between selling an unnecessary war just by lying about WMD, as compared with selling an unnecesssary war by both lying about WMD and also using torture to generate false confessions that help sell the war? Yup, that's a tough choice.
5.24.2009 8:05pm
LM (mail):
Des,

A country with no sense of moral certainty is one devoid of faith and thus dying and fit to die, but that shared faith also imposes the obligation to make a, yes, good faith, effort to determine how those with whom one shares one's faith understand it, live it out, to appreciate their logic, and that requires suspending that certainty, at least temporarily.

I understand what you're getting at, but isn't there a better way to describe it than "moral certainty?" It's the sort of term that gets invoked by people who confuse it with their own misplaced cognitive certainty to justify behavior hardly compatible with anything you'd call "moral."
5.24.2009 8:26pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Well, Roger, so far the score is at least five separate precedents of waterboarding is torture: Philippine Insurrection, Japanese war crimes, anti-Khmer Rouge torture exhibit, the State Supreme Court of Mississippi, and a Federal conviction in Texas. We have zero examples of waterboarding being approved in a criminal setting, only in the self-serving OLC memos. This remarkable fact gets obscured by the pro-torture crowd bringing in various ticking-bomb fantasies. But it's really very simple.

For the record, I do not oppose military commissions to try detained possible terrorists. I objected to the rules of the Bush/Cheney commissions, the kangaroo courts, to the extent they allowed evidence obtained by torture, secret evidence obtained by hearsay, and other forms of unrebuttable evidence, while denying effective (or any) counsel. (Remember the early version where the defendant was provided with counsel required to pass all obtained information along to the tribunal?)

When we hear reports of Obama permitting torture of detainees in American custody, rosetta, get in touch. Until then, you'll have to swallow your bile.
5.24.2009 8:59pm
Desiderius:
"So torture is neither an unalloyed good nor its opposite (an unalloyed evil?). Terrorism is neither an unalloyed good nor its opposite. It "all depends," right?"

This is category error. Torture or terrorism may well be unalloyed evils, but they are not so empirically, but because we, including many of your interlocutors, have made a faith commitment to principles which judge them to be so. If we wish for that common commitment to last, it is imperative that we treat those who have joined us in that commitment with mercy, to extend to them the assumption of innocence, and to make the attempt to understand what they are saying from their perspective. You know, that empathy thing that Obama is currently on about.

If your reaction is to note that they are not known for extending such empathy to you, keep in mind that this undermines your argument that terrorists should be treated in a similarly asymmetric manner.

Where moral certainty is dangerous is in assuming that our own understanding of those common principles is the only true one.

"Maybe that's one reason why I go to legal blogs instead of philosophy or morality blogs."

If only the three could so easily be disentwined.
5.24.2009 9:11pm
Desiderius:
LM,

"I understand what you're getting at, but isn't there a better way to describe it than "moral certainty?" It's the sort of term that gets invoked by people who confuse it with their own misplaced cognitive certainty to justify behavior hardly compatible with anything you'd call "moral.""

If the shoe fits.

So good to have you back, LM.
5.24.2009 9:14pm
Desiderius:
pluribus,

Shorter version: it is the moral certainty that is neither unalloyed good or evil, not torture itself.

Look, a house divided against itself cannot stand, no matter how superpowerful that house believes itself to be. The cold civil war is no longer sustainable, in financial terms or in terms of our moral standing in the world, and I'm groping for ways to get beyond it.

We do not have the luxury of waiting until the Boomers hit the nursing homes to do this.
5.24.2009 9:33pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

But now that we've stopped our own torture program we have somewhat more credibility when we insist that our allies do the same thing.


Sure, we're going to "insist" that Syria et al. not torture. Any day now. Well, in a few years anyways. Next century, for sure.


When we hear reports of Obama permitting torture of detainees in American custody, rosetta, get in touch.



We are letting the Arabs do the interrogations because they torture. That's the whole point. We may get a Monty Python promise (wink wink, nod nod say no more) but no one takes such promises seriously. Well, you and JBG do, I guess.

But since they are not in "american custody", you can sleep easily. Some moral position.

I rather be at Gitmo myself, btw.
5.24.2009 9:40pm
Commenter ex machina:
jukeboxgrad:

I could electrify your genitals 183 times without causing any permanent physical damage. Does that mean you haven't been tortured?


In order for that to be possible, the electification would have to be weaker than that of a 12-volt battery. So, yes, that means I haven't been tortured. I'm sure if you surf around the net you'll see people doing a lot worse to their genitals voluntarily...
5.24.2009 10:45pm
PC:
I'm sure if you surf around the net you'll see people doing a lot worse to their genitals voluntarily...

Another person that doesn't understand the difference between sex and rape.
5.24.2009 11:32pm
Commenter ex machina:

Another person that [sic] doesn't understand the difference between sex and rape.


Another person who doesn't understand the argument supported by an example.

[OR]

Another person purposefully ignoring an argument in an effort to create a strawman.
5.24.2009 11:52pm
MarkField (mail):

I think you're flatteringly overestimating my erudition, which I'm sure is not comparable to yours. Threads like this remind me of certain Churchill quotes (e.g., "there's less to him than meets the eye") but I can't think of the one you mean.


Churchill was attacking the government in Parliament one day, when he was interrupted and asked if he was accusing the government of dishonesty. He replied that he was a very charitable person and would never make an accusation of dishonesty when simple stupidity would suffice.
5.24.2009 11:57pm
PC:
Commenter ex machina, you seem to be suggesting that if a person is willing to voluntarily do something, forcing that same action on an unwilling participant would somehow be okay. It is interesting that you bring up genital mutilation. That is one of the enhanced interrogation techniques that Binyam Mohamed alleges happened to him. Khalid el-Masri claims he was sodomized, something some people engage in voluntarily. And there's Maher Arar who claims he was beaten with shredded cables.

A person could pay for any of those acts at a BDSM dungeon. I'd consider any of those to be torture if a person did not volunteer for it. Do you feel differently?
5.25.2009 12:18am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Commenter ex machina, how did you determine that 183 genital shocks would cause permanent physical damage?
5.25.2009 12:40am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bob:

Sure, we're going to "insist" that Syria et al. not torture.


When you hear that Obama rendered someone to Syria, let us know.

And the Bush State Dept did indeed condemn various countries for using some of the same torture techniques that we were using. Not everyone thinks it's in our long-term strategic interest to be seen by the rest of the world as flaming hypocrites.

We are letting the Arabs do the interrogations because they torture.


That's one possibility. Another possibility is that it might have something to do with the fact that "the Arabs" speak Arabic. Whereas we have Soufan, and probably hardly anyone else.

But since they are not in "american custody", you can sleep easily. Some moral position.


I think that ceasing and forbidding the torture of captives in American custody is an important step in the right direction. You, on the other hand, seem to think that a policy that makes us more like Syria is preferable to a policy that makes us less like Syria. Some moral position.

I rather be at Gitmo myself


There are many different ways of saying that there's someone else who's worse than us. But when you resort to making that claim part of your argument, you succeed only in demonstrating that your standards are too low.

================
commenter ex machina:

I could electrify your genitals 183 times without causing any permanent physical damage. Does that mean you haven't been tortured?


In order for that to be possible, the electification would have to be weaker than that of a 12-volt battery. So, yes, that means I haven't been tortured.


You're ignorant about electricity. The pain caused by electricity is a function of voltage, whereas the damage caused by electricity is a function of current. Voltage and current are related, but they are not the same thing. If the former is high and the latter is low, I can cause pain without causing physical damage. If this wasn't true, dog owners would not put electric collars on their beloved canines, and there would also be no such thing as a Taser. And farmers would be causing physical damage to their animals when they use cattle prods. But they don't.

Even though you don't understand this, torturers do, and therefore electric shock has been a common torture technique (link, link). Because torturers do indeed often prefer (for all sorts of reasons) to be able to torture while also leaving no proof behind (and physical damage would be a form of proof).

And your ignorance is clearly revealed in your statement "weaker than that of a 12-volt battery." Using a 12-volt battery for torture is not a question of 'weak' or 'strong.' It's a question of whether or not a transformer is used to increase the voltage. If there is no transformer, the 12 volts will cause you neither pain nor damage (and this is one of the reasons cars use this system). On the other hand, a transformer can be used to greatly increase the voltage, and this voltage can cause pain (your car has a transformer which provides high voltage to your spark plug wires, so you can experiment on yourself, if you like).

It is quite possible to apply electricity to your body in a way that delivers high voltage without delivering high current (and this is exactly what a Taser does). In the absence of high current, there will be little or no physical damage, even though the high voltage causes high pain (especially if it's applied skillfully to sensitive areas).

If you can't manage to grasp that electricity can be used to cause pain withou causing physical harm, consider the example of sodomy. You can be sodomized 183 times in a manner that causes no long-term physical harm. Feel free to tell us that if a future enemy did that to an American, you would refrain from accusing that enemy of torture.

It's the height of ignorance to claim that physical harm is a necesary condition for torture. It's ignorant both from the perspective of the legal definition, as well as from the perspective of common sense.

If physical harm was a necessary condition, then mock execution would not be legally defined as torture. But it is.

I'm sure if you surf around the net you'll see people doing a lot worse to their genitals voluntarily


People also have intercourse voluntarily. That doesn't mean rape isn't a form of torture. As PC said.

Yes, people mutilate themselves with razors for the purpose of sexual gratification. So if an enemy captures you and mutilates you with razors, you're going to claim they haven't tortured you? You must be joking.

Another person who doesn't understand the argument supported by an example.


Another person who doesn't understand the difference between presenting an argument and being inadvertently funny.

================
mark, thanks for explaining. I should have known.
5.25.2009 12:42am
Commenter ex machina:
PC:


Commenter ex machina, you seem to be suggesting that if a person is willing to voluntarily do something, forcing that same action on an unwilling participant would somehow be okay.


No, that's not what I'm suggesting. What I'm arguing is that if a person can receive a certain electrical shock to the genitals 183 times, and receive no long term damage, then the shock's voltage must be very, very low. Almost like a tingle. Certainly not torture. In fact, it's probably quite bearable. Hence my internet aside. I probably should have made that clearer. Sorry for the confusion.
5.25.2009 12:51am
Desiderius:
Markfield,

"Churchill was attacking the government in Parliament one day, when he was interrupted and asked if he was accusing the government of dishonesty. He replied that he was a very charitable person and would never make an accusation of dishonesty when simple stupidity would suffice."

Came across this gem yesterday, speaking of Sir Stafford Cripps, Churchill said:

"There, but for the grace of God, goes God."
5.25.2009 1:14am
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

"If you mean "coercive interrogations" being done by certain countries in the Middle East, that might be true, but it's always been true, and our ability to prevent it is limited."

On a tangential note, there was an interesting article in the Sunday New York Times on the U.S. relying more and more on other nations intelligence services to "capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects" with the U.S. providing information leading to the arrest of these suspects, including American intelligence and logistical support. The article indicated that this policy started a couple of years ago in the Bush Administration and has "gained momentum" in the Obama Administration.

Regarding the concern that nations hold these detainees treat them humanly, the article notes:

"As a safeguard against torture, Mr. Panetta said, the United States would rely on diplomatic assurances of good treatment. The Bush administration sought the same assurances, which critics say are ineffective."

Thus, one concern raised is other nations (Pakistan is mentioned in the article) apparently doing the "heavy lifting" that the U.S. will no longer do in regards to interrogation and detention, etc. Repubs who feign outrage at this policy as just as hypocritical as Dems who may decide to stay mum on such a policy. I suppose that's one reason why some people tune out politics - some folks seem to change their stance on issues depending on who is in power at a given moment. Those whose position is consistent - rightly or wrongly - are a rare breed.
5.25.2009 6:43am
pluribus:
Desiderius:

Shorter version: it is the moral certainty that is neither unalloyed good or evil, not torture itself.

Should our laws prohibit moral certainty? Are there any cases on point? Is waterboarding moral certainty? What would Cheney's opinion be on this? Whatever it is, I sense it would be morally certain. "If 9/11 teaches us anything, it is that there can be no middle ground on moral certainty," etc., etc.
5.25.2009 9:00am
MarkField (mail):

"There, but for the grace of God, goes God."


That's very funny too. Have you ever read this book? You'll probably have heard many of the best lines, but collecting them all and putting them in context is fun.
5.25.2009 10:37am
Federal Dog:
"Should our laws prohibit moral certainty?"

In Massachusetts, that would gut the 150+-year "beyond reasonable doubt" standard in criminal law. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is nothing other than "moral certainty" here. Is the idea in any sense foreign to law, ethics, or everyday common sense?
5.25.2009 11:02am
Roger_Z (mail):
If the US government had been doing its job (since at least the 70's, if not the 50's), this debate would be purely academic. As part of its sovereign duty to protect the lives, liberty and property of its citizens, the executive should have been remorselessly attacking, with all necessary military means, any states which in any way provided support for terrorists throughout this appalling chapter in world history. And, congress should have been dutifully declaring war in each case, with the specific aim of removing the responsible regimes from power.

Indeed, if only this had been done with Iran in 1979 - if only we had righteously destroyed the mullahs after their unequivocal act of war against us - I am fairly sure the effect would have been to outsource all future acts of torture to the experts - whose self-preservation instincts would have provided more than sufficient incentive to squash these bugs before they could threaten us. At least we would have obliterated the major ideological source of current terrorism.

True, it would be better if the fanatical Islamist ideology did not exist, and there were only free-ish societies throughout the world, where the rule of law would guarantee that the few rogue nut-cases could be dealt with using objective jurisprudence. But, given that it does, we have only three choices: a) ignore it and hope for the best, b) vigilantly and proactively punish it wherever it chooses to act on its premises, c) react with various degrees of moderation when it seems we just shouldn't allow things to continue as they have.

We have chosen course (c), and the Islamists are no doubt amused by the knots in which we tie ourselves debating how far we should go and which particular actions (bombing villages or torturing the likes of KSM) are beyond the pale.
5.25.2009 11:36am
Desiderius:
pluribus,

"Should our laws prohibit moral certainty?"

Not unless you're in the habit of allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the (imperfect, i.e. not unalloyed) good, which may well be the case, in your case. No offense intended - I can tend toward the perfectionistic myself.

I've intentionally avoided concrete examples here to avoid falling into the inevitable Coke vs. Pepsi factional sniping that would ensue, but I'll take a slightly less abstract crack here.

It is clear to me, in hindsight, which I judge to be a crucial factor, that the great majority of us across the political spectrum overreacted in the days after 9/11, and that inevitably those with more responsibility for preventing another overreacted more than many without such responsibility, including overreacting in ways that ran afoul of laws crafted to reflect the principles which we are all committed to uphold.

I'm unconvinced that this was their intention or that a too fine accounting - too fine in giving too much weight to the accuracy of that hindsight, given the possibility that our view is prejudiced by the putative effectiveness of said overreaction - would well serve the purposes proposed by those seeking such an accounting, given human nature and the past history, i.e. FDR, Lincoln, et. al.

Those who did not overreact have a strong case for justice to be served, but justice is not only served by retribution, but also, and at times more profoundly, by mercy. An honest reckoning would acknowledge that those standing in need of such mercy are not members of one political faction alone.

I'm not certain in my above judgments, inevitably fraught with morality as they are. I'm aware that I could be mistaken and am, and have been, curious to hear other views, offered in good faith. I consider pluribus to fall within that category.

Federal Dog,

"Proof beyond reasonable doubt is nothing other than "moral certainty" here. Is the idea in any sense foreign to law, ethics, or everyday common sense?"

I'm sympathetic with where you're going here, which is why I'm no post-modernist (which in reality is pre-classicism) or moral relativist, but I think that you, too, are eliding empirical fact determinations with pre-empirical value determinations here.
5.25.2009 12:09pm
MarkField (mail):

As part of its sovereign duty to protect the lives, liberty and property of its citizens, the executive should have been remorselessly attacking, with all necessary military means, any states which in any way provided support for terrorists throughout this appalling chapter in world history.


This surely sounds better in the original German.
5.25.2009 12:14pm
Danny (mail):

True, it would be better if the fanatical Islamist ideology did not exist, and there were only free-ish societies throughout the world, where the rule of law would guarantee that the few rogue nut-cases could be dealt with using objective jurisprudence. But, given that it does, we have only three choices: a) ignore it and hope for the best, b) vigilantly and proactively punish it wherever it chooses to act on its premises, c) react with various degrees of moderation when it seems we just shouldn't allow things to continue as they have.


Or d) become the best friend and ally of the most fanatical Islamist country, the country that produced bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers, the one whose official Wahhabi ideology is so extreme that even the schoolbooks refer to Jews and Christians as swine and apes. That seems to be the path the US has chosen


This surely sounds better in the original German.


I heard that the phrase "enhanced interrogation" was actually coined by the Gestapo. Is it true?
5.25.2009 12:30pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
I heard that the phrase "enhanced interrogation" was actually coined by the Gestapo. Is it true?
YES.
5.25.2009 12:37pm
Roger_Z (mail):
Markfield -

Even if you could cite such a pro-individual rights justification for military action in actual Nazi propaganda, it would have no weight, since their actual justification was manifestly not pro-rights. If you truly believe that America's motivations have been (or would be) imperialistic and in advance of racial purity, then, indeed, we have nothing to "discuss".

Danny -

You must clearly see that I agree that the Saudis are on the wrong side of this. However, I believe your (d) is actually just a variant of (a). In befriending instead of threatening them, we acted on a profoundly anti-ideological premise. But, to be unable to draw distinctions between the largely ineffectual (though ideologically tainted) Saudi regime and that of the firmly committed Iranian government, is to repeat the same mistake. Believe me, if we started sending laser-guided ordinance into the Mullahs' homes, the Saudi princes would get the message very quickly. Whereas if the bombs were directed at the Princes' villas, the Iranian regime would just laugh.
5.25.2009 12:50pm
Danny (mail):
No I think we picked the wrong country to be friends with. We should have gone with the Persians, not with the Arabs. Saudi Arabia gave us Al-Qaeda, Iran has a loudmouth figurehead president. I could definately see peace between Iran and Israel before I could imagine it between Israel and the Arab world.
5.25.2009 1:02pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
machina:

if a person can receive a certain electrical shock to the genitals 183 times, and receive no long term damage, then the shock's voltage must be very, very low


You're simply wrong, and you're again displaying your ignorance about basic concepts of electricity and physiology. Damage to the body is a function of the total amount of power conveyed, which is a consequence of not only voltage, but also current and duration. It is possible to apply very high voltage while also transferring only a very small amount of power to the body. One way to do this is by limiting duration. Electricity causes damage to tissue by creating heat. If I select a sensitive part of your body and apply very high voltage with very low current, and a very short duration, you will experience extreme pain with a very short duration. And because the current and duration are limited, there will be no tissue damage, because only a small amount of power has been transferred, and therefore no heat is created.

It is also possible to limit the current (and therefore the amount of power tranferred) without limiting the duration and while maintaining high voltage, so the pain can be sustained while still causing no tissue damage.

This applies to any part of the body. Such torture can be applied to your genitals, or other sensitive areas such as your rectum, nipples, armpits, tongue, nostrils, eyelids etc.

All you need to run the experiment on yourself is an ordinary spark plug wire on an ordinary car. Or an electric fence collar that you borrow from a nearby canine. Or a Taser, if you can find one. You will find yourself rapidly ending the experiment (just like Mancow) and you will also find a complete absence of physical harm (just like Mancow).

Electricity can be used to create pain without causing physical damage. If this was not true, then there would no such thing as a Taser. Or a cattle prod. Or an electric dog collar. Torturers understand this (link, link), even though you don't.

And I notice you are also completely ignoring the question regarding rape and/or sodomy. Are you really claiming that a torturer could not sodomize you 183 times while also being careful to create no long-term physical harm? Are you really claiming that this procedure should not be called torture?

Waterboarding, rape and electric shock all share the following characteristic: they are torture, whether done once or done 200 times. If done multiple times, they are simply a more extreme form of torture. They also share this characteristic: they can be done without causing physical harm. Even if there is a large number of repetitions. They also share this characteristic: they were all approved (either explicitly or implicitly) as not-torture by the OLC torture memos.

Your original claim ("if you can do a particular interrogation technique 183 time to a person, and there are still no serious long-term repurcussions to that person, calling that technique 'torture' strains the term beyond meaning") is ignorant and dangerous nonsense. Physical harm is not a necessary condition for torture, either by the legal definition or by a common-sense definition. And a technique which imposes no physical harm when done once is also very likely to impose no physical harm when done 100 times or 1000 times.

And here is another very obvious example of how I can torture you while also imposing no physical harm on you: I can torture your children in front of you. According to your wacky theory, they are being tortured but you are not. Really?

By the way, you are not in a position to claim that there were no physical repercussions, and you are also not in a position to claim that there were no non-physical repercussions. Hitchens is hoping that the non-physical repercussions from his own experience "will pass." But that's just a hope, and he was not waterboarded 183 times.
5.25.2009 1:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

Those whose position is consistent


Here's my position: eliminating torture worldwide is a good idea, and we have no hope of creating that outcome unless we set a good example. And setting a good example means showing respect for our own anti-torture statute. That's also a necessary step if we hope to regain the position of leadership and respect that we once had. That is, the role that Reagan was talking about when he described the "shining city," and said we are "the last best hope of man on earth." But Reagan signed the Convention Against Torture, and today his views on torture would make him a "vengeful, score-settling, Hard Left ideologue."

====================
danny:

Or d) become the best friend and ally of the most fanatical Islamist country


Exactly. And the motivations underlying that choice are easily understood (link, link, link, link).

I heard that the phrase "enhanced interrogation" was actually coined by the Gestapo. Is it true?


In addition to the link andrew provided, see here.

====================
desid:

justice is not only served by retribution, but also, and at times more profoundly, by mercy


We have a special process specifically designed to assess the proper balance between retribution and mercy. It's called a trial, and it takes place in a special place called a court. And when we believe in the rule of law, we apply that process (when there is reasonable ground to believe a crime has been committed, as is the case in the matter we're discussing). Otherwise, we don't.

====================
mark:

This surely sounds better in the original German.


Indeed. One of the silver linings of this process is we are forced to face the sobering and essential truth that lots of Americans are good Germans.

Which reminds me of this:

Naturally, the common people don't want war… That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship … voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
5.25.2009 1:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
roger:

free-ish societies … the rule of law … objective jurisprudence


Your irony impairment is severe. First you say that. Then in your next breath you say this:

the Islamists are no doubt amused by the knots in which we tie ourselves


So you're a big fan of "the rule of law" except when you're not. Like when a Republican breaks the law. Then suddenly the rule of law is seen as "the knots in which we tie ourselves."

I think what you're really saying is that the rule of law is a good idea for everyone else, but not for us. I think this indicates that you're confused. Another sign of your confusion is your excessive concern for whether or not our enemies are "amused." Who cares? What they think of us is infinitely less important than what we think of ourselves. When we respect the rule of law we're not doing it to impress them, or to make sure they're "amused," or not "amused." We're doing it because we know the alternative is tyranny. Why do you hate democracy?

If you truly believe that America's motivations have been (or would be) imperialistic


You seem to be claiming the war was not about oil. Tell it to that prominent moonbat, Alan Greenspan:

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil


Then there's that other famous moonbat and former CENTCOM commander (who oversaw the occupation for over three years), Gen. Abizaid:

Of course, it's about oil and we can't deny that.


I think that fits any normal definition of "imperialistic."

You must clearly see that I agree that the Saudis are on the wrong side of this.


You must clearly see that your sincerity is subject to question, since it's awfully hard to find more than a handful of examples of anyone in the GOP condemning Bush for embracing the Saudis while he was doing so.

Even though their support for terrorism (link, pdf) is at least as great as Saddam's ever was. And even though this took place just a few days after this. And even though Bush said "you're either with us or against us." Of course by "with us" he meant 'highly profitable business partners.'
5.25.2009 1:25pm
Federal Dog:
"I think that you, too, are eliding empirical fact determinations with pre-empirical value determinations here."

Actually, the Webster standard predates me by over a century. I merely note that "moral certainty" plays a key role in criminal jurisprudence that serves to stress the level of assurance about disputed facts necessary to declare an accused guilty. For that reason, it may be value-neutral -- becoming either constructive or destructive, depending on the context.
5.25.2009 1:27pm
PC:
Commenter ex machina, my apologies. I had misread your earlier comment.
5.25.2009 1:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pc:

I had misread your earlier comment.


It seems to me that you didn't misread it, but that you are rather choosing to be rather gracious. Because he said this:

I'm sure if you surf around the net you'll see people doing a lot worse to their genitals voluntarily


So you were correct to say this:

you seem to be suggesting that if a person is willing to voluntarily do something, forcing that same action on an unwilling participant would somehow be okay


I don't see any other way to interpret his statement, and I don't where he has suggested any other way to interpret his statement. But he does seem to be sort of backpedaling and focusing on a different part of his original comment (and that part is also incorrect).
5.25.2009 1:53pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

Here's my position: eliminating torture worldwide is a good idea, and we have no hope of creating that outcome unless we set a good example. And setting a good example means showing respect for our own anti-torture statute. That's also a necessary step if we hope to regain the position of leadership and respect that we once had.

It's a reasonable position, but if the US farms out arrest, interrogation and detention to countries who have used torture in the past (e.g. Pakistan), regardless of who is president, there's going to be people who may conclude the US is still culpable in that torture.
5.25.2009 2:30pm
RPT (mail):
There is an interesting contrast between the conservative pro-torture arguments here and the conservative arguments on the Supreme Court appointee threads. The pro-torture arguments here are almost entirely feeling based (empathy for the victims of 9/11-revenge against the terrorists-"my experience at SERE", et al) and the anti-torture arguments are almost entirely fact and law-based, i.e. cases, precedents, citations, examples, history, testimony of knowledgeable interrogators, military experts, etc. The pro-torture camp denigrates these arguments.
5.25.2009 2:55pm
Federal Dog:
The most I see are people who feel that given certain extreme situations, torture may be an evil necessary to get information necessary to national security. I have seen no one here -- either to the right or left of the political center -- who is "pro-torture."

Base your accusation in facts, examples, citations, and precedents from this thread: Who exactly are you claiming is "pro-torture," and not simply of the belief that in extremis, torture may be an necessary evil to protect innocent populations?
5.25.2009 3:06pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
JBG:

As they say, denial is just not a river in Egypt.

We're letting Mideastern countries do our interogations knowing full well that they will torture. (I personally don't care but you are "anti-torture".)

We have Arab speakers too, but if it helps you rationalize, go ahead and imagine the reason for this policy.

I mentioned Syria but could just as well said Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Pakistan. They torture too.

They torture everyone, even thieves and other regular criminals. To please the Americans, they will use things like waterboarding as a first step, not as an extreme method on 3 people years ago. They won't use man eating caterpillars either.

And while the policy started under Bush, it is being increased under Obama. Because he still wants the intelligence, but can grandiosely ban "torture" here.

And you fall for it.
5.25.2009 3:49pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Who exactly are you claiming is "pro-torture," and not simply of the belief that in extremis, torture may be an necessary evil to protect innocent populations?
I'd say that's pro-torture dressed up with a nice excuse. I've asked a million times: Do Iran, Communist Hungary, Imperial Japan, and the Millennial Reich also get to torture "in extremis" to protect what they feel are their innocent populations? So far no one has had the honesty to admit that, no, permission-to-torture is a one-off for The United States. Everyone else is stuck with the ICAT that admits of no exceptions "whatsoever".

Experienced interrogators are disdainful of torture as a method of eliciting accurate intelligence. Torture can, however, protect one group by intimidating another group. That doesn't make it any less of a war crime.
5.25.2009 4:00pm
geokstr (mail):

jukeboxgrad:
You seem to be claiming the war was not about oil. Tell it to that prominent moonbat, Alan Greenspan:

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil

Then there's that other famous moonbat and former CENTCOM commander (who oversaw the occupation for over three years), Gen. Abizaid:

Of course, it's about oil and we can't deny that.

For the sake of argument only, let's say it's only about oil. I say - "So what?".

Given that the entire world's economy revolves around oil, and that means that the entire world's prosperity is now subject to blackmail and extortion by a ninth century religion that makes no secret that it wants to subjugate us, somebody has to give a rat's behind about what happens there. Keeping that in mind, what would you do differently? Bow to the Saudi king, perhaps, and/or apologize profusely? Maybe begin to back off on supporting Israel, or join the UN's dedication to George Orwell, its "Human Rights" commission?

Oh, wait...

Heaven forbid the left should actually grow up and grow a pair instead.

National interest is what should drive foreign policy, not leftwing pipe dreams of a borderless world where everyone sits around the campfire singing kumbaya in Farsi. Would I love to see what happened if Cuba became the only worldwide producer of solar panels and wind turbines and decided to cut us off. The calls from Berkeley and Cambridge for another Bay of Pigs invasion would be heard round the world.

Maybe if leftists hadn't done everything they could for the last fifty years to prevent us from developing our own fossil fuel and nuclear resources right here, right now we could have been energy independent. Instead of fighting and/or sucking up to them, we could be telling the Sheikhs to go take a hike, and let Europe fend for themselves. The Europeans wouldn't be quite so arrogant towards us either, if we didn't do all their heavy lifting for free as we do now.

Oh and in case I missed it, did you ever say why you stopped maintaining your diary on Daily Kos?
5.25.2009 4:08pm
Desiderius:
MarkField,

"That's very funny too. Have you ever read this book? You'll probably have heard many of the best lines, but collecting them all and putting them in context is fun."

Hadn't seen that one yet, but the title is nearly as stilted as my prose, so I'll definitely need to check it out. Those interested in tying Churchill into the grand theme of this thread might be interested in checking out this, particularly his account of the retribution wreaked by the Tories on his famous forebear once they finally wrested power from him on the back of weariness with his foreign war.

The Tories reaped half a century in the political wilderness for their labors.
5.25.2009 4:19pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Roger_Z, I don't think people were ridiculing your belligerence because of a problem with individual vs group rights. The fact you mention this makes me suspect that the following you wrote is from one of those young, glibertarian minds whose wisdom and experience have a long way to catch up to their vocabulary.
As part of its sovereign duty to protect the lives, liberty and property of its citizens, the executive should have been remorselessly attacking, with all necessary military means, any states which in any way provided support for terrorists throughout this appalling chapter in world history.
Did it ever occur to you that this was pretty much the way the USSR saw the situation during its struggle against 'bandits' in Afghanistan—no small number of whom found a comfortable home with the Taliban and Al Qaeda when the time came? Was the USSR also entitled to wage pre-emptive war worldwide (say, by invading Turkey to install a sympathetic client state) and to torture in its defense? Grandiloquent patriotism can be fine in its place—I guess today is an especially good day for it—but it should be tempered by a sense of responsibility and morality.
5.25.2009 4:28pm
Desiderius:
Federal Dog (with apologies to LM),

"Actually, the Webster standard predates me by over a century. I merely note that "moral certainty" plays a key role in criminal jurisprudence that serves to stress the level of assurance about disputed facts necessary to declare an accused guilty. For that reason, it may be value-neutral -- becoming either constructive or destructive, depending on the context."

Not being a lawyer, I may be way off-base here, but doesn't "moral certainty" in that context just mean "really certain"? I was referring to certainty in moral judgments, not disputed facts.
5.25.2009 4:45pm
Federal Dog:
"I'd say that's pro-torture dressed up with a nice excuse."

On that logic, people who, in certain extreme situations, would support a woman's right to abort would merely be "pro-killing" dressed up with a nice excuse.

Are they?
5.25.2009 5:05pm
Federal Dog:
"Not being a lawyer, I may be way off-base here, but doesn't "moral certainty" in that context just mean "really certain"? I was referring to certainty in moral judgments, not disputed facts."

Webster does not distinguish the two. The point is that certain judgments are so grave that they are properly made only when one is morally certain that the facts support them and they are necessary to safeguard public safety.
5.25.2009 5:08pm
Desiderius:
FD,

"Webster does not distinguish the two. The point is that certain judgments are so grave that they are properly made only when one is morally certain that the facts support them and they are necessary to safeguard public safety."

As evidently I was the one who introduced the phrase "moral certainty" into the discussion, it is my burden to clarify my meaning. I was speaking not of the morality of one's certainty, but the certainty of one's morality.
5.25.2009 6:14pm
Roger_Z (mail):
Andrew J. Lazarus -

"... but it should be tempered by a sense of responsibility and morality."

As evidenced by the fact that you are apparently willing to grant equal validity to the the way the USSR "saw things" as to my observation that the totalitarian Islamist ideology really does seek to deprive Americans of their rights (and sometime succeeds in that endeavor), we do not share the same morality nor sense of responsibility.

Or, perhaps you are just saying the there is no objecvtive truth, only "will to power". To which I say - so be it.
5.25.2009 6:58pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
On that logic, people who, in certain extreme situations, would support a woman's right to abort would merely be "pro-killing" dressed up with a nice excuse.
Why stop there? How about lethal self-defense? The catch is, there are limits. Now, even leaving aside the extremely dubious utility of torture for purposes other than psychological, would you say that someone who justified the Holocaust because of the emergency situation of Asiatic Judeobolshevism was making a reasonable exception, or pro-genocide?

Under Ronald Reagan(!) the United States acceded to the International Convention Against Torture, prohibiting torture in all cases ‘whatsoever’. Did we mean it universally? Or only for others?
5.25.2009 7:01pm
MarkField (mail):

Hadn't seen that one yet, but the title is nearly as stilted as my prose, so I'll definitely need to check it out.


The book is very funny, even if the title has an 18th C style.


Those interested in tying Churchill into the grand theme of this thread might be interested in checking out this, particularly his account of the retribution wreaked by the Tories on his famous forebear once they finally wrested power from him on the back of weariness with his foreign war.


I think the good Duke needed a break after Malplaquet; not his best work. That doesn't excuse the Tory reaction, of course; they got what they deserved. But I suspect I'm more sanguine about whether to equate Whigs and Democrats, Tories and Republicans, South Seas and housing bubbles, Dick Cheney and the Old Pretender, than you might be.

If it's any consolation, perhaps you'll get the modern equivalents of Swift, Bolingbroke and Pope out of it. Then I would be jealous.
5.25.2009 7:06pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
@Roger_Z
Or, perhaps you are just saying the there is no objecvtive truth, only "will to power". To which I say - so be it.
Are you paraphrasing Lord Voldemort deliberately or by accident. I'm upholding a universal ban on torture. You're the one denying any objective prohibition on torture (pre-emptive war, etc.): permitted for countries you approve of (subjectively), denied to those you don't. You seem to find it incomprehensible that the United States should be held to the same standards as the USSR. Have you never heard of the Goose/Gander Principle?
5.25.2009 7:21pm
Federal Dog:
"Why stop there?"

That was exactly my point. Dismissing people who disagree with you as merely "pro-torture dressed up with a nice excuse" pretends that those people place no limits on their position. That is obviously false, and pretending otherwise is just a facile way of demonizing dissenting opinion.
5.25.2009 8:20pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Dismissing people who disagree with you as merely "pro-torture dressed up with a nice excuse" pretends that those people place no limits on their position. That is obviously false, and pretending otherwise is just a facile way of demonizing dissenting opinion.
Then let me rephrase it: Law, history, and traditional morality place the line on torture at Zero. The idea that this is some complicated question has taken hold in the Cheneypublican Rump and, partially, in the Beltway Village of Elite Opinion. It really shouldn't be any more complicated than discussing the circumstances under which a little bit of genocide is acceptable. If that seems too inflammatory, under what circumstances would we be justified in using Poison Gas? (People who see exceptions to the ICAT are in a poor position to argue that Poison Gas is beyond the pale based on the same treaties they are elsewhere willing to ignore.) It's revealing that the principal argument for torture appears to be a fictional TV program where there is always a ticking bomb (at Bagram bombs come with weeks-long fuses, it appears), the captive always knows the answer, and always coughs it up. I guess a could write a movie where there's a Jewish Conspiracy to be thwarted, but I doubt anyone would show it.
5.25.2009 8:44pm
pluribus:
Desiderius:

As evidently I was the one who introduced the phrase "moral certainty" into the discussion, it is my burden to clarify my meaning. I was speaking not of the morality of one's certainty, but the certainty of one's morality.

Defining one's own terms can help to clarify a discussion. When the definition does not correspond to the usual definition used in a particular discipline, however, it can foster confusion. In the law, "moral certainty" has traditionally been used as the equivalent of beyond a reasonable doubt. You are not using it in this traditional way. Most of those who come to this site are lawyers or those interested in the law. Perhaps that explains why your use of moral certainty has resulted in a fair amount of confusion here. I have read quite a few of your posts on this subject and must admit I still don't understand what you are driving at. It's probably just me.
5.25.2009 9:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

if the US farms out arrest, interrogation and detention to countries who have used torture in the past (e.g. Pakistan), regardless of who is president, there's going to be people who may conclude the US is still culpable in that torture.


Those "people" include me. But I still recognize progress when I see it.

I'm also not sure about the "farms out" part. If there's a terrorism suspect in Pakistan, it's proper for that person to be arrested, interrogated and detained by Pakistanis in Pakistan. Not by us. Even if we provided helpful intelligence prior to the arrest. This is exactly the kind of situation described in the article. Why is this called "farms out?" That turns logic inside out, because it implies that the proper approach is the alternative, where we kidnap the guy ourselves and smuggle him out of Pakistan. Or have the Pakistanis turn him over to us. I don't see that approach as being particularly wise or moral.

================
bob:

We're letting Mideastern countries do our interogations


If a terrorism suspect is arrested in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities, I don't grasp the logic which says that his interrogation is 'ours.' Even if we provided helpful intelligence.

Your accusation ("we're letting Mideastern countries do our interogations") would be warranted in an instance where we arrest someone in country A and then transfer them to country B, where they are tortured, and then we use that information. Which is exactly what Bush did. Let us know when Obama does that.

Because he still wants the intelligence, but can grandiosely ban "torture" here.


I'd like everyone to stop torturing, but having Americans stop torturing is a good step in the right direction. I don't see that as 'grandiose.' I see it as progress. I also see it as obeying the law.

================
rpt:

The pro-torture arguments here are almost entirely feeling based


That's because the torture apologists are part of a group that thinks it's a great idea to apply empathy to people like Bybee, Oliver North and Scooter Libby, but not to people like Ledbetter.

And speaking of being driven by emotion instead of reason:

My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings … the face of the Republican Party [has] become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals [have] no party.


================
federal:

Who exactly are you claiming is "pro-torture," and not simply of the belief that in extremis, torture may be an necessary evil to protect innocent populations?


By the same logic, no one is 'pro-abortion.' But that term is nevertheless in common usage by the anti-choice crowd.

And I don't particularly have a problem with the torturer who thinks "torture may be an necessary evil to protect innocent populations," as long as they are prepared to sell that story to a jury. And face the consequences of failing to make the sale.

And a population that supports the use of torture to generate false confessions for the purpose of selling a war reduces its right to be called "innocent."

certain judgments are so grave that they are properly made only when one is morally certain that the facts support them and they are necessary to safeguard public safety


Were our torturers convinced that generating false confessions was "necessary to safeguard public safety?" If so, they should be willing to explain that to a jury. Then we can all see if "the facts support them." Because so far, the facts seems to require a belief in time travel.

Dismissing people who disagree with you as merely "pro-torture dressed up with a nice excuse" pretends that those people place no limits on their position.


Those "limits" have already been placed, in the form of the Torture Act and the International Convention Against Torture. So it's not a question of "dismissing people who disagree with you." It's a question of pointing out that certain people are making excuses for lawlessness.

And what are the "limits on their position?" Those limits seem to be defined as follows: it's torture when someone else does it, but not when we do it.

================
geo:

let's say it's only about oil. I say - "So what?".


There's a bunch of 'so whats,' but here's the one that's immediately relevant to this thread: it indicates that roger ("if you truly believe that America's motivations have been … imperialistic") is kidding himself.

Given that the entire world's economy revolves around oil, and that means that the entire world's prosperity is now subject to blackmail and extortion by a ninth century religion


Yes, how dare they hide our oil under their sand.

what would you do differently? Bow to the Saudi king, perhaps


If you don't like bowing, I wonder how you feel about other displays of affection.

did you ever say why you stopped maintaining your diary on Daily Kos


I didn't 'stop maintaining it.' It's still there, and it has been for years, and every now and then I add something. Although most of the material there I posted in 2005-2006. Kos is huge now, and I liked it better when it was merely big.

================
roger:

the totalitarian Islamist ideology really does seek to deprive Americans of their rights


There have always been, and are always going to be, all sorts of people who "seek to deprive Americans of their rights." Nevertheless, I manage to not wet my bed. But I become much more concerned when some of those people end up on my payroll, running my government.

================
andrew:

Have you never heard of the Goose/Gander Principle?


You hit the nail on the head. I think it's already been established that roger believes in upholding the rule of law except when the people breaking it happen to be Republicans.

================
pluribus:

It's probably just me.


I don't think so.
5.25.2009 9:56pm
Desiderius:
Markfield,

"This surely sounds better in the original German."

There, but for the grace of Godwin, goes Godwin.

"The book is very funny, even if the title has an 18th C style."

You say that like its a bad thing. These times could using some enlightening up.

"If it's any consolation, perhaps you'll get the modern equivalents of Swift, Bolingbroke and Pope out of it. Then I would be jealous."

Um, in the comparison I drew, you're the Tory, so enjoy away. As always, I'm the Whig. If I'm mistaken about Obama, he may well turn out to be the Bolingbroke, or at least Churchill's version thereof.
5.25.2009 10:05pm
Desiderius:
pluribus,

"I have read quite a few of your posts on this subject and must admit I still don't understand what you are driving at."

I'll attempt another illustration.

I'm morally certain that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I'm not certain about this because my empirical rights-o-meter has provided factual evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but because I have made a faith commitment in concert with millions of others to the proposition that those truths are self-evident.

Now if someone (or more than one, say Paulson and Geithner) comes along proposing that we run up trillions of dollars of debt, with the tab going to those who do not yet have the right to vote, I might judge that to be taxation without representation, and thus immoral as it violates the right to liberty and/or the pursuit of happiness to which I have committed (see Jefferson, T.).

However, I also need be mindful that millions of others have made a similar commitment, and that my own understanding of that commitment may not be the only true one. They remind me that, hey, the Chinese for some reason consider us such a safe investment that they're willing to loan us money at de facto negative nominal rates, and, you know, there's a possible depression on.

So, I may disagree with the course of action that they advocate, as I do, but I do not consider it immoral, since they are operating in good faith within the same commitments that I have made, and I don't think that they should be thrown in jail for taking that actions they have, however much I disagree with them.

Now no doubt lawyers will say that they have broken no law, to which I would say that I am not a judge, and that morality was the category to which I referred in the first place, not legality.
5.25.2009 10:27pm
Desiderius:
Nominal above should be real, of course, given likely future inflation, but you'd have assumed that if you were reading in good faith anyway. Just in case.
5.25.2009 10:39pm
John Moore (www):
Andrew J. Lazarus

Did it ever occur to you that this was pretty much the way the USSR saw the situation during its struggle against 'bandits' in Afghanistan—no small number of whom found a comfortable home with the Taliban and Al Qaeda when the time came?

What utter nonsense. Furthermore, equating the USSR to the US view is typical leftist blind equivalence.


Under Ronald Reagan(!) the United States acceded to the International Convention Against Torture, prohibiting torture in all cases ‘whatsoever’. Did we mean it universally? Or only for others?

Very importantly, with the word "severe" added twice. Do you suppose that is because they felt that people like you and your Europhile friends would try to neuter the US?


Law, history, and traditional morality place the line on torture at Zero

What crap. Not even most Americans today place it at "Zero," and history certainly doesn't put it that way. You must had taken post-modernist college courses poured into your non-critical head.
5.26.2009 2:13am
PC:
Federal Dog, how do you feel about the cases of Khalid el-Masri and Maher Arar?
5.26.2009 2:57am
neurodoc:
jukeboxgrad: That's because the torture apologists are part of a group that thinks it's a great idea to apply empathy to people like Bybee, Oliver North and Scooter Libby, but not to people like Ledbetter.
I guess this was meant to illustrate the meaning of conflation.
5.26.2009 5:20am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
moore:

Under Ronald Reagan(!) the United States acceded to the International Convention Against Torture, prohibiting torture in all cases ‘whatsoever’. Did we mean it universally? Or only for others?


Very importantly, with the word "severe" added twice. Do you suppose that is because they felt that people like you and your Europhile friends would try to neuter the US?


The word "severe" was not added. It was already part of the definition of torture that appears in ICAT. However, "very importantly," you have brazenly told this lie the following number of times: at least three (link, link).

"Do you suppose that is because" you realize you have no credibility whatsoever, and therefore you have nothing more to lose by continuing to simply make shit up?

==================
neuro:

I guess this was meant to illustrate the meaning of conflation.


You're made various silly claims in this thread (such as one that I pointed out here), and you've taken responsibility for none of them, even though you're obviously still here, and willing to let us know that you're still here. I guess that's meant to illustrate the meaning of shameless evasion.

And what I said was not an illustration of conflation. It was an illustration of how Republicans are fans of strict statutury construction until a Republican violates a statute. Then they become fans of empathy.

Which is very similar to the following concept: it's torture when someone else does it, but not when we do it.
5.26.2009 7:23am
Fury:
jukeboxgrad:

I'm also not sure about the "farms out" part. If there's a terrorism suspect in Pakistan, it's proper for that person to be arrested, interrogated and detained by Pakistanis in Pakistan. Not by us. Even if we provided helpful intelligence prior to the arrest. This is exactly the kind of situation described in the article. Why is this called "farms out?" That turns logic inside out, because it implies that the proper approach is the alternative, where we kidnap the guy ourselves and smuggle him out of Pakistan. Or have the Pakistanis turn him over to us. I don't see that approach as being particularly wise or moral.

The way I read the article, one point appeared to be that the U.S. may be satisfied with persons being arrested, interrogated and detained by other nations because there would be less opportunity of these other nations (e.g. Pakistan) to be scrutinized in regards to interrogation, etc.

The article noted that the US would still continue to take custody of high-level suspects, rather than leave them in the custody of other nations. There could be legitimate reasons for doing so, such as the person has been charged with a US crime, etc.
5.26.2009 8:23am
ParatrooperJJ:
It would have been nice if he could at least get the technique right.
5.26.2009 8:41am
Jam:
jukeboxgrad:

According to Baker-Posner '"neoconservatism" in the sense of a strong military and a rejection of liberal internationalism".'

Are they serious?

It was William F. Buckley and National Review who started the purge of the conservative intellectuals. One of the reasons that I unsubscribed from NR many years ago, after 10+ years of having been a subscriber.
5.26.2009 8:45am
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

Are you telling us that if someone was sure to subject, say, your child to lengthy torture culminating in murder, and the only way that you could spare that young child a horrible death was to secure information necessary to release via torture, that you would stand by and do nothing?

Are you really saying that there is never, ever any situation whatsoever in any conceivable circumstance -- no matter what -- in which you would resort to painful force to avert dire consequences?

Let's set aside simple boldface declarations and deal with the difficult ethical issue.
5.26.2009 9:03am
Danny (mail):

as to my observation that the totalitarian Islamist ideology really does seek to deprive Americans of their rights



When you live abroad, you realize that as a rule it is Americans who deprive others of their rights, not the reverse
5.26.2009 10:23am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Federal Dog, I would use the Expelliarimus Curse.

Yeah, I know it's make-believe. So is your story. What does it say that instead of dealing with anything remotely resembling the facts on the ground, torture advocates bring in convoluted plots from TV, to play gotcha with opponents of torture? And pretend that's the sophisticated approach?

Suppose a cabal of Jews were planning to destroy European Civilizaton. Would you participate in running a Nazi extermination camp? Yes or no.

Moore. I didn't say that Americans were unanimous in their condemnation of torture. From this thread, that's obviously not true. Honor is not a universal quality. (Where yours went, as a veteran, is a mystery.) As a statement of law, however, the situation is unambiguous: no excuses whatsoever. Zero. That's also the opinion of decent morality for at least two centuries; otherwise, the ICAT would not have existed. At least I appreciate your tacit admission that it is a leftist view you do not share that treaties are binding on Bad People like the USSR but not on Good People like us. Who knew the the Goose/Gander Principle was a leftist trap! (As for your statements about "severe", JBG is correct, you are dissembling.)
5.26.2009 10:48am
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

Why do you think that you cannot answer the simple question? If your principle is so firm and clear, your answer ahould be as well. There's no "gotcha" here at all: You are simply being asked to actually deal with the difficult ethical question for which you demonize other people, yet consistently pretend does not even exist.
5.26.2009 11:40am
John Moore (www):
Danny,

When you live abroad, you realize that as a rule it is Americans who deprive others of their rights, not the reverse

Yeah, I saw that a whole lot in my various travels, and when I lived in Paris.

NOT!
5.26.2009 12:28pm
John Moore (www):
Laz

Honor is not a universal quality. (Where yours went, as a veteran, is a mystery.)

Nice ad hom, one day after memorial day.

My honor is doing just fine. For you to assert that a veteran has lost his honor over a disagreement on waterboarding is way over the top.

No surprise there.
5.26.2009 12:30pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Federal: If my child were kidnapped, I would probably perform torture. I would probably give serious thought to murdering anyone who molested my child, too. That doesn't mean I believe these activities should be legal, or that the State should be authorized to torture or to execute in these circumstances. The personalization of the investigation and retribution for crimes is a return to ancient, long-discarded methods. And I notice you ignored my gotcha question: if there were a Jewish cabal, would you work at an extermination camp? Nothing in these questions has the tiniest relationship to weeks-long waterboarding. Turn off the TV. See? No kidnapped child. No ticking bomb.

Moore: Torture, which you support, is a dishonorable act. I'm delighted to see how many members of our armed forces refuse to have anything to do with it. Overgrown teen CIA boys playing at James Bond and Jack Bauer, that's another matter.
5.26.2009 1:05pm
PC:
Overgrown teen CIA boys playing at James Bond and Jack Bauer, that's another matter.

If Ali Soufan is to be believed the CIA interrogators were against torture too. It was CIA contractors with no experience in interrogation that developed the torture program.
5.26.2009 1:12pm
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

Given your response, are you "pro-torture dressed up with a nice excuse?"

None of this has anything to do with TV or Jews. The ethical issue concerns if, and when, violence is acceptable in defense of self and others.
5.26.2009 1:46pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
No, FD. I reject the de facto legalization of torture. Torture has never been included in legitimate self-defense. There is no International Convention Against Violence, nor an International Convention Against Self-Defense. The right to self-defense is enshrined in law.

Your fairy-tale torture scenarios have nothing to do with torture as practiced by us, and the slippery slope argument would have been obvious in advance to a five-year-old. Although, of course, you reserve to yourself the right to say that an hypothetical Jewish Conspiracy has nothing to do with it. Well, the kidnapped child where somehow I have the opportunity to torture the kidnapper’s accomplice has nothing to do with it either.

There is no difficult ethical issue here. I suppose you will agree that we don't find this issue difficult when faced by the Japanese Imperial Army, or the Communist Hungarian secret police, or the Gestapo; no torture apologist on this thread has ever allowed it for our enemies, only, in an exercise of either jingoism or Might-Makes-Right, for ourselves. (Moore finds the very thought of speculating that other countries may have the same right to declare "exceptions" as we do a far-left insanity.) To the contrary, I assume we meant it when we acceded to (indeed, lobbied for) a treaty that allowed excuses for torture in no cases "whatsoever". What there is, is a difficult political issue now that we have discovered the VPOTUS and his associates broke this law—not for a kidnapped child, but to justify the imminent invasion of Iraq with confabulated links between Saddam and 9/11.
5.26.2009 2:22pm
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

So you reject self-defense and defense of others as legal grounds justifying use of violence in torture. Do you reject all laws permitting use of violence in self-defense or defense of others?

If not, why not?

Since killing has, for centuries, been perfectly legal in self-defense and defense of others, why does lesser use of violence for the same ends offend legal propriety?
5.26.2009 2:39pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
FDog, this is the same (mistaken) argument as: you can kill a uniformed soldier on the battlefield, torture is less than killing, so you can torture him after he is captured. Yet even the torture apologists seem unenthusiastic about this argument. You? Why?

Once a criminal is apprehended, you can't go kill him and say it was "self-defense". You're eliding critical necessary properties of valid self-defense.

Torture is heinous and cruel, and even for the United States its ends appear to have been the traditional ones: intimidation of the enemy and obtaining false confessions useful for the government.

In any event, why we have laws against torture is a different question. We have such laws (18 USC 2340). Do you recommend their formal repeal, or merely ignoring them on a case-by-case basis as determined by the paranoid former VPOTUS?
5.26.2009 2:50pm
Federal Dog:
So the law may not consider criminal/wartime conspirators/conspiracies when dealing with issues of self-defense and defense of others?

If not, why not?

You have not answered the question: If lethal violence is legally permissible in extreme circumstances relating to self-defense and defense of others, why should non-lethal violence be legally impermissible in those same circumstances?

Killing is deemed "heinous and cruel," yet in those circumstances, is wholly permissible as a matter of law. The declaration thus explains nothing.

Can you state a principle that, in the context of self-defense and defense of others, prohibits non-lethal violence when lethal violence has long been legally permissible?
5.26.2009 3:08pm
PC:
Federal Dog, if a robber breaks into my house and I shoot him that would be self-defense. If I subdue the robber and tie him up, then I shoot him, that would be murder. You understand the difference, right?
5.26.2009 3:17pm
Federal Dog:
PC:

I practice criminal law for a living. I am not asking that. I am asking for a clear statement of legal principle that would permit lethal violence in extreme circumstances of self-defense and defense of others (including in wartime) that would still outlaw nonlethal violence in those same exact circumstances.

I believe that we have already established that people who might believe that resort to non-lethal violence in those circumstances may be necessary are not "pro-torture" -- unless, of course, Andrew himself is to be counted among them.
5.26.2009 3:22pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
FDog, reflect on why it is permissible to kill uniformed soldiers on the battlefield but not to torture them when captured. The fact there are times and places where even killing is permissible—not just on the battlefield but in personal self-defense in a dark alley—does not entail in any way a belief that less permanent forms of violence are permissible in other times and places. That is my answer to your question.

I must admit, it starts to irk me that you say I have not answered your question when I look on the questions the torture apologists are unwilling to answer. To recapitulate a few:

1. Under what circumstances are other countries allowed to make exceptions to the International Convention Against Torture? Please use Mullah Iran or such former countries as the USSR in your answer.

2. Do we owe an apology to Japanese POW prison guards for at least that portion of their prison terms related to waterboarding, provided they felt waterboarding was the patriotic thing to do in the emergency that their country was losing the war?

3. Should we ask the Cambodian Torture Museum to remove their exhibit of the Khmer Rouge waterboarding apparatus, or at least to accompany it with a disclaimer that the practices shown there are permissible when authorized by the American Office of Legal Counsel (although, of course, no such right extends to the Khmer Rouge Office of Legal Counsel)?

4. Somewhere in your concentration camp are the leaders of the Jewish Conspiracy to destroy European Civilization. Are you permitted to gas all the Jews? Refer in your answer to the exploits of Jakobus Ritter von Bauer and the TV show Fier und Zwanzig. [Why do only torture apologists get to ask about make-believe where hideous crimes become "necessary" heroics!?]

5. The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention [Against Torture]. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today. Should the US have rejected this far-leftist advice and declined to ratify the ICAT?
5.26.2009 3:24pm
PC:
I am asking for a clear statement of legal principle that would permit lethal violence in extreme circumstances of self-defense and defense of others (including in wartime) that would still outlaw nonlethal violence in those same exact circumstances.

Due process and cruel and unusual punishment come to mind. There's also the idea of immediate threat, the same as in my robber example. Kidnapping an innocent man on vacation and shipping him off to Afghanistan to be tortured for a couple of months is not the same as shooting an armed soldier on a battlefield.
5.26.2009 3:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

The way I read the article, one point appeared to be that the U.S. may be satisfied with persons being arrested, interrogated and detained by other nations because there would be less opportunity of these other nations (e.g. Pakistan) to be scrutinized in regards to interrogation, etc.


I don't know see how you read the article that way, because I don't see that claim in the article.

There could be legitimate reasons for doing so, such as the person has been charged with a US crime, etc.


Exactly. It makes sense for the person to be in the hands of authorities who are in a position to charge him with a crime.

==============
jam:

According to Baker-Posner…


Just for the sake of readers who might not understand why you mentioned Baker-Posner, I want to point out that you're talking about this article, which I cited earlier.

It was William F. Buckley and National Review who started the purge of the conservative intellectuals.


Which is ironic, given what Chris Buckley said, quoting his dad:

I've spent my entire lifetime separating the Right from the kooks


==============
federal:

the only way that you could spare that young child a horrible death was to secure information necessary to release via torture


This is just a variation on the ticking time bomb. And the question of how to handle that scenario has already been addressed.

You are simply being asked to actually deal with the difficult ethical question for which you demonize other people, yet consistently pretend does not even exist.


What a joke. The fantasy you presented with such seriousness is what "does not even exist." On the other hand, what does exist is this: we used torture to produce false confessions for the purpose of selling an unnecessary war.

And "you are simply being asked to actually deal with the difficult ethical question" of why our torturers should be allowed to get away with this crime. A crime you "consistently pretend does not even exist." Even though there's plenty of evidence that it does.

So the one who is hiding from reality is you.

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

For you to assert that a veteran has lost his honor over a disagreement on waterboarding is way over the top.


"Way over the top" is a good way to describe someone who tells the same transparent lie over and over again. And lying is not properly described as "a disagreement." It's properly described as lying.

And it's not the least bit surprising that those immoral enough to condone torture also feel fine about lying.

==============
andrew:

Refer in your answer to the exploits of Jakobus Ritter von Bauer and the TV show Fier und Zwanzig.


Perfect.

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention [Against Torture]. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today


Some people might not realize who you're quoting: St. Ronnie. Of course today his views on torture would make him a "vengeful, score-settling, Hard Left ideologue."
5.26.2009 4:10pm
Federal Dog:
"Due process and cruel and unusual punishment come to mind."


The same principles apply to self-defense/defense of others law, yet lethal force is perfectly permissible. State actors (e.g., cops) often kill people in those contexts without "due process" or criminal sanctions because the killing was "cruel and unusual punishment."


"There's also the idea of immediate threat, the same as in my robber example."

Your robber, once tied up, does not pose an imminent threat, unlike the terrorists/wartime conspirators involved in the discussion in this thread. Your robber is therefore irrelevant to that discussion.
5.26.2009 5:01pm
Federal Dog:
"The fact there are times and places where even killing is permissible—not just on the battlefield but in personal self-defense in a dark alley—does not entail in any way a belief that less permanent forms of violence are permissible in other times and places."

The burden then is to clearly explain when nonlethal force is and is not permissible, and why. Again, as I have been arguing all along, the ethical question is much more complicated than declaring all people who think that such violence may be necessary "pro torture."
5.26.2009 5:05pm
PC:
Your robber, once tied up, does not pose an imminent threat, unlike the terrorists/wartime conspirators involved in the discussion in this thread. Your robber is therefore irrelevant to that discussion.

Could you explain how Khalid el-Masri and Maher Arar posed an imminent threat?

Hell, let's go with al-Libi. Here was an admitted terrorist that was cooperating with his interrogators after he was captured. What sort of imminent threat did al-Libi pose that required torture?
5.26.2009 5:08pm
Federal Dog:
Again, I am suggesting that in the cases of conspirators acting in furtherance of a conspiracy that poses an imminent threat, there may be grounds on which to think that resort to non-lethal force is proper to thwart that threat.
5.26.2009 5:26pm
PC:
Again, I am suggesting that in the cases of alleged conspirators acting in furtherance of an alleged conspiracy that poses an imminent threat

Fixt.

People in this thread and others have given you concrete examples where torture was used and we got bogus information. Professional interrogators have come out, on record, against torture. The best the pro-torture crowd can come up with is anonymous claims from parties interested in not being prosecuted and Hollywood scenarios.
5.26.2009 5:43pm
Bolie Williams IV (mail) (www):
It doesn't matter how many people subject themselves to waterboarding, the issue of whether or not waterboarding is LEGALLY torture will be resolved by legislatures or courts. There are many words that mean different things in different contexts and laws define terms for the purpose of statute in ways that vary from common usage.

So waterboarding may be considered torture by most people in a general context while not being legally torture as defined by law. Subjecting people to it won't change that.

In addition, I find it amusing that now THREE civilians have volunteered to be waterboarded. I've watched videos of two of them. After watching the videos, I would volunteer to be waterboarded myself. There has got to be a way to distinguish between waterboarding and things like ripping out fingernails, smashing joints, branding, etc... (that I would NEVER volunteer for).
5.26.2009 5:47pm
Federal Dog:
And if the conspiracy is proved beyond reasonable doubt, and the imminent is real, again beyond reasonable doubt, is resort to force to stop that imminent threat permissible?

If not, why not?
5.26.2009 5:49pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
FDog, the idea that terrorists in captivity pose an "immediate" threat is a gross abuse of the word immediate. And you know it. Instead of making up silly stories about kidnapped children (where the kidnappers leave their accomplices behind for me to torture), try discussing the facts on the ground: dangerous, nasty villains being tortured for weeks in the hope of obtaining false justification of a Saddam-Al Qaeda connection.
5.26.2009 6:01pm
PC:
There has got to be a way to distinguish between waterboarding and things like ripping out fingernails, smashing joints, branding, etc...

People volunteer for all three of those things. You need to set the standard a bit higher.

And if the conspiracy is proved beyond reasonable doubt, and the imminent is real, again beyond reasonable doubt, is resort to force to stop that imminent threat permissible?

Again, you are constructing a Hollywood fantasy, not reality. How could you prove a conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt yet not have enough information that you would have to resort to torture to stop the threat? 24 is great at creating plots like this, but I have yet to see a real life example.

It seems some people believe we should craft laws based on Hollywood fantasy.
5.26.2009 6:03pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Hi, Bolie, welcome to the party.
So waterboarding may be considered torture by most people in a general context while not being legally torture as defined by law.
Quite so. But it's also possible that waterboarding is torture in both a general context and as defined by law, right?

Upthread you will find links for criminal conviction of waterboarders: US Army personnel in the Philippine Insurrection, guards of the Imperial Japanese Army, domestic law enforcement officials in Texas.

Upthread you will find links for acquittal of waterboarders on the grounds it isn't torture under the legal definition for—Oh! Wait! The pro-waterboarding side hasn't produced a single precedent any court in any jurisdiction that waterboarding is not torture. Just scary the Bogeyman-Will-Get-You stories from a TV show.

But you are welcome to try, Bolie. Show us your precedents. Distinguish them from our convictions.
5.26.2009 6:07pm
Federal Dog:
"FDog, the idea that terrorists in captivity pose an "immediate" threat is a gross abuse of the word immediate. And you know it."

If there is an ongoing conspiracy that poses an imminent threat, and that person's silence aids and abets the conspiracy, thus helping it to carry out that imminent threat, conspiracy law implicates the person in captivity every bit as much as those who are not in captivity. In fact, but for that captive person's silence, the conspiracy and threat would fail, thus making that person pointedly responsible for resulting casualties. That person is therefore very much part and parcel of the imminent threat. That's why conspiracy law has long held such people criminally guilty of resulting injury.

You yourself have admitted that there are, in fact, circumstances in which resort to non-deadly force may be justifiable. That is all that is necessary to require responsible resolution of what those circumstances are and how justifiable force is properly limited.

The fact that you recognize the ethical complication here does not make you "pro-torture," contrary to the repeated facile insults of RPT. It simply means that you must now think through the ethical implications of that recognition.
5.26.2009 6:13pm
Federal Dog:
"How could you prove a conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt yet not have enough information that you would have to resort to torture to stop the threat?"

Assuming that this is a genuine expression of confusion, cops face such issues regularly. Just because they know that criminal activity is underway does not mean that they have precise place, date, time, information necessary to prevent the crime from occurring.
5.26.2009 6:18pm
PC:
Assuming that this is a genuine expression of confusion, cops face such issues regularly. Just because they know that criminal activity is underway does not mean that they have precise place, date, time, information necessary to prevent the crime from occurring.

I see. So are you suggesting that LEOs should be able to use torture? If not, why not?
5.26.2009 6:19pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
FDog, you're an attorney. I can kill a mugger in an alley in self-defense. I can not kill a member of a mugging gang who has been detained. While Al Qaeda might be an immediate threat, it is not permissible to extent the exigencies of an immediate situation to the detained situation.

Uniformed soldiers on a battlefield are an immediate threat to the soldiers of the other side and, of course, may be killed. Members of the same army, even the same squad, who have been placed hors de combat by capture may not be killed, even though they are part of that same immediate threat, members of the same conspiracy, if you will. This is exactly the same reasoning, yet neither you nor anyone else who promotes torture of detainees has approved it. Of course, the torture apologists are much better at posing unrealistic scenarios than at responding.
5.26.2009 6:20pm
Federal Dog:
"This is exactly the same reasoning, yet neither you nor anyone else who promotes torture of detainees has approved it."

Andrew, I have engaged in this exchange with you in the belief that you are at least honest. You know perfectly well that I have never "promoted torture" of anyone, including detainees; at best, I, like you, have stated that there may be circumstances where resort to non-lethal force may be necessary in the context of self-defense or defense of others. If you too are going to abandon responsible and ethical discussion to indulge in false and self-flattering misrepresentations, I will leave you to them. They have nothing to do with me or with anything that I have said or believe.

"While Al Qaeda might be an immediate threat, it is not permissible to extent the exigencies of an immediate situation to the detained situation."

O.K.: Why? If the detainees are aiding and abetting an imminent threat -- and, indeed, their silence alone makes completion of the threat possible -- why are they not part and parcel of the exigency?
5.26.2009 6:33pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Federal Dog,

For every atrocity, you can posit another that's worse, and the lesser is always justified to prevent the greater. If torture is OK to prevent the rape of a child, then raping a child should be OK to prevent the rape of a hundred children. Maybe it would be, but we don't build that exception into the laws against child rape, and we don't do it for torture. Among other things, somebody would inevitably try swallowing the rule with the exception, and argue they had to torture someone a 183rd time to find a time bomb still ticking after the first 182 tries.
5.26.2009 6:37pm
Bolie Williams IV (mail) (www):
The Yoo memos justified waterboarding as not torture and courts and the Obama administration have backed up the reasoning used by the Yoo memos. Not being a lawyer, I have to take on faith that the legal reasoning was sound, though.
5.26.2009 6:39pm
PC:
If the detainees are aiding and abetting an imminent threat -- and, indeed, their silence alone makes completion of the threat possible -- why are they not part and parcel of the exigency?

Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't understand this reasoning. You know beyond a reasonable doubt that the person you have in custody is involved in a conspiracy that's an imminent threat, but you don't know enough about the conspiracy to stop it. How exactly can you know beyond a reasonable doubt the person in custody is involved unless you know what the conspiracy is? I'm trying to think of a real life example of this happening, but I'm coming up blank.
5.26.2009 6:48pm
John Moore (www):
Federal Dog:

You've got them pinned, so expect all sorts of red herrings to appear. This discussion has been ongoing here for many weeks, but you have pinpointed the specific ethical question very well: why is lesser harm prohibited when greater harm is not. Earlier, I have proposed this by example with Obama's use of UAV's to fire rockets into civilian homes in a country we are not at war with as a worse harm than waterboarding a terrorism suspect under exigent circumstances.

When you argue ethics, those who call people 'pro-torture', and tell this Vietnam Vet that I have lost all honor because of my stance on this board, will spout law.

If you argue law, they will spout ethics.

If I were to need a criminal attorney (say, if Laz became a prosecutor and went after me for advocating limited use of waterboarding on this board), you'd be the one I'd call.
5.26.2009 6:50pm
John Moore (www):
PC:
Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't understand this reasoning. You know beyond a reasonable doubt that the person you have in custody is involved in a conspiracy that's an imminent threat, but you don't know enough about the conspiracy to stop it. How exactly can you know beyond a reasonable doubt the person in custody is involved unless you know what the conspiracy is? I'm trying to think of a real life example of this happening, but I'm coming up blank.

Yes, wouldn't it be nice if the world was oh so simple and nobody had to make hard judgment calls. In the real world, they do have to make those calls, and you condemn them for it.
5.26.2009 6:51pm
PC:
John Moore, I'm not sure how your response clarifies things. Recently a top interrogator in Iraq wrote an article criticizing torture. This is a person that dealt with ticking time bomb scenarios every day and "had to make hard judgment calls." If you have any real life examples (with a cite would be preferable) of government agents that:

- have a suspect in custody
- know beyond a reasonable doubt the suspect is involved in a conspiracy
- know the conspiracy poses an imminent threat
- still don't have enough information to stop the conspiracy
- and torture is the only way to stop the conspiracy

I'd be interested in reading about it. Outside of fictional plot devices I can't see how this situation would occur.
5.26.2009 7:01pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Bolie, you wrote
The Yoo memos justified waterboarding as not torture and courts and the Obama administration have backed up the reasoning used by the Yoo memos. Not being a lawyer, I have to take on faith that the legal reasoning was sound, though.
But quite the contrary is the case. The Yoo memos were withdrawn in the latter days of the Bush Administration. Not only has the Obama Administration refused to back them up, neither did the Bush Administration, by the end of its term. Take a refresher course on the facts, then come back.

Federal Dog:
If the detainees are aiding and abetting an imminent threat -- and, indeed, their silence alone makes completion of the threat possible -- why are they not part and parcel of the exigency?
Of course, the same thing is true about uniformed POWs, where the threat is a conventional attack. And yet, no one seems to be willing to endorse torture of conventional POWs. (Of course, you might torture POWs who don't know anything and get a barrel of false information that results in a misallocation of defensive resources, but, while important, that is not the issue here.) Why do you suppose not?

You can shoot enemies on the battlefield. You can not (lawfully) shoot them in detention.

You can mete out the utmost harm on the battlefield (although it's worth noting that poison gas and exploding bullets are considered impermissible). It does not follow that you can do the same once someone has been detained. Torture is barbaric, and dirties not only the victims but the perpetrators. Do you think it's an accident that torture regimes are held in such low repute?

It appears to me (I would say, to us, rolling in Leo Marvin and others) that you have decided to run a slippery slope argument, starting with the fantastic, never-existent kidnapped child. Once someone says that they would torture to save their own child even though that would admittedly be unlawful we move on to many children, or to a bomb that might go off, or to an ongoing conspiracy like Al Qaeda. We do not make exceptions for detainees who are members of ongoing conspiracies, and the line of your questions is a good example of why even in the ticking-bomb and kidnapped-child examples torture should remain unlawful—so we don't start rolling down the slope. This is why Moore's greater and lesser evil statement is mistaken: the battlefield is not the prison. The idea that what is permissible (e.g., homicide) can be made universal is absurd, and the attempt to show it is, to the extent it isn't incoherent, a sort of deconstructionist imitation of Socratic dialogue.

As we see above, moreover, if I get to impose the hypothetical conditions, pretty soon you "have" to join the guards at Auschwitz, or else be exposed as some sort of hypocrite. It seems to amaze John Moore, but the torturers of the Nazis, the Japanese, et al, held much the same patriotic ideals as Americans, and they constructed for themselves equally elaborate, internally-consistent explanations of why their barbarous behavior was essential. Our discussion has been rather one-sided, because you have not bothered to explain whether the Nazis, et al, are as entitled as Americans to choose barbarity as the ostensible lesser of two evils.
5.26.2009 8:11pm
John Moore (www):

Of course, the same thing is true about uniformed POWs, where the threat is a conventional attack. And yet, no one seems to be willing to endorse torture of conventional POWs.

But there is a strong reason not to do that (even though the British did in WW-II): uniformed POWs tend to belong to militaries that abide by the Geneva Conventions on POW treatment, and torturing them would lead to torturing of our own.

The same can hardly be said of Al Qaeda, whose methods are infinitely worse than waterboarding and can truly be said, by anyone, to be torture.


It appears to me (I would say, to us, rolling in Leo Marvin and others) that you have decided to run a slippery slope argument, starting with the fantastic, never-existent kidnapped child.


You mean this never-existent kidnapped child?

There is nothing wrong with discussing a continuum, because the real world is rarely binary - no matter what you would like us to think.
5.26.2009 8:56pm
John Moore (www):

It seems to amaze John Moore, but the torturers of the Nazis, the Japanese, et al, held much the same patriotic ideals as Americans,


Red herring, Godwin herring,

hmmm... sounds like the start of a poem
5.26.2009 8:58pm
John Moore (www):

This is why Moore's greater and lesser evil statement is mistaken: the battlefield is not the prison. The idea that what is permissible (e.g., homicide) can be made universal is absurd, and the attempt to show it is, to the extent it isn't incoherent, a sort of deconstructionist imitation of Socratic dialogue.

You seem to be very confused by Federal Dog's clear and incisive reasoning, which clarifies what I have been trying to explain.

The prison, in this case, is very much the battlefield, because the prisoner is part of an illegal conspiracy to cause great harm by terrorist methods (war crimes). In that situation, everywhere is the battlefield which is why terrorism is so effective, and why the terrorists love you guys who get tied in logical knots because you can't think about it clearly.
5.26.2009 9:01pm
PC:
everywhere is the battlefield

Should I dig a trench in my living room? I just looked under my couch, but I don't see al Qaeda (maybe they are hiding under the bed?).
5.26.2009 9:15pm
Danny (mail):
@ John Moore

It's true - they were all patriotic too. My boyfriend's grandfather "heroically" fought for fascist Italy against the Americans and is still much admired in the family, whereas my grandfathers were on the other side
5.26.2009 10:06pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

The burden then is to clearly explain when nonlethal force is and is not permissible, and why.


The law is the law, and the law doesn't have to "clearly explain" why something is the law. It simply has to say what the law is. And here's what the law says about torture: it's a crime. So "the burden then is" on you to explain why the law should be ignored.

the ethical question is much more complicated than declaring all people who think that such violence may be necessary "pro torture."


According to the law, torture is still a crime, even in the situation where someone is convinced "such violence may be necessary." If a torturer tortures because they are convinced "such violence may be necessary," then they are required to sell that tale to a jury. They are entitled to a fair trial, where they are given a chance to do so. And if the torture was truly "necessary," and proportionate to the necessity, I'm sure the jury will be quite sympathetic to the torturer.

Our current law provides a solution to the ticking time bomb scenario, and it's the solution I've just described. How come this solution isn't good enough for you?

And if this solution isn't good enough for you, then you are free to work to change the law, but you're not free to ignore the law. And when you imply that those who broke the law should not be prosecuted, then you are working to undermine the rule of law. Why do you hate democracy?

there are, in fact, circumstances in which resort to non-deadly force may be justifiable


If you are truly convinced that the torture you are imposing is "justifiable," then you should have no problem convincing a jury to agree with you, and I'm sure they will be quite sympathetic.

if the conspiracy is proved beyond reasonable doubt, and the imminent is real, again beyond reasonable doubt, is resort to force to stop that imminent threat permissible?


If "resort to force" means torture, then "resort to force" is not permissible.

If not, why not?


Because the law says so. And if you try really hard to imagine why the law is written that way, you might actually be able to.

there may be circumstances where resort to non-lethal force may be necessary in the context of self-defense or defense of others


Regardless of what a potential torturer believes "may be necessary," torture is nevertheless a crime.

If the detainees are aiding and abetting an imminent threat -- and, indeed, their silence alone makes completion of the threat possible -- why are they not part and parcel of the exigency?


The law says you may not torture them, even if they are "part and parcel of the exigency."

in the cases of conspirators acting in furtherance of a conspiracy that poses an imminent threat, there may be grounds on which to think that resort to non-lethal force is proper to thwart that threat


It doesn't matter what you "think" is "proper." What matters is what the law says. According to the law, that "non-lethal force" may not include torture. It may not even include treatment that is cruel, inhuman, or degrading. No matter how convinced you are regarding an alleged "imminent threat." If you don't like that, then you should work to change the law. But when you suggest that the law be ignored, then you are an enemy of the rule of law, which means you are friend of tyranny. Because when we walk away from the former, what we end up with is the latter.

if you too are going to abandon responsible and ethical discussion


Please explain what is "responsible and ethical" about implying that the law should be ignored.

And you should also explain what's "responsible and ethical" about defending torturers whose primary motivation seemed to be extracting false confessions for the purpose of selling the war. You are repeatedly invoking an imaginary scenario because you would like to direct attention away from what actually happened, which is profoundly different from your TV fantasy.
5.26.2009 10:20pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bolie:

the issue of whether or not waterboarding is LEGALLY torture will be resolved by legislatures or courts


As has already been pointed out to you, this was "resolved" long ago. "Waterboarding is LEGALLY torture," and there is a long history of US courts treating waterboarding as torture (pdf). Waterboarding has been considered a form of torture for centuries. Claiming that waterboarding is not torture is a Bush administration innovation.

There are many words that mean different things in different contexts and laws define terms for the purpose of statute in ways that vary from common usage.


Feel free to explain why we called it torture when the Japanese did waterboarding the same way we did it.

The Yoo memos justified waterboarding as not torture


Of course they did. And they did so by ignoring the long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture. And they also implicitly justified such things as sodomy and electric shock as not torture. Which is a big clue that their analysis is bogus.

courts and the Obama administration have backed up the reasoning used by the Yoo memos.


Bullshit. Just what this thread needs, someone else who makes shit up.

It's not just that "courts and the Obama administration have [not] backed up the reasoning used by the Yoo memos." Bush's own OLC eventually repudiated their "reasoning." (As andrew explained.)

Not being a lawyer, I have to take on faith that the legal reasoning was sound, though.


Yes, and if Chcney told you that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength, you would take that on faith, too.

Even a non-lawyer can comprehend that a legal analysis which allegedly discusses the legality of waterboarding while ignoring the legal history of waterboarding is not much of an analysis.

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

why is lesser harm prohibited when greater harm is not. Earlier, I have proposed this by example with Obama's use of UAV's to fire rockets into civilian homes in a country we are not at war with as a worse harm than waterboarding a terrorism suspect under exigent circumstances.


Asked and answered (see what I said to mike). The answer doesn't go away just because you pretend it doesn't exist.

tell this Vietnam Vet that I have lost all honor because of my stance on this board


You haven't "lost all honor because of [your] stance on this board." You've lost all honor because you make shit up.

You mean this never-existent kidnapped child?


Torture didn't save that child, because there was no physical torture, and the child was not saved. And the police chief who threatened torture was tried and sentenced. Since you love to mention this example (while also distorting it), do you agree that our torturers should also be tried and sentenced?
5.26.2009 10:21pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
everywhere is the battlefield

That's what I can't believe, that an American could be such a fraidy-cat. Torture isn't the only issue. We were supposed to apply indefinite and incommunicado detention to a guy busted at an American airport. Because the battlefield is everywhere. (The courts didn't take to that claim.)

I notice that Moore's link is to a case where the person who picked up the ransom was tortured to reveal the whereabouts of the (long-dead) victim. Funny, how we are no longer talking about terrorism. And funny, it turned out the bomb had already gone off. And funny, it's no longer my child, but the legal apparatus of the State. (I assume this is the case where JBG points out the police chief was fined and some of the evidence against the suspects ruled inadmissible.) Curious how the situation morphs bit by bit, until it's simply the old Third Degree way of "solving" crimes.

I also don't understand Moore's explanation of why we shouldn't torture lawful POWs. It revolves around reciprocity, but that just begs the question, why don't they torture our POWs? Wait a minute: we complained that the North Vietnamese did torture our POWs. Why weren't they entitled to declare that emergency exception we always here about? I imagine pilots are full of useful intel.
5.26.2009 10:37pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
andrew:

I assume this is the case where JBG points out the police chief was fined and some of the evidence against the suspects ruled inadmissible.


Yes. And in that case, a threat of torture produced correct information (although the information ended up having no value).

But it means essentially nothing to produce an example where torture (or the threat of torture) produced correct information. We also occasionally get correct information from a stopped clock, or from a Ouija board. That doesn't mean that it's rational to use those tools, or that those tools are necessary or effective. Aside from questions of morality and legality.

Torture just isn't a very good way of getting truthful, accurate information, which is one of the reasons numerous military leaders have condemned torture.

History shows that torture is useful in one particular situation: where what's needed are false confessions. And that's what we needed, so our use of torture was highly rational. And effective.

It's no accident that the period of peak torture coincided with the peak period of lying about WMD. Waterboarding stopped in 3/03, virtually at the exact moment the war started. What an odd coincidence.
5.26.2009 10:51pm
Desiderius:
Lazarus,

"It seems to amaze John Moore, but the torturers of the Nazis, the Japanese, et al, held much the same patriotic ideals as Americans"

Do you really believe this to be so? Is there no distinction to be drawn between the ideals that bind a homogeneous society and a heterogeneous one? Or, in the event, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Democratic America, warts and all?

The ends certainly do not justify the means themselves, but is there no difference between one who is conducting an interrogation that he does not believe to be torture (negligently, for the sake of argument) for the defense of a polity constituted on liberal ideals and another who knowingly tortures for the purpose of furthering genocide? Or am I still justifying the means unwittingly here?

Serious question.
5.26.2009 11:02pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
is there no difference


It isn't that we're not different. It's that we're not different enough. And there are some people who would like to reduce the difference even further.
5.26.2009 11:13pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Desiderius: I do think there is a difference between American and Nazi or Japanese patriotism, but I don't think it's material to this issue. And less between American patriotism and Communism, which was also a movement for a particular form of 'democracy' and to which anyone could adhere. My point, however, was that all of these torturers were equally devoted to the defense of their homeland, willing not only to die but to perform acts that in some way they must realize dishonored themselves. I'm sure some torturers were operating for "shits and giggles", as someone put it upthread, but I'd say that is a minority. We have Cpl. Graner ourselves.
5.27.2009 12:22am
John Moore (www):
Laz:

My point, however, was that all of these torturers were equally devoted to the defense of their homeland

And the relevance of the motivation of Nazi and Japanese torturers is?
5.27.2009 1:46am
Leo Marvin (mail):
John,

The relevance is that if an honest belief in the virtue of one's justification excused war crimes and torture, the laws against them would be pointless.
5.27.2009 3:37am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Last night Mancow told Keith Olbermann it was torture (video): "I was willing to prove, and ready to prove, that this was a joke, and I was wrong. It was horrific. It was instantaneous."

Paging Sean Hannity (video).
5.27.2009 9:43am
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

Since this thread is about to be archived. I’ll make a few final comments.

Your position seems to be that if resort to non-lethal force is permitted to secure intelligence necessary to national defense, some people will abuse that permission and engage in gratuitous sadism. Because some people will abuse that permission in degenerate fashion, it may never exist.

That logic conflicts with centuries of law governing resort to force in self-defense and defense of others. That risk that some people will abuse the right to resort to force has always, already been reality; it is therefore part of the recognized and necessary balancing of interests that has led to contemporary self-defense law. Because that risk is a very real danger, there are clear and firm standards that restrict appropriate resort to force, both lethal and non-lethal, in that context (e.g., quantum of force threatened, imminence of the threat, proportionality of force use to thwart the threat, etc.).

In short, the law has never contemplated depriving people of the right to resort to force to defend themselves and others because some people may/do abuse that right. On the contrary: It sets out clear, reasonable, and readily understood standards by which to evaluate the reasonableness of force in specific circumstances. Those clear, reasonable, and readily understood standards are used every day in courts of law by juries and judges deciding cases involving self-defense and defense of others.

For reasons that I still do not understand, you claim that identical standards reasonably limiting resort to force cannot ever exist in the context of national defense. I do not see why not. They have worked effectively for centuries in the analogous context of criminal law. The burden is therefore on you to state why identical limits and standards cannot possibly work in the context of national defense.

The selectivity of your position strikes me. You have admitted that resort to force would be justifiable if your child were threatened; nonetheless, force would never justified if other people were threatened. I think this is a pretty normal human reaction that defines the current problem: People readily understand that resort to force may be justifiable if they personally, or people they value, are threatened and force would thwart that threat. They refuse, however, to extend that recognition to other people -- especially to people whom they do not know, and therefore do not value (at least as much as they value themselves, their family, and friends).

In short, it’s a value judgment that depends on the victim(s) in question. I do not question that you would resort to force to defend your child; I believe that you would also do so to defend yourself and, possibly, friends. Those people are sufficiently important to you that resort to force becomes acceptable.

You refuse, however, to extend that same principle to protecting strangers in the context of national security during wartime. The ethical question is why. Some people extend the principle beyond self, family, and friends; others don’t. Those who don’t bear the ethical burden of justifying their selectivity.

In closing, I must laugh a bit at the continued complaints about fictional scenarios. As John Moore signals in his links, they have already been reality. Further, before September 11, 2001, suggesting that terrorists might highjack multiple planes and fly them into various targets, resulting in thousands of deaths, would have produced loud guffaws from you and others here. Yet it happened. Resort to non-lethal force at issue in this thread was, in fact, used to thwart an attack on Los Angeles that would have resulted in mass deaths.

Would you say that Los Angeles should have been knowingly left open to those dire consequences? If so, why?

Sorry for the long post, but I think that I’ve stated my concerns. Take care.
5.27.2009 9:49am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
FD: I seem to be slipping in under the archiving wire.

1. Although it isn't relevant to the thread, the idea that, pre-9/11, I would have laughed at an Al Qaeda hijacking plan has no basis. You are confusing me with the fool who was President of the United States at the time. I don't need to clear brush to look manly. (Ranch sold at end of term!)

2. Most torture advocates concoct fictional scenarios with extreme time frames (bomb fuse is lit, child is about to die) because they think it makes torture more justifiable. You're a little honest in suggesting that torture be made a routine part of the so-called war on terror.

3. You have never explained whether it was a mistake to ratify (much less promote) the ICAT, nor whether other countries—including ones we don't admire, like Burma and Zimbabwe—are entitled to declare exceptions to the ICAT in their own defense.

4. Your idea that we may do anything in national self-defense is not acceptable. What are the limits in defending your Heimat against the Asiatic Judeobolshevik Conspiracy? And your attempt to conflate how detainees may be treated with battlefield behavior elides critical disinctions, such as the ability to interrogate detainees in a humane fashion, and the fact detainees pose no imminent threat to the lives of the interrogators

5. Your argument proves much too much, in that it provides an equally good justification for the routine use of torture against lawful POWs and against common criminal suspects, neither of which you have been willing to endorse.

Take care, and hope you don't end up in a torture chamber of your own endorsement. That's what happens in the good science fiction.
5.27.2009 10:01am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
6. I should point out that (1) the torturers' claim to have saved Los Angeles requires belief in time travel, as the ring in question was broken up before the capture of the overseas terrorists [it is hardly surprising that away from television torturers need to confabulate their success, is it?] and (2) the idea the Jews were about to take over Europe would have produced loud guffaws in many quarters. Where are the limits of what a nation can decide to do out of national paranoia? If torture is OK, why not genocide?
5.27.2009 10:05am
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

Again, please be honest. I discuss, on an extended basis, clear, reasonable, and readily understood limits on any use of force. That is the exact opposite of suggesting that we may do anything and that torture may be routine. I have never suggested either possibility, and you know it.

Consider the function of strawmen: They are only used to distract when the person using them cannot meet the argument on its merits.

I see that you have simply reset to stage one by again accusing people of being "torture advocates." Since you yourself have stated that torture would be justifiable in certain circumstances, you are very much among those people you have reverted to attacking.

Rather than hurl facile insults, we need to consider what, if any, circumstances justify resort to force, and then the nature and scope of any justifiable force, and ethical principles that underpin its justifiability.
5.27.2009 10:18am
John Moore (www):

6. I should point out that (1) the torturers' claim to have saved Los Angeles requires belief in time travel, as the ring in question was broken up before the capture of the overseas terrorists

This is a continuation of the dishonest red herring that no ticking bomb has actually happened.

It is not required that an event actually happen before reasonable people (and courts) take into account it's possibility. In fact, it is common practice in legal reasoning to analyze a situation in the case of relevant hypotheticals.

Hence one can but conclude that this line of incorrect argument is taken to preclude the justified and traditional use of hypotheticals (the ticking bomb scenario) because the opponent cannot find reasonable arguments in the face of such hypotheticals.

And, of course, there's the fact that "ticking bomb" scenarios did and do happen, and the early post-911 interrogations were examples of that. I fully expect the only response to this to be an argument with that last assertion.
5.27.2009 1:06pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Federal, please discuss how we set limits on reasonable use of genocide. The real slippery slope is how torture always migrates from those big emergencies—except, to be honest, your criteria are much looser than that—down to the routine. And why not? If it's a good system, it should be shared widely. If (as I suggest) it is ineffective with all its false positives, it would be a bad idea, period.

But thanks for your honesty.
5.27.2009 1:08pm
Federal Dog:
"Federal, please discuss how we set limits on reasonable use of genocide."


Good Lord. Tellingly, you are the only one discussing "the use of genocide": Why do you mention it? Are you advocating it? I, obviously have never discussed or advocated "the use of genocide." To prove this, go back now, find where I did so, copy that language, and post it.

Your strawmen are ludicrous and grotesque. Think about that. It is the sure-fire mark of desperation when someone cannot argue his position on the merits. It is disgraceful and dishonest to be resorting to such ridiculous caricatures in lieu of reasoned debate.

Further, if the recognized and long-standing limits on force that I have mentioned did not effectively preclude this "slippery slope" that you keep mentioning, there would be wholesale slaughter on the street in the name of self-defense. That has never been the case -- not for the centuries that the country has been in existence. The burden is clearly on you to explain why identical limits cannot exist in the context of national security during wartime and preclude abuse in exactly the same way that they have -- for centuries -- precluded abuse in the criminal law context.
5.27.2009 1:26pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
F-Dog, the ticking bomb, my own kidnapped child, the plot to annihilate Los Angeles, and you complain about my straw men? The United States has condemned torture going back, literally, to George Washington and you complain my examples are not historical?

Torture is grotesque. If you don't like grotesque, join George Washington and Ronald Reagan in supporting absolute prohibition of it. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll have to take your medicine.
5.27.2009 1:49pm
Federal Dog:
Andrew:

The threat to LA was no fiction.

The point of asking about your child was -- obviously -- to establish a foundational fact: In certain circumstances you would consider resort to torture justified. Once you acknowledged that in certain circumstances -- which, for others, have already happened -- torture may be justified, the question is under what circumstances and subject to what limitations. You have utterly failed to address those issues, thus establishing the fatal problem with your own ethical position.

Many of us do not deem the people in LA, e.g., so dispensible that reasonable and proportionate action to thwart mass casualties there was completely out of the question. Many of us believe that they enjoy the same right to live that your child enjoys, and that that right warrants reasoned and proportionate defensive measures.

You disagree. The question that you still have not answered is why your child's life is worth defending, while other people's lives are not. Instead of attacking people for what you yourself have declared justifiable under certain circumstances, and instead of wildly misrepresenting them as genocidal maniacs for sharing your basic position, you should consider the ethical implications of your own position and ratchet down the rhetoric.
5.27.2009 2:35pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Federal Dog:

Once you acknowledged that in certain circumstances -- which, for others, have already happened -- torture may be justified, the question is under what circumstances and subject to what limitations.

If you don't believe torture is a categorical wrong, you should direct your energy to changing the law. The laws against torture specifically anticipate and reject the common law self-defense exceptions to the laws against many other violent acts, including murder. If you believe torture is a categorical wrong (like the law reflects), then what you're talking about sounds a lot like what conservatives decry as moral relativism.

You have utterly failed to address those issues, thus establishing the fatal problem with your own ethical position.

No, Andrew, jbg and others have addressed this many times.

Many of us do not deem the people in LA, e.g., so dispensible that reasonable and proportionate action to thwart mass casualties there was completely out of the question. Many of us believe that they enjoy the same right to live that your child enjoys, and that that right warrants reasoned and proportionate defensive measures.

You disagree.

... speaking of straw men.

The question that you still have not answered is why your child's life is worth defending, while other people's lives are not.

You seem to think he believes that some of the things we all admit we might do to protect our own children shouldn't nonetheless be categorically prohibited.
5.27.2009 4:17pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Many of us do not deem the people in LA, e.g., so dispensible that reasonable and proportionate action to thwart mass casualties there was completely out of the question. Many of us believe that they enjoy the same right to live that your child enjoys, and that that right warrants reasoned and proportionate defensive measures.
This is, I suppose, tiresome, but it would be nice if you provided a reason why the people in Berlin, 1939, did not merit the reasonable and proportionate protection provided by the Concentration Camps. Discussing "reasonable and proportionate" and torture in the same sentence is truly droll. What are the reasonable and proportionate acts that Germans, Japanese, Iranians, and North Koreans are entitled to, and who decides what is "reasonable and proportionate"? Dick Cheney, a man of known poor judgment? As has been pointed out, repeatedly, current law sets the permissible quantum of reasonable and proportionate torture at zero. Should this law be repealed? Should Ronald Reagan have known better than to endorse it? Or should the law remain on the books, but with a blanket exception for Americans (and only Americans) acting in slef-proclaimed good faith? That last possibility might be a tough sell in other countries, and with whichever Judge of the Afterlife is your personal preference.

About my [sic] kidnapped child: the fact that I would do something illegal in certain circumstances is a poor argument for stating that it should be legalized. Are you an advocate of medical marijuana? I am sure I would partake if ill from chemo or glaucoma (I don't use pot now). Law is created in part to restrict people from doing what they, personally, might see as justified. Would I torture to death with maximum pain someone who raped my wife or child? Might. Should society legalize that behavior? Nope. This isn't rocket science, which is why I find your lack of comprehension feigned.

About the Los Angeles plot. A terrorist fantasy taken up by the torture-lovers who needed one, not a mission in progress. The plot (which would not have killed the hundreds of thousands predicted by Cheney) was disrupted before any torture took place. If you want to play Hero, get some glue and pretend to be Spiderman. Leave American law alone.
5.27.2009 4:44pm
John Moore (www):

This is, I suppose, tiresome, but it would be nice if you provided a reason why the people in Berlin, 1939, did not merit the reasonable and proportionate protection provided by the Concentration Camps.

Yes, it is tiresome, a distraction and hence a red herring.

Discussing "reasonable and proportionate" and torture in the same sentence is truly droll.

Only for the ethically obtuse.
5.27.2009 4:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

the law has never contemplated depriving people of the right to resort to force to defend themselves and others because some people may/do abuse that right. On the contrary: It sets out clear, reasonable, and readily understood standards by which to evaluate the reasonableness of force in specific circumstances. Those clear, reasonable, and readily understood standards are used every day in courts of law by juries and judges deciding cases involving self-defense and defense of others.


I highlighted the key words, which you seem to not understand, even though you wrote them. Yes, self-defense can justify violence, both non-deadly and deadly. But the justification is not assumed. It is not automatic. On the contrary. It is something determined "in courts of law by juries and judges."

When you notice the total stranger in your yard and you respond by putting a bullet in his brain, you don't get to simply resume your nap. You don't get to simply leave his body by the curb with a note pinned to it that says 'victim of justifiable homicide.' You don't just get to simply claim that you killed with justification. You have to prove it, in a trial.

What "the law has never contemplated" is granting a license to commit violence (or torture) without being required to prove that the violence was justifed and necessary. And we have a special process for evaluating the proof. It's called a trial.

And according to the Torture Act, there is no justification for torture. Period. But our torturers are entitled to a fair trial, where they present their claims of justification. And I'm sure the judge and jury will give those claims proper consideration.

you claim that identical standards reasonably limiting resort to force cannot ever exist in the context of national defense


It's not that those "identical standards … cannot ever exist." They do exist, in the form of the laws of war, and other laws, like anti-torture laws. And if you break those laws, you don't get a free pass simply by claiming that you had justification. You have to prove, in a trial, that you had justification. And even though the statute allows no justification, maybe the judge and jury will nevertheless have mercy on you.

And we either uphold this process, or we invite tyranny. Because tyranny is the result when we abandon the rule of law.

The burden is therefore on you to state why identical limits and standards cannot possibly work in the context of national defense.


"Identical limits and standards cannot possibly work in the context of national defense" unless people who break the law are required to explain what they did to a court. Which is exactly how those "identical limits and standards … work in the context of [personal self] defense."

if the recognized and long-standing limits on force that I have mentioned did not effectively preclude this "slippery slope" that you keep mentioning, there would be wholesale slaughter on the street in the name of self-defense.


There would indeed "be wholesale slaughter on the street in the name of self-defense" if people were permitted to kill, and then simply claim they were acting in self-defense, without being required to actually prove that claim in a court. Likewise, we can count on more and more government torture, if our government torturers get a free pass to break the law, and are not required to prove, in court, that their criminal acts had some overwhelming justification. And even if they manage to provide such proof, they have still violated the statute, but maybe the court will have mercy on them.

The burden is clearly on you to explain why identical limits cannot exist in the context of national security during wartime and preclude abuse in exactly the same way that they have -- for centuries -- precluded abuse in the criminal law context.


Those "identical limits … precluded abuse in the criminal law context" because the limits are enforced by prosecutors and courts. "The burden is clearly on you to explain why" an individual who commits a justifiable crime "in the criminal law context" is required to convince a court that the crime was justifiable, whereas (according to you) when the president commits a crime he simply gets to skate, by simply making his own declaration that his crime was justifiable (even though he violated a statute that provides no exceptions, and no basis for justification).

The selectivity of your position strikes me.


The selectivity of your position strikes me. You recognize that individuals who break the law are not excused from punishment unless they prove to a court that the crime was justified. But for some strange reason you think the president is above the law, and is not held to the same standard. Please explain "the selectivity of your position."

You have admitted that resort to force would be justifiable if your child were threatened; nonetheless, force would never justified if other people were threatened.


Wrong. It's not that "force would never justified if other people were threatened." It's that if you want to use criminal force because "other people were threatened," then you need to be prepared to sell that tale to a jury. So there is no double standard. If I use criminal force to protect my child, I would expect to be tried. And the same is proper if someone uses criminal force because "other people were threatened."

You refuse, however, to extend that same principle to protecting strangers in the context of national security during wartime.


Wrong. If it is necessary to commit criminal acts for the purpose of "protecting strangers in the context of national security during wartime," then a court needs to evaluate those criminal acts. Just as they would evaluate me if I committed crimes to protect my child.

Some people extend the principle beyond self, family, and friends; others don’t. Those who don’t bear the ethical burden of justifying their selectivity.


The one who bears "the ethical burden of justifying their selectivity" is you. Because you are promoting the idea that the same law that applies to me doesn't apply to the president. If I commit criminal acts because of an allegedly righteous motivation, I am required to tell it to the judge. But the president is above all that? Why do you hate democracy?

I must laugh a bit at the continued complaints about fictional scenarios. As John Moore signals in his links, they have already been reality.


I must laugh a bit at your continued attempts to turn fantasy into reality. moore's "links" are about a situation where torture saved no one, and the police chief who threatened torture was tried and sentenced. And you and moore repeatedly invoke this anecdote while also cowardly evading the obvious question: why should our torturers be treated differently than that police chief?

before September 11, 2001, suggesting that terrorists might highjack multiple planes and fly them into various targets, resulting in thousands of deaths, would have produced loud guffaws from you and others here


Bullshit. Rice claimed "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would … try to use an airplane as a missile." But like so many other claims emanating from the GOP, that claim was false.

Resort to non-lethal force at issue in this thread was, in fact, used to thwart an attack on Los Angeles that would have resulted in mass deaths.


More bullshit. That claim is false, and proof that it's false has already been posted in this thread, at least four times. So you're doing a nice job of demonstrating that you're either ignorant or dishonest. But you have a very long record here of making false claims, so it's no surprise to hear you make some more.

The threat to LA was no fiction.


You must think you're addressing idiots. No one here has claimed that "the threat to LA was … fiction" (although there is some basis for making that claim: "I don't think they foiled a plot and I'm not sure there even was a plot"). What has been pointed out is that it's fiction to claim that "the threat to LA" was thwarted by torture. If you believe that, you believe in time travel.

Consider the function of strawmen: They are only used to distract when the person using them cannot meet the argument on its merits.


Consider the function of presenting false claims: They are only used to distract when the person using them cannot meet the argument on its merits.

The question that you still have not answered is why your child's life is worth defending, while other people's lives are not.


This is a classic example of a straw man argument. No one has suggested that "other people's lives are not" worth defending. What has been pointed out is that when criminal acts are done ostensibly for the purpose of saving lives, a court needs to evaluate the truth of that excuse. And that's true whether it's a story about "your child's life," or a story about "other people's lives." And "the question that you still have not answered" is why the president is above the law, and why he can invoke this excuse, without proving it to a court, while I am not granted the same privilege.

Tellingly, you are the only one discussing "the use of genocide"


Tellingly, you are pretending to not understand that your 'logic' can be used to excuse genocide (in much the same way that the OLC torture memos implicitly excuse various forms of torture like sodomy and electric shock).

You are pretending to not understand what's already been explained to you: you are presenting an 'argument' that can be used to justify any crime. Yes, it is possible to imagine a scenario where the horror of torture is outweighed by some greater horror, that the torture is used to prevent. But the same imagination that produces this scenario can produce a scenario to justify any crime. If crushing the testicles of one child is necessary to save 100 children, I should crush the testicles, right? If raping one nun is necessary to prevent the rape of 100 nuns, I should rape the nun, right? If committing a minor genocide is necessary to prevent a major genocide, I should commit the minor genocide, right?

All sorts of criminals commit all sorts of crimes, and then would like to claim that the crime was justified. And in some instances, that claim might actually be true. But the key point is that we don't simply take their word for it. What we say to them is this: tell it to the judge.

And that's exactly what you're not willing to say to our torturers. Why? We all know the answer: because they weren't torturing to save LA. They were torturing to produce false confessions that were needed to sell the war.

It is the sure-fire mark of desperation when someone cannot argue his position on the merits.


Exactly. And that's why you're inventing your own facts, and that's why you're evading all sorts of fair questions.

ratchet down the rhetoric


What a joke. "Rhetoric" is a mild way of describing your counterfactual claims about how torture saved LA.

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

there's the fact that "ticking bomb" scenarios did and do happen, and the early post-911 interrogations were examples of that


There's the fact that you repeatedly make false claims (like this one), backed by not even a pretense of evidence.
5.27.2009 5:15pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.