Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 7, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TORTURE?....President Bush announced yesterday that 14 "high value detainees" would be transferred from secret CIA prisons to Guantanamo Bay. ABC News describes the interrogation techniques that have been used on on them:

The first the attention grab, involving the rough shaking of a prisoner.

Second the attention slap, an open-handed slap to the face.

Third belly slap, meant to cause temporary pain, but no internal injuries.

Fourth long-term standing and sleep deprivation, 40 hours at least, described as the most effective technique.

Fifth the cold room. Prisoners left naked in cells kept in the 50s and frequently doused with cold water.

The CIA sources say the sixth, and harshest, technique was called "water boarding," in which a prisoner's face was covered with cellophane, and water is poured over it (pictured above) meant to trigger an unbearable gag reflex.

Is this torture? There's an easy question that provides some moral clarity here: If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture? If you would, then it's torture when we do it too.

Kevin Drum 11:21 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (301)

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Comments

There's no evidence that this is true. ABC cites only "current and former CIA officials". No actual names are provided, so it's entirely possible ABC simply made it up, much like CBS did by pretending Bush didn't fulfill his military obligations during Vietnam. How about some actual evidence, Kevin?

Even assuming it's true, Kevin Drum draws the equivalence between America's heroes and terrorists. If that's where we're at, I praise god that democrats aren't in charge of anything.

Posted by: American Hawk on September 7, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

There's an easy question that provides some moral clarity here: If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture?

No offense intended Kevin but that's a STUPID question. Bush is interrogating suspected Islamofasicsts who want to eviserate America and Israel. America is interrogating people who want to crush the nascent free and democratic state of iraq. Since they are suspected Islamofascists, interrogation techniques would have have to be far harsher than the ones you've listed in order for it to be torture. You are attempting a false moral equivalence between America and the Islamofascists terrorists.

Posted by: Al on September 7, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture? If you would, then it's torture when we do it too.

'they' already do far worse to American prisoners. and it gives the panty-wetting ninnies a reason why we should do it to 'them'.

Posted by: cleek on September 7, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

We're at war here. The Geneva Convention says that we have to treat our enemy the same way we would want our boys to be treated.

Hmmm ... treat others the way you would want to be treated ... I'm sure someone has said that before, that guy with the beard ... hang on, it'll come to me ...

Posted by: mmy on September 7, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

apparently AHawk is playing the role of Al, today.

Posted by: cleek on September 7, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

But if it were done to an American, it would be WRONG!

You can not do anything wrong to a scary brown person!

Al, Hawk, and I need to be protected at any cost!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 7, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

It would make for an interesting Military tribunal if some Gitmo detainee was accused of 'torturing' American prisoners with any of the above prescribed methods.

Posted by: cynical joe on September 7, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Al sez: Since they are suspected Islamofascists...

So... since they are suspected bad guys, we can really do whatever the hell we want to them. Upon such rationalizations are the basis of the domestic terror state built. Not the Islamo-terror-state. Our own American Big Brother terror state.

Al, offense intended: your moral relativism and acceptance of torture is the clearest sign of moral degeneracy in the "conservative" movement. There is no "false" moral equivalence: there is morality and torture is immoral.

Posted by: Rick on September 7, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Just as an aside, what are American military personnel expected to divulge if they are captured? Name rank and serial no.? Are they allowed to 'convert' to Islam?

Posted by: cynical joe on September 7, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. This is torture. it is unacceptable and beneath any american to conduct themselves this way.


=

Posted by: JRI on September 7, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Let me spell it out, Kevin.

It is all well and good to talk of being "civilized," of "freedom" and "justice," of "morality," etc., when the evil we face is a blow job.

But if we are scared, all those naive, quaint ideas are to be forgotten! Brown people are MONSTERS, so we, too, MUST become monsters!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 7, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

The comments show Americans are just like other people, no better, just as brutal.

Posted by: Renate on September 7, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

The retired Major I sleep with every night says it's torture, and I will take his word for it. For the record, he said that if he were in the military now, and witnessed such abuse, that is what sidearms are for, and he would use it.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 7, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

YES OF COURSE THIS IS TORTURE. Unfuckingbelievable. What has happened to the once great country of America? Is this what we have sunk to? For you dummies, the reason you should never torture anyone is so in the chance your soldiers get captured they won't get tortured. But if you do it, then they will also do it. Its disgraceful. I'm ashamed of this country right now. Torture should never be used. Never. We have officially sunk to the terrorists level if we did / do use these methods of interrogation. Bush is a complete ass, he lies and say we don't torture just like he said we didn't have any secret CIA prisons. He has absolutely zero credibility and he is a liar and an ass. Impeach him. Al should be impreached from this country too.

Posted by: dee on September 7, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I would live to stick around for the firestorm, but I have a class to teach in 30 minutes and I need to be at least as prepared as the students...Back later.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 7, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

They do far worse to American prisoners, and always have. Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, you name it. How were our prisoners treated then? Does it bother anyone that the U.S. is pretty much the only war fighting nation paying attention to the Geneva Conventions in the first place?

Incidentally, this list is old news, and no, this isn't "torture," unless you plan on developing a new word for things like amputation, mutilation, real electric shocks, acid baths, beheading and other things routinely used in Saddam's Iraq and by our current enemies.

Posted by: barryw on September 7, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

If memory serves me right, Alec Guinness' character in The Bridge Over the River Kwai is slapped around, forced to stand at attention and confined in a space subjected to extremes of temperature (heat, not cold, but bear with me...) and I think the director expects his audience to consider the character to be tortured.

We prevailed in the existential conflict with the Soviet Union -- which actually did have nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, yet! -- without sacrificing the moral high ground as much as King George and his lackeys. Shame on them for besmirching this nation with tactics borne of incompetence and laziness.

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Good for you, Kevin.

This is torture. Until we launched the war on terror, we would have been justified in condemning such treatment. Now the universal answer is, "Who you calling a torturer, Butch?" That was quick.

Remember how concerned we were back when Saddam Hussein's regime captured U.S. troops? Our press and government were hollering bloody murder because they were put before a camera, which showed treatment far superior to what our captives have experienced in secret and in public.

The list doesn't describe the worst of what we have been doing, but it already crosses the threshold of torture, with all the consequences you would expect: Endangerment of U.S. troops and civilians, brutalization of U.S. troops and their opponents, international condemnation, destruction of U.S. credibility, contamination of evidence, and undermining of the rule of law. That's just a start.

Posted by: El Sid on September 7, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

All this talk of Nazis and fascists is appropriate but misdirected. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld (along with countless underlings) should all be in a Nuremburg style docket for war crimes. They are the fascists. Justice won't be served until they swing from a rope.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 7, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

They do far worse to American prisoners, and always have. Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, you name it.

You convienently left our Germany, which was easy to pacify because we treated their POWs humanely, and the first Iraq war, where Iraqi soldiers threw down their guns at the drop of a hat because they knew we would treat them better than Saddam.

Just because we lable the current enemy "terrorists" doesn't mean we shed our principles to fight them. In fact, an ideological struggle such as this is the very reason why our principles are so important.

Posted by: mmy on September 7, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Others have done worse, so we must. No one should be allowed to be worse than the U.S.!

And some brown people killed ~3,000 Americans on 9/11. We can just ignore all the Americans killed in Iraq and in NOLA, or all the evil brown people we have killed. If something bad happened to the U.S., we can do anything!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 7, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

If it's "torture" but saves thousands of American lives, who cares?

I care. First, your hypothesis is wrong -- did they ever get information that saved lives? Second, you act as if this were the only way to stop terrorism, when other methods are proven to work, including plain old treaty-respecting interrogation. Not pissing off the rest of the world, that might help, too. Third, it's immoral anyhow. Fourth, we tolerate the deaths of thousands of Americans every year from various other causes that we could control, yet choose not to. (My favorite hobby house, health care -- our crap medical system kills thousands of newborn babies every year, relative to about 20 other countries. It also chops years off our lives. If we can tolerate this, then I think we can stand firm on not torturing people, even those that actually are terrorists.)

Posted by: dr2chase on September 7, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Why are you linking to ABC's Note as if they are delivering "breaking news" on these techniques? Many blogs have exhaustively documented the numerous government reports that explain EXACTLY what the U.S. is doing to detainees in secret prisons. Heck, Andrew Sullivan has gone through the mix of media, Pentagon, and Congressional reports exhaustively documenting this stuff at least a dozen time. He reviewed some of it just this morning:

http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/09/liarinchief_i.html

By acting like stuff is not in the public domain, you become part of the problem. By acting like the Pentagon itself has not confirmed the use of these methods makes you part of the problem.

Here's the executive summary of the U.S. Army report on Abu Ghraib to help job your memory:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4894001/

Posted by: owenz on September 7, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Quote:There's an easy question that provides some moral clarity here: If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture? If you would, then it's torture when we do it too.

Thank you. We are supposed to be the good guys. Not upholding a higher moral standard is just another step in the "Israelification" of the USA. i.e. The sense that we are in a perpetual war surrounded by enemies.

What is it about the right that they seem to think that everything can be acheived via the "smackdown" strategy? Historically since WWII we've had any number of diplomatic succeses and a few military clusterf--ks. One needs to be willing to provide a smackdown, but be very judicious in actual implementation of that strategy. The current adminstration is too seduced by it's military powers and half-baked ideology to excercise the sort of restraint that a judicious leader should and would.

Posted by: Berk on September 7, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

That description of "waterboarding" (with the ingenious addition of cellophane) makes it clear that what is going on is deliberate asphyxiation. I don't see how anyone can deny that that is torture - or, indeed, that Bush's speech yesterday meant he has no intention of stopping it.

Posted by: Steven Poole on September 7, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah! What Thomas1 says, Dee! The U.S. has never killed or maimed an innocent!!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 7, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Does it bother anyone that the U.S. is pretty much the only war fighting nation paying attention to the Geneva Conventions in the first place?

Not so much, any more.

Shame on you, barryw, for holding the US to no higher standard than "not as bad as our enemies." Why do you hate America so?

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"unless you plan on developing a new word for things like amputation, mutilation, real electric shocks, acid baths, beheading and other things routinely used in Saddam's Iraq and by our current enemies."

Oooh, I've got it! "Double-plus-ungood torture!"

Posted by: george on September 7, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Pentagon and Army state that "nothing good" has come from abusive practices authorized by the Bush administration specifically including waterboarding and that no useful intellegence has been gained over the past five years experience with such practices.

SEPTEMBER 6, 2006

SPEAKERS: CULLY STIMSON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR DETAINEE AFFAIRS

LIEUTENANT GENERAL JOHN KIMMONS (USA), ARMY DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR INTELLIGENCE

The field manual explicitly prohibits torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. To make this more imaginable and understandable to our soldiers -- and I use that in a joint context -- we have included in the field manual specific prohibitions.

There's eight of them.

Interrogators may not force a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts of pose in a sexual manner. They cannot use hoods or place sacks over a detainee's head or use duct tape over his eyes. They cannot beat or electrically shock or burn him or inflict other forms of physical pain, any form of physical pain. They may not use water boarding. They may not use hypothermia or treatment which will lead to heat injury. They will not perform mock executions. They may not deprive detainees of the necessary food, water and medical care. And they may not use dogs in any aspect of interrogations....
The field manual also defines the roles and functions which health care providers may perform within the context of interrogation, which is very limited and essentially limited to normal precautionary medical inspection and care, as well as emergency services.

KIMMONS: But they are not authorized to assist in -- directly assist interrogators.
.....
QUESTION: General and Mr. Stimson, some of the tactics that were used, in particular in Guantanamo Bay, that were considered by investigators to be abusive when used together are now prohibited, for example, the use of nudity, hooding, that sort of thing.

In looking at those particular tactics and now not being able to use them, does that limit the ability of interrogators to get information that could be very useful? In particular on one detainee in Guantanamo Bay, some of those tactics that are now prohibited were deemed to be very effective in getting to that information.

Also, are there going to be safeguards to prevent whether it be interrogators or commanders from interpreting the tactics that are approved in ways that could be abusive, as some of those tactics were derived from standard interrogation tactics?

KIMMONS: Let me answer the first question. That is a good question. I think -- I am absolutely convinced -- the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.

Moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, through the use of abusive techniques, would be of questionable credibility, and additionally it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there.

Some of our most significant successes on the battlefield have been -- in fact, I would say all of them, almost categorically all of them, have accrued from expert interrogators using mixtures of authorized humane interrogation practices in clever ways, that you would hope Americans would use them, to push the envelope within the bookends of legal, moral and ethical, now as further refined by this field manual.

We don't need abusive practices in there. Nothing good will come from them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/06/AR2006090601442.html

Posted by: CAtch22 on September 7, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Too bad the terrorists don't believe in Mutual Assured Destruction, Gregory.

How do you know, Charlie? Do you have connections with the terrorists?

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I agree wholeheartedly. Of course, it's torture.

But, between now and November, let's not ever discuss this without shouting from the rooftops that the timing and framing of this discussion was naked electioneering.

And note from the thread above how effective it is.

What we should be stressing is that this is more evidence that these clowns are not serious and care about nothing other than winning elections.

Posted by: anon on September 7, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

When we start beheading innocents, let me know.

40,000+ civilians killed in Iraq by US military activity.

true, not all of them were beheaded - some were crushed, burnt, dismembered, disembowled, suffocated, pierced, or shot.

you let me know when Iraq has killed 40,000 Americans.

Posted by: cleek on September 7, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas1
If it saved thousands of American lives, another 9/11, or worse, I would torture Alan Dershowitz.

Isn't that what you meant to say?

Posted by: Jose Padilla on September 7, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

There's no evidence that this is true. ABC cites only "current and former CIA officials". No actual names are provided

According to a classified report prepared by the CIA Inspector General John Helgerwon and issued in 2004, the techniques "appeared to constitute cruel, and degrading treatment under the (Geneva) convention," the New York Times reported on Nov. 9, 2005.

It is "bad interrogation. I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough," said former CIA officer Bob Baer.

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1322866

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

question to Al,

i am not an islamofacist. i am a republican. and i would like to eviserate America and Israel as well (not all, just bush cheney and most of the knesset, becuase they havent gone FAR ENOUGH in the GWOT. im more of a tim mcviegh type of guy)

would you use the same techniques on a right wing republican 7th generation american like myself?

or do i get a pass cause we think alike?

Posted by: mike on September 7, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Somewhere between three and four would cause me to kill as many Americans as I could in retaliation. No wonder why we want to keep them locked up forever.

Posted by: abe on September 7, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

In other news, of course, we have the Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence emphasizing that torture is wrong and doesn't work.

Still, Bush wants to keep up with his "alternative procedures":
http://unspeak.net/questioned-by-experts/

Posted by: Steven Poole on September 7, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

If it saved thousands of American lives, another 9/11, or worse, I would torture Alan Dershowitz.

Hey, if there were even a 1% chance, it'd be irresponsible not to...

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

cleek:

There is a small moral difference between a bomb or bullet missing a target, and standing behind someone on video tape and sawing their head off. Ask someone to explain it to you.

Posted by: rkk on September 7, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Right, Thomas1 --- a braindead woman was horribly worse-than-tortured to death, but that was by UnAmerican LIEberals! Not the U.S.!

All those civilians blown up and maimed in Iraq aren't "innocent" -- they *chose* to be born suspected bad guys!!

Go, Torture! Save us all!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 7, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

The case can be made that the first two items are not torture, unless they are done repeatedly. However, the rest of them definitely are torture.

Posted by: Indiana Joe on September 7, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

There is a small moral difference between a bomb or bullet missing a target, and standing behind someone on video tape and sawing their head off.

you go explain that to the friends and relatives of the 40,000 dead. i'm sure your arguments will be very persuasive!

Posted by: cleek on September 7, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"There is a small moral difference between a bomb or bullet missing a target, and standing behind someone on video tape and sawing their head off. Ask someone to explain it to you."

Right, because there is *no way* that we could possibly know that civilians might die! And they aren't really as dead, or as maimed! Brown people can't suffer!

Kevin, get it through your head: No one in the U.S. can do anything wrong at all, except not feed a braindead woman or prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg!!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 7, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, the trolls were out early and force today. I guess they earned their pay this time.

Posted by: beb on September 7, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

beat that strawman, mhr. beat it good!

Posted by: cleek on September 7, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Would anybody who thinks waterboarding is not torture be willing to volunteer for a session?

Posted by: Dan T. on September 7, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Is this torture? There's an easy question that provides some moral clarity here: If someone else did this to American prisoners, would you consider it torture?

How about this: if someone did this to your mother and father, or to your sons and daughters, would you consider it torture?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Good comment, Kevin. Of course, it's torture.

But between now and November, let's not EVER discuss this without emphasizing this is a discussion wholly fabricated for electoral advantage, not for its impact on the GWOT or whatever we're calling it this week.

And, sadly, the thread above suggests to me it's an effective strategy.

I think a big part of our response has to be that this transparent electioneering is yet more evidence that these clowns are not serious about fighting our enemies. Instead, they care only about stoking fear to win elections.

Posted by: td on September 7, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

How very quaint that we are having this enlightened philosophical debate about whether waterboarding is torture and blah blah. Meanwhile, all the double-digit-IQ GIs out there must be pissing themselves laughing at the politeness of it all, as they continue doing stuff that's ten times worse. Wake up guys. Your bonehead goons are beating six shades of shit out of the prisoners at Gitmo, and worse at those non-existent secret prisons, all in the name of Uncel Sam and your beloved constitution.
I'm not a yank, so I don't give a damn about your "boys", and I can quite calmly say they are a bunch of fascist thugs.

Posted by: george 3rd on September 7, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Does it bother anyone that the U.S. is pretty much the only war fighting nation paying attention to the Geneva Conventions in the first place?

It might if that were true instead of a lie. Consider Canada, Germany, France, Britain, and the other countries fighting alongside us in Afghanistan -- they all seem able to obey the law even though we insist on breaking it.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Who would Jesus waterboard?

Keep fear alive! Keep fear alive!

Posted by: Red on September 7, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

If it's "torture" but saves thousands of American lives, who cares?

Charlie/Cheney is right, there are no moral absolutes. All morality is situational and utilitarian. Christianity is just something we conveniently profess to provide us with cover and the moral high ground.

If it's raping your mother but saves thousands of American lives, who cares?

If it's murdering your daughter but saves thousands of American lives, who cares?

If it's genocide that includes everyone you love but saves thousands of American lives, who cares?

*If it's aborting your fetus but saves thousands of American lives, who cares?*

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

There's no evidence that this is true.

Yes, the interrogations could have been much worse than described.

it's entirely possible ABC simply made it up...

Much like their "docudrama" "Path to 9/11 - A Wingnut's View"

Posted by: ckelly on September 7, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

There are none more cowardly then these degenerates who rationalize torture. Miserable fearful bullies who stand for nothing, who abandon all moral behavior whenever someone says boo! - These are where the brown shirts of the past have always come from, and these are the weakest link in any democracy.

Terrorists rely on these whimpering fools to respond by fearfully dismantling American principals. Bush relies on their weakness to maintain his political strength. Without these cowards, he has no base.

AmericanHawk, Al, BarryW, and all the other treasonous cowards spouting off here, please go hide in your basements and continue shake in fear, and leave the fight for freedom to be handled by those with the courage to stand up and fight for American principals.

FDR was right - the only thing to fear is fear itself - along with these freaks that come out of the woodwork.

Fighting terror is not for wimps. You guys are so un-American it is pathetic.

Posted by: Jimbo2K6 on September 7, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Does it bother anyone that the U.S. is pretty much the only war fighting nation paying attention to the Geneva Conventions in the first place?

From 1965 to 1969, North Vietnam did not observe the Geneva Conventions for American POWs. They were routinely tortured, tied up with ropes and hoisted to the ceiling by their arms, then dropped. Because of international public pressure, beginning in 1969, North Vietnam accorded US POWs Geneva Convention status. The result was that conditions for POWs from 1969 until their release in 1973 were largely bearable, with only isolated instances of torture. This is the account given by former US POWs themselves, including John McCain, Jim Stockdale, Pete Peterson and others, not by any apologists for North Vietnam.

There is no better demonstration of the effectiveness of the Geneva Conventions than the treatment of US POWs in the Vietnam conflict. The power of international public opinion shamed North Vietnam into treating US POWs decently.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, 911 was terrible but so is war taken to Iraq,Gaza, Lebanon. War is terror. To have your child killed in front of you, your parents or children humiliated in front of you, bombs dropped on you, medical treatment denied because of check points, utter destruction of your home and fields, all that and more is torture. The abuse starts with the hoods and gogles and being put on planes not knowing where to and when to get back.

So much human suffering and we are outraged when our soldiers are photographed and yes their faces showed their terror too.


Posted by: Renate on September 7, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I will not feel safe until all brown-skilled people, all furriners, all non-Christians are incinerated. Only then can we get back to God's business of making money.

Posted by: Amway Zombie on September 7, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Khalid Sheik Mohammed masterminded the 9/11 attack that killed 3,000 people and you are concerned about whether slapping him on the belly to extract information that could lead the US to his co-conspirators is torture?"

Slapping him on the belly? mhr, do you really think that is all it is?

You can't be serious. Go back to your basement and cry some more...

Posted by: Jimbo2K6 on September 7, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I praise god that democrats aren't in charge of anything. says American Hawk

And I say you are the scum of the earth.

May your worse nightmares come true and all your hope and dreams turn to ashes in your mouth. May everything you attempt fail. May all your false bravado turn to bile in your throat. Inhale and enjoy those sulfur fumes boy because you are going to spend eternity with that smell.

You are an uninformed punk and deserver to be treated in a manner according to those wishes you have for the treament of those you label enemy.

Curse you and everything you believe.

Posted by: God the Almighty on September 7, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

When three of the first five posts are trolls, all within the first five minutes, it is clear that someone is paying people to do this.

Really, no reason to bother responding to them.

Posted by: Decadent Coastal Elitist on September 7, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

you are concerned about whether slapping him on the belly to extract information that could lead the US to his co-conspirators is torture?

Let's put it this way, you fucking idiot. If it doesn't hurt, then WHY DOES IT SUPPOSEDLY WORK?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

The comments of Al, Haek, Thomas and whoever else betray the moral decline of our nation.

It is not about who they are (Islamofascists or whatever), it is not about what they do (beheading of innocents. . .).

The way we treat people in our custody is about who WE are. Do terrorists deserve humane treatment? No. Do we treat them humanely anyway? Yes. Why? Because that is who we are, that is what makes us better than them.

Every time we loosen our moral standatrds in the name of fighting terrorism, it is a victory for the terrorists. Why the likes of Al and A.H. can't see this, I do not understand.

Posted by: David P on September 7, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

If the pro-torture people would like to have an honest debate, please don't use the following arguments:

1. What the terrorists do is much worse
[Is that really the argument? As long as we behave better than the most ruthless murderers on the planted, we're morally ok?]

2. Liberals would be nice to [insert bad person's name] rather than do what it takes to get information and defeat terrorists [no one ever said that, so don't argue against it].

Whether to torture for a greater cause (saving lives) is a complicated question, but most pro-torture commentators would rather make up less complicated questions and use those to rhetorically beat people who would dare suggest that it is beneath America to freak out and start torturing people because some religious nuts want to hi-jack airplanes.

Posted by: Justin on September 7, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

David P wrote:
"It is not about who they are (Islamofascists or whatever), it is not about what they do (beheading of innocents. . .).

The way we treat people in our custody is about who WE are."

Huzzah! That is absolutely what this is about. Well put.

Posted by: EM on September 7, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

From the inside, we can argue about whether it's torture or not, whether it's the military doing it or not, but from the outside (the rest of the world), it's torture and it's the US (and certain cahoots regimes) that's doing it.

As the interrogator said to the interrogee, Want more? This is our not-so-private sector in action, bringing Hell up to the surface in our name.

Posted by: Captain Mud on September 7, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's ridiculous for a news organization to present this list of techniques as representative of American torture techniques. The belly slap? Sounds like something American Hawk and his ilk pay for on regular family trips to Vegas. Bullshit. Example of real torture: Interrorgators deprive guy shot three times, including in the groin, pain relief. But hey, they saved his life, so they are real heros, right? Look, torture is sick shit most people are more capable of and interested in than they can consciously imagine, and there might be cases most of us would authorize even if we'd like to say we wouldn't. But let's get real. American forces have been systematically and horrendously torturing people across the board. Beating, suffocating, torturing, killing, again and again and again. This isn't belly slap BS. Cold rooming and waterboarding are the sorts of things being fessed up to in the writeen directives, and it's no doubt that they fall under international defenitions of torture. The stuff we aren't admitting to, like letting people bleed out from gunshots to the groin and making medical attention contingent on confessions of the mortally wounded and insane, is the real deal. Al et al may well support that shit in addition to having, as some people have been heard to say, affections for little boys. But if you guys support torture, don't pretend we are talking about belly slaps. American's have and are torturing folks in a serious way. If you support torture, be clear about what you are supporting. Then, the civilized and morally serious thing to do is to realize that if you support torture of anyone you are legitimizing it for everyone. If you are willing to subject others to torture you should be willing to accept it as a legitimate tactic on yourself. If not, you are a moral coward and a hypocrit. Even if you see torture as a universally applicable tactic, self included, you are on tenuous ground, but at least you are not a coward, like I expect every torture supporting troll ho is.

Larger point being I'm not down with Kevin passing on the ABC list as is because it sugar coats the obvious reality. American forces have had more deaths in our custody in the current permawar than the North Vietnamese had US POW deaths during the whole Vietnam war. The list they show us is not representative of the reality of our torture practice. Let's not fall for this BS when discussing this issue. Get real about what torture is, if you support it or oppose it. I think the vast majority of Americans would oppose what has actually been happening, so let's not pretend that all interrorgators have been going by the book.

A willingness to embrace real torture exposes the bought and paid for christofascist hypocrictic shell trolls for the true evil, sicko, nazi fith columnists that they truly are. The enemy within, destroying the republic, the true allies of Saddam and Bin Laden and enemies of American Patirots all. Enemies of the Constitution, international law, Christianity, civilization, and evolution. And some people say Al, Hawk, Dr. Jay et al are necropheliac pedophiles.

Posted by: Trypticon on September 7, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it is difficult to provide someone with moral clarity on an issue when his winning an election depends on not having moral clarity.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think one thing we have to keep in mind here is that these tactics don't work. Whether they're 'torture' or not is irrelevant. If you extract information from someone by physical coercion, more often than not that information is useless -- made up on the spot, just to stop the coercion. It's been proven time and time again.

I have no doubt that the CIA found oodles and oodles of bomb plots and terror plans with these methods. I have no doubt that 99% of them are pure fiction. Their only purpose is to give Bush ammunition to scare the public even more, to ask for more power to torture, to make prisoners invent even wilder stories... (shakes head) What a nasty cycle we've fallen into.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on September 7, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Torture is eight years of that smirking moron and his asswipe legions.

Posted by: ergonaut on September 7, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

If it saved thousands of American lives, another 9/11, or worse, I would torture. So would Alan Dershowitz.

If it saved thousands of lives, you may have a point. But it doesn't, at least according to John Kimmons, the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence.

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.

Moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, through the use of abusive techniques, would be of questionable credibility, and additionally it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there." -- John Kimmons, Sept 6, 2006

So if you want to argue against all the foremost intelligence experts in the United States, go ahead. But don't pretend it's just a choice between being nice and saving lives.

Posted by: worm eater on September 7, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

When torture methods are listed so cleanly, so factually, so matter-of-factly, like a recipe or an itinerary on a page, torture can be made to look rational or possibly justifiable. It is neither. It is the worst that humans are capable of. Period.

And don't think for a minute that these are the only methods being used by the US in its prisons.

Posted by: nepeta on September 7, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's really amazing is that the Armed Forces don't even want to torture anyone. The heads of the services just appeared before Congress to testify that the new Army Field Manual bans all this stuff, it's the law of the land, and abusive techniques of interrogation don't work anyway. The only people who want to torture are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the associated political leadership. And they don't want to torture people because it works. They just apparently like the idea of torturing people.

We've got to get some Democrats into power so we can stop these GOP goons from torturing people in the name of the United States of America.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sitting here picking my nose. I know it's wrong, but what if it saves thousands of lives?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I know it's illegal for two men to get married. But what if their marrying was the only way to defuse a ticking nuclear bomb? We need to get rid of these quaint old laws, which are not suited to a world where terrorists can punch a number into a cell phone and set of an anthrax bomb in a frozen embryo, burning countless flags.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

If we are to remain the great country that we were, we have to make our own rules, not adopt the tactics of the weaklings trying to bring us down.

So what if they torture, or behead us? We make our own rules, and set our own standards. We know in our hearts what is right, and as long as we hold fast to that vision, and pursue it with all that is within us, we shall prevail.

Torture is both immoral and ineffective. It has no place in America, or with Americans. Of all the acts of the current Administration, this is the one I find the most offensive, and the one that shows the greatest weakness and the greatest lack of faith in America, American principles, and the American Way.

It must stop.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 7, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

True torture is that you libs don't want to take the actions that make me feel safer. I'd wet my bed if you were in power. Thank God for George Bush. Thwack an Islamofascist. Thwack. Thwack.

Posted by: Jay on September 7, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

It is bad enough that in the year 2006 we are engaged in a debate in this country about whether the United States should use torture against suspected terrorists.

What is worse is that so many people here are quick to defend the practice. There seems to be no limit to what these people would do.

That is a remarkable indictment -- not of this country's enemies, but of ourselves.

We have always been a country of ideals, above all else. If those ideals are so easily tossed aside, then whatever we are fighting for is a trivial matter indeed.

Posted by: JJF on September 7, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

If it saved thousands of American lives, another 9/11, or worse, I would torture. So would Alan Dershowitz.

Hey, so would I ... but I also would expect to then have to take my chances in front of a jury once the emergency was over.

Posted by: Lex on September 7, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yes Remus Shepherd. Key things about this issue:

1. US authorized tactics clearly meet the definitions of torture under international law sanctioned by the Constitution as the law of the land.

2. What has actually taken place is much worse than what is being admitted to.

3. Torture is designed to destroy and control, not get reliable information, ie it doesn't work, a la Remus.

4. Team Bush has pushed for torture as an excercise of executive/Repugnicon power. They support the use of torture not as a way to keep America safe but to as a political tactic to assert and perpetuate their power. They cynically support the right to torture, not because it helps the American people, because they think it will help them.

Then there are those who torture because they can, and they want to.

Then there are the wanabe torturers paid to harass us in a comments thread.

Posted by: Trypticon on September 7, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

As I have said many times before and in many different ways - 19 men with boxcutters hijacking four airplanes is not sufficient reason to repeal the Bill of Rights or to lower ourselves to the barbaric levels that terrorists themselves inhabit. Period.

Anyone who doesn't get that, doesn't deserve to live in this great land.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 7, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

"It might if that were true instead of a lie. Consider Canada, Germany, France, Britain, and the other countries fighting alongside us in Afghanistan -- they all seem able to obey the law even though we insist on breaking it."

Posted by: Arminius

Exactly how many prisoners are being held by Canada, Germany, France, and Britain?

Posted by: barryw on September 7, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

When I was a kid I was told about how the barbaric Japanese tortured people during WWII by forcing them to stand for prolonged periods.

Posted by: jefff on September 7, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I have a windowless room in my basement. Every day, I kidnap two republicans from the local mall, take them down to the basement, blindfold them, and pour water over their mouths until they agree to vote Democratic. Torture? Sure, but, look, if it helps get the GOP out of power, it could save thousands of lives. So I figure it's justified. Anyway, the Geneva Conventions are so quaint.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

How paranoid and under delusions of self-importance do you have to be to think that people are paid to counter this drivel?

Posted by: dean on September 7, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

'You know, I know it's illegal for two men to get married. But what if their marrying was the only way to defuse a ticking nuclear bomb? We need to get rid of these quaint old laws, which are not suited to a world where terrorists can punch a number into a cell phone and set of an anthrax bomb in a frozen embryo, burning countless flags.'
--brooksfoe

This might be the funniest post on this blog ever!
ROTFLMAO!

Posted by: A Cynic's Cynic on September 7, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God for George Bush. sayeth Jay

No need to thank me boy, he`s not mine. He belongs to that other deity in all this. The one with the sulfur smell that surrounds him.

Posted by: God the almighty on September 7, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

On Washington Post, this what By Howard Kurtz wrote:

If memory serves -- actually, I looked it up -- it was The Washington Post's Dana Priest who disclosed nine months ago that terror suspects were being interrogated at secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

This brought her lots of outrage, from the Bush administration and conservative critics. (Oh, and there was a Pulitzer, too.) Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert demanded an investigation, and a House committee launched one. Justice was notified as well, and the inevitable leak investigation was launched. The gist of the indictment: How dare a reporter and a newspaper undermine the war on terror by disclosing what the administration was doing with taxpayers' dollars?,/i.

But still the press is simply ignoring the most obvious issue - Bush denied that there were ANY secret CIA prisons but now Bush admits that he LIED about the existance of secert prisons.

Now Kevin says this all the type of torture that Bush used but already we know that that Mideast man from Canadian was starved and beaten for 6 months, and that he was kept in a cell (cage) that was only 6 ft long, low celling that was not tall enough for prison to stand up in.

If Bush lied about secert prisons then whatever evidence Bush uses as "this is only type of torture we used" can't be consider the truth.

Kevin wants to turn the questions into "is this really torture", thus avoiding the obvious fact in issue, that being that Bush lied and now the US and world has proof of it from Bush's own lips.

Admission of the existence of these secret prisons is enough evidence to impeach Bush, since Bush is admitted liar.

The last president who lied was being impeached for that lie.

Clinton was going to be impeached, not because he had sex with that woman but because he lie about the fact of it.

Where is the press on that obvious lie?

Posted by: Chertyl on September 7, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I really wish we could create a country within this country - maybe call it the United States of Dumbfuckastan. All the Al's, American Hawks, Thomas1's, etc. could have an ideal homeland.

Posted by: spyder on September 7, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's torture. And torture mostly elicits false information. There's not a single documented case of the methods described here saving a single U.S. life, let alone "thousands."

And worse than illegal immoral, it's stupid. Being--truly being--the good guys has historically been a huge strategic advantage for the U.S. Now that's been sacrificed for illusory tactical gains.

Posted by: Matt on September 7, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yo Dean. Sad but true, nimrods are paid to posture in these insignificant backwaters of the net. Especially the regulars like Jay. That doesn't mean any particular alleged necropheliac pedophile on this site is paid, but it sure does happen, and is a sad yet ridiculous commentary on how much money Repugnicons are willing to throw around. But hey, with war and Katrina profiteers at the top of the food chain, easy come, easy go. What we have here are bottom feeders. True scum suckers. Those who are not paid simply get their jollies off pretending to be strong by yelling at people from their mama's basement. Usually driven by a desire to torture sublimated by general pudlessness.

" have a windowless room in my basement. Every day, I kidnap two republicans from the local mall, take them down to the basement, blindfold them, and pour water over their mouths until they agree to vote Democratic. Torture? Sure, but, look, if it helps get the GOP out of power, it could save thousands of lives. So I figure it's justified. Anyway, the Geneva Conventions are so quaint."

brooksfoe

Woohoo!

Posted by: Trypticon on September 7, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

1-4 are blatantly not torture. College students do this to themselves. We laugh when the guys from Jackass film it.

5 seems more like torture, but to me not so much so that I would consider it inexcusable. At 50 degrees, even doused with water there's no risk of injury or death. I would imagine this is the sort of thing that our soldiers, if captured by a country like China, could expect. I'd be pissed off--simply because I don't like the idea of American servicemembers being badly treated--but the rational part of me wouldn't be talking about war crimes.

6 sounds the most like torture, and I would admit to being upset if US Servicemembers underwent it, though I would certainly prefer it to execution by beheading, as they would, I'd imagine. But again, I wouldn't be thinking war crimes.

But to me, whether or not these should count on torture aren't what the answer to the question "should we allow these techniques" should turn on. I'd like to know whether or not they are effective. I doubt that even 1-3 produce reliable, actionable intelligence. However, if it can be conclusively demonstrated (and by that I mean by evidence more objective than the words of the people performing the "interrogation") that these techniques are effective, I think there is an argument for their use. That argument needs to take into account the cost of prestige, and whether or not other techniques are better, but as these are all non-lethal, non-injurious techinques, I don't see that they rise to the level of morally inexcuseable actions (which some of the shit that went on at Abu Graib obviously did).

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 7, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

The whole "...saving American lives..." thing. Is that a sliding scale?

Let's say torture level 10 (squashing nuts with a blunted meat tenderizer) saves thousands of American lives. Can we ethically commit torture level 0.1 (light bitch-slap in front of your girlfriend) to increase the value of my real estate holdings?

How can I get my hands on some Iraqis?

Posted by: rusrus on September 7, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk
Even assuming it's true, Kevin Drum draws the equivalence between America's heroes and terrorists. If that's where we're at, I praise god that democrats aren't in charge of anything.

If no-nothings like like American Hawk can look beyond their rectums, they would realize that it is not whether Kevin Drums draw that equivalence that matters, but that once you approve these things, the world would draw that equivalence.

If you are seen as an arrogant power that puts thinks its citizens' lives are somehow more valuable than others', they are just not going to care when your people die like flies.

A lot of anti-Americanism that exists in the world is not because they hate our freedoms. If that were so, democracies will not hate us. It is because they think Americans care only about themselves. They see you crying over 3,000 people killed in the WTC, but not utter a squeak about the 30,000 killed in Iraq. And they think, "well, you know, may be they should see some deaths on their side too, to know the pain."

I grew up in a non-Western democracy. A new friend and ally of the US, at that. Take it from me. But of course, bots don't learn.

Posted by: Ramki on September 7, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Geezus Kryst you reactionary, over-emotional right-wing wackos! Kevin's trying to draw an equivalence between the acts, not the people. He's neither excusing terrorists nor demeaning American heros.

If you feel the terrorists deserve torture, then great. Go ahead and support it; they probably do deserve it. But it's still torture, regardless of who it is perpertrated against.

Either that, or it's not - also regardless of whom.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 7, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

If torture succeeds for President Bush and his 'war on terror,' perhaps saving thousands of American lives, then torture should work for the Iraqi insurgents, too. If the insurgents in Iraq start targeting high ranking American officers and operatives for capture and torture in order to determine where the next strikes against civilians will be directed, it could save thousands of Iraqi lives.

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly how many prisoners are being held by Canada, Germany, France, and Britain?

Good question. Some, for sure. According to the articles below at least a hundred in Britain, probably more in France, which has anti-terrorism laws even more severe than our own.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17082-2004Nov1.html

http://prisonersoverseas.com/?page_id=163

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/06/AR2006060600722.html

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

There's an excellent article in Sept's Harper's, "American Gulag," which explores the valiant attempts of US lawyers to defend inmates at Guantanamo, many of whom are innocent of all charges and many of whom have traveled through and experienced the torture used in the large network of US and foreign prisons.

Abdulsalam is a prominent Yemeni buisnessmen who 'disappeared' in Egypt in 2002:

"Abdulsalam was imprisioned in Afghanistan for two years, first in a prison the detainees call the "dark prison," because prisoners there are held in total darkness. At the dark prison, Abdulsalam was hung from the wall by chains. As he would eventually explain to his lawyer, "In the prison of darkness, they made up stories, and I said I'll thumbprint anything, just let me sleep and give me clothes. I was naked." One hand was cuffed to the wall at all times, which made it hard to sleep or to use the toilet. "It sounds bizarre at first," his lawyer Marc Falkoff told me. "But look at the leaked interrogation logs. They do weird, surreal things designed to disorient and humiliate the men."

Meanwhile, Abdulsalam's family had no idea where he had gone. The Egyptian Embassy in Yemen said that he'd been sent "on a special plane" to Baku, Azerbaijan. Finally, they received a letter smuggled out of Afghanistan by another prisoner. Abdulsalam wrote that after almost two years in Afghanistan he was taken to the US base at Bagram. In 2002, two Afghan men were killed there after being chained to the ceiling and brutally beaten. According to a coroner's testimony, one of the deceased, a taxi driver named Dilawar, had his legs "pulpified." If he'd lived, both of them would have required amputation. Like many detainees, Abdulsalam prefers not to talk about his time at Bagram, Because, he says, the "wounds are too bad.""

Abdulsalam is currently being held at Guantanamo.

Posted by: nepeta on September 7, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Beating, suffocating, torturing, killing, again and again and again. This isn't belly slap BS...The stuff we aren't admitting to, like letting people bleed out from gunshots to the groin and making medical attention contingent on confessions of the mortally wounded and insane, is the real deal.

This sort of stuff is obviously torture, immoral and needs to be stopped. And if in order to stop it, the practices Kevin outlined need to be banned as well, than so be it, whether or not they can be shown to work.

But I do think that we should make a distinction between real torture, as brooksfoe describes, and the items that Kevin outlined. I think that a vast majority of the American public is against real torture, but when it's conflated with bellyslapping, it's makes it easy to think that there's nothing more serious going on.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 7, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Khalid Sheik Mohammed masterminded the 9/11 attack that killed 3,000 people and you are concerned about whether slapping him on the belly to extract information that could lead the US to his co-conspirators is torture?

Not so much concerned about KSM as about the hundreds that were rounded up and had no particular grudge against us until they were introduduced to the glory that is Bush's America via this treatment. They go home, they become terrorists etc.; how many American lives will that save?

Posted by: mister pedantic on September 7, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

But to me, whether or not these should count on torture aren't what the answer to the question "should we allow these techniques" should turn on.

Of course it is -- absolutely it is. America doesn't torture, period.

At least, that used to be true, even when fighting WWII and the Cold War, until Bush/Cheney came along and pissed it all away.

I'd like to know whether or not they are effective.

So just to be clear here, torture is OK with you if it's effective?

It isn't effective, but that isn't why we don't -- didn't -- torture. Rather, it's because its cowardly, comtemptible and completely morally indefensible behavior. Are you really saying you'd sign on if it was "effective"?

as these are all non-lethal, non-injurious techinques

Being non-lethal and non-injurious does not mean it isn't torture, brainwave, as anyone subject to sleep deprivation, having their fingernails pulled out or electric shock applied to the genitals can tell you. Hell, I'd hazard a guess that most torture is non-lethal and non-injurious, at least insofar as serious injuries are concerned. Shame on the Bush Administration and its lackeys for defining torture down.

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I used to laugh at those people who always resort to the argument that "9/11 changed everything," but maybe they have a point. Maybe 9/11 really DID change everything. Notice, for instance, how 9/11 changed the formerly (mostly) strong, moral, courageous American people into a bunch of sniveling cowards and weaklings.

Posted by: rod on September 7, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

"True torture is that you libs don't want to take the actions that make me feel safer. I'd wet my bed if you were in power. Thank God for George Bush. Thwack an Islamofascist. Thwack. Thwack."

Get ready to start wetting... 60 days and counting... Bush needs to disappear... make you feel safer??? maybe its just that your a pussy, and I'm not as scared at you. You are a scared pussy... pussy... scared

Posted by: dee on September 7, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, unless they are dark-skinned people from the Middle East who wear robes.

Uhh, that would include me, so scratch that.

Posted by: Jesus on September 7, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

My biggest problem with discussions like these is that you have to go to websites like Washington Monthly to see them.

In an ideal world, this entire thread could be reproduced word-for-word in the mass media, so every American could see it, preferably in late October.

What would make it perfect is if they included a link of a U.S. serviceman conducting a "belly slap", and show that right alongside the Nick Berg video.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The CIA sources say the sixth, and harshest, technique was called "water boarding," in which a prisoner's face was covered with cellophane, and water is poured over it (pictured above) meant to trigger an unbearable gag reflex.

Unfortunately, it apparently only triggers a gag reflex in Democrats. Republicans, long used to being force-fed this kind of stuff, swallow it without a burp.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

"ABC News reports ...."

ABC, ABC, that's a familiar name. Didn't they used to be a national network or something?

Can't remember exactly.

Certainly won't be watching them any more, tho.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 7, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"What would make it perfect is if they included a link of a U.S. serviceman conducting a "belly slap", and show that right alongside the Nick Berg video."

And then right next to that show a Iraqi child who was bombed to death. Your case is weak.

Posted by: dee on September 7, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

1-4 are blatantly not torture. College students do this to themselves. We laugh when the guys from Jackass film it. - TWandrews

How many times do we have to repeat this until it becomes clear? When you hit yourself in the face, that's slapstick. When I hit you in the face against your will, that's felony assault.

Understand the distinction?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

On behalf of all torture-loving Republicans, including those from beyond the grave, let me just say that there are may of us serial killers that would gladly sign up to get medieval on some A-rabs. Especially the female ones.

Posted by: Ted Bundy on September 7, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

There are some who say that terrorists should not be allowed to join fraternities because they couldn't withstand the initiation rites. I say that they are wrong.

Posted by: Rush on September 7, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

And then right next to that show a Iraqi child who was bombed to death.

They already do that, at every opportunity. In fact, they stage it with doctored photos if necessary.

Please, keep trumpeting your position. Try to reach a broader audience if possible.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

ABC = All Bullshit Corporation

Posted by: Red on September 7, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

There is no better demonstration of the effectiveness of the Geneva Conventions than the treatment of US POWs in the Vietnam conflict. The power of international public opinion shamed North Vietnam into treating US POWs decently.

The thousands of Vietnamese that were killed as a consequence of North Viet Nam treating US POW's decently was a huge mistake that President Bush is trying to prevent the US from commiting now. If more airmen like McCain would have been waterboarded to determine where the next air strikes might take place, perhaps tens of thousands of Vietnamese would have been spared having their heads blown off by American bombs.

Tortue advocates know this to be true in their heart of hearts, and they smirk at the bourgeois decadence of the North Vietnamese leadership, which was manipulated by mere public opinion. Capitalists refuse to be manipulated by the opinions of useless eaters and let the commodity torture markets decide what is the best way to obtain information. It may very well save thousands of American dollars.

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

1-4 are blatantly not torture. College students do this to themselves. We laugh when the guys from Jackass film it.

5 seems more like torture, but to me not so much so that I would consider it inexcusable. At 50 degrees, even doused with water there's no risk of injury or death. - TWandrews

False. You stay in 50 degree air constantly, you can wind up dying of hypothermia. More importantly, prolonged standing, sleep deprivation, and exposure to cold are pretty much what Stalin did to get the people at the Moscow Show Trials to sign their 'confessions' -- that, and the threat of getting their relatives (which has also been used by US interrogators). But maybe you don't feel that what Stalin did to zeks in the gulag qualifies as 'torture'.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

And then right next to that show a Iraqi child who was bombed to death. Your case is weak.

In fact, you raised a compelling moral dilemma, Dee.

If the information gained from a "belly slap" could prevent the accidental death of an Iraqi child, would you support it then?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's statement yesterday that "the U.S. does not torture" *seems* to be a flat out lie.

Most of the other "Bush lies" are either convoluted or rather minor. This one seems different. Is it?

Posted by: John H. on September 7, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

If more airmen like McCain would have been waterboarded to determine where the next air strikes might take place, perhaps tens of thousands of Vietnamese would have been spared having their heads blown off by American bombs.

I realize this is satire, but obviously it's also false. US airmen possessed little knowledge that could be of use to Vietnamese captors. Under torture, they responded with dodges like naming the backfield of the Michigan State football team as their commanding officers -- things Vietnamese interrogators could not readily check. One assumes Islamist terrorists find it fairly easy to adopt the same tactics.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

If the information gained from a "belly slap" could prevent the accidental death of an Iraqi child, would you support it then?

If the enjoyment of the belly-slapping officer was so intense as to outweigh the displeasure experienced by the detainee, wouldn't it be justified, in a utilitarian moral sense? If we really, really enjoy torturing people, don't we have a moral obligation to do it?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

In the Revolutionary War, Americans captured by the British were often hung as traitors.

British soldiers, including Hessian mercenaries, when captured by the Americans, were treated humanely. Some of the Hessians converted to the American cause, after being lodged as POWs with Amish and Mennonite pacifist families.

There wasn't a Geneva Convention back then; nor anything like War Crimes Tribunals.

But Gen. George WASHINGTON knew what was right and effective, as opposed to his moronic successor Pres. George BUSH.

Yet another traditional American value trashed by Bush and his cronies.

Posted by: Grumpy Physicist on September 7, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

5 seems more like torture, but to me not so much so that I would consider it inexcusable. At 50 degrees, even doused with water there's no risk of injury or death. - TWandrews

Well, it's borderline, and should probably be discontinued. Moreover, it IS necessary to establish interrogation limits, as is currently under debate, and to set standards. However, it is also necessary to establish some kind of interrogation technique that is effective. The overall concept of interrogation is not going away, regardless of whether people would like it to. In a perfect world, there would be no interrogation, and no war, and nobody would fly planes into buildings. That's not reality.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Wingnuts and "24" - a deadly combination.

Never seen 24. Heard it's a good show, but don't have the time to get involved in a weekly series. Prefer the History channel.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan: In an ideal world, this entire thread could be reproduced word-for-word in the mass media, so every American could see it, preferably in late October.

Yes, it would be good for the American people to hear and understand the words of the Major General John Kimmons of the 902nd Military Intelligence group about torture:

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that. Moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, through the use of abusive techniques, would be of questionable credibility, and additionally it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there." -- John Kimmons, Sept 6, 2006

Hearing more testimony like this from legitimate military sources might help the American people understand that torture is not only ineffective, it lays us open to future harms.

Perhaps then we could lay this issue to rest.

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

There is a legitimate intellectual debate regarding whether the nature of this war and our enemy is sufficient to warrant "torture," but Kevin's perspective is pretty naive when we are talking about folks who would cut our guys' heads off for the fun of it, after torturing them to get what they wanted.

I also realize there are some respected people who assert torture is not effective, but that defies common sense and thousands of years of human history.

Count me a reluctant vote for the lowest level of torture required to get information to save lives when interrogating terrorists. How can the answer be anything else when dealing with terrorists who would like to kill millions of innocents?

Posted by: brian on September 7, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I have little to add to these comments other than how disheartening it is, as an American, to have a discussion with other Americans about whether it is right to torture - and see those Americans advocating it. And that's before we get into the fine points of whether torture requires maiming physically vs maiming psychologically or both. Makes me heart sick.

Posted by: Paul on September 7, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The overall concept of interrogation is not going away, regardless of whether people would like it to.

Where would Bush's apologists be without straw man arguments?

If interrogation with no threat of physical pain is a viable option, than that should be the de facto standard for the United States.

It should be indeed, period, full stop. And it was, until Bush/Cheney pissed that all away.

As far as "viable option," we seem to have weathered WWII and the cold War pretty well with that viable option.

However, you can be certain that there is an entire body on evidence and study on the subject. In fact, they likely dedicate entire departments to it, and teach classes on it at the CIA. It would seem that effectiveness of various alternatives would have been pretty well established by now.

Oh, indeed, and if you ask professional interrogators -- as Congress has -- they would testify that torture isn't effective -- as they have.

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

There is a legitimate intellectual debate regarding whether the nature of this war and our enemy is sufficient to warrant "torture,"

No, there isn't. brian's mask of a faux moderate pose slips again.

And again:

Count me a reluctant vote for the lowest level of torture required to get information to save lives when interrogating terrorists.

A Bush apologist approves of torture. Surprise, surprise. Shame on you, brian.

I also realize there are some respected people who assert torture is not effective, but that defies common sense and thousands of years of human history.

Shorter brian: Don't confuse my belief system with facts!

Pretty pathetic effort, brian.

Posted by: Gregory on September 7, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

The question to me seems where we draw the line. Something beyond how Sipowitz deals with suspects on NYPD Blue seems appropriate.

If that list is extensive, its arguably not torture.
What does the left have in mind as far as standards?

Posted by: Fitz on September 7, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I have little to add to these comments other than how disheartening it is, as an American, to have a discussion with other Americans about whether it is right to torture - and see those Americans advocating it.

The torture advocates aren't Americans. They are a fifth column of agents provocateur embedded by al Qaeda in order to destroy the US from within.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I went water boarding at the Jersey Shore when i was a kid. It was pretty fun.

Posted by: Boots McKickers on September 7, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie: Let's ask John McCain (who was tortured in Vietnam and regrets to this day giving ACCURATE classified info).

In John McCain's book "Faith of My Fathers" he tells how after torture he confessed that he was an "air pirate" who was guilty of unprovoked warfare against the peace-loving people of North Vietnam:

"I had been taken back to the theater after telling my guards I was ready to confess. For twelve hours I had written out many drafts of the confession....He [the guard] demanded that I add an admission that I had bombed a school. I refused, and we argued back and forth about the confession's contents for a time before I gave in to his demand. Finally, they had me sign the document."

So under torture John McCain admitted that he bombed a school. Was that ACCURATE information?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

President Bush has never really explained the reason he chose to invade and occupy Iraq. He has been asked many times and just as many times as he has been asked there have been just as many different answers. All unconvincing. I would like to know, and I think the people of Iraq would like to know, the real reason for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Since the interrogation techniques described have been offically declared not to be torture, then I think it is perfectly reasonable to desire that Bush be subjected to them in order for me and the world to know exactly why Iraq was invaded. As we go down the list of inerrogation techniques, I would expect to find more and more nefarious reasons for the invasion.

1) Rough Shaking. Bush: I invaded for the oil. For the oil revenue. For my friends.

2) Attention Slap. Bush: Daddy made me do it. Slap him, not me.

3) Belly Slap. Bush: Laura made me do it. Slap her, not me.

4) Long Term Standing & Sleep Deprivation. Bush: Mommy made me do it. Torture mommy, not me!

5) Cold Room. Bush: I invaded Iraq to kill as many diaper heads as possible. I am so sorry.

6) Water Boarding. Bush: I invaded Iraq to supply juvenile liver for my special reptillian diet. I am so hungry.

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I got a better hypothetical.

You have two choices:

a) force thomas1 to rape his own mother and then watch as she is tortured and killed, then kick him in the balls

or

b) allow 1,000,000 Americans die in a nuclear explosion

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie: If there were two options A) Torture, but not kill, a known terrorist OR B) 1,000,000 Americans die in a nuclear explosion, you are going with Option B)?

If there were two options A) rape and torture an innocent little baby girl OR b) 1,000,000 Americans die in a nuclear explosion, you are going with Option B?

I thought so, you baby-raper.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

What does the enemy do to us when they capture us?

Cut off our head slowly.

Well, at least they don't torture our people.

Posted by: Orwell on September 7, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Dispute, say that part about kicking Thomas in the balls again -- I think I may just be able to get on board with this torture thing after all.

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I would rather have a gerbil shoved in my butt than see 1,000,000 americans die.

Wait, I like gerbils in my butt.

Posted by: Andrew Sullivan on September 7, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I realize this is satire, but obviously it's also false. US airmen possessed little knowledge that could be of use to Vietnamese captors.
Posted by: brooksfoe

The Vietnamese captors weren't really after information so much. What they really wanted was confessions. Videotaped confessions that they could show the world to influence opinion, and in particular to fire up the anti-war movement.

Torture works great as a coercement.


Posted by: Red State Mike on September 7, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Count me a reluctant vote for the lowest level of torture required to get information to save lives when interrogating terrorists. How can the answer be anything else when dealing with terrorists who would like to kill millions of innocents?

The Nazis and the Japanese were both enemies who killed millions of innocents, and yet we didn't have to torture their prisoners to defeat them. Therefore the answer can be something else.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I would nail my bassett hound in the pooper to save just one American.

Posted by: Rick Santorum on September 7, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you missed the 7th technique: if the first 6 fail, detainees would be forced to watch The Path to 9/11. Seeing anything that made Dumbya look like a hero would be sure to have them clawing their eyes out!

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 7, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Is this to be the new American way of doing things? Want to bet that the first time Thomas1 and sportsfan79 get a light belly slap they pee themsevles and blubber everything they know about where the topsecret wingnut manifesto is buried?

Ahh, an internet tough guy. Stop, you're scaring me. Too funny.

Thomas1 wrote:
P.S. brian -- if it were President Gore advocating torture, most of these objections would go away.

Excellent point, Thomas. And 100% accurate, of course.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

What does the enemy do to us when they capture us?

What do you mean "us," kemo sabe? You think The Tewwawists are really going to kick down the door to your mom's basement and drag you up the stairs kicking and screaming?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan: If the information gained from a "belly slap" could prevent the accidental death of an Iraqi child, would you support it then?

If raping your grandmother could prevent the accidental death of an Iraqi child, would you rape her?

What? You're just going to let that child die? What's wrong with you, man?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie: I will agree that sorting out the ACCURATE from INACCURATE information is the hard part.

Yeah? So did John McCain bomb that school full of Vietnamese children or not? We have a signed and dated confession in his own hand admitting that he did it -- got any proof to the contrary?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan: is that the average American understands that the left is too weak to make tough choices.

So since you're tough enough to make tough choices, what's it going to be? Rape your grandmother or let that little Iraqi child die? Which is it, tough guy?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 wrote: "... the average American understands that the left is too weak to make tough choices."

You have no idea what "the average American" thinks. You only know what weak-minded, ignorant, neo-brownshirt right-wing extremist mental slaves like yourself think, and you think what Rush Limbaugh and Fox News tell you to think, and you say what they tell you to say. That's because you are a mental slave and incapable of independent thought.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

So since you're tough enough to make tough choices, what's it going to be? Rape your grandmother or let that little Iraqi child die? Which is it, tough guy?

My grandmothers have both passed on. But they belonged to a generation that had the courage to make sacrifices for this society. Something you wouldn't understand.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Revision

5) Cold Room. Bush: I invaded Iraq to kill as many diaper heads as possible. To please the American people, who demanded retaliation after 9/11.

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

If there were two options A) Torture, but not kill, a known terrorist OR B) 1,000,000 Americans die in a nuclear explosion, you are going with Option B)?


That's the kind of choice Nazi doctors gave children in death camps. It's never happened in real life.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 wrote: "But they belonged to a generation that had the courage to make sacrifices for this society. Something you wouldn't understand."

And what sacrifices have you made, other than sacrificing your capacity for independent thought in exchange for mental slavery to the right-wing extremist propaganda machine?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

if it were President Gore advocating torture, most of these objections would go away.

Mmmm, no. The convictions of peole who object to torture are moral, not political in nature, and those principles are important no matter who is in office.

Note the anti-war march protesting the bombing of Yugoslavia under Clinton or Amnesty International's appeals to Clinton to end the torture of women inmates in prisons for instances of this.

Plus, I don't think the JAG lawyers or military intelligence officials who have objected on record to the use of torture would have different views on the matter under a different president.

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

You have no idea what "the average American" thinks. You only know what weak-minded, ignorant, neo-brownshirt right-wing extremist mental slaves like yourself think, and you think what Rush Limbaugh and Fox News tell you to think, and you say what they tell you to say. That's because you are a mental slave and incapable of independent thought.

That's it, SecularAnimist, shout it from the rooftops. Keep it going right through November. And for extra emphasis, call us "rednecks" in "fly-over country". Your help is greatly appreciated.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

What happens to Alex in the second half of A Clockwork Orange is just as wrong as what he does to others in the first half. The choice isn't one or the other, it's neither.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

My grandmothers have both passed on. But they belonged to a generation that had the courage to make sacrifices for this society. Something you wouldn't understand.

Nice dodge. Let's say your mother, then. Would you rape your mother if it would prevent the accidental death of an Iraqi child? Remember, you're all about making tough choices, so who's it gonna be -- your mom or the little child?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

And they certainly wouldn't recognize what America has become under this administration, now would they? Bless their hearts, but I think they would recoil in horror at the idea that this country was a bastion of torture and was full of people willing to sell out their principles.

Wrong, Jason. Do you have any older relatives that went to war? Ask them about it some time. My great uncle's best buddy from his hometown was pulled into a cave on Iwo Jima. They found him 3 days later with a rope around his neck and his genitals cut off and stuffed in his mouth.

I think he might have preferred a "belly slap".

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

#7 on the torture list, right after water-boarding, would be making some of these sand monkies at gitmo read all the comments to this post.

Posted by: Guy who just wasted ten minutes of his life reading this poppycock on September 7, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

But they belonged to a generation that had the courage to make sacrifices for this society.

So what sacrifices have you made for this society? Enlisted? Serving in Iraq or Afghanistan? Campaigning for higher taxes so we can fund this war? Volunteering at your local VA helping wounded soldiers walk again? Which is it?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 wrote: And for extra emphasis, call us "rednecks" in "fly-over country".

I don't know where you are getting the "us" from.

Let me be clear.

You -- not "us" or "we" or "they" or "them", but YOU -- are a weak-minded, ignorant, gullible dupe who has willingly sacrificed your capacity for independent thought to become a neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking mental slave of the right-wing extremist propaganda machine. You believe what you are told to believe, and you say what you are told to say.

And I am still waiting for you to tell us what "sacrifices" you have made "for this society" that I wouldn't understand.

Do you imagine that advocating torture on a blog, from the safety of sitting on your fat ass in front of a computer, is a "sacrifice"? How heroic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

If the GOP and Bush and all of the Republican incumbents would run on the platform that torture is a desired US policy and really take that message to the people, I have to think the Democrats would win most ballots. I guess I still have some hope for mankind.

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Do you have any older relatives that went to war?

My elderly father in law is a member of the Great Generation who flew seventy missions in WWII in a bomber and miraculously survived, despite three crash landings and participating in the harrowing bombing run over the Ploiesti oil fields.

He is dead set against the use of torture AND the invasion of Iraq.

Next question.

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

So what sacrifices have you made for this society? Enlisted? Serving in Iraq or Afghanistan? Campaigning for higher taxes so we can fund this war? Volunteering at your local VA helping wounded soldiers walk again? Which is it?

Private donations only. That, and the extra donation for a "Support Our Troops" license plate. It's not alot, I admit.

But it is a damn sight better than tying their hands and undermining them at every opportunity, and spouting on message boards about people's mothers and grandmothers.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 is Charlie. Same M.O.

You know -- a clever writer could pose as a whole bunch of trolls.

Posted by: Harpo on September 7, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sportsfan, still waiting for the answer to that question -- rape your mother or let the child die? Aren't you man enough to make the tough choices?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

But it is a damn sight better than tying their hands and undermining them at every opportunity

Who's tying whose hands? You've read right here on this board that objections to the use of torture have come from military intelligence officers, JAG lawyers, and former prisoners of war. No one's even posted yet on the FBI's objections to torture on both moral and pragmatic grounds.

Are the troops tying their own hands? Because based on your characterization of the matter that's the only conclusion I can come to. Quit pretending that serious and experienced military men don't object to torture, because they do.

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

You -- not "us" or "we" or "they" or "them", but YOU -- are a weak-minded, ignorant, gullible dupe who has willingly sacrificed your capacity for independent thought to become a neo-brownshirt Bush-bootlicking mental slave of the right-wing extremist propaganda machine. You believe what you are told to believe, and you say what you are told to say.

*yawn*

Whoulda' thought, a ridiculous tirade of verbal abuse on a liberal blog?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Private donations only. That, and the extra donation for a "Support Our Troops" license plate. It's not alot, I admit.

Yes, you're right. It's not. It's pretty fucking pathetic. Are you somehow injured or disabled that you can't get off your goddamn ass and get yourself down to the VA, at least, to volunteer?

But it is a damn sight better than tying their hands and undermining them at every opportunity, and spouting on message boards about people's mothers and grandmothers.

Tying their hands and undermining them -- you mean like sending them in without enough men, without enough armor, and without enough equipment? Gee, I wonder who did that.....

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Over at Findlaw.com we find the typical left wing internationalist approach by Jennifer Van Bergen explaining the legal implications of Bush's revelations.

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20051107_bergen.html

Below are some relevant passages.

"CA3 prohibits taking hostages, and it prohibits outrages upon personal dignity, including humiliating and degrading treatment. It also prohibits the passing of sentences and carrying out of executions without a previous judgment by a regularly constituted court affording all judicial guarantees.
Additionally, transfer of any person who is not a prisoner of war out of occupied territory is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, as well as a war crime. Deportation is also a crime against humanity under the Nuremberg Charter.
Enforced disappearances are also barred by international law, as are arbitrary detentions. According to Article 7 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1992, "no circumstances whatsoever" may justify enforced disappearances.
A U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that U.S. detentions without status determinations constitute arbitrary detentions in violation of the Third Geneva Convention. The Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council resolved in 2003 that the detentions in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and elsewhere were unlawful."

It seems to me that the problem with the analysis made by Jennifer Van Bergen; is that if excepted : will apply to the suspects and detainees in the war on terror.
You may want to be careful what you wish for.

On the opposite spectrum from "pull their finger nails out & go to work on them with a blow torch and a pair of pliers" seems to be the "regularly constituted court affording all judicial guarantees." of Jennifer Van Bergen.
I can easily imagine a situation were the terrorist equivalent of John Ghottie becomes the Teflon Terrorist!

After all...we all remember the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

Posted by: Fitz on September 7, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

See, we had principles back then. I guess you didn't pay attention to your elders and ran around screaming about the poop in your pants...sad to see that kind of behavior in a teenager.

Yes, you're right. It's not. It's pretty fucking pathetic. Are you somehow injured or disabled that you can't get off your goddamn ass and get yourself down to the VA, at least, to volunteer?

You guys are getting emotional. The shrill language gives it away. I can understand that, though. It must be hard to have a mirror held up to your face with your belief system.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 described the enormous "sacrifices" that he has made "for this society" that liberals "wouldn't understand": Private donations only. That, and the extra donation for a "Support Our Troops" license plate. It's not alot, I admit.

It's not a lot. In fact, it's nothing.

sportsfan79 wrote: ... tying their hands and undermining them at every opportunity, and spouting on message boards about people's mothers and grandmothers.

You are the one who started spouting on this message board about your grandmothers and their great "sacrifices" to "this society" that liberals "wouldn't understand".

What I understand is that you are a pathetic hypocrite bullshit artist who has "sacrificed" nothing at all, while the career corporate criminals in the White House whose boots you slavishly lick have sacrificed the lives of over 2,600 Americans in a war based on sickening lies.

And those war-profiteering criminals most certainly do need to have their "hands tied" -- indeed, they need to have their hands cuffed and their legs in irons as they are led away to prison for their treasonous betrayal of America.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, cld: Are you saying the Holocaust was not "real" too?

Well, no. If my rapid skimming missed a turn in the thread I apologize.

I just meant to reassure everyone that the ticking bomb scenario is a daydream.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

It is possible to conflate issues here. Was the CIA bound by the Geneva Conventions if their detainees were not prisoners of war or were not captured on the battlefield?
________________

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 7, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

thomas/GOP:

I will also go with whatever lesser evil you can come up with for Option A).

So Thomas admits to wanting to rape his mom and watch her being brutally murdered. At least now we know.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 wrote: "You guys are getting emotional. The shrill language gives it away. I can understand that, though. It must be hard to have a mirror held up to your face with your belief system."

That's weak. You have exposed yourself on this blog as a fake, a phony, and a poseur, an ignorant weak-minded fool, and a pathetic and disgusting hypocrite.

I suggest you quit while you are ahead, and run home to Free Republic where your fellow right-wing know-nothing torture-loving scumbags can comfort you in your humiliation.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Trashauler. It is possible to conflate issues here. Was the CIA bound by the Geneva Conventions if their detainees were not prisoners of war or were not captured on the battlefield?

Yes. The Fifth Geneva Convention protects non-POW prisoners such as suspected spies, terrorists and saboteurs.

Besides, I thought this was a "War" on Terror and therefore all people caught by us must be part of that war. If it's war, it's governed by the Geneva Conventions, Q.E.D.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Arminius wrote:

"(Quoting someone's question) 'What does the enemy do to us when they capture us?'

What do you mean "us," kemo sabe? You think The Tewwawists are really going to kick down the door to your mom's basement and drag you up the stairs kicking and screaming?"
__________________

Any US Servicemember who has gone through Survival, Escape, Resistance and Evasion (SERE) training since the 1960s has been taught not to expect treatment in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. That's especially true in the case of capture by the current enemy.

By the way, entirely without defending them, the described interrogation techniques are no more harsh than what our SERE trainees go through - the difference being our trainees know it will stop.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 7, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

A Clockwork Orange seems notably prescient on this point. It doesn't work out too well for the government and in the end they have to put Alex's brain back the way they found it, respecting his individuality, just as the Bush administration has got the left and most of Europe into a position where we are forced to say we have to have more respect for Islam, an ideology that means us no good.

(And, remember, the government then gave Alex a good job, something right up his alley. What do you think it was?)

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Spare us the overarching sense of accomplishment and smug satisfaction--you openly admit that your sole contribution to the war on terror is a license plate, a few dollars you would have otherwise spent on the Franklin Mint's commemorative edition of President CodPiece on the Aircraft Carrier and your only source of moral authority on the subject comes from the fact that you are related to people who served in World War II.

You're right. Probably better to just camp on a liberal blog and label everyone with a different point of view as "trolls". Oh yes, and inwardly regard all U.S. Servicemen as 'baby-killers'.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's torture.

Posted by: American Citizen on September 7, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

ha ha ha! No, don't think I'll be calling myself a 'baby killer' any time soon.

Branch of service? Rank? Currently enlisted or retired?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'd pay good money to see Bush get lost in an alley in Fallujah.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 7, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

These 1,000 (or 1,000,000) casualties vs torture are a false dichotomy and you know it. Since at least the Inquisition and Torquemada we know that you can make people say anything to stop torture, not truth simply anything you want them to say. The use of torture is to break people not to gain truth.

Where torture works is in the movies. This like Gingrich proposing orphanages based on how nice they are in Bing Crosby movies.

Posted by: Paul on September 7, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

ha ha ha! No, don't think I'll be calling myself a 'baby killer' any time soon.

Thank you for your service, by the way.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

If there were two options A) Torture, but not kill, a known terrorist OR B) 1,000,000 of your fellow American citizens die in a nuclear explosion, you are going with Option B)?


Still a fantasy no matter how many times you repeat it.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

The snivelling little puke of a hypocrite who posts as "sportsfan79" wrote: I won't waste time responding to you unless there's some substance.

You have posted nothing of "substance" throughout this entire thread. All you have offered (aside from your pompous hypocritical posturing about your grandmothers' alleged "great sacrifices" during WWII that liberals "wouldn't understand", and the immeasurable virtue that you seem to think their "sacrifices" impart to you, who has made none of your own) is slavish, robotic, verbatim regurgitation of scripted, programmed right-wing extremist talking points.

And for the most part, you have regurgitated the stupidest, most idiotic right-wing extremist talking points ever invented, amounting to little more than "Liberals suck! Nyah nyah nyah nyah!!".

Your only value is to serve as a sad example of the irreversible brain damage and mental degeneration that results from constant, long term exposure to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

It's the two options I'm objecting to. I don't see realistic circumstances as being that constrained. Neither is the correct response, and, therefore C),You do not love to torture.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yes Thomas1, they will say anything you want. They will its day, that its night, that black is white. Under torture you will confess to having sex with satan. Do you consider this useful? Do you think it will save your 1,000,000? I think its a fantasy for the morally challanged.

Posted by: Paul on September 7, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why your desire to verify these things?

Because I like to talk to military personnel, since they are the best authority as to what is actually happening on the ground. Better than pundits, newsmen, armchair bloggers, or any others.

For example, Trex posted at 3:41 that his "elderly father in law is a member of the Great Generation who flew seventy missions in WWII". And that this father-in-law opposed Iraq and also opposes interrogation. I would very much like to sit and listen to Trex's father-in-law, and listen to his point of view. Frankly, I don't really believe Trex's assertion. But since I'm in no position to argue it, I'd jump at the opportunity to hear what this Veteran had to say.

Now on to yourself. Note the very first question I asked you at 2:09 was if you had some experience relating to this issue. You did not mention your military service at that time. Where did you serve? You said it was recent. Was it in the Middle Eastern theater? Explain why you hold your beliefs on interrogation. Do they come from firsthand or secondhand experience from fellow Servicemen?

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

The question to me seems where we draw the line. Something beyond how Sipowitz deals with suspects on NYPD Blue seems appropriate.

If that list is extensive, its arguably not torture.
What does the left have in mind as far as standards?

Posted by: Fitz on September 7, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Look, all I'm asking is that You Liberals agree with me that you are wrong and my hero George W. Bush is right about everything, and especially that you agree that George W. Bush has the unlimited right to torture anyone he wants to. That's not too much to ask is it?

'Cause if enough of you will just agree with me, then I can go back to Little Green Footballs and beat my chest and everyone will congratulate me for my great victory over You Liberals in The Great War Against Liberals And Other People That Rush Tells Me Are Bad.

And if you don't agree with me, I'm just going to start crying pretty soon.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sophie's Choice actually happened, there are at least three separate documented occasions, one involving Leni Riefenstahl.

It's a false choice because the circumstances were not free in the first place, so there was no correct answer. This is not the question we face in talking about the US torturing prisoners. We don't have to, we have no reason to, and not doing it is supported by every authority as yielding superior and truthful results. By bringing in Sophie's Choice you see us in the position of the Nazis.

Do you really believe our moral and ethical position is akin to theirs, and if the Bush administration view in this is just must not the Nazi position be as well?

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 - The point is that we'd never know if we were getting usable information from torture victims. Even if we knew for a fact that torture produces 75 percent true statements and 25 percent false statements, we'd still never know which quarter was lies, and that makes our data useless.

And speaking of useless, your "one terrorist or 1,000,000 American lives" quandry? Also useless. Because you'd have to assume, in that case, that (a) the information gained from the torture is 100 percent accurate, (b) the information can be corroborated, since the US won't act on single-source information, and (c) the information available, if accurate, will also be complete and sufficient to stop whatever it is that would kill all of the people. Those are a lot of assumptions to make, and given the choice between making all of those assumptions and not lowering myself to the level of the barbarians who torture on a regular basis and couldn't care less, I think I'll chose what's behind Door #2.

Posted by: ACG on September 7, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, how will you know? If they will tell you anything they think you wish to hear all you need to do is prompt them and you get your 'truth'. And it is morally repugnant. Love you guys and your hard line on moral relativism.

Posted by: Paul on September 7, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I've got a doppelganger on this thread.
Childish, but par for the course on WaMo.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Sportsfan, still no answer as to whether you'd rape your mother or let the little Iraqi child die.

Y'know, I'm starting to believe that you're too weak to make tough choices....

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz wrote: "What does the left have in mind as far as standards?"

How about, whatever treatment you would willingly be subjected to if you were mistakenly arrested as a "terrorist" and your captors mistakenly believed that you had information that could prevent a terrorist attack and save thousands of lives.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Branch of service? Rank? Currently enlisted or retired?

Y'know, the notion that an impotent wingnut like sportsfan, whose main claims to legitimacy are the fact that (i) he had a great-uncle who died in WWII and (ii) he owns a commemorative license plate, now has any sort of standing to hector a real veteran like Jason.....

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

They will tell the truth then too?

Yes, just like John McCain told the truth about bombing that school of Vietnamese children. Not only did he admit it, he wrote and signed a confession! It must be true!

And this is the type of man the Republicans want to nominate for President? A man who bombed a school? Shameful.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas/GOP obviously missed the whole pt of Sophie's Choice. I suggest reading Styron's novel. Much better than the movie.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79 wrote: "Childish, but par for the course on WaMo."

Actually slavish, robotic regurgitation of brain-dead, idiotic, scripted right-wing extremist talking points by ignorant, weak-minded, gullible dupes like yourself, who like to impress themselves with how obediently they can think what they are told to think and say what they are told to say by the Republican propaganda machine, is par for the course on this site.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler: By the way, entirely without defending them, the described interrogation techniques are no more harsh than what our SERE trainees go through - the difference being our trainees know it will stop.

Really? We anally rape our SERE trainees with lightsticks and videotape of them being forced to masturbate in public?

Man, no wonder the military is having recruitment problems....

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

False. You stay in 50 degree air constantly, you can wind up dying of hypothermia.

If that's the case, than this should be strictly forbidden, along with the other "real torture" that brooksfoe mentioned (i.e. denying medical care).

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 7, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually slavish, robotic regurgitation of brain-dead, idiotic, scripted right-wing extremist talking points by ignorant, weak-minded, gullible dupes like yourself, who like to impress themselves with how obediently they can think what they are told to think and say what they are told to say by the Republican propaganda machine, is par for the course on this site.

I guess now I know who my doppelganger is.

Damn, I said I wasn't going to respond to this person.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

"How about, whatever treatment you would willingly be subjected to if you were mistakenly arrested as a "terrorist" and your captors mistakenly believed that you had information that could prevent a terrorist attack and save thousands of lives."

They should put this in the democrat party platform. If you guys want to run on this level of deferance then have your elected officials stand up and say it.

Posted by: Fitz on September 7, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

You're with ICE and have been tracking a known terrorist who you also know smuggled a suitcase nuke into New York City and you finally catch him driving like a bat out of hell North on I-87 sans suitcase nuke, but with a remote detonator in his possession that you know has an abort code. Standard procedure and interrogation techniques have failed to produce either the abort code or location of nuke. The detonator is now down to the last 10 minutes...

Wait, no - the bomb is strapped to the president's daughter, and they won't tell you where she is! Yeah! And the president called me himself on my cell phone and said, "The fate of the world is counting on you!" And the guy's strapped to a chair, and I'm just beating the crap out of him - no, pistol whipping him! Like Jack Bauer! And he's telling me he won't talk and calling me an infidel pig, and I'm wailing on him, and that chick, the one with the long hair, she's trying to hold me back - that's totally what I'd do. Man, that would be awesome.

Posted by: ACG on September 7, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

That isn't it. Sophie had no freedom of choice. The Nazi had freedom of choice in that circumstance, as we do in ours.


The Ticking Bomb Scenario, our old friend! Now, can you find a single occasion in all of history where something like this has actually happened? (And it isn't Sophie).

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sportsfan, c'mon. Simple question: raped mother or dead Iraqi child? Make the tough call. Be a man. Earn that commemorative license plate.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I've been thinking about this and I have to concede that the GWB admin is so utterly incompetent that they could very well screw up a counter-terrorism operation so badly that they are confronted with a situation where they are incapable of stopping a nuke from killing 1M and their only hope is to torture info out of a suspect.

Of course, since they are incompetent they would most likely screw up the interrogation and get inaccurate info that would lead to the deaths of 2 million.

See how easy it is to spin plots?

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Dearest Troll Nation,

You have got to be fucking kidding me. We're having this discussion about torture again? Trolls, keep your goddamn hands off my civil liberties and Constitution. Stop pissing away everything that this great country has stood for in the last two centuries. Do you not know wrong from right? Can you at least learn it? Where is your common sense? Your decency? Where is your patriotism? You call it "patriotic" to chuck the Constitution and US moral and ethical conduct out the window at the first sign of a threat? We somehow survived World Wars and Cold Wars with our integrity intact and you want to throw it all away because of a handful of bearded lunatics scheming in a cave? You like torture so much - go watch a Bush speech. Good God trolls grow up.

Posted by: ckelly on September 7, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should strap the terrorists down, open up a hole in the back of their heads with scissors and suck their brains out with a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: Fitz on September 7, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

You know, Jason, your manners could use a little dusting off.

Jason took off, it seems. Unfortunate, since I am genuinely interested in his answers to my post of 4:41. If he truly served in the military, I'd like his insight from personal experience. Based on the level of integrity from the lefties on this site though, he may have been bluffing.

Not much to hang around for; the rest of these guys post like children (arminus, animist...).
Later.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

there are plenty of plausible scenarios where torture could prevent such mass-scale death. Which is why no one is admitting they would choose Option B).

Uh, actually, at least one of us is.

So that's the real choice, Thomas1: Let millions die, or risk life in prison w/o parole.

And that's exactly as it should be. If you're going to dive into the abyss of torture, you'd better be damned sure your motives are pure, your chances of success excellent and your alternatives for achieving your goal nonexistent.

Posted by: Lex on September 7, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"They do far worse to American prisoners, and always have. Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, you name it. How were our prisoners treated then? Does it bother anyone that the U.S. is pretty much the only war fighting nation paying attention to the Geneva Conventions in the first place?"

Suppose this were true. It's irrelevant. For over two hundred years the U.S. has generally been viewed by the rest of the world as standing on the moral high ground in matters like this. From George Washington at least through WWII, we've generally tried to treat our adversaries humanely, even if we didn't always succeed.

A1, American Hawk, and Thomas1, you may be U.S. citizens but somewhere along the line you - and George Bush - have lost your souls. I believe that you don't really know what it means to be an American.

You may torture, you may bomb, you may commit whatever atrocities you believe are appropriate to keep you "safe." But if or when you take those actions, you preclude the very safety that you say you so desire. You further alienate yourselves and the country from the world community and you encourage others to take revenge on Americans. Within a free society you cannot have absolute safety, with or without torture.

Posted by: Rich S on September 7, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

sportie spice, we're all still waiting for you to fess up as to whether you'd rape your momma or kill an Iraqi baby.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Nazis and the Japanese were both enemies who killed millions of innocents, and yet we didn't have to torture their prisoners to defeat them. Therefore the answer can be something else.

No, but we rounded a bunch of known-to-be-harmless citizens and stuck them in internment camps. That wasn't such a great thing either, and would certainly have been a violation of the laws of war--except that it was our own citizens that we imprisoned.

With the possible exception of the ticking-bomb scenario, which I think should be totally discounted for discussions of torture, I think it's pretty clear we don't need to torture to win. We probably don't even need the "agressive interrogation" techniques.

But they may save lives. And I think it's a bit hysterical to equate the belly slap with denying medical treatment for gunshot injuries, and almost certainly counterproductive. All this is going to do is make it harder to prosecute the latter, because you're never going to convice the bulk of the American public that belly slapping = torture.

But just because it's not torture doesn't make it a good idea. The argument that treating prisoners well is one of our most potent techniques for winning hearts and minds is powerful, and doesn't turn on the definition of torture, but rather on the definition of "treating prisoners well." Belly slapping may not be torture, but it's certainly not good treatment.

And I think that this is the tact that people need to take in getting such techniques removed from use. Acknowledging that there is a difference in kind and not just degree between bellyslapping and real torture, is important. Admit that there are techniques which are in the middle (cold chambers, water boarding), but that it doesn't matter whether or not they are torture, because our goal isn't to avoid whatever is torture while greenlighting everything else, but rather to treat our captives well.

There will certainly be some cases where we're not going to treat people well in order to extract intelligence from certain, and almost certainly rare, high-value captives (and here I'd want the discussion to center on what's most effective), but the vast majority of captives probably don't know much that we won't be able to get with traditional interrogation techniques. We should take the opportunity not only to not torture them, but to treat them well.

And then we don't need to spend all this effort arguing about whether or not X is actually torture, is just short of it, or is just moderately rough treatment.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 7, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Okay guys, I'll come clean. I enjoy torture -- both watching it and submitting to it. I didn't used to be this way; I used to have a normal libido. But then something happend, doubtless to do with that accident in the workshop where I lost my testicles.

You see ... I can't have erections anymore. And I guess I'm angry about this, because any semblance of a normal sex life has been ruined for me -- and at the end of the day, I only have my own stupidity to blame. No one should ever use a circular saw standing in that position.

This deep anger has somehow sublimated itself sexually. When I see torture (and I have an extensive collection of Brazilian snuff videos, plus all the Zarqawi stuff I've downloaded from Islamist websites and burned onto DVDs), I can actually feel sexual and virile again, at least for a few moments. I don't get an erection -- but I do feel some of the same feelings.

I've taken to hiring escorts I've found in the S&M "dungeon" clubs in my city. Because it also helps to feel pain. Honestly, I know my impulses are extremely perverted and abnormal, and they cause me a lot of guilt. So I pay these women to cover my inner arms and the insides of my thighs with cigarette burns. Hidden under my work clothes, of course. The chafing is delicious. When I get home, I often go into a rapturous trance, staring at red marks and welts.

I especially enjoy the helpless screams of the victims. Their panic and pain transport me; it's indescribable. How ... *alive* they are ... in the moment of maximum suffering. Sometimes I lose myself in my cubicle at work just dreaming of what I downloaded the night before. Often I'll see a particularly young and vulnerable-looking clerical worker -- doesn't matter which sex, really -- and imagine their faces and bodies transposed into the snuff film I saw the night before.

Sometimes ... I can even get my prostate to ache thinking of this. Which got me thinking of customizing some anal dildos I bought from one of my mistresses ...

Posted by: sportsfan79 on September 7, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Arminius wrote:

"Really? We anally rape our SERE trainees with lightsticks and videotape of them being forced to masturbate in public?

Man, no wonder the military is having recruitment problems...."
________________

Not that I'm aware of, Arminius. I was referring to the methods described in the ABC piece.

For that matter, I've not heard of anybody being charged for doing what you've described here, either. Have you?

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 7, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

If you were a US soldier, would you push a button that kills 1,000,000 Iraqis or would you frag your commander?

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

How about it Thom? Are you going to follow orders and kill 1,000,000 Iraqis with the push of a button or are you going to frag your commander?

Sophist or Sophieschoicist?

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

It deserves repeating that everyone should avoid posting personally identifiable info on this forum, especially in response to trolls who advocate torture.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

For that matter, I've not heard of anybody being charged for doing what you've described here, either. Have you?

Yeah, at Abu Ghraib. That's what we did to our prisoners there. Perhaps you've seen the pictures?

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

Okay, here's a hypothetical for *you*:

You're with a woman with whom you're deeply in love, and she loves you in return.

In normal circumstances, she's anorgasmic.

She tells you that the only way she can have a sexual climax is for you to beat her back with with a rubberized metal truncheon until you raise purple welts.

(For the sake of argument, let's just say you believe her to be completely sincere, and, knowing her past sexual history, you're certain it would provoke that very reaction.)

Say she very much wishes to complete an act of love with you.

Would you 1) beat her with the truncheon until she comes, would you 2) continue on to selfishly take your own sexual pleasure, oblivious to her needs, or would you 3) break up with her?

Enquiring (and vaguely perverted) minds wanna know ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

No you won't :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ignor the thomas/GOP sockpuppet troll. He has admitted that he would commit mass murder on an almost unimaginable scale in that he would press a button to kill 999,999 Americans in order to prevent the pressing of a button that would kill 1,000,000 Americans. He needs to be shunned like all human trash.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, you never told me you dated my ex-wife?

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, Even if the ticking time bomb scenario has never happened before in the whole of human history, that does not mean it cannot happen tomorrow. Care to answer my hypothetical too?


Sorry, I don't know which hypothetical you mean, the one that isn't valid or the one you've just proposed where it doesn't mean that it can't happen tomorrow. When the Rapture comes.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

In the fever wet dream of Thomas1's, regardless of whether the suspect is tortured or not, the 1,000,000 will die because the tortured person will not provide accurate information to stop the bomb from exploding. Torture does not work regardless of the desire of the torturer. I would guess torture would only further justify the bomber's motiviation and make her/him wish they were killing 100,000,000.

Thomas1, why do you want to kill 100,000,000 Americans?

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Thomas1, Here's my hypothetical, a wooden block or a block of would. Which is it?

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

I don't think your hypothetical is viable, because there's no guarantee that if you torture this guy he's going to tell you how to shut off the nuke bomb.

There's just as much chance that he'd make up shit you couldn've have verified before as there is that he'd give you the correct information that only he knows.

In fact, there's probably more chance.

In a strictly defined hypothetical where it is known beforehand with absolute certainty that he'd give up the correct information under torture -- then *of course* I'd say torture the bastid to prevent a nuclear explosion, as would any other morally sane human being.

But as that hypothetical is a mental fantasy with exactly zero relevance to the real world, I haven't done anything but dance your little dance for you.

I hope at least your were entertained :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"than the chance"

It's not a chance; it's a certainly; it's your f-ing hypothetical, remember? You mother-raping jackass, you admitted that would would do (A) as long as it is less than (B). Well, 999,999

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

(cont)

Well 999,999 is less than 1,000,000. Deal with it, you mass murderer wanna-be troll.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

The answer is... Sophist!

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

thomas/GOP/etc:

I don't want to kill 100,000,000 Americans

Yes we know. You just want to rape your momma and kill 999,999 Americans. You're a model citizen.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Okay, now it's your turn:

Would you beat her with a truncheon until she comes?

Hehehehe ....

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

thomas/GOP/etc:

999,999 is certainly less numerically than 1,000,000. Where we disagree is that it is a lesser evil.

So now Thomas is saying that one life is worthless? That explains his fascination with torture.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

But you realize, Thomas, that by "answsering" that classical leading question, I've said exactly NOTHING.

Everybody believes that, given a choice, harming less is better than harming more.

And this demonstrates what, exactly?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Your commander orders you to slaughter an Iraqi child, clean it and prepare its liver for a grand dinner.

Do you bake, fry, or BBQ?

Hint: Which way does the president prefer it prepared?

Posted by: Hostile on September 7, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

thomas/GOP gulps:

Every innocent human life is precious -- therefore the degree of "evil" between killing 999,999 and 1,000,000 is unascertainable.

Nice try, but by this rule the degree of evil between one death and 1,000,000 is also unascertainable, and yet you already admitted to throwing your mother to the wolves in order to save 1 million. Petard. Hoisted. Own. Bye.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

I would too, actually. At least sexually (I might well remain friends, if the bond was strong enough otherwise).

There's no way I could deal physical harm to someone I loved, no matter how perverted her desires.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

Yes, I see that, but that hypothetical question is invalidated by the context where you are supporting the argument that torture works because every authority on questioning prisoners is unanimous that it doesn't, and since the ticking bomb scenario has never happened in real life. A circumstance with that kind of time constraint is hardly conceivable outside Hollywood.

To establish that torture does work you would have to introduce new research of some especially efficacious method.

Your hypothetical carefully eliminates freedom of choice which is not absent from real life, especially the real life of the United States, where our government has more freedom of choice to pursue its policies and ambitions than any other.

This is why I earlier brought up A Clockwork Orange. It's just as wrong when it happens to Alex as when he does it to others. And then the government is forced to make amends and put his brain back the way it was, and then they go a step further and give him a job, a job he is assured will be much to his liking. That's the situation the Bush administration is creating for us. Your argument would support a world where Alex is the admired face of our society.

If, over the next decade or two, these people in the Bush administration are not prosectued to the furthest extent our law and treaty obligations will allow we will have signally failed the virtues and substance our nation represents.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of ticking time bombs ...

Scientists Find New Global Warming 'Time Bomb'
by Seth Borenstein
September 7, 2006
Associated Press

Excerpt:

Global warming gases trapped in the soil are bubbling out of the thawing permafrost in amounts far higher than previously thought and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb.

Methane - a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide - is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, according to a study being published today in the journal Nature. The findings are based on new, more accurate measuring techniques.

"The effects can be huge," said lead author Katey Walter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks said. "Its coming out a lot and theres a lot more to come out [...] I dont think it can be easily stopped; wed really have to have major cooling for it to stop."

Scientists worry about a global warming vicious cycle that was not part of their already gloomy climate forecast: Warming already under way thaws permafrost, soil that has been continuously frozen for thousands of years. Thawed permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide. Those gases reach the atmosphere and help trap heat on Earth in the greenhouse effect. The trapped heat thaws more permafrost and so on.

Hypothetical: If there were only two options, (A) torture Dick Cheney until he orders Bush to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol and implement emergency mandatory national GHG emission reductions of 80% within ten years or (B) allow runaway global warming to kill hundreds of millions of people, wipe out civilization as we know it, and cause the mass extinction of most life on Earth, would you really just rather be as crazy as Charlie/Thomas1 so you can pretend that global warming is a liberal hoax and forget about it?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, how I left out that many words in one post and haven't even touched the absinthe. . .

I blame the keyboard.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Arminius wrote:

For that matter, I've not heard of anybody being charged for doing what you've described here, either. Have you?

Yeah, at Abu Ghraib. That's what we did to our prisoners there. Perhaps you've seen the pictures?
__________________

Oh, you mean Graner and his friends. That hardly qualifies as "we." I've undoubtedly seem more of the photos than you have, but I haven't seen anything like you described. I wouldn't put it past them, though. I think those punks must have been inspired by some sort of S&M website. Pretty disgusting.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 7, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think those punks must have been inspired by some sort of S&M website.

If by "some sort of S&M website" you mean "Presidential directive", then we are in agreement.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

But I did answer it, somewhere above,

What happens to Alex in the second half of A Clockwork Orange is just as wrong as what he does to others in the first half. The choice isn't one or the other, it's neither.

And since we are not time constrained, and won't be, and as our nation is wealthy and powerful, neither is an option we have a lot of, more than any other option, in fact, and trying to create a hypothetical situation (just as the Cheney administration has!) that carefully rules out our one correct response, that eliminates all freedom of choice, is an obvious attempt to destroy our society and corrupt it into something more amenable to --any whim that blows. Or sucks.

"Democracy ends and fascism begins where political power and corporate power are inseparable."
--benito mussolini

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as Thomas1 wrote: Care to answer my hypothetical now?

No, because your hypothetical is bullshit. Just like everything else you post.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler wrote: "I think those punks must have been inspired by some sort of S&M website."

The US military "punks" who tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib were acting under direct orders. Everything they did was approved by their commanders, persuant to guidelines issued by Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 - I think I speak for a lot of us (and, y'all, do speak up if you disagree with me), but most of us are unwilling to answer your hypothetical because we reject the options given. I reject the idea that A and B are the only possible endings to the situation you gave. Your hypothetical gives no justification for offering A as the only possible alternative to B and vice-versa. When you offer me a realistic hypothetical, I'll answer it.

Posted by: ACG on September 7, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, you mean Graner and his friends. That hardly qualifies as "we."

They were soldiers in the US military acting under command of their superior officers. That qualifies as "we."

I've undoubtedly seem more of the photos than you have, but I haven't seen anything like you described. I wouldn't put it past them, though.

If you haven't seen the photos of the naked men being forced to masturbate while our soldiers jeered at them, then you haven't seen as many of those photos as you claim. I've seen all that have been publicly released, and they're there.

I think those punks must have been inspired by some sort of S&M website.

No, they were "inspired" by the commands of their superior officers, up to and including the President, and by the atmosphere of moral permissiveness and perversion that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld encourage and promote.

Pretty disgusting.

Yes. It is.

Posted by: Arminius on September 7, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology.

Bullshit. I'll take Conanson or Blumenthal over Broder any day. Nobody owes Rove anything except a waterboard session until he confesses his sins. You're a peculiar Kerry supporter, "Charlie".

Posted by: Nemo on September 7, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, you have quite a way of setting up false dichotomies but if you must ...

Yes, if you set it up so that my choices are torture someone or 1,000,000 will die, then I will torture ... and then I will turn myself in to the appropriate authorities for trial.

Happy now?

But that answer doesn't prove a thing. Consider this question: would you shoot President Bush if doing so would prevent 1,000,000 from dying? I await your answer!

When you set up a silly dichotomy, you've got to expect people to shovel it right back at you - as was done liberally and with much more flair earlier in this thread.

Posted by: Rich S on September 7, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

I saw 'A Clockwork Orange' on acid at a drive-in with some malchiks when in HS. It was an experience I will never forget. I was mortified at the violence, not enamored, like the young people who join the military today. The book is very good, too. Anthony Burgess.

I am surprised the gaming industry has not tapped into the ultra-vi that Kubrick so beautifully portrayed. The music would be license free.

Posted by: on September 7, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

From the current U.S. Army Field Manual:

"Use of torture and other illegal methods is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."
Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Senator McCain:

To fight terrorism it is obvious that we must obtain intelligence, but we have to ensure that it is reliable and acquired in a way that is humane. To do otherwise not only offends our national morals, but undermines our efforts to protect the nations security. Abuse of prisoners harms not helps us in the war on terror, because inevitably these abuses become public. When they do, the cruel actions of a few darken the reputation of our honorable country in the eyes of millions. Mistreatment of our prisoners also endangers U.S. service members who might be captured by the enemy if not in this war, then in the next.

http://tinyurl.com/eleoz

Posted by: trex on September 7, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

... so you torture the terrorist for several hrs until he gives up a code, which you punch into the remote detonator and you see that the timer stops with 3 secs to go. Whew. You wipe the sweat from your brow only to look in horror out the window at a mushroom cloud, at which moment you realize that the terrorist wasn't dumb enough to give you the real code. If only you had spent the time you devoted to torturing to instead tracking down the bomb, you may have been able to prevent to deaths of a million people....

See, fiction is fun. Not so good as a basis for policy, though.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist wrote:

"The US military "punks" who tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib were acting under direct orders. Everything they did was approved by their commanders, persuant to guidelines issued by Donald Rumsfeld."
______________

Unlikely and certainly unproven. The assertion contradicts all evidence currently known.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 7, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Here's what it is that you don't get: Laws are not designed for the exceptional, one-in-a-million situation. They're designed to set up *standard operating proceedure*.

You can name any Tom Clancy hypothetical you want. Any real-world interrogator who finds himself in that position is going to do *what he feels is right*. That means, in situations like those, he'd doubtless torture the guy *regardless if doing so was against the rule.*

If, at his trial, it turns out that he saved a million New Yorkers by torturing this one guy -- there's no doubt in the world that the court would go highly lenient on him.

So you hypotheticals are completely irrelevant, because they establish no meaningful precedent. The issue isn't whether or not torture is excusable in some extraordinary situation.

The issue is whether torture can ever be justified as a *first* resort, not an absolute last, no-other-choice resort.

So you're just passing gas through your teeth, as it were.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

You know these hypotheticals are just weird. It strikes me that this is like a police shooting and killing someone. If you are the interogator in the situation of the "bomb" that will kill 1,000,000 then you do what you have to do. Then you get to stand before a jury and justify it. If you are right you get a medal, if not you fry. At least this sound more like reality to me.

Posted by: Paul on September 7, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

you only had 10 minutes and no time to track down bomb or evacuate

Well then the 1M die no matter what, since 10 mins is not enough time to even torture bad info out of someone.

You really have to stop watching 24. Let's us know when join the real world.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

I am the only person on this thread who entertained your hypothetical.

Read my last response. Any interrogator would torture in that circumstance if they had no other choice to immediately save untold lives.

Problem is, that doesn't speak to the day-to-day of interrogation proceedure.

That's what the rules are set up to deal with. Anybody in an existential crisis does what he or she needs to do in a desperate emergency, and addresses the consequences later.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Stealing cars is wrong. If you were being pursued by a bad guy firing a gun in a parking lot, and you happened to notice somebody's vehicle with the keys it it -- would it be wrong to jump in that car and drive it away to escape being shot?

Of course not. We see "good guys" doing it in movies all the time.

Does this somehow comment *at all* on the morality and/or legality of Grand Theft Auto?

Again, of course not.

Stop being so obtuse.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 7, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

There is nothing in this. You keep reiterating a scenario that has never happened and won't happen. What need does this fill for you? Is it a sense that everyone is really the same kind of pervert but won't admit it?

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

oh, gawd, the sock puppets are talking to each other again. Good nite.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

How do I know it's never happened? Because in the thirty or forty previous threads on this website where this conversation has gone on not one unusually interested party has ever found any such thing, not even close.

If such a thing had happened even once I think we can be sure Republicans would be talking of nothing else.

Thomas1, Again, how do you KNOW it won't happen?

How do KNOW solid gold monkeys won't fly out of my butt? I know it in just that way.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

A pervert will always imagine that everyone else shares his obscenity but won't admit it.

That many might unthinkingly agree with that position is only evidence that they haven't looked very deeply into it. I think stronger credibility lies in the opinions of professional interrogators, not one of whom has endorsed the Republican view of this and many of whom have spoken out strongly against it.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

"P.S. to Rich S -- if you can provide the specifics of how 1 million are killed unless Bush is killed, I will be happy to answer your hypothetical as well."

Osama bin Laden's minions have planted a nuclear device in the U.S. that will be detonated within 24 hours unless Bush is shot.

Thomas1, I await your answer.

Posted by: Rich S on September 7, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

"The US military "punks" who tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib were acting under direct orders. Everything they did was approved by their commanders, persuant to guidelines issued by Donald Rumsfeld."
______________

Unlikely and certainly unproven. The assertion contradicts all evidence currently known.

The italicized statement is what makes me want to agree with you. It is unlikely that any organ of our society will assert the contradictions currently known that are available to be proven regarding anything Rumsfeld did to encourage an antmosphere of enforced torture. You know mechanics are a funny thing to bring up, but sometimes they cannot find trouble with machines and blame it on gremlins. Mechanics can't prove what is wrong with the machine and each has a different theory, but all of them acknowledge they cannot prove the gremlin did it so they all refer to gremlins all of the time and make up stories about how the gremlin did this or that. It amuses the mechanics and helps them do their daily tasks. Rumsfeld, it is unlikely, would ever assert evidence is proven that he even hinted that torture be used. Rumsfeld is a busy man and has a lot to worry about.

Posted by: Will on September 7, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

The Vietnamese captors weren't really after information so much. What they really wanted was confessions. Videotaped confessions that they could show the world to influence opinion, and in particular to fire up the anti-war movement. Torture works great as a coercement.

Correct, Red State Mike. The implications for US torture policies are also quite obvious. If the CIA were using torture to coerce Al-Qaeda operatives into publicly renouncing violence and calling for an end to jihad, at least it would make some limited kind of instrumental sense. Using it to obtain information...apparently not so useful. If, that is, we are to believe the heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US's senior interrogators on this issue. The screenwriters from "24", in their limitless expertise, seem to have a different view.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't believe you. Provide proof that such a device has been planted and cannot be detected in any way."

Thomas1, the initial example of 1,000,000 casualties was also lacking proof that such a device existed and could not be found other than through torture, and it was also lacking proof that torture could elicit a truthful confession. Your initial promise to answer also wasn't predicated on coming up with an event that would have probability greater than 0.00001 of ever occuring. And I would argue that the initial "Sophie's Choice" example would likewise also have a very small probability.

Your choice at the moment is simple: answer or lose all credibility.

Posted by: Rich S on September 7, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Rich S:

I don't believe you. Provide proof that such a device has been planted and cannot be detected in any way.

In the packet containing the warning is a vial holding 1 gram of pure plutonium. There is also a receipt for a container which was shipped through customs at the Port of Los Angeles 11 days ago. You may check with port authorities to verify that it is genuine. This container has by now been shipped by truck to another city somewhere in the United States. We can detonate the device remotely via any number of means with which I am sure you are familiar without my having to detail them (cell phone, etc.). You have 2 days to assassinate the President.

What do you do?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK
Fewer that one in three Americans agrees with you that torture is never justified. GOP at 10:19 PM
According to your new Republican orthodoxy, morality and ethics are a mere matter of majority opinion. That is typical: There is no morality but political expediency; there are no unethical acts as long as most people let you get away with it. Strange that fewer than one in three Americans agree that George W. Bush is an effective president and you have no trouble accepting and running with that approval number. Posted by: Mike on September 7, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

GOP quoting and responding to rmck1:

Here's what it is that you don't get: Laws are not designed for the exceptional, one-in-a-million situation. They're designed to set up *standard operating proceedure*.

Laws can be written to describe both "*standard operating procedure*" and departures from that procedure given a one-in-a-million situation.

Any real-world interrogator who finds himself in that position is going to do *what he feels is right*. That means, in situations like those, he'd doubtless torture the guy *regardless if doing so was against the rule.*If, at his trial, it turns out that he saved a million New Yorkers by torturing this one guy -- there's no doubt in the world that the court would go highly lenient on him.

Yes. In fact, he probably wouldn't wind up in court at all. If he saved a million lives, no prosecutor would go after him, no jury would convict him, and no governor or president would fail to pardon him or commute his sentence.

So, in response to Bob's second point, you agree with him that if a real-life ticking time-bomb scenario ever came about, the interrogator on the spot would disregard any laws against torture. You also agree that he almost certainly would not be punished if he actually did save thousands or millions of lives by torturing a real terrorist.

Yet in response to Bob's first point, you claim that it is possible, and by implication desirable, to build in exceptions to any prohibition against torture to cover those one-in-a-million scenarios. Why?

If you do write exceptions into the law, the far more likely event is that long before you have even a single a situation that actually fits the ticking time-bomb scenario, you have a hundred cases in which someone thinks they face such a scenario but are mistaken.

Plus, probably a few cases in which someone knows they don't face a time-bomb scenario, but engages in some form of torture for reasons of their own or gets carried away in an interrogation, then concocts a claim that they thought they faced a ticking time-bomb scenario to excuse their actions.

Posted by: tanj on September 7, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, the packet also contains a diagram of a workable nuclear bomb; a small sample of part of the shaped plastic explosive shell used to detonate the plutonium, manufactured to a degree of exactitude which shows we have the capability to make a real bomb; and copies of documents showing the sources of the plutonium (obtained illicitly from Russian stockpiles) which will prove genuine on inspection. There is no further reason to disbelieve that we have made the bomb and that we are ready to detonate it.

What do you do?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: too bad, you lose. Los Angeles is destroyed.

Now, how do you justify your decision not to assassinate the President, when we make public the fact that we had offered?

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

As if GOP cares about LA being destroyed.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK
B) 1,000,000 Americans die in a nuclear explosion, you are going with Option B)? Thomas1 5:51 PM
There is no doubt that if 1,000,000 Americans were threatened, George W. Bush would do nothing. As even you are aware, we have his fine example of ignoring warning about 9-11 and when it occurred, using the event for his political advantage. The death of 1,000,000 Americans would be even better for his and your political agenda. After all, that's what Jesus would do, and you both are always saying you are Christians.
Professional interrogators know that torture can be an effective GOP at 10:29 PM
Professional interrogators know from experience that torture makes the victim say anything to end the torture and that effective interrogation is by treating the suspect with dignity and sometimes by the bad cop, good cop scenario. Posted by: Mike on September 7, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, okay then, GOP. So it was also a hoax when you tortured that guy to find out the location of the ticking time bomb. Too bad you didn't believe him when he said he didn't know anything about the supposed plot - he was just delivering pizza to the house next door. Now you'll have to do 6 to 10 years for assault, not to mention possible prosecution for crimes against humanity under the Convention Against Torture, and civil liability in the millions of dollars.

Or maybe it'd be a better idea to kill the poor guy, just in case, so he can't testify at trial.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

No, it was a hoax. They sure fooled you. Don't be so gullible next time.

LMAO. Thx for providing evidence that you wingnuts really just believe you can write your own rules.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Man, no wonder GOP is such a crank. He must never get any sleep worrying about those monkeys which may possibly start flying out of his ass at any moment.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm mocking you for making the absurd claim that since there have been no documented cases as yet of the ticking-bomb scenario, we may safely conclude (a) that it never has happened, and (b) that it never could happen.

Happy in your little corner there, GOP? Quit snarling, I'm sure the lion tamer will let you out if you'll just act nice and bow your head.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 7, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,

History is a very long thing full of really just every kind of activity anyone might conceivably get up to. If you can't find a historical precedent for some behaviour you can be really certain it never existed.

Bigfoot, Santa Claus and the Hercules have better factual support than the ticking bomb scenario. And so do Bugs Bunny and Mary Marvel.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, maybe not 'the' Hercules. But Hercules just the same.

Posted by: cld on September 7, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

GOP:

>> Any real-world interrogator who finds himself in that position
>> is going to do *what he feels is right*. That means, in situations
>> like those, he'd doubtless torture the guy *regardless if doing
>> so was against the rule.* If, at his trial, it turns out that he
>> saved a million New Yorkers by torturing this one guy -- there's no
>> doubt in the world that the court would go highly lenient on him.

> Yes. In fact, he probably wouldn't wind up in court at all.
> If he saved a million lives, no prosecutor would go after
> him, no jury would convict him, and no governor or president
> would fail to pardon him or commute his sentence.

There would be a hearing, though I agree with you there
wouldn't be a vigorous prosecution or a conviction. The whole
hypothetical is predicated on the interrogator being a highly
moral person doing what he feels is right. And that would
entail turning himself in for breaking the anti-torture laws.

The *result* of an illegal act doesn't make the act less
illegal, although as in all crimes, there are individual
circumstances which may affect jury, judge and prosecution.

>> The issue is whether torture can ever be justified as a
>> *first* resort, not an absolute last, no-other-choice resort.

> Well, lots of people here claim that torture is never
> justified. Never, ever, EVER. Never under any conceivable
> circumstances. No qualifications, no loopholes, no exceptions.
> They believe the ban on torture should be absolute. One
> might call them "anti-torture absolutists" or "anti-torture
> fundamentalists." Do you agree with them?

This is a silly and specious "gotcha" question which doesn't
deserve a straight answer. One of the bedrock principles of
the Judeo/Christian ethic which founds modern moral reasoning
is the simple statement "Thou Shalt Not Kill." But everybody
in the world save the odd pacifist absolutist can imagine
circumstances where either killing is completely justified
(self-defense) or where the punishment deserves mitigation
(crime of passion). That's why there's a shaded homicide
code from completely justified all the way up to Murder 1.

Does this change at all the fundamental principle that killing is
wrong? No. If it did, you'd have an ethical slippery slope, like
in Nazi Germany which started with killing the weak and infirm.

What it means is that in *all cases*, killing a human being
should never be a first resort, and the extreme circumstances
when it's justified or deserving less than the ultimate sanction
are strictly proscribed. And that's exactly the same thing
with torture. People who believe that killing in self-defense
isn't murder don't go around with a hardon for killing people.

(Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson excepted :)

That's why you don't *need* an exception to an anti-torture law
to take into account the ticking-time-bomb scenario. If that
circumstance ever arises (and, as has been pointed out infinitum,
the real-world odds are infinitesimal), nobody'd convict anyway.

The most ironic thing about this tiresome "gotcha" scenario
which is geared to getting people to admit that there are
exceptions to the rule that torture is unjustified, is that it's
been stage-managed by Thomas1, who is an anti-abortion absolutist.

Speaking of, you know, logically consistent moral reasoning :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 8, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Does this mean we can torture Charlie and Don P to find out if they are indeed ticking time bombs ready to explode at any moment?

Posted by: Confused on September 8, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

"The most ironic thing about this tiresome 'gotcha' scenario which is geared to getting people to admit that there are exceptions to the rule that torture is unjustified, is that it's been stage-managed by Thomas1, who is an anti-abortion absolutist."

Speaking of Thomas1, I'm still waiting for an answer!!!

And Bob, if it wasn't already clear, I concur entirely with your last comment.

Posted by: Rich S on September 8, 2006 at 6:28 AM | PERMALINK

I'm interested in why you think a ticking-timebomb scenario has to be completely discounted -- can you guarantee it will never happen? How about another 9/11 attack then -- would you torture a known terrorist if you knew it would save the lives of 4,000 American citizens?

I think it should be completely discounted because if there was a ticking bomb, I think whoever was in charge of the interrogation would do what was necessary regardless of whether or not it was legal. I know I would, and I'd be willing to pay the legal concequences thereafter, whether I was right or wrong. But that doesn't mean I want torture legalized. I don't think I'm alone here.

So I don't think it makes any sense to base a legal regime for interrogation on a case where it's acknowedged that torture is a likelihood whether it's legal or not.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 8, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

GOP:

It's a specious question because the odds of that type of scenario happening are next to nil. It's like asking me what I'd do if I won ten million dollars in the lottery or if Scarlett Johanson had a crush on me.

It's a *pernicious* question because its practical effect is to get people thinking that torture's okay.

I'm not interested in facilitating ethical slippery slopes.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 8, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: Do you believe that torture is never justified? Never, ever, EVER. Never under any possible circumstances?

Of course one can imagine circumstances which justify torture. But that's not a reasonable basis for making it legal.

I can not think of a reason to legalize true torture.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 8, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Since we're already gambling with the lives of a million Americans in my hypothetical, I'd like to reduce as many other "likelihoods" as possible. Even if 99 of 100 interrogators would break the law, I think the possibility of that 1 allowing a million Americans to be killed justifies clear guidelines being put into place.

I disagree. The one guy who's not going to torture because it's not allowed is going to find a reason not to torture even if it is. I don't believe that there exists a person who would say "Well, I think if I torture this guy I can save a million lives, but the rules are against it. Better stick to the book." I just don't believe that there is *anyone* like that.

I can imagine that there are people who, even with a million lives in the balance wouldn't torture. But even if the law allowed it, they're not going to do it. So why set a legal prescedent? There's no benefit derived from having it legal, even in a ticking bomb scenario, and there's obviously a huge downside in legalizing torture generally.

Using the ticking-bomb as an argument for torture just doesn't hold much value, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 8, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- we keep posting over each other:

Heh.

You've never been in the military then?

No I haven't. But the way I see it is that there is only one possible scenario in which legalized torture in a ticking bomb situation could be helpful, and it's the following:

1)There is only a single person involved in the interrogation.
2)This person not only believes that torturing this captive could save lives, but has the wherewithall to do it effectively enough to extract the necessary information.
3) This person refuses to perform what he believes to be necessary to prevent millions from dying because it is illegal.

I don't believe that there is *any* chance of this occuring. I think that anyone who is not sufficiently motivated by the possibility of millions dying to overcome a legal prohibition against torture won't be good enough at it to get the necessarily information.

And if there's more than one person, I think the imperative to do everything possible to save lives will overcome the objections of anyone who's against it.

What do you think, specifically, is wrong with my assessment?

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 8, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Basically I think that 2 and 3 in my description of the scenario are mutually exclusive. Anyone who is squimish about the rules in a ticking bomb situation isn't going to be sufficiently good at torture to be successful.

And that the potential upside, considering its likelihood is much, much smaller here than the downside of legalizing torture.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 8, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Think of it this way: if a regular police officer didn't perform some risky act because he knew it was illegal, would the chances of that same police officer perform said act increase if it was not only legal in that situation, but also required?

So you're saying that you not only want to allow torture, but you want to compel it? Do you think that someone who is torturing only because of a legal compulsion is going to be effective?

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 8, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

However the procedures are made clear, even if we all decide it is going to be ZERO torture allowed, would be an improvement.

But even clear proceedures whether for or against torture are just theory. In the "ticking bomb" scenario, there is going to be a substantial fraction, if not a majority which throws the rule-book out the window.

Which is ultimately why I think these situations should specifically not considered when making policy. It's senseless and quite possibly counter productive to make rules which govern a situation where most people are going to ignore whatever rules you've made.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 9, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Police officers are "compelled" to perform their duty, or they can be fired / charged with a crime -- I would envision the same for interrorgators -- of course, I want them properly trained, maybe even transparancy like Dershowitz was suggesting with "torture" warrants.

This doesn't really answer the question about whether or not you think people, some or many of whom quite likely believe torture to be deeply immoral, will be effective at torture when compelled legally to do so.

Myself, I don't see it as likely.

Posted by: TWAndrews on September 9, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

GOP:

>> It's a specious question because the odds of that
>> type of scenario happening are next to nil.

> No, it's not a specious question, regardless of the odds.

It is a question both specious and pernicious. This is no better
illustrated by the fact that I already "answered" it, and you're
*still* badgering me about it. You don't give one holy fuck about
my answer, GOP. This is all just a manipulative game you're playing.

> And you have no way of calculating the odds, even roughly, anyway.

And neither, my friend, do you.

But I'll tell you one thing, though. You're not hearing about the
"ticking time bomb scenario" from the JAGs, or the Pentagon, or the
CIA. Not even from Bush. Nobody in an official capacity is using
this argument to persuade Congress they need to give Bush authority
to order interrogation techniques beyond the Geneva Conventions.

You know where you hear it from? Pundits. Bloviating "contrarian"
lawyers like Alan Dershowitz who lost his credibility a long time
ago. Certainly not from military guys who've been trained to stand
up to interrogation. You know, Trashhauler, who's a pilot and
who now works for the DoD, probably made the most cogent case on
this blog for un-pretty, extra-Geneva interrogations. And he never
gave your goddamned "ticking time bomb scenario" the time of day.

> rmck1: Do you believe that torture is never justified? Never,
> ever, EVER. Never under any possible circumstances? Yes, or no?

Blow me.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 9, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

In re Freedom Phuckers comment: Brown people are MONSTERS, so we, too, MUST become monsters!

All, please read page 3 of the Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism appointed by Rumsfeld to asses (i.e. rationalize) the use of torture at Gitmo. FPs comment is a paraphrase of what is stated on that page. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB127/03.04.04.pdf


In re Cleeks comment: 40,000+ civilians killed in Iraq by US military activity.

Having studied Iraqi casualty figures over the past ten years, I am entirely confident in stating that a conservative estimate of total Iraqi civilian deaths as a direct result of US and Coalition bombs and sanctions from the beginning of Gulf War I to today is 750,000. Comparatively, this figure is three times greater than the highest estimates of Iraqi civilians killed under Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: otto on September 9, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why is there never a good cop scenario offered by those in favor of torture? Or, if offering a detainee American citizenship, a house in the burbs, and a Hummer if they coughed up what they know about the Islamofacists worked, would we agree to such a course of action? I suspect the response to this question from the right would be, No way in hell would we do that. Which is fine, but then the proffered goal of extracting information for the successful promulgation of the GwoT is bunk.

The bad cop and ticking time bomb scenarios are devices for sadists, fascists, racists, and the ill-informed to publicly rationalize and sanction the behavior in which they wish to engage. (see brooksfoes 7 Sep 1:57 post for a better exposition of this)

Posted by: otto on September 9, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

This is a fun video about bush's policies

:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhRtUS5TtFw

Posted by: Ted on September 9, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Well, it's just like how abortion leads to many many "lesser evils," isn't it ...

The problem with this kind of reasoning is that leads to exceptions to virtually any moral principle, based on circumstance. Push this far enough and you get "situational ethics."

There are always going to be cases where what looks like an atrocity is justified in context. Hell, the US threw its full weight behind justifying nuking Japan twice ...

So if there's no line to be drawn Thomas -- because there will always be an exception which produces a "lesser evil" -- what happens to moral values?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 9, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

"Wish." Indeed. Fair enough.

But what about the prospect of playing "good cop" instead of applying torture to get info? What's the line about catching flies with honey...? Or are we into "the only thing 'they' understand is force" territory here?

Posted by: otto on September 9, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

I was asking about the "good cop" scenario without regard for the 10 minute time limit of your hypothetical. I meant it as a general approach. However, there is no reason why the "good cop" offer can't fit within the 10 minutes you propose. Instead of torturing for those minutes, the time is spent signing a contract for the citizenship, house, car, etc. Shall we discuss such a tack to extracting information or fall back on legalism?

Posted by: otto on September 10, 2006 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas1,

I cant assume anything didnt work if I have no evidence that it has been tried.

Feel free to deny you would as well implies that you are prepared to accept only one possible answer to your question why you made sure to provide GOP with rmck1s response. A yes to your question allows you to say, Im right and with the majority of opinion. A no allows you to denigrate the character of the responder. Either way (and only a yes or a no response can be considered), there is no way you can lose with this question, and so it gets asked over and over.

Regardless, my answer to this question as it is put is no, I do not believe that torture is ever justified under any possible circumstances. Any affirmative reply to that question is predicated on the assumption that torture works, and that its primary function is to extract valuable and accurate information. It also implies that torture is the most effective means of interrogation. I am so far unconvinced of both. It seems far more likely to me that, as someone else mentioned above, its purpose is to control, punish, and destroy which is how we get what we saw at Abu Ghraib (BTW, not the work of a few bad apples as the primary documents on the subject clearly indicate).

Pretending that torture is all about the extraction of valuable and accurate information allows those who engage in it to justify a behavior that would otherwise be regarded as reprehensible and ultimately counterproductive. We invent rationalizations like this for ourselves all the time to publicly cover any number of negative behaviors. It appears that you are after the same thing with torture, hence the insistence on a scenario for which there is only one possible answer, an answer which justifies an activity that would be barbaric in any other situation and under which no one in good conscience would admit. The scenario thus provides an out. Ultimately, the ticking time bomb scenario is a psychological trick, a rigged and disingenuous question, as much for yourself as it is for those to whom it is put.

Since you mentioned it earlier, what we see with the ticking time bomb torture scenario is identical to the justification for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These two acts scared the hell out of us. Could we have really done this? we all asked ourselves. We then promptly set about coming up with a retroactive, rigged explanation for why it was necessary for us to drop the two bombs: a million people would have died otherwise. A million, a billion, it does not matter. What is paramount is that the number of dead has to be set so high that disagreement with dropping the bombs sounds preposterous, even pathological. We are able this way to turn a horrific and morally questionable act into a rational choice in favor of the lesser of two evils while relieving us of responsibility for the choice, for in fact the argument implies that there is really none to make (just like the TTB). Ironically, it is a pathology or, to be fair, a lack of empathy, ignorance (not stupidity), self reflection (we did insist on unconditional surrender), or a plan for any solution less destructive that is trying to be disguised by those inventing this type of mental gymnastics.

Test it: Can you provide one real world example of the ticking time bomb scenario and how it worked (or did I miss one already further up the thread)? Can you come up with some sort of statistical analysis that demonstrates how the benefits to be gained here by torture (without resorting to hypotheticals) outweigh the negative consequences of its application? In other words, the closer you get to data and the farther away you get from hypotheticals and trick questions, the better you will understand this issue.

Posted by: otto on September 10, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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