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Tilting at Windmills

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September 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TORTURE ROUNDUP....Some good points from around the blogosphere about the torture "compromise" spearheaded by John McCain:

  • TPM reader JO: True, torture has always gone on "in the shadows"....[but] when the bill becomes law, it will be America's official policy for professional CIA interrogators to use torture. And it will be perfectly legal. Period. We are not even remotely returning to the status quo.

  • TPM reader JC: Right now, CIA are the bad guys. As far as I know, military interrogators were not using "coercive techniques." However, if this bill passes, military interrogators will not only be ALLOWED to use them, they will be EXPECTED to use them. Which is one reason so many military people have come out against it.

  • Charles Pierce: The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea. For an entire week, it allowed a debate on changing the soul of the country to be conducted intramurally between the Torture Porn and Useful Idiot wings of the Republican Party....It contributed nothing. On the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution through adjectives "Aggressive interrogation techniques" the Democratic Party had...no opinion.

  • Juliette Kayyem: Marty [Lederman] and others are commenting on the wiggle room left to the President in determining what methods would be prohibited but may not constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions....It is this concession to the President that is mindboggling in almost all respects because the hold-outs could have given the President the less than grave tactics without giving him the sole authority to determine what they were. I'm eating my words; Marty is right McCain is a tragic figure now.

Kevin Drum 1:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (342)

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Comments

This ought to be the moment when John McCain loses his status as a serious contender for the Presidency. If he can't stand up to a pissy little man like G.W. Bush on a moral issue as clear-cut as torture, than he doesn't deserve to be a significant figure in our political landscape.

Posted by: global yokel on September 22, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hehehehehee! I gets to torture them rag-heads! I gets to torture! I was gonna do it anyhoo, since Congress must bow to my emperial uthority no matter what useles scraps of paper they gimme to sign.

Posted by: George W. Bush on September 22, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

TPM Reader JC is also a WM reader - thanks.

This legislation is a stain on the nation.

Posted by: JC on September 22, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Its amazing to me and extrememly sad that we are even debating this issue. Trying to find what torture is OK and what torture isn't. Its a disgusting look inside the soul of America and shows just how far we have gotten off of the right track thanks to the current administration.

Posted by: dee on September 22, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

An aspect of the torture issue that isn't getting enough attention is the fact that once we condone the milder forms of coercion, we start down the slippery slope to more egregious violations of human rights. The interrogation sessions take place behind closed doors with inadequate supervision and no media access; are we to believe that it's going to be conducted within the boundaries prescribed by Congress? You would have to be seriously delusional to buy into that notion. Our military has recently been infiltrated by skinheads, and has always had more than its share of dumb rednecks; is Congress going to trust that their guidlelines for forceful interrogation are going to be respected by an adminstration that is already notorious for disrespecting the rule of law?

Posted by: islander on September 22, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I've been complaining for months now that McCain never had any business even being considered a serious contender in '08. Unfortunately the media has their narrative on the guy that they just will not alter regardless of the facts in front of them.
America's Least Wanted

Posted by: budpaul on September 22, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think the terrorists are getting closer to victory.

Posted by: es on September 22, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

The left demanded that this get dragged into the open, and debated in congress, and you got what you wanted.

You wonder why the Democrats were laying low? Their constituents may have just gotten tired of their party coming out on the other side not just in interrogation, but in tactics, intelligence, financial investigation, and everything else having to do not just with Iraq but the entire anti-terror effort. I'd bet the Democrats have been getting an earful.

The biggest mistake the party is making is believing that everybody in America thinks the way Markos does about America. They don't.

Posted by: mac_pilot on September 22, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

We are approaching the moment when we turn out the lights on the American Experiment.

Posted by: craigie on September 22, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

And Thomas1 torture does not work. It works in that you can get people to say what you want them to say. It says nothing about the truth. People will tell you whatever you want to hear to make it stop. If I water boarded you long enough I could get you to tell me your really not an asshole.

Posted by: dee on September 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong agian, Kevin.

I'm not quite sure why, though. Give me a few minutes, and I'll post a irrelevant link from the Beijing Times proving why you're wrong.

Posted by: Al on September 22, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Their policy is to destroy our country in order to save it.

Posted by: Colin on September 22, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest mistake the party is making is believing that everybody in America thinks the way Markos does about America.

Only the left and those who hate America like Drum and Kos are against torturing the Islamofascists.

Posted by: Al on September 22, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Pierce, as usual, is right on. The Democrats allowed the Republicans to define the parameters of the entire debate. They now must either support torture by voting for the "compromise" or appear to be soft on terrorism. Meanwhile, McCain and company get to enjoy the appearance of standing up to the President, while essentially giving him whatever he wants. A similar myth of independent Republicans involves the warrantless eavesdropping issue.

Posted by: yuiop on September 22, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

There's something that puzzles and I'd appreciate it if proponents of "enhanced interrogation techniques" would set me straight:

It seems that even Torquemada Bush is not proposing severe torture, but merely more "aggressive" interrogations. I don't think that anybody, Bush included, is suggesting we flay or impale suspects, pull out their nails and teeth, etc. Correct me if I'm wrong.

This is what I don't get: Terrorists are not 9-year-old girls; they are committed and fanatical, and have been hardened by going through terrorist boot camp. So, a little slapping, dunking, blaring music, etc. ain't gonna work in most cases and they won't spill the beans about that nuclear bomb they've hidden up their ass.

These "enhanced interrogation techniques" are really quite obviously useless. Hence, what's the point of legalizing something that won't work? I don't get it...

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

The left demanded that this get dragged into the open, and debated in congress

Actually, it was the Supreme Court.

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

torquemada Bush. I like that. Can we call Karl Robespierre Rove?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

To repeat an earlier comment:

...the answer seems obvious. With an appropriately aggressive media strategy, the Democrats could disembowel the Republicans with this--once the vote has occurred on a party line basis.

All the Dems have to do is create an appropriately ominous tv advertisement that raises the very issues that so trouble us: That is, show what can happen when rulers are given absolute power to take the freedom of innocent people, detaining them forever without access to the courts and torturing them. Show a man being roused from his home in the middle of the night, treated roughly, and taken into a prison. Show the iron door slamming shut. Ask Americans if this is a power that they trust George Bush and Dick Cheney with. This should be the equivalent of Lyndon Johnson's daisy commercial--and the Dems should hammer it relentlessly and without remorse. It's a valid and appropriate response to the overreaching of this Administration and their Congressional rubberstamps.

However, I note that many commenters I have read here and elsewhere today have essentially given up on the Dems ever showing any backbone whatsoever when it comes to national security/GWOT matters. This is likely to be no exception. A shame, though, because the strategy I outline above would most certainly turn this issue to the Dems benefit.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 22, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

How long will it be before the Bush junta demands the power to send American citizens to secret prisons, torture them, try them with secret evidence and execute them?

How long, Bush supporters? When will you wake up, moral ciphers?

Posted by: Red on September 22, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

If torture a) makes them say whatever you want them to say, and b) you want them to say the truth, then explain to me again how you get to c) it does not work?

You're kidding, right?

Yes! Yes! I try to kill Papa Doc with the Voodoo. Please don't hit me again.

(Many thanks to the National Lampoon).

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sylogisms are one of the first things discredited in Logic class freshman year. What is the classic example...God is love, and love is blind, therefore Ray Charles/Jeff Healey is God.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I would also like to assert that this discussion is not only about torture. It is also about the ability of George Bush and Dick Cheney to detain someone forever with no recourse, no appeal, no court review at all. They assert their right to do this to American citizens. Fucking Christ.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 22, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Honour Bound To Defend Freedom

Not everyone knows that the staff who operate the notorious US Gulag at Guantanamo Bay greet each other with the words Honour Bound with the response To Defend Freedom. I am not making this up. The US authorities think this is good practice. It is actually the motto for this hell-hole. For those of you who do not know whether to laugh or cry, it is worth taking a look at the articles written by Clive Stafford Smith(see link), a lawyer who represents some of the victims of the US camp. The camp and its practices are roundly condemned in a UN report in January this year.

It is fair to say that Guantanamo is a microcosm of just how little the US military and securocrats understand about any concept of freedom (or honour). Daily incidents in Iraq and, one suspects, in the murk of Afghanistan, illustrate the point. My own feeling is that there is a deep vein of racism about American attitudes to Middle Eastern or Arab people. This goes some way to explaining the madness of the statements and arguments defending the atrocities committed by US soldiers and mercenaries in Iraq. It is also behind the ease and crassness with which the human rights of Arab people are dismissed from consideration by the US Administration spin machine.

Until the US Authorities take some responsibility for their own misdemeanours and downright brutality they will continue to earn and deserve the scorn of the entire civilised world. Honour bound? Freedom? Black(gallows) humour.

http://www.newstatesman.com/200511210007

Posted by: Tony on September 22, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone here ever actually been trained in US counter-interrogation methods?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 - If I were to torture you long enough I could get you to tell me that (a) your a female and (b) your name isn't really Thomas1. You see you will say whatever I want you to say to make it stop. Its about getting the truth and torture does not necessarily produce truth. You will say anything. Does this make it more clear? God, this is what we have to deal with in this country, the stupidity kills me. Your not stupid, its more of a general comment.

Posted by: dee on September 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

yuiop wrote:

"These "enhanced interrogation techniques" are really quite obviously useless. Hence, what's the point of legalizing something that won't work? I don't get it..."

Yuiop,

My guess is that the Bushniks are trying to inoculate themselves from the threat of being prosecuted for war crimes. They know that the Congress could go Democratic this November, which would empower the D's with the ability to issue subpoenas and conduct meaningful investigations. This could lead to serious criminal charges, and I think that has the administration is sufficiently worried so that they are taking pre-emptive action.

Posted by: global yokel on September 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

After that point is reached, we get the truth. Get it?

Funny, that's not what the FBI and JAG think.

Also, what about the (more than) occasional guy who gets picked up because his Sunni neighbor made up something about him? After he reaches that point, he's been telling the truth all along, which didn't stop the torture. At what point do we believe him?

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is still smarting from the scars he received from the wingnuts in 2000. The lesson he learned is to win these guys over, not fight them.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 22, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1: What should happen in the cases where innocent people have been and will be tortured? Should anyone be held accountable? The bush admin has a pretty extensive record of getting all confused about who did what, who has what. Should that just be ignored? Should bush be held responsible for torturing people by mistake?

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, do you listen to Mossad or other groups that have tried to use torture? People who are tortured don't "tell the truth". They simply say what their captors want to hear.

And no, that doesn't mean "the truth." If the CIA is torturing somebody, they aren't going to be saying things like "Just tell the truth!" Open-ended questions are useless. They ask things like, "Did you work with bin Laden on this?" If the tortured person thinks that the answer the CIA wants to hear is "yes", that's what they say, regardless of the truth.

Or, if possible, they will simply answer questions in a vague enough manner to get some respite.

Plus, not all terrorists are "hardened veterans of terrorist boot camps." Sadly, some of the people the U.S. has hauled in really have been teenagers. If it is wrong to torture terrorists, and it is, then it is a hundred times more wrong to torture innocents who get swept up in the net.

Thomas1, do you happen to be Christian?

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 22, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

es:

I think the terrorists are getting closer to victory.

They won a long time ago. Their victory is more complete with every Republican elected to (or otherwise installed in) office. The only meaningful distinction between those we call terrorists and those we call our leaders is that the latter are more ruthless.

Posted by: savagesaplenty on September 22, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

One phone book up side the head, and you just know that Chuckles would piss down a leg and start whining like a little bitch. Glad our security doesn't rest with him.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1: Obviously, some terrorists are going to hold out / lie as long as they can. After that point is reached, we get the truth. Get it?

I don't know if your comment is ironic or not, but "After that point is reached" is what fascinates me. How do you get to that magic point where the terrorist suspect finds truth telling irresistible? "Enhance" the "enhanced interrogation techniques" a notch? But enhancing the enhancements will remain illegal as torture. So?

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

They should have called it the Department of Homeland Insecurity. Because that seems to be the goal - making everyone feel insecure.

Posted by: craigie on September 22, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

FDR: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Bush: "Be Afraid. Be very afraid. Terrists want to kill you. 9/11. War on Terror."

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

For anyone defending the rule of law, sanction of torture is the poison pill. Bush wants you to take it. Come on, take it.

OK. If you won't take it, just promise me you'll think about it. Consider it. Turn it over in your mind. Soften your brain and harden your heart.

It's not so bad. It's not as bad as being tortured. And being tortured is not as bad as being dead.

I'm not asking you to torture anyone; I just want you to let me do it. I have young professionals who are standing here, their skilled hands hanging idle. We want to do it. We need to do it. And we're doing it for you.

Come on. Take the pill. Everything will look different once you do.

Posted by: Serpentine on September 22, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Do the Christians in the GOP, want Christianity to be known as, the religion that supports torure?

Posted by: AkaDad on September 22, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Aris wrote: This is what I don't get: Terrorists are not 9-year-old girls; they are committed and fanatical, and have been hardened by going through terrorist boot camp. So, a little slapping, dunking, blaring music, etc. ain't gonna work in most cases and they won't spill the beans about that nuclear bomb they've hidden up their ass.

These "enhanced interrogation techniques" are really quite obviously useless. Hence, what's the point of legalizing something that won't work? I don't get it...

You can download the interview with Brian Ross of ABC at http://www.foxnews.com/oreilly/

Ross said that CIA agents who had been involved in the questioning told him that water-boarding was effective with every terrorist questioned. Some of the terrorists talked after less harsh methods.

I cannot actually visualize why water-boarding is so effective, but I see no reason to disbelieve him.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend the patriots in Iraq use the same interrogation tactics Bush desires to obtain information about when the next US soldier will rape, murder and incinerate an Iraqi child.

If, like Thomas1 says, torture works, then it should be used to prevent US war crimes.

If a US soldier is minutes away from penetrating an Iraqi child, would you recommend the torture of another US soldier to determine where that crime is taking place, or would you file a grievance with the field commander and let the bureacracy sort it out after the crime?

Posted by: Hostile on September 22, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin quotes Juliette Kayyem: It is this concession to the President that is mindboggling in almost all respects because the hold-outs could have given the President the less than grave tactics without giving him the sole authority to determine what they were.

IMHO McCain et al wanted to give the President sole authority. I htink the Democrats want to give the President sole authority. Otherwise, they might be blamed for the next attack. The Dems aren't going to filibuster this agreement. They'd rather bitch and whine than take responsibility for the decisions.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I don't even need DNA. We are not the same species.

I have a spouse that, were he still in the military would have resigned his commission this morning after the Republican Senators capitulated. I have a spouse that, were he still in the military this capricious and un-American legislation might endanger.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Doctor Gonzo wrote: "Thomas1, do you happen to be Christian?"

"Thomas1" is actually Charlie, who in addition to being a fervent proponent of torture, is a psychopathic liar.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 22, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

No terrorist has the capability of the former Soviet empire to threaten the lives of a million Americans. Get real.

When we were threatened with nuclear annihilation by the Soviet Unionwe were less frightened than we are now of a few thousand nut-jobs.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I see Christians fighting for and supporting torture, which is a war crime.

I see a Christian President calling the war a Crusade, while seeking the advise of a higher father, than his own flesh and blood father.

The GOP represent themselves as the Christian party, so torture and Christianity will inevitably be linked, unfortunately.

Posted by: AkaDad on September 22, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Chuckles is especially shrill and hysterical today.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:

Obviously, some terrorists are going to hold out / lie as long as they can. After that point is reached, we get the truth. Get it?

You make it so clear! What about those who are not terrorists, though? What about those who are falsely accused--well, not accused, because we don't actually accuse anyone--but what about those we are holding who are not guilty? What do we get from them when they reach their breaking point?

Get it?

Posted by: thickheaded on September 22, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

If you are Christian, Thomas1, do you believe that those who torture can get to Heaven? Do you believe that those who support those who torture can get to Heaven?

Not that it matters, but I do have to wonder how people can contort their minds to support evil.

I would rather die in a terrorist attack than support torture. If I die in a terrorist attack I at least have some shot at redemption, should it exist. If I support torture, I am damned.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 22, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Charles Pierce nailed it. By ceding the floor to the GOP on torture, the Dems have again demonstrated cowardice when leadership was needed. How sad. Can we re-re-elect Bill Clinton?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 22, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1: I think everyone agrees that, at some point for every person, torture would extract the truth

I think we can all agree that at some point everyone will say or do anything to make unbearable pain stop. But there's no automatic "truth telling" point.

In any case, you're still going around the question. I'd like to know how far you're willing to go to reach that magical "point." For a really tough case, some guy who just won't talk, how hard do you think we should try to break him?

I'm nothing but kind, so for those who support torture, I created a handy multiple choice checklist. Please tell us what practices you support exactly; otherwise your abstract arguments have no legitimacy. Check whatever you're OK with and post it below.

__ Slapping, etc.
__ Punching, kicking, etc.
__ Striking with nightsticks and other objects
__ Water-boarding, asphyxiation, choking, etc.
__ Sexual violence (simulated rape, etc.)
__ Extreme sexual violence (actual rape, etc.)
__ Electrodes on genitals, drilling of teeth, etc.
__ Extreme beatings (breaking of bones, etc.)
__ Eye gouging, some mutilation
__ Burning of skin
__ Fingernail pulling, teeth extractions
__ Mutilation of extremities (fingers, toes)
__ Mutilation of face (nose, ears)
__ Mutilation of limbs (arms, legs)
__ Mutilation of genitals (castration, cutting penis off)
__ Partial flaying
__ Complete flaying
__ Complete, slow flaying in front of a mirror
__ Beating of suspect's adult family members
__ Sexual torture of suspect's adult family members
__ Mutilation of suspect's adult family members
__ Execution of suspect's adult family members
__ Extreme execution (decapitation, quartering, disemboweling) of suspect's adult family members
__ Beating of suspect's children
__ Sexual torture of suspect's children
__ Mutilation of suspect's children
__ Execution of suspect's children
__ Extreme execution (decapitation, quartering, disemboweling) of suspect's children

__ None of the above
__ All of the above

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

thomas1

I wasn't saying the FBI (and JAG) shouldn't torture. No one should. I was saying that the FBI and JAG say it isn't effective.

And your ticking time bomb scenario is absurd. How many people in Abu Grahib and Gitmo knew of a ticking nuclear time bomb. NONE.

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Do the Christians in the GOP, want Christianity to be known as, the religion that supports torure?

Not sure about "torure", but Jesus was so into torture that he tried it out on himself.

Posted by: asdf on September 22, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think I'd authorize torture to prevent one rape, or even one murder.

Not even if it was your little girl being gang raped by the most courageous, honorable and higly trained American soldiers? Not even if your little girl was being drenched with a flammable liquid by the finest young men America can produce?

Immolation is the sincerest form of flammability.

Posted by: Hostile on September 22, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way Chuckles, what was your role in the military? Or did you have "other priorities?" If you served, what was you MOS/AFSC? Where were you stationed?

If you have never served, your machiavelian willingness to send others to fight, die, torture and be tortured rings hollow.

If you are a healthy American under age 43, you should get to a recruiting station poste haste.

Here is the link for the Marines.

Here is the link for the Army.

Put up or shut up.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, if you want to limit your torture to 'ticking timebomb scenario' then you should want the people who have used torture to be held accountable and brought to justice. There has been no ticking time bomb. Except maybe in the fevered brains of bush/cheney and their followers and the teevee and video game fantasylands you live in.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 22, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Aris:

You forgot the iron maiden, the catherine wheel, the obulette, the iron mask, the pear, thumbscrews, anthills, tying down over cut bamboo plants (which grow through the body by morning) and The Comfy Chair.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Ross said that CIA agents who had been involved in the questioning told him that water-boarding was effective with every terrorist questioned.

About waterboarding: I don't think it's one of the approved enhancements, but I may be wrong. In any case, even if it legalized, and it were to be proved effective, even undeniably effective, real terrorists would simply train themselves to hold their breath for longer and longer periods of time. This is really not torture for those who are serious about their sadism.

But at least you seem to be willing to take a stand and state that you approve of waterboarding. You're being far more specific that other cons who are not willing to give us specifics. Thank you!

Now, please see my post above with the torture checklist and let us know what other enhanced interrogation techniques you approve of. I'm so curious...

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's official now: The Democratic party is completely irrelevant.

Posted by: Down goes Frazier on September 22, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

FDR: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Bush: "Be Afraid. Be very afraid. Terrists want to kill you. 9/11. War on Terror."

Damn right Global, it makes me sick to think of this pissy prick in the White House sowing fear and trampling on formerly concrete US ideals.

Posted by: ckelly on September 22, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: You forgot the iron maiden, the catherine wheel, the obulette, the iron mask, the pear, thumbscrews, anthills, tying down over cut bamboo plants (which grow through the body by morning) and The Comfy Chair.

Thanks Bob. I'll definitely try to incorporate your suggestions. I can honestly say that nothing in my life has prepared me for the task of compiling a torture checklist.

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

No, McCain isn't "a tragic figure". Merely a disgusting one.

As for the meaning of this measure: see its fourth page, and Marty Lederman's commentary on it. We have now officially returned -- with McCain's permission -- to the Jay Bybee definition of "torture"; otherwise the measure would simply have forbidden the use of "extreme physical pain", without the extraordinary flock of weasel words that surround that phrase in the agreement.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on September 22, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Something that worries me: If some forms of torture are legal, then soldiers can be ordered to perform them, and court-martialed and discharged for refusing. That's a great way to get rid of all the "disloyal" soldiers, isn't it?

As it stands now, a soldier can disobey saying, "That's an illegal order," with no fear of official consequences.

The polls are running against torture, and 2-1 for following the Geneva conventions. If it were up to me, I'd hit them hard as cowards, along the lines Global Citizen has mapped out.

For example, "Ronald Reagan didn't need legalized torture to defeat the Soviet Union. Why does George Bush think he needs it to defeat a few wild-eyed crazies hiding in the hills. And why did help him get it?

Posted by: Doctor Jay on September 22, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Do the Christians in the GOP, want Christianity to be known as, the religion that supports torure?"

Apparently, the resounding answer from, snark, "Christian America," is torture them all "in the name of the Lord!"

American Christian torturer: "Woe unto you, for thou hast much to tell and I will extract it from you in base and gruesome fashion!"

Innocent suspect: "Hey, no need for that, what'd ya want know!"

American Christian torturer: "Silence evil-doer, my implements of insidious questioning have not been assembled, once I have removed thy fingernails, then thou'st may speaketh that which I command thee to saith!"

Innocent suspect: "Whoa, hey, whatever you want, I tell you, oh please let me tell you! Whoa! What are those for? Holy Sh*t, come on man, I tell you...hey, what's that car battery for?"

American Christian torturer: "Quiet infidel, I still have a generator to bring in, and I'm itemizing this list. The car battery is for later, after I have extracted from you what I know you have to tell me."

Innocent suspect: "Ask me, ask me! I tell you anything you want to know, right here, right now!"

American Christian torturer: "Nay, the time is not right yet."

Posted by: sheerahkahn on September 22, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

And as for Thomas1: note that this agreement still allows any ONE man -- whether the one man in the Oval Office, the one man running the Pentagon, or any one man on a lesser level -- to torture at his own whim, rather than at least requiring the agreement of a supermajority in a committee (along the lines of the FISA Court) to allow it in the very few extreme-emergency situations in which it might conceivably be justified. We didn't do it even to Japanese POWs during WW II, remember? And -- ignoring the moral arguments on the subject -- we didn't do it in that case for very good strategic reasons, which also motivated George Washington's similarly one-sided refusal to allow it during the Revolutionary War, and which apply in spades to our current potential conflict with the entire goddamn 1.2 billion-strong Moslem world community.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on September 22, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"It's official now: The Democratic party is completely irrelevant"

The Democratic party has given us literally no reason to believe that they would roll back Bush's assaults on the rule of law, if they somehow and quietly slink into power. There seems no hope of reversing this sickness until the the current Democrat leadership loses at the polls.

Posted by: Processed Cheese Eating Quagmire Monkey on September 22, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

thomas1

So what part of "IT DOESN'T WORK" don't you understand. You're the one who said it works. The FBI and JAG says it doesn't. What makes you the expert?

how could you (or Chrissy) possibly know that no one at Abu Grahib and Gitmo knew of a ticking time bomb scenario?

Because if someone did know and we got to them in time and the torture actually did work in that case and we stopped a nuke from going off in Chicago or LA, then do you really think Bush, Cheney and Rummy would just have a quiet glass of sherry and a satisfied smile to celebrate? Good God Almighty, man, they'd go running to Fox News and it would be ALL HAIL OUR HEROS 24/7 for a month.

That's how I know.

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1: I'm fine with everything up to death. Justifiable homicide has a very different standard. Is that specific enough for you?

I think so. But just to make sure: You're stating that you would condone raping and mutilating a suspect's children in order to make him talk, as long as whatever was done did not result in death? I mean, as long as we're left with a 2-year-old who is still alive it's OK with you, even if she's a mutilated head attached to a limpless torso? Just making sure we're specific...

Thank you for your candor.

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Justifiable homicide" as in self-defense? That's a bit different from torturing somebody you picked up off of the streets of Karachi, don't you think? Do the words "clear and present danger" mean anything to you?

In any case, I do hope that your god looks kindly upon your admission that you would rather live among evil than risk your life for good. That's some religion you have there.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 22, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt the history books are going to fault him, or any other Christians, for belly slaps.

So naked pyramids, water-boarding, electric shocks, beatings, and death, are like belly slaps?

I can't believe we're even debating, whether we should legalize war crimes.

Posted by: AkaDad on September 22, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

None of the Nazis who swung at Nuremburg were tortured, they were not denied due process, and the Allies set themselves apart by displaying mans better nature. These pissant terrorists are not a greater threat to humanity than these war criminals were, and they were dealt with appropriately. No Kafka-esque secret evidence that the defendants were not allowed to see. Due process and Habeus Corpus were preserved, and we were the better for it.

We do not have to abandon American ideals to preserve our freedoms. Indeed, we can not abandon them if we intend to remain free.

I refuse to bow to fear.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

So what part of "IT DOESN'T WORK" don't you understand. You're the one who said it works. The FBI and JAG says it doesn't. What makes you the expert?

Thomas1 is an expert because he watches television. He thinks it works because TV writers use it as an effective plot device. They just have to move that show along. Wrap it all up in one hour including commercials.

Know what other plot devices don't work. I have never seen a guy break under cross examination and admit he did it. Like torture the Perry Mason plot device just doesn't work outside of fiction.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck

So what part of "IT DOESN'T WORK" don't you understand. You're the one who said it works. The FBI and JAG says it doesn't. What makes you the expert?

I never understood the it doesnt work argument How could it not work, It would work with me! Its worked in the past.
If your argument is that it leads to false information, then all the security community needs to do is track down the false leads come back to the suspectsay you lied to us now give us info that checks out or we will torture you again

Im against torture - and believe the U.S. needs to protect are humanity but this argument never made sense to me?

Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

As far as the Dems not showing up for the torture debate: This bill is not about torture - it's about setting up the scenario whereby a "no" vote by a Democrat will lead to a commercial during the election which says, "Democrat X is for protecting the terrorists. Vote Republican. We kick ass!"

Who cares that they didn't contribute anything?

Let's see if it even gets to a vote before the election.

Vinson Valega
Consilience Productions
New York City

Posted by: Vinson Valega on September 22, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz, no offense, but I am glad you were not in charge of our nuclear arsenal.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Let's assume the U.S. didn't in some way earn the events of 9/11. We didn't deserve death and destruction visited on us in the manner it was delivered. 9/11 was an outrage, a crime against humanity and an attack on our country. Now we've deliberately chosen to sanction torture in response, to ignore time tested treaties and international agreements. We've decided to stoop to the level of our enemies in the way we treat other people. My question: Now would we deserve an event similar to 9/11? What is appropriate payback for rendition, kidnapping, torture, maiming, injury and death? A sneak attack merited a violent response and so one was delivered. Now what retribution is due us for our atrocities?

Posted by: steve duncan on September 22, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, you answered everyone else but forgot to answer Global Citizen. When are you joining up?

Posted by: mister pedantic on September 22, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen

"None of the Nazis who swung at Nuremburg were tortured, they were not denied due process, and the Allies set themselves apart by displaying mans better nature. These pissant terrorists are not a greater threat to humanity than these war criminals were, and they were dealt with appropriately. No Kafka-esque secret evidence that the defendants were not allowed to see. Due process and Habeus Corpus were preserved, and we were the better for it."

Uh- the war was OVER at that point. We had one and they could do no further harm. The better analogy would be how they were treated during the war. How both sides (largely) abided by the Geneva accords that gave a rough symmetry to intelligence gathering through torture/harsh interrogation.

A further question would be, would torture have been preferable to the numbers dead in the war/holocaust?


Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to believe that we are even having this debate.

Spineless is too kind a word for our congressmen, both democratic and republican.

It's time for a 3rd party.

Posted by: ppk on September 22, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Let's assume the U.S. didn't in some way earn the events of 9/11.

The people that died at the WTC didn't earn it. Our lovely government earned it for them, and a year and a half later gave bin Laden exactly what he wanted by closing most of our major bases in Saudi Arabia.
Who's the appeaser?

Posted by: mister pedantic on September 22, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

We underwent months of training before going to Turkey for just under 1000 days, during the cold war. We lived in a tenuous climate. Turkey shared a border with the USSR at that time, as well as Iran (Khomeini was still alive) and Syria. Iraq was still in our good graces, so we went to Baghdad for vacation.

I would never, under any circumstances reveal anything about that counter-interrogation training, because I would never risk the life and well-being of another family stationed next door to chaos.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

FDR: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Was that before or after he threw the Japanese into camps, passed the First War Powers Act, and established the Office of Censorship?

Posted by: fafhrd on September 22, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

A further question would be, would torture have been preferable to the numbers dead in the war/holocaust?

I have a first-cousin who is a reform rabbi, and he says no when asked questions in this vein.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz, look at it this way: sometimes, torture can NEVER work because the people you are torturing don't have the information, period. They will say they don't know, but of course that will be ignored and they will be tortured. They will make stuff up, and when that doesn't check out, the cycle will repeat until the interrogators figure out, "wait, maybe this person really doesn't know anything." So the net result is that you have tortured somebody for no good. How do you feel about yourself then?

Then, there are the times when you do have a person who knows something. The question becomes "what is the fastest way to get good info out of this person?" From what I have read, torture is not the best way. There are better methods available. So in that respect, torture doesn't work because it is not the most efficient method.

Would torture have been preferable to the Holocaust? That's another inane hypothetical. Under what circumstances would it have made a difference? It's not as if the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. didn't know what was going on. It's kinda hard to stop genocide, though, when a huge army is in the way. Are you saying that if we tortured people in WWII, maybe D-Day would have come earlier so we could have shut down the death camps sooner?

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 22, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz

Torture of German prisoners would not have saved one life in the Holocaust.

A better analogy would be the Eastern Front. Hitler said the Geneva Convention didn't apply since the Soviet Union was not a signatory. Some 24 million Russians died, most of them civilians, under horrible conditions. Russian POWs were left to starve and freeze. Hitler's harsh policy went a long way toward losing the war for him.

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, one of the wolves in sheep's clothing has been censured by an Army court. Funny how CNN's been covering the "compromise" all day, but doesn't see fit to mention this.

Posted by: NotLohan on September 22, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I have to go to class. See you all later - maybe. I have two exams next week, so I don't know how much time I'll have...

Take care everyone, and if I don't see you for a couple of days, have a good weekend. Ciao.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

steve duncan

"Now we've deliberately chosen to sanction torture in response, to ignore time tested treaties and international agreements. We've decided to stoop to the level of our enemies in the way we treat other people."

Youre intentionally obviating around the very substance of the debate.
It is not Can we Torture? but rather What constitutes to torture?
Im for something less than maiming and more than Sipowitz on NYPD Blue.

Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

We do not have to abandon American ideals to preserve our freedoms. Indeed, we can not abandon them if we intend to remain free.
I refuse to bow to fear.
Posted by: Global Citizen

Yeah, but T1 and his ilk will bow to fear, and will mistake the terrorists for an existential threat, and they will collude with Bush and Cheney to trade away everything the Constitution represents one trembling drop of piss at a time.

Posted by: cyntax on September 22, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think the torture debate favors the Dems, for a simple reason: the Geneva Conventions are considered sacrosanct by the public, even if they don't know the details. Bush is the first world leader to propose opting out of the Geneva Convention. For all his blather about them being "unclear", this just looks terrible on the face of it. It is the Republicans who are going to struggle to convince the public that the US should be the first nation to sign itself out of the Geneva Conventions

Posted by: marky on September 22, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1, how do you know when they've told the truth so you can stop torturing them? IIRC, the standard the Viet Cong used was to torture you until you admitted that the U.S. were imperialist capitalist pigs. That, of course, was the "truth" they wanted to hear and use in official propaganda. In more recent times, our forces have tortured, for instance , employees of Al Jazeera until they admitted Al Jazeera was a terror organization, which of course, was what the Bush administration wanted to hear and use in their propaganda.

The problem is, if you know what the truth is, you don't need to torture to learn it. If you don't know what it is, you merely torture until you hear what is useful to you, regardless of its truth. Unless you have some magic truth-detection machine that I don't know about.

Posted by: rileypb on September 22, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but T1 and his ilk will bow to fear, and will mistake the terrorists for an existential threat, and they will collude with Bush and Cheney to trade away everything the Constitution represents one trembling drop of piss at a time.

I dont think the terrorists are an existential threat I think they are a physical threat. I think the left is an existential threat.

Here is an example of the territory we are operating in this is hardly trade (ing) away everything the Constitution represents

(from Byron York at NRO who has great republican sources)

The key to the deal was the decision to have Congress define, in U.S. law, what are called grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. We recognized that the president has the authority to interpret treaties, says the source aligned with McCain/Graham/Warner, but Congress now has the authority to define grave breaches. In doing so, the negotiators enumerated nine offenses that everyone agreed constituted a grave breach of the treaty: torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, performing biological experiments, murder, mutilation or maiming, rape, causing serious bodily injury, and sexual assault or abuse, and taking hostages.

.. But what is clear is that, after defining grave breaches, Congress gave the administration significant leeway to define non-grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Grave breaches are crimes, the source says. Non-grave breaches are something else.We are going to spell out grave breaches, and then it is up to the administration to come up with sanctions for violations that are less than grave breaches.

That could include many, if not most, of the techniques that the administration has used in the CIA interrogation program. For example, both sides appear to believe that the agreement permits the CIA to continue to use sleep deprivation, cold rooms, and other such techniques. On the other hand, the status of the most notorious of those techniques, waterboarding, is not quite clear. When a reporter asked Hadley whether waterboarding constituted a grave breach under the new agreement, he answered, We are not going to get into discussions of particular techniques. A few seconds later, he added, for purposes of complying with our international obligations under international law, thats something that the president will clarify by executive order.

So this is where we stand. Democratic Presidents and the Democratic Party is free to limit those executive orders, retract them, protest them, vote against the plan as a whole, ect.

Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I served a five year commission in the Army, and was deployed to a field hospital in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Lest anyone doubt me, my MFA was 71 and my AOC was 67B.

I resigned my commission to manage a blood-bank in a large hospital in the VA system

I am against this bill and embarassed by those who condone it. They are not the Americans I suited up to serve.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Aris wrote: Now, please see my post above with the torture checklist and let us know what other enhanced interrogation techniques you approve of. I'm so curious...

Aris - From your list, my inclination would be to not prohibit
__ Slapping, etc.
__ Punching, kicking, etc.
__ Striking with nightsticks and other objects
__ Water-boarding, asphyxiation, choking, etc.

But, my main criterion is what works. Take the situation of the Iraqi government. Saddam used your entire list, more or less. If the current democracy is overthrown, Saddam's successors would likely use the entire list. Given the ongoing mass murder, I wouldn't fault the current Iraqi government for using any effective technique, if that's what was neede to hold the country together and prevent a return to a Saddam-like tyrrany.

I would fault the Iraqi govenment for failing to do what's necessary to put down the insurrection and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

marky:

It is the Republicans who are going to struggle to convince the public that the US should be the first nation to sign itself out of the Geneva Conventions.

The wording of the legislation negotiated by Republicans with Republicans explicitly states that it is complying with the Geneva Conventions; and you may be sure that the media (as well as some Democrats) will play along with that fiction.

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

Marky

"I think the torture debate favors the Dems, for a simple reason: the Geneva Conventions are considered sacrosanct by the public, even if they don't know the details. Bush is the first world leader to propose opting out of the Geneva Convention. For all his blather about them being "unclear", this just looks terrible on the face of it. It is the Republicans who are going to struggle to convince the public that the US should be the first nation to sign itself out of the Geneva Conventions>"

NONE of this is even a little bit true. Its about as inaccurate a synopses of events as one could spin. No one is withdrawing from anything. Its well argued that this tyoe of war is not even COVERED under the Article III of the Geneva conventions.

No way this "somehow" helps the Dems.

Just because you watched to many episodes of Hogans Hero's Doesnt mean you know anything about international treaties, Law, or what the American people want.

Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter ex-liberal:

Only terrorism will defeat terrorism!

Posted by: insanityprevails on September 22, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I too would resign my commission today, if I were still in.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

You keep using this word torture. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Does it hurt when Dems are so feckless? I mean, after all, you guys pull for the Dems and they just keep getting rolled. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does it hurt?

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't fault the current Iraqi government for using any effective technique, if that's what was neede to hold the country together and prevent a return to a Saddam-like tyrrany.

Um, the use of state torture you describe IS a Saddam-like tyranny -- and one of the post hoc rationalizations for invading.

??? I mean, just... ???

Posted by: Windhorse on September 22, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats refuse to torture, so they can't protect you from the evil ragheads that will rape your women and slit your throats. Vote Republican.

Posted by: George W Bush (and I approve this message) on September 22, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

If your argument is that it leads to false information, then all the security community needs to do is track down the false leads come back to the suspectsay you lied to us now give us info that checks out or we will torture you again

If you have that kind of time, there are more effective means of getting the information: at least, that's what many people who have been interrogators have written.

If you don't have that kind of time (as in the oft-cited "ticking time bomb" scenario), then obviously that kind of iterative torture process is not an option.

In either case, torture is tactically suboptimal as well as being grossly inhuman.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I am against this bill and embarassed by those who condone it. They are not the Americans I suited up to serve.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive

13M was deployed to the Gulf with 3rd AD. Doesn't it just give a whole new meaning to "all enemies, both foreign and domestic"?

Ugh.

And hoorah! for field medical personnel.
: )


Posted by: cyntax on September 22, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that two of the most vocally "Christian" posters here -- Thomas and Fitz -- are also the most vocal about "finding a space" where torture is acceptible?

Not necessarily drawing any connection, but y'know ... it's hard not to be a little *curious* about this.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

"...torture works"

Just remember, Thomas the Stink Engine, for the rest of your unAmerican life, that this is what you believe. Now, there's an ideal worth fighting for!

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

We need to clarify the 57 year old Geneva Conventions better, so we know exactly what our boundries are.

On the other hand, a 3000 year old religious text of questionable origin, various translations, and modifications over the centuries, is perfectly adequate as a replacement for Domestic Policy.

Posted by: George W Bush (and I approve this message) on September 22, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as you start debating whether or not terroism works, you have lost the argument.

Torture has to be opposed on moral gounds alone.

Posted by: gregor on September 22, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

In case you're still interested and didn't see it, I have a long reply to you in the Benedict thread which is in archive.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

So officers who disagree with the administrations policy are unfit to serve? We take an oath to uphold the constitution, not to ignore it when the CinC gives a wink and a nudge.

Serving with honor is not a what-the-president-says-goes proposition. In the officer ranks, the parties are represented fairly equally, with the majority of us clumped in the "moderate" area on the bell-curve.

emails have been flying between officers I served with today. Outrage at this bill is running about 7:3 against, with higher numbers against among medical officers.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Oops!

As soon as you start debating whether or not torture works, you have lost the argument.

Posted by: gregor on September 22, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Not necessarily drawing any connection, but y'know ... it's hard not to be a little *curious* about this.

Bob

Why was the Passion such a popular movie?

Posted by: cyntax on September 22, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I Think Inigo Montoya has hit the nail on the head.

The Democratic far left has an affinity for the ACLU and International Law. In this debate over what interrogation techniques constitute torture the inextricable pull of the left wanting to claim the moral high hoarse will cause them to claim anything the Republicans come up with to be torture and an affront to our common humanity and heritage.

They cant resist. Meanwhile the republicans are doing exactly what the Liberal members of the Supreme Court requested in the Hamaden decision. Having Congress weigh in on the limits of Presidential power in foreign national interrogation under article III of the Geneva Conventions.

Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry Gregor.
You should ask yourself if terrorism works too.

Now, back to determining exactly what is torture:
Is having a female question a Muslim male tortuous under the GCs prohibition against degrading treatment?

Remember, the Muslim male might feel degraded. The female would face discrimination as to her job that is violative of America's legal tradition.

Should we apply an objective standard or a "reasonable person similarly situated" standard?

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Saddam used your entire list, more or less. If the current democracy is overthrown, Saddam's successors would likely use the entire list. Given the ongoing mass murder, I wouldn't fault the current Iraqi government for using any effective technique, if that's what was neede to hold the country together and prevent a return to a Saddam-like tyrrany.

So, in order to avoid returning to Saddam-like tyranny, the Iraqi government should institute Saddam-like tyranny.

Sure, makes perfect sense... You should know that this argument is not at all original. From the first fascists, to the nazis, to the communists, to all the juntas and all the theocrats who have ever taken over a country, to the father and husband who abuses his family, this is their argument. They own it: "I'm saving you. And therefore every brutality I will inflict on you is for your own good."

Thank you ex-liberal for providing such clarity into the conservative mind.

Posted by: Aris on September 22, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz

As it was explained to me by an FBI expert, torture doesn't work because to get you to stop the person tortured will tell you what you want to hear. That might or might not be what you need to hear. You never know if the tortured person is telling the truth or not.

Torture is great if you want to obtain confessions from witches or to convert Jews to Catholism. Of course, you have to execute the confessed witch or converted Jew as soon as possible to make sure the devil doesn't take over their dark souls again. (IE they don't recant.)

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

So cyntax - would you agree with me that Democrats are underrepresented as members of the armed forces in the conventional wisdom of the citizens of this country?

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
Why is it that two of the most vocally "Christian" posters here -- Thomas and Fitz -- are also the most vocal about "finding a space" where torture is acceptible?
Not necessarily drawing any connection, but y'know ... it's hard not to be a little *curious* about this.

Perhaps it is because we are used to applying moral absolutist principles in pragmatic real world scenarios. Something Christianity has done for 2000 years. I myself am strongly against torture (although I cant see how it wouldnt work just how it undermines our common humanity)
We understand that the Law (Moral or National) comes down to line drawing. A real world applicable standard needs to be articulated and applied. Perhaps this is not the right one, but the discussion still stands and goods need to be weighed. Article III of the Geneva Conventions is obviously to broad to serve as protection for interrogators from foreign or domestic recriminations. This current compromise at least codifies what can be done. Just as the Supreme Court wanted. (see above)

Posted by: Fitz on September 22, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, let's see how you quibble when the electrodes are on your genitals! Somewhere, someone is dreaming up a logical, legal argument to murder your children (or someone else's)and you want to be part of that? Just remain calm and everything will be alright. Work makes free.

I can't believe we're even arguing about something so basic. Torture is wrong, period.

Posted by: Kenji on September 22, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not much to add, other than to express my utter disgust at the Republicans, who openly advocate torture, their apologists (who hide behind euphemisms like "harsh interrogation methods"), and the cowards in the Democratic Party.

But hell -- I was discusted years ago when we were even debating the use of torture.

al Qaeda can't destroy this nation and what it stands for, but the Republican Party seems hellbent on the task.

Posted by: Gregory on September 22, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse wrote: Um, the use of state torture you describe IS a Saddam-like tyranny -- and one of the post hoc rationalizations for invading.

??? I mean, just... ???

Using torture to fight torture isn't as contradictory as it sounds.

Surely you know that firefighters intentionally set backfires as one strategy for fighting forest fires.

Doctors inject poisons to finght cancer.

Surgeons cut people up to cure them.

President Lincoln curtailed civil liberties to fight a war that ultimately enhanced civil liberties.

Affirmative action is a system of government-mandated racial discrimination, yet it ultimately helped to fight racial discrimination.

One key is temporary vs. permanent. Under Saddam, torture was a permanent feature of the government. It was used against any political opponent, not just against terrorists.

Another key is reciprocity. If the terrorists would agree to follow our ideas of civilized behavior, I'd be inclined to treat them equally well. However, promising good treatment to the terorists we capture without reciprocity encourages the terrorists to continue behaving cruelly.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kenji,

You'll please now tell me exactly what is torture instead of talking in platitudes.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Obviously, some terrorists are going to hold out / lie as long as they can. After that point is reached, we get the truth. Get it?"

No, you're going to hear what you want to hear...it may or may not be the 'truth'.

Examine the techniques used by the Soviets to extract confessions from prisoners (not the truth, just confessons of crimes against the state), these are what the administration want to use.

Good bye America...

Posted by: Sean on September 22, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

global citizen wrote:

"Anyone here ever actually been trained in US counter-interrogation methods?"
_____________

I was a SERE student, GC. I also served as an interrogator in the compound phase of SERE sometime later.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz, I explained to you how torture doesn't work: when the person you are torturing doesn't have information, for one example.

ex-liberal, you seem to have great trust in those leaders that would embrace torture, trusting them to not make it "permanent" for example. If we do allow for some forms of torture here in the U.S., under what circumstances would its "temporary" use cease? When will we stop torturing? Or will it become permanent here too?

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 22, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

If the current democracy is overthrown, Saddam's successors would likely use the entire list. Given the ongoing mass murder, I wouldn't fault the current Iraqi government for using any effective technique, if that's what was neede to hold the country together and prevent a return to a Saddam-like tyrrany.
Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

wait a minute -
Saddam is evil, because he tortures;
Yet, the new government would be shirking its responsibility because it DOESN'T torture.
Yet, they don't torture, so Iraqis are better off?

Three.
Three.
Three fallacious contradictions in one miserably retarded idea!

Well, anyway, you've gotten your wish. The new owner/operators of Abu Ghraib may be *worse* than Saddam. . .
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/09/10/wirq10.xml

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 22, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities wrote this commentary in the Washington Post last Dec 18th, 2005.

Now it appears that sleep deprivation is "only" CID and used on Guantanamo Bay captives. Well, congratulations, comrades! It was exactly this method that the NKVD used to produce those spectacular confessions in Stalin's "show trials" of the 1930s. The henchmen called it "conveyer," when a prisoner was interrogated nonstop for a week or 10 days without a wink of sleep. At the end, the victim would sign any confession without even understanding what he had signed.

Read the whole thing. It's states the myriad number of problems with torture. Your intelligence apparatus becomes so ennamored with torture that it becomes the only proficient thing they can do.

Posted by: D on September 22, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody criticising the Republican senators ought, for completeness, compile a list of all permitted and prohibited techniques; and propose the rule for deciding upon techniques invented in the future.

So far, the US seems to be the only nation trying to tackle the vague language of the Geneva agreements. At minimum, the word "torture" has to be more than something that the victims complain about.

And the Islamists, currently America's most energetic enemy, don't care in the least. The the utility of the Geneva agreements in protecting Americans is totally null.

The Republican Senators (and the Democrats, for that matter) caved because the measures actually used by this administration, do not constitute what people think of as "torture". When the law passes, the US will have the most explicit national law restricting torture and specifying what is permitted.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's official now: The Democratic party is completely irrelevant.

It's official now: The American Moral and Ethical Soul has been killed by Republicans.

Posted by: ckelly on September 22, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kenji wrote: Yeah, let's see how you quibble when the electrodes are on your genitals! Somewhere, someone is dreaming up a logical, legal argument to murder your children (or someone else's)and you want to be part of that? Just remain calm and everything will be alright. Work makes free.

can't believe we're even arguing about something so basic. Torture is wrong, period.

Kenji sounds like he ought to be on my side of this debate. Al Qaeda will indeed place electrodes on Kenji's genitals (or commit some equivalent atrocity against him) if they get the chance. The US government won't torture Kenji, because he isn't a terrorist. Kenji's best protection against high voltage testicles is for the US to defeat the terrorists, by whatever means necessary.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Using torture to fight torture isn't as contradictory as it sounds.

Just like how Big Brother says that "War is Peace" is not as contradictory as it sounds. It's Double-Plus Good!

Another key is reciprocity. If the terrorists would agree to follow our ideas of civilized behavior, I'd be inclined to treat them equally well.
Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Eye-for-an-eye!
Another fantastic traditional Babylonian idea, brought forward to the 21st century! Ah - the Widsom of the Ancients!

Also nice that we're always 100% correct when we detain someone as a terrorist and torture them. That way, we get our payback, with no chance ever of torturing an innocent person! Splendid!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 22, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz:

You really didn't answer my question -- just responded with another set of equivocations, looking for that "sweet spot" where torture can be not merely acceptible in a contingency (and anyone, I think, would advocate allowing interrogators to follow their own conciences and do what they need to do in a *genuine* "ticking time bomb" scenario, and answer the legal consequences later if it legitimately saved countless lives) but codified by law.

And yet, you have the hardest time finding *any* allowable contingency for abortion ...

I really can't see a moral compass here. What I see is the blind fetishing of established authority -- something which Jesus Christ spent a *great deal* of time inveighing against while in Jerusalem.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz

One way to understand how torture doesn't work is, yes, the Gestapo did bust up some Resistance cells, but they lost the war. Yes, the French did break up an insurgency in Algeria, but a few years later they still got kicked out of the country. Yes, we did throw guys out of helicopters in Vietnam, but you know how much good that did. Yes, the Klan did lynch blacks and police did horrible things to them in jail, but who has the stronger voting bloc?

On a grand strategic scale, torture doesn't work. Also in many specific instances too. How many did the Gestapo torture and all the ended up with was a lifeless body?

Posted by: tomeck on September 22, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Given the ongoing mass murder, I wouldn't fault the current Iraqi government for using any effective technique, if that's what was neede to hold the country together and prevent a return to a Saddam-like tyrrany."

You have lost your way.

Posted by: Lucy on September 22, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

. . . Al Qaeda will indeed place electrodes on Kenji's genitals (or commit some equivalent atrocity against him) if they get the chance. ...
Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Al Qaeda would do that. That is why I supported the invasion of Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda.

But Maher Arar would not put electrodes on my testicles and torture me. Maher Arar was just a software engineer. Like me. Nabbed in an airport by misguided "authorities", he was shipped off to Syria to be tortured. Turns out, no; he was not affiliated with terrorists. Oh well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 22, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

The US government won't torture Kenji, because he isn't a terrorist. ex-liberal

Why?

I can hear Dick Cheney now. Hell those damn drug dealers are pretty much the same as those damn terrorists. If we can torture Arab terrorists, why can't we call international drug dealers terrorists too. I bet you if we tortured them enough they would admit to being terrorists. And while we are talking about it those damn liberals are pretty much just like those Arab Terrorists. I guess we should just torture them to get them to admit they are really al Qaeda in their hearts.

See where all this judge, jury and executioner shit leads?

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, your headlong rush to embrace fear and whip it up among the populace plays into the hands of those who wish to do us harm. They are weak and they are few. But so long as the spectre of bearded men invokes fear and a willing abdication of civil liberties among the citizenry, they don't have to launch direct attacks. We are handing them what they want.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal and republicrat:

Why is it that most released Western captives of Islamist groups generally have attested to being treated well by their captors?

Maybe something in ... Islamic law about the right treatment of prisoners, perhaps?

The Sunni-Shi'ite torture in Baghdad is more a result of tribal hatred than Koranic doctrine.

Culture trumps religion every time.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

The left demanded that this get dragged into the open, and debated in congress, and you got what you wanted.

In 2002 they demanded a debate about Iraq, and got the Iraq war resolution for their efforts. I wonder if they are now going to start demanding a debate about Iran.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Will nobody hear write more than bromides?

Fine, torture doesn't work. I'll agree, inter alia.

Now, is having a female interrogator for a Muslim male tortuous as degrading treatment given the Muslim male's aversion -- based on serious religious convictions -- to such interrogations? Remember, America would be violating its own legal tradition by discriminating against the female in her employment if she can't perform the duties for which she is properly expert.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The national Democratic Party is no longer worth the cement needed to sink it to the bottom of the sea. For an entire week, it allowed a debate on changing the soul of the country to be conducted intramurally between the Torture Porn and Useful Idiot wings of the Republican Party....It contributed nothing. On the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution through adjectives "Aggressive interrogation techniques" the Democratic Party had...no opinion.

That at least is cleverly written.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

The world wept with the US when 9/11 occurred. Thanks to Bush and Co the world will applaud the next terrorist attack on the US.

Posted by: razorboy on September 22, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

It hasn't been that long ago that any American uttering the words "by any means necessary" just might find themselves answering for it.

Hey, wasn't "by any means necessary" a quote by Malcolm X? Does anyone else find it Ironic that ex-liberal quotes a Muslim when he justifies torture - of muslims?

Seriously, do you guys do this shit on purpose, or are you just fucking stupid?

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Now, is having a female interrogator for a Muslim male tortuous as degrading treatment given the Muslim male's aversion -- based on serious religious convictions -- to such interrogations?

It is if she forces him to stand naked in a bucket of ice water for 2 or 3 days.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

McCain just wants to share the feel of torture with others. This could be called a coming-out party for him.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on September 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers wrote:

"As it was explained to me by an FBI expert, torture doesn't work because to get you to stop the person tortured will tell you what you want to hear. That might or might not be what you need to hear. You never know if the tortured person is telling the truth or not."
______________

Not that anyone here has actually argued for conducting torture, but it does little good to claim that such techniques do work. The FBI expert mentioned above is concerned with different things than a counter-intelligence interrogator. The FBI needs to be concerned with obtaining information that can be used in court. He doesn't want any false leads, because even if they are discovered to be false, they can still gum up a prosecutor's case.

A counter intelligence interrogator isn't concerned with finding court evidence. She doesn't mind if she runs into many dead ends before getting good actionable intel.

If an interrogation subject lies, you'll discover it soon enough, either by outside investigation or by the subject's own conflicting statements.

The key is to start with enough verifiable information about the subject to catch them in their initial lies. Apply enough pressure each time they are caught in lies and soon enough you start to get verifiable information. (That's why, for example, the Soviet Union and China had dossiers on ever US military and intelligence officer throughout the Cold War.) Work at the subject gradually, asking for innocuous, but verifiable, information, establishing a pattern of gradually expanding the nature of the questioning into other areas. Naturally, the system works best with a mixture of rewards and punishments, but there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that it works.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

razorboy,

That is an ahistorical bromide. Many Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, Iraqis and Londoners cheered 9/11.

You are wrong.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully Subversive:

"The ends justify the means" has been the rallying cry of every authoritarian government since at least Machiavelli -- and his ideas came from the ancient Greeks.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican embrace of torture reminds me of my favorite bible verse. It goes something like this. "Jesus wept."

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully Subversive wrote: But so long as the spectre of bearded men invokes fear and a willing abdication of civil liberties among the citizenry, they don't have to launch direct attacks. We are handing them what they want.

To find out what al Qaeda actually want, listen to what they say; read what they write; see how they behave. They want a Caliphate to control a substantial area of the world, meaning no Jews, Christians, etc. there. They want to treat women in a manner that you and I find utterly degrading. They want to kill gays. They want a barbaric form of laws and justice.

They have never said that their goal is for the west to reduce our civil liberties.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oh I know. I just saw irony in ex-liberals use of the rallying cry of Malcolm X.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

And an all-night candelight vigil was held in Tehran for the victims of 9/11.

Your point?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

They can want a caliphate and all manner of things, but they do not have the means to bring it about. Unless we abet them through fear.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers,

Your effort to avoid the difficult part of the hypothetical is duly noted.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,

Quit the hysteria and stand like an American worthy of the name.

This is wrong.

Posted by: Lucy on September 22, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

They want to treat women in a manner that you and I find utterly degrading. They want to kill gays. They want a barbaric form of laws and justice.

They sound like Republicans.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 22, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Are you trying to tell me that the United States was not universally beloved throughout the Middle East? I am shocked, shocked I tell you!

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Now that you've addressed a minor sideline issue without arguing against the point, please address my repeated hypothetical.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

A caliphate, really?

So tell us how many Jews and Christians were killed and oppressed in the 9th century in Moorish Spain.

Heh, not many, right. In fact, way *less* Jews and Muslims than were killed by the Christians of that day. Because Islamic civilization kind of ... shat all over ... Western Europe in the trans-religious justice dept. at that time of history.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya, then I will answer it for you: nobody in their right mind thinks that having a woman interrogate a Muslim is torture.

That is all.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 22, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Its getting too dangerous to post using one's own name.

You need to open this Blog up to Anonymous posters!

Posted by: James on September 22, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I'm glad to see you mention only killings.

Now, do you consider forced converstions oppression or not? Please remember that the 1st Amendment seems to heartily endorse the idea that forced conversions are immoral and wrong.

(And while you're at it quit arguing 1100 year old trivia.)

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote this several days ago, posted it at Daily Kos [http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/19/23423/2803] and despite the kabuki dance the GOP staged, I think it still applies

The Tipping Point

Now it comes down to this.

After five years of terror, failure, and an unnecessary war; after five years of mistakes, misstatements, dubious assertions and outright lies; after five years of one-way bipartisanship, pettiness, incompetence, and corruption; after all this the President of the United States has stood in the Rose Garden of the White House and demanded that Congress make legal what was formerly unspeakable.

George W. Bush has asked that what he has had done behind closed doors and barbed wire, in the dark, and in obscure corners of the globe now be officially and openly adopted as United States policy in the "Global War On Terror." Specifically: "alternative interrogation methods" - AKA torture - along with revising the Geneva Conventions, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, imprisonment with neither charges nor counsel, and trials on the basis of secret evidence and testimony obtained under duress. Add to that blanket permission to spy on anyone, anywhere, anytime with no oversight. Plus - no doubt - whatever other yet to be revealed programs of dubious legality are also being carried out.

He has insisted that all this be made so. Why?

The President tells us that we face an evil enemy, people with no compunctions, people who kill the innocent and actively seek our destruction, people who "hate our freedom." He says as Commander in Chief in a time of war he will do whatever is necessary to keep America safe. He insists the choice is simple, that this is the only way to do so in the face of the terrorist threat. He bases this on a radical legal theory of `unitary executive authority' that trumps all else. He will admit to no compromises on this. Give this power to him, or he will not be responsible for the consequences.

What George W. Bush does NOT say, but what his actions make clear, is that he does not believe in America. George W. Bush does not believe in a system of government that has survived numerous conflicts including a Civil War, two World Wars, and decades of a Cold War. George W. Bush does not believe that a country that faced nuclear-armed international communism without giving up on its own higher principles can resist an amorphous enemy or a handful of rogue states. George W. Bush does not believe common decency and respect for the law can prevail against fanaticism and brutality. George W. Bush does not believe Good can triumph over Evil unless Good adopts the methods of Evil.

By seeking to overthrow more than two centuries of American law and tradition, by denying the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in creating a government based on checks and balances, by trying to claim unchecked power via a legal fig leaf and a campaign of fear and demagoguery, George W. Bush has shown he believes the vision of our enemies is stronger than the vision America has pursued for over 200 years. It's an admission of weakness, not strength; the terrorists have won by forfeit.

And who is this enemy that is so fearsome? It was Al Qaida and the Taliban - then it was Saddam Hussein - then it was Al Qaida again and lately it's Islamo-Fascism. It's also North Korea, Iran, Syria, and/or Hugo Chavez. The names and the faces keep changing; the threat remains constant. Whoever they might be, wherever they might be, we will deny them any humanity or decent consideration - along with anyone else we decide to add to the list. We will be creating a whole category of people who will officially be declared undeserving of treatment as fully human - and all it will take to get in that category is just a Presidential Decree. We will demonstrate our Moral Superiority by the ability to act outraged, rather than by setting an example for the rest of the world.

After 5 years of Republican control of the government and every meaningful act by that government, the threat remains. And now - after 5 years of failure - America is being asked to give a blank check to the man who has presided over this sorry spectacle.

George W. Bush maintains he must be given unchecked power to deal with this unending global war - or else. If you don't support him, you allow the terrorists to win. `Maverick' Republican senators engage in a Kabuki dance of posturing and posing while feckless Democrats stand apart hoping none of it will splash on them. And so George W. Bush would overthrow the Bill of Rights and the rule of law; trivialize Congress and the Judiciary; and make the Constitution a document of historic interest only.
If this comes to pass, let the record state:

"Here lies the country formerly known as the United States of America, where Freedom came to be the Right to put One's Own Self in Chains, and Democracy came to be the Right to Elect One's Own Overlord, 1776-2006. They did it to themselves."

Posted by: Larry Roth on September 22, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Inigio Montoya:

Your "point" is propagandistic bullshit. The *only* Muslims of whom I'm aware got a woody from 9/11 were some Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

You're going to have to *demostrate* your point with some sources before I believe it's more than more screechy MooOOOooosssliphobia.

Show us all the cheering Muslims in the direct aftermath of 9/11. The *only* Islamic country that expressed more than official sympathy was, IIRC, Iraq. And Saddam's Iraq was hardly an Islamist state.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Doctor Gonzo,

You are wrong. The Muslim male in my hypothetical (and in reality, sadly for you) does think it degrding to have a female interrogator. This opinion has been expressed by Muslim prisoners. And, you see, the Geneva Convention bans degrading behavior so I'm not sure why you jumped all the way to torture. And now if you've followed my point you will understand why the definitional issues faced by Congress are important in defining what exactly the GC covers.

P.S.
And how dare you, sir, condescend to their culture by dismissing their heartfelt conviction that women should not interrogate men. Please renounce your expressed cultural superiority.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

rmk wrote: "The ends justify the means" has been the rallying cry of every authoritarian government since at least Machiavelli -- and his ideas came from the ancient Greeks.

This is true, Bob. But it has also been the rallying cry of every liberal, democratic government that won a war against a determined and ruthless enemy.

Lincoln's armies killed and maimed huge numbers of people, and not just soldiers. Look at Sherman's march through Georgia. Roosevelt interned Japanese-Americans. Truman dropped atomic bombs on civilians in cities.

I'd go farther than "the ends justify the means." IMHO the ends demand the means. That is, it would be immoral to do less than we could to defeat Islamofascism.

BTW I think most Americans agree with me.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

but there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that it works.
Posted by: Trashhauler

But do we want to enshrine it in our laws? To my mind, the fact that a couse of action can work shouldn't be the sole measure of whether a course of action should followed.

Posted by: cyntax on September 22, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately military officers do not, as a general rule, agree with you. I take comfort in the fact that cooler heads are in charge of all the flamethrowers.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm very sad for our country right now.

We are becoming dangerously isolated from world opinion, and the American people are kept in ignorance about tha fact by a slavishly subservient mainstream media.

Our country may truly be the most powerful nation on earth, but its status hardly renders us invincible. World history is replete with countless examples of powerful nations and empires that felt themselves omnipotent, only to be brought low by their leaders' arrogance and overreach.

War with Iran now appears inevitable, and should it occur I believe that it will lead to a wholesale military and economic disaster.

I pray that I'm wrong, and that someone -- anyone -- will rise to the occasion and lead the American people away from the political Black Hole that is this current president and his administration.

If history can provide some solace, it's that in dark times like these, Americans have always managed to somehow grope their way through the fog back toward the light of their country's intitial promise. If we can do so once more, we might once again come to realize and embrace what Abraham Lincoln rightly termed "the better angels of our nature."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 22, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Inigio Montoya:

Quit arguing 1100 year old trivia? Why -- because you were spanked so hard?

"Forced conversions?" You're shitting me, right. The Spanish Inquisition came after they drove out the Moors. And let's not forget all those toasty *witches* -- who weren't even given the *option* of renouncing the Devil to save their skins from burns quite beyond the third degree. Please -- While that horrible totalitarian Islamic Caliphate was mapping the stars and formulating algebra, Christianity was the most self-righteously ugly and barbaric force on the planet.

As a matter of, you know, historical record.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Care to follow Patterico's links?

I'm guessing you could do a bit of searching on your own but that oughta get you started.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

(The Dual State, 1941, Ernst Fraenkel) is a valuable testimony on the part of its author, a German Jew who emigrated to the United States. Moreover, it is a close theoretical observation on how Hitlers regime worked- a regime characterised by the co-existence of the prerogative state (Massnahmenstaat) and the normative state (Normenstaat). However, it is not enough just to point out the co-existence of these two forms of state. It is equally important to understand the dominance of the prerogative aspect over the normative one, a fact which the growth of the German National Socialist Party and its consequent monopolisation of state violence made even more apparent.

In such a regime the holders of power did not consider themselves bound by laws, which were then substituted for an opportunist management based on sheer violence. While some groups were excluded from the national-popular community, after they had been condemned to a civil death (and some were actually killed), the privatisation of the state by Hitler led to a different distribution of power and of institutional protection for selected groups.

...On 28 February, after the Reichstag fire, a state of emergency was declared...

The state of emergency was soon extended , so as to turn it into a permanent condition, while a wider range of measures was being adopted. The link between the state and rational law was broken and was never restored during the Nazi period. As Carl Schmitt points out in his Politische Theologie (1922)

This existence of the state is accorded priority over the continued application of legal norms. The decisions of the state are freed from normative restrictions. The state becomes absolute in the literal sense of the word. In an emergency situation the state suspends the existing legal system in response to the so-called higher law of self-preservation.

The Dual State and Fascism
Gert Srensen

Posted by: bellumregio on September 22, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

If muslim men find it torture to be interrogated by females then use men and be done with it. The purpose of an interrogation is to get useful information and as several people in this thread have pointed out, torture doesn't work well and it's immoral.

Posted by: D on September 22, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Larry Roth:

It's also North Korea, Iran, Syria, and/or Hugo Chavez.

Yeah, Chavez. He called Bush the devil! The press is blasting him for that, as if personally insulted. Even Al Sharpton has rushed to defend Bush's honor. Meanwhile, the White House has stated that they won't dignify the accusation with a comment. Besides, Bush has been too busy pushing his right to torture bill.

Will the irony be obvious to historians?

Posted by: Underground on September 22, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal wrote, Lincoln's armies killed and maimed huge numbers of people, and not just soldiers. Look at Sherman's march through Georgia.

You are wrong about Sherman. Sherman took great care to insure that only combatants were attacked. If you study the march, very few civillians were killed and most private residences were spared, especially when they were occupied. Contrary to the Hollywood myths, ravishing of women was practically unheard of. He carefully evacuated Atlanta, even giving carriage for the removal of personal belongings of the civilians. Abandoned dwellings were the ones that were pillaged and burned along with military assets.

If we had followed the example of Sherman in Iraq, we would have done a lot better there.

Sherman was very different in actuality than is remembered in myth.

Posted by: James on September 22, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

So you don't think any Moors forced conversions on the people they conquered? Interesting.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:

Well, that's a severely ethically challenged statement.

If it were strictly true -- then there'd be no Geneva Conventions. Why spend one's energy caring for the captured and wounded of one's enemies?

No, the GC were founded on KANTIAN ETHICS, my friend. You know what the first principle is, right?

No, probably you don't. It's called THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE.

And here it is: No human being is ever a means to an ends, but only an ends in itself.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

D,
So I'll put you down in the column of people willing to deny a woman's right to work in her chosen field all so terrorists do not face degradation. Excellent.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya,

You're being disingenuous. Whether women should be allowed to interrogate Muslim men ("all terrorists") is not the issue, and you know it. If that were the extent of US culpability, there would be no outcry.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut is back, posting as Inigo Montoya.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK
No, the GC were founded on KANTIAN ETHICS, my friend.

That's an interesting assertion, much like your suggestion in the earlier thread that the UDHR was founded on the same basis. But I don't think either is true; while no doubt one could make an argument for them in the framework of Kantian ethics, I don't think there's a whole lot of evidence that that was the actual foundation on which they were built.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "But ['the ends justify the means'] has also been the rallying cry of every liberal, democratic government that won a war against a determined and ruthless enemy. ... [I]t would be immoral to do less than we could to defeat Islamofascism."

Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc', and let slip the dogs of war;
that this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

-- William Shakespeare (1564-1616), from his 1601 play Julius Caesar

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 22, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Every argument he or she engages in is of the "I did not say he stopped beating his wife" false-logic and circular reasoning variety.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Inigio Montoya:

The technical term for what your link does is called "cherry picking."

You know -- I'll bet you could likewise peruse the websites of right-wing radical groups right here in America and find some vile statements from the usual suspects about 9/11, too. *Lots* of them, in fact.

And you can assemble them all in a blog post and go *oh my! Those Americans sure are a *self-loathing* people, aren't they?

As for 10th century Moorish forced conversions -- sure. But Christendom was probably worse, so your opinion says nothing *in particular* about the religion of Islam in that historical period. It's called "context."

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Buttercup,
True: I'm highlighting the obvious point that the prohibition on "degrading" behavior is ambiguous at best.
False: I'm being disingenuous.

We can agree that torture should not be used as a tool because it is immoral and unethical. Fine. Now we must do the hard work of drawing lines on one side of which is torture and on the other side of which is non-torture. The same is true of what is to be considered degradation. I, for one, am not willing to concede the definition of those terms.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"I, for one, am not willing to concede the definition of those terms."

Since when.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I'd have to differ with you, Chris. Kant's essay Perpetual Peace (his political writings were a very small part of his output) was extremely influential in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, there is much Fascist writing in direct argument against Kant's ideas. You could probably google a few of Mussolini's journalism pieces and find Kant's name in there pretty quickly.

I'd argue that it's more likely that the GC were deliberately founded in a way to not privilege any particular religious tradition -- and, in fact, they do not explicitly mention God or religion at all. Since the thinking about Kant's universalist approach to national relations was very much in the air, I'd suggest that Kant's ethical ideas were closely in the minds of the framers of the Geneva Conventions -- though, of course, I'd have to do some scholarly research to prove the connection more definitively.

And I'm sure there are some Kant dissertations out there that do just that.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Folks

We don't need to argue honor, dignity, and the golden rule with the likes of ex-liberal, trashhauler or the other apologists for torture. After all they are Republicans, first, last and always. They don't know of honor, digninty, and the golden rule. They don't know of America or anything she stood for.

It is truly sad that they are so low they are not ashamed to post their filth. Torture is wrong and it doesn't matter if you are torturing the pope or a mullah or osama bin laden. Torture is wrong. Nothing makes it right. We cheapen ourselves when we torture.

Now I just stated a moral absolute. A moral absolute that until the Republicans took control was widely agreed by all in this country.

I don't want our trollish friends to ever claim liberals are wishy-washy moral relativists again. They are all truly moral relativists to the very core. For them the ends justify the means. What a sad way to be.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
Thank you for conceding my point about forced conversions. Now please retract your assertion that you "spanked" me given you conceded my rather narrow point.

Otherwise, I contradicted razorboy's assertion that "The world wept with the US when 9/11 occurred." In the context of his allegation that "the world wept" for America's loss on 9/11 it is perfectly appropriate to point out that something less than "the world" actually mourned with us. I find your inability to keep straight the point of my comments tiresome.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo,
Women can interrogate other women similar to how we have female guards in prisons for women.

I understand what you're trying to do, Inigo. You're pointing out the most negative, least appealing aspects of muslim society. You want to label all muslims as savage, evil terrorists that can't be bargained or reasoned with and are so determined to kill us all that we have no other choice but torture. It's a sad rationalization that is just as wrong as Bin Laden's attacks on the US.

Posted by: D on September 22, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax posted:

"but there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that it works."
Posted by: Trashhauler

But do we want to enshrine it in our laws? To my mind, the fact that a couse of action can work shouldn't be the sole measure of whether a course of action should followed.
___________________

Absolutely not, cyntax. If it is ever done, let it remain always illegal.

However, what most here seem unable to acknowledge is that the Administration has not asked for the right to torture. They have asked for the right to use coercive in interrogations. That means they at least, feel there is some ground short of outright torture that can be legally used. Where that ground is can be interpreted in any number of ways, by any number of people, but it undoubtedly exists somewhere. The inability or unwillingness of Administration critics to even hazard a guess of what coercive techniques should be permitted allowed the Administration to move forward with their own ideas, essentially unchallenged.

Posted by: Trashhauler on September 22, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Inigio Montoya:

*chuckling* You're joking, right? There were forced conversions in Islam. There were *also*, at the same time, forced conversions to Christianity. In fact, I'd go further and ask you -- did Muslims burn women at the stake for witchcraft?

And you have the *audacity* to ask for a retraction for being *spanked*?

Wasn't it *you* who was accusing us of "ahistoricism?"

Umm ... by not putting Islamic behavior in context with Christian behavior -- by implying something especially nefarious about Islamic forced conversions in the 10th century -- you are demonstrating precisely the ahistoricism of which you accuse others.

Spanked TWICE. And twice as hard, too. Next time, I'll get kindling and some lighter fluid :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

D,
No. I'm arguing that women's rights should be protected even if those who find their presence degrading complain to high heaven, obviously enough. It's an important aspect of American society that I won't concede to you, your fellow commenters or the Geneva Convention as it would be in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States.

You, on the other hand, are mighty quick to assert racism and anti-religious bigotry to me. I find you offensive and, I believe, purposefully so. That is a regretable aspect of current political dynamics and I hope some day you are ashamed of your actions.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Trahshauler

The President demands the right to define what is and isn't torture. "I want to waterboard. Sounds cool. I, the decider, have decided waterboarding isn't torture."

For a man like our President, the right to define is exactly the same as the right to do.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers:

Word.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
Context. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Are you seriously arguing that because some other people acted badly out of religious motivation then that makes excusable the false assertion above?

"So tell us how many Jews and Christians were killed and oppressed in the 9th century in Moorish Spain."

Your assertion is that not many Christians were murdered or oppressed.

Your assertion is false, as you've admitted because oppression would surely include forced conversions. Or else I'll assume you don't care about Freedom of Religion as expressed within the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

I only had 10 minutes to get it started, but here it is: www.wetorture.com

Posted by: enozinho on September 22, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK
I'd have to differ with you, Chris. Kant's essay Perpetual Peace (his political writings were a very small part of his output) was extremely influential in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Well, sure. Certainly Kantian ethics were an influence on the broader spirit of the times, and at least an indirect influence on the Conventions. That's quite different than the Conventions being established as an application of Kantian ethics.

In fact, there is much Fascist writing in direct argument against Kant's ideas. You could probably google a few of Mussolini's journalism pieces and find Kant's name in there pretty quickly.

Perhaps I could, but I don't see how that supports your characterization.


I'd argue that it's more likely that the GC were deliberately founded in a way to not privilege any particular religious tradition -- and, in fact, they do not explicitly mention God or religion at all.

I would agree with you that the GC were not established to privilege any religious tradition. That's not the same thing as saying that there particular provisions either were directly shaped by Kantian ethics, or were not shaped by ideas derived from particular religious traditions.

(Given the wide spread of time and diverse drafters for the various interations of the various Conventions, I would view any contention that any one philosophical tradition is the basis for all of them as almost certainly a badly distorted rationalization.)

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely not, cyntax. If it is ever done, let it remain always illegal.

Always good to establish where the common ground is in these discussions, though I would have been pretty surprised if someone with your background had said otherwise.

The inability or unwillingness of Administration critics to even hazard a guess of what coercive techniques should be permitted allowed the Administration to move forward with their own ideas, essentially unchallenged.

I'm definitely disappointed in the lack of engagement by the Dems, but for me that's on an over-all level not just in terms of defining coercive questioning.

They have asked for the right to use coercive in interrogations. That means they at least, feel there is some ground short of outright torture that can be legally used. Where that ground is can be interpreted in any number of ways, by any number of people, but it undoubtedly exists somewhere.

That ground definitely exists, but I'm curious, given your SERE background do you think there was a problem for the 97 Echoes in determining what they could and couldn't do that needed clarification?

Posted by: cyntax on September 22, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers wrote: We don't need to argue honor, dignity, and the golden rule with the likes of ex-liberal...

Fromn my POV it is Ron Byers who has abandoned honor and dignity. He would have us do less than we might to defeat the Islamofascists. He would have us turn our backs on their thousands of victims, out of personal squemishness.

As for the Golden Rule, I'm afraid it gets suspended during wars.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 22, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK
Now, is having a female interrogator for a Muslim male tortuous as degrading treatment given the Muslim male's aversion -- based on serious religious convictions -- to such interrogations? Remember, America would be violating its own legal tradition by discriminating against the female in her employment if she can't perform the duties for which she is properly expert.

Actually, no. While sex-based discrimination is somewhat suspect and subjected to intermediate scrutiny, it is not outright forbidden by our legal tradition (or even as nearly so as racial discrimination); assuming, arguendo, that such treatment was degrading, it would not seem to violate our legal tradition to prohibit teh government from such conduct, even if that necessitated the government making distinctions between men and women in the workplace, and in hiring and promotion in interrogation related fields, do to the detainee demographics.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

" From my POV it is Ron Byers who has abandoned honor and dignity. He would have us do less than we might to defeat the Islamofascists. He would have us turn our backs on their thousands of victims, out of personal squemishness."

I do not reject torture out or "personal squeamishness" you moron. I reject torture because I am a human being and I profess to be civilized. That I even have to qualify that, let alone quantify it, is out-fucking-rageous.

Top story on NBC News is about troop levels. Back after the news...

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK
In fact, I'd go further and ask you -- did Muslims burn women at the stake for witchcraft?

No, but then they did (and in some places still do) stone them for being raped.

I think we can generalize this to "any broad ideological group that has exercised substantial power over a large number of people for a broad expanse of time has probably done really nasty things with that power."

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Just exactly what information is some poor illiterate peasant from Afganistan supposed to have after five years at Gitmo. Better still, what information was he supposed to have when captured??? We have people who torture because we have people who enjoy torturing. Thomas1, poor innocent child that he is, thinks McCain gave up classified info while a POW in Vietnam. Doubt it because he probably didn't have any classified info to give up. Instead he probably admitted to "war crimes" to stop the torture. Does anyone really think that the average soldier goes into combat with a lot of valuable classified info in his head. The extent of his classified knowledge is the information he needs for the day's mission. Unless you're dealing with someone involved in long term planning there's little to be gained from extended interrogation and torture, unless torturing people is how you get your jollies. BTW, I'm a retired AF pilot and even though I was in charge of my squadron's classified account I couldn't have provided an interrogator with any meaningful information if I'd been captured. If we make torture a part of our routine interrogation techniques look for a bunch of sadistic bastards to volunteer for that duty.

Posted by: sparky on September 22, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

Since the thinking about Kant's universalist approach to national relations was very much in the air, I'd suggest that Kant's ethical ideas were closely in the minds of the framers of the Geneva Conventions -- though, of course, I'd have to do some scholarly research to prove the connection more definitively.

Scholarly or not, you'd have to do some research to prove a connection since you haven't proved it at all so far, definitively or otherwise.

But you didn't say there was a connection or that Kant's ideas were in the minds of Geneva Convention framers--you said the Geneva Conventions were founded on Kantian ethics.

Without proof for even lesser connections, such a statement wasn't very scholarly of you.

Posted by: Kant? on September 22, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I learned all I need to know about torture from Survivors International.

http://www.survivorsintl.org/

"Survivors International is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing essential psychological and medical services to survivors of torture who have fled from around the world to the San Francisco Bay Area. SI aims to help survivors put the pieces back together by providing the support they need to re-establish healthy and productive lives after their experiences of torture."

You know that expression, "the camel's nose is in the tent?" When will the government start torturing American citizens? When will the war on drugs mean torturing college students? When will the war on poverty mean torturing welfare cheats? When will the cops open their own dungeons? This goes on in India, Kenya, China, Guatamala, Indonesia, Bhutan, Burma, Mexico.... We get to join that club or do you believe "it can't happen here?"

Having met victims of torture (from around the world) I am profoundly ashamed of these senators and congresspeople. I am ashamed of my country's ignorance, indifference and inhumanity.

Posted by: Jamester on September 22, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Just exactly what information is some poor illiterate peasant from Afganistan supposed to have after five years at Gitmo.

A confession that would retrospectively justify the administrations detention policy would probably be extractable, and politically useful.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

That we as a nation could sink so low...

Posted by: shortstop on September 22, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Oh we ain't seen nuthin' yet. We can sink much lower than this.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Like nuking Iran. That's gonna be great.

Posted by: cyntax on September 22, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Well, as I said at the end of that post, it's a question for scholarly research. Provisionally, I'd say that Kant was *probably* the most influential secular philosopher for the founders of *all* the Conventions (since the Geneva Conventions themseves are such a quintessentially Kantian idea), along with, of course, the various religious and pre-Kantian natural rights ideas that were floating around at the time.

On your post in the other thread -- very interesting. If you could, please link the Benedict speech. You're correct that I should read the whole thing.

inigio Montoya:

This is becoming most amusing. First, you attempt to lecture me on the meaning of context. Then, you tell me that religious coersion must equate to oppression because it's contrary to -- are you ready -- the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Uhh ... we're talking about the 10th century. Kind of a seven-century gap there.

You know -- once again -- speaking of a proper appreciation of historical context.

The point stands. You lose. Medieval Christianity was at least as oppressive as Islam given *any criteria you care to name*, and potentially even worse.

So, once again -- you point out no truths about Islam vs Christianity that have any current value. At least not with this particular line of ahistorical argument.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO the Dems were always in a difficult position. Their partisans passionately oppose letting the CIA continue to use not-quite-torture techniques,

If you believe that the CIA is not torturing detainees, please define what you think torture is. Spell it out in detail.

but the country as a whole strongly supports it.

No, we don't. Americans have been so irrationally frightened that when poll questions are phrased suggesting that "it's okay in rare cases to torture suspected terrorists" they'll sign on, but clearly reluctantly. Americans, foolish people we, believe that there are systems of checks and balances that our government is employing to make sure that innocent people aren't being tortured. But we have the most secret administration in the history of our country operating in private and refusing to submit to oversight.

Bush's contention that these techniques worked and prevented terror attacks (particularly waterboarding) has been confirmed by Brian Ross of ABC.

There is nothing that comes out of George W. Bush's mouth, or any member of his administration, that resembles the truth. These are sick, twisted, liars.

And what possibly would Brian Ross of ABC know and be able to confirm that NOBODY ELSE outside of Bush's inner sanctum, nobody else in government, whose job it is to oversee what Bush is doing, can confirm?

Kevin and the posters here are focusing more on the politics of their votes than what's best for the country.

Let's talk about what's best for the country. I got into this earlier at Think Progress:


Over at Think Progress
:

#55. What are some other interrogation techniques we could use to get the information we need considering these terrorist(sic) have been trained to lie about what they know as well as how they are treated if captured?

I am assuming no one here is against interrogating terroristsright?

Comment by Tracy September 21, 2006 @ 5:33 pm
The simplest answer as to other interrogation techniques is `positive reinforcement,' which means rewards for cooperation, in the way of food, treatment, privileges. And, not surprisingly, just as we know that torture doesn't work, we know that `positive reinforcement' does.

But Tracy's question reveals an acceptance of false premises, perhaps because there is little to contradict Bush-Cheney dogma in the MSM.

False Premise #1:

Let's get some clarification before we label people `terrorists': These are `detainees' who have been charged with nothing, convicted of nothing in any recognized court of law. Only in `the Court of George,' which is a rogue operation with no legal authority. It's being protected by `The Court of the GOP,' (the Republican-controlled Congress), another `Court,' that has no legal authority - at least until they succeed in packing the federal courts with neo-fascists. If left standing (Republican-control), it will bring down and end the United States of America. Two-hundred and thirty years, gone. If everything that Bush-Cheney and the Republican-controlled congresses have done these last six years is left to stand, the `experiment in democracy' is over.

In the U.S., people are innocent until proven guilty. In the U.S., people are held responsible for acts that they commit that are against the law - behavior and not thoughts. Either you believe in the rule of law, or you have no business calling yourself an American.

Many of these detainees are also crime victims: They were kidnapped off of streets in other countries, their own countries, by our CIA and taken to underground prisons and tortured. Completely innocent people, with no ties whatsoever to terrorists. If they weren't terrorists before, I could certainly understand their seeking out the nearest Al Qaeda recruiting station once they got home.

That's why we have to hold to our traditions of American jurisprudence, and why the Bush-Cheney approach to the problem of terrorism is so completely off-the-mark, and guaranteed to worsen the problem, not make it better.

Experts agree that the Bush-Cheney plan for eliminating terrorist attacks will not eliminate terrorist attacks. Even Bush and Cheney admit it. The Bush-Cheney plan will never accomplish what Americans want: A pre-9/11 world, in which the U.S. is an admired, respected, and emulated superpower, not targeted for destruction and violent acts of terror. Bush-Cheney have admitted that they can't deliver that. "An impossible dream."

It's not an impossible dream. What existed pre-9/11/01 is not only doable, what existed pre-1993 (the first WTC attack) is achievable. But not with corporate shills in control of U.S. policies and power.

What they're offering is paradoxical: A chronic state of war, of escalating hostilities and broadening conflict. Of days when only 5 national airports are shut down due to terror threats, or only a few hundred people are killed, are considered the new green/low on the bottom of the Homeland Security color code. Our lives will be like how the Israelis live. Tuning out, shutting down, never knowing if today is the day that a suicide bomber will set himself off in a popular cafe that our kid frequents. Those will be considered "good days."

We have a long list of Conservatives, in both political parties, to blame for this mess. For changing America's credo, going all the way back to the end of WWII. That's how long they've been in control of U.S. government, specifically U.S. foreign policy. These are the same people who insisted that hysteria over `commies' become national policy. Their solution to preventing communism from spreading was not unlike their solution to terrorism: Spend us into oblivion while trying to undermine the economies of communist nations, escalate an arms race, wage `hate-campaigns,' blacklist anybody who disagrees, break them by driving them and their families into poverty, turning Americans against each other. Some promoters of the peaceful brotherhood of man, aren't they?

The same hate- and fear-mongers, just as greedy then as they are today, scheming for unregulated capitalism where very few enjoy extreme wealth at the expense of the many whose labor they've exploited on the cheap.

Conservatives' solution then (massive military buildup, unchecked nuclear proliferation and arrogant isolationism and bullying) was as wrong as it is now, and leveler heads managed to prevail and keep them from annihilating the world. But they are now back. Whether in their original form or this new-and-improved `Neo- form, there really is no difference. Conservatives aren't stopping Bush-Cheney, Rumsfeld, Hadley, Wolfowitz, Rice and all. McCain, Warner, Graham, Powell, Armitage, Frist, there is no one in their party who is standing up and saying, "No more." The Bush-Cheney answer is more `shock and awe', impose more military might, commit unpardonable atrocities in Iraq, in Lebanon, and surely before the year is out, Iran. Atrocities which only create more terrorists and widen the theater of violence.

Americans have to stop living in a bubble about this: Since Bush has been in the White House, terrorist acts have increased 3-fold worldwide. We are less safe than we were on 9/11/01 because Bush has made incalculable enemies for us without using any of the money he's borrowed in our names to shore up the security of America. Five years after 9/11/01 and 95% of the cargo entering this country still goes uninspected. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, money that Americans will be paying off for generations, have all gone into the pockets of Bush-Cheney's corporate cronies. There is nothing to show for all of that money.

When Bush boasts that there hasn't been another attack on home soil since 9/11/01 (five years), that's not any record of achievement. The first attack by Al Qaeda on the WTC was in 1993. It took Al Qaeda another eight years to commit 9/11/01. If Al Qaeda just went by "the most bang for their buck" strategy, which they do, they don't have to attack again on U.S. soil for another few decades. Killing Americans isn't Al Qaeda's goal; terrorizing us into ruination is what they're after.

Paradoxically again, Bush-Cheney and Al Qaeda are in a odd dependent partnership where they depend on each other for survival. The best tool that Al Qaeda has for fanning our fears of terrorism is an American election, when Karl Rove makes sure that we are at our most frightened in order for Republicans to retain control of government. If Al Qaeda was wiped out and no longer any threat, Republicans would be toast. There is no incentive for Bush-Cheney to win a war on terrorism.

Is There a Solution?

Yes. But, unfortunately, the solution that works and that is widely known and understood in circles outside of Washington and the traditional `Establishment' culture, doesn't get any play in the mainstream media. Any time that anybody gets close to bringing up any alternatives at all, the GOP-noise machine goes into action. The solution is known inside Washington, inside the State Department (government employees, not the political appointees) and elsewhere. It's even known inside the Pentagon, but until Bush-Cheney and the GOP-controlled Congress are subdued, it stands no chance.

In the last few weeks, with the suppression of alternative solutions, a new meme has been taking hold in the minds of previously reasonable Americans: That all Muslims are the problem. I guess that means that after five years of being frightened out of our minds by Bush-Cheney terrorist rhetoric, Americans are coming around to giving Bush-Cheney a blank check to kill any and all Muslims.

We are a Nation in Deep Need of Help and Healing.

Can you recall the last time you heard or saw any psychiatrists, psychologists or social scientists brought into the media to discuss anything, much less terrorism? When Bush and Republicans took over (and with the help of the DLC) we got leadership that is ignorant of (and phobic about) what drives people to commit acts of violence against others, as well as themselves (suicide bombers).

There's nothing unique to Islam that makes Muslims any more susceptible to commiting an act of violence than a Christian or a Jew or a Buddhist, or a Wiccan or a Hare Krishna or an atheist.

I think that Americans desperately want to understand why somebody would join Al Qaeda. I think that Americans are not assuaged when Bush says, "It's because they hate our freedom." After five long years in a vacuum, with no one in the `Establishment' (including Democrats, and MSM) willing to offer information and alternative solutions to the American people that challenges the Bush administration, let's start the ball rolling in the blogosphere.

Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat, by Arthur Deikman, M.D. It's a good place to begin.

Because of False Premise #2:

"There is no `them,' only `us.'"

Posted by: Maeven on September 22, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Everything that was done this week was for self-absolution. The basic point, however, is that he broke the law prior to whatever get-out-of-jail free legislation was cobbled together.

Bush is the first American political figure who I would have no qualms about extraditing to the Hague. I guess we were due. As long as Rove goes with him. I see only an incredibly small percentage of Americans who are anything but ashamed of these guys. It is time to effect change in one-party rule. It has been a disaster.
How admissible is any evidence beaten out of anyone? I would posit not at all. Whatever enabling act for Presidential torture Congress passes, I would say it is unconstitional on its face--unlawful in its implementation. The Geneva Conventions are what they are. Only if we withdrew from them could the Bush Administration be free of their requirements. But then there is that pesky Constitution.

Torture is a breech of international law and human rights. There is no "but maybe" about it. This is a distraction; the American people will hold these scoundrels to account eventually. So will humanity. That is a pretty heavy burden US ALL to carry. And if we allow torture in our name, we might as well dismantle that French statue in NY Harbor, and await the inevitable dismantling of the Constitution, article by article. Only a country of frightened sheep could allow this to happen.

Posted by: Sparko on September 22, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kant?:

That's true, and that's why I'm willing to back off on my initial unequivocal statement until I do some further research. I still do believe that Kantian ethics are more explicitly important for the Geneva Conventions than religious ethics -- but I fully realize I need to demonstrate that. The whole concept of international law owes a bunch to Perpetual Peace, which was the first formal proposal for a league of nations encompassing all the Great Powers.

But again -- I don't wish to step in it and assert stuff without proof. My point is, at this point, merely conjectural -- take it or leave it.

cmdicely:

Sure. I'd also argue that there are cultural variables in there, so we may not know how specifically Koranic is the stoning of rape victims and adulterers. The shame of rape may be more a consequence of tribal culture, where family dishonor is considered more important than life itself.

Also, consider the fact that clitoridectomy is practiced in certain islamic countries in Africa -- but not at all in the Arab world. Again -- I think the variable there is culture and not religion.

Your general point about the tenure of any powerful group and the inevitablity of oppression doubtless stands.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ross said that CIA agents who had been involved in the questioning told him that water-boarding was effective with every terrorist questioned. Some of the terrorists talked after less harsh methods.

I cannot actually visualize why water-boarding is so effective, but I see no reason to disbelieve him.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the man who organized the 9/11 attacks. He is in US custody. From all reports he "talked" after two minutes of water-boarding and revealed the names of 14 other terrorists who were planning attacks including some in the US, including Los Angeles. Bush has done the right thing despite what the ACLU and its utopian fellow travelers think. The most important civil right of the rest of us Americans is the right to remain alive.

Here's what torture has gotten us:

>For all of the torture we've done, we haven't stopped the attacks in Bali, Morocco, Madrid or London.

>For all of the torture we've done, we still don't know who sent the Anthrax letters.

>For all of the torture we've done, we still don't have bin Laden in custody.

>For all of the torture we've done, we don't have Mullah Omar in custody, either. Or Zawahiri. But perhaps about 150 guys who were number 2.

>For all of the supposed torture of detainees, how do you explain this:

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

[snip]

"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."

Pay close fucking attention to that last paragraph because it shatters every illusion you have about whether torture works.

Pay it some heed.

Posted by: Barney on September 22, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

If you want to argue that being a man is a BFOQ for interrogators, feel free.

And yes, I know all about intermediate scrutiny. Tell me, how many of those cases uphold discrimination?

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
That would be eight centuries. Condescenscion is so much more fun when you make silly mathematical errors.

BTW, It is quite wonderful to know that forced religious conversion is not oppression in your book. I hardly think the timeframe relevant unless you're willing to stop talking about the Spanish Inquisition in which case I'll grant your argument just so you'll stop prevaricating.

Otherwise, you have admitted my point which was quite narrow. Now you are arguing things about which I have not commented. Since you are arguing with a straw man and not me I grant you victory. All hail the straw man killer, Bob.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

The assine mental contortions youre putting yourself through trying to defend torture by suggesting women being denied the ability to use stress positions on detainees is a breech of, gender equity in the workplace demonstrates the morally bankruptcy of your position. Instead of defending the presidents, stress techniques you mock them by refusing to defend the seriousness in which they are proposed. Obviously, its impossible to defend the undefensable; and youre antics show just how unseriously you take the nature of the debate. Which, in so doing, youve given up any semblance of decency by refusing to even address the corrosive effect torture has on our country. I find this to be most unpatriotic and cowardly of you, since from your obviously snarky rebuttal, you smugly, defend womens rights when your tone most certainly suggests a misogynistic point of view.

Its quite sad when people of your ilk twist and turn and distort the law and violate the constitution. Youve sided with the terrorists by embracing brutality as the only moral absolute you abide, then try and hide you totalitarian beliefs behind a feminist point of view to demonstrate your, reasonableness when its obvious that youd like to place western women in their place just as much as Osama wants to control muslem women. Inigo, if you believe in torture why not just state your opinion openly? Is it because youre afraid your point of view is so unreasonable as to cause scorn and ridicule upon you for being, barbaric or uncivilized? The same way OBL hides in the caves of Afganistan, you hide behind moral equivalency and false civility.

Posted by: D on September 22, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

D,
Your reading comprehension skills lack.
This is about degrading behavior.
That's the word that is in the Geneva Conventions.

When you start from false premises your argument is for naught.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on D.
If he doesn't know words like 'indefensible' then I'm not sure picking on him is appropriate.

My apologies to the mentally challenged community.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya complains about straw men after setting fire to the dilemma of women interrogators with lofty sentiments about women's rights.

Come on.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, D just made the point.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Buttercup,

If you cannot understand that degrading behavior is ill-defined then I cannot help you.

You should read various decisions of the European Court of Justice on this matter to see what some discerning people find degrading.

If you do, you'll know this is not a straw man argument.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

Straw man? You mean like how much I must adore forced conversions to a religion -- *that* kind of straw man? :)

Because otherwise citing the prevalence of forced conversions in 10th century Islam says nothing whatsoever about Islam itself if forced religious conversions was the norm in the cultural tradition you're attempting to privilege over it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

This is an off topic public announcement:

rmck1/Bob a sock puppet? You decide.
WARNING: this shit is WEIRD.

1. Evidence rmck1 is a SockPuppet

2. Chris' words touch me...

3. rmck1 almost admits what he did

4. The panic of rmck1


BONUS: rmck1/Bob reads this post...

Posted by: Public Service Announcement on September 22, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Buttercup,

Furthermore, I will not let stand the argument that I am in favor of torture. That is false and defamatory.

I have argued that not everything alleged to be torture is torture. I've also argued that drawing lines is hard but necessary business.

Your failure to grasp this point would be exhausting if I wasn't so well prepared for your tactics.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Please find reference above that I tried to privilege any religion over another.

Cite it or admit yet another brilliant straw man victory.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Also,

I said that either forced conversion is oppression OR that you have no respect for religion.

That is an either or situation. The two sentiments cannot co-exist.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Did I argue that you are in favor of torture? It's possible, but I don't think I did.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly Inigo, your sorry defense of torture was so haphazard I don't take responding to your posts seriously enough to check my spelling. And for the record degrading behavior is torture; it's purposely, "vague" so as to encompass as many torture techniques as possible.

Posted by: D on September 22, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Inigio Montoya:

I haven't been following your argument about women interrogators closely -- but the thing that seems to make your defense of it so disingenuous is that it's been used for the expressed purpose of producing sexual humiliation.

You know, like a woman interrogator who rubbed red ink on the face of a detainee -- claiming it was menstrual blood?

Or the lapdances and partial disrobing, to "break" the detainee through involuntary sexual arousal?

You sure you want to go to bat for this in the name of *feminism*?

If so, then all I think I can do is shake my head in wonder at such through-the-looking-glass ethics ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.

Posted by: Britney Spears on September 22, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

Oh c'mon ... I'm not going back through the thread to quote your initial posts, which were started out with how so many Muslims around the world cheered on 9/11. I slapped that down as cherry picking already ...

Forced conversions to any religion is *baaad*, okay? There, I said it. And after saying it -- WTF does it *prove*? Nothing.

The whole reason you brought up *anything to do with Islam* is to attempt to make the argument of how much more coersive Islam is than Christianity.

And if you can't admit that -- then I'm going to have to add extreme disingenuousness to your already quite long list of rhetorical sins ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
Thank you for bringing up issues that I have not addressed and acting as if I must support them. I know it's trying but I'll ask you once again to address what I've actually typed. It's harder to do but your brain won't hurt long.

Also, thanks for admitting you haven't followed my argument. I admit I find your constant admissions delicious.

And there's "D" to accuse me of supporting torture. Yet another slur unsupported by anything I've written.

"D" comments that "degrading behavior is torture". There's the admission that completes my argument about the unseriousness with which too many approach these issues. Drawing lines about what is and is not degrading is an important matter and one for which the Congress of the United States is best situated as their competence is in drawing lines and defining words exactly.

You see, D, I might think it's degrading for those suspected of drunk driving to walk a straight line or close their eyes and touch their nose. But the law doesn't forbid an officer forcing such a driver to perform those actions. It's an objective standard in the law not the subjective one you wish to apply.
(Yes. That was meant to be condescending.)

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Slapped down. You keep using that term. I do not think it means what you think it means.

As to what it proves, it proves that your initial question about how many people were killed or oppressed by the Moors contained an ahistorical assumption. My point is now proved by your own admission.

This is fun.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Public Service Announcement:

I should probably leave well enough alone, but
since you
took a turn for the "weird," I'll trail behind
you
for the sake of torture :)

Actually, even though you were being disingenuous,
WARNING
our readers is a good starting point for its
truth. I'm
not a Christian,
but one thing about the Bible that I've always embraced
is its outward valuation of truth.

But look, if I'm going to be a truth-teller and reject
the Bible and God,
Ive also seen how satanists openly reject the Devil.
And I see
this basically as a try to seek for some
acknowledgement
or acceptance from my surroundings, yes even from
Christians!
So you may say, "I have absolutely nothing to do
with the Devil.
I am a satanist, and I am."

Yes, what? What are you? What is Satan for you
then? The fact is
that some satanists often reject the Devil and
then start
to reel about their viewpoints of what
satanism is
all about, and it is clear that a lot of it corresponds
to what the
Devil represents in the Christian Bible.

Yet I can inform you about what I am not a follower
of: the more or
less "to-be-nice-seeking wave" that seems to haunt
satanism sometimes.
To openly reject the philosophy of the Devil that
very much matches
what one presents, but under another (nicer?) term
may seem cruel;
satanism is quite hard to understand. From my
point of
view, it seems like an effort to try to prove how
harmless
and nice (?) one is as a satanist when one
rejects what
one sees as a very unattractive Devil (or is it because
one is afraid
to somehow get mixed with Christians in others
eyes?)

If you present yourself as a satanist you will end up
on the dreaded
sinful Devil's side whether you like it or not :) What I
wonder
is from where this repulsive image of the Devil comes?
From media?
From the Christians own scaremongering? Do you
buy their talk
just like that? You have hardly got the terrible picture of the
Devil from the Christian's own Bible. Because I have read
it from cover to cover.

Have you?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK
Also, consider the fact that clitoridectomy is practiced in certain islamic countries in Africa -- but not at all in the Arab world.

Last time you brought this up, you pointed to it in Egypt, which is both "in Africa" and "in the Arab world".

I don't really know if that description or your current one is correct, though.

But, yeah, the bad thing done by people who are in some broad group (in this case, Muslims) are often not general to the group, and often relate to factors to which the group identification is somewhat incidentally or tangentially related.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to come late to the torture party, but did Jay change is name to Inigo Montoya or what?

Posted by: enozinho on September 22, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I dont like that my political party has essentially rolled over on the torture issue. My wise and overtly Christian Gramma used to posit that if you lay down with dogs you get fleas. We may well be itching for quite some time.

Having typed this though, I understand why this was done. The Repubs dont have as many arrows in their quiver to shoot at the Democratic Party as they used to. This dance in the short term will help to alleviate on more arrow. If it helps to make the soft on terra claim less potent. I guess I can live with it in order to gain a greater good.

Hopefully then, the forces of reason and light can take back the reins of power and begin the process of restoring this great nation back to its former greatness.

Posted by: Keith G on September 22, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I see another intellectual has come to challenge the substance of my point.

Well met, enozinho. Well met.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, either Jay or Rich Lowry.

Posted by: enozinho on September 22, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Strike two.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure it's Jay; maybe somebody else we know. I can't put my finger on it, however.

Whoever you are, I recommend to you Vladimir Bukovsky's "Torture's Long Shadow" from Sunday's Washington Post.

See if you feel like quibbling over women interrogators after that.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

but there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that it works

And yet there's plenty of doubt in the minds of experienced CIA and military men:

WASHINGTON - Administration officials, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, are vigorously lobbying Congress to exempt the CIA from a ban on mistreatment of detainees. But many former and some current CIA operatives say - morality aside - that mistreatment and torture aren't useful interrogation tactics and the loophole should be rejected.

"We ought to declare we don't do this. We ought to declare the intelligence isn't worth it," said Frank Anderson, a former chief of the CIA's Near East and South Asia division in the agency's Operations Directorate, the clandestine service.

Anderson's views were echoed, with some variation, in interviews with a half-dozen current and former CIA and military officers with extensive field experience. Retired and active officers made similar arguments against abusing prisoners(, but none of the current CIA or military officers would agree to speak on the record because they aren't authorized to talk to the media.

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/13135450.htm

Posted by: Windhorse on September 22, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Buttercup,

Once again you mention torture. I have not defended torture. I have argued that some things which are called torture are not torture. I'm writing short declarative sentences. I hope this makes it easier for you.

I have argued that drawing lines is tough but necessary business. Nobody on this thread has been willing to address my point.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

NB:

That last post under my name -- as is quite clear by the absurd formatting -- I didn't write, as should be fairly obvious.

cmdicely:

Aww, sheesh -- Egypt. *slapping head* There was a story in the NYT a comple years ago about an Egyption woman (IIRC) seeking asylum in America for it. To my knowledge (and please slap me if I'm wrong; I can take it :), it's not practiced in any other Arab country, or by Iran.

We agree, obviously, on the larger point.

Inigo:

I see you've been reduced to cryptic blithering on the religious coercion issue. Cool :)

As for woman interrogators -- let me be more explicit then:

If female interrogators are used for the expressed purpose of sexually humiliating Muslim men (and that it has, has, of course, been alrady documented) -- do you endorse it? And if you do -- would you still argue for it in the name of the American value of equality between the sexes?

Enquiring minds wanna know :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

Okay then, a simple question straight to the point:

Is waterboarding torture?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

From Windhorse above, quoting somebody else:

"We ought to declare the intelligence isn't worth it..."

Does this sentence suggest that there is intelligence gathered by some of the "mistreatment and torture"?** It could be read that way by some.

**This is both a quote and a set of scare quotes. The article skips past the difficult questions I've suggested must be addressed and defines everything as either mistreatment or torture, both of which, one assumes, are moral outrages.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking of filming some examples of these interrogation techniques for educational purposes. Anyone that thinks this stuff is no big deal want to volunteer?

I'm completely serious. You can email me here if you are interested: enozinho@gmail.com

Posted by: enozinho on September 22, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: Why is it that most released Western captives of Islamist groups generally have attested to being treated well by their captors?

Most captives have in fact been tortured before their release, or else tortured before their beheadings. Only recently have a few famous kidnap victims been well-treated, and some of those were forced to convert to Islam or be killed.

"The ends justify the means" has been the rallying cry of every authoritarian government since at least Machiavelli -- and his ideas came from the ancient Greeks.

"the ends justify the means" is a different statement from "the ends justify any means."

the first is correct, and the second is false.

I have read almost all posts here, and almost everybody avoids the kind of thing that psychologists and some otherscientists call "operational definitions". What actions constitute torture and are prohibited, and what actions do not constitute torture and are permitted.

Muslim prisoners have spoken of the humiliation of being interrogated by menstruating women. That is not torture. Some have spoken of the humiliation of being touched with what appeared to be menstrual blood. That also is not torture, even if it really was menstrual blood.

Somewhere between the act of denying between-meal snacks and reduced food to the point of starvation there may be torture, but 12 hours' food deprivation isn't it. Loud noise that damages the auditory system might be torture, but being forced to listen to bad music isn't torture.

Faced with the necessity to write something actionable into law, the senators wrote something better than existed before, but basically accepted that nothing the administration was known to have done rose to the level of "torture". So the law will be written by Congress, pretty much as it has been written.

The debate hinges a lot on whether "waterboarding" is "torture" or is not "torture". That's a good place for the debate to be occurring. When the Geneva Conventions were written, the authors were thinking of worse stuff than that. They were thinking of what Joseph Mengele had actually done, and of what the Germans had actually done to prisoners of war. Had those Germans been guilty of "waterboarding", no one would have felt it necessary to write the Geneva conventions.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

I just read that rmck1 spoof post, and aside from being impossible to read, it doesn't make one fucking lick of sense.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,
Since you admitted my points about the Moors I suggest you quit mentioning it.

As for women being used to offend the sensibilities of Muslim males, I have no problem with that whatsoever. I am not willing to sacrifice the hard earned lessons of the last 100 years (equality between the genders) because of the religious sensibilities of any group. We have a little thing called separation of church and state which has been read into the First Amendment. I say we make that separation complete and not make allowances for the religious convictions of any group.

Waterboarding is obviously the closest case. There is no danger of actual harm but there is definitely mental anguish caused by the technique. But honestly I must claim ignorance on exactly how tortuous it is as I've never seen or felt it performed. Witnessing it might push my opinion one way or the other.

Either way, it seems to me things less strenuous than waterboarding are likely not tortuous.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

In the statement "The ends justify [...] means," "the" vs "any" is, I think, a distinction without a difference. "The" obviously isn't delimited according to *what* means, so it may as well be any.

I follow the violence in Iraq pretty extensively (as do most of us, I'm sure), and I've never heard of a single released captive talk of being tortured in captivity. The only forced conversion I heard about were of those Fox journalists. Heh -- pretty meaningless when you consider that the conversion is null and void after release. Hunt them down and kill them for apostasy? Heh -- I think for the jihadis they'd be on the bottom of a seriously long list :)

As for defining torture -- I think you truly haven't got a clue about Muslim culture, and don't appreciate at all a lifetime of indoctrination into notions about the sexes that you, in your enlightened smugness, consider utterly trivial. A little Marie Antionette-ish, truthfully.

Rubbing menstrual blood in the face of a devout Muslim man who considers it the sine qua non of impurity *could* very well qualify as a form of psychological torture. Among other things it could produce harrowing nightmares.

Sexual humiliation is disallowed in Common Article III.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Also,

I doubt quite seriously that drill instructors have been committing torture as defined by the Geneva Conventions when they're training American Special Forces.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

Since you conceded your argument attempting to disparage Islam for being more coersive than Christianity, I'd suggest that *you* drop it :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

The question, Bob, is whether we should create an objective or a subjective standard of "sexual humiliation". If it is subjective as defined by the detainees then nearly everything is out of bounds. If it is objective we'll ignore the specific objections of Muslim males that are based on their religious convictions.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK
Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2302-2005Jan11.html

Posted by: Windhorse on September 22, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

I never made the comparison you claim I made. (Provide a link if you can prove your prevarications.)

That straw man is charred beyond all recognition.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt quite seriously that drill instructors have been committing torture as defined by the Geneva Conventions when they're training American Special Forces.

That's because they volunteer to do it, dummy.

Posted by: enozinho on September 22, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I'll help you. Go to the pull down menu and select the "Edit" pull down tab. Then click on "Find".
Then type "Inigo Montoya" into the space provided. Then follow each of my comments.

When you're finished you can apologize for lying about whether I compared Christianity and its savagery to Islam and its savagery. And yes, it's a lie since you've continued to push this falsehood after being made aware that it was false.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

So what you're saying then is that we have the perfect right to shove our culture down the throats of people in other cultures because ours is objectively superior.

Nice.

But I asked you specifically about sexual humiliation. Since that's, obviously, not remotely "feminist" in that it references the Muslim male's deepest socialized feelings about female inequality -- can you justify it in sexual equality's name?

Oooh ... this answer ought to be *real* good :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

If I am working for an Ailine, in security, and I suspect a passenger is someone who has committed terrorism by kidnapping and holding the citizen of an ally, say Canada; then I presume that it is my official duty to take the passenger in the back room for some "aggressive" interogation.

Posted by: Matt on September 22, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Yes. I do believe that women are the equals of men. Societies that don't believe this fundamental point are inferior to our society.

Religion is no shield to bigotry.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

Okay then, thank you. There's certainly no need to "apologize," then -- since you just made precisely my point.

You're a cultural supremecist. You don't even believe that the mental anguish caused Muslim males due to their socialization for which they can hardly be responsible is even *relevant*.

Mental anguish? Hah! That's what they get for existing in such an *inferior culture*!

Betty Friedan would fucking puke in your lap.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

So you'd be fine with religious folks in this country who are socialized to think a woman shouldn't have the right to choose taking away her right, I suppose.

Or are you a cultural supremacist who thinks you should impose your morals on those within America with whom you disagree.

Notice: I do not take your argument to be serious so I have mocked you. I like to tell people I judge unable to understand sarcasm when it's happening.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

"The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers."

Posted by: Carl Jung on September 22, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1/Bob

Mental anguish? Hah! That's what they get for existing in such an *inferior culture*!

Betty Friedan would fucking puke in your lap.

That's not funny.

This is funny.

Posted by: Public Service Announcement on September 22, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut. I made that guess up-thread. "Inigo Montoya" is Conspiracy Nut

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Indigo

Are you trying to get the last post?


Such a compulsion is a sign of minor mental illness. It is also silly.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 22, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bahh! Nice try. Continue to play.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya,

Your point, your point, your point was acknowledged long ago. Your call for "clarity" is a sideshow to the executive overreach and suspension of habeus corpus that are at the heart of the matter.

But since you are a dishonest shill you will continue to hammer away at a glaringly obvious point, only to whine that no one has satisfied you.

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully Subversive:

Nahh, I don't think so. Ol' perpeller haid (my favorite nick for c-nut) had a sense of humor. Inigo's tone is more like Birkel on psych meds :)

Inigo's a little too tightly wound to be either Jay or Birkel, though. There's some of the same condescending distain, to be sure -- but also a lot less vitriolic snark.

I'd guess that this is a genuinely new animal in the Political Zoo here ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

I have to go to work now, but I want to reiterate before I leave the thread:

I did not put on a uniform to protect an Anerica that can condone torture, embrace fear and willingly surrender her civil liberties.

I went into the Army to uphold the constitution. I feel so strongly about that, that I was willing to give up its protection for myself to uphold its princilals for you.

Many officers and enlisted personnel join up for the same reasons, and you dishonor every soldier, sailor, airman and marine who opted to make that sacrifice for you when you advocate for torture.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

I have noticed the "Inigo Montoya" screen name off and on for almost two years.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you for your service!

Posted by: Buttercup on September 22, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Buttercup,

If my point was long ago conceded, why has nobody on this board mentioned where they would draw the line?

Does it strike you odd that nobody here is serious enough about this issue to offer more than tired bromides?

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

You are quite welcome.

Thank You for embodying the principles that I thought were worth defending.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully Subversive:

I've only been here a little under a year. First time I've seen ol' Inigo.

Inigo Montoya:

*Speaking* of straw man (woman?) arguments ...

Being pro-choice doesn't force one's views on anybody. If you believe abortion is wrong -- don't have one!

But, of course, that's completely disingenuous because we're talking about policy in American culture.

No, of course I don't approve of the sexism in most Islamic traditions. I merely recognize it as a reality, and understand that their concept of dignity doesn't quite map onto ours.

And I'm not willing to unilaterally reject a person's reality because it doesn't happen to map onto mine, either.

To do so is precisely barbaric -- even in the name of values which I wholeheartedly endorse.

Seems a bit ... paradoxical, I understand. Put your thinking cap on and meditate on it for awhile ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, no offense meant as I value your input, but jeez. It seems that if some trollish imp wants to destroy a thread here all they have to do is challenge you in some childish way and the next several hours are spent on bickering of the most arcane nature.

Its getting so old.

Posted by: Keith G on September 22, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody gets their own reality according to Bob.

That explains much about the 'reality-based' community.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

Take your own advice!

Ogged:

To be perfectly honest, your obsession with religion is beginning to wreck this blog. I see a lot less traffic here than when Kevin's around.

It's bad form to post new threads which are only a shade different in content than previous threads. It short-circuits the earlier discussion and makes you look indecisive, besides.

Look, I love religious discussions because I prefer commenting on more philosophical and/or sociological issues than current events. But enough is enough. Trying to pander to harcore seculars with a thoroughly obnoxious and unserious (and hardly humorous) "suggestion" for a GOP logo after post upon post of secular-bashing isn't exactly winning you friends here.

Grow some variety or continue to expect the exodus of regulars waiting for Kevin to come back which is already underway.

Thank you,

Bob
Posted by: rmck1 on March 13, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 reveals who he is "owned" by:

Well, honestly, Alexis, the issue for me isn't so much the chunk of cash. It was unbelievably annoying and Marie Antionettish to hear Nisenholz characterize the cash outlay as "the price of a couple martinis" (pegging the rather narrow demographic he was aiming for) -- but even in this rotting economy for people on the bottom like myself, $50 for a whole year ain't that onerous. I work full-time for John Corzine, and I could still afford this if I so chose -- especially compared to the subscription -- let alone the newsstand -- price. Two decent restaraunt meals with a couple beers. At least the sort of joints I frequent.

[snip]

And that says it all.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 | October 05, 2005 at 08:49 AM

Posted by: Public Service Announcement on September 22, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G:

Which imp are you talking about? There's a troll on here attempting to bait me with a long-dead argument, who I've been assiduously ignoring.

Inigo, however, is a contrarian (don't know if I'd quite call this person a troll yet) attempting to have an argument, and is engaged with several posters who are disputing this person just as vigorously as I.

I'm genuinely confused as to your referent here.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

windhorse: "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

I do not advocagte burning genitals either.

However, in the case of Kalid Sheik Mohammed, he was interrogated repeatedly over the course of aabout 3 years. If he lied to end the torture, and what he said was checked out, and they came back and resumed the torture, he would soon learn that to end the torture he had to tell the truth. In a case like KSM, where the answers can be checked, torture works, if the tortured is motivated to avoid pain.

the argument against torture has to be the argument based on what is humane, not what is effective. Notice that the KSM case is of a prisoner held for a long period of time, whose answers are thoroughly checked out. This does not include the often-raised exigent circumstance of a prisoner who may, or may not, know the location of a bomb or suffering hostage.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Keith G:

I completely agree and if I had any decency at all I would admit that I am a pompous ass but I can't do that because I am drinking cheap moonshine out of a dog's skull and my writing is *brilliant* you know.

Heh heh heh heh

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's just a general observation that I have been thinking about for several weeks now.

Posted by: Keith G on September 22, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK
Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations and analysis in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, said detainees would say virtually anything to end their torment.

Baer agreed, citing intelligence reports from Arab security services that yielded useless information. "The Saudis and Egyptians torture people all the time, but I have yet to see anything that helped us on the jihad movement and (Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al) Zawahri," he said.

Ibn Sheikh al Libi, an al-Qaida training camp commander who was captured, was a principal source of the Bush administration's prewar claim that Iraq had provided chemical weapons training to bin Laden's network. He was subjected to aggressive interrogation techniques - and the information on Iraq and al-Qaida turned out to have been invented.

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/13135450.htm

Posted by: Windhorse on September 22, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

The "Inigo Montoya" character dumped all over a thread back in the days of the Schiavo threads, when I had a different screen name myself.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 22, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo:

Not "everybody." Just different cultures. I'd defend the value of equality of the sexes to any individual Muslim in this country, if we wanted to have a discussion about it.

But it's absurd to pretend that different cultural assumptions which exist in other parts of the world aren't supported by them. Saudi Arabia apparently is happy with a rather medieval form of Sharia law. If there was an uprising in SA to overthrow the princes, I'd be rooting for it to succeed.

But if there isn't -- who, exactly, am I to judge what's best for people I don't fully understand?

What the "faith-based community" wants to do is to foist their messianic vision of a singular and correct wordview down the throats of everybody on the planet. GWB believes, in fact, that this is precisely his appointed mission to do so.

I rest my case.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I figure that 9:39 is such a T.I.

Posted by: Keith G on September 22, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Joyfully Subversive:

I guess I missed that.

Keith G:

I understand. That's why I'm avoiding engaging this entity despite the rather vigorous attempts it's making to get my attention.

I like debate -- and honestly, I often enjoy feeding trolls.

But sometimes trolls are flat-out toxic and the only tenable stragegy is to completely ignore them.

It's against my nature -- but give me credit for trying here, anyway.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

the argument against torture has to be the argument based on what is humane, not what is effective

I see. So why are we not torturing domestic criminals, especially gang members? Crime is bad, right? And we want to stop crime, right? And torture works, and these guys are criminals, so... really, I don't see why Brown Foreigners deserve special treatment.

And once we cross that line, I look forward to your justification of torture for people who wear anti-Bush T-shirts to his rallies. Of course, maybe people will stop doing that, once the clueless 65% minority that disapproves of Bush is rounded up and put into camps.

Posted by: craigie on September 22, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

But sometimes trolls are flat-out toxic and the only tenable stragegy is to completely ignore them.

rmck1 almost admits what he did

Help for rmck1/Bob

Posted by: Public Service Announcement on September 22, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: So why are we not torturing domestic criminals, especially gang members?

Because it is inhumane.

rmck1: who, exactly, am I to judge what's best for people I don't fully understand?

Does that mean that you are willing to torture Islamists because they believe in torture? I don't think so. You have to have some basis for not torturing them, even though they themselves believe in torture; and that basis includes not taking seriously all their complaints about being interviewed by women.

What the "faith-based community" wants to do is to foist their messianic vision of a singular and correct wordview down the throats of everybody on the planet.

Does that mean that you also want to abandon the basis of your morality whenever confronted by a different culture? I don't think so. If you stand for the legal equality of women, then I think that you have to stand for the legal equality of woman interrogators in Guantanamo, and ignore the issue of when they do and don't menstruate, and ignore the Muslims' complaints. "Cultural insensitivity" isn't "torture" or "humiliation", and complaining is not the same thing as a legitimate claim of torture.

windhorse: "The Saudis and Egyptians torture people all the time, but I have yet to see anything that helped us on the jihad movement and (Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al) Zawahri," he said.

As applied to what I wrote, that is because no one in Egypt or Saudi Arabia tries to followup all the claims of the victims, and to make the end of torture conditional on telling the truth.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

I like debate -- and honestly, I often enjoy feeding trolls.

I don't care whether anyone is a troll or not. I ignore most posts, and only respond to a few posts that I like responding to.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

"If my point was long ago conceded, why has nobody on this board mentioned where they would draw the line?"

Because it's an idiotic point that has little relevance to the topic under discussion. It's a rather classic troll, actually -- to pick one obscure little point that is way off to the side and obsessively harp on it.

The topic at hand is the "compromise" of the Stalwart Republican Three with the Bush administration, the near-complete victory of the latter, including handing Bush the ability to define torture pretty much any way he wishes, aside from the extremes spelled out in the "compromise," and the ability to do quite a few nasty things completely free of both Congressional and judicial oversight.

In that context, a silly question about where we draw the lines on nitpicking issues of the type that you describe, is simply not worth any serious attention.

Posted by: PaulB on September 22, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

So, Inigo, if you wish to be taken seriously, why don't you propose some hypotheticals on precisely what Bush is and is not allowed to do if this "compromise" becomes law? Or to whom he is allowed to do this? Or who, if anyone, is allowed to intervene or oversee? Where are the limits of the Bush administration's power?

Then we can discuss why on earth the silliness you have been obsessing about is worth even a second of our time?

Posted by: PaulB on September 22, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

Well, I've never considered you a troll -- even though there are many here who would. To me, trollishness has less to do with political orientation than exercising bad faith in a debate.

Let me, though, ask you a defining question.

Obviously a menstruating woman is irrelevant. But how about the use of menstrual blood to humiliate a Muslim male?

Is that fair in your book. Or does it count as sexual humiliation?

Do you find sexual humiliation fair game -- outside of the realm of "torture"? (obviously it won't produce pain unto organ failure).

If you do -- is the deliberate use of female interrogators for the purpose of inducing sexual humiliation of detainees anything at all that would be supported by a belief in the equality of the sexes -- since it is precisely leveraging the percieved *in*equality of the sexes in Muslim culture?

Because don't kid yourself that this is some kind of workplace equality issue.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

To me, trollishness has less to do with political orientation than exercising bad faith in a debate.

Exactly

Evidence rmck1 is a SockPuppet

Posted by: Public Service Announcement on September 22, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well. I guess this thread disintigrated to the casing of aspersions. Time to close this tab, I guess.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Public Service Announcement:

Then why are you posting all this off-topic nonsense that everybody's ignoring -- and which doesn't "prove" anything?

Why do you continue to lie and disrupt for the singular purpose of an attempt at character assassination?

Strikes me that "bad faith" must be your middle name.

If the thread were hopping right now, I would never have bothered to post this. I'm waiting for a reply from republicrat.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Global:

Well also, nobody who's interested in debating the topic seems to be around anymore. G'night then.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

I just got here so I haven't caught up yet, but I did a search for "habeas corpus".

Zilch!

So I did a search for "habeas" and "corpus" separately.

Zilch again!

So even if the US doesn't torture a person, that's alright and they can disappear forever into the black prisons as long as they are held abroad.

Amazing!

I understand that good ol' George can't keep more than one refrain in his tiny brain, but this legislatin is BAD across the board, not just in allowing everything the GCs do not allow.

Come on!

Posted by: notthere on September 22, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK
Notice that the KSM case is of a prisoner held for a long period of time, whose answers are thoroughly checked out. republicrat at 9:35 PM
Which of course means that their silly scenario of the "ticking bomb" did not and never did apply. However, the fact that Bush tortures completely innocent people and elicits false confessions is known. That is, to say the least, counter productive because of the wasted investigations that must be undertaken and the ensuing hatred, contempt and revenge that earns the US. Torture is morally wrong always, but it seems to be a fetish with Bush and his lickspittles these days.

The important question to ask yourself: if you approve of government torture, you have to answer what torture should mean to you
Rosa Brooks writes in the Los Angeles Times: "[T]ake any of the 'alternative' methods that Bush wants to use on U.S. detainees and imagine someone using those methods on your son or daughter. If the bad guys [or some government] captured your son and tossed him, naked, into a cell kept at a temperature just slightly higher than an average refrigerator, then repeatedly doused him with ice water to induce hypothermia, would that be okay? What if they shackled him to a wall for days so he couldn't sit or lie down without hanging his whole body weight on his arms? What if they threatened to rape and kill his wife, or pretended they were burying him alive? What if they did all these things by turns? Would you have any problem deciding that these methods are cruel? . . .

Would you want your loved one in one of Bush's rape rooms? In some other governments? Do you think that others will not do to us as Bush has done to them, like say a government of a country that had nothing to do with 9-11?

If torture a) makes them say whatever you want them to say, and b) you want them to say the truth, then explain to me again how you get to c) it does not work? Thomas1 at 2:17 PM

If you torture an innocent man and he confesses, what does he confess to, stupid?
Thomas1, do you happen to be Christian? Doctor Gonzo 2:40 PM

In no sense of the term is Chuckles Christian or pro-life.
...My ticking timebomb scenario contemplates 1 million Americans being killed. Thomas1 at 2:59 PM

You're scenario is bs. Bush has never tortured anyone with knowledge of a "ticking bomb," but he has tortured people with no association with terrorism, which makes it wrong and proves that his judgment cannot be trusted.

Posted by: Mike on September 22, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I'm not a troll. I'm trying to get people to realize their initial politically-minded response is not as thoughtful as they might like to believe.

These are difficult and important arguments.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

notthere:

From the NYT:

The compromise reached on Thursday between Congressional Republicans
and the White House on the interrogations and trials of terrorism
suspects is, legal experts said yesterday, a series of interlocking
paradoxes.

It would impose new legal standards that it forbids the courts to
enforce.

It would guarantee terrorist masterminds charged with war crimes an
array of procedural protections. But it would bar hundreds of minor
figures and people who say they are innocent bystanders from access to
the courts to challenge their potentially lifelong detentions.

And while there is substantial disagreement about just which harsh
interrogation techniques the compromise would prohibit, there is no
dispute that it would allow military prosecutors to use statements
that had been obtained under harsh techniques that are now banned.

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

Do you support the use of female interrogators for the expressed purpose of sexually humiliating male Muslim detainees?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo:

How is sexual humiliation of men by women in any way expressive of the Western ideal of equality of the sexes?

bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB: In that context, a silly question about where we draw the lines on nitpicking issues of the type that you describe, is simply not worth any serious attention.

that only works if you are totally neutral on the issue. if you assert that someone was wrong, then it is reasonable to ask you what you think right would be.

mike: Which of course means that their silly scenario of the "ticking bomb" did not and never did apply.

I made a similar point. In the case of KSM, it wasn't a ticking bomb but a set of other plans to be executed in the future.

The important question to ask yourself: if you approve of government torture, you have to answer what torture should mean to you

I agree, and I put some hints up above. rape is out. loud, bad music is in as long as it doesn't damage the auditory system.

rmck1: But how about the use of menstrual blood to humiliate a Muslim male?

depends what use. I wouldn't force them to drink it, though some friends of mine when I was in college told me that it tastes good. I think that it would be a good idea to force them to take a really good course on female sexual reproductive organs, including details on menstrual blood, and even the sort of information provided in a childbirth preparation class -- complete with actual placentas.

As far as sexual arousal goes, young men do not need live stimuli for that. One of the fallacies of the Islamists is that they'll be free of sexual fantasies if women cover up enough. In Australia and Norway, attorneys defending rapists have attempted to claim that too little clothing worn in public by the Australian and Norwegian women was the stimulus that caused the rapes; luckily, this defense has never worked there, but it does work in Pakistan and Egypt, where women are likely to be killed if raped.

a series of interlocking
paradoxes.

That's characteristic of workable legal systems. And of the rest of life, for that matter. The gruesome ironies of life cause some people to lose hope and self-confidence.

Posted by: republicrat on September 22, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

The woman you and I hypothesize is simply doing her job. A woman who interrogates a prisoner can do as good a job as a man, judged objectively.

I will not let the subjective judgments of radical Muslims change my choice about who should do a job.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya on September 22, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Inigo Montoya:

My goodness is that ever mind-numbingly disingenuous.

I asked you about *sexual humiliation*. She is picked for that gig not because she can do the same job as a male interrogator -- you know, as if she were a cop or a fireman or a corporate executive -- she is picked for the job because she's a trained interrogator and a *woman*.

Do you think that male strippers can do as good a job at batchelor parties? Jesus!

The choice of her was made *precisely* because of the subjective judgments of radical Islamists. She is deliberately using her femininity -- along with her interrogation skills -- as a weapon.

How can you justify this within the tenets of sexual equality?

Hint: You can't.

republicrat:

Your post was even more maddening. I'll be back in an hour or more to answer it.

Goodnight, all. Thwack my persecution troll for me if it shows up again.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 23, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1: The choice of her was made *precisely* because of the subjective judgments of radical Islamists. She is deliberately using her femininity -- along with her interrogation skills -- as a weapon.

that sounds good to me. It certainly does not sound like "torture" or "humiliation". These are mostly guys trained to torture and kill, and motivated to do so. The ones who were not actual terrorists or Taliban mostly just had to tell what they knew. There were bad happenings, but that isn't one of them.

I was just responding to what you wrote. I'll repeat: Not all use of menstrual blood is humiliating and degrading. Not only would I not support making them drink any, I would not support injecting any into them.

Posted by: republicrat on September 23, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

The euphemism now for torture is "alternative interrogation technique."

As has been posted above it is just unimaginable that we are even in the position of debating acceptable methods of torture. The soul of this country has changed so much in 40 years. I remember when peace was a desirable goal.

Posted by: JohnK on September 23, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm trying to get people to realize their initial politically-minded response is not as thoughtful as they might like to believe."

LOL... Then why post the nitpicking silly little crap that is almost completely irrelevant, not to mention useless, for such a determination? Your high-minded purpose does not match your low-minded rhetoric, I'm afraid.

Posted by: PaulB on September 23, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

"that only works if you are totally neutral on the issue. if you assert that someone was wrong, then it is reasonable to ask you what you think right would be."

No. The issue is entirely irrelevant when it comes to discussing how much power the Bush administration has, how much has been ceded by McCain, who Bush has the power to do things to and what limits and oversight there are on that power, and so on. All of these questions are infinitely more important than the supreme silliness that Mr. Montoya has repeated, ad nauseam, and not one of those issues is even remotely made more clear by any answer to the silly questions he's asking.

Posted by: PaulB on September 23, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

The euphemism now for torture is "alternative interrogation technique." . . .

Posted by: JohnK on September 23, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

That's strange. Out of the preznit's own mouth, I thought it was "this program".

Posted by: notthere on September 23, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States: (Delivered with felonious gravity and silly smirk.) War on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror...Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States: (Delivered with felonious gravity and silly smirk.) War on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror...

And what is your reaction, ladies and gentlemen of the media? (Robotically repeating whatever the president says.) War on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror...

And you, Mr. and Mrs. America? (Hunkered down in bed with blankets pulled over their heads.) War on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror...

Never has a nation been so transfixed by nothing! The legion of glowering, dark-countenanced, super-terrorists hiding behind every tree and telephone pole, preparing to lob suitcase nuclear bombs and anthrax spores at us do not exist! Ghosts and bogeymen are running our foreign and domestic policies!

If we are seeing the decline and fall of America, we will have been brought down by phantoms. Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. It is a very serious fear indeed.

And what is your reaction, ladies and gentlemen of the media? (Robotically repeating whatever the president says.) War on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror...

And you, Mr. and Mrs. America? (Hunkered down in bed with blankets pulled over their heads.) War on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror-war on terror...

Never has a nation been so transfixed by nothing! The legion of glowering, dark-countenanced, super-terrorists hiding behind every tree and lampost, preparing to lob suitcase nuclear bombs and anthrax spores at us do not exist! Ghosts and bogeymen are running our foreign and domestic policies!

If we are seeing the decline and fall of America, we will have been brought down by phantoms. Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. it is a very serious fear indeed.

Posted by: James of DC on September 23, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

 
 
Doctor Jay proposed the argument:

"Ronald Reagan didn't need legalized torture to defeat the Soviet Union. ..."
In fact, Ronald Reagan signed the UN Convention Against Torture, which as a ratified treaty is part of "the supreme law of the land" -- and already prohibits what the Bush Administration has been doing.

Despite our facing an "Evil Empire" superpower with a nuclear arsenal, there was an unbroken national consensus that torture is wrong... evil... not to be done, no matter the provocation. Back then, even the neoconservatives still agreed.

How far they've fallen. How far they've dragged our entire nation down with them.

If ever there was a bright line we'd all agree never to cross, I would have expected it to be the commission of war crimes such as those punished at Nuremburg: aggressive war (invading nations who had not attacked), attacking civilian targets, the torture and murder of helpless prisoners neither charged nor convicted of any crime.

Now these are being done by our own government, defended by national politicians and in the mainstream press, and even accepted as matter-of-fact by much of the general population.

I could endure being ashamed of my government. It would less bearable to be ashamed of my nation.

But that bright line remains clear to me. Bush, his administration, and his supporters in this issue have crossed it, into espousing unambiguous evil.

I still hope that most of my nation's people will not.
 
 

Posted by: Raven on September 23, 2006 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Ronald Reagan didn't need legalized torture to defeat the Soviet Union. ...",/em>

Ronald Reagan had the Strategic Air Command, when he went to the table with the Soviets, and SAC faced an adversary that was their ideological equal and employed like tactics.

By the way, it can be said of SAC that no group of people have ever held such power, and no group of people have ever shown such restraint in the exercise of that power.

Comparing the apex of the cold war to the current situation is disingenuous at best.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 5:21 AM | PERMALINK

GC, surely you're not saying al Qaeda is a more formidable opponent than the Soviet Union was -- such that the current situation requires abandoning ethical principles we maintained even during the Cold War.

Posted by: Raven on September 23, 2006 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

Absolutely not. I get pissed off when Al Qae'da is compared to the Soviet threat.

There was a real enemy, with the capacity to actually kill millions of Americans. Al Qaeda is a few zealots who have the desire to see a caliphate restored and to that end embrace terrorism. Whoop de fucking do. I didn't bow to fear during the cold war, when my husband was maintaining those awesome doomsday machines, and I won't kow-tow to fear now, when our way of life is threatened by our government under the guise of protecting freedom from some bearded men who desire our downfall, when the "enemy" we currently face is a fucking joke.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 5:48 AM | PERMALINK

I quite frequently refer to al Qaeda as "terrorist pissants" and consider them a nuisance, not a credible threat.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

Raven: This is a post of mine from the top of the thread:

No terrorist has the capability of the former Soviet empire to threaten the lives of a million Americans. Get real.

When we were threatened with nuclear annihilation by the Soviet Union we were less frightened than we are now of a few thousand nut-jobs.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 22, 2006 at 3:02 PM

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK

So an old man who failed to step up when it was his turn is thankful that officers who served in the past are no longer serving him, because we have different politics and do not condone torture.

He says "Good Riddance" to Global Citizens husband who took a princilpled stand as an officer and a gentleman, and thanks God I am out of the Army, though he offers no credible reason he should hold this viewpoint.

Thomas1, I am not as nice and certainly not as diplomatic as GC. She showed amazing restraint on the "Plan B" thread by continuing to debate and defend the cause of science, even in the face of your cherry-picking and selective acceptance of verified data.

I would have told you to fuck off and die long before her ire was raised. So let me tell you now: Fuck off and die, shithead.

Posted by: Joyfully Subversive on September 23, 2006 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK


"No American will be allowed to torture another human being anywhere in the world." - 1/26/06

Posted by: g.w.b. on September 23, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

Damn Joy. Nurses piss you off much last night? You are drawing a line in the sand with T1, aren't you?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

from the UN convention against torture:


For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. [Part 1, Article 1, section 1.]

Do reread the last sentence. If a method is approved, the pain and suffering it causes are not torture, even if severe.

What is prohibited is severe pain and suffering. Annoyance, incovenience, discomfort, insults to one's beliefs and religion, even associatiion with menstrual blood and interrogation by sexy women are not prohibited.

There are Americans already in jail for violations committed at Abu Ghraib and in Afganistan. What they did isn't permitted under the new law. What is permitted doesn't cause severe pain and suffering.

Posted by: republicrat on September 23, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't say jack shit about Soviets actually killing Americans. I said that we did not kow-tow to fear and pander to our weaker natures when we faced a credible threat. al Qaeda does not have that level of resources not the capability of the threat we once faced.

I imaging Joy is sleeping by now, since she was at work overnight. But when she asked what you did in the military, she did not get an answer. She posted both her MFA and AOC with her first post to the thread. But I will ask you in her abssence: What did you do in the military and what was your MOS/AFSC/AOC? It is a legitimate question, given your appologist stand on torture, and whether or not one served has an effect on where one comes down on the torture issue.


We aren't going to play this cherry-picking game today.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen: I said that we did not kow-tow to fear and pander to our weaker natures when we faced a credible threat. al Qaeda does not have that level of resources not the capability of the threat we once faced

al Qaeda is a true threat less apocalyptic than the Soviets. It is a credible threat. No one is kow-towing to fear.

Posted by: republicrat on September 23, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Dr. Jay wrote: Ronald Reagan didn't need legalized torture to defeat the Soviet Union.

We don't know this. Reagan wasn't saddled with today's bizarre Supreme Court decisions. He didn't have traitors who divulged vital military secrets or newspapers who couldn't wait to publish them.

I do believe we didn't torture troops in uniform captured on the battlefield during the Cold War. However, I don't know what the CIA did secretly to non-uniformed enemies.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 23, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I asked you and received no answer. So I guess have to assume that you are all for throwing overboard an international standard that never was designed to apply to you.

It's pretty easy to demand someone else torture in your name, but you did not step up when you were the age to serve. It is pretty easy to ask other people to fight and die in a specious war if you have never been in uniform and by virtue of that fact stuck your neck out for your country. Service in the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, Ocversized Armchair Division doesn't count.

By virtue of their service Joyfully Subversive and other officers and enlisted personnel have assured your right to be as obnoxious and foolish as any human has ever been, and to serve in the Fighting Keyboarders. I thank them for their service. I would respect your opinion more on this topic if you were one of those who served.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

or newspapers who couldn't wait to publish them.

I assume that you are refering to the spying-on-our-citizens NSA program that the New York Times sat on for a year?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ronald Reagan didn't need legalized torture to defeat the Soviet Union.

Like Ronnie, rotting from within, the Soviet Union was defeated by Alzheimer's, not by Reagan himself.

Posted by: Objective Historian on September 23, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I dismissed you on one thread after repeatedly refuting and torching your strawman, cherry-picked arguments. And since I was on campus at the time I "declared victory and went home" it was literal; and you had disappeared when confronted with the fact that you plagiarized a post. Once I was gone you skulked back.

Or shall we just agree to not address one another or hurl invective on these threads, since we are obviosly not the type of person the other would talk to outside this forum.

However you want to play it, Chuckles. I can be nasty and insulting or I can ignore you. But I am losing hope that there is a happy medium.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 23, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

She dismissed me as "an old man who failed to step up when it was his turn" and then told me to "Fuck off and die, shithead." Where was the "question" exactly?

Wait, I was an English major, I think I can answer this. I believe the question was:

"Won't you fuck off and die already, you shithead?"

Posted by: trex on September 23, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I assumed T1 had never been military either, but like many repubs, probably has a military fetish. and no, I never asked him ... but he takes a position of moral cowardice in advocating torture more consistent with nonmilitary people like bush, cheney, rumsfeld, etc.

Posted by: Nads on September 23, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Where was the "question" exactly?

Who said there was a question.

Aside from why a know-nothing liar like yourself persists and persists in pretending to be someone you're not and convincing no one of anything at all...

Posted by: obscure on September 23, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

T1 ... are you saying my assumption that you are NOT military, but simply a cheerleading chickenhawk, are wrong?

DO explain, and prove me wrong, since your word isn't worth dogshit ... and try not to cut and paste the first thing you see when you Google "army" and "iraq."

Posted by: Nads on September 23, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

For the record. I don't believe torture by the US or its agencies has been going on all along. It hasn't.

Posted by: David in NY on September 23, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

What I meant was, torture wasn't going on before about 2003. It surely has been since then, but that's a new perversion of our national culture and practice.

Posted by: David in NY on September 23, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

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