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Tilting at Windmills

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December 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TWO STORIES....After the United States captured al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in the weeks after 9/11, the CIA tortured him in an effort to get him to talk. Here's how Ron Suskind described what happened, starting with what CIA investigators found in Zubaydah's diary:

"The guy is insane, certifiable, split personality," [Dan] Coleman told a top official at FBI after a few days reviewing the Zubaydah haul....There was almost nothing "operational" in his portfolio. That was handled by the management team. He wasn't one of them...."He was like a travel agent, the guy who booked your flights....He was expendable, you know, the greeter....Joe Louis in the lobby of Caesar's Palace, shaking hands."

....According to CIA sources, he was water-boarded....He was beaten....He was repeatedly threatened....His medication was withheld. He was bombarded with deafening, continuous noise and harsh lights.

....Under this duress, Zubaydah told them that shopping malls were targeted by al Qaeda....Zubaydah said banks — yes, banks — were a priority....And also supermarkets — al Qaeda was planning to blow up crowded supermarkets, several at one time. People would stop shopping. The nation's economy would be crippled. And the water system — a target, too. Nuclear plants, naturally. And apartment buildings.

Thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each flavor of target. Of course, if you multiplied by ten, there still wouldn't be enough public servants in America to surround and secure the supermarkets. Or the banks. But they tried.

Sometime later, Zubaydah finally provided some actionable intelligence: the name of Jose Padilla and the news that "Mukhtar," a code name that had popped up multiple times on NSA sigint, was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But that information didn't come because Zubaydah had been tortured. It came only after a CIA interrogator slipped under Zubaydah's skin by convincing him, with the help of some ideas from the Koran, that Zubaydah was predestined to cooperate with them

That's Suskind's account. Over at ABC News, though, Brian Ross has an interview with a former CIA officer named John Kiriakou, who says just the opposite about Zubaydah: "He was highly thought of in al Qaeda, and he was very, very good at logistics....We knew that he was really one of the intellectual leaders of the group." And he was waterboarded:

Ross: What happened as a result of that?

Kiriakou: He resisted [for] probably 30, 35 seconds....And a short time afterwards, in the next day or so, he told his interrogator that Allah had visit him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate because his cooperation would make it easier on the other brothers who had been captured. And from that day on he answered every question just like I'm sitting here speaking to you.

....Ross: So in your view the water boarding broke him.

Kiriakou: I think it did, yes.

Ross: And did it make a difference in terms of —

Kiriakou: It did. The threat information that he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.

Same guy. CIA sources for both accounts. But diametrically opposite conclusions. So who's right?

I don't know. But even if waterboarding worked Kiriakou has since decided that it was wrong. Why? "Because we're Americans, and we're better than that."

The full ABC story is here.

Kevin Drum 7:42 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (101)

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Comments

I wonder what Suskind's CIA sources think of Kiriakou, and vice-versa.

The CIA wouldn't have any problems sending someone out to lie about goings on in either case.

Posted by: Boronx on December 10, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Luckily, I'm sure that absolutely no one involved would stretch the truth to try to justify their actions.

I'm sure it is just as pure and true as everything out of the Bush Admin.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 10, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

fascinating, and kudos to you, kevin, for being willing to present these two diametrically opposed accounts.

what i will say is that john kiriakou seems to understand the basic premise here: if michael mukasey wants some pointers, it looks like kiriakou (even if he's lying about zubaydah, and i have no idea) could provide them....

Posted by: howard on December 10, 2007 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

The threat information that he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.

In all seriousness, suppose it were true that this guy had coughed up such actionable and important intelligence. Is there anyone on the planet who believes that if that were so, the Bush/Cheney WH would not have made sure a thousand times over that every last American citizen would know that that had happened?

What plots have been thus disrupted? Why, none that we know of. And if we don't know of them, what does that imply?

Posted by: frankly0 on December 10, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

A point that usually gets overlooked is this:

If Zubaydah did give up some good intel, how do we know that standard interrogation methods wouldn't have yielded them, without the torture?

Suskind's book says that FBI was getting him to open up, before the goon squad stepped in.

Posted by: Anderson on December 10, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO,

I don't remain the specifics but wasn't there a big to do about Bush claiming a specific number of attacks were disrupted due to these interrogations sometime over the last few months? I recall him citing a specific number of attacks and the press swarming to figure out what they were.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 10, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

I don't remain the specifics but wasn't there a big to do about Bush claiming a specific number of attacks were disrupted due to these interrogations sometime over the last few months?

It is inconceivable to me that we would not know of all necessary details if those supposed attacks possessed even a particle of plausibility.

For Christ's sake, think of how much got made of Captain Wannabe, Jose Padilla. Somehow we can't hear about real plots -- not a single one?

Posted by: frankly0 on December 10, 2007 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

This is where Mukasey shows whether he's a man of integrity or not.

Remember restoring honor and integrity to the White House?

What a sick joke that's turned out to be.

Posted by: Nick on December 10, 2007 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

And Gerald Posner's conspiracy version makes it three stories - though Kiriakou's and Posner's aren't necessarily incompatible.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-posner/the-cias-destroyed-inter_b_75850.html?load=1&page=2

Posted by: Gary Sugar on December 10, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Suskind's book has been out for a couple of years. He has several sources that give their names. No one contradicted him at the time.

So, I'm disinclined to believe this guy.

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 10, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

It is impressive that Kevin provides information on all sides of this story, even information that supports the proposition that "torture" sometimes works and produces information that helps saves innocents.

Posted by: brian on December 10, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK


Brian, I am vehemently anti-torture. But I am almost willing to make an exception in your case. Good grief, it's like you have OCD or something.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 10, 2007 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Would Kiriakou care to state under oath his recollection of events?

I hope there will be a congressional investigation into the destroyed CIA tapes, and this fellow seems to know what was on those tapes. Perhaps he would be more circumspect under the threat of perjury.

Posted by: absent observer on December 10, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

There's a major effort underway for the remainder of the Bush admin towards revisionism and legacy building. That's the context. ABC News has a good working relation with the government on terror-related scoops. It's a primary conduit.

Posted by: Kenneth on December 10, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating inteview. Everyone should read the transcript. He sounds more credible than Suskind's exageration about thousands of uniformed men and women racing in panic to various places. But at points, he seems to be talking about more than he actually knows.

And yes, he said waterboarding worked, but at least at one point in the interview, he said he thought we should not do it. He was less certain later in the interview.

blue girl, sorry to further disturb you, but its really not about you.

Posted by: brian on December 10, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

The type of medium used may be a clue to the differences of account. When a CIA officer speaks to ABC news, he is broadcasting to a mass audience. When CIA officers give details to a Washington insider for a book, they want to record history. Both sources are slanted, but one reeks of bravado and suasion.

Posted by: Brojo on December 10, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Nor is it about you setting a record saying the same damned thing over...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...ad freakin' nauseum.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 10, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

there was never any al-fresco. all a legend. just to put the sheep in the pen.

why is it that you idiots continue to believe anything that the bushit usg tells you?

no aircraft were hijacked on 11/09/01. and no commercial aircraft were responsible for the destruction of any buildings on that day.

everything you have been told is an assemblage of the most grotesque prevarications imaginable. and based on those prevarications, you applauded the invasion of afghanistan, then the invasion of iraq.

and may even applaud the invasion of iran.

what is the tie that binds these invasions? it is the program to secure the records of the george herbert walker bush family jewels...the files,the films, that would reveal how the head of the bush family [surrogates for the rockefellers] orchestrated the past.

the invasion of panama was to seize the skull & boner co-conspirator[la pina] and to eliminate his knowledge of how the outfit moved the heroin trade from habana to panama in 1960.

it was also an invasion that targeted the seizure of bush/rockefeller/skull&bones banking records.

principally the records of the deak, perrera money laundry[an outfit proprietary].

why would george walker bush want to seize afghanistan, iraq, iran? to seize the evidence of his father's shenanigans[which also involved the members of skull & bones, and the rockefeller family-who created the bushies]

what is so lamentable is that no one on these boards seems to know anything about the past.

therefore, george santyana got it accurately. being ignorant, you will keep being f"cked over by the state.

Posted by: albertchampion on December 10, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think we need to look at the nature of the threat involved, and take a consequentialist tack on the issue.

If the information extracted by torturing Zubaydah saved even one marginal GOP House seat, or electoral vote in 2002, or 2004, it was worth it.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 10, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Dependent on the individual and information that you seek torture effectiveness is hit or miss. It is neither entirely effective nor ineffective, but that debate misses the entire point. It is the long-term price paid by the torturers that makes it a bad practice.

Whether behind closed doors or not, a state that allows itself to slip into these methods ultimately opens the door for worse. Eventually it becomes difficult to distinguish practicality from punishment and any potential threat can be spun as justification.

Posted by: Condor on December 10, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

This is where Mukasey shows whether he's a man of integrity or not.

I would actually already infer that based on his willingness to work for the George W. Bush administration. But hopefully I'm wrong, and he's a naive idealist who believes in the rule of law and really doesn't follow current events enough to know how much his efforts will be thwarted. If Stanford can beat Southern California....

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on December 10, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

So, demand that they list the attacks that were prevented.

The enemy already knows who gave up the information and they know what information he had and they know the techniques used, so nothing is compromised by giving up the list of targets and how attacks on them were disrupted by the torturee's information.

Of course, they won't because they are lying about how valuable this guy was.

And the reason Kiriakou is pretending to be against waterboarding is so he will appear more credible with the anti-torture folks when he says we got useful information and those on the fence, ultimately making a better case for the administration's use of these techniques past, present, and future.

Don't. Buy. A. Word. Of. It.

Posted by: anonymous on December 10, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

brian: "It is impressive that Kevin provides information on all sides of this story, even information that supports the proposition that "torture" sometimes works and produces information that helps saves innocents."

This information only supports that if you believe Kiriakou, who simply isn't credible without descriptions of specific attacks that were disrupted.

His refusal to provide such specifics speaks volumes about his mendacity.

Your exaggeration of this information to promote torture speaks volumes about your mendacity.

Posted by: anonymous on December 10, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Gerald Posner's "conspiracy version" has now been substantially corroborated by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist James Risen, in his book State of War (p. 187).

You can read all about it in "Part 4" here:

www.asecondlookatthesaudis.com

And frankly, I got the impression that Suskind's sources from the CIA were definitely in full-time CYA mode, trying to explain away the fact that they never got any real actionable intelligence out of this guy.

Also, Suskind tried to play this off as proof of some sort of fraud by the Bush administration, which described Zubaydah as Al Qaeda's No. 3 man at one point. Don't blame him for assuming the worst with this administration, but the intelligence on Zubaydah had been accumulating for years before Bush even took office, including the court-room testimony of Ahmed Ressam, and wiretaps by Jordanian intelligence in which Zubaydah was recorded giving marching orders to another group of would-be suicide bombers in that country.

Posted by: Bill in Chicago on December 10, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Think just for a moment about how much political heat would be relieved if, in fact, torturing this guy, or any guy, had produced indisputable and genuinely important results.

How is it even imaginable that the American public would not know by now, in fully convincing detail, the nature of those "disrupted" attacks? When has the Bush WH ever displayed the slightest concern about the national security fallout from anything it has chosen to reveal, when it serves a political end?

Posted by: frankly0 on December 10, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bill in Chicago: I got the impression that Suskind's sources from the CIA were definitely in full-time CYA mode, trying to explain away the fact that they never got any real actionable intelligence out of this guy.

I got the impression that Kiriakou was in full-time bamboozlement mode.

Posted by: anonymous on December 10, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK
But that information didn't come because Zubaydah had been tortured. It came only after a CIA interrogator slipped under Zubaydah's skin by convincing him, with the help of some ideas from the Koran, that Zubaydah was predestined to cooperate with them.

To me, the most compelling reason to believe that torture doesn't work is that professional interregators -- the people from police departments, the FBI, the CIA -- think that it's useless and, in fact, only makes their lives harder when they do have to try and get useful information from someone who's previously been tortured.

It's easy for amateurs like brian to run around declaring that he "knows" torture works 'cause, like, he's totally seen it in the movies, man! Easy, that is, as long as you ignore the people who actually do the work so you can pretend that life is just like an episode of "24."

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 10, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we're both right.

Just took a closer look at that transcript. ABC News says this guy is one of the leaders of the CIA Group which both caught and interrogated Zubaydah (I would have thought these guys would be more specialized), so I'm not sure if this bit really passes the smell test for me:

BRIAN ROSS:
It's been revealed now that the CIA had tapes of
the interrogation underway. Were you involved in
the taping process?
JOHN:
No. In fact, I first learned about it in the
press yesterday.
BRIAN ROSS:
Do-- you were not-- you did not see cameras?
JOHN:
We had cameras everywhere. But it was our
understanding at the time that they were closed
circuit cameras so that other interrogators and
medical personnel and security officers could
watch the interviews-- taking place.
BRIAN ROSS:
You didn't see it being recorded anywhere?
JOHN:
No. No, I never saw it being recorded.

Posted by: Bill in Chicago on December 10, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous,

I agree that Kiriakou would be more credible with more specific information about disrupted attacks, but he is pretty specific about a lot of other stuff. At this point, what is Kiriakou's motivation to lie?

In any event, I think Kevin should be credited for providing this information, regardless of whether it ultimately is determined to be credible. It reflects an openness and honesty that I wish more people would show, instead of trying to castigate those with whom they disagree.

Posted by: brian on December 10, 2007 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 is making the strongest point. There is simply no way that any genuinely succesful foiling of a terrorist act would not be trumpeted endlessly by this maladministration and its media cronies (think of how desperately they've trumpeted things that even hint at success with any policy). Ergo, there is no evidence (not a hint, not a whiff) of any successfully foiled plots.

He sounds more credible than Suskind's exageration

I just scroll down to the name, brian, and it becomes a recommendation for the opposite... Opposing views I relish. But being consistently wrong is quite another thing...

Posted by: snicker-snack on December 10, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

I do not care whether torture is effective, although I do not believe it is.

I would rather take my chances with terrorism and keep my soul by making sure no American ever tortures anyone for any reason, and that any who have done so, do hard prison time, no matter what they "saved" me from.

Those who say we should torture people out of fear are cowards and traitors.

When did Americans become such cowards that they feel they need to torture others out of fear? Why does George W. Bush do Osama's work for him by saying we should be afraid and why is Bush himself such a sniveling, cringing coward? Why are GWB and OBL working toward the same ends and vying to see which one can set the lowest threshold of morality?

I wish we had a president who opposed terrorists rather than encouraging them the way Bush does.

Posted by: Repack Rider on December 10, 2007 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

If Zubaydah's information "disrupted a number of attacks", why haven't the supposed perpetrators been put on trial? Why hasn't the Bush administration at least trumpeted the successful disruption of the attacks?

The Bush administration has tried to trumpet the half-baked "plans" of several losers who were coached by informants, so if they had disrupted "a number of" real attacks, surely they'd have boasted about it for political gain.

So I think it's clear that Suskind's take on the "value" of Zubaydah's confessions is closer to the mark.

Posted by: McCord on December 10, 2007 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Because we're Americans, and we're [supposed to be] better than that."

Fixed it.

Posted by: Thlayli on December 10, 2007 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Let me add my thanks to Kevin for including facts that may point in a direction not to his liking.

Mnemosyne wrote: professional interregators -- the people from police departments, the FBI, the CIA -- think that [torture is] useless

Evidently the CIA thought waterboarding might be useful because they chose to use it on these al Qaeda bigwigs.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 10, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "So who's right? I don't know."

There's one really good way to find out. Formally indict John Kiriakou for the war crimes in which he's now publicly admitted to being an active participant.

Let's see if he sings the same tune when facing the very real prospect of serving a minimum 8-to-25 year prison sentence, if not more.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 10, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

brian: At this point, what is Kiriakou's motivation to lie?

Perhaps you missed this . . .

"And the reason Kiriakou is pretending to be against waterboarding is so he will appear more credible with the anti-torture folks when he says we got useful information and those on the fence, ultimately making a better case for the administration's use of these techniques past, present, and future."

If he criticizes torture then he will appear to critics of the administration who oppose torture to have credibility because of this agreement which may tend to make them sympathetic to his claims that torture was useful and therefore more sympathetic or less willing to criticize that torture.

He has very good motivations for lying.

You simply aren't paying attention because you don't want Kiriakou's claims to be dismissed or disproven because you approve of torture and this administration.

Don't. Buy. It.

Posted by: anonymous on December 10, 2007 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

brian: It reflects an openness and honesty that I wish more people would show, instead of trying to castigate those with whom they disagree.

Maybe you should emulate what you approve instead of trying to continually flood us with BS.

Posted by: anonymous on December 10, 2007 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Evidently the CIA thought waterboarding might be useful because they chose to use it on these al Qaeda bigwigs.

Evidently Hitler thought concentration camps might be useful since he used them on so many people.

BTW, it has not been proven that these were in fact "al Qaeda bigwigs," no matter how much you pretend otherwise.

Posted by: anonymous on December 10, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

brian:"It reflects an openness and honesty that I wish more people would show, instead of trying to castigate those with whom they disagree."

Trust me, brian, I don't castigate you merely because we disagree.

I castigate you because you're a highly literate yet willfully ignorant tool who repeatedly returns to this blog, immediately proceeds to shove his head up his own ass, and then publicly compliments himself on the gorgeous view.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 10, 2007 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I appreciate Kevin's taking a second, harder look at the Abu Zubaydah controversy. I think blanket statements like "torture never works" is a dodge. All you have to do is trot out some evidence that it did even once provide actionable intelligence and you are left with a "debate".

Let's try something else. If we as a country are going to endorse waterboarding as a legit intelligence gathering technique, it is only fair and just to issue posthumous pardons for many Japanese war criminals, but especially for those who were convicted of ...waterboarding US service personnel.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=cYw&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=posthumous&spell=1

Brian, are you starting the letter writing campaign for pardons for those Japanese torturers, er, intelligence officials?

Posted by: Jeff S. on December 10, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Evidently the CIA thought waterboarding might be useful because they chose to use it on these al Qaeda bigwigs.

Point to the little mouse that told you the idea originated with the CIA.

Posted by: junebug on December 10, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Because we're Americans, and we're better than that.

We used to be, anyway.

This is really bad news. Someone is willing to go public and say, "yep, we tortured, and thank God we did!" No evasions, no scapegoating, no pious declarations to the media while winking and nudging at the wingnuts ...

If the guy can get away with it -- and he will -- this will help institutionalize torture as a legitimate tool of intelligence gathering. This can't end well.

Posted by: Matt Stevens on December 11, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

Jeff S,

I know nothing of Japanese use of waterboarding. What I have heard about Japanese treatment of our uniformed soldiers during WWII was heinous, vicious and murderious mistreatment of American and allied sodliers. Perhaps they also did 10 to 40 seconds of waterboarding, such as we have been talking about here, and perhaps they were convicted of war crimes for it, but I have not heard about it.

If you really think what the Japanese did overall to our uniformed soldies is comparable to the enhanced interrogation techniques that we are talking about with resepct to terrorists intent on killing innocent civilians, I don't think there is much to discuss.

If you are a no "torture" under any circumstances guy, fine. I respect your opinion, it is probably based on high ethical standards, and at this point you are probably not open to any other point of view. And perhaps you will not change your mind, even if in the future murder many thousands more innocents.

If you are a balance the potential benefit versus potential harm guy, then some effort needs to be made to estimate the benefits and the harms, which admittedly, is a pretty hard and speculative thing to do.

Posted by: brian on December 11, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

There is not necessarily any disagreement between the accounts. In fact they are in agreement that the guy was in fact tortured and spilled his guts. They agree there were perhaps dozens of attacks to be.

At issue is the quality of the gut spilling.

Kiriakou is a first hand source of the torture but probably not a first hand source of the follow on. We know that these attacks did not happen. Is this guy in a position to know or are Suskind's sources more reliable? Did the attacks not take place since they were in fact the bogus results of torture? Or were they in fact foiled, but without either publicized or even rumored arrests?

It is a reasonable assumption that Kiriakou is just passing on what he was told. The question is: was he told the truth or was he told a nice fable so he wouldn't feel so badly about torturing a guy and accomplishing squat?

I would think that Kiriakou is telling the truth as he knows it, as is Suskind. And you have to give Kiriakou a nod for having moral qualms about torture.

Posted by: Nat on December 11, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting. I read the entire interview. Kiriakou was part of the capture but was not part of the interrogation. He went on to another job and those who were trained in the enhnnced interrogation techniques were brought in. He objected to it so was not trained. The last two thirds of the interview is second hand information.

More interestingly the tapes that were destroyed contained a max of 35 seconds of water boarding. Kiriakou indicates there was shaking and sleep deprivation over some period of time prior to the waterboarding. Evidently Zubaydah's wounds were catastrophic and it was a miracle he survived. The sleep deprivation involved standing for 40 hours which you would think had to be some significant time after someone with bullet wounds in the leg, groin and stomach had time to recover.

I dunno. The interview is very poorly done because it does not elicit any time frames or Kiriakou's sources of information for events after he left the project. The interviewer just plowed on like Kiriakou was a first hand observer of the entire process.

Posted by: Nat on December 11, 2007 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

Brian: If you are a balance the potential benefit versus potential harm guy, then some effort needs to be made to estimate the benefits and the harms, which admittedly, is a pretty hard and speculative thing to do.

I am such a guy. Since over a hundred times as many US citizens have been killed in car accidents as by terrorist attacks on our soil in the last seven years, I propose the following: That every person who applies for a driver's license be taken to the top of Pikes Peak (or a suitably similar location nearest their immediate area), strapped into a car with no brakes, and shoved off toward the bottom. The survivors will then be granted driver's licenses. Could save upwards of fifty thousand lives a year, Brian ( if you don't count the ones who don't make it)

Honestly, guy, do you wear a diaper to bed at night? Why are you so fixated on this "oh my gaaawwwwdd they're coming to kill us, we gotta torture somebody" thing? An American's chances of being killed by a terrorist attack is lower than their chance of being hit by lightning.

I would much prefer to take my chances on the occasional terrorist plot slipping through unstopped than to live in a country that condones torture.

I get the distinct feeling though that you only advocate torturing the guilty. That's nice. Like the cops only arrest guilty people, right? We all know that.

Posted by: DFH on December 11, 2007 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Brian thinks that torture's fine, that opinions are the same as deliberative conclusions, that evidence and argument are irrelevant in forming one's beliefs .....

Don't feed him.

Posted by: scudbucket on December 11, 2007 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

DFH

I hesitated responding because of your silly Pike's Peak analysis, but I'll respond to the rest.

In a general sense, you are correct that the risk of future harm is a factor to be considered. If your assessment that the risk of the FUTURE chance of being killed by a terrorist is less than being hit by lightning, then you are also correct that we should not create any limited exception for "torture." Of course, your statistical analysis is highly flawed because there is no reasonable basis to assume that the historical frequency of terrorist kills is an accurate predictor of future terrorist kills. The future environment obviously will be different than the historical environment and, with more weapons and the passage of time, the future risks are likely greater. It is not like tossing a coin where historical numbers are an excellent predictor of future numbers. For example, your statistics would have been signficiantly different on 9/12/01 than they were on 9/10/01, because the environment changed on 9/11. They may change greatly tomrrow. So, as long as future terrorist kills don't exceed past terrorist kills, your conclusion of no torture is fine. If the terrorists kill 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 next year, then you would say, "Oops, sorry about those statistics about being struck by lightening. I thought I was being pretty smart at the time."

So, that's the problem. You think there will be few terrorist kills in the future. I hope you are right. But your confidence in your statistics is misplaced.

By the way, it is not that you or me or any other individual is likely to be killed by a terrorist because even with a huge increase in terrist kills, the likelihood of that is small. The question is (from the American perspective) how many of our 300 Million will be killed. There also is little reason to limit our concern to American victims, so the question is how many innocents world wide will be terrorist kills? I don't know and, with all due respect, neither do you. That's the problem in trying to decide whether we should created limited circumstances where "torture" is allowed.

Posted by: brian on December 11, 2007 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Scudbucket,

You're right.

Posted by: DFH on December 11, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

DFH

You guys are great. I respectfully point out a significant flaw in the basis for your "deliberative conclusion." You don't answer. You pretend it is my problem. I hope your guess that terrorist kills don't increase is correct.

Posted by: brian on December 11, 2007 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

Yes Kevin. But one of those accounts came from Suskind.

Guess what? People who make a career of serving up pleasing stories for hyper-partisan cocoon-dwellers do not have much incentive to stick to factually correct material.

Posted by: am on December 11, 2007 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

Well, of course torture worked and all those terrorist acts were prevented. Just like my magical PJ's have kept me from being attacked by tigers.

Posted by: natural cynic on December 11, 2007 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Brian, banality and respect are two different things entirely. You certainly have the former in spades.

I can't help but think that perhaps you are willing to believe torture would be effective in some cases, because at your very core, you know it would work on you.

No one knows how many terrorists will kill, but we do know that the behavior of the current administration has made more terrorists than it has captured, killed or detained. Can we hold the Bush administration and their enablers accountable for the people killed by these new terrorists?

I can't do anything about the cowardice that haunts so many of my fellow Americans - I can only live according to my own ethics and the ideals I was raised with and believe are worth living up to. I am certainly not willing to sacrifice any part of my humanity on the altar of fear.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 11, 2007 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

blue girl,

Its not about you. Or me. And certainly not about you calling your fellow Americans cowards.

And the terrorist who kill are responsible for their killing, not President Bush.

Posted by: brian on December 11, 2007 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, if the show fits...

What would you call people who rush to give in to fear? I call them cowards, and do not apologize for this.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 11, 2007 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

*show=shoe

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 11, 2007 at 4:10 AM | PERMALINK

Brian -

I've only just arrived at this party, so I've no history with you or about you, but the fact that you wrote the word as "torture," i.e., put it in quotes, pretty much tells me what I need to know.

That said, I'll note that your argument for basing policy on "future terrorist kills" is nonsensical.

Why? Because if there is no large-scale terrorist attack this year, you say "Well, it could happen in 2008!" If there's none in 2008, you say "It could happen in 2009!" None in 2009, it becomes "2010!" And so on. In terms of idle speculation, it's unassailable. In terms of a rational basis for policy, it's utterly useless.

The practical problem with torture - that is, leaving aside the moral elements - is not that it "never" works, but that it's ineffective because the information is produces is unreliable. You don't know if this is "actionable intelligence," something made up on the spot to get the torture to stop, or disinformation your victim had been previously trained to give under torture to mislead interrogators. You are, that is, at least as likely to be sent on time- and resource-wasting wild goose chases as to get usable info. If Suskind's account is at all accurate, even if his reference to "thousands" of people running around to various targets is exaggerated, it's a clear demonstration of the ineffectiveness of torture.

Posted by: LarryE on December 11, 2007 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

"Because we're Americans, and we're better than that."

Only some of us, now.

Posted by: Gregory on December 11, 2007 at 6:31 AM | PERMALINK

Suskind's "CIA sources" are unidentified, are not alleged to have personal knowledge of the interrogation, and are not answering questions.

Kiriakou identified himself, was personally involved in the interrogation and is answering questions.

Guess which witness is more credible?


Posted by: Bart DePalma on December 11, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I have an important information for you:
Ex-CIA agent, John Kiriakou is a terrorist, a member of Al-Kaida. You don’t beleive that? Make you a waterboarding test with him, and you will see!! He will confess that, I am sure!!

Posted by: walter on December 11, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

I saw Kiriakou on the news last night and thought, man, what a shill, but because he's giving them an "exclusive," ABC will give him a total pass, without asking any tough questions. Yes, he shed some crocodile tears about waterboarding. But it was obvious that the whole point of his story was that WE GOT LOTS OF GOOD INFORMATION by doing it. Which is contrary to pretty much what everybody else says about it. He played Brian Ross like a Stradivarius.

Somebody clearly sent this guy out there as a PR shill, the "sensitive" agent who, nonetheless, is, well, forced to acknowledge that waterboarding, while ugly, saved countless thousands of American lives. To present the very seductive position that while we should theoretically feel bad about it, as Americans and all, it actually really works!!

Except, according to everybody who actually knows what he's talking about, it doesn't. The idea that this prisoner talked because they tapped into his most fundamental beliefs seems much more plausible to me.

Posted by: sullijan on December 11, 2007 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Sigh. Let me try again.

Fact 1. The US prosecuted waterboarding as torture and a war crime after WWII.

Fact 2. The US now practices waterboarding, claiming it is not torture.

It's got nothing to do with my "high moral standards". Try intellectual honesty.

Posted by: Jeff S. on December 11, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's altogether possible that Kiriakou believes he is telling the truth. That's the way cognitive dissonance works. The more involved he was in waterboarding and torturing AZ, the more right it was to do it.

For example, did those thousands of uniformed men and women sent on wild goose chases, or did they disrupt several plots? Nothing happened. Either conclusion is possible from those facts.

Was he a higher up, skilled at logistics, or a glorified gofer? Both interpretations are possible from the facts that have been presented to us.

And since law enforcement, bless them, make this kind of mistake all the time, I think the Suskind interpretation is quite likely to be closer.

By the way, I love this: [The actually useful information] came only after a CIA interrogator slipped under Zubaydah's skin by convincing him, with the help of some ideas from the Koran, that Zubaydah was predestined to cooperate with them.

I tell ya, that is how this shit is DONE!

Posted by: Doctor Jay on December 11, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

"A nation that continues to make distinctions between its fighting man and its thinking man will have its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."

Name that ancient philosopher who said that.

During WWII we averaged two court-martials per week against GIs who abused and/or tortured. As John McCain noted, it's not about them; it's about us. When he was being tortured by the North Vietnamese, he noted what kept him and his fellow Americans going was the knowledge that we would not behave this way.

How amusing that the right wing no longer says "enhanced" interrogation techniques, but "harsh," since "enhanced" was one of the euphamisms used by the Gestapo for - you guessed it - waterboarding. And waterboarding was a favored technique by the Inquisition, the KGB and the Khmer Rouge.

There is a special place in Hell for these war criminals.

Posted by: MaxGowan on December 11, 2007 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

When did Americans become such cowards that they feel they need to torture others out of fear?

America was founded by slave owners and slave traders. America's early wealth was created by slaves. Americans have always been cowards who torture.

Posted by: Brojo on December 11, 2007 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

In the South, Brojo - not the industrialized North.

Posted by: MaxGowan on December 11, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

. . . And it was none other than George Washington who forbade treating prisoners of war other than humanely. The Father of our country set the precedent. That precedent held from 1775 until 2002, or 227 years.

Posted by: MaxGowan on December 11, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I know nothing of Japanese use of waterboarding. What I have heard about Japanese treatment of our uniformed soldiers during WWII was heinous, vicious and murderious mistreatment of American and allied sodliers. Perhaps they also did 10 to 40 seconds of waterboarding, such as we have been talking about here, and perhaps they were convicted of war crimes for it, but I have not heard about it.

Now you have:

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime

By Evan Wallach
Sunday, November 4, 2007; Page B01

As a JAG in the Nevada National Guard, I used to lecture the soldiers of the 72nd Military Police Company every year about their legal obligations when they guarded prisoners.

....The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding...

Evan Wallach, a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York, teaches the law of war as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

If you really think what the Japanese did overall to our uniformed soldies is comparable to the enhanced interrogation techniques that we are talking about with resepct to terrorists intent on killing innocent civilians, I don't think there is much to discuss.

If you really think that what the Japanese did is in any way different to what we are doing to criminal suspects, then you are either dishonest, deluded, or a clinical sociopath. Probably all three.

And as to the "terrorits intent on killing innocent civilians" hysteria, I will point out two things: first, we don't know these people are terrorists -- they are only suspected of being such, and we have only the word of anonymous Bush regime bureacrats that they are so.

Second, the same logic could have been applied by the Japanese to justify their tort...excuse me, enhanced interrogation of captured Allied airmen -- "these are bombers intent on killing innocent Japanese civilians with incendiary bombs, and we must therefore waterboard them to produce information to prevent such attacks."

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, are we really at the point where Kiriakou can admit on television to committing war crimes and acts of torture and assault that are crimes under federal law, and no one makes a move to arrest, try and convict him????

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Yes.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 11, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Do not presume anything from the summaries. Read the actual transcript of the interview. It's a lousy interview. Timeframes are completely missing.

The major disagreements between Suskind and Kiriakou are the severity of the torture and the quality of the information.

Kiriakou was part of the capture. He did not participate in the torture or any of the activities with Zubaydah after the capture. He left for another job within the agency back in the states. He did not approve of torture so he was not trained. His information is second hand, at best.

Zubaydah was severely wounded during the capture. He barely survived 3 bullets from an AK47. He lost most of his blood and went essentially untreated until they could get an expert from the US to Pakistan.

There is a famous line attributed to Bush: 'Who authorized pain killers for the guy?'

He was sent to some third country for interrogation.

Yet somehow he was first subjected to sleep deprivation while standing for 48 hours, then waterboarded for 35 seconds. Then he broke. The timeframes are not clear nor are the sources of information.

So the tapes have the guy shaken a few times, standing listening to music for 48 hours, then waterboarded for 35 seconds. And the tapes were destroyed to protect...what?

From this account, one can make the case the tapes were not destroyed to hide the brutality of the process. I think most Americans would find 35 seconds of what was described as less than what was in Jackass. Perhaps the real reason to destroy the tapes was to hide the poor quality of the intelligence they gathered.

Kiriakou may completely be on the up and up, but the focus of the interview is on events that he did not witness.

Posted by: Nat on December 11, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Just to reiterate: KIRIAKOU DID NOT TORTURE ANYONE. He was off the project after the capture. His information is second hand.

Posted by: Nat on December 11, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I think most Americans would find 35 seconds of what was described as less than what was in Jackass.

I didn't realize that the producers of "Jackass" captured unwilling victims off the streets and subjected them to those events against their will at the point of a gun. I'd always thought the participants were willing volunteers....

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

If your assessment that the risk of the FUTURE chance of being killed by a terrorist is less than being hit by lightning, then you are also correct that we should not create any limited exception for "torture."

If we use your own logic, then why only the limited exception for torture in the case of terrorist attacks and not, say, regular old murders, rapes and child abuse? Why not also allow the torture of suspected gang members, Mafiosi, child abusers and rapists to prevent them from carrying out future attacks?

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan: I am in total agreement with you regarding torture.

I have read the interview from front to back and I find it hard to resolve Kiriakou's *second hand* story and the desire to destroy the tape.

If there is a fear of prosecution, I think 35 seconds of waterboarding is a stretch. Many of us have seen waterboarding on the web and very painful things on Jackass. I find it easier to believe the CIA would actually publish the video. 'No muss, no fuss, no marks, 35 seconds and we saved thousands.'

My conclusion: either the waterboarding et al. was more than 35 seconds or the tapes were destroyed for another reason. (Or both...)

What other reason: perhaps the Suskind point that the quality of the information was very poor.

The interview is lousy and the conclusion of the summaries are incorrect: this guy tortured no one and was not even in the same country as the interrogation.

Posted by: Nat on December 11, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's altogether possible that Kiriakou believes he is telling the truth. That's the way cognitive dissonance works.

You may be right. Thing is, there's a fine line between cognitive dissonance & simple hypocrisy. I'd simply refer to Jeff S.'s 9:55 a.m. comment. He's dead on.

Posted by: junebug on December 11, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I know nothing of Japanese use of waterboarding. What I have heard about Japanese treatment of our uniformed soldiers during WWII was heinous, vicious and murderious mistreatment of American and allied sodliers. Perhaps they also did 10 to 40 seconds of waterboarding, such as we have been talking about here, and perhaps they were convicted of war crimes for it, but I have not heard about it.

You'll never be at a lack for the defense of ignorance. Perhaps by now you've had a chance to look over Stefan's recommended reading (10:46 a.m.). You might continue to acquaint yourself with facts about other folks who saw the virtues of waterboarding: the Kempeitai, the Gestapo, the French in Algeria, & the Khmer Rouge. Good company we keep.

In any event, I'm sure we're all breathless for your explanation as to why torture is "heinous, vicious and murderious mistreatment" -- not to mention a prosecutable offense -- when done against Americans, but it's an essential tool in defense of liberty when we do it to someone else.

Posted by: junebug on December 11, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

[Content deleted. IP check verifies handle hijack by a banned commenter.]

Posted by: Al on December 11, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Probably the same reason why a nuclear attack would be "heinous, vicious and murderious mistreatment" -- not to mention a prosecutable offense -- when done against Americans, but it's an essential tool in defense of liberty when we did it to someone else (i.e. Japan).

Admittedly, it's sometimes tough for me to tell Al from his parody, but whichever one this was, I'd like to thank him for underscoring my point. One standard for others, another for ourselves.

Posted by: junebug on December 11, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Interestingly, Atrios, Kevin and Yglesias did not read the interview closely enough to get the facts correct.

Kiriakou never tortured the guy. He was against enhanced interrogation prior to this incident and was therefore not trained in it. He was not present for anything other than the capture and a short time after.

Zubayduh was interrogated in another country by other individuals while Kiriakou returned to the states for another assignment.

Posted by: Nat on December 11, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

[Content deleted. IP check verifies handle hijack by a banned commenter.].

Posted by: Al on December 11, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

If you really think what the Japanese did overall to our uniformed soldies is comparable to the enhanced interrogation techniques that we are talking about with resepct to terrorists intent on killing innocent civilians, I don't think there is much to discuss.

Another point -- the Japanese didn't just waterboard "uniformed soldiers," they also did it to civilians, criminal suspects, and guerillas, insurgents and Allied commandos who operated without uniforms (whom they regarded as, yes, "terrorists").

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Larry E,

"Torture" is in quotes because there is a difference of opinion about what constitutes torture.

As to your view about the lack of reliability of information from "torture," of course that is true - it is not always reliable. There also is some level of lack of reliability in every other information gathering technique. None are fully reliable, but that does not mean we don't use them.

Your reliability argument also acknowledges that sometimes the information from torture is reliable. Torture may be unacceptable on moral grounds, but unreliabiliy is not, standing alone, a reason to bar it in all circumstances. In some circumstances it will produce reliable information, or it may be the only available practical alternative for even attempting to secure reliable information.

I respect the morality of your position of no torture under any circumstances. I just think the immorality of torture needs to be balanced against the risks and the particular circumstances of cases. If America continues to successfully prevent terrorism, your view will to a significant degree prevail. If terrorism or the perceived risk of it rises, I'm fairly confident your view will not prevail. I hope your view winds up prevailing, because that means we will have largely defeated terrorism.

Posted by: brian on December 11, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Torture" is in quotes because there is a difference of opinion about what constitutes torture.

There's a difference of opinion about what constitutes "torture" the same way there's a difference of opinion about what constitutes "rape."

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Last I checked, the Office of Legal Counsel has never issued a memo defending any definition of "rape".

Posted by: Al on December 11, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Torture" is in quotes because there is a difference of opinion about what constitutes torture.

Oh, if only we had a commonly accepted legal definition of what the term means so we could resolve this difference of opinion!...Oh, wait, we do:

United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Article 1.

1. 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.

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_cat39.htm

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Brian,
" "Torture" is in quotes because there is a difference of opinion about what constitutes torture."

This is from the US Code

§ 2340. Definitions
As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

Posted by: scudbucket on December 11, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

One very simple way to gauge the accuracy of this statement: "The threat information that he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks."

How many terrorist suspects have been tried and convicted of plotting terrorist acts by the Bush administration? Jose Padilla. Is there anyone else?

Dozens my ass.

Posted by: Henk on December 11, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider has a withering takedown of the ludicrous assertion that waterboarding saved lives over at my place.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 11, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Because we're Americans, and we're better than that."

If only that were true....

Posted by: Disputo on December 11, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Last I checked, the Office of Legal Counsel has never issued a memo defending any definition of "rape".

Actually, they have. Under US and international law, rape is considered to be torture when committed pursuant to color of authority. Under the Office of Legal Counsel's memo attempted redefinition of torture, however, which claimed that torture to be considered such must be "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of physical function, or even death", rape would not necessarily qualify as torture unless it was so extreme as to be life-threatening.

Under that definition, for example, a woman who was gang-raped by a team of goverment interrogators would not be considered to have been tortured unless her rape resulted in serious physical injury along the lines of organ failure, death, etc. This intepretation is completely at odds with long-standing law.

Posted by: Stefan on December 11, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on December 11, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

The mere fact that "brian" is unfamiliar with Japanese waterboarding, despite the fact that this has been widely discussed in the last few months in the national media and amongst the many blogs, shows he has no credibility on this issue because he's uneducated, inattentive, and just plain ignorant of the facts . . . or a liar.

Posted by: anonymous on December 11, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Google: "japanese, waterboarding"

446,000 results

wikipedia, washington post, nbc, cbs, etc.

Yeah, this is very hidden info that "brian" couldn't possibly have heard about.

What a dishonest and slimy prick.

Posted by: anonymous on December 11, 2007 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

What I would like to know is when was the guy tortured? How long after he was captured did it happen? Was it after other techniques had failed, or did they just launch into torture right away?

Posted by: el che on December 12, 2007 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

"We are better than that"?

Apparently not, given an admitted torturer makes the rounds promoting water torture's efficacy. If we were better than that, he would be visiting the bar of justice.

Posted by: anon on December 12, 2007 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK


brian: The question is (from the American perspective) how many of our 300 Million will be killed.

odds of dying - c.d.c.

heart disease: 1-in-5

cancer: 1-in-7

car accident: 1-in-100

lightning: 1-in-55000+

terror attack: 1-in-88000

Posted by: mr. irony on December 12, 2007 at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK

In democracy It is not enougth to have democratic purposes and ideas. Democraty means, our porposes reach with democtatic and legal means. In democracy the end don't justifies the means. It is very important to know, please!!!!
It is a beatiful mean to save my kidney-sick mother? Yes, it is. Can I somebody kill for his organ, only to save my mother? No I can not!

Is it a legal purpose to be rich? Yes it is. Can I hard work for my purpose? Yes I can, is is a legal mean to be rich. Can I steal for my purpose? No I can not, its is a unlegal mean!

So, please to see, the means make the democraty and not only the purposes.

Who is a criminal? A criminal is somebody who will his purpose reach with means out law.
Who is a policeman? The policeman is somebody who fight against criminal WITH LEGAL MEANS. If the policeman uses unlaw means, he is not more a policeman but an other criminal.

Also please don't say you, we can make unlaw acts to save lives! Where is the end for this logic? Wi can kill one man to save Ten... We can kill ten people to save hundred pepole ... Wi can kill hundred people to save thousand ... If you say that, you say : it is not problem, an very efficient to be criminal without moral, if we fight against criminal.

An that is not more a "good boys fight against bad boys" it is more like as "sicilian mafia fight against napoletan mafia."

Posted by: walter on December 12, 2007 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on December 12, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

You are all right, the wii controllers don't kill people.. I hope :-)

But under interrogation in Guantanamo can everytings happen... I don't know, you don't know.

Unfortunately, the "war on terror" does. I know, you know.

Posted by: walter on December 12, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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