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December 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

TORTURING ZUBAIDA....Did torturing Abu Zubaida work? Was he an "unstable source who provided limited intelligence under gentle questioning" or a "hardened terrorist who cracked under extremely harsh measures"? At the Washington Post, Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus investigate.

Kevin Drum 1:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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Democracy dies when journalist use weasel words and disgusting euphemisms such as these to describe torture perpetrated in our name:

"A hardened terrorist who cracked under extremely harsh measures."

"Rules adopted last year that explicitly forbid waterboarding and other harsh measures..."

"The CIA's account of the effectiveness of the harsh measures..."

"...and later saw classified reports of the agency's harsh interrogations..."

"The CIA's harsh treatment intensified in late 2002."

"The CIA's harsh tactics cast doubt on the credibility..."

"...Coleman said, referring to the harsh measures."

"...before the interrogation turned harsh..."

"FBI agents witnessed the use of some harsh tactics..."

"Whether harsh tactics were used on Abu Zubaida..."

"Abu Zubaida's cooperation came quickly under harsh interrogation..."

" Instead, these officials said, harsh tactics used on him..."

"After August 2002 -- when the harsh questioning is said to have begun..."

"Nashiri was subsequently captured and subjected to harsh interrogation..."

"Another former official said that when the measures turned harsh..."

I hate how the mainstream media have managed to rebrand nothing less than the most repulsive torture into "harsh interrogations." Why won't these people call a fucking spade a spade?

Posted by: Old Hat on December 18, 2007 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

In his book, "At the Center of the Storm: My Years in the CIA," Tenet wrote that a trauma physician from Johns Hopkins Medical Center was flown to Pakistan to help keep Abu Zubaida alive during his transfer to the new interrogation site. "Not that we had any sympathy for Zubaydah; we just didn't want him dying before we could learn what he might have to tell us about plans for future attacks," Tenet said.

Tenet's disregard for the life of a prisoner (i.e. we only treat him to keep him alive long enough to torture information out of him) seems shockingly callous to me, not just because of the disregard for the Geneva conventions. I can't believe he'd write that in his own book.

Posted by: me2i81 on December 18, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

The CIA has a pretty obvious motive for believing the guy gave them valuable information. After all, they spent all that time torturing him. What exactly is the FBI's motive for downplaying his value? Sour grapes?

Posted by: Jeff S. on December 18, 2007 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

It's hard to quantify the lives that might have been saved.

For instance, we'll never know if a terrorist cell gave up and went home after hearing David Paulison's advisory concerning duct tape and plastic sheeting -- and I'm pretty sure that warning came from a guy with plastic sheeting duct taped to his head.

Posted by: B on December 18, 2007 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, he confessed to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, assassinating JFK, and causing the Spanish influenza outbreak of 1919, didn't he?

What's the problem?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 18, 2007 at 5:51 AM | PERMALINK

This is at least the third time Kevin has blogged this story, still without mentioning Gerald Posner's very different account.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-posner/the-cias-destroyed-inter_b_75850.html

Posted by: Gary Sugar on December 18, 2007 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

Quote: "Tenet wrote: "Abu Zubaydah had been at the crossroads of many al-Qaida operations and was in position to -- and did -- share critical information with his interrogators."

Who would Barney (the purple dinosaur) torture into "sharing"?

I agree, the perversion of language is key to sleeping at night.

If Jose Padilla is the key operative that was caught that prevented hundreds of attacks, it's pretty thin soup that Zubaida served up.

If AQ was set up like any other post-WWII terrorist or resistance group, Zubaida and his knowledge could be cut out without much damage and plans and tactics would change within days, if not weeks of his capture. Torture at that point would not prevent attacks, but provide only historical insight.

Posted by: Neal on December 18, 2007 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

If anything he gave them caused any kind of an operation to be stopped, even a minor one, the Bush junta would have trumpeted it to the skies. The fact that all they got of value was Jose Padilla (very small potatoes indeed) indicates that they actually got nothing of value.

Under torture, most people will tell the interrogators anything they think the interrogators want to hear. Obviously, that's what happened here.

Once again, the Republicans shit on the values that made this country what it was.

Posted by: CN on December 18, 2007 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

If the torture worked so well, where's the tape?

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 18, 2007 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Bush threatened to veto a bill that forbade tactics that he has forbidden.

Life in America in the last 7.8 years. You couldn't make this stuff up.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on December 18, 2007 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Bill O'Reilly routinely tells his Faux News viewers the version where waterboarding this fellow led to valuable information that saved lives. O'Reilly has yet to allow his viewers to hear the other side of this story. Go figure.

Posted by: pgl on December 18, 2007 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure there's a reason the story about Abu Zubaida is illustrated with a photo of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed.

Posted by: Grumpy on December 18, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

I hate how the mainstream media have managed to rebrand nothing less than the most repulsive torture into "harsh interrogations." Why won't these people call a fucking spade a spade?

Imagine if the media routinely called rape "harsh lovemaking." It's the same perversion of language and morality.

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Did torturing Abu Zubaida work?

Of course it worked. It worked to humiliate and inflict pain on a helpless victim, it worked to give his captors a sick sadistic thrill, and it worked to intimidate and terrorize the general populace. That, after all, is the real purpose of torture, and that's why they did it.

If the question is "did it work to get reliable information?" then of course not, but that's not what they wanted. Torture is never really used to get information, because if that's what the torturer wanted he wouldn't use torture, he'd simply sit down and talk to the prisoner.

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Tanks Kevin for continuing to link to the many sides of the story.

One thing to bear in mind is that the FBI and CIA are looking for very different kinds of information. This is aside from the issue of what constitutes torture. The FBI is looking for unimpeachable evidence for use in criminal prosecutions. The CIA is looking for information to (1) prevent future attacks and (2) better understand the structure and organization of al Qaeda. They will use that information to shape future operations and collections efforts. And they can check what they learn through interrogation against other detainees - again not with an eye towards perfectly sourced information as we would expect in a trial but rather useful information that can then be pursued and verified. It's a fundamentally different perspective from the FBI's and certainly that feeds into this debate.

Stefan - you keep using the rape analogy but I don't think it says what you think it says. The reality is that the law itself recognized a range of criminal acts that extend from sexual harassment through aggravated rape. As for the media, the term "date rape" for example certainly shows that our society is capable of recognizing that range. It's a similar story with statutory rape where we differentiate based on the age of the offender (or his fame I suppose, when we consider Polanski or R Kelly). So, as with torture, there are some cases where rape is quite obviously rape and there are some cases where we as a society have accepted that the issue of consent (either in terms of age or responsibility) is less clear-cut.

Posted by: Hacksaw on December 18, 2007 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

If the question is "did it work to get reliable information?" then of course not, but that's not what they wanted. Torture is never really used to get information, because if that's what the torturer wanted he wouldn't use torture, he'd simply sit down and talk to the prisoner.

You're so confident about your knowledge and statements Stefan. Can you tell us where you learned all of this? Military? University? Or just a bunch of blogs?

I don't think we should torture -- I don't think it's moral and I like to think we are moral. But I am not going to pretend I know a single goddamned thing about torture from either first hand or second hand knowledge. All I know about torture I lernt on teh Intart00bs.

And as goes Stefan, so goes Yglesias, Klein, and so many other Intart00b tough guys. I admit to loving the concept of making everything so black and white and being so confident. It certainly makes it much easier to put other people and their ideas into predetermined little boxes.

How reality based are we?

Posted by: jerry on December 18, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Trying hard aren't you Hack? The CIA and you have no credibility - live with it.

Posted by: Butch on December 18, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Jeff S:

FBI wouldn't express sour grapes about the CIA would they? I'm shocked at the suggestion.They play so well together.

I'm sure the G-men feel that if they just read those nice terrorists their Miranda rights in a stern voice....the al Qaeda guys would open right up.

Posted by: Burford on December 18, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Hack wrote: The reality is that the law itself recognized a range of criminal acts that extend from sexual harassment through aggravated rape.

The key concept is, of course, that all these actions are in fact criminal acts.

As for the media, the term "date rape" for example certainly shows that our society is capable of recognizing that range.

No, jackass, it means our society is recognizing that something that was shrugged off as not being rape actually is rape. In neither the case of date rape or stautory rape is there any doubt as to whether rape occurred or whether consent is less clear-cut.

Posted by: Gregory on December 18, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Jerry -- ya gotta understand, Stefan doesn't post here cuz he knows anything, nor because he wants to learn anything. Like most folks, he posts (and reads) to reaffirm how superior he is to pretty much anybody who is actually doing anything.

Darius Rejali has evidently studied torture through what are apparently considerably extensive records of its use, going back to France in the 16th century, and including the Gestapo's own assessments. (Cue German thoroughness joke.)

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/13/AR2007121301303.html?sub=AR)

And in fact, it.does.not.work.

Trouble is, basing any discussion on that simple fact doesn't make Stefan and his ilk feel sufficiently superior, so they resist doing it. They have to make Americans who torture even worse, insisting that we're torturing to terrorize, not to get information.

That way, they feel better for losing a political and legal debate they should have won. It's easy to see when you figure out what to look for.

"No success like failure/and failure is no success at all..."

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 18, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Well Burford, since being kind and fair to prisoners worked for US interrogators in WWII, and is generally recognized as a very effective technique by a lot of actual experts I'd say the FBI is on firmer ground than the CIA here. Oh yeah - and you are really incompetent at constructing straw men.

And Jerry - since you are challenging Stefan, perhaps you could favor us with some cites from credible sources on how well torture works for getting actionable intelligence - we already have plenty of information on how it can get just about anybody to say just about anything. Or were all the people who confessed to being witches really actually witches???

Posted by: Butch on December 18, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Um, TA - since torture doesn't work by your own cites, and torture IS normally used to force fake confessions and cow (terrorize) the rest of the populace, I'd say Stefan is right on and you must be engaging in badly calibrated sarcasm.

Posted by: Butch on December 18, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah - nice article on this in TPM

Posted by: Butch on December 18, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Butch: And Jerry - since you are challenging Stefan, perhaps you could favor us with some cites from credible sources on how well torture works for getting actionable intelligence - we already have plenty of information on how it can get just about anybody to say just about anything. Or were all the people who confessed to being witches really actually witches???

Perhaps you should reread my comment.

theAmericanist, thanks for the link to Rejali.

Posted by: jerry on December 18, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

WARNING! Projection Alert!

Like most folks, he posts (and reads) to reaffirm how superior he is to pretty much anybody who is actually doing anything.

Butch, tA is a concern troll. He is a wingnut who gets off on lecturing progressives on the best way to be progressive, which is why nothing he writes makes any sense. He is best kill-filed.

Posted by: Disputo on December 18, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

If he gave good, important information, it would be on those tapes. Would they have gotten rid of tapes that showed the great torture victory? Oh right, they had to protect the innocent torturers identities.

Posted by: ahoyhoy on December 18, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

It's been curious to watch the emerging conservative justification for torture over the past year. Since when has it been a conservative position that "saving lives" (that is, non-fetal life) is the paramount duty of government, so much so that any means are justified in pursuit of even a single saved life? In another time and place, when the United States represented justice and moral clarity, we called this sort of equivocation and ends-justify-the-means reasoning a war crime and hung the people who used it. Tens of thousands of people die each year from gun violence, yet Republicans are not scrambling to confiscate all weapons and torture gun owners to get them to divulge the presence of hidden weapons in their home. After all, if we save a single life, isn't it worth it? Why not? Please explain this one to me.

Posted by: jonas on December 18, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Did torturing Abu Zubaida work?"

While we all know the answer, it's important to keep in mind why the answer is an emphatic "no!" The only "evidence" of "success" is the word of proven liars. People who take the word of proven liars at face value, or even take the word of proven liars into consideration, are gullible fools. There's no investigation or analysis needed to conclude that torture of Zubaida didn't work, because there's no evidence that would suffice even to cause a sane person to launch an investigation. You might as well investigate whether aquatic unicorns frolic in the seas of Europa.

Posted by: R Johnston on December 18, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Like most folks, he posts (and reads) to reaffirm how superior he is to pretty much anybody who is actually doing anything.

Can't. Stop. Laughing.

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Tens of thousands of people die each year from gun violence, yet Republicans are not scrambling to confiscate all weapons and torture gun owners to get them to divulge the presence of hidden weapons in their home. After all, if we save a single life, isn't it worth it? Why not? Please explain this one to me.

Using their same logic, it would be quite easy to justify the torture of other criminal suspects by the police -- after all, if we allow the torture of a suspected terrorist to save a thousand lives why shouldn't we allow the torture of a suspected drug lord or gun smuggler or gang member to save a dozen lives or even one life? Where could one ever draw the line?

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Butch: being as how Dispute exemplifies what I keep noting here, perhaps you should consider its utility -- the proper (that is, effective) way to oppose torture STARTS with the fact that it doesn't work.

If you start (as most folks here do) with its immorality, and only then add that it doesn't work, you're basically telling people that their security is at best an afterthought for you. Your morality matters more than their lives, and the lives of their children, is the message.

But if you start with the fact that torture doesn't work, you have a ton of evidence on your side. (I learned some stuff from Rejali's Op-Ed.) Proponents of torture are left with "but it's cruel and illegal, too!!!"

Progressives ought to WANT to have proponents of torture making arguments like that.

Instead, what you find here are folks like Stefan who skip over the sensible foundation, that torture doesn't work, and insist that it does, too: with the folks who are (understandably) primarily concerned about the safety of their kids, his distinction between hurting people just to hurt 'em, and hurting 'em to get good intelligence, makes no difference.

He's conceded.

This doesn't bother him, cuz (as these folks will tell you) their purpose isn't to persuade at all: they LIKE being rejected, cuz it proves their moral superiority.

Me, I want to protect America BY STOPPING THIS TORTURE POLICY.

But, ya see, neither is actually a very high priority for these folks: their mirrors beckon.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 18, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

But if you start with the fact that torture doesn't work, you have a ton of evidence on your side. (I learned some stuff from Rejali's Op-Ed.) Proponents of torture are left with "but it's cruel and illegal, too!!!"

No, proponents of torture are left with "No, you're lying, torture does work. Zubaidah gave up valuable information that revealed dozens of plots. Prove me wrong."

Remember Kevin Drum's "conservative correspondent" on the "Why We Torture" thread who believed that "John Kiriakou said that waterboarding a terrorist stopped dozens of attacks. Dozens. Not attacks on military targets, but attacks on innocent non-combatants." He was given all the information that torture doesn't work and what did he do? Completely ignored it.

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

From the article:

1) Officials at the CIA say all its tactics were lawful.

2) Instead, these officials said, harsh tactics used on him at a secret detention facility in Thailand went on for weeks or, depending on the account, even months.

So how come all this legal stuff had to be done at a secret facility in Thailand?

Posted by: DrBB on December 18, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Careful, there, Stefan: you might learn something.

Folks who rationalize, e.g., who insist that something works because they want to do it for some other reason, are rarely vulnerable on their actual motivation. F'r instance, people who are afraid for their children's lives are not known for being particularly reasonable about it -- better safe than sorry, and all that. So attacking 'em DIRECTLY on that fear, telling 'em it's immoral or impractical or something, is a loser.

But folks who insist that torturing some bad guy yielded up useful information, have taken a step away from rationalization, toward evidence: there is NO evidence that this guy yielded up useful information. How would he KNOW anything useful about plots to be carried out after his capture? What kind of organization are we dealing with, that would have left operational information so vulnerable? Hell, if AQ is that incompetent, why haven't we rolled the whole thing up by now?

You don't go after folks who are essentially irrational DIRECTLY -- you draw 'em out, get 'em to start making your arguments for you.

LOL -- sorta like you just did.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 18, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Using their same logic, it would be quite easy to justify the torture of other criminal suspects by the police

It *is* quite easy for many to justify. In IL we have had people on death row who were tortured (electrodes to testicles, among other things) into giving false confessions. In Chicago we have a mayor who during his years as States Atty covered up rampant torture by the CPD.

What we need is to do away with the statute of limitations on torture. Nothing can be done to these people criminally, because it happened too long ago.

Posted by: Disputo on December 18, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

So how come all this legal stuff had to be done at a secret facility in Thailand?

Because it involved the use of underage sex workers?

Posted by: Disputo on December 18, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well, DrBB...one reason for conducting lawful activity at a secret location might be that if the activity were to be made public...our courageous members of Congress would shift with the political breeze and denounce the same activity which they posed no objection to when first briefed on it.

IMHO...that is why the CIA might want to destroy tapes..because Congress would cave to the hand wringers and all previous instructions for "you guys go out and do what you need to do to prevent another 9/11" would be forgotten. I am not justifying the destruction, just saying it might reflect a rational concern.

Congress waffle? "I actually voted for the war before I voted against it."

Posted by: Burford on December 18, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK
What we need is to do away with the statute of limitations on torture. Nothing can be done to these people criminally, because it happened too long ago.

I have a question, and I wonder if any constitutional scholars/legal ethicists in the house are aware of any existing body of thought on it: Does repealing or extending a statute of limitations constitute an ex post facto law? And should it?

Arguably, it does not and should not - after all, a statute of limitations is not saying that a given crime is not a crime if it took place more than a certain amount of time in the past, merely that it is considered not prosecutable on grounds of freshness of evidence etc. But it could also be argued that repealing a statute of limitations and then prosecuting people whose criminal actions are then newly exposed still violates the spirit of the ban on ex post facto laws. So I don't know.

Posted by: Mithrandir on December 18, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Does repealing or extending a statute of limitations constitute an ex post facto law?

Yes, according to SCOTUS, for crimes for which the previous statute of limitations had already expired. See Stogner v. California.

Posted by: Disputo on December 18, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"So attacking 'em DIRECTLY on that fear, telling 'em it's immoral or impractical or something, is a loser."

For the hardcore pro-torture advocates, any argument is a loser.

"But folks who insist that torturing some bad guy yielded up useful information, have taken a step away from rationalization, toward evidence: there is NO evidence that this guy yielded up useful information"

Ah, but there is. The Bush administration said so and so did, very publicly, a member of the CIA who was present at some of the interrogations. For many people, that's all the evidence they need. Look at Kevin's prior correspondent as a classic example. Torture saved dozens of lives. Case closed.

In any case, since most of us make multiple arguments when it comes to issues like this, it seems rather silly to limit ourselves to just one, particularly one so easily countered. I see no reason why I shouldn't point out the logical fallacies in the other party's arguments, the myriad ways that torturing individuals works against our best interests, the other better alternatives to torture, and, of course, the fact that torture doesn't yield reliable information.

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"One thing to bear in mind is that the FBI and CIA are looking for very different kinds of information."

Complete bullshit. Both of them are looking for data that can lead to the prosecution of criminals, to the prevention of future crimes, and to add to the development of a "big picture" regarding whatever they are developing. It's moronic to assert that the FBI is only "looking for unimpeachable evidence." As with any security/law enforcement organization, they're simply looking for data -- data they will use along with other data they have gathered to put together the complete picture.

In any case, since the CIA has presented zero evidence that torture "works" for any of the purposes you cite, your point is moot.

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

But folks who insist that torturing some bad guy yielded up useful information, have taken a step away from rationalization, toward evidence: there is NO evidence that this guy yielded up useful information.

In the mind of the torture apologist, of course there is: they'll take the mere fact that there was no attack as "proof" that the torture helped prevent it.

If that doesn't suffice, they'll latch on to the lie of some Bush regime lackey who'll always conveniently claim that the torture worked. (Again, "John Kiriakou said that waterboarding a terrorist stopped dozens of attacks. Dozens. Not attacks on military targets, but attacks on innocent non-combatants"). There's your "evidence" right there.

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

One thing to bear in mind is that the FBI and CIA are looking for very different kinds of information....The FBI is looking for unimpeachable evidence for use in criminal prosecutions. The CIA is looking for information to (1) prevent future attacks and (2) better understand the structure and organization of al Qaeda.

Idiot. First, the FBI doesn't restrict its search to "unimpeachable" evidence -- they'll take any kind of evidence, thank you. Second, the FBI is also looking for information to prevent future terrorist attacks and to better understand the structure and organization of al Qaeda. That's kinda part of their mission.

Posted by: Stefan on December 18, 2007 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, progress: now PaulB is lurching uncontrollably toward learning something, himself. And some of us thought that was impossible, particularly after his unfortunate confusion over what a non sequitur means...

"The Bush administration said so and so did, very publicly, a member of the CIA who was present at some of the interrogations. For many people, that's all the evidence they need. Look at Kevin's prior correspondent as a classic example. Torture saved dozens of lives. Case closed..."

Oddly enough, this is where actually knowing something about how public opinion moves comes into play.

One thing I've noticed over and over again in these threads is when folks discover that their "arguments" such as they are, betray a profound antipathy toward most folks, e.g., "America is evil", they promptly huff: 'well, I wasn't actually trying to persuade anybody, anyway."

Riiight. For one thing, it sorta renders this whole communications thing moot. I keep noting that most folks who post here mostly wanna burnish their moral mirror, but they're myopic.

For another, noting that folks believe the CIA (or whomever) when they claim that there are vast conspiracies of which we know not that they have thwarted silently, not asking for thanks, cuz that's the kind of heroic people they are and after all, we "can't handle the truth" in the best Jack Nicholson snarl: THAT IS A FUNCTION OF CREDIBILITY.

Dayum, you'd think even a knucklehead like you would have noticed that, PaulB. But perhaps it's still a bit ahead on your not quite flatlined learning curve.

When vast #s of people believe this source, rather than that one, that is only partially a rational thing: we can't check out EVERYTHING. (Although journalists should.) Folks generally believe that the car with the distinctive flashing lights in your rear view mirror is a cop, not a kidnapper, the guy in the white coat who shows up in the examining room and tells you to take off your clothes and put on a paper towel, we sorta figure he's a doctor, or at least health care professional and not some elaborate con artist: we make judgments about stuff like that all the time, without a lot of skepticism. It's all context.

As noted, what moves public opinion (at least, where it counts, the folks who are "sorta this", whom we want to move to "sorta that") on this is SECURITY. They are sorta for torture, in a guarded controlled kinda way, if they think in extreme circumstances it is necessary as a desperate move to protect their kids. Senator McCain is as good an indicator for this as anybody, since he's consistently said it should be illegal -- but then, if there WAS a ticking time bomb in NYC and some CIA interrogator tortured the guy who knew where it was into revealing the location like some fucking TV show, he doubts the guy would be prosecuted.

Fercrysakes, who disagrees with THAT? The FAA wouldn't fine Superman for failing to file a flight plan, either.

It is an OPPORTUNITY that a certain # of folks are inclined to believe that their security is protected when "dozens" of vague plots are revealed through torture. After all this, are you so blind that you can't see why and how?

It is the CONTEXT in which it is possible to move folks from "sorta this" to "sorta that", is when they are assured that the PRIMARY factor in what is okay, and not okay, is SECURITY.

So I simply don't care that knuckleheads want to phrase the argument, 'gee, doesn't that mean if torture worked, it'd be okay?'

Hell, if I was debating in some public forum, I'd concede that. It's the proper response -- yeah, asshole, if it DID work, I'd get the jumper cables, you hold him down and cut his pants off: but if the fucking GESTAPO couldn't make torture worth a damn in getting information out of people, don't ya think we should oughta be smarter than that?

You START with credibility, rather than preaching: and THEN you're not saying 'you are immoral cuz you want to protect your kids', you're saying 'people who commit torture are conning you CUZ THEY FAIL TO PROTECT YOUR KIDS.'

The bad guys lost the war, remember? So that's NOT the example to follow.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 18, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

but if the fucking GESTAPO couldn't make torture worth a damn in getting information out of people, don't ya think we should oughta be smarter than that?

We ARE smarter than that. According to the White House we've got all sorts of secret interrogation methods that the Gestapo didn't have.

You START with credibility, rather than preaching: and THEN you're not saying 'you are immoral cuz you want to protect your kids', you're saying 'people who commit torture are conning you CUZ THEY FAIL TO PROTECT YOUR KIDS.'

No, they DO protect our kids. Torture works, otherwise we would have had another attack by now. The fact that my little Sally is alive is proof that it works. Who am I gonna believe, some lunatic like you ranting on the internets or the president and the CIA?

Posted by: The American Public on December 18, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not even sure where to buy the shoelaces I need, much less what kinds of information the CIA seeks versus the FBI, or whether torture has ever worked or never worked.

I think you guys must be reading a better Internet than I am.

So uh, where do I buy shoelaces? The Albertsons near me no longer carries them.

Posted by: jerry on December 18, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Ah, progress: now PaulB is lurching uncontrollably toward learning something, himself. And some of us thought that was impossible, particularly after his unfortunate confusion over what a non sequitur means..."

ROFLMAO... Dear heart, since my comment in that other thread was not, in fact, a non sequitur, by the precise definition of that phrase, forgive me if I remain underwhelmed by your pathetic attempts to save face.

Moreover, since my position on torture and discussing torture has changed not one whit, you are, as usual, wrong, just as you are wrong in fixating on the ONE TRUE WAY TO START THE DISCUSSION and ignoring all of the other ways to frame this discussion appropriately, depending on the context and on the people with whom you're discussing the issue.

The rest of your argument wasn't worth the trouble to respond to since, as usual, you entirely failed to support your assertions with anything resembling real data, logic, or reason.

My, but you do like to hear yourself talk, don't you?

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

"One thing I've noticed over and over again in these threads is when folks discover that their 'arguments' such as they are, betray a profound antipathy toward most folks, e.g., 'America is evil'"

ROFL.... Dear heart, since nobody's arguments on this thread, or any other thread here, even remotely resemble anything like this, I am forced to assume that this statement of yours, with its two ad hominem attacks, is just more unsupported bullshit. Do feel free to come back when you've got something worth reading, won't you?

Oh, and dear? Your constant pathetic attacks are not exactly designed to influence, well, anyone. But then, no doubt, you aren't "actually trying to persuade anybody, anyway."

Posted by: PaulB on December 18, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

(grin) Well, we've already established literacy ain't your strong suit.

I keep noting (and actually, I noted the other day that no matter how many times I say it, I'm secure in the knowledge that folks won't catch on), that much of what I do here treats y'all essentially as a focus group.

A focus group is NOT about persuading the folks IN it, but something more like the opposite.

It's about learning how people think, and act, and what they say, when they feel like they are among their own. In situations like that -- like these threads -- it's generally more revealing what folks take for granted that 'everybody knows', what people DON'T say, rather than what they do.

PB proves it, yet again. He quotes me observing that most folks who post here show "a profound antipathy toward most folks, e.g., 'America is evil'... and then claims... "nobody's arguments on this thread, or any other thread here, even remotely resemble anything like this..."

'Course, several folks said PRECISELY that, including the guy I quoted saying "America is evil." Note that I'm not doing what PB doubtless thinks, proving that he's wrong.

He's proving I'm right.

Observe, PB, and perhaps you will learn something: YOU DID NOT OBJECT when Rick said "America is evil".

Re-read that, since you didn't get it the first several times.

But, hothouse flower in a cold and windy world that you are, you DO object to what you call my "constant pathetic attacks."

This is what's known as a "clue". Perhaps you should get one.

I note that how people act when they feel like they are among their own, is revealing -- what they say, and what they DON'T say, what they object to (like your complaining about my observation that you're stoooopid), and what you don't (as when somebody sez "America is evil").

It's sorta basic, like the alphabet, to understand how credibility works in human affairs. Folks are famous for NOT believing the most obvious stuff if they are somehow presented with it in a context that does not foster faith, and yet we will believe the most astonishing nonsense if we are brought to it in a manner that is all about believing it. That, too, is something testable through various methods, like focus groups:make the truth as obnoxious as possible, and you will learn something from how ferociously folks resist it -- particularly about what really motivates us, which is rarely a Search for Truth.

As noted, your primary motivation is a species of moral vanity, in a see-through wrap around skirt of intellectual pretense. As a f'r instance, when somebody noted one way proponents of torture rationalize it, you promptly accused the guy of SUPPORTING torture, himself.

LOL -- and then you're actually dumb enough to call attention to yourself when folks who know better point out that you dunno what a non sequitur is.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 18, 2007 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

It occurs to me that some folks may share Paul B's ignorance of what a non sequitur is, and what it is not. The term is just latin for "does not follow", and the two most common types work like this:

First, "affirming the consequent": If someone is President of the United States, then they must be a US citizen.

Lao Baixing is a US citizen.

Therefore, Lao Baixing is President of the United States.

The flaw in this reasoning is that "is President" does not follow from "is a citizen". The way this reasoning is flawed is something Paul B doesn't get (Dice does this a lot, too), cuz just because you have to be a citizen to be President, that doesn't mean being a citizen MAKES you a President.

2) "Denying the precedent". If I'm in Baltimore, then I'm in Maryland.

I am not in Baltimore.

Therefore, I cannot be in Maryland.

The flaw in this reasoning, of course, is "in Maryland" includes more than "in Baltimore".

If the premise was more rigid "if and ONLY if", the reasoning would still suck (that is, it isn't true that Lao can ONLY be a US citizen if he is President, nor I can ONLY be in Maryland if I'm in Baltimore: the premises would be false), but the arguments would be better.

I see that around here a lot, too.

The thing about both of these errors is that it is possible that the conclusion is TRUE -- since I am in Maryland, I might be in Baltimore. If I was in Baltimore, I would HAVE to be in Maryland. Since Lao Baixing is a citizen, he might be President -- and if he was President, he would HAVE to be a citizen.

It isn't unique to progressives (unlike lots of the other stuff I bitch about), but it IS pretty common for folks to wander around with stooooopid reasoning like this, when common sense gets to the truth quicker.

What Paul B did in another thread was accuse a guy who pointed to an argument that is sometimes made by apologists for torture, of supporting torture himself. When the guy pointed out this was a textbook example of a non sequitur, Paul B disputed this (which was REALLY stoooopid on his part), and evidently he still doesn't get it.

But the pattern is precise: This guy explained an argument that torture proponents make.

Torture proponents make that argument.

Therefore, this guy advocates torture.

Couldn't have been a better example of a non sequitur if Paul B actually knew he was doing it.

LOL -- which, of course, he didn't. Progressives oughta be more familiar with common sense, and leave logic to professionals.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 19, 2007 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Oops, mis-stated it: "nor I can ONLY be in Maryland if I'm in Baltimore" should be "nor can I ONLY be in Baltimore if I'm in Maryland..."

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 19, 2007 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Extra oops, bonus mis-statement: "Lao can ONLY be a US citizen if he is President" should read "If Lao is a US citizen he can ONLY be President...."

Damn grammar. I blame it on the Saxon influence in English: "Lao can ONLY be a US citizen if he is President" is clunkily phrased, but technically very close to true (multiple citizenship is a messy area); "Only if he is a US citizen can Lao be President" is precisely accurate; "Only if he is President can Lao be a US citizen" is another way of showing the false reasoning of the non sequitur, but I think it changes affirming the consequent to denying the antecedent, which is so abstract it makes me want to go cut more dovetails.

Still, you can see the flaws in Paul B's approach, even on his own highfalutin' intellectual terms: "Only torture advocates can understand the arguments for torture" is his non sequitur.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 19, 2007 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

The American Public: The fact that my little Sally is alive is proof that it works. Who am I gonna believe, some lunatic like you ranting on the internets or the president and the CIA?

A new poll suggests a majority of U.S. citizens consider waterboarding to be a form of torture and a smaller majority said the procedure should be banned.

A total of 69 percent of those polled responded affirmatively when asked if they consider waterboarding to be a form of torture, while 29 percent said they believe it is not torture, CNN reported Tuesday.

However, only 58 percent said they think the U.S. government should not be allowed to use the method during interrogations of terrorism suspects. Forty percent said the government should be allowed to use the procedure.

The weekend telephone poll of 1,024 U.S. adults, conducted by CNN/Opinion Research Corp., had a plus-or-minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/11/06/poll_waterboarding_is_a_form_of_torture/5109/


Posted by: mr. irony on December 19, 2007 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

*sigh* It's embarrassing, isn't it, to watch a grown man mentally masturbate in public....

Posted by: Stefan on December 19, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

LOL...especially when the output is so...well...thin and swims so very badly.

Posted by: shortstop on December 19, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why, from a connoisseur such as you, 'stop, that hurts: I even heard you doing the winetaster slurp.

When you're done, um, savoring before you spit, perhaps you'd notice what you've, er, swallowed.

Heavy's claim that bin Laden: "saw the plight of the poor in Muslim countries and determined that the root cause was western imperialism..." which several folks noted means exactly what it said: this knucklehead PRAISED the guy who killed thousands of Americans on 9-11.

PaulB's superb bit of typically progressive knucklehead-itude: "if you bring up a reason, that is prima facie evidence that you think that it is, in fact, a potentially legitimate excuse, even if you don't agree with it."

To which SJRSM replied : "thinking that mentioning an argument regularly made by proponents in some way legitimizes it...[is a] textbook example of a non sequitur."

Paul B's reply to THAT: "I don't think you know what the term "non sequitur" means"

(shrug) I take it you don't approve that I did the public service of responding to Paul B's manufest ignorance by posting what a non sequitur IS, and how it works, with examples: but then, you're more interested in bad semen jokes.

I couldn't have summed you up better than you just did.

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 19, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Heavy's claim that bin Laden: "saw the plight of the poor in Muslim countries and determined that the root cause was western imperialism..." which several folks noted means exactly what it said: this knucklehead PRAISED the guy who killed thousands of Americans on 9-11.

PaulB's superb bit of typically progressive knucklehead-itude: "if you bring up a reason, that is prima facie evidence that you think that it is, in fact, a potentially legitimate excuse, even if you don't agree with it."

To which SJRSM replied : "thinking that mentioning an argument regularly made by proponents in some way legitimizes it...[is a] textbook example of a non sequitur."

Paul B's reply to THAT: "I don't think you know what the term "non sequitur" means..."

Then my, ah, public service (alarming phrase in this context to show what a non sequitur IS.

But I had forgotten Rick B's "America is evil."

Posted by: theAmericanist on December 19, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Helmut on March 19, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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