December 9, 2007

CIA interrogations: "tough enough"?

WaPo reports:
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration's counterterrorism effort.
Hypocritical enough?

99 comments:

AllenS said...

From the article:

In a rare public statement last month that broached the subject of his classified objections, Feingold complained about administration claims of congressional support, saying that it was "not the case" that lawmakers briefed on the CIA's program "have approved it or consented to it."


Feingold is a fool.

rhhardin said...

You're allowed to say anything. It's like a poll. The one who gauges the public mood best wins.

In particular the TV watching public mood, as put forward by the media, whose business it is to produce a one satisfying to its soap opera fans, who they need to attract every day.

Want to be addressed as a woman? Watch TV.

Women ought to be offended to be addressed in such a way.

It's not about honesty but who edits the news for everybody today. The public debate is taken over by the tastes of sofa babes.

Moose said...

The changes wrought by the Chuch Commitee in the 70's were a double edged sword.

Previous to those reforms, congressional leaders could easily claim (officially) they had no knowledge of these sorts of secret programs. Now, they are the recipient of that ancient Chinese curse: may you get what you wish for. Since congressional leaders are privy to much of what happens in the intelligence community now, they have to make a decision: do I want to tank my career in congress by blowing the whistle on behavior I have previously condemned? Particularly if you’re violating an oath of secrecy when you do it?

Even more vexing to them, is what if they secretly agree with what the CIA is doing? Imagine in internal pressure in their minds to hold those contradictory concepts in such a small place.

Much of what passes for outrageous indignation over administrative excesses are in reality pro forma protestations meant to allow congressional leaders to cover their arses is such a way to pander to their bases – on both sides of the aisle.

These sorts of revelations merely make me sit back and watch for further developments – there will clearly be more sordid developments forthcoming from congress regarding all these “administrative excesses”.

Michael_H said...

Perhaps a way to get Nancy Pelosi to tell the truth would be Botox boarding.

Tie her to a board and threaten to withhold Botox until she starts telling the truth. Show her photos of Helen Thomas and Molly Yard labeled "refused to talk".

George said...

Here's a 'humor' video from The Onion. Its reporters test security by hijacking a commercial airliner and blowing it up. In midair.

Beware: Watching it is torture.

hdhouse said...

You will note that the briefing was in 2002 and the only quote was from an official there. I'm not saying it didn't happen as told but after the constant lies told by this administration and its spokespeople, i don't greet anything said with credibility.

Further that was 2002, hard on the heels of 9/11. I don't think renditions or surrogate torture centers were discussed, nor was Gitmo detention on the map or any number of matters ancillary to the torture subject. And note also these were interrogation centers, not torture palaces.

Frankly, the entire episode, if true is still suspect as to content and thrust of the disclosure. Perhaps if we had a president and administration that wasn't just boldfaced liars it would be easier to get my brain around it.

Gedaliya said...

Perhaps if we had a president and administration that wasn't just boldfaced liars it would be easier to get my brain around it.

Not too likely, given what we've seen of your temperament around here.

hdhouse said...

and further more, Ann, when you hit your head yesterday did you sustain injury? "tough enough" is not the topic sentence as it is obviously misleading and provacative. that wasn't said in a rhetorical context per the article quote....as it "ha ha ha tough enough? (for you?). The question was asked according to the source by perhaps 2 of 4 (did it say Pelosi or not....NOT) if the techniques were tough enough. Perhaps if waterboarding were demonstrated as non-torture/torture then Pelosi and others might have felt different.

I like this blog and I genuinely like you Ann but when you play the provacature game and snipet your quotes for effect rather than accuracy it is troubling.

the last "hypocracy" comment was just catty and just a cheap shot.

Gedaliya said...

Waterboarding isn't torture. It merely simulates drowning. Our special forces troops undergo the experience as part of their training to toughen them up in case they're captured by the enemy. Unless you believe we torture our own troops, it is silly nonsense to characterize waterboarding as "torture."

rhhardin said...

Hippocracy would be rule by horses. Not sure about hypocracy.

Tim said...

While it is beyond transparent the CIA and State are equally or more political than the elected Administration or Congress, this complete abdication of consistent leadership from the Democrats in Congress will only result in the intelligence professionals shying away from action in close calls. When the next 9/11 like attack inevitably occurs, outraged Americans should look to the Democrats in Congress who simultaneously want the security agencies to protect us while not offending Democrats' ever-so-exquisite sensitivities, and will use any perceived transgression, no matter how inconsequential, as a political weapon against their enemies - the Republicans. As moose points out above, we have learned all the wrong lessons from the Vietnam War, the Church Committee, and the Stansfield Turner-era at the CIA.

We have great power in a world with lethal enemies, but behave as if we're a sorority. There is a cost to this behavior, and the bill will arrive sooner than any wish.

EnigmatiCore said...

This is actually comforting to me on some levels.

If the Democrats really believed the stuff they feed their rabid partisans, then having them be in charge would be a mistake.

But, as many of us have suspected, they are just playing to the crowd.

Makes sense-- they don't want to die or have their loved ones killed, either.

Gedaliya said...

There is a cost to this behavior, and the bill will arrive sooner than any wish.

I'm not sure I agree. The president has significantly reduced the risk of another attack by drawing the worst of our enemies into Iraq, where we've been able to kill them in large numbers. Absent this brilliant move, their attention would be drawn elsewhere, to our homeland and to western Europe.

Future generations will recognize GW Bush for undertaking this vital maneuver and they will thank him for it.

Regardless of all the hand-wringing, we did "harshly" interrogate our mortal enemies, and I bet we acquired important information as a result. The Democrat opposition, as we now know, knew about this, and did not object, most probably because they were shown the results gained by the methods we employed.

The US has never acted as a "sorority," and our enemies know it.

-Peder said...

hdhouse,
The article says that this tour happened in September 2002, a full year after the big event. I don't buy for a moment that they were overcome with emotion and couldn't think straight. That was much more arguably a 'cool headed' era than in 2003 when the shooting picked back up.

hdhouse said...

peder...as we were loading up in afghanistan and setting up the iraq? it was not a cool time.

as to gedalyia - what the hell do you mean "waterboarding isn't torture". can you read? do you follow law? do you listen to anyone or anything that this government of ours says? what kinda rock do you live under?

of the weak and pathetic shit you post on this board that was one of your lamest attempts. how stupid are you anyway?

Tim said...

"The US has never acted as a "sorority," and our enemies know it."

Gedaliya,

While I generally agree with your initial points, please re-familiarize yourself with how the US shamefully abandoned the democratically elected government of South Vietnam, in war we had won, due to the sorority-like Congress and its gross over-reaction to our war there.

Our enemies count upon us acting like a sorority, and the sooner we realize it, the safer we'll be.

EnigmatiCore said...

Waterboarding should not be considered torture.

I am sure it is ghastly to go through.

But, frankly, I don't fear it. I hear about various other forms of torture, and I fear having that done to me. I simply don't fear having a gag reflex tickled.

If someone came up to me and said they would give me $1000 if they could do some pain-inducing torture on me, no dice. If they said they would give me $1000 if they could waterboard me, deal.

And as long as that is the case, I have a hard time seeing it as torture.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Perhaps if waterboarding were demonstrated as non-torture/torture then Pelosi and others might have felt different.

What, if anything, does this mean?

Gedaliya said...

what the hell do you mean "waterboarding isn't torture".

I think the declarative statement speaks for itself. Waterboarding isn't torture. It isn't illegal, i.e., it has never been prohibited by law. Do you read English? We subject our own troops to the practice. Do you think we torture our own troops?

Waterboarding isn't putting electricity on a person's genitals, nor does it compare to pulling a person's fingernails out with a pair of pliars. Waterboarding simulates drowning, and is not life-threatening.

We're at war with nihilist fascists, hdhouse, and under certain circumstances we must be prepared to harshly interrogate them. If you can't face that then too bad for you. The adults in this fight, including the Democrats in 2002 who were briefed on waterboarding and other such interrogation techniques, understand that sometimes extreme interrogation methods are called for.

And as far as your insults go, hdhouse, you're rapidly becomeing the new Luckyoldson. Using elementary school insults like "you're stupid" says more about you than it does about me.

Gedaliya said...

While I generally agree with your initial points, please re-familiarize yourself with how the US shamefully abandoned the democratically elected government of South Vietnam, in war we had won, due to the sorority-like Congress and its gross over-reaction to our war there.

Well, I shouldn't have used the word "never." It is almost always a mistake.

joe said...

If it wasn't so serious, it would be amusing to see the Democrats wetting themselves over the fact that these tapes were destroyed - how dare the CIA attempt to protect their own when Democrats might be able to use the tapes for partisan "gotcha" shots at the administration? Priorities, please! hdhouse is also in his usual fallback position - anything inconvenient to his simplistic preconceived worldview is simply ignored as incredible.

Bilby said...

Here's an interesting reaction to this story:

John Aravosis / AMERICAblog: Did Bush approve CIA leak to embarrass Pelosi?

hdhouse said...

oh joe..stop being so silly. unlike you, i don't believe there is a pony in the pile of shit and if you keep looking in Bush's you won't find one either.

Has it EVER OCCURED TO YOU that with the incredible photo technology available that faces...all faces...can be distorted or obscured and not recovered by any means? Did that ever pass through the lame rightwing minds on here? That the idea of "ohhhhh an operative will be outed" is so stupid and so not possible with even a bit of work..

But no. You buy the bullshit that comes out of the whitehouse like it is heavy creame. then you make ad hominems on me for pointing out these little inconvenient observations.

Moron.

joe said...

Thanks for making my point hd. I might add, on a level you can comprehend, I know you are but what am I.

joe said...

A couple of points. Even if the outed operative explanation is bogus, so what? Why should the Dems get another opportunity to play politics with our national security, especially when they apparently ratified these methods in 2002? And what is more laughable is their belief that their position will resonate with the public - that al qaeda terrorists might have been treated a little roughly to prevent more attacks. There is a very limited audience for such stupidity. I tend to think the CIA's explanation is plausible because it is possible to unscramble digitally disguised features, as the German police recently proved, and also because the CIA has not exactly been Bush's biggest supporter.

jeff said...

"But no. You buy the bullshit that comes out of the whitehouse like it is heavy creame. then you make ad hominems on me for pointing out these little inconvenient observations.

Moron."

Hypocrisy or irony?

Jim Howard said...

Democrats are, almost to a person, driven by fear, greed, emotion, and a desperate need for approval.

Don't expect anything resembling logic or consistency from any of them.

antiphone said...

Democrats are, almost to a person, driven by fear, greed, emotion, and a desperate need for approval.

Thanks Mr. Howard, you’re a real dipshit.

Paco Wové said...

"Hypocrisy or irony?"

In this case, it seems like a hugely hypertrophied sense of victimization, akin to what Freder was displaying a few days ago. They show up here and call people names and rant on and on about Bush Bush Bush!! and start puling like infants when a little blowback comes their way.

(Hd, calling you childishly partisan isn't an ad hom, it's an opinion. One which you provide ample evidence to back up.)

Freder Frederson said...

In this case, it seems like a hugely hypertrophied sense of victimization, akin to what Freder was displaying a few days ago. They show up here and call people names and rant on and on about Bush Bush Bush!! and start puling like infants when a little blowback comes their way.

What the hell are you talking about. Anyway who wasn't bothered by waterboarding and didn't realize it was a clear violation of the law as it stood in 2002 and stands today is a moron and is an accomplice to torture.

We're at war with nihilist fascists, hdhouse, and under certain circumstances we must be prepared to harshly interrogate them. If you can't face that then too bad for you.

Do you mean torture them? Because if you do, why don't you come out and say it? Don't dance around it, advocate the torture of these terrorists.

Rafique Tucker said...

Well, before this thread gets too far off the rails, allow me to offer up a few thoughts:

Is it possible that the Congressional Dems, if they were in fact briefed on these techniques, were conflicted at the time, trying to wrestle with the need to use effective and tough interrogation methods against our jihadist enemies, and the problem (let's assume that their position on waterboarding was unsettled at the time) that waterboarding might be torture? Not to mention that it was one year removed from 9/11, and emotions/political tensions were still high.

As I see it, waterboarding is torture. We've prosecuted people for it in prior wars.

It 's also possible that they simply changed their minds in the past few years, after reassesing the facts?

At the end of the day, whether the Congress had the wisdom or courage to call things as they were, does not change what they were.

"If someone came up to me and said they would give me $1000 if they could do some pain-inducing torture on me, no dice. If they said they would give me $1000 if they could waterboard me, deal.

And as long as that is the case, I have a hard time seeing it as torture.


Umm, good luck with that, Enigmaticore.

John Stodder said...

Is it possible that the Congressional Dems, if they were in fact briefed on these techniques, were conflicted at the time, trying to wrestle with the need to use effective and tough interrogation methods against our jihadist enemies, and the problem (let's assume that their position on waterboarding was unsettled at the time) that waterboarding might be torture? Not to mention that it was one year removed from 9/11, and emotions/political tensions were still high.

What is the point of this rationale? If you listen to the most Democrats now, there is no room for doubt about waterboarding and never was. If an official isn't ready to prosecute as a criminal anyone connected with waterboarding during the exact same time, they aren't fit to serve in a government post, according to Democrats today.

I don't recall the Dems making an allowance if someone claimed they were feeling "unsettled" or "conflicted" or suffering from "emotional/political tensions," which are the alibis you want to give them.

There is no crying in baseball. This is a serious business. This is war. We have to come to a consensus about how we're going to protect this country. If the politicians can exonerate themselves for tacitly approving the technique of waterboarding, then they must exonerate those who performed this technique on their behalf.

If the Democrats want to say that, henceforth, under a Democratic administration there will be no waterboarding as a matter of policy, fine. Put it out there and see how much support it gets.

But for Democratic leaders to say nothing about waterboarding when they knew it was going on, and then to turn around and call for the prosecution of our protectors from a laughably hypocritical moral high ground... I mean, how do they sleep at night?

If they want to play political "gotcha" games, they should play them on other issues.

And if they want to claim, as you have, that the poor babies were "conflicted" and "unsettled" and should be thus forgiven, I just might vomit.

Paco Wové said...

What the hell are you talking about.

What the hell am I talking about?

I seem to be held to a higher standard than other posters on this site. I have never called anyone a traitor or said they should be lynched, things that regularly happen to me here. Nor do I cry because people are "uncivil" and then go on to tell people to screw themselves or call them traitors and unAmerican...Sloan, Fen, Ann, and especially Cedarford regurlarly insult me and use invective.

Better call the wahhhhmbulance, Freder.

On the matter at hand... I am bothered by waterboarding. If it's not torture, it seems pretty close to it. The only thing that keeps me from condemning it fully is that we are willing to do it to our own troops, and few of them seem to be calling it torture. But if it really, obviously is torture, why hasn't the new congress outlawed it explicitly? Or even tried? If existing laws really are intended to outlaw this practice, they apparently aren't explicit enough. What are you, Freder, doing to fix this problem?

hdhouse said...

Paco Wové said...
.."I am bothered by waterboarding.. The only thing that keeps me from condemning it fully is that we are willing to do it to our own troops, and few of them seem to be calling it torture."

Paco...I've always been a gentle person and not one to snap at someone who says something of infinite silliness but my god, that quote is right up there.

We are will to do it to our own troops? REALLY? How many? who? they don't mind? is it now part of basic training...alright men, make those beds, clean the grouds, polish those boots, everyone report for waterboarding today at 10? are you fuckin' nuts?

AJ Lynch said...

You people make me wonder what the heck you are arguing about- unethical pols will never agree about what defines torture because the definition depends on who is in the White House. I am sick of hearing partisan Americans like hdhouse whining about losing the right of habeus corpus. That is bull and they know it.


As to our Congress and career pols like Pelosi, I would guess she barely got a 900 on her SAT exam. That means she is smart enough to work as a county clerk.

She and many other dumb SOB's like her in the Congress are why this country can't make any progress on anything.

AJ Lynch said...

Let me add selfish too. Members of Congress are selfish too - they do not care about what is best for the country.

In the last twenty years, our Congress has looked the other way while about 20 million illegal imigrants crossed our borders.

During the same 20 years, our Congress and presidents have approved budgets that raided the social security fund to the tune of approximately $2 Trillion dollars.

So tell me again why 10-year and 20-year veterans of Congress deserve to be elected again?

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm reminded of the change from Clarence Thomas to Bill Clinton. Put a Democrat under the microscope, and behavior that was Just Plain Wrong before suddenly starts sprouting nuances all over the place.

Blake said...

hd--

Apparently, our troops volunteer to undergo waterboarding as part of resistance to interrogation techniques. It's actually budgeted!

I'd be willing to be waterboarded. I'm actually a little curious at this point. Whether it's torture depends on your definition of torture.

It's obviously a horrible experience. I seem to recall the toughest guys we have crack in seconds.

I think, given a total of, what, three non-volunteer waterboardings, the issue seems a bit overblown.

Blake said...

Hypocracy?

Wouldn't that be rule by understatement?

Paco Wové said...

We are will to do it to our own troops?

Yes, we are "will" to do it to our own troops. Are you will to stop it? Is Congress will?

REALLY?

Yes, really. You know, I thought this fell under the "Water is wet" category of news. I mean, I thought everybody knew this. Really, hd, do you pay any attention at all to what's going on out there, or is that ol' debbil Bush confusing you with his evil mind-rays?

How many?

The ones who participate in SERE training, at least. How many is that?

who?

See above.

they don't mind?

Some do. Some don't.

is it now part of basic training...?

No.

are you fuckin' nuts?

Could be. Irrelevant. You know, hd, you're not very good at this "internet troll" thing. Come back when you've had some more practice.

Fred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rafique Tucker said...

What is the point of this rationale? If you listen to the most Democrats now, there is no room for doubt about waterboarding and never was.

John, I was trying to come up with possible explanations as to why the Dems did not do enough to speak out against waterboarding, if they genuinely felt waterboarding was bad at the time (which they should have, in my view). Perhaps, as I stated before, they simply changed their minds on the issue.

Honestly, besides pointing out the well-established existence of political hipocrisy on both sides of the aisle, I'm left wondering the utility of this with regards to the actual debate about waterboarding.

As I see it, waterboarding is basically torture. It ought to be established as such. If the Congress didn't do so before, they should do so now.

Fred said...

Ann: You're concerned with Hypocrisy? Try Criminal and Stupid for your next conversation starter.

Stop trying to defend torture, you all sound like a bunch of fucking idiots. This isn't about ideology, and it never should be framed that way. There is a serious moral question here and whether or not we engage in such practices when the bomb is ticking... it shouldn't open this issue up for debate. Are you seriously going to defend Water Boarding and other forms of torture as legitimate interrogation methods because to do otherwise would be a blow to National Security?

There is no excuse here, how are we going to sidestep around the Nuremberg trials? We prosecuted War Criminals after WWII for engaging in this type of behavior and it didn't matter that they received the green light from their madman. How's that for hypocritical?

If your contention is that torture is OK and counter-arguments "laughable" because a few Democrats were granted access to information about torture then argue that those assholes should be put in handcuffs too! Two wrongs don't make a right, are you all really that stupid or just stubborn asses?

If idiot radicals in the middle east are guilty of war crimes, also, then let them burn in hell and God can judge their actions. To push for a national stance that allows criminal behavior and corruption by our government is complete horse shit.

Bottom line: when the Jack Bauer scenario occurs, the agents in charge of the operations will make a moral call. Even if it's technically illegal, the circumstances will dictate whether the act of torture is justified. To try and carve out a political or legal definition of torture that makes it non-criminal is one of the more ridiculous things I've witnessed over the last decade.

If you can't bring yourself to support anything that is appears "liberal" in nature, John McCain and Newt Gingrich have taken the lead against accepting such a national stance. C'mon guys, You are better than this!

Gedaliya said...

As I see it, waterboarding is basically torture.

"Basically" torture? What does this mean? We're talking to some pretty bad hombres out there in rendition land. Some of them have information that will determine whether thousands of human beings live or die. Are you truly willing to let those people die rather than subject a captured al Qaeda operative to a simulated drowning?

John Stodder said...

Honestly, besides pointing out the well-established existence of political hipocrisy on both sides of the aisle, I'm left wondering the utility of this with regards to the actual debate about waterboarding.

As I see it, waterboarding is basically torture. It ought to be established as such. If the Congress didn't do so before, they should do so now.


That's a valid position. In fact, I lean toward it myself.

What's disgusting is the way the current congressional leadership is not willing to pass a law banning waterboarding, but wants to hold the threat of war crimes prosecution over the heads of those who did it previously; apparently, we now learn, with their blessing.

It's not just hypocrisy. Real people are going to be hurt by this. It connects directly to the story of the CIA destroying interrogation tapes. Any law enforcement official involved in homeland security and antiterrorism is getting the message that they protect our country at their own personal risk, depending on which way the political winds blow two or three years after the fact. Putting this idea in the heads of the people we have charged with protecting us makes Americans less safe.

If the problem was only hypocrisy, yeah, hardly worth mentioning. It's not that simple.

Blake said...

Well, let's clarify what it is you're asking, Fred. (I don't really see this as a liberal/conservative issue, myself but then, I'm neither.)

Is it all right to interrogate terrorists? (And for now let's limit this to terrorists, since the Geneva convention covers conventional soldiery.)

Is it all right to do so vigorously and/or deceptively? (Say, good cop/bad cop stuff.) In other words, can we emotionally and psychologically "torture" terrorists?

Is it all right to inflict physical harm? If the harm has no lasting physical repercussions? If it does?

Does it matter what's at stake? If there's a 100 megaton bomb in Manhattan, does that change the rules?

My problem is I don't see that there's an easy answer here. I, personally, would do horrible, horrible things to one person to save millions. At least I think I would. (Who can know until he's in that situation?)

So I don't see banning of waterboarding as being a great moral victory. What does it say? "This is how far we'll go to defend ourselves and no further!"

The problem with that is that you've given your enemies exact knowledge of how far they have to go to beat you.

Fred said...

Yes, Blake, circumstances matter.

Few would argue against the ticking time bomb or Jack Bauer scenario. There are legal problems that arise all of the time where you have to make a moral decision that may otherwise amount to illegal activity.

Because you commit an illegal act, doesn't mean you made the 'wrong' moral choice. To attempt to create a legal loophole that allows illegal acts to go unpunished, particularly when the moral question does NOT arise, is an unwise move. By letting this become a debatable issue, we've undermined our moral position and harm security by giving terrorists additional motivation to blow themselves up and kill innocent people.

I agree it's a complicated issue but if you take a look at some of the commentary, the tone, and the politically driven zingers,... it's a sure way to compromising our nation's integrity. It's not like we have much of a reputation with foreigners or allies anymore, but whatever 'goodness' remains in America, we should make an effort to retain.

The Drill SGT said...

HD,

there are a number of different types of things that can be called water boarding. I'll quickly describe the spectrum:

1. stick a hose down a prisoners throat. fill his stomache with 2-3 gallons of water. pound on stomache as he vomits water. repeat till done. (personally I think this is torture. It was the favorite of several Asian militaries)

2. strap a prisoner on a board, depress him into a pool of water. the dunking pool. (I had this done to me in sere training and it was scary. I have mixed views on this one)

3. strap down a prisoner and stuff rag in mouth. pour water into rag.

4. coverr nose and mouth with plastic. pour water. It activates your gaggging/drowning reflex but you don't ingest water. very scary, but its all reflex based. (I had this done in SERE training and I don't think its torture)

Rafique Tucker said...

Gedaliya, you'll have to forgive me, I do have the tendency use the word basically a bit too much. I should have plainly called it torture. Waterboarding is torture, as I see it.

Gedaliya said...

I should have plainly called it torture. Waterboarding is torture, as I see it.

Well, I don't see it that way, and either does Congress, which has never declared it torture, nor outlawed it as such.

Jennifer said...

Bottom line: when the Jack Bauer scenario occurs, the agents in charge of the operations will make a moral call. Even if it's technically illegal, the circumstances will dictate whether the act of torture is justified.

And just leave them open for prosecution after the fact. Screw 'em! Right?

Rafique Tucker said...

"...which has never declared it torture, nor outlawed it as such."

Well actually, there have been prosecutions of waterboarding in the past, notably during WWII. Many members of Congress assert that waterboarding is torture, and is thusly illegal. DoJ oficials have agreed with this.

I do think Congress needs to officially establish waterboarding (among other things) as torture under the law, and they ought to do straightaway.

I still cannot fathom why it's still being debated whether waterboarding is torture, but I cannot force people to change their minds.

Gedaliya said...

I still cannot fathom why it's still being debated whether waterboarding is torture, but I cannot force people to change their minds.

Well, it is still being debated because some people don't consider it torture, unlike say, pulling out your fingernails with pliars or electricuting your genitals, or knocking out your teeth with a lead pipe.

Waterboarding doesn't maim a person, or hurt a person, it simply scares a person. We do it to our own troops during SERE training.

Don't you see the differences?

Rafique Tucker said...

And just leave them open for prosecution after the fact. Screw 'em! Right?

Not really. If it was determined that based on the extrenely rare (and I want to emphasize rare) situation that torture was the only option to save lives (ex: Suitcase nukes go off in an hour, have to find the nukes, only torture will break him), then mitigating circumstances will most likely lessen the penalty, or eliminate it entirely.

I think the issue is that it should never be the established policy to engage in torture, and it always be against the rules.

Rafique Tucker said...

Waterboarding doesn't maim a person, or hurt a person, it simply scares a person.

Are you sure? Every time? I've heard of accounts of people being hurt, or worse during the procedure.

Not to keep bringing this up, but the U.S did prosecute waterboarding as a war crime during WWII. Were we wrong in doing so?

dick said...

I think part of the reason this is still being debated is because a portion of the country remembers what happened on 9/11/2001 and wants to have options in place to get intelligence to keep this from happening again. They want all the options on the table. Other parts of the country are trying very hard to forget what happened then and think that by outlawing all these options we can keep those bad things from happening again. We can just ask people nicely to tell us when and where and how they are going to attack us and we will then be ready for them. Still another portion is thinking that if they portray these actions right they can take over control of the government.

Personally I think that we should have enough faith in the young men and women who represent us to do the right thing. Generally they do. Occasionally they mess up and you have an Abu Ghraib but the military has options in place to dal with those people. What I see happening with all these complaints is that there are a group of politicians who think they can micromanage everything and we can all sing Kumbaya and everyone will just love everyone else. Won't happen and I can only hope the public realizes it next year.

Gedaliya said...

Not to keep bringing this up, but the U.S did prosecute waterboarding as a war crime during WWII. Were we wrong in doing so?

I doubt it. Even so, again, why doesn't Congress outlaw the practice?

I don't know enough about what happened in the WWII cases to make a judgment. Was what happened truly waterboarding, or was it something else? Was it done to uniformed troops in contravention of the Geneva Convention? [al Qaeda is not covered by the Geneva Convention.] Was it done purely for sadistic reasons, or to save lives? Were those who were prosecuted get convicted for just waterboarding, or were they convicted of carrying out acts of torture that inflicted true physical harm on their captives?

There are many unanswered questions here, don't you agree?

Paco Wové said...

"I still cannot fathom why it's still being debated whether waterboarding is torture..."

I think it's because of statements like this one, from earlier in this thread:

"I had this done in SERE training and I don't think its torture"

If somebody who has experienced a thing tells you he doesn't think it's torture, then it tends to cast doubt on it being torture, at least for some people.

The Drill Sgt's comments bring up another point -- there appear to be different things being called 'waterboarding'. Some are unambiguously torture, AFAICT. Others I would call torture, were it not for people like the Drill Sgt. telling me that he doesn't think it is. That raises doubts. I still don't like it, and would prefer it not be used. But I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to outlaw it, either.

Crimso said...

"It's not like we have much of a reputation with foreigners or allies anymore, but whatever 'goodness' remains in America, we should make an effort to retain."

What do you mean, "anymore?" When did our "allies" or "foreigners" think we were the shiznit? WHEN?

Crimso said...

"and I want to emphasize rare"

I would maintain that using it 3 times is quite rare.

Fred said...

"Waterboarding doesn't maim a person, or hurt a person, it simply scares a person. We do it to our own troops during SERE training."

The reason we put our special forces through such 'training' is probably to teach them a few lessons:

1) don't get caught.
2) if you do get caught, you're going to be tortured
3) if you're tortured, you must resist the human response (spill your guts and give the enemy intel.)

To the guy that says "Certain parts of the country still remember what happened on 9/11/01." Get a fucking clue, all you're doing is taking the easy way out of the argument. Next time, just preface everything you say with the following: "You're anti-American if you don't agree that..."

No, this isn't an easy question, but you can't get away with "9/11 happened because we were a bunch of pussies and never tortured anyone before..." You're rather naive if you believe we suddenly discovered torture post-9/11.

It's a reality of war, this brutality happens. However, when it's accepted as a matter of course instead of as an exception to the rule of law, we've become the very terrorists that we denounce.

"We use it to scare them, not harm them..."

The reason Americans are not considered terrorists while Muslim radicals, extremists, fundamentalists are, is because they DO use fear tactics to achieve goals. The use of fear to promote certain policies or ways of thinking is terrorism. Terrorism isn't something you can justify, and it shouldn't be a public stance we strive for as a nation.

When we openly accept torture and/or terrorism as a valid interrogation 'technique', it makes it impossible for us to argue or denounce people who use the methods against our soldiers.

Here's an example of what I mean by losing the moral ground:

If we discover that one of our CIA operatives was caught by Iranian soldiers during a anti-nuclear proliferation mission... and Iranian (terrorists -- military) detain the guy, torture, and break him. Do we still have a leg to stand on when we attempt to negotiate for his release? Can we appeal to the world and say, "they've tortured Sgt. Smith, please join us in our rescue attempt". Or, "Hey, World, our own agents are being tortured.. we need a hand to teach the evil guys a lesson."

Suddenly our position is weak, because we engage in the same cruel and evil practices we denounce. We do so proudly, after all.. this is a war on Terror, we're justified!

Actually, no, we are not.

Rafique Tucker said...

I think part of the reason this is still being debated is because a portion of the country remembers what happened on 9/11/2001 and wants to have options in place to get intelligence to keep this from happening again

Dick, I haven't forgotten about that fateful day. There are indeed some in this country who haven't quite yet awakened to te reality of the GWOT, but I'm not one of them. I want to use all all options as well, as long as their legal and just.

Paco (and Drill Sgt.), you make a good point about the SERE training aspect. I've never gone through it, so cannot speak to that. I suspect there has to be a different context involved though. Drill Sgt., could we agree that 1, 2, and possibly 3 in your example are instances of torture, while option 4 may not be?

Also, I completely acknowledge that people disagree with me, and as I stated earlier, have every right to do so. Even with the SERE example, I still cannot see wtaerboarding as anything but torture, but that's me.

Was it done to uniformed troops in contravention of the Geneva Convention? [al Qaeda is not covered by the Geneva Convention.]

Good question, Gedaliya. I'll have to look that up.

Rafique Tucker said...

It's a reality of war, this brutality happens. However, when it's accepted as a matter of course instead of as an exception to the rule of law, we've become the very terrorists that we denounce.

EXACTLY. Fred gets a gold star.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Not to keep bringing this up, but the U.S did prosecute waterboarding as a war crime during WWII. Were we wrong in doing so?

I don't know, but if the defendants knew what we know now they'd be kicking themselves for not coming up with the "we were conflicted, tensions were running high" excuse.

EnigmatiCore said...

Rafique Tucker, the only one of the four that sounds remotely like torture to me is the first one. Clearly, that is.

The others? Sorry, I don't think it is even close.

Kevin said...

http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~warcrime/Japan/Yokohama/Reviews/Yokohama_Review_Asano.htm

The one case I see cited of waterboarding being prosecuted after WWII was Yukio Asano.

The charge and specifications were:

Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture PWs. 2. Did unlawfully take and convert to his own use Red Cross packages and supplies intended for PWs.


Specifications:beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward

EnigmatiCore said...

Kevin,

This does not sound like prosecution for waterboarding:

"beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward"

It sounds like prosecution for a shitload of things, one of which may have been waterboarding. The least of which.

hdhouse said...

The Drill SGT said...
HD, coverr nose and mouth with plastic. pour water. It activates your gaggging/drowning reflex but you don't ingest water. very scary, but its all reflex based. (I had this done in SERE training and I don't think its torture)"

ohmygod.

1. it is defined as torture.
2. the world views it as torture nearly to a country.
3. it obviously causes some sort of brain damage, loose of a moral compass, retreat into relativism, abandonment of principles....need i say more

EnigmatiCore said...

"it obviously causes some sort of brain damage, loose of a moral compass, retreat into relativism, abandonment of principles....need i say more"

It sounds to me like you think that, in order for something to not be torture, it has to be something that one can resist without much difficulty (lest it be an abandonment of principles).

That's really silly.

I want our investigative techniques, as a matter of course, to cause our enemies to abandon their principles.

That's the whole friggin' point.

Fred said...

Found this link, among others, but most were filled with strong opinions so here's some info:

You can read an excerpt of the book referenced, here.

War crimes are those violations of the laws of war --or international humanitarian law (IHL)-- that incur individual criminal responsibility. While limitations on the conduct of armed conflict date back at least to the Chinese warrior Sun Tzu (sixth century b.c.e.), the ancient Greeks were among the first to regard such prohibitions as law. The notion of war crimes per se appeared more fully in the Hindu code of Manu (circa 200 b.c.e.), and eventually made its way into Roman and European law. The first true trial for war crimes is generally considered to be that of Peter von Hagenbach, who was tried in 1474 in Austria and sentenced to death for wartime atrocities.

By World War I, States had accepted that certain violations of the laws of war --much of which had been codified in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907-- were crimes. The 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg defined war crimes as "violations of the laws or customs of war," including murder, ill-treatment, or deportation of civilians in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war; killing of hostages; plunder of public or private property; wanton destruction of municipalities; and devastation not militarily necessary.

The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which codified IHL after World War II, also marked the first inclusion in a humanitarian law treaty of a set of war crimes --the grave breaches of the conventions. Each of the four Geneva Conventions (on wounded and sick on land, wounded and sick at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians) contains its own list of grave breaches. The list in its totality is: willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment (including medical experiments); willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; compelling a prisoner of war or civilian to serve in the forces of the hostile power; willfully depriving a prisoner of war or protected civilian of the rights of a fair and regular trial; unlawful deportation or transfer of a protected civilian; unlawful confinement of a protected civilian; and taking of hostages. Additional Protocol I of 1977 expanded the protections of the Geneva Conventions for international conflicts to include as grave breaches: certain medical experimentation; making civilians and nondefended localities the object or inevitable victims of attack; the perfidious use of the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem; transfer of an occupying power of parts of its population to occupied territory; unjustifiable delays in repatriation of POWs; apartheid; attack on historic monuments; and depriving protected persons of a fair trial. Under the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I, States must prosecute persons accused of grave breaches or hand them over to a State willing to do so.

Fred said...

It sounds to me like you think that, in order for something to not be torture, it has to be something that one can resist without much difficulty (lest it be an abandonment of principles).

That's really silly.

I want our investigative techniques, as a matter of course, to cause our enemies to abandon their principles.


So you're basically taking Al Qaida's position on war tactics.

That is, "in order to deny the enemy the opportunity to harm you or your way of life, you will do whatever is necessary to make your enemy change their way of thinking." The video from Osama Bin laden, post 9/11, essentially said just that. They argue that Americans have been meddling in middle eastern affairs for long enough, we've murdered their families, children and and raped their women and occupy their land. We drop bombs in what they consider "the holy land" and they basically use that "reason" to justify attacking Americans, destroying federal property, and engaging in terrorist / extreme acts.

I don't accept that line of reasoning. It lays the foundation for injustice to occur indefinitely. (Including, killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides of this 'war')

EnigmatiCore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EnigmatiCore said...

Fred said "So you're basically taking Al Qaida's position on war tactics."

No, I am not in any way, shape, or form condoning the idea of sawing off a person's head in order to try to intimidate the nation from where said person came.

Maybe you can point me to some soldier on our side who was captured by Al Qaeda, waterboarded, and is around to tell the tale?

I didn't think so--- because that is not what they do. We should be so lucky. Our captured fighting men and women should be so lucky.

I am all for subjecting anyone we capture to procedures that render their religious fanaticism impotent in regards to hiding information from us.

Information that will save American lives.

I guess that is not your primary concern, but it is pretty much my only one.

If it is triggering the gag reflex until they panic to where they cannot think and blurt out everything just to get it to stop, then that sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

EnigmatiCore said...

This whole discussion right now is making me think that some just don't get the whole law of unintended consequences.

If you try to force rules on our soldiers, where a captured soldier cannot be coerced into giving up valuable operational information, then the end result will be fewer captured people and more deal people. Why capture someone if you can't make them talk? When you will have to bear the costs of sustaining them, and risk them escaping?

And it works in converse. If the world adapts rules that make it that captured soldiers have no use, then they won't capture soldiers-- they *will* do what Al Qeada does now. Kill them.

Middle Class Guy said...

Hypocrisy is politics today. Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, they are hypocrites. They are very expensive hypocrites spending alomst a trillion dollars a year of our tax money.

Flip flops only cost about a buck on sale.

Fen said...

So I don't see banning of waterboarding as being a great moral victory.

Exactly. It is immoral to allow 10 million New Yorkers to be incinerated by an Iranian nuke [and another 10 million in Tehran destroyed by our retaliatory strike] ... simply because we refused to torture a known terrorist who had intel to stop it.

I also find it hypocritical that some here have called for exceptions to torture. They expect someone will break the law and use torture when its their city, their family at risk, but won't allow me to use the same tools to prevent my platoon from being blown up by an IED.

I think Freder is the only one here who believes torture is wrong in all circumstances, with no exception. I disagree with him, but at least he's not a hypocrite...

John Stodder said...

Fred,

Thanks for that summary of the history of war crimes.

What does it mean to you that in your entire summary, no mention was made of an interrogation scenario?

I think it's clear that nearly 100 percent of Americans would oppose any form of torture including waterboarding if the aim was simply to punish enemy combatants, or to coerce confessions, thus depriving them of a fair trial. I see nothing about coercive interrogation for purposes of gaining information that will thwart an attack that would result in the deaths of innocent people.

Was that an inadvertent omission or is interrogation not mentioned in the literature you drew your summary from?

Fred said...

To answer the last two posters, it's not a black and white issue, why should it be?

Fen:

There should be exceptions based on questions of morality. Will torturing a man save 5 lives, 10 lives, 1000, a million? Who are you torturing and why? Are you sure the person being tortured is implicated in acts of terror? How do you know, we don't extent habeas rights to foreign citizens.

Notice how all of the hypothetical Q's above require moral judgments, but because of the politicization of the issue,... the question of hypocrisy arises. When politics is raised, the issue no longer becomes about "right vs wrong", it is "left vs. right" and that leads to an awkward result that is driven by passion rather than reason, rage becomes the driving force instead of a sense of justice and duty to preserve our humanity.

Again, it's a difficult and very serious question, which is why it pisses me off that the problem has been trivialized by propaganda from both sides. I'm not free of political bias, I don't think anyone can be. Yet, I'd gladly see Democrats go to jail over this if it means justice will be served in the process.

Enigma:

Torture will never convert criminals into non-criminals. Terrorists who justify evil in order to do "good" have already failed the test of reason and all the torture in the world isn't going to shake it out of them.

Fred said...

John: Nah, that site didn't have anything on interrogation tactics. If I find anything I'll link, later. A few months ago I spent a lot of time reading through Cornell and Harvard archives on Nuremberg and War Crimes. Lot of good info out there, but you have to dig for it.. just not mainstream yet.

Synova said...

I find the idea of expecting people to break a law against torture if the situation is serious enough sort of vile. It's like getting the moral superiority of officially condemning torture while getting all the benefit of giving one huge green light to anyone who makes the individual decision that a situation calls for doing it... and in circumstances without trained interrogators, safeguards, or anything. No one will know how to water board properly so what methods would an amateur use?

Pliers?

I think water boarding is pretty bad, but I also think it's likely a decent place for the line to be drawn... on the *other* side of it. And go ahead and make a law saying that any use of it will require a fairly strict proof that at the very *least* those involved sincerely believed and had reason to believe (not proof but reasonable cause) that lives were at stake.

Having it illegal but wanting them to do it *anyway* is really horrible, Rafique. If you want them to do it, make it legal.

Waterboarding is, by all accounts, pretty dang unpleasant. It's also incredibly effective in short order.

I'd rather have something authorized with procedural safeguards and oversight to use in the worst of critical situations and have clear laws as to what must not *ever* be done *ever* no matter what, than leave it all mushy and undefined.

There is no Jack Bauer situation that justifies Jack Bauer tactics in the real world. Sorry.

(Tackling a guy and putting your gun to his head and screaming, "What did you just put over the air conditioner!?" Yeah, that happened in real life (and people were evacuated and the bomb removed) but that's not what we're talking about is it.)

In any case, can we all agree that some of the interrogation methods people were crying over like Israeli flags, pornography, and fake menstrual blood *aren't* torture?

The idea we aren't supposed to offend a prisoner's religion just boggles my mind.

Fred said...

Synova, you've just described the life of a CIA operative. It may repulse you, but they do carry out America's dirty work.

You're right: Humiliation / Psychological warfare can be distinguished from physical Torture and indefinite detention of terrorists -Suspects-.

As for the guys that actually carry out terrorist acts and get beat up in the process, well, the human in me says-- fuck 'em. It doesn't make it right to act like them, but I sleep easier at night when I -FEEL- like justice is being served.

Anyway, good night.. thanks for the conversation.

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

If you want a taste of real torture, look at these charming toys.

It's sobering to consider that people commonly used such things on each other for the sake of religion, money, and power.

For my part, I do not think a constitutional, democratic government should resort to torture to enforce its will.

Perhaps I may be saying that such a government should not HAVE to resort to torture.

Have we become too squeamish for our own good?
I think that for the sake of the good of our souls, we needn't be squeamish, but ethical.

The good of the United States should never be defined by an unethical expediency.
History is full of defunct states and ghostly governments that lived and died by expediency.  They're the ones that had to use the devices depicted in the link.

The United States has always been called to a higher purpose.  We has often failed that purpose, but we have always had that calling.  This is the principal reason that our government has become one of the oldest in the world, and, tattered as our ideals may be, one that still inspires loyalty from its citizens.  The rack, the thumbscrew, and, yes, the varieties of water torture known as "waterboarding" have not been needed to enforce American ideals. These do not inspire respect, but fear.

Fear may "work" in the moment, but in the long course of things is an admission of of moral failure and a magnet for retribution, both from God and man.

As an American, I'll take my chances with ordinary police methods, and leave the torture chambers to the governments of a Charles V or a Louis XIV, not to mention Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot.  We've seen how long those governments endured.

Before you answer that we do not propose to torture to the degree of that cast of characters, I say it is not a matter of degree, but one of doing such things at all.  For my part, for the sake of my immortal soul, and for the collective soul of the nation, if any such thing may be, I'll take my chances without torture in any form being used in my name.

Cedarford said...

Rafique - As I see it, waterboarding is torture. We've prosecuted people for it in prior wars.

Meaningless. Much of post-war prosecution is Victor's justice. The other side would have had our guys up on war crimes trials if they had won in WWII. Like firebombing cities, starving civilians with engineered famine, unrestricted sub warfare.

And if it was just waterboarding, absolutely none of the Japs would have been up on that charge alone. The only one charged, Asano, I'd wager did Chinese water Torture, a true torture, along with his other warcrimes against POWs. Highly unlikely it was waterboarding. It was just thrown in with the whole kitchen sink of stuff they did. Just as cops will charge the robber who killed someone with jaywalking, driving a car with a failed emissions sticker, breach of peace, assault, use of gun in a crime, crime of violence on someone over 60, intimidation & threatening in addition to the "real charges" they want prosecuted - robbery and murder.

The new thing is that we know have a peanut gallery for conflicts between nations of people from the West devoted to criticising the actions of Westerners over their foes from a position that they think is "Moral Superiority". They are the Euroweenie socialists with amnesia about communism's evils but not America's or Fascisms or those of dictators aligned with the West too much. They are the US Democratic Left which seeks to sabotage US intervention as long as they feel they personally are in not too much danger from the enemy, or if they were considered to have their own asses at risk and approved of "torture" and "ensuring intelligence has all the tools to prevent future failure", deny they ever thought that way. And the post-communist Jewish lawyers at the ACLU and Human Rights Watch and elsewhere who preen and say their love of international law, due process, the Supreme Authority of the UN and precious enemy rights explains their actions, denuncuations of America, and lawsuits on behalf of terrorists.

=====================
Michael_H said...
Perhaps a way to get Nancy Pelosi to tell the truth would be Botox boarding.

Tie her to a board and threaten to withhold Botox until she starts telling the truth. Show her photos of Helen Thomas and Molly Yard labeled "refused to talk".


Onion or Scrappleface worthy idea. They could make a whole skit out of it.

===================
Fred - If your contention is that torture is OK and counter-arguments "laughable" because a few Democrats were granted access to information about torture then argue that those assholes should be put in handcuffs too! Two wrongs don't make a right, are you all really that stupid or just stubborn asses?

No Fred, it is only your self-righteousness that blinds you to reality.
It is OK to kill in war or certain civilian situations to save your life or your people's lives from an enemy combatant or criminal. And not just in self-defense, but bombing clusters of defenseless enemy unaware Death is falling down on them...The term "innocent civilian" is an oxymoron in the sense it presumes all soldiers are guilty. Both parties on both sides are basically innocent people in the sense of military and civilian law. But they can be killed. And interrogated, if need be.
It is OK to torture if large numbers of lives can be saved - as a moral tradeoff - the act itself not moral, but moral in context of serving a greater good.

Fred - when the Jack Bauer scenario occurs, the agents in charge of the operations will make a moral call. Even if it's technically illegal, the circumstances will dictate whether the act of torture is justified.

That is the new Democratic argument. That cops and agents care so much for their fellow America that they will do what has to be done no matter what stupid law is passed thanks to the pressure of Euroweenies, the Dem Left, and the morally preening Jewish International Law activists.

That to save lives, they will altruistically and happily lose their careers, risk their freedom for substantial jail time, and almost certainly lose
their life savings. Just so Lefties and John McCain (who squealed like a pig in interrogation) can morally posture.

I don't know any cops or agents that would do that against a law specifically targeting them from doing felonious prohibited acts and saving lives or opening themselves up to ruinous lawsuits opened up by the terrorist's human rights lawyer activists. Nor would a group let a "hero" do a Bauer with their knowledge because then they are all co-conspirators.
If thousands die, the cops or agents would behave just like the FBI did in 9/11 inquiries...maintain they followed the law and did things by the book. Not a one of them was punished. If any blame affixed after another massacre on Americans standing around when they should have been questioning terrorists, it will be on Congress and the lawyers who handcuffed the cops and agents from preventing mass death.
=================

hdhouse said...

enigmatic bore....

i was referring to the sgt and all others on here who think that waterboarding isn't torture. the stupid among you so to speak.

particularly that putz who would do it for 1000$. ohmygod. so brave when behind a keyboard. so ammoral. so braindead.

EnigmatiCore said...

Hdhouse, I don't see why you find it hard to believe that someone would put up with being waterboarded for $1000. After all, we put up with reading your tripe and do so without getting paid.

It is amazing-- despite the fact that your posts are in the same font as everyone else's, one can practically see the crayon it would have been scribbled in had this been on paper. Neat trick.

Fen said...

There should be exceptions based on questions of morality.

Who decides? Who has that right?

A) Torture known terrorist to prevent nuke from destroying your family.

B) Torture known terrorist to prevent IED from destroying my platoon.

Why do I sense that the decision will be based more on self-interest than morality?

Fen said...

There should be exceptions based on questions of morality.

Shorter: Situational Ethics

...but because of the politicization of the issue,... the question of hypocrisy arises. When politics is raised, the issue no longer becomes about "right vs wrong", it is "left vs. right" and that leads to an awkward result that is driven by passion rather than reason

Speaking of morality, I'm not buying the Tu Quoque equivalence that Leftist hypocrisy is excused because "both sides do it". As Anne's original post demonstrates, Democrats were ho-hum about waterboarding until it could be used as a tool to attack Bush.

Cedarford nailed it: "...the US Democratic Left which seeks to sabotage US intervention as long as they feel they personally are in not too much danger from the enemy, or if they were considered to have their own asses at risk and approved of torture and ensuring intelligence has all the tools to prevent future failure, deny they ever thought that way."

How convenient for the "righteous": I'm against torture on moral grounds... but someone else will break the law and save my city if it comes down to it, right?. How moral. How courageous.

Fen said...

hdhouse: particularly that putz who would do it for 1000$. ohmygod. so brave when behind a keyboard. so ammoral. so braindead.

How about a sidebet then? You put up 1k for him to be waterboarded. If he backs out, he has to pay you 1k instead. Put your money where your mouth is... so brave when behind a keyboard. Heh.

Synova said...

Instead of saying we don't and then do it anyway, how about we say we do and then not?

Huh?

Or is appearance really that much more important than truth?

I want our people to have clear guidelines of what sorts of interrogation are acceptable and what sorts are not and I want oversight and controls and accountability for those excessively rare cases when water boarding is called for. (And since water boarding apparently *works* I don't see the point of authorizing other methods that aren't as safe.)

But people get the vapours at the notion that we might *condone* something which is considered torture by many people... but then, amazingly, we hear the argument that we should *expect* our CIA, soldiers or police to out and out torture someone if THEY see the burning need to do so.

Own it, people.

If that's what you want our guys to do, own it, and make it *legal*.

Telling all the bad guys you won't hurt them isn't a good plan. Telling "allies" that you're pure as driven snow assumes that they are so dog awful stupid that they'll buy the lie.

If we expect our government to behave in a moral fashion, and we absolutely *should*, making laws with the expectation, indeed MANDATE to violate those laws means we can't even have a moral ideal to try to hold our government *to*.

What is more important? Substance or Appearance?

When it comes to "moral high ground" clearly it's the substance that counts and if we honestly OWN what we want our protectors to do that's a very good first step. We don't get MORAL by practicing self-serving self-deception.

Like saying water boarding should be illegal and our protectors should be willing to destroy themselves to save us if the situation calls for it.

hdhouse said...

fen, i refrained from calling you a stupid piece of shit so be happy.

waterboarding is illegal in this country didn't you know that? so where do you suppose this bet take place? in that rat's nest you call a mind?

and its illegal cause your commander in chief said so...or did you forget that too?

you right wing nazis are just too much some days.

The Drill SGT said...

hd,.

I'm trying to have a civil discussion at the end of a thread that's headed down hill. toward that end, can you clarify this claim?:

waterboarding is illegal in this country didn't you know that? so where do you suppose this bet take place?

I think that:

1. Torture is illegal.
2. DoD can't use any methods not prescribed in the Army FM on interegation, and water boarding is not listed.
3. I believe that the Congress has had multiple chances to either define torture or explicitly make WB illegal for all US activities but has not done that.

What is your basis for claiming that WB is illegal?

Hoosier Daddy said...

you right wing nazis are just too much some days.

Hey house, the nazis were socialists (national socialist german worker's party) hence they're a lot closer to your leftiness.

The Drill SGT said...

BTW:

I'm not a big fan of "extreme methods". I think that some WB isn't torture, but clearly reasonable people can disagree. McCain has a different view and I respect that. he's an "expert"

I don't think Pelosi's views are based on anything stronger than political expediency.

Joe said...

I'm still stuck on rhhardin's comment that "Hippocracy would be rule by horses."

Or would it be rule by Hippos? Which would be better? Discuss.

The Drill SGT said...

short answer

in Greek hippo = horse
in English hippo = fat African Marsh herbovoire (e.g. hippo)

Revenant said...

hippopotamus = "river horse", shortened to "hippo" by lazy English speakers. :)

Fen said...

hdhouse: waterboarding is illegal in this country didn't you know that? so where do you suppose this bet take place?

Vegas. Lemme guess, you're not going to back your bs with $1k, right?

Roger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

The charitable interpretation would be to characterize those that don't believe congressional oversight was briefed on torture techniques is naivete. Why are people surprised that congress says one thing in private, then goes out and reads the polls and says another thing? Naivete is the nice interpretation; stupidity is another interpretation. And then there is always plain old disengeniousness. And for the record, I am not one who favors torture.