December 23, 2007

"If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers..."

Says a guy who waterboarded himself (but did not sledgehammer himself).

47 comments:

rhhardin said...

A sharp stick in the eye is the traditional standard of unpleasant alternatives.

vet66 said...

It is presumptuous to contemplate what one would do under those circumstances. Hopefully, we would never be in that position.

Personally, I could care less what happens to a captive who has sworn to kill all that is dear to me. Make him/her as uncomfortable as possible because the alternative is that I am dead and the moralty is moot.

AJ Lynch said...

Did he ever have his fingers smashed with a sledgehammer? If not, he may wish he chose waterboarding. I once smashed a couple fingers between two large pieces of concrete and a small sledge and it was prolonged agony. A doctor will tell you most crushing injuries produce agonizing excruicating pain.

If he never had his fingers crushed, the two choices presented are like asking an only child if he preferred being an only child- the only child has a single frame of reference from which to base his answer.

Can I assume this article was from the NYT?

Slim999 said...

The "horror" you don't know is always worse than the horror you do know.

It is instructive that this person has only experienced ONE of the alleged horrors.

Waterboarding, as it has been described by many, is merely the experience of a natural bodily function - essentially a gag reflex.

Without even looking into this person's background, I can predict that he is a BDS-sufferer.

It's quite predictable. And sad.

Paddy O. said...

Of course he would choose waterboarding over getting his fingers smashed by a sledgehammer.

He already did.

He did one and not the other.

Not to discount how awful an experience it was, but his actions belie his rhetoric.

Course it would have been much harder to type the effect had his fingers been smashed and he likely would have been committed somewhere after telling people what he had done. I guess waterboarding himself isn't as much cause for psychological worry.

Cedarford said...

Slim999 has it right. A Lefty BDS sufferer out to make an Internet show out of himself so he can call waterboarding the penultimate in torture - and equate it to real, gruesome torture. (which he wisely refuses to experiment with..."I had a friend then start smashing all my fingers with a sledgehammer next, just to verify waterboarding was worse, but we stopped at the 1st finger..."

We already have a very large cadre of people to ask about it and whether or not they would choose to have all their fingers smashed by a sledgehammer instead. That would be the tens of thousands of Americans who have been waterboarded over the years at US military SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) school. A few such graduates have posted here with Ann Althouse describing it and simultaneously saying it works in getting accurate truthful info from the subject and endorsing it's use on terrorists to save American lives.

Their opinion is it is most unpleasant, but not in any way bad enough they would prefer all their fingers smashed or other grisely torture, to it.

Perhaps another choice.

1. Decide that thousands having a choice between jumping from or burning to death in the WTC or future victims of Jihad in similar circumstances is far more terrible than waterboarding just 3 enemy Islamists who target civilians over the last 6 years. A technigue that offers no excrutiating pain or lasting physical harm. Continue work on scientifically advancing other interrogation methods such as drugs, brain scans that can get life-saving info and make waterboarding obsolete.

OR

2. Decide that terrorist rights under laws and conventions they reject following themselves trump saving innocent lives.

EnigmatiCore said...

Reading some excerpts, I came across this (ellipsis mine):

"There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved.
I never felt anything like it... where I was ... never in any danger."

So we have here a method that triggers reflexes, where there is no real danger, and where the subject is deprived of choice, chance and willpower.

Sounds exactly like what I want in an interrogation technique. Irresistable, with no permanent harm.

Let's have Congress write up a law expressly permitting, or expressly outlawing, this, and have them vote on it.

From Inwood said...

Trooper York

I thought that Paul Newman, in character, looked real good after his character had his fingers crushed. And he beat Jackie Gleason!

Obviously this is a childish stunt to embarrass Bush.

If I had a choice of being water boarded or reading BDS stuff….

Synova said...

Penultimate means the next to last, not the first.

Anyhow...

Yeah, not having his fingers smashed with a sledgehammer sort of makes the comparison suspect.

It's not the same, I suppose, but I thought I'd prefer to C-section to regular birth which I'd gone through often enough to have a pretty good memory of. I was glad. Cut me open! Just do it!

I was also *wrong*. Drugged up and cut open avoided the whole painful labor thing but the lesser pain afterward went on and on and on and the scar has itched for Ten Freaking Years.

No one who defends waterboarding suggests that a person can "take it" or that it's anything other than psychologically terrifying. That's the whole point, really. That *no one* can take it even though it's over quickly and doesn't cause injury.

But better to smash fingers slowly, one at a time with a sledge hammer?

Yeah, right.

Doyle said...

Ann do you suppose you could pinpoint the moment you became the sort of person who went around defending acts of torture as being really not that bad?

I mean, did you "evolve" towards a more favorable view of torture on 9/11, or have you always thought it was an underused method of ensuring national security?

Danny said...

I don't understand why waterboarding is limited to terrorists. If it's effective against them, it should be used on all criminals who might have information to divulge. Drug dealers, cheating businessmen, prostitutes, corrupt politicianas, NYT journalists who don't divulge their sources, DOJ officials who have "trouble recalling" certain details... strap em all to the table and get the party started. HOOAH!

DocWashboard said...

I'm struck by the way that torture proponents always assume that everyone in custody is, in fact, a terrorist. If I'm remembering correctly, there were mass releases of prisoners from Abu Ghraib who turned out not to be guilty of anything at all. The same holds true with some Guantanamo prisoners: they haven't done anything at all, let alone "sworn to kill all that is dear" to vet66. That's one of the reasons why they occasionally let some detainees go free.

Chip Ahoy said...

by a guy who waterboarded himself but did not sledgehammer himself.

That's why I keep visiting here.

I guess I'll just have to accept this discussion gets picked up at square 1 every time the subject is broached. It feels retarded but that is the world I find myself in and so must abide. It's sort of like skiing. No matter how good you get, you don't just hit the black diamond slopes straight off first thing after breakfast.

I'll concern myself with waterboarding suspected terrorists, snagged under the most compromising situations, when we as a group concern ourselves with outlawing fisting, water sports, and CBT, activities which I understand are undertaken for fun.

You can't waterboard yourself. The full horror would come from your enemies controlling it. I want the enemies of my country to be horrified. I'm a mean person that way. I want the enemies of my country to lose their religion.

Jesus appeared in my cell and told me all that's OK, things will sort themselves later.

rcocean said...

I just want to say I'm against Torture because I'm such a morally superior person -unlike all you right wing Nazi's.

I'll now go and hug myself.

michael farris said...

"I'm struck by the way that torture proponents always assume that everyone in custody is, in fact, a terrorist"

Well, if they're not terrorists, they're at least muslim and for many, many people, where there's smoke there's fire.

And, remember since this guy made a rhetorical error (comparing a real horror and hyperbolic hypothetical situation) proponennts of waterboarding other people can continue to tell themselves that it's all okay. That's all that matters by now anyway, being able to tell themselves that it's all okay. They can be shocked and against it the whole time later.

Danny said...

I believe someone has just introduced 'fisting' into the discussion.

Revenant said...

I don't understand why waterboarding is limited to terrorists.

It isn't constitutionally permissible to use aggressive interrogation techniques on criminal suspects; the information so gathered isn't admissible in court.

If you've no intention of ever holding a trial, however (i.e., because the person is an enemy combatant, not a domestic criminal), the fact that the information won't be admissible in court doesn't matter.

Revenant said...

I'm struck by the way that torture proponents always assume that everyone in custody is, in fact, a terrorist

When you drop a bomb from an airplane, can you know with perfect certainty that every single person who will be killed or injured by it is an enemy combatant?

Of course not. You have to play the odds. It may well be that some of the people we've interrogated had no involvement in terrorism, but that's war for you. The duty of the American military and intelligence community is to protect Americans -- not to protect foreigners.

garage mahal said...

Is waterboard torture? hmm, good question. What kind of waterboarding, Medieval.....Viet Cong style? And who's doing it? Us? God this is all so confusing! So many layers, so nuanced! And if we're doing it, I'm sure it's okay???? And I'm sure it was to save us from a ticking time bomb? Can't we just all agree that waterboarding isn't a black and white issue? And terrorists are blowing up children's hospitals!

Oh.....we have a trail of evidence and tapes of us waterboarding people?

Definitely not torture then!

Lawgiver said...

I don't understand why waterboarding is limited to terrorists.

I understand your point Danny. Maybe we should incarcerate terrorists in the Huntsville prison complex. We could give then cell mates with names like Bubba or Meatrod. The terrorists would probably tell us a lot of neat stuff, maybe even plead to return to Gitmo!

vet66 said...

Jeff Jacoby has a good article out today on the Islamic war on women. Honor killings, stonings, gang rape sentences, rape rooms, genital mutilation dictats against female teachers, teaching females, and the list goes on!

How about some of you yahoo, bleeding heart,moralizing, effete, pseudo intellects stop defending the indefensible. Your whining costs more muslim women their lives every year and continues in an outrageous vacuum of silence.

Any religion that puts up with that kind of torture and coercion is a production line of jihadi terrorists and need to be labeled as such. They are guilty by association or silence in condemning their atrocities.

Continue making yourselves warm and fuzzy by hiding behind moral equivalency. People are dying because of you and our troops are holding the bad guys feet to the fire to slow down the carnage.

If it makes you feel better, consider waterboarding the terrorist baptismal.

EnigmatiCore said...

Doyle,

Does there exist a type of interrogation technique that you can imagine, that totally overwhelms an individual's capacity to resist, that you support?

If so, can you please detail. If not, can you explain why not?

Thanks.

DocWashboard said...

"Of course not. You have to play the odds. It may well be that some of the people we've interrogated had no involvement in terrorism, but that's war for you. "

Ah. So you're saying, then, that the September 11 attacks were not atrocities, but merely another day at the office. We should, you think, learn to accept those deaths with good grace. Sh!t happens. After all, that was how those terrorists chose to prosecute the war against the west, and everything's fair game.

Your view--and I just want to be sure that I have this right--is that the utter innocence of those who died at the WTC in no way made the attacks more brutal. "That's war for you," I think is your Grand Unifying Theory of the Universe.

Innocents are fair game, you opine. Does that go both ways?

Danny said...

It isn't constitutionally permissible to use aggressive interrogation techniques on criminal suspects; the information so gathered isn't admissible in court.

So even if a little water could make a guy fess up to a child porn ring, you think it's still ok that the constitution lets these pedophiles pedophile freely? Either change the constitution or bypass it altogether. If we're allowed to waterboard Ahmed and pals we should be allowed to do the same to Judith Miller, despite the fact that she somehow retains US citizenship. Whatever you want to call them, these people are aiding the efforts of terrorists and recovering what they know will save innocent American lives. No exceptions.

Synova said...

"I'm struck by the way that torture proponents always assume that everyone in custody is, in fact, a terrorist"

I'm just struck by the way people are compelled to lie about the arguments made by the other side.

Why not just waterboard everyone? Ohhh... that is *so* clever. How can I answer such an argument. Oh, Muslim is the same as terrorist! Why didn't I *ever* think of that one!

I, too, want to know what *effective* interrogation method the bleeding hearts approve of. Any of them? Why or why not? What is it OKAY to do in order to get terrorist suspects to talk?

It's easy, oh so easy, to put on this semblance of righteousness, pat yourself on the back for being such a good person, and never EVER say where you draw the line or why that line is correct or what interrogators are *supposed* to do in your name.

Can we play mind games with their religion? Smear real menstral blood on a Koran? Wrap them in an Israeli flag? Feed them pork?

Can we make them *think* they're in physical danger? Can we disorient them with lights or sensory deprivation?

Oh you who are so very righteous, tell me what we CAN do.

And while you're at it. Please state clearly, yes or no, is waterboarding worse than smashing fingers, one at a time, with a sledgehammer?

John Stodder said...

Ann do you suppose you could pinpoint the moment you became the sort of person who went around defending acts of torture as being really not that bad?

I mean, did you "evolve" towards a more favorable view of torture on 9/11, or have you always thought it was an underused method of ensuring national security?


Doyle do you suppose you could pinpoint the moment you became the sort of person who fell in love with your image in the mirror as a person of superior morals who perceived the most profound ethical quandaries of national security in a nuclear age with such perfect black and white clarity?

I mean, did you "evolve" towards a more favorable view of yourself after 9/11, or have you always been crippled by the kind of vanity that takes your own personal safety for granted while thinking you could provide such security in a more self-enhancing way than those with the actual responsibility for doing so?

DocWashboard said...

Stodder:

Can I assume that you will not complain about "enhanced interrogation" (and remember: the interrogator gets to determine whether or not it's torture) if it ever occurs to our folks?

Also: is the concept of "war crime" now obsolete, since, by your lights, anything now goes?

John Stodder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Stodder said...

Stodder:

Can I assume that...


No.

I realize that depriving you of the "you said this, so I assume you believe that" fallacy will leave you pretty much empty-handed in this debate, but sorry, I'm not playing.

My point was what I said. Doyle's vacuous moral vanity is deeply unserious. It's a feel-good. But we're living in an era where the feel-goods are cheaper than ever.

What I think is that the question of enhanced interrogation is a different subject matter than torture. Torture is something I would expect 99.9 percent of all Americans to oppose. Enhanced interrogation is a closer call.

Ideally, we'd never use it. But I am instinctively nauseated by the front-parlor assertions of people like Doyle who really have no clue what professionals in the field, responsible for protecting us from secret plotters of mass death, have to deal with.

I trust most American law officers to do the right thing most of the time no matter who happens to be president. I have no choice but to do so. If on extremely rare occasions they believe waterboarding is the only way to get information out of a suspect, information that will save thousands of lives, I'm not comfortable second-guessing them.

If I was told waterboarding was conducted as a matter of course in all interrogations, I would oppose that. But in the gray area where trained officers have to make judgments between two wrongful positions, I don't think it's up to me to tell them, in advance, and on behalf of thousands of potential victims, which way they must choose. What is my expertise to make such a judgment? What is Doyle's? What is yours?

It's a slippery slope, one might argue. On the other hand, I don't think we've ever lived in an era of this country where the principles of civil liberties are so widely respected and honored as they are now. I realize this statement isn't the conventional wisdom, but anyone who reads the history of America in wartime knows I'm right. A few dozen jihadist warriors in Gitmo, three instances of waterboarding in six years since 9/11, expansion of police powers in only the most surgical and particular circumstances while we basically do not interfere with the lives Arab Muslims in this country at all -- that is not how America reacted in the Vietnam era, during the civil rights movement, during the first decade of the Cold War, during WWII, during the post-WWI Red Scare, during WWI, during Reconstruction, during the Civil War, and so forth. In the wake of an attack like 9/11, I think the real story is about America's restraint, and what that says about this country's values.

Blake said...

It's interesting to me that the anti-torture folk (as they style themselves) are compelled to change the argument whenever the topic comes up.

...remember since this guy made a rhetorical error...

This wasn't a rhetorical error. If we take this guy at face value, it was an honest attempt to understand how horrible waterboarding is. Conclusion: Very much so.

But, of course, he wouldn't smash his fingers--even a pinky. There is an element of that (lifetime disability as well as ongoing persistent pain) waterboarding lacks.

It's a poor comparison. Even if he had done both, neither compares to the actual circumstance, which is something none of us here can comprehend.

Just like none of us here can comprehend being a torturer/interrogater. (OK, I'm playing the odds.)

It's not an easy question. Banning torture seems like the moral high ground, right up until a failure to get intel results in a lot of innocents dying.

Synova said...

"Can I assume that you will not complain about "enhanced interrogation" (and remember: the interrogator gets to determine whether or not it's torture) if it ever occurs to our folks?"

"Our folks" are waterboarded regularly. Thousands and thousands of them.

By us.

Some of them determine to shoot themselves in the head before they are ever taken captive because of that experience.

Considering our enemies, this is the right response.

If waterboarding were what "our folks" could reasonably expect to look forward to if they were captured by our enemies I would throw a G*d D*mned PARTY you MORON.

DocWashboard said...

Synova:

Your post doesn't make much sense. You're using mostly English words, but they're put together oddly, and it seems like some ideas are missing that would make the thing flow a little better.

Remember that you can't have half the argument in your head. You have to type it all out so people can read it, even though some of the letters are hard to find.

I'll try to respond, though, to what you appear to be trying to say.

Your argument seems to be that waterboarding is so horrific that people who know about it would rather commit suicide than undergo it. Is that actually the point you wanted to make? To underscore how awful waterboarding is? Because, frankly, that seems to run counter to what I could pick out of the general drift of your post.

Also: remember that "enhanced interrogation techniques" covers a lot of territory, of which waterboarding is presumably only a part.

Peter said...

When I first took my job we gave all suspects their rights. And sometimes a couple of lefts. It became very unfashionable to smack a suspect, we adapted. But every working deputy chose what situations we'd risk our pensions and our freedom.

I was lucky enough that I never had to cross that line.

I'm really tired of the excuse that we can't be mean to the bad guys for fear they'll be mean to us. Tell that to Daniel Pearl.

I wish you moral types would figure out that we didn't start this fight and things are going to be awfully damned ugly if we lose it. That Dutch moviemaker, van Gough never tortured anyone. The people in those embassies in Africa weren't torturing anyone. Those sailors on the USS Cole weren't torturing anyone. And it wasn't because of Bush, those yahoos didn't know who the governor of Texas was. They will kill us all if we don't get in the fight.

Synova said...

Firstly, assuming that we, in order to be consistent, have to approve of someone else doing what *we* do is logically wrong.

As an example, we spy on countries. We can be expected to spy on countries. Knowing what other countries are up to is important for our national security.

The opposite is also true. Other countries spy on us.

Does this mean that we will not *complain* about it if we find out? No, it doesn't. We do not have to accept or approve of other countries spying on us just because we have a spy program.

With me so far, Doc?

The logical "gotcha" you were attempting saying that we ought to approve of others doing to "our folks" what we approve, under specific conditions and rarely, to do to "their folks" is not a "gotcha" at all but a logical fallacy.

But, illogical or not, the fact is that if our enemies did what WE do, we should throw a party.

It's not that we wouldn't complain if an American were captured and waterboarded, of course we would. We would complain if an American were captured and held even in humane circumstances because it is in our interest to ALWAYS push to better the situation for those we are responsible for.

But we're not in a position to argue about an extra meal a day or access to a Chaplain or enough blankets for those in enemy custody.

Doc.

Because what happens to OUR FOLKS isn't even that they are subject to something as unpleasant and traumatic as waterboarding. What happens to OUR FOLKS is that they get their testicles cut off and stuffed in their FREAKING MOUTHS while they are still alive and then they get their heads sawed off.

Oh please GOD if they were only waterboarded!

And oh please GOD let the squad mates of anyone captured get a clear shot off.

DocWashboard said...


Oh please GOD if they were only waterboarded!

And oh please GOD let the squad mates of anyone captured get a clear shot off.


Got it. Now you're advocating our own soldiers shooting each other to death. Way to "support the troops." With friends like you, who needs enemies?

Synova said...

Yup, Doc.

You see, you try to compare, to make an equivalence between nice, clean, abstract notions as if that means something.

It doesn't.

Would I want our soldiers to shoot their friend to keep him or her from being captured by Al Qaida in Iraq?

Yes.

What sort of monster are you that you would not?

Synova said...

I'm waiting for this, Doc.

Explain to me why it's more moral to allow someone to be captured alive, knowing that they will be tortured to death slowly and their body desecrated than it would be to stop that from happening if you could.

Explain why *you* would not pull the trigger, Doc.

Revenant said...

Ah. So you're saying, then, that the September 11 attacks were not atrocities, but merely another day at the office.

I briefly tried following your reasoning, but then I got bored. Congratulations on arriving at the least intelligent possible misunderstanding of my post.

Synova said...

Doc seems to be making attempts at cleverness rather than reasoning.

Word games.

Gotchas.

The problem with that is it results in a lack of overall continuity in his arguments. Each one is unrelated to any others and none of them address the overall issue of what sort of interrogation is appropriate and what sort is not.

John had it right, "I realize that depriving you of the "you said this, so I assume you believe that" fallacy will leave you pretty much empty-handed in this debate, but sorry, I'm not playing."

I'm just not as smart as John.

Fen said...

is the concept of "war crime" now obsolete, since, by your lights, anything now goes?

Its been obsolete for some time now. Primarily because there is no equal protection under law. International laws and Geneva are perverted to hamstring US operations.

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

Danny: So even if a little water could make a guy fess up to a child porn ring -

Weak argument. You are confusing criminal investigations with the gathering of war-fighting intelligence.

hdhouse said...

Trooper York "Obviously this is a childish stunt to embarrass Bush."

ahemmmmm gentlemen. mr. bush needs no childish stunts to be embarrassed. Forget not that where we have been for the last eight years...and both tortures seem viable. pleasant repose. .. ho ho ho.

Revenant said...

Doc seems to be making attempts at cleverness rather than reasoning. Word games. Gotchas.

It's just Cyrus again, I assume.

From Inwood said...

It seems that we have a PR problem here.

As you know in the tax area

"tax evasion" is bad

while

"tax avoidance" is OK.

So when one pushes the envelope on his/her tax return, he/she's just "avoiding" some taxation, even tho some would think this person was cheating.

So let's just call waterboarding "torment" & go for it.

I think that reading the comments of those, as John S describes,

"crippled by the kind of vanity that takes your own personal safety for granted while thinking you could provide such security in a more self-enhancing way than those with the actual responsibility for doing so...."

amounts to torture.

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

C4: Perhaps another choice.

Make waterboarding illegal in all circumstances. Revisit that decision only after Los Angeles, New York and Boston are savaged by WMD attacks.

Tellstar, et al: OMG! Please please PLEASE do WHATEVER is necessary to stop this! I don't want to see my family choke to death on their own blood! after learning that their city is the target of a WMD attack.