April 24, 2009

When Obama decided to release the CIA interrogation memos.

WaPo reports:
Seated in Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's West Wing office with about a dozen of his political, legal and security appointees, Obama requested a mini-debate in which one official was chosen to argue for releasing the memos and another was assigned to argue against doing so. When it ended, Obama dictated on the spot a draft of his announcement that the documents would be released, while most of the officials watched, according to an official who was present. The disclosure happened the next day.
Watched calmly? Watched with dismay? Surely the source characterized the mood. I'd like to know.
Obama's aides have told political allies that the last-minute conversation, which ended around 9:30 p.m., demonstrated the president's commitment to airing both sides of a debate that was particularly contentious. But it also reflected widespread angst inside the White House that a public airing and repudiation of the harsh interrogation techniques that the last administration sought to keep secret would spark a national security debate with conservatives that could undermine Obama's broader agenda....
This suggests that the argument for withholding the memos was political, but wasn't the argument for releasing them also political?
Several Obama aides said the president's decision was in line with his frequent criticism during the campaign of President George W. Bush's policies on interrogations at secret prisons. On his second day in office, Obama banned the prisons and the tactics in an executive order.

The aides also said they hope the memos' release will focus public attention on the coldness and sterility of the legal justifications for abusive techniques, with Obama telling reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday that the documents demonstrate that the nation lost its "moral bearings" in the Bush years.
Legal analysis tends to look cool and analytical. Yes, you can say that's cold and sterile. Would the people be less roused by memos that were contaminated with nonlegal considerations and overflowing with passion. It's a lawyer's argument — and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and White House counsel Gregory B. Craig were in favor of releasing the memos — to say that some legal analysis they don't like is cold and sterile. Don't ordinary people expect legal analysis to look legal?

171 comments:

PatCA said...

Obama is not appealing to the thinkers or the analyzers of the country by this move. He is continuing his reach to the people who voted for him without knowing which party was in control of the government and who just can't get enough of those Obama swimsuit pinups.

So far, it's working. Popular

Palladian said...

Terrifying that Rahm Emanuel has top secret security clearance. Was David Axelrod present?

AJ Lynch said...

Did they have any windows open so they could judge which way the wind was blowing?

rhhardin said...

It's Being-President-Theater, and that's why it's leaked.

An actual debate happens by continuing, until somebody characterizes it all with the right words.

That's how the media are failing, if you want to characterize the public debates in the media. They don't care about the right words. Nor does Obama.

bearbee said...

It is all political. It's the stuff the media eats up. It distracts them and in-turn the the public from the economic mess, GM debacle, TARP with banks trying to give back money, the insane budget deficits and our 22nd Century National Debt.

Jennifer said...

They don't care about the right words. Nor does Obama.

On the contrary, I think that's what they care most about.

SteveR said...

Its not taken commenters long to smell this out. Its not a "cold and sterile" legal decision, its a hot and infected political decision looking for a legal justification.

Bissage said...

Obama dictated on the spot a draft of his announcement that the documents would be released, . . .

And when he was done he said, “It’s an Eichmann in Jerusalem thing -- you wouldn’t understand.”

And everyone had a good laugh.

Maguro said...

So Obama made this decision based on the results of an impromptu "Crossfire"-style debate between two staffers who were assigned their roles? Sounds like some kind of lame student government.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(Sounds like some kind of lame student government.)

Well that's pretty much what 53% of the electorate voted in office.

I'm still waiting for free ice cream on Fridays.

Lem said...

If you work at the Justice Department or the CIA, I would recommend you start sending out your resume.

Get out of there pronto.

Peter V. Bella said...

Obama replaced Hail to the Chief with this:

Flip flopping away, Flip flopping away
You know the dismay of your decision, the more you Flip flop away.

hdhouse said...

Obama should welcome a debate with conservatives ("spark a national security debate with conservatives") as they have nothing. Everything that Boehner has trotted out has been discredited just by timelines alone and this trail leads a long way up the old food chain.

Although it would be my dream to have Bush and Cheney led away in chains, a slow disection of the memorandums would actually do the public a lot of good as we try to understand the goop that passed as policy under the previous administration.

What I do find interesting is that many commentators have looked disapprovingly at the legal arguments presented by the legal office and I don't see much discussion of their merits or lack thereof here on the board that should be full of them.

Palladian said...

"When it ended, Obama dictated on the spot a draft of his announcement that the documents would be released, while most of the officials watched, according to an official who was present."

Seems kind of silly, having Obama dictate something that's already been typed out. It was a private meeting. Why didn't they just copy-paste the text from the teleprompter program instead of wasting time having Obama read it back to everyone? It's not like those people don't know the score.

Palladian said...

"Although it would be my dream to have Bush and Cheney led away in chains..."

Eww, too much information. Does the nurse notice the bulge in your damp Depends when you get to thinking about chaining up Cheney?

Henry said...

Don't ordinary people expect legal analysis to look legal?Is it small print on awkwardly-sized paper? Must be legal.

Diamondhead said...

"Obama requested a mini-debate in which one official was chosen to argue for releasing the memos and another was assigned to argue against doing so."

Obama sounds more like a high school debate teacher than a President. If he really wanted to hear the other side of the argument (the other side national security side, not the other political side), he should have brought someone in that actually believed it rather than making one of his student council advisors take the position.

Lem said...

For all the faults of the Bush administration (deserved or otherwise) it did resist releasing the hounds on the Clintons for the decisions that led up to 9/11. The 9/11 Commission was a fact finding thing, not a who’s to blame witch-hunt that Pelosi wants.

If Obama does not do the same here (and goes back on what he already said) and there is another terrorist attack he is going to be in a world of hurt.

Obama is gambling with peoples lives.

Peter V. Bella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter V. Bella said...

"...a slow disection of the memorandums would actually do the public a lot of good as we try to understand the goop that passed as policy under the previous administration."

People are losing jobs, people are losing homes, people cannot pay their bills and their economic future does not look to rosie.

Those greenie weenie jobs and infrastructure jobs are not materializing- hell won't materialize for about ten years, and other industries are cutting more jobs with surgical efficiency.

Do you, as a good, true, American and a patriot, honestly believe that the average American citizen is actually interested or upset by this horseshit?

Kirk Parker said...

hdhouse,

"Bush and Cheney led away in chains..."

See you in Civil War II, then. Please, do you really not know that's where this sort of thing would lead? Or are you just hoping (there's that word again) to be on the winning side?

section9 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
section9 said...

bearbee said...

It is all political. It's the stuff the media eats up. It distracts them and in-turn the the public from the economic mess, GM debacle, TARP with banks trying to give back money, the insane budget deficits and our 22nd Century National Debt.
Jesus Christmas!!

If that's the case, how the heck are we going to pay to get the Enterprise built, much less pay for Warp Drive and pay off Colonel Green's War.

Damn Talosians and their Damn Illusions!

Kirk Parker said...

"The 9/11 Commission was a fact finding thing"

Well, kinda-sorta, except for glaring structural flaws like having Gorelick on the wrong side of the questioning.

traditionalguy said...

The most cruel and merciless Legal Actions are often taken in the defense of most noble causes, like not using interrogation techniques on the enemy which do not follow all legal protections given to US citizens. PERISH THE THOUGHT is actually a normal reaction to the human suffering inflicted on our enemies who were planning to inflict mass-murder upon us. That is why Obama has hit upon this as a safe issue to make The One appear like a soft hearted man...why he won't even let those repulsive torture thoughts exist to trouble us anymore. Who can beat Obama's strategy here by arguing that the facts of the case required exactly that interrogation to be used against these few captured enemy leadership? Obama wins this PR battle today, but in the bargain we get to resume our appointed roles as the target of opportunity for a world network of Murdering Thieves and Pirates. Oh, by the way, about carrying your own protection, called guns... PERISH THE THOUGHT.

AJ Lynch said...

Kirk:

Bingo re having Gorelick on the 911 Commission.

That told me it was gonna be a whitewash and was further reinforced when they let Sandy Berger off the hook.

Christy said...

Diamondhead has the right of it. Why do I suspect that the official defending non-release argued as strenuously and convincingly as our very own Hdhouse or Jeremy would have? That is, not very.

William said...

Old joke: If addiction is an illness, I want that as my illness instead of pancreatic cancer. New variation: If waterboarding is torture, I want that as my torture instead of having a power drill penetrate my articulated joints....When it was pointed out that the Vietnamese were torturing American POW's, the left answered that, after all, we were bombing their country and thus they deserved a pass. This pass does not apply to Americans....A useful way to distinguish torture from coerced interrogation: Torture is anything done in furtherance of a GOP policy.

Peter V. Bella said...

HOPE: I hope this works.
CHANGE: If not, I can change the doscussion.

MadisonMan said...

My opinion is that any government entity should err on the side of giving out too much information, rather than too little.

I want to know what is being done in the name of America.

hdhouse said...

Christy and Diamondhead...actually disagree with you...re: debate.

If you are prepared to argue one side then by default you have to be prepared to argue the otherside othewise you are half prepared.

A problem with listening to the Rightwingweenies rests in only knowing your one side of the argument...that is one reason it is generally so full of holes..black holes by the way that only have an entrance but no exit.

Diamondhead said...

So, Madison Man, I assume you also believe that the government should disclose precisely the type and value of information obtained through use of these tactics? For the American people to make an informed judgment on this issue, that's another thing they need to know. I'm not holding my breath that the further information will be released or that the American public will demand to be allowed to make an informed judgment.

This was just another politically motivated episode in Obama's four year reelection campaign.

hdhouse said...

Kirk Parker said...
"Bush and Cheney led away in chains..." See you in Civil War II, then. Please, do you really not know that's where this sort of thing would lead?"

I would hope that it leads to jail....as the rightwingies were so fond of saying "no one is above the law"...remember that cute little phrase?...I'd settle for just Cheney but if we go to all the trouble...well why not include President Whoosis....

Diamondhead said...

"If you are prepared to argue one side then by default you have to be prepared to argue the otherside othewise you are half prepared."

I doubt Obama's flunkies were adequately prepared to argue either side re: national security. I'm sure they had some keen insights into the political effects of whichever course of action was chosen, though.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(A problem with listening to the Rightwingweenies rests in only knowing your one side of the argument...)

That is really rich coming from you.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(My opinion is that any government entity should err on the side of giving out too much information, rather than too little.)

Familiar with the phrase loose lips sink ships? I'm sure the Islamofascists also have the same opinion.

traditionalguy said...

War crime tribunals to imprision the losers by the standards of the victors are understandable. But who knew that the Pelossi/Red Dems were at war with the USA. All along we were told that they were Patriots in favor of a USA victory. But now they are claiming that the USA has lost and the Pelossi/Red Dems have won the real War will put the USA on trial. These guys really are secret Bolshevick Revolutionaries. Never again can they pretend to be fighting for the USA in anything.

Jeremy said...

If the shoe was on the other foot, the wingnuts here would be screaming to high heaven for the Democratic Administration's hides.

Try to imagine the conservative reaction to a President Gore or Kerry defending what we now know about the reasoning for the invasion of Iraq, the WMD, the anthrax, chemical wagon, mushroom cloud statements, the torture, the thousands of dead civilians, thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers.

And consider this: Americans went through six years of watching Ken Starr and others literally tear the Clintons and anybody associated with the Clintons apart, all in the hopes of finding illegalities relating to a land deal that was decades old. Then we got to watch the President ripped to shreds for lying about having "consensual" sex with an adult.
(All as the country enjoyed one of the most amazing economic and peaceful eight years in our nation's history. And yes, I know all about the bombing in 1993, but the perpetrators were caught and punished within weeks of their actions. Other acts of terrorism took place away from American soil -except of course for our own brand in Oklahoma City.)

Now, when we're confronted with an administration that deals in lies, torture and denial...we're supposed to just let it go...for the good of the country...because Bush kept us "safe" for eight years. Well, we were also "safe" for the eight year previous to the Bush administrtaion too...and without invading sovereign nations or torturing people.

Whoever was behind this disgusting chain of events should be brought into the light and if the deserve it; prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.

The whining about the documents and acts being exposed is also bullshit. Damn near everything being released has been reported on for years and to think the "terrorists" will be angry because of hearing about it is ridiculous.

America will never return to prominence as the leader of the free world or a shining light for democracy until we admit to our own mistakes and face up to the consequences.

If you want to think of America as being better than others...we need to prove it.

Palladian said...

"If you want to think of America as being better than others...we need to prove it."

So says a psychotic community college psychology teacher who spends hours a day trolling the comments of a weblog. Why should we not trust his opinion on the meaning of America, guys?!

jayne_cobb said...

Well if Rasmussen is to be believed then around 58% of people actually agree with Cheney that this hurt national security.

Larry J said...

Lem said...
If you work at the Justice Department or the CIA, I would recommend you start sending out your resume.

Get out of there pronto.
That goes double for those who write legal opinions for the White House. It sounds like they're trying to criminalize legal opinions Obama's crew disagree with. You know if they go through with that, the next Republican administration will likely do the same to those writing legal opinions for Obama on things like TARP and the bailouts.

Obama and company are trying to criminalize political opinion. They should be careful what they ask for. What comes around goes around.

Cedarford said...

MadisonMan said...
My opinion is that any government entity should err on the side of giving out too much information, rather than too little.

I want to know what is being done in the name of America.
========================
Problem is that whatever you know, Madison Man, the radical Islamist enemy also automatically knows.

Perhaps it would have been a wonderful thing for the US to broadcast that we we down to just one carrier in the Pacific in early 1942, the Manhattan Project, or the hows and wheres of D-Day so the American public could have meaningful debates about them.

But such info would have been appreciated and debated in ernest even better by the Nipponese Imperial Fleet and German High Command.

We do know that AQ "religiously monitors" all open source they can get on US counterterror efforts. Once a Congressman publicly blabbed that we were monitoring bin Laden's cell phone comms back in 1999, it took AQ two days to declare such phones Haram - unclean. When a leak that Condi Rice was reported to be visiting Mosul with 3 US Senators the next day, a signal was intercepted that evening from Pakistan to AQI in Syria that afternoon, saying that effort should be made "at all cost" to shoot down any helicopters coming in there "even with likely martyrdom" the result.

As Taliban and AQ are now 60 miles from the capital of Pakistan and the 1st nuke storage depot....

Ask yourself, Madison Man...

Are we in a war?

Or is this a law enforcement problem replete with terrorist rights and best waged by lawyers?

rdkraus said...

Still tryin to figure out how they're going to prosecute lawyers for writing legal opinions.

What statute is that?

How can making a legal argument, even an incorrect one, be a criminal act?

Jeremy said...

Palladian said..."So says a psychotic community college psychology teacher who spends hours a day trolling the comments of a weblog."

First of all, it's not surprising to hear such tripe from the likes of one who knows little if anything about our nation's history or current politics.

Second, I've said this before and will give it another shot: I do NOT teach anything at a community college. I haven't the foggiest notion where you would come up with that.

I own and operate two businesses and have done so for quite some time. My "trolling" as you describe it, is a diversion from other responsibilities, and I hate to let this out of the bag, but a few of my employees fill in from time to time...for no other reason than to enjoy the obvious aggravation inflicted by my (our) comments. (The one today is my personal view of the current drama.)

As to the Rasmussen Poll, they are considered a rather conservative organization so I wouldn't put much stock on what they say about Dick Cheney or what he thinks.

Fox News also thinks he's a great guy. SO does Glenn, Rush and Sean.

In reality, he's an embarrassment to any thinking American.

Jeremy said...

Larry - "Obama and company are trying to criminalize political opinion. They should be careful what they ask for. What comes around goes around."

That's absolutely false.

What would make you think such a thing?

Palladian said...

"My opinion is that any government entity should err on the side of giving out too much information, rather than too little.

I want to know what is being done in the name of America."

I'd like to know where my money has gone. Why is that being kept more secret than our military and intelligence operations?

Do you want everyone else in the world to know what is being done in the name of America?

"Still tryin to figure out how they're going to prosecute lawyers for writing legal opinions.

What statute is that?"

You forget, it's DEMOCRATS that make the statutes now. They can do whatever they want. They have an historic mandate, remember?

Jeremy said...

This could be fun:

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann announced on Thursday that he is willing to pay $1,000 to charity for every second that Fox News anchor Sean Hannity undergoes waterboarding torture. (I'll give him 3-5 seconds.)

I watched a journalist the other nigh, who bet he could go 15 seconds, break at the 5 second mark and he said it was absolutely terrifying...and he wasn't being waterboarded by people who hate him or trying to extract information.

lawprof2 said...

"Obama wins this PR battle today, but in the bargain we get to resume our appointed roles as the target of opportunity for a world network of Murdering Thieves and Pirates."

Umm. Do you know that the Somalian pirate issue developed and increased dramatically during the Bush years? Who gave the go ahead for lethal force as appropriate?

As far as the negative reaction to the cold "legalese" of the memos, the real issue is that the analysis and writing is so poor, that the lack of legitimate legal support for torture necessarily jumps off the page. In order to justify what the attorneys had to have known was illegal, they had to turn off their emotions and brains. Good lawyers know when to use both.

Torture is unacceptable. When we violate fundamental laws and beliefs about what America stands for, we hand our enemies the tools for building stronger, more violent coaltions against us. These were crimes, and those who okayed the behavior must be brought before a court to answer for their actions.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(I watched a journalist the other nigh, who bet he could go 15 seconds, break at the 5 second mark and he said it was absolutely terrifying...and he wasn't being waterboarded by people who hate him or trying to extract information.)

Which kind of proves the point it isn't torture? Or if you really think it is, it's no worse than a trip to the dentist for a root canal? I mean how many people volunteer to have thier fingernails pulled out or have electric shocks to their genitals to determine thier tolerance for holding information?

Palladian said...

"I watched a journalist the other nigh, who bet he could go 15 seconds, break at the 5 second mark and he said it was absolutely terrifying..."

I hate to say this, but I'm getting a little sexually excited thinking about journalists being tortured. More of this please.

"and he wasn't being waterboarded by people who hate him or trying to extract information.""

He's a journalist! Everyone knows he had no useful information to extract.

Palladian said...

"Torture is unacceptable. When we violate fundamental laws and beliefs about what America stands for, we hand our enemies the tools for building stronger, more violent coaltions against us."

Blah blah blah. What does America stand for, anyway? 50% taxation? 100 years of debt to China? Cradle to grave welfare? Humility at the feet of Europeans? Killing Pakistani civilians with aircraft drones? Liberals always like to get all sanctimonious about how torture isn't what "America Stands For™" but I never hear any articulation of what their America does stand for. It seems like their America doesn't stand, it kneels, humbly.

MnMark said...

The whole thing comes back to the definition of "torture". Are the liberals here really arguing that it is immoral to put a prisoner under any kind of stress, of any degree, in order to extract information, not matter how many lives of our people it may save, and no matter how heinous the behavior (beheading innocents, etc) of the prisoner?

That may be a morally consistent position but it is ridiculous and suicidal in the real world we live in. It really is. It's fine as long as our side is overwhelmingly powerful and able to fight with both hands tied before our back and still survive. But if things got close, would these liberals really prefer that we die by the millions, that we become dhimmis under a caliphate, than use very unpleasant interrogation methods on a captured enemy leader who has no scruples about what he'd do to us?

That sort of empty moral posturing is offensive. It's cheap and easy to say "torture is always wrong" when you're not the one in charge, who by deciding not to pressure the captured enemy, dooms untold numbers of our people to death or defeat.

rdkraus said...

Palladian

I esplain.

Remember when Michelle said that it was the first time she was proud of her country. Well, she was speaking for both of them, and it was the truth.

They are not proud of this country.

They have a vision of a much different country than this ever was. And, we're headin there fast.

Sorry, you already knew that.

traditionalguy said...

LawProf2... The political wars we call elections are a great place for engaging in your Tit for Tat arguments about who is the greatest thinker and has the strongest character to lead a majority party's vision of America to victory. Very nice. But what has that got to do with President Obama now happily throwing out the baby (which is the cohesion and dedication of the organized teams Defending the USA) with the bathwater, and doing it during a the time of war. That is so stupid that it must either be a shared mental illness, or it is simply Treason.

Hoosier Daddy said...

(That sort of empty moral posturing is offensive. It's cheap and easy to say "torture is always wrong" when you're not the one in charge, who by deciding not to pressure the captured enemy, dooms untold numbers of our people to death or defeat.)

Indeed. Again, if Obama wants to take the position that we won't ever use 'enhanced interrogation' fine. But present the possible alternatives that another 9/11 is simply the price we have to pay to maintain our moral standing.

Jeremy said...

Hoosier - "Again, if Obama wants to take the position that we won't ever use 'enhanced interrogation' fine."

I haven't heard anything of the kind.

I also think there's a difference between "enhanced interrogation" and torture.

Do you agree?

former law student said...

The aides ... hope the memos' release will focus public attention on the coldness and sterility of the legal justifications for abusive techniques, with Obama telling reporters ... that the documents demonstrate that the nation lost its "moral bearings" in the Bush years.

Bissage put his finger on it. It's normal to redefine torture as not-torture, when character and integrity mean nothing. It's everyday, it's humdrum. Just play along, give the boss what he wants.

wasn't the argument for releasing them also political?

Is a cancer diagnosis political? It tells you that something is seriously wrong, and it tells you the extent of the wrongness.

Are the liberals here really arguing that it is immoral to put a prisoner under any kind of stress, of any degree, in order to extract information, not matter how many lives of our people it may save, and no matter how heinous the behavior (beheading innocents, etc) of the prisoner?

First of all, be honest with yourself and with us. If you believe it's necessary to torture people, admit you're torturing people. Don't redefine torture as non-torture.

Second, realize the great principle of reciprocity. If the US sheds its ideals to torture people, then Americans will be tortured as well. And we will lack the moral standing to protest.

When it was pointed out that the Vietnamese were torturing American POW's,

Torturing American POWs was perfectly consistent with Bush administration practice.

First, the captured Americans were not POWs, but unprivileged enemy combatants. The Geneva Conventions cover exclusively international wars and exclusively civil wars. No convention covered the case of a third party jumping into a civil war.

Second, nothing one does to unprivileged enemy combatants can be characterized as torture, because the threshhold of torture can always be redefined to be something more stringent than what one is doing.

Jeremy said...

rdkraus said...as to the Obama's - "They are not proud of this country."

These are the kinds of comments that illustrate just how insane some people here really are.

What exactly have YOU ever done for our country?

traditionalguy said...

A successful war time commander would as soon shoot you as look at you if you get in the way. A successful peacetime negotiater will try to buy you with money and honors if you get in the way. There is a time when we will need each type. So hurrah for Obama the negotiator. Also tell Obama the negotiator he cannot even threaten to criminalise the usual war time commander's zone of activities, just to look good to the children.

Jeremy said...

Hoosier - After I say the journalist couldn't go more than 5 seconds being waterboarded, you ask :"Which kind of proves the point it isn't torture?"

What would possibly make you ask such a silly question? And if it had to be done over 50 times to get information, wouldn't tell you you weren't getting what you want and that it wasn't effective?

If you can only stand having one fingernail yanked out ...would that mean it didn't constitute a form of "torture?"

Why are you defending America torturing people? I just don't understand the logic.

Jeremy said...

traditionalguy said..."But what has that got to do with President Obama now happily throwing out the baby (which is the cohesion and dedication of the organized teams Defending the USA) with the bathwater, and doing it during a the time of war."

What does that mean; "happily throwing out the baby (which is the cohesion and dedication of the organized teams Defending the USA) with the bathwater"?
making his decisions without without any input from the military or intelligence services?
Gates is left out of it?

And as to your statement that this is a "time of war," exactly who is it you feel we're at war with?

The Taliban? Pakistan? Iran? North Korea? Al Queada? All of them?

MnMark said...

fls: I will answer your questions. Will you answer mine? You did not in your reply.

I will repeat it: what in your opinion constitutes "torture"? Are you forswearing any interrogration tactic that is unpleasant for the enemy, or are there some things you would allow? How do you draw the line?

As for your questions:

First of all, be honest with yourself and with us. If you believe it's necessary to torture people, admit you're torturing people. Don't redefine torture as non-torture.

I didn't redefine torture as non-torture. I admit I am willing to see enemy combatants with crucial information tortured - as mildly as necessary, and not gratuitously - to extract information that saves our people's lives.

Second, realize the great principle of reciprocity. If the US sheds its ideals to torture people, then Americans will be tortured as well. And we will lack the moral standing to protest.This is true. Which is why my standard for using torture would be the following:

The USA will never be the first to abandon the Geneva Convention when faced by an enemy. We will always observe it, including the prohibitions on torture, until the enemy breaks it. Then, we will consider it abrograted and null and consider that we are in a no-holds-barred fight for our freedom and our lives.This way we maintain our moral standing to oppose torture because we will never be the first to abandon the Geneva Conventions. If our enemies observe them, so will we. If they do not, we reserve the right not to. And certainly, Al Qaida does not observe the Geneva Conventions in any manner I am aware of. There's no need to list their atrocities. They not only torture but brutally execute any of our people they capture.

Self-defense is not a crime. If self-defense requires torture of an enemy that first engaged in atrocities, then we have a moral right to do what is necessary to stop them and protect ourselves.

Fen said...

Second, realize the great principle of reciprocity. If the US sheds its ideals to torture people, then Americans will be tortured as well.No. Americans have always been tortured, regardless of whether we did or not. There is no "great principle of reciprocity" that prevented it.

And we will lack the moral standing to protest.Unless thats all you're after: the "moral" standing to launch a harsh condemnation from the UN.

Fen said...

I'd like to know why Nancy Pelosi was so mum when the Bush admin was being pilloried in the media over waterboarding. She's one piece of work. Selfserving hag who puts party over country.

Sofa King said...

Interesting how that works: any lack of perfection on our part squanders our moral standing to complain about anything. But nobody ever lacks moral standing to complain to us, about everything.

rdkraus said...

Jeremy

Let's not distract ourselves by making this about me, I'm not the one who said (at > age 40) that I was proud of my country for the very first time, nor am I travelling the world apologizing for the US.

Face it, if he had admitted his real feelings about this country, and where he would take it, he probably would not have been the Dem candidate, nevermind President.

elHombre said...

Jeremy: "I own and operate two businesses .... My "trolling" as you describe it, is a diversion from other responsibilities ... a few of my employees fill in from time to time...for no other reason than to enjoy the obvious aggravation inflicted by my (our) comments."

It certainly coincides with my experience that one lefty can pretty much stand in for another without anybody noticing. It has something to do with being taught what to think rather than how to think.

I can't say I've noticed the aggravation -- other than jibes by Peter Bella now and then. "Amusement" or "contempt" perhaps, but not aggravation.

Oh yeah, and curiosity. What kinds of businesses could be run by a gaggle of liberal trolls?

former law student said...

what in your opinion constitutes "torture"?
...
I didn't redefine torture as non-torture.

No, the Bush administration did. As John Yoo wrote in an oped for the San Jose Mercury News:

As a Justice Department lawyer, I dealt with both issues – I worked on and signed the department's memo on the Geneva Conventions and helped draft the main memo defining torture.

My opinion regarding what constitutes torture would be rather worthless, as I am no humanitarian law expert. I do support rolling back the definition of torture to the pre-Bush administration version.

Palladian said...

"My "trolling" as you describe it, is a diversion from other responsibilities ... a few of my employees fill in from time to time...for no other reason than to enjoy the obvious aggravation inflicted by my (our) comments."

Oh, so you're a sock puppet? That's what I'd call commenting in bad faith. But we all knew that was the case already. Too bad Althouse won't get rid of bad-faith commenters like you. In fact, you're the only one who comments here who I'd consider a bad-faith commenter and actual internet troll.

MnMark said...

What the anti-torture liberals seem to be proposing is that we adopt a sort of Gandhi-like attitude towards being attacked: we will not engage in behaviors we feel are wrong even if it results in our death.

That's why they blame us for the deaths of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan when it is almost always because enemy combatants, in contradiction of the Geneva Conventions, use the civilians as human shields.

Logically, if you are opposed to "torture" - whatever that means - you should perhaps also be opposed to any sort of armed resistance. You should be opposed to any sort of killing. Isn't killing worse than torture? If it's wrong to merely torture Khalid Sheik Mohammed to get information, it ought to be even more wrong to kill him.

Boiled down to its essentials, the liberal, Gandhi-like position is: we will never commit violence even if it is necessary to save our freedom or our lives.

I imagine most liberals would say, no, we have a right to defend ourselves, including killing the enemy. But if so, why the opposition to torture to gain information? (Distinguished from gratuitous torture/humiliation as occurred at Abu Ghraib.) Isn't a measured, limited form of torture which is not done gratuitously, and not done to enemies which observe the Geneva Conventions, a moral form of self-defense? Isn't that exactly what the Bush Administration did? It seems to me that if liberals are going to be consistent they either have to forswear all violence or they have to grant that the Bush administration's attempts to torture no more than absolutely necessary for self-defense purposes were legitimate.

former law student said...

Face it, if he had admitted his real feelings about this country, and where he would take it, he probably would not have been the Dem candidate, nevermind President.

Barack Obama loves America. But in the immortal words of Chesterton, "'My country, right or wrong' is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.' "

Obama's acting in the spirit of Carl Schurz: "...my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. "

rdkraus said...

Former

I believe you feel that way.

I don't think the Obamas do.

MnMark said...

fls wrote: My opinion regarding what constitutes torture would be rather worthless, as I am no humanitarian law expert.If you have no opinion on what constitutes torture, shouldn't you abstain from the discussion altogether? How can you condemn the Bush administration for something you can't even clarify as wrong in your own mind?

To say you support rolling back the definition to pre-Bush administration is a cop-out. Basically you argument amounts to this: "If Bush is for it, I'm against it. Don't ask me to explain why I'm against it - I'm against it because Bush is for it. That's all I understand and all I need to understand."

I think it's telling that you're so uncomfortable trying to define what torture is. I assume you want waterboarding to be considered torture but something less awful-sounding to be considered acceptable, because you acknowledge that we need to be able to apply leverage to people like KSM to get potentially life-saving information. But what is the real difference? Whatever you call it, it is using non-lethal force to make things psychologically or physically unbearable for an enemy. You have to make it unbearable or they won't give up the information. So it seems to me you have to choose between "it's ok to make things unbearable for them (call it "torture" if that seems most honest)" and "it's not ok to make things unbearable for the enemy just to get information."

Jeremy said...

MnMark said..."What the anti-torture liberals seem to be proposing is that we adopt a sort of Gandhi-like attitude towards being attacked..."

I haven't read anything that should make me or anyone else believe that.

Show me any comments, opinions or statements via Obama, Gates or anyone in the administration that would make you or anyone believe that.

Obama has approved consistent drone bombings of the Taliban in Pakistan, committed more troops to Afghanistan and has not said a anything even close to "adopt(ing) a sort of Gandhi-like attitude."

He's said he is against American using torture...period.

This is just the same right wing drivel that is not based in fact or actions.

Jeremy said...

FLS - "Obama's acting in the spirit of Carl Schurz: "...my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. "

Wow.

And true.

AJ Lynch said...

Hey everyone it's starting to look drinking season.

Let's drink to winter finally being gone from here!

The Drill SGT said...

FLS said...First, the captured Americans were not POWs, but unprivileged enemy combatants. The Geneva Conventions cover exclusively international wars and exclusively civil wars. No convention covered the case of a third party jumping into a civil war.Let me understand this? Your position is that:

1. All those NVA coming south across the DMZ into South Vietnam were in a civil war

2. I was an illegal combatant and our pilots were "Air Pirates"

3. and The Geneva convention didnt cover us, so the killing of US POW's in Hanoi was just and legal?

4. and I guess the same applies to the Korean war, when the North came across that DMZ in a "civil war" and would have applied across the Inter German Border as well whenI was defending West Germany in the 70's.

Damn, I'm a war criminal :)

I guess I need to factor your orientation on US policy into my interpretation of your postings from now on.

Jeremy said...

Palladian - "Oh, so you're a sock puppet? That's what I'd call commenting in bad faith."

Oh, give me a break. My wife also reads through the comments from time to time and posts, too.

It's a free-wheeling forum, and if everybody wants to be completely "open," why not use your real name, along with your address and telephone number?

You're like a fucking broken record...constatinly posting and re-posting the same crap over and over again so you remain tight with your fellow wingnuts.

If you don't like what I have to say: Ignore it and move on. (no pun intended)

MnMark said...

Jeremy: He's said he is against American using torture...period.OK Jeremy, how has Obama distinguished torture from plain old interrogation? Have you heard him make the distinction? Can you make the distinction?

My point was that if liberals oppose "torture" (it seems to be exceedingly hard to get them to define it), then where do they draw the line? My reading is that they are taking the Gandhi position: "it is wrong, so I will not do it no matter what happens to me." Then, they go on to be inconsistent in real life - bombing and killing innocents in Afghanistan or Pakistan, while being unwilling to cause KSM too much discomfort in order to prevent another 9/11. That's inconsistent. I'm trying to understand the moral principle that liberals like you are espousing. Mine is "self-defense is moral, and if your enemy violates the Geneva Conventions first, you are freed from having to observe them, because you are in a no-quarter-given fight for survival." What is your moral principle, Jeremy? Can you express it? Do you apply it consistently, or change it depending on what actions Bush took?

MnMark said...

"...my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. "This begs the question of what "right" is. Of course everyone agrees on setting the country right...that is a trivial cliche. The question is "what is right?"

traditionalguy said...

Jeremy... We are at war with Iran and also with the Al Queada branch of the Saudi Arabian government. Right now we have messed up their minds pretty good and have them doubting themselves. If we prematurely put ourselves on trial for war crimes, they will find new courage since one does not lose to an enemy that is stupid enough to attack itself. Creating a need to get a legal opinion on the rights of our enemies, from someone who has never been in war, before attacking every time will end American fighting success. I really believe that Obama and Pelossi know that. They recall gleefully how the Dems got leverage by calling our President and his advisors "criminals" for attacking the north vietnamese Army supply lines and bases across the Cambodian border in order to get the Paris peace talks going. Who will fight for leaders who do things like that to their own men???

AJ Lynch said...

Jeremy:

So it was your wife who makes all the "suck my dick" comments?

Jeremy said...

elHombre said..."It certainly coincides with my experience that one lefty can pretty much stand in for another without anybody noticing. It has something to do with being taught what to think rather than how to think."

It doesn't take much to counter the standard right wing crap that can be found here. And if you really believe the majority of comments here from the local pack are different in any way...you're dreaming. Literally every regular here bitches and whines about everything Obama says or does. They even took shots (no pun intended) at him when he approved taking out the pirates. Said he "really" didn't have much to do with it at all, it was ALL the military...as if they took the initiative with any form of executive approval. (Sure)

Hey...and as for your opinion that "one lefty can pretty much stand in for another without anybody noticing"...maybe we should come up with some kind of really neat name so everybody knows where we get all of our ideas and opinions:

"Dittoheads" has a certain ring to it.

Jeremy said...

AJ - My wife doesn't have a dick.

Does yours?

ElcubanitoKC said...

AJ Lynch said...
Jeremy:

So it was your wife who makes all the "suck my dick" comments?

2:08 PM
.

Some imaginary employee will be blamed for it. Just watch.

AJ Lynch said...

Let's drink to the 6th grade teacher giving Jeremy permanent detention so he gets here later in the day!

MnMark said...

The more I think about it the more I admire the way the Bush adminstration handled this.

Their goal was to extract information using the least force possible, avoiding killing or even permanently disabling the terrorists they were interrogating.

Using these very targeted, very measured non-lethal means, they extracted information enough from the Al Qaida leaders to prevent an attack on Los Angeles and to seriously disrupt the organization.

That is fantastic. I really don't know how you ask for more than that. They saved who-knows-how-many lives and all it cost was KSM being really uncomfortable - they didn't even maim or kill him.

The only way you can object to that is if you take the Gandhi position that using force is always wrong, even in self-defense. Otherwise you must make a distinction between "torture", and merely "enhanced interrogation." If waterboarding doesn't kill or maim the terrorist, I don't see how that is any more morally repulsive than any other interrogation technique that makes them unbearably uncomfortable and willing to talk.

John Stodder said...

Should Truman, Eisenhower, Stimson and MacArthur have been "led away in chains," for their roles in Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

I would have to think that, to be consistent, hdhouse and his compatriots would want at minimum to strip the military leaders of WWII of all their decorations and honors posthumously.

The desire to see such punishments meted to our contemporaries out would also I suspect force historians to revise downward, severely, the high ranking given to FDR, given that the butchery for which he was responsible, along with Churchill, makes Cheney look like a twee folksinger with a peace symbol amulet by comparison.

Let's not forget that while it is true Japan attacked the US, Germany did not. The European theater was strictly a "war of choice." And our response to Japanese aggression was entirely disproportionate. Historian do take FDR down a centimeter for his program of Japanese-American internment, but it has not stopped the same contemporary political pundits who want to see prosecutions to hold FDR up as a model for Obama. Why would any sane person want our president to associate himself with the biggest mass murderer in American history?

I offer these absurd and unthinkable propositions even though I agree with those who believe waterboarding is torture. It shouldn't have happened, and I'm pleased that it has been ruled out. However -- prosecutions? Of people whose only motive was to protect their country from devastating attacks? Not unless the very same people calling for these prosecutions are willing to stand up say in public, loudly, unmistakably and without equivocation, that they denounce FDR and Truman (and JFK and LBJ, for Vietnam), and all the military leaders of WWII, the wars in Korea and Vietnam and other Cold War engagements, and call for their posthumous disgrace via a truth and reconciliation commission, then I will consider comments like hdhouse's a particularly virulent and ignorant form of partisan political bullshit, the consequences of which I doubt he would want to live with or has even thought about.

Some of the implicated Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon era officials are still alive, by the way. It's not too late for Eric Holder to file charges against Robert MacNamara, Henry Kissinger. There are chains with their names on them, too.

Jeremy said...

traditionalguy said..."Jeremy... We are at war with Iran and also with the Al Queada branch of the Saudi Arabian government."

I agree that we have big problems, but being at "war" is different that being at odds with specific factions of different countries and governments.

Right now we don't see eye to eye with Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and others, but we're not at "war" with them We're trying to negotiate of arrange some kind of agreement so everybody will adhere to reasonable guidelines to keep the peace.

As for "Al Queada" being an actual "branch of the Saudi Arabian government," I don't think that is the case. I think, just like the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is not part of the actual government.

Jeremy said...

Stodder - "It's not too late for Eric Holder to file charges against Robert MacNamara, Henry Kissinger. There are chains with their names on them, too."

I'm all for it.

Start a petition.

Jeremy said...

MnMark said..."The more I think about it the more I admire the way the Bush adminstration handled this. Their goal was to extract information using the least force possible, avoiding killing or even permanently disabling the terrorists they were interrogating."

And you base this on what?

Cheney saying waterboarding really isn't torture? Bush saying we never really tortured anyone?

MnMark said...

John Stodder wrote: I offer these absurd and unthinkable propositions even though I agree with those who believe waterboarding is torture. It shouldn't have happened, and I'm pleased that it has been ruled out.Can you define torture? What definition do you use that makes it consistently clear that waterboarding is torture and some other unpleasant interrogation technique is not torture? It can't just be based on someone's feelings about the way something sounds. It has to be based on a principle that can be articulated and thus applied consistently.

Former law student and Jeremy have both ignored my request that they define unacceptable "torture" and acceptable "enhanced interrogation." Do you have an answer, John?

MnMark said...

Jeremy wrote:
And you base this on what?

Cheney saying waterboarding really isn't torture? Bush saying we never really tortured anyone?
How is that any different than you saying waterboarding IS torture?

I base my praise of the Bush administration's handling of this on my assumption that a goal as expressed in the "torture memos" was that information be extracted with the least damage done to the terrorist possible. They only waterboarded three people, the ones with the most info. They took care to limit what was done so it was non-fatal. The whole tone of the memos is "what is least that has to be done to them to get the information?" That's what I base my praise on.

Diamondhead said...

MnMark, I think I can fill in the blanks on what interrogation methods are acceptable to people like fls and jeremy: whatever Obama approves = good, whatever Bush approved = bad. If Obama said tomorrow that waterboarding is not torture, his faithful eunuchs would immediately change their tune (they would still manage to keep Bush in the evil torturer category).

elHombre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Althouse Cohen said...

"This suggests that the argument for withholding the memos was political, but wasn't the argument for releasing them also political?"As bearbee said, you can safely assume everything is political. This applies to Democrats and Republicans.

dick said...

Jeremy,

You are so full of shit. The shoe was on the other foot and the conservatives were not calling for the heads of the Democrats. In fact the conservatives even voted to put Ginsberg on the Supreme Court because she was qualified. Her political beliefs did not keep her from being appointed. Quit trying to rewrite History.

John Stodder said...

Jeremy,

Quite evidently, you don't realize that new administrations engaging in politicized prosecutions of preceding ones is how republics become dictatorships. The party in power doesn't want to give up power because they are afraid that their successors will prosecute them for actions taken in the service of the nation. The classic example of this is ancient Rome, which lost its republic when Pompey threatened to prosecute Caesar, which led the civil war that resulted in Caesar declaring himself emperor. His reign ended the way autocratic reigns often end -- with assassination. You might think it's just me being snarky in making such a comparison, but the laws of history are a lot stronger than you think.

Of course you took the bait against MacNamara and Kissinger. But you conveniently left FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson out of it. Do you agree that all their military and civilian honors, monuments in their names and their depiction in histories should be taken away from them and that they should be publicly disgraced for the unprovoked violence they carried out in our names?

MnMark -- in answer to your question, waterboarding is suffocation and suffocation is, to me, torture. If the CIA said their new technique was to hold a pillow over a captive's face until just prior to the moment he passed out from suffocation, wouldn't you call that torture? I would. Waterboarding is not distinguishable.

But that's really not the debate. Waterboarding is finished as far as the US is concerned. The question is, how are we supposed to treat the people who ordered, approved or engaged in it? Does George Tenant belong in prison? Does Colin Powell? Does Nancy Pelosi (whose lame "I didn't hear them" defense is almost worthy of Steve Martin)?

At least in a US context, all of these people believed they were acting within the law and proper morality. We can now say, they were wrong, just as we can now say bombing Dresden was wrong, interning Japanese Americans was wrong, and perhaps some believe nuking Japan was wrong. I don't think it's any stretch to say bombing Dresden, nuking Japan and interning Americans in concentration camps were more wrong than waterboarding. So if you favor prosecutions of officials who were involved with waterboarding, then it only follows logically that you would rip the FDR monument out of the ground and smash it into pieces, that you would summarily oust JFK's casket from Arlington National Cemetery and toss it into a potter's grave, you would similarly dishonor the memorials and resting places of Truman and Eisenhower, because if waterboarding is bad, what they all did was far, far worse.

elHombre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

MnMark said..."Former law student and Jeremy have both ignored my request that they define unacceptable "torture" and acceptable "enhanced interrogation." Do you have an answer, John?"

How does one answer such a question?

If you're child has a deep fear of the dark, would you consider it to be torture to put her in a dark room?

What about someone who is terrified of insects or snakes? Put them in a box filled with spiders or snakes...torture?

How about someone who has a broken bone? Hanging them from a rope by the broken limb...torture?

Making some believe they're going to literally drown or suffocate...you know, something like...waterboarding...torture?

I'll bet I could spend about 60 minutes, all alone, with you...away from any outside influences...and show you all kinds of things you would come to believe constitute "torture."

And vice-versa.

MadisonMan said...

Familiar with the phrase loose lips sink ships? I'm sure the Islamofascists also have the same opinion.

Where that dividing line is between too much and not enough information might just differ between an Islamofascist and me.

Jeremy said...

MnMark - I just thought of something:

How about 15 minutes listening to Palladian, JSF, Fen, Pogo, and especially Peter...expounding upon their view of the universe...torture?

I think so.

elHombre said...

Jeremy wrote: "Dittoheads" has a certain ring to it."

Not quite what I had in mind. "Obots" has a more authentic feel, I think.

My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.Obama is about political expedience, not right and wrong. It was expedient to consort with Daley, Blago, Wright, ACORN and Ayers. It was expedient to ignore the excesses of Fannie and Freddie. It is expedient to exploit his supporters ignorance about indirect taxation.

If a threatening situation arises that places his political future in jeopardy he will authorize torture or whatever else he thinks he can get away with. He has no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment. None!

(Sorry about the deletes. I screwed up the tags.)

Jeremy said...

John Stodder said..."Jeremy, Quite evidently, you don't realize that new administrations engaging in politicized prosecutions of preceding ones is how republics become dictatorships."

Yeah, I heard the same thing out of Kit Bond yesterday...got anything of your own?

We're turning into a Banana Republic.

What an argument for trying to find out who did what and whether we should prosecute them for doing it.

Here's a question for you: Did you think it was appropriate for Ken Starr to spend 40 million dollars investigating the Whitewater Land deal...a deal that was decades in the past? Or Bill Clinton lying about getting consensual blowjobs?

If a Republican President was asking about investigating a previous Democratic administration in this same situation...are you saying you would recommend they just walk away?

We BOTH know the answer to that question.

Jeremy said...

elHombre said..."Not quite what I had in mind. "Obots" has a more authentic feel, I think."

Not that ANYBODY here EVER listens to Rush...sure.

But you get the point.

Right?

former law student said...

Let me understand this

Sure. Keep in mind it doesn't matter what I think; only the facts matter.

Even the US Army recognized that no Geneva Convention squarely applied to the war in Vietnam, but finally persuaded North Vietnam that the Geneva Conventions did apply.

The US made their case most persuasively by treating North Vietnamese and Viet Cong prisoners per the Geneva Conventions.

http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/Law-War/law-04.htm

Early in the war there had been some question in the United States command as to whether the struggle against the Viet Cong constituted an armed international conflict as contemplated in Article 2, Geneva Prisoner of War Conventions, or a conflict not of international nature, to which Article 3 would be applicable. With the infusion of large numbers of United States and North Vietnamese combat units and the coming of the Korean, Australian, Thai, and New Zealand contingents of the Free World Military Assistance Forces, any practical doubts as to the international nature of the conflict were resolved. Although North Vietnam made a strong argument that the conflict in Vietnam was essentially an internal domestic struggle, the official position of the United States, stated as early as 1965, and repeated consistently thereafter, was that the hostilities constituted an armed international conflict, that North Vietnam was a belligerent, that the Viet Cong were agents of the government of North Vietnam, and that the Geneva Conventions applied in full. This view was urged upon the government of South Vietnam, which acceded reluctantly, but subsequently came out in full support of the conventions.

From North Vietnam's perspective, they were the legitimate government of the entire country, and South Vietnam was a breakaway state, similar to the Confederacy. The Geneva Accords of 1954 made the point that the DMZ was not in any way to be considered a national boundary:

6. The Conference recognizes that the essential purpose of the agreement relating to Viet-Nam is to settle military questions with a view to ending hostilities and that the military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary.

Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference on the Problem of Restoring Peace in Indo-China, July 21, 1954

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Geneva_Conference

Jeremy said...

elHombre - "He has no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment. None!"

And you base this on what?

That Obama "consort(ed) with Daley, Blago, Wright, ACORN and Ayers."

Define "consort."

Daley was the fucking Mayor of Chicago...how would a Senator avoid contact. Blago? (Explain) Wright is an angry black preacher at the church he attended...so what? Acorn is an organization; Obama was a community organizer. (Duh) And Ayers...good lord, you're still on that track? (Give it up)

Provide one shred of real and objective evidence that Obama has "no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment."

Drivel.

elHombre said...

Jeremy wrote: "But you get the point. Right?

What point is that, Jeremy? "I know you are, but what am I?"


Thanks for trying, but Peewee Herman got there first!

traditionalguy said...

Jeremy... In 1951 we were not at war with the USSR by your definition of a War. But we were fighting like hell to keep South Korea from being swallowed by a Soviet proxy state which was using Soviet arms and Soviet advisors and Soviet pilots. In the case of Saudi Arabia we have them under our protection for oil supply reasons, but at the same time they are the sponsoring country of Al Queada. I wish it was easier to keep the middle-east categories straight for discussion. Use the thought process of a snake. You can wound a snake here and there, but only killing the head stops the snake. We are always at war with the sponsoring head.

MnMark said...

John Stodder:in answer to your question, waterboarding is suffocation and suffocation is, to me, torture.
OK John, to YOU, suffocation is torture. But we need some way of defining it so it is based on a principle that can then be applied to decide what defines torture. Simply saying that you think suffocation is torture doesn't do that.

Jeremy, you list a number of terrifying and painful things...and you seem to be suggesting that torture is causing someone great fear or pain. Presumably you would outlaw torture, and thus outlaw causing great fear or pain.

But any interrogation technique other than simply asking questions has to cause fear or pain or it won't compel the interrogatee to answer. Even simply making someone sit in a chair for many hours answering the same questions over and over is a way of applying physical or mental pressure to them.

Unless your principle is that no physical or mental pressure shall be applied at all, you need to define some clear, principled way of saying which techniques are acceptable pressure and which aren't.

I would avoid that entirely by saying this:

1. We will never be the first to cast aside the Geneva Convention. As long as our enemy observes it, so will we.

2. If our enemy does violate the Geneva Convention, then we are morally justified in the name of self-defense in using pressure techniques when interrogating enemy combatants. However, when doing so, we will always use as little pressure as is required to get the information we have reason to believe they have. Thus we will first use techniques that cause no permanent physical or psychological damage, but if necessary we will use whatever techniques necessary - all the way to causing death - to get information we reasonably believe the person has and that can be used to save the lives or freedom of our countrymen.

In that way, a definition of "torture" is basically hair-splitting and pointless. The principle will not be to avoid torture, but to never engage in it first, and when absolutely necessary, to never cause more than the minimum required pain and fear in the prisoner. I think that is a morally defensible position since it is morally justified to defend oneself. It also does not deprive us of moral standing to object to the torture of our own people, because we would never be the first to do so. Any enemy could easily avoid torture at our hands simply by observing the Geneva Conventions.

Jeremy said...

elHombre - If you can't understand the analogy between dittoheads and what you're proposing...there's not much more to say.

daredevil-66 said...

actually I am quite happy to see erstwhile liberals struggle to define what torture means for the obama administration and themselves. It was so much easier to throw bricks at the bush crowd they never had to propose anything. Please do tell me why rendition is so much better under obama? Because we will ask the secret police in Egypt in writing not to torture subjects? Why hellfire missiles fired from predator drones under obama's watch are more just and benign than those fired during bush's reign. Come on, throw me a bone here!

John Stodder said...

Here's a question for you: Did you think it was appropriate for Ken Starr to spend 40 million dollars investigating the Whitewater Land deal...a deal that was decades in the past? Or Bill Clinton lying about getting consensual blowjobs?.

And now, you do think those things were appropriate?

The price tag on Whitewater was inappropriate, but given the facts at the outset of the probe, yeah, he probably had to look into it.

The consensual blowjob probe was actually a suborning perjury probe. Hate to get all technical on you. Presidents can get all the blowjobs they want, but if they lie to federal authorities and tell others to lie as well, then that's illegal.

However, I do think the impeachment process being applied to what Clinton did was extremely stupid and contributed to the poisonous political climate we're in now. The Republicans and Democrats are mirror images of each other in their insane lust for power and fundamental dishonesty, and they are a cute little twosome, joining in the destruction of our republic. I had hoped Obama would be different. He said he would be. He was endorsed by a number of Republicans and independents who were sick of the Bush/Clinton contagion of permanent campaigning and abuse of power. Most of those endorsers now regret lending their support to Obama because it's clear he has no intention of changing the political culture, but instead is partaking of it with a zeal his two predecessors couldn't even match.

Jeremy said...

traditionalguy - Call it what you will, but right now we're not part a "declared" war, but we are engaged in a very dangerous combination of politics, religion and culture.

I think Obama's premise is this: We've tried bombing the hell out of everybody so maybe negotiation and diplomacy should be given a chance.

I don't remember anybody whining about Ronald Reagan entertaining Gorbie at the White House, sipping champagne and telling jokes.

Nixon went to China...and gave Breznev a car (after they invaded Chechoslavia)...no problem?

How about G.W. entertaining the Saudi Prince 15 of 19 on 9/11) in Crawford...kissing and holding hands...no problem?

Jeremy said...

Stoddard - "The consensual blowjob probe was actually a suborning perjury probe."

I said the investigation related to Clinton lying, didn't I?

And you still think it was all worth it?

I have no idea whether the current situation warrants an investigation, but there are those on both sides of the aisle who apparently think there are some real problems with the past administration's explanation of how we got to where we are. The legal memos were written months after the "torture" was already approved via Rice, Rummy and the White House.

Why did they need "memos" if they were doing it anyway? (Perhaps to cover their ass legally?)

By the way, Americans evidently didn't feel the investigations of were worth the time or money...because when he left office he carried a 66% approval rating.

Compare that to G.W. and Dick right now.

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 said..."...actually I am quite happy to see erstwhile liberals struggle to define what torture means for the obama administration and themselves."

Well, help us out.

YOU describe it.

elHombre said...

Jeremy wrote: 'Provide one shred of real and objective evidence that Obama has "no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment."'

Oh, sorry. Was that "aggravating?"

Your demand is indicative of the kind of mindlessness of which I was speaking. You expect me to prove the negative? On this page?

Oh, by all means, wait, while I provide a review of every action Obama has taken so we can search for the moral high ground.

Are you still waiting? I'm hurrying.

In the meantime you could try to provide us with a single example of Obama taking the moral high ground when it was not politically expedient.

How about loyalty to his friends and associates during the hot times? To his grandmother? How about his unequivocal support for gay marriage (not high ground for me, but for you)? How about his courageous abstentions in the Illinois Senate? Etc., etc.

Take your time. I'll be off searching. LOL

former law student said...

Former law student and Jeremy have both ignored my request that they define unacceptable "torture" and acceptable "enhanced interrogation."

"Enhanced interrogation" was just some Bush administration wordspinning to redefine torture as not-torture.

Refer to pages 1-7 through 1-9 of the Army Field Manual 34-52 (1992) for examples of approved and forbidden interrogation techniques.

http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm34-52.pdf

It was scanned, so I cannot cut and paste.

Jeremy said...

elHombre said..." Oh, by all means, wait, while I provide a review of every action Obama has taken so we can search for the moral high ground."

You're the one who said Obama has "no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment."

Just saying it doesn't make it so, but not being able to actually provide evidence of such does make you look like a fool.

The fact that you don't approve of anything Obama says or does is not unusual on this blog site...so do you have anything new or of relevance to add?

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 - We're still waiting for you to explain exactly what torture is.

Having a problem?

Alex said...

Althouse - both the right and left wing hate you. You must be doing something right.

Jeremy said...

F.B.I. special agent Ali Soufan who interrogated Abu Zubaydah says torture doesn't work!

"One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based.

The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working.

The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use. It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative.

Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August.

Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

here was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics.

In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.
One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation.

An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him."

The full Op-Ed can be found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/23soufan.html?_r=3&partner=rss&emc=rss

Jeremy said...

Alex said..."Althouse - both the right and left wing hate you. You must be doing something right."

Hate is an overused term and certainly does not apply here.

Why do you think people "hate" Ann?

Theo Boehm said...

Having a problem?

Yes. When this sort of thing happens on my MacBook, I shut down, then press Shift-Control-Option, along with the power button once, wait 5 seconds, and press the power button again to start.

In the case of this thread, you may omit the last step.

Jeremy said...

Speaking of "tortured" language and logic...

Rep. John Boehner, regarding the released memos about "supposed" torture:

Boehner: "Last week, they released these memos outlining torture techniques and that was clearly a political decision and ignored the advice of their Director of National Intelligence and their CIA director.

The techniques discussed include waterboarding, slamming detainees into walls, and depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days."

Boehner argued that a discussion of such torture techniques was "inappropriate," as it could tip off U.S. enemies to the tactics used and "denigrate" the United States and its allies. Torture is illegal under U.S. and international law.

Then we get Michael Steele to explain...(aren't you glad this yahoo got the RNC job?):

Regarding his use of the T-word, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel writes, "It is clear from the context that Boehner was simply using liberals' verbiage to describe these interrogation techniques. The United States does not torture."

Does that clear everything up?

Diamondhead said...

"Just saying it doesn't make it so, but not being able to actually provide evidence of such does make you look like a fool."

You could disprove him in a second if the facts of Obama's career were on your side. Of course, they're not. He's one of the most craven, dishonest, and cynical politicians in American history.

Jeremy said...

Theo Boehm said..."In the case of this thread, you may omit the last step."

Bye.

Theo Boehm said...

Bye bye!

Jeremy said...

Diamondhead said..."You could disprove him in a second if the facts of Obama's career were on your side. Of course, they're not."

Really?

So after two years of running for President, being vetted via every news and investigative source in the world...then getting elected President of the United States...we still just don't have the "facts of Obama's career."

What do YOU know? Why aren't YOU making it public?

Put up or shut up.

Jeremy said...

Theo Boehm said..."Bye bye!"

How will we go on?

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 - We're still waiting for the correct definition of torture.

Diamondhead said...

We have the facts of Obama's career. Like I said, they're just not on your side. Reading comprehension? Checkoslovakia?

hdhouse said...

Don't waste your time on that numbskull. He is still trying to figure out why Sean Hannity thinks Waterboarding isn't torture, which, by the way, it is and it is pretty hard to make the shitforbrains sandwich that says it isn't.

AJ Lynch said...

How about Obama's college transcripts? Can you get those for me? I am curious to see if he got passing grades in his economics classes.

former law student said...

He's one of the most craven, dishonest, and cynical politicians in American history.Right. Only cowards would take a job requiring them to spend their days working in a South Side ghetto housing project. And only cynics would work for chump change trying to make a difference there.

daredevil-66 said...

jeremy I have a standing rule not to converse with trolls. Please read.

http://www.curezone.com/forums/troll.asp

Have a nice day!

Diamondhead said...

Thanks for giving me the soft-focus perspective of an Obama campaign ad.

traditionalguy said...

Jeremy- You and I agree that our President Obama needs to try soft negotiations. My best memory of a Reagin saying is, "We will go any where and agree to anything to achieve peace, but we will not surrender to achieve peace." My serious complaint today comes from watching Pres Obama start the precedent that a War Time Commander must get a UN style tribunal's approval, after the fact, for every decision he makes to kill and/or torture our enemies. As Sherman basically said, "You cannot civilise a war...War is hell".

William said...

OK, waterboarding is pretty far down a slippery slope. But why is that slalom to hell only on the right hand side of the mountain? Obama will release thousands of pictures of prisoners being mistreated. Don't you think that it is possible that these pictures will motivate a few more suicide bombers in Baghdad? Will this purging be worth the death of a few dozen more Iraqis?.... My feeling is that a lost war is the most immoral of all possible wars. If we were immoral to fire bomb Dresden to advance democracy, the Germans were far more immoral to undergo firebombing in order to advance Nazism. The Baath insurgents blew up a group of children waiting in line at an ice cream truck. These are the people who managed a country of 25 million people and to whom you feel it would be fitting and proper to lose in order to leave unblemished the pure soul of America.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS:

You have real evidence Obama spent hours and hours in a housing project? Was his office there?

Give me a break- neither he nor his wife ever did any real "volunteer" work unless there was a paycheck involved.

Hence the paid volunteer program he wants to spend $6 Billion more on.

bearbee said...

Is this Obie's 100 day mark?

elHombre said...

Jeremy wrote: "You're the one who said Obama has 'no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment.' Just saying it doesn't make it so, but not being able to actually provide evidence of such does make you look like a fool."

Your response is a classic "argument from ignorance" (argumentum ad ignorantiam). You claim that my premise is false only because it has not been proven true. It's not surprising that you wallow around in logical fallacy rather than offer a single instance of Obama's conduct to contradict my assertion.

On the other hand, I gave you several examples, however sarcastically, of instances where he had the option of taking the moral high ground and instead went for political expedience, yet you claim I have provided no evidence.

Jeremy wrote: "The fact that you don't approve of anything Obama says or does is not unusual on this blog site...so do you have anything new or of relevance to add?"

This is a "straw man." I spoke only of Obama's penchant for selecting expedience over moral high ground. Why make stuff up? Or, better yet, why not make up a time when Obama went for the moral high ground instead of political expedience?

Jeremy said...

William - "Don't you think that it is possible that these pictures will motivate a few more suicide bombers in Baghdad?"

Maybe, but it's hard to imagine the pictures creating more of an uproar than having 1,000's and 1,000's of Iraqis being held without legal representation for 5 years or more. (And remember, they didn't take part 9/11.)

Gitmo dealt with 100's, but right now almost 13,000 are still in U.S. custody in Iraq.

Over the six years since the war began, the military ultimately detained some 100,000 suspects.

Do you think any of these people have relatives or friends who might be terrorists? Do you think any of these people might be a little pissed off?

Jeremy said...

elHombre - "You claim that my premise is false only because it has not been proven true."

Gee, now there's a new and improved basis for thinking something is true.

According to your logic, merely "because it has not been proven true"...doesn't mean it isn't true.

You're kidding, right?

Jeremy said...

bearbee said..."Is this Obie's 100 day mark?"

That's a new one for me.

Is he related to obe one kenobi?

daredevil-66 said...

Trolling is a form of harassment that can take over a discussion. Well meaning defenders can create chaos by responding to trolls. The best response is to ignore it, or to report a message to a forum moderator.

Jeremy said...

I've asked this before and will ask it again: If we found out our soldiers were being waterboarded by the Taliban, Al Qaeda or any terrorists anywhere in the world...

...and we caught the people who were responsible...what would anyone here propose we do to those people?

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 said..."Trolling is a form of harassment that can take over a discussion."

The fact that you can't answer a straight forward question has nothing to do with trolling.

You said liberals couldn't define "torture" and I asked you to help out with your own definition...and you provided nothing but this drivel.

And the topic at hand is related to the CIA interrogation memos so what is it you see here that is so far off base?

daredevil-66 said...

Trolls are utterly impervious to criticism (constructive or otherwise). You cannot negotiate with them; you cannot cause them to feel shame or compassion; you cannot reason with them. They cannot be made to feel remorse. For some reason, trolls do not feel they are bound by the rules of courtesy or social responsibility.

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 - Blah, blah, blah.

Translation: I have nothing to support my opinions.

All talk.

daredevil-66 said...

When trolls are ignored they step up their attacks, desperately seeking the attention they crave. Their messages become more and more foul, and they post ever more of them. Alternatively, they may protest that their right to free speech is being curtailed

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 said..."Their messages become more and more foul."

Yea, blah, blah, blah is incredibly "foul."

Why not just admit you're the troll, with no facts to back up your silly comments.

Get lost little man.

daredevil-66 said...

Next time you are on a message board and you see a post by somebody whom you think is a troll, and you feel you must reply, simply write a follow-up message entitled "Troll Alert" and type only this:

The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls.

Jeremy said...

daredevil-66 said..."The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls."

Yeah, I read the same article...published in 2001.

And I find your advice especially inane...considering you've responded to my last 4 comments.

Duh.

jayne_cobb said...

Daredevil,

I have a question, in regard to troll policy.

What do you do if said troll says something so stupid that you can't help but laugh at his ass?

If he, for instance, said something along the lines of:

"New England is a foreign nation" right before he claimed to be smarter than everyone else on the board, would it be okay to respond with ridicule?

Or would that just encourage him?

Jeremy said...

Blogger jayne_cobb said..."What do you do if said troll says something so stupid that you can't help but laugh at his ass? "New England is a foreign nation" right before he claimed to be smarter than everyone else on the board, would it be okay to respond with ridicule?"

Actually I posted a comment that I thought referred to an article written in Great Brtain.

Excuse me for making a mistake.

And Jayne, your reference to something like that in itself is rather "stupid," considering when I posted it.

What was it weeks ago...and you're still hauling it around up your ass?

Goodness...little minds.

daredevil-66 said...

jayne_cobb, its a conundrum really. The enjoyment of seeing someone soil themselves in public can be enjoyable at times. Like confusing New England with a country or admitting they are independently wealthy and have stand in trolls when they are busy. Less so when you are reading stimulating, relavent, well thought out posts pro/con on an important issue.

elHombre said...

Jeremy, et al. wrote: "According to your logic, merely 'because it has not been proven true'...doesn't mean it isn't true. You're kidding, right?"

My God, Jeremy, et al., how stupid are you?!

Peter V. Bella said...

First of all, it's not surprising to hear such tripe from the likes of one who knows little if anything about our nation's history or current politics.

By your own knowledge of history, the Kennedy boys would not have been assassinated. They would have been imprisoned for serial violations of the civil rights of American citizens, including, but not limited to spying, wiretapping, and eaves dropping. Then there was the overt and covert surveillance that they used. Then there was LBJ, who did all in his power to spy on and put down dissent. Oh, and Barefoot Billy Clinton- how about all the bombing in innocent civilians in Boznia and the Balkans or the bombings in Iraq that killed innocent people.

But that great icon and false god of the left FDR was worse. He put US citizens in internment and labor camps; just like Hitler.

Tell us all you know about your revisionist comic book history of America.

What exactly have YOU ever done for our country?

What have you ever done for YOUR country? Not a damn thing except whine, bitch, piss moan, and complain; like a bust out crack whore who had too many clients.

You are Un-American, un-patriotic, dispicalble, and disgusting. You are not fit to call youreself an American. Two businesses, in California, Hispanic partner- let me guess alien smuggling and drug running.

Peter V. Bella said...

Provide one shred of real and objective evidence that Obama has "no history of taking the moral high ground in the face of political detriment."

His political mentor was Emil Jones, a venal and corrupt Chicago politician. Obama never did anything in the Illinois Senate to reform corruption. All he actually did was take orders from Emil Jones. He was part and parcel of the corrupt Chicago Machine. They got him elected ot he Illinois Senate and the US Senate. They owned him then and they own him now.

I did not know you lived in Chicago Jeremy. You know nothing about Chicago or Illinois politics. Zero, zip, nada. Actually, you know nothing at all.

AlphaLiberal said...

Hey, guess what, torture lovers. Turns out that the SERE program which you guys use to justify torture actually described the Bush-Cheney program as "torture."

The military agency that provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as "torture" in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon's chief lawyer and warned that it would produce "unreliable information." .

Please stop telling us about SERE now as SERE says this was torture.

"The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. .

Joint Personnel Recovery Agency runs the SERE program. And SERE said it was torture.

The Drill SGT said...

Jeremy the Troll said...
Speaking of "tortured" language and logic...

The techniques discussed include waterboarding, slamming detainees into walls, and depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days."
Jeremy is normally on my "dont bother to respond" list, but I can't help myself this time:

Those technqiues sound alot like SERE, Basic Training, and Ranger School. Who do I sue?

hdhouse said...

Christy:

Your turn of phrase "has the right of it" was elegant and if you don't mind, will adopt it as events warrant..thank you.

Drill Sgt.

Please don't lump slamming people into walls with waterboarding. NOT the same and it cheapens the arguments for and against.

The Drill SGT said...

AL, you are cherry picking from that article. Most of it is about the secondary headline: Extreme Duress Could Yield Unreliable Information, It Said.

One needs to understand the context and the orientation of the JPRA. I don't think there is a quote in the article (as distinct from quotes from the article) that says waterboarding is torture. I also note this quoted section:

Daniel Baumgartner, who was the JPRA's chief of staff in 2002 and transmitted the memos and attachments, said the agency "sent a lot of cautionary notes" regarding harsh techniques. "There is a difference between what we do in training and what the administration wanted the information for," he said a telephone interview yesterday. "What the administration decided to do or not to do was up to the guys dealing with offensive prisoner operations. . . . We train our own people for the worst possible outcome . . . and obviously the United States government does not torture its own people." .

1. The first part of the quote conveys to me that they sent a lot of warnings about a whole spectrum of things which reasonable people might or might not think was torture, but the theme is clear, don't do it, beacuse the bad guys might do it to us. ok, NP.

2. so we waterboard our troops, and that isn't torture, but waterboarding terrorists is different somehow... go figure

I also note this part, since we're cherry picking quotes:

The reasoning in the JPRA document contrasted sharply with arguments being pressed at the time by current and former military psychologists in the SERE program, including James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who later formed a company that became a CIA contractor advising on interrogations.

SERE waterboards... and that isn't torture because..."and obviously the United States government does not torture its own people."

AlphaLiberal said...

No, Drill Sgt, you've got it wrong and I think you know it. The memo doesn't discuss any particular technique.

SERE does things to their own people in training. That's far and away different from doing things to people who have been abducted, kept in detention, chained, etc.

To say these are the same things is really ridiculous.

And if waterboarding is not torture, why did the US execute Japanese soldiers who did it in WWII? And lock others up under long prison sentences?

The Drill SGT said...

HDhouse,

my point, was trying to compare these experiences:

1. waterboarding, = SERE, been there, done that

2. slamming detainees into walls, = Happens in Basic training, though it should not. I was both a trainee and later a DS

3. depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days. This is the standard treatment in Ranger school. a couple of wiki anger School quotes...

The nine-day FTX is a fast-paced, highly stressful, challenging exercise in which the students are further trained.... and

It is not uncommon for soldiers to lose 20-40 pounds. Military folk wisdom has it that Ranger School's physical toll is like years of natural aging; high levels of fight-or-flight stress hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol), along with standard sleep deprivation and continual physical strain, inhibit full physical and mental recovery throughout the course.

torture?

The Drill SGT said...

BTW: Nice article by Gerald Warner in the Telegraph. The omney quote for me:

So, next time a senior al-Qaeda hood is captured, all the CIA can do is ask him nicely if he would care to reveal when a major population centre is due to be hit by a terror spectacular, or which American city is about to be irradiated by a dirty bomb. Your view of this situation will be dictated by one simple criterion: whether or not you watched the people jumping from the twin towers. ....

hdhouse said...

the Drill Sgt...

Honestly would like your opinion...as you underwent some degree of waterboarding (not suspecting you, just didn't and don't know the intensity)...

Would it be or have been different from you (your reaction to it) if you were not absolutely sure that your captors had no concern if or not you survived it?...i'm suspecting though i might be wrong...that you had an expectationt that no matter how the severe the experience was that your cohorts would NOT let you die...

does that play into it? again...not doubting you or anything...just curious as you are extremely reliable and balanced...and i respect your answers.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

HD,

it was terrifying. no,that is not correct.

first it was instinctive primordial reaction, out of deep brain function.

followed after the first event and as the second course was threatened, there was terror and the willingness to do whatever to avoid that again.

was I less stressed because I thought those sadist :) SOB's would not actually kill me? yes and no. I don't know that it would be worse if I were KSM, I suppose so at the thinking level, but most of my reaction was at the basic gut spasm level and rational thought about the motives of the captor really dont matter.

did it cause permanent harm? absolutely not.

would I spill my guts now if waterboarded? not until they did it once, but absolutely to avoid it again the second pass. a guy knows his limits :)

but those are the ultimate teaching points of SERE.

1. everybody talks
2. try to stretch the time out as longas possible to help your buddies
3. don't give them useful operational info while it matters
4. try to give them bogus info

(hence McCain giving the names of GB Packers as his squadron pilots)

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