August 29, 2009

WaPo vindicates Cheney.

Per Politico, WaPo describes "the transformation of [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its 'preeminent source' on al-Qaeda":
This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.
Critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn't even work. How unusual it is for the media to disillusion us about that and force the moralists to get by on moral ideals alone!

ADDED: Obsidian Wings quotes me and comes up with 4 questions, but the 4 questions have absolutely nothing to do with the point I made. Here are the questions:
(1) Is beating a detainee to death with a metal flashlight torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (2) Is beating detainees with butts of rifles torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (3) Is choking a detainee with your bare hands until he almost passes out torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (4) Is threatening to rape wives and murder children torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"?
These questions are about the definition of "torture," but my point is that the Washington Post has said that the techniques — whatever you want to call them — were effective, and, if this is true, it means that people who oppose their use are deprived of a pragmatic argument they normally make. I'm not saying anything about the choice of which term ought to be used, but I do observe that it is the usual practice for people try to make arguments by labeling. Saying "torture" to argue against the techniques is like saying "death panels" to alarm people about the experts who, under ObamaCare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments. I don't approach these issues by asking what does the word "torture" mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do. I'm not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say "torture." Let's look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.

170 comments:

John said...

I have never understood the "torture doesn't work" meme. In order to make such a claim you have to believe the CIA are just a bunch of total sadists and complete amateurs.

They are neither.

I oppose torture but it OBVIOUSLY does work. Otherwise there's just no efficacy for it to be pursued.

elHombre said...

I have never understood the "torture doesn't work" meme.

The secular progressives who claim torture doesn't work are committed to the proposition that saying anything that furthers their cause, whether true or false, does work.

WV "ratois" = French stool pigeon

SMGalbraith said...

I imagine the Chinese and Russian and Congolese et cetera governments will be studying these techniques over the coming months.

Yes, yes, the CIA didn't invent waterboarding or sleep deprivation but it appears that they perfected the techiques. Or at least improved upon them.

Making no judgment as to their ethical or moral correctness of their usage in this situation.

This situation.

JAL said...

I saw today that in fact the CIA has not given out all the documents Cheney requested, instead delivering one similar -- but different -- one, dated differeetnly.

Would be interesting to see what is in the one they haven't released yet.

Clerical error or obfuscation?

Your call.

And an oh yeah -- I am listening to a spy novel on tape these days, and sleep deprivation and waterboarding don't come near what passes for toture in the rest of the world. Are they laughing at us, or what.

wv = frane french train

Balfegor said...

Yes, yes, the CIA didn't invent waterboarding or sleep deprivation but it appears that they perfected the techiques. Or at least improved upon them.

Maybe the Congolese needed us to figure this out for them, but do you honestly think we found anything out that the Russians and the Chinese didn't? We only applied waterboarding to, what, three hostile prisoners? That's useful as a proof of concept (yes, it does work), but perfected? Hardly. It's an old technique, and I'm sure the Chinese and the Russians have both explored it thoroughly.

garage mahal said...

So KSM was captured and immediately tortured, waterboarded for a month, gave false information "During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time," he said.", which was followed up with 2 yrs of rapport based interrogation. So why did they stop waterboarding him? This vindicates Cheney how?

Alex said...

The progressives will be our doom. I think America still does not take terrorism seriously at all. It will take NYC going up in a mushroom cloud to truly wake America up.

Alex said...

And when New York City does go up in a mushroom cloud, everyone will find their local "garage mahal" and make them answer for it.

elHombre said...

Isn't the rationale behind waterboarding pretty much the same as the rationale behind health care rationing?

That is: Some have to suffer for the good of the many.


WV "nochesse" = What "ratois" (1:55pm) who don't fink get.

Alex said...

Isn't the rationale behind waterboarding pretty much the same as the rationale behind health care rationing?

One doesn't have anything to do with the other really. Even Communists in the Soviet Union knew how to deal with Islamonazis.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Yeah, he was such a good Al Qaeda source that Al Qaeda has been defeated and Osama bin Laden has been captured. Oh, wait...

(Guess whenever it's politically convenient to believe the CIA, go ahead and believe them!)

elHombre said...

garage, apparently quoting KSM: "During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information...." This vindicates Cheney how?

At 1:55, I could have said: "The secular progressives who claim torture doesn't work are also committed to the proposition that [quoting from any source] that furthers their cause, whether true or false, does work."

Maguro said...

Yeah, he was such a good Al Qaeda source that Al Qaeda has been defeated and Osama bin Laden has been captured.

Exactly - the location of Osama bin Laden is the only piece of Al Qaeda-related intelligence that would be of any interest to the CIA.

Very keen analysis, you must some kind of counterterrorism expert.

Chip Ahoy said...

Experts on torture all. And yet no one has bothered questioning their own torturing me with their expert opinion. This, from the connect-the-dot crowd who placed barriers between dots to begin with preventing their connection, then erasing half the dots by extending the meaning of torture ridiculously, beyond anything you might find at, say, the Anvil or the Eagle's Nest on any given week end night, while simultaneously ruining the memory of one of my favorite childhood puzzles by substituting and parroting a trifling children's game for something deadly serious.

Connect the dots
Connect the dots
Connect the dots

Well, allow the dots to be uncovered without criminalizing the agents doing the uncovering, and allow the dots to be legally connected, or STFU and be satisfied with being attacked. Please.

Now I ask you, how am I supposed to read that word verification down there ↓ when they're all shoved together like that? Huh? Gim'me another one!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Garage Mahal said:

So KSM was captured and immediately tortured...

Where does anyone say that? He was interogated, using harsher and harsher methods, including waterboarding, during which he gave outdated and incorrect information.

So why did they stop waterboarding him?

Because he broke and started cooperating.

This vindicates Cheney how?

Because it demonstrates clearly to all but the most stubbornly obtuse observers that the waterboarding caused KSM to cooperate.

John Lynch said...

Gah. Of course torture works. Imagine you are a member of the French Resistance. One of your cell members has been captured by the Nazis. Do you change your meeting place, or keep using it because "torture doesn't work?"

The debate should be whether to torture or not, not this silly idea that it doesn't work.

Chase said...

Torture doesn't work?

Please!

I speak for most Americans when I say that I don't like it, but if it saves my family, then go all Malcolm X (liberal hero)on them - "by any means necessary".

And I don't want to hear about it. I just want the results - however achieved - to help stop the evil that is hell-bent on destroying my family, my country and my way of life.

And in reality - so does every commenter here who simply decries torture because of an abiding partisan hatred. Forgive them - they know not what they do.

EDH said...

I have never understood the "torture doesn't work" meme.

Easily explained. As I've argued before, interrogators are expert at... interrogation.

Any interrogator who doesn't repeat the "torture doesn't work" meme should anticipate what question might follow and the personal jeopardy that may ensue:

Well, Mr. CIA interrogator, how do you know "torture does work, unless you've used it? Hmmm?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

BUT SEE: The Washington Post's Cheney-ite defense of torture - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com.

The Drill SGT said...

EDH said...
Well, Mr. CIA interrogator, how do you know "torture does work, unless you've used it? Hmmm?


He says, "I read the code word: Songbird, KSM interogation reports as well as the code word: Nightbird Lessons Learned and AAR".
------------------------------

And Torture does work as long as you ask the right questions. You can't ask things that can be created from whole cloth. Don't ask, "who are your agents in Instanbul". The Detainee can give you names of guys he wants off the street or the Green Bay Packers, for example.

You ask things like, "what email address did you use for contacts?, What name and identification did you use this last June? What is the code word and process you use to contact convert agents in the US?
-------
You are looking for perishable yet confirmable data.
--------

On the flip side, in SERE training, we recognize that everybody breaks, and train folks to resist and stall till that perishable data is out of date. Code words, freqs, covert officers that may not have cleared the AO yet, etc.
--------

Big Mike said...

@Chase, they know exactly what they do.

Seven Machos said...

I think it's fair to say that Al Qaeda has been defeated. Osama bin Laden is more than likely dead as well. The fable that he is still alive doesn't hurt our side and helps the other side, so it is perpetuated.

There isn't any question that torture works. The left likes to believe stuff that isn't true. Torture doesn't work. We can provide free health care to everybody without queues or rationing. The right to own and carry a gun isn't protected under the Constitution but abortion is. Etc. Etc.

Word verification: redicu? The French noun for Zach and his pals.

LoafingOaf said...

How does Althouse know that they needed to use illegal torture methods to get whatever information they got out of KSM? Because a couple anonymous sources with an agenda say so?

I guess this post will encourage the commenters here to not worry their right-wing heads over what Cheney has done, but the Washington Post article reads like a propaganda piece that ought not be trusted, not the vindication of Cheney that Althouse presents it as.

If anything, the article just makes me more scared of Cheney, as he's still able to manpulate our newspapers into publishing his propaganda. I'm sensitive about this because I was manipulated by Cheney propaganda in the media right after 9/11. Some of us live and learn, and become more skeptical of what we read in papers such as the Washington Post. Others, well...just look at this thread.

AJ Lynch said...

Oaf:

For sure, the Wapo gets its talking points and editorial marching orders from the righty commenters here at Althouse.

Everyone knows that!

LoafingOaf said...

Seven: Osama bin Laden is more than likely dead as well. The fable that he is still alive doesn't hurt our side and helps the other side, so it is perpetuated.

You're saying it HELPS the other side but DOESN'T hurt our side?

What would've helped our side and hurt the other side was to have gotten him at the battle of Tora Bora. Some account say that a CIA field commander was denied a request for 800 Army Rangers to prevent his escape. Way to go!

There isn't any question that torture works.

The article doesn't prove that torture was required to get information out of KSM.

John Lynch said...

I feel so powerful.

David said...

Read the article in today's Wall Street Journal, essentially saying that because of the Obama administration witch hunt, any competent CIA officer is going to stay far away from interrogation assignments and that probably the same will be true of the new interrogation specialist group that Obama wants to create.

Remember, the ultimate tactical goal of the terrorists is to explode a nuclear bomb in one of our cities.

LoafingOaf said...

Alex said...
The progressives will be our doom. I think America still does not take terrorism seriously at all. It will take NYC going up in a mushroom cloud to truly wake America up.


Alex said...
And when New York City does go up in a mushroom cloud, everyone will find their local "garage mahal" and make them answer for it.


Sounds like it would be Alex's fantasy come true to see that mushroom cloud hit NYC.

Anyway, so far, no terror attacks on U.S. soil under Obama's presidency. :)

Jason (the commenter) said...

This is why I've always gone with a different argument against torture: If your country performs torture it is easy to argue that its citizens should could be killed on a mass scale, like flying planes into its skyscrapers. You set yourself up for terrorism and all sorts of other unintended consequences, like torture being used on your own citizens, et cetera.

fred said...

I have read too many statements by professionals that claim that heavy torture merely elicits that which is wanted from the prisoner, and that other methods prove much more productive. I have seen no evidence here that this guy turned around BECAUSE of waterboarding BUT MERELY THE FACT THAT AT SOME POINT HE HAD BEEN WATERBOARDED.
The anti-Obama remarkas seem rather odd. The present approach we are told is to return to standards universally recognized against torture and to return America to the standard it had claimed to have accepted.

David said...

"Remember, the ultimate tactical goal of the terrorists is to explode a nuclear bomb in one of our cities."

This does not mean that anyone wishes it will happen, just to prove a point, but it is a fact that this is their tactical goal.

Alex said...

If we keep listening to our progressives, the terrorist ultimate goal of exploding an nuclear bomb in New York City will happen.

LoafingOaf said...

Remember, the ultimate tactical goal of the terrorists is to explode a nuclear bomb in one of our cities.

No, the ultimate goal of the terrorists is to destroy America and everything we stand for. By getting us to turn ourselves into an overtly pro-torture nation before the eyes of the world, they have won a battle in their war.

Alex said...

No, the ultimate goal of the terrorists is to destroy America and everything we stand for. By getting us to turn ourselves into an overtly pro-torture nation before the eyes of the world, they have won a battle in their war.

No, by wringing our hands over torture, we allow the terrorists to score a huge victory in the eyes of the world. I'd rather be respected and hated, then disrespected as is currently.

fred said...

a slighty different tack taken hee:
CIA not the proper place for such things

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1919406,00.html

by a former CIA official

Seven Machos said...

Oaf -- Having Osama to kick around is a tremendous asset for our side when it comes to, say, getting funding for some anti-terror campaign or, for people like you, reminding constantly that Osama is still alive so, therefore, ...insert your non-sequiter here.

It's also good for intelligence types who may want to have some tape pop up that says something.

Still further, how would our side be improved if Osama Bin Laden died? The last thing we need on our hands is a dead martyr for Islamofacism.

peter hoh said...

Alex wrote: Even Communists in the Soviet Union knew how to deal with Islamonazis.

This must explain their great success in Afghanistan.

Alex said...

This must explain their great success in Afghanistan.

They would have nuked them if world opinion would have allowed it. Ultimately it was Western progressives that did that in.

Seven Machos said...

Peter -- That's an interesting point, really. There has to be the level of organization of a state before anyone can take it over, militarily or otherwise.

The Russians failed for the same reason we're failing: they tried to implement a state in a place where there is no state, without investing the time and money necessary.

This is something that the Bush administration understood. Think about it. Why didn't they pour every bit of our military into Afghanistan? It's because there's nothing to pour into. You can't defeat a state that isn't there.

Maguro said...

This must explain their great success in Afghanistan.

I think they could have handled them just fine if we hadn't been supplying the Afghans with weapons, particularly anti-aircraft missiles. In historical terms, Russia's rather unenlightened foreign policy resulted in an enormous empire across Muslim central Asia. Their record in dealing with Islam is nothing to turn your nose up at.

Friar Zero said...

As for the "torture doesn't work" meme my thoughts, as a man that has used the term, is that it doesn't mean that torture cannot produce information. Works here can and often does mean efficacy. Torturing certain people will result in answers. Those answers are often wrong and often just what the interrogator wanted to hear. We've seen this before with forced confessions from detainees who were innocent like Mohamed Jawad (or even John McCain during his stint as a POW). And as the WaPo article demonstrates there is no evidence provided that torture is superior to ethical interrogation or that torture is necessary.

As for getting by on moral ideals alone. I may just be thick but I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Our moral ideals are vital in this debate. We could stop the war on terror right now by wiping out every muslim man women and child as if we were reenacting some ancient tribal war but the vast majority of us find it morally abhorrent and unjust.

We can get information (though often useless and unreliable) but even if it were more than a crap shoot we should still be opposed to it on moral grounds (arguments can be made for utilitarian, Kantian, Aristotelian, divine command, and even Humean grounds so we're not talking about a fringe moral concept).

Seven Machos said...

an enormous empire across Muslim central Asia

I have to disagree with this. You could say the same thing about China. But those parts of China aren't really part of China. The fact is that those places were and are at best nominally part of any empire or nation.

Russia is the worst empire-builder in all of human history, and that includes the Portuguese.

Joe said...

I can confidentially say that torture would never work on me; the threat of torture would do the job.

Seven Machos said...

arguments can be made for utilitarian, Kantian, Aristotelian, divine command, and even Humean grounds so we're not talking about a fringe moral concept

Okay, Doc. Whatever highfalutin grounds you want to argue on, go right on ahead.

It's a simple issue. We should do what gets the results we want. People on the opposite side of torture are always arguing that torture doesn't get the desired results when the fact is they don't know jack shit about the cause and effect of interrogation and the information obtained.

By the way, not knowing jack shit about cause and effect is also a "Humean" concept. Look into it.

Maguro said...

Seven - Not sure I understand your criticism. The purpose of Russian empire-building in Central Asia was never to turn the natives into cultural Russians (though they did leave behind a good number of Russian settlers), but rather to control territory and economic resources in order to further Russian interests. They did that successfully for a long time and even now they're quite influential down there.

WV - balaval: Tasty east european dessert beloved by Russians and Muslims alike

OldGrouchy Doug Wright said...

Remember one rule about torture, verify those confessions before going to other extremes; recall McCain's confessions, which were bogus.

Our good old CIA finally got something right getting information from KSM. What we and the Brits did to Nazis in WWII was much more frightening than the waterboarding done on KSM, et al. KSM and his buddies were in no physical danger of dying, even if their minds were FU'ed for a brief period.

Of course, if GL and his like minded buddies truly object to this mild use of persuasion, let them stand ready and man our country's walls. Doubt that'll happen since they're more concerned about installing Teddie as the USA's Prince of the Nation.

Meanwhile, my musket is cleaned, my powderhorn full and powder dry, just in case GL and friends have better things to do and don't wish to be bothered with trival issues.

wv: recklyc abandon

Seven Machos said...

I agree with that. But the difference for me is that Russia really did want to Russianize those places (I'll even allow that the communist stuff was window dressing). Similarly, China sees those lines on a map (and Taiwan) as part of China. It's just not the case politically.

If you want to call having a sphere of influence the test of empire, then the United States is a dominant empire, stretching from Canada to Japan to Australia to Albania. I don't see it that way.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Alex: If we keep listening to our progressives, the terrorist ultimate goal of exploding an nuclear bomb in New York City will happen.

And if we don't listen to our progressives perhaps no one will feel bad when it does.

LarsPorsena said...

"..We can get information (though often useless and unreliable) but even if it were more than a crap shoot we should still be opposed to it on moral grounds (arguments can be made for utilitarian, Kantian, Aristotelian, divine command, and even Humean grounds so we're not talking about a fringe moral concept)"

It's nice that you get to occupy the moral high ground but meanwhile
in the background people will die.
It's all a parlor game to the sensitive folk here but time sensitive data is life or death to men on the battle field.
A clean conscience and clean fingernails, luxuries unaffordable to soldiers and marines in Afghanistan.

Maguro said...

And if we don't listen to our progressives perhaps no one will feel bad when it does.


Here's the thing: People around the world didn't really feel bad after 9/11...a great many of them said we kind of had it coming to us.

And the ones that did feel bad weren't really in a position to remedy the situation, so we had to go in and take care of business ourselves anyway.

So really, having the world's sympathy doesn't mean shit to me. We Americans are on our own and need to act accordingly.

JMTCW

WV - cornelf: Vertically-challenged Ivy Leaguers

John Lynch said...

The US is an empire. Good. History is the story of 40-50 empires. Let's be one, too.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Maguro: Here's the thing: People around the world didn't really feel bad after 9/11

I meant in America.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

I'm sorry, but of all the arguments made for torture, the idea that it's necessary to keep us safe is the weakest.

Look, the whole point of being Americans is that we're supposed to be the good guys. Cheney isn't vindicated just because of something that does indeed sound more like it came from the CIA itself and not from an unobjective source.

The most effective interrogators never have to lay a hand on their subjects. It's part of the reason why we don't allow the police to behave like the Gestapo-humane reasons aside, it's unreliable at best.

Cheney and his fellow armchair warriors are just upset that he's not in charge of anything anymore. It's not his call what policies are now used. For all the mistakes that Obama has made, this is one area where he has gotten it right.

And you don't have to be a "Secular progressive" to oppose torture; Ronald Reagan banned it during his administration.

Maguro said...

Jason - I'm confused. Do you mean to say that if we keep waterboarding terrorists (i.e. don't listen to "progressives"), no one in America will feel bad if America gets nuked?

I'm pretty sure you're wrong about that.

rhhardin said...

The theory, actually, is that it takes a certain size X organization to do serious terrorist damage to the US, what with logistics, finance, planning, and so forth.

On the other hand, the larger an organization is, the easier it is to detect, what with turncoats, informers, and suspicious activity profiles. Call the detection size Y.

If you work hard at information, you can get the detection size Y to be smaller than the damage size X.

At that point, you win. Al Qaeda still exists, but is unable to get its act together for as long as you keep at it.

The NYT and handwringers have for a few years now tried to make the detection size Y as large as possible, perhaps not noticing that when it gets bigger than X then cities start going up in smoke.

Charitibly speaking, not noticing. Or it could be sheer stupidity.

Seven Machos said...

Rebel -- Your post is full of hollow and pious platitudes and is not worth responding to. I must point out, however, that Reagan was talking about a specific convention. A convention takes requires two or more parties.

When the governments and entities which claim the people we torture sign and abide by any convention that doesn't permit torture, let us know.

Cedarford said...

elHombre said...
I have never understood the "torture doesn't work" meme.

The secular progressives who claim torture doesn't work are committed to the proposition that saying anything that furthers their cause, whether true or false, does work.


Let's add that among many reasons not to vote for McCain was his lying and using the interrogation issue to lend his status as a "POW hero" to bash Bush and Cheney, the CIA and give cover to the Left.

By his oft-stated claims were highly damaging, though they got media fawning over him when they weren't fellating Obama. Claims that "Torture Never Works", "GITMO is where we torture people and it must be closed", "Americans can easily Outsmart enemy interrogators as I did at every turn, trust me!", and that "All we have to do to get valuable information is to simply Follow the Army Field Manual." (The Army Field Manual is written for a junior Private to understand what he must do with surrendering enemy soldiers).

McCains lies, and I believe he knew they were lies - were deeply harmful to our national defense, Bush, and to Republican candidates that had backed GITMO and interogating terrorists at election time in 2006 and 2008.

McCain was not one of the ones who others credited with signing ridiculous false confessions, but never revealing names and facts to the enemy. We also know that McCain, initially, tried to lie and "outsmart" prosecutors, FBI investigators in the Keating 5 case - but was nailed as a liar within hours by experienced interrogators and confronted with his lies. And threatened. The next day, McCain with lawyer tried to patch up his "miscommunications" and offer to tell everything he knew about Frank Keating and some of his fellow Senators - not for lieniency, but for "his honor". McCain even made a bizarre offer that he would do an apology tour similar to his "I am an American Air Pirate, and I apologize to the noble people of Vietnam" POW apology tours the Hanoi regime orchestrated.

Yeah, in this disclosure, don't forget that Cheney was correct and the Lefties wrong - but also that McCain was full of shit on this from the day he figured out what side his media fawners wanted him to be on.

peter hoh said...

The main thing, apparently, is that if anything bad happens, blame the libs.

Seven Machos said...

Right, Peter. Unless it's a hurricane or a recession or two wars that were just horrific until recently but now are just fine.

Then we blame conservatives.

You are above the blame game, dude. I guess maybe you are just frustrated because your side can't seem to get anything right. I remember that feeling.

Maguro said...

The main thing, apparently, is that if anything bad happens, blame the libs.

Well, if liberals want to claim the moral high ground that comes with their "anti-torture" campaign, it only seems fair to assign them some responsibility for its consequences.

SH said...

SMGalbraith said...


"I imagine the Chinese and Russian and Congolese et cetera governments will be studying these techniques over the coming months."

Spare me... I was arrested once and had a of these 'torture' techniques done to me by local police (no waterboarding but sleep dep, freezing room after they took my coat, no place to sit, bright light in the eye interrogation, various threats to livelihood and freedom, et cetera). BFD... No one cares because no political hay can be made out of it. I don't even care, it was an interrogation... not torture... That was my understanding at the time (pre 2001) so I didn’t think twice about it.. It’s what police do to suspects... it's their job...

SH said...

garage mahal said...

"So why did they stop waterboarding him? This vindicates Cheney how?"

If it helps with certain personality types to let them think their breaking was their idea and that they're still in control... you can let them think it. But to get from A to B you probably still need to break them down.

peter hoh said...

Some of us didn't believe Bush when he declared, "We do not torture." Well, now it seems settled.

Yes, KSM was tortured, and KSM gave some information. Do we have any stats on how many false leads that came from the torture program? Or will those files remain classified?

Torture is a tactic, not a strategy. It may give decent intel from time to time, but it isn't sufficient to put an end to a terrorist organization.

Just to clarify, is it now okay to torture in general, or only when the president says so, or only when the president is a Republican?

Cedarford said...

WVRebel - "The most effective interrogators never have to lay a hand on their subjects."

Bullcrap.

Unless you are talking about garden variety crooks and non-lifetime criminals that can be persuaded by kind words. Certainly not committed gang members following a life or death code. Certainly not hard, committed soldiers.

The people dispensing this "people will always respond to the milk of human kindness" crap cite the Ft Hood interrogators of WWII or one particular Gestapo interrogator who "hooked" POWs into revealing small things, the was able to get bigger things by "worrying" what other POWs would do in Barracks where no Nazi could save them - it it were known they were snitches.

The Foot Hood interrogators were by and large German or Austrian Jews embroiled in Socialist or Communist groups that got out in the 20s and early 30s, recruited for their fluent German and knowledge of the Axis lands they fled. After WWII they by and large went into Leftist anti-American groups. And naturally, were speaking out that "Torture Never Works!" as 60-year members of the ACLU or National Lawyers Guild or American Communist Party - against Bush.
The Nazis they got were very cooperative. Of course they would be!
Each and everyone of them came when they knew Germany had lost, it was better for every German that the war finish faster...and any cooperation with the Ft Hood Jews would be likely in their favor when it came to any post-war repercussions or perhaps getting their families out of the Soviet Zone. In fact, many of the Ft Hood stories of playing chess with Nazis, etc, had happened after Germany surrendered.
While the war's outcome was in doubt, no Nazi was spilling his guts because the Americans Brits were so wonderfully nice to them. Indeed, the Brits had a major facility to pound critical info out of Nazis - in particular spies, and captured U-Boat crew.

With Islamoids, the problem gets even more interesting. Islam holds that if you cooperate willingly with an enemy of Allah, even a brother Muslim who has betrayed his honor serving an infidel enemy - you are damned to burn in hell. But - if you resist and the truth is finally forced from you - you are saved. Your honor is intact, your path to Paradise is intact.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Maguro: Jason - I'm confused. Do you mean to say that if we keep waterboarding terrorists (i.e. don't listen to "progressives"), no one in America will feel bad if America gets nuked?

Oh, I don't think you mean just waterboarding terrorists when you say "listen to progressives."

I'm pretty sure you're wrong about that.

But I'm sure there were lots of people in the British government, similar to you, who said something analogous about taxation without representation.

SMGalbraith said...

As someone posted elsewhere (I'm just the messenger), it is odd that some are willing to forgive a person for the accidental drowning of a 28-year old innocent woman but not forgiving of the fake drowning of murderous killers in order to gather information about their future efforts.

Doesn't really work for me but it's not that far off.

Skookum John said...

If your country performs torture it is easy to argue that its citizens should could be killed on a mass scale, like flying planes into its skyscrapers.

That's rather too much of a cart before the horse.

Sep. 11 was planned in great detail while Clinton was president, and no doubt would have been carried off in identical fashion if Gore and not Bush had won the recount.

Nobody was talking about CIA torture then, other than the Chomsky types.

Maguro said...

Jason - Oh, I don't think you mean just waterboarding terrorists when you say "listen to progressives."

It's true that I dont't agree with progressive policies in general, but in this case we're talking about waterboarding. Let's stay on topic.

But I'm sure there were lots of people in the British government, similar to you, who said something analogous about taxation without representation.

Have you been drinking? Because that great wave of popular anger against waterboarding KSM just isn't there. Most people couldn't care less about his sorry terrorist ass and don't feel any worse about their country because he got a bucket of water over his face.

Dody Jane said...

I. Love.Dick.Cheney.

Alex said...

Maguro - somehow the MSM stirred up popular outrage with the Abu Grahib thing + waterboarding + detention centers. One would imagine we weren't at war. All I can say about that is that most Americans are fat lazy slobs and are not the type I'd want in a foxhole with me.

Buford Gooch said...

Ann, you really need to get a better class of liberal whack jobs. The ones you have are really letting their side down.

WV: Redimm-how your eyes are at 4:00 am after a long night of drinking.

PatCA said...

If the WaPo vindicated Cheney today, it must mean that they are going to hit him hard on Sunday with some new revelation.

Harmon said...

The only moral question I see about torture is that we should make sure that we are torturing the right guys.

If we have the right guys, they can avoid the torture by telling us what we want to know.

If it takes torture to make them tell us what they know, I don't really see the problem. It's up to them whether they get tortured or not.

So long as we have the right guys. But there doesn't seem to be any dispute about that, does there?

somefeller said...

Alex says: All I can say about that is that most Americans are fat lazy slobs and are not the type I'd want in a foxhole with me.

I suspect you aren't the type of person that most Americans would want in a foxhole with them either, bedwetter.

Jason said...

Any libtard who blindly asserts that 'torture doesn't work' is a half-witted, naive little panty-waist talking out of his ass.

Torture works. It always has. The threat of torture works. It always has. Not in every single instance with every single suspect, but damn well enough and consistently enough.

Here's where the typical pony-tailed pinko tries to assert "yeah, it's effective at getting the victim to say what he thinks the torturer wants to hear."

That's because the libtard shitbird is an amateur, and he read about torture committed by amateurs, and therefore, in his ignorance he cannot conceive that other people are professionals.

Torture is extremely effective at extracting confirmable information, where the victim cannot be certain that the information is not already known to the interrogator, and where the detaining power is sufficiently brutal - or is perceived to be sufficiently brutal - that the victim has a reason to believe that his lot will become substantially worse if he is caught in a lie.

This is not difficult to do where the detaining power is organized and disciplined about tracking information received and shares it among the interrogators, carefully keeping track of known and unknown, confirmed and unconfirmed information.

In some cases, less intense forms of interrogation are effective BECAUSE more brutal interrogations were performed on others, and the subject of the less intense interrogation has no idea whether the first guy broke or not - but must assume he has.

I keep seeing libtards argue crap they don't understand till they're blue in the face.

There are legitimate moral arguments why we should not practice torture - putting aside definitional problems. But every time some ignorant fool argues that it just isn't effective, he makes an utter clown of himself.

montana urban legend said...

Garage Mahal's been quoted by Andrew Sullivan:

A commenter on Ann Althouse's pro-torture blog reminds readers what the Washington Post chose to omit from its story - KSM's debriefing from the Red Cross:

"During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time," he said."

Maguro said...

I'm sure KSM would never tell a fib to the Red Cross. That would be unethical.

Jason said...

Andrew's about the most gullible fool alive.

At least he's shut up about the Palin family vaginas for five minutes, though.

garage mahal said...

These questions are about the definition of "torture," but my point is that the Washington Post has said that the techniques — whatever you want to call them — were effective, and, if this is true, it means that people who oppose their use are deprived of a pragmatic argument they normally make..

Rape is"effective", stealing is "effective", murder "effective", yet I don't feel at all that I'm deprived of an argument in saying none of these are acceptable courses of action. Most civilized countries agreed long ago they are abhorrent and made them illegal. I suppose bringing in a prisoner and having his daughter raped in front of his eyes would get him talking, but you still wouldn't know if what he was saying was true, or if another accepted legal method would have worked as good or better. I wonder if Althouse would say rape could be "effective" in interrogating a person. For instance most normal people wouldn't say rape is effective if you're hard up and horny.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Saying "torture" to argue against the techniques is like saying "death panels" to alarm people about the experts who, under ObamaCare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments.
These "experts" have been around and been a part of health care for years. You think these "experts" haven't already been telling poor people or people with pre-existing conditions which medical treatments they can't have? I'm sick of hearing (falsely) about how old people are going to be wiped out when millions of people are denied treatment and coverage ALREADY for all sorts of reasons. This so-called "debate" is a farce. The Democrats are true idiots for letting the wingnuts win. Guess nobody is getting health care reform. Oh well.

Also, your support of torture (which is plainly what it is) really sucks.

Jason said...

And speaking of libtards making clowns of themselves, here comes garage, right on cue!

William said...

See Picasso's painting of Guernicia. When the Nazis bombed civilian populations during the Spanish Civil War it was considered a horror beyond all civilized understanding. See Dresden and Hiroshima. Sometimes civilized understanding evolves--especially when civilized liberals are fighting a war that they support......The sticking point of this torture argument is not the torture itself but the fact that it was ordered by Republicans. As the war in Afghanistan continues, I am sure that liberals' understanding of the need for forceful measures will continue to evolve.

Michael McNeil said...

Garage is much like then Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who prior to Pearl Harbor, closed down the State Department's cryptanalytic office, saying, “Gentlemen don't read each other's mail.”

Kathy said...

I don't approach these issues by asking what does the word "torture" mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do. I'm not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say "torture." Let's look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.

I understand what you're saying, Ann. So let's not decide what's torture and what's not. Let's just look at what was done (in general; not just to KSM). With that in mind, can you answer the four questions again? I'll repeat them here:

Is beating a detainee to death with a flashlight justifiable?

(2) Is beating detainees with butts of rifles justifiable?

(3) Is choking a detainee with your bare hands until he almost passes out justifiable?

(4) Is threatening to rape wives and murder children justifiable?

For each of these questions, you can answer (a) never justifiable; or (b) justifiable if it works to get us what we want.

I can respect that as a lawyer you need precision of language. Hopefully, these questions are now precise enough and clear enough that you give us specific answers.

Thank you, Ann.

Penny said...

"There are legitimate moral arguments why we should not practice torture - putting aside definitional problems. But every time some ignorant fool argues that it just isn't effective, he makes an utter clown of himself."

Amen, Jason, but the blogosphere isn't so much about framing the right questions for discussion as it is about HAVING the discussion, with clowns and all.

Jason said...

bullcrap.

That argument went out the window as soon as the clowns took control of the Justice Department.

AC245 said...

Kathy,

I think that before anyone has to answer your four questions, you should have to answer one:

Would it be torture if we had gotten these detainees drunk, driven them off a bridge into a lake, and then left them trapped in a cap to asphyxiate while we went back to our hotel for a shower, a nap, and nightcap?

AC245 said...

Alternately,

Is it justifiable to do those things I mentioned, if it means that a Democrat gets to keep his political career alive?

(I'll even stipulate for your convenience that objectives such as gathering intelligence about terrorist plots against U.S. citizens and insurgent attacks against U.S. troops may not be nearly as important as the objective of protecting the political viability of a rich drunk womanizing Democrat.)

AC245 said...

I fully support prosecutions, as long as each interrogator who killed no more people than Saint Teddy did is only charged with "leaving the scene of an interrogation" and receives a two-month suspended sentence.

(However, anyone who killed more people than Kennedy might need to actually serve their 2 months - just to set an example that we Americans don't lionize that sort of thing.)

AC245 said...

Oops, I see I forgot to offer you a set of false dichotomies as your answers, Kathy. My bad!

For the first iteration of the question, Kathy, your allowable precise answers are:
1. Yes, it is torture
or
2. It is not torture if a Democratic politician does it.

For the second version of the question, Kathy, your allowable precise answers are:
1. No, it is never justifiable
or
2. It is justifiable if it saves a Democratic politician's career.

Looking forward to your prompt responses to either or both questions! Thanks, Kathy!

Seven Machos said...

Andrew Sullivan quoted Garage? What did Garage say about Sarah Palin's pussy that warranted such a dubious honor?

Seven Machos said...

(1) Is beating a detainee to death with a flashlight justifiable?

Yes.

(2) Is beating detainees with butts of rifles justifiable?

Yes.

(3) Is choking a detainee with your bare hands until he almost passes out justifiable?

Yes.

(4) Is threatening to rape wives and murder children justifiable?

If you provide useful information from Day One, this shit won't happen to you.

War, Kathy. It's not an undergraduate ethics class.

LoafingOaf said...

A commenter on Ann Althouse's pro-torture blog reminds readers what the Washington Post chose to omit from its story....

Props to Althouse for finally making clear that she is a pro-torture blogger. She's been beating around the bush on this for a long time.

I was confused on the torture debate for a long time because 9/11 really freaked me out. But I thought about it a lot and realized that supporting torture goes against everything America stands for, and against my morals. We're supposed to be the "good guys" and that's how I want to see America. Althouse, in contrast, has decided to support evil, even after all these years of reflection after 9/11.

What does America "win" in a "war on terrorism" if we become something so against the principles that made us a great nation?

Althouse recently married a man who likes to go around telling strangers what a big fan of Cheney and Bush he is to see what kind of reaction he'd generate out of them (she had a post about this). Maybe she feels she has to take this pro-torture position to keep her man happy? Or, would she just dig torture in any case? I had hoped she'd rise above the urge to support torture. I know it's hard because it took me awhile to get out of my post-9/11 freaked-out state. But, damn, now she has a pro-torture blog. Is she proud?

master cylinder said...

Garage, give up. These old white people here on Althouse LOVE them some torture. You cant take that away from them. Its all they have left, ya know with all
these death panels and all. They dont have much time.

Jason said...

Oaf,

It's obvious you didn't carefully read her post.

Carefully examining the arguments and refusing to be caught up in stupid syntax (such as you're mired in) is not the same thing as "supporting" or "opposing" torture.

WV: Comicish. What libtards become when they get into discussions over their heads. Which is every time the topic of discussion goes beyond Ginger vs. MaryAnn.

Seven Machos said...

Loaf -- That was one of your worst posts ever. Not that you have ever been particularly sharp or interesting.

Master Cylinder -- Of course, black people stand strongly accuse torture. Especially Morgan Free, who is especially saintly and frequently plays the leftist version of God in the movies. Mexicans and Central Americans, too. Asians. And all young people.

It is good, however, to see that you admit that a government takeover of the health care system will lead to severe rationing.

Hyphenated American said...

I noticed that someone said that if America starts torturing islamo-fascists, it will stop being America. In other words, ideals are more important than human lives.

In this case, I am curious how same people ignore the same logic applied to most of liberal programs. After all, does America stops being America if it implements European-style welfare and medical care system? Don't we lose our precious freedoms in order to provide more security?

Penny said...

"That argument went out the window as soon as the clowns took control of the Justice Department."

Not sure if you were responding to me or to William, but in the event it was to me, I will say this.

The clowns...they are EVERYWHERE!

It's about damn time citizen's start talking about that and a whole host of other things.

Jim Treacher said...

I'd say that beating anybody to death with anything would be considered a crime, and the perpetrator should be charged with it. Which he was. But if threatening to harm the family of a terrorist is considered torture, the word "torture" has no meaning.

And apparently, waterboarding is the only form of torture you can do to somebody in public without being arrested.

LoafingOaf said...

This post is definitely a low-point for Althouse. She didn't thoughtfully post about this Washington Post article. She saw the article and instantly grabbed it as her chance to post the headline she'd wanted to post for a long time, which is meant to say: Cheney's torture is vindicated. The article does not actually, at all, prove that we needed to engage in illegal torture to get info out of KSM. And the effect is to encourage her commenters and readers to scold those who had moral problems with torture, and not worry about their support of truture at all. "These idiots who are wringing their hands over torture".

Seven Machos said...

She didn't thoughtfully post about this Washington Post article. She saw the article and instantly grabbed it as her chance to post the headline she'd wanted to post for a long time, which is meant to say: Cheney's torture is vindicated.

I hope you are better at reading minds than you are at reading words, Oaf. Because you sure suck at reading words, and drawing proper conclusions from chunks of them.

The fact is that Althouse doesn't walk in lockstep with the latest leftist meme, and that drives you batshit crazy.

For the same reason, we conservatives love her. But that's another problem for another time.

Synova said...

Torture doesn't work TO OBTAIN CONFESSIONS. Or rather, it works too well. As does all sorts of coercive law-enforcement techniques far short of torture that result in confessions that are used instead of a trial to determine guilt.

Clearly, "harsh" techniques work to obtain information, which leads to other information, all of which or rather *none* of which relies on the *word* of the person as proof of anything at all.

If someone is asked, "Where is the body?" and they make up false information to please you, the body is never going to be where they said it was... because they didn't *know*.

What *everyone* says who has been to or knows anything about SERE training is that everyone breaks and they break at waterboarding.

Now, I can see having a discussion about whether or not what we do to our own people in training, provided it *is* the same thing, is torture when done to a terrorist in earnest (and if three *is* the number of prisoners who got this treatment, it was pretty clearly not something done at all casually).

But this isn't even a conversation we ever had as a nation where the word "torture" was used for actions that were clearly nothing more than *insults* and attempts of psychological manipulation. In my opinion, the conversation was given over the moment Israeli flags and fake menstrual blood entered it.

And it was given over *doubly* when people like Matt Damon started quoting some self-proclaimed expert that the *law* and public face of this nation should be one thing and that the expected behavior of our interrogators when faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario should be something else.

It's dishonest and morally abhorrent to refuse to legally condone and *define* what we want or even demand that public servants do on our behalf.

LoafingOaf said...

Seven: Loaf -- That was one of your worst posts ever. Not that you have ever been particularly sharp or interesting.

I know I could never be as sharp as someone who posted: "I think it's fair to say that Al Qaeda has been defeated. Osama bin Laden is more than likely dead as well. The fable that he is still alive doesn't hurt our side and helps the other side, so it is perpetuated."

Since I'm a self-described oaf, I am not trying to be the sharpest commenter on a political blog. I don't even think about politics 99% of the time.

But I noticed you didn't address my point about why Commander in Chief George W. Bush and General Tommy Franks rejected the request for 800 Army Rangers to prevent Bin Laden's escape at the battle of Tora Bora. Apparently you think it's cool that Bin Laden escaped and we have no idea where he is or whether he's dead or alive, as it helps get the public to support this or that policy. As much as they tortured KSM, it didn't help us capture or kill Bin Laden.

Funny, I had thought that if someone knocked down our Twin Towers and hit our Pentagon, it would be a higher priority to capture or kill him. How naive I was. To people like you, it was a nice turn of events, to use as a pretext for all sorts of things. Including making America a pro-torture nation to the eyes of the world.

Well, go back to rating commenters on how "sharp" and "interesting" they are. I guess someone's gonna compile the Blog Comments of Seven Machos into a hardbound edition for future generations to admire.

Seven Machos said...

Dear leftists -- If you want to have a conversation about what a piece of shit the CIA is, and how it impinges on the rights of Americans, and how it ought to be disbanded, let's have that conversation.

But you don't want to have that conversation. No, you want to be all moralistic and stand against torture (despite the fact that we both know that torture has been a reason that we have been safe from terrorist attacks recently).

Further, you want to make your pussy stand at a very convenient time, when Obama needs to bolster his core support from people like you, who are seeing your dream of forcibly taking over the health care system in this country go down in flames.

Seven Machos said...

Sorry I hit you in a tender spot, Oaf, about your general tedium.

I have no idea whether Bush or any general denied such a request, or if such a request was made.

Having said that, everything you said bolsters my argument: that having Bin Laden alive helps everybody. The evil George W. Bush (according to everything you said), you, because you can sit and bitch about this kind of stuff for years, and certainly the Islamofacists.

Anyway, thanks for your help in proving my point.

Seven Machos said...

Two additional points:

1. I reiterate my belief that Bin Laden has been dead for a long time.

2. I hope someone creates that book, too, Oaf. If you aren't busy...

LoafingOaf said...

Seven, you keep saying that Usama bin Laden is probably dead but it's good for both the USA and Al Qaeda that people don't know this. If something is good for al Qaeda, how can it be good for the USA? I'm cnfused how you work out in your head that something can be both good for the USA and good for al Qaeda. Perhaps you can explain it in one of your sharp and interesting posts that will be compiled in the hardcover edition of your blog comments.

The full account of that went down at the battle of Tora Bora is not complete. But, it does appear that General Franks' denial of a request for Army Rangers to prevent Bin Laden's escape was a grave error. Or, do you disagree? Explain.

And, you guys keep ignoring this point: If America becomes something to the eyes of the world that goes against our principles (in this case, pro-torture) then have we not been duped by al Qaeda into destroying our reputation in the world? When I was a kid it was a lot easier for me to say America is the good guy and its enemies are the bad guys.

Seven Machos said...

Oaf -- Allow me to briefly fisk your inane comment above.

I'm cnfused how you work out in your head that something can be both good for the USA and good for al Qaeda.

I told you why already. You have demonstrated that reading is not one of your strengths, but try again. I think Bin Laden is dead. I said it's good for the other side to pretend he's alive and not bad for us to also pretend. I explained how various factions benefit. Note that good and not bad are totally different concepts.

it does appear

These are weasel words. Is it or is it not true?

estroying our reputation in the world

You are under the false impression that the United States is beloved abroad. Sorry about that.

LoafingOaf said...

Seven, I oppose socialist health care, just for the record. And the Althouse blog helped convince me of this.

You seem to be in love with the CIA. What good is the CIA if they didn't prevent the 9/11 attack, and if they had no idea what WMD Saddam had or didn't have? A lot of tax dollars go to this CIA and what have we gotten for it? They seem to be wrong and clueless about everything for as long as I've been alive.

I know one is not a "sharp" commenter if they think the CIA is a big fucking joke and a waste of taxpayer dollars. But that's how it seems. Prove me wrong.

But, first, I'd like Althouse to prove that we had to torture KSM to get whatever info they got out of him. I remember when Althouse said she never breaks the law, won't even smoke pot anymore because it's against the law.

What is worse? Smoking some weed in violation of a misdemeanor law or giving your support to Dick Cheney breaking our laws against torture? She, a law professor! (Some of her students have gone on to become prosecutors who hit people with life-destroying FELONIES for merely possessing drug paraphernalia that is openly sold at gas stations -- but God forbid anyone prosecuting Dick Cheney for approving illegal torture.) (I recall that Althouse didn't want Bill Clinton reprimnaded for his felony perjury, either. She seems to have a soft spot for people in high office committing serious crimes....)

Seven Machos said...

You seem to be in love with the CIA.

We are not connecting. I hate the CIA. I think it should be abolished and that the military should handle spying.

If Althouse helped convince you about health care, maybe you shouldn't say the dumb shit you said above about her trying to please her husband with her political views. That was asinine.

Moreover, Dick Cheney tortured no one, illegally or not. Your silly view that Cheney was running some crazy war operation is ludicrous. Crazy. LaRouche-esque. Get ahold of yourself, dude. It will help you be more interesting.

former law student said...

the 4 questions have absolutely nothing to do with the point I made.

Althouse was caught by her throwaway line: Critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture —

i.e. those who call "HIT" torture are all warm and squishy.

I don't approach these issues by asking what does the word "torture" mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do.

But that case-by-case approach denies us one of our most powerful abilities: classification. We need to classify each technique into "should do" or "should not do," anyways. Why not establish the classes of torture (= should not do) and HIT (=should do)? Then you have a clear set of criteria to sort to.

LoafingOaf said...

These are weasel words. Is it or is it not true?

Who the fuck knows what's true when we have propagndandistic newspapers like the Washington Post? I just know that the USA should not be a pro-torture nation, and people who are telling me to support torture (like you and Althouse) should reflect instead of going on about how you've been "vindicated". I say this as someone who knows how you feel and as someone who has felt tempted to support what you guys are supporting. But, you need to think about it more. Do you really want America to be a pro-torture nation?

Seven Machos said...

propagndandistic newspapers like the Washington Post

Ah, yes. The Washington Post, bastion of conservative and pro-torture propaganda.

people who are telling me to support torture (like you and Althouse)

Did Althouse tell you to support torture?

Do you really want America to be a pro-torture nation?

I want America to be a kick-ass, super-free country full of liberty and material wealth that crazy fascists and all others know better than to fuck with. Forever. You got a problem with that?

Roy Lofquist said...

If you want to read a real story about intelligencr and interrogation I recommend

Francis Gary Powers, Curt Gentry, Operation Overflight. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1971 (hard cover) ISBN 978-0340148235. Potomac Book, 2002 (paperback) ISBN 978-1574884227.

Seven Machos said...

P.S. So, obviously, there was no such request or denial.

LoafingOaf said...

maybe you shouldn't say the dumb shit you said above about her trying to please her husband with her political views.


There was a recent post on this blog about how Meade likes to fuck with strangers by bringing up his love of Bush and Cheney. Well, Althouse has become considerably more right-wing (of the neocon variety) ever since she hooked up with Meade. Is it wrong to notice?

LoafingOaf said...

Did Althouse tell you to support torture?

Yes! This post is trying to tell me to support torture. That's why Andrew Sullivan is branding her a pro-torture blogger.

Gibbiex said...

Is it torture or interrogation? I've seen torture videos from Saddam's era, where ice picks, power tools, plyers are used. That's torture. Our (U.S.) interrogation methods just rely on psychology.

I really oppose torture, but this stuff..yeah its bad but much more humane than what the enemy will do if they get ahold of one of us. I think that's the bottom line.

Seven Machos said...

I don't think Althouse has become more anything, except possibly there does seem to be a new spring in her step.

Probably she seems more right wing to you because she sees all these disastrous policy decisions by the Obama administration as disastrous policy decisions.

Further, if you will simply take my advice and read what Althouse wrote, you will see that she does not take a position on torture. She simply observes that critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn't even work.

It is proper to draw the inference here that torture may be effective. Nothing that she said makes an argument that effectiveness is the only standard. She could believe that. She could also believe, as I do, that Bin Laden is dead. But she doesn't say.

Learn to read, Oaf.

LoafingOaf said...

P.S. So, obviously, there was no such request or denial.

I dunno. I'd like a full account of the Tora Bora battle.

[A]ccounts by other field officers seem to refute Franks' claims, among them Gary Berntsen, a CIA field commander in charge of agency paramilitary forces from the Special Activities Division, whose fighters were on the ground near Tora Bora at the time.

According to Berntsen's account in his book "Jawbreaker," he asked for -- and was denied -- 800 Army Rangers to prevent bin Laden's escape. Berntsen alleges Franks argued an Afghan militia would take care of plugging any holes in the encirclement of bin Laden's forces and so turned down the CIA commander's urgent request.

Last Oct. 8, a Delta Force commander, who is still undercover, backed up Berntsen in a riveting "60 Minutes" segment, stating that U.S. "overreliance" on native Afghan forces to secure the net around bin Laden allowed the mass murderer and arch-terrorist to escape certain capture or death

Seven Machos said...

Andrew Sullivan is an idiot. He hasn't thought clearly for years, and now he has Sarah Palin's pussy clouding his mind night and day. So he's just a mess.

Terrible, terrible way to attempt to bolster your point, Oaf.

Seven Machos said...

Nicely sourced there, Oaf.

downtownlad said...

Ann - Why don't you go and get yourself waterboarded then - you seem to equate it with a waterpark ride.

downtownlad said...

Ann has become a wingnut - likely brainwashed by her boyfriend.

Seven Machos said...

Downtown -- Don't forget that gay marriage is still not sanctioned in most states.

downtownlad said...

Seven - Love your S&M leather mask that you use to identify yourself.

Seven Machos said...

Gracias, Downtown.

downtownlad said...

Let's be very clear. Ann thinks that to say the below picture is "torture":

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/images/iab2.gif

is the equivalent of saying that Medicare reimbursement for a voluntary conversation with your doctor about end of life care is a "death panel".

Says quite a bit about Ann Althouse's morals.

Seven Machos said...

Leftists cannot read.

Good night.

downtownlad said...

Here are some pictures from the Ann Althouse Cafe:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mnUoMIYUQ9I/SmXOfCrUidI/AAAAAAAABEA/BmOz1KmDrc8/s320/abu-ghraib-torture.jpg

Seven Machos said...

Here's a picture of two dogs fucking:

http://www.crackmuffin.com/images/icons/dog_sex.jpg

downtownlad said...

Take a look at those pictures Seven.

I look at those pictures and I see Jesus - because that's what Christianity now represents.

Nice religion you have there.

downtownlad said...

God Bless America.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_mG8CJqzObrc/SMq6hTU3d1I/AAAAAAAACVU/KBxVHjR8xHI/s400/Torturing+Iraqis+in+Abu+Ghraib+Prison3.jpg

But if you want to call this "torture", don't forget to put it in quotes. Just like when you talk about gay "marriage".

Penny said...

Blogger Jim Treacher said...

"I'd say that beating anybody to death with anything would be considered a crime, and the perpetrator should be charged with it."

Jim Treacher seems to believe that Seven Macho, Loafing Oaf and downtownlad should be charged with beating it to death.

And how do you plea, gentlemen?

Synova said...

"When I was a kid it was a lot easier for me to say America is the good guy and its enemies are the bad guys."

That's because you were a child.

America is more of a "good guy" now that she has ever been in her entire History. As an adult that fact should be apparent and it should be even easier to say that America is the good guy.

And it should be impossible to say anything else if you actually have an adult's understanding of our *enemies* as something other than quaint brown people who don't know any better.

When America is held to a standard of *any* sort and our enemies are held to no standards *at all*... then only one of us can fail to meet the standard and it will *always* be the US... and it will be the US no matter how exceptional our behavior becomes because we will always have an even higher standard to reach.

Those with no standards or expectations will never fail what they don't have.

If you compare what WE do to what THEY do... we are freaking SAINTS.

But we don't do that, do we?

No, we compare ourselves to perfection and our enemies to nothing at all. It really is a perverse sort of racism that simply will not allow that THOSE people can be or should be expected to behave as human beings... we expect nothing of our enemies except barbarism and nothing of our *allies* but selective outrage at our supposed failures.

Mr. Forward said...

Lots of good comments but the latest (synovas) may be the greatest.

"When America is held to a standard of *any* sort and our enemies are held to no standards *at all*... then only one of us can fail to meet the standard and it will *always* be the US.."

WV: exalli = What Clinton didn't have to do and Althouse never does anymore.

ethan said...

Anne Althouse is an increasingly disgusting human being. She's become increasingly, irrationally conservative over the last year, and if you put your nose to her crotch, you'd smell the foul smell of rot.

Anything you possess now, Anne, I don't think you deserve. And if it were in my power, I'd take it away from you.

Mr. Forward said...

Ahhh, such symmetry, just in time Ethan comes along with the lamest comment in the thread. What a gentleman, ay?

You can say "Crime doesn't pay" but it's a lousy argument because it's obvious that crime frequently does pay, and there are no taxes. That does not justify criminal activity. It does mean you need a better argument.

Torture obviously works some of the time and not all the confessions extracted are false. So quit with the BS. All Althouse is saying is you need a better argument.

Freder Frederson said...

I don't approach these issues by asking what does the word "torture" mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do.


What an extremely odd thing for a law professor, and a constitutional law professor at that, to say. What exactly are you teaching your students? It doesn't matter what the law says, just the results that matter. You would have fit right in along with Cedarford in Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia. Law is a tool of politics and the end is all that matters.

clamflats said...

So lets release the videos of the EIT sessions for all to see. Is it "ouch"-ure or is it torture? Inquiring minds want to know.

Freder Frederson said...

So lets release the videos of the EIT sessions for all to see. Is it "ouch"-ure or is it torture? Inquiring minds want to know.

Too bad they were all erased and all we have are the self-interested statements of the perpetrators to support the claim that what they did wasn't torture (although it clearly contradicts the express statutory definition of torture) and that it was more effective than legal, moral and civilized methods of interrogation.

LoafingOaf said...

Now that one of the internet's most influencial and widely-read bloggers, Andrew Sullivan, has branded Althouse a pro-torture blog, how does Althouse respond?

ern said...

I think it's pretty obvious that Ann is suggesting that getting bogged down in a question over what is and is not torture (a word laden with all sorts of unhelpful baggage) that we're distracting ourselves from the pertinent question of what we actually do. And on that, I agree with her. She's not saying that the question of what is and is not torture is illegitimate, she's just saying that as far as policy goes, it's a distraction.

Personally, I think waterboarding is a step too far. Sure, it worked in KSM's situation. I don't deny that. And it's difficult for me to recognize that, and still maintain that I think waterboarding is wrong. I'm a pragmatist, after all. Yet I do not think waterboarding constitutes "torture" as it is traditionally understood. I've done far too much reading of what was done during World War II, during the Inquisition, and in human history's past to equate waterboarding with "torture."

Perhaps this is why I can understand Ann's distinction: for me, the question of whether waterboarding is or is not torture does not answer the question of whether it should be on the list of enhanced interrogation techniques what are used. It's not torture, in my mind, but it should also not be used. Perhaps my thinking is fuzzy, inconsistent, and driven too much by gut rather than reason. I'm willing to accept that. I certainly could be wrong about all this.

I do, however, appreciate Ann's willingness to cut to the quick, here. Those who want a protracted argument over the definition of torture seem more interested in scoring political points than actually producing sound policy.

Freder Frederson said...

I do, however, appreciate Ann's willingness to cut to the quick, here.

You're kidding right? Ann has done nothing but obfuscate the issue since it has been raised! She has refused to acknowledge the explicit statutory definition of torture since day one (which all of this methods fall squarely within). She doesn't have the courage of her convictions to come out and say that she agrees with what Yoo, Cheney and Bush approved of and implemented although she obviously does.

She is worse than the outright supporters of torture like Cedarford, she refuses to explicitly take a stand. At least we know Cedarford is a Nazi scum.

Michael Smith said...

Torture is completely appropriate with an individual like KSM -- a man explicitly dedicated to the destruction of our country and dedicated to an ideology (Islam) that explicity denies the rights of man and seeks the mass-enslavement of us all under totalitarian theocracy.

An individual that seeks the destruction of all individual rights -- and seeks the complete elimination of human political freedom -- can claim no rights of his own. Anything goes with such an individual, and if there is a reasonable expectation of getting useful information from him via torture, then he should be tortured.

Freder Frederson said...

Torture is completely appropriate with an individual like KSM -- a man explicitly dedicated to the destruction of our country and dedicated to an ideology (Islam) that explicity denies the rights of man and seeks the mass-enslavement of us all under totalitarian theocracy.

Actually, that is exactly the argument totalitarian dictatorships use to justify torture and human rights violations. Some people are so dangerous to society that they have forfeited their human rights and the protection of society is more important than individual rights. Once you accept such an argument you are well on your way to believing in the need for just the type of totalitarian society you claim to decry.

Roger J. said...

Probably too late for this thread but the poster talking about the "battle of tora bora" is probably not realizing that tora bora is a region and not a place like shiloh or antietam. 800 army rangers (a battalion) doesnt do much good when widely dispersed in extremely mountainous terrain.

My interpretation is the CIA guy is covering his ass by making charges.

It is clear to me that mistaking tora bora for a "battle" suggests the commenter simply has no understanding of military operations in rugged terrain.

AnnPW said...

I'm not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say "torture." Let's look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.

Oh indeed, let's not. And let's remember that it was the Cheneyites who introduced us to the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" for practices which, for decades, have been called, quite simply "torture" and condemned as not only immoral but also illegal. Their reasons for doing so are naturally as clear as day.

So let's do "look strait at the issue" Ms. Althouse. In the eyes of the law, the issues of whether you call them "enhanced interrogation techniques" or "torture", or whether or not they "work" are completely irrelevant. According to federal and international law, the people who ordered and implemented these practices committed war crimes. War crimes. No pedantic parsing there. Should they be prosecuted?

Ann Althouse said...

fls: "Althouse was caught by her throwaway line: Critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture — "

Ahem. A close reader would note which words were in quotes and which were not. I would think I'd be caught in the other direction!

Ann Althouse said...

"Then you have a clear set of criteria to sort to."

It's totally screwed up to write such mush and purport to be interested in clarity.

Ann Althouse said...

By the way, if the question were whether a provision of written law was violated, I would want to focus on what the words meant and how that applied to real life situations. I'm not talking about that here.

Ann Althouse said...

downtownlad said..."Ann - Why don't you go and get yourself waterboarded then - you seem to equate it with a waterpark ride."

I've noticed various people have done that, like Hitches. I think their willingness to go through it says a lot about how bad it is. They come out of it saying, yes, that was torture, but look at all the terrible things they don't submit to. It's apparently horrible while it's happening, but then it is over, and the person who submits to that knows that is true.

Synova said...

"Some people are so dangerous to society that they have forfeited their human rights and the protection of society is more important than individual rights. Once you accept such an argument you are well on your way to believing in the need for just the type of totalitarian society you claim to decry."

We deny the human rights of criminals ALL THE TIME.

Why is this not setting us well on the way to a totalitarian society?

LilEvie said...

May I ask an inconvenient question of you libs out there -- if you are a terrorist would you rather be waterboarded or have your head blown off by a predator drone? So Obama is better than Bush how?

publius said...

So why not just address the more basic question - are these actions morally justifiable? do you approve of them?

because it seems like you do given the language and tone of the post. it would be quick and easy to clear up any misunderstanding

Roger J. said...

publius: no intent to answer for the professor--but yes--I approve of them and they are morally justifiable--see how easy that was?

heres one for you: in viet nam we used to put captive VC and NVA in helicopters--we would take off and then throw one of them out--of course it was at ground level and no captive was hurled to his death--was amazing how the remainder would be willing to talk--was that torture?

publius said...

Yes -- as I recall, we weren't victorious in that war. One reason, as I recall, is that the local population hated us.

This stuff has other costs, even assuming there are some benefits (which, frankly, I doubt).

Ann Althouse said...

Ironically, defining "torture" broadly will tend to increase support for torture.

Roger and Denise said...

publius--you failed to answer the question--we werent victorious for a variety of national level decisions that had nothing to do with tactical decisions on the ground--and you never say what happened to the villagers that sided with the government after the VC got through with them--had their balls cut off and stuffed down their throats before they were shot in front of the villagers--yeah--I saw that stuff--

so your point is the good guys won because we "tortured?"

you are not only an idiot, you are uninformed idiot.

AnnPW said...

By the way, if the question were whether a provision of written law was violated, I would want to focus on what the words meant and how that applied to real life situations. I'm not talking about that here.

Of course you're not. Because those who are defending Bush administration practices love to steer these conversations away from such subjects as whether our President and key members of his administration committed war crimes. Can't imagine why.

publius said...

yes - it is torture.

And now a question for you-- would those particularly gruesome tactics be justified if our government had done them to KSM?

The logic doesn't really work -- the fact that someone else is doing something worse doesn't excuse your own behavior.

@AA -- again, I'd just like a simple answer on where you stand on all this. There's an easy way to ocunter Sullivan. Just say "I disagree with these tactics and they're not morally justified."

Rialby said...

All of you whom have come here to scream at the top of your lungs about Ann's support for tortue, please answer the following question:

If America's collective hands are dirty for waterboarding KSM and others, then are our hands dirty for handing over terrorists during the 1990s through today to 3rd parties to do the same thing?

If not, why not?

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd just like a simple answer on where you stand on all this."

I choose not to take the easy way.

Ann Althouse said...

It would also be easy to be a pacifist with respect to all war. The potential for moral posturing and stunning purity is amazing. And you never have to pay a price for it.

Synova said...

I was going to quote the bit about how making the definition of torture broad increases the support for torture... or rather, makes the word mean less than nothing and encourages people who think that the word should be reserved for *actual* torture say "heck with it" because they (*I*) know that they'll get branded with "pro-torture" no matter what they do or say.

But then Althouse said this, which is brilliant.

"It would also be easy to be a pacifist with respect to all war. The potential for moral posturing and stunning purity is amazing. And you never have to pay a price for it."

AST said...

If torture doesn't work, but waterboarding does, then waterboarding isn't torture. QED!

I've never considered treatment that doesn't actually hurt someone to be torture, even though it weakens resistance or frightens him. Torture involves direct infliction of pain, physical injury or permanent psychological damage. Of course, that's not how the U.N. or the DOD define it, but that's always been my definition. According to these new definitions, I was tortured in gym class throughout high school.

former law student said...

It's totally screwed up to write such mush and purport to be interested in clarity.

Sorry. Set a bright line rule instead of considering the acceptability of each individual technique. Example of bright line rule: Bush's OLC said everything was OK so long as it didn't kill, cause organ failure, or impair bodily functions. Applying this rule created the classifications of Torture and Not-Torture.

Ed Sporak said...

I imagine the Chinese and Russian and Congolese et cetera governments will be studying these techniques over the coming months.

Um, I imagine the Chinese and Russians are on top of their interrogation game all on their own. As car as the Congolese, well, they learned pretty much everything they need to know about extreme and inhuman cruelty from the Belgian monarchy.

bor said...

Whether torture works or not doesn't justify its use. It is as justifying Nazi Germany medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners.
Torture is a CRIME.

dbud said...

To the posters who comment that toture 'works' and that those who say it doesn't are wrong, you are missing the point. The point is torture does not work for the purpose we are using it for.

Torture's point is not to gain the 'truth' but to procure false confessions. To this purpose, it does 'work' as you say. But that's not what we are doing. We are trying to gaain 'actionable intelligence.'

The problem is when you use torutre you have no real idea what information the person has. you are torturing them to get them to admit to what you 'believe' they know.

So when they don't talk, you have no idea if it's because they have told you everything they know or if it's because they are successfully resisting your torture, so you have to torture them more to get the 'truth', which you know they know but just haven't heard from them yet.

Under these conditions, toture just continues indefinately because you never know what the person knows from the beginning and what more they know. So, to get it to end, they start making things up because you don't believe them when they say they don't know anything more (true or not). Under these conditions torture has the opposite effect than intended. It gets lies, not the truth.

This is why torture has always been used to get people to admit to being witches or war criminals (as used by the Viet Cong on our soldiers) and to admit to other untruths, but it is a horrible failure to get actual truthful information.