May 4, 2011

Taking bin Laden alive "would have required the administration to hold and interrogate bin Laden at Guantanamo Bay, something that has given this president allergic reactions bordering on a seizure."

Says the much-maligned John Yoo, noting that "one of the most valuable intelligence opportunities since the beginning of the war has slipped through our hands."
His capture, like Saddam Hussein's in December 2003, would have provided invaluable intelligence and been an even greater example of U.S. military prowess than his death.
Yoo scoffs at the assertion that the orders were to take bin Laden alive unless he presented a threat:
As Sunday's operation put so vividly on display, Mr. Obama would rather kill al Qaeda leaders—whether by drones or special ops teams—than wade through the difficult questions raised by their detention. This may have dissuaded Mr. Obama from sending a more robust force to attempt a capture.

Early reports are conflicted, but it appears that bin Laden was not armed. He did not have a large retinue of bodyguards—only three other people, the two couriers and bin Laden's adult son, were killed. Special forces units using nonlethal weaponry might have taken bin Laden alive, as with other senior al Qaeda leaders before him.

93 comments:

Crimso said...

"than wade through the difficult questions raised by their detention."

"Present!"

MarkG said...

What would they have gotten out of bin Laden that's not on those hard drives. His favorite color? Not worth the trouble.

Shouting Thomas said...

That's a lot of conjecture. Only the people who were actually present at the assault will ever know.

O'Reilly emphatically stated last night that he has no doubt that the intelligence that led to the assassination of bin Laden was acquired through "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Rialby said...

Remember the "7 Minutes" that Michael Moore and others beat Bush over the head with for years. They accused him of being a feckless coward (and worse).

Well, our dear Barack found out where OBL was hiding and decided to take 16 HOURS to digest it.

Scott M said...

I've always thought the prevailing wisdom was that it's far more disgraceful to OBL to be taken prisoner than to kill him and create a martyr. Regardless, it's tough to second-guess what happened.

Crimso said...

Though, FWIW, the face I saw in the now famous picture was one of a man who had ordered a small number of people to do something potentially fatal, and was feeling the weight of that decision (and yes, I know there are those who say he really didn't decide, or that the face meant something else entirely, etc. etc.; just my dumbass opinion).

Rialby said...

By the way - WTF are we talking about when we talk about Muslim sensitivities with re: to OBL?

We have been told for years that he's not a true Muslim, no true Muslim thinks he is and everyone out there but a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Islamists like him. Were we lied to?

Sixty Grit said...

Our thug prez is a cold blooded killer from the 'hood, gettin' his street creds, for sure. Linin' up for his second Peace Prize. Oh yeah!

Scott M said...

We have been told for years that he's not a true Muslim, no true Muslim thinks he is and everyone out there but a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Islamists like him. Were we lied to?

It's a fool that searches for wisdom in the chambers of political correctness' heart.

Shouting Thomas said...

Just in case you thought sanity was setting in, this from AP:

The top staffer for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is objecting to the U.S. military's use of the code name "Geronimo" for Osama bin Laden during the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader.

An offense to American Indian sensibilities! More bigotry. There's always a bigotry angle, isn't there?

Cedarford said...

MarkG said...
What would they have gotten out of bin Laden that's not on those hard drives. His favorite color? Not worth the trouble.

=====================
What did they get out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that was not on KSM's hard drives and "pocket litter"??
Apparantly tons and tons of stuff on plans, his hundreds of contacts - once interrogation broke him into cooperating. One of those contacts, a guy only known in passing to KSM and only by his nickname - was the courier that led US intelligence to find bin Laden.

As for the John McCain/Lefty claim that only those Islamoids you "befriend, win the trust of, who cooperate willingly" can give the unvarnished truth and - I give you Hamid Karzai, Ahmed Chalalabi, and Special Friend we paid nearly a million to to tell us about Saddam's WMD - "Good Old Curveball".

Steve Austin said...

Other than this mixed up leaking of details, everything else was done flawlessly. Who would have wanted Alan Dershowitz on CNN every hour of the day offering to defend Bin Laden?

This was a high risk mission. Obama could have gone in and Bin Laden might not have even been there. Or the choppers crash with people in them. Or Osama had the place booby trapped and all our guys die.

I don't like Obama, but this was the right plan on all counts and executed well.

Fen said...

Crimso: (and yes, I know there are those who say he really didn't decide, or that the face meant something else entirely, etc. etc.; just my dumbass opinion).

Not dumbass. I agreed with you on a prior thread:

the face I saw in the now famous picture was one of a man who had ordered a small number of people to do something potentially fatal, and was feeling the weight of that decision

Its the face of Command. You see it most often on line officers of victor units.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"one of the most valuable intelligence opportunities since the beginning of the war has slipped through our hands."

I don't know about that. I think getting Zarwahiri would have been a lot more valuable in terms of getting operations intel.

bin laden was a symbolic leader, yeah he probably knew some stuff but I'm guessing plenty of intel was scooped up in that raid where putting a round in his brain pan was just a bonus.

Sloanasaurus said...

So he choose to kill Bin Ladin for his own political calculation. Obama figured that it was better for him politically to kill Bin Ladin, rather than capture him and suffer the consequences of being berated for harsh interrogations.

So how many more soldiers will die because Obama chose to shot first rather than try for more intelligence?

Peano said...

The Zero is a gift that keeps on taking. I wonder if we can last another year and a half.

Pogo said...

Still, I'm glad he's dead.

His life was not worth the money we'd spend hiding him forever.

In this country it's a good thing to kill a terrorist now and then to encourage the others.

Fred4Pres said...

He has a point.

While I am not a fan of waterboarding, one of the results of overreacting to it is a take no prisoners approach.

Sloanasaurus said...

Obama is no novice when it comes to hypocricy, but killing an unarmed Bin Ladin with an execution squad takes the cake. Obama railed for years about how he was above this.

PaulV said...

Yoo has a right to point out the hypocrisy of the left wing lybch mob which attacked him.

Arthur said...

I don't care if he was wielding a soft fuzzy baby duckling at the time he was confronted. Shooting this POS on sight was perfectly appropriate and all this post hoc anquish over whether he should have been Mirandized is horseshit.

Fen said...

Obama figured that it was better for him politically to kill Bin Ladin, rather than capture him and suffer the consequences of being berated for harsh interrogations.

Its also looking like Obama only made the decision to "remain politically viable in the future" [B. Clinton]. It wasn't JSOC that influenced him, it was his WH Communications Director worrying over a potential 2012 soundbyte "Obama let OBL get away again" that finally steeled his resolve.

Shanna said...

While I am not a fan of waterboarding, one of the results of overreacting to it is a take no prisoners approach.

True. This is something that needs to be kept in mind for the future, but I'm not exactly sad OBL is dead.

traditionalguy said...

Taking Obama alive would have created a wedge between Obama's Commander in chief persona and that Holder idiot's legal cadre who assert that OBL has Constitutional rights to a televised jury trial coming later after OBL's defense team, paid by the USA, takes US official's discovery depositions under oath for two years. So the only choices were to bomb the compound into a hole in the ground and face denials that it was anything except a wedding, or send in the special forces ordered to kill OBL and come home with a mother load of intel. We are fortunate that Hillary and Gates were watching so that Obama HAD to make a decision on this one. He made the right decision. OBL was no civilian....he was the Commander of an enemy military force at war with us, like Japanese Admr. Yamamoto of Pearl Harbour fame.

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

all this post hoc anquish over whether he should have been Mirandized is horseshit.

Tell it to the Left. Its a club they used to bash Bush for 8 years.

Team Obama didn't kill OBL because he was terrorist scum that needed to be put down. They killed him because his capture would have forced them to live by their own rules (which would likely have destroyed this administration).

Tibore said...

I'm with both Scott M and Hoosier Daddy. It's really hard to Monday Morning Quarterback without access to the same info that the President had, much less what the SEALs were seeing in realtime, so I'd rather not criticize how the mission turned out. And there was probably little in terms of current intelligence to be had from him. Face it; he's been in hiding since 2001, and became utterly paranoid about being tracked (no 'net and phone connections where he was found), so if he was in touch with any others, it was probably tenuous at best. Remember: He was found by tracking human couriers. That doesn't suggest fast lines of communications at all.

This is not to say he would've been useless intelligence-wise. I for one decry the waste of discovering background information, and comparing what OBL knew back in the past with what CIA/military intelligence had thought. If nothing else, it would've been a very useful double-check. That's definitely a loss.

Regardless, even before 9/11 his task was not really to be in the forefront of anything other than the news, as well as be motivational material for followers; it was people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed (before he got captured) and al-Zarqawi (until he got killed in Iraq) who actually did the real work.

In spite of that, I do think the US missed one opportunity in killing OBL: They didn't get direct info on who it was in Pakistan allowed his presence there. That would've been interesting to know, even if ultimately Pakistani internal politics and machinations wouldn't have resulted in any real action taken.

But, in spite of those lost opportunities, I still don't feel like criticizing how things turned out. The point is that an enemy of the country was eliminated. Sure, people have been saying things like "10 years and 3000 lives too late", but I don't want to think that way; it's too defeatist and demoralizing. The point is that he didn't get away. It took a while, but he did not get away. That, ultimately, is what I think the importance of the mission was.

MadisonMan said...

The practical problem of holding OBL in Cuba would be the efforts that might be taken to release him. I am glad the USA doesn't have to deal with the inevitable hostage takings that would have been in the future.

Big Mike said...

I'm surprised how many people see it this way. I suppose I can understand why. On the other hand.

Upside of bin Laden being taken alive: a "a potential treasure trove of intelligence."

Downside: A standard ploy is for Arab terrorists to take large numbers of hostages and demand to swap their lives for the release of terror prisoners with way less value than Osama bin Laden.

Two other thoughts. First, there probably is nearly as much intelligence value in bin Laden's confiscated computers and CDs as we could get from the man himself. Secondly, is it clear that bin Laden even had that much intelligence value? Is he still deeply involved operationally, or was he merely a shadowy figurehead these days?

Phil 3:14 said...

Wow, first Cheney and now Woo. Its odd to see former President Bush say little other than to congratulate his successor and the military personnel who executed the plan, and in contrast see and hear his former administration personnel really get in the thick of it.

I appreciate GWB's prudence.

Yoo speaks and writes well in defense of his actions but clearly he's got a bug up his butt since DOJ went after him.

SteveR said...

I'm just glad he's dead, as Pogo stated.

Fen said...

A standard ploy is for Arab terrorists to take large numbers of hostages and demand to swap their lives for the release of terror prisoners with way less value than Osama bin Laden.

Not to quibble, but is this really a standard ploy? I'm trying to remember an instance re all the high-profile captures of Al Queda.

Harsh Pencil said...

I agree it would have been difficult to announce we had Bin Laden and hold him indefinitely in Cuba. But who says we had to announce anything? Grab him, interrogate him, then kill him (after a short military tribunal). THEN announce it all after the fact (and display the body in Times Square for a few days before throwing it in the ocean.)

Fen said...

Yoo speaks and writes well in defense of his actions but clearly he's got a bug up his butt since DOJ went after him.

Bug up his butt? He was pilloried for writing a legal opinion supporting the very same enhanced interrogation techniques that led to Obama's successful kill of OBL.

Maguro said...

Yoo speaks and writes well in defense of his actions but clearly he's got a bug up his butt since DOJ went after him.

As well he should. The hypocrisy of going after Yoo for providing legal advice on one hand while the Obama administration orders straight-up assassinations on the other is just stunning.

Not that our brave, independent media will ever notice.

traditionalguy said...

Yoo is acting the fool here by confidently asserting that OBL would give up any intel at all. Why would he?

Fen said...

Madison: The practical problem of holding OBL in Cuba would be the efforts that might be taken to release him.

Try New York City. You guys insisted he be given miranda and an attorney and tried in NYC.

But that was back when POTUS was a Republican.

No worries. We already knew that your principles are as flexible as your interns.

Fen said...

Yoo is acting the fool here by confidently asserting that OBL would give up any intel at all. Why would he?

Because Yoo knows how easy it would have been to break him.

Sloanasaurus said...

Yoo is acting the fool here by confidently asserting that OBL would give up any intel at all. Why would he?

Why wouldn't he? What if U.S. offered him a deal he could not refuse - to say protect his children?

Tomas said...

The United States won World War II and the Cold War without having to "legalize" waterboarding and torture. Those were ruthless enemies. The Soviet Union even had nuclear weapons aplenty.

On the other had, a few crazy Jihadis cause weak-minded people like John Yoo panic, defend the undefensible, and drag the United States' reputation through the mud.

Finally: if you're the Special Ops soldier who barges into Bin Laden's bedroom, how long do you want to wait before you can satisfy yourself he does not have a bomb or a grenade?

holdfast said...

I'm with Pogo - keeping him at Gitmo or wherever would have created a focus point for Islamists and their western dupes to rally around. Between the costs of security and endless court challenges to protect his human rights, it just wouldn't be worth it.

Congratulations lefties - your lawfare efforts means that we no longer take prisoners.

Hoosier Daddy said...

The United States won World War II and the Cold War without having to "legalize" waterboarding

You're absolutely correct. We won WW2 instead by carpet bombing German and Japanese population centers and industry 24/7 culminating in the complete destruction of two Japanese cities with nuclear bombs.

PaulV said...

Tomas,
You seem to ignore that AQ killed many more civilianson US mainland than either Germany or Japan. The targets in WW2 and cold war were in open, not in hiding. The enhanced interrogations were reason US even found OBL. Use a Taser. Worried about grenades, don't go into house.

David said...

Does anyone doubt that this was a kill mission?

Under the circumstances he was in, he could have been captured. Of course they could not know the level of resistance until they got there, but with a proper contingency plan, he could easily have been taken alive.

Osama's 12 year old daughter is now claiming that he was detained and then shot. Is that true? We will never know, but much of the world will believe it true. The Administration's incredible botching of the post assassination narrative gives this great credence.

For Obama politically, it was better to kill Bin Laden. I think this was probably better for the country, given the propaganda platform a capture would have given him. I also wonder how much operational intelligence Bin Laden would have supplied, given his isolation and his personality. However, people like John Yoo have a much better informed (but also more self interested) perspective than I do.

The principal actors here all have huge stakes in the narrative. Obama is already damaged by the numerous conflicting versions.

Hilary Clinton has been notably quiet. Obama must be viewing her with considerable alarm. However, if she wants to use this as a lever to run against him, she will have to resign sooner rather than later. A Hilary resignation would be huge news.

Because the stakes are so high, the truth is going to be extraordinarily difficult to discern. Sadly, I do not trust the news media to seek it, or American leadership to provide it.

Sixty Grit said...

WRT Yoo, it's not an act.

WV: sycho - doesn't matter how you pronounce it, it works.

Scott M said...

Obama is already damaged by the numerous conflicting versions.

This. Given the way the administration has handled the info after the fact, they may well have erased any net-positive effects politically. I know a lot of very politically un-engaged people that are saying there are so many conflicting things coming out of the White House that it makes them question everything they hear.

Fen said...

Thomas: The United States won World War II and the Cold War without having to "legalize" waterboarding and torture. Those were ruthless enemies. The Soviet Union even had nuclear weapons aplenty.

Thats a really stupid and ignorant thing to say. Hoosier has already smacked it down. But I would add the fire-bombing of Dresden to the mix.

On the other had, a few crazy Jihadis cause weak-minded people like John Yoo panic, defend the undefensible, and drag the United States' reputation through the mud.

Weak-minded? Panic? You're not to be taken seriously. Please take your sophomoronic bullshit back to HuffPo.

Jay said...

Obama has signed off on more assassination's than all the other Nobel peace prize winners combined.

Fen said...

And yes, I made up a word. Just for you.

MadisonMan said...

Fen, I don't see how holding OBL in NYC would reduce the possibilities of a ransom try.

Cedarford said...

I don't think 'ol Tomas really understands the history of the Cold War. It was quite ugly, on both sides, (directly and through proxies) and included the hysterical Lefty version of 'torture', plus REAL torture, and worse.

We won the Cold War mainly through presenting the world with a showcase of the two competing economic systems (before the Chicommies began eating our lunch after the Soviets collapsed under Free Trade and 10 cent an hour good workers.
US & Western Europe did better than the Communist model. Soviets, paralyzed by law, bureaucracy, and central planning and repression - tried reforming. Too late.
Interrogations didn't win it, but neither did a military of Heroes, JFK or Reagan rhetoric, or 3rd World Democracy or UN Human Rights. Not that any of those things were trivial factors because they "didn't win the Cold War".

Gabriel Hanna said...

This is something I had been trying to point out to Leftists--their insistence that every enemy of the US deserves some kind of trial and lawyers and whatnot leads to more killing.

It makes no sense that it is illegal to capture someone in battle, and hold them without trial, but legal to KILL them in battle.

Obama made the only choice the Left left him. They would have allowed no good, and great harm, to come from taking bin Ladin alive.

Incidentally, anyone who thinks WWII was wom without torture and coercion and out-and-out murder of surrendered prisoners is an ignoramus.

3500. This is the number of women American soldiers raped in 1944 and 1945. IN FRANCE ALONE. You know France, our ally, the country we were liberating?

1200 British women and 12,000 German women were raped by American soldiers during the war.

The Greatest Generation was not composed of saints and angels--ask any of them, they'll tel you the same. I mention this not to try to discredit them, put to point out the historical ignorance of people who get hysterical about waterboarding.

Phil 3:14 said...

This story yesterday from NPR's "All Things Considered" really epitomizes the dilemma liberals have in the OBL assassination story.

Yeah, we're badasses too.....
Oooohh that was SOOOO wrong of me to say that

SteveR said...

Wow Tomas. I assume your quite young and obviously not well versed in history.

William said...

This was the first example of real leadership by Obama.

By all accounts, the raid was flawlessly executed by men who are heros.

That said, John Yoo is absolutely correct in his assessment of this lost opportunity.

While I do not know where various posters here get their facts about the Bin Laden's intelligence value, anything we could get out of him, whether dated or not, would aid the effort formerly known as the War on Terror.

For all the PC caterwauling, now in 2011, assassination is the new Miranda Warning.

Michael said...

William: !Best line ever!! Assassination is the new Miranda.

Tomas said...

Of course WWII and the Cold War were ugly. Surely lots of torture and war crimes happened on all sides. Takes place in any war---another reason not to enter them lightly.

But maybe someone can point me out to when the US legalized waterboarding before Yoo came along. I must have missed it.

Just Lurking said...

On the other had, a few crazy Jihadis cause weak-minded people like John Yoo panic, defend the undefensible, and drag the United States' reputation through the mud.

I wonder if this new "take no prisoners" policy is better for our precious reputation? Is it less shameful to cross sovereign borders to kill terrorists, to use drones and risk taking out innocent civilians, or to hand over enemy combatants to other nations to be "questioned"? Will the world finally love us now?

BTW, I'm not condemning O's policy. I wouldn't lose sleep if it turns out Osama was on his knees begging for his life when they shot him. I'm just tired of the hypocrisy of branding Bush a criminal for waterboarding three terrorists, but applauding Obama's policy of crossing borders to kill terrorists. I'd like to think that there are some principled leftists who are not happy with this unintended consequence of their moral stance.

Scott M said...

Takes place in any war---another reason not to enter them lightly.

There are many times war isn't "entered", it's thrust upon you. You must react, ugly or not.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas:But maybe someone can point me out to when the US legalized waterboarding before Yoo came along. I must have missed it.

I think what you missed is when it was made illegal.

That was the whole point of what Yoo was there to do--advise the government on what corecive techniques were WITHIN THE LAW.

You find the US law that criminalized waterboarding of unlawful combatants and then you have a case--until then, you don't.

Tomas said...

I simply said, wars are not to be entered into lightly.

After World War II, Japanese soldiers were convicted and hanged for waterboarding American POWS:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2007/dec/18/john-mccain/history-supports-mccains-stance-on-waterboarding/

Hoosier Daddy said...

Of course WWII and the Cold War were ugly.

Thank you for admitting that we had to do some uglier things than waterboarding a terrorist in order to win WW2.

Surely lots of torture and war crimes happened on all sides. Takes place in any war---another reason not to enter them lightly.

I would not consider the decision to go into Afghanistan after the terrosists residing there under protection of the Taliban that just killed 3000 Americans was a decision made on a whim.

YMMV

dbp said...

Tomas,

Why post a lie and then provide a link that proves it is a lie?

"The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."

Were any hung for waterboarding alone? No.

Tomas said...

I would not consider the decision to go into Afghanistan after the terrosists residing there under protection of the Taliban that just killed 3000 Americans was a decision made on a whim.

I never said that it was. In fact, that invasion made sense, and I supported it.

Lurking's point about other tactics is well-taken (drones, etc.) is well-taken. Good questions there.

Maguro said...

I think what you missed is when it was made illegal.

That was the whole point of what Yoo was there to do--advise the government on what corecive techniques were WITHIN THE LAW
.

Assassination, on the other hand, is clearly against the law.

But who cares about legal niceties now that the Lightworker Obama is in charge?

Tomas said...

DBP: I ammend my comments to read: "for crimes including waterboarding."

The point is that it was considered a crime.

Scott M said...

Assassination, on the other hand, is clearly against the law.

Can someone with far better photoshopping skills than I put an appropriate OBL face on Elian Gonzalez' face in the infamous storm trooper/closet pic?

It would warm my cockles, thanks.

WV - "reodio" Not sure what it means, but it's fun to say.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Were any hung for waterboarding alone? No.

The issue here is whether enhanced interrogation is being conducted for its own sake or to gain actionable intelligence.

If such techniques don't work, as we're constantly told they don't, then the only logical reason to continue using them is that our service personnel are sadistic monsters to delight in committing harm and aren't really interested in gaining intelligence that will protect the nation.

edutcher said...

FWIW, and I defer to the military and intel types who comment here, you can never tell what a prisoner may give up. Intel is all bits and pieces most of the time, so taking bin Laden alive may have yielded something significant.

There's an article in the Washington Times saying bin Laden had a bigger hand in running Al Qaeda than previously thought.

Fen said...

A standard ploy is for Arab terrorists to take large numbers of hostages and demand to swap their lives for the release of terror prisoners with way less value than Osama bin Laden.

Not to quibble, but is this really a standard ploy? I'm trying to remember an instance re all the high-profile captures of Al Queda.


Standard in the 70s - Baader-Meinhof, Red Brigades, etc. It died at Entebbe.

dbp said...

Another issue that is being missed is this: Civilians and uniformed members of the military are given (and deserve) greater protection than illegal combatants.

Japan was not part of the Geneva conventions, but it is reasonable to hold them to standards we did abide by.

Fred4Pres said...

There is nothing immoral about deciding it is better to kill or capture Usama bin Laden. You could make the argument that it is better to capture him (as Yoo did).

Detaining him raises difficult questions so he took the easy out. Just admit it.

Trooper York said...

Maybe he killed Osama because he knew too much?

Trooper York said...

Just kidding.

Just because both Osama and Obama are Muslims who hate America doesn't mean they are in cahoots.

Scott M said...

Maybe he killed Osama because he knew too much?

I heard Blago was going to subpoena OBL. Ya gotta admit...clears up a whoooole lot of questions.

Trooper York said...

I mean that's what Tony Soprano did to Big Pussy. He even buried him at sea exactly the same way.

The only problem is that "Big Pussy" is actually Obama's nickname.

traditionalguy said...

The issue is the wisdom of retribution in war. It does help establish who won and who lost. Retribution is NOT a truce followed by all going home with a trophy. In WWII in the great carrier battles around the Saipan invasion (that could allow B-29s a base to hit Japan), there were mass fighter shoot outs 100 miles from any rescue craft for the losing pilots bailing out in bunches. Should the US pilots strafe to death the Jap pilots in parachutes, who would soon die anyway of exposure? The order came down, against opposition from many, that yes we would kill the enemy pilots in parachutes. That was changed later because this new order lead to killing of many US pilots by US pilots...how do you tell parachutes apart anyway. So retribution is a dangerous emotion that needs cool evaluation, and then to be used with care.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas:

Admiral Doenitz was convicted at Nuremberg for the same submarine tactics Nimitz used against Japan.

Nimitz actually tried to help Doenitz's defense.


Nimitz was never tried for war crimes--it was the Germans on trial, not us.

If you knew any history, you'd know that convicting our enemies of something doesn't mean we think it's illegal for us to do it.

What you and Politico decribe as "waterboarding" is not what happened to KSM either.

You have once again failed to point out the US law that forbids the American government from waterboarding illegal combatants.

And suppose Yoo had said waterboarding was over the line but stress postions and sleep deprivation aren't--why then you'd just have your panties about those things.

Scott M said...

And suppose Yoo had said waterboarding was over the line but stress postions and sleep deprivation aren't--why then you'd just have your panties about those things.

Playing Twisted Sister, at any volume, for any amount of time, is immoral for the interrogator, the interrogatee, the band performing it and the engineer that mixed the tracks. Oh...and the company that built the equipment it's being played on.

SPImmortal said...

"DBP: I ammend my comments to read: "for crimes including waterboarding."

The point is that it was considered a crime."

Education by wiki is a terrible thing.

Someone has undoubtedly misinterpreted the historical record. Those Japanese officers were almost certainly hanged for their use of "Japanese water torture", not waterboarding.

Japanese imperial society was one of the most evil and depraved in history, they sent hundred of thousands of GIs into slave labor, and routinely tortured to death and executed prisoners of war. It wouldn't be even worth mentioning something as milquetoast as waterboarding.

Joe said...

Tomas, the WWII Japanese version of waterboarding was vastly different from the modern versions. What the Japanese did with torture during WWII is so extreme, even reading heavily redacted accounts is hard to stomach.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas: In the Japanese torture,"water is forced down the throat and into the stomach. This happens repeatedly until osmosis causes the cells to explode. It was used as a legal torture and execution method by the courts in France in the 17th and 18th century, was employed against Americans and Chinese during World War II by the Japanese, and was also used against Filipinos by American Forces during the Philippine-American War."

Wikipedia knows the difference even though you and Politic pretend you can't tell. This is not what happened to KSM.

Tomas said...

Sure, what the Japanese did was more barbaric than what was done to KSM, which had "medical supervision" and everything. That others have done it worse does not mean that the less extreme variant is OK. (For lawyerly discussions of whether "torture" requires permanent bodily harm, see Yoo, John.)

BTW, there are several well-documented instances of prisoners held by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan being, let's say, "mistreated" to death. Once you say that *some* torture is OK, when do you stop? Every detainee can potentially have "actionable intelligence."

p.s. I guess John McCain did not know his history when he also made this argument, then. But he's certainly someone well-acquainted with torture.

dbp said...

Thomas,

I'm not sure what your point is. The "well documented" cases of abuse resulted in equally well documented court marshals.

Illegal combatants should be treated more harshly than legal combatants, else how to motivate them to abide by the laws of war?

There must be some happy place between kid-gloves and bamboo under the fingernails. I would place (how we do) water boarding just on this side of the line. Views may vary on this though.

RuyDiaz said...

Fen said:

Thats a really stupid and ignorant thing to say. Hoosier has already smacked it down. But I would add the fire-bombing of Dresden to the mix.

I think a bit of constructive nitpicking would be useful.

The U.S. Army Air Force did not firebomb Dresden. They conducted formation bombing, during the day, while the Royal Air Force did the firebombing at night. The Army Air Force wanted to destroy German industry while the Royal Air Force wanted to destroy something at the lowest cost possible.

The first firebombing raid by the Army Air Force was the massive raid on Tokyo on the night of March 9-10, 1945.

So that we are clear.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas:Once you say that *some* torture is OK, when do you stop? Every detainee can potentially have "actionable intelligence."


It stops when you stop calling things "torture" that aren't.

Is waterboarding torture? Is slapping torture? Stress positions? Sleep deprivation? Name calling? Nasty looks? Solitary confinement? Uncomfortable matresses? Denial of cigarettes?

By calling waterboarding "torture" you assumed your premise, you see. That was the very thing we were debating.

Yoo didn't "approve torture", because waterboarding is not considered to be torture by him.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas:I guess John McCain did not know his history when he also made this argument, then. But he's certainly someone well-acquainted with torture.

Yes, to both. He has first hand experience of being tortured, and he doesn't know much about history and makes ignorant statements.

Do you think that's some kind of contradiction? Why did you think that was some kind of "gotcha"?

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

It isn't like the NYPD was waiting outside. It's maybe hard to get into the mind set of the SEALS, but they are not watching this on TV. This is the head of the rattlesnake they are dealing with, may want to set an example by being a suicide bomber, no doubt wants to kill them. Anything but instant and perfect compliance has to be taken as a threat. He could have sent his wife out to tell them that his hands were up etc. Like Uday he was used to subservience; he probably wasn't emotionally capable of adapting to a situation of surrender, to be able to say as, perhaps from the heart, the Japanese Emperor said, 'The situation has developed perhaps not as we wished it would.'

MarkD said...

You don't take hostages to trade for a dead man. No American school would ever be safe.

Then there is Bin Laden captured alive, with the lawyers involved? Surrender now and spare me the drama. You don't litigate wars.

This was the best possible outcome.

Tomas said...

@Gabriel: no gotcha intended. Things might be as you describe.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that before John Yoo came along, you would not find Americans arguing about which kinds of waterboarding were OK and which were not.

John McCain today:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54301.html

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas:I guess what I'm trying to say is that before John Yoo came along, you would not find Americans arguing about which kinds of waterboarding were OK and which were not.

Are you done demonstrating your historical ignorance? In earlier times there was no DEBATE. They JUST TORTURED PEOPLE. John Yoo deserves credit for trying to keep coercion in some kind of legal framework; and because you are an ingronat ass who knows nothing about history and refuses to learn, you vilify him when you should be praising him.

http://crookedtimber.org/2007/12/07/torture-in-germany-after-world-war-ii/




The Americans had used methods similar to those employed by the SS in Dachau. … Worse still were the mock executions, where the men were led off in hoods, while their guards told them they were approaching the gallows. Prisoners were actually lifted bodily off the ground to convince them they were about to swing. More conventional methods of torture included kicks to the groin, deprivation of sleep and food and savage beatings. When the Americans set up a commission of inquiry into the methods used by their investigators, they found that, of the 139 cases examined, 137 had “had their testicles permanently destroyed by kicks received from the American War Crimes Investigation team.”

Anyone of any nationality who had had any contact with the Soviet Zone as a deserter, refugee or ex-POW of the Russians and who fell into British or American hands could find himself in one of these interrogation centers, and exposed to appalling brutality. Among these were actual Soviet agents … Their methods included, among other things, savage beatings, starvation, deprivation of sleep, and removal of clothing. Men were kept standing for hours. Some only made it to interrogation on all fours.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas: Does John Yoo have a time machine?

In the conflict generally regarded today as the most ethical in history, World War II, enhanced interrogation techniques were regularly used by the Allies, and senior politicians knew it perfectly well, just as we now discover that Nancy Pelosi did in the early stages of the war against terror. The very success of the D-Day landings themselves can largely be put down to the enhanced interrogation techniques that were visited upon several of the 19 Nazi agents who were infiltrated into Great Britain and “turned” by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) between 1939 and 1945...An SIS secret house located in Ham Common near Richmond on the outskirts of London was the location where the will of those agents was broken, using advanced interrogation techniques that reportedly started with sleep deprivation but went on to gross mental and physical abuse.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Tomas: What you are too stupid to understand, and too ignorant to educate yourself about, is that in the past, whenever America was at war they just did whatever they thought it was necessary to do at the time. If that meant torturing people, so be it.

Because people like John Yoo were trying to PREVENT that, they set up a system where some kinds of coercion, which every one can agree are torture, are totally off the table. And some kinds of coercion, which are debatable, are allowed.

Why is this a more evil system than just letting interrogators do whatever they hell they think they need to--which was the PREVIOUS system?

And if you care so passionately about this issue, why have you bothered to learn nothing about it?

Tomas said...

@Gabriel: Ignoring the ad-hominem attacks ("stupid", "ignorant"), I concede that you do have an interesting and valid argument there: that by authorizing these interrogation techniques, more extreme and clearly immoral treatment was avoided.

I hope this was the case. And yes, if were to be waterboarded, I'd hope it was under John Yoo's rules. But one can also make the argument that when a message comes from the top that some of this treatment is OK, then some folks on the front lines might thing that other, less "legal" treatment is OK too.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/05/04/tortured_logic