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April 21, 2009

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clarice

HEH--I really love you, Tom Maguire.
"
Ahh, so if the captive starts talking it's torture. Helpful. My legal advice to his captors would be to clear the room if the captive clears his throat or otherwise appears to be about to speak."

I think I'll stick with the established definitions and pass on Sully's dementicato one.

Jane

WOW - I'd hate to be a shrink these days.

Cecil Turner

Ahh, so if the captive starts talking it's torture.

Looks to me, by that definition, torture always works.

But this is no dumber than asking the SERE doctor whether waterboarding was legal.

clarice

Yeah--why do I think I've entered the cloakroom of a some brutal British Boys boarding school whenever Sully talks about torture?

daddy

You guys better quit asking Nick or Don or whomever is the troll Du Jour to answer a question. If it answers, you might be guilty of torture.

PeterUK

"Yeah--why do I think I've entered the cloakroom of a some brutal British Boys boarding school whenever Sully talks about torture?"


Oh please Clarice! Don't get him excited,he be digging out his cap and short trousers.

Danube of Thought

OT, but here's an excerpt from a very lengthy and detailed account I just received; it originated from a retired career naval officer in Norfolk, home of the SEAL's that did the rescue:

"MV ALABAMA provided them [the pirates]with a satellite phone. They called home back to 'somebody' in Eyl Somalia(so that we now know where you live) to come out and get them. The 'somebody' in Eyl said they would be out right away with other hostages, like 54 of them from other countries, and that they would be coming out in two of their pirated ships. Right-- and, the tooth fairy will let you have sex with her. Yea, in paradise....
"
The Navy SEAL team, SEAL TEAM SIX, from NSWC briefed the OSC (Commander Castellano, CO BAINBRIDGE) on how they could rescue the captain from the life boat with swimmers--'Combat Swimmers,' per se. That plan was denied by POTUS because it put the captain in danger-- and, involved killing the pirates."

I'll try to condense the whole thing somewhat and post it here if there is any substantial interest.

matt

enhanced interrogation, contingency operations, bail outs, stimulus packages.....Obama is coming up with so many terms with new meanings we're going to need Winston Smith to keep track of it all.....

Bill in AZ

DOT, there is interest... please post what you can.

MayBee

Ahh, so if the captive starts talking it's torture.

Looks to me, by that definition, torture always works.

Conversely, if they never talk, it wasn't torture. Right?

clarice

Ditto, Bill.

Jane

I'm interested too DOT

DrJ

Clarice, check your (rarely-used) gmail account.

Crowe

Heh. Defining a practice into oblivion.

That bit also shows an ignorance on the part of a supposedly intelligent Catholic of what the Inquisition was, at whom it was directed, and why the Church set it up at all. (Hint: it wasn't nearly as diabolical as those who owned the printing presses of the day painted it; and it was setup to save people from unfair treatment at the hands of civil authorities--which it accomplished.)

But don't let historical malpractice get in the way of a conjuring up a bogeyman.

hit and run

Coming Soon: Jake Tapper -- TORTURER!!!!

Charlie (Colorado)

Ah, hell, Tom, the whole thing is nonsense. You start off with a definition that says if the interrogation is sufficient to convince the subject to talk, then it is ipso facto torture.

Thus, "If you talk, I'll give you ice cream" is torture if the person does talk.

At that point, trying to make sense of any of the rest of it is an attempted violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

clarice

Dr J there's nothing in that account. try again and be sure to put a period between the two names.

DrJ

I did that, clarice, and it has not bounced back yet. I'll resend.

PaulL

I'd like to see it, Danube.

PeterUK

Pirates - $80 Million Gulf Connection Laundering the money.

matt

this is an of an e mail I received from someone in Norfolk who has a clue.

1. BHO wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hrs against On Scene Cdr's (OSC)advice.
2. Once on site, BHO imposed restrictive ROE with no action unless hostage's life was in imminent danger.
3. first time hostage escaped, SEAL's had raggie's in sights but could not fire because or ROE's.
4. When Navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, raggies fired upon RIB. No fire was returned because of ROE's.
5. BHO denied 2 rescue plans developed by SEAL team and approved by CO Bainbridge.
6. CO Bainbridge & SEAL team leader decide they have OpArea and OSC authority to determine risk to hostage.
7. 4 hrs later - 3 dead raggies
8. BHO claims credit for "decisive" action.

Guidance from NCA was clear. a peaceful solution was the only acceptable outcome unless hostage's life was in clear, extreme danger.

verner

MORE SLOPPY THINKING: From the D Dish:

Isn't "more sloppy thinking' and "D Dish" rather redundant?

verner

From Andy:
It is to subject captives to such levels of physical or mental pain or suffering that they "have reached the limit of their ability to withhold [information] in the face of psychological and physical hardship." This is, in fact, as close to a definition of torture as you are likely to find.

Gee, I've got it! What we WANT to do is make them feel all cozy and comfy so that they'll never tell us anything! And we can have another city in ruins!

I swear to goodness, why does the Atlantic embarrass itself so. I finally chunked my subscription. They're not morally serious.

sbw

No, DOT, don't post any more. We [tee, hee!] know that it is impossible for combat swimmers to have done that.

[Now I feel badly, ChaCo... but not bad enough to keep the snarky comment to myself. Just because you are wise and right 99.99% of the time doesn't mean we can't tweak you the other 0.01% of the time.]

Cecil Turner

this is an of an e mail I received from someone in Norfolk who has a clue.

Something remarkably similar here. The first commenter echoes my take (i.e., very unlikely).

Chris

Pretty clear why Capt. Phillips thanked those he did and left others off his list.

verner

Are we saving all of Andy's crap for the upcoming show trials?

Between this and the "I supported the USSR taking over Afghanistan, but I think waterboarding is torture" from that Don guy, we're getting some great material.

Reductio Ad Absurdum are the only three words you need against this crew, since they're reson proof and evidence proof.

Charlie (Colorado)

Matt, isn't that story pretty much identical to the previous ones? Can you say how you know this source has a clue? I ask because my poor sources, and Jerry Pournelle's (he's tied in at much higher levels) both don't seem to agree.

SteveMG

if you are prepared to treat the human body and soul as objects for total coercion and control.

I don't think this statement by itself (ignore all of the other ramblings by Sullivan) is that far off. At least for me (yeah, I'm not transcribing someone else's comments).

One of the founding principles of Catholicism is that you cannot treat a human as a means to an end; you must always treat human beings as a complete end, a total human.

If you treat humans - even vile ones - as a means or as something to use for another end or goal, you deny them their humanity. They are no longer humans but things to manipulate.

And if you get to manipulate humans, then you are indeed on a slippery slope.

So, we see these legal memos and their, dare I say? torturous attempts to draw lines and make distinctions. Again and again and again.

I think the Bush Administration made a grievous error.

Not to the level characterized by Sullivan who, after all, thought it was acceptable to abandon Iraq even if genocide ensued.

Genocide okay; abusing 28 terrorists a grave injustice?

Right.

Charlie (Colorado)

BTW, this is interesting: Jane Harman is tearing Holder a new one on MSNBC while Justice is beginning to make noises about not prosecuting the AIPAC guys.

Pofarmer

The idiocy of the left is just astounding.

I'm also getting quite tired of hearing of the Pirate in U.S. Custody referred to as a "Somali teenager."

Gimme a frickin break.

Charlie (Colorado)

SteveMG, it all sounds very pretty, but define your terms. When we make SEALs jump out of airplanes near the Bainbridge, aren't we "using them as means to an end"?

Sue

Good thing I'm not Catholic.

verner

I'm also getting quite tired of hearing of the Pirate in U.S. Custody referred to as a "Somali teenager."

Lakoff baby, Lakoff

verner

if you are prepared to treat the human body and soul as objects for total coercion and control.

ewwww. sexy. Sounds like something on Craigslist.

matt

now Obama is claiming in the London Times we lost our moral bearings under Bush...what a scumbag.

Sue

I haven't lost my moral bearings. And I'm sick and tired of him apologizing on my behalf.

DebinNC

That captured">http://www.smh.com.au/world/smiling-somali-pirate-suspect--in-ny-20090421-adon.html">captured pirate looks a little too chipper to suit me. And I wonder if doctors can prove if he's a teen or lying through his prominent teeth?

Cecil Turner

Yeah, and I'm sorry, but "torture" has a legal meaning (i.e., intentional infliction of severe pain and suffering, or some such). I can't get past the fact that this is virtually identical to SERE school. If it's not torture there (and I can't see any plausible argument that it could be), then . . .

Unlawful combatants are not entitled to POW status, and I'd also dispute their coverage under common article 3. That leave their only protection as the CAT, which protects them against torture (actual torture, not stuff liberals claim might be torture). I'm stuck concluding that this program was perfectly legal. And considering the vast difference in numbers of our own troops that we "train" vs the number of terrorists "tortured," I'm having a hard time even considering the response excessive.

verner

now Obama is claiming in the London Times we lost our moral bearings under Bush...what a scumbag.


On what basis does he make that claim?

SteveMG

SteveMG, it all sounds very pretty, but define your terms. When we make SEALs jump out of airplanes near the Bainbridge, aren't we "using them as means to an end"?

They volunteered, though, didn't they?

This is about using human beings against their will (my oversight for failing to add that important qualifier) as a means towards another end. As material, inanimate objects, things to manipulate for something else.

Humans as means and not a complete end.

It's more than pretty words, it goes to the very heart of what it means to be a human.

Yeah, vile humans; but still humans.

jr565

Wouldnt any interrogation that gets a subject to talk be torture then under Sully's demented logic?
If the army field manual got the terrorists to divulge info he heretofore didn't want to divulge, then he was in fact tortured.

Sue

Deb,

It would truly be ironic if they find that Obama is guilty of violating the rules of the high seas, or in Capt'n Jack's world, parlay.

matt

SteveMg;

While you have a point, I don't think it is valid in the case of these terrorists. Mohammed bragged of his responsibility for the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11. His colleagues were also avowed terrorists who had already committed murder. Thus they were already outside the pale.

The Bible certainly does not offer blanket immunity for those in direct contravention of its teachings, nor does the Koran. Even in the early days of the church, civil authorities used what we consider to be barbaric means to maintain control. Despite its explicit mention in the New Testament, crucifixion itself was not condemned, but was rather only described as one of the many horrific practices popular at the time.

Rather, society has evolved and with it the definitions of torture and mayhem.

matt

re: Somali teenager

at least they're not referring to him as a Somali cab driver.

jr565

Steve, wasn't Jesus Christs sacrifice a means to an end?

Isn't putting someone in jail a means to an

Charlie (Colorado)

SBW, I realize it's now as pointless as trying to remind people that it really wasn't a plastic turkey, but when I say a particular scheme is hare-brained, it really don't mean that all possible schemes of any sort were hare-brained.

SteveMG

Isn't putting someone in jail a means to an

But that jailing (the means) isn't being used against the person to extract confession or evidence of other crimes (or another end). To be sure, we threaten someone with a prison sentence if they don't give us evidence, testify, et cetera.

So, this is where Sullivan's definition of torture goes off rails. Using his measure, the threat of long term imprisonment against a suspect (causing mental anguish or pain since he'll be away from his family) who then plea bargains constitutes torture.

No, Sullivan.

Plus, we've established a large array of due process instruments and procedures that we must use before handing down that punishment.

And this isn't just Catholic teaching. We've tried to apply it - often failing - to the entire history of Western civilization and the respect for the individual.

Yeah, I'm floundering with my argument, aren't I?

Abner

What can one say about Andrew Sullivan that hasn't already been said of other fruit loops. His former mentor has broken with him over his increasingly open anti-Semitism, and has expressed regrets to his associates for ever having brought Sully into American journalism.

Clearly, the guy has become a drooling, blithering moron....and a very flatulent one at that!

SteveMG

His former mentor has broken with him over his increasingly open anti-Semitism, and has expressed regrets to his associates for ever having brought Sully into American journalism.

Really? Is that Peretz? Or Wieseltier?

Or someone else? I hadn't heard that.

jr565

Steve wrote:
They volunteered, though, didn't they?

This is about using human beings against their will (my oversight for failing to add that important qualifier) as a means towards another end. As material, inanimate objects, things to manipulate for something else.
Terrorists volunteered to be terrorists too though. So as part of their mission they get to kill people, blow things up, chop off peoples heads, wage war against the infidel. Do they ask those people whether they volunteered to be victims? No. So, its already established that they have no problems using peoples as means to their ends, even if its against their will. Are we not allowed to respond to such actions and thwart them? To defend ourselves againt them? To kill them back? Are they not, in volunteering to be killers for their cause also opening themselves up to be targets of those who don't necessarily want to be killed? He whol lives by the sword, dies by the sword? You seem to think they should be able to live by the sword, but never have to suffer the consequences of potentially dying by the sword. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. I'm sure they don't want to be captured and have to divulge information. Why is that relevant? And why is it only an issue with the aggressor in your mind?

Jane

I'm also getting quite tired of hearing of the Pirate in U.S. Custody referred to as a "Somali teenager."

With those teeth he bears a striking resemblance to nearly every Boston Marathon winner in the last decade. When I saw him on TV I was expecting to see a wreath on his head.

ben

Count me in as one who thinks Sullivan gets too much press, he should be ignored just for the fact he calls himself a conservative. For that intellectual dishonesty alone he should get the award for most despicable blogger and then put out to pasture.

SteveMG

Are we not allowed to respond to such actions and thwart them? To defend ourselves againt them?

This is about torture or abusing them. Not holding them in jail. Or even killing them on the battlefield.

It's about stripping them of their humanity. Clearly, if you read the memos the OLC lawyers had these thoughts in mind while they outlined the interrogation techniques they thought were permissible.

Why do we even have limits on how to treat these prisoners? Why were the lawyers studying the law and trying to determine what was legal and what not?

Because we live by Western standards of morality and a respect for the individual; not a radical Islamic standard.

jr565

StevenMG also wrote:
"This is about using human beings against their will (my oversight for failing to add that important qualifier) as a means towards another end. As material, inanimate objects, things to manipulate for something else."


To me this is a really flimsy argument, because it actually argues against any form of interrogation or imprisonment whatsoever, and would make things like holding someone for the duration of hostilities (which is common even under the Geneva Conventions) to be an evil act. Having to endure waterboarding I'm sure is not someone's preference, but then again neither is being interrogated by the army field manual which is AGAINST THEIR WILL, and neither is jailing them which is also AGAINST THEIR WILL and neither is killing them while in the midst of carrying out their objectives which is AGAINST THEIR WILL. suppose someone is about to to set off a bomb. Him not being able to set off said bomb is against his will. Him being killed is against his will. But is that a relevant consideration if we don't want him to set off that bomb?

ben

"Somali teenager."

Goes with Chavez as "gift bearing friend".

Fresh Air

Listening to Andrew Sullivan read his blog posts out loud is my definition of torture. Actually, even having to read excerpts of them here at JoM is pretty close to the line for me.

ben

"It's about stripping them of their humanity."

You are concerned with the "humanity" of people who hijack airplanes with innocent people and fly them into buildings with more innocent people? I am concerned about the humanity of the people who are the victims. It's a measure of how liberals have been successful in turning discourse away from preventing terrorism to how terrorists should be treated.

JM Hanes

One can certainly disagree with the position SteveMG is endorsing here, but that doesn't mean he's not accurately describing Catholic doctrine and its logical application in this case. While I am not Catholic myself, I would assume that's what confession and redemption -- which are offered even to the most heinous of men -- are all about. Is it not also why a priest is bound not to share anything he learns in the confessional?

SteveMG

You are concerned with the "humanity" of people who hijack airplanes with innocent people and fly them into buildings with more innocent people?

You're making my point.

I'm concerned both about our humanity as well as their humanity.

By denying them their humanity - a dangerous power we are giving the state - you are saying we can do whatever we want with them. After all, they're not humans.

That's a grave error.

This isn't about "liberals" corrupting things. This is about long held Western traditions and thinking about the dignity of the individual.

Yes, even the dignity of humans who do evil things.

Patrick R. Sullivan

A caller to the Dennis Miller show today, suggested that we apply the Salem Witch Trials standard;if the waterboardee drowns, he wasn't a terrorist.

Danube of Thought

I'm very weary of the squabbles over what is or is not torture. Waterboarding is waterboarding, and it is neither more nor less defensible according to whether you can fit it into some definition of "torture." The word itself is so loaded that it is worse than useless in the debate about the various techniques at issue.

Let me put it this way: If you had asked me my views about torture ten years ago, I would have said that it is always and everywhere wrong. If you later provided me a definition of the term that included, say, waterboarding, I would no longer say that. I would say that torture, under your definition, is not wrong when it consists of waterboarding for the purpose of gathering intelligence to protect against a very real threat to innocent life.

Danube of Thought

I am working on paring down that very lengthy e-mail I received about the rescue operation, and will post it when I've got it down.

I also received the one Matt posted, but I didn't credit it very much. I think we kicked it around here a few days ago.

Thomas Collins

If the purpose of waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques is to save innocent life, it is not at all clear that such use violates Catholic doctrine. See LUN for an interesting discussion on this issue.

I am not asserting that Catholic doctrine, or any other religious doctrine, should control in the detrmination of which types of interrogation techniques may be permitted. But because there appears to be some discussion of this issue on this thread (I believe generated by a SteveMG post, which I might add would be more readily accessible now if Typhus Pad didn't split up posts), I thought the LUN might be of interest.

Thomas Collins

Whoops! Make that "determination."

matt

DoT;

I would agree about the veracity to an extent as we never know unless we see the operational history, which has not been released by the Navy or White House. This is in itself unusual in such an operation, as government usually wants to cover itself with as much glory as possible.

However, it sounds logical. Trigger pullers are at the mercy of their CO's all the way up the chain of command, as it should be. However, we have in this country a history of micromanagement by Command Authority that allows the questions to be raised.

There was an opportunity to take action when Captain Philips jumped in the water the first time, but no action was taken. The SEAL team was on site for at least 2 days prior to the engagement, so would most likely have had the opportunity to end the incident.

I had to laugh at some of the comments on the previous post, as SEAL's have incredible endurance, can shoot out a gnat's eye at 300 yards in the dark in a heaving ocean, and amazing tools available to accomplish their mission. Believe me, they had the means and the tools at their disposal to get under the lifeboat and kill the pirates without their knowledge.

matt

make that thread

tryptic

Remind me again why we care what emanates from that diseased mind that sits atop A. Sullivan's shoulders?

jr565

SteveMG wrote:
This is about torture or abusing them. Not holding them in jail. Or even killing them on the battlefield.No, this was about getting information from people who planned operations that killed thousands so as to prevent further operations that would kill thousands more.

It's about stripping them of their humanity. Clearly, if you read the memos the OLC lawyers had these thoughts in mind while they outlined the interrogation techniques they thought were permissible. Steve, we have people captured that have information, vital to our security who do not want to give up said information and are trained to not give up information. If the lawyers wanted to strip them of their humanity, it was so that they would then provide us with needed information that would save lives. KSM definitely knows information about other people in Al Qaeda. Definitively. Being the chief logistical planner he KNOWS definitively about any upcoming operations, that if carried out successfuly WILL kill people in excruciating ways. Any interrogation is not just to make them feel pain or humiliate them but to get them to provide the needed details. And the principle would hold even if they were just using the army field manual. They need to coerce information out of people that don't want to divulge said info. That will necessarily then be against their will.
And if you read the memos they went out of their way to find ways that reduced damage or qualifications whereas they couldn't use techniques on said detainees that crossed over the line. For example, they introduced a technique to slam someone against the wall, but then also introduced something they would wrap around the persons head so that they didn't infact inflict undue damage, and they made the slamming sound louder so that it seemed that it was worse than it was, while they were in fact minimizing actual damage. They put insects in one guys room because he was afraid of insects, but then determined that they had to in fact tell him that they were not harmful so as to not cross a line. Do you think that when Al Qaeda captures a detainee that they have such qualifications. Did you ever see Nick Berg get his head chopped off? I don't recall seeing any interoffice memos about how that might be crossing a line for Al Qaeda. Yet, libs like yourself keep equating us doing our best to minimize harm on detainees and only using enhanced techniques when the default techniques failed with things like decapitations. It's frankly obscene of you to even make such comparisons.
And while we're on the subject. Suppose we need to interrogate a prisoner and have used the field manual and he doesn't cooperate. In other words, standard interrogations failed. But we are reasonably certain that he has information about upcoming plans because he is a high level target. Can you envision anything we could do that you wouldn't construe as torture? I frankly don't understand why in your mind any interrogation whatsoever wouldn't be torture since those being interrogated don't like being in that position and we are simply treating them as a means to an end.
Why do we even have limits on how to treat these prisoners? Why were the lawyers studying the law and trying to determine what was legal and what not? Because we recognize that there is a line and we don't want to cross it, but also recognize that we need to get information from some high level targets that if we don't could lead to the deaths of hundreds/thousands. But this is also why we have safeguards built into any interrogations. And the memos released are nothing but exceptions preventing the very torture that you say we are commiting. Does Al Qaeda have any such memos preventing them from sawing off someones head? But in your mind even raising the temperature in a room after all other means have failed is the equivalent to chopping off someone's head. And actually here's a question. What was Nick Berg even interrogated about? He wasn't. They just chopped off his head.

Because we live by Western standards of morality and a respect for the individual; not a radical Islamic standard.Again, you're the one equating what we did which was nowhere near as brutal, done within the confines of trying to save lives and prevent further attacks versus simply chopping someones head off. Get some damn context,man. We make such distinctions in life all the time.
If you are pulling someones teeth out becuase you want to hurt them you're a sadist. If you pull someone's tooth out because its a needed surgery you're a dentist. The dentist though is applying novocaine, only pulling teeth out that need pulling for the good of the patient. Interrogators, whatever their methods are not torturers simply because you say so,because those being interrogated don't like to be there. Such distinctions shouldn't have to be explained to moral people. Even in Christianity which has rules against murder there is the concept of a just war (which also requires killing people).

boris

"Because we live by Western standards of morality"

The procedures used do not fall outside of the physical challenges demanded of our own soldiers. It is ridiculous to then claim they are too dehumanizing to employ against unlawful combatants who have commited war crimes in order to prevent further atrocities.

Our standards of morality include this for training. On that basis what possible case can be made to exclude them against terrorists to prevent mass murder?

boris

Check

bad

Another tortured thread...

Pofarmer

but that doesn't mean he's not accurately describing Catholic doctrine and its logical application in this case.

Which is why, as someone married to a Catholic, I think a lot of what their faith is based on is asinine.

No, I don't plan on converting.

JM Hanes

DoT:

Greyhawk over at Mudville Gazette took a long look at the circulating email(s) that mentioned "raggies" and thinks it's bogus. There's more piracy stuff on the Mudville main page too, although I haven't given it a rundown yet.

boris

JMH, Greyhawk is commenting on the scuttlebutt that's been bouncing around for about a week. Matt reposted a version earlier in this thread.

DoT seems to have something different.

Kyle

And The Atlantic allows itself to be connected to this tripe--good lord, it makes his TrigTruther stuff look like scholarly research.

SteveMG

Which is why, as someone married to a Catholic, I think a lot of what their faith is based on is asinine.

This isn't just Catholic doctrine; this is the very foundation of Western tradition and the sanctity of the individual.

Granted, we haven't always lived by that standard; but it's one that we've promoted.

The individual simply cannot be treated like a thing - plastic - to be used for whatever purpose we want.

It is, after all, why the lawyers were trying to figure out what was acceptable legally and what not. Because we've developed laws on what is permissible and what is not permissible treatment of people we hold.

Unless one wants to argue that we can do whatever we want with them? Full blown torture. Auto-da-fe? The rack? Cutting off limbs?

jr565

Stevemg wrote:
You're making my point.

I'm concerned both about our humanity as well as their humanity.


Being concerned about their humanity is an abstract concept, very hard to quantify in actual terms. And that is also not the only consideration. Considering terrorists do things like kill people in horrific ways. Particularly those who work in Al Qaeda. So there is the very practical consideration of preventing them from carrying out such actions.

By denying them their humanity - a dangerous power we are giving the state - you are saying we can do whatever we want with them. After all, they're not humans.


Except the details released showed time and time and again that we couldn't do anything we wanted to them. There were exceptions upon exceptions upon exceptions to any and all techniques. Waterboarding was only used on three targets. and only when traditional interrogation failed. You have to answer how we deal with preventing people from murdering others can be accomplished when the mechanism we have in place doesnt work, and explain how those mechanisms don't similarly violate the idea that we are using them as a means to an end and violating their humanity.

This isn't about "liberals" corrupting things. This is about long held Western traditions and thinking about the dignity of the individual.

Yes, even the dignity of humans who do evil things.

Suppose there was word that a hostage in Iraq named Nick Berg had been kidnapped and was going to be executed the following day and you happened to capture someone in Al Qaeda who most likely had key details about said execution? What means would you use to extract information from said detainee so that you could potentially save Nick Berg's life? Or would you say the dignity of the detainee is more important than saving Nick Bergs life and if we need to bloody our hands in the least that we are instantly as bad as the terorrists who are about to chop off his head. You may say us interogating the detainee, perhaps even harshly, devalues his humanity, but I would argue that not trying to get said information devalues Nick Bergs humanity. and you by trying to remain pure are still carrying out an even greater evil by letting Nick Berg pay with his life for your moral purity.I don't see how your choice is all that moral. Now factor in things like trying to stop the next 9/11 which might lead to the deaths of thousands and having someone who is the key planner for 9/11 in your custody who,NECESSARILY also knows about other plans in the works or other people in his organization. Isn't in incumbent on you to actually get information from him so that others don't die? So then, please propose how you would do so while at the same time perfectly safeguarding his humanity? The only way is to get him to provide the information to you. Since he wont do so voluntarily you have to coerce it out of him by some means.

cathyf
Ah, hell, Tom, the whole thing is nonsense. You start off with a definition that says if the interrogation is sufficient to convince the subject to talk, then it is ipso facto torture.

Thus, "If you talk, I'll give you ice cream" is torture if the person does talk.

Which brings us to the other silliness argued, which is that since the Geneva Conventions outlaw torture, everything that the Geneva Conventions outlaw is torture. Because, in fact, for a lawful combatant prisoner -- i.e. an actual POW -- it is against the Geneva Conventions to ask for anything beyond name, rank and serial number. So, in fact, offering a POW ice cream for talking is a violation of the GC, so, QED it must be torture!

jr565

SteveMG wrote:
It is, after all, why the lawyers were trying to figure out what was acceptable legally and what not. Because we've developed laws on what is permissible and what is not permissible treatment of people we hold.

Unless one wants to argue that we can do whatever we want with them? Full blown torture. Auto-da-fe? The rack? Cutting off limbs?



Doesn't the fact that lawyers argued about the lines that we can or cannot cross necessarily suggest that we are behaving more properly than the terrorists? Then why, time and again are you suggesting our actions are the same and we are as bad as they? They do not have lawyers arguing about such niceties. and despite the arguments to the contrary we in fact refrained from chopping off limbs, full blown torture, the rack etc.
Boris mentioned that we use waterboarding as part of our SERE Training. Would we use the rack, full blown torture,chopping off of limbs as training? Of course not.Because those things are definitevely torture. Waterboarding, in the confines of training is a necessary evil, and not even an evil but a necessary routine to get them to graduate.

JM Hanes

cathyf:

You hit the nail on the head. That's precisely what is so bizarre about the Geneva Conventions argument! Most of the folks who make it couldn't possibly have read the salient section, which includes giving prisoners scrip to use at the canteen, specifying that officers get different digs than grunts, and on and on. Gonzales got tarred for using the word quaint to describe the collected provisions. Anybody without a political agenda who took the time to look for themselves, could hardly help but agree.

Fred

Yes, it all makes sense to me now. Subjecting terrorists to watch MSNBC and/or CNN non-stop until they break really is torture.

jr565

Further SteveMG wrote:
"The individual simply cannot be treated like a thing - plastic - to be used for whatever purpose we want."


Except that is not happening. We are not using KSM for medical research, or as a pinata, or picking him up off the street because we don't like Arabs. The purpose is limited. He is a member of a terrorist organization which carried out operations that killed people who has been captured. And he has information we need to get so that more people don't get killed. It's as simple as that. If he provides said information willingly, which he didn't, then there would be no reason to interrogate him further as unlike him and his organiation we are not torturers. However,because he refuses to divulge information and has been trained to withstand interrogations and knows our tactics we need to find other means, still within the boudns of deceny to break him. You're arguing straw man argument upon straw man argument and suggesting things that haven't occured and noone has even suggested should occur.

SteveMG

Then why, time and again are you suggesting our actions are the same and we are as bad as they?

Sorry, I'm not sure what posts you're reading but nowhere did I say that our actions were the same as the terrorists.

Not once, much less "time and againg."

Or that we were as bad as they are.

Where are you getting this from?

The issue on the table, again, is the danger in treating human beings as "things" to be manipulated in favor of a larger goal.

Those people who think we can treat them as means towards an end are not only disagreeing with me, they're disagreeing with the Bush Administration and the lawyers who developed the interrogation techniques.

They recognized the limits of what we could do with these terrorists.

My argument is that the limits they developed were insufficient.

SteveMG

You're arguing straw man argument upon straw man argument and suggesting things that haven't occured and noone has even suggested should occur.

You've misrepresented my arguments four times now and claimed I said things I didn't so I'll just move on.

Fresh Air

My argument is that the limits they developed were insufficient.

And this is absurd on its face. A JAG lawyer has to approve every interrogation, and of all the dozens of high-value detainees three are selected for our harshest tactic. This tactic causes no long-term physical pain, does no lasting physical damage and only in 4 percent of the cases studied even causes long-term mental stress. How are these limits not restrictive enough?

In what world are you living? These are murderous scumbags who could easily have been given a field trial and shot on the battlefield. Instead of hanging them from piano wire, we give them three squares and a Koran with its own individual hammock to keep it free of infidel fingerprints, plus Fish Amandine on Sundays. Strip them of their humanity? More like improve their standard of living dramatically.

boris

"the danger in treating human beings as "things" to be manipulated in favor of a larger goal"

If this were an argument about harvesting organs that argument could apply.

Forcing a person to give up information against their will is not a "things" argument.

Suppose there was a type of MRI that could be used with a harmless drug to extract life saving intel from terrorists. A sort of mind reader. The "patient" would not even remember the procedure.

Would the "things" argument still apply? If so then the argument is not realistic.

jr565

Stevemg wrote:
The issue on the table, again, is the danger in treating human beings as "things" to be manipulated in favor of a larger goal.

Those people who think we can treat them as means towards an end are not only disagreeing with me, they're disagreeing with the Bush Administration and the lawyers who developed the interrogation techniques.

I agree with the concept entirely as an abstraction. When it comes to real world applications though it's not sufficient in and of itself. Everyone who is a human is a human. So its a distinction without distinction. But do you recognize that there are sometimees we need to interrogate people? Using your argument we couldn't even interrogate people let alone go to war with them, let alone have police officers carrying out law enforcement, let alone have govts making decisions that affect peoples lives.
If you acknowledge that we need to interrogate certain prisoners then there will be a certain wrestling with proper lines to cross and not to cross when it comes to achieving necessary results in the most humane means possible.That however, was done by the govt who wragled back and forth over and over again about what should and should not be allowed. And in many cases they refused to cross said lines. Now you may not like where they ultimately determined the line to be, but its a line of much finer distinction than our enemies ever draw, and if part of your objective is to deal with people who are completey unscrupulous and ruthless in achieving their objectives, it may not be realistic that we can be completely pure in completing our objectives. Many libs say WWII is the only just war. Despite that we killed thousands, we bombed cities, sent people to their deaths, even used nukes. Yet its still considered a just war.
And determinations are made all the time about choosing the lesser of two evils in wars.
Even if you say we should only use the army field manual and not resort to waterboarding that is still recognizing that we may need to interrogate people and coerce information out of them. How does that not also deprive them of their human dignity or not treat them as objects to be manipulated? Unless you are saying that we can never interrogate prisoners you'd have to make some compromises and weigh the various moral balances as to what you're trying to achieve versus what means you need to employ.
And in the case of using traditional interrogation techniques, it's clear that they weren't actually producing the needed results. Al Qaeda is trained to withstand interrogation using the field manual. Then the consideration becomes how do we get information from high valued targets, or during ticking bomb scenarios, where the outcome of not getting information is even more potentially devastating while at the same time not going too far. It's a fine line, agreed. But its made absurd by the anti torture absolutists arguing anything beyond the field manual is torture.

SteveMG

In what world are you living? These are murderous scumbags who could easily have been given a field trial and shot on the battlefield

Sorry, this is the type of "I don't care what we do with them" thinking that is an attack on the very traditions of Western morality and treatment of the individual.

Your argument isn't with me; it's against the Western canon and traditions.

Think about what you're saying.


SteveMG

Forcing a person to give up information against their will is not a "things" argument.

C'mon Boris, you're too smart to post something like that.

Why do we have laws against the police using such practices?

Why do we have as a fundamental right against self-incrimination?

These aren't just constitutional rights we give to American citizens. They are based on long-standing Western tradition developed over hundreds of years after monarch and Popes engaged in the practice of coerced confessions.

clarice

I wish I could name who I wanted to handle the thugs they thing might harm me.If I could it'd be people like Cheney and not Mother Teresa or The Won.

Thomas Collins

See LUN for what I believe is the latest Obama statement on prosecutions for certain interrogation techniques.

Sue

Think about what you're saying.

I think we've all thought about it and came to a different conclusion than you. Harsh interrogation techniques, that have been used on our own troops in training, being equated with torture is ludicrous. To some of us, anyway. I don't think you will talk us off the ledge you see us on.

sfcmac

Obama won't prosecute anyone, because he can't.
Aside from the fact that several members of the Democratic Party knew about the interrogation methods, Obama knows that if he allows prosecution he will have to release the classified information gleaned from the interrogations, which will prove they were sucessful. Instead, he'll try to politicize the intelligence because the truth would be inconvenient. The whole attempt to blame Bush and denounce what turned out to be productive interrogations, will blow up in his face.

Liberal pansies like Sullivan are so wrapped around the axle over the poor, hapless muslim terrorists. There's a few things they overlooked: What got them a trip to GITMO and the knowlege of terrorist plots endangering thousands of people. I get their mindset, though: Leaving them to commit acts of terrorism is okay, using methods to extract that information, is "immoral". That's a good example of "moral relativism".

Until they were caught, they were in the process of killing as many infidels as possible for “Allah”.
I can't seem to muster up a whole lot of sympathy.

I don’t give a sh*t if they have to force feed a terrorist scumbag an ocean full of water to get information. The tactic works. It saves American lives.

Sue

Obama said he was not proposing that another investigation be launched, but if it happens it should be done in a way that does not "provide one side or another political advantage but rather is being done in order to learn some lessons so that we move forward in an effective way."

Excuse me while I laugh. This is purely political and anyone who believes otherwise is drinking the koolaid.

Cecil Turner

Sorry, this is the type of "I don't care what we do with them" thinking that is an attack on the very traditions of Western morality and treatment of the individual.

Sorry, just not so. Highwaymen, pirates, and spies (to name a few) have long been held to be outside the protections of common men (or even common criminals). Unlawful combatants fall in this category as well, and are customarily treated to summary justice. That's as much a part of Western morality as the rest of the laws of war.

These aren't just constitutional rights we give to American citizens. They are based on long-standing Western tradition . . .

Again, you're citing civil law. That's no more applicable to combatants than habeas corpus is. Detention for the duration (without trial) is the standard for enemy soldiers, not trial by jury before confinement.

Danube of Thought

Thanks JMH--I haven't seen those yet, but will take a look. The guy who talks about "raggies" seems a bit off to me, as I guess I said.

"The SEAL team was on site for at least 2 days prior to the engagement, so would most likely have had the opportunity to end the incident." It would certainly seem so if that were the case. It does appear that the SEALs had reached Boxer by that time, but I'm not sure when or how they got over to Bainbridge--probably by a number of helo lifts.

Danube of Thought

The reason we have laws preventing police from using these techniques is that the police do so for the purpose of obtaining confessions. That's a very different issue from using them to gather vital intelligence.

Fresh Air

Sue--

No, no. According to SteveMG, there's evidently a whole Western canon of failing to extract information from evildoers--a veritable Harold Bloom dictionary full of "pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top" techniques. It started five minutes after Socrates drank the hemlock, interrupted once or twice for the Romans.

Extraneus

I'd bet that just about every subject of the so-called tortures could have simply been shot on the battlefield and nobody would have raised an eyebrow. Besides, the left are obvious hypocrites. They happily support torturers like Castro, Chavez, Ortega, and even head choppers as long as they insult Bush. They were big fans of Hitler and Mussolini back in the day, and had a soft spot for Stalin, too. They'd just as soon torture most of the people on this group before those guys, and probably do so in the privacy of their dreams every night. The only difference is that they've never considered the terrorists to be their real enemies, so they feel empathy with their enemy's enemy.

If the Muslim terrorists registered as Republicans, this whole subject would be dropped.

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