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April 21, 2009


Molon Labe

How tortuous can waterboarding be when every dirty socialist protest group in the world has reenacted it on themselves?


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.

Posted by: SteveMG | April 21, 2009 at 08:23 PM

Hmmm... I thought "wester tradition" went back farther than 300 years. In fact all of the arguments that you are making are based on enlightenment ideas that were total very novel until about 250 years ago. So, please to claim that the argument you are making goes back to the foundations of Western civilization.

Kind of ironic that those who seem most excized by the idea of torture are often the same people who argue most strongly against the "universal truths" of the enlightenment. (Not that I am say you are Steve, but just an observation about the PoMo movement, which claims there is no truth and not "universal" morality.)

BTW, the http://www.kriminalmuseum.rothenburg.de/Englisch/page1.html>German Crime Museum dedicates over half of it's space to various "legitimate" forms of tortue used to extract confessions from criminals before roughly 1700.

Thomas Collins

I am hoping Obama misspoke. I know folks on all sides of this issue have strong and heartfelt views, but I think that Yoo and the other lawyers dealing with this did the legal profession proud. Please remember that the question after 9/11 was not whether there was going to be another attack soon, but whether the attack was going to be a radiological bomb, suitcase nuke, attack on a natural gas facility, or some other type of attack designed to maximize the loss of innocent life (that is, innocent in the minds of every American not of the Ward Churchill-type mentality). I would go even further. Some folks have argued that the interrogations were in derogation of our constitutional principles. I respectfully assert that if Bush had prevented waterboarding and the other techniques detailed in the memos Obama released, Bush would have been in breach of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution. Essential to a constitutional form of government is that "We, the People" can go about our daily business reasonably secure in the belief that the government is vigorously combating attempts to destroy the polity. Given al-Qaeda's operations, I would argue that Yoo and the other lawyers developed, and Bush adopted, a narrowly tailored response to the threat to the polity.


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.

No, I'm citing Western tradition and morality re the treatment of individuals. I'm not even arguing that the White House broke the law. Or that this was torture.

Take this out of the legal realm and discuss the moral/ethical argument.

As we've read in the memos, the lawyers went over the statutes and tried to ascertain what was permissible and what was not. What constituted torture and what didn't.

That's because we've developed a code of law based on our concept of acceptable treatment of individuals. We recognize that we can't do whatever we want - humans as means - towards whatever ends we desire.

You recognize this too by citing laws and conventions. That's because you recognize implicitly if not explicitly the limits we place on the treatment of these human beings.

The really specious argument that they did terrible things therefore we don't have to think about our traditions and values is one I reject. It's a potentially dangerous view even though the proponents are well-meaning.

I think you too.

Again, I reject the view proposed by others that because these evil humans did evil things that we can use them for whatever purpose we want. Even if that purpose is a good one.

Of course, it's one the Bush Administration rejected too since they tried to abide by the laws we have restricting the use of human as a means.


TC, very nicely put.


There's a disconnect among thejournolister. Cheney is their dark vizier. The Pobedeste nevStolypin to W.s Alexander 111, or
Cardinal Richelieu. as such he was in close contact with those who drafted those memos, and provided imput into these decision. So why wouldn't he have a very solid
understanding of the work product resulting from this work. I don't have any qualms about anything done to KSM, who planned 9/11
and executed Daniel Pearl, Abu Zubeydah was
more the personnel manager for AQ, not entirely sane, but who would be in that circumstance. Quahtani who would have turned that corner of D.C, into a charnel house, doesn't win my sympathy,


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.

Yes, there is indeed a Western tradition of respect for the dignity of the individual.

And a belief that there are limits that the state can do in dealing with that individual.

And that even vile evil humans must be treated with some level of dignity.

That's what this debate is about. Where we draw lines.

Unless one thinks that there shouldn't be lines draw?

In which case, you need to take your argument to the Bush Administration as well as me.



We are talking about the harsh interrogation techniques described in the memo. Not some hypothetical that would take us into the realm of torture. Obviously, we don't think water boarding is torture. You should stop arguing on whether we support torture and make the argument specific to what occurred. I support the techniques used to garner the information needed to stop another attack. Had they put them on a rack, ripped their fingernails out, stuck hot coals to their feet, I might, might mind you, cringe. It. Didn't. Happen. And if you believe water boarding and walling is torture, you should be asking yourself why our troops are being tortured and why you aren't lobbying to have that torture taken out of US military training.


"That's because we've developed a code of law based on our concept of acceptable treatment of individuals."

And we met it. Case closed. Because if we could have done whatever we wanted to KSM and A-Z, my choice would have been to give them to the NYPD and the FDNY with the directive to get medieval. There would not have been a greasy spot left.

Instead, you and your cohorts rest on moving goalposts and reductio ad absurdum. You present a virtuous ideal of "civilization" that has never existed here or anywhere else. Ever. Read your history bud.

You say that torture doesn't work.

We call your lie and produce evidence that it does.

Then you say, well, they give some false information.

We say, DUH.

Then you say, it's against our principles to torture.

And we counter, yeah, tell it to the 14,000 service personnel who the government has done the very same thing to!

Grow up and get real.

We don't give a shit about "ideal" virtue. we live in the real world, and we're quite virtuous enough, thank you.

Is it worth waterboarding KSM 5 times in order to save LA from getting hit with a plane like NYC? Are you fucking kidding me?


ChaCo, I understand your differentiation and I almost resisted the snipe, but it was cheap and easy.


Yes, there is indeed a Western tradition of respect for the dignity of the individual.

And a belief that there are limits that the state can do in dealing with that individual.

And that even vile evil humans must be treated with some level of dignity.

That's what this debate is about. Where we draw lines.

Unless one thinks that there shouldn't be lines draw?

In which case, you need to take your argument to the Bush Administration as well as me.

Posted by: SteveMG | April 21, 2009 at 09:05 PM

Well, then please explain to us why waterboarding crosses that line. We're not talking about putting someone on the rack, or even using the cat-o-nine tails on them. We're talking about a proceedure that was chosen because there is extensive clinical evidence that it causes no long term harm.

You seem to be saying that you have no problem interogating them, you just don't want to cross the line. Ok, where is that line in your view? And, remember, that if we do it to our own servicemembers as a form of training, then it will be hard to explain to many of us why it suddenly becomes torture when applied to anyone else.


I have a son going to college in LA,so I say dunk them again and deeper if necessary.Hey but I'm just a mom who loves her kid more than the dry headed terrorist


Well, then please explain to us why waterboarding crosses that line.

This goes far beyond waterboarding.

Read this, then come back: ICRC">http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22614">ICRC Report.

This, for me, is treating them as a means and not an end.

Even if the intent was a good end.


The New York Review of Books.

Why don't you go back and read what they said about the Soviet Union back in the day.

Danner is a tool, and so are you.


Audio of Fred Thompson on interrogation and torture memos from The Corner.

Boy oh boy is he pissed!



Take this out of the legal realm and discuss the moral/ethical argument.

Legal, ethical, whatever, its just a stupid argument.

Waterboarding is defined as SIMULATED torture. It ain't torture, no many how many lefties stamp their little feet or flap their big ears about it. There were no lines crossed. We didn't even contemplate crossing any lines. It was judiciously debated if we should get even this distantly far from crossing any line. I'd say we can go quite a bit farther before things devolved into torture, except for reading this thread and tortured logic coming from SteveMG. Most people have had quite enough of this debate. It's not even a dog and pony show at this point. It's more like midgets juggling Gerbils or something.


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

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

Short answer: for citizens government serves the people. With terrorists government protects the citizens.

Police would not be allowed to use my hypothetical MRI mind reader technology on criminal suspects.

I claim your argument wrt terrorists might work for harvesting their organs but not for extracting intel in an essentially harmless fashion. Citizen rights are not comparable.


This, for me, is treating them as a means and not an end.

Then you should be prepared to not care when the next hit comes. You should be prepared to admit that the lives of your fellow citizens mean less to you than not having to read a biased report from the ICRC. You should be able to say that even though Bush/Cheney stopped another attack by using those techniques, it doesn't matter to you if you have to hear Obama say we lost our moral compass. Myself, I'm stil not bothered that they used harsh interrogation techniques that prevented another attack.


This about sums it up for me.

T. B. Bechtel, a City Councilor from Newcastle, Australia, was asked on a local live radio talk show, just what he thought about the allegations of torture of suspected terrorists. His reply prompted his ejection from the studio, but to thunderous applause from the audience.

'If hooking up one raghead terrorist prisoner's testicles to a car battery to get the truth out of the lying little camel shagger will save just one Australian life, then I have only three things to say, 'Red is positive, Black is negative, and Make sure his nuts are wet.'


Go Fred!


Fred's outrage that O has thrown the interrogators under the bus matches mine, biut contraty to a friend with him I've been having this dispute, I do not believe Holder would dare institute prosecutions against these people..


The "things" argument seems to claim that using captured terrorists as guinea pigs in harmless psychological experiments would be wrong. Yes?

Most people might even agree.

But even the most mundane interrogation techniques exploit psychological methods. Therefore practically everything violates the "things" morality.

The difference between experiment and interrogation is that most will apply the "things" morality to experiment but won't apply it to interrogation. Which means that either there is a significant difference or the "things" morality is false.

I say there is no significant difference. So I would justify psychologial experiments on terrorists before I would abandon psychologial interrogation.


Clarice the problem with your theory is who would of thought Obama would have dared to pass such huge spending packages or fire the CEO of a private company,or kick children out of the school his own kids go to,or require the covering of Christian symbols before he gives a speech.He has already done a lot of stuff we didn't think he would dare to do

Fresh Air

Make sure his nuts are wet.

Now that's good quality torture. Would Hitchens sign up to have the piss shocked out of him?


I do not believe Holder would dare institute prosecutions against these people.

Why not? He's defended every anti-American case he's come across.


um...certainly not twice Fresh.




Typepad sucks.


The thing I'd like for Steve and others that think like him to know is I was thoroughly pissed that guards at Abu Graib did what they did. I'm glad they were prosecuted. I don't want prisoners humiliated for the fun of some podunk prison guard. I don't think Bush/Cheney and those that performed the interrogation were doing it to get their jollies off.

I won't speak for others on this board about what they thought, but I suspect they are of a similar mind.

But Steve isn't arguing that it shouldn't be used by prison guards or field personnell. He is arguing that proven interrogation techniques that gave us valuable information should not have been used by experts under tight controls.






Shall we also remind the lofty virtuarians who are so morally superior to all of us torture mongers that his own high holiness has explicitly NOT ruled out using enhanced interrogation under certain circumstances, and is backing away from the word "torture" when describing said techniques.

Situational ethics indeed.

As far as I'm concerned, this argument is so over.

Reading these people is like sitting in a high school ethics class where brilliant sophomores ponder over deep questions like which person would you throw out of the boat.

Save it for the show trial.


I could care less about Abu Ghraib, either.


The real atrocity regarding Abu Ghraib is that the MSM outlets wouldn't publish the pictures of the ACTUAL TORTURE which happened there under Saddam.




I should have left out my last thought there, Po, and left it with I won't speak for others.


No, sadly I can't say I was surprised. The son of a Radical Kenyan, raised by figures who had deep skepticism about America, influenced by a marxist like Frank Davis, than the likes of Derrick Bell at Harvard
(he relied on his primers for his law school
class)than Ayers, if not earlier, Wright & co. nothing he he has ever said or done, ever evinced any understanding of how special this country is, why it is the beacon for the world, despite some faults it has had in the past, but he only dwells on the latter, not the former. The pace of it has been the only surprise. He sees a kindred spirit in Chavez, can't really deny
that point. My late grandfather, for whom I inherited this gift or curse, for collecting mental bric a bric was probably much more a Spenglerian figure than myself, but he predicted this state of events long ago.


Well from my husband who has spent most of the last 5 years in Iraq, Abu Gharib was a real insult to both MNFI and the Iraqis themselves and very demoralizing to all who were serving. It was an event that severely damaged much of what our guys were working to achieve and set back building neccessary cooperative relationships. There is unfortunately quite a bit of pay back going on right now for some of our ham handedness on a number of issues.
Certainly not with bombs and mortars, but there is a certain animosity and refusal to cooperate across lots of levels.
Believe me, I think in many ways we did the absolute best we could, but as Clarice will testify, our State Department and its other affiliated agencies did everything they could as an organization to obstruct wherever possible. Then there was the disaster of Casey.
Not to complain too much, hindsight is 20/20 and all. Just that Abu Gharaib did matter.

Barry Dauphin

If we get into ultimate means/ends philosophy based upon Catholic teachings, then we must remember that it is God who judges, not humanity, for we cannot see into the heart of others with enough accuracy to render judgment. What appears at first glance to be means may be ends, and failing to take action to protect innocent people could be treating the innocent as a means to satisfy potentially narcissistically based moral vanity. What is and is not a just war is always difficult, but the western canon isn't a suicide pact.

JM Hanes


"I do not believe Holder would dare institute prosecutions against these people."

I don't either. Obama is just doing the usual buck passing, when he said he was going to leave that decision to DoJ (above his pay grade?). That's also why it was Emanuel, not Obama, saying that there would be no prosecutions on the Sunday circuit. Leaves the door open for Obama to say whatever he wants after they read the reaction -- and keeps everybody else off balance wondering where the hell the shoe is going to drop. Obama will never close any door until he absolutely has to.

Everybody on TeamObama knows they would get crucified in a courtroom trial with, you know, rules and stuff. Especially when you've got Dennis Blair -- Obama's own Director of Nat'l Intel! --caught saying the interrogations were effective, and that everybody who counts in Congress knew about it. Obama is going to be all about truth & reconciliation theatre. If you want to keep the Great Satan alive, you do it in the Congressional Coliseum.


Exactly--and as usual well put.
I posted this on another thread but Professor Jacobson agrees with us:
http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2009/04/maybe-jay-bybee-and-jamie-garelick.html>Try Gorelick, too

I think that you and I have this punk figured out to a "T". Mr. shuck and Jive...


What caused problems was the way that Abu Gharib was utterly exploited by the left in an attempt to undermine the war effort. It emboldened the baathists and A-Q, and got our people killed.

How different might things have been if photos of Sadaam throwing people into a wood chipper got as much international frenzy as the pic of the guy with panties on his head.

The perps got theirs and are now sitting in a federal pen. What else could we do to make ammends?

According to the left, who wanted the war to fail in the first place, absolutely nothing would have ever been enough.


Jean, JMH took the words out of my mouth..(Put them together pertier than I would have but I fully agree with what she said.)
Now, he's done a whole lot of bone stupid things in a very short time but he's an empty suit, jiving up there on the stage and in no way ready to be actually put to the test on any of his shtick.

As for Steve's arguments, I am so toally with verner. If I must, I'll start shooting virtuarians with my pistolas next.
Aren't Christians warned of the sin of scrupulosity? If not

Trust me. God does not want you to die at the hand of thugs. He does not want western civilization to die and the world to once again be overtaken by the dark side, by ignorant savages and slavery and want. He gave you brains and expects you to make reasonable decisions and to protect his handiwork.

(I'm not positive this is true. He hasn't spoken to me for years, but as David the sinner is his clear favorite in the Bible, I think he knows what dross we're made of and he still loves us to pieces.)


That last bit is total nonsense.


What, frege, David wasn't his favorite?
God doesn't love us?


Probably that you mentioned God at all, Clarice.


Could be, Sue, but I'll try anything to talk people out of committing suicide..even suicide by jihadi.


Or it could be he thinks you are actually hearing voices when God did speak to you. That is what they think Bush meant when he said God spoke to him. You know, too much Hollywood and Charlton Heston for some and not enough true Biblical knowledge.

Danube of Thought

Here's a good one:

"One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.

"It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohamed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not."

--Eric Holder, CNN interview, January 2002




I have told this story to everyone on the net. My ex was a psycho/stalker, into weird torture crap.The stuff that they are talking about in the memos is almost a joke to me. i could give demonstrations on real torture, and some that doesn't last a few minutes at a time. And yes, TORTURE ALWAYS WORKS.


hmm,happy.Sorry to hear that.

Here's an url for DoT's quote.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122731301791449521.html?mod=djemEditorialPage>Holder on interrogations


So by "Excitable Andy's" terms, each and every confession obtained by police .. for even the most petty of crimes .. must be through "torture"

Who'd a thunk it ?


I would really like to see an actual election on "torture". Please understand that if it's a case between some terrorist wannabe having a nice day and the safety of one of my grandchildren, I'll gladly gouge out that terrorist wannabe's eye and eat it in front of him. And then reach for the other eye. I do not feel as if I'm alone.

On another note, do our specwar types refer to Somalis, or other Muslims, as raggies? I haven't worn Uncles suit in several decades but do read milblogs and haven't ever seen the term.

Fresh Air


I understand the term "hadji" was in vogue for a while during OIF, but it was ended as an offensive term. I've never seen "raggies" before either.


I don't believe in hate crimes, verbal or otherwise. I believe crimes are crimes and should be punished.

I believe George Washington was right, that we want to treat prisoners of war decently.

I believe that one does not telegraph to an enemy how they will be treated if captured because, in their minds they should be afraid.

I believe that what one might do depends on circumstances and people are foolish to posture what is and is not moral without explanation. Not everyone understands morality or acts accordingly.

I believe that the freedom to offend is the bedrock of civilization.

And I believe I'd buy a beer for that Australian who said those three things about anyone who would threaten an Australian -- red is positive, black is negative, and keep 'em wet.

I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Lefties who have a politically correct stick up their butt don't know the difference between saying something striking and doing something nasty. Outrageous humor marks cold harsh truth clearly. In this case my Aussie friend says, "Don't mess. I will defend my own. And if you want to test my resolve, you can."

And if you disagree with me laughing at our Aussie friend, come on over and I'll rip your lips off.

Rob Crawford

I believe George Washington was right, that we want to treat prisoners of war decently.

True, but neither terrorists nor pirates qualify as "prisoners of war".



Simplicity itself.

Tape the subject's mouth shut, he/she cannot talk. Now whale the living hell out of him/her. Wait 10 minutes, remove tape.

Repeat as necessary.

You're all set.


To the extent that church teaching seeks to awaken a sense of moral failing, and in the particular case of Catholicism to compel relief, and future salvation, through the confession of one's sin, are church teachings then viewable as torture under Sullivan's definition?


Well Sullivan certaunly considers Church teaching on homosexuality to be torture.


"I believe George Washington was right, that we want to treat prisoners of war decently."

The Colonialists hung or shot spies or those operating for the other side out of uniform. I wonder how politely they asked when seeking to elicit how much the spies knew.


If this all comes to pass where we prosecute those giving legal advice to the Pres., what person serving in the military who are placed in the position where they have this conundrum will decide to shoot the combatant on the battlefield instead of cpaturing them? It is a sure fired way to lose all chance of getting vital info from these people. Plus, who wants to do their job when there's a chance that yrs later they are going to have to go before a tribunal? Hire their own lawyers? Who will join the military? This is the stupidest and most dangerous decision made so far by the O gang. Carter screwed over our military, and it took many yrs before we built it up again. Is that a good idea when about 4 countries want to atack us, right now? Dumba$$e$!

Mikey NTH

The problem with Sullivan's definition is obvious - it is completely subjective. There is no objective standard to put the facts against. Without that there is no standard, nothing but the political will of the day.

Which is damned if you do - damned if you don't.

He is a fool. But that is also obvious.

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