Democrats & Liberals Archives

Cagey Mukasey

Michael Mukasey, who replaced Gonzales as our top Justice guy, is afraid to admit that waterboarding is torture. And he wends and weaves his way through a legal labyrinthe of his own construction in order to confuse senators and the rest of us. Cagey Mukasey will not say whether he thinks waterboarding is legal. How should he know?

When asked at a senate hearing whether waterboarding is torture, he said:

If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on this subject. But, with respect, I believe it is not an easy question. There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding. Other circumstances would present a far closer question.

Would you believe that the head of the Justice Department would say such a thing? He was asked whether he would call waterboarding torture if it were done on him and he said Yes. So he is sure it is torture for him but not for others. What does this mean? He followed that up with more tortured statements about torture too ridiculous to bother quoting.

If the top legal guy cannot tell use what is torture and whether it is legal or not, who can? Evidently, Mukasey is playing around with the senate. He has no choice if he wants to keep his job. Once he defines waterboarding as torture, he is fired. So he goes about beating around the Bush.

Regardless of what the senate does, Mukasey will stay cagey, and our system of justice will suffer. Only a change to a Democratic Administration will clean out our corrupt Justice Department.

Posted by Paul Siegel at January 31, 2008 4:58 PM
Comments
Comment #244359

There is no reason for him to answer this hypothetical. We all know that in the law you need to know the exact circumstances. Maybe the Senators should give him an exact hypothetical. For example, if you captured Osama bin Laden and he had planted a nuclear device set to go off in New York within 24 hours, what methods would be legal to get him to tell you where it was? I would like to hear the Senators’ opinions on that too.

The Senators have the option of making it officially illegal if that is what they choose to do. If they want to be hypocrits, it is their business, but don’t be fooled by their cowardly posturing.

Posted by: Jack at January 31, 2008 6:42 PM
Comment #244367

Jack,
Quite the neocon comments there.
Why does the truth always seems so damn movable on the far right?

The correct answer is: Waterboarding IS Torture. And Americans don’t believe in torture - which is why we added our nation’s signature to the Geneva Convention.

Your hypothetical example is also displaying a strange naivety. Torturing a fundamentalist hate-driven nutcase like Bin Laden with simulated drowning might well get him to tell us where ONE of his planted nuclear devices are, but never ALL of them.

Posted by: veritas vincit at January 31, 2008 7:46 PM
Comment #244377

Interesting idea VV.

Let me play devil’s advocate, but you have to play fair and answer honestly.

If your family were to get nuked while visitng a city, and it was later discovered that we had key informants in custody who likely would have known where and when on the bomb. Who is responsible for the murder of your whole family?

Is it the US Government for not preventing it or the terrorists for perpretrating it?

Is it the US Government for policies that make them hate us, or is it them for choosing to act on their hatred?

If you choose not to choose a side then please give ratios of blame. These are not loaded questions, yet how you answer will tell a lot about you as a person.

What say you?

Posted by: Yukon jake at January 31, 2008 9:13 PM
Comment #244379

All I know on waterboarding is from Alias, Battlestar Gallactica, and 24. On Alias, they put a gas mask on the victim, and fill it with water. On the commentary, JJ Abrams said this was what was an accurate representation of what was being done by us. On B G, they just dunked the guy in a tub of water with his hands tied behind his back, shades of Celtic ritual murder practices. On 24, there was apparently some kind of controversy, that cadets at West Point were watching the show and learning how to torture people. There was a disagreement between the writers, based on their political viewpoint, on whether or not they should continue to show this kind of material, but they are all on strike now anyway. These programs are all sold internationally, and give a pretty grim view of the good old U S of A.

Torture went out of favor in the British system about 1680 after the 17th century model for Whitaker Chambers, Titus Oates, made a lot of accusations about people, and they were tortured and gave false information to make the torture stop. To reasonable people, with a scientific mindset, this provided concrete proof that torture was useless.

The people in charge of our government are less than reasonable, and it’s not new. People have been threatened with imprisonment, if they do not provide their inquisitors with the information that they want, not the truth, but what was needed to get to the end that they wanted. The end justifying the means.

Posted by: ohrealy at January 31, 2008 9:23 PM
Comment #244390

Yukon Jake:

Let me play devil’s advocate, but you have to play fair and answer honestly.

Being fair and honest is never a problem for me.

If your family were to get nuked while visitng a city, and it was later discovered that we had key informants in custody who likely would have known where and when on the bomb. Who is responsible for the murder of your whole family?

Is it the US Government for not preventing it or the terrorists for perpretrating it?

The terrorists.
However, if I learned that the government had previous intelligence, yet never acted upon what they knew, they too would be culpable in my view.

Like learning about Able Danger, or hearing that Bush and Condi had received a memo that said “Bin Laden determined in U.S.” yet did nothing at all.

Is it the US Government for policies that make them hate us, or is it them for choosing to act on their hatred?

Both.
Equally.

These are not loaded questions, yet how you answer will tell a lot about you as a person.

Well, there you go.
Btw, I absolutely hate hypotheticals that start off with “If your family were to get nuked…”

What say you?

You say what?

Posted by: veritas vincit at January 31, 2008 11:16 PM
Comment #244394
We all know that in the law you need to know the exact circumstances.

Since when does an illegal act become less illegal due to the circumstances? Circumstances can be used to mitigate a sentence, but extreme circumstances do not legalize an illegality.

Posted by: Cube at February 1, 2008 12:56 AM
Comment #244395

First, it amazes me you’ve been posed the hypothetical even once before I did, yet it has happened often enough for you to have hate the frequency, that’s funny to me.

Me personally, it’s terrorists and terrorists.

Killing innocent people for the sole purpose of shedding blood is never even partly justified.

Now here’s the real hypothetical:

If it would save your family, would you be okay waterboarding the known-terrorist (not suspect) who had the information to stop it?

I would.

And I wager that is where we part company.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at February 1, 2008 2:15 AM
Comment #244396

Yukon Jake Said: “If your family were to get nuked while visitng a city, and it was later discovered that we had key informants in custody who likely would have known where and when on the bomb. Who is responsible for the murder of your whole family?”

You don’t create laws based on wacky, far fetched, emotive hypotheticals. Torture is illegal. This is because earlier generations had an appreciation of history and the good sense to understand that torture provides poor intelligence and damages any society which permits it.

Waterboarding is torture, and it’s clear that the Atorney General knows it is because of the non answer he gives when asked whether he thinks it is or not.

The rejection of torture was a fine moral and intellectual achievement and a fundamental part of who we were as a society.

The Right under Bush, wrapped in the flag and so proud of the achievements of the shining city on the hill, was quick to abandon some of these achievements at the first sign of real adversity.

How can the Right, so keenly aware of the threat posed to our way of life by mad mullahs, be so eager to surrender the principles that make our way of life what it is? The same principles, that had made the US a shining example to the world.

Some believe this sacrificing of principles is a sign of strength and bravery, but weakness and servility are probably closer to the mark.

Posted by: Bob Hope at February 1, 2008 2:26 AM
Comment #244397

Yukon Jake:

First, it amazes me you’ve been posed the hypothetical even once before I did, yet it has happened often enough for you to have hate the frequency, that’s funny to me.

You’d be even further amazed at (and perhaps be even more amused by) how redundant and unoriginal rightwing bloggers can be with their “ticking-bomb-key-informants-in-custody” hypotheticals.

If it would save your family, would you be okay waterboarding the known-terrorist (not suspect) who had the information to stop it?

I would.

I wouldn’t be okay with becoming a torturer for any reason, no. I would rather be brave and die alongside of my family than lose all sense of decency and morality.

A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sin and suffering.
I sincerely believe in the general existence of a moral instinct. I think it the brightest gem with which the human character is studded, and the want of it as more degrading than the most hideous of the bodily deformities.
Our part is to pursue with steadiness what is right, turning neither to right nor left for the intrigues or popular delusions of the day, assured that the public approbation will in the end be with us.

Above quotes are by Thomas Jefferson.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 1, 2008 3:20 AM
Comment #244398

Bob Hope, very well said.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 1, 2008 3:22 AM
Comment #244399

Veritas

So your position is that if we catch someone like Bin Laden and he has planned an attack for the next day, we just read him his rights and wait until he decides to talk.

I guess you also think that unless he tells the full truth, disarming only ONE device is not worth the discomfort.

Finally, if the Senators agree with you, let them make a law. Lord knows, they make all sorts of laws all the time regulating everything else. Call it an earmark.

The ball is in the Senate’s court. In fact, I think it beaned Leahy. Your call, boys.

Bob Hope

Yes, you do not make laws based on wacky hypotheticals. That is why the Senator’s questions were wacky.

ALL
BTW - if I had bin Laden and I could prevent a terrorist attack by doing anything to him, I believe I would do it. Waterboarding might be the tamest thing I could think of. If it was against the law to save thousands of Americans by making one terrorist uncomfortable for ten minutes, I guess I would have to go to jail. I would rather live with that than make the choices you are advocating and be complicit in the deaths of so many.

Posted by: Jack at February 1, 2008 3:29 AM
Comment #244413

Jack,
If you had bin laden and could prevent a terrorist attack with waterboarding - just do it. Who cares if it is legal?
You’re saying you would stop and consult a lawyer to cover your ass. Nice position.

Posted by: Schwamp at February 1, 2008 10:49 AM
Comment #244415

The Clinton administration came up with a compromise on the thorny gays in the military issue by proposing “No ask, no Tell”. We all know and understand what that means and it is widely accepted as a good rule. It didn’t change the military regulations prohibiting openly gay activity by its members and it allowed gay members to serve with honor. In much the same way we all understand that water boarding is torture and that in special circumstances it will be used. We expect our military leaders to fairly apply this compromise and we expect those charged with our national defense to use water boarding only in extreme cases. The rest of the world may not applaud our gay in the military policy and may not applaud our water boarding policy, but frankly, I don’t give a damn. They’ll still accept our money, won’t they?

Posted by: Jim M at February 1, 2008 12:02 PM
Comment #244419


Is waterboarding torture? This is not a hypothetical question. The question has only one answer and it is yes. The Geneva Convention says that waterboarding is torture and every country, including the United States, that signed the Convention treaty agreeded. Those who support the Neocon position try to muddy the waters of reality with hypothetical senarios about the capture of Bin Laden or hidden nuclear weapons.

The facts are that this Administration has authorized the torture of many suspected Al Quida members to obtain information that is far less important than hidden nukes. The information obtained may or may not have been reliable but, I have seen no evidence that any information obtained has aided in the war against the terrorists. I have seen no evidence that we are any closer to winning that war then we were when it began. There is evidence that Al Quida’s recrutment efforts were enhanced by our invasion of Iraq.

More importantly, this Administration claims to be the sole interpreter of what the law is or is not, what treaties should or should not be adhered to, what the Constitution does or does not say.

The Republicans felt justified in impeaching Bill Clinton for lying. There is ample evidence that Bush and Cheney made many misleading statements and outright lies. The Republicans refused to check the administration when they had the power to do so. In the face of mounting evidence, the Democrats have also refused to impeach them or to at least have a vigorous inspection of the Administration. Is Bush blackmailing the Democrats with the threat of esclating the violence in the Middle East? Is he terrorizing the Democrats?

Posted by: jlw at February 1, 2008 1:12 PM
Comment #244420


Jim M: The American People are up to their necks in debt and so is our government. When you say that they will still take our money, you must be talking about the money we are borrowing from them.

Posted by: jlw at February 1, 2008 1:16 PM
Comment #244421

Jack:

So your position is that if we catch someone like Bin Laden and he has planned an attack for the next day, we just read him his rights and wait until he decides to talk.

No, my postition is that if an Al Qaida attack has been planned for the next day, you and your cadre of torturers might get some one like Bin Laden to tell you something, but not enough to keep the planned attack from happening.
We know enough about Al Qaida by now (or should) to realize that these people are willing to go to ANY extreme to carry out their missions. And since this is the case, it is more important to procure intelligence people who can speak Arab languages so that we can infiltrate these nutcase cells of fundamentalist extremists than it is to allow our nation’s moral character to fall into complete decay, and sit around building fantasy 24 hour scenarios for ourselves.

I guess you also think that unless he tells the full truth, disarming only ONE device is not worth the discomfort.

Your hypothetical used nuclear bombs, so no, only getting enough info for one device when there are others would not be worth turning our backs on the entirety of American history and everything we stand for.

Yes, you do not make laws based on wacky hypotheticals.

There is nothing hypothetical about the fact that this nation has begun to illegally torture - even though we know that torture is not the most effective way to get at the truth, or effectively thwart terrorist attacks.

ALL BTW - if I had bin Laden and I could prevent a terrorist attack by doing anything to him, I believe I would do it. Waterboarding might be the tamest thing I could think of. If it was against the law to save thousands of Americans by making one terrorist uncomfortable for ten minutes, I guess I would have to go to jail. I would rather live with that than make the choices you are advocating and be complicit in the deaths of so many.

That’s a quite a swaggering heroic fantasy you’ve painted for yourself. Tell me, in this fantasy do you also resemble Kiefer Sutherland, or maybe Sylvester Stallone?

Personally, I think if we ever actually get anywhere near Bin Laden, we should simply put a bullet in his head.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 1, 2008 1:31 PM
Comment #244422

jlw, good comments. I agree completely.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 1, 2008 1:44 PM
Comment #244426

Well at least the cons/neocons didnt bring up “they did it in WWII”. Or vietnam. Wonder why? They always liked to compare Iraq to WWII and or Vietnam earlier.


So lets ask those that were responsible for getting information from the POW’s for the Army in WWII. www.newser.com/story/8966.html should do it.

So who did use waterboarding in WWII. Why the Gestapo and the Japanese. Well then who else are we keeping company with? The spanish inquistors, yep,the East India trading company,yep, The Khmer rouge,yep. Look it up at Wikipedia.

In vietnam the US Generals decided it was illegal to waterboard POW’s. What has changed?

What distinguished company the cons/neocons keep.With company like that we can only ask what torture are you going to defend next guys?

Once we start down that slippery slope where do we stop? How long before we can justify it here at home on American citizens? Just think we could have a possible McVey with a bomb/nuke/chemical agent and we could allow the local police to torture his family to get information. Do we really want to go there? Then we could move down the line to well …where does it end.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 1, 2008 2:21 PM
Comment #244437
If it was against the law to save thousands of Americans by making one terrorist uncomfortable for ten minutes, I guess I would have to go to jail. I would rather live with that than make the choices you are advocating and be complicit in the deaths of so many.

Jack

Personally, I think if we ever actually get anywhere near Bin Laden, we should simply put a bullet in his head.

Veritas Vincit


I think we would all agree with the above statements. That is why we have an institutionalized Courts and Prison system. If we are allowed to administer judgment and punishment emotionally and irrationally, then our social system will degenerate into a culture of vigilantism. We do not allow victims and family of victims to exact revenge on their offenders, nor should we remove the buffer from irrational actions that our court system brings.

In interesting aspect of using torture is, that if torture is used to exact a confession or information. The information gathered from the confession, nor the information gathered due to the confession could be used against the prisoner in our court system. I suspect this is why in part we have designated the terrorists we have imprisoned as enemy combatants.

Posted by: Cube at February 1, 2008 4:22 PM
Comment #244439

Cube:

If we are allowed to administer judgment and punishment emotionally and irrationally, then our social system will degenerate into a culture of vigilantism. We do not allow victims and family of victims to exact revenge on their offenders, nor should we remove the buffer from irrational actions that our court system brings.

Let me get this straight, you’re saying that if we had the chance to kill Bin Laden, that we shouldn’t because doing to do so would be an emotional and irrational act?

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 1, 2008 4:49 PM
Comment #244447

Jim M: The American People are up to their necks in debt and so is our government. When you say that they will still take our money, you must be talking about the money we are borrowing from them.
Posted by: jlw at February 1, 2008 01:16 PM

That’s nonsense. As a percentage of GNP, our current debt is lower now that at many other times in our history. I do suggest we revisit the reason for rewarding some countries with gifts of money.

Posted by: Jim M at February 1, 2008 6:58 PM
Comment #244448

Laws cannot cover every hypothetical. That includes shooting mass murderers. Is up to lawyers to show motive and mindset, judges and juries to apply them to the laws. (this would include military courts and international law).
Those who haven’t been presented all the facts have no basis to judge with blanket statements.
The question presented was a baited one, due to the obvious passion it arouses even in you all.
Why not ask if withholding rations is legal?

The best way to answer nonsensical questions given by self righeous pontificators is to ignore them. He did a good job of it.

Posted by: Kruser at February 1, 2008 7:15 PM
Comment #244456
The best way to answer nonsensical questions given by self righeous pontificators is to ignore them. He did a good job of it.
What is actually nonsensical, is the fact that this Bush/Cheney torture and brutality DOESN’T EVEN WORK AT ALL, and the people in charge of meting it out don’t know the first damn thing about truly effective interrogation.

But yes, naturally Mukasey will ignore. Just as Bush/Cheney and all within their arrogant, lawless circle insist on ignoring our questions, and all the laws they want.
But one day, this reign of lawlessness WILL be brought to end. And when the day of reckoning comes, every single one of these lawless, idiotic, morally bankrupt scoundrels will be made to answer for everything they’ve done. To prisoners within our custody, to our laws and Constitutional rights, and to our reputation around the world.

And in years to come, when the history of this era is written, Bush, Cheney, and their minions will also go down splotched with blood and carrying the shame(s) they have currently heaped upon our nation.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 1, 2008 10:50 PM
Comment #244467

Swamp

I think I was actually taking the moral high ground. I would advocate doing the right thing, even if it meant going to jail. If you think the law is wrong and you break it, you still have to expect the consequences.

Veritas

These terrorist are not supermen. When we catch them they often cry and pee in their pants. They regain their composure when they become certain that they will not get the kind of treatment from us that we would get from them.

I am interested in finding information. I have not advocated harsh treatment as a means of punishment, as you have. You take an interesting position on that hypothetical, BTW. You obviously DO believe in torture, or maybe you consider killing prisoners better than trying to get information from them. You perhaps are learning that such answers are harder than you thought.

Re Kiefer Southerland, I have never actually watched 24 and I am much do squeamish to do the kinds of things I hear they do. But it is funny that you mention that. When I was younger, lots of people thought I looked like Donald Southerland. I really didn’t take that as much of a compliment.

Re my actual statement, please see above. I think the higher moral duty would be to save the American lives even at the risk of going to jail for breaking the letter of the law.

J2t2

My father was in the Normandy invasion and Battle of the Bulge. They were plenty rough with captured prisoners. You cannot leave living fighters behind you when you are moving inland in small groups, so you can guess about some of the procedures on the front lines.

Your comparison with the Germans and Japanese is not valid. Nobody, except maybe Veritas (see above) advocates using any harsh techniques as a form of punishment. It is only in pursuit of information that could save lives in the future. It is not an easy choice to make. If you believe the moral choice is to sacrifice lives to keep strictly to the letter of a law, I disagree.

Let me give you a real life situation. A couple years ago in Florida, a pervert kidnapped a seven year old girl and buried her alive. While she was still alive and suffocating, this guys friends knew about it and kept quiet. How do you handle these kinds of people?

Posted by: Jack at February 2, 2008 7:05 AM
Comment #244470

Jack “It is only in pursuit of information that could save lives in the future. It is not an easy choice to make. If you believe the moral choice is to sacrifice lives to keep strictly to the letter of a law, I disagree.”

Jack why do you think the moral choice has changed since WWII and Vietnam? Waterboarding was torture then, whats changed is the desires of conservatives to have the ability to limit freedom and close society at every chance.

Jack this kind of attitude is to be expected from jackbooted conservatives but I am disappointed in you for your position on this matter, I thought more of you. IMO you are not seeing the forest, just the trees, the big picture is the reason torture is illegal during wartime.

“Let me give you a real life situation. A couple years ago in Florida, a pervert kidnapped a seven year old girl and buried her alive. While she was still alive and suffocating, this guys friends knew about it and kept quiet. How do you handle these kinds of people?”

Why obviously Jack there is only one choice, we allow the police to torture whomever and whenever they choose. Why didnt we think of this before? Its so obvious that it should be an amendment to the constitution this right to torture afterall the ends justify the means right. Seems the comparison to Nazi Germany isnt so farfetched afterall.

Its only in the pursuit of information that could save lives, really Jack, so is single payer health care but I dont see the cons jumping on board that bandwagon.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 2, 2008 10:20 AM
Comment #244472

j2t2, notice how people keep moving the discussion further and further to the right. Maybe the purpose is just to make it seem more reasonable to erode other protections. The people promoting torture as a viable investigation technique do not want Miranda, habeus corpus, or 5th amendment rights for any of us. “I saw Lizzy Proctor speaking with the devil!”

Posted by: ohrealy at February 2, 2008 11:09 AM
Comment #244480

Jack:

I have not advocated harsh treatment as a means of punishment, as you have.

I am completely against the torture of prisoners, and have said so unequivocally.
If you read the link I posted in my last comment, you’ll also see that according to those with a great deal of experience on the subject, torture is an extremely ineffective way to learn anything of any value in an interrogation.

You take an interesting position on that hypothetical, BTW.

Perhaps it is only that a moral and realistic position seems novel after looking through a Neocon lens for too long.

You obviously DO believe in torture

No, I don’t.

or maybe you consider killing prisoners better than trying to get information from them.

Bin Laden is the madman who proudly took credit for the three thousand deaths of our citizens that took place on 9/11. So, if we ever get him in our sights, I don’t think we should bother trying to take him into custody. I think we should kill him. Much like one puts down a rabid dog.

I also think these fantasy 24 hour scenarios that people on the right continually throw out, and then expect others to take seriously, are totally ludicrous.

You perhaps are learning that such answers are harder than you thought.

No, you are the one who seems confused by the answers I’ve given in this thread, because despite the fact that they have been very clear and straightforward, you either haven’t read them, or perhaps cannot understand them.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 2, 2008 1:56 PM
Comment #244481

veritas, I’d just suggest that the far-right mind just automatically spins all it sees and hears in a sharp right direction.

Posted by: Jane Doe at February 2, 2008 2:14 PM
Comment #244483

Ohrealy:

notice how people keep moving the discussion further and further to the right. Maybe the purpose is just to make it seem more reasonable to erode other protections.

I think you’re right.

The people promoting torture as a viable investigation technique do not want Miranda, habeus corpus, or 5th amendment rights for any of us.

Restoring lawfulness and respect for our Constitutional rights should be the very first order of business in the next administration.

Jane,
Indeed.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 2, 2008 2:22 PM
Comment #244492

There is a time and a place for almost everything. You guys have admitted that you would kill bin Laden, but you feel it terrible if somebody would make him very uncomfortable in order to save lives.

Your comments about WWII and Vietnam are just silly. First of all, there is a big difference between soldiers fighting in organized armies with uniforms and rules versus terrorists who are specifically trying to kill civilians. In WWII a German agent dressed as a civilian who murdered civilians would have been shot when “captured” by American troops. Lots of people died in nasty ways during that conflict too.

Let’s put it all in perspective. It is likely that you could count the number of people water boarded on one hand. It is not a routine practice and was evidently used only to obtain information that would help prevent imminent attacks and save lives. It is always tough to contemplate these things. There is no moral answer, only degrees of bad choices.

This whole moral equivalency thing gets silly too. The U.S. uses a non-lethal technique on three very bad guys in order to get them to divulge information that helped prevent terrorist attacks. So we have stooped to being not perfect.

Today I was talking to a Marine colonel about the recent bombing in Iraq where the terrorist used a couple of retarded girls as bombers. He told me his own terrible experience when he found an Al Qaeda torture chamber. There were six bodies of men with chains around their necks and legs. They had been hacked apart a little at a time. What was their crime against Al Qaeda and why was this example relevant? We came to find out that these guys were tortured to death because they were retarded. Their condition evidently offended the local Al Qaeda thugs, who had nothing better to do on a lazy day, so they did this.

I don’t know about you, but I find a difference. I know we all hold America to a higher standard, but when people say torture, this is the kind of thing they think of. They do not think of a couple of minutes of pretend drowning to get terrorist leaders to divulge their plans of mass murder.

Beyond that, this water boarding is no longer among the methods used. Back in 2002, we were a bit more upset and when even people like Nancy Pelosi were briefed on these methods, they did not demure. Much like you guys who would kill bin Laden because he is a mad dog.

I have thought a lot about morality in extreme conditions. It is easy to be moral theoretically, especially if we do not consider all alternatives. In practice, even the best of us can be moral only within bounds. Just as an Olympic swimmer is much better than a guy who can only dogpaddle, there are differences morally among people. But also like this example, both these guys can swim across a small pool, but neither can swim to Hawaii. The purpose of a good society is to ensure that most people never fall into the kinds of existential moral dilemmas that nobody can resolve. Sometimes some people have to do some things that keep the rest of us safe and allow us the luxury of being moral. We all hope that we are never the ones to be in this untenable position, but I hope that if I am ever trapped like that, I will have the courage to choose the most moral among the bad options. Harsh treatment of bin Laden in the hopes of saving innocent lives is one of those places I hope I would have the courage to do the best thing among bad choices.

Some of you will resort to the cartoon neocon caricature. Others may understand that happy is the person who never has to make the decision where every choice leaves you diminished. It is easy never to do something when you never have to make the choices. It seems to me, however, that sacrificing three terrorists to save thousands of lives is not that hard a choice.

Posted by: Jack at February 2, 2008 4:49 PM
Comment #244500

Jack:

There is a time and a place for almost everything.


Almost everything, but certainly not torture. There will never be place for torture to be accepted among Americans. Not in this time, or in any other time to come. That’s because we are a civilized people and we can’t ever allow that designation to change, or give up our moral principles simply because our enemies are insane, well-organized fanatics who refuse to act in a similarly civilized manner.

Instead, we must be try to be smarter than they are. Which doesn’t mean we use the same brutal tactics upon them that they use, but find ways to infiltrate their ranks so that we can ultimately thwart and frustrate their efforts to terrorize and attack us.

You guys have admitted that you would kill bin Laden, but you feel it terrible if somebody would make him very uncomfortable in order to save lives.

That’s your nonsensical fantasy talking, not anything realistic or probable.
The sad truth is, ever since 9/11, the Bush Administration (and the majority of their followers) have been made so panic-stricken and fearful by the events of that day that they immediately began surrendering our moral and civilized principles, along with a large number of our laws and Constitutional rights. Rather than try to regain their composure and think logically like brave Americans, they instead chose to go apesh*t calling for never ending wars, and enacting policies (both foreign and domestic) that mirror and reflect a lawless, brutal, and irrational mindset that is in too many ways similar to that of our enemies.

We need wise, strong and fearless leadership in order to regain our balance, steady the ship of state, and attempt to restore our reputation around the world after allowing our current “leadership” to act unabatedly Looneytunes for too many years.

Let’s put it all in perspective. It is likely that you could count the number of people water boarded on one hand. It is not a routine practice

Pure conjecture. No one can claim to know how many people have been tortured by us in the name of Bush’s “War on Terror.” This administration has been so secretive with information and so covert in their actions, that even the people that have been interrogating these prisoners don’t know who they’re dealing with.

To quote from my earlier link:

Those with intimate knowledge of the program say that in many cases, U.S. interrogators haven’t even been able to learn the basics about many of those they hold or have held, to say nothing of whatever crucial information they possess. “How do you separate the sheep from the wool? There’s no fingerprints, no DNA,” said a former senior intelligence official who helped set up the CIA’s interrogation program, and who would not speak for attribution. “You don’t know if you have Osama bin Laden or Joe Shit the rag-man.”
Jack:
and was evidently used only to obtain information that would help prevent imminent attacks and save lives.

So they claim, but as we all know, they rarely if ever tell the truth about anything.
Again from that link:

But what exactly that breaking yielded is the subject of both controversy and obfuscation. Bush has said those interrogations provided “vital information necessary to … protect the American people and our allies.” But FBI agents familiar with the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah have claimed that the waterboarding was worthless—and that the only valuable information from Abu Zubaydah came from documents captured from him. “He was talking before they did that to him, but they didn’t believe him,” FBI agent Dan Coleman told The Washington Post. “The problem is they didn’t realize he didn’t know all that much.”

Similarly, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed stated at a Guantanamo Bay hearing that he murdered the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002, though Pakistan has already convicted a terrorist named Omar Saeed Sheikh for the slaying, casting doubt on the information Mohammed gave his interrogators under torture. Perhaps most infamously, al-Libi told interrogators that al-Qaeda received training in weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein, which never happened. al-Libi recanted his claim in 2004, about a year after Colin L. Powell cited al-Libi’s false, torture-derived information to the United Nations as he made the case for invading Iraq.

But this official, who was active at CIA during the interrogations of Zubaydah, al-Libi and the man that the CIA calls “KSM” suggested that their interrogations didn’t provide the intelligence treasure troves that Bush has claimed. “We didn’t have any extraordinary breakthroughs,” he said. “We didn’t know if we had the right people under control, and don’t know if these people didn’t know anything, or we just didn’t have the right skill sets to get it out of them.”

Jack:

It is always tough to contemplate these things. There is no moral answer, only degrees of bad choices.

It seems to me that it is only tough, and there are no clear moral answers to those who have been making (or supporting) so many bad choices.

So we have stooped to being not perfect.

We have allowed this administration to turn their backs upon our laws, to betray our principles, and to misrepresent our national character. This has got to stop.

Some of you will resort to the cartoon neocon caricature.

I do consider Neocons to be caricatures, and feel their is no other way in which to view them. They are caricatures of conservatives, because though they try to wear the label, they don’t actually hold the views of true conservatives. They are caricatures of morality, because despite their heavy lip service to religion and “family values” they show an obvious lack of ethical and moral principles, and honorable behavior. And they are caricatures of leadership because with their incompetency, dishonesty, and lack of intelligence and wisdom, they’ve lead this country nowhere but broke and covered in shame.

The rest of your post seems like emotional posturing and more fantasy based hypothetical scenario, so I believe I’ll end my comments here.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 2, 2008 8:51 PM
Comment #244502

VV
Post 244500 I hope you include liberal dems in that rant because moral values don’t seem to be on either side. As far as what you would do in a given situation, I don’t think anyone can honestly answer what they would do. You all can give a lot of BS but as far as an honest answer, I DON’T THINK SO

Posted by: KAP at February 2, 2008 9:18 PM
Comment #244503

Down’s Syndrome becomes the R word, come on! Are there 2 different people who use the name Jack posting here? One of them makes sense a lot of the time. The other part of the story with the R word in it, sounds like what we were hearing about the Iraqis in Kuwait, that turned out later not to be true.

On killing BinLaden, who would be doing that, his former handlers in the CIA, and why would you trust them? How would you know that they were killing the real guy? Maybe they would get him to flip and work for us. We could get some Afghanis to fill up the ranks in our army. Mountaineers always make good soldiers.

On WW2, there were a million stories out there. The mountaineers in Poland, ethnic Ukrainians, helped smuggle people out of the country after the German occupation. There was a Polish family, their children US citizens born in Battle Creek MI, working with them. The Germans came into their house, shot the daughter and left. They stopped helping people get out.

On the Pacific side, a young guy was drafted right out of a company that later developed television, into the Radar corps. He was stationed mostly in the Solomon Islands. He thought we were the bad guys for our treatment of Japanese POWs. He did not like our admirals either, but they were technically idiots, not believing that radar worked and sending ships into massive friendly fire casualties at Guadalcanal.

And then there was the guy that fought the battle of the bar at the American Embassy in Cairo. The most arduous part of his service was the journey there, they could not go through the Mediterranean, and the journey back on scary overstuffed Liberty ships. He voted for Ron Paul.

Killing people is bad, because you can’t take it back once you’ve done it. Imprisoning and torturing people changes the people that do the imprisoning and torturing. Are they going to be coming back to work on your local police force? Guards in jails and prisons? Will they stay in the military and train others to do more of the same?

People having the power of life or death need to know the difference between right and wrong, not just that it was done before, or that the end justifies the means.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 2, 2008 9:25 PM
Comment #244506

KAP:

I hope you include liberal dems in that rant because moral values don’t seem to be on either side.

Actually, the majority of Liberal Dems do stand on the moral side of issues like torture and extraordinary rendition. But, I’d have to agree that when speaking of moral values in a more general sense, it really does depend on exactly which Democrat we’re talking about.
Some so-called Democrats don’t appear to be any more morally upright than the majority of Republicans, while other Dems seem too afraid to stand up and do what they know is right.

As far as what you would do in a given situation, I don’t think anyone can honestly answer what they would do. You all can give a lot of BS but as far as an honest answer, I DON’T THINK SO

Well, I’ve answered as honestly as I can, and without shoveling any BS. In fact, I don’t think most Americans believe in torture, and would roundly reject the idea that this nation needs to become comfortable with torture, or that our citizens are ever going to need to become torturers in order to protect their families.

But, none of the fantasy hypothetical scenarios that have been given in this thread are at all likely to ever happen anyway. I think it’s obvious that they’re just being thrown out there for the reason that ohrealy mentioned earlier (and I agreed with): “the purpose is just to make it seem more reasonable to erode other protections.”

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 2, 2008 10:09 PM
Comment #244507

VV
I’m glad you did include Dems on that moral issue. Hypothetical scenarios are a bunch of BS. but nobody can say for sure how they would react in a given situation. I’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things. Some of those things were not very pretty.

Posted by: KAP at February 2, 2008 10:30 PM
Comment #244519

Veritas

Re emotional outpouring. I guess our experiences are different. I am glad you have never faced a hard moral choice, when all choices were bad. Or maybe you just didn’t know you did.

It is very easy to make moral decsions when they have no consequences. This whole torture debate has taken the color of a sophomore gotcha session, with people pretending to take the moral high ground.

You know that Dems such as Pelosi were briefed on the methods in 2002. Things were different when it really mattered.

orealhy

I man I trust told me he had seen it himself. As I wrote above, it is easy to be moral when you do not have to make real choices and it is easy to dismiss when you have not had experieces.

I am going to give up on this now, before I violate watchblog rules.

All of you

Have fun with your theories and maybe discuss what you would do over a few beers, while others make sure you never are confonted with the real dilemas.

Posted by: Jack at February 3, 2008 3:52 AM
Comment #244529

Jack, The moral dilemas you speak of were faced by people in previous wars. The federal government signed a treaty with many other nations that made the decision that they were not to use to torture which included waterboarding. So to bring the arguement to the point that each individual must make the choice that has been made for them by the signed treaties is well another indicator of the overall problem we face under this administration, the loss of our democracy to fascism. When it is acceptable to us to use torture on foreigners it will then become acceptable to us it on our fellow Americans. You habe already crossed this bridge with your moral dilema in Florida.

Of course there were many nations that didnt follow the treaty Hitlers Germany being one of them and Pol Pots Khmer Rougue being another. Now under the Bush regime we see that torture is an acceptable method of operation for our Army and our Intelligence agencies, much like it was acceptable for use under Hitler and Pol Pot. To say that because its our side and the enemy does worse is now acceptable to the Bush apologists. Even though the results have been thought to be not worth the fall out from using torture as a means to get the information we have sank to the point of what it is we are fighting against.

Jack while I usually respect you writings and opinions even when I disagree with them I once agin have to think you may be to close to this issue and don’t see the bigger picture. Wasnt it Huey Long that once said fascism will come to America as antifascism? As we continue to fight the “Islamo-fascist” it becomes more transparent the direction Bush and his jackbooted followers are taking us.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 3, 2008 12:42 PM
Comment #244537

Jack:

This whole torture debate has taken the color of a sophomore gotcha session

What else could it be but sophomoric when the whole basis for defending the institutionalized yet illegal use of torture was fantastic and improbable hypothetical scenarios of ticking time bombs and Bin Laden in our grasp?
But, you’re right that it has been a gotcha session. Anyone who read the linked article that I put up must have immediately realized that torture supporters were left without a single leg to stand on.

Have fun with your theories and maybe discuss what you would do over a few beers,

Since the theory of using of torture was defended by throwing out a fantastic hypothetical scenarios, clearly all the beer drinking must have been done on the defending side.

while others make sure you never are confonted with the real dilemas.

This entire nation has been confronted with a very serious dilema ever since Abu Graib. And the vast majority of us who have moral clarity on this issue don’t approve of “the others” who Bush has empowered with the responsibility to face these kinds of dilemas.
Since that time, we have known that these people obviously don’t respect our laws, or have a grasp on our history, or truly understand the foundation of our moral principles. If these “others” did, they would never have allowed torture to be illegally instituted as they have, nor would they even attempt to defend it. Thus, these “others” are the ones who we know have dragged our good name through the mud, and further endangered our troops, and our country. And they have done so for no valid reason, other than their own obviously mistaken and uninformed belief that torture is an effective means to use in interrogations, when it isn’t.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 3, 2008 2:07 PM
Comment #244539

j2t2, good comments, well stated.

In fact, this has been a good thread with well written comments over all. Glad I could be a part of it.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 3, 2008 2:24 PM
Comment #244543


US Qaeda strategy fatally flawed: analysts

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 3, 2008 3:17 PM
Comment #244569

Abu Ghaib was a crime scene. The things done there were illegal and not part of U.S. policy. The country was only confronted by the debate about it as policy because some people were ignorant and others were led by the enemies of America to believe it was a official policy.

It is a profound insult and blood slander of our forces and our government to imply or say outright that torturing people for the sake of it is a U.S. policy. I know Bush haters like to bring this up for ephemeral political advantage, but in doing so they are harming their country. I personally put country ahead of party and will not stoop to slander the United States in an attempt to get short term gain for the people I dislike and there is no American leader that I had so much that it I am blinded to the love of my country.

We just have no common ground here. I am certain that the U.S. has committed some atrocities throughout our history. Every county has these things. It is a human tragedy. I am equally certain that these have been exceptions and uncommon. There is no logical reason for the widespread use of torture and absolutely no evidence that it has occurred.

I have spoken to people who have visited the prisoners at Guantanamo. I am living in Iraq right now, where I talk to almost every day to Iraqis who have had family murdered by AQI or have themselves been tortured by them. I understand that if I was ever captured by AQI (not a strong possibilty, thank God), they would certainly torture and kill me and I am under no illusions that our treatment of captured prisoners would have anything to do with what they did to me. If I could know that they would treat me the same way we would treat them in similar circumstances, I would be relieved. This is the truth and anybody who really needs to think about it know that I have talked to people who were victims of real and systematic oppression, such as concentration camp survivors. I have been to Auschwitz on five separate occasions. I have seen too much to be unemotionally involved in this debate. I do not think anybody could be more opposed to the practice of torture than I am. I understand how fortunate I have been not to have faced the personal choices I would have to make on either end of the stick. I also understand that there are times when you cannot make a good decision. There are times when only gray and black decisions are among the options.

Most of the world is misinformed about America. Our own media and many Americans are the main reason for this. How can anybody convince the average guy in Pakistan that the U.S. is not the great evil in the world when our own people imply or say outright that we employ torture as a routine policy? And in most countries of the world, when they say torture they mean a lot more than something that leaves no permanent physical damage.

Our forces are constantly reminded to treat captured enemy humanly and to protect them as they would a civilian of the country - even when it means risking their own lives. That is the policy. They is no wink and nod. No army in the history of the world has gone to such lengths to protect civilians and avoid atrocities. NO – even our greatest generation in WWII did not live up to this extraordinary standard we follow today. Americans have died protecting civilians and going to such an extent to avoid causing harm that they endangered their own lives. This is the policy and this is what they do. Anybody who says differently is either misinformed or a liar. Our enemies spread disinformation about us, happily quoting American sources.

PLEASE be reasonable. Do you really believe that thousands of prisoners have been tortured as a matter of policy? To what end? Most prisoners don’t really know much that would be revealed by torture. Beyond that, many are only too happy to talk. Many of the insurgents today were paid a couple of dollars to be involved and/or tricked into it. They have no loyalty to the cause.

I can think of hypothetical situations where harsh techniques could be used. You all can too, whether you say it here or admit it to yourselves. These are not common situations. They are extraordinary and exceptional, but we cannot pretend that we have the perfect choices all the time or that we would indeed always make those choices even if they were available. We are all fallible humans. Please stop pretending. It is harmful to your country to constantly bring this stuff up, to talk about techniques which are no longer used and imply that they were common.

Do not let your hatred for Bush overwhelm your love of America. This is a moral issue, but maybe not the way you think.

Posted by: Jack at February 4, 2008 12:25 AM
Comment #244571

Jack:

The moral issue is simple. No torture. Folks upset with the fact that the US has used waterboarding, even if it were only once are not implying thousands tortured as a matter of policy.

Get off your emotional high horse and you might just see that.

There is no grey area. No torture.

Posted by: womanmarine at February 4, 2008 1:22 AM
Comment #244584

Jack, I hope you will listen to womanmarine.
You certainly haven’t seemed able to grasp what I’ve written here.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 4, 2008 11:32 AM
Comment #244587

God, all the hypotheticals but no common sense usually entering the arguement
Consider
The only reason the person is being tortured is that because the captors BELIEVE (don’t know— however presumption of innocence is out the window at this point) that the detainee KNOWS SOMETHING.
However, if the captors are WRONG (how could THAT BE??) then tell me HOW the detainee can POSSIBLY convince (other than dying or allowing him/herself to be maimed permanently) the captors that they DON’T KNOW and that the captors have either made a mistake, or that while the person may be part of the plot, he/she does not have the info the torturers are after?
It is sort of pre-ordained that there is ONLY ONE ACCEPTABLE OUTCOME — confession.
anything short of that will neither be accepted nor believed — therefore it sort of blows to hell the idea that ANY of the information can be believed or can be credible.
Also — the true believer — the rabid, extremist, the one that actually planted the bomb, would probably NEVER TELL ANYWAY — so your common “save your family hypothetical” is pure BS anyway.

something else — Waterboarding has been recognized as illegal form of interrogation by none other than the US Govt — as we have prosecuted people for its use before — so sort of disengenious to now say “Hmmm, don’t really know” — only shows the person to be ignorant of legal precedence, or a liar.

Posted by: Russ at February 4, 2008 12:30 PM
Comment #244588

Jack
nice of you to take a huge issue and focus on just the military forces and their treatment of prisoners
The CIA doing extrodinary renditions
The CIA having secret prisons where torture has been conducted
The CIA admitting to water boarding prisoners
and you have the audacity to try to convince people that THIS ADMINISTRATION has support this as POLICY???
THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS, THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE —
I too am EMOTIONALLY OUTRAGED that THIS ADMINISTRATION has adopted these actions as POLICY in the NAME OF US, the CITIZENS of the US.
BUSH DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME!!!
and I am ANGRY that he DARES to say that he does!!

However — you, in some misguided way, do not seem to want to get mad at the people responsible for actually implementing the policies that lead to the actions that have ACTUALLY caused “damage the country” — you prefer to get mad at the people who are angry about these misdeeds!!! Amazing, I have heard about shooting the messenger, but this is ridiculous!!!

You are right, there is no common ground.
You are so blind — so blind.
so that your only defense is that we are just “Bush Haters”
Lame

Posted by: Russ at February 4, 2008 12:39 PM
Comment #244589

Correction to previous post
and you have the audacity to try to convince people that THIS ADMINISTRATION has support this as POLICY???
THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS, THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE —
should be
and you have the audacity to try to convince people that THIS ADMINISTRATION has not supported this as POLICY???
THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS, THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE —

Posted by: Russ at February 4, 2008 12:40 PM
Comment #244590

Jack
Since you LOVE hypotheticals
You used
Let me give you a real life situation. A couple years ago in Florida, a pervert kidnapped a seven year old girl and buried her alive. While she was still alive and suffocating, this guys friends knew about it and kept quiet. How do you handle these kinds of people?


Just exactly WHEN did it become KNOWN
1) whom his “friends” were and
2) that they KNEW where the girl was?

so it seems that with 20-20 hindsight we go — shudda tortured em to save the girl.
But
would that really have happened?
Doesn’t matter,
the next question would be
What next?
Who gets to decide?
Who gets to decide who the people are that have information “worth” torturing for?
These are just a couple of the REAL LIFE questions and consequences that come out of your siimplistic little “life or death” “Moral” dilemma
“Moral” because for most of us (I hope) it is NOT a dilemma at all, Moral or otherwise.
Presumption of Innocence
Innocent until proven guilty
Protection from Cruel and Unusual punishment (and THAT protection is AFTER being found guilty — it does NOT allow cruel and unusual punishment — aka torture — to INNOCENT ACCUSED people)
but then, what the hey
The Constitution must not be that important to you eh?

Posted by: Russ at February 4, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #244597

To add:

And no rendition so others can torture just so we can say we don’t. Doesn’t work that way.

Posted by: womanmarine at February 4, 2008 2:04 PM
Comment #244605

Okay children

No torture. Define what that means for all times and places. And I am certainly sure that terrorist suspects will be happy to hear that you will find them all places in the U.S. rather than send them back to their home countries where they might suffer. You have opened up a whole new immigration scam.

I am glad so many people have lived such charmed lives that they find it inconcievable that bad guys might do bad things. I personally have to go out to a dangerous place for the next couple days, so I won’t be able to play your game for a while. It is less of a game, BTW, when you are actually involved. That is the point that I guess it is impossible to convey.

Unlike you guys, I understand that I am a fallible human and I can understand how other fallible humans may not be able to live up to in practice what they aspire to in theory.

I expect that all of you perfect people are in good physical condition, have plenty of money, excellent relationships and the fulfilled moral life that comes from being perfect. If not, perhaps you might ask yourself if a person who cannot resist that extra donout could really handle the stress of a real moral challenge.

We are all against torture in principle. Torture is not routine or commonly used. It is not a policy. It is just crazy to imply otherwise. I can concieve of instances where a rational person would be driven to use such harsh techniques. You would evidently sacrifice any number of innocent lives to maintian your own sense of goodness even in extraordinary and isolated cases.

You certainly could find instances and exceptions to anything, but consider that there are only a couple hundred very well fed and well treated prisoners at Guantanamo. Abu Ghraib was a crime, not policy, and despite all the terrible pictures, nobody was killed or seriously injured. Put another way, more people have died in Teddy Kennedy’s car than at either place. So even in the worst case scenario, and you find it all, there is not much there to find.

Posted by: Jack at February 4, 2008 3:24 PM
Comment #244607

Jack:

Quit moralizing and pontificating just because we disagree with you. You’re better than the exaggeration you are posting in this column.

And of course it was policy. Otherwise those that did it would have been brought up on charges, not had it covered up and an attempt at denial.

I hope you stay safe!!

Posted by: womanmarine at February 4, 2008 3:29 PM
Comment #244616

womanmarine, more like immoralizing than moralizing, and I do not think any pontiff in the last 200 years would be an apologist for torture.

On the vet that I mentioned who witnessed what we did to Japanese POWs in the Solomons, I said to him that the Japanese had committed a lot of atrocities but were never subjected to anything like Nuremberg. His response was that it still did not excuse what our side did.

He was an interesting person, who became nocturnal during WW2 and never changed back, so that 60 years later he was up all night in his garage with his radio equipment. He was nonreligious, what you would call a secular humanist. People used to say that the end justifying the means was atheism, but it is insulting even to atheists.

Jack in Iraq, get the F out of there.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 4, 2008 4:51 PM
Comment #244622

Abu Graib was a crime and I’m glad you said that. So perhaps then we can start charging the people the convicted soldiers claim encouraged the inappropriate treatment the prisoners were given.

Second you claim that more people died in Ted Kennedy’s car than in either Abu Graib or Guantanamo. I beg to differ, while I don’t know about Abu Graib, but many prisoners have died at Guantanamo.

Torture was a policy, and that is why we’ve had this discussion. While torture may not have been utilized very often, it was a conscious decision by this present administration to utilize it in a few exceptional cases.

Posted by: Cube at February 4, 2008 5:41 PM
Comment #244647

womanmarine:

Quit moralizing and pontificating just because we disagree with you. You’re better than the exaggeration you are posting in this column.

When it comes to these Neocons, this has all seemed like pretty standard stuff to me.
Seems this group thinks they’re always right, and can’t ever admit when they’ve been wrong, or when they’ve make mistakes — no matter how grave and serious things may be. And they absolutely refuse to take responsibility for the outcome, while they arrogantly, and petulantly snarl and hurl emotional insults and accusations at all who don’t agree with them.
You’ll note he began his post with the comment: “Okay children.”
He’s the Decider you see, and we don’t know nothin’. To me it is shades of our Adolescent Jackass in Chief, Dubya.
But most Americans don’t like what they’ve been doing, and can see right through their poor and convoluted logic (as well as the resulting tantrums).

And of course it was policy. Otherwise those that did it would have been brought up on charges, not had it covered up and an attempt at denial.

Exactly. And because the administration refuses to allow any oversight or investigation into what they’ve done, we really don’t know anything at all about the extent or limits of their torture and rendition policies.

I hope you stay safe!!

I don’t know about you, but I find this all kind of ironic. He tells us about how he’s risking his life, but he’s doing so because of the Mistaken War, and Illegal Occupation of Iraq. Still, he feels the need to get on here and blog about how Bush’s illegal torture and rendition policies have been an entirely justifiable choice. Even though we know that these policies have been an enormous recruitment tool for Al Qaeda.
It makes no sense.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 5, 2008 1:22 AM
Comment #244681


Ok, folks,
Here I go again. Back to the for-what-its-worth
information.
I have heard of waterboarding recently in the news, and finally decided it was time to actually find out what the fuss is. I was amazed at how ignorant I have been, and I suppose continue to be, when it comes to understanding the procedures used to gain information from our enemies to protect our National Security.

If you are in anyway squimish, I suggest you scroll downward and read about the process. For the merely slightly squimish, you may watch the edited version. And if you truly think you can stomach it, watch the uncut version.
Linda
——————————————————————-
Getting Waterboarded (edited version)
http://current.com/pods/controversy/PD04399
————————————
Getting Waterboarded (Uncut Version)
http://current.com/items/86509751_getting_waterboarded_uncut_version

———————————————————————-
What is water boarding?
by Julia Layton

Inside This Article
1.
Introduction to What is water boarding?
2.
How effective is water boarding?

1. In October 2007, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey drew criticism for his refusal to characterize water boarding, a controversial interrogation technique considered by many to be illegal, as torture. Mukasey, a retired federal judge nominated by President Bush, dodged the question in his confirmation hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, stating that “if [water boarding] amounts to torture, it is not constitutional,” but never explicitly condemning it [source: NPR]. His response prompted several senators on the committee to declare that they would oppose Mukasey’s nomination as Attorney General unless he denounces water boarding as a form of torture.

Mukasey’s nomination wasn’t the first time the Bush administration faced controversy over what it considered appropriate interrogation techniques of terror suspects. In an October 2006 radio interview, Vice President Dick Cheney was asked if a “dunk in the water” was an acceptable form of prisoner interrogation. When he answered in the affirmative, many people took that to be an endorsement of water boarding. Human rights groups immediately seized on the statement as indicating support for torture, and Cheney’s spokespeople released statements saying that Cheney was not endorsing water boarding when he made that remark.
Water boarding has been around for centuries. It was a common interrogation technique during the Italian Inquisition of the 1500s and was used perhaps most famously in Cambodian prisons during the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s (see David Corn: This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like for pictures of a Khmer Rouge water board now in a Cambodian museum). As late as November 2005, water boarding was on the CIA’s list of approved “enhanced interrogation techniques” intended for use against high-value terror suspects. In a nutshell, water boarding makes a person feel like he is drowning.

Water boarding as it is currently described involves strapping a person to an inclined board, with his feet raised and his head lowered. The interrogators bind the person’s arms and legs so he can’t move at all, and they cover his face. In some descriptions, the person is gagged, and some sort of cloth covers his nose and mouth; in others, his face is wrapped in cellophane. The interrogator then repeatedly pours water onto the person’s face. Depending on the exact setup, the water may or may not actually get into the person’s mouth and nose; but the physical experience of being underneath a wave of water seems to be secondary to the psychological experience. The person’s mind believes he is drowning, and his gag reflex kicks in as if he were choking on all that water falling on his face.

So what do intelligence professionals think of this technique? Read on to find out.

2. How effective is water boarding?

CIA members who’ve undergone water boarding as part of their training have lasted an average of 14 seconds before begging to be released. The Navy SEALs once used the technique in their counter-interrogation training, but they stopped because the trainees could not survive it without breaking, which was bad for morale. When the CIA used the water-boarding technique on al-Qaeda operative and supposed “9/11 mastermind” Khalid Sheik Mohammed, he reportedly lasted more than two minutes before confessing to everything of which he was accused. Anonymous CIA sources report that Mohammed’s interrogators were impressed.

Most CIA officials say water boarding is not torture, although many see it as a poor interrogation method because it scares the prisoner so much you can’t trust anything he tells you. Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a POW during the Vietnam War, says water boarding is definitely a form of torture. Human rights groups agree unanimously that “simulated drowning,” causing the prisoner to believe he is about to die, is undoubtedly a form of psychological torture. The international community recognizes “mock executions” as a form of torture, and many place water boarding in that category. In 1947, a Japanese soldier who used water boarding against a U.S. citizen during World War II was sentenced to 15 years in U.S. prison for committing a war crime.
Whether or not water boarding is a current U.S. interrogation technique is unknown. In September 2006, the Bush administration faced widespread criticism regarding its refusal to sign a Congressional bill outlawing the use of torture techniques against all U.S. prisoners. That same month, the U.S. Department of Defense made it illegal for any member of the U.S. military to use the water-boarding technique. The CIA and its interrogators are unaffected by that new policy, as the CIA is not a branch of the U.S. military.


Posted by: Linda H. at February 5, 2008 3:17 PM
Comment #244708

Thanks for the info, Linda H. I read today’s article on the BBC website. I am glad you mention the CIA claiming to be exempt from regulations. They claim that they just stick a wet rag in the victim’s mouth. I don’t believe it. I believe what JJ Abrams showed on Alias was more accurate, and more likely to frighten the victim into confessing. They use consultants on TV shows that are more likely to be truthful than CIA spokespersons. One victim claims that they managed to frighten him into telling them a lot of things that were not true, pointing back to the lack of value of information obtained in this way. The strange assumption involved here is that we are smarter than everybody, and know what we are doing. I haven’t seen much evidence of that.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 5, 2008 9:18 PM
Comment #244772

Jack jack jack
can really rely on people like you to keep the discussion on the lowest level.
Your support of torture has many falicious assumptions — and no VALID points to support its use.
1) they do it so its ok for us to do it
not even going to respond to that one
2) We’re only making a few of the bad guys “uncomfortable” so who cares about the bad guys when American Lives are at stake!!
a) Most of these guys are NOT bad guys (that has been documented by the DOD’s OWN information, which is limited at best)and that information has been presented in House and Senate hearings (of course only after the Democrates took over)
b) NO American lives have been saved as a result of the use of torture on those innocent detainees and I can probably safely say that NO American Lives have been saved by the torture they have admitted to doing on KNOWN BAD GUY (hmmmm 1 repeat 1 known bad guy so far)

The whole point you refuse to acknowledge is that as soon as it is allowed to torture ACCUSED (remember innocent until proven guilty??) people, then the line is gone, and anything goes in the name of “Security” to ANYONE who poses a threat — do you realize how thin the “protection” of being a Citizen is under this sort of regieme of Bush the II?? — Terrorist Sympathiser!! Does not DESERVE the RIGHTS of TRUE AMERIKANS!!

3) Needed to get information that will save American Lives

Ahhh, and then here we have it — the belief (which most interrogation PROFESSIONALS know is WRONG) that any information received under torture is credible.
besides how can you save American Lives based on lies told by innocent torture subjects who are saying anything to make the torture stop??

Torture affects both the tortured and the torturer — if you think most of our boys will be coming back screwed up due to what they had to endure during the war, I cannot imagine the mental damage done to the “interrogators”

All for what Jack, so you can puff out your chest and show us what a big brave tough strong man you think you are??

You may be in Iraq and in a danger zone and are subjected to people who are truely taking up arms against the US — but we are not talking about them, we are talking about the detainees in GITMO
and you know how many of them were detained “in battle”??
ONE,
ONE — and again, this is from DOD documentation about the GITMO detainees, and again, this has been presented to Congress
Most of the GITMO detainees were poor schumks turned over by warlords for BOUNTY — no questions asked.
Get your head out of your butt and breath some fresh air of REALITY dude.
Not the TV fantasy “24 Hours” scenario where the good guy beats it out of the “bad guy” (do the bad guys wear Black Hats over there so you can tell who they are??)

Posted by: Russ at February 6, 2008 11:59 PM
Comment #244776

I am not talking about being tough, but just being involved in real world situations. Many of the arguments here are based on suppositions w/o actual experience. I am merely pointing out that for me the arguments are less theoretical. I have met people tortured by AQI and there are lots of them. It is not a theoretical thing. The physical evidence is clear and unambiguous. If you saw this and talk to these people, I think your perspective would change.

I know that you guys just deny anything that doesn’t fit your world view. According to sworn testimony, waterboarding was used three times. It yielded significant information that saved innocent lives. People like Jay Rockefeller and Nancy Pelosi were informed about its use.

These are what I believe are facts. I know you have other suppositions based on … suspicion that the facts are wrong. There are a couple hundred guys at Guantanamo. Many journalists, members of Congress from both parties and others have visited them and found treatment to be good. Again, you guys have your suspicion that these facts are wrong.

So let’s just use logic. The U.S. keeps these guys in Guantanamo at great expense. Why would we want to keep a few hundred smucks in Cuba at the cost of a few hundred thousand dollars each? Even assuming terrible intentions, what is the payoff? Or do you just assume that officials of your government from the president down to the private guarding prisoners is just in it for the fun of tormenting a few hundred smucks?

We all are against torture, although many people on this blog have admitted that they would sanction extrajudicial executions (if they caught Osama bin Laden). I am unwilling to rule out any particular technique unless I know the precise circumstances. You are evidently morally certain that no situation can occur where you would accept harsh interrogation methods. In my experience, such certainty is impossible.

Posted by: Jack at February 7, 2008 6:01 AM
Comment #244789

“Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable—that mankind is doomed—that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. “

from
Commencement Address at American University
President John F. Kennedy
Washington, D.C. June 10, 1963

Posted by: ohrealy at February 7, 2008 12:19 PM
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