Democrats & Liberals Archives

Tortured Republican Values

The debate about waterboarding and torture has been going on for years. The president has proclaimed many times “We don’t torture.” Attorney General Mukasey bounced around the issue when he was asked at a senate hearing whether he thought waterboarding was torture. Suddenly, the Whitehouse proclaims that waterboarding is legal:

The White House said Wednesday that the widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding is legal and that President Bush could authorize the CIA to resume using the simulated-drowning method under extraordinary circumstances.

Either the president and his Republican colleagues believe that waterboarding is not torture or they think it is OK to use torture. Which is it? Actually it does not matter: Both are heinous ways to run a democratic government such as the U.S.

How on Earth can Bush and his fellow Republicans say that waterboarding is not torture when all sorts of experts have condemned it as torture? It's even harder to accept that Republicans believe that using torture on suspected terrorists should be allowed. Using torture brings us down to the same miserable level as terrorists. If we act as they do, what's the point in fighting them?

Is using torture on our enemies one of the Republican "values" they keep telling us about? Yes, smearing and character assassination are "values" they use to denigrate Democrats. But they get away with these "values" because supposedly this is fair when competing for votes. But torture? Do Republicans want the U.S. to act as the Spanish Inquistion did and gain the hatred of the enire world? Worse, do we want our prisoners to be tortured when caught by our enemies?

I hope Repblicans will stop acting as though torture is a "value." Torture is abhorrent.

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 7, 2008 8:17 PM
Comment #244840

I agree

Posted by: Sam at February 7, 2008 8:40 PM
Comment #244843

I don’t care what measures our military uses to gain the advantage. I want to win and I NEVER want our men and women to get into a fair fight. I ALWAYS want us to be stronger and better equipped. If the civilian population can’t stomach war, don’t televise it.

Posted by: BOHICA at February 7, 2008 9:30 PM
Comment #244845

The one way to end this and make waterboarding illegal is to get YOUR DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS OFF IT’s BUTT AND MAKE ALL FORMS OF TORTURE ILLEGAL. But I guess that’s why congress has a lower approval rate than the president.

Posted by: KAP at February 7, 2008 10:01 PM
Comment #244849

Gain the hatred of the entire world? Why would the most arrogant government in the whole world care about that. Let them hate us, as long as they fear us, was what Tiberius used to say. The priests of Isis, and some Judeans got into a little trouble when he was emperor, but religious history books used to claim that it was all good, because it helped to promote a new religion. Isis came back later, but they gave her another name.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 7, 2008 11:01 PM
Comment #244853

KAP do you think the obstructionist half of the congress would let that law through without fillibustering it much like they have done since the dems became the majority? Which BTW helps to explain the low approval numbers.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 7, 2008 11:45 PM
Comment #244858

Pelosi and Rockefeller were on committees that knew about these harsh techniques. They said nothing. In fact Pelosi was evidently concerned that interrogation should be more robust.

Why did Pelosi and Rockefeller accept Waterboarding in 2002 and why do so many complain so loudly now when it is no longer being used? Because times have changed. Because of strong U.S. policies, we have suffered no subsequent terrorist attacks like 9/11, we now feel secure.

Waterboarding was used three times and yielded useful information that saved American lives. It is not being used today and has not been used for a couple of years since the time when Pelosi and Rockefeller approved it.

The Democratic congress has never sought to make a law against this practice because they understand in their hearts, if not their rhetoric, that we cannot anticipate all the possible circumstances we might face in the future. Despite all their loud protestations and gotcha politics, some of them can still remember the necessities of September 12, 2001.

That is why the Dems talk, but do not act on their words when it comes to torture techniques.


If Dems in congress really cared about this issue, they would bring it up in congress. They have sponsored dozens of meaningless bills to pull out of Iraq. They knew they could not win, but wanted to have the rhetorical advantage among their extreme supporters. Why don’t they want to bring this up for real debate?

The Dems have a majority in both houses. If they really think this is a key issue, if they really want to rally the American people, why are they so loud in their shouting and so quiet in their actions?

Posted by: Jack at February 8, 2008 12:29 AM
Comment #244861

Jack its already a treaty violation and we have prosecuted people for using it on our guys in WWII. The CIA has determined it may be illegal for them. Its not legal for the Armed Forces to use waterboarding so when did it become legal? Only this administration has thought it to be legal as far as I know.
BTW just because the dems do it or knew about it doesnt justify the use of the technique if it is illegal.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 8, 2008 2:21 AM
Comment #244863


We are not using it now. It has been used only three times. We just cannot foresee all the permutations.

Re Democrats being in on it, then perhaps the title of this post should be:

“Tortured Democratic & Republican Values.”

Posted by: Jack at February 8, 2008 3:22 AM
Comment #244867

Jack and all you right wing apologists
I love it,
This administration has a documented history of lying, witholding infomation, providing Misinformation, cherry-picked information.
You have a story about Congressional briefings, but — because of secrecy — NO ONE has said WHAT WAS COVERED in those briefings.
We don’t know WHAT they were told, nor how much of it was even TRUE.
I do know that there was more than one DEMOCRATIC representative that was uneasy enough with what they DID hear to send letters to appropriate people calling for investigations.

The other stuff about — we don’t want our guys treated the same way, hatred of the world,







Therefore, in my opinion, supporting Torture by OUR government is TREASON
Aiding and Abetting OUR REAL ENEMIES during a time of war!!!

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 8:51 AM
Comment #244868

Muddled. That’s what I would call these justifications.

There are some who would say we should do (literally) everything we can to defeat the terrorists. They believe that if we don’t become as ruthless as they are, we will lose.

But not everything we would do with the goal of defeating the terrorists will be productive, or sustainable given our values, given the reputation we aim to uphold.

It’s difficult to advocate for Democracy and human rights when we undermine both in the name of our current policy aims. It’s also difficult to say we’re better than the terrorists when we turn around and act with as much moral abandon as they do.

Torture is undependable. Yes, we’ve gotten valuable information at it before, but saying that justifies the action as wise is like saying that a win at the roulette table justifies a betting addiction. It’s a gamble, and one that often enough doesn’t work, and you won’t know the difference until it’s too late.

Like addicted gamblers, the proponents of these measures always focus on the desired results, and think others timid for not being willing to continue putting themselves on the line.

And as with gambling, there are better and more reputable ways to extract information. The Zarqawi Case demonstrates this.

Some elevate al-Qaeda soldiers to superhuman levels of dedication and ability to withstand interrogation. They reason that all fanatics are tough-minded, that they are nothing more than flesh and blood Terminators without personal weaknesses, human emotions, or any of that troublesome stuff. In truth, things are more complicated. The rockface of al-Qaeda has footholds for those who wish to surmount the challenge they pose.

If we’ve only used waterboarding three times, why the fight? Why the stern denials of what most torture experts have stated is plainly is the case? Why? Because the Republican party equates security with the power of the executive. They have bought into the notion that if they give themselves Godlike powers to intrude into people’s lives, if they take the minimum possible level of plausibility to justify taking action, then they can defend America, where those weak-willed, civil-liberties hamstrung liberals couldn’t.

Trouble is, that’s not how things work. There are good practical as well as moral reasons to maintain civil liberties. There’s one truth that stands out: the government, the spooks, and the law enforcement agents are not all-knowing.

For torture to work perfectly, you almost have to know everything. Which is an ideal things fall short of. In reality, we can pick up the wrong person. With torture, we can get that person to confess to activities they never engaged in, and from their, our investigations become works of fiction, and consequently dead weight in the cause of protecting Americans.

Torture does not yield dependable information. It can get people to tell interrogators what they want to know, whether or not what they want to know is true. Interrogators can be prejudiced, can making bad assumptions, and torture only aggravates the problem by depriving both the guilty and the innocent of their ability to contradict their interrogators when they are wrong.

Don’t get me started on justifying this by appealling to what fellow Democrats did. Even if I had much sympathy for the leaders in Congress of my party, which I don’t really, I would hardly buy the argument that two wrongs make a right. Torture is wrong on the merits, even if it has (weak) bipartisan support.

As for not seeing all permutations? Good heavens, man. That’s an argument from fear. Of course we can’t anticipate everything. But we also can’t value every possible threat equally. We got to determine what’s most likely, and determine that well. We simply do not have the resources or the time, much less the patience of the rest of the world to indulge in a frenzy response to our own paranoia. To be most effective, we have to seek a certain economy in our security efforts.

But given human imperfection, we’d be in the same boat anyway, even as we have been trying to answer every possible threat. Inevitably, our preconceptions lead us to a certain unintentional economy; when suspicion leads us to our targets, our personal suspicions carry weight over other possiblities. But being only human, we do not anticipate all things, and do not think of all possibilities. And that remains the problem, whether we like it or not: security is always imperfect, even when we imprison ourselves in a police state trying to seek it out.

The best security comes from being right more often than not. The better our methods, the safer we are. Iraq is a perfect example of how crappy intelligence gathering methods can lead to costly failures. Do we want to repeat such failures, locked in our overzealous drive to prevent all bad things from happening?

Abu Ghraib sets us back permanently in Iraq. Sometimes winning at all costs means winning something minor at the expense of the larger goal. Part of our ability to win in Iraq was the ability to convince others that we were better than Saddam, that were more just, more humane. Abu Ghraib served to undermine our whole operation’s moral strength for the Iraqis. Meet the new boss, little better than the old boss.

As for stomaching war? Americans can stomach war. It’s failure and seeing our nation’s reputation drug through the mud we can’t stomach. You folks are still fighting the psychological battles of Vietnam, still forgetting the one important lesson of all that: you can’t win the war on the homefront by media alone. The war has to function like it’s supposed to. People turned agaisnt Vietnam because years of promises of victory around the corner were never fulfilled. If the warplan had done its job, people would not have soured on the war.

Actually, torture is illegal. But getting this president or his Attorney General to admit that, or to even re-examine the issue is incredibly difficult. Worse yet, even if we did push through a law along those lines, Bush would probably do with our measure what he did with McCain’s measure: do a signing statement claiming he has a constitutional right as CINC to ignore the law in question. So why don’t you go and convince your President to carry out the law like he’s supposed to, and admit that Waterboarding, as torture, is already illegal.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 8, 2008 8:55 AM
Comment #244869

Oh God
I just realized something
Good ol Right wing tactic

We bring up a situation where the Head of OUR GOVERNMENT is promoting TORTURE and instead of discussing the right and wrong of that position —
we get
“well your democratic people were told about it and did nothing”
(i.e. “you did it too”)


So, as usual when the Right Wing is caught with their hand in the cookie jar — their response is

Lets not discuss the real issue, nor the lack of values and morality of the current administration who is ORDERING, ALLOWING PROMOTING TORTURE
Not right after 9/11
and BS that they “only” did it 3 times and “only” after 9/11 because of “imminent Danger”

So Democratic Senators, who were in the minority, with a Republican Control that did not ALLOW ANY action taken other than what THEY initiated — and they were under terms of the Secrecy Act — many have said that they felt betrayed by the Administration because they were UNABLE BY LAW to do ANYTHING about what they had heard — and the administration knew it and put them in that position.

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 8:59 AM
Comment #244870

Good job, as usual,
I wish I was as articulate at expressing these positions
You make my points so much better —
I let my blood boiling get the better of me

But you make one very big point that I have been trying to make for along time in several discussions on the issue of Torture.

If you Stop to think logically about it
Can you EVER really think that Torture will get you good information you did not already know??

Like I said before, once you start down that path, there is only one acceptable outcome/response that the detainee can give.

The questioning will not end with The tortured saying that they didn’t do it, don’t know, have no information.
That only brings further torture until the detainee provides THE answer that the interrogator will accept.

Torture can only ACCIDENTALLY bring out the truth.

Like Stephen said, — you don’t know what is or is not true in their statements

If the only acceptable outcome/response to the questioning is the answer YOU have already decided is the “TRUTH” — then how can anyone say they are only trying to get the “TRUTH”
(or information, whatever)

Torture is for
Controlling populations by Instilling Fear
Sending a message (not getting information)

The only perceived security it provides is that of the regime against its own people. (even THAT is an illusion)

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 9:13 AM
Comment #244877

Why would anyone believe that we have only used waterboarding on 3 people ever? Because the people telling us are so honest, truthful, and forthcoming? What other techniques did they use on people when they did not have any water or boards?

Posted by: ohrealy at February 8, 2008 10:06 AM
Comment #244878

We only did it three times in the U.S. because we had to rent space in a Bulgarian dungeon until Cheney had time to set up the torture chamber in the Whitehouse basement. If I could, I would bet the whole 3.1 trillion budget that the number was much closer to 300 times.

Posted by: jlw at February 8, 2008 10:15 AM
Comment #244881



Ya know, it makes sense, this administration is BIG on outsourcing American Security to Private Firms (and outsourcing jobs to Foreign entities) — Remember that Bush Tried wanted to let Dubai run the port security?? Why not contract out the Water Boarding stuff (or maybe, we have only WATER BOARDED 3 times, just don’t ask what we did the other 6 thousand times!!!!)

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 10:53 AM
Comment #244884

I really love the level of discussion this has reached
Thanks Clarancec

Just a note for all of you promoting Torture to avoid the next 9-11

Do we really need to remind you that it has been shown that the FBI already HAD the information that COULD have lead them to, and perhaps stopped the 9-11 Disaster??
The just couldn’t “connect the dots”

Torture does not “connect the dots” nor help in “connecting the dots”

My position since learning that has been

Illegal wire-tapping, loss of Constitutional protections and Torture have been SHOWN to be unnecessary.
The FBI, using EXISTING LEGAL methods were able to obtain the information needed to Stop 9-11
Where they were lacking was USING the information they had
Or in even KNOWING the what information they had.
What is needed to avoid the “next 9-11” is to strengthen our weaknesses
i.e. Improve our ability to analyse and make use of the LEGAL information we ALREADY have the tools to use.

All the other crap about needing to eliminate Civil Liberties to keep us safe is nothing but horse-hockey and right-wing chest puffing macho Security BS (not REAL Security)
Saber Rattling, chest puffing and posturing by impotent little minds.

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 11:21 AM
Comment #244885

Another good reason for not embracing torture: it becomes the favored means of intimidation for those who equate disagreement with themselves with a loyalty to our enemies.

I know you like to think your position the patriotic one, but consider this: Is America strong enough to embrace integrity, or must it constantly compromise itself and soil its reputation in order to survive? I would like to think we are strong enough as a country that we can embrace alternatives to this kind of barbaric behavior.

But hey if you think that American Democracy and human rights are only conveniences we indulge in peacetime, fine by me. I’d like to consider them core values, never abandoned out of fear.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 8, 2008 11:40 AM
Comment #244889

This subject always takes me back to one of the early Republican debates where the candidates were given a question concerning a hypothetical situation involving a small nuclear device going off in a US shopping mall. We catch one of the bad guys and in an effort to try to find out if a second device will be going off do we resort to torture. McCain of coarse said no, which of coarse means A) we will get the same information if we just ask nicely or B) let a few thousand more Americans be killed, just don’t torture this poor misunderstood soul. Other candidates stubbled and fumbled through the question until it came to Tom Tancredo who said; “a nuclear device has gone off in one of our malls and you are debating whether or not to use torure? I’m looking for Jack Bauer.” In other words you do whatever it takes to prevent that second device from going off.
Personally Im going to guess that most liberals who oppose the use of torture would suddenly change their tune in this situation if it was made more personal and instead of “a mall” it was, the mall that just happens to be next door to the office building they work in.

Posted by: Carnak at February 8, 2008 12:37 PM
Comment #244890

Paul, another excellent article.
j2t2, ohrealy, Russ, Stephen, jlw, great comments.
I’m with you all 100%.

It’s so obvious that the mindless fear of terrorism for these torture defenders is far greater than their love, respect, and admiration for the founding principles that made America the great country it is. It’s also very apparent that all of their arguments are totally hollow and meaningless.

The use of torture IS illegal, in other words, what this administration ordered, and what the CIA did IS A CRIME. It is also an impeachable offense, even though we have a Congress that doesn’t have enough of a majority do anything about it.

And here we have Mukasey saying that he will never investigate whether the waterboarding or renditioning of prisoners for torture was a crime, nor will he investigate whether their warrantless wiretapping was illegal. Basically our Attorney General is saying that because these programs had been deemed legal by the Justice Department, that they are now to be considered officially legal. AND, there will be no judicial test allowed to challenge that assertion. No criminal test because they refuse to prosecute, and no civil test because of the “state secrets privilege” outlined by a freaking DOJ affidavit.
So, whenever the administration violates the law, as long as HIS OWN Justice Department says that what they do ISN”T a violation, well then, it isn’t.

This is complete horsesh*t.

So much for Mukasey being more “moderate and independent”, eh? No doubt Schumer and Diane Feinstein are very pleased by how much better he’s turned out in comparison to Gonzales.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 8, 2008 1:16 PM
Comment #244891

We won WWII without descending to the level of the Nazis. We can win against Bin Laden and his kind without becoming as lawless as they.

Think about it seriously. We represent the forces of civilization here. Civilization depends on rules. When we descend to their level, we only add to the chaos they intend to create. We serve their aims, even if we defeat the original group.

We need to confront them in ways that reassert our power influence. The Bush policies, as much as you would praise them for being tough, non-tupperware party tactics, have largely served the interests of the enemies by increasing the chaos and failing to bring back order.

I’m for defeating the terrorists, not merely trying to kill the lot of them. I’m for making it such that even if we leave some alive, the chances for success are so low that it won’t matter. In a way, my angle is much more brutal than yours- you simply would grant them martyrdom, I would make that thirst for martyrdom useless, a thirst with no means to quench it whose glory would justify the sacrifice of their lives.

You don’t get it. First, such ticking timebomb scenarios are more the province of movies than reality. Even in cases where such a countdown theoretically could be applied, if the plot is already running, you’re usually too late. However, if 24 tried that, the show would be pretty boring. So they rely on cliches, including the “okay, I’ll talk!” cliche in countless action films. Jack Bauer is our fantasy of counterterrorism, not the reality.

Reality is, our most valuable information is that which people give up willingly. We can tell people are lying when we don’t use torture. We have ways of manipulating and enticing these people to tell us what we want to know. We can appeal to egos, appeal to greed, appeal to even one guy’s desire to get an operation for his mother. It’s like the guy says in Mission: Impossible when he doesn’t immediately catch the lead character: Everybody has pressure points. You find something personally important to them and you squeeze.

Yes, Liberals might change their tune if the local mall gets nuked. But they would do so out of fear, and they would be wrong. In the end, reliable information is the priority. Unreliable information wastes resources on wild goose chases, inhibits law enforcement initiative by inflicting embarrassing fiascos on officials.

Get the information right, and you can move quickly and confidently. Get it wrong, like so often happens with torture, and you hamstring yourself, regardless of your good intentions. We don’t need the macho posturing of a policy that relies on brutality and authoritarian sensibilities. We need a policy that fits our traditions and freedoms, but which also delivers the windfalls of effective, efficient detective work and interrogation. Stop trying to take the easy way out of having to outsmart the enemy. Just do what you have to do to serve both our security interests, and the interests of American justice and liberties.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 8, 2008 1:27 PM
Comment #244892

clarancec and Carnak
What a load of Horse manure you spread!!

The incidents that are currently being debated is the support of TORTURE as policy
Not in support of some hypothetical “what if” way out there — “if and only if”

This administration is saying that it is LEGAL to TORTURE as a NORMAL part of interrogation. They have not said anything about “only if there is a nuclear device set to go off in the US within 24 hours”

Bush has finally come out and is saying that “WATERBOARDING is LEGAL” — period.
(so then are we to pay compensation to the people that we have (wrongly) convicted of waterboarding in the past???)

You guys are watching too much TV.

That scenario is always a red herring — nice try to avoid discussing the REAL ISSUE.

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 1:35 PM
Comment #244895

Jack, talking about the democratic congress and torture you said
“Despite all their loud protestations and gotcha politics,
some of them can still remember the necessities of September 12, 2001”.
The necessities of September 12, 2001???
You mean flying Bin laden’s family out of the country before they got mugged or what?
We still haven’t secured our infrastructure. All September 12th was used for was
to go after the agenda Bush had before 9/11, a puppet government in Iraq and
getting his thumb down on the American people.
Luckily the bad guys picked a man who has a conscience. (That scares the hell out of them.)
So torture is going to stop one way or another.
I wish I could say the same thing about “The War on Terror”. The election seems to
be heading towards two diametrically opposed sides. The Democrats are fighting over
who’s gonna get out quicker, and the Republicans are fighting over who’s more warlike.
We need to have a long detailed discussion on war and terror. This is where we need the Internet,
because the corporate media will be against it. So I call on all you Bloggers
we need to get the word out
The idea that some way occupying an Arab country we stop insurgents from attacking us
is the biggest bunch of BS the corporate media ever tried to feed us.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at February 8, 2008 1:45 PM
Comment #244896

it is apparent we cannot carry on a rational discussion with someone who just wants to kill and maim
To heck with the TRUTH that it serves no REAL purpose,
People like clarancec and Jack and Carnak would prefer to FEEL like they are safe than ACTUALLY being safe.
(and they essentially want revenge — no matter that it might be visited upon people who had NOTHING to do with either past ills, or imagined future wrongdoing)
All that is important for them is to APPEAR TOUGH and APPEAR RUGGED and ready to “Protect the Country”
No matter that their methods actually make the country less safe
It is about Style VS Substance
They prefer the Cowboy swagger Style (that gets everyone around them killed)
but its ok,
because they FEEL better (delusion is a wonderful thing??)

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 1:53 PM
Comment #244899

Iraqi women must cover hair, skip blush — or die
By Arwa Damon

The sign in the city center warns women that they’d better adhere to Muslim teachings or face the penalty. And all around the Iraqi city of Basra, women are showing up dead — many beaten and beheaded. Some have been strangled to death, their faces disfigured. All bear signs of torture.

Yea, sure made things better
Torture in the US
Torture of Iraqi women in Iraq!!

Posted by: Russ at February 8, 2008 2:47 PM
Comment #244902
We need a policy that fits our traditions and freedoms, but which also delivers the windfalls of effective, efficient detective work and interrogation. Stop trying to take the easy way out of having to outsmart the enemy. Just do what you have to do to serve both our security interests, and the interests of American justice and liberties

Sometimes, Stephen, you make me laugh.

Isn’t this precisely the same argument I’ve made repeatedly to you when discussing other aspects of US governance and you tell me that I should follow the ‘will of the majority’ and not be so worried about ‘ancient’ views of liberty and freedom?

I agree 100% that we should not be torturing, but it is interesting to see those who have been debating against me use the exact same arguments I have used against them, it makes one wonder about true motivations…

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 8, 2008 3:12 PM
Comment #244906

No, it’s not. My argument has always been about that kind of balance. Maybe we share a common structure of thought that is differentiated by what we consider constitutional, and how we view the historical development of government.

I don’t idolize the old days. This was a different society they were managing, different in how it communicated, different in how it transported, different in the way business was allowed to operate, different especially in constitutional terms. Without the modern definition of the corporation as a person, something brought a long as an unintended consequences of the 14th Amendment, the need for greater regulation would not be so necessary.

The basic progressive movement, from which modern liberalism comes, takes its start from the industrial revolution, and how that changed the relationship of people to their employers, the urban/rural mix of the population, the capability and hazards of technology, and other basic shifts in society which changed the landscape of America’s issues.

Interstate Commerce didn’t used to be such a concern as it is now. Your local store was once local, the food you ate tended to be grown nearby. Local governments had more power because more issues stayed local. When that change, the balance of power shifted towards the center, towards the national stage.

As much as we might idolize the way government was run in the past, there are reasons the government evolved into what it is today. Anybody seeking to return power to states and localities, to sell libertarianism, and do so on a permanent basis, cannot merely return to the obselete past, to policies that made sense in a different time, with different prevailing conditions. The policies must be adapted to a time in American history where technology is much different, where these differences have changed travel, trade, and communication.

Anything less turns a libertarian angle into nothing more than ideologically motivated negligence, and Americans are in no mood to accept more of that.

At heart, I’m neither liberal nor conservative: I’m a functionalist. It doesn’t bug me, for example, when business polices itself, so long as it does so reliably. If it doesn’t, if it keeps on creating hazards and problems for the rest of us that are plainly predictable, then I believe in having government step in.

I don’t believe, though, in creating systems filled with complex laws that nobody can keep up with. For me, regulations should be results oriented: do anything you want to fix this problem, so long as the following things don’t happen. Control Points, in short. There was a book by Temple Grandin a while back in which she described the kind of system she’d employ.

Basic questions really: if the problem is Cattle Slipping on a surface, mandate that they’ve got to do what it takes to keep that from happen, and make the cattle not slipping a condition of passing inspection.

An example of the success of such things includes the FDA’s program. The basic idea is to work out plans by which government and business can work together to reliably improve the safety, security or whatever value of the thing being regulated.

Only in cariacture can it be said that most Liberals want overly complicated intrusive government. Only in a distorted mirror of politics do we favor endless tax raising, inefficiency, and overspending.

In truth, we want a government that moderates and is moderated, which works with society to create the conditions for more than just idealized freedom, but for the maximum possible real freedom.

Not all wars call for total destruction. Many wars depend on the discipline of our soldiers, to avoid situations that might be strategically harmful to our situation. Take torture and Abu Ghraib. Further revelations of torture would make deals with Iraqis more difficult, as they would trust us less and see more reason to support those who attack us.

Only if you take a vastly oversimplified view of war, can you surmise that if we let our soldiers do what they want to, the wars would be won. There’s a reason we have a chain of command: soldiers can harm the overall mission if they don’t properly handle their particular segments of the fight.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 8, 2008 4:00 PM
Comment #244917

Stephen, I used an example right out of the actual televised debate that addressed this subject. Tancredos response, which he used in the debate, used a tv character most people know to help illustrate his point.

The liberals rules for dealing with terrorists seem a bit like the British army of the 18th and 19th centuries marching in a nice neat line with their bright red coats straight into a hail of bullits because that was the civilized way of fighting a war.

Posted by: Carnak at February 8, 2008 6:40 PM
Comment #244924

So, this is a tactical advancement?

A little word on the value of context: Lining up and shooting people in a row did not really go out of style until the mid-1800s. This was not done because somebody wasn’t smart enough to break apart such formations, this was done because the muskets of those times were smoothbored, muzzle-loaded affairs without the accuracy of later guns with rifled bores. If you didn’t line people up in close ranks and have them fire all at once, you were unlikely to kill as many of the other side.

Ignorance of such things in our time leads some to believe that advances in tactics were made just out of the blue. Believe me, most soldiers of that time wanted an alternative. We only really won the war when we could get our soldiers together in such formations and stand toe to toe with the Brits. We lost battles when soldiers broke these ranks.

So, are the authoritarian tactics of the Bush Administration a new advance? No, they’re a throwback, and a not particularly wise one. When we respond to an enemy that employs asymmetric methods with brutality, torture, and authoritarian methods, we tend to lose in the long run, not win. We and the French lost Vietnam, they also lost Algeria, both trying to get into this dirty little tit-for-tat game with insurgents, and only managing to turn the populations involved against us. You don’t win against these people by becoming more ruthless than them, you win by becoming better liked, more loved, or at the very least, better tolerated than them. Just look at Anbar: we are at our most successful in pacifying the place right now because for the time being, they hate al-Qaeda worse than they hate us.

Overall, I think the problem here is that you and other conservatives think of things not in empirical terms, but in terms of certain cultural myths, many passed down by pulp authors peddling cliche-ridden material. The conventional wisdom about Brits lining up in red coats is one. The ticking time-bomb scenarios of 24 are another.

In looking at history, there’s what people tell about it in stories, and then there’s what actually happened. This supposed advance in techniques is just the Neocons and conservatives indulging childhood fantasies about war and American history.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 8, 2008 8:14 PM
Comment #244928

“America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

“Morality, like art, means a drawing a line someplace.”

“Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”

Posted by: ohrealy at February 8, 2008 8:50 PM
Comment #244934

May we take it that you’re an admirer of the pithy Irish brilliance of Oscar Wilde? :^)

Likely today an almost identical group of cretinous barbarians would still want to lock the man up for the “gross indecency” of simply being himself - while they puff out their chests and point their chins in the air trying to defend the waterboarding and the renditioning of prisoners for torture elsewhere.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 8, 2008 10:29 PM
Comment #244937

That is why I did not put the source in the post in a thread where some member of the human race is using Tancredo (kill torture kill torture, praise and thank God) as an authority.

I am collecting videos of Bloc Party’s Blue Light and found this one on Dailymotion:
The O Wilde quote at the end has me stumped. It must be a mistranslation:
“On a conscience avant, On prends conscience apres…”

That is why I was looking up the quotes, and found some appropriate to this thread.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 8, 2008 11:07 PM
Comment #244943

Afraid I can’t help you. That doesn’t recall to me any particular Oscar Wilde quote that I’m aware of (and I’ve read plenty of his works). Btw, I enjoyed the song, even though some of the video images were sad and disturbing.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 9, 2008 12:26 AM
Comment #244946

Something about knowing before and knowing after.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 9, 2008 1:06 AM
Comment #244951

It was aware before, People become aware after.

Oscar Wilde

Posted by: Cube at February 9, 2008 2:15 AM
Comment #244980

And BOHICA wonders why airplanes are flown into buildings.

Posted by: Stephen Hines at February 9, 2008 7:58 PM
Comment #244992


You are conflating two different things. In the case of Algeria, the French employed harsh techniques against the population and it didn’t work. We do not have an analogous situation in Iraq, where we are protecting the civilian population from the terrorists and it is the terrorists who have the “image problem”. They are losing the support of the population because of their harsh policies. We are gaining friends because we are protecting civilians.

The question at hand is whether you can rule out now and forever something like waterboarding, even if it is used only as many times as you can count on one hand and still have two fingers left over.

I think I finally see the source of our disagreement. We would both agree that torture at policy is evil. We part company in that I recognize the uncertainty of the world and cannot make a statement about the future w/o knowing the circumstances. The reason Pelosi and Rockefeller accepted waterboarding in the limited cases was because of the circumstances of the time, for example.

But you seem to think torture is widespread. It is not. There has never been any indication or evidence of that. And the Algerian example actually supports the OPPOSITE of what you are arguing, since it is the terrorists who are torturing and coalition forces that are protecting the civilian population from them.

There is some indication that the terrorists are learning the lesson. AQI has instructed its opertaives to kill and torture fewer civilians because it is hurting their image. Of course, if they stop doing that they are finished (they are terrorist, after all), so let’s hope they do just that.

Posted by: Jack at February 10, 2008 4:22 AM
Comment #244995

“And BOHICA wonders why airplanes are flown into buildings.

Posted by: Stephen Hines at February 9, 2008 07:58 PM”

I don’t “wonder” why airplanes are flown into buildings. Where did I express that? Or are you just using me to try to gain a few fradulant points on watchblog?

Posted by: BOHICA at February 10, 2008 9:13 AM
Comment #245004

“Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.”

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

On that other quote, the closest I could find were:
“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
“It could not have come before, nor later.” from De Profundis

I have to agree that the Democratic HOR majority is disappointing. They seem to be waiting for the presidential election. In case we lose that, they might want to start doing something now, since we will most likely still have a majority next year. I would personally like to see Cheney in an orange jumpsuit, and Bush in a pink one, carrying a copy of My Pet Goat. What do you think the chances are? Better they should go to the Hague, than the people who were just following orders.

Can watchblog points be used towards a breakfast burrito at Speedway?

Posted by: ohrealy at February 10, 2008 12:57 PM
Comment #245017

So Jack, your argument in favor of torture, is that if only done a few times, it’s okay. Where is your line in the sand?? What would you consider too much? That’s a little like being “a little pregnant” and that doesn’t work either.
I think you need to come home……you’re getting far too much sun ;)

Posted by: Jane Doe at February 10, 2008 2:11 PM
Comment #245038

Should be no rules 2 war. Waterboarding is a needed tool. Russ is just a tool. I do agree that it should only be done for the security of this great nation. So I suggest we practice on Russ.

Posted by: John Q. Public at February 11, 2008 12:40 AM
Comment #245041

Jane Doe

If you can foresee all possible situations and circumstances, then you can make a blanket statement about always and never. I do not have the power of prophecy.

Obviously, Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller made their decision to accept practices such as waterboarding when circumstances seemed to dictate it. Maybe they were wrong to put the saving of thousands of innocent lives over the principle of not being harsh with the mastermind of 9/11.

But since I cannot know all the things that could happen in the future, I cannot say that anything should be true now and forever.

BTW - the weather is very pleasant here right now. Thank you for your concern.

Posted by: Jack at February 11, 2008 4:06 AM
Comment #245054

John Q thats exactly the problem. First its ok to torture terrorist to gain immediately useful information. Then its ok to torture the Iraqui civilians for the same resasom. Then before you know it John Q public is accepting the torture of American citizens for having a different point of view and actually using free speech rights to defend this point of view. You should be digusted with yourself for espousing such anti American rhetoric.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 11, 2008 12:13 PM
Comment #245067

John Q makes my point perfectly.
If we don’t protect the principles, then we lose it all —
The oath of office for the President
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The Armed forces oath of enlistment
“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. “

Nothing in either that says to disobey the law to protect the lives of the citizens — the principles of the Country come before the lives of its citizens.

When we give in to the temptation to torture “just a little bit” cause it is “really necessary” — then “they” have won — really, it is NOT just a protest rally statement.

They have made US fight on THEIR ground — THEY are dictating how the fight is fought — to let them dictate the terms of the fight is always a great way to lose.

Currently the DOD wants to prosecute 6 of the guys who most likely were responsible for 9-11 (about time??) and they want the death penalty (seems appropriate) but just a tiny little problem — too much of the evidence they need to do that came from those “agressive interrogation” techniques (i.e. Torture) and there seems to be a wee-bit of a problem with the credibility and admissibility of that evidence.

I really don’t care to try to forsee all possible consequences — Torture is wrong — period
and yea
If the nuclear scenario were to play out — I would not torture — why?
I would make sure that guy died with me
I would die knowing that in the end — He and His tribe would have lost — their actions would result in people turning against their cause — they would lose — in the BIG picture.

If I had tortured, we could have gained little(temporarily) right now, but lost more in the long run.
(how many times will you happen to have “the guy” in custody right before the bomb goes off?? and if you torture — you can be sure there will continue to be MORE people making the bombs for next time to avenge the torture — if nothing else)
The Constitution would have been protected instead of stomped on.

the 24 hour nuclear scenario is BS — and a smokescreen — and a distraction from the enormity of the real issue
Indiscriminate torture as a way of life

Sometimes it is tough to live up to principles —
Doesn’t make it wrong.

Posted by: Russ at February 11, 2008 4:02 PM
Comment #245087

If you want to promote the use of torture, the first thing that you need to do is to make reading, writing, or studying history illegal. Torture is a form of punishment before legal processes and imprisonment, so why not use is as a replacement for imprisonment, and eliminate the expense of housing and feeding criminals. We could just leave them at home, chained to a radiator, and send someone out with the equipment. I guess these people would have to wear hoods of some kind, both as a warning and to hide their identity, only sick weirdos need apply, but at least they would have a legal way of having their fun.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 11, 2008 7:41 PM
Comment #245112

Ok, folks,
Here I go again. Back to the for-what-its-worth information. If an interrogation technique is suspect in its ability to actually produce accurate results, is obviously not humane, and I would imagine, no one here would be willing to test it out, including myself, I say it’s not only torture, but worthless. Below I have listed several sites which explain what waterboarding is, and a couple that even show how it is performed.

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.

Have fun…

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 thin you can stomach it, watch the uncut version.
Getting Waterboarded
Getting Waterboarded Uncut Version

What is water boarding?
by Julia Layton

Inside This Article
Introduction to What is water boarding?
How effective is water boarding?
Lots More Information
See all Government articles
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?
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 12, 2008 9:35 AM
Comment #245124

On the longer version, my first thought was that Joe McCarthy would have loved to use this technique. I always thought it was deliberate that they went back to the 1680s Titus Oates affair for their inspiration, instead of the 1690s witch trials. They must have anticipated Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The people who are supporting this technique are ignorant of historical precedents, or hope that everyone else is.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 12, 2008 12:22 PM
Comment #245267

One the first video, Derschowitz is seriously underestimating the Bush/Cheney level of arrogance. They might sign just to say F U.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 13, 2008 8:26 PM
Comment #245374

Nobody is supporting this particular technique.

All that we are saying is that we cannot foresee all future situations.

When in 2002 Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller accepted harsh techniques such as waterboarding, I suppose they were thinking that saving lives of innocent people was a greater good than standing on this particular point in three cases. Now people see things differently and the technique is not used.

I will not criticize Pelosi and Rockefeller for making that decision during the circumstances of the time. Many here disagree with me. I am less certain than you are. That is the disagrement. YOu guys like to bring in the emotion. Great. But it is not the point.

Posted by: Jack at February 15, 2008 12:45 AM
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