Tortured Denials

First of all the term torture is used by liberals entirely too liberally. Loud music, sleep deprivation, and even waterboarding are not torture in the classic and visceral sense the word is meant to convey. But Pelosi and the democrats, in their utter dishonesty, have painted themselves into a wonderfully torturous corner.

As Karl Rove explains, Nancy Pelosi is an accomplice to 'torture' by her own words. She was fully informed on the use of 'enhanced interrogation' techniques that she and her Democrat cronies then tried to use as a political cudgel to smear the Bush administration as torturers and criminals. The problem is that Pelosi and the Democrats were in the loop the entire time. Not only that but they put their stamp of approval on it in person by their implicit and explicit affirmation and encouragement to do more.

What is even more delicious is that all the self-righteous posturing by the One, in depicting Bush and his administration as bloodthirsty and lawless torturers for their war on terror policies, such as Guantanamo, enhanced interogation, and indefinite detention have now had to quietly affirm all these policies as useful and even necessary for national security.

The past eight years of outright lies and slander coming from Democrats and Pelosi in particular seem to be tripping her up yet again. But of course every one else is a liar in her world. The blame is always somewhere else.

QUESTION: Madam Speaker, just to be clear, you're accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002?

PELOSI: Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States, misleading the Congress of the United States. I am. ~gatewaypundit.blogspot.com


Yes, let's have an investigation into who is actually lying here.

Posted by Eric Simonson at May 14, 2009 10:00 PM
Comments
Comment #281591

Eric
“Yes, let’s have an investigation into who is actually lying here.”
Sounds good to me. A few more lopped off heads at the CIA seems an appropriate response for mis-leading congress. I hope it goes beyond that to whoever ordered it. Chenys not leaving the country ,is he?
This is just a general question. I read today the the administration is seeking 50 million dollars for the closeing of the GITMO detention camp. That seems high to me. Its what the Pentagon asked for, but where is it going?

Posted by: bills at May 15, 2009 3:02 AM
Comment #281592

Nancy lied and people died?

The progressive left is massively expanding government and running out of money. Obama promised to only tax the rich. Now he wants to tax those who drink, smoke, eat candy, drink soda, and tax everyones work provided health care benefits.

Wait until the health care rationing starts. Where will Canadians go to get their health care then?

So Nancy allowed water boarding and now wants to pretend she had nothing to do with it and bray about “torture”. And Obama covers the information that apparently proves a massive attack was stopped by the use of such techniques.

The radical left controls the democratic party…did we expect any less from this crowd. Spend your money now, before they take it all.

Posted by: StephenL at May 15, 2009 6:10 AM
Comment #281593

Pelosi has dug her own grave. After her comments yesterday you can bet the CIA is pulling out every brief, memo etc. to show who is really lieing.

Posted by: J.P. at May 15, 2009 9:28 AM
Comment #281594

so nancy the liar pelosi accuses the cia of lying to congress, and seems to contradict herself. it was truely amusing to see her melt down yesterday at the press breifing. i have to agree with JP she’s just stirred up a hornets nest, and no doubt they will be releasing any and all memos, and breifs in order to clear themselves. i wonder who the dems will pick for thier next speaker. no more private jets paid for by taxpayers for nancy the liar AAAAAHHHHHH.

Posted by: dbs at May 15, 2009 9:49 AM
Comment #281596

They’re not sharing their playlist, Eric. They’re playing loud heavy metal or inane children’s music repetitively time after time at painful volume. As one guy put it:

Loud, repetitive, annoying, grating sound, piped into a captive audience who can’t leave the room, or turn down the volume, much less change the track. I mean, we can be frustrated and angered, stressed out by a child or a sibling blasting their music in the other room, but you can at least yell at them or find some way of getting out of the situation.

Just as having water drip continually, irregularly on your forehead wouldn’t normally cause you to go bat**** insane, since you could escape the circumstances or move out of the drip’s line.

Just as having your limbs go sore when you can stand up and relieve the pain wouldn’t be painful.

Just as being naked in a cold environment wouldn’t be a problem, if you could get your clothes back on.

Just as sleep deprivation wouldn’t be a problem if you knew you had the choice to hit the sack when the need to take care of something or deal with something was over.

Just as getting hit wouldn’t be torture if you were willingly engaged in a boxing match, or if you were an S+M enthusiast who enjoyed the pain another was inflicting on you with consent.

Just as drowning wouldn’t be torture if you just made a mistake in your swimming pool and sucked in some water by mistake.

What makes these torture is that they have no control over the stressor, the thing they fear, and their captors do.

Their captors can strap them with their head down on a board, and put them through slow motion drowning. They can’t struggle to the surface, or reach for a scuba tank like an actor doing a scene underwatter.

Their captors control the music, control its volume, their duration of exposure. They can’t exit the house or yank the cord on the stereo.

Their captors take their clothes, handcuff them and restrain them in stress positions, and so on and so forth, and it is the pain and suffering inflicted by these techniques, which are means by which people get cooperation.

We got these practices out of SERE training. That training was meant to illustrate to trainees that everybody has their breaking point, and what to expect as people take them to that point. It’s meant to deliberately put our soldiers through the humiliation and suffering of such capture, to prepare them for an encounter with that. What makes SERE training not torture is that the soldier consents to it, and knows that the moment it starts to get out of hand, somebody will intervene. In other words, however small of a degree of control over the situation the soldier has, they have it there.

Our detainees have no such luck. And with torture, if they happen to be innocent, but the torturer doesn’t happen to agree? It won’t matter.

Which brings me to my next point: Why are you folks so willing to bray about how tough you are, yet so unwilling to acknowledge these techniques for what they are, and what they are meant to do? It’s real brave of the Right Wing to play this double game of hyping the benefits of taking the gloves off, yet pretending that the gloves are still on when we use techniques like this. I guess if we’re not disembowelling people or lowering them into acid baths, we’re still not torturing people.

Has it occured to anybody here that this whole charade is reliant on the idea that torture methods somehow stopped being developed in medieval times?

No, no, the SERE training we created is itself a reverse engineering of quite modern torture techniques used by our enemies among the Axis Powers and Communist blocs of Europe and Asia.

And what was their purpose? To turn the victims into willing repeaters of propaganda and willing supporters of their government’s policies. These are BRAINWASHING techniques, not intelligence gathering techniques. These are techniques that are used in the countries we despise as rogue states, failed states, dictatorships, and authoritarian regimes to re-educate people.

It’s only our vision of Hollywood cops beating confessions and clues out of people that leads us to conclude that this is a workable, long term strategy. The illusion that all we have to do to win a war is break the other side’s will to resist while we maintain our own.

Going into this, these people know they may be tortured, though. Let’s recall that in the recently released memo, we had somebody being waterboarded something like eighty to a hundred times in the course of their interrogations. Why? If we got good information from this, all that we needed, the first time would be enough. Instead, we get dozens of such sessions. I think I can tell you why: we were getting hogwash, and the folks doing the interrogating were correcting for the bad information of the last session by doing the next.

Of course, the interrogators saying, “we couldn’t get anything” would be greeted by pressure to go back and get something anyways.

And that is the essential problem with torture, the black, authoritarian heart of the matter. Torture is the state insisting that you know something, or should believe something, and not letting up until you agree. If you know something, perhaps you say it. But if the interogator doesn’t agree, even if you’re telling the truth, the interrogator could run over that truth and then back right over it again without letting up in their quest to get to what they want to know.

Torture is a practice that doesn’t acknowledge, in its construction, that an interrogator can be wrong, and that in trying to force an outcome, force confessions and the divulging of information, it is likely to destroy clear recollection, and substitute false information in its place.

What is this tremendous upside to torture that folks on the right can appeal to to justify the abandonment of America’s principles, of its hard-earned, hard-won wisdom about interrogation?

I’ll tell you what this is really about: this is about people who want their government to take out their frustrations and their hatred on the enemy, and who think that anybody who holds back for any reason, doesn’t share their concern for stopping those who harmed us. Unfortunately, while we may feel better, believing that our govenrment is inflicting pain on our enemies, the reality is, the techniques being employed do very little to improve our intelligence on the situation, so all it amounts to is a sordid self-indulgence.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2009 11:07 AM
Comment #281598

The quote I was referring to:

“They can’t take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That’s when we come in and talk to them.”

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2009 11:23 AM
Comment #281602

Eric,

By all means let’s drop everything and have an investigation.
But we can’t just stop with Pelosi.

I want to know everything.
I want to know what people knew and when they knew it.
I want names named.
I want to know where our black ops prisons are and why we established them in the first place.
I want to see the evidence that kept innocent people imprisoned for years for merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I want to know why we had this big push to go to Iraq.
I want to know why we pulled troops out of Afghanistan when virtually the the entire world supported the operation, and why, and who ginned up the evidence to take them to Iraq where we had very little support.
I want to know why we went into Iraq so light that we were unable to hold what we took and had to go back and retake areas over and over.
I want to know why we didn’t hold ammo dumps that eventually ended up being the supply depots for the IEDs that killed our troops.
I want to know why we have treated this whole “war on terror” thing as a half-assed operation.
I want to know why we had to “stay the course” when it obviously wasn’t working, and why it took nearly three years of our men and women dying needlessly to change strategy.

I want to know why my country used torture techniques that we prosecuted German and Japanese officers for using after WW2. If it wasn’t OK then why is it OK now?

I want heads on pikes, and I don’t care which political party they are from.

Be careful what you wish for Eric, it might just come true.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 15, 2009 12:10 PM
Comment #281609

Interesting, while the far Right wish to divert attention, by implicating Pelosi. I think it has become more evident, that the need for a full scale investigation becomes more necessary. I was intitially under the belief we should put this to rest, for the good of the nation. But since Cheney and Republican apologists have decided to disseminate the facts, perhaps it would be best that a true picture of what transpired and who authorized what should be revealed.

The Right seems interested in selecting which documents are disclosed. A public investigation would and should reveal a more complete picture of this despicable policy.

One last thing, since torture evidently was U.S policy. Shouldn’t the people convicted for Abu Ghraib, have their convictions overturned. Was it not part of their defense, that they were encouraged to treat there prisoners this way, by people they believe were part of foreign intelligence? How could the United States stand by and watch these soldiers be convicted, when they were only following U.S. policy?

Posted by: Cube at May 15, 2009 2:17 PM
Comment #281610

While it is sweet to watch the liars like Nancy Pelosi squirm and the former Guantanmo opponents refuse to really shut it down, we have to remember the truth.

As Dianne Feinstein said, 2002 was a different time. Nancy Pelosi made the same sorts of calculations that the Bush administration officials did. Their decisions at that time probably stopped terrorist attacks and saved lives.

The difference between people like me and people like Pelosi is that I want to protect America always and everywhere. Good Americans don’t change their mind when it fits their politics.

Of course, Pelosi doesn’t seem very smart. Maybe she was in fact dupped, but by her on stupidity and lack of attention.

So this is my question to Nancy – you cannot fix stupid and it is hard to fix unethical, which are you?

The right response is to move on. Nancy would be as guilty as anybody else, but it was the right thing to do THEN. Changing the policy is the right thing to do NOW.

Posted by: Christine at May 15, 2009 2:40 PM
Comment #281613

Eric, water boarding as Classic? Who are you kidding? Water Boarding WAS torture during the medieval ages, the Inquisition, during WWII, the Korean War and Viet Nam War. Water boarding as torture is, contrary to your spin, as classic a definition as they come. Nothing liberal or conservative about water boarding. It’s torture, always has been and always will be in the eyes with any capacity for empathy for one water boarded, or with a belief in due process before punishment and execution or retribution, which is PRECISELY what the Bush Administration was engaged in, having already obtained all the useful information they could by non-tortuous means.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 2:50 PM
Comment #281614

Christine,

So are you in favor of independent investigation which might prove the case against Pelosi or exonerate her, along with all others involved in the authorization of enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the Bush White House? Or not?

Or, are you content to prejudge along partisan lines foresaking the best interests of the nation and America’s future going forward, preserving one law for the governors and another for the rest of us, so like that of King George’s rule over the Colonialists?

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 2:54 PM
Comment #281615

Eric, it is a pleasure to agree with you for a change. Yes. Let’s have a full and transparent independent investigation of ALL those involved in the approval of torture as DEFINED by precedential, NOT presidential, law.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 2:56 PM
Comment #281616

What I find interesting is that Pelosi, from what she is saying, as Intelligence Committee chairwoman, had only 2 meetings in several years with the CIA, and she couldn’t be bothered to make it to one of them?

Or did I read the chain of events wrong on that one?

If what I posit is true, she’s either lying or incompetent. IMO.

Posted by: rhinehold at May 15, 2009 3:32 PM
Comment #281619

Eric,

>Loud music, sleep deprivation, and even waterboarding are not torture in the classic and visceral sense the word is meant to convey.

I hope I never live next door to you. You scare me, but then you probably have access to good drugs, given your disconnection from reality.:)
(Just joking)

Seriously, I agree with you completely that this calls for investigation. Unfortunately that isn’t the path Republicans want. I’ll gladly sacrifice Nancy to watch Dick and George serve time.

I’m beginning to think that there will be enough call for a truth commission that Obama is not going to be able to avoid it. Outrage may lead to prosecution. Poor Republicans, they were born with a silver foot in their mouths.

While I don’t think torture or rendition is something new or restricted to Republican administrations, the audacity and ultimately stupid miscalculation of Dick Cheney is why we’re going down this road. It kind of reminds me of Clemens and baseball. It’s replete with hypocrisy, but you wonder why can’t he see what is coming and just shut up?

Posted by: gergle at May 15, 2009 4:02 PM
Comment #281621

I always figured some high level Dems knew what was going on but didn’t want to admit to it. It is about time we had an independent investigation in this matter just to see how many in congress start to squirm. You can’t tell me that this was only a republican thing and all the democrats in congress were dumb to the situation

Posted by: kap at May 15, 2009 4:43 PM
Comment #281625

David

I am content to either leave it alone or put in into the actual court system. If a prosecutor thinks he has a case against Pelosi, Yoo or anybody else, let him bring it. A politicized hearing will not produce anything but a political kangaroo court. This is what third world despots do. We have an intact court system. Let it work.

Remember all the hoopla about Fitzmas? One guy was found guilty of a tangential crime. The guy who actually admitted to doing the deed was not even charged.

Gergle

See above. In the case of a real trial, we would find out lots of things. Maybe we might even get an estimate of how many lives were saved by the harsh techniques.

A trial would have rules of evidence and rules of law. You first would have to determine which laws you think Bush et al broke. Your interpretation is unlikely to be the same one the law will determine.

IMO – this should not be a case at all. BUT if you want a case, make it a legal one. Do not follow the fascist policy of determining guilt and then looking for the crime.

If Pelosi is guilty in a court of law, punish her. Otherwise move on. The same goes for all others.

The Dems are in the uncomfortable position of really being in charge. It is more fun to blame than the lead.

When President Obama got the facts, he started to behave more like (OMG) Bush. The Iraq policy is not much changed; Afghanistan is following the same trajectory; military tribunals are coming back and by the time Guantanamo actually closes, many of the bad guys will have died of old age. Facts are hard things.

Pelosi understood the facts in 2002. Only now she wants to pretend otherwise. You all may have forgotten how it was back then. Not me. I would prefer to have terrorist discomfort on my hand than American blood.

Posted by: Christine at May 15, 2009 5:48 PM
Comment #281626

KAP, what Congress persons knew and when they knew it is irrelevant from a legal stand point. Congress persons were, under penalty of law, prohibited from sharing the information with ANYONE, including members of their own Committees in Congress.

Therefore, from a legal point of view, the only persons with potential legal liability for violating the laws regarding torture are those in the Bush administration and executive branch of government. Congress persons were powerless to influence the torture policy.

That said, there are political implications for those in Congress who may have been aware of torture authorization, but, even those are muted by the Executive Branches and AG’s threats of prosecution should any Congress person leak the information given them regarding torture policy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 5:51 PM
Comment #281627

Christine said: “A politicized hearing will not produce anything but a political kangaroo court.”

Not entirely true. Congressional hearings will bring forth documentation and testimony as evidence. And if that evidence warrants, it can provide the Justice Department the necessary documentation to pursue prosecution. The Justice Department is afterall, the only agency capable of bringing the investigation and prosecution to the courts, save for an ancillary case over dispute between branches of government.

Christine said: “Remember all the hoopla about Fitzmas? One guy was found guilty of a tangential crime. The guy who actually admitted to doing the deed was not even charged.”

I fail to see the relevance. Failure of justice in the past is no defense against injustice or lack of justice in the future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 5:56 PM
Comment #281629

DRR
The point is that the Democrats knew what was going on and they could have stopped it 7yrs ago, but they didn’t. So your trying to say is that they knew but can’t be held responsible? BULLS—T.
They are just as responsible as Bush and who ever else. Knowing and not doing anything is just as much a crime as doing it. If the courts can’t do anything, we as citizens can by our VOTES. Pelosi and company are just as responsible as Bush and company.

Posted by: KAP at May 15, 2009 6:18 PM
Comment #281631

KAP, NO! They couldn’t stop it UNTIL they became the Majority Party capable of passing the legislation TO STOP IT, WHICH THEY DID!

Prior to that legislation, the Bush Administration’s Attorney General’s office held the legal sword over Congressional Democrat’s necks to NOT reveal ANYTHING to ANYONE regarding their secret briefings on what interrogation procedures. ERGO, regardless of what Pelosi was informed of, she was not permitted BY LAW to reveal what she learned, to anyone, in order to put a stop to it. Had she revealed what the Bush Admin. was doing regarding torture, she could have been prosecuted and imprisoned for violation of several laws regarding secrecy and perhaps, even treason.

If you want to hold Pelosi responsible for what she knew, you have a vote at the next election. IF however, you want to see the laws of this land upheld, then you have to give Pelosi a pass, because she upheld the law and revealed what she knew about torture, to NO ONE, which was the law under the Bush Administration.

Your commentary’s call to ‘hang’ Pelosi for UPHOLDING the law is what is BullCrap. In fact, the entire Republican government’s attempts to torture, and punish people for political reasons instead of sound legal basis is precisely the kind of BullCrap the American people resoundingly REJECTED in 2006 and 2008.

We have only the Republicans to thank for bringing these damned Democrats to power. And the Duopoly’s game of musical chairs at the seats of power continues to the disadvantage of law respecting and law abiding, hard working and loyal American citizens. Dern Shame if you ask me, and a Pox on both their Parties.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 6:35 PM
Comment #281632

DRR
So as a minority party they couldn’t introduce legislation banning harsh interrogation methods without revealing state secrets? BULLS—T.

Posted by: KAP at May 15, 2009 6:40 PM
Comment #281633

KAP, what would have been the point. Republicans, you remember, those LOCKSTEP republicans in the Senate would have blocked or filibustered any attempts to change the law. But, to change the law, they would first have had to make the case that the Bush Administration had authorized torture, and as I have explained several times now, the Democrats who were made aware of this, were prohibited from sharing such information EVEN WITH PERSONS in their own party in Congress or Committees. Ergo, there was no basis for bringing forth such legislation without Democrats subjecting themselves to prosecution and imprisonment by the Bush Administration.

What part of 1..2..3.. order of events are so obtuse that your commentary fails to grasp the order. To pass legislation against torture, they would have to justify the legislation to fellow Congressional voters. TO justify such legislation, they would have to reveal TOP SECRET information that the Bush Administration had authorized extra-legal interrogation techniques, which would have been a violation of the law.

Unless they could make the case that torture was authorized, legislation to ban it would have appeared to be stupid and a waste of time, since we already had laws on the books against water-boarding and torture. To make that case, they would have had to violate the laws regarding top secret information and subjected themselves to imprisonment by the Bush administration.

They took the far easier and vastly MORE efficient route, and simply got themselves elected the majority in government, instead. Not that the Republicans really left them any viable choice.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 15, 2009 6:52 PM
Comment #281634

DRR
The thing you are bringing up is that it was OK for Pelosi to lie through her teeth, but you want to hang Bush. But to do so would be implicating high level Democrats in the process and those high level Democrats know that including the President. By the way What Top Secret information. Since when are interrogation methods Top Secret? Interrogations happen every day and most people know that.

Posted by: KAP at May 15, 2009 7:19 PM
Comment #281636

Christine-
As I understand it, it’s still being closed down. We’re just trying the folks in the tribunal under different rules, rules which exclude testimony and evidence gained under torture (or enhanced interrogation, if you wish to apply the euphemism), give defendants their choice of lawyer, put the burden of proof on the government when the defense objects to hearsay evidence.

You’re committing the mistake here of accepting a similarity of broad categorical complaints (the re-establishment of the military tribunals) with the alignment of the details of those charges (the rights and lack of same of the defendant.).

You’re also not facing something important here: Even if Pelosi is somehow responsible, the responsiblity pools deepest in the waters of the executive branch.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2009 7:34 PM
Comment #281637

Christine wrote “If Pelosi is guilty in a court of law, punish her.”

Pelosi is guilty of what? Failure to report a crime? But, as David Remer pointed out, she was prohibited by law for even discussing the briefings as a matter of national security.

She certainly wasn’t responsible for designing, authorizing or executing a policy of allegedly torturing detainees in US custody.

This effort to ensnare a Democrat, Pelosi, in what was clearly a policy of the Bush administration is sad. The defense that, she allegedly knew about it too, is nothing more than a cheap effort to divert attention from the true protaganists in the “enhanced interrogation” policies of the Bush administration.

Quite frankly, I think that Obama has taken the correct approach in this matter: it was wrong, the policy has been changed, lets move on.

Posted by: Rich at May 15, 2009 7:45 PM
Comment #281638

KAP-
Of course Methods and intelligence are kept secret. Should we just go and let the folks in al-Qaeda know we’ve discovered something about their communications? Should we tell everybody how we train our spies to leave their messages?

Or is the only thing worth keeping secret is something the previous administration did illegally?

As for legislation against torture? Well, this all occured during the time period the Republicans controlled Congress. But let’s say that the Republicans who throw themselves under the bus of public opinion to defend it now were willing in that time to come out against these techniques, and legislate against them.

And then Bush gets out his Veto Pen.

Yeah, you see how that works? And even it passes, Bush make a signing statement relying on his Regent University trained forth tier law graduate’s opinion that he’s President, and therefore God.

Which neglects the fact that under American law torture of any kind was already illegal, and there was plenty of precedent on all fronts to indicate that the “enhanced” interrogation methods were illegal to start with. Why not push for prosecution? Well, good luck, because those same lawyers essentially advocate using the Justice Department as the President’s personal law firm, rather than the enforcer of this nation’s laws.

Do you understand, by now, why Liberals were so alarmed and disturbed by the previous President? Everywhere you look, the barriers people expected to protect them from a runaway train of an executive branch were being run down.

The fact that Republicans are so uniformly in favor of leaving the brakes off does not reassure most Americans concerning what they would do with restored power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2009 7:55 PM
Comment #281639

S.D.
Interrogation methods are not secret or even confidential they are just not publicly talked about. Now it is you on the defensive because of Pelosi’s comments and the Democratic Party is showing it’s true colors of being just as corrupt as the Republicans. Your party is no different when being confronted with the truth.

Posted by: KAP at May 15, 2009 8:07 PM
Comment #281641

David

Fitzmas was not a failure of justice. Justice was served, whether you like the outcome or not. After due process of law, a result was achieved. They evidently failed even to indict Armitage because they determined no law was broken.
Dems were simply angry because the law hit what they considered the wrong political target.

If you have a legal proceeding here, a similar result will ensue.

Democrats, having won a complete majority, just cannot give up the hatred and the joy of victimhood. It is getting stale and is harmful to the country, however.

Stephen

It is still being closed down … about as fast as it would have been closed down anyway. I am very pleased that the world cuts us more slack now that Obama has changed the rhetoric. It proves that you can fool most of the people most of the time. But let’s not fool ourselves.

Torture, BTW, may be illegal but the definition of torture is fluid and this is precisely where we have trouble.

Re responsibly for the enhanced interrogation – I think Pelosi shares the credit for taking the hard choices to make America safe in 2002. Unfortunately, she lacks the moral courage to stand up now. That is why she is despicable now. She did the right thing in 2002.

Rich

See above – I don’t think Pelosi is guilty of any crime. She simply lacks moral courage, which is not illegal. Otherwise most politicians would be in jail. I am just calling the bluff of others on this blog.

I agree with you that Obama had originally taken the right course. He bent a little to the left of his party.

The irony is that Pelosi threw the net that ensnared her. She is getting what she deserves, but I agree that we should move on.

Posted by: Christine at May 15, 2009 10:35 PM
Comment #281642

Christine,

Remember OJ? Like it or not justice was served.

Prosecution always involves, political overtones and undertones. As much as people like to believe in process of law, it is always influenced, to some degree, by the current politics, which was my earlier point about hypocrisy.

Taxation without representation was due process of law, as was treason. The hanging of a single man for the Whiskey Rebellion, and release of others, followed by the political ouster of the laws and administrators that led to it, was also due process of law.
As David points out, political revenge is available to those who disagree with the current “law”. Republicans (in particular Dick Cheney) can only hope that Obama can forestall and redirect this. Perhaps Dick will go down as a sacrificial lamb (or Tasmanian Devil), and that is his hope to rally the political right wingnuts. The mistake he is making is that the “silent majority” will follow. Another Dick (the tricky variety) made the same miscalculation. At least it will be his first real sacrifice for his country.

Americans are deeply uncomfortable with where Bushco led this country. You may yell long and hard what he did what was necessary, but that silent majority, uncomfortable perhaps with themselves, may look to purge that demon, particularly, if that demon keeps pointing at the people’s own hypocrisy. Better to slink off and be the nail that doesn’t stick out above the others.

Posted by: gergle at May 15, 2009 11:23 PM
Comment #281643

I love how George Will uses the phrase “tincture of lawlessness” to mean “no laws were actually broken, but I’m being completely partisan here”.

I think Michael Kinsley is much more in touch politically, and aloof at the same time, with the changing winds of politics.

Posted by: gergle at May 15, 2009 11:41 PM
Comment #281646

Gergle

Currently Americans are deeply uncomfortable with how “Bushco” led the country. In 2002, they were deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of having our building blown up and our way of live destroyed. Who knows how they will feel in 2010?

We elect leaders based on the changing will of the people. We have due process of law based on the longer term consent of the governed.

You accuse the Bush Administration (and Pelosi) of cutting legal corners and choosing expediency in trying to protect the American people from terrorist attacks. But then you go on to advocate cutting legal corners and choosing expediency to punish them for that, with revenge as motivation… or worse as you imply that the “American people” feel guilty for wanting to be protected back in 2002. Not good.

BTW - I don’t think Cheney really gives a damn about what you might want to do to him. He is a unique individual who just doesn’t seem to care about the opinions of others when he is doing what he thinks is right. We used to call that character.

Posted by: Christine at May 16, 2009 12:12 AM
Comment #281647

Someone in my circle of acquaintances sent me this e-mail, which I’ve edited out identifying information at their request:

We learned about this in a [redacted]class on National Security Law. The committee heads get informed but have little power to do anything about what they are hearing. They can then seek broader committee notice, they can try and yank funding in closed session, but this is a secret briefing and there would probably be a “security clearance” issue if one peep issued publicly. While not the greatest testament to Pelosi’s skills — maybe she could have creatively worked out some overt or covert legislative means (a la the Boland Amendment) to attack the covert action — it was essentially a fait accompli once Bush signed the covert action finding and her notification was a mere procedural hoop like waiting for a check to clear an account that is more than full of the necessary funds. It’s a pretty lame attack when scrutinized in context.

The real question here is when Republicans will start taking responsibility and having some kind of recognition of what they were actually supporting here.

Christine-
2010, it will be closed down. I don’t recall Bush giving any timeline. Obama’s changed more than rhetoric, and that’s part of why his rhetoric worked.

America gets cut slack because they know that the people who were pushing this policy are out, and though Obama may not be hastening its end to everybody’s satisfaction, it will be an end nonetheless.

The definition of Torture isn’t fluid. The UN Convention against torture forbids it like this:

For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental,

is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession,

punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed,

or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind,

when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

I want to ask you a rhetorical question here: what is the ultimate endgame here? Do you wish to justify torture? To rationalize it? To force the other side to deny what they claim is the torturous nature of the questioning?

As I said quite some time ago on this site, either this is torture, and torture is what is necessary to crack these hardcases, and these techniques work to that end, or we’re dealing with massive wimps who fold like tents when exposed to the techniques that Republicans are always minimizing as minor and humorous.

On the one hand, it’s been proven that even the hardcases can be cracked by non-torture interrogation methods. We got Zarqawi after getting a high level subordinate to rat him out. We didn’t a finger on that bastard.

On the other hand, if our techniques really are as soft as the GOP apologists claim they are, either we’re using them on folks we have no business underestimating, or we’re using them on people who are not tough nuts to crack…

which removes the entire justification for the techniques. If they’re that vulnerable, simple, ordinary interrogation techniques are likely capable of doing the job.

We’re being had, one way or another.

This whole Pelosi thing, as my associate up there states, is pretty much crap. We know who took the lead on this. We know who’s responsible.

The endgame seems here to revolve around paralyzing moral indignation about torture, preventing the Democrats from getting too enthusiastic about following this thing through to the end.

If I were just being casual, I might point out that Democrats aren’t tremendously attached to Pelosi, but that would be lame. Let me be blunt, then: This is the Republicans trying, yet again, to dig themselves up out of a political mess of their own making by shifting blame or attention onto somebody else. This is basic hypocrisy, the guilty pointing out who else is involved, not to correct or acknowledge the wrong, but to give them the room to avoid being held to account for it.

KAP-
The biggest problem here with your argument is that even if it’s true, making it doesn’t lesson the crimes of your party or political affiliates. It just highlights it and adds an obvious ploy to undermine further accountability on top of that.

Maybe the Democrats have a problem, but the direction of the rank and file of the party is not towards rationalizing more of this BS, but eliminating it. Republicans are trying to find a way to avoid being moved from their conservative ideological position. But the better they get at doing that, the more they’re going to end up stuck in the situation that’s been kiling their popularity and sinking their political reputations.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2009 1:23 AM
Comment #281648

“He [Cheney] is a unique individual who just doesn’t seem to care about the opinions of others when he is doing what he thinks is right. We used to call that character.”

Let me add that he also doesn’t seem to care about the truth or the rule of law in pursuing what he considers to be “right.” I thought that we used to call such persons meglomaniacs.

Posted by: Rich at May 16, 2009 5:59 AM
Comment #281649

Christine
Nancy Pelosi may be a lot of things but stupid is not one of them. If you ever get a chance to talk to her you would realise that in a hurry. Beyond that,she did not fall off the turn up truck to become the first woman Speaker of the House. I would suggest you dismiss your dismissive fantasies.

Posted by: bills at May 16, 2009 7:27 AM
Comment #281651

BillS

If she is not stupid, it means she is lying. I am not sure which I would prefer in such a serious case.

Stephen

We were not trying to get a confession or punish these guys. It was not based on discrimination of any kind. It did not cause any permanent injury.

And as you write the convention - It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

I think it would be terrible to suffer these things, but then I also think it would be horrible to plan, condone or carry out murders of thousands of innocent civilians, which is what these guys did.

I also think it is immoral NOT to use whatever means necessary to save thousands of lives when these kinds of guys are in custody.

I know you think it is proven that these techniques do not work and you seem to believe that political leaders like Nancy Pelosi or professional civil servants just do it for the hell of it. I disagree.

I know I would be more likely to talk under the threat. I might try to lie, but if the interogator had some information to check, he might get useful stuff.

We should probably have a debate re the costs and benefits of this kind of thing. Maybe we should declassify the results, as Dick C asks. Then we could judge. But you really have no moral argument if you are talking about trading pain of a terrorist for the lives of innocents.

Posted by: Christine at May 16, 2009 8:37 AM
Comment #281653

Christine, the third option is she is neither stupid nor lying, but, the CIA is incorrect in its facts or wording of them. The CIA has already corrected their statement that another Congressman was briefed 4 times, now correcting their original statement to accurately reflect that Congressperson’s ONE briefing, NOT FOUR.

There are other possibilities too, such as the CIA failing to specifically address the facts asserted by Pelosi. Pelosi says she was not informed of water boarding having been implemented. If you read carefully the CIA’s statement, they don’t mention water boarding in their refutation of Pelosi’s statement, AT ALL. Leaving open the possibility that Pelosi and the CIA are talking past each other without addressing the specific same issue or fact set.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 16, 2009 9:43 AM
Comment #281654

DRR & S.D.
Since when is the Democrats above lying to save their own skins? Neither party is above board when it comes to finding fault. IMO Pelosi and company are just as much to blame as Bush and company. As I see it you two are using a double standard here the same as some on the red side do. It’s time to put all this aside and start getting this country back on it’s feet.

Posted by: KAP at May 16, 2009 10:05 AM
Comment #281660

KAP, changing the subject and putting up straw man replies doesn’t win the debate.

NO ONE said Democrats were above lying. The CIA is DEFINITELY not above lying. The subject was the need and call for an independent investigation. I for one am all for it - everyone involved in the DECISION MAKING to authorize water boarding should be investigated.

Abu Zabaida was aware of the Water Boarding, but being aware doesn’t warrant their being investigated or prosecuted. Those making the decision to violate our treaties and laws by authorizing water boarding in direct violation of the those treaties and laws however, should be both investigated and prosecuted.

Whether Democrats lie is a non-issue. Of course Democrats lie, as do Republicans. Politicians do that. The Supreme Court not too long ago upheld their RIGHT to lie to the people and media as Constitutional. Which is why we need an Article V Constitutional Convention. But that’s a whole other topic, too.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 16, 2009 4:06 PM
Comment #281663

DRR
Your the one who said that Pelosi should get a pass. IMO a special investigation is needed, in that we agree. But do you think the Democrats want that, I don’t.

Posted by: KAP at May 16, 2009 5:16 PM
Comment #281666

Christine-

We were not trying to get a confession or punish these guys. It was not based on discrimination of any kind. It did not cause any permanent injury.

Read the standards again. It’s right out of the convention, the language of which shapes our torture law. If you’re inflicting pain and suffering, mental or physical, to coerce people to give you information, it’s torture. The legal sanction part of that deals with pain, suffering and injuries sustained in the course of a legal sentence. An example would be the guard having to shoot a man trying to escape. If he survives and is in pain, that pain and suffering cannot be considered torture. It also doesn’t cover the pain and suffering of somebody being executed.

I think it would be terrible to suffer these things, but then I also think it would be horrible to plan, condone or carry out murders of thousands of innocent civilians, which is what these guys did. I also think it is immoral NOT to use whatever means necessary to save thousands of lives when these kinds of guys are in custody.

Whatever means necessary. We have a system in place which helps us to determine necessity. We also have years of experience getting information from reliable, non-torture interrogations, years that have taught us that it isn’t necessary to beat confessions out of people, that we can get perfectly good evidence without doing it that way.

We did this with the Nazis and the Japanese. You know. The guys who killed millions? If we, in the midst of one of the worst, bloodiest wars in history, with more than just an occasional violent terrorist attack to fear nonetheless kept our cool and used non-torture methods, why do we, with no such imminent, organized threat insist that these terrorists jackasses are such supermen as to require “enhanced” techniques?

The willingness to go to extremes in the defense of our country doesn’t necessary correspond with the usefulness of the methods employed. It does correspond to a politically advantageous tendency towards badmouthing those who stick with the boring old proven methods, rather than experimenting with the more “liberated” approaches to getting information out of people. The idea seems to be that the more transgressive we get with people, the more we can work our way past their resistance to tell us the truth.

But the methods to break people’s will to resist questioning also break their will to resist doing what they’re told, and if that includes agreeing with the interrogator about a theory that they know might be wrong, that will happen. That has been known to happen with torture.

This isn’t people like me valuing the comfort and peace of mind of terrorists over the lives of others.

First, governments make mistakes, arrest the wrong people. In terrorism cases, things are no different. What makes torture worse is that it deprives the person ultimately of the ability to resist. That means more people become suspects, even if the person interrogated is innocent. What would that mean for Americans, especially if the President, as Bush did, allow American terror suspects to be treated this way?

Second, I will reiterate the undependability of torture. Sure, somebody might get you to reveal the information. But what if they don’t believe you? They’ll keep pushing, and you will, almost certainly, do what you need to do to stop the pain. What’s moral about a process that muddies the waters on intelligence instead of clearing them? Sure, you’ll feel like you’re leaving no method unturned in your quest to protect America, but effectively, you’ll be generating a whole load of bad information. Bad information is a hazard, as it misdirects our resources, our attentions, our ability to make sound judgments.

The real question is not how far you will go to protect America. The question is whether that zeal propels you towards professional discipline and an approach that defends America’s integrity as well as its shores, or whether it propels you towards methods that demonstrate the zeal to protect America without generating the positive results to justify the negative side-effects.

KAP-
Don’t equate the two. The Bush administration revoked the security clearance of most members of Congress, and basically them telling Pelosi was informing them after the fact. It seems rather convenient that this equivalency comes up, with somebody who was merely told about something after the fact being held as just as bad as somebody creating the policy and the apparatus to carry it out.

You folks want to share the blame so that it doesn’t remain clear that your folks lead the way on it. When it comes to your policy on the economy, on the Iraq war, this fallacy of “you did it too” seems to pop up quite a bit.

Trouble is, it doesn’t make what you folks did right, or clear you of responsibility. At best, it paralyzes the reckoning that the actions demand.

What you should understand is that there are tens of millions of Democrats and independents out there who did not sanction torture, and do not see themselves as equivalent to those who did. There are plenty of people who would be willing to throw Pelosi under the bust to see justice done on torture. Don’t underestimate them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2009 6:11 PM
Comment #281668

S.D.
Your party sanctioned the war on terror as much as the other. Your party sanctioned the interrogation methods just like the other. Both parties are to blame for the mess this country is in right now. You want to hang Bush and company but want to give your own a pass. I hope to GOD there is an independent investigation into all this just to see who in fact is telling the truth or who is the liers.

Posted by: KAP at May 16, 2009 8:34 PM
Comment #281669

KAP-
My Party did not equally sanction the war, nor the interrogation methods.

But you know what? We do need an independent investigation. And a lot fewer assumptions from the right for how it would exonerate them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2009 11:07 PM
Comment #281675

KAP
You are seeing a lot of support here for an investigation from all sides. Good. I would hope the investigation is conducted by the World Court in order that partisanship becomes a non-issue and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: bills at May 17, 2009 3:41 AM
Comment #281676

Thankfully the World Court has no jurisdiction so we won’t have to worry about that crap.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 17, 2009 3:46 AM
Comment #281678

Your right Stephen, they didn’t have the majority yet, but they all knew what was going on and did NOTHING and for that they are just as guilty.

Posted by: KAP at May 17, 2009 8:58 AM
Comment #281681

Pelosi went too far in her attack on career professionals, working under a Clinton appointed chief that even her friend Leon Panetta had to correct her. Her friends are trying to rein her in and excuse her stupidity/perfidy/airheadedness. As an outside observer, I am under no such obligation. She should just cut it out.

The CIA doesn’t just go in there with a few index cards. A briefing to congress is a legal, ethical and routine obligation.

I don’t understand why good people like you are so enthusiastic about defending her. Do you really believe that dozens of career CIA officials and TWO prominent DEMOCRATIC appointees are so stupid or dishonest? Or is it more likely that one women with very strong partisan streak is wrong/lying.

Pelosi is an embarrassment. She should move on and out.
Stephen

I read what you wrote – confession or punishment. Neither applies. If there is more that you did not include, I am sorry.

My father was at D-day and the Battle of the Bulge. The rough tactics he and his friends laughed about would be called torture today. If you watch movies made around that time – made by and for people with the actual experience – you will see lots of examples of enhanced techniques. We have become hypersensitive to accusations of torture. Terrorists are instructed to claim torture. They cannot win in warfare, so they are going for lawfare.

You are certainly a good man. I can tell that by your writing. What I think you are failing to account for is circumstance and passions. A lot of things that seem to make sense when you are sitting safely at home, are different when you are in a stressful environment. This is true even in very simple things. Everybody can resist that extra donut or wake up at 5 am to exercise when they are thinking about it the night before. In the real situation, things are different.

I keep a journal to check my own bad memory. I wrote after 9/11 that we should be tough but thoughtful. Meanwhile, many of my colleagues were calling for bloody vengeance. After the passage of time, I still think we need to be tough but thoughtful. But now many of the guys calling for bloody vengeance back then are complaining that some terrorists were made to feel pain w/o long term harm. That is the case with Pelosi, IMO. A thoughtful person would understand that circumstances change and so do responses.

Re torture working – nobody believes that the bad guys will give you great information under torture or any other way. You have to check their information against other information. Some interrogation is designed to confuse the terrorists, so that he forgets his cover story. His cover story has some truth. If he forgets which parts he should lie about, you might have something.

Neither of us is an expert on this. I think we agree that torture rarely works. AND it has been employed rarely – i.e. on only a few people. We should actually take a scientific approach and see what information was obtained and how it was used and at what cost. Right now, none of us knows.

BillS

Techniques as we are accused of using are routine in most of the Muslim world, China, Russia, Cuba most of Africa and even a democracy like India. Singapore openly employs corporal punishment. If you make a long lists of all the people involved in these things and the severity, the U.S. would be way down on the list. I also am glad (with Rhinhold) that the world court has no jurisdiction in the U.S. BUT the world court would be really busy BEFORE it got to us.

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 12:05 PM
Comment #281682

Christine,

“Techniques as we are accused of using are routine in most of the Muslim world, China, Russia, Cuba most of Africa and even a democracy like India.”

Somehow I don’t find the thought that we would compare ourselves to these regimes comforting.

Has America sunk so low that we need to compare ourselves to third world countries in order to justify our actions?

Water boarding took place. We admitted it.
Water boarding is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which BTW, America claims to subscribe to.
We prosecuted war criminals that committed this act.
I will repeat my earlier question;

Why, when this form of torture wasn’t OK after WW2, is this form of torture OK when we do it?

We are either the good guys or we’re not.
If we are the good guys we need to stop comparing American actions to Totalitarian regimes, and third world countries.
If we’re not the good guys we need to stop describing America as the leader of the “civilized world”.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 17, 2009 2:53 PM
Comment #281685

Rocky

I was responding specifically to Bill’s comment about a world tribunal. They would just have a lot more to do before they got to our case.

I am in favor of holding America to a higher standard. I just refuse to be judged by countries whose stanards are so far below our own, which includes most of the members of the United Nations. Even our upstanding Western European friends employed a lot of hard tactics against when faced with terror threats in the 1970s and 1980s.

About being the good guys - it depends on the perceived necessity. When Nancy Pelosi accepted the need for harsh measures, she perceived a greater threat by NOT using them.

We ALL are selective in what we are outraged about. We accept drone attacks that would kill these guys in a flash of fire, but we don’t accept pouring water on them and leaving them physically unharmed.

We dropped atomic bombs and engaged in firebombing. Most historians think they saved lives, but they were certainly more horrendeous than simulating drowning on three bad men.

An earlier post talked about abortion. Some people accept partial birth abortion, while a majority of Americans find it immoral. How many abortions are committed each day?

The morality is not as clear as some people like to think, hence Nancy Pelsoi’s lapse.

Intelligence consists largely of the ability to make reasonable distinctions. I am not comparing us to most of the other members of the UN. I can make the distinction that we are much better. I can also make the distinction that we are not living up to the perfect standards. In today’s secure climate, I would oppose any harsh techniques. But I cannot rule them out always and everywhere, since I do not know what may come.

There are causes that I am willing to suffer and perhaps die for. There are situations I can think of where it would be morally right to risk the lives of my family. And there are situations where it would be worth it to sacrifice the life of a terrorist.

We both understand that legal and moral are not always the same thing. The Geneva convention, if it applied to the bad guys, would have allowed for their summary execution, since they were out of uniform and sheltering among civilians. We chose not to do that. Maybe it was a mistake.

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 3:32 PM
Comment #281686

Christine,

“I just refuse to be judged by countries whose stanards are so far below our own, which includes most of the members of the United Nations.”

Those other countries aren’t the point. If we are to adhere to a higher standard we must judge ourselves, and IMHO we fail to meet our own standards.


“We ALL are selective in what we are outraged about. We accept drone attacks that would kill these guys in a flash of fire, but we don’t accept pouring water on them and leaving them physically unharmed.

We dropped atomic bombs and engaged in firebombing.”

Both of these actions are deemed legal. Torture is not.

Yes, these are bad men, but in choosing not to treat them as POWs we choose to slip them in under the nebulous title of “enemy combatants”, thus allowing us to sidestep the Conventions we claim to adhere to. Yet though these men have committed criminal acts we also don’t treat them as criminals.
Oh, and BTW, we don’t torture criminals.

I notice that you danced around my question, so I will ask it again;

Why, when this form of torture wasn’t OK after WW2, is this form of torture OK when we do it?

Water boarding is torture by any definition, and torture is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 17, 2009 4:24 PM
Comment #281688

Christine,
>But now many of the guys calling for bloody vengeance back then are complaining that some terrorists were made to feel pain w/o long term harm. That is the case with Pelosi, IMO. A thoughtful person would understand that circumstances change and so do responses.

Really? Who are those people? Nancy called for bloody vengence? You have a source for that?

As for obtaining good information, you seem to flip flop on that issue. You are sanguine about using torture, if necessary. That’s the whole point, it isn’t. Even most effusive evaluations, thus far, have said there is no evidence one way or the other whether any good intelligence was obtained. I agree, we should find out. We should put this “24” fiction to rest once and for all.
Torturing witches to find justice is still done today, just not in this country, today. I hope.

Being tough and thoughtful was not apparently on the President’s agenda during his term.

Comparing the use of torture to abortion or the Atomic bomb is simply not a valid comparison in my opinion. Abortion is an issue of self determination and privacy, between you and your God,if you have one, IMO. Dresden or Hiroshima were tactics of an all out War, not intelligence gathering.

I can compare torture to the Killing Fields of Cambodia or the Annihilation of the American Indians or slavery, but the time and context simply makes these simply a shopping cart of horrors, not meaningful analysis. Are humans sometimes evil to other humans? You betcha. I suspect we’ll find that at the root of this, not tough, thoughtful tactics.

Posted by: gergle at May 17, 2009 7:05 PM
Comment #281689

Rocky,

Christine is defending Republicans who arbitrate those standards to meet whatever personal or political objectives they wish at the time. When you say, we fail to meet our own standards, you have to distinguish between our static standards in the Declaration of Independence and body of laws, or Republican political standards. Torture is a definition for Republicans subject to change as they determine necessary, and therefore the standard based on their definition is subject to whim and arbitrary political need.

There are Democrats who subscribe to the same sophistry based standards, malleable to the needs of the politician’s day.

As for the release of atomic weapons against a country using conventional weapons being legal, that can be debated till the cows come home. The fact is, there were no laws at all governing the use of atomic weapons when we became the first and only country to exercise that option, to date. We act as if there are laws governing the use of atomic weapons. But, in reality, they all boil down to American use is legal, and anyone else’s use without our permission is illegal.

Is it any wonder our enemies want nothing more than their own atomic weapons and ability to deliver them when and where they choose just like us.

Laws that stand the test of time are humane. It is impossible for me to grasp the underlying humanity arguments regarding the use of nuclear weapons. They all boil down to justification for their usage based on whether one’s own nation wins the war and survives, or not. If the Cold War taught us anything, it is this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 17, 2009 7:09 PM
Comment #281690

Rocky

As I wrote, I was talking specifically about Bill’s world court comment.

About the form of torture, I expect that it WAS indeed done on spies or asassins. It is just that in an age when we kept secrets better, nobody much knew or cared.

I am cynical. I think that sometimes you have to do nasty things and I am glad that someone is there to do them. Maybe it is a human tendency to scapegoat.

Re fire bombing and atomic bombing - the were “deemed legal”. So all that we need is to deem them legal and anything is okay?

You know that the Geneva conventions are signed between countries. The terrorists do not represent any signatories. They do not themselves abide by the conventions. If you are really looking for things that are “deemed legal” I think we - literally - have legal running room. You could well argue that we violated the sprit, but not the letter of the agreements. But if we can deem legal atomic bombs etc, I think we can shoe horn this one in too.

Finally, I really do think we need to look to the purposes. We don’t torture criminals because we don’t use it to punish or coerce confessions. The same goes for terrorists.

Criminals rarely fit the ticking bomb scenario. But the textbook case is indeed a criminal one. If a kidnapper held your daughter and had set it up so that she would die the next day, if necessary would you torture him to get him to talk? I would if I could. I would kill him if I thought it would save her. Legality would not be the thing foremost on my mind and I think there is a good chance a jury would see it my way.

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 7:23 PM
Comment #281691

David

You and I get to live most of our lives in a Kantian world because sometimes someone make the Hobbsean decisions in our name.

That is true of atomic weapons. We have them because we can. We stop others from getting them when we can. Most people around the world tacitly agree that it is better if fewer people have bombs, so we get good support. It really is a practical/power - not a moral issue. Iran has the “right” to develop weapons but I hope we have the “power” to stop them. I also believe that it is not in the general world interest for them to have such weapons and most of the world knows that, but it is not an issue of justice.

Re Republican-Dems - it really is not such an issue. Nancy Pelosi probably knew. Rockefeller did. The head of the CIA was a Dem appointed by Clinton. Most of the career CIA are Democrats. THey did the right thing.

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 7:31 PM
Comment #281695

Christine,

“Criminals rarely fit the ticking bomb scenario.”

The ticking time bomb senario is a canard. It’s a Hollywood fantasy.
There will never be such a thing and to evoke it as an excuse torture is just ridiculous.

To believe that there might be a senario by which we might torture a suspect, let’s use a Middle Eastern Terrorist as an example as that seems to be the thinking here, that might have knowledge of a plot that might be hours away from completion is a dream.
Such a terrorist has already made peace with his God and is ready to die for his cause.

Does anyone truly think that we could possibly save thousands of lives by torturing this man?

Christine, Jack Bauer and the TV program “24” are fantasies that have no basis in reality.


David,

You and I have both lived through the “duck and cover age” and we both know that the greatest application of atomic weapons is not through their actual use, but the fear of that use.

That they have only been dropped the two times speaks very loudly to this fact.

I do agree with you that the line was drawn and that politicians continue to move the line where ever, and whenever they feel it is politically expedient to do so.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 17, 2009 8:24 PM
Comment #281696

Christine-
Go back and read what I quoted.

You think: I’m advocating the government’s power to inflict pain on terrorists.

Wrong: what you’re being led to support is the government’s power to inflict pain on terrorism suspects.

And torture has a notorious reputation for confusing the innocent with the guilty. Torture anybody, and the innocent will confess, give information or do anything else as if they were guilty.

Because that’s what the person who holds the power of pain and suffering over them tells them.

New reports are telling us that some of the first questions the Bush Administration asked about in the sessions where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others were interrogated were about connections between al Qaeda and Iraq.

More than four thousand Americans are dead in Iraq, because of this war.

Torture also made that war more difficult, through the despicable revelations of Abu Ghraib. We cancelled out a huge amount of the good will we had left with that debacle.

Don’t you see the problem? You keep on trying to make this all about how truly dedicated the advocates of torture are to our country, but the trouble is, torture, if many of the things we hear are correct, doesn’t really do much good for us. It makes it harder to punish terrorists, since we can’t put them through our normal justice system. It’s not a strategy we can advertise publically shamelessly. It’s not very reliable in getting intelligence, and it’s certainly very easy to abuse.

My focus isn’t principly on what it does to the terrorists. It’s on what it does to us.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2009 8:35 PM
Comment #281697

Stephen

We couldn’t put them through the normal system anyway.

Let’s declassify both the torture memos (as we have) and the analysis of results and let’s see what might have happened.

I think the harsh techniques might be justified, although rarely, much like we have used it. In that I am in the minority. But more people think that it is justified often or sometimes. In fact, 71% of Americans think it is sometimes, always or (like me) rarely justified and only 25% think it is never justified, according to Pew (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1210/torture-opinion-religious-differences).

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 9:20 PM
Comment #281699

Christine-
The criteria that I would trust would not be a poll of your average American, but that of interrogators.

There’s the cultural notion of what torture does, and how it works, and then there’s the reality, and sadly some considerable distance between the two. People think of it as interrogation plus, but really, it’s interrogation minus. What’s lost? The ability of the prisoner to say no.

Sometimes “no” is a valuable word. When a properly interrogated individual tells us no, we have either a denial we can hold against him, or a bit of information that might put us on the right track. When an innocent man tells us no, he tells us the truth, a truth we don’t need to beat him out of being able to give us.

It is far better to convince these people that lying is useless, far better to take their pride, take whatever other weakness or inclination they might have, and turn it into a motivation for telling us information. It’s far better to keep the memories of those we interrogate clean of torture driven confabulations. It’s far better to see a bad theory go down in flames, than get good support for an erroneous proposition from somebody we’ve given no choice but to tell us what we’ve assumed all along.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2009 10:49 PM
Comment #281700

Stephen

I agree in 99+% of the cases and I find the enhanced interogation terrible even in the others. But just as we are willing to drop big bombs and do drone attacks, we cannot pretend that we are not willing to do other things that may make these things unnecessary.

A true pacifist is following an unworkable strategy when dealing with true bad guys, IMO, but we can respect her consistency.

So unless we are against all war, abortion on demand, death penalty, boxing matches and probably all contact sports, we cannot say with moral certainty that we are against any technique always and everywhere now and forever until the end of time.

You are arguing that none of this works. We agree that in most cases the harsh techniques do not work. We disagree, as experts disagree, whether they work sometimes in urgent cases.

I am willing to stipulate that if we could prove they don’t work, they should never be used. Would you stipulate that if they did work to save many lives, harsh techniques would be justified in those rare cases?

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 11:29 PM
Comment #281701

And let’s not forgot how Dianne Feinstein explained Nancy’s memory/intelligence/ethical problem. “I don’t want to make an apology for anybody,but in 2002, it wasn’t 2006, ’07, ’08, or ’09. It was right after 9/11 and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.” Yes.

Feinstein is right. Circumstances change. How long will it take for Dems to understand that intelligent people change their minds and responses when conditions change?

Posted by: Christine at May 17, 2009 11:50 PM
Comment #281702

Christine,

“Would you stipulate that if they did work to save many lives, harsh techniques would be justified in those rare cases?”

Can you cite us just one case where our torture of a captured terrorist has saved any lives, or is this speculation?

Of the three publicized cases in recent memory of people even remotely identifiable in this country as terrorists, two were weapons stings involving complete idiots, and one was because a terrorist brain surgeon took his videotape to a Circuit City to have it duplicated to DVD.
Point of fact it has been reported that not one terrorist plot has been foiled as a result of torture.

http://freethoughtmanifesto.blogspot.com/2009/04/not-one-terrorist-plot-foiled-by.html

“Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have long claimed that “a great many” terrorist plots had been foiled by Bush administration’s torture policies (they called them “aggressive interrogation” techniques). But a March 29 Washington Post story reveals that the torture of Abu Zubaida, touted by the ex-president as an intelligence treasure-trove, failed to foil a single terror plot and turned up scores of false leads.”

Cheney and now his daughter are out on the stump reveling in the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation” and how “it has saved thousands of American lives”.

Sorry, it just ain’t true.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 18, 2009 12:03 AM
Comment #281708

I am still astounded by the level of hypocracy being displayed by the Republicans, the party that so often attempts to grab the cloak of Christianity. Who would Jesus waterboard, exactly?
The notion torture was justified to prevent attacks and was therefore morally acceptable is to say that the torture of John McCain by the North Vietnamese was morally justified. Its the exact same arguement.
The best take is by the Israelis. Torture is against both civil and religious law,always. If there are circumstances where the use of torture is necessary to save human life, they do what they have to do and accept the consequences, both legal and spiritual. Its never OK. Its never government policy. They face this all the time. This is also Charles Krautiems position on how we should go forward,hardly a bleeding heart liberal he.

Posted by: bills at May 18, 2009 9:03 AM
Comment #281710
The best take is by the Israelis. Torture is against both civil and religious law,always. If there are circumstances where the use of torture is necessary to save human life, they do what they have to do and accept the consequences, both legal and spiritual. Its never OK. Its never government policy. They face this all the time. This is also Charles Krautiems position on how we should go forward,hardly a bleeding heart liberal he.

I agree with you completely here.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/400rhqav.asp

The monstrous thing about torture is that sometimes it does work. In 1994, 19-year-old Israeli corporal Nachshon Waxman was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis captured the driver of the car used in the kidnapping and tortured him in order to find where Waxman was being held. Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister and peacemaker, admitted that they tortured him in a way that went even beyond the ‘87 guidelines for “coercive interrogation” later struck down by the Israeli Supreme Court as too harsh. The driver talked. His information was accurate. The Israelis found Waxman. “If we’d been so careful to follow the [‘87] Landau Commission [which allowed coercive interrogation],” explained Rabin, “we would never have found out where Waxman was being held.”

I’m not a proponent of torture, but I hear so many ignorant assertions from both sides of the issue that it leaves me tired and disgusted. Torture never works? BULL. We should legalize the use of turture? BULL. There are times when it should be used, but by keeping it illegal ensures, IMO, that it is only used when someone feels very very strongly that it is necessary and is willing to violate the law (and pay the penalties) for using it.

If Bush/Cheney/etc feel that secure in what they did, they won’t mind at all facing the consequences. Though I wonder if we would be as easily swayed to send Truman off to jail for using nuclear weapons…

On the other hand, Pelosi is just being the typical hypocritical politician and it makes me vomit the people who want to give her a pass. She couldn’t have done anything? Hell, McCain did, why couldn’t she?

The reason, she didn’t care THAT much. Which makes her current shouts of outrage hollow.

Posted by: rhinehold at May 18, 2009 9:53 AM
Comment #281711

Christine says: “[Nuclear weaponry] really is a practical/power - not a moral issue.”

The potential to destroy millions of people in the blink of an eye, is NOT a moral issue?

If you would find rape and murder a moral issue, I simply cannot fathom the contradiction that nuclear weapons do not constitute a moral issue. As well as an ethical issue of the greatest importance in our current times. What is occurring in Pakistan as we speak constitutes an enormous moral and ethical issue for every person living within range of Pakistan’s nuclear delivery systems.

To remove a philosophical argument from the realm of the real and potential in this world, is the height of academic arrogance at the very least, IMO. And very much the cause of many of the world’s ills today. Abstraction of harm to minimize opposition to its proponents, and even garner supporters, is a well worn tactic of the powerful and evil designs of greed-driven persons to justify all manner of horrific inhumanities which profit them.

My ‘favorite’ is the time honored rationale, if WE don’t provide means of destruction, SOMEONE else will profit from the same actions. Therefore, it is best that WE profit from destruction and death than someone else. Arming the world’s nations and peoples have become very lucrative for the U.K. and U.S. who supply something like 80% of the world’s conventional arms to the world market. Not for their own national defense, not for the defense of their families, but, for profits from other nation’s peoples which would be far more beneficially spent on medicines, infrastructure, agriculture, and policing.

This is truly one of the greatest moral challenges of the 21st century, nuclear weapons proliferation as well as the wars now underway and to come over diminishing resources to support peoples in specific geographic locations established long before resources began to deplete.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 18, 2009 10:08 AM
Comment #281712

Rhinehold, lynching works as a deterrent too! But, the excesses of its employment were so gratutitously horrible and shocking to all moral, ethical, and humanitarian sensibility, as to insure its universal prohibition under penalty of law throughout the United States.

Just because something works, neither makes it right, just, or tolerable. To say that there are times it should be used, as you did, is to condone it, and with enough condoning, it can, and will, become authorized national policy, as it did under the Bush administration.

Torture must always, at all times, be condemned as inhuman, uncivilized, morally and ethically bankrupt, and punishable by law if its occurrence is to be diminished and its usage avoided except in the most extreme circumstances in which those perpetrating it knowingly and willingly give up their own freedoms and lives in exchange for the potential outcome of employing such heinous acts.

That is the entire point of Israeli’s position. Anyone administering torture, or authorizing it, will be subject to the punishments of the society’s laws against it. Only the very patriotic in government service will then employ the tactic, and only under the most dire circumstances warranting the loss of their own lives and freedoms as the price for employing it. It is thus never condoned, never legalized, never authorized or employed except by criminals, whether they be in or outside of government.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 18, 2009 10:25 AM
Comment #281713

David,

And I agree with you, that is pretty much what I said…

At least I think that is what I said, unless I’m missing some nuance to your statement to me?

Posted by: rhinehold at May 18, 2009 10:37 AM
Comment #281715

Christine-
I would say that the real problem is, the necessity of good information won’t necessarily mean that you will get good information you need from torture.

If what is being said about the interrogation of those terrorists is true, then the use of coercive techniques may have formed part of the basis for this generations worse foreign policy blunder, in no small part because of the confluence of a theory that the people in charge were itching to prove, and a means to get that information from people in a compelling way, whether or not it was true.

You folks say, well, if it’s a real emergency, it might just be what you’ve got to do. Perhaps. But the unreliability of torture means that you’re more likely to get bad information when you question that person, just when you need the good kind, when there’s no room for error.

Let me make some further points.

The point of our interrogations should not be to stop the ticking time bomb scenario, but to never get in that pickle in the first place. We should be ahead of their decision cycle, not behind it, trying to catch up.

The Bush Administration basically put itself in a position of believing that there was always a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, if they didn’t get these people to fess up, that they couldn’t take their time and get it right.

Result? One blowback after another, as their hastily produced intelligence, gained by torture, turned out to be false again and again. Such blowback saps morale, confuses investigations, exhausts people and resources in vain, and contributes to the public’s uncertainty, and therefore fear.

It also loses us our fights. What we need is not the truth as we see it, but the truth as the subject knows it, the details and organization we don’t know of. Good interrogation isn’t picking up some random guy off the battlefield and beating the crap out of them until they talk. (As is the case with many Gitmo Detainees)

Good interogation means knowing somebody’s nickname from childhood and using it when they try to fob off an alias to you. It means playing on that person’s wish to divulge their secret, whether it’s to confess a shame, or boast of their pride. It’s a mind game that proponents of torture would have us play by brute force, trying to crack open the person’s brain to pick out details. We got Zarqawi without laying a hand on a single prisoner by using these techniques. We get reliable results.

The use of torture is done out of insecurity, uncertainty, not strength. It does not provide reliable information, which means, much of the time it wastes more time than it saves. It’s like flooring the gas pedal on a car that’s got a stop light and several cars at a standstill ahead of it. Like Benjamine Franklin says, haste makes waste, and the waste of time is exactly what we want to avoid.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2009 11:11 AM
Comment #281716

First Pelosi said the CIA lied. Now it wasnt the great people at the CIA it was the Bush admin. She is spinning this harder than a merry go round. This is really getting old. How long before the dems. blame Bush-Cheney for the Swine Flu?

Posted by: JP at May 18, 2009 11:39 AM
Comment #281717
How long before the dems. blame Bush-Cheney for the Swine Flu?

They already did, JP

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/430261?rel=hp_picks

Posted by: rhinehold at May 18, 2009 11:49 AM
Comment #281718

Rhinehold, yes, we are in agreement. I was taking issue with your general statement that there are times when it should be used.

The word ‘should’ implies justifiable defense for its use, and I disagree that there is any justifiable defense for torture. To even imply justifiable defense opens the door for legality and social approval of the practice.

It may sound like nitpicky parsing of word definition on my part, but, games played with definitions are precisely how the Bush administration attempted to justify and defend the illegal act of water boarding, and Dick Cheney is still trying to make that argument which does NOT hold water legally or any other way. Words the building blocks of law and social conduct. To say an act ‘should’ be used is the starting point of sanctioning the act.

Torture should never be used by governments against people for a host of reasons, of which the most obvious is that it constitutes punishment without due process if administered outside and before the judicial process of establishing guilt has taken place.

But the most powerful reason is that torturing others makes inhumane those who torture and authorize torture, and inhumane dispositions are never desirable in the offices of government, any government, anywhere, anytime. Such persons in government without humane dispositions will not long wait to effect their dispositions on any in the society who object to their position of power or their wielding of it. Tyrants they will quickly become in the eyes of all if tolerated even for a short while.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 18, 2009 11:53 AM
Comment #281719

Rocky said a mouthful with: “You and I have both lived through the “duck and cover age” and we both know that the greatest application of atomic weapons is not through their actual use, but the fear of that use.”

This is what defines humanity in the latter half of the 20th and rest of this 21st century. Fear! You are sadly correct, the greatest application of power is in promoting the fear of its use. It is however, also true, that human beings living in fear will find a way of dispensing with that fear, as fear as a repetitive or constant state is one which is neither desired nor tolerated for long. Which is why use of nuclear weapons will occur again. The enormous profitability and pressures to proliferate nuclear weapon technology make that an almost absolute certainty.

Lawlessness in America is running rampant, even amongst those who try to view themselves as law abiding. Traffic laws, tax payments, and child support are but a few of myriad examples of the lawless state of the American psychology, wherein folks who are viewed and view themselves as law abiding consciously refuse to obey traffic laws, tax laws, and child support laws, with all manner of rationalizations and justifications. Fear of consequences is not a balanced state, and will be dodged and averted, even by those who wish to continue to view themselves as law abiding and civilized.

It is not enough to simply impose punishment toward the end of humanity and civilization. There must also be enormous and disproportionate inherent rewards for acting rightly, justly, and legally. Absent those, as in the case of the poverty of many Muslim nations, fear of punishment will be lost and abrogated for a piece of the power of becoming the punisher. Hence the determination of the some Islamic nations and persons to acquire nuclear weapons at any personal cost or sacrifice.

All eyes are now on Islamabad as the focal point for the acquisition of nuclear power. But, it would be an enormous mistake to focus there alone as the goal of acquiring nuclear weapons and their delivery systems is being worked on in many other places like Iran, Indonesia, and N. Korea, and very likely other places not yet in the news. I suspect, without any evidence yet at all, that one day we will wake to the news that Taiwan, Japan, and perhaps even Chechnyans have acquired nuclear weapon technology and at least short range delivery systems before this century is over.

Capitalism, entrepreneurial ability, miniaturization of production, and the fungible nature of world currencies will insure the proliferation of nuclear weapon technology. The future of anti-proliferation do-gooders belongs to this century’s Sherlock Holmes following the trail of nuclear radiation signatures left by the entrepreneurial traffickers. And the Moriarty’s of this century will not all be evil but, otherwise good decent people seeking an answer to their fears in the form of the power of nuclear weaponry.

For all of our technology and civilization, the psychology and sociology of the human species has not evolved very much at all, and cultural evolution has so far, been a poor substitute for what is needed, predicated on the concentration of power and greed, as it is. I am reminded of V for Vendetta, every time I venture into this topic of nuclear weapon proliferation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 18, 2009 12:31 PM
Comment #281720

Hmmm few points
circular logic
It is ok to torture and Bush and Cheney did nothing wrong— but nail Pelosi because she “knew about it”
??????????

pointing fingers
We invaded Iraq due to “faulty intelligence” “not our fault, the CIA “blew it”

We tortured prisoners due to “faulty legal opinion” — “not our fault, the lawyers blew it” (and by the way, don’t dare prosecute lawyers for faulty opinion)

Anyone notice a trend here
Bush, Cheney et all were “leading” the country for 8 years, but somehow none of this is their fault.


A couple of other things
A) Can we please stop using the BS label of “detainees” — they are PRISONERS not “detainees”
You are detained at a traffic stop — it implies temporary condition — these are PRISONERS of a BS system that threw them in dungeons and ruined their lives for 7 years or so (many of whom it appears were TOTALLY INNOCENT)

B) Evidence is coming out that the legal opinion signed off on torture to obtain information concerning a possible upcoming attack, however CIA conducted waterboarding (torture) to confirm the so-called link of Al-Queda to Iraq (no wonder they had to do it 180 times — there was no link)
and this was AFTER the invasion — so they tortured a guy to cover their own rear ends regarding the reason for the Iraq war (and its position as “THE FRONT” on the “War on Terror”

Bush/Cheney and Rumsfeld are frightened, petty little beings (I refuse to insult the term MEN by calling them that)
They are pitiful, pathetic excuses for human beings and should be locked away.

Posted by: Russ at May 18, 2009 1:04 PM
Comment #281721

David Remer
BRAVO! on your stand that there is NO JUSTIFICATION for TORTURE (no any “enhanced” interrogation techniques)
NEVER, NOWAY, NO HOW, NO REASON, NOTHING.
BRAVO

Posted by: Russ at May 18, 2009 1:08 PM
Comment #281722
circular logic It is ok to torture and Bush and Cheney did nothing wrong— but nail Pelosi because she “knew about it” ??????????No, are you just trying to be purposely obtuse or do you not understand the issue? If Pelosi knew about the torture and did not do anything about it at the time (giving tacit support) unlike others who did express objections like McCain, then it is hypocritical of her to call for the heads of those who engaged in the torture that she knew about…

Kind of like Casablanca… “I’m Shocked, SHOCKED, to discover gambling in tihs establishment” “Here are your winnings sir”…

You can agree or disagree with this argument if you want, and some do. But trying to spin it into something else is not acceptable.

Russ,

Yes, except he also admits that there is justification for it, but we shouldn’t SAY there is justification…

Only the very patriotic in government service will then employ the tactic, and only under the most dire circumstances warranting the loss of their own lives and freedoms as the price for employing it.

Do you get the nuance there?

Posted by: rhinehold at May 18, 2009 1:59 PM
Comment #281723

BTW, while I think that torture should be illegal, there is some ambiguity on whether or not it is. Some here refence the treaty but they leave out one key piece:

The treaty had a specific provision stating that nothing, not even war, justifies torture. Congress removed that provision when drafting the 1994 law against torture, thereby permitting someone accused of violating the statute to invoke the long-established defense of necessity.

It is an interesting read at Critics Still Haven’t Read the ‘Torture’ Memos. I think this needs to be run through the court system to the Supreme Court to determine if we do indeed have the hole that the Bush Administration may have used for this purpose and close it if necessary.

Posted by: rhinehold at May 18, 2009 3:16 PM
Comment #281724

The arguement here is not weather torture is legal or not, which I think should be, but the fact that Pelosi lied. The Democrats knew what was going on and none of you can tell me different, and IMO should be held accountable as well as the Republicans. As I said an independent investigation should be held and we will see who is lying.

Posted by: KAP at May 18, 2009 4:23 PM
Comment #281726

KAP-
Yes, the question is not whether the administration knowingly used illegal methods of interrogation on subjects, but whether Nancy Pelois knew about it.

Right.

The Bush folks love to tell people that it’s worse to have gone along with something out of political anxiety (like they got many people to do) than do the actual misdeeds. It’s like a gang leader ratting out his underlings for a bank robbery he himself masterminded.

If Pelosi really knew a whole hell of a lot about this, which I doubt, considering the lengths the Bush Administration went to get around telling Congress anything, then she should suffer the consequences. That is a common attitude. People aren’t particularly attached to her.

What’s galling is that this is trotted out as if we Democrats should say “oh, it must be alright then, because the folks in government were doing it.” That doesn’t exactly characterize the way most Democrats are looking at this. We’re not confusing political expedience with the necessity of a policy.

As for torture’s legality? You must be kidding. People in this country are considered innocent before proven guilty. Torture, though, lets us get around that by extracting whatever confessions we want out of people, so presumed innocence becomes a joke. You’re innocent until subject to enhanced interrogation.

The reason this whole canard about Pelosi is floated is to create an atmosphere of expediential paralysis, in the face of association with torture. The irony is, it’s a rhetorical device being used with the aim of using the ugly cost to ones reputation coming from torture, to stall efforts to purify our law enforcement and intelligence gathering organization of that brutal stain.

One must realize that this is an argument that disingenuously attempts to get away with both stalling the investigation and reckoning of torture policy to preserve it, while at the same time using it’s shameful nature against others.

Why don’t I stop sugarcoating my point here, and get right to the point: The Republicans, having corrupted the system in the White House, are seeking to continue the corruption by trying to compromise others with the reputational stain of a practices they support despite it’s terrible reputation.

The last thing the Republicans want is an invasive investigation that reveals just how deep and how far up this goes. But the difference between them and the Democrats, is that while Democrats might be hypocrites, they are hypocrites who are following the political pressure to abandon these means of interrogation by their constituents, while the people who criticize them are seeking to institutionalize them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2009 4:59 PM
Comment #281727

S.D.
Stephen you got to be kidding. Pelosi knew what was going on along with other Democrats. I know you are young but you can’t be that nieve to think that the Democrats were out of the loop, and NO, I think that the Democrats don’t want the invasive investigation because it might just burst your bubble about the Democrats you so trust. You see when I was your age I to was a Democrat, as I grew older I saw politicians for what they are, so now I vote for whoever I think will do the best no matter what party they are from.

Posted by: KAP at May 18, 2009 5:42 PM
Comment #281728

S.D.
My mistake I ment torture should be illegal.

Posted by: KAP at May 18, 2009 5:44 PM
Comment #281730

KAP-
Not long after 9/11, Bush essentially reacted to a small leak of classified information By stripping the security clearance from all but the most senior Senators, Representatives and the heads of the intelligence committees.

Which means, effectively, that most of Congress was blinded on security matters above the level of classified. That included the classified NIE that had the caveats, footnotes, and other qualifications concerning the evidence on Iraq, as opposed to the declassified one which had few such hedges, far more certainty.

Which is to say that under Bush and the Republicans we largely went in uninformed into that critical decision, and those who knew what was happening could not reveal anything without breaking the rules on their security clearance.

This is the situation under which you expect Nancy Pelosi to be fully informed. And even if she was informed, what could she say to anybody about what the Bush Administration was doing?

If she had been so bold as to break classification to talk about it, I have to wonder what the always helpful Republican pundits would have been saying about her.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2009 8:13 PM
Comment #281731

Stephen
I have yet to figure out under what security classification interrogation methods is under. Break classification of what, Objecting to interrogation methods? Stephen there are books written about that sort of thing, so how could an interrogation method be classified. Like I said in your blue column Pelosi shot her own self in the foot.

Posted by: KAP at May 18, 2009 8:31 PM
Comment #281738

Rhinehold,

1.Is your argument that one case makes for justification of torture? Does that mean it is effective or highly unreliable?
I could consult with a psychic and determine the location of a terrorist. Did the psychic work?
2. Was the person(s) committing the torture prosecuted and convicted? Or was there the nuance of tacit approval?
3. We convicted some people in Abu Ghraib for what may have well been tacitly approved. Is that moral or correct? Or was this pinning the tail on some easy targets?

While I understand your argument and think this has been the position of the US for a long time, I think it is a morally bankrupt position.

It relies on the way most moral decisions are made, though, a balance of situational ethics. Most men of higher moral maturity, in a moral dilemma will choose the moral rather than legal path. Those of a slightly lower moral maturity will choose compliance with social rules. David discusses the rampant criminality of today’s society, which leads me to observe that he seems to be advocating a libertarian viewpoint, that this supposed criminality is simply a feature of too many laws.

I remember a female psychology teacher in the seventies pointing out that most woman fall into the lower moral maturity category. I thought this was an antiquated idea, at the time. I’ve recently had several encounters to make me reconsider this as antiquated.

I think this thread shows most of us are conflicted on this issue, which is why I’ve said there is a political component to prosecuting Bush for this. At the same time, if it is the will of the people to punish him, and the outrage becomes loud enough, Obama won’t stand in front of that freight train. I think there is a collective guilt and conflict in the public on this. This didn’t occur completely in the dark. We are finding more lurid details lately that continue to haunt us. We are all in Nancy Pelosi’s spot here. We may not have known the details and extent, but Seymore Hersch made most of us political news followers aware early on.

Posted by: gergle at May 19, 2009 12:57 AM
Comment #281746

KAP-
Who was interrogated, when and how. Folks were saying that we only used Waterboarding three times. Turns out, we were waterboarding regularly. KSM even got waterboarded over a hundred and eighty times.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 19, 2009 10:04 AM
Comment #281747

I believe torture has it’s place but that place is not extracting information - it’s punishment. Imagine using it in our public schools against the most egregious misbehavors. The message would be sent; school discipline would quickly become a non-issue; Kids would get serious about learning; this country would be on the comeback.

Posted by: Schwamp at May 19, 2009 11:19 AM
Comment #281749

Schwamp,

Even if your comment was intended to be humor/sarcasm that has to be the sickest thing I have ever read.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 19, 2009 12:04 PM
Comment #281750
1.Is your argument that one case makes for justification of torture? Does that mean it is effective or highly unreliable? I could consult with a psychic and determine the location of a terrorist. Did the psychic work?

I never stated that there was ‘justification’ for it, but I did clearly prove that there are times when it does work. That doesn’t mean it should be done or should be legal, but the ignorant argument against it because ‘it doesn’t work’ is an invalid one and we harm the discussion by allowing it to continue.

2. Was the person(s) committing the torture prosecuted and convicted? Or was there the nuance of tacit approval?

In the case I mention in Israel, the person(s) were not prosecuted or convicted. Of course, there was no admission to the use of torture until a few years after the fact and I think people understood the situation, though no one had a parade or anything.

At the same time, if it is the will of the people to punish him, and the outrage becomes loud enough, Obama won’t stand in front of that freight train.

I don’t doubt that either, Obama has shown the lack of spine to stand up against ‘the will of the people for what is right’ on several occasions, including the many times he has gone back on his word while running for office. I don’t see how anyone would see different…

We are all in Nancy Pelosi’s spot here.

No, not all of us. Remember, McCain stood up against this when Pelosi chose not too. Yet through partisan filtration many on the left refused to admit that during the election…

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 19, 2009 12:06 PM
Comment #281751
Who was interrogated, when and how. Folks were saying that we only used Waterboarding three times. Turns out, we were waterboarding regularly. KSM even got waterboarded over a hundred and eighty times.

As I understand the details, there were only 3 waterboarding sessions done. During those sessions, the individuals being waterboarded were waterboarded more than one time… KSM for example was waterboarded over 180 times IN ONE SESSION.

So depending upon how you want to qualify it, that would make both statements right.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 19, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #281761

Does anyone else not see the whole Irony and Hypocrisy here??
The right wing holds them selves as the religious, moral party — and a party of “personal responsiblity” against the godless, Socialistic boogymen “liberals” who do not believe in “personal responsiblity”
However they support
Torture — not “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
a secretive, authoritarion government rather than an open democracy
and continually trying to ESCAPE responsiblity by
“others did it, knew it, or “the lawyers gave us bogus legal advice” (after we ordered them to) or “the CIA gave us bogus intelligence (after we ordered them to)
What a joke
The current leadership of the GOP has no soul, no morals, no ethics, no credibilty and no standing.
They are pathetic
as is ANYONE who dares to try to justify these human rights abuses.

Posted by: Russ at May 19, 2009 2:40 PM
Comment #281769

Two big flaws in this article.
(a) Waterboarding is almost universally recognized as “torture” in the Geneva accords. (b) The CIA acts according to the demands of the President. The CIA recieved CYA documents from the Bushies giving them the cover necessary to implement torture.
The whole fake Pelosi story is intended as a distraction and deserves no attention despite derision.

Posted by: Dave at May 19, 2009 7:44 PM
Comment #281770

Russ,

How could any thoughtful person miss the irony and hypocrisy? The “morally superior” justifying torture. The Party of “personal responsibility” failing to take responsibility.

Posted by: Rich at May 19, 2009 7:47 PM
Comment #281777

“Does anyone else not see the whole Irony and Hypocrisy here??”

i do russ.

pelosi and the dems want to claim the moral high ground, but as it turns out probably knew it was happening, and said nothing until it was politicaly advantages. IMO they have forgotten the old rule about never sh#ting in your own back yard, because you may just step in it, and it appears pelosi has. go ahead though, and spin it any way you choose.


Posted by: dbs at May 19, 2009 10:39 PM
Comment #281780

Thanks for your thoughtful response, Rhinehold.

I always appreciate responses from someone as inteliigent as you.

I’m not sure, first, Barrack standing up to a freight train would be called having a spine. Most would simply call it stupid, which is why I used that particular metaphor.

McCain did come out against torture. He was a US Senator. What else did he do that assuages his guilt? If I said the holocaust was bad, yet continued on with the Nazi plan, does that mean I showed significantly more courage than the silent participant who was on the politically opposite side?

>That doesn’t mean it should be done or should be legal, but the ignorant argument against it because ‘it doesn’t work’ is an invalid one and we harm the discussion by allowing it to continue.

I don’t think it is an ignorant argument. That you have shown an incident where something positive happened is weak proof. Much like the psychic. What was the other fallout from this? Is Israel any safer ? Did they have to torture to get the information, or was it simply that they chose this technique?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2302-2005Jan11.html

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/10/fbi-interrogator-tor.html

http://www.military.com/news/article/exinterrogator-torture-doesnt—work.html

I don’t think these people are stupid or inexperienced about the subject.

The funny thing is you don’t advocate it, yourself. Something that you say works. Why? Because, on the whole, it doesn’t.

Posted by: gergle at May 19, 2009 11:00 PM
Comment #281782
The funny thing is you don’t advocate it, yourself. Something that you say works. Why? Because, on the whole, it doesn’t.

No, because it is wrong to do, even THOUGH it works.

And yes, they did get the information and no, they would not have gotten it any other way.

There are examples all throughout history of torture working. And not working. It’s not a ‘binary’ process that always works or always doesn’t. To believe either ‘absolute’ is putting your fingers in your ear and saying ‘lalalalala’ really really loudly…

People who want to fight the use of torture would do well to abandon the thickheaded argument that ‘it doesn’t work’ when most people know in their hearts that it can, it makes them appear ignorant of the realities of the world and gives more credence to the other side as having a firmer grasp on reality.

Heck, even McCain should know that it can work…

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 19, 2009 11:23 PM
Comment #281788

Rhinehold,

So I guess the several experts, sit around with fingers in there ears saying “la,la,la,la”. Interesting counterargument to their expert opinions.

>and no, they would not have gotten it any other way. I’m curious how they or you could possibly know that.

I’m also curious why you seem to believe there was no consequence to choosing torture. I bet there was serious blowback from this. Which of course,is why I asked and possibly why you didn’t answer whether Israel was safer.

There is a two bit answer as to why it doesn’t work. It doesn’t yeild reliable info, and it results in image or blowback issues.

There is a basic, if sometimes overlooked, reason the Axis fell in WWII beyond poor tactics and dwindling resources, it was who garnered greater and deeper support from the population at large. The brain drain and insurgencies within the Axis states helped to topple them.

Few people will ultimately support this evil.

Posted by: gergle at May 20, 2009 8:59 AM
Comment #281789

Rhinehold,

The mistake I think you make is one of idealism.
You reject torture on the basis that it is wrong. While many people will be pius and do no sin, many simply are not motivated by such high values. If they believe something works they will find a way to use it.

The belief that torture works is wrong. It ultimately doesn’t. Building a technically correct argument that it does based on the granular bits of example where it may have had some sort of positive outcome, short term, is an argument that leads us down that false path.

There are police departments that have used psychics to help in crime solving. Does it work? I’m sure I can find instances where coincidence has made it appear to work.

A similar coincidence occurs in the use of torture, though not based on the same things. Some people will tell the truth when stressed and afforded an appropriate situation to divulge it. Investigators know this. This was the point of the links I posted.

Then there are hardened individuals that believe what they do is a part of their being. Torturing these people simply becomes a sadistic game of pain and response. It is no longer about information. It may randomly coincide with information from time to time, but it isn’t about information. That basic misunderstanding of human nature is at the core of the belief that torture works. For some it does, but those that it does work on, they would likely divulge the truth in other ways. Those that won’t, won’t be moved by sadism.

Sadism gives the sadist feelings of accomplishment, of power over others, of punishment of evil. It lies in all of us to one degree or another. Some people accept that, some don’t. Seeing why one believes in things may be more likely in getting to why some believe in sadism as a source of truth.

Sadism ultimately lies in the reason man goes to war. Forcing one’s will through infliction of pain on others. It works, but not over time. Cultures meld and the dominate culture may well end up being engulfed by the conquered culture. Sadism and masochism sometimes are inextricably linked.

People will ultimately see sadism for what it is. Coercion through rewards is a far more effective technique in training animals, and getting coperation in humans. The results are also more resiliant.

Posted by: gergle at May 20, 2009 9:51 AM
Comment #281794

No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 - 1919), ‘The Strenuous Life,’ 1900

Posted by: Russ at May 20, 2009 11:28 AM
Comment #281795

Rhinehold you are WRONG about torture working
You said
And yes, they did get the information and no, they would not have gotten it any other way.

There are examples all throughout history of torture working. And not working. It’s not a ‘binary’ process that always works or always doesn’t. To believe either ‘absolute’ is putting your fingers in your ear and saying ‘lalalalala’ really really loudly…

Ahhh but the problem is HOW DO YOU KNOW???
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOOD INFO AND WHAT IS NOT?
I have gone over this time after time
The basic assumption is that the victim KNOWs the information you want — ASSUMPTION NOT KNOWN
the only ANSWER the torturer will accept as truth is the answer he or she wants —
so when it is given, is it the truth? or just something to make the pain go away?
HOW DO YOU KNOW???
YOU DON’T
AND MIXED IN WITH WHATEVER TRUTH MIGHT BE REVEALED IS 10 TONS OF BULL CRAP
OR “I DON’T KNOW” OR WHATEVER

AND SOMETIMES THE TRUTH IS
“I DON’T KNOW” — AND THE VICTIM HAS BEEN TELLING THE TRUTH ALL ALONG (SO YOU ARE RIGHT ON THAT COUNT) BUT IF THE TORTURER (CRIMINAL) DOES NOT ACCEPT “THE TRUTH” WHAT GOOD IS IT TO HAVE BEEN SPOKEN???
TORTURE WORKS IS A BS ARGUEMENT — IT DOES NOT WORK AND
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS
THEY HAVE CONSISTENTLY BEEN TELLING US THAT IT DOESN’T WORK, THEY DON’T WANT TO USE IT AND THEY CAN GET THE INFO BETTER, AND QUICKER WITHOUT USING IT
I DEFER TO THE INTERROGATION EXPERTS THAT HAVE BEEN TELLING US ALL ALONG THAT IT DOES NOT WORK
I DO NOT RELY ON HANNITY OR LIMBAUGH OR ANY OTHER GOP LACKEY

Posted by: Russ at May 20, 2009 11:34 AM
Comment #281801

God DBS are you really THAT thick?
you said
pelosi and the dems want to claim the moral high ground, but as it turns out probably knew it was happening, and said nothing until it was politicaly advantages. IMO they have forgotten the old rule about never sh#ting in your own back yard, because you may just step in it, and it appears pelosi has. go ahead though, and spin it any way you choose.

and I said “SO WHAT??”
I will give you Pelosi’s hypocrisy == SO WHAT??
however, it has still be undetermined as to exactly WHOM is the hypocrite here and who is lying—
innocent until proven guilty?? right now it is still at “he said, she said” — 50-50 split
I personally do not know which is right
and right now I really DO NOT CARE
IT IS UNIMPORTANT — AS COMPARED TO
WHO ORDERED THIS CRAP????
WHO IS THE “MASTERMIND” (IF YOU WISH TO USE THAT TERM)
THIS WHOLE PELOSI CRAP IS DISTRACTION FROM THE REAL CRIME
SUCH AS — DELAYING A MURDER INVESTIGATION TO LOOK INTO A SERIOUS CASE OF JAY-WALKING.
GIVE ME A BREAK

Posted by: Russ at May 20, 2009 1:55 PM
Comment #281802

Russ, your last comment above violates our Rules for Participation. Read and comply with our Rules or your comment privileges on this site will be suspended. You will receive no further warnings on this matter.

Posted by: WatchBlog Manager at May 20, 2009 2:01 PM
Comment #281803

Okey Dokey Smokey

Posted by: Russ at May 20, 2009 2:06 PM
Comment #281813

russ

anyone who knew it was happening and said nothing until it was politicaly expedient is equally guilty, and a hypocrat to boot. i may be thick, but i can smell bullsh#t a mile away, and the smell of it here is overpowering.

lets have an investigation, and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: dbs at May 20, 2009 9:44 PM
Comment #281816

dbs,

Are you kidding? Equating a person who had knowledge that a crime may have been commited with the actual perpetrator of the crime is nonsensical.

Posted by: Rich at May 20, 2009 10:43 PM
Comment #281822

rich

we’re talking about folks who most likely knew what was happening, and did nothing to stop, or bring attention to it until it could be used for political advantage. if it was that important, and that horrible, why not adress it there on the spot. anyone with half a brain would have asked the important questions like what methods of information extraction will be used, and will that constitute torture?

this is nothing more than democrats trying to get even with bush and cheney, and drive another nail into what they believe is the coffin of the republican party. it would appear it is about to backfire on them.

Posted by: dbs at May 21, 2009 8:26 AM
Comment #281825

DBS:

You personally have no idea what was asked and how it was answered. There are a lot of assumptions going on here. You have no idea what the results of any clearance issues or anything else would have been, even if what you speculate was true.

When we see you and others rail against the people who INSTIGATED AND APPROVED what others POSSIBLY only knew about and probably had no say in, then we might be inclined to listen.

I’m frankly appalled that all we hear about is that someone knew and did nothing (we don’t know that either), instead of disgust and diatribe against those whose idea it was, approved it’s use, and carried it out.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 21, 2009 8:38 AM
Comment #281827

womanmarine

in my book they are accomplices. i’m fine with having an investigation. i think though that if that rock is turned over there will be things that scurry out from under it that may embarass many, and implicate others. while i’m not in favor of torture in general, i think sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. would you torture someone who you believed had information that would save the lives of your children? would you then be willing to face the consequences later, knowing you did what you had to do. the other point everyone seems to miss is that we used non lethal techniqes in order to get information. no ones fingers, or hands were cut off, or heads for that matter. everytime someone rails against water boarding, or sleep deprivation maybe we should have them watch daniel pearls head being chopped off. maybe that would put things more in context.

Posted by: dbs at May 21, 2009 9:05 AM
Comment #281828

How long are you going to try to justify torture? Just because other folks do it does not make it right, nor does the fact that they do what you all perceive as worse make it right. My context is fine, thank you.

As was asked before, who would Jesus torture? The whole defense of it disgusts me.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 21, 2009 9:16 AM
Comment #281830

One more thought:

What Republicans were “briefed”, and why haven’t they come forward, then or now? And why aren’t they being railed against for what they knew? Never mind those that approved and ordered the torture, what of the Republicans?

And DBS: the answer to your question is no, I would not go that far. I would go as far as is legal and would probably not be doing it myself anyway, that’s why we have the police, the FBI, etc. A red herring is all the question is to begin with.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 21, 2009 9:37 AM
Comment #281833

womanmarine

republicans weren’t the ones making an issue out of it for political gain, the democrats were. if you want to ignore the purely partisan nature of this witch hunt thats up to you. just so you understand, i believe if the tables were turned chances are the republicans would do the same thing, and i would expect them held to the same standards.

“I would not go that far.”

i would. sometimes unsavory, or even repulsive things are needed to protect what we hold dear. i never said it should be legal, but there are times when it is better to be judged by 12 then carried by 6, or have the ones you love carried by 6, that is if you are lucky enough to have those remains to carry. if this is one of those times then so be it. IMO the methods in question are not what i would consider horrible, or inhamane. what would you do? ask them politely, and then let it go when they refused to answer, knowing full well the lives of 1000s could hang in the balance. human nature is what it is, and to ignore that is pointless. people in desperate situations do desperate things. after 911 our world view changed, and so did what was needed to keep us safe. if you choose to ignore reality you do so at your own peril.

Posted by: dbs at May 21, 2009 10:57 AM
Comment #281836

“people in desperate situations do desperate things”

No excuse. And we all have our own realities in our minds. To quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Perhaps, though, you could give the same excuse to Nancy Pelosi for not “outing” what everyone assumes she knew. Republicans would have raked her over the coals for breaking security.

You and those who believe as you do can perhaps do repulsive things. A lot of us can’t, and neither of us should condone it.

Posted by: womanmarine at May 21, 2009 11:08 AM
Comment #281838

womanmarine

“Perhaps, though, you could give the same excuse to Nancy Pelosi for not “outing” what everyone assumes she knew. Republicans would have raked her over the coals for breaking security.”

then she should leave it alone. if it is serious enough to try and prosecute former officials, then it was important enough to adress at the time she first knew about it.

“You and those who believe as you do can perhaps do repulsive things. A lot of us can’t, and neither of us should condone it.”

i don’t disagree with this statement, but i also don’t, and won’t deny human nature, and the instinct to protect my own. even if that means prosecution under the law. you might be suprised at what you’re capable of when put in that position. i hope you never have to find out.

Posted by: dbs at May 21, 2009 11:57 AM
Comment #281841

dbs,

“republicans weren’t the ones making an issue out of it for political gain…”

The Republicans have made this issue a subject for political gain since Sept, 11th.
It has been unending.
The words treason and traitor and terrorist sympathizer have been bandied about like so much confetti. Anyone that disagreed with the previous administrations edicts have been labeled unpatriotic.
And it all has been about political gain.
Even as of today the former Vice President is making yet another a speech about the security of America, as if he and he alone has the answers, and you can’t tell me that isn’t all about political gain.

All the right seems to care about is the “resurrection” of the Republican party, surely at the expence of President Obama, and the Democrats, and possibly at the expence of the American people, and if that isn’t all about political gain, I don’t know what is.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at May 21, 2009 12:18 PM
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