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Author Topic: Interrogation methods  (Read 48131 times)
Howling Dog
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« Reply #50 on: September 15, 2007, 09:35:02 PM »

Woof, I agree that one mans torture is another mans walk in the park......and the slope is slippery.
I had no intention on starting any torture debate. I did however disagree that waterboarding IS NOT torture. I still do beleive it to be.
Since my accounts were of a "sea story" variety cheesy..........Lets go with the one that got us here......NAVY!
http://www.faso.navy.mil/sere.html
                                                                                   TG
"Friends at the end of the day"
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Howling Dog
G M
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« Reply #51 on: September 15, 2007, 09:39:50 PM »

I'd like all the opponents of what I call "coercive interrogation" to read chapters 17 and 18 and give effective alternatives.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/jihad17chap1.html
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G M
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« Reply #52 on: September 15, 2007, 09:53:47 PM »

Crafty, would you care to explain how you think Bush & Rumbo should have handled the torture issue?

I agree fully with Tom in that if we are going to torture people, the president should be honest in that we are doing it and make a case for why we should be doing it instead of

1) pretending we aren't doing it
2) admitting it happened but hanging a few low-level soldiers out to dry for it
3) arguing that what we're doing isn't really torture



Abu Ghraib wasn't any part of any official interrogation effort. It was unprofessional, poorly lead MPs acting out.
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G M
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« Reply #53 on: September 15, 2007, 09:56:49 PM »

http://fdd.typepad.com/fdd/2006/01/alert_saddams_c.html

Let's contrast waterboarding with the above.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #54 on: September 16, 2007, 07:07:28 AM »

GM, Ok ......Now lets contrast a ball python to a Anaconda.......Hmmmm....yep both are constrictors undecided

No one said waterboarding was the worst form of torture......just that its torture.

I was going to describe it, as it was described to me, but your posted article states its methods are classified....so for sake.........I won't.
Trust me.......Its way more than just submerging in water as your article implys......thats WAY TOO passive of a description.
I'am thinking more like unconsiousness, choking and puking......plus being revived by being slammed against the wall......but then thats just how we do it to our service men.....who knows how its done to the bad guys.........
Anyway......as for me......Its torture.
I'am pretty much done here......
                                                  TG
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Howling Dog
ccp
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« Reply #55 on: September 16, 2007, 10:22:51 AM »

Certainly waterboarding is a form of torture.  If it is done to save lives and it works than that is not unreasonable IMO even if some innocent people have to suffer from it.  I assume that protocols are in place to avoid abusing this means of extracting information from enemies.   Protocols that would reduce risk of hurting innocents.

Certainly what Saddam did is far far worse.

I tried watching some of the video tapes posted by GM.  I couldn't finish.

And the left and NYT go after scandals like making a couple of guys squat naked together or stand on one leg as something that is even remotely the atrocities the looney birds do to each other in the name of allah or their idiot tribes over there in these other countries.

The left has their head on backwards.

How ironic - the torture videos from Saddam are so horrible the wonderful Western media "protects" us from them yet they choose to show and go on about waterboarding, dog collars, dog barkings, detention centers and suc from the US side as some sort of horror.  So of course the world sees the pictures of our purported travesties and rails against us but does not *see* what the Muslims do and thus their far far worse atrocities get off with little more than "yes that is bad , but".   

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Howling Dog
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« Reply #56 on: September 16, 2007, 03:30:44 PM »

Woof, While I agree Sadaam did much worse things than we do. I certainly hope that were not compairing the actions of the U.S. with those of the Sadaam Husien regime, and some how hoping that by being a lesser torturer that we can some how find justification for doing it. undecided
I also don't mind our media and the rest of the world holding us to a higher standard....... I think thats the point.
Are we not supposed to be an example and also making Iraq a "better place to live" With the U.S. as the model?

Lets not also forget that Sadaam was ultimatly held accountable and hung by his neck till DEAD,DEAD,DEAD!
What kind of accountablity are we willing to accept?
Teaching this lesson to our kids?
Well Johnny.....Its ok torture people as long as you don't get caught.....but if you do lie about it........or at least claim you were not as bad as Sadaam.......so its OK....... undecided
                                                              TG
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Howling Dog
rogt
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« Reply #57 on: September 16, 2007, 04:02:11 PM »

Certainly waterboarding is a form of torture.  If it is done to save lives and it works than that is not unreasonable IMO even if some innocent people have to suffer from it.  I assume that protocols are in place to avoid abusing this means of extracting information from enemies.   Protocols that would reduce risk of hurting innocents.

I'm not trying to sound snide here, and I appreciate your frank acknowledgment that we do in fact torture people.  But I take serious issue with the idea that it's OK if some innocent people suffer as long as it's minimized.  If torture is OK in some cases because the results make it too valuable to just say no to, then couldn't somebody make a case for human experimentation that wouldn't require you know, too much suffering and could potentially produce valuable results that would otherwise take years or decades to produce?  I pose that as a serious question.

Quote
Certainly what Saddam did is far far worse.

Again, not trying to be snide here, but if you're going to bring up Saddam's torture then it's only fair to acknowledge that he did a lot of that with our support.

Quote
And the left and NYT go after scandals like making a couple of guys squat naked together or stand on one leg as something that is even remotely the atrocities the looney birds do to each other in the name of allah or their idiot tribes over there in these other countries.

Abu Ghraib was a little more than just "making a couple of guys squat naked together or stand on one leg".  You also had people getting beaten to death and having glow-sticks shoved up their asses, which I don't think can be just pooh-poohed as fraternity-style pranks.

Quote
How ironic - the torture videos from Saddam are so horrible the wonderful Western media "protects" us from them yet they choose to show and go on about waterboarding, dog collars, dog barkings, detention centers and suc from the US side as some sort of horror.  So of course the world sees the pictures of our purported travesties and rails against us but does not *see* what the Muslims do and thus their far far worse atrocities get off with little more than "yes that is bad , but".   

Maybe Americans were extra-shocked about the idea of our guys torturing people because we're raised on this image of us being the good guys and not like the Saddam Husseins?

And for the record, being revolted by the Abu Ghraib photos is not just some "left" thing.  IIRC, those photos got pretty much the same disgusted reaction from people of all political stripes.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #58 on: September 16, 2007, 06:30:18 PM »

Rog: 

The AG fotos certainly took the wind out of my sails precisely because the actions therein violate my sense of what makes me proud to be an American, but AGAIN, it was the Pentagon who informed the press about the INTERNALLY GENERATED investigation.  AG  WAS NOT POLICY.  It was some idiots who got out of hand-- and some of them have been punished.

That said, that is not the only question presented.  To start with, lets put the law school hypothetical question to you:  We know there is a nuclear bomb plan in action.  We capture one of the players and there's a pretty good chance that he knows where the bomb is and what the plan is.  He is our only concrete lead.  If we don't solve the problem, tens of thousands could die, and a goodly piece of American soil could glow for centuries.  What criteria guide you in your questioning?


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Howling Dog
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« Reply #59 on: September 16, 2007, 06:50:50 PM »

Woof Guro Crafty, I know the question was adressed to Rog, but I hope you don't mind my taking a stab at it.
It would seem to me with a nuke threat scenario as you describe, that in that particular situation would not onley torture be a appropriate means to resolving the issue, but most likely we would be able to torture on national tv and most of the world would agree it to be ok..........Seems least of all we could make our intentions known up front and positivley stand accountable for our actions.
Which is my main argument.....(Justification and accountability)  that is....
                                                            TG
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Howling Dog
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #60 on: September 16, 2007, 07:33:02 PM »

Rog?
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rogt
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« Reply #61 on: September 16, 2007, 07:35:10 PM »

Woof Crafty,

Let's put that question another way.  Let's say that instead of capturing the guy who knows where the bomb is or how to defuse it, the guy wrote the information down on a small piece of paper and forced a baby to swallow it before blowing his own head off.  Assuming we have the baby in custody, what do we do?

Rog
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #62 on: September 16, 2007, 07:49:27 PM »

I asked first. 
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #63 on: September 16, 2007, 08:58:32 PM »

 grin
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Howling Dog
rogt
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« Reply #64 on: September 17, 2007, 01:35:54 PM »

That said, that is not the only question presented.  To start with, lets put the law school hypothetical question to you:  We know there is a nuclear bomb plan in action.  We capture one of the players and there's a pretty good chance that he knows where the bomb is and what the plan is.  He is our only concrete lead.  If we don't solve the problem, tens of thousands could die, and a goodly piece of American soil could glow for centuries.  What criteria guide you in your questioning?

OK, so we're talking about a scenario where obtaining information (and not "sending a message") is 100% of the objective.  In that case, I would rule torture out as unreliable, since a guy being tortured will say just about anything to end the pain, and we have no way of knowing whether he's telling the truth.

Would depriving the guy of sleep or daylight (or maybe even giving him some drugs to loosen up his tongue) make it tougher for him to hold up under hard questioning and extreme scrutiny of everything he says?  Probably.  Pulling out his fingernails and beatings might work, but you're really just rolling the dice that what he says is true.  I've heard (but I don't recall where exactly) that Israeli interrogators are especially good at giving targeted questions intended to get a suspect to slip up and reveal things without even realizing he's doing it.  Torture is simply the tool of the amateur.

But if you decide to go with torture and it doesn't work, then what?  Make him watch while a bunch of guys rape his mother?  Blow his children's heads off one by one until he spills it?  There's no going back once you choose that route.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #65 on: September 17, 2007, 01:58:06 PM »

Under the facts of the hypothetical I gave, I would condone torture. 

Under the facts of the hypothetical you gave, I would take the baby to the emergency ward of the hospital and have his/er stomach pumped.  cheesy
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G M
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« Reply #66 on: September 17, 2007, 01:58:44 PM »

I'd draw a clear line between what domestic LE can do and what can be done by the .mil or more importantly the "OGA".
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #67 on: October 06, 2007, 09:19:47 AM »

y SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
Published: October 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

The remarks, Mr. Bush’s first public comments on the memorandums, came at a hastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as a talk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bush shifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: a once-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogate high-profile terror suspects.

“I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people,” the president said, without mentioning the C.I.A. by name. “And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information — actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That’s our job.”

Without confirming the existence of the memorandums or discussing the explicit techniques they authorized, Mr. Bush said the interrogation methods had been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.”

But his comments only provoked another round of recriminations on Capitol Hill, as Democrats ratcheted up their demands to see the classified memorandums, first reported Thursday by The New York Times.

“The administration can’t have it both ways,” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement after the president’s remarks. “I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.”

In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

The memorandums were written just months after a Justice Department opinion in December 2004 declared torture “abhorrent.”

Administration officials have confirmed the existence of the classified opinions, but will not make them public, saying only that they approved techniques that were “tough, safe, necessary and lawful.”

On Friday, the deputy White House press secretary, Tony Fratto, took The Times to task for publishing the information, saying the newspaper had compromised America’s security.

“I’ve had the awful responsibility to have to work with The New York Times and other news organizations on stories that involve the release of classified information,” Mr. Fratto said. “And I could tell you that every time I’ve dealt with any of these stories, I have felt that we have chipped away at the safety and security of America with the publication of this kind of information.”

The memorandums, and the ensuing debate over them, go to the core of a central theme of the Bush administration: the expansive use of executive power in pursuit of terror suspects.

That theme has been a running controversy on Capitol Hill, where Democrats, and some Republicans, have been furious at the way the administration has kept them out of the loop.

The clash colored Congressional relations with Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general. And by Friday, it was clear that the controversy would now spill over into the confirmation hearings for Michael B. Mukasey, the retired federal judge whom Mr. Bush has nominated to succeed Mr. Gonzales in running the Justice Department.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him whether, if confirmed, he would provide lawmakers with the Justice Department memorandums.

And Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat and Judiciary Committee member, said he expected the memorandums would become a central point in the Mukasey confirmation debate.

“When the president says the Justice Department says it’s O.K., he means Alberto Gonzales said it was O.K.,” Mr. Schumer, who has been a vocal backer of Mr. Mukasey, said in an interview.

“Very few people are going to have much faith in that, and we do need to explore that.”

The administration has been extremely careful with information about the C.I.A. program, which had been reported in the news media but was, officially at least, a secret until Mr. Bush himself publicly disclosed its existence in September 2006.

At the time, the president confirmed that the C.I.A. had held 14 high-profile terrorism suspects — including the man thought to be the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — in secret prisons, but said the detainees had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The 2005 Justice Department opinions form the legal underpinning for the program. On Friday, the director of the C.I.A., Gen. Michael V. Hayden also defended the program, in an e-mail message to agency employees.

“The story has sparked considerable comment,” General Hayden wrote, referring to the account in The Times, “including claims that the opinion opened the door to more harsh interrogation tactics and that information about the interrogation methods we actually have used has been withheld from our oversight committees in Congress. Neither assertion is true.”

NY Times
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rogt
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« Reply #68 on: October 06, 2007, 11:17:48 AM »

y SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
Published: October 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 — President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.”

This article left out the very next line of Bush's announcement, which was "We stick to US law and our international obligations."

The choice of the words "international obligations" instead of "international law" is significant.
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G M
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« Reply #69 on: October 06, 2007, 12:58:04 PM »

I doubt it.
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rogt
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« Reply #70 on: October 06, 2007, 01:17:38 PM »

Come on GM.  Consider that every public statement Bush (or any US president) makes is going to be heard all over the world.  Given the current political climate (especially around the issue of torture), the exact wording of any statement he makes is critical. No way Bush's speechwriters just didn't see a meaningful difference between "international obligation" and "international law".
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G M
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« Reply #71 on: October 06, 2007, 02:51:49 PM »

I think you're reading too much into it. What international law are you alleging is being violated? Are you aware that we have Chinese national held in Gitmo that we won't return to the PRC because the Chinese Ministry for State Security WILL torture them?
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rogt
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« Reply #72 on: October 06, 2007, 05:03:15 PM »

I think you're reading too much into it. What international law are you alleging is being violated?

The Geneva Conventions.

I know it may seem nit-picky to focus on this single word in Bush's statement, but I don't think it's a small matter here.  What exactly is meant by "international obligation"?  Is Bush willing to swear on a Bible that our interrogation methods are fully compliant with "international law"?  I doubt it.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #73 on: October 06, 2007, 06:08:26 PM »

I'm willing to consider that there may be, , , pardon the expression, some Clintonian parsing of terms here-- or it may be absolutely nothing at all.
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G M
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« Reply #74 on: October 06, 2007, 07:07:44 PM »

I think you're reading too much into it. What international law are you alleging is being violated?

The Geneva Conventions.

I know it may seem nit-picky to focus on this single word in Bush's statement, but I don't think it's a small matter here.  What exactly is meant by "international obligation"?  Is Bush willing to swear on a Bible that our interrogation methods are fully compliant with "international law"?  I doubt it.


What legal protections do al qaeda have under the Geneva Conventions?
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rogt
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« Reply #75 on: October 06, 2007, 07:16:29 PM »

Same as any other prisoner captured on a battlefield. 

This idea that AQ prisoners are "enemy combatants" (and therefore not entitled to GC protections) was 100% made up by the Bush administration and has no standing under international law.  Even our own Supreme Court has ruled that all prisoners in US custody fall under the GC and are entitled to those protections against torture and abusive treatment.
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G M
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« Reply #76 on: October 06, 2007, 08:23:20 PM »

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/375?OpenDocument

Art 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

**Please explain how al qaeda is covered by the treaty.**
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #77 on: October 07, 2007, 05:52:13 AM »

That's a very pertinent passage GM.

At the same time, I must say that some of the following is not without considerable resonance for me-- even if it is from the NY Times. and some not e.g. it appears the NYTimes wants to turn this over to the US legal system.  Also to be noted is that still in contention is to what extent the relevant Congressional committees were informed of this secret information, as is the very relevant fact that Congress's record on keeping secrets is quite often is quasi-treasonous.
------

On Torture and American Values
         
Published: October 7, 2007
Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values.

The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect. As an article on this newspaper’s front page last week laid out in disturbing detail, President Bush and his aides have not only condoned torture and abuse at secret prisons, but they have conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about those policies.

After the attacks of 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret. Some of their methods — simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress positions and isolation — had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations. The administration clearly knew this; the C.I.A. modeled its techniques on the dungeons of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.

The White House could never acknowledge that. So its lawyers concocted documents that redefined “torture” to neatly exclude the things American jailers were doing and hid the papers from Congress and the American people. Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s loyal enabler, the Justice Department even declared that those acts did not violate the lower standard of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

That allowed the White House to claim that it did not condone torture, and to stampede Congress into passing laws that shielded the interrogators who abused prisoners, and the men who ordered them to do it, from any kind of legal accountability.

Mr. Bush and his aides were still clinging to their rationalizations at the end of last week. The president declared that Americans do not torture prisoners and that Congress had been fully briefed on his detention policies.

Neither statement was true — at least in what the White House once scorned as the “reality-based community” — and Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was right to be furious. He demanded all of the “opinions of the Justice Department analyzing the legality” of detention and interrogation policies. Lawmakers, who for too long have been bullied and intimidated by the White House, should rewrite the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act to conform with actual American laws and values.

For the rest of the nation, there is an immediate question: Is this really who we are?

Is this the country whose president declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and then managed the collapse of Communism with minimum bloodshed and maximum dignity in the twilight of the 20th century? Or is this a nation that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?

Truly banning the use of torture would not jeopardize American lives; experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confessions. Restoring the rule of law to Guantánamo Bay would not set terrorists free; the truly guilty could be tried for their crimes in a way that does not mock American values.

Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system. It also will add immeasurably to the risk facing any man or woman captured while wearing America’s uniform or serving in its intelligence forces.

This is an easy choice.
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rogt
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« Reply #78 on: October 07, 2007, 12:03:57 PM »

GM, I don't know exactly how our SC decided it, but they have clearly decided that all prisoners in US custody are entitled to GC protections.  And this comes from one of the most conservative courts we've had for a long time.

To me this seems pretty black and white.  Are we (as Bush claims) a nation that respects the "rule of law" or aren't we?
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rogt
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« Reply #79 on: October 07, 2007, 04:08:36 PM »

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/andrew_sullivan/article2602564.ece

October 7, 2007
Bush’s torturers follow where the Nazis led
Andrew Sullivan

I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn’t believe America would ever do those things. I’d also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

It struck me as a no-brainer that this stuff was being invented by the far left or was part of Al-Qaeda propaganda. After all, they train captives to lie about this stuff, don’t they? Bottom line: I trusted the president in a time of war to obey the rule of law that we were and are defending. And then I was forced to confront the evidence.

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable, the Bush administration made a strong and formative decision: in the absence of good intelligence on the Islamist terror threat after 9/11, it would do what no American administration had done before. It would torture detainees to get information.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America’s treaty obligations, the military code of justice, the United Nations convention against torture, and US law. Although America has allied itself over the decades with some unsavoury regimes around the world and has come close to acquiescing to torture, it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the world from the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting the Geneva conventions, done more than any other nation to banish torture from the world. George Washington himself vowed that it would be a defining mark of the new nation that such tactics, used by the British in his day, would be anathema to Americans.

But Bush decided that 9/11 changed all that. Islamists were apparently more dangerous than the Nazis or the Soviets, whom Americans fought and defeated without resorting to torture. The decision to enter what Dick Cheney called “the dark side” was made, moreover, in secret; interrogators who had no idea how to do these things were asked to replicate some of the methods US soldiers had been trained to resist if captured by the Soviets or Vietcong.

Classic torture techniques, such as waterboarding, hypothermia, beatings, excruciating stress positions, days and days of sleep deprivation, and threats to family members (even the children of terror suspects), were approved by Bush and inflicted on an unknown number of terror suspects by American officials, CIA agents and, in the chaos of Iraq, incompetents and sadists at Abu Ghraib. And when the horror came to light, they denied all of it and prosecuted a few grunts at the lowest level. The official reports were barred from investigating fully up the chain of command.

Legally, the White House knew from the start that it was on extremely shaky ground. And so officials told pliant in-house lawyers to concoct memos to make what was illegal legal. Their irritation with the rule of law, and their belief that the president had the constitutional authority to waive it, became a hallmark of their work.

They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called “coercive interrogation”, subsequently amended to “enhanced interrogation”. These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn’t support “torture”. We were through the looking glass.

After Abu Ghraib, some progress was made in restraining these torture policies. The memo defining torture out of existence was rescinded. The Military Commissions Act was crafted to prevent the military itself from being forced to violate its own code of justice. But the administration clung to its torture policies, and tried every legal manoeuvre to keep it going and keep it secret. Much of this stemmed from the vice-president’s office.

Last week The New York Times revealed more. We now know that long after Abu Ghraib was exposed, the administration issued internal legal memos that asserted the legality of many of the techniques exposed there. The memos not only gave legal cover to waterboarding, hypothermia and beating but allowed them in combination to intensify the effect.

The argument was that stripping a chained detainee naked, pouring water over him while keeping room temperatures cold enough to induce repeated episodes of dangerous hypothermia, was not “cruel, inhuman or degrading”. We have a log of such a technique being used at Guantanamo. The victim had to be rushed to hospital, brought back from death, then submitted once again to “enhanced interrogation”.

George Orwell would have been impressed by the phrase “enhanced interrogation technique”. By relying on it, the White House spokesman last week was able to say with a straight face that the administration strongly opposed torture and that “any procedures they use are tough, safe, necessary and lawful”.

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Versch�rfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.

The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in 1948. The victims were not in uniform – they were part of the Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation – and the Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the Geneva conventions).

The Nazis even argued that “the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

The US-run court at the time clearly rejected Cheney’s arguments. Base-line protections against torture applied, the court argued, to all detainees, including those out of uniform. They didn’t qualify for full PoW status, but they couldn’t be abused either. The court also relied on the plain meaning of torture as defined under US and international law: “The court found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims, and did not find sufficient reason for a mitigation of the punishment . . .”

The definition of torture remains the infliction of “severe mental or physical pain or suffering” with the intent of procuring intelligence. In 1948, in other words, America rejected the semantics of the current president and his aides. The penalty for those who were found guilty was death. This is how far we’ve come. And this fateful, profound decision to change what America stands for was made in secret. The president kept it from Congress and from many parts of his own administration.

Ever since, the United States has been struggling to figure out what to do about this, if anything. So far Congress has been extremely passive, although last week’s leaks about the secret pro-torture memos after Abu Ghraib forced Arlen Specter, a Republican senator, to proclaim that the memos “are more than surprising. I think they are shocking”. Yet the public, by and large, remains indifferent; and all the Republican candidates, bar John McCain and Ron Paul, endorse continuing the use of torture.

One day America will come back– the America that defends human rights, the America that would never torture detainees, the America that leads the world in barring the inhuman and barbaric. But not until this president leaves office. And maybe not even then.
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« Reply #80 on: October 09, 2007, 08:05:06 AM »

The Walls Street Journal weighs in:


Tortured Arguments
Giving al Qaeda an interrogation-resistance manual.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

On current course, U.S. warfighting doctrine will be as tame as a church social. Over the weekend, Condi Rice announced that Iraq convoys protected by military contractors will also have State Department minders onboard vehicles equipped with video cameras. Now comes the latest flap over "torture" techniques during terrorist interrogations, well on their way to becoming little more than a friendly chat.

Post-Abu Ghraib, opponents of terrorist interrogations got the Bush Administration to repudiate a 2003 Justice Department memo said to be overbroad. Now critics are up in arms over newly leaked 2005 memos that responded to that earlier criticism by attempting to be more specific.

Given the anti-antiterror mood in Congress, the CIA wanted to know with precision what it can and cannot do with al Qaeda captives, lest its officials find themselves without defense in front of some Congressional committee. So, according to newspaper reports, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel responded by detailing that slapping, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and so-called stress positions are allowed. Are these torture? If so, then we really are at the point where al Qaeda agents will be treated like common felons.





What's really at issue here is whether U.S. officials are going to have even the most basic tools to interrogate America's enemies. Newspaper accounts of the 2005 memos say "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, is also allowed in the memos, which reflects the CIA's view that this is especially effective in breaking hard cases rapidly. Reportedly, this technique was used against al Qaeda masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zebaydah. Waterboarding, by the way, is also part of interrogation-resistance training for some Americans, to prepare them to face the enemy if captured. If Congress wants to outlaw this technique, it can do so. But it then has an obligation to say what is allowed.
As it stands now, the scolds in Congress and the Beltway press have decided to impose their view that no pressure tactics are ever necessary or justified. But if Congress and the press are going to take over the design of the war on terror, how can they justify walking away from any responsibility to make clear what is permissible?

The notion that the U.S. goes around unnecessarily "torturing" people without any rationale whatsoever is so absurd that it is almost never stated explicitly. But it is equally awkward for the Administration's critics to admit that the "coercive" methods listed in these memos to induce cooperation from al Qaeda operatives may actually work. Former CIA Director George Tenet has said explicitly that they do work and have saved American lives. But rather than face these hard issues directly, the scolds fall back on generalities about our "values."

If Congress doesn't want to wade into the difficult business of approving this pressure technique while forbidding that one, or making clear which methods can and can't be used in combination, then it should understand that the course it is on now will help al Qaeda operatives resist interrogation.

Congress wants the OLC memos made public, but the reason to keep them secret is so enemy combatants can't use them as a resistance manual. If they know what's coming, they can psychologically prepare for it. We know al Qaeda training often involves its own forms of resistance training, and publicly describing the rules offers our enemies a road map for resistance.





Perhaps the worst canard is the assumption that the Administration went looking for some yes-man to issue the OLC memos. The premise of this narrative is that issuing these memos would somehow help the career of acting OLC head Steve Bradbury. This is preposterous. The amply documented way to get ahead in today's Washington is to loudly object to some Bush policy, and then advertise your disagreement in Congressional testimony or in a tell-all book.
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has made himself the toast of the town that way. Meanwhile, Mr. Bradbury's predecessor at OLC, Jack Goldsmith, is now at Harvard, basking in applause for attacking his former Administration colleagues in a book. Mr. Bradbury no doubt knew he was dooming his chances of Senate confirmation any time soon. It's just possible he signed the memos because he thought they were the right thing to do under the law and as policy.

The critics of Bush policy want to have it both ways: They want to smear Administration officials with the generalization of "torture" while washing their hands of any responsibility to say what kind of interrogation, if any, they favor. If a Democrat wins the White House in 2008, she may discover that no one in her government will dare sign a memo allowing any kind of aggressive interrogation beyond "Have a nice day."

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« Reply #81 on: October 09, 2007, 08:07:38 AM »

So Be It?
The dangers of defining "torture" down.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, October 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It all but goes without saying that torture, properly defined and in nearly every circumstance, is wrong. But what do you make of the following statement, from a recent editorial in the Economist: "Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavory practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it"?

The subject of torture is again in the news thanks to a front-page story last week in the New York Times. It claims that in 2005 the Justice Department issued secret legal memorandums authorizing what the paper calls "severe interrogations," even after the administration had apparently renounced such methods. President Bush responded to the Times's story, as he has previously, by insisting "this government does not torture people." But the editorial writers at the Times were not impressed: "Is this a nation," they asked, "that tortures human beings and then concocts legal sophistries to confuse the world and avoid accountability before American voters?"

Two significant questions arise from this debate. First, what do we really mean by the word "torture"? And second, is the "So be it" standard put forward by the Economist a persuasive one?





The first question is not just a hairsplitting one, although a lot of hair gets split when government lawyers are asked for their opinion. Torture is a word that preserves its moral force only when used precisely and consistently to denote uniquely barbarous acts. "The needle under the fingernail" is one example. Simply to mention it causes most people instinctively to shudder.
By contrast, "slaps to the head," among the examples cited by the Times of the administration's "brutal" methods, doesn't come close to meeting any plausible definition of torture. The other examples--"hours held naked in a frigid [50 degree Fahrenheit] cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding"--come progressively closer to the line, and perhaps they cross it. But how do we tell?

A useful benchmark was offered by a landmark 1978 decision laid down by the European Court of Human Rights. In Ireland v. the United Kingdom, which dealt with Britain's (extrajudicial) treatment of members of the Irish Republican Army, the court concluded that the following methods did not amount to torture:

"(a) Wall-standing: Forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a 'stress position,' described by those who underwent it as being 'spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers.'

"(b) Hooding: Putting a black or navy colored bag over the detainees' heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation.

"(c) Subjection to noise: Pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise.

"(d) Deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep.

"(e) Deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the center and pending interrogations."

Remarkably, the European Court reached this careful judgment despite the fact that the "five techniques were applied in combination, with premeditation and for hours at a stretch" and that some of the detainees sustained "massive" injuries. The court's reasoning wasn't meant to excuse the behavior of British authorities, which it rightly described as "inhuman and degrading." But by maintaining the "distinction between 'torture' and 'inhuman or degrading treatment,' " the court sought to preserve the "special stigma [attached] to deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering."

These distinctions are not "legal sophistries," as the Times would have it. They are a juridical necessity to ensure that our definition of torture does not become so diluted as to render its prohibition unenforceable. But the abuse of the word does have its rhetorical uses: As with the militant anti-abortion movement, which believes that every abortion is murder and thus that every abortionist is a "murderer," the Times editorialists and their fellow travelers would characterize anyone who favors so much as touching a hair on 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's head as "pro-torture." This isn't argument. It's moral bullying.





For the record, count me as one who does not object to the interrogation to which KSM was reportedly subjected, including waterboarding. This is not because I take the use of waterboarding lightly (although I have a hard time concluding that a technique, however terrifying, to which CIA officers are willing to subject themselves experimentally can properly be counted as torture). It's because I take the threat posed by KSM seriously.
That makes it difficult for me to subscribe to the "So be it" line of reasoning. Taken seriously, it says that the civilized world would be better off sustaining a nuclear 9/11 than tarnishing its good name, that righteous victimhood is a finer thing than an innocent life saved through morally compromised methods, and that self-preservation is not the most fundamental requirement of democratic life.

In nearly all conflicts, even existential ones, limits should be observed, and it's worth thinking through where exactly the limits lie. But when the moral trade-off comes down to KSM waterboarded in order to extract actionable intelligence, or some mother's child murdered, it's not a tough call. And no amount of inflated, imprecise and tendentious allegations of torture should change that.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

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« Reply #82 on: October 29, 2007, 01:03:22 PM »

Torturing Mukasey
The judge becomes a pawn in the politics of interrogation.

Monday, October 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Just when you thought someone might be confirmed in Washington without a partisan fight, Senate Democrats are suggesting they may not approve Michael Mukasey as Attorney General after all. The judge's offense is that he's declined to declare "illegal" an interrogation technique in the war on terror that Congress itself has never specifically banned.

Last week, Democrats postponed a vote on his nomination. And all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have sent Judge Mukasey a letter expressing alarm that he refused to repudiate "waterboarding" during his recent confirmation hearing. "I don't know what's involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional," the judge had said. This seems fair enough, because both the Justice Department's legal opinions on interrogation and the specific CIA practices are classified. It would be irresponsible for Judge Mukasey to make any declarations about the law or practice until he knows the details.

That's not good enough for Democrats, who are under pressure from their antiwar left to keep pinning a phony "torture" rap on the Bush Administration. The letter from the Judiciary Democrats demands that Judge Mukasey declare himself on the legality of "waterboarding," with the clear implication that if he gives the wrong answer his nomination won't make it out of committee. These are the same Democrats who had declared, before he was nominated, that Judge Mukasey was exactly the sort of "consensus" choice they welcomed.





The irony here is that Congress has twice had the chance to ban waterboarding, or simulated drowning, but has twice declined to do so. In both the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress only barred "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment. While some Members have said they believe waterboarding is banned by that language, when given the chance to say so specifically in a statute and be accountable for it, they refused.
As usual, Congress wants it both ways. The Members want to denounce what they call "torture," but the last thing they want is to be responsible if some future detainee knows about an imminent terrorist attack but the CIA can't get the information because Congress barred certain kinds of interrogation. So they toss their non-specific language into the lap of the executive, and say "You figure it out."

Yet they still object because the Justice Department has since tried to interpret that language by providing some practical, specific guidelines to the CIA. According to several news reports, the CIA rarely uses waterboarding but believes it can be useful against the very hardest cases.





Senator John McCain all but acknowledged Congress's political dodge when he once said that, while he deplored aggressive interrogation, in extremis a President might have to approve it. And in that case, he added, the Commander in Chief has the power to absolve some Jack Bauer-type who did the dirty work. At least Mr. McCain is honest about the realities of the war on terror, in which surveillance and interrogation are two essential tools to prevent future attacks. But this also passes the buck from Congress to the executive, and CIA interrogators can be forgiven if they want more specific guidance lest they be interrogated themselves by the Monday-morning generals on the Judiciary Committee.
We hope Mr. Mukasey holds fast to his earlier answer. If he makes a declaration of illegality, he will be doing so without all the facts and will undermine the Office of Legal Counsel officials he may soon supervise at Justice. If he attempts the feint of saying that he is personally opposed to waterboarding or other aggressive techniques, he may get confirmed. But Congress will eventually ask if he's gone on to ban these techniques, which in any case is a Presidential decision. The judge will only be buying political trouble for himself later.

If Democrats want a 2008 debate over specific interrogation procedures, then by all means let's have it. And if they want to ban waterboarding, or for that matter any stressful interrogation, they can try to do so. But they shouldn't use a universally hailed Attorney General nominee as a political pawn to appease the antiwar left even as they refuse to say what kind of interrogation they do support.

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« Reply #83 on: November 02, 2007, 10:51:08 AM »

Mukasey and the Democrats
Their real target is antiterror interrogation.

Friday, November 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Democrats welcomed Michael Mukasey as a "consensus choice" for Attorney General only weeks ago, but incredibly his confirmation is now an open question. The judge's supposed offense is that he has refused to declare "illegal" a single interrogation technique that the CIA has used on rare occasions against mass murderers.

All of the Democratic Presidential candidates have come out against the distinguished judge, and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee appear ready to block his nomination from even reaching the Senate floor. This is remarkable not for what it says about Judge Mukasey but for what it reveals about Democrats and the war on terror. They'd disqualify a man of impeccable judicial temperament and credentials merely because he's willing to give U.S. interrogators the benefit of the legal doubt before he has top-secret clearance.

Could there be a clearer demonstration of why voters don't trust Democrats with national security? In the war against al Qaeda, interrogation and electronic surveillance are our most effective weapons. Yet Democrats have for years waged a guerrilla war against both of these tools, trying to impose procedural and legal limits that can only reduce their effectiveness. Judge Mukasey is merely collateral damage in this larger effort.

Their immediate political figleaf is that the judge won't pre-emptively declare "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, to be illegal. Mr. Mukasey has declared that torture "violates the law and the Constitution, and the President may not authorize it as he is no less bound by constitutional restrictions than any other government official." But he refuses to say whether waterboarding meets the statutory definition of torture based only on "hypothetical facts and circumstances."
This seems fair enough given that he has not been briefed on any of the classified interrogation details (as top Congressional Democrats have been). It also seems wise given that, if confirmed, he will have to read and consider legal memoranda already approved by Justice Department officials on the same subject. How can he declare himself before he's read them?

Most important, his discretion serves the American people by helping to keep our enemies in some doubt about what they will face if they are captured. The reason that CIA interrogation methods are kept highly classified is so that enemy combatants can't use them as a resistance manual. If terrorists know what's coming, they can prepare for it beforehand and better resist.

What's really at stake here is whether U.S. officials are going to have the basic tools required to extract information from America's enemies. As CIA Director Michael Hayden pointed out in a speech this week, "the best sources of information on terrorists and their plans are the terrorists themselves."

Mr. Hayden added that fewer than 100 captives "have gone through the interrogation program since it began in 2002 with the capture of Abu Zubaydah," a top aide to Osama bin Laden and 9/11 plotter. Yet those interrogations have generated "thousands of intelligence reports." More than 70% of the human intelligence that makes it into formal U.S. intelligence estimates "is based on detainee information."

As for waterboarding, it is mostly a political sideshow. The CIA's view seems to be that some version of waterboarding is effective in breaking especially tough cases quickly. Press reports say it has been used only against a few high-value al Qaeda operatives like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zubaydah. As former CIA Director George Tenet points out in his book "At the Center of the Storm," KSM and others never would have talked about "imminent threats against the American people" had they not been dealt with harshly. "I believe that none of these success would have happened if we had had to treat KSM like a white-collar criminal," he writes.

If Democrats want to strip the CIA of this tool, then they ought to legislate it openly, not make law under the table through the confirmation process. Congress has twice had the chance to ban or criminalize waterboarding, but it declined to do so in both the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. And not for lack of trying: In debating the Military Commissions Act, Ted Kennedy offered a detailed amendment that specifically prohibited waterboarding, as well as other coercive interrogation methods; it lost on the Senate floor, 46-53.

The political calculation here is clear: Democrats want to pander to the antiwar war base of their party that doubts we are even in a war, and in any case wants to treat terrorist detainees no differently than a common street felon. Yet they don't want to be responsible for passing a statute that blocks CIA attempts to gain information that could prevent an imminent terrorist attack. So they dodge and employ ambiguous language that the Justice Department must then interpret. And then they try to run Judge Mukasey out of town because he won't do their political work for them.

In their less cynical moments, some Democrats will admit that a technique like waterboarding may prevent a future attack in extreme cases. "We ought to be reasonable about this," said one Senator at a hearing in 2004. "I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake. . . . It is easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used, but when you are in the foxhole it is a very different deal. And I respect, I think we all respect the fact that the President is in the foxhole every day." He added that all of this should be public in order to have "legitimacy."
That Senator? New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who recommended Judge Mukasey for Attorney General in the first place. Now Mr. Schumer won't say one way or the other whether the judge has his support. If the Democrats reject Mr. Mukasey, it will tell us they simply aren't serious about the realities of the war on terror.


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« Reply #84 on: December 05, 2007, 08:39:53 AM »

The Logic of Torture
Why the subject of torture provokes so much yelling and so little argumentation.
WSJ
BY KEITH BURGESS-JACKSON
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

During the past few years, in the wake of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, much has been written about torture, almost none of it, regrettably, philosophically edifying. May I help?

The most important thing to keep in mind as you reflect on torture is that there are different types of question one can ask about it. Different types of question call for different types of answer (and therefore different types of expertise). First, there are conceptual questions. What is torture? How does torture differ from such things as torment, punishment, harsh treatment, cruelty, vengeance, sadism and violence? Can torture be accidental? Must it involve physical (as opposed to mental) pain? Can deprivation or confinement constitute torture? Conceptual questions such as these are about the concepts, ideas, categories and distinctions we use. Answering them is the province of philosophy.

Second, there are factual questions. Given a conception of torture, how widespread is it? Is there less of it now than there used to be, and if so, why? Who practices it, and why? What forms does it take? Is waterboarding torture? How much pain or suffering does a particular form of torture typically inflict? How much pain or suffering does a particular instance of torture actually inflict? Is torture effective as a means of gathering information? If so, how effective? Factual questions such as these are about how things are. Answering them requires investigation, consultation (with relevant experts) and observation. Philosophers, as such, have no expertise in this area. This doesn't mean philosophers can't make factual claims, for they can and do; it means their philosophical training doesn't make their factual claims more likely to be true. In other words, philosophers have no comparative advantage in ascertaining how things are.

Third, there are evaluative questions. Given a conception of torture, is torture permissible? If so, in what circumstances? Is torture ever obligatory? If so, why? Should the law permit torture? If so, how should it be regulated to prevent (or minimize the likelihood of) abuse? Perhaps torture should be illegal even if it is, in rare cases, morally permissible. Law and morality are different institutions, after all, with different purposes, standards and limitations. A thing can be morally permissible but legally impermissible, just as a thing can be legally permissible but morally impermissible.

It is important to distinguish questions about what the law is from questions about what the law ought to be. Whether torture is legally permissible is a factual question about the law. (Not all factual questions are easy to answer, obviously, and some answers to factual questions are controversial. For proof of this, see science.) Whether torture should be permitted by law, and if so in what circumstances, is an evaluative question about the law. If you want to know whether torture is legally permissible, consult an attorney who specializes in that type of law. You would not consult an attorney if you wanted to know whether torture should be legally permissible, for that is an evaluative question, and attorneys, as such, have no evaluative expertise.

Not all facts about torture are relevant to its moral permissibility. What makes a fact relevant is that it connects up to a moral principle. For example, suppose I am a hedonistic utilitarian. My principle (of utility) mandates that I maximize pleasure (or, put negatively, that I minimize suffering). This makes the amount of suffering inflicted during torture relevant. How much suffering torture inflicts, both quantitatively and qualitatively, is a factual question about which reasonable people can differ. Many facts about torture, such as where it takes place, on whom it is inflicted, and how many people administer it, are morally irrelevant and therefore of no interest to those who are interested solely in its moral status.


 

Just as two or more people can support the same presidential candidate for different reasons, two or more people can oppose torture for different reasons. Some people oppose torture solely because of its consequences. These are known as consequentialists. Utilitarianism is a species of consequentialism (and hedonistic utilitarianism a species of utilitarianism). To a consequentialist, no type of act is intrinsically wrong, i.e., wrong in and of itself. Lying is not intrinsically wrong; cheating is not intrinsically wrong; stealing is not intrinsically wrong; torturing is not intrinsically wrong; even killing innocent people is not intrinsically wrong. Each act, to a consequentialist, must be evaluated on its own merits. Acts that maximize the good (e.g., happiness) are right, while acts that do not maximize the good are wrong. Consequentialists have no principled objection to torture. When an act of torture is wrong, it is wrong solely because, qua act, it fails to maximize the good. When it maximizes the good, it is not wrong.
Some consequentialists prefer to focus on rules, practices or entire moral codes rather than concrete acts. They say that we should adopt whatever rules, practices or moral codes maximize the good when generally adhered to (or followed), and then act in accordance with those rules, practices or codes. We should not evaluate acts individually, on a case-by-case basis. Since only rare cases of torture maximize the good, these theorists would adopt a rule that prohibits torture. This means that we should refuse to torture even if, in a particular case, it would maximize the good. Act-consequentialists accuse rule-consequentialists of "rule-worship." Why (they ask) should one follow a rule even in those cases where it is known that breaking the rule would maximize the good?

Deontologists reject consequentialism. Deontologists believe that certain types of act, such as torture, are intrinsically wrong. There are two types of deontologist. Absolute deontologists believe that no amount of good could possibly justify torture. Even if torturing X were the only way to save the lives of a million innocent people, it would be wrong to torture X. Even if torturing X were the only way to prevent Y from torturing a million innocent people, it would be wrong to torture X. Absolute deontology is a hard doctrine, as you can see, but it has (and always has had) its adherents.

Moderate deontologists agree with absolute deontologists that certain acts, such as torture, are intrinsically wrong, but disagree that nothing could possibly justify them. Moderate deontologists have thresholds. Here is an example of a high threshold: A moderate deontologist might believe that torture is permissible only if it saves the lives of at least 1,000 innocent people. A low threshold might require that 50 innocent lives be saved. An even lower threshold might require that five innocent lives be saved. Moderate deontologists agree with consequentialists that consequences count, but disagree that only consequences count. Moderate deontology comes in degrees, depending on where the threshold is set. Think of it this way. Consequentialism is 0; absolute deontology is 1; moderate deontology ranges from 0.000001 to 0.999999. Moderate deontology with a low threshold is close to consequentialism on the spectrum. Moderate deontology with a high threshold is close to absolute deontology on the spectrum.

You can now see that normative ethical theorists of different stripes can oppose--albeit for different reasons--a given instance of torture. An absolute deontologist can oppose it because it's a case of torture, which is categorically prohibited. A moderate deontologist can oppose it because (1) it's a case of torture, which is intrinsically wrong, and (2) it will not produce enough good to justify it. A consequentialist can oppose it because it does not maximize the good. When I hear that someone opposes torture, I want to know why. Is he an absolute deontologist? A moderate deontologist? A consequentialist? Once I get an answer to this question, I can probe for inconsistencies.

Another point to keep in mind is this: That two or more normative ethical theories converge on certain cases, or even on many cases, does not mean that they're identical. All it takes to make two normative ethical theories different is one case--actual or hypothetical--in which they produce different results, and that is the situation here with respect to absolute deontologists, moderate deontologists and consequentialists. There are cases (if only hypothetical) in which both types of deontologist condemn an act of torture while consequentialists commend it. There are cases in which absolute deontologists condemn an act of torture while moderate deontologists and consequentialists commend it. Morality, like politics, makes strange bedfellows.


 

One difference between law and morality is that law is practical. Law must attend to such things as efficiency. Laws are addressed to classes of people, not to individuals. You've probably heard the expression that hard cases make bad law. This is another way of saying that just because a given act is morally permissible doesn't mean that the law should permit acts of that type. Take euthanasia, for example. It may be that in a particular case, it is morally permissible for someone to engage in mercy killing. It doesn't follow from this that mercy killing should be permitted by law, for people might misapply the rule and end up killing those who don't want to be killed. The law errs on the side of caution, for practical reasons.
The reasoning just used in the case of euthanasia can be applied to torture. Even if torture can be justified in particular cases, such as when it is necessary to learn the location of a bomb, it might be dangerous for the law to allow it. Certainly we don't want torture to be routine, for that opens the door to abuses. The best policy might be to prohibit torture (having carefully defined it), while allowing as a defense the claim that it was necessary to save many innocent lives. This is only a sketch of an argument, but you can see how it might be developed. The idea is to create a strong legal presumption against torture, while allowing for the possibility of rebuttal in a court of law.

Some people think philosophers have their heads in the clouds. It's an old but false complaint. Most philosophers--even those who work in metaphysics or epistemology rather than ethics--care very much about public affairs, and their training in conceptual analysis equips them to contribute to it. We must be careful, though, about the nature and scope of philosophical expertise. Philosophers, as such, have neither factual nor evaluative expertise. (I would argue that nobody has evaluative expertise.) Philosophers can be as wrong about the facts as anyone else, and the fact that X is a philosopher does not give X's values any greater weight.

What philosophers can contribute to public affairs--and perhaps ought to contribute--is conceptual clarification. As a result of their training, philosophers are adept at sorting things out, identifying fallacies (understood as characteristic errors in reasoning), uncovering hidden assumptions, spotting inconsistencies, and showing why one thing is or is not relevant to some other thing. Philosophers are technicians, not sages.

Nothing I have said implies that philosophers can't argue. But notice what that involves. Every argument with an evaluative conclusion must, in order to be valid, have at least one evaluative premise. (This is known as Hume's Law.) To persuade somebody to accept a conclusion, you must use only premises that he accepts. If your interlocutor rejects one of your premises, including the evaluative one, your argument gets no grip on him (although it might get a grip on someone else, with different beliefs and values). You will to have to back up, as it were, and argue for the premise that your interlocutor rejects. This new argument will also need to have at least one evaluative premise. If your interlocutor rejects it, you will have to back up and argue for it--and so on, until you find common ground. The idea is to show your interlocutor that he has inconsistent beliefs. The only leverage a philosopher has is the principle of noncontradiction.

Argumentation is hard. It requires time, patience, energy, charity and intelligence. Could that be why there is so much yelling and so little arguing when it comes to important matters such as torture?

Mr. Burgess-Jackson is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he teaches courses in logic, ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of law, and social and political philosophy. He blogs at keithburgess-jackson.com.


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« Reply #85 on: December 11, 2007, 01:39:57 PM »

WSJ
Waterboarding: Congress Knew
December 11, 2007; Page A26
After three days of screaming headlines about the CIA destroying videotapes in 2005 of the "harsh" interrogation of two terrorists, it now comes to light that in 2002 key members of Congress were fully briefed by the CIA about those interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. One member of that Congressional delegation was the future House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

The Washington Post on Sunday reported these series of briefings. While it is not our habit to promote the competition, readers should visit the Post's Web site and absorb this astonishing detail for themselves as reported by Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen in "Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002: In meetings, spy panels' chiefs did not protest, officials say."

Porter Goss, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee who later served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006 is explicit about what happened in these meetings: "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing. And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

In all, the CIA provided Congress with some 30 briefings on waterboarding before it became a public issue.

Why would the CIA want to tell the most senior members of Congress about anything so sensitive? No doubt in part because senior officials at the CIA, not to mention the interrogators themselves, assuredly did not want to begin any such policy absent closing the political and legal loop on it.

The Congressional briefings touched the political base, and a Justice Department memo at that time deemed the interrogation methods legal. Most crucially, bear in mind that when pressed about all this at his confirmation hearings, Attorney General Michael Mukasey pointedly said he would not make a post-facto condemnation of the techniques, thereby putting the "freedom" of the interrogators at risk, "simply because I want to be congenial."

At the time, we wrote that this was a sign of Judge Mukasey's character. That word would not spring to mind in describing what the Post's account says about Congress.

One certainly may hold as abhorrent the idea of aggressively interrogating any terrorists ever, either for fear of what they might do to our people, as John McCain does, or because one thinks this violates our values. What one may not do -- at least not if one wants the system to function -- is assent to such a policy in 2002 and then, when the policy is made public, put up the pretense that one is "shocked" and appalled to learn of it.

This is bad faith. Worse, it risks setting in motion the ruin or eventual criminal prosecution of CIA employees who in 2002 did what the Bush Administration, Congress and indeed the nation wanted them to do to protect the American people from another September 11.

It has been widely reported by now that waterboarding was used on only three individuals -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the airliner attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon; Abu Zebaydah, an Osama bin Laden confidante captured in Pakistan 2002 and described as a director of al-Qaeda operations; and a third unidentified person. If Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues want the handling of such terrorists conformed to what they call "our values," then she should define that and put it in an explicit piece of legislation. Then let the Members vote yea or nay, in public, on the record.

But don't sign off on such a sensitive policy at a moment when the nation's "values" support it, then later feign revulsion when you can't take the heat from the loudest in your political constituency. There was a time when politics at least assumed more backbone than that.

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« Reply #86 on: February 06, 2008, 08:55:44 AM »

WSJ

Tall Torture Tales
February 6, 2008; Page A18
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri planned the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Abu Zubaydah was the mastermind of the foiled millennium terrorist attacks, which had Los Angeles airport as one of its targets. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed directed the September 11 attacks, and has claimed to have personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl.

 
All three men were captured by the CIA in 2002 and waterboarded in the course of their interrogations. They are also the only U.S. detainees to have been waterboarded. That fact, publicly confirmed yesterday by CIA Director Michael Hayden, shreds whatever is left to the so-called torture narrative, according to which the Bush Administration has engaged in widespread, needless and systematic torture of detainees.

Instead, we have sworn public testimony that the waterboarding was conducted against the three individuals best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities. The interrogations took place when a second major terrorist attack was widely seen as inevitable. And we know that the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah helped lead to the capture of KSM, and to the foiling of an active terrorist plot against the United States.

 
The waterboarding was conducted by intelligence professionals who understood they were operating not only with the approval of the Justice Department but also the informed consent of key Congressional leaders, including Democrat Jay Rockefeller, then the ranking minority Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

In his own testimony yesterday, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell refused to rule out the use of waterboarding in the future, though he said it would have to be approved by the President and Attorney General. To the extent that his comments provide a measure of uncertainty to terrorist detainees who might otherwise think they have nothing to fear from their captors, this helps make us safer.
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« Reply #87 on: February 13, 2008, 08:00:27 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/02/13/they-did-what-to-the-gitmo-detainees/

Oh, when will the torture end?Huh  rolleyes
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« Reply #88 on: August 19, 2008, 02:41:09 PM »

Here's the Mahdi Army's approach to interrogation:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/08/19/iraq.mosque/index.html
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« Reply #89 on: December 12, 2008, 02:31:25 PM »

The bipartisan vote in support of the report would seem to give it considerable weight.  Any comments?  GM?

http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/supporting/2008/Detainees.121108.pdf
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« Reply #90 on: December 12, 2008, 03:05:32 PM »

**Yawn. They are lucky I don't get to design the program. Waterboarding would be the least of their concerns.**
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« Reply #91 on: December 19, 2008, 09:33:42 AM »

If it were as clear as it seems in this WSJ editorial, why did all the Reps on the committee vote in support of the report?  Is it because one of them is Sen. McCain and with his personal history that no one was willing to go against him? 

Regardless, a troubling issue , , ,
==========================
The release of Carl Levin's report on the Bush Administration's alleged "torture" policies was a formality: The Senator's conclusions were politically predetermined long ago. Still, the credulity and acclaim that has greeted this agitprop is embarrassing, even by Washington standards.

 
AP
Sen. Carl Levin.
According to the familiar "torture narrative" that Mr. Levin sanctifies, President Bush and senior officials sanctioned detainee abuse, first by refusing to accord al Qaeda members Geneva Convention rights, and second by conspiring to rewrite the legal definition of torture. The new practices were then imposed on military leaders and spread through the chain of command. Therefore, Mr. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their deputies are morally -- and legally -- responsible for all prisoner abuse since 9/11, not least Abu Ghraib.

Nearly every element of this narrative is dishonest. As officials testified during Mr. Levin's hearings and according to documents in his possession, senior officials were responding to requests from the CIA and other commanders in the field. The flow was bottom up, not top down. Those commanders were seeking guidance on what kind of interrogation was permissible as they tried to elicit information from enemies who want to murder civilians. At the time, no less than Barack Obama's Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, was saying that terrorists didn't qualify for Geneva protections.

This was the context in which the Justice Department wrote the so-called "torture memos" of 2002 and 2003. You'd never know from the Levin jeremiad that these are legal -- not policy -- documents. They are attempts not to dictate interrogation guidelines but to explore the legal limits of what the CIA might be able to do.

It would have been irresponsible for those charged with antiterror policy to do anything less. In a 2007 interview former CIA director George Tenet described the urgency of that post-9/11 period: "I've got reports of nuclear weapons in New York City, apartment buildings that are going to be blown up, planes that are going to fly into airports all over again . . . Plot lines that I don't know -- I don't know what's going on inside the United States." Actionable intelligence is the most effective weapon in the war on terror, which can potentially save thousands of lives.

We know that the most aggressive tactic ever authorized was waterboarding, which was used in only three cases against hardened, high-ranking al Qaeda operatives, including Abu Zubaydah after he was picked up in Pakistan in 2002. U.S. officials say the information he gave up foiled multiple terror plots and led to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11. As Dick Cheney told ABC this week, "There was a time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from one source" -- KSM.

Starting in 2002, key Congressional leaders, including Democrats, were fully briefed by the CIA about its activities, amounting to some 30 sessions before "torture" became a public issue. None of them saw fit to object. In fact, Congress has always defined torture so vaguely as to ban only the most extreme acts and preserve legal loopholes. At least twice it has had opportunity to specifically ban waterboarding and be accountable after some future attack. Members declined.

As for "stress positions" allowed for a time by the Pentagon, such as hooding, sleep deprivation or exposure to heat and cold, they are psychological techniques designed to break a detainee, but light years away from actual torture. Perhaps the reason Mr. Levin released only an executive summary with its unsubstantiated charges of criminal behavior -- instead of the hundreds of pages of a full declassified version -- is that the evidence doesn't fit the story. If it did, Mr. Levin or his staff would surely have leaked the details.

Not one of the 12 nonpartisan investigations in recent years concluded that the Administration condoned or tolerated detainee abuse, while multiple courts martial have punished real offenders. None of the dozen or so Abu Ghraib trials and investigations have implicated higher ups; the most senior officer charged, a lieutenant colonel, was acquitted in 2006. Former Defense Secretary Jim Schlesinger's panel concluded that the abuses were sadistic behavior by the "night shift."

Now that Mr. Obama is on his way to the White House, even some Democrats are acknowledging the complicated security realities. Dianne Feinstein, a Bush critic who will chair the Senate Intelligence Committee in January, recently told the New York Times that extreme cases might call for flexibility. "I think that you have to use the noncoercive standard to the greatest extent possible," she said (our emphasis). Ms. Feinstein later put out a statement that all interrogations should be conducted within the more specific limits of the U.S. Army Field Manual but said she will "consider" other views. But that is already the law for most of the government. What the Bush Administration has insisted on is an exception for the CIA to use other techniques (not waterboarding) in extreme cases.

As for Mr. Levin, his real purpose is to lay the groundwork for war-crimes prosecutions of Bush officials like John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Jim Haynes who acted in good faith to keep the country safe within the confines of the law. Messrs. Obama and Holder would be foolish to spend their political capital on revenge, but Mr. Levin is demanding an "independent" commission to further politicize the issue and smear decent public servants.

As Mr. Levin put it in laying on his innuendo this week, a commission "may or may not lead to indictments or civil action." It will also encourage some grandstanding foreign prosecutor to arrest Mr. Rumsfeld and other Bush officials like Pinochet if they ever dare to leave the U.S. Why John McCain endorsed this Levin gambit is the kind of mystery that has defined, and damaged, his career. We hope other Republicans push back.

Mr. Levin claims that Bush interrogation programs "damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives." The truth is closer to the opposite. The second-guessing of Democrats is likely to lead to a risk-averse mindset at the CIA and elsewhere that compromises the ability of terror fighters to break the next KSM. The political winds always shift, but terrorists are as dangerous as ever.

 

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« Reply #92 on: January 05, 2009, 02:04:28 PM »

I wondered why Panetta, another Clinton retread is chosen by BO as director of the CIA. The first part of this piece he wrote explains part of the reason.  He certainly fits into the pc version of where our intelligence philosophy.  Our country is becoming just so adorable.

***Americans reject fear tactics
Monterey County Herald, March 9, 2008
By Leon E. Panetta
 
In the depths of the Depression in 1933, with more than a third of the nation "ill-housed, ill-clad and ill-nourished," Franklin Roosevelt made clear to a desperate people that the greatest threat was from fear itself.

Seventy-five years later, in the midst of unprecedented foreign and domestic crises, will America surrender to fear or will the candidates for president appeal to the better angels of our nature?

Unfortunately, fear remains an appealing weapon in the modern political arsenal. In a tight battle, the temptation is to scare the hell out of the public in order to win an issue or beat an opponent. Consultants design campaigns to get voters to vote their guts and not their brains. This appeal to the lowest common denominator afflicts both the way this nation elects its leaders and ultimately the way these leaders govern.

Fear exacts a terrible toll on our democracy. Five years ago, America went to war in Iraq over the false fear that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Even though we now know that there were intelligence officials who questioned the assertion, few leaders were willing to challenge this argument for war because they knew it might undermine public support for the president's decision to invade Iraq.

More recently, President Bush vetoed a law that would require the CIA and all the intelligence services to abide by the same rules on torture as contained in the U.S. Army Field Manual.

The president says the rules are too restrictive, implying that the use of some forms of torture just could help avoid another Sept. 11.

But all forms of torture have long been prohibited by American law and international treaties respected by Republican and Democratic presidents alike.

Our forefathers prohibited "cruel and unusual punishment" because that was how tyrants and despots ruled in the 1700s. They wanted an America that was better than that. Torture is illegal, immoral, dangerous and counterproductive. And yet, the president is using fear to trump the law.

The same rationale is used to justify eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without a warrant. The president has made clear that the failure of the Congress to pass this authority could jeopardize our security. Instead of trying to negotiate a compromise with Congress that would meet both our intelligence and privacy concerns, it is easier to threaten with fear.

Campaigns are primers for scaring the public. Just within the few days leading to the Ohio and Texas primaries, a Clinton ad appeared that showed a ringing red phone in the Oval Office and scenes of a sleeping child.

The voice-over made clear that the child could be jeopardized if the person answering the phone did not have the foreign policy experience to do the right thing. Barack Obama responded with an ad that used the same ringing red phone and child but argued that it was judgment, not experience, that would save the child.

If Obama becomes the Democratic candidate, will Republican John McCain allow his consultants to use race, Obama's middle name of Hussein and a tourist snapshot in Somali dress to smear his opponent's patriotism?

Some of McCain's supporters have already made this attack. The fear argument is to make Obama into some kind of Manchurian candidate, a closet anti-Semitic jihadist trained in a madrasa. After all, it did not take much to attack the patriotism of Sen. John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran.

If race, innuendo and fear become the principal weapons of this campaign, it could become one of the ugliest political races in modern history.

The good news is that the American people appear to have rejected the tactics of fear. They really do want change and a nation unified by a can-do spirit that will confront problems and give our children a better life. They do not want patriotism defined simply by fear of terrorism, the prospect of perpetual war and the historic prejudices against race and gender.

But if the candidates are to appeal to our hopes and not our fears, it begins with their campaigns. For too long, presidential races have been marked by the Karl Rove tactics of divide and conquer. Constituencies are neatly divided and force-fed wedge issues that drive them to the polls.

A few debates are scheduled, but their format is so limited that they fail to give the candidates opportunity to fully discuss their positions. Instead of a national campaign, the races focus on raising special-interest money and the nine or ten targeted states that could make the difference in the electoral vote. The rest of the nation is taken for granted.

Let me suggest that if the candidates are really in touch with the pulse of America, they will agree to give America a different kind of presidential race.

First, they should get together and agree to public financing and the spending limits established by that law. The candidates should be focused on the issues and not the obligations of constant fundraising that consume the candidates and their campaigns.

Second, the candidates should agree to a set of Lincoln-Douglas style debates in each region of the country. These debates would not involve the press but just the candidates. Instead of the same old media questions, they would have to focus on the substantive issues facing the nation: Iraq, the war on terror, health care, global warming and energy, the economy and the deficit, immigration reform, education and foreign policy. Each forum would focus on one issue and give the candidates the opportunity to present fully their positions and to question each other. For once in a political race, the public is entitled to more than just sound bites.

Thirdly, each candidate should be required to tell the nation the names of the people he or she would have in the cabinet. The public should know the team that the next president will have in Washington. Competence and bipartisanship have been missing for too long in Washington.

And lastly, each candidate should tell the nation how he or she will restore trust in this badly divided nation's capital and how they will rise above partisanship in order to govern. In 30 years of political life, I have never seen Washington as partisan as it is today.

It will take more than a speech. How a new president responds to this challenge could spell the difference between a successful or failed presidency.

It is likely that a new president will be tested early. The fact is we will never know what a president is really like until he or she has to confront the crises and pressures of the modern presidency. But one thing we should know before a candidate becomes president is whether he or she will govern by fear or by hope. America does not have to be afraid of its future.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LEON PANETTA is a former congressman and White House chief of staff who now heads the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy at CSU-Monterey Bay. He was a member of the Iraq Study Group. His column runs every other month in Commentary.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
© 2006 Monterey County Herald and wire service sources.
All Rights Reserved. http://www.montereyherald.com***
 
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WSJ
« Reply #93 on: January 23, 2009, 11:44:50 AM »

Most politicians would rather do anything than make a difficult choice, and it seems President Obama hasn't abandoned this Senatorial habit. To wit, yesterday's executive order on interrogation: It imposes broad limits on how aggressively U.S. intelligence officers can question terrorists, but it also keeps open the prospect of legal loopholes that would allow them to press harder in tough cases.

 
APWhile that kind of double standard may resolve a domestic political problem, it's no way to fight a war. The human-rights lobby and many Democrats are still experiencing hypochondria about the Bush Administration's supposed torture program, and their cheering about this "clean break" means they may be appeased. But the larger risk is that Mr. Obama's restrictions end up disabling an essential tool in the U.S. antiterror arsenal.

Effective immediately, the interrogation of anyone "in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government" will be conducted within the limits of the Army Field Manual. That includes special-ops and the Central Intelligence Agency, which will now be required to give prisoners gentler treatment than common criminals. The Field Manual's confines don't even allow the average good cop/bad cop routines common in most police precincts.

The Army Field Manual is already the operating guide for military interrogations. The crux of the "torture" debate has been that the Bush Administration permitted more coercive techniques in rare cases -- fewer than 100 detainees, according to CIA Director Michael Hayden. Yesterday Mr. Obama revoked the 2007 Presidential carve-out that protected this CIA flexibility.


The techniques that had been permissible until yesterday remain classified but were widely believed to include such things as stress positions, exposure to cold and sleep deprivation. Senior officials have said they stopped waterboarding in 2003 -- which in any case was only used against three senior al Qaeda operatives and succeeded in breaking these men to divulge information that foiled terror plots.

The unfine print of Mr. Obama's order is that he's allowed room for what might be called a Jack Bauer exception. It creates a committee to study whether the Field Manual techniques are too limiting "when employed by departments or agencies outside the military." The Attorney General, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence-designate Dennis Blair will report back and offer "additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies."

In other words, Mr. Obama's Inaugural line that "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" was itself misrepresenting the choices his predecessor was forced to make. At least President Bush was candid about the practical realities of preventing mass casualties in the U.S.

The "special task force" may well grant the CIA more legal freedom to squeeze information out of terrorists when it could keep the country safe. An anecdote former Clinton counterterror czar Richard Clarke recounts in his memoir "Against All Enemies" is instructive. In 1993, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler was horrified by Mr. Clarke's proposal for "extraordinary rendition," where our spooks turn over prisoners to foreign countries like Egypt so they can do the interrogating.

While Mr. Clinton was still chewing his fingernails and seemed to side with Mr. Cutler, Al Gore arrived late to the meeting. "Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides," Mr. Clarke writes. "Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'"

The wider danger Mr. Obama is inviting by claiming to draw a line while drawing no line at all is the message it sends to Langley. CIA interrogators are already buying legal insurance in the expectation that a Senator like Carl Levin or some prosecutor-on-the-make rings them up for war crimes. The executive order is bound to produce a more risk-averse CIA culture and over time less intelligence-gathering. No one may be willing to be Jack Bauer when Mr. Obama really needs him. This will have consequences for U.S. safety, and for the Obama Administration if there is another 9/11.
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« Reply #94 on: January 23, 2009, 02:19:24 PM »

Al qaeda has fatwas authorizing the killing of millions of Americans, half of those to be children. That's their legal system. When Obama's pandering to his base gets our innocents killed, will the left be outraged?
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« Reply #95 on: February 03, 2009, 12:27:59 PM »

Congress's Phony War on Torture Why not ban waterboarding once and for all?By WILLIAM MCGURN
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When Leon Panetta comes before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday about his nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency, he ought to be asked tough questions about the things he's said about torture. And he will.

At a time when key congressional Democrats are backing calls to investigate Bush administration officials for war crimes, it would help if our elected representatives first answered the tough questions themselves. But they won't. And therein lies the key to understanding contemporary congressional morality.

For the past few years, no word has been more casually thrown about than "torture." At the same time, no word has been less precisely defined. That suits Congress just fine, because it allows members to take a pass on defining the law while reserving the right to second-guess the poor souls on the front lines who actually have to make decisions about what the law means.

Last February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thumped loudly when they sent George W. Bush a bill that would have limited the CIA to the interrogation techniques found in the Army Field Manual -- knowing full well that he would veto it. Now they have a Democratic president who says he shares their views. So why not send him a bill declaring once and for all that waterboarding and other interrogation techniques constitute torture?

Manifestly our system of government gives them the right to do so. As CIA Director Michael Hayden noted in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in September 2007, the "CIA operates only within the space given to us by the American people. . . . That space is defined by the policy makers we elect and the laws our representatives pass."

Of course, defining that space would require something in short supply in Washington: an adult conversation. In such a conversation, good men and women could present the case for enhanced interrogation without having their words twisted and finding themselves held up in public as latter-day Torquemadas. Such a conversation might also begin by examining the reigning assumption of today's debate: that context and circumstances have nothing to say about what we call torture.

This is not the reasoning we apply in other areas. Consider a police officer who kills a criminal in a justifiable shooting. We do not call that murder, because the circumstances surrounding the act determine our judgment of that act. If that's true for something as serious as killing, is it really impossible that similar reasoning might apply to interrogation practices that leave no permanent physical or mental damage?

At times, even critics inadvertently make the point. When it is argued, for example, that Navy Seals have undergone waterboarding as part of their training, the response is, well, waterboarding someone as part of his military training is different from waterboarding someone in custody. Yes: Of course it is. In the real world, circumstances and context are crucial to our moral judgments.

While we're at it, let's forget about the theoretical ticking time bomb. Instead, consider a real assertion: Leaders in our intelligence community have declared that the intelligence gained from enhanced interrogations of high-value terrorists have helped save innocent lives.

You don't believe them? Fine. Bring in the people who know -- behind closed doors if you want them to speak honestly and avoid spilling classified information. And then come to an informed conclusion.

In a better day, Congress would allow the executive branch a great deal of latitude during a time of war. We, however, do not live in a better day. In our day, senators and congressmen call for inquisitions of people who operate within a vague torture statute that Congress could easily clarify if it wanted.

A year ago, the Speaker of the House expressed herself thus: "Failing to legally prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques," she said, "undermines our nation's moral authority, puts American military and diplomatic personnel at risk, and undermines the quality of intelligence."

So what's stopping her? The ban President Barack Obama has put in place is not a law but an executive order that can be reversed. This order came, moreover, with a huge back door in the form of a "task force" that will study whether eliminating waterboarding and other enhanced techniques will affect our intelligence needs.

If Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid believe their own public statements that waterboarding and other techniques are both torture and ineffective, they ought to incorporate their words into a law that takes these practices off the table forever.

That, of course, would mean a vote that would force lawmakers to face up to the real-life consequences of their actions -- and submit those actions to the judgment of the American people.

And as Mr. Obama is learning, the one thing that frightens Congress more than al Qaeda is accountability.

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« Reply #96 on: February 12, 2009, 11:35:51 AM »

Female FBI officer " Tortured Mumbai terror attacks suspect with sex "

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Female FBI officer 'tortured Mumbai terror attacks suspect with sex'

A female FBI officer tortured a suspect in the Mumbai terrorist attacks by performing a sex act on him during interrogation, it has been claimed.

By Ben Leach
Last Updated: 10:29PM GMT 11 Feb 2009


Fahim Ansari is accused of helping to plan the attacks in which 173 people were killed in November.

His lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, has filed legal papers with Mumbai magistrate's court, claiming the "white woman" removed all his clothes and showed him pornographic films.  In the papers, he claims that three foreigners, including the woman, sexually abused him, causing him "severe itching and wounds" on his body, including his genitals.  Mr Ansari, a devout Muslim, claims this amounts to torture because it is against his religion, The Sun newspaper has reported.

A court in the Indian city ordered medical checks on "wounds on his private parts and all over his body."

Mr Ansari was arrested with five other suspects last year.  Police have said that he is a trained member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organisation responsible for the Mumbai attacks.  He was detained in February last year in connection with an attack on a police camp in Rampur that left seven paramilitaries and one civilian dead.

Police have said Mr Ansari had hand-drawn maps of key Mumbai landmarks, some of which were hit in the attacks that started on 26 November.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-with-sex.html
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« Reply #97 on: February 14, 2009, 07:47:05 AM »

By TERRY TEACHOUT
What do you fear more than anything else? In "Nineteen Eighty-Four," his 1948 novel about life under totalitarianism, George Orwell describes a mysterious torture chamber called Room 101 where prisoners are exposed to "the worst thing in the world" in order to make them talk. "It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or 50 other deaths," the chief interrogator explains. I thought of Room 101 when I read that the U.S. military uses loud music to soften up detainees who refuse to talk about their terrorist activities. Not surprisingly, some (though by no means all) of the musicians whose recordings have been used for this purpose want to have it stopped. Reprieve, a British legal charity that defends prisoners whose human rights are allegedly being violated, has gone so far as to launch Zero dB, an initiative specifically aimed at practitioners of what it calls "music torture."


President Obama's decision to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay and conduct a review of CIA interrogation techniques will doubtless have some as-yet-unknown impact on the use of music for coercive purposes. But speaking strictly as a critic, what I find most intriguing about this practice is the list of songs and performers reportedly used to "torture" detainees that Reprieve has posted on its Web site, www.reprieve.org.uk. It is an eclectic assemblage of tunes ranging from AC/DC's "Hell's Bells," a heavy-metal ditty that sounds as though it had been recorded by an orchestra of buzzsaws, to such seemingly innocuous fare as Don McLean's "American Pie" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." To be sure, most of the records cited by Reprieve have one thing in common: They're ear-burstingly loud. But the presence on the list of "I Love You," the chirpy theme song of "Barney & Friends," a longtime staple of children's programming on PBS, suggests that the successful use of music as a tool of coercion entails more than mere volume.

I'm also struck by the fact that music is, so far as I know, the only art form used for such purposes. No doubt it would be unpleasant to be locked in a windowless room that had bad paintings hung on all four walls, but I can't envision even the most sensitive of spies blurting out the name of his controller to escape the looming presence of Andy Warhol or Thomas Kinkade. Yet I have no trouble imagining myself reduced to hysterical babbling after being forced to listen to shred, grunge and "I Love You" for 16-hour stretches, a technique said to have been employed by Guantanamo interrogators.

Music Used For Torture

British charity Reprieve, with the Musicians Union, has started an initiative called Zero dB which protests the practice of "music torture." Here is their list of music that has been used:

AC/DC ("Hells Bells," "Shoot to Thrill")AerosmithBarney the Dinosaur (theme song)Bee Gees ("Stayin' Alive")Britney SpearsBruce Springsteen ("Born in the USA")Christina Aguilera ("Dirrty")David Gray ("Babylon")DeicideDon McLean ("American Pie")Dope ("Die MF Die," "Take Your Best Shot")Dr. DreDrowning Pools ("Bodies")Eminem ("Kim," "Slim Shady," "White America")Lil' KimLimp BizkitMatchbox Twenty ("Gold")Meat LoafMetallica ("Enter Sandman")Neil Diamond ("America")Nine Inch Nails ("March of the Pigs," "Mr. Self Destruct")Prince ("Raspberry Beret")Queen ("We Are the Champions")Rage Against the Machine ("Killing in the Name")Red Hot Chili PeppersSaliva ("Click Click Boom")The "Sesame Street" theme songTupac ("All Eyes on Me")Donald Vance, who was imprisoned for 97 days at a U.S. military detention center in Iraq and is now suing the U.S. government, claims that interrogators there subjected him to a nonstop barrage of recorded music that made him suicidal. "It sort of removes you from you," he told an Associated Press reporter. "You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you're in an environment like that."

I think I know what Mr. Vance means, sort of. I've gone to a lot of terrible plays in my capacity as the Journal's drama critic, but I'd much rather squirm through a bad play than a bad musical, much less a bad opera or symphony. No doubt this is partly because I have musical training, but I'm sure that it has more to do with the fundamental nature of the musical experience. Music, after all, is the most enveloping of the arts, the only one that creates the illusion of occupying both time and space. Live theater comes close, but it lacks music's all-encompassing quality. To enter into the presence of a piece of music, be it a Schubert sonata or a single by Metallica, is to be surrounded and permeated by its essence. The air is full of it -- and the clock is ruled by it. You can't get away from music, which explains its unparalleled power to disorient and disturb.

This power, it seems, is not limited to any one kind of music. Anyone who's paid a visit to New York's Penn Station in recent years knows that chamber music is regularly played over the station's public-address system. What most commuters don't know, however, is that this innovation was introduced in 1995 as part of the station's homelessness program, and that the purpose of the music, as an Amtrak official explained at the time, was both to "calm the frenzied traveler" and to "displace the negative element." Translation: Mozart drives away vagrants. Similarly, a number of high-school teachers have experimented in recent years, by all accounts successfully, with playing Frank Sinatra albums to miscreant teenagers during after-school detention periods.

I nevertheless find it significant -- and not a little comforting -- that the titles on Reprieve's list of Music to Confess By include "Hell's Bells" and Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Pigs" rather than, say, "Voi, che sapete" or "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." Nor is this coincidental. As an interrogator for the U.S. Army's 361st Psychological Operations Company explained to Newsweek: "These people haven't heard heavy metal. 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." The day anyone feels moved to say such things about "The Marriage of Figaro" is the day I'll apply for early retirement.

Mr. Teachout, the Journal's drama critic, writes "Sightings" every other Saturday and blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com. Write to him at tteachout@wsj.com.
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ccp
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« Reply #98 on: February 14, 2009, 11:29:01 AM »

May I add another torture techinique.

Make me have to listen TO BOs crap for 8 years.

Or make him listen to Rush Limbaugh over and voer again daily.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #99 on: March 20, 2009, 11:09:47 AM »



20 March 2009

Before I lived in Germany and Poland for about six years, the Army taught me German and some Polish.  And so there were countless conversations with older Germans and Poles, and I heard earfuls of stories.  The older Germans were very respectful toward our "Greatest Generation," but pretty much hated the Russians because of their brutality.  The theme nearly always drifted to the very humane treatment we afforded German prisoners, while the Russians killed them off.  We even had German prisoners working on farms, and after the war, many Germans returned and married American women!  But the Poles didn't like the Germans or the Russians because of the very same reasons.  They had been mistreated, but the Poles have great respect for America because we treated them well.  Americans are extremely welcome in Poland, but that place sure is cold.

It is extremely heartening that so many soldiers have reached out to me privately about the torture issue.  Most do not seem to want to enter the fray publicly, but most also seem to share my the same aversion to maltreatment of prisoners.  Not because any of us are softhearted about the enemy; I'll likely see dozens more enemy killed this year and I never feel bad for al Qaeda or Taliban.  They chose to fight.  They chose to attack us or help attack us on 9/11 and at other times.

Please see this article from a military professional from our Greatest Generation. He dealt with a fanatical country that sneak attacked us at Pearl Harbor, and who used suicide attackers.  And we won.


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Very interesting read

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/images/pdf/maj_sherwood_moran_usmcr_suggestions_for_japanese_interpreters_based_on_work_in_the_field.doc
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