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Confessions of a Waterboarder:

A reader passes along this link to a discussion of waterboarding by Malcolm Nance at Small Wars Journal. Nance appears to have much more knowledge of waterboarding, and how it has been utilized in military training, than most who opine on the subject. It seems to me his perspective should be taken quite seriously. He writes:

As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school's interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.

The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner -- it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding and the entire medley not only "shock the conscience" as the statute forbids -it would terrify you. Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American. [links omitted]

More here from Ed Morrissey.

UPDATE: Apparently Nance will soon testify at a Congressional hearing on U.S. interrogation techniques.

:Left shoe:
As a minor quibble, if the techique "shocks the conscience," it violates the 8th Amendment. The statutory bar is much lower.

Has any military person come forward and argued that this is not torture? I'd be interested to hear from any current members of the military whether waterboarding is torture.
11.7.2007 11:57am
Daniel San:
As far as I can tell, Nance does not claim any actual knowledge of the technique as currently used in U.S. interrogations. His description seems inconsistent with the reports we have that the longest such interrogation (of Khalid Sheikh Mohommed) has lasted under two minutes. (Of course, those reports may be inaccurate.)

Reports of any form of waterboarding are disturbing. But the most frustrating aspect of this debate is the guesswork involved in describing what we are actually doing to people.
11.7.2007 11:59am
Felix Sulla:
I am just waiting for someone to accuse Nance of being a "pantywaist" for writing that.
11.7.2007 12:06pm
Anderson (mail):
Has any military person come forward and argued that this is not torture?

General Russel Honore, of Hurricane Katrina fame.
11.7.2007 12:08pm
WHOI Jacket:
Fine, outlaw it then. Ball's in your court, Dems.
11.7.2007 12:10pm
erics (mail):
Daniel San,

Do you purport to be an expert on waterboarding? I'm not. Anecdotally, however, I imagine that ten seconds of being made to feel like I'm drowing would be terrifying. I would think 120 seconds would feel like an eternity.
11.7.2007 12:10pm
Anderson (mail):
As far as I can tell, Nance does not claim any actual knowledge of the technique as currently used in U.S. interrogations.

Of course he hasn't. Who DOES have that knowledge?

I'm terribly sorry, but keeping the details of CIA waterboarding secret, and then saying "since you don't have the details, you can't say whether it's torture or not," is bullshit.

It's a process which is believed to put its victim in such an acute state of distress that he will beg for the process to stop and will start talking, whatever his reservations. Down here in my neck of the woods, we call that "torture."
11.7.2007 12:10pm
WHOI Jacket:
For the record, I hope he is exaggerating the "pints and pints" of water into the lungs bit. That's called "drowning".

Hard to talk to them when they're dead.

And how does this jibe with this?

Steve Harrigan gets "waterboarded"
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,227357,00.html
11.7.2007 12:17pm
Daniel San:
erics: Do you purport to be an expert on waterboarding? I'm not. Anecdotally, however, I imagine that ten seconds of being made to feel like I'm drowing would be terrifying. I would think 120 seconds would feel like an eternity.

I am not close to being an expert and I agree that something lasting 10 seconds can be torture. Waterboarding may be torture (even for 10 seconds). But Nance's descriptions (follow the link) do not sound like something that is accomplished in less than two minutes. In that claim, I am relying on my own sense, which could be mistaken.

In any event, I recommend the Nance article to anyone who is undecided about waterboarding. Unquestionably Nance has some insight that I hope I never have.
11.7.2007 12:28pm
scote (mail):

WHOI Jacket:
Fine, outlaw it then. Ball's in your court, Dems.


Really? As if Bush/Cheney wouldn't just get another secret legal opinion that the Admin can do what it wants.

Besides, waterboarding is already illegal. The ball is in Bush's court and always has been. Nice try to blame the Dem's for Bush's transgressions, though. How about some of that famous Republican "Personal Responsibility?"
11.7.2007 12:28pm
Daniel San:
WHOI Jacket,

The Fox report who was waterboarded was no doubt relying on someone's guess about the substance of waterboarding. Since he was free to leave, it could not have been the same precise experience. They may have gotten it wrong. Obviously, we are getting contradictory reports.

But "drowning" does not mean death. It is suffocation by water. A drowning victim can often be revived. That is one of the horrors Nance describes, repeated resuscitation and drowning.
11.7.2007 12:36pm
Anderson (mail):
I myself do not know enough about Mr. Nance to take his account as decisive evidence, but whether or not water actually enters the lungs strikes me as immaterial.

If you've got Saran Wrap over your nose and mouth and can't breathe, whether you get water in your lungs will likely seem immaterial to you, too.
11.7.2007 12:36pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Doublespeak" is really worthy of 1984, whence it originated, though aspects of the government's obfuscation about torture also resemble Catch-22.

I would love to see honest debate over the efficacy of torture techniques such as waterboarding. Many honest people fall into the "immoral but effective" camp, or "ineffective, forget morality" camp. What if it were both immoral and ineffective? So far the most prominent publicly acknowledged waterboarding victim, KSM, has "confessed" to many things, some of which he probably did and many of which he couldn't possibly have. Since the confessions are probably illegal, did we at least get some useful information out of the guy? If so where is the evidence of that? It won't do to simply say "this technique is necessary, but we can't tell you what we got and how we got it because then terrorists would adapt." At some point someone needs to call bullshit on the Jack Bauer fantasyland mystique and cough up hard and fast results.
11.7.2007 12:37pm
Steve2:
Thales, I like to think I'm not the only person in the "immoral, forget effectiveness" camp. I may well be, but I vigorously hope not.
11.7.2007 12:43pm
WHOI Jacket:
Scote,

Actually, Fox News reports that in connection with passage of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, Sen. Ted Kennedy proposed an amendment that would have expressly defined "waterboarding" (among other indignities) as a grave breach of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Amendment lost, 46-53. Now, the Dems control both houses, pass the law outlawing it.

So, I stand by that, ball is in your court now. Wouldn't that give you the ammo Kucinich wants to go after Darth Cheney?
11.7.2007 12:43pm
cathyf:
So far the most prominent publicly acknowledged waterboarding victim, KSM, has "confessed" to many things, some of which he probably did and many of which he couldn't possibly have.
Really? And you know this how?
11.7.2007 12:48pm
Mike& (mail):
"This man obviously hates America. He is a total panty waist."

Says the Dog.
11.7.2007 12:53pm
Patrick216:
One thing that bothers me about this debate is that the people driving the story are NOT former military people, CIA interrogators, or anyone actually even remotely involved in the waterboarding process, but rather are Democrat politicians who are heavily invested in our military and security defeat in the GWOT and the Iraq war. That is a huge contrast to "actual" misconduct by US forces, e.g. Abu Ghraib, where the people reporting the misconduct and who initially fed the story were actual servicemembers.

The reason why it bothers me is because when we're involved in matters of operational security, we don't get to know what "waterboarding" actually means to US interrogators, and we don't get to know any prevalence or safety data related to the practice. All we know is that the Japanese, the North Vietnamese, and the Cambodians tortured people by drowning them and resuscitating them afterward -- and that this technique was broadly termed "waterboarding."

My point is that I'm worried this is a tempest in a tea pot. The leaked intel data only shows that a technique broadly described as "waterboarding" was used on 3 people, including KSM, that the longest duration of a "waterboarding" session was 120 seconds, and that it yielded good actionable intel. Whether you want to outlaw it is a good public policy question that I think does need to be seriously debated. I admit that I find the concept terribly disturbing and would need a lot of convincing to believe that it's a good thing for us to be doing.

But I just have a bad feeling that this has become a political football and that we're going to find out 3 years from now that the "waterboarding" technique we were using was an incredibly mild form and that the CIA decided to abandon it after the first 3 uses because they internally decided it didn't work or was a bad idea.
11.7.2007 12:55pm
cathyf:
It's a process which is believed to put its victim in such an acute state of distress that he will beg for the process to stop and will start talking, whatever his reservations.
That's not at all the claim that I have heard. The claim that I have seen is that waterboarding puts its victim in such an acute state of distress that he cannot form the necessary coherent thought to lie. In other words, something like "truth serum" which forces a temporary truth telling without causing any physical damage.
11.7.2007 12:58pm
JB:
As Michael Dorf pointed out, if waterboarding as such is banned the administration will switch to orange juice.

There is no law that can constrain an administration as legalistic and aggrandizing as this one. Either they find a nitpicky way through a specific provision, or they declare that what they're doing isn't bound by a general one. "No torture? Waterboarding isn't torture. No waterboarding? We're not using water. No making prisoners feel like they're drowning? On to non-torture interrogation technique #35."
11.7.2007 12:58pm
A.S.:
Given that Nance has no apparent knowledge of what the CIA actually did to those three prisoners the CIA waterboarded, I find this article to be essentially worthless in respect of the question of whether the CIA tortured anybody.

Before any of us can reasonably claim to say that the CIA "tortured" anybody, we would need the facts. Seeing as how none of us has them the claims on the this thread and elsewhere on the Internet and in print are rank speculation.
11.7.2007 1:02pm
Another Cornellian (mail):
I'd be interested to hear from any current members of the military whether waterboarding is torture.

Not exactly what you're looking for I'm sure, but I have class with a decorated Iraq War veteran whose take is basically, "They did it to me. Sure, it wasn't fun but it's not torture, just a hose in your face." One person's opinion anyway.
11.7.2007 1:03pm
abu hamza:
What would our position be if one of our DEA agents in one of the 85+ countries where they are stationed were captured and waterboarded into confessing who his confidantes are? Would it be our position that he was tortured or not?

Can those in favor of waterboarding honestly answer that the DEA agent in the hypothetical is not being tortured?

And did anyone hear the hilarious O'Reilly take? he said "the issue is, Hillary Clinton, 10,000 American people are gonna die unless we waterboard this guy. are you gonna let those Americans die?" I'm serious - these were his near-exact words!

We really are losing our moral standing in the world.

Dear so-called "values voters": there are values involved in lots of issues other than condoms to kids in sex ed class, we are discovering. e.g., the decision whether to drop a 500 lb. bomb or the decision to waterboard. You are not a value voter if you support this policy, just a Bush lackey. Would the GOP congress allow Hillary to get away with this?
11.7.2007 1:03pm
tarheel:

One thing that bothers me about this debate is that the people driving the story are NOT former military people, CIA interrogators, or anyone actually even remotely involved in the waterboarding process, but rather are Democrat politicians who are heavily invested in our military and security defeat in the GWOT and the Iraq war.

Stupid, America-hating Dems. I assume, of course, that by "Democrat politicians" you also mean McCain, Graham, etc.

Graham on the tempest in a teapot:

"If we allow our executive in certain rare circumstances to use techniques like waterboarding, then what do we say when a downed airman is in the hands of another enemy in another war, and they argue, 'Well, I had to do this, because I needed to know when the next air attack was going to occur,'" Graham said.
11.7.2007 1:05pm
WHOI Jacket:
It feeds into the "George Bush is Satan" fantasy.

Outlaw water and they'd use orange juice! Bush and Cheney just can't wait to inflict pain on people! Bush wakes up every morning, thinks about more "horrors of the prisons of the innocent" and grins! There is nothing that this fascist won't do, I'll bet he watches the tapes to get ready for bed. Eli Roth calls him up on the red phone for ideas for Hostel III: Electric Boogaloo.

Janet Reno was confirmed in 13 days. Anyone recall any disputes in her interpretation of laws? Anyone? Bueller?

This is simply bad faith argument.
11.7.2007 1:06pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
"Fine, outlaw it then. Ball's in your court, Dems."

I think it already is illegal. That is why Gonzo got so nervous about Levin's memo that he insisted that a footnote be included to state that he was not saying the prior practices were illegal.

In my view, there is no need to pass new laws when the old ones cover a situation. We just need better enforcement of the existing laws.
11.7.2007 1:07pm
byomtov (mail):
kudos to Jonathan for posting this.
11.7.2007 1:10pm
scote (mail):

WHOI Jacket:
It feeds into the "George Bush is Satan" fantasy.


Not really. GWB isn't as smart as Satan. However, GWB is an excellent demonstration of the banality of evil and how, little by little, an authoritarian regime plants its roots--adding a secret prison system free of oversight and rule of law and declaring itself above the laws and constitution of the country in the name of "national security." And how apologists for the authoritarian regime support it even to the point of justifying torture as being reasonable.
11.7.2007 1:18pm
Smokey:
Needs to be repeated:

WHOI Jacket:
Janet Reno was confirmed in 13 days. Anyone recall any disputes in her interpretation of laws? Anyone? Bueller?

This is simply bad faith argument.


And Christopher Cooke:
In my view, there is no need to pass new laws when the old ones cover a situation. We just need better enforcement of the existing laws.
Does that also apply to so-called "hate" crimes, Mr Cooke?
11.7.2007 1:24pm
Bart (mail):

Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt


KSM reportedly broke in less than two minutes of waterboarding. The other two al Qaeda broke in far less time.

These are hardly extended periods of time. Rather, these short periods are quite like the training which the author acknowledges is not dangerous.
11.7.2007 1:26pm
AntonK (mail):
As with a number of commenters over at Captain's Quarters, I too question the veracity and resume of Nance.

But even if you take all of Nance at face value I say, so what? Nance says,

"...One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American."


The excerpt above would surely describe most people's reaction to witnessing the results of a mass-murder suicide attack (take the WTC for example, or the Sbarro attack in Israel). The discrete use of techniques such as waterboarding should present no moral dilemna for civilized individuals when used to prevent the mass-murder of innocents.

A good discussion can be found here today, as well.
11.7.2007 1:26pm
cathyf:
Gee, sorta like Janet Reno?
Following the McMartin case in Los Angeles, a Miami day care center operated by Frank and Ileana Fuster came under suspicion. That there was no actual evidence of any wrongdoing did not prove a major impediment to Janet Reno. Ileana, a young Honduren woman, was separated from her husband. What followed is probably best described as outright brainwashing. Indeed, the two psychiatrists hired by Janet Reno operated under the trade name, "Behavior Changers", and eventually sat with her in the court, coaching her statements in front of the judge, while Janet Reno held her hand! Among the other claims that Ileana made under such prodding was that her husband had put snakes inside her genitals while the children watched.

Real snakes.

Frank was convicted and sent to jail. Janet, riding high on the publicity of the trial won her re-election. Ileana returned to Honduras and from there issued a 61 page statement describing her year of solitary confinement and coercion by "Behavior Changers".

In 1989, Reno again used psychological manipulations to extort a confession from a 14 year old boy. Bobby Fijnje was accused of sadistically assaulting other children by the same group of people who had accused Frank and Ileana Fuster. Bobby was a diabetic, and Reno had him held in jail without food, which put him into insulin shock. When Bobby finally confessed, he was fed. When he came out of the insulin shock, he recanted. He was then starved again triggering another insulin shock episode. While this was going on, Janet Reno refused to allow Bobby's parents to see him, claiming that they were Satanist Pornographers, and likely to try to prevent the boy from confessing his crime. Bobby spent an entire year in prison, isolated from his parents, then was acquitted.
11.7.2007 1:27pm
Bored Lawyer:

And did anyone hear the hilarious O'Reilly take? he said "the issue is, Hillary Clinton, 10,000 American people are gonna die unless we waterboard this guy. are you gonna let those Americans die?" I'm serious - these were his near-exact words!

We really are losing our moral standing in the world.


So you think this moral dilemma is "hilarious" do you?

Could you please volunteer to be one of the 10,000 sacrifices to maintain our "moral standing."
11.7.2007 1:27pm
AntonK (mail):
Byomtov says, "kudos to Jonathan for posting this."

I suspect that, like Byomtov, Adler is is showing off his self-conscious, preening sense of moral superiority; to wit he says, "...seems to me his perspective should be taken quite seriously."
11.7.2007 1:33pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Smokey:

In general, yes. While I might enhance the punishments criminals receive for certain conduct targeted at certain groups, I would do so only if it appeared that these groups needed the protection. I think we have enough laws on the books to cover most situations.

WHOI Jacket:

It appears that Fox News is parroting, inaccurately, a WSJ editorial. I am going to steal from JukeBoxGrad's earlier post, but here is what the Kennedy Amendment actually proposed:


The amendment itself focused on conduct of other countries, but said: "should any United States person to whom the Geneva Conventions apply be subjected to any of the following acts, the United States would consider such act to constitute a punishable offense under common Article 3 ... ."

The amendment listed "forcing the person to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; applying beatings, electric shocks, burns, or other forms of physical pain to the person; waterboarding the person; using dogs on the person; inducing hypothermia or heat injury in the person; conducting a mock execution of the person; and depriving the person of necessary food, water, or medical care."



AS JBG points out, it seems a stretch to infer that Congress' defeat of this amendment means that Congress felt waterboarding was okay. By that logic, you could infer that Congress likewise felt that electric shocks and burns were okay as well. I think the Bush Administration needs to come up with some better talking points.

Personally, I thought Prof. Dershowitz' article in the WSJ today to state a better-reasoned argument for allowing torture in exceptional circumstances. I am not sure I agree with it, but at least his proposal has the benefit of encouraging an honest debate, rather than the current dishonest one where people deny that something is torture to evade the current legal restrictions.
11.7.2007 1:35pm
Sean M:
I feel bad that my first reaction to the excerpt that "doublespeak worthy of Catch-22" is a mixed metaphor (or perhaps a mixed allusion?) But Thales has handled that for me.
11.7.2007 1:42pm
unwelcome guest:
why stop at 10,000? Since we are pulling numbers from nowhere, why not infer that Hillary would be letting 100,000 or a million people die to save a terrorist?

How do you know those 10,000 people are "gonna die"? There were lots of clues and bits of intelligence relating to 9/11 that were ignored. Would we listen better if the information comes from torture? Why?
11.7.2007 1:44pm
Ikes (mail):
Regarding KSM...What's the official report on what he actually gave up after the two minutes of waterboarding? Did he actually reveal plots? Or did he just confess to things we already knew about? And if it was the former, was there any information we got from him that we didn't get from his laptop, which was reportedly seized during his arrest?

I'm not so concerned about the morality of waterboarding - as a WSJ oped noted a few days ago, we've done far worse in the name of war and have survived...i.e. the atomic bombing of civilian populations. However, some would argue that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was instrumental in ending the war...I want to see evidence that American torture has ever been instrumental in gaining useful intelligence.
11.7.2007 1:47pm
WHOI Jacket:
Dunno, unwelcome guest, how many kids were going to die of TB since Bush didn't pass as large an increase in SCHIP as the Democrats wanted?

People pull numbers out the air for effect.
11.7.2007 1:47pm
Kazinski:
From what has been leaked about the actual of waterboarding it did not rise to this level:

when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt.

Nor did it rise to the Geneva convention definition of torture. I don't think that waterboarding should be part of the standard suite of interrogation techniques, nor has it been, I'm would be very uncomfortable with the idea that the CIA routinely tortures terror suspects.

I'm also uncomfortable with the idea that scum like KSM ("I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the Jew") lives out his life in relative comfort with a cot and 4000 calories a day. And I'm not so dehumanized that I won't admit that I like the idea of him being terrified and in physical fear, and spilling his guts to make it stop.
11.7.2007 1:50pm
Justin (mail):
Well, at least we discovered that Junkyard Dog is really Mike at Crime &Federalism.
11.7.2007 1:57pm
Anderson (mail):
What if it were both immoral and ineffective?

Amen to that.

I want to see evidence that American torture has ever been instrumental in gaining useful intelligence.

Ikes, the problem is that the people who claim it's been instrumental (1) say they can't reveal it b/c it's so secret, and (2) are precisely the people guilty of violating the torture statute.

I don't think one has to be a liberal to have some reservations about the veracity of people whose # 1 priority is to stay out of prison.
11.7.2007 1:57pm
Anderson (mail):
I'm also uncomfortable with the idea that scum like KSM ("I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the Jew") lives out his life in relative comfort with a cot and 4000 calories a day.

Well, Kaz, let me explain it to you:

(1) I myself would be delighted to see him put to death.

(2) To get a death penalty, you have to have a reasonably fair trial, unless we're just going to wholeheartedly embrace the Soviet way of life.

(3) You can't have a reasonably fair trial where the evidence against you is produced by waterboarding you until you beg the torturers to stop.

(4) Thus, the main reason that KSM can't be put on trial for his life today, is that Bush, Cheney, Yoo and Addington completely screwed things up.
11.7.2007 2:01pm
A.S.:
(3) You can't have a reasonably fair trial where the evidence against you is produced by waterboarding you until you beg the torturers to stop.

Why would the evidence against KSM necessarily include the info that was produced by waterboarding? If an airtight case can't be made without excluding that info, then something's seriously wrong.
11.7.2007 2:08pm
EL SL:
Bart:

KSM reportedly broke in less than two minutes of waterboarding. The other two al Qaeda broke in far less time.

These are hardly extended periods of time. Rather, these short periods are quite like the training which the author acknowledges is not dangerous.


The "short periods" the author refers to are a few seconds. Far, far fewer than two minutes.
11.7.2007 2:09pm
Michael B (mail):
"We really are losing our moral standing in the world." abu hamza

This is both hackneyed and morally irresponsible w/o a sound argument to back it up.

Is the reference to "the world" that turned a blind eye to the internal and exported terror of Hussein & Sons and was content with that status quo? Is it "the world," reflected in Belgium and Europe, that turned a blind eye to the Rwandan genocide? Is it to "the world" that turns a willful blind eye to all the sex scandals that have manifested themselves in the U.N., in addition to the bribery scandals and the absurdist farce that is the UNHRC? Is it "the world" that was willing to placate Soviet and Maoist initiatives in an earlier era? Or "the world" that happily acceded to Chomsky & Herman's and others' apologetics for the Khmer Rouge during that era? Is it the Arab and Persian Muslim and broader muslim "world" wherein we've lost our standing? Or "the world" that gains it's knowledge from Hollywood and other ideologically constricted and fabulist confines? This litany could be extended at great length; suffice to say "the world," as such, hasn't much moral standing in the first place, certainly not at any prima facie level of evidence - rather, and decidedly, to the contrary.

The world, the real world, presents manifold and manifest moral conundrums that are not resolved via rhetorical fiat and flourish, BDS, sticking one's head in the sand, etc.
11.7.2007 2:15pm
Kazinski:
EL SL,
Nice of you to interpret for us, but being a native english speaker I can read his actual words:

when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt.
11.7.2007 2:19pm
EL SL:
Kazinski,

The author -- Malcolm Nance -- appeared on Warren Olney's radio show ("To The Point") yesterday on KCRW, one of the Los Angeles NPR stations. I don't have a transcript, but the recording is available at kcrw.com and through iTunes.
On the show, he made quite clear that the training operations they ran lasted a few seconds. He also used words like "unimaginable" to describe a two-minute-long session.
11.7.2007 2:25pm
Hotel Coolidge:
Worth the trip to Captain's Quarters as there are quite a few people in the intel community who worked with Malcolm Nance, and have the knowledge to access his credentials.
Also many pointed out that waterboarding does not involve pints and pints of water entering the lungs. Less than a pint will kill. Interogation over.
But as to the law. Many can/should participate in the discussion of what constitutes torture, but I think only Congress can define it legally.
11.7.2007 2:30pm
Michael B (mail):
Also, the discussion over at Capt. Quarters makes it apparent Nance is not obviously a conscientious voice.

Too and tellingly, this from Andrew McCarthy, via a link at CQ. Firstly, reflecting on the Senate Dems' treatment of Mukasey:

"The White House just put out some telling information. Janet Reno, with no prior federal law enforcement experience (she was a state prosecutor in Florida) waited only 13 days for the Senate to take action on her nomination and was asked to respond to exactly zero post-hearing questions. By contrast, Michael Mukasey, having had over two decades' experience as a federal prosecutor and a distinguished federal judge, has now had his nomination pending for 39 days (the longest stretch in 20 years) and has responded in writing to 495 questions after his two-day hearing."

Then, on waterboarding, two passages are revealing:

"Congress had two recent opportunities to specify that waterboarding was illegal and declined to do so both times. But I just learned something I hadn't known: this was not just a mere omission. It was a positive, conscious decision not to do what Senate Democrats are demanding that Mukasey do: declare waterboarding a war crime."

And, with emphasis added:

"In recent media accounts, it is suggested, as one would hope, that waterboarding has scarcely been used (on perhaps three detainees since 9/11) and hasn't been used in a long time (perhaps not in four years). I hope that's true — the tactic should be considered illegal and shocking to the conscience (a violation of the McCain amendment) in almost all circumstances. But the Democrats want to go further. They want the law to be that we must never, ever resort to waterboarding, no matter how imminent and grave the threat of mass-slaughter. That is a worthy debate to have. And if they win it, we will all honor the result whether we like it or not. But they have to win it first — by convincing the country and passing legislation. They shouldn't get to pretend they already won by trying to coerce a nominee into helping them rewrite history ... and law."
11.7.2007 2:32pm
Kazinski:
EL SL,
Here is video of part of a 20 minute session on a reporter who didn't break after 20 minutes, and I do think 20 minutes is torture.

I have formulated the definitive test of what constitutes torture. It is the "Latte Test". If the subject of the "torture" is capable of composing himself and sitting down and enjoying a latte within 15 minutes of the end of the interogation session then it isn't torture.
11.7.2007 2:35pm
Anderson (mail):
If an airtight case can't be made without excluding that info, then something's seriously wrong.

Agreed.

By mid-2002, several former [FBI] agents and senior bureau officials said, they had begun complaining that the CIA-run interrogation program amounted to torture and was going to create significant problems down the road -- particularly if the Bush administration was ever forced to allow the Al Qaeda suspects to face their accusers in court.

Some went to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, according to the former bureau officials. They said Mueller pulled many of the agents back from playing even a supporting role in the interrogations to avoid exposing them to legal jeopardy, in the belief that White House and Justice Department opinions authorizing the coercive techniques might be overturned.

"Those guys were using techniques that we didn't even want to be in the room for," one senior federal law enforcement official said. "The CIA determined they were going to torture people, and we made the decision not to be involved."

A senior FBI official who since has retired said he also complained about the lack of usable evidence and admissible statements being gathered. "We knew there were going to be problems back then. But nobody was listening," he said. "Now they have to live with the policy that they have adopted. I don't know if anyone thought of the consequences."

Another retired FBI agent who helped lead the bureau's Al Qaeda investigations said one fundamental flaw in the tribunal process was that the accused terrorists might be granted the right to confront their accusers in court -- even a military one. And the CIA is likely to prohibit its officers from taking the stand to face cross-examination about their interrogation techniques and other highly classified aspects of the spy agency's detainee program.

"They have put themselves in a very bad situation here," the former agent said. "They have to redo everything because they have to come up with clean statements from these [detainees], if they can get them, obtained by law enforcement people who can actually testify. The CIA agents are not going to testify, nor should they."


Read the whole thing, as they say.
11.7.2007 2:36pm
PGofHSM (mail) (www):
1) Re the difference in how long Reno's nomination took compared to Mukasey's: I keep hearing how 9/11 changed everything, how the government's responsibility in ensuring both our security and civil liberties has been tremendously heightened, how the executive branch legitimately has become much more important and powerful in this time of war. Apparently the one thing that somehow hasn't changed is how the government's lead law enforcer -- with responsibility for both security and civil liberty -- should be scrutinized before assuming the post. If there's anyone in Congress who thinks the AG's job today is just like it was when Reno was nominated, that person should be criticized for asking questions and being extra-careful. I doubt any such person exists, however.

2) Re Congress's failure to specifically define waterboarding as torture in 2006:
a) That was a Congress with more Republicans in it, as I recall.
b) That was a Congress that had had several previous pieces of legislation signed by the president with a statement that of course the executive reserved to itself to the power to do whatever was necessary to fulfill its duties.
c) Therefore an AG who promises to treat waterboarding as torture and to enforce that rule on the rest of the executive branch may be more effective than a law that the executive claims doesn't apply when it doesn't want it to.
11.7.2007 2:40pm
Katherine (mail):
We should probably concentrate less on "waterboarding" than "forced standing" &other so-called "stress positions", which are more likely to still be in use, are linked to several deaths, &which clearly migrated all over the U.S. detention system, including to military bases in Afghanistan &Iraq.

That said, thanks for posting this.

Here's an account from a victim of waterboarding:

HENRI ALLEG: Well, I have described the waterboarding I was submitted to. And no one can say, having passed through it, that this was not torture, especially when he has endured other types of torture -- burning, electricity and beating, and so on. So I am really astonished that this is a big question in the States about this, because the real question is not waterboarding or not waterboarding, it’s the use of torture in such a war, and this use of torture, torture in general....

But to answer precisely your question, it is a terrible way of torturing a man, because you’re bringing -- you bring him next to death and then back to life. And sometimes he doesn’t come back to life....

AMY GOODMAN: Henri Alleg, I realize it was, what, about a half a century ago that you were held, interrogated and tortured. But I was wondering, since obviously I think most people, most in the civilian population, even soldiers, are not really familiar with what exactly waterboarding is. It has become almost a kind of catchphrase. Can you explain exactly what happened to you?

HENRI ALLEG: Well, I was put on a plank, on a board, fastened to it and taken to a tap. And my face was covered with a rag. Very quickly, the rag was completely full of water. And, of course, you have the impression of being drowned. And --

AMY GOODMAN: The “tap,” meaning you were put under a water faucet?

HENRI ALLEG: A tap, yes, tap water. So, very quickly, the water ran all over my face. I couldn’t, of course, breathe. And after a few minutes, fighting against the impression of getting drowned, you can’t resist. And you feel as if you were drowning yourself. And this is a terrible impression of coming very near death. And so, when the paratroopers, the torturers, see that you’re drowning, they would stop, let you breathe, and try again. So that impression of getting near to death, every time they helped you to come back to life by breathing, it’s a terrible, terrible impression of torture and of death, being near death. So, that was my impression. But it’s difficult to say that this --

AMY GOODMAN: In the context -- explain the context for us, Henri Alleg, as they held you under the faucet and the water filled your lungs, what did the French military -- what were they demanding of you, and how did you stop it? How did it start again?

HENRI ALLEG: They just wanted me to, first of all, say what I was doing in the moments I was illegal, because I stopped, of course, going to the newspaper, because it was suppressed. So I had to hide, because I knew that I would be taken and sent to a concentration camp. So they wanted to know who were the people I met during that illegal period, what was the people that I had met and what they were doing. That’s what they wanted from me --

AMY GOODMAN: Did you tell them?

HENRI ALLEG: -- is to denounce my friends, and I refused to open my mouth to say a word about that. I wouldn’t betray my friends. They didn’t know much more about me. And that is what they wanted. And I didn’t want to help them in any way that would be possible.

AMY GOODMAN: When the water came into your lungs, how did you remain conscious? How did you resist it?

HENRI ALLEG: Well, they said to me, “When you want to talk, you just move your fingers.” Move your fingers. Of course, I was strapped to a board. And the first time I -- they started that, I didn’t realize even that I was moving desperately my fingers. So I moved my fingers, and they shouted around me, “So he’s going to talk! He’s going to talk!” So they let me breathe. And as soon as I got a little breath again, I denounced it, and I still refused. So they started again. They said, “He’s making a joke out of us.” So they gave me very heavy blows on my chest and on my belly to make the -- get out the water of my lungs and of my body. And they started again afterwards.

And suddenly, as I have explained it -- I think it was the third time -- I just fainted. And I heard them after a while saying, “Oh, he’s coming back. He’s coming back.” They didn’t want me to die at once, and I knew afterwards, a long time afterwards, that many of the people who went under that waterboarding, as you call it, after having had some moments of fainting, some of them would die, drowned, “asphyxier,” as we say in French. It’s completely -- it’s impossible to breathe, so they die, as if they were drowned, and this kind of “accident,” as they call, was very frequent.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you, Henri Alleg, have the sensation of dying?

HENRI ALLEG: Pardon?

AMY GOODMAN: Did you feel the sensation of dying?

HENRI ALLEG: Yes, and that’s a terrible sensation.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you feel?

HENRI ALLEG: Well, You feel that you're going to die. Of course, you don’t want to die, and in the same time you don’t want to accept the conditions that they make around you to let you live. So, finally, at this third time, before I fainted, I was really decided to die and not to answer at any cost.
11.7.2007 2:43pm
r78:

KSM reportedly broke in less than two minutes of waterboarding. The other two al Qaeda broke in far less time.


What patent idiocy.

Nobody has a clue how long any of these people waterboarded.

"Reported"? Give me a effin' break.
11.7.2007 2:45pm
scote (mail):
Great quote, Katherine.

We are the US. We are supposed to be the good guys; the country with the moral authority to condemn human rights violations. Waterboarding is torture. No ifs ands or buts. Its sole purpose is to terrorize the victim via the the painful sensation and very real threat of imminent death. We are better than that. Or at least we used to be, before Bush/Cheney and the authoritarian/torture apologists.

Leave the torture to countries we look down upon with contempt lest we be worthy of the same. And let us also refrain from outsourcing torture by sending people to those countries for that purpose.
11.7.2007 2:58pm
Bart (mail):
el sl/r78:

ABC broke the KSM waterboarding story months ago and several news outlets have reported on the results of the KSM interrogation.
11.7.2007 3:10pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
scote.
Were we better than the nasty other countries when the Clinton admin was doing the outsourcing starting in 1995?

Anybody who ignores the Clinton admin's role in this and pretends that only Bush has done it is entirely without good faith and need not be engaged.
11.7.2007 3:15pm
WHOI Jacket:
Spare me the "We used to be..." maudlin.

Read up on PO Box 1142, the secret interrogation center during WW2.
11.7.2007 3:17pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Boo -- Freakin' -- Hoo. Waterboard all the SOB's if it will prevent an attack on us. Being an American does not require us to commit suicide to soothe the tender consciences of a bunch of Liberal-Holier-Than-Thou-Navel-Gazers.
11.7.2007 3:21pm
alkali (mail):
Next the critics will be claiming that threatening to put a cage-like mask filled with rats on someone's face is torture. Nonsense. If they start screaming, "Do it to Julia!" before you actually let the rats loose, where's the torture? If that's really so wrong, then Congress ought to specifically ban it.
11.7.2007 3:22pm
Anderson (mail):
Anybody who ignores the Clinton admin's role in this and pretends that only Bush has done it

Stephen Grey:

Covert extraordinary rendition began as a systematic tactic on September 22, 1995, with the capture of terrorist Abu Talal al-Qasimi in Croatia; he was later transferred to Egypt for execution. The largest pre-9/11 CIA rendition occurred in 1998, when five suspects in Albania and Bulgaria were captured and rendered to Egypt. Two were hanged without trial; all were brutally tortured.

Renditions after 9/11 were different, however. The numbers expanded dramatically, each rendition no longer required presidential approval, and it was no longer a requirement that a prisoner be 'wanted' for some offense in the country where he was sent.


So: (1) yeah, Clinton did it too; (2) there were important differences, such as the rendered person's actually being charged by that country; and (3) so what -- it was wrong when Clinton did it, it's wrong when Bush does it.

Reflexive defenders of Bush and torture seem to imagine that liberals thought Bill Clinton was the greatest thing since FDR. Actually, he was a disappointment in many respects, and rendering people outside the normal judicial process to almost-certain torture was one of those.

It has not to my knowledge, however, been alleged that any of Clinton's victims were actually innocent people grabbed by mistake. That's what's happened under Bush, presumably because each rendition doesn't require the highest approval (and corresponding showing of need) and because we're doing it in much greater numbers so that we're more likely to screw up big time.
11.7.2007 3:25pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

We should probably concentrate less on "waterboarding" than "forced standing" &other so-called "stress positions", which are more likely to still be in use, are linked to several deaths


Nice weasel wording. And then your side wonders why people don't take their criticisims seriously.
11.7.2007 3:26pm
WHOI Jacket:
Oh, I get it. Just like in that book, 1984. How could I have been so blind.

But then, BushCo could just substitute rabid weasels and back to the committee room it is! He's quite dastardly that way, you know.
11.7.2007 3:27pm
PC:
Were we better than the nasty other countries when the Clinton admin was doing the outsourcing starting in 1995?


Ahem:

Boom. Done. You have just forfeited. You've just said "I have no rebuttal or ideas which contribute meaningfully to a discussion of the policies of the guy who not only is running the country right now, but has been doing so with the moral force of 9/11 behind him and full control of both Houses for the last FIVE. GODDAM. YEARS and so has the closest to absolute power of any President in a HALF CENTURY. There is no reasonable argument I can make based on current facts. I must pull up some comparison to Clinton -- "
11.7.2007 3:34pm
JB:
Bush defenders who say "Clinton did it!" are barking up a bigger straw man than the Burning Man festival lights up.

Since they're the same people who also say "The enemy does it!" in similar circumstances, all I can conclude is that they don't care about the moral high ground and haven't learned anything after 3rd grade recess.

"He started it!" works when you're complaining to your mommy. Not when you're running the world.
11.7.2007 3:34pm
scote (mail):

Bpbatista (mail):
Boo -- Freakin' -- Hoo. Waterboard all the SOB's if it will prevent an attack on us. Being an American does not require us to commit suicide to soothe the tender consciences of a bunch of Liberal-Holier-Than-Thou-Navel-Gazers.


These are suspects, not convicts, and the bar for being a suspect is pretty low these days. It could be you they are waterboarding next--you never know when your father in law may send an e-mail to the FBI outing you as a terrorist because he doesn't want you to leave his daughter alone with the kids to go on a business trip. (The didn't waterboard him, but they could have based on your rationale--and they might next time. Who knows? )
11.7.2007 3:36pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

"He started it!" works when you're complaining to your mommy. Not when you're running the world.



If someone doesn't complain about an action until someone they don't like anyway does it, then it is fair to ask if they do not actually like the action, but are rather using whatever comes to hand to attack their enemies.

Ask your mommy how she'd handle that situation.
11.7.2007 3:39pm
scote (mail):

WHOI Jacket:
Oh, I get it. Just like in that book, 1984. How could I have been so blind.

But then, BushCo could just substitute rabid weasels and back to the committee room it is! He's quite dastardly that way, you know.


Yes, they could. The extent to which the Bush administration will go to evade the constitution is parody proof.

And as to 1984. Orwell didn't manage to anticipate the level of surveillance possible today. Big Brother Bush tells us "We don't torture" and secretly has torture redefined. Maybe if Clinton had just had the OLC issue a secret memo that fellatio is not sexual relations or adultery the Republicans wouldn't have given him such a hard time? Perhaps he should have declared that Lewinsky could not testify due to executive privilege? Oh, but wait...how many people died because of Clinton's dalliance? Um, was it NONE? Why, yes, it was. How about under Bush's authoritarian incompetence? In Iraq? In New Orleans? Being "harshly interrogated" in Afghanistan?

Remember, we have always been at war with Oceania. Sadam was behind 9/11. War is Peace. Attacking Iran will make us safer. Ignorance is Strength. Waterboarding is not torture. Freedom is slavery.
11.7.2007 3:52pm
Anderson (mail):
PC, I think we should just be glad that Mr. Aubrey has moved to "but Clinton did it!", since that's a huge improvement over his usual argument, "but the Gestapo did it!"
11.7.2007 3:52pm
Anderson (mail):
If someone doesn't complain about an action until someone they don't like anyway does it

Ryan, had you even heard of "extraordinary rendition" until after 9/11? I hadn't. Any pre-9/11 hyperlinks you may know to outraged Republicans condemning Clinton for that practice would be very much appreciated.
11.7.2007 3:57pm
WHOI Jacket:
Scote, all I can say is that I hope the Kool-Aid was tasty.
11.7.2007 3:57pm
Jam:
I used to surf. The only time I almost drowned was surfing in north-west Puerto Rico, catching the einter swell.

I used to spear-fish, free diving, and used to spend a lot of time in the water. I have had many instances where I experienced a brief period when I reached the desperation point.

The surfing incident I was almost to the point of breathing-in water.

Do I qualify to comment on the experience of simulated drowning?

Hint: I have instructed my children that they are not, never, to play by holding people under water. That, if they are being held under water, and they are prevented to come up for air that they have my permission to use whaever action is necessary. That includes bodily injury to whomever.

BTW, I used to be able hold my breath for over 4 minutes. Today I can hold my breath for over 2 minutes.
11.7.2007 3:59pm
Michael B (mail):
"1) Re the difference in how long Reno's nomination took compared to Mukasey's: I keep hearing how 9/11 changed everything ..." PGofHSM

Essentially, you're suggesting political opportunism is not the primary factor?

People can judge for themselves; here's an Andrew McCarthy report and commentary. McCarthy's summarizing, concluding commentary, after first covering Hillary's flip-flop, after covering the executive during "the 90's," and after covering a particularly telling account of the Left/Dems' view - or rather alternative views, depending upon which party occupies the executive - of FISA:

"In connection with the tension between FISA and presidential power, Judge Mukasey has filed still another post-hearing letter, responding to questions from Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. The submission thoroughly and ably assesses the applicable law — in which the only significant development since Gorelick’s testimony is the FISA Court of Review’s reaffirmation of presidential authority. Mukasey concludes that presidents maintain their Article II powers despite FISA. Still, he qualifies that the president does not stand above the law — in this case, the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which requires all searches to be reasonable.

"For today’s leading Democrats, this position is somehow a call for “unchecked Executive power.” In years when the leading Democrat happens to occupy the Oval Office, though, it is what is known as the position of the Democratic party."

Quite obviously, 9/11 didn't "change everying," for example it didn't change political opportunism. To the contrary, it helped to expose just how low Left/Dem politicos have been willing to stoop when exercising that opportunism as they attempt to cater to formally fringe elements that have successfully coopted the Democratic establishment, for other reasons as well.
11.7.2007 4:00pm
Katherine (mail):
okay: "caused several deaths.". I think. I'm not a pathologist.
11.7.2007 4:03pm
scote (mail):

WHOI Jacket:
Scote, all I can say is that I hope the Kool-Aid was tasty.


Boy, you can't even get that right. While "Drinking the Kool-Aid" has be come a metaphor for people who become irrationally devoted to a position (as evidenced, for example, in your posts) the metaphor comes from the Jonestown mass murder/suicide where the victims were induced to drink poisoned Flavor Aid, not Kool-Aid.
11.7.2007 4:06pm
Ignorance is Bliss:
I think a number of commenters have misunderstood his reference to 'extended time'.


...the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques... Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques... when performed ... over an extended time ... it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding...


It is the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques in general, even without waterboarding, that he says are torture when performed over an extended time period. It was not related to the length of time the captive is waterboarded.
11.7.2007 4:06pm
JB:
Ryan, in 1995 I was 12. I started objecting to government policies I didn't like in 1998, with Clinton's half-assed bombings in response to the U.S.S. Cole.

You had no way of knowing that, but you also had no way of knowing I hadn't complained about Clinton too.
11.7.2007 4:08pm
cathyf:
These are suspects, not convicts,
They are neither. They are (unlawful) combatants, during wartime. Combatants get killed in wartime all the time. Non-combatants get killed in wartime all the time, too. The people who started the war are responsible for all the deaths -- lawful combatants, unlawful combatants, non-combatants -- on every side.

Most of the non-combatants who died on 9/11 were asphixiated. What waterboarding most resembles is the fate of the "jumpers" -- except for the landing, of course. They were in the WTC, there was no way out, the smoke was choking, there was no place to go, they leaned further and further out the broken window, desperate for oxygen, finally, they leaned far enough so that for a few precious seconds they could breathe again.

My only real problem with them waterboarding KSM is that they stopped before he was dead.
11.7.2007 4:09pm
WHOI Jacket:
I'm sure that Jim Jones takes slight at the mis-identification of his powdered beverage of choice.

When do the black helicopters come, again? Being as this is an Orwellian nightmare we're living in and here you are heaping insult on the Dear Leader. Goldstein can't save you now.
11.7.2007 4:14pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
I'm a currently serving member of the U.S. military, in a non-combat role. I have serious reservations about doing anything close to torture, for both moral and practical reasons. There are real benefits to being seen as, for lack of a better term, the "good guys."

That said, I have serious problems with the article.

Who will complain about the new world-wide embrace of torture?

This hyperbole is hard to square with ABCs report that it's only been used three times, and the longest was for two minutes.

These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo

Guantanamo? I thought the canard that prisoners were abused at Guantanamo was discredited a long time ago, along with reports of the Koran being flushed down a toilet.

We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like “24”, are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks ... brought it down to the level of a college prank and then bragged about it. The echo chamber that is the American media now views torture as a heroic and macho ... [etc.]

More of the kind of reckless hyperbole that, in my eyes, suggests that the author is not an objective, reliable source of information.

According to the President, this is not a torture, so future torturers in other countries now have an American legal basis to perform the acts ... Forget threats, poor food, the occasional face slap and sexual assaults ... Brutal interrogation, flash murder and extreme humiliation of American citizens, agents and members of the armed forces may now be guaranteed.

You mean like beheadings, with the bodies strung up or dragged through the streets? The "enemies" we are talking about here ALREADY torture. Past enemies also tortured -- including the Vietnamese, whose official practices the author elsewhere notes INCLUDED WATERBOARDING. I understand the position that we shouldn't lower ourselves to the level of the "bad guys." But that's not the argument the author makes here. He is making a practical argument based on reciprocity. The very essence of reciprocity is that we agree not to torture soldiers from countries WHO AGREE NOT TO TORTURE *OUR* SOLDIERS. I fail to see what is so complicated about this concept.

Finally,

Yet, once captive I believe that the better angels of our nature and our nation’s core values would eventually convince any terrorist that they indeed have erred in their murderous ways.

I want to believe this too. And yet I could come right back and say that the author shows a grievous lack of respect for our enemies by suggesting that their core values would be so easily swayed. The author obviously does not believe that mercy and kindness are symptoms of contemptible weakness. Not every person -- or culture -- sees things that way.

- Alaska Jack
11.7.2007 4:21pm
InABigCountry:
Proposition A: "CLINTONDIDITCLINTONDIDIT"

Proposition B: "9/119/119/119/119/119/119/11"

Conclusion: Torture is legal/moral/right/just/mom/apple pie. QED.
11.7.2007 4:22pm
scote (mail):

They are neither. They are (unlawful) combatants, during wartime.


Really? How do you know? They must have a tatoo or something that clearly identifies them as Al Quada terrorists.

The fact is that the Administration reserves the right to secretly detain anyone and torture anyone in the interests of national security.

And it wouldn't matter if all of them were "un-lawfull" combatants--that wouldn't make torturing right.

How the F' can you be so blatantly pro torture????? Is that what America stands for? I find your pro torture position deeply regressive. Remember, it could be you or your family members being tortured next--this Administration has already had people tortured due to mistaken information so you can't claim that your innocence protects you.


Most of the non-combatants who died on 9/11 were asphixiated. What waterboarding most resembles is the fate of the "jumpers" -- except for the landing, of course


Here you are committing the logical fallacy that the more offensive the crime the lower the rights of suspects should be. By extension of this tortured logic, the police should simply execute suspects on the spot so long as the crime they are suspected of is heinous enough.
11.7.2007 4:25pm
Anderson (mail):
the author shows a grievous lack of respect for our enemies by suggesting that their core values would be so easily swayed

AK Jack is right about this - we're not going to persuade the terrorists. That's not the point.

We're not aiming at the terrorists, except with our weapons. We're aiming our values at the great majority of people who aren't terrorists but who vaguely sympathize with anyone opposed to the U.S.

We're aiming our values at the disaffected young men who are smart enough (and thus dangerous too) to ignore blatant pro-terrorist propaganda, but who are repulsed by American torture and warmongering so that they find themselves agreeing with, and joining, the terrorists.

We don't win against the terrorists by killing them all. We win by turning their own people against them.
11.7.2007 4:27pm
frankcross (mail):
Actually, cathyf, they are more like alleged unlawful combatants. We know that most of the folks at Guantanamo were not unlawful combatants, in the ordinary sense of bearing arms against the United States. Many were turned in for bounties and we know that a good number have proved to be innocent.
11.7.2007 4:28pm
scote (mail):

You mean like beheadings, with the bodies strung up or dragged through the streets? The "enemies" we are talking about here ALREADY torture.


Yes, this is just one more reason why the Bush Administration's claims that detailing our secret "enhanced interrogation" techniques will enable the enemy to evade them is just so much bunk. They already know how to torture, so the Bush interrogation techniques will come as no surprise to them. The only people the Bush Administration is desperate to keep in the dark are the American People.
11.7.2007 4:29pm
PC:

These are suspects, not convicts,

They are neither.


Indeed, cathyf. I believe we should waterboard everyone that we round up as an "(unlawful) combatant." Alas, thanks to the soft on terror Democrats, people like Maher Arar were only beaten with shredded cables. At least he admitted to being a member of al Qaeda.

There was also the case of Khalid El-Masri (that's a terrorist name if I've ever heard one). We don't know if he was waterboarded, but he should have been. Apparently the beatings and rape weren't enough to make him confess as being an al Qaeda member.

Beatings, rape, waterboarding...whatever it takes to whomever we choose. 9/11 changed everything.
11.7.2007 4:39pm
Mike Keenan:

The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.

Don't visit the slaughterhouse if you want to eat meat.
11.7.2007 4:59pm
Left shoe:
I always thought "the dog" was somebody's sock puppet. He was too over the top to be someone real. Sheds some light on Mike's personality though.
11.7.2007 5:27pm
TyrantLimaBean:

(2) To get a death penalty, you have to have a reasonably fair trial, unless we're just going to wholeheartedly embrace the Soviet way of life.


Again, historically, hostes humani generis can be summarily executed under LOAC.

A question for those against waterboarding: Do you want it to be a) unequivocally declared illegal and never performed; or b) unequivocally declared illegal but performed - illegally - in particularly dire situations (ticking nuclear bomb, etc.)? (I realize there are more possible options than those two.)
11.7.2007 5:28pm
duce:
Stupid questions. I read the Wiki write up on Arar. Why isn't he suing Syria? Aren't they the ones that tortured him, allegedly?
11.7.2007 5:34pm
cboldt (mail):
A somewhat unrelated thought crosses my mind. If waterboarding isn't cruel and unusual, all this legal action on the use of injection cocktails and protocols for carrying out death sentences might be resolved by shifting the method of execution to drowning. Stick the head under water until death results.
11.7.2007 5:49pm
byomtov (mail):
The people who started the war are responsible for all the deaths -- lawful combatants, unlawful combatants, non-combatants -- on every side.

Hmmm. Interesting point. Does it apply in Iraq?
11.7.2007 5:50pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
"unequivocally declared illegal and never performed"

It is unequivocally illegal. Although it is performed.

Best,
Ben
11.7.2007 5:53pm
Anon1ms (mail):
I think this thread supports Stanley Milgrim's assertion (Obedience to Authority) that you could probably find enough people in any medium-sized American city to staff a concentration camp.
11.7.2007 5:54pm
TyrantLimaBean:
Ben - accepting that you're stating it is unequivocally illegal, my question was do you want it to never be performed? Or do you think it should be performed - regardless of legality - in certain dire circumstances?

(I should have phrased it more carefully above.)
11.7.2007 6:09pm
A.S.:
Anderson writes:

If an airtight case can't be made without excluding that info, then something's seriously wrong.

Agreed.

[quoting LA Times article:]A senior FBI official who since has retired said he also complained about the lack of usable evidence and admissible statements being gathered. "We knew there were going to be problems back then. But nobody was listening," he said. "Now they have to live with the policy that they have adopted. I don't know if anyone thought of the consequences."



Yeah, I thought that LA Times article was pretty unconvincing. An FBI guy is complaining that they couldn't get any "usable evidence and admissible statements" from KSM? Waaaah. How exactly did this idiotic FBI guy think they were going to get "usable evidence and admissible statements" from him??? As noted elsewhere, KSM didn't respond to regular interroation techniques - he just recited the Koran. So I'd like to know what this asinine FBI guy thought we should have done? I mean, where exactly were this vaunted "usable evidence and admissible statements" coming from???

Really, now I see why the FBI has been so pathetically lame. The article said that this FBI guy had retired - good riddance. We need people in the FBI with IQs above 50.
11.7.2007 6:16pm
scote (mail):

We need people in the FBI with IQs above 50.


If only such a standard could be applied to commenters in this thread perhaps there would be less advocacy of torture...
11.7.2007 6:24pm
Salixquercus (mail):
Don't apply.
11.7.2007 6:25pm
PC:
A question for those against waterboarding: Do you want it to be a) unequivocally declared illegal and never performed; or b) unequivocally declared illegal but performed - illegally - in particularly dire situations (ticking nuclear bomb, etc.)?


Waterboarding, or any other method of torture, is illegal and should remain so. If government agents break the law, under the threat of imminent danger (pick your favorite plot from 24), they should still be prosecuted for their crimes. The agents can present an affirmative defense and a jury can decide if the agents are culpable.
11.7.2007 6:29pm
tarheel:

The agents can present an affirmative defense and a jury can decide if the agents are culpable.

Or the President can pardon, which presumably he would gladly do in a real ticking-time-bomb scenario. In either case, there is accountability (either criminal or democratic) for the decision to take extra-legal action.
11.7.2007 6:33pm
Anderson (mail):
Yeah, I thought that LA Times article was pretty unconvincing.

*Several* FBI people were quoted ... each of whom knows more about what it takes to convict somebody than A.S. or I do.

But I would think the mere fact of the effort to rebuild the cases would make some impression. Guess not.

I have no idea what counts as evidence with some people. It's like arguing with creationists who say, "well, you weren't THERE when the species supposedly evolved, so how do you know?"

Why isn't he suing Syria?

In what court? Collecting his judgment how? (My own dumb questions. I myself would start in the U.S. courts -- for the time being, they still have a better reputation than those of Syria.)
11.7.2007 6:39pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
There's something I don't understand about waterboarding. What purpose does the saran wrap serve?

- AJ
11.7.2007 6:52pm
Kovarsky (mail):
the discourse on these threads has deteriorated to the point of unreadability. "liberal navel gazers;" i mean, are there real-world contexts where you say things like that and people respect your opinions, or is this a phenomenon unique to cyberspace.

that's not to say there aren't helpful comments here - alaska jack, even michael b (the latter being someone i disagree with vehemently, but respect) - but it's becoming unbearably difficult to spend the time finding this helpful, thought-provoking material when you have to suffer the galactic stupidity of people like WHOI Jacket.
11.7.2007 6:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
whoi: "Fine, outlaw it then"

It's already been outlawed. Waterboarding is a form of asphyxiation. Asphyxiation entails the threat of imminent death. US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C establishes torture as a felony, and defines it, among other things, as "the threat of imminent death." And this is aside from UCMJ and GC, which also outlaw torture, and define torture in a manner that clearly encompasses waterboarding.

"Steve Harrigan gets 'waterboarded' "

When we waterboard our own guys in SERE, or when reporters submit to it, all these people are essentially volunteers. All of those volunteers are in a position to be 100% sure that the procedure will stop the moment they wish it to. They are in control (and doing something not very different than choosing to hold their breath for a certain period of time). Our captives are not. This distinction is so simple and crucial that even you should be able to grasp it.

"Ted Kennedy proposed an amendment"

Just to underline what Christopher already pointed out. This talking point, being pushed in lots of places, is utterly bogus. If this event (the rejection of the Kennedy amendment, by a GOP Congress) made waterboarding legal, then it also legalized burning and electric shock. Really? More details here.

"Spare me the 'We used to be...' maudlin. Read up on PO Box 1142, the secret interrogation center during WW2."

I've done so, here, here, here and elsewhere. There's no indication that they tortured anyone. Ever. Since that seems to be your claim, show us your proof.

Do you think we're all idiots, or did you come here to be laughed at?
11.7.2007 7:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
patrick: "The leaked intel data only shows that a technique broadly described as 'waterboarding' was used on 3 people, including KSM, that the longest duration of a 'waterboarding' session was 120 seconds, and that it yielded good actionable intel."

All this "leaked intel data" amounts to leaks from within the Bush administration, that are very likely intended to create the kind of complacency you're exhibiting. With Bush's track record for twisting the truth, let us know why these leaks should be considered credible.

"Whether you want to outlaw it is a good public policy question that I think does need to be seriously debated."

It's a bit late for that debate, since it's already been outlawed. Of course there could be a debate about repealing that law. How odd that when GOP held Congress for several years they didn't lift a finger to do that.

bart: "KSM reportedly broke in less than two minutes of waterboarding"

Thanks for giving us another example of how the self-serving Bush-directed leaks are being spread far and wide, and getting lots of unearned acceptance.

alaska: "This hyperbole is hard to square with ABCs report that it's only been used three times, and the longest was for two minutes."

Thanks for giving us another example of how the self-serving Bush-directed leaks are being spread far and wide, and getting lots of unearned acceptance.

kaz: "I don't think that waterboarding should be part of the standard suite of interrogation techniques, nor has it been"

Really? And you know this how?

cathyf: "The claim that I have seen is that waterboarding puts its victim in such an acute state of distress that he cannot form the necessary coherent thought to lie."

Someone named cathyf posted exactly the proper response to this:

Really? And you know this how?


Where did you see that claim? On a blog somewhere?

"Gee, sorta like Janet Reno?"

Speaking of finding things on a blog somewhere.

When you grab text from whatreallyhappened.com, don't you think you should credit them?

Anyway, it's nice to know that you're careful about sticking with authoritative, well-known sources.
11.7.2007 7:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cornellian: "They did it to me. Sure, it wasn't fun but it's not torture, just a hose in your face"

It would help if you could clarify "they." The enemy, or his trainers? If the latter, please refer to what I said above about the importance of control.

kaz: "Here is video of part of a 20 minute session on a reporter who didn't break after 20 minutes"

That video is a stunt. Some guy hired a couple of other guys to pour water on his face. It was obviously not continuous. All you see on video is that it lasted for a few seconds. Please refer to what I said above about the importance of control.

"I have formulated the definitive test of what constitutes torture."

Gosh, you're modest. I guess it's more definitive than what's in the statute. And of course you disappeared when I challenged you on this.

Your style is hit-and-run. You obviously don't intend to be taken seriously.

anton: "As with a number of commenters over at Captain's Quarters, I too question the veracity and resume of Nance."

Yes, we're all very easily impressed when a bunch of anonymous commenters swiftboat someone with a bunch of vague, undocumented, uncorroborated allegations.
11.7.2007 7:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bored: "Could you please volunteer to be one of the 10,000 sacrifices to maintain our 'moral standing.' "

If you can show proof that torture ever saved one life, that would be helpful.

As ikes said: "I want to see evidence that American torture has ever been instrumental in gaining useful intelligence." Guess what: there is no such evidence. If it existed, Cheney would have been waving it under Brit Hume's nose, long ago.

Anyway, the proper answer to the tired old 'ticking time-bomb' hypothetical was provided by felix, in an earlier thread:

here's what a really conscientious person would do in the unlikely event they were to 'know' torture will save lives: they go ahead and torture, and then turn themselves in to the authorities


Bingo.

If Bush had an ounce of courage and integrity, he would say something like this: "yes, we tortured even though we knew it was illegal. We felt we had to. Now we are ready to pay the price, and we trust that the court will consider the extenuating circumstances after we explain them in detail."

And that's the outcome that Congress would demand if they had courage and integrity.

This was also very well-said by PC in this thread:

Waterboarding, or any other method of torture, is illegal and should remain so. If government agents break the law, under the threat of imminent danger (pick your favorite plot from 24), they should still be prosecuted for their crimes. The agents can present an affirmative defense and a jury can decide if the agents are culpable.


And I think this is also worth emphasis (from tarheel):

Or the President can pardon, which presumably he would gladly do in a real ticking-time-bomb scenario. In either case, there is accountability (either criminal or democratic) for the decision to take extra-legal action.
11.7.2007 7:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "The world, the real world, presents manifold and manifest moral conundrums"

Here's a moral conundrum. Why are you ducking the simple questions you've been asked?

"Congress had two recent opportunities to specify that waterboarding was illegal"

I notice you're repeating this nonsense even after christopher posted proof that it's nonsense. Another moral conundrum.

hotel: "Worth the trip to Captain's Quarters … many pointed out that waterboarding does not involve pints and pints of water entering the lungs. Less than a pint will kill."

Nonsense:

If fresh water is inhaled, the transfer of water between the lungs and blood stream is in the opposite direction. Up to six pints of water may enter the blood stream through the lungs due to its low salt content. This large amount of water changes the body’s electrolyte balance and leads to heart fibrillations, compounded by the lack of oxygen, resulting in death within three to five minutes.


Nice job demonstrating that you're inclined to uncritically accept random comments you saw on a blog somewhere, without lifting a finger to find some independent verification.

"I think only Congress can define it legally."

Congress already did so, via US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, UCMJ and GC.
11.7.2007 7:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ryan: "If someone doesn't complain about an action until someone they don't like anyway does it"

I guess you must be thinking about the way Bushists complain that any criticism of Bush is a betrayal of the troops, even though Bush himself (along with lots of other Republicans) threw all sorts of criticisms at Clinton's war policy while Americans were held as POWs in 1999. One example (out of a long list): "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is" (Dubya, 4/9/99).
11.7.2007 7:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
alaska: "The very essence of reciprocity is that we agree not to torture soldiers from countries WHO AGREE NOT TO TORTURE *OUR* SOLDIERS."

Our soldiers are now in greater danger of being waterboarded because we have announced to the world that we consider waterboarding to be a legitimate interrogation technique. "As both McCain and Colin Powell have noted, all a POW has going for him is the hope of reciprocity. If we don't torture, maybe they won't either" [link]. Any future enemy who may have, for whatever reason, felt some inhibition about waterboarding our guys now has good reason to be much less inhibited. Likewise with regard to the use of what we euphemistically describe as other "enhanced" interrogation techniques.

anderson: "General Russel Honore [has … argued that this is not torture]"

His words are pretty oblique, but I don't think he's saying it's not torture. I think he's saying we should do it even if it is.

steve: "I like to think I'm not the only person in the 'immoral, forget effectiveness' camp."

Of course that's where all moral people are. Morality doesn't mean much if it's something you hang onto only when it's easy and free to do so. Adults understand that morality has a price, and that the price is worth paying.

Living as a free society entails accepting risk that could be avoided if you handed your freedom to a king. Freedom isn't free, and neither is morality.
11.7.2007 7:26pm
Smokey:
Scote:
"Maybe if Clinton had just had the OLC issue a secret memo that fellatio is not sexual relations or adultery the Republicans wouldn't have given him such a hard time? Perhaps he should have declared that Lewinsky could not testify due to executive privilege..." and blah blah, etc.
Clinton lied in a sworn deposition; Starr was asked to investigate, he declined and referred it to the court - which sent it back to him. Starr sent Clinton a subpoena, which Clinton obstructed for as long as he could. Clinton was eventually forced to testify under oath, and he lied. And he lied. And he lied.

Clinton was not impeached for sexual relations, for fellatio, or for sexually harrassing a female subordinate.

President Clinton was impeached for lying under oath. Got it now?


And Kovarsky says:
"it's becoming unbearably difficult to spend the time finding this helpful, thought-provoking material when you have to suffer the galactic stupidity of people like WHOI Jacket."
Funny, I never heard WHOI Jacket refer to folks on the other side of this debate as being galactically stupid, as you've labeled him. It appears that you can't credibly refute his posts - so you resort to the same tactic that you're complaining about.

So re-read the first line in your post above. Your hypocrisy is uncool.
11.7.2007 7:33pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey: "I never heard WHOI Jacket refer to folks on the other side of this debate as being galactically stupid, as you've labeled him."

If whoi is in a position to demonstrate that "folks on the other side of this debate" are galactically stupid, then I think it would be fine for him to use the term.

"It appears that you can't credibly refute his posts"

I have indeed credibly refuted his posts, and shown that he is indeed galactically stupid (although I wish I had been creative enough to think of saying it that way, before someone else did). I've also credibly refuted yours, and given you a chance to demonstrate that you simply ignore what you cannot refute. I'm not sure if galactically stupid is the right term for that. But it's something close to that.
11.7.2007 7:45pm
Kovarsky (mail):
So re-read the first line in your post above. Your hypocrisy is uncool.

you got me smoke, i can't possibly refute the "liberal-defeatist-flowerchild-pantywaste" critique, so i've resorted to name calling.
11.7.2007 7:53pm
Steve2:
TyrantLimaBean:

My answer's simple: I don't think torture should ever be performed pre-conviction. Period. Post- fair &accurate conviction torture I'm fine with. After all, if Coker had been decided right, execution-by-torture for rape convictions would've been upheld under the proportionality test.

The whole "ticking time-bomb" scenario... count the uncertainties...

Suspect might be a terrorist, and might know the information, which they might reveal. I don't believe the possibility that all three possibilities play out as "is" justifies the risk or excuses the harm done if the first one turns out to be "isn't". And if you've got enough information to be certain ahead of time that the person you're considering torturing is guilty and does know the information you seek... I don't see how you could have any questions left to ask.

Long story short: I'm more concerned about a post-torture "Oops, you weren't a terrorist and didn't know anything" than I am about a post-non-torture "Oops, lots of people are dead, and maybe if we'd tortured these other people we could have prevented that." Much more. I think it's far more likely, and I think it's just plain worse. There are things worse than the death of innocents, and torture of innocents tops that list.
11.7.2007 8:22pm
Anderson (mail):
His words are pretty oblique, but I don't think he's saying it's not torture. I think he's saying we should do it even if it is.

Fair enough; he's in the Dershowitz camp, then.
11.7.2007 8:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I messed up. After writing myself a note to take the next step.
Stupid me.

1 Here's how it goes. Pointing out that Clinton did it doesn't mean it's okay now. It doesn't mean it's not okay now.

2 Pointing out that you didn't care when Clinton did it means you don't really care except to use the issue against Bush and will no longer care when a dem is president.


What I should have done is connect the two paragraphs by pointing out that the reason to mention Clinton is to point out that you didn't care back then.

So.

1. It was done once
2. You didn't care.
3. You don't really care now. You're pretending.
or. You would have raised hell then.
You didn't.
You don't really care.

Leads to the conclusion that engaging you on the merits is a waste of time since the merits are of no interest to you. Only the political use of the issue.

Last. Obvious as hell.

BTW. Captain's Quarters has far better commentary, since many of the folks commenting know the subject. There's a lot of it. Best not look.
11.7.2007 8:44pm
Michael B (mail):
"Here's a moral conundrum. Why are you ducking the simple questions you've been asked?" jukeboxgrad

Puhleez. It's nothing remotely close to a conundrum, it's tiresomeness.

1) you were responding to what you imputed to me, not what I actually said in the three or four comments i made in that thread (beginning here) and 2) you weren't exactly facing the questions I posed in the first place, instead resorting to ad hominem slights, broad swipes of dismissiveness and other simplistic forms of tendentiousness.

If I thought you were actually attempting to more seriously engage - in a coherent and cogent exchange - I would have responded.
11.7.2007 9:07pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

After I noted that "This hyperbole is hard to square with ABCs report that it's only been used three times, and the longest was for two minutes," you responded:

Thanks for giving us another example of how the self-serving Bush-directed leaks are being spread far and wide, and getting lots of unearned acceptance.

Hmm. I guess I thought it went without saying that this was presuming the facts are as given. Naturally, all I know is what I've read. I guess I would just note that the author's original hyperbole ("the new world-wide embrace of torture"), which I was commenting on, is based on even less.

I also wrote:

"The very essence of reciprocity is that we agree not to torture soldiers from countries WHO AGREE NOT TO TORTURE *OUR* SOLDIERS."

To which you responded:

Our soldiers are now in greater danger of being waterboarded because we have announced to the world that we consider waterboarding to be a legitimate interrogation technique.

Two thoughts:

1. It's possible, but it seems contrary to common sense. Our opponents were already cheerfully torturing and beheading their captives. But they were holding back from waterboarding because they didn't know if we considered it a legitimate interrogation technique?

2. Above, you insisted on hard proof before accepting the proposition that waterboarding has saved even a single human life. Your standard of evidence ("Our soldiers are now in greater danger...) seems lower here.

As both McCain and Colin Powell have noted, all a POW has going for him is the hope of reciprocity. If we don't torture, maybe they won't either.

I agree with the part about reciprocity. I just think that our current enemies' position on torture is well-established at this point.

Any future enemy who may have, for whatever reason, felt some inhibition about waterboarding our guys now has good reason to be much less inhibited.

Again, I am struck by the degree to which you believe our opponents are impressed with and influenced by precedents we do or do not set.

Al Qaeda does not strike me as a particularly inhibited bunch.

- Alaska Jack
11.7.2007 9:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard: "You didn't care."

And you know this how?

"Best not look."

Yes, "best not look" here, where I gave a good example of how easy it is to prove that CQ commenters tend to be full of it.
11.7.2007 9:11pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "you were responding to what you imputed to me, not what I actually said"

Baloney. Here's an example of something you "actually said:"

This is about waterboarding rarely, though occasionally, applied


I challenged you to show a source for your claim ("rarely"). You haven't been willing to plainly admit that you simply don't have a reliable source for that claim (your mealy-mouthed response about not having "first hand knowledge" is simply a pathetic attempt to avoid a straight answer). In other words, you freely take your own assumptions and deliver them as if they are proven facts.

And this in the exact same breath that you're criticizing people for allegedly not being willing to "question [their] own assumptions." Thanks for the laugh.

Anyway, you now seem to be saying that waterboarding is torture, but it's still OK to do it sometimes. Right? (Earlier, what I guess I "imputed" to you was that you denied that waterboarding was torture; maybe for once you'll express yourself plainly on this point, instead of channeling Mukasey.) But if it's torture, then it's a felony violation of the federal anti-torture statute. Why does Bush get a free pass to break the law?

"you weren't exactly facing the questions I posed in the first place"

If you posed a question to me, and I ignored it, you should tell me exactly what it is, because I can't find it.
11.7.2007 9:33pm
Michael B (mail):
I'm not going to walk you through lessons on reading comprehension.

You can sneer and arrogate and presume all you like and imagine you're a responsible and thoughtful interlocutor in doing so, but that's what you're doing: imagining.

I'm more than happy to let those who care read, and judge for themselves.
11.7.2007 9:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.

I know this because, if you really cared about the subject, you'd have been raising hell when the Clinton admin was doing it.
Got any records that would prove you were?

Easy to demonize a bunch of folks just because they disagree. But not impressive.

Those who claim to be too young to have complained when Clinton was doing it imply they would have had they known. For them the answer is easy. You say, "I'm disgusted to find our nation has been doing this since the Clinton administration started it in 1995."
It won't hurt, much. You'll lose all your friends, but friends like that you ought to lose.
And I think the youngsters among us ought to fix a macro or whatever it is so that the sentence can be dumped into every discussion several times with minimal effort.
11.7.2007 9:45pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
alaska: "I guess I thought it went without saying that this was presuming the facts are as given."

I guess I thought it went without saying that it's not a good idea to do too much "presuming."

"Our opponents were already cheerfully torturing and beheading their captives."

I think it's rather shortsighted, and, frankly, stupid, to behave as if our current enemy is the last and only enemy we will ever face. And I think I made it clear that I was thinking of future enemies. That's why I used this language, oddly enough: "future enemy."

"you insisted on hard proof before accepting the proposition that waterboarding has saved even a single human life"

Not exactly. It's not that I refuse to accept the proposition. I acknowledge that the proposition might be true (that waterboarding, did, in fact, once save a single human life). But I think proof is helpful, and I think it's also helpful to notice when there seems to be an utter absence of proof. This doesn't necessarily justify rejecting the proposition completely, but it helps place the proposition in perspective.

"Your standard of evidence ("Our soldiers are now in greater danger...) seems lower here."

It's a matter of common sense to understand that our soldiers are now in greater danger. I think it's no surprise that people like McCain and Powell understand this.

"Our opponents were already cheerfully torturing … current enemies' position on torture is well-established … the degree to which you believe our opponents … Al Qaeda"

All throughout your comment you repeatedly refer to our current enemy. And even though you quote my text ("future enemy"), you seem to not grasp what those words mean.

If you can momentarily put aside your fixation with our current enemy, you should be able to grasp that some future enemy might have some inhibition that AQ does not have. We have now given that enemy some new reasons to put aside their inhibitions.

Maybe you're snagged on the fact that I said our soldiers are 'now' in greater danger. Maybe I should be more precise and say that they are in greater danger the instant we find ourselves fighting some other enemy, which may have a different profile of practices and inhibitions, compared with AQ.

Let me know if I made it simple enough this time.
11.7.2007 9:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "You can sneer and arrogate and presume all you like"

Thanks for doing such a nice job of proving that your 'imputeds' and 'arrogates' are all about ducking the simplest possible questions. Like this one: is waterboarding torture?
11.7.2007 10:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
The next enemy? The last enemy who was in the least humane to our guys was Nazi Germany. Who's up next? China? They treated our guys horribly. Russia? Hard to say, but the Senate Select committee on POW/MIA issues found some interesting stuff on our guys who were POWs of the Germans and fell into Sov hands. I talked with a guy who was with the Ninth AF in the Med. Their doctrine was, if needing to bail, try to do it over German-held territory rather than Russian-held territory (speaking of missions to the Balkans and so forth).
Viet Nam?
Any of the potential places like Pakistan or Iran already have horrid human rights records and we won't be fighting Pakistan until they're taken over by some kind of wackjobitis like al Q or the Taliban and we can't expect inhibitions from them.
North Korea?
About the only folks we can expect good treatment from based on form are our Allies in NATO and SEATO. A few others in the Anglosphere, maybe, and Japan who seems to have been seared by events once upon a time. Or maybe not. Whatever it would take to get them fighting us would have to be serious and might affect other areas of their society.
Face it. With the exception of, possibly, China, our enemies in the future aren't going to be states. That leaves Islamowhackjobbery only. Their inhibitions are notable by their absence.
11.7.2007 10:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard: "Got any records that would prove you were?"

Got any records that prove you're no longer beating your wife?
11.7.2007 10:07pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "Congress had two recent opportunities to specify that waterboarding was illegal and declined to do so both times"

This is worth special attention, because it's important, and because you ignored it the first couple of times it was mentioned.

You and McCarthy (and lots of other people, like Paul Gigot, as I cited here) are suggesting that when a GOP Congress defeated the Kennedy amendment in 2006, that this was tantamount to the legalization/endorsement of waterboarding. Trouble is, that amendment mentioned lots of things besides waterboarding. It also mentioned, for example, burning and electric shocks. So are those things legal now, too? (I'm almost afraid to ask. After all, what about the ticking time-bomb, and the five million New Yorkers who are about to be incinerated?)

I realize you'll duck this simple question with some more 'arrogates' and 'imputeds.' I'm just hoping that for variety you'll toss in some other words like that. They're not nearly as good as a real answer, but they're fun.
11.7.2007 10:22pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
You know, I think everyone would do a better job of debating if they stayed away from the personal jabs. I am willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and assume they want what is best for our country and are willing to hear opposing points of view and, possibly, be persuaded by them. Otherwise, why post here?
11.7.2007 10:34pm
MarkField (mail):

I am willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and assume they want what is best for our country and are willing to hear opposing points of view and, possibly, be persuaded by them.


I think it's entirely fair to grant that presumption to new posters, and even to old posters on new topics. I see no reason to continue to grant it to those who have repeatedly demonstrated the contrary on a particular subject.
11.7.2007 11:41pm
abw (www):
"Waterboarding is a form of asphyxiation."

Not necessarily.

"Asphyxiation entails the threat of imminent death. US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C establishes torture as a felony, and defines it, among other things, as 'the threat of imminent death.'"

The process has often been described as merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring.

So some waterboard techniques could certainly be illegal torture but if properly conducted and there is no chance of death and it isn't done for amusement and it isn't done repeatedly, then I haven't seen anything to convince me it rises to the same level as electrocution, acid burns, etc
11.7.2007 11:48pm
Anderson (mail):
haven't seen anything to convince me it rises to the same level as electrocution, acid burns, etc

Creepy.
11.8.2007 12:06am
Michael B (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

To goad someone in the hope of prodding them to think more seriously and more conscientiously, with more moral probity and intellectual acumen, is one thing, but to goad in the manner you've demonstrated herein is but one additional example of your regressive egoism posing as something more serious than it is.

As to McCarthy (I had provided two references, v. here and here), he overtly and unambiguously noted it was a Republican Senate at the time, but it's still the U.S. Senate, the Senate responsible for passing federal legislation and that was his point. And it is presently the Democratic Senate and the Democratic Judiciary Committee that is irresponsibly posturing vis-a-vis the current nominee, Mukasey, for A.G.

(What McCarthy did that was truly regrettable was to take a jab, via analogy, at the Rockies, a low, execrable shot if ever there was one on the American political scene. Deplorable. Unconscionable. Not even Chris Matthews has stooped that low.)

"We don't win against the terrorists by killing them all. We win by turning their own people against them." Anderson

Precisely. Do you intend to suggest, for example, as is occurring here?
11.8.2007 12:12am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Richard, if you knew Clinton was practicing rendition, THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU SUPPORT HIM?? You could correct this simple error by saying, "I'm delighted to learn that Clinton was rendering people in 1995. He was a hell of a good guy." It's not too late. You'll lose some friends, but you'll gain so many more!
11.8.2007 12:33am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"The process has often been described as merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring."

Someone help me understand the difference between "imminent threat of death" and "simulating the threat of death."
11.8.2007 1:01am
Mike& (mail):
Oy vey. I put "my" comments in quotes.


"This man obviously hates America. He is a total panty waist."

Says the Dog.



I was predicting "the Dog's" quote. I am not "the Dog." While I certainly hope "the Dog" is an intelligent person's caricature of chicken hawks, I suspect he really does believe the things he posts.
11.8.2007 1:04am
流水线 (mail) (www):
11.8.2007 1:47am
Ds & Rs (mail):
Jukeboxgrad- I notice that you are often quick to point out the lack of citations for the claims of your opponents. I'm generally curious, which sources are you relying on when indicating that the US is currently torturing people.
11.8.2007 1:49am
Michael B (mail):
In fact, Grover Gardner, it's another intriguing topic, as reflected in this Oct. 3, 2001 WaPo article covering the Osama bin Laden/Sudan opportunities. Excerpt, emphases added:

"Conflicting policy agendas on three separate fronts contributed to the missed opportunity to capture bin Laden, according to a dozen participants. The Clinton administration was riven by differences on whether to engage Sudan's government or isolate it, which influenced judgments about the sincerity of the offer. In the Saudi-American relationship, policymakers diverged on how much priority to give to counterterrorism over other interests such as support for the ailing Israeli-Palestinian talks. And there were the beginnings of a debate, intensified lately, on whether the United States wanted to indict and try bin Laden or to treat him as a combatant in an underground war.

"In 1999, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir referred elliptically to his government's early willingness to send bin Laden to Saudi Arabia. But the role of the U.S. government and the secret channel from Khartoum to Washington had not been disclosed before."

[...]

"Carney and Shinn had a long list. Bin Laden, as they both recalled, was near the top. So, too, were three members of Egypt's Gamaat i-Islami, Arabic for Islamic Group, who had fled to Sudan after trying to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Sudan also played host to operatives and training facilities for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, and Lebanon's Hezbollah."

One reason, among several (e.g., it was written in the immediate aftermath of 9/11), this nicely detailed article is intriguing is because it reflects more broadly upon the moral and legal conundrums - some of them approaching paradoxical levels of frustration - evidenced in prominent aspects of the ideological war we're in. (And first and foremost it is an ideological war, not a military effort most fundamentally, not a war of acquisitions and attritions, but an ideological war focused upon primary socio-political and socio-religious conceptions and dynamics.) Waterboarding, precisely under what conditions and how often, if ever, used, is one. Rendering is another. (Should we have rendered OBL when we had the opportunity, in the 90's, and therein avoided 9/11, at least very possibly so?) Legal definitions pertinent to combatants and "non-combatants" another still. Problems related to a war against state actors vs. non-state actors another (most prominently, dar al-harb vs. dar al-Islam). The requisite qualities and the limits to be associated with executive powers. Etc., etc., etc.

And how do all too many "resolve" (in their minds) these conundrums - which in fact do occasionally approach paradoxical and Gordian Knot levels of frustration - assumming moral and intellectual seriousness inheres to the discussion? One need only review the commentary herein: chickenhawk egoism, ad hominem snipes and inferences and similar forms of moralistic puffery and misdirection. Such are vast tracts of America's polities. And yes, "vast tracts" is an apposite term - hence the ability of Kosified and MoveOn styled Leftists to successfully coopt and entrench themselves in the Democratic Party's core.
11.8.2007 2:07am
abw (www):

Someone help me understand the difference between "imminent threat of death" and "simulating the threat of death."


How about jumping from a plane 3 miles up without a parachute (imminent death) vs. making the jump with a parachute (simulating threat of death)?

I say again, I think any version of waterboarding that could lead to death would be immoral and ineffective (not because of false info concerns but because the dead don't talk). If it can be administered without possibility of death and minutes or hours later the subject is in perfect mental and physical health, after including a few other caveats, I have no problem with the practice.

And sure I wouldn't be happy if alQaeda did it to any of our troops, but I'd say it's a bit better than chopping off heads with a knife, right?
11.8.2007 3:09am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Yes, Michael, the world is a complicated place. But Gordian knots, as we know, can be cut. It takes a sharp sword and a keen eye. You seem intent on making it bigger and bigger, while accusing others of puffery and misdirection.

Waterboarding is torture. I think Americans are right to be shocked about it. We don't like to think of ourselves that way. Whether, in the end, we resort to it or not in some extreme situation, I think it's healthy to condemn the practice. It may make us a tiny bit safer, but it won't make us any better. You can call that moralistic puffery if you want. I think it's just common sense.
11.8.2007 4:50am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"And sure I wouldn't be happy if alQaeda did it to any of our troops, but I'd say it's a bit better than chopping off heads with a knife, right?"

I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.

The point of waterboarding is to make you think you're going to suffocate and die--in other words, the threat of imminent death. That's what is outlawed in Title 18.
11.8.2007 5:07am
davod (mail):
"Actually, cathyf, they are more like alleged unlawful combatants. We know that most of the folks at Guantanamo were not unlawful combatants, in the ordinary sense of bearing arms against the United States. Many were turned in for bounties and we know that a good number have proved to be innocent."

We know this how?
11.8.2007 5:17am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
davod: "We know this how? [that most of the folks at Guantanamo were not unlawful combatants, in the ordinary sense of bearing arms against the United States. Many were turned in for bounties and we know that a good number have proved to be innocent]"

See here.

ds: "which sources are you relying on when indicating that the US is currently torturing people."

There seems to be universal agreement on at least this: the US has waterboarded three people. Do I have to prove that premise further? It's a sincere question, if that's really what you're asking.
11.8.2007 7:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
abw: "The process has often been described as merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring."

Waterboarding deprives the lungs of oxygen. This is called asphyxiation. It leads to death, 100% of the time, for 100% of humans, within a rather short period of time.

The only time that it is "merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring" is when it is being done in training (e.g., SERE), or when it is being done as a stunt, on reporters, in front of cameras. In those environments, the 'victim' is ultimately 100% in control.

The key words in your statement are these: "has often been described." Yes, there are people who say what you say. But what is missing is a reason to believe that the statement has any relevance to the procedure we apply to our captives.

Waterboarding is not a simulation of drowning. It's a form of controlled drowning.

Any time you, not I, are in control of my access to oxygen, you are in a position to threaten me with death. And when you use that control to prevent my access to oxygen, you are threatening me with imminent death.

Waterboarding is not fundamentally different than any other form of asphyxiation or suffocation. If I put a plastic bag over your head, is that "merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring?" Only if you, not I, are ultimately in control of deciding when the bag comes off. If, for example, I keep the bag on your head until you pass out (and then revive you so I can do it again; or not, maybe), that's not a simulation of asphyxiation. It's controlled asphyxiation.

"if properly conducted and there is no chance of death"

Big "ifs," huh? We have beaten to death innocent people.

"I haven't seen anything to convince me it rises to the same level as electrocution"

If we use waterboarding, then why not also use electricity? As some wingnuts have said, no blood no foul. I can apply electricity to your genitals in such a way as to leave no marks and to cause no permanent (physical) damage. So why not do that too? And what about rape? Mock execution? The list goes on.

Where do you draw the line? What's your formula? Here's a formula that makes sense to me: if we've called it torture when our enemies have done it to us in the past, then it's torture when do it to our enemies now. By this formula, waterboarding is torture.

"How about jumping from a plane 3 miles up without a parachute (imminent death) vs. making the jump with a parachute (simulating threat of death)?"

It's a pretty good analogy. If I push you out of the plane, and I, not you, have a device to remotely control when (or if) your parachute will open, then this is probably a form of torture. Especially if I have a track record of beating to death innocent captives. And especially if I do it repeatedly, where perhaps the first time I do it in such a way that you 'only' break your leg.

The genius of waterboarding (aside from requiring nothing in the way of expensive equipment, like airplanes), and why it has been so popular for so many centuries, is that I can let you pass out, and then revive you. Or not.

"If it can be administered without possibility of death and minutes or hours later the subject is in perfect mental and physical health, after including a few other caveats, I have no problem with the practice."

Then what's wrong with rape? Careful use of electricity? Et cetera?

"I'd say it's a bit better than chopping off heads with a knife, right?"

Needless to say, your standards are a bit low. You have a peculiar idea of who our models should be.
11.8.2007 7:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "to goad in the manner you've demonstrated"

Here, let me translate that into English: to ask simple, fair questions that you're too cowardly to answer in a straighforward manner.

"As to McCarthy … he overtly and unambiguously noted it was a Republican Senate at the time"

You and McCarthy have an interesting concept of "unambiguously." Pay attention to the relevant passage:

the same senate that wants Mukasey to say waterboarding is unambiguously illegal in all circumstances declined to make it unambiguously illegal in all circumstances.  I realize that the senate was in Republican hands then and it is in Democratic hands now


This is a classic example of talking out of both sides of your mouth. "The same senate?" Really? Here's what that is: an outright lie. It wasn't the same Senate. And he knows this, and he pulls back the lie in the next sentence. This isn't what I call "unambiguously." This is what I call the opposite of that.

Anyway, I'm glad you mentioned this again. Earlier you cited this:

Congress had two recent opportunities to specify that waterboarding was illegal and declined to do so both times


I've been remiss in not saying more about this remark, because it's such a perfectly crystallized example of how the Bushists shamelessly torture not only humans but also the truth.

The first thing we must know about this remark is that it's not just the work of some moron on a blog. It's coming right from the top. It's front and center at places like WSJ and NRO. These organs are at the peak of the noise machine, and this remark is at the center of Bush's torture defense.

WSJ said it this way:

Congress has twice had the opportunity to ban or criminalize waterboarding and some of these stress interrogation techniques, when they were debating the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005 and the Military Commissions Act in 2006. They explicitly did not ban those specific techniques. How can they ask Mukasey to declare them illegal if they didn't do so?


NRO said it this way:

Congress had two recent opportunities to specify that waterboarding was illegal and declined to do so both times.


And once more, for good measure, here:

Congress has twice in the last three years enacted legislation on coercive interrogation. On both occasions it could have prohibited waterboarding — and on both it declined to do so


The remark deserves further study, even homage. Rarely do we find a bit of political speech that is so spectacularly efficient in its dishonesty, by shamelessly managing to tell several different interlocking lies in a very small number of words. Whoever was first to dream it up deserves a big raise, and probably got one.

Here's the first big lie, stunning in its simplicity and utter shamelessness: the remark implies that at the time Bush stepped into office, waterboarding was legal. This lie is very important for obvious reasons. Right off the bat, it inoculates Bush against the accusation that he committed the felony of torture. But, of course, he did. As Judge Wallach has clearly documented (pdf), there is a long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture. And torture is a violation of federal law, UCMJ and GC. Has been, for a long time.

Here's the second big lie: the remark implies that the Dems are hypocrites for not being willing to do something they are asking Mukasey to do: clearly declare that waterboarding is torture. This, in turn, implies that the Dems are responsible for the defeat of the Kennedy amendment. Of course, this in itself is a whopper of a lie. Almost all the Dems supported the Kennedy amendment. Almost all the Rs opposed it. The Rs controlled Congress in 2006, so the amendment failed.

This part of the lie is shamelessly cynical in counting on Americans to be so clueless that we can't remember that in 2006, Congress was in the hands of the GOP. Brilliant.

I've already mentioned the third big lie. The remark implies that the amendment only made reference to waterboarding. Trouble is, it didn't. It listed various other things, like the use of burning and electric shock. To claim that Congress legalized/endorsed waterboarding, when this amendment failed, is the equivalent of claiming that Congress also legalized/endorsed the use of electric shocks. That would make quite a headline: "GOP Senate approves burning and electric shock." Of course the Bushists would have screamed if WP had published that headline the day the GOP defeated the Kennedy amendment. But the headline would have been essentially as truthful as the central talking point the Bushists are now using.

And this part of the lie has its own special, extra utility. Aside from waterboarding, Bush has probably been doing some combination of those other lovely things listed in the amendment (e.g., beatings, dogs, hypothermia, electric shocks). The lie provides a foundation to even inoculate him on all those scores, potentially.

But we're still not done with the homage. Consider these words, from an astute commenter here:

A law making waterboarding illegal will be strongly pushed by people in Congress working on President Bush's behalf. Such a law will have the effect of retroactively making waterboarding LEGAL up to the date Bush signs it into law. It will effectively invalidate the current anti-torture statute. And it won't include the secret torture practices that President Bush allows his interrogators to use right now. Nobody will be held accountable for torture done in the past. And torture will continue in the future.


See the brilliance? Aside from all the immediate benefits of the talking point, it also paves the way for the scenario I just cited.

Needless to say, folks like WSJ and NRO are blasting out this egregious crap without the slightest comment (as far as I can tell) from folks like NYT and WP. That darn liberal media!
11.8.2007 7:09am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Juke. Wrt wife-beating. I suppose you could ask my wife.

To take a date, early November in 1987. At that time, I lived in a small town in flyover country. I knew a number of vets of various wars. I knew two or three guys in the Reserves. I didn't know--probably had never met--anybody in the CIA. Nobody in mil intel since 1971.
Yet.
I had met Tony Avergan, leftwing columnist, and knew several folks from the Christic Institute. I was in semi-regular correspondence with people who felt roughly the same way about various things as did the Christics. I had traveled to the scenes of several conflicts in Central America.
What I'd heard, while probably not true, would chill the bone.
There was all the room in the world for enterprising folks like you or journalists to start looking into this, or for people like you to start complaining even if the journos were otherwise occupied.
Nada. Try the "didn't know" crap on somebody else.
We have--and I don't mean internationally among the hair-trigger rent-a-mobs of the ME--plenty of folks who could rend their garments over a fake Newsweek story of desecrated Korans, not meaning a word of their faux outrage, of course.
Twenty years ago... Reagan was as evil as Bush, which meant inconveniencing the Sovs. And he got the same kind of crap Bush is getting and for roughly the same reasons.
Little of it was true, not that that matters to the libs.

Point of all this is, all the material was in place twenty years ago to get exercised about this and continue being exercised right up to today.

Nada.

An Iraqi journo asked if "you", addressing the usual suspects, hated Bush so much that you would condemn the Iraqi people to living in a hellhole. It was a rhetorical question, of course.
11.8.2007 8:15am
davod (mail):
davod: "We know this how? [that most of the folks at Guantanamo were not unlawful combatants, in the ordinary sense of bearing arms against the United States. Many were turned in for bounties and we know that a good number have proved to be innocent]"

See here.

The report was prepared by Professor Mark P. Denbeaux who's son is counsel to one of those detained. Not an unbiased source.

I am surpised that you didn't take the time to mention Joshua's client, who is currently suing to stay at Guantanamo, because he is worried that if he goes back to Tunisia he may get tortured. The courts have recently put any transfer on hold.

I recommend the article to readers. However, it is instructive to note that Proffessor Denbeaux, in response to the courts stay, stated "The executive has now been told it cannot bury its Guantanamo mistakes in Third World prisons."

There is only one problem with this soundbite - We are trying to send him back to his home country! Why does he think he will be tortured - because other Tunisians who haved said they were tortured (Which is in itself interesting. The Tunisians are so bad that they let people talk to reporters about the fact that they were tortured).

The Brits have the same problem with deporting radicals. The courts say they cannot be deported to countries that might torture people. The courts also ruled that they c

*The partners of the firm, Marcia W. Denbeaux and Joshua W. Denbeaux and Professor Mark P. Denbeaux acting as of counsel.
11.8.2007 8:59am
davod (mail):
Sorry:

To continue: The Brits have the same problem with deporting radicals. The courts say they cannot be deported to countries that might torture people. The courts also ruled that it is inhumane to keep them in jail so they roam about the streets on welfare.
11.8.2007 9:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard: "An Iraqi journo"

I don't suppose he's on Bush's payroll. More here and here.
11.8.2007 9:02am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
davod: "Not an unbiased source"

Let us know if you're in a position to dispute any of the facts in the study. And let us know if you're in a position to show "an unbiased source" for the claim, often repeated as gospel, that everyone we detain is a "terrorist."
11.8.2007 9:05am
davod (mail):
Read the WP article.
11.8.2007 9:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
davod: "Read the WP article."

I did. It says, among other things, this:

Denbeaux, who has worked with Seton Hall University's Law School in studying the Guantanamo detainees' cases, said that 55 percent have never been accused of committing a hostile act against the United States or its allies and that 60 percent were neither fighters for the Taliban nor for al-Qaeda.


The article says nothing to dispute those claims (which are well-documented; pdf), or to address the questions I asked you. Why are you pretending it does?

I will ask you again. Are you in a position to dispute any of the facts presented in the study?
11.8.2007 9:19am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard: "all the material was in place twenty years ago to get exercised about this"

I'm not sure what "this" is. Are you suggesting that we've been waterboarding people since 1987? Really? I would be interested in knowing your basis for this claim.
11.8.2007 9:20am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
And while we're discussing the way Bushists torture the truth. Deroy Murdock at NRO praises waterboarding because it supposedly made KSM sing, and this supposedly let to major arrests:

KSM’s revelations helped authorities arrest at least six major terrorists [including] Jose Padilla


I guess they figure no one's paying attention, but someone is:

Padilla was arrested in May 2002 and has been in U.S. detention ever since.  KSM wasn’t captured until March 2003.  Is it Deroy’s contention that KSM waterboarded himself and then contacted the CIA months before his capture to supply them with Padilla’s name?


No one should hold their breath waiting for NRO to run a correction.
11.8.2007 9:54am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
juke.
Not waterboarding uniquely. Much worse stuff. One does recover from waterboarding, you know.
But I presume waterboarding was involved.

So the "this" is generally horrid mistreatment of people who were thought to have valuable info.

Nada.
11.8.2007 10:45am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Juke.
WRT the Iraqi journo. Nice move. True or not.

But it doesn't help. The question stands, as does the answer.
Which is, hell yes.
11.8.2007 10:53am
Anderson (mail):
JBG, the Bruce Lee of Volokh threads.
11.8.2007 11:29am
Bpbatista (mail):
To all you liberal pussies: When a nuke goes off in an American city because we didn't properly interrogate a terrorist captive, I hope it is your family that is incinerated. Because if it is mine, the first thing I am going to do is hunt you down like the cowardly dogs that you are. Then I'm going to do everything I can to turn the middle east into a parking lot.
11.8.2007 11:49am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Richard, you basically just said, "Liberals failed to demonize Reagan for these things. Liberals demonized Reagan for these things." Please make up your mind.

Anyway, the idea that someone cannot criticize the actions of the present because they failed to criticize the actions of the past is about as weak as it gets.

And I'm still waiting for that apology for the Teapot Dome Scandal.
11.8.2007 12:07pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
If my memory of old movies serves me correctly, usually when someone says, "You've got nothing!" they turn out to be wrong.
11.8.2007 12:10pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"To all you liberal pussies: When a nuke goes off in an American city because we didn't properly interrogate a terrorist captive, I hope it is your family that is incinerated. Because if it is mine, the first thing I am going to do is hunt you down like the cowardly dogs that you are. Then I'm going to do everything I can to turn the middle east into a parking lot."

Apparently we have a new contestant in the Bruce Lee Sweepstakes.
11.8.2007 12:14pm
Mark Field (mail):

To all you liberal pussies


Careful, now. Bob from Ohio will be along any minute to slap your wrist for incivility.
11.8.2007 12:42pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Grover. Sorry I was unclear.
Reagan was demonized for inconveniencing the Revolution in general and the Sovs in particular. Nobody mentioned torture.

Bush is being demonized for inconveniencing the left in their various aims, with torture as a handy tool.

My point is that the handy tool was available earlier and nobody bothered. Apparently they thought they had enough to go on to foreclose the possibility, for example, of elections in Central America, without using torture as a tool. Didn't work.

This time, using torture as a tool isn't working either, but the lack of interest in it during the Reagan and Clinton years indicates no actual interest in it. Only when it looks as if it might be politically useful do the usual suspects decide to pretend to get all hypertensive about it.

My point is, you can say what you want. But you can't control the conclusions others draw about what you say. And the conclusion about the left's concern with torture now and not earlier is that they don't care about torture or the tortured. Or they'd have been all over it decades ago. The concern is solely a matter of partisan advantage. Or they'd have been all over it decades ago.
11.8.2007 1:23pm
Brian K (mail):
My point is, you can say what you want. But you can't control the conclusions others draw about what you say.

does this mean you were outraged when bush commuted libby's sentence? or are you yourself guilty of applying the same double standard you are accusing everyone on "the left" is?
11.8.2007 1:30pm
InABigCountry:
Richard: Bush is being demonized for inconveniencing the left in their various aims, with torture as a handy tool.

Curious about what you believe the left's "various aims" are. Instituting a caliphate? Crowning Osama King of the U.S.? Nuking New York and L.A.? Do tell.
11.8.2007 2:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anderson, thanks for your kind words. You're no slouch yourself.

richard: "One does recover from waterboarding, you know."

I assume you have some proof that we've never waterboarded anyone to death.

"I presume waterboarding was involved."

You obviously "presume" lots of things that are wholly unsubstantiated.

With all due respect, this is what you are: a joke.
11.8.2007 2:28pm
abw (www):

"if properly conducted and there is no chance of death"

Big "ifs," huh? We have beaten to death innocent people.


Yeah, innocent people have been beaten to death. And shot. Does that mean you think police officers should be required to go around empty handed?

That you go on to ask 'if waterboarding is okay, why not rape' is a glimpse of how weak your argument really is. And electrocution does damage even if you can't see it.

I wouldn't want it to be a common technique because that would increase the chances of it being improperly administered, but just because there's a wrong way to do something doesn't mean you have to ban it completely. As long as it's rare it can be closely monitored.

If someone has to be revived after being waterboarded then it's being done wrong. If someone is being asked to confess rather than being asked for actionable intelligence it's being done wrong. If they are doing it wrong, I'm against it.
11.8.2007 2:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Juke. Since the question of waterboarding on this post rapidly expanded to torture in general, I figured I would go with the expansion.
But if you're wanting to be literal, I can presume waterboarding was included back in the day, but if it wasn't, that doesn't make any difference. The Word was that far worse was going on. And nobody cared. Not on the left. So it doesn't matter to my point if it was waterboarding or electrics to the eyeballs. The left wasn't interested. Might be they should have been. Could have been useful to pretend outraged humanity. But maybe they judged it was too close to the memories of what the North Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese had done to our guys to get much sympathy. Whatever. They weren't bothered then, or, more accurately, didn't bother to pretend to be concerned then. Now that they seem to be concerned, the obvious point is, it's a fake.

And, no I wasn't outraged when Bush commuted Libby's jail time. I was outraged that Fitz went after him. Don't bother with the leak-the-secret-agent crap. Didn't happen. Don't waste your time. It was dueling memories and the other guy's was taken as true, which meant Libby's wasn't. End of story. And you weren't outraged to find Armitage actually did it.

What is the left after? What if I were absolutely accurate? Would you say, you got us, I'm going to a monastery now?
The left is after power and major changes in western society. They preceded the Sovs but were not the same, and they will continue after the Sovs gave up their usefulness. They know they can't sell the general public on the subject of locking up their own shackles, so they have to lie.
11.8.2007 3:29pm
InABigCountry:
Richard: The left is after power and major changes in western society.

I've always wondered why nobody on the right runs for president or Congress and when these positions are somehow thrust upon these reluctant individuals they don't try to implement any of their ideas! I didn't think it was possible but you actually managed to hit upon the least specific description imaginable. Heaven forfend that a political group is "after power" or "major changes."

Richard: They know they can't sell the general public on the subject of locking up their own shackles, so they have to lie.

Are you talking in code here? If it's some backhanded reference to "the left" being against torture, I don't think "the left" has been lying about their beliefs on that subject.
11.8.2007 4:30pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
But if you're wanting to be literal, I can presume waterboarding was included back in the day, but if it wasn't, that doesn't make any difference. The Word was that far worse was going on. And nobody cared. Not on the left.

That is rather a spectacular claim to make, since I was even more leftwing during the '80s than I am now and I recall myself and all us other lefties being very concerned about torture. Stephen Biko in South Africa was a cause celebre as was concerns about the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning. And we got all bent out of shape when CIA backed death squads in El Salvador and Nicauragua tortured, raped and killed Nuns.

But of course in your world, just complaining about cruise missiles in Europe was enough for us.
11.8.2007 4:31pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J. F. Yeah, and you got more bent out of shape when the benighted brown folk of Central America started having elections.

Your benting is selective.

The School of The Americas had one, count'em, one reference to torture and dumped it. Since then, it's been a place of pilgramage for those who can't deal with the fact we won the Cold War.
One instructor of Latin American officers, Eric Haney who wrote a book on Delta Force, said of all the guys he taught, only about four really understood that dumping on civilians is counterproductive. Sometimes the most thorough US military training can't overcome being brought up by civilians, or in another culture.
Oh, yeah. d'Aubuisson, of ARENA won the election following Duarte. Think the proles knew more than you? Nah. Never happen. Possibly you were, you know, exaggerating a bit about the evils of our side. The Salvdorans acted as if that were the case. Ditto Nicaragua. Went there with a bunch of Sandalistas and got the royal finger from the ordinary folks on the way from one revo dog&pony show to the next.

Biko was a tough case, but a cheap one. He was an ocean away and you had no influence. But an arrest at the South African embassy could get you laid. Not a bad time to be young, I guess.

And, of course, the torture murder of Buckley, and an American officer (name not coming to me this afternoon) captured by the Paleos went unmentioned. Selective.
11.8.2007 4:51pm
Anon1ms (mail):
"To all you liberal pussies: When a nuke goes off in an American city because we didn't properly interrogate a terrorist captive, I hope it is your family that is incinerated. Because if it is mine, the first thing I am going to do is hunt you down like the cowardly dogs that you are. Then I'm going to do everything I can to turn the middle east into a parking lot."

Thank you for your input, Mr. Vice President.
11.8.2007 5:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
abw: "As long as it's rare it can be closely monitored."

I think you're shifting back and forth between two different frames of reference that are not interchangeable. Let me explain. Consider these two things:

A) the procedure we've actually been using
B) a procedure that abw imagines, that would be OK with him

Obviously A and B are not the same. Or at least we cannot assume that they are the same. Earlier you said this:

The process has often been described as merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring.


That sounds like a statement about A, and I responded from that perspective. But in your latest comment, your focus seems to be B. Obviously either focus can be the basis for a legitimate discussion, but I think it would be good to be clear about which you're talking about.

"If someone has to be revived after being waterboarded then it's being done wrong. … If they are doing it wrong, I'm against it."

You seem to have a concept of a 'right' way to do it. Fair enough, but there are a few problems. I'm not at all clear about what that concept entails. It sort of sounds like abw's Waterboard Lite. I guess to the extent that it's really Lite, then it isn't torture. But then it also probably has zero effectiveness (actual or presumed). If abw's official monitoring agent is standing there and guaranteeing that the process stops before the person passes out, I think the person conducting the procedure would decide there's no point in even getting started.

I can't say for sure, because you haven't clearly described your procedure, but I have a feeling that what you have in mind would perhaps not fall within any commonly accepted definition of waterboarding.

In any event, it seems that there is no reason to assume that what we've been doing corresponds to what you've described.

"electrocution does damage even if you can't see it"

I'm inclined to not accept your expertise on that point, but let's put that aside. Let's say a method (of applying electricity) was developed that did not cause physical damage, visible or otherwise. Would you then be for it?

"That you go on to ask 'if waterboarding is okay, why not rape' is a glimpse of how weak your argument really is."

I wish you would humor me and simply answer the question, because the question is sincere. Your formula seems to be inflicting pain and suffering is OK, as long as there is no risk of death, and as long as there is no permanent physical damage, visible or otherwise. This would presumably indicate that, for example, rape and mock executions are OK. Why not?

It's a serious question. I'm surprised you didn't answer it the first time. I hope you'll answer it this time.
11.8.2007 5:27pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
J. F. Yeah, and you got more bent out of shape when the benighted brown folk of Central America started having elections.

Richard, your alleged point was that "we" (the left) never cared about torture in the past because we had so many other things to whine about. I was merely pointing out that you are full of shit.

No need to get into a history of Central and South American Government and politics.
11.8.2007 5:29pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
J.F. I guess you wouldn't want to. Lost again.

However, the use of fake concern with torture did not rise to the level we see today.

Got to give you credit, though. You were the first on this post to admit there might be a cost to foregoing torture. What did you think back then?
11.8.2007 7:20pm
abw (www):
Consider these two things:

A) the procedure we've actually been using
B) a procedure that abw imagines, that would be OK with him

Obviously A and B are not the same. Or at least we cannot assume that they are the same.

You are correct we cannot assume. We do not and likely never will know enough accurate details to judge.

However, for the sake of this debate we should remember that one side says it always is torture and should always be prohibited. My position is that the technique can be done in a way that is torture and should not be allowed or in a way that is not torture and can be allowed.

I cannot have an informed opinion on A) and only a weak sense of what defines B). As an example, if someone asked should waterboarding be allowed to continue 5 minutes straight or done 10 separate times in an hour, I have no idea.




"electrocution does damage even if you can't see it"

I'm inclined to not accept your expertise on that point, but let's put that aside. Let's say a method (of applying electricity) was developed that did not cause physical damage, visible or otherwise. Would you then be for it?


Since we know shock therapy is still in limited use, saying yes to your question probably wouldn't tell us as much as you'd think. But my answer would likely be no because we have plenty of evidence that use of electricity can take hours or days and still produce no results. It's simply pain to be endured without the waterboarding's described panic that gets people to talk.

It's the difference between a procedure that mostly lasts a little more than a dozen seconds vs. the spectacles of dunking women until they drown in Salem witch trials.

Your formula seems to be inflicting pain and suffering is OK, as long as there is no risk of death, and as long as there is no permanent physical damage, visible or otherwise. This would presumably indicate that, for example, rape and mock executions are OK. Why not?


Sorry but I see no reason to articulate why I am against raping prisoners as a method for getting information on terrorist plots.

As for mock executions, again details would be vital but cases such as Lt Col West in Iraq or that scene in the Untouchables movie don't bother me.
11.9.2007 1:31am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
abw: "the technique can be done in a way that is torture and should not be allowed or in a way that is not torture and can be allowed."

The second part of that statement is a great mystery. Because if it's done in a way "that is not torture," then it would be, virtually by definition, not hard to endure. If it's not hard to endure, then where would its effectiveness (real or presumed) come from? And why would anyone bother doing it?

"I … have … only a weak sense of what defines B). [doing it in a way that is not torture and can be allowed]"

This is the heart of the matter. Thanks for so candidly admitting that you're willing to make confident-sounding statements that are based on little or nothing. This is the confident-sounding statement you started with:

The process has often been described as merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring.


That was purportedly a description of what we do. But now you admit that you're in no position to claim that this is what we do. But what's much more interesting is that you can't even manage to describe how any procedure fairly called waterboarding could be "merely simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring." You admit you have only "a weak sense" of how such a miraculous feat would be performed. But you started out by suggesting that not only is this miraculous feat possible, but that in fact what we've been doing is performing this miracle.

It's helpful to know how you approach the subject, and you've made that pretty clear.

"shock therapy is still in limited use"

It's pretty telling that you're willing to elide the distinction between doing something with the intent of helping someone, as compared with doing the same act with the intent of hurting them.

"we have plenty of evidence that use of electricity can take hours or days and still produce no results"

Hopefully you can show us "plenty of evidence" that electricity is less 'effective' than waterboarding. Presumably by "evidence" you mean something other than anonymous anecdotes regarding one or two captives.

Anyway, you seem to be saying that your objection to electricity is strictly a matter of effectiveness. Let's accept your (wholly unsubstantiated) claim about effectiveness. Trouble is, technology advances. What if next year, some clever people in a Blackwater subsidiary develop a means of using electricity to torture that's very, very effective. And leaves no marks or physical damage (visible or invisible). That would be OK with you, right?

"It's simply pain to be endured without the waterboarding's described panic that gets people to talk."

The key thing you haven't done is describe how there could possibly be a procedure that induces this large amount of "panic" while also only "simulating the threat of death even though there actually is no danger of it occurring." Waterboarding works (to whatever extent that it does) because "the threat of death" is quite real.

"I see no reason to articulate why I am against raping prisoners as a method for getting information on terrorist plots."

The problem is that the views you've expressed provide no reason at all to presume that you're "against raping prisoners as a method for getting information on terrorist plots." If you are against it, this seems to be an arbitrary choice on your part, not tied to anything remotely resembling a consistent moral or intellectual framework.
11.9.2007 7:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
whoi? cathyf? patrick216? cornellian? smokey? bart? antonk? bored lawyer? kazinski? michael b? hotel coolidge? alaska? Ds &Rs? davod?

You all gave it one or two shots, and then suddenly it was mostly just pantywaists and liberal pussies in here. Why did all you macho folks decide to cut and run? Is it something we said?

I notice dog didn't even show up this time. Maybe I was a little too rough on him here.
11.9.2007 8:00am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Juke. The idea of you being too rough on anybody is a joke.
But it's nice to see you polishing your self-awarded trophies.
11.9.2007 8:24am
Jam:
Bpbatista: You sure added to the conversation.

The last statistic for average number of firearms in a Texas household is 5.

It will up to you to figure out whether I possess:
1) more than the average
2) thre average
3) less than the average

And be careful who you call a liberal. Dem are a fighting word.
11.9.2007 8:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
richard: "it's nice to see you polishing your self-awarded trophies"

I would never claim that I deserve a trophy for proving that dog is a liar. It wasn't hard.

Speaking of not hard, you never got around to answering the simple questions I asked you here. Although you did find time in that thread to share your thoughts about fraternity initiations, fake menstrual blood, Israeli flags, Celine Dion, "the four million hard core homeless," Clinton's inauguration, Operation Bojinka, sharia, water treatment plants, Russia, the "Motoons," Slytherin, and black lawyers.
11.9.2007 11:05am
Gaius Marius:
I don't believe we should torture Jihadists. We should just kill them quickly, dispassionately, and mercilessly until they are extinct.
11.10.2007 9:49am
Michael B (mail):
"Yes, Michael, the world is a complicated place. But Gordian knots, as we know, can be cut. It takes a sharp sword and a keen eye. You seem intent on making it bigger and bigger, while accusing others of puffery and misdirection." Grover Gardner

But how, exactly, do you imagine I "seem intent on making it bigger and bigger"? Might it - just perhaps - be that you are dismissing or slighting valid concerns rather than addressing some problems associated with the topic? (I think the problems are sufficiently big without inflating them further; but I am suspicious of deflating arguments via dismissiveness and conveniently truncated arguments.) And as to puffery and misdirection, while I would not accuse you of a glib use of such tactics, yes, I nonetheless believe tendentious simplifications and head-in-the-sand reasoning are being employed. (And to be clear, I accused you of neither glibness nor puffery, I was clearly referencing the comments of others in this thread with that particular allusion. I'm not ultimately persuaded by your arguments, e.g. I think you take too many short-cuts, but I wasn't accusing you of glibness or puffery or even misdirection as such.)

As to those Gordian Knots, yes, they can be cut: but in addition to a keen eye and sharp sword, it requires a bold, wholly committed and violent stroke - not indecisiveness and not recourse to general or abstract arguments. In that same vein, I'd note you failed to address (any of) the actual, more concrete questions and conundrums I posed. Perhaps that's a telling omission.

"Waterboarding is torture. I think Americans are right to be shocked about it. We don't like to think of ourselves that way. Whether, in the end, we resort to it or not in some extreme situation, I think it's healthy to condemn the practice. It may make us a tiny bit safer, but it won't make us any better. You can call that moralistic puffery if you want. I think it's just common sense."

Mr. Gardner,

Again, I did not call that moralistic puffery; I deem you to be wholly sincere and yours are praiseworthy sentiments, as such. But no one would seriously argue with your sentiments and sensibilities, to the contrary such sentiments are to be applauded, obviously enough in general terms. Likewise and again, your sincerity is underscored by a lack of any glibness in your reply, so again, your "common sense" and your moral sense here is to be applauded, no question about that. But that is not where the heart of the discussion, in terms of the more problematic issues and the moral conundrums, lays.

While I have not adopted a final position, I strongly lean in favor of using waterboarding on some rare occasions, and perhaps not solely during those occasion where a WMD might detonate within a short period of time if we fail to obtain critical information. The reason for that additional caveat is, if some are willing to grant a caveat for situations where a WMD (or other murderous and mayhem producing device) may detonate, then why are they not willing to grant a caveat for situations where additional information is likely to lead to on-going plans for such a detonation, or even for the ability to kill or capture leaders among AQ and AQ-like orgs? (And yes, I also realize any slippery slope devolution needs to be avoided as well.)

(I have not adopted a final position, in part, because I don't yet understand all the facts. E.g., 1) the three times where it has been admitted to have been used it has reportedly worked, or "worked" if you like, since the details are not known, 2) a comment above states "... [the claim] is that waterboarding puts its victim in such an acute state of distress that he cannot form the necessary coherent thought to lie. In other words, something like "truth serum" which forces a temporary truth telling without causing any physical damage." If such is true, and I state if, then such needs to be taken into account, in terms of rarely, but occasionally using the method.)

This is a discussion, not an executive meeting wherein policy will be set.
11.11.2007 4:35pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "waterboarding puts its victim in such an acute state of distress that he cannot form the necessary coherent thought to lie"

The person who said that was asked to substantiate the remark. She never posted again in this thread. But you have no problem repeating the remark in an approving manner. Thanks for providing this nice illustration of how wingnuts try to elevate myth into fact.

"If such is true, and I state if"

That's a pathetic fig leaf. You're still promoting a myth.

But obviously you approve of that. You're the same person who claimed McCarthy was being 'unambiguous' when he said that we now have "the same senate" we had a year ago (that's explained in detail here). And that's only one aspect of the dishonesty embodied in the Kennedy-amendment argument that you and McCarthy are pushing. But of course you won't address that.

"I am suspicious of deflating arguments via dismissiveness and conveniently truncated arguments"

Then you should explain how your Kennedy-amendment argument is something other than entirely bogus. Because as it is, you're handling the situation "via dismissiveness and conveniently truncated arguments."

"I also realize any slippery slope devolution needs to be avoided as well."

Speaking of not addressing things. We also realize you're not going to bother trying to explain how to get the torture genie back in the bottle, once we embrace rationalizations about how it's really not so bad.
11.12.2007 10:02am
Michael B (mail):
More snark and snide and sneers and presumption. E.g., I quoted nothing in an "approving" manner, I quoted it in a questioning manner.
11.12.2007 11:45am
Michael B (mail):
More snark and snide and sneers and presumption. E.g., I quoted nothing in an "approving" manner, I quoted it in a questioning manner.
11.12.2007 11:45am