pageok
pageok
pageok
The Orin postulate strikes again:

Following up on Jonathan's post about rendition, Panetta also said that the CIA might use interrogation techniques beyond those already approved by President Obama. With permission from the lawyers and the President, of course. As I read Panetta's comments, the Obama CIA's use of coercive techniques wouldn't be torture because we would never do that -- no matter the circumstances. It also wouldn't be "enhanced interrogation" because that's what Bush did. It would simply be "additional authority."

Sarcastro (www):
Panetta: No more waterboarding, extraordinary rendition or eternal detentions. But we may be trying some new harsh interrogation.

Hey everyone, look at that last part! Ima gonna assume it means testicle shocking. I am further going to assume all liberals are totally okay with it.

Witness the liberal hypocrisy!
2.6.2009 9:52pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
I've said this before, but some time back (decades) there was a big flap (mainly on the radical left) because the CIA was apparently experimenting with truth drugs, brainwashing or whatever. Apparently the CIA got off into some bad areas of study at that time.

However, given the current terrorist threat and the necessity of needing a rapid means of getting intelligence out of captured terrorists, and given the general preference not to resurrect the Spanish Inquisition (not to mention torture techniques used by such as al Qaeda), perhaps it's time to do some further research on "truth drugs".

Now, I realize that apparently, various drugs sometimes popularly labeled as "truth serum" over the years are anything but foolproof. On the other hand, it would seem to me that administering an otherwise harmless drug (even a generous shot of whiskey might do) that would tend to loosen inhibitions, combined with a knowledgeable interrogator, might yield results at least as effective as torture or other "enhanced interrogation" techniques, and while this probably doesn't meet Geneva Convention standards, we could far more safely (legally, morally and politically) thumb our nose at the Geneva Convention with such techniques than with Torture, etc.

Other potential advantages might be:

1) Many Jihadists take it as a matter of macho pride to be able to resist torture, even if they ultimately break under it. It would not hurt a bit, if they were shamed because they gave up valuable information after just a shot or drink and a friendly talk with a sympathetic interrogator.

2) The greatest question with any interrogation is verifying the veracity of the information gained. With torture or "enhanced interrogation" techniques, there is always the question of whether the information is accurate or simply concocted on the spur of the moment in order to stop the pain or discomfort. Chemical interrogation would lessen (not eliminate) this problem.

3) Waterboarding was apparently only applied to three prisoners, and presumably "enhanced interrogation" was not necessarily applied to all prisoners. A chemical interrogation technique could possibly be applied to all prisoners, thus rapidly yielding a far greater harvest of useful intelligence.
2.6.2009 10:19pm
DG:
The problem with most "truth serums" is not that they don't make you tell the truth. The problem is that they make you extremely suggestible and allow the creation of new memories from whole cloth. So, not only might you get faulty intel, but you could "ruin" a prisoner, from whom all future intel, including stuff volunteered, must be discarded.

Alcohol doesnt result in implanted memories, but is actually a tougher road: our adveseraies do not drink alcohol voluntarily. Have fun force feeding them those shots.
2.6.2009 10:34pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
DG -

Yes, that was my understanding about "truth serums". On the other hand, with the Dept of Homeland Security presumably concerned with it's mission as implied by it's name, they might spend a few of Obama's stimulus billions doing some research on the subject....

Alcohol can (with care!) be administered intravenously. In any event, you will probably have to restrain the prisoner in order to administer whatever drug is used. Tying them down temporarily is better than torture in my book.
2.6.2009 10:43pm
Volokh Groupie:
so essentially:

Sarcastro: Who cares if Panetta made a comment that I would have roasted a Bush nominee over. Knowing the benevolence of the Obama administration 'harsher interrogation' surely just means a spot of earl grey while a psychologist discusses their childhood with them. Instead of facing any type of cognitive dissonance by questioning what exactly Panetta means considering how loaded the statement was, let me instead then be snarky so as to expose the rampant Republican hypocrisy!

I'm Stephen Colbert Part 2!

Look how clever I am by not addressing anything substantively and making ridiculous characterizations of legitimate questions!

Woooooooo! Stephen Colbert! Snarky Screen Names! I'm so snarky and cute! I should be on 30 Rock!


Anyway, I'm glad Panetta is open to 'harsher' interrogative techniques. While it reduces both he and I to inhuman torturers who sacrifice the ideals of the human comfort of enemy combatants just so we can get off on our obviously sadistic proclivities I think we'll both just have to live with it.
2.6.2009 11:03pm
Ursula Von Meanie (mail):
Mmmmm. Testical shocking. Sounds de-lish. Sign me up, baby.
2.6.2009 11:24pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I believe international law considers truth serum as illegal as torture.
Having been subject to the juice several times, I can say a couple of things:
You will babble. While false memories might be implanted, there is no value to an intel guy in this.
If he can hold you to a subject, you will cheerfully continue on that subject. Not in an organized fashion, but you will be most likely to talk about the parts of the subject which interest you--positively or negatively--the most.
Example. My doc and my wife eventually got me to agree to a colonscopy. Age and all that. I was under the impression I would be all the way out. Instead, I was just enough out to be unaware of anything.
Prior to the juice, I had the folks laughing. The doc wanted to know if I'd brought anybody to drive me home.
Sure, said I. My daughter. He wanted to know if he could talk with her. I said she was seeing somebody. He didn't get it, although the nurses did. Seeing his confusion, I asked if he was married. "Happily", he said. So I said it would probably be alright. I guess I spooked him. He didn't pester my daughter. The nurses were "falling about" as the Brits say.
Then I got the juice.
When I woke up, the entire room was bummed out. Apparently, I'd been talking about my month at Valley Forge Army Hospital. Not a happy place in 1971.
I have a friend who's a nurse who knows the nurse anesthesist--say that four times fast--but won't ask what I said, or did ask and won't tell.
I was bummed, myself. When the doc said I had the colon of a twelve-year-old, I didn't think to remark that the kid had probably needed it worse than I did. By the time the juice wore off, it would have been an uphill joke.
And I'd had it before when in the Army. When it was just enough to make me happy. What I said then still shames me, although it was going on forty years ago.
I alternated with figuring out what I would do if the dinks got across the wire. I'd had a spinal and so I figured that if I dragged myself off the table, it wouldn't matter what happened to my legs. I could elbow crawl to the ward where the wardmaster would be handing out the weapons. This was in King of Prussia, PA.

And I am the only chemically-certified straight arrow anybody ever met.

Lesson: Don't discount the utility of sodium pentothal and its cousins.
2.6.2009 11:27pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Obama and Panetta know the Democrats will be blamed for doing too little the next time we're attacked at home, so they're naturally trying to minimize the possibility of such an attack. This is ordinary prudence.

The difference is that the MSM will avert its eyes from the horrid things done to terrorist prisoners during Democratic administrations, as opposed to drawing attention to that and denouncing it the way they do during Republican administrations. It would be foolish for a Democratic administration not to take advantage of such opportunities.

Are we supposed to expect a President and, even more, a CIA Director, to not comply when the MSM begs to be lied to and screwed?
2.6.2009 11:31pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Richard,

I am informed that I become very jolly and obscene when under the influence of pentothal.
2.6.2009 11:39pm
Vinegar Hill:
Ya know, if this keeps up, I’m gonna think, you know, that, um, all the concern over torture, waterboarding, &rendition was just another stick with which to beat Bush &was just campaign rhetoric necessary &appropriate to get the Democrats in power.

Had lunch today with two professed Nader voters &several supposed McCain voters (though, judging from their jumping on the anti-Palin bandwagon, I’m not certain that they did vote for McCain, patriots all. Seems that all are now ecstatic since they feel that Obama has been shown himself to be a true patriot who will do whatever is necessary to stop the “ticking time bomb” &I was just a robotic Republican voter who did not see the need for change pretty much across the board, with the exception, of course when the safety of our nation was involved, where it would be America First despite campaign rhetoric. (Not sure how this unthought could be stretched to Nader, but nevermind.)

I said that gee, maybe any bad guy who is believed to have any info which would result in a big PR win for Obama was gonna have to put his hands over his privates &hope that waterboarding &rendition was the worst that he’d face.

No one seemed to appreciate my wit. Go figure
2.6.2009 11:51pm
trad and anon:
All of you racing to call "Democrats" and "liberals" hypocrites can count me out. This kind of crap is costing him my support Real Fast.
2.7.2009 12:39am
Constantin:
Barack's messiah-ness didn't even make it three weeks.

Stunning.
2.7.2009 12:58am
Just an Observer:
With permission from the lawyers and the President, of course. As I read Panetta's comments, the Obama CIA's use of coercive techniques wouldn't be torture because we would never do that -- no matter the circumstances. It also wouldn't be "enhanced interrogation" because that's what Bush did. It would simply be "additional authority."

I think the key to understanding this objectively is that, as Gen. Hayden states, the Army field manual does not necessarilly exhaust all possible methods of interrogation that are lawful. All Panetta is saying, consistent with Obama's executive orders, is that he would be willing to recommend other methods if he believed them to be necessary and legal. But we also know from Eric Holder's testimony that at least one technique used by the Bush administration, waterboarding, would not be lawful because it is torture.

What we don't know is what other methods of questioning might hypothetically be considered and approved in some future review, but we do know that the law will govern and Bush administration opinions interpreting the law are inoperative by executive order.
2.7.2009 1:03am
Thomas_Holsinger:
JAO absolutely, positively KNOWS, beyond any reasonable doubt, that "the law will govern" during the Obama administration. Just as it did during the Clinton administration. Attorney General Eric Holder will see to that. Just as he saw to it that the laws and procedures concerning Presidential pardons governed President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich.

Because Democratic Presidents always scrupulously obey the law, and insist that their subordinates do too. Ask Attorney General Holder.
2.7.2009 1:08am
Don Meaker (mail):
Once again, I want to make the point that the Geneva Accords don't apply to terrorists. If the enemy doesn't follow the Geneva Accords, they get no protection from them.

They will get no protection from Geneva Accords until they start wearing uniforms, avoiding casualties to non-combatants, and protecting prisoners.
2.7.2009 1:31am
Just an Observer:
Don Meaker: Once again, I want to make the point that the Geneva Accords don't apply to terrorists. If the enemy doesn't follow the Geneva Accords, they get no protection from them.

Geneva Common Article 3 does apply to our captives in this war, not just to conventional soldiers who would be fully privileged as POWs as you describe. Read Hamdan v Rumsfeld.
2.7.2009 1:49am
Thomas_Holsinger:
Don &JAO,

It depends on the specific articles and protocols signed by the U.S., and subject to the reservations the U.S. made when it signed those (the latter is a point overlooked by those who make extravagent claims for the GC). Unlawful combatant prisoners held by America do not have all the protections given lawful combatants, but they do get some.

Also the Supreme Court did, during the Bush administration, make some very questionable decisions about the applicability of the GC which will be ignored by all but a much smaller group of lefties after the next big attack on us at home.
2.7.2009 1:57am
Just an Observer:
Thomas_Holsinger: JAO absolutely, positively KNOWS, beyond any reasonable doubt, that "the law will govern" during the Obama administration. Just as it did during the Clinton administration. ... Because Democratic Presidents always scrupulously obey the law, and insist that their subordinates do too.

Actually, I think the Clinton administration's record was pretty bad in several respects, including its record on rendition. Blinded by your own obvious partisanship -- apparently assuming that anyone who criticises the Bush administation's record must be a Democrat -- you imply that I am. That implication is wrong.

When the legal abuses of the Bush administration were exposed, I looked in vain for principled Republicans in the Senate to make a stand against the Bush legal regime, but the leadership made it a party-line matter to defend it at all costs. I even recall the sordid example of the president of the United States leading his party on a pro-torture platform in the 2006 campaign, bragging openly about "enhanced interrogation." And adminstration apologists claimed a generalized right to disregard the law under a radical constitutional theory Bush was ashamed to defend in court, where mainstream legal conservatives would have smacked it down.

If the party finds a way to purge itself of the Bush/Cheney disgrace, I certainly am open to supporting its candidates again. Meanwhile, drop the pretense of partisan victimization here. You just look silly.
2.7.2009 2:44am
Just an Observer:
Thomas_Holsinger: Also the Supreme Court did, during the Bush administration, make some very questionable decisions about the applicability of the GC which will be ignored by all but a much smaller group of lefties after the next big attack on us at home.

It is quite unhinged to say that only "lefties" will obey the Supreme Court. Mainstream conservatives, of course, also follow the principle that it is the role of courts to say what the law is.
2.7.2009 3:53am
NickM (mail) (www):
Personally, I'm wondering how quickly Michael Bolton CDs played continuously at 95dB would break most al-Qaeda members.

Nick
2.7.2009 5:25am
PostNoBill:
Anyone elected to the office of President is willing, under the right circumstances, to torture. It's just a question of circumstances. I have no doubt that Obama would torture a suspect in a ticking-nuke-in-New-York scenario, as he damn well should.
2.7.2009 7:47am
lonetown (mail):
I'm surprised he missed the obvious answer,

We won't torture, we'll only do what works.
2.7.2009 7:53am
Arkady:


Personally, I'm wondering how quickly Michael Bolton CDs played continuously at 95dB would break most al-Qaeda members.

Nick


There's precedent for this! In the wonderful movie, One, Two, Three, Horst Buchholz's character is tortured by having to listen to "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" played over and over on an off-center 45. The poor boy crumbles like a three-day old berliner. Tell me this wouldn't work today.
2.7.2009 7:56am
Sarcastro (www):
I do wish liberals would stop posting here and supporting how awesome Panetta's testical shocking policy is.
2.7.2009 7:59am
John D (mail):
Kyle Brovslofksi: "Isn't that Fascism?"

Gerald Brofloski: "No, because we don't call it Fascism."
2.7.2009 8:31am
Sarcastro (www):
Rube Goldberg: "Erm, this isn't Fascism."

Jonah Goldberg: "It is, because I call it Fascism"
2.7.2009 8:51am
D Kosloff (mail):
"Mainstream conservatives, of course, also follow the principle that it is the role of courts to say what the law is." The law is what is written by the legislature. Having the courts "say what the law is" is a dictatorship. God forbid that I would ever become a "mainstream conservative" if they consider such an aberration a principle.
2.7.2009 10:22am
Just an Observer:
D Kosloff: The law is what is written by the legislature. Having the courts "say what the law is" is a dictatorship. God forbid that I would ever become a "mainstream conservative" if they consider such an aberration a principle.

Is this satire, or did you never study Marbury v Madison?
2.7.2009 11:16am
geokstr:
So let me see if I understand this correctly.

"Torture" apparently means anything that can cause physical, psychological or emotional discomfort to the person being interrogated, even if there is no short or long term damage done. No sleep deprivation, no humiliation, no embarrassment, no drugs, no threats, no nothing that the prisoner doesn't like except to ask questions (in a respectful tone of voice). That includes no female interviewers for Muslims, like the one who was "tortured" by actually having the female interrogator start to move close to him.

While I have seen lots of threads like this all over the internet saying what "torture" IS, and what cannot be done, I've seen nowhere a description of what is permissible. So what exactly can an interrogator do to induce an extremely violent prisoner to talk, especially one whose religion says he is required by the Koran to lie to infidels if it advances the cause of Islam (taqqiyah)?

Offer an extra helping of his favorite halal food, maybe turn down his bed at night and leave a chocolate on his pillow?

I think that they should be threatened with a life sentence of working on a pig farm, which would guarantee that they could never go to heaven and his 72 virgins would go to someone else.
2.7.2009 11:26am
Anderson (mail):
This kind of crap is costing him my support Real Fast.

Seconded. Though I note that what the article ACTUALLY says is that Panetta might REQUEST permission from the White House for other methods.
2.7.2009 12:06pm
Sarcastro (www):
geokstr totally understands what Liberals define as torture, and the Muslim faith.
2.7.2009 12:12pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
On the subject of "Secret Prisons". We are told that they have been closed, but how can we know whether or not this is true since they are, after all, secret? If someone comes across one of them that is open, all the government has to do is claim that this prison isn't one of the secret ones.

What the government should do is make public a list of all government prisons (including their locations). The "secret" prisons are then defined to be all those not on the list, and the assertion that there are no such prisons then becomes meaningful. Without such a list, the assertion is meaningless. Does anyone know if such a public list exists?
2.7.2009 2:36pm
Just an Observer:
LTEC,

The executive order does not specify that the CIA close only "secret prisons." It requires the CIA to close all detention facilities:

(a) CIA Detention. The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.
2.7.2009 2:51pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Observer --

So you are saying that the order says nothing about "secret prisons". Rather, you are saying that the order closes prisons operated by the CIA -- whether or not they are secret, and says nothing about any other prisons -- whether or not they are secret. This seems pretty weak to me.

Actually, part (b) that you linked to seems to have much more content, in that it appears to give Red Cross access to all prisoners. I say "appears to", because it ends with "consistent with Department of Defense regulations and policies."
2.7.2009 3:29pm
PC:
Thomas_Holsinger, given the frequency of your posts about the next terrorist attack on US soil it almost sounds like you are hoping one will happen.

As to Panetta and possible torture under the Obama administration, any person that orders or commits torture should be held accountable in a court of law, including President Obama. How's that for Orin's postulate?
2.7.2009 3:39pm
Dissenting Justice (mail) (www):
Another looming issue:

The Army Field Manual contains amendments (added in 2006) that authorize techniques that constitute torture - according to many human rights activists (including the Center for Constitutional Rights). Obama's executive orders do not remedy this situation; intead, he has ordered interrogators to follow the manual.

Furthermore, he has taken the position that interrogators who believe they are acting within the law should not face prosecution. You see where I'm going.

There really isn't that much room between Obama's and Bush's formal policies; the few differences certainly do not explain or justify the Left's moral outrage during the Bush years and its defense of Obama's programs.

Also -- Scott Horton, who was appalled that the LA Times reported that Obama would continue "rendition," is now appalled over rendition (in most circumstances).
2.7.2009 3:49pm
Just an Observer:
LTEC: This seems pretty weak to me.

Well, I disagree. To me, the blanket order to close all CIA detention facilities seems quite strong and clear. Are you saying that the CIA might disobey it and keep that secret from the president? Or that the president is lying to us by publishing this order and will actually allow secret CIA prisons? None of that seems plausible.

If there is any wiggle room in the order, it is the exception that permits "facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis." So the CIA does not have to release Osama Bin Laden, if the agency captures him, just because he cannot be intantaneously transported Star Trek-style to some other holding place, such as a military prison. I'm fine with that.
2.7.2009 3:53pm
PC:
Dissenting Justice, could you point out where "the Left" is defending the use of torture by the Obama administration? About rendition, as Panetta explained in his testimony, rendering a person to have them tortured is abhorrent, but he said the CIA may render people to another country to be tried in a court of law. You know, instead of picking up a German citizen while on vacation, torturing him in Afghanistan, then dropping him off in Albania when they discover he was actually innocent.
2.7.2009 4:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
PC.
It won't be torture. If it is, it won't be reported.
Pretty simple.
Among other things, referring to techniques such as smearing with red ink, using female interrogators, wrapping in an Israeli flag, which have been used to punch up the numbers of incidents of "torture" will be laughed off.
2.7.2009 4:28pm
trad and anon:
There really isn't that much room between Obama's and Bush's formal policies; the few differences certainly do not explain or justify the Left's moral outrage during the Bush years and its defense of Obama's programs.
There are definitely others on the Left who are defending this, but you won't find me among them. A lot of this stuff looks designed to look like he's doing something but but including an enormous loophole that swallows the rule (like requiring people to follow the Army Field Manual but keeping the amendments you mention in). Or saying we will continue the same rendition policies but will get "assurances" that they will not torture. I take the Syrians' assurances for what they're worth.
2.7.2009 4:28pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Observer --

I think that an order closing prisons "operated by the CIA" is pretty weak not because I think it might be disobeyed, but because I think it is making a technical distinction that most us don't understand, and which I don't think is very important. I am much more concerned about what happens inside prisons than about what part of the government is technically operating them. For example, I am concerned about the torture that routinely goes on in prisons across the U.S. -- including federal prisons. I am talking about beatings and rapes and sexual slavery that is sometimes committed by guards and that is always condoned by them, and I couldn't care less that these prisons are not "operated by the CIA". Although the prisons overseas that are run by the government are not nearly as bad as the domestic ones, I am concerned with how prisoners are treated there, not with who is "operating them". There may (or may not) be a correlation between the two, but it is the treatment we should focus on. And I think that this emphasis on "operating" is a deliberate obfuscation by the government.

(And just to make it clear, it is torture I am mostly concerned with. If flushing Korans gets results, then go for it.)
2.7.2009 4:36pm
PC:
Among other things, referring to techniques such as smearing with red ink, using female interrogators, wrapping in an Israeli flag, which have been used to punch up the numbers of incidents of "torture" will be laughed off.

I don't know who was describing those techniques as torture, but I was call those techniques stupid. Torture would be something like beatings and sodomy (Khaled el-Masri) or beatings with shredded cables (Maher Arar). Of course since we all know torture works, those guys quickly confessed to committing all sorts of crimes. Even though they had never actually committed any crimes.

I voted for Obama, but if he continues the Bush administration's torture policies I'll be the first in line calling for prosecution. Orin's postulate strikes again!
2.7.2009 4:49pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
trad, I'm glad you paid attention to my post on Syrian interrogation policy in a different thread. We really should consider a given government's track record here when making rendition decisions.

As an example, the Saudis will torture prisoners under interrogation, but also have a clear policy of favoring rehaibilitation as a means of obtaining confessions, and take risks that really dangerous prisoners will fake rehabilitation given a policy decision that, on balance, the results from rehabilitation outweigh the detriment from recidivism. I.e., we can generally believe them when they say they won't torture a given prisoner.

Likewise the Israelis do torture really high value prisoners, but their judicial system provides effective oversight in making torture a rare exception.

This gives substantial credibiilty to assurances from the Saudi and Israeli governments that a given prisoner obtained from us via rendition will not be tortured after they get the hands on him.

I wouldn't trust the Syrian government at all here.
2.7.2009 4:58pm
Michael B (mail):
As Mark Steyn puts it, "it’s the Obama mythology that urgently needs some stimulus." Steyn offers other gems - mirthful insights - in the link provided.

Bemusement and mirth doubling as insight into the new Obama administration - still developing, yet a theme that has already established itself. However, no one's suppose to notice - Katie Couric & Co. has yet to give the green light; the emperor, we are to continue believing, is dressed in stunning raiment.

File under: Saving the Appearances
2.7.2009 5:25pm
Just an Observer:
Dissenting Justice: Furthermore, [Obama] has taken the position that interrogators who believe they are acting within the law should not face prosecution. You see where I'm going.

Actually, I'm not sure where you are going exactly.

First, let's not overstate what Obama and Holder said about that. Holder's statement is decidedly more narrow, and depends on more than just what interrogators believe:


Prosecutorial and investigative judgments must depend on the facts and no one is above the law. But where it is clear that a government agent has acted in responsible and good faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions’ authoritatively permitting his conduct, I would find it difficult to justify commencing a full blown criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution.


(I do concur that neither Obama nor Holder seems to want to prosecute, and I think their decision at this point jumps the gun without some fact-finding. But realistically, I expect that agents mostly would be able to produce a memo from Yoo excusing their actions.)

So your inference seems to boil down to the CCR's assertion that parts of the current Army manual themselves authorize unlawful interrogation, no?

Dissenting Justice: There really isn't that much room between Obama's and Bush's formal policies; the few differences certainly do not explain or justify the Left's moral outrage during the Bush years and its defense of Obama's programs.

I think much of the outrage (not just by "the left" but by folks of various political persuasions) has been directed at what we know. And most of what we know concerns acts that occurred several years ago -- before Hamdan v Rumsfeld stripped away the fiction that Geneva Common Article 3 did not apply. Passage of the Detainee Treatment Act was another factor that altered the legal landscape.

Gen. Hayden has testified, for example, that there have not been recent cases of waterboarding. AFAIK, the CIA black sites were effectively emptied in 2006 after Hamdan, and the occupants transferred to Guantanamo with great fanfare. For better or worse, Congress then crippled the the War Crimes Act to make prosecutions under that statute for the captives' treatment retroactively difficult or impossible.

One thing that is clearly different is that Bush's officials refused to rule out waterboarding in the future, but Holder did. However, waterboarding is not the only practice that could comprise torture or otherwise violate the law. (See Judge Crawford's interview, for example, which also described "torture" that occurred some time ago.)

We do not yet know the full scope of "Bush's formal policies," because many of those documents remain secret. The Yoo/Bybee "Torture Memo" was hugely different then than the Obama policies are today. But it is inoperative, having been replaced by other secret law. So part of what we don't yet know is how much the Bush DOJ was compelled in later years to comply with the law.

All of this, to my mind, argues for further investigation and disclosure.
2.7.2009 5:45pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
trad,

Note, however, that there is no such thing as absolute certainty that a given foreign government won't torture a given prisoner they obtain via rendition from us. They all do it occasionally (ask the Irish about the British, etc.). Some do it more than others. As a general rule, though, we can trust the Israelis and Saudis here because of their records in such matters, but we can't trust the Syrians at all.

Which brings me to my real point. There are a lot of commentators here who require perfection from the U.S. government in these matters, but not from foreign governments. They hold on us to an impossibly high standard.

This is hypocrisy as well as anti-Americanism. They contend we're evil, mean, nasty and rotten because of who we are, not what we do, because they give a free ride to other governments which do exactly what we do, or worse, in comparable situations.

And more than a few of them hold such opinions because they're on the other side in this war.
2.7.2009 6:18pm
PC:
There are a lot of commentators here who require perfection from the U.S. government in these matters, but not from foreign governments.

And some commenters apparently believe the United States shouldn't strive to be its best.
We're number whatever!
We're number whatever!

They contend we're evil, mean, nasty and rotten because of who we are, not what we do, because they give a free ride to other governments which do exactly what we do, or worse, in comparable situations.

I'll make a deal with you. As soon as I become a citizen of a country other than the United States I'll hold that country to account as much as I do this one.

And more than a few of them hold such opinions because they're on the other side in this war.

If you disagree with sodomizing innocent people you are objectively pro-terrorist.
2.7.2009 6:34pm
Johnv2:
Geneva Common Article 3 does apply to our captives in this war

Here is what GCA 2 sez:

"Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof."

That's very clear; the GCs apply only when both Powers in conflict "accept and apply the provisions thereof." Calling a tail a leg doesn't mean a dog has five legs. Similarly, the Bush Administration saying Article 3 is controlling doesn't mean Article 2 no longer exists.
2.7.2009 6:40pm
LM (mail):
Just an Observer:

Thomas_Holsinger: Also the Supreme Court did, during the Bush administration, make some very questionable decisions about the applicability of the GC which will be ignored by all but a much smaller group of lefties after the next big attack on us at home.

It is quite unhinged to say that only "lefties" will obey the Supreme Court. Mainstream conservatives, of course, also follow the principle that it is the role of courts to say what the law is.

Get far enough right and "mainstream conservatives" vs. "lefties" is a distinction without a difference.
2.7.2009 6:59pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
You are playing a straw man game, JAO, and succeeding at making your credibility a negative number. You ignore the last part of the sentence: "... after the next big attack at home."

9/11 changed things a lot. Another one will too, and one of the victims will be some Supreme Court rulings.
2.7.2009 7:11pm
Just an Observer:
Thomas_Holsinger,

I do not wholly discount the political temptations to resort to more extreme lawless behavior. Our history is less than perfect in that regard.

If there were another attack, I would not be surprised if persons such as yourself incited the mob's baser instincts and pressured sone president to seize power and ignore the courts. But mainstream legal conservatives would not follow your lead, or they would cease to be mainstream legal conservatives.

But I actually have a little more faith in our national character, and I don't think your kind would win in the long run. LM got your number above: If you get far enough right ...
2.7.2009 7:36pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Panetta's response let's us know just how degraded the coin of the realm is.
Best,
Ben
2.7.2009 8:04pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
JAO,

9/11 changed things in ways that you don't like at all. Another such attack at home will too. This is not rocket science.

So your purported confidence in our national character is nonsensical to the point of mendacity.
mendacity
1. untruthfulness; the act or process of lying.
2. a lie or untruth. — mendacious, adj.
See also: Lies and Lying
2.7.2009 8:07pm
Just an Observer:
Thomas_Holsinger,

Gosh! You are persuasive. That dictionary snippet -- with hyperlinks! -- proves conclusively that I have must have been lying about something. I wish I knew what it was, or is it just my optimistic confidence in America?

Perhaps I am one of those people you find to be "on the other side of this war," and I will get disappeared to some South Carolina brig? In the dark future of your dreams, I suppose that could happen. But then, I still think optimistically that mainstream legal conservatives will remember old-fashioned stuff like Ex Parte Milligan.
2.7.2009 8:38pm
trad and anon:
Get far enough right and "mainstream conservatives" vs. "lefties" is a distinction without a difference.
Same is true if you get far enough left. To hear some people on the left talk, you'd think Diane Feinstein was Grover Norquist.
2.7.2009 9:14pm
Just an Observer:
To hear some people on the left talk, you'd think Diane Feinstein was Grover Norquist.

Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen them together?
2.7.2009 9:16pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
JAO,

You are not on the other side of this war. You are only a deluded fool. You advocate reversion to 9/10 methods even though those produced 9/11.
2.7.2009 9:42pm
Just an Observer:
Thomas_Holsinger: You are not on the other side of this war. You are only a deluded fool.

I am much relieved to be classified so benignly! I will remain on the outside of the brig then, helping to advocate for the other commenters who are less fortunate.

But once your president starts defying the Supreme Court at the behest of your fear-driven mob, no doubt my task will be more difficult.
2.7.2009 10:17pm
GaryC (mail):
Just an Observer:

But we also know from Eric Holder's testimony that at least one technique used by the Bush administration, waterboarding, would not be lawful because it is torture.

If Code Pink gets to do it, then I think the CIA should be allowed to use waterboarding also.

But maybe not Vanity Fair and ABC.
2.7.2009 10:30pm
nicehonesty:
Just an Observer's moral compass:

Waterboarding terrorists under Bush: WAR CRIMES!

Blowing up innocent Pakistanis under Obama: TOTALLY JUSTIFIED BECAUSE OF 9/11!
2.7.2009 11:30pm
LM (mail):
trad and anon:

Get far enough right and "mainstream conservatives" vs. "lefties" is a distinction without a difference.

Same is true if you get far enough left. To hear some people on the left talk, you'd think Diane Feinstein was Grover Norquist.

I couldn't agree more. At HuffPost, I'm more likely to mention that side of it than the other. But around here the selective myopia leans right.
2.8.2009 12:46am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
holsinger:

making your credibility a negative number


It's possible that the group reading this thread includes one or two people who aren't familiar with your impressive track record in this regard.
2.8.2009 1:03am
Thomas_Holsinger:
The Obama administration knows very well that, whatever it does or does not do concerning the war, the public will blame it for doing too little if we're hit at home again. And that another 9/11 scale attack will doom the Democrats nationally for a generation.

So the Obama administration is quite sensibly trying to minimize the chances of such an attack occuring. It can't avoid the blame, but it can at least do something to protect itself, and therefore us, here.

It certainly appears that the Obama administration is making only comestic changes in Bush administration policies concerning interrogation and rendition. We can't tell for sure yet, and might not ever be able to do so given the necessary secrecy enshrouding things absent major efforts by the MSM to uncover and publicize those. Which won't happen because of their partisan bias - they're just the media wing of the Democratic Party.

This provides cover for the mealy-mouthed lefties here finding excuses for the bloody obvious. There are a few sincere lefties like trad who show an appropriate degree of concern about this. Most, though, are just lying weasels.

IMO the decisive indicator that the Obama administration is pure, wholly cynical, Chicago is the nomination of Eric Holder as Atttorney General. He is a more partisan, less honest and far, far more corrupt version of Ed Meese.

trad and his sincere lefty colleagues should consider AG Holder in the context of the indications that the Obama administration is making only comestic changes in the Bush administration's domestic security policies.
2.8.2009 2:03am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Suppose we do get hit.
The Obama admin will want to reduce the blame attaching to it for its negligence.
Bush, it will be said, kept us safe for seven years.
If O proves to have changed the Bush procedures in any significant way--insignificant ways will do for demagoguery--then it will be O's divergence from proven techniques that is to blame.
Therefore, O will want to show that he's been doing pretty much the same things that kept us safe for seven years.
So he's going to have to keep up the Bush procedures while renaming them sufficiently to satisfy some of his base.
Sort of a pre-emptive CYA.
2.8.2009 4:32pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Richard,

The Obama administration would have to reveal its secret security procedures to do that. This would reveal those secret security procedures to the enemy, and kill the Democrats right there. I doubt this will happen.

IMO it is not politically possible for the Obama administration and the Democrats to change their spots here. They are irreversibly tarred by their despicable behavior over the past six years. Even the Obama administration is toadying, with forked tongue, to the Democratic base in public. Which the lying weasels hare are eating up. Sincere lefties like trad are rare.

The only thing the Obama administration can do is to protect America at home and hope that nothing awful happens abroad. This would at least take the national security issue off the table.

And I hope we're that lucky, though this is not the way to bet.
2.8.2009 4:55pm
LM (mail):
Shorter Holsinger:

Sincere lefties are consistently despicable.
2.8.2009 6:14pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
LM,

Obama and most Democrats who attacked the Bush administration for it and its war policies being mean, nasty, awful and rotten were lying through their teeth, as shown by their continuation of those same policies. Ditto for their advocating and supporting the invasion of Iraq only to deny it later on.

Those types are despicable. Ditto for the lying weasels who defend them.

trad is just wrong, and he can be talked to. I'm not only wrong a fair amount of the time, but am sometimes pretty silly. This is life. But neither trad nor I intentionally lie. Most lefties do. What they really want is power. Right-wingers often are that way too, but IMO they are generally more interested in money than lefties. This is more a question of primary motive.

It's about power first and foremost for lefties. Sincere ideologues are rare.

And there are charming exceptions everywhere. My most reactionary friend knew Rush Limbaugh personally and absolutely loathes the man. He thinks the chief difference between Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore is that Moore's political convictions are sincerely held.
2.8.2009 6:41pm
Ricardo (mail):
Regarding the definition of torture under international law, here is the relevant definition under the Convention Against Torture:

"...[T]orture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person ... It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

Truth serum is not covered by the convention although it is prohibited under national law in many countries. Nor are causing "discomfort" to a detainee, speaking in a disrespectful tone, wrapping an Israeli flag around a detainees head, or other strawmen.

In the U.S., the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering is considered to be equivalent -- under the understanding that the Senate attached to the Convention when it ratified it -- to the 8th Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
2.8.2009 9:44pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Ricardo,

American definitions of legal terms are often different from foreign definitions of the same terms, and this is particularly true concerning definitions created by Congressional enactments. This makes precise use of terms critical in these discussions, and tends to bog them down in disputes over terms.

As a general rule, American law provides more protection for all prisoners than international law or treaties we have ratified, and also allowing for reservations, i.e., quibbles, we made concerning those treaties during the ratification procss. This is true for unlawful combatants in particular. International law, including the Geneva Conventions, does not forbid summary execution of unlawful combatants. American law has forbidden that for at least 150 years.
2.8.2009 11:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
holsinger:

lying through their teeth


When you have a moment to take a break from accusing people of lying through their teeth I wonder if you might care to explain how your behavior reviewed here and here amounts to something other than lying through your teeth.

International law, including the Geneva Conventions, does not forbid summary execution of unlawful combatants.


Are you sure you mean "summary execution," and not "execution?" Because back here we discovered that you don't recognize that those two things are different.
2.9.2009 7:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aubrey:

Bush, it will be said, kept us safe for seven years.


How convenient it is to pretend that Bush's term started on 9/12/01. In other words, Bush kept us safe, except when he didn't.

Maybe you forgot that the WTC was first hit about a month after Clinton took office. We then went through the rest of Clinton's term (almost 8 years) without suffering another domestic attack (unless you want to claim that Timothy McVeigh is part of the vast Islamofascist conspiracy). And he managed to do it without bankrupting us by spending money we didn't have on a war we didn't need.

If O proves to have changed the Bush procedures in any significant way


I guess Bush must have changed the Clinton "procedures" in some "significant way." Because after almost 8 years of safety under Clinton, 9/11 happened on Bush's watch.

You might want to put some thought into "Lisa Simpson’s Tiger-Repellant Rock." Either that, or you might be forced to conclude that Clinton kept us safe by playing saxophone and eating hamburgers. And Bush harmed us by failing to do those things.
2.9.2009 8:00am
mattski:
But neither trad nor I intentionally lie. Most lefties do.

Isn't it a little queer how your lies are "accidental" while those of your opponents are "intentional?"

But then again, you're just spewing sweeping generalizations which are indicative more of your inner mental state than they are of matters of fact.
2.9.2009 8:02am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
He-who is playing another game.
Bush may or may not have kept us safe. Asking for proof of a causal relationship in political disputation is considered unmannerly and irrelevant.
In fact, it can never be proven to the satisfaction of those for whom it is inconvenient, since they need only deny and deny andn deny.
The point is that, if we get hit in the year or so after O's coronation, the comparison to the previous seven years is going to look pretty stark.
That O's supporters will refuse to admit the obvious in no way will protect O from reproach.
O is enough of a politician to know this.
Therefore, he can't take a chance. Hell, there's enough of a chance that the terrs will get lucky without reference to defensive measures.
2.9.2009 8:15am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
if we get hit in the year or so after O's coronation, the comparison to the previous seven years is going to look pretty stark.


We did get hit in the "year or so" after Bush was installed by the Suprcme Court, and the comparison "to the previous seven years" was "pretty stark." The result? Bush's approval ratings quickly jumped to the highest levels ever recorded for any president in history.

For some reason, folks didn't mind that Bush wasn't paying attention. For his first 234 days in office, this was Bush's brilliant idea for how to fight terrorism: SDI. On 9/9/01, Rummy argued that SDI was more important than counterterrorism.

I hope you don't mind that I'm backing my point with proof. I realize you might consider that "unmannerly."
2.9.2009 8:45am
Just an Observer:
I think this thread demonstrates a corollary to the Orin Postulate: Obama Derangement Syndrome shall infect all discourse,
2.9.2009 10:20am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ricardo.
Nice info ref torture and what isn't (wrapped in an Israeli flag), but the problem is that activists count stuff like that, your legalisms--in the worst possible meaning--notwithstanding.
Nice to know that such things will now be allowed. Now.

In addition, I believe that in one discussion or another, somebody referenced a law--ours, some other nation's, the UN's, somebody's--which did refer to severe emotional distress, which could include flag-wrapping, and truth serum.
Wish I could find that.
2.9.2009 1:00pm
nicehonesty:
Seems there's not much that people like Just an Observer can't excuse, as long as it happens under Obama.

related:
Military Lawyer: Gitmo Conditions Have Worsened Since Inauguration.
2.9.2009 2:41pm
Just an Observer:
Just for the record here, those trying hard to establish a meme that Obama "is making only comestic changes" to Bush's interrogation policies should remember that the first thing Obama's executive order did was to revoke Bush's own order that watered down U.S. interpretation of Geneva Common Article 3.

That involves more than just "torture," but also Geneva's prohibition against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment" (a/k/a torture lite).

Bush's Executive Order 13440 artfully modified the interpretation of what that prohibition entailed for a time. But that reinterpretation has been swept away, and the language of Common Article 3 itself is the minimum baseline governing all U.S. interrogators going forward. Those who violate Common Article 3 commit a war crime.

For one critical view of the Bush order, see the op-ed War Crimes and the White House. The authors were retired Gen. P.X. Kelley, who served as commandant of the Marine Corps, and Robert F. Turner is co-founder of the University of Virginia's Center for National Security Law and a former chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security.
2.9.2009 3:07pm
nicehonesty:
That involves more than just "torture," but also Geneva's prohibition against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment" (a/k/a torture lite).

From the related article linked earlier:
Bradley...will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so unhealthy they are on a "critical list", according to Bradley.



Rock on, Obama Torture (and "Torture Lite") Apologists!
2.9.2009 3:40pm
Just an Observer:
Just as an FYI, there is another "war on terror" matter developing -- the Obama DOJ's apparent endorsement of the Bush adminstration's "state secrets" position in a case about rendition.

I never thought any administration would abandon the state-secrets doctrine entirely, but I am a little surprised this one seems to have expressed no second thoughts about Bush's use of it. But meanwhile, at DOJ downtown, Holder's spokesman announces a general review of state-secrets policy.

So far we seem to have only the ACLU's version of the arguments in the Ninth Circuit. And I take any lawyer's rhetoric on the courthouse steps with a grain of salt.

By all means, spin away on this one. Does this make Obama
1) A scum-sucking liar?
2) A patriot?
3) A crass, flip-flopping politician?
4) Just another president?
5) Other?
6) All the above?
2.9.2009 5:24pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
JAO,

Professor Adler created a new thread for that.
2.9.2009 6:13pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nice:

Seems there's not much that people like Just an Observer can't excuse, as long as it happens under Obama.


I wish you would explain what you mean by "people like Just an Observer." Are you using those five words as a synonym for 'liberal?' That would be odd, since he's made it pretty clear that he's not a liberal.

Military Lawyer: Gitmo Conditions Have Worsened Since Inauguration.


And this is even odder. In the same comment where you insinuate that liberals refuse to criticize Obama, you cite a liberal criticizing Obama.

This isn't the first time I've seen a comment that's transparently self-refuting, but you still deserve some kind of award for creating such an extreme example.
2.9.2009 10:42pm
nicehonesty:
jukeboxspam:

Unless you're contending that Just an Observer is Jeralyn Merritt, then your complaint that I used a post by her to highlight Just an Observer's hypocrisy in defending Obama's war crimes ("Those who violate Common Article 3 commit a war crime. ") makes no sense.

And by "people like Just an Observer," I meant people like you, and he: Rock on, Obama Torture (and "Torture Lite") Apologists!
2.9.2009 11:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Unless you're contending that Just an Observer is Jeralyn Merritt


I'm "contending" that you were implying that liberals were refusing to criticize Obama on this point. And then you cited a liberal criticizing Obama on this point.

I meant people like you, and he: Rock on, Obama Torture (and "Torture Lite") Apologists


If you're not claiming that liberals are 'Torture Apologists,' then what you are claiming? That Republicans are 'Torture Apologists?' Then again, maybe you're claiming that 'Obama Torture Apologists' are 'Torture Apologists.' But that's what's known as a tautology. Do you realize you're presenting a tautology, or is it something you do without even thinking about it?

By the way, when are you going to link to a comment of mine which demonstrates that I'm a 'Torture Apologist?'
2.9.2009 11:43pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Jukeboxgrad:

Actually, there were a number of attacks on American embassies abroad, etc. during Clinton's presidency. Granted, they were not here in the CUSA, but plenty of Americans died and were injured. The real problem is/was probably that Clinton didn't do enough to try to stop potential attacks (he was offered Osama bin Laden by some nation - Sudan? - and didn't take the offer. Big mistake.
2.10.2009 12:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lyman:

there were a number of attacks on American embassies abroad, etc. during Clinton's presidency


During the Bush presidency, there were many attacks on Americans abroad. In fact, we made those attacks easier to accomplish by moving a large number of Americans abroad. Then we said "bring them on." The result was lots of dead Americans "abroad."

When Bush says he kept America safe, he doesn't mean abroad. He means at home. Trouble is, he didn't do that when it counted: in the period prior to 9/12/01, when he was focused on SDI. And the other trouble is that Clinton kept us at least as safe as Bush did.

Clinton didn't do enough to try to stop potential attacks


The bottom line is Clinton kept us safe at home. The largest terrorist attack in our history took place on Bush's watch, not Clinton's. Bush read a PDB on 8/6/01 and decided to respond by spending a month clearing brush.

he was offered Osama bin Laden by some nation - Sudan? - and didn't take the offer. Big mistake.


Here's what's a "big mistake:" believing what Sean tells you even though it's nonsense.

And speaking of mistakes, maybe you don't realize that Bush himself "funded the Taliban."
2.10.2009 12:25am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.