Patterico's Pontifications

9/29/2006

Is This Waterboarding Session Worth It? A Hypothetical

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:54 am

Allah writes:

Watch the Brian Ross video and listen to him patiently explain how information coerced from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed proved to be quite reliable indeed. And ended up saving god knows how many Californians’ (blue state!) lives.

They want us to debate honestly on this. Fine. I’m willing to, if it’s a genuinely honest debate. The first step of which is for us to concede we don’t want innocent people or even not-so-innocent people who are guilty of ordinary crimes to be mistreated, and for them to concede that in some instances these tactics are important and effective. If we start from the position that no one should be tortured even if we credibly believe it will prevent airplanes from being flown into skyscrapers, then we are at what is known as an unbridgeable impasse.

I’ll readily concede that I don’t want anyone to be “mistreated.” I think that word covers different things for people with higher-value information who refuse to give it up, as the KSM example demonstrates.

I have hinted at this before in posts with many other issues. But now I’d like to throw it out there without any other distractions.

Let’s assume the following hypothetical facts are true. U.S. officials have KSM in custody. They know he planned 9/11 and therefore have a solid basis to believe he has other deadly plots in the works. They try various noncoercive techniques to learn the details of those plots. Nothing works.

They then waterboard him for two and one half minutes.

During this session KSM feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable information — that stops a plot involving people flying planes into buildings.

My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

While this is not being done for retribution, it may provide some perspective to note that, in the hypothetical, the plot stopped by obtaining the information is much like 9/11. And in the real 9/11, real people in the Twin Towers who were confronted with fires and smoke had the sensation they couldn’t breathe, but that’s because they actually couldn’t — and it lasted more than two minutes. Then they were crushed by the collapsed building, and taken away from their families, due to the actions of this man. If we don’t get the information, similar things would happen again, perhaps to hundreds or thousands of people.

So: is such a waterboarding session worth it?

241 Responses to “Is This Waterboarding Session Worth It? A Hypothetical”

  1. What if you waterboard a person and get no useful info? Is it still worth it? Yes. It can be the only way to find out. And you are not doing any permanent damage to him.

    Bill Millan (0b61a8)

  2. Bill M:

    Proving that someone does not have information is important as well. You have scarce resources (time, interrogators), and if someone is a dead-end, you don’t want to waste those resources on them.

    The key point, however, Bill and Patterico, is that it is rare that your sole source of information is derived from torture/mistreatment. Thus, in the posited case of KSM, you already knew that he had done other things and that he was not just a grunt, but a planner.

    That’s an incredibly important factor to consider in the debate, and is rarely mentioned. We are not interested in a confession. We are interested in corroborating other information, or deepening what we know.

    It’s a vital difference, and why making sure that information derived from torture/mistreatment is not used for criminal purposes applies. The purpose is not to torture/mistreat for mistreatment’s sake. We leave that to the radical practitioners of Islam, who saw people’s heads off b/c they can.

    The point is, we have information about people, places and things—but we don’t have enough. And the person in question (KSM in this case) may be reasonably adduced to have additional information. They are not ODCs (ordinary, decent criminals), they are illegal combatants, with the aim of causing massive harm to lots of people. How do we access that additional information? What are we prepared to do to gain that access?

    And it comes back to the implications of Bill M’s question: we have limited resources. We have limited time, we have limited numbers of interrogators, we have limited numbers of lives we are prepared to sacrifice to keep our consciences clean. I wonder how many folks in the WTC on 9-11 would have said that they’d prefer NOT torturing a Mohammed Atta, never mind water-boarding him, on 9-10?

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  3. You have to begin by asking yourself what KSM would likely do to you if you were his captive and he thought you had useful information. Moral self-righteousness and “we’re better than them” be damned. You do what you need to do or you will lose. This is not rocket science.

    MikeD (bd5fbb)

  4. […] Cutting right through the moral preening, Patterico gets right to the bottom line: when is it OK with you to use “extreme” measures to prevent terrorist events? Let’s assume the following hypothetical facts are true. U.S. officials have KSM in custody. They know he planned 9/11 and therefore have a solid basis to believe he has other deadly plots in the works. They try various noncoercive techniques to learn the details of those plots. Nothing works. […]

    Plus + Ultra » Blog Archive » Patterico’s Hypothetical; ‘When Would Waterboarding Be OK With You’? (750d7c)

  5. It is the right thing to do, in this case. btw, been noticing that the lefty argument ‘torture does not work’ came and went in a couple of weeks. Of course it works. It only stops working when there is no more information to be had.

    Interrogation is a tough business and I’m grateful to the pros who are in the arena, and embarrassed for the moral poseurs who only second-guess.

    TimesHater (d91e39)

  6. Whether you choose to draw the line at waterboarding or elsewhere, we need to have a list (maybe a secret list) of things that are “torture” and things that are not “torture.” Most of the discussions that I’ve read gloss over the fact that there are a lot of shades of gray in the list of coercive measures. Another point is, how will you know when you have got to the real story? There will always be the temptation to squeeze a little harder ’cause we’re not quite sure we have the real story yet.

    According to MacGruder’s Law, the longer conflicts last, the more savage they become. No more Mr. Nice Guy, the gloves come off. Ours has lasted five years.

    dchamil (3d7191)

  7. In his article, AP writes:

    If we start from the position that no one should be tortured even if we credibly believe it will prevent airplanes from being flown into skyscrapers, then we are at what is known as an unbridgeable impasse.

    (my emphasis)

    It’s the “credibly” that is troublesome for me. Who is the judge of that credibility? What line is drawn? How much has to be on the line before we start “torturing” people? One life? Ten?

    Once we try to start defining these parameters, we begin a walk down a slippery slope. And, if defined, are these new rules of engagement ones that we are willing to subject our soldiers to? Are we ready to subject them to “torture” as well?

    greg (efb594)

  8. Sorry, it’s “Magruder’s Law.”

    dchamil (3d7191)

  9. Yes, it is worth it.

    But please allow me to be Devil’s Advocate (not assistant devil’s advocate).
    Do you think that the person who did the waterboarding is a “freak”? A person who, for whatever reason, is comfortable inflicting pain and terror on another human being? Would you like a waterboarder as your next door neighbor? We are beings of sensibility as well of sense. It’s one thing to fight an armed enemy man to man and another to abuse a helpless prisoner.

    What’s wrong with just killing them as we find them on the old military priority: a) perceived level of threat b); value of target c); opportunity?

    nk (77d95e)

  10. Greg, the slippery slope is exaggerated. And to the extent it’s a valid argument, so is this: when people we implicitly trust to do a job, such as protect our security within our laws, are subjected to restraints which unreasonably limit the actions they may take in doing the job, the restraints will be ignored. If we want to live under the rule of law, then the laws must be those we can live with. If waterboarding would prevent our enemies from killing thousands of our citizens, and we decline to waterboard because the handwringers lack the courage to make a hard decision, and the attack comes, killing thousands, would we take pride in the fact that we we listended to the handwringers and didn’t use waterboarding?

    And our treatment of detainees in our custody isn’t what protects Americans from ill-treatment at the hands of others. That protection comes from the big stick we carry, not our promise to be nice guys. The idea that adopting the new rules will subject Americans to torture or abuse is a lie.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  11. nk has identified the best reason to decline to use torture.

    And no, I would not think of the person who did the waterboarding as a freak. I would thank him for performing a difficult and unpleasant but necessary service. Not much different than the police sniper who shoots the hostage-taking criminal before he kills the hostage.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  12. I agree with Pat that bright-line rules are bad. I’m not sure the issue isn’t quite complicated though.

    1. Torturing people for good reasons can lead down a slippery slope. The end of that road is living under Saddam Hussein.

    2. The people inflicting the torture likely suffer some psychological harm.

    3. The use of torture against innocents is very bad.

    My views on the KSM thing are that *of course* this was a charming and effective idea. I’d go further: Suppose you have a kidnapper who took a child somewhere and dumped the child’s live self in some sort of dungeon, where the child would eventually die. If you had certainty that you had the right guy for it, and that the child was alive and would become dead, I would endorse *any* means necessary to get the information.

    (Law enforcement can’t do that for what may well be good reasons, but I nonetheless believe it is entirely ethical to start snapping off toes and threatening to move up.)

    It’s a question of pain vs. gain, sure. But the pain suffered through torture is indeed broad-based and can come back; we shouldn’t discount those arguments entirely. That doesn’t mean torture is never indicated; it just means we need to be damn careful and thoughtful about its use.

    Since we don’t know exactly what’s going on, it’s hard to know what to think. I’m certain, though, that at least some of those things categorized as torture are appropriate and effective. I’m nonetheless concerned about the program in its entirety.

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  13. Greg: Name me one U.S. soldier held by the enemy that was provided even the basic benefits of the Geneva Convention. Provide me one name that was not tortured far beyond anything a U.S. soldier would consider inflicting on anyone. I doubt that waterboarding is really torture since it is not designed to harm anyone phycially. It and far worse would not be used on our soldiers in training if it was torture.
    The average U.S. soldier is more likely to share his rations with a captured enemy than he is to torture him. That is a fact.
    Personnaly I think we should follow the Geneva Convention. Anyone captured on the battle field, engaged in combat, without a uniform should be shot on the spot, no exceptions. That would lead to no prisoners at Gitmo.

    Scrapiorn (71415b)

  14. WHy don’t we do what Oliver Stone recommends…

    The director of blockbusters such as “Platoon,” and “JFK” said the U.S. reaction to the attacks was out of proportion.

    “If there had been a better sense of preparation, if we had a leadership that was more mature,” he said. “We did not fight back in the same way that the British fought the IRA or the Spanish government fought the Basques here. Terrorism is a manageable action. It can be lived with,” said Stone.

    Yea, that’s the ticket – Terrorism is manageable and can be lived with…that’s until someone in Mr. Stone’s family becomes a victim of it…Terrorists should not be treated in the same fashion as POW’s – the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to them because of the unconventional way they wage war. If someone can get get info out of them via waterboarding or some other “unconventional” method, then do it. Look at what they do to their “prisoners”…

    fmfnavydoc (e2bd42)

  15. Patterico asked, “So: is such a waterboarding session worth it?”

    The answer is obviously: Yes in a New York second. And, if you can’t see that, your head is in a warm dark place.

    Black Jack (63943a)

  16. Dude, your side already won. Give it up. You’re not going to convince us that you’re not torturers, and we’re not going to convince you that human decency is relevant.

    [Shorter Kimmitt: I will not answer the question posed by the post. — P]

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  17. Kimmitt:

    I think it’s more along the lines that you’re not going to convince us that you, Kimmitt, are relevant.

    To anything.

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  18. A major component of my objections to torture is that I suspect it’s lazy intelligence work. They’d rather torture the supposed “suspect” they have in costody than actually do legwork figuring out how to find independently verifiable information.

    The fact that nobody’s caught bin laden, and yet millions upon millions of dollars have been spent capturing, interrogating and releasing (or indefinitly holding) these “suspects” tells me that if we give them the go-ahead to torture, torture is ALL THEY’LL DO.

    See this article, for example, where the U.S. is paying $5,000 a head for anyone the Pakistan Police claim is a “terror suspect,” holding them and torturing them for months, and then dropping them off at bus stops without apology or aid once their methods have proved fruitless (or, worse, making them “disappear” forever in some cases.)

    http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=newsOne&storyID=2006-09-29T092850Z_01_L28760021_RTRUKOC_0_US-RIGHTS-PAKISTAN.xml&src=092906_0620_ARTICLE_PROMO_also_on_reuters

    Rather than put themselves at risk doing actual intelligence operations, they’ll just start detaining and torturing anyone who might have the slightest connection to terrorism.

    Considering the amount of resources being spent on torture and detainment of “suspects” now, without formal authorization of such tactics, am concerned that once they’re given authority, the CIA will start making people disappear into torture chambers one of the primary pillars of their operation.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  19. As a side note, I think there are a lot of interesting parallels between jury nullification and torture. As to both, there are always good arguments for certain factual situations when such acts are morally justifiable, but huge problems with giving such acts legal legitimacy.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  20. Kimmitt, knock it off. Are you really a “kementze”, the veil Turkish women wear? Kimmitt/kementze, an unimaginative (girly) enemy provocateur’s alliteration?

    nk (54c569)

  21. Yes, it was worth it.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  22. One can easily predict how P’s question will be answered… you simply have to know whether someone thinks American lives are precious enough to justify inflicting pain and suffering on others.

    For those who aren’t so enamored with saving the lives of their fellow Americans, whether it be our troops in Iraq or Americans here at home, waterboarding and other forms of ‘coercive interrogation’ are off limits. Although they’ll never admit it, people on this side would rather have Americans die than be thought of – by Europeans, their fellow liberals, and the likes of Kofi Annan – as insufficiently sensitive to the ‘human dignity’ of those we are fighting. For them, it’s more important to occupy the ‘moral high ground’ than it is to do what is necessary to keep as many Americans alive and safe from terrorist attack as is possible.

    For those, like me, who feel that there’s not too much that should be taken off the table, we’re okay with waterboarding the likes of KSM. Heck, if our guys have a good reason for thinking that a captive has ‘ticking bomb’ information, I wouldn’t have them stop at waterboarding.

    After all, I’d never want to have to face the loved ones of someone killed by terrorists knowing there was something we could have done… and just failed to do it.

    And the Democrats wonder why their position of “I’m sorry Mr. Jones for your loss, we could have stopped it, but, you know, we have to occupy the moral high ground” isn’t a winner with the American people?

    steve sturm (b5aa23)

  23. Dude, your side already won. Give it up. You’re not going to convince us that you’re not torturers, and we’re not going to convince you that human decency is relevant.

    We’re not “torturers” nor advocating torture.

    See, you have to redefine the word to make your “point.”

    Don’t you find that the least bit troubling in regards to your political beliefs?

    The Ace (22647b)

  24. No question, it was worth it.

    To those that complain that we may become like the enemy–
    If we tried for a thousand years, we could not become as hateful and degenerate as the Islamic Fascists are today.

    (hat tip to Jerry Pournelle’s “Go Tell the Spartans”)

    +Lord Whorfin (7e06b1)

  25. I personally would like to be waterboarded to see what the deal is. It only lasts a few minutes and it, supposedly, does no lasting harm. How much worse can it be than that walk to the field after school where you know you’re going to get your butt kicked and then getting your butt kicked?

    It makes it so much better to know what you’re debating.

    I’m a little surprised that whoever waterboards hasn’t offered to have somebody “Live-blog” being waterboarded.
    I can think of at least two or three bloggers who I’d bet would do it and I know Bill O’Reilly would do it, as long as he gets sole rights to broadcast it. Heck, right before he went under he’d be hawking “I watched O’Reilly get waterboarded” T-shirts, mugs and mouse-pads.

    I gotta partially disagree with you Ace, we are “torturers”, we’re just not torturers. You’re right that we don’t advocate torture, but we do advocate “torture”.
    At least I do.

    Veeshir (dfa2bf)

  26. Kimmitt: “You’re not going to convince us that you’re not torturers, and we’re not going to convince you that human decency is relevant.”

    First, you already believe that Bush, Republicans, et al, are scum of the earth, evil, etc., so you ‘believing’ we’re ‘torturers’ tells us only adds another adjective to your ever-growing list why the other side are bad people and you are not. Yawn.

    The most fundamental human decency in this matter is to ensure the survival of our fellow citizens, women, men, and children. Human decency is indeed very relevant – those with whom you disagree are at least decent enough to do the hard things, make the hard decisions, required to best stave off the next 9/11. You on the other hand epitomize indecency by saving your greatest criticism for those who are at least trying to stop our enemy and by having no plan save for criticism of those who do.

    We are facing an enemy that in 2002 told us clearly what they are going to do unless we stop them. They claimed the ‘right’ to kill “4 million Americans, 2 million of them children”, and to maim hundreds of thousands more. They did not provide the option of negotiation or dialogue.

    Reasonable people understand that our enemy will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. They are relentless, dedicated, and excruciatingly patient – we are not. Additionally, the focus taken by you and your ilk in this matter make it clear that our enemy is far more dedicated and serious about killing us than you seem to be about stopping them.

    Dr. Deano (7f152b)

  27. Dude, your side already won. Give it up. You’re not going to convince us that you’re not torturers, and we’re not going to convince you that human decency is relevant.

    Why don’t you answer the hypothetical question, including the part about preventing a 9/11?

    Your comment is a form of begging the question, i.e., assuming the truth of waterboarding being always wrong without actually addressing the issue directly, which is typical of how your type argues.

    Gerald A (bdfba2)

  28. Waterboarding is so old…and it lasts for only a few minutes. I feel, while we’re talking hypotheticals, that WAKEBOARDING would be much more effective. Think about this whole torture thing…wakeboarding is way cool (easily acceptable under the Geneva Conv.) and too much fun! We give KSM a few beers let him catch a few Southern California rays then spend a few HOURS wakeboarding….well he’ll want more of that action!

    Then we hold all the barganing chips….”No more wakeboarding little sheikie until you give us some good info”. How could he refuse? Plus, and this will placate our liberal friends, little shiekie will see the bright side of our degenerate western culture.

    I just love hypotheticals.

    Larry (c7359c)

  29. Why dont you answer the hypothetical question, including the part about preventing a 9/11?

    A fair question, which deserves a fair answer: because the debate is about whether or not the US should institute a policy of systematic torture of detainees, not whether or not the US should occasionally engage in black ops and/or the President should pardon those involved in rare and extreme cases.

    The hypothetical is irrelevant to any policy debate which takes place in reality. I have enough trouble sorting out the moral questions associated with the real world without taking on questions of how many angels I can torture with the head of a pin.

    The most fundamental human decency in this matter is to ensure the survival of our fellow citizens, women, men, and children.

    No, the most fundamental human decency in this matter is to ensure the freedom of our fellow citizens, women, men, and children. To throw that away out of baseless fear is to spit on the sacrifices of those who fought and died to give us that freedom.

    [Shorter Kimmitt: I still won’t answer the question. — P]

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  30. Kimmitt: who is arguing for torturing our ‘fellow citizens’ or doing anything that would negatively impact their freedom? How am I spitting on the ‘sacrifices of those who fought and died…’ by wanting to torture non-citizen terrorists for the purpose of gaining information that can help keep alive the descendants of those who died for this country? I’m guessing, but I think they’d be rather grateful.

    steve sturm (b5aa23)

  31. Ah Kimmitt, I see that you are a “citizen of the world”

    No, the most fundamental human decency in this matter is to ensure the freedom of our fellow citizens, women, men, and children. To throw that away out of baseless fear is to spit on the sacrifices of those who fought and died to give us that freedom

    .

    Since you’re a citizen of the world, you’re going to extend and ensure all those freedoms to every man woman and child in the world–even the raving lunatics who slice their prisoner’s heads off while wailing Allahu Akbar.

    I’m sorry buddy, but extending U.S. constitutional protections is limited to U.S. citizens in my book. So go write yourself a world constitution, and come back when it’s done–if you can get anybody to agree to its obligations as well as its privileges. I expect it will be a while before you can manage that.

    The old Orwell qoute to the effect that the Kimmets of this world can sleep safely in their beds at night because there are rough men ready to do what needs to be done to protect them is still true.

    Mike Myers (f8ce82)

  32. “To throw that away out of baseless fear is to spit on the sacrifices of those who fought and died to give us that freedom.”

    You tellingly fail to address the issue within the actual context. Your argument requires you to ignore the very real threat from radical Islamics that have already killed thousands of Americans, other westerners, and even more of their own co-religionists.

    Contrary to what you espouse, it is perfectly rational to want to stop those who have killed and maimed us and vowed to kill far more of us. It is also wholly irrational to not do everything humanly possible to stop them.

    The only baseless fear around here is the oft cited fear that those who earnestly want to stop Al Qaeda and their supporters from doing what they said they are going to do are taking away our freedom.

    Dr. Deano (7f152b)

  33. Actually, Mike, I was thinking more about Orwell’s observation about how many of Kimmitt’s predecessors were “objectively pro-fascist,” and exhaustively reviewed Western failings over that of the fascist states.

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  34. #9, nk:

    “abuse a helpless prisoner”. “Helpless” at that moment in the literal sense may be accurate. But what if he possessed information that would prevent devasting attacks, reveal the identities and whereabouts of his fellow killers, or help us disrupt or eliminate enemy cells or entire groups of plotters, planners or fighters?

    In those cases, the description of him as “helpless” is not so compelling a description.

    Ms. Judged (5c27b9)

  35. Kimmitt: who is arguing for torturing our fellow citizens

    Oh, I see. Terrorists who happen to have US citizenship will somehow be immune to our policy of torturing terrorists. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Your argument requires you to ignore the very real threat from radical Islamics that have already killed thousands of Americans, other westerners, and even more of their own co-religionists.

    I hold that torturing detainees as US policy is not only immoral but also bad policy, so this is irrelevant.

    exhaustively reviewed Western failings over that of the fascist states.

    I like to think my predecessors were the sorts that fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, as versus the conservatives of that period, who saw Franco as the lesser of two evils.

    It’s kind of weird; either y’all need us to be invading everything left and right or doing nothing at all. Conservative Manicheanism, I guess — just like either we institute torture as US policy, or we do nothing whatsoever.

    [Shorter Kimmitt: Yes, I *know* it’s a simple, straightforward hypo. I don’t care. I’m not answering. But I also hope you won’t notice I’m not answering. — P]

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  36. Patterico offers the perfect example – one man, we know he has information that is truthful and will give it up. Problem is, how often does that happen in real life?

    What about non-perfect examples, such as the mistaken identity rendition that happened recently?

    How about getting people who were involved in a plot, but have no timely/pertinent/true/useful information to offer?

    How about people who offer lies in response to torture? See Zubuydah.

    How about people who simply refuse to say anything? See Binalshibh and the threat to his family’s life.

    There are some situations where people would agree any methods are fair. The classic kidnapped kid/KSM one above fits that. Does the bill?

    And one more question. What happens the first time an attack does occur and it is discovered we had some people in custody who had information but, for whatever reason, were not subjected to torture. How far does the line slide down then, for fear of missing another plot?

    bin Laden may have lost the war, but he has sure effected changes in the US.

    [My hypo is not that interrogators *know* in advance he has information, or that they knew it will be reliable. Just that they had a solid basis for thinking he has critical information, and nothing else has worked. (I’m also asking you to assume that they turned out to be right; we have hindsight and indeed he did have useful and reliable info. But the interrogators don’t know it at the time.) I internally predicted that folks on the left like Kimmitt and Phil would not give a straight answer. And as it turns out, I was right. I wonder why? — P]

    Brian (a90377)

  37. Kimmitt: as I am sure you know, the Constitution does protect American citizens from torture, even those who are suspected of being terrorists. The debate is whether we should torture non-citizens in order to protect Americans. Tell me: how did it go over when you told your family and neighbors and friends that you’d rather them die than have the likes of KSM waterboarded?

    [He hasn’t told them that. He won’t say that out loud. He won’t even answer the question as a hypo. He squirms to find ways to wriggle out of it. He hopes his evasion isn’t transparent.

    But it is. — P]

    steve sturm (b5aa23)

  38. Brian wrote:

    Patterico offers the perfect example – one man, we know he has information that is truthful and will give it up. Problem is, how often does that happen in real life?

    More often than you might think. The number two in al Qaeda in Iraq was recently captured and he provided the locations of eleven other members, seven of whom were described as high-ranking.

    Dana (3e4784)

  39. How about people who offer lies in response to torture? See Zubuydah.

    What you can’t seem to grasp is we’re not talking about torture here.

    If you think waterboarding is torture, you don’t know much about the topic.

    The Ace (22647b)

  40. “how did it go over when you told your family and neighbors and friends that you’d rather them die than have the likes of KSM waterboarded?”

    So now you’re threatening Kimmitt’s family with death if he doesn’t agree that torture is appropriate? Why am I not surprised.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  41. My apologies; I assumed the ‘we know he has useful info’ part in my description of your example.

    Brian (a90377)

  42. The Ace:

    The methods used for Zubuydah are the methods now approved of – waterboarding, sleep deprivation, loud noises and harsh lights, etc. (Medication was also withheld; I do not know if that is now accpetable.) You can argue they’re not torture – I feel they are – but the question is still what happens when people lie to make it stop?

    Brian (a90377)

  43. When the Patriot Act was passed, we were told that it was to give law enforcement the tools necessary to combat terrorism. Now, we see those tools being used to prosecute american citizens that run meth labs. Slippery slope people. remember that.

    Now, we’re redefining torture so we can legally utilize techniques that were recently classified as torture so that we can garner information ‘necessary’ to save american lives. How long will it be before we’re waterboarding the local drug addicts to find the meth labs? slippery slope people. remember that.

    dksuddeth (ac44fb)

  44. Dana:

    How do we know it’s more often?

    Brian (a90377)

  45. How often? How about every single time there is a captured terrorist known to have time sensitive intel that can save American lives.

    I suggest the current situation is this … waterboarding is off the table for all military interrogation. Some CIA interrogators are allowed to use the procedure secretly only under explicit orders from the president.

    boris (e173ce)

  46. I live in Los Angeles. Is Kimmett really saying that he would rather see thousands of Angelenos die rather than scaring KSM?? I am so tired of this discussion of “torture” vs torture. It shames the memory of people who have actually been tortured by the likes of Sadaam, Amin, Mugabe and the rest of their ilk. Scaring someone is not torture. Slapping someone is not torture. Yelling at them is not torture. If these people took the time to understand what was actually invvolved in waterboarding, i would like to think they would be embarassed by their position but I am not counting on it.

    I love it when people like Phil suddenly we are now threatening Kimmitt’s family when the truth is we are trying to protect people like kimmitt in spite of themselve. Self righteousness from these people is a joke. I guarantee you that, faced with the death of his own loved ones, Phil and Kimmitt would be the first to not only “torture” but actually torture.

    Mike A. (1ee4ee)

  47. the US should occasionally engage in black ops and/or the President should pardon those involved in rare and extreme cases

    Looks like McCain rule, make it illegal then do whatcha gotta do when you gotta do what’s gotta be done.

    boris (e173ce)

  48. Oh, I see. Terrorists who happen to have US citizenship will somehow be immune to our policy of torturing terrorists. Thanks for clearing that up.

    In the hypothetical given, which you won’t answer directly, KSM is not a citizen. So this is a red herring.

    Gerald A (bdfba2)

  49. So, if the President is to be granted the power to order assassinations and similar black ops, what if he concludes that it’s necessary to engage in warrantless wiretaps? Naturally, it’d be okay then?

    Folks who argue that things should be illegal, but that if it’s necessary, a wink and a nod are perfectly alright, are almost always the same folks who, when that wink and nod happens now, argue that Bush has committed a crime that puts us light-years down the path to fascism.

    Coincidence?

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  50. And as it turns out, I was right. I wonder why? P

    Because we aren’t stupid enough to fall for an easy rhetorical trick.

    [Shorter Kimmitt: any question that would expose my position as unreasonable is by definition a rhetorical trick. — P]

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  51. I’m going to assume you’re asking if, in the case of the hypothetical, waterboarding would be morally justified, not if it would be legally justified.

    I believe it would not be. It would be a lesser evil than the evil it was trying to prevent, but it would still be an evil.

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t do it; because sometimes what is required of leaders is that they choose a lesser evil in order to prevent a greater evil, and in this case I would hope they would do it.

    But I would also be disgusted with them if they held up their evil act and tried to paint it as good.

    [Pardon me, but how bizarre. You say you’d want to see it done, but you say it would not be morally justified. That’s like saying shooting someone is evil, and you’d want to see it done if it was in defense of a child’s life — but it wouldn’t be morally justified — you know, because shooting someone is evil. That is a fascinating, revealing, and incoherent answer. That’s why I asked the question: I am genuinely interested to see how people on the left would answer — and annoyed (though not surprised) at the phony attempts to dodge it. At least you answered it, even if your answer is in my opinion bizarre. How could you encourage someone to do something that is not morally justified?!?! — P]

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  52. we are trying to protect people like kimmitt in spite of themselve.

    No, you are trying to torture people. If you were interested in protecting people like me, we’d be discussing hypotheticals having to do with port security, the Russian nuclear arsenal, and reinforcing the folks looking for bin Laden. The fact that we are not engaging in a policy discussion regarding these low-hanging fruit but instead looking to repudiate our ideals as a nation makes crystal clear precisely what this entire discussion is about.

    [Shorter Kimmitt: I will not answer a question, however fair and relevant it may be, where the answer would open me to possible ridicule, however justified. — P]

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  53. “Personally I think we should follow the Geneva Convention. Anyone captured on the battle field, engaged in combat, without a uniform should be shot on the spot, no exceptions. That would lead to no prisoners at Gitmo.”

    Yo, what he say . . .

    I get VERY tired of “those people” who want to give all “our rights” to our sworn enemies who have NO intention of following the Geneva Convention “rules”.
    And, our sworn enemies prove it every day with their savage behavior.

    So, for “those people”, the Constitution really is a suicide pact.

    They might change their minds if they were looking deep into the eyes of their loved ones.
    When their loved ones’ heads were no longer attached to their bodies.

    With apologies to the Eagles, the masters of the song-writing “hook”:

    “Just remember this, my girl, when you look up in the sky
    You can see the stars and still not see the light”.

    Dan Pursel (4966f9)

  54. “But I would also be disgusted with them if they held up their evil act and tried to paint it as good.”

    Sort of like Bill Clinton sending in the FBI at Waco. It killed 86 men, women and children, but it sure ended the stand-off.

    Black Jack (63943a)

  55. Kimmitt,

    One thing that always gets my goat is the appeals to our better nature, how we must be better than the enemy, etc. You are simply arguing that we should be super-human. I think you need to examine if you really want us to be that way. And I will never live my life nor expect others to live their lives pursuant to “our ideals as a nation”. WTF does that mean?

    Jack Wayne (f936b0)

  56. “You are simply arguing that we should be super-human.”

    No, I’m arguing that we shouldn’t, as a matter of policy, torture people we detain.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  57. Brian asked:

    How do we know it’s more often?

    Well, the information was obtained, in the example I gave you. Unless, of course, you think that Mr al-Saeedi simply provided the information over coffee and scones.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  58. Torture or “torture”?

    Kimmitt, would you please define for us what your definition of torture is, and tell us what if anything other than asking questions, you believe should be permitted to induce non-uniformed combatants to provide information that might save the lives of American soldiers or civilians? Are there any coercive interrogation techniques that do not meet your standard of torture?

    Diffus (ead439)

  59. The lurking observer noted:

    Folks who argue that things should be illegal, but that if it’s necessary, a wink and a nod are perfectly alright, are almost always the same folks who, when that wink and nod happens now, argue that Bush has committed a crime that puts us light-years down the path to fascism.

    Coincidence?

    Well, former President Clinton, in his interview with Chris Wallace, said that he had ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden — but it is illegal for the president or any other government official to order the assassination of anyone. Yet somehow, in all of their glee over Mr Clinton’s interview performance, I have yet to see even one of our liberal friends (you know, the ones who were horrified that the NSA’s warrantless wiretaping program was illegal) express shock that President Clinton would have ordered such a patently illegal act.

    For the record, President Clinton did the right thing with that order, but for our liberal friends to admit something like that is to expose the hypocrisy of virtually everything they have said.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  60. Kimmitt wrote:

    No, I’m arguing that we shouldn’t, as a matter of policy, torture people we detain.

    Please, specify: is this your position in every case, regardless of whom is captured and regardless of the circumstances?

    Dana (9f37aa)

  61. Black Jack — that’s actually a very good example; I don’t think I’ve ever said that was “good”. It was probably the lesser of two evils; but even that, I don’t know for sure.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  62. Dana – I’m sorry, I don’t see how admitting that it was right for President Clinton to have ordered the assassination of Osama bin Laden would be to expose hypocrisy. Can you spell it out for me, please?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  63. Kimmitt says “no you are trying to torture people”.

    No, Kimmitt, if I was going to really torture people, I’d go straight to the Saddam Hussein playbook—not pussyfoot around with water boarding. [The items below are all things that Saddam’s thugs did.]

    Dropping people on a chain hoist slowly into a tank of sulfuric acid—now that’s torture

    Sticking people’s hands into woodchippers–now that’s torture

    Getting creative with an electric drill on
    people’s anatomy–now that’s torture

    Raping a man’s wife and daughters in front of them–now that’s torture

    Liberal wussies who moan and groan about waterboarding as “torture” are the same kinds of people who have corrupted the English language in their urge for political correctness to the point that when a 6 year old school boy leans over and kisses a six year old school girl, that’s “sexual harassment” and the little boy gets expelled under a “zero tolerance” policy.

    I must say Kimmet, you’ve tested the tolerance of a lot of us on this thread.

    Mike Myers (f8ce82)

  64. Doesn’t keeping the tourure option open, even if we don’t use it, make it incredibly difficult for the enemy to plan and execute the big attack? When you involve large groups of people, plans have to be shared. If one person is captured, or even suspected of being captured, the plans need to be scraped. We saw a little of this in Afghanistan when one of the high level Taliban was captured delivering arms because they had no one else they could trust to do it.

    tyree (0ceee8)

  65. Kimmitt: “I hold that torturing detainees as US policy is not only immoral but also bad policy, so this is irrelevant.”

    That we are living with a serious and credible threat against millions of Americans is ‘irrelevant’???

    I’m glad you made it clear who resides at the top of your priority list.

    Dr. Deano (7f152b)

  66. wow, im suddenly reminded of hermann goering.

    dksuddeth (ac44fb)

  67. Patterico: “My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

    Yes it was.

    David Blue (583ddd)

  68. dksuddeth,

    I’m not really interested in debating with anyone who can’t bring themselves to answer the question in the thread.

    Patterico (de0616)

  69. Kimmitt,

    You are clearly frightened to answer this question.

    And I believe I know why.

    People like you enjoy the pretense that these issues are simple. “I can’t believe we’re talking about TORTURE!” you screech. “It’s TORTURE, people! TORTURE!!”

    And when someone asks you a question that threatens your simplistic, self-righteous stance, you use every trick in the book to avoid answering it.

    I can respect someone who forthrightly says: “The waterboarding session described in the post is still not worth it, and here’s why.” I am going to whack that person hard for their position, but at least they have the guts to stake out a position.

    I can also respect (a lot) someone who says: “I am very uncomfortable with the idea of routinely legalizing torture, but the waterboarding described in the post is worth it.” I am going to hit such a person with some uncomfortable follow-up questions, but at least they are meeting the question head-on.

    I cannot respect someone who comes on here with preening self-righteousness, acting as though these are simple questions — who then shamelessly and transparently dodges a fair, realistic hypothetical that is designed to get moral views clearly on the table.

    You fall into that last category.

    So far.

    Patterico (de0616)

  70. Phil says:

    As a side note, I think there are a lot of interesting parallels between jury nullification and torture. As to both, there are always good arguments for certain factual situations when such acts are morally justifiable, but huge problems with giving such acts legal legitimacy.

    Phil, this is an interesting point, but I wish you’d forthrightly answer the clear hypo I pose in the post. You imply that you’re OK with the hypothetical waterboarding, under these precise circumstances. Can I pin you down on that? Are you?

    Patterico (de0616)

  71. No, I’m arguing that we shouldn’t, as a matter of policy, torture people we detain.

    Comment by Kimmitt

    We don’t.

    So what is your point?

    The Ace (8d7f7b)

  72. You can argue they’re not torture – I feel they are – but the question is still what happens when people lie to make it stop?

    A variety of things.

    However, this assumes that the people doing this usually don’t know what they’re doing because you can point to an exception to what are likely normal circumstances.

    The Ace (8d7f7b)

  73. “What about non-perfect examples, such as the mistaken identity rendition that happened recently?”

    Actually, that incident (a deportation rather than a rendition, as I understand it, and due at least as much to left-darling Canada as to the US) is actually an example which argues in favor of CIA waterboarding. Who wouldn’t rather a relatively quick interrogation process, including waterboarding, by CIA agents; rather than months of brutal torture, with risk of death, in a place like Syria? (Obviously I am not in favor of any harrassment of the innocent, but neither I nor CIA waterboarding practices created that problem.)

    dwpittelli (87ad39)

  74. I’m sorry for not paying more attention.

    “I’m not really interested in debating with anyone who can’t bring themselves to answer the question in the thread.
    Comment by Patterico — 9/29/2006 @ 5:34 pm”

    “My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?”

    YES.

    Dan Pursel (4966f9)

  75. In war, any practice engaged in by the other side can be engaged in by oneself, provided that it is:
    1) Militarily useful.
    2) and does not injure noncombatatants disproportionately to the military effect sought.

    If this is not the case, then the “evil” side would win wars with its evil.

    Further, this is how the law of war has always been practiced. Our bombing of Germany was acceptable because Germany bombed London. (As it happens, Germany may have done so because of an accidental RAF bombing of a German city.) And our nuking of the USSR would have been acceptable had the USSR nuked us.

    As in this last example, if we had had any other policy, the USSR would have been far more likely to nuke us. Even Hitler understood such tit-for-tat — despite Germany’s superior nerve gas technology, he did not use gas, because he knew that gas would then be used on him.

    Am I saying we should behead or maim terrorists, go as far as they do? No. As waterboarding is reportedly so effective, there is little point in using more brutal methods. (I suppose the PR value of video execution and torture could conceivably give potential terrorists pause, but it would be outweighed by the negative light it would put us in; we are not like Klingons, probably could not credibly pretend to be so, and could not maintain world hegemony if thought to be so.)

    dwpittelli (87ad39)

  76. I’m not really interested in debating with anyone who can’t bring themselves to answer the question in the thread.

    I did, just look further up.

    DKSuddeth (a18213)

  77. In fact, i’ll answer it a bit more clearly for you P. Torturing ANYONE (or condoning it) to get information to save lives, especially american lives, puts YOU in the not so unique position of declaring that you value some lives more than others. You tell the world (and god) that you will gladly treat one or two peoples lives like nothing in order to save hundreds or thousands. This is completely opposite of what Christ tried to teach all of his followers during his time on earth.

    Torturing another living being, no matter the results, is telling God that you have zero respect for the gift of life.

    DKSuddeth (a18213)

  78. link?

    boris (e173ce)

  79. Torturing ANYONE (or condoning it) to get information to save lives, especially american lives, puts YOU in the not so unique position of declaring that you value some lives more than others. You tell the world (and god) that you will gladly treat one or two peoples lives like nothing in order to save hundreds or thousands. This is completely opposite of what Christ tried to teach all of his followers during his time on earth.

    DKSuddeth,

    You are a sniper and a man is holding 10 children hostage. Ten minutes ago he was holding 20 children hostage, but he then declared his intent to kill one child a minute, and has done so for the last ten minutes.

    You now have a clean shot at him. Are you telling me you wouldn’t take it?

    Patterico (de0616)

  80. DKSuddeth,

    When we shoot a terrorist in combat action we do the same thing. So you are a complete pacifist (or you have not thought through what you are saying). Not that there is anything wrong with being a pacifist, but you will never get a majority to embrace pacifism, and if any nation did, it would soon cease to exist.

    dwpittelli (87ad39)

  81. [Waterboarding a terrorist] to get information to save lives, especially american lives, puts YOU in the not so unique position of declaring that you value some lives more than others.

    Yes, I value hundreds of American lives more than two minutes of panic and discomfort for a terrorist. In fact I myself would volunteer to be waterboarded for 1 minute to save hundreds of lives. Such a situation is completely inconceivable, but nevertheless it completely absolves my conscience of any remorse for advocating the use of waterboarding on terrorists to save American lives.

    boris (e173ce)

  82. Patterico: The entire question is a pointless, hypothetical dodge.

    Here are some other hypotheticals I’m not interested in answering:

    If you could prevent either the death of your child or a plane crash with 700 people on it, which would you pick?

    You are in a burning building and can either save an infant or 1,000 puppies and a Van Gogh. Which do you choose?

    These two hypotheticals have precisely the same relevance to the current debate as the one you present. It’s just that your KZM question has a superficial resemblance to things which are currently going on and the ones above do not. In a world in which the US operates a network of secret prisons, habeas corpus can be suspended by Executive whim, and judicial review is being eviscerated, debating how to handle extreme cases, or how many angels can be waterboarded on the head of a pin, is nothing other than an attempt to obfuscate and dodge the issue, and I decline to pretend otherwise.

    Kimmitt (5adec1)

  83. debating how to handle extreme cases, or how many angels can be waterboarded on the head of a pin, is nothing other than an attempt to obfuscate and dodge the issue, and I decline to pretend otherwise.

    Comment by Kimmitt

    You’re an intellectual coward, that’s why.

    The Ace (8d7f7b)

  84. Kimmitt, you have excoriated the Administration for taking actions that may well be entirely in line with my hypothetical. Now we can debate the reality of my hypothetical in a separate thread, but for right now I’m just interested in principles, and you are notably interested in dodging a highly relevant question.

    It’s disingenuous for you to argue that this is some idle hypothetical when it goes to the very heart of this debate. You might disagree with that position, and we could debate that too, but to dismiss it with an airy wave of the hand will not convince rational people who are on the fence. It will only convince them that people like you are not serious.

    Which is useful in and of itself. You very reluctance to answer the question speaks volumes — more, truly, than any answer could.

    When people ask me about torture in the future, I will likely often point to this thread, and the inability of the self-righteous like yourself to answer a simple question like this. It helps our position more than you know.

    Patterico (de0616)

  85. In fairness, I’ll give you and others another chance to answer the question. But I think this may well be worth a separate post — and it will be a very instructive one. I pose a clear hypothetical involving two minutes of unpleasantness vs. the deaths of thousands, and the self-righteous opponents of “torture” can’t bring themselves to say which is worse.

    Quite amazing.

    Patterico (de0616)

  86. You are a sniper and a man is holding 10 children hostage. Ten minutes ago he was holding 20 children hostage, but he then declared his intent to kill one child a minute, and has done so for the last ten minutes.

    You now have a clean shot at him. Are you telling me you wouldn’t take it?

    P, there is a HUGE difference between taking a kill shot and subjecting a person to a torturous condition. For the record, as a US Marine for 6 years, i’m more than capable of taking the shot.

    When we shoot a terrorist in combat action we do the same thing. So you are a complete pacifist (or you have not thought through what you are saying). Not that there is anything wrong with being a pacifist, but you will never get a majority to embrace pacifism, and if any nation did, it would soon cease to exist.

    I’m not a pacifist. Killing with a sniper shot is not the same as subjecting another human being to 90 seconds of terror, all for the sake of hopefully gathering some sort of intelligence that MIGHT stop a terror attack. I refer back to the slippery slope argument when you condone torture in SOME instances.

    Yes, I value hundreds of American lives more than two minutes of panic and discomfort for a terrorist. In fact I myself would volunteer to be waterboarded for 1 minute to save hundreds of lives. Such a situation is completely inconceivable, but nevertheless it completely absolves my conscience of any remorse for advocating the use of waterboarding on terrorists to save American lives.

    Valuing someone elses life over anothers because of nationality goes against gods will, but I understand that not everyone understands gods will. Sacrificing yourself for hundreds of others is exactly what gods love is about. There is nothing wrong with that. If torturing another arab terrorist to save american lives absolves your conscience of all remorse, fine. So be it, but it leads me to believe that you don’t understand God.

    DKSuddeth (a18213)

  87. P, there is a HUGE difference between taking a kill shot and subjecting a person to a torturous condition.

    There is. And I don’t mean to sound flippant when I say this, but one of the differences is that I would choose the 90 seconds or two minutes of waterboarding over death — in a second.

    And I don’t mean to minimize the terror that I understand waterboarding would cause. Nor do I think it should be used as a punishment.

    I’m just questioning your logic. I don’t see how you can say:

    You tell the world (and god) that you will gladly treat one or two peoples lives like nothing in order to save hundreds or thousands. This is completely opposite of what Christ tried to teach all of his followers during his time on earth.

    and turn around and say you’d take the shot as a sniper.

    It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Patterico (de0616)

  88. Patterico: there are times, alas, when the only available options all involve moral wrongs.

    When I’m faced with such instances, I have to choose from among the options available — but I have to do so knowing that I am choosing to do something which is wrong.

    The fact that the other options are worse doesn’t make this option not bad.

    [I think i’ve voiced this argument here before, in the context of war, and got about the same response then that you’re giving me now. Which suggests to me I need to work on a better way to explain it. :)]

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  89. You might disagree with that position, and we could debate that too,

    Sure, let’s do that.

    There are two possibilities here:

    1) You are trying to use a particular hypothetical to elucidate a border case of choosing between two evils.

    2) You are demagogueing the issue to make your political opponents appear weak.

    I submit that (2) is not only more likely, but also far less insulting to you. As part and parcel of the torture discussion, you are not referring to any moral philosophers who discuss this issue, you are not, yourself, laying out a series of methods by which we might begin to weigh necessary evils against unnecessary evils, and you are not suggesting a mechanism for selection of the targets of torture nor for keeping the torturers accountable so that they remain within the confines of legal torture activity. I do not believe that you are this intellectually unserious. I believe that you haven’t put in the effort, because you do not intend for this discussion to have a serious result. Which is fine, but it’s really kind of disingenuous to claim otherwise when you’re called on it.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  90. On some level, this is a religious argument for me, I think. I believe that I am responsible for my choices, and for the effects of my choices; and if my choice to torture someone causes pain and suffering, then I have done evil, and I will pay the price for that evil — even if the other choices on the table all involved greater evil and a greater price to be paid by me.

    Does that make more sense?

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  91. SORRY BUT THIS IS B.S.

    Brian Ross is normally a good reporter but what he is stating is impossible. He states that the information garnered by torturing KLM, who was captured on March 1, 2003, help prevent the L.A. Terror plot where the alleged perpetrators were arrested in February 2002.

    Simply, the claim is they prevented an attack in early 2002 based on info they got from KSM in 2003.

    That sounds IMPOSSIBLE to me.

    hotpotatomash (733899)

  92. As part and parcel of the torture discussion, you are not referring to any moral philosophers who discuss this issue, you are not, yourself, laying out a series of methods by which we might begin to weigh necessary evils against unnecessary evils, and you are not suggesting a mechanism for selection of the targets of torture nor for keeping the torturers accountable so that they remain within the confines of legal torture activity. I do not believe that you are this intellectually unserious. I believe that you haven’t put in the effort, because you do not intend for this discussion to have a serious result. Which is fine, but it’s really kind of disingenuous to claim otherwise when you’re called on it.

    This is all a lot of nonsense you’re spewing in a vain attempt to make it seem like *I* am the one being called on something, when in fact *you* are the one trying every dodge in the book to avoid answering a simple question.

    I assume it’s because you’re answer would be that, in your view, the waterboarding I describe in the post is not justified. That would be a fine argument to make if you had the guts to make it. But you don’t. You’re afraid to say it out loud, because you realize it will make you seem like an unreasonable person to reasonable bystanders. But to say anything else would be to sacrifice your precious self-righteousness, and you can’t bear that.

    So, your choices are: 1) be revealed as someone who puts abstract principles above the lives of countless innocents, or 2) relinquish your posture of righteous moral certainty.

    Neither one is too attractive, eh? So let’s try 3) attempt to squirm out of it with unconvincing reasons why this perfectly reasonable question is unfair.

    Sorry, nobody’s buying it. It’s clear to all of us that you’re trying to avoid #1 above.

    Patterico (de0616)

  93. hotpotatomash,

    It’s a hypothetical. Let’s get everyone on record and move on to step two.

    But it’s like when I asked a question about violating oaths for jury nullification — people squirmed out of that one too.

    Patterico (de0616)

  94. aphrael,

    I think I understand what you’re trying to say; you’re just saying it badly.

    Say you support a war. Doesn’t mean you like war. I get that. I agree.

    But to say that it’s not morally justified — which is what you said above — I think that’s a puzzling and confusing way to put it.

    You saw my sniper hypo, right? Nobody likes shooting someone. But taking the shot to save 10 children — it’s morally justified, dude. If you don’t think so, then we disagree about what that phrase means.

    Patterico (de0616)

  95. Leftists:

    Do you see how Kimmitt avoids the question? Are you with him? Two minutes of waterboarding vs. thousands of lives — is this a tough choice for you?

    It’s attitudes like that that should lose you elections.

    Patterico (de0616)

  96. For God’s sake, if there was a nuke about to go off in my city and a completely innocent person had information about it, but refused to reveal it for some unknown reason, I’d torture that person like no tomorrow until I got the info. Even if it was a woman or child.

    Gee whiz people. Grow up.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  97. sorry, i didn’t realize it was hypo. i watched the ross video and i’ve watched bush interview with Couric where he makes same claim. This is there big story why they need all the changes in the law. but it doesn’t jive unless i’m missing something.

    hotpotatomash (733899)

  98. Or maybe I’d let 200,000 people die, tens of thousands of children be burned to death, more becoming sick and dying slowly over the next week with radiation poisoning. Maybe I’d do that.

    Either one, however, sucks.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  99. The more I think about my above answer here, the more disgusted I am with it.

    In the event of an innocent person and especially a child, what I would really do is beg, plead, and cajole, but if it came down to it, let the nuke go off killing me, my entire family, and everyone I know plus a couple hundred thousand people most of whom love their lives and families and didn’t deserve nothin’.

    It would probably be the wrong thing to do, but I guess that’s what I’d do.

    The point, if there is one, to my rambling is that life is friggin’ hard and most of us are spared these choices.

    The people in our security services are not always spared these choices. Sometimes they have to decide between causing some bastard mass murderer enemy of our civilization a few minutes of discomfort and/or fear and thousands of our fellow citizens’, children’s included, lives.

    That’s the real world, as dirty as it is. The people who work in our security services are by and large decent and courageous. I support them.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  100. I assume it’s because you’re answer would be that, in your view, the waterboarding I describe in the post is not justified.

    Leftists:

    Do you see how Kimmitt avoids the question? Are you with him? Two minutes of waterboarding vs. thousands of lives — is this a tough choice for you?

    Like I said, unserious demagoguery. You’ve proven my point far more eloquently than I could ever have attempted to.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  101. Kimmett,

    You’ve proven my point far more eloquently than I could ever have attempted to.

    No, he’s proven you won’t answer the question and why you won’t answer the question. The truth is that you’re a coward who is afraid to state your position and defend it. The biggest reason you’re a coward is that you are to afraid to admit, even to yourself, that your true position is indefensible.

    It would be nice if we could live in an ideal world and maybe someday the human race will grow up enough to allow that. For now, we go with what we got, which is fighting a group of people who will gladly use your idiocy to help them enslave and/or kill anyone who believes differently than they do. Sleep well while others do the dirty work of protecting you, your family, and those around you.

    If you can’t admit that sometimes you have to do unpleasant things for the greater good; don’t take medicine that tastes bad next time you’re sick; don’t press down on an open wound to stop bleeding because it causes pain; and don’t stand up for what’s right because it emotionally discomforts you. It’s all the same thing, just a matter of degree.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  102. Margin check

    boris (e173ce)

  103. New hypo.

    A ship of alien scientists (studying human psychology) abducts you and your 12 yr old daughter. They offer this choice. You may subject your daughter to 1 minute of waterboarding or they will slowly dissect her.

    You are given no opportunity to ask your daughter which she would prefer.

    boris (e173ce)

  104. Your daughter is straqpped to the table tilted head down, some unknown material covers her mouth, an alien scientist hands you a pitcher of water. Meanwhile several of the other aliens prepare their dissection implements.

    Make the call.

    boris (e173ce)

  105. I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not, but I’ll answer. Having two daughters and realizing the only purpose for them forcing a decision like that is to see what limits they can find… I try to kill them and hopefully succeed or die in the attempt. Anyone placed in that type of position (by aliens, terrorists, whatever…) should realize that they will keep going until they find out what line you won’t cross. You’re both probably going to die at that point, so why give the satisfaction? Completely different situation as neither my daughter or myself has information or hope of actually satisfying them. If your asking whether I think it would be better to waterboard her myself or watch her die a gruesome death…. waterboard in a heartbeat. But unless I’m certain she will ultimately survive, I fight. What would you do?

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  106. If your asking whether I think it would be better to waterboard her myself or watch her die a gruesome death…. waterboard in a heartbeat. But unless I’m certain she will ultimately survive, I fight. What would you do?

    Add this to the scifi scenario then, you already tried to fight but it was so futile they simply ignored your effort. Further you witnessed another subject waterboard their child and were released without further harm. Sheesh, make it a rhetorical X file show why doncha.

    Maybe the aliens just want to find out if human society has started to come to terms with reality yet. Based on MSM radio and TV coverage they probably wonder if any humans have achieved common sense.

    boris (e173ce)

  107. But unless I’m certain she will ultimately survive, I fight.

    Doesn’t this answer you already? I don’t think I avoided the purpose of your question.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  108. I don’t think I avoided

    Didn’t claim you did, that’s why I included that part of your response … in a heartbeat. In essence I simply removed the qualifiers.

    boris (e173ce)

  109. Actually, the whole quote you used should answer you. If she’s going to be released without further harm, she gets waterboarded. I don’t understand the:

    Sheesh, make it a rhetorical X file show why doncha.

    frustration that implies. Waterboarding is temporary fright and discomfort… dead is dead. Am I missing something?

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  110. Am I missing something?

    Sense of humor?

    boris (e173ce)

  111. Lemmee check… looking…. looking…. crap, thought I had that on but the battery was dead. Thanks. 😉

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  112. Anytime

    boris (e173ce)

  113. I did warn you I wasn’t sure if you were serious or not, lol. I worked all night and can’t sleep yet, synapses are getting boggy. Since you posed the question, I’d be interested in how you would answer it.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  114. Don’t think any sane person would refuse to save their child’s life in a situation where 1 minute of panic and discomfort would work.

    Certainly as ridiculous as the hypo was, parents have been faced with such choices and the correct action is obvious.

    Imagine telling the spouse, “could have saved her but …”

    boris (e173ce)

  115. Well, the question posted in the topic seems pretty straight-forward too… but I don’t think Kimmett would answer yours either.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  116. It reminds me of Patterico’s question about who is worse, Osama or Bush & Actus couldn’t say definitively that OBL was worse. It’s a strange, strange world lefties live in.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  117. he’s proven you won’t answer the question and why you won’t answer the question. The truth is that you’re a coward who is afraid to state your position and defend it.

    I’m sorry, perhaps I was unclear. Let me be more explicit. I’m not playing the rhetorical game because it is bullshit.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  118. Then let me be more clear. You’re a coward. You argued every which way around the topic while avoiding any answer. If you “weren’t playing”, why post at all? Why try to derail the thread into what you wanted it to be about? Why do you even come back to this thread if it’s “irrelevant”? Not only are you a coward, you’re a lying coward.

    And as for your condescending nonsense about how we are torturers with no respect for human dignity… That’s right up there with “I’m rubber, you’re glue, anything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!” (Thought I’d put that in terms you would be more comfortable with.) Man, I hate idiotic lefty trolls. We need a recruitment drive.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  119. I’m not playing the rhetorical game because it is bullshit.

    No, it is reality. It is what happened with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Anyone who refuses to confront that fact is straining to avoid what this debate is about.

    Kimmitt: It’s wrong to torture people.

    Administration: If you’re referring to the most notorious example of torture, the waterboarding of KSM, well, here’s what we got from it. Isn’t that worth it?

    Kimmitt: Uhhhh . . . your argument is rhetorical bullshit and I will not answer.

    It’s functionally identical to this:

    Kimmitt: You are an idiot because you say that 8 times 8 is 64 when everyone knows it’s 72.

    Opponent: But this table right here says 8 times 8 is 64, not 72. What is your response to that?

    Kimmitt: That is rhetorical bullshit and I will not answer.

    You’ve been shown up, Kimmitt. The hypo is the most direct response possible to your accusations that Bush is wrong to engage in “torture.” It could not possibly be more on point and relevant — and your refusal to answer could not possibly be more telling.

    Are there any lefties here with the courage to answer the question? aphrael is about the only one so far. How about Phil? Where is the infamous Macswain? Everyone seems to have gone silent.

    So very interesting, that.

    Patterico (de0616)

  120. P: you missed an important point in 86, 87 — DKS said he was *capable* of taking the shot. He did not say he *would* take the shot.

    Dubya (c16726)

  121. To answer the question is waterboarding worth it — YES!

    To answer the “moral high ground” crap, there is no moral high ground in war. You either win or you lose, you survive or you die, you kill or be killed.

    Dubya (c16726)

  122. Let’s examine your participation Kimmett:

    A fair question, which deserves a fair answer: because the debate is about whether or not the US should institute a policy of systematic torture of detainees, not whether or not the US should occasionally engage in black ops and/or the President should pardon those involved in rare and extreme cases.

    But you didn’t give a fair answer, you dodged and tried to redefine the debate.

    The hypothetical is irrelevant to any policy debate which takes place in reality.

    How on Earth do you come up with this? Should every policy be made up as you go along?… or even after the fact? You have to examine hypotheticals to anticipate what the policy on something should be.

    No, the most fundamental human decency in this matter is to ensure the freedom of our fellow citizens, women, men, and children. To throw that away out of baseless fear is to spit on the sacrifices of those who fought and died to give us that freedom.

    People cannot be free if they are dead. If you don’t protect their safety, what good is their freedom?

    I like to think my predecessors were the sorts that fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, as versus the conservatives of that period, who saw Franco as the lesser of two evils.

    You’d like to think this, but you’d be wrong. Your predecessors were Northerners who returned escaped slaves because they weren’t worth anything and it was tearing up the country. Yes, traitors.

    No, you are trying to torture people. If you were interested in protecting people like me, we’d be discussing hypotheticals having to do with port security, the Russian nuclear arsenal, and reinforcing the folks looking for bin Laden. The fact that we are not engaging in a policy discussion regarding these low-hanging fruit but instead looking to repudiate our ideals as a nation makes crystal clear precisely what this entire discussion is about.

    Here we go again with redefining torture, trying to redefine the topic of the post, and whining because we’re not talking about what you think is important. Clear enough for you?

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  123. The point I think a lot of people here are missing is that the purpose of interrogation is to get information. Whether the information is true or not (i.e., they lie to end discomfort) is irrelevant to whether information was gained or not.

    The interrogator has a responsibility to vet the information once it’s been gotten. That is, he has to determine if it supports or negates other information or adds new facets to the investigation, whether it is fact or fiction.

    Getting no information means the investigation goes nowhere.

    Dubya (c16726)

  124. Whether the information is true or not (i.e., they lie to end discomfort) is irrelevant to whether information was gained or not.

    Thats an odd way of looking at it. So an interrogation where someone tells a lot of lies is more successful (meet the point) than one where someone remains silent?

    actus (10527e)

  125. Waterboard KSM. Better yet, write the procedure into code.

    Just don’t invade countries to prevent dictators from doing it to their enemies.

    Defining “enemies” is the bitch —

    Let’s say I’m a Canadian citizen and legal U.S. resident with an American wife and two children born in Boston.

    I can be picked up and detained indefinitely, with no right to a lawyer, no right to challenge my detention or to see the evidence against me, and no right for my family to even know the location of my secret prison.

    I can be branded “an enemy combatant” for actions as innocent as sending money to the wrong Islamic earthquake relief charity, since this is now classified as “providing material support for terrorists.”

    Is the America we had ten days ago, gone (or going)?

    steve (fa7a59)

  126. actus: “So an interrogation where someone tells a lot of lies is more successful (meet the point) than one where someone remains silent?”

    Yes. Think about it. Even a bunch of lies are usually designed to hide a truth. They also give an indication of the liar’s thought processes.

    Useful (or useless) information can be gained which is better than gaining no information.

    Dubya (c16726)

  127. Dubya,

    Actually, the interrogator doesn’t make that determination. Their goal is to get as much information as possible, that’s true. But they are aware that you reach a point of diminishing returns where the information is more distracting than helpful. Interrogators are trained to recognize this and back off. Analysts then vet the information and tie it together with anything related with degrees of confidence. But it’s not always the same people. Depends on where you’re at and what experience levels you have available. Just sayin 😉

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  128. Thats an odd way of looking at it. So an interrogation where someone tells a lot of lies is more successful (meet the point) than one where someone remains silent?

    And actus appears in the thread — but predictably does not answer the question posed in the post.

    Patterico (de0616)

  129. hey i live in CALFORNIA in part where were very conservative we still farm the land and yes we LOG IT TO

    krazy kagu (4455b0)

  130. And actus appears in the thread — but predictably does not answer the question posed in the post.

    I put it elsewhere. Its worth it. Whats 2.5 minutes of anyone’s discomfort to a life saved?

    [Actually, you didn’t put it elsewhere; this is the first time you’ve said it. But thanks for answering — it’s a rare straight answer from you. — P]

    actus (10527e)

  131. Waterboard KSM. Better yet, write the procedure into code.

    steve,

    Is that a serious answer? You raise several other points regarding the Bush handling of the war on terror that merit discussion, but here, we’re talking about torture, and I asked a question. You answer it, but then segue into a rant that suggests your answer was sarcastic.

    This is a serious question that merits a serious answer. You’re a smart guy and I’d love to have the discussion with you.

    I’ve said before that I’m not unpersuadable on the torture question, but this hypo presents a strong argument that I can’t seem to get lefties to confront. How can I be persuaded if everyone dodges one of the main arguments in favor of the Bush position?

    Patterico (de0616)

  132. This is a serious question that merits a serious answer.

    This i have to disagree. I don’t think its that serious a question to pose it in isolation, and with hindsight.

    but this hypo presents a strong argument that I can’t seem to get lefties to confront.

    It’s because nobody confronts it. No-one faces this situation.

    actus (10527e)

  133. It seems the definition of torture is situational: that is if someone can make political points out of a particular definition they will define feather-tickling as torture.

    Dubya (c16726)

  134. It’s because nobody confronts it. No-one faces this situation.

    And so actus predictably weasels, with an utterly laughable excuse.

    Patterico (de0616)

  135. And so actus predictably weasels, with an utterly laughable excuse.

    Uh. weasel? I answered your question: its worth it.

    [You’re correct. I’d missed that. — P]

    actus (10527e)

  136. How can I be persuaded if everyone dodges one of the main arguments in favor of the Bush position? -Patterico

    I’m perfectly serious. An answer requiring less nuance than you hoped for is still an answer. And the “lefties-can’t-confront-me” device a self-conscious snare.

    So why is my hypothetical “a rant?”

    steve (fa7a59)

  137. Useful (or useless) information can be gained which is better than gaining no information.

    Like the scene in goonies where chunk goes off and confesses to “everything.”

    actus (10527e)

  138. It could not possibly be more on point and relevant

    I thought we were debating this, rather than “dismissing it with an airy wave of the hand.” My thesis is that in the absence of meaningful context, the hypothetical presented is clearly demagoguery, rather than an attempt to get at underlying truths. To counter, you either have to explain that you have already presented context, or that there is no onus on you to present a coherent position for me to respond to, when you ask me to respond to your position (in the form of your presented hypothetical).

    How can I be persuaded if everyone dodges one of the main arguments in favor of the Bush position?

    You can’t, if you accept that this hypothetical is in any way related to the Bush position. You’re starting from a false premise, and that’s the (oft repeated) point of my portion of this exchange.

    if someone can make political points out of a particular definition they will define feather-tickling as torture.

    I submit that forty-eight hours of feather tickling pretty much is torture. Duration as well as action define unendurable sensation, not to mention shocking of the conscience.

    To put it another way, putting goggles and earplugs on a person for eight hours helps them get a good night’s sleep. Putting them on for forty-eight hours induces psychosis. Context is key (which, if anything can be gathered from this discussion, is what we’ve learned).

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  139. And the “lefties-can’t-confront-me” device a self-conscious snare.

    Huh? Is that supposed to have meaning somehow? I seriously have no idea what you’re trying to say there. And it doesn’t take a lot of nuance to say yes or no, ask actus. What’s your answer? Yes, waterboarding is worth it in the situation described… or No, it is not worth it. Is that so hard?

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  140. Gee, Kimmitt, you must’ve studied the situational ethics that was the rage in the 70’s. Did you smoke a lot of pot then too?

    Dubya (c16726)

  141. I thought we were debating this … in the absence of meaningful context

    Let see if I can paraphrase this nonsense …

    The KSM situation doesn’t count because in hindsight we know the intel he revealed saved lives. In general we don’t know that for sure so it unfair to use as guidance for future action.

    Any future hypothetical situation would necessarily lack context because it hasn’t happened yet so speculatiive situations don’t count.

    Give Kimmet a real world real time in context terrorist having explicitly known intel or the question is unanswerable.

    Is that about it?

    boris (e173ce)

  142. You can’t, if you accept that this hypothetical is in any way related to the Bush position. You’re starting from a false premise, and that’s the (oft repeated) point of my portion of this exchange.

    Then give an answer, and we can debate whether it’s related.

    There are two questions:

    1) How do you answer the hypo?

    2) Does it relate to reality?

    Lefties like Kimmitt are very uncomfortable answering #1, because they don’t want to admit that either a) they would sometimes favor “torture” or b) that they care more about their opposition to “torture” than the lives of thousands of people. So they harp on #2 all day long, hoping to avoid talking about #1.

    I’m done answering your dodges, Kimmitt. Up until now it has been useful to illustrate a point about the left. Now it’s a waste of time.

    If you find the courage to actually answer the question, I’ll debate you further. Anything else you say is a further dodge and not worth responding to.

    Patterico (de0616)

  143. Yes, waterboarding is worth it in the situation described or No, it is not worth it. Is that so hard? – Stashiu3

    I’ve said “yes” several times. Is that so hard?

    Make him our bitch.

    [You always respond in a way that leaves open the possibility you are being ironic. How about a serious answer? — P]

    steve (fa7a59)

  144. If you find the courage to actually answer the question, Ill debate you further.

    Is it really that courageous to answer the question? All it does is show what sort of ethical theory you possses. Are you a utilitarian? If so, the answer is quite clear: 2.5 minutes of someone’s discomfort is certainly worth a life saved. It might be worth even less — say, saving someones leg, or someone’s retirement. But at this point we’re just disagreeing on the utilitarian weight to give this 2.5 minutes of panic.

    Or maybe you’re more of a conscientious objector type. Some one with a belief in some more moral absolutes, as in ‘there are some things we just don’t do.’ Then the answer also is kind of clear: the debate is over whether this 2.5 minutes of panic falls into that category.

    Over all, not much courage in answering the question.

    More courage is the following hypothetical: A canadian/syrian citizen, a software developer, is in transit via your country. Canadian intelligence tells us he once cosigned a lease with a terrorist. Or even something less specific. He has ‘connections.’ What would 2.5 minutes of his panic be worth? What would 10 months of his panic be worth?

    [Blah blah blah. What do *you* think? I may start deleting comments that don’t begin with yes or no. — P]

    [UPDATE: Never mind. I see you did answer above. — P]

    actus (10527e)

  145. Putting them on for forty-eight hours induces psychosis.

    Not true, reactions are different for different people. The vast majority of people would not be psychotic at 48 hours or less. Also, tickling with a feather beyond a certain length of time (again, tolerances vary widely) becomes useless as the nerves become desensitized to it. We have a tickle-response because our body interprets it as a threat. The sympathetic nervous system kicks in and we get a physical fight or flight response. But because we know that the threat is not real, our emotional reaction is one of relief and laughter. Eventually, the response from the sympathetic nervous system attenuates and disappears. Your body can’t sustain it once you realize that the threat is not real.

    Maybe you want to think of another diversion? It seems you will only define torture as “Anything terrorists object to or makes me uncomfortable.” That’s why you can’t give a straight answer, because when it’s said out loud it sounds stupid. News Flash… it is stupid.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  146. Pat —

    As your lefty opponents keep responding that the hypothetical as phrased is unrealistic, and no one is ever faced with such a situation, let me refine it.

    The Atlantic Monthly ran an article within the last three years (issue unknown, but I’m looking), dealing with the morality and efficacy of torture. The author spent a lot of time interviewing a retired member of a third-world security force who believed that torture was both effective and morally justified, especially in the “ticking time-bomb scenario.”

    The author pressed for a specific example, and the former intelligence officer said they had captured two men who they believed had information about a planned rush-hour bombing on a crowded commuter train.

    After both men refused to provide any intel — and were quite arrogant in their stated belief that they would come to no harm — the interrogator told them they had one final chance to give him the info.

    If I remember correctly, the captives laughed at him.

    He then drew his pistol and shot one in the head, splattering the other with his compadre’s blood and brains.

    The survivor immediately divulged the information, and a massive terrorist attack was foiled.

    Now, this is clearly far beyond what Patterico has posited, but it does prove the point that brutal methods do work, and, in an odd way, doesn’t constitute torture, either, inasmuch as they never laid a finger on the guy who gave up the desired info.

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  147. I wonder what secrets the spattered brains held…

    Dubya (c16726)

  148. An interesting point. What if he’d shot the guy with the info, and was left with the driver?

    But, as I recall, they were both high-level members of the terrorist organization.

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  149. In the Society of Neuroscience meeting in November, 2003, there was a presentation of the effectiveness of naloxone (an opioid receptor blocker commonly used as an antidote for narcotic overdose) on the increase of the fear response and the lowering of pain tolerance. I talked to the presenter. He seemed like a nice guy. I wonder where he works now. Mike, that shot in the head stuff is for the underdeveloped nations.

    nk (41da82)

  150. Mike, that shot in the head stuff is for the underdeveloped nations.

    Which is where the interrogation took place. But then again, some commenters wanted a concrete example wherein brutal interrogation techniques resulted in the receipt of valid information preventing a terrorist attack.

    Given the same scenario involving U.S. forces, would you accept waterboarding in place of the summary execution in order to prevent an attack?

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  151. Of course. I already said so. And the administration of naloxone to reduce the amount of fear and pain it was necessary to inflict, and the administration of scopolamine and pentothal to reduce the will to resist.

    nk (5e5670)

  152. nk —

    I wasn’t questioning your willingness to use less-than-lethal methods to interrogate prisoners; the question was directed to those commenters who won’t engage Patterico on his terms.

    You do know that those same commenters would consider your use of drugs to constitute “torture” (although clearly I would not).

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  153. nk,
    I’ve never heard of naloxone used for this, thanks. I’ve given it for overdose, and it’s like turning on a lightswitch the recovery is so fast. But the half-life is much shorter than the half-life for narcotics and so you have to keep giving it until the drug is completely metabolized or they will go back into overdose. For interrogations, it’s short half-life would limit the amount of time needed to recover afterwards. I’m going to do some checking on this at work to learn more about it. Thanks again.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  154. Sure, torture can “work” in certain situtations. A dictatorship also “works” in that it achieves various results one can argue are positive, in addition to those we perceive as negative. Look at how well Saddam’s government “worked” for purposes of catching trators, assuring loyalty, maintaining stability, etc.

    Like torture, a dictatorship isn’t something I’m eager to accept in order to feel a bit safer. But that’s just me . . . it seems like a lot of people here would feel differently.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  155. accept in order to feel a bit safer

    The hypo didn’t suggest anyone would “feel safer”. Given the nature of the enemy interrogation techniques like waterboarding saves lives.

    One suspects who is president has a lot to do with what’s “acceptable”.

    boris (e173ce)

  156. Sure, torture can “work” in certain situtations.

    If by “work” you mean it can save “lives” or prevent “Americans” from being “killed,” why, I agree with you, scare quotes notwithstanding.

    But we part ways when you make the interesting leap from torture to dictatorship, and from reformulating the hypothetical to take it from waterboarding to prevent a massive attack to torture to make you “a little bit safer.”

    You’re torturing the rules of the discussion, Phil.

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  157. If Congress ever tries to pass a bill that says “known terrorist X knows about a massive attack, and we can stop it if we waterboard him; therefor, Congress herby declares that waterboarding of terrorist X is lawful this one time” then I’ll vote for it.

    But that’s never the *actual legislation* that’s proposed, because legislation doesn’t work that way. The *actual legislation* is always, essentially, “let’s allow torture because the president says that it’ll make us a little bit safer.”

    Then everyone pretends we’re just allowing waterboarding of terrorist X when we know he has information about a massive attack. But in fact, we’re saying “you’re allowed to torture when you think it’s useful. We know you’ll use this ability wisely, because you promise you will.”

    What’s mindboggling is that this is *conservatives* saying they *trust the government* to use the right to torture wisely. I feel like I’m in bizzarro-world.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  158. Are you defining waterboarding as torture? If so, we may never be able to come to an agreement. I contend that waterboarding is not torture, although it is coercive. I would say that when you include waterboarding, tickling with a feather for 48 hours, or putting goggle and earplugs on for 48 hours, you are outside the definition of torture and minimize real torture (amputation of digits, electricity, impalement, etc…). Not getting a second cup of hot coffee with breakfast is not torture, although that has been claimed. This thread deals specifically with waterboarding. Do you consider that torture?

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  159. Phil’s comment in #156 is equivalent to argument being made regarding so-called “warrantless wiretaps” i.e., that Congress or Judicial must specifically approve every surveillance or intelligence gathering method used in war.

    This is the reason that the Constitution specifically limits the Legislative branch to declaring war and paying for it and gives no role whatsoever in war to the Judicial. Rather than setting up “dictatorship” as alleged by the left, it simply recognizes that timely response to an enemy’s actions is required to sucessfully prosecute a war.

    This is what you call “executive power.”

    Dubya (c16726)

  160. My definition of torture includes “the government making me think I’m going to die if I don’t tell them what they want to know.” So yes, unfortunatly, things like waterboarding, putting a gun to my head, putting a gun to my CHILDREN’S head (under your definition, I’m assuming that’s not “torture” either), etc., are torture.

    I think you’re failing to grasp the psychological injuries caused by these sort of tactics. While it’s true that they don’t result in a visible injury, the fact is that you are harming a person by putting them in a life-threatening situation (even if the torturer knows it’s not life-threatening).

    At any rate, what’s the difference between electricity torture waterboarding? Electricity, if properly applied, doesn’t do any more physical harm than putting someone in a perceived life-threatening situation. In fact, sock treatment is still considered by some to be a valid therapy.

    The fact is, when a person is terrified for their life, chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain run haywire. The body’s systems react, and extreme stress is put on the heart and nervous system. How is that different, really, from hooking someone up to a car battery?

    Phil (88ab5b)

  161. Oh, by the way Phil, you and I don’t get to vote for the decision: we only get to vote for the “Decider!” 8)

    Dubya (c16726)

  162. Electro-convulsive therapy is a valid therapy used for voluntary treatment of people with major depression, uncontrolled mania, and schizophrenia. It isn’t designed to produce pain or to damage the brain per se, although it does result in short term and, some fear, long term memory loss.

    It works by triggering a seizure, which releases neuro-transmitters in the brain.

    Anyway, of course any kind of stress can cause psychological damage in a person.

    Tough titty, Phil.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  163. Phil, I’m sure Bush would have preferred the status quo ante (wherein reportedly 12 top al-Qaeda’s were secretly held and waterboarded by the CIA). But he now has to go the statutory route, due to leaks and the resulting press reports and political pressures. What keeps this law from threatening dictatorship is that it does not apply to US citizens, thus we do not especially have to “trust the government.”

    dwpittelli (87ad39)

  164. Phil,

    Your solution (#157) is also IMHO an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder, and thus at least as problematic as what just passed (i.e., subject to its own slippery-slope problems, both as to who Congress will have water-boarded next, and what explicit Constitutional provisions they will defy next).

    dwpittelli (87ad39)

  165. making me think I’m going to die

    Waterboarding is no more threatining to “kill” the subject than yelling at him is. The intended response is reflexive, not pain, not fear. It disorients the mind, disrupts rational thought and disengages mental control and willpower.

    Even if they demonstrated the procedure on a US volunteer to show neither death nor injury nor pain, the reflex nature still makes it effective.

    If a terrorist were known to have severe vertigo, taking him up in a Ferris wheel or on a roller coaster ride would have a similar effect.

    boris (e173ce)

  166. I think you’re failing to grasp the psychological injuries caused by these sort of tactics. While it’s true that they don’t result in a visible injury, the fact is that you are harming a person by putting them in a life-threatening situation (even if the torturer knows it’s not life-threatening).

    […]

    The fact is, when a person is terrified for their life, chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain run haywire. The body’s systems react, and extreme stress is put on the heart and nervous system. How is that different, really, from hooking someone up to a car battery?

    The truth comes out. According to Phil, et al., “stress” = “torture” and therefore, what? Terrorists are entitled to herbal tea, feng shui cells and soothing music? Because to stress out a terrorist would destroy all that which makes America great, and, of course, would make us just like the bad guys.

    Except for the throat slitting, head chopping, suicide bombing, crashing planes into buildings part.

    This is perhaps the most ludicrous response yet to Patterico’s challenge.

    Mike Lief (e9d57e)

  167. What if the person makes up a story to make the terror stop and so our precious resources are tied up on a wild goose chase while the bad guys are enroute to their date with Allah? Was the torture worth it?

    What if the rest of the world looks from Islamists to us and back again and can’t see a difference?

    What if they decide our potential source can’t be entrusted to our tender mercies and thus we never have a chance at the information?

    What if we save our necks only to lose our soul?

    Donald H (fce671)

  168. the whole issue is just more b.s. to scare the american people. just like the terror alerts, gitmo (which serves no purpose – as they could do everything without being under the spotlight in iraq or elsewhere), and the fake foiled terror plots like the KLM Los Angeles, padilla and the Miami 7.

    What’s amazing is how gullible the people are. Freaking .00001% of the population was killed on 9/11 or the number of innocents that die every month in iraq – a country with 1/12 of our population.

    torture is a distraction and fear ploy. and it has worked, per usual. and we will regret it as all civilizations in history have.

    the silver lining in all of these new laws is that all the terrorists who hate our freedom now have little reason to be angry anymore. yeah!

    hotpotatomash (733899)

  169. What if the rest of the world looks from Islamists to us and back again and can’t see a difference?

    What if they decide our potential source can’t be entrusted to our tender mercies and thus we never have a chance at the information?

    What if we save our necks only to lose our soul?

    What gibberish!

    Dubya (c16726)

  170. the silver lining in all of these new laws is that all the terrorists who hate our freedom now have little reason to be angry anymore. yeah!

    More gibberish!

    The question was: “…is it worth it…” not “…does it salve our soul…” or “…does it make the terrorists love us…”

    See for a discussion of what all this “debate” about aggressive interrogation results in for our front-line folks.

    Also, please remember there is a distinction between what the military can do with enemy combatants and what intelligence personnel can do with detainees (enemy combatants captured on the battlefield or terrorists snatched off some street).

    Dubya (c16726)

  171. um, yeah, of course its gibberish. the entire concept of hating our freedom is complete non-sense. depending on who you talk to there could be any number of reasons why someone might hate the US but i don’t think our freedom ranks very high.

    that gibberish, btw, as i hope you know is that of our president GWB. though i could understand someone not able to decipher it from the rest of gibberish. too much to keep up with. hell, often they can’t even keep up which is why we some pretty funny stories like the KSM L.A. plot. go back and watch bush deliver that speech in february. he’s barely audible and he struggles with every line. almost as if it was learning about it with his audience.

    hotpotatomash (733899)

  172. If you’re going to attribute something to Bush, at least provide a link or other reference to back it up.

    Dubya (c16726)

  173. don’t you know where the white house website is? what specifically would you like links to? i cant count high enough to get to the number of times he has said they hate us for our freedom. as for general gibberish, i suggest watching any speech start to finish. KSM/L.A. Plot was first mentioned Feb. 9, 2006. well, officially that is. Washington times ran a story in 2004. bush then brings it up along with anthrax as two examples of why his new tools are working in Couric interview in June.

    hotpotatomash (733899)

  174. Uh. weasel? I answered your question: its worth it.

    I see you did. Missed it; sorry. Thank you. I’ll follow up.

    Patterico (de0616)

  175. You always respond in a way that leaves open the possibility you are being ironic. How about a serious answer? — Patterico

    If you can’t take “yes” for an answer, that’s your issue.

    steve (3e5902)

  176. Very well. You have now made it clear without sarcasm (for the first time). Your answer is yes.

    Patterico (de0616)

  177. [Actually, you didn’t put it elsewhere

    You bugged me about it in another thread. And I answered there. Your ‘are you now or have you ever been’ is quite a success. Though not very useful.

    Whats your answer to my hypo in #144?

    actus (10527e)

  178. Lefties like Kimmitt are very uncomfortable answering #1,

    Yes (as requested), but not for the reason you think — it’s not because my position on the issue isn’t fairly straightforward, it’s that answering the hypothetical dignifies it. You’re trying to frame the debate without acknowledging that you’re trying to frame the debate, which is intellectually unserious.

    Dubya — when the 70s ended, I was 3. Didn’t get much study, or much pot, in during that period. Might want to quit projecting.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  179. Our esteemed host wrote:

    Lefties like Kimmitt are very uncomfortable answering #1, because they don’t want to admit that either a) they would sometimes favor “torture” or b) that they care more about their opposition to “torture” than the lives of thousands of people. So they harp on #2 all day long, hoping to avoid talking about #1.

    Unfortunately, our host missed it. The real problem is that there are only two realistic methods of dealing with terrorism: the aggressive take the battle to the enemy and kill him policy employed by President Bush, or the legalistic law enforcement policy of President Clinton (and President Bush, prior to September 11th.) In their opposition to everything President Bush does, our friends on the left have been using criticisms of Bush Administration policy which can only be assigned to the law enforcement model. Since there isn’t really a large list of choices from which to select, that is unsurprising: they either argue from the strict law enforcement model, or they wind up supporting President Bush!

    Had the law enforcement model actually worked to prevent terrorism, maybe they’d have a good position; unfortunately, it did not.

    And this leaves our friend Kimmett (and he’s hardly the only one) in the strange position of having to say that no prisoner should ever be treated harshly to get information while having to ignore completely the fact that in some cases having done so saved innocent lives.

    It boils down to this: if we accept the position of the good Kimmett that it is never right to mistreat a prisoner to obtain information, we must concomitantly accept that more innocent people will be killed by the terrorists. If our good friend Kimmett would admit that such conundrum exists for his position, I’d congratulate him on his courage, at least, if not on his judgement.

    Dana (1d5902)

  180. Thanks to Red State, I found this news item, which documents the apprehension of some Iraqi terrorists in the late stages of planning major attacks in Baghdad. As Red State noted, no mention was made of the interrogation tactics used. I’m sure that this plot was revealed by a terrorist who walked into police headquarters and volunteered the information over coffee and doughnuts.

    Dana (1d5902)

  181. Very well. You have now made it clear without sarcasm (for the first time). Your answer is yes. – Patterico

    What is your answer to my hypo in #125?

    Among the many up there…

    steve (3e5902)

  182. not because my position on the issue isn’t fairly straightforward

    If you can’t answer the question then your position on the issue is not straightforward at all.

    A position that can only be determined at the exact moment of each and every incident depending on the circumstances is not a “position” and is worthless to consider in making policy.

    boris (e173ce)

  183. By the way, the FBI is now working very hard to connect U.S. organized crime and white-collar crime to terrorism. Because, of course, once it’s connected, the bill of rights goes out the window for suspects in these areas of law enforcement, and torture is an acceptable approach to information gathering.

    Frankly, Patterico’s acceptance of torture scares me most because he’s a prosecutor. I bet he’d love to be able throw out the right to an attorney and Miranda, to call in a couple police officers with phone books and billy clubs every time he did an interrogation on anyone. It’d sure make his job a lot easier.

    Which is my baseline objection to authorizing law enforcement to use torture as a policy. It promotes laziness, because being a torturer IS so easy. No matter how flimsy your current evidence, you don’t have to be a good investigator to convict someone, or get them to rat out their conspirators — just hook ’em up to a car battery.

    Inevitably, you’ll see it spreading, as more and more law enforcement departments say “gee, the torture option would make my job a lot easier too!”

    So my skin crawls when Patterico, a prosecutor, nags us to tell him it’s “worth it” to torture. Because I fear that in his heart of hearts’ he’d like to be able to torture his own suspects. It’d make his job a lot easier. So it’d be “worth it,” right?

    Phil (88ab5b)

  184. Phil, one more comment like that and you’re banned. I can put up with a lot, but I draw the line at people bringing my job into these discussions.

    Patterico (de0616)

  185. What is your answer to my hypo in #125?

    Among the many up there…

    I’m not inclined right this second to answer anyone’s question, now that one of the commenters has made this into a personal thing about my job.

    I wanted to debate policy, and I get that. I don’t know Phil’s full name or his job, so it’s a cheap shot for him to make such comments.

    He is the one who said waterboarding is morally justified, not I. What kind of person would say such a thing, Phil? It makes my skin crawl!!

    As long as I have to put up with that kind of crap, my questions are going to be one-sided. I ask, you answer (or weasel, as the case may be, and generally is).

    Patterico (de0616)

  186. Patterico, you wear your profession on your sleeve, so I thought it was fair game to acknowledge it in discussing things. You’ve referenced my journalism background as it relates to my politiccal views, and I have no problem with that.

    But since it bothers you that much, I won’t mention it anymore.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  187. I don’t think it’s wrong to mention that someone who works as a prosecutor, in your opinion, responds to issues like you would expect a prosecutor to.

    Certainly, it isn’t a big deal.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  188. Patterico, you wear your profession on your sleeve, so I thought it was fair game to acknowledge it in discussing things. You’ve referenced my journalism background as it relates to my politiccal views, and I have no problem with that.

    But since it bothers you that much, I won’t mention it anymore.

    I don’t like comments that smack of threats to my job. When someone starts talking about how they don’t like the fact that a prosecutor holds opinion x or y, I get angry. And lefties do this all the time.

    Don’t draw an equivalence to yourself. When you tell me your last name and current job, and then I start talking about how it makes my skin crawl that someone with your profession holds your views, then we’ll have equivalence. Until then, not so much.

    It’s not necessarily an illegitimate question, but you should be a lot more polite about asking it. Try *asking* me whether I think confessions should be beaten from criminal suspects (the answer is no) and why that’s a different situation from terrorists. Just announcing that it makes your skin crawl that I hold certain opinions is going to make me snap back.

    Patterico (de0616)

  189. Patterico offered a hypothetical and then asked:

    My simple question is this: based on these hypothetical facts, was the waterboarding session worth it?

    Assuming that there is no alternative to gaining the information needed, my simple answer is “yes”. The hypothetical situation guarantees a positive outcome in that terrible harm to many innocent people was certainly averted only by torturing a terrorist. As a result, no innocent people suffered, and a bad person was thwarted that otherwise could not have been thwarted.

    But the situtation offered by Patterico is not just hypothetical; the situation he posits is unrealistic. It reveals the outcome to actions a priori, relies on certainty and absolutes that do not exist in the real world, and offers scant choices while ignoring what history has shown to be the inevitable consequences of nations that betray their most basice ideals. In reality, we know that torture cannot and will not be limited to only the guilty, that it can yield information that is inaccurate and false, and that in the past the US has learned about and then defeated evil foes without becoming evil itself.

    So let”s look at other scenarios, real ones this time; one’s were we don’t have to assume any hypothetical facts:

    Maher Arar, a Canadian/Syrian citizen travelling through JFK airport, was kidnapped and sent to be tortured for ten months, and reportedly confessed under duress to crimes of which he was entirely innocent. He is not a terrorist, and his torture neither yielded useful information nor saved lives.

    My simple question is this: based on these known facts, was the torture of Mr Arar worth it?

    The US now holds thousands of people without charge, trial, or criminal conviction: would torturing those of them that are innocent be worth it?

    I genuinely look forward to the thoughtful replies and civil discourse that await.

    Rick

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  190. [You always respond in a way that leaves open the possibility you are being ironic. How about a serious answer? — P]

    That is so weak. Or maybe i’m being ironic.

    actus (10527e)

  191. Patterico, I also apologize for paragraph 2 of the post that you objected to. It wasn’t supposed to be about you specifically, but about my fear of what some law enforcement would like to do. I shouldn’t have applied it to you personally, and didn’t recognize it read that way until re-reading it.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  192. thoughtful replies and civil discourse that await

    Your ridiculous post was utter nonsense. Arar was sent back to Syria because he was a “Canadian/Syrian citizen” and Canada claimed he was a terrorist so Syria was the logical place to send him.

    So was Arar tortured in Syria? Why? Syria does a bad thing to one of their own citizens so how is that relevant to claims made by military and some journalists that waterboarding was used to save lives (KSM for example). How unrealistic is real life?

    boris (e173ce)

  193. Your ridiculous post was utter nonsense. Arar was sent back to Syria because he was a “Canadian/Syrian citizen” and Canada claimed he was a terrorist so Syria was the logical place to send him.

    You think its logical to send terrorists to syria? Explain the logic to me.

    actus (10527e)

  194. You think its logical to send terrorists to syria?

    … because he was a “Canadian/Syrian citizen” and Canada claimed he was a terrorist. We don’t send terrorists to Syria, we returned a Syrian citizen to his own country. You don’t actually know what the word “logical” means do you?

    boris (e173ce)

  195. We don’t send terrorists to Syria, we returned a Syrian citizen to his own country. You don’t actually know what the word “logical” means do you?

    Why not send him to canada? He wanted to go there.

    actus (10527e)

  196. Do I look like a canadian customs official?

    boris (e173ce)

  197. Arar was sent back to Syria because he was a “Canadian/Syrian citizen” and Canada claimed he was a terrorist so Syria was the logical place to send him.

    Clearly, we did him a favor. In fact, he should be thanking us!

    jpe (182338)

  198. Do I look like a canadian customs official?

    What the hell is this supposed to mean? Why is it logical to send him to syria, where he didn’t want to go, instead of canada, where he was in transit to?

    actus (10527e)

  199. Good one

    boris (e173ce)

  200. Double tag!

    boris (e173ce)

  201. Just closing HTML tag.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  202. Arar was sent back to Syria because he was a “Canadian/Syrian citizen” and Canada claimed he was a terrorist so Syria was the logical place to send him.

    There’s enough information in that sentence to answer your dumbass questions.

    boris (e173ce)

  203. There’s enough information in that sentence to answer your dumbass questions.

    Why is logical to send a terrorist to syria and not canada? That doesn’t make much sense at all.

    actus (10527e)

  204. Because, Actus, Canada doesn’t want Islamic terrorists killing its citizens either.

    Are you dense?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  205. 189. Rick said:

    The hypothetical situation guarantees a positive outcome in that terrible harm to many innocent people was certainly averted only by torturing a terrorist.

    I still have a problem with this because you are using the word torture instead of waterboarding. They are not the same. If you believe they are, that’s different of course. But then, we are never going to be able to agree on anything about this thread. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’d like to know though so I can avoid responding to your points on this in the future. Not because they’re worthless, but because I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything useful. That would only be frustrating for us both. Thanks.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  206. “Because, Actus, Canada doesn’t want Islamic terrorists killing its citizens either”

    Which makes the decision to let Mr Arar into the hands of a state sponsor of terrorism (as Syria is designated by the US State Department) all the more bizzare.

    Canadian authorities, according to the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar, did not request or even participate in the decision to send Mr Arar to Jordan; it was from Jordan, not the US, that Mr Arar was sent to Syria. Mr Arar holds dual Canadian/Syrian citizenship, and yet the US didn’t send him to either country. Why send Mr Arar to Jordan if he is not a citizen there when he could have been sent to his own country of Canada (where he was a “person of interest” accordng to Canadian law enforcement)? The Canadians didn’t arrange for or even want Mr Arar turned over to either Jordan or Syria, so your answer to actus still doesn’t explain why the US, acting unlawfully and without the consent or advice of the Canadian authorities who had alerted the US to Mr Arar, arranged for this innocent man to be sent to a country where he would be tortured into telling incriminating falsehoods.

    But these are, as Patterico put it, mere “distractions” to the simple question, Christoph: was the torture of Mr Arar worth it?

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  207. No, it was a terrible error, Rick, one for which the Parliament of Canada including our Prime Minister unanimously apologized.

    There are errors in war. You don’t stop fighting because of that.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  208. Stashiu3 thoughtfully posted:

    I still have a problem with this because you are using the word torture instead of waterboarding. They are not the same. If you believe they are, that’s different of course. But then, we are never going to be able to agree on anything about this thread. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’d like to know though so I can avoid responding to your points on this in the future. Not because they’re worthless, but because I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything useful. That would only be frustrating for us both. Thanks.

    I believe you are sincere, Stashiu3. You disagree with me, but that alone does not sway me any more than my claim that waterboarding is torture sways you. I believe that waterboarding is torture, Stasiu3, and I am as sincere in my belief as you appear to be in yours.

    The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984 was ratified by the US and defined torture long before the recent attempts to redefine it:

    …any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
    intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a
    third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third
    person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or
    coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any
    kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the
    consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official
    capacity.

    The definition in the Convention Against Torture contains five elements: (1) the intentional (2) infliction of severe pain or suffering, (3) whether mental or physical, (4) for a range of purposes (5) when inflicted by, or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or a person acting in an official capacity. Waterboarding fits this definition, imho, as does exposure to marked temperature extremes and forced “stress” positions.

    I hope that this disagreement doesn’t stop you from replying to my posts, as I’ll reply to yours even if you continue to refer to waterboarding and these other things as something other than torture, but I cannot compromise my beliefs without something more convincing than a threat not to reply to me.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  209. Christoph thoughtfully posted:

    No, it was a terrible error, Rick, one for which the Parliament of Canada including our Prime Minister unanimously apologized.

    Yes, they did, but the US to its shame did not. And it was the US, not Canada, that set-up an innocent man to be tortured.

    There are errors in war. You don’t stop fighting because of that.

    I never said nor meant to imply otherwise, Christoph. And by the same token, you don’t ignore errors in war, and you don’t deliberately keep committing them just because you are at war, either.

    So back to the simple questions: Was the torture of Mr Arar worth it? Would torturing those held by the US that are innocent be worth it?

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  210. Rick,

    Certainly fair enough for us to agree to disagree. I was trying to ensure that my post did not appear a threat, perhaps I failed. I truly did not want to cause you frustration because we were not communicating with the same vocabulary. I also recognize that the belief that waterboarding is torture is sincere in most cases, just as most of us who take the opposite position are sincere. Your reasoning is well-considered and I appreciate you explaining it to me. I look forward to your future points and will consider what you have said. Perhaps one of us will enlighten the other… we can certainly try without rancor. Thank you for the response and consideration.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  211. Because, Actus, Canada doesn’t want Islamic terrorists killing its citizens either.

    Then give him to the canadian authorities. You really think we should be sending islamic terrorists to syria?

    actus (10527e)

  212. Actus wrote:

    Because, Actus, Canada doesn’t want Islamic terrorists killing its citizens either.

    Then give him to the canadian authorities. You really think we should be sending islamic terrorists to syria?

    I thgink they were hoping that the Syrians would extradite him to Hell; the Canadians would never do that.

    Dana (3e4784)

  213. I thgink they were hoping that the Syrians would extradite him to Hell; the Canadians would never do that.

    There we go.

    actus (10527e)

  214. Was the torture of Mr Arar worth it?

    Arar claims he was mistreated in Syrian prison. So everything is now “torture”. Regardless of how big a FUBAR it was to send him back to HIS OWN COUNTRY against his will because Canada mistakenly put him on a terrorist watch list, Syria is to blame for what happened to him there.

    boris (e173ce)

  215. Waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods are not and will not be used by “public officials,” military or law-enforcement personnel or by officers of any US court. I think that much is certain in our litigious society.

    Such techniques likely to be used by intelligence agencies regardless of any laws or treaties simply due to the secret nature of such agencies (i.e., few people will know about it, much less talk about it).

    It really doesn’t matter what people consider to be the “moral high ground” when the rubber meets the road in war and espionage.

    Dubya (c16726)

  216. Boris: Exactly!

    You catch an occasional innocent along with the scum. If those caught don’t belong in the country where caught, throw them back to whence they came. Let their own “authorities” figure out what to do with them. I don’t see there’s any kind of moral issue here, as the US is not responsible for the behavior of other countries.

    Dubya (c16726)

  217. http://www.davidcorn.com/archives/2006/09/this_is_what_wa.php

    Your country represents your morals. Your country represents who you are, and what you hope the rest of world can be. Your country is a reflection of the best of democracy and freedom and the rights of the individual.

    You figure it out.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  218. Noted: you’d rather be dead than saved by the use of waterboarding.

    Seems you’re outvoted. Live in shame then or perhaps you could find a better country?

    boris (e173ce)

  219. Live in shame then or perhaps you could find a better country?

    It looks like cambodia is out of the question too. Where else can a guy turn?

    actus (10527e)

  220. I hear La La Land is lovely this time of year.

    boris (e173ce)

  221. I hear La La Land is lovely this time of year.

    Fiction doesn’t work. “24” is on.

    actus (10527e)

  222. Yeah, but you wouldn’t want Jack Bauer to save you, so I guess you’re done for.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  223. Yeah, but you wouldn’t want Jack Bauer to save you, so I guess you’re done for.

    I certainly don’t rely on fiction to save me. No. I don’t know about the rest of you.

    actus (10527e)

  224. Too bad you have to “live” with our choice in the matter. Robbed of the opportunity to “die” for your high moral principles must be like torture for your sensitive soul.

    boris (e173ce)

  225. Too bad you have to “live” with our choice in the matter.

    I think i’ll do just fine in my east coast liberal target city.

    actus (10527e)

  226. “I certainly don’t rely on fiction to save me. No. I don’t know about the rest of you.”

    I don’t rely on hyperbole. I don’t know about you.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  227. I don’t rely on hyperbole. I don’t know about you.

    Then what the hell are you doing in this joke of a thread?

    actus (10527e)

  228. It’s a choice, people. You can give up your principles in the name of supposed safety, or you can hold onto your principles and face some adversity, some danger and very occasionally some death. That’s the call, and it’s really that simple. I won’t even bother typing the famous B. Franklin quote, I’m sure you all know it, but why you can’t grasp the weight of it is beyond me.
    Not to mention the other point of the David Corn link: torture doesn’t work so much. So you’ve abandoned part of your moral core for something that doesn’t actually make you much safer, but makes you “feel” safe. Kudos.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  229. You can give up your principles in the name of supposed safety

    Interrogating terrorists to save lives is a fine American principle I’ll not be giving just so you can die for yours. Sorry but you don’t have the votes to do anything about it either. Tough.

    boris (e173ce)

  230. Interrogate, yes. Torture, no. And I have a vote, a voice and activity in campaigns that advocate the principles I believe this country stands for. So I do have the votes to do something about it. Tough.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  231. And I have a vote, a voice and activity in campaigns that advocate the principles I believe this country stands for.

    You already lost this vote. Tough.

    boris (e173ce)

  232. Things change, b-boy. In soon enough time we will sober up and realize soiling our panties every time the color code changes is not the American way. We’ll realize beating Abdul so he’ll admit he killed Kennedy is not the American way. We’ll realize that throwing away what we stand for so Smirk can make us “safe” is not the American way.
    Things change.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  233. sober up and realize soiling our panties every time the color code changes is not the American way

    No don’t vote for those little freaked out, intimidated, frightened, right-wing Republicans, vote for us because we have the courage to bravely risk your families for our ridiculous “principles” and let terrorists murder Americans so that their right to privacy and freedom from discomfort will NOT BE VIOLATED by snoopy Republican bed wetter panty soiling storm troopers !!!

    Great platform. Strongly suggest all using your fantastic abilities to getting that message out before the next election. Really !

    boris (e173ce)

  234. It’s not a platform, it’s the unvarnished truth, only available on blogs and other internet sources. The average Joe will not respond to my, or others “bed-wetter” references and by golly, we happen to be smart enough to know that. But your mere presence on this board indicates a few things. One, you care and can lucidly explain why. Two, you can take a good natured hit. Three, your involvement is 1000x times that of the average American. The reason I post anywhere is I know people like you and I can influence a few opinions, because we’re bright enough to give a f@ck. But all that being said, it doesn’t change my position, and I doubt it changes yours. But the day informed people stop arguing is the day it’s all over.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  235. […] Perhaps Patterico would put it this way: During this session Hastert feels panicky and unable to breathe. Even though he can breathe, he has the sensation that he is drowning. So he gives up information — reliable information — that stops a plot involving Congressmen skipping out on roll calls to engage in cybersex with minors. […]

    Interpreting the Geneva Conventions at politburo diktat 2.0 (4aa448)

  236. We’ll realize that throwing away what we stand for so Smirk can make us “safe” is not the American way.

    “Unvarnished” eh?

    Dubya (c16726)

  237. Yes, unvarnished. These are places where not only can we exchange opinion, but the gloves can occasionally come off.
    And I never hit before being hit first. It’s the liberal pacifist in me. ; )

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  238. Anyone remember the civil rights movement?
    The reason it succeeded was its commitment to nonviolence.

    Those people never gave up the moral high ground, and the country is a totally different place because of it.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  239. That’s what I’m talking about, Leviticus. When one holds to one’ principles, amazing things can happen. You can change the world by doing nothing but being consistent. Unfortunately fear has deluded many into thinking that force, and abandoning said principles can change others, and that hasn’t worked for centuries; the folly of the scared.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  240. 300 is a great movie full of visual effects and graphics which made it different and much better.
    Acting was great, director did a wonderful job and chose great actors, full of action, and it is based on a true story.

    lussigagas (b01802)

  241. Well by god if the Nazis did it then why cant Bush?
    What’s a little torture if it saves freedom? And who said we have to give guilty people a fair trial? If they dont appreciate the Christian principles we founded this country on then, we should waterboard them all and the throw them in Gitmo for the sake of decent people! As leader of the freeworld and the good guys we should set an example to the rest and if other countries dont like it, by gum, we should institute more regime changes! How else can we maintain our God given freedoms in face of such an assault? And those that deny the President the right to lie and mislead just dont understand that freedom requires it!! God Bless America!!
    (Satire ,….satire… SATIRE!! for those that dont get it..)

    Charlie (55cd2b)


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