Patterico's Pontifications

9/29/2006

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOBODY Expects the American Inquisition!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:29 pm

A Monty Python skit foreshadowed harsh interrogation techniques at Gitmo:

Ximinez: Now, old lady — you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly — *two* last chances. And you shall be free — *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.

Wilde: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ximinez: Right! If that’s the way you want it — Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!

[Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture]

Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!

Biggles: It doesn’t seem to be hurting her, lord.

Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

Biggles: Yes, lord.

Ximinez [angrily hurling away the cushions]: Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch…THE COMFY CHAIR!

[JARRING CHORD]

[Zoom into Fang’s horrified face]

Fang [terrified]: The…Comfy Chair?

Yes. The Comfy Chair.

From Rich Lowry’s recent article on Guantanamo:

Interrogators rely on the soft sell. Detainees sit in a La-Z-Boy chair during interrogations, and beverages and movies are available to put them at ease. The most effective interrogator is said to be an older woman who adopts a nurturing attitude.

Back to Monty Python:

Ximinez: So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!

[They roughly push her into the Comfy Chair]

Ximinez [with a cruel leer]: Now — you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. [aside, to Biggles] Is that really all it is?

Biggles: Yes, lord.

Ximinez: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!

Biggles: I confess!

Ximinez: Not you!

See Dubya skips the snark, and notes (but passes on) the cheap and obvious Monty Python reference. That’s the difference between him and me — if it’s cheap and obvious, I’m there, baby!

But See Dubya does make several cogent observations, including this:

It’s a shame that the Left has focused so much misplaced energy and capital in trying to prove that Gitmo and CIA overseas interrogation are secretly Treblinka. Abuses and atrocities are, regrettably and rarely, committed by our side in cases like Abu Ghraib and Haditha, and a decent, principled Left would have saved its outrage for these cases when it counted, and thus acted as a conscience to check our worst martial impulses. Instead, their cries of “torture!” and “Gulag!” have faded into one long undifferentiated drone that lulls us to sleep instead of waking us up.

The Left has cried nothing but Wolf since the war started, and it’s hard to take their outrage seriously anymore, if we ever did.

I’d go further. If we’re worried about the perception of our actions overseas, as the Left claims to be, why isn’t the Left equally (if not more) responsible for that perception, due to their constant exaggeration of our interrogation practices?

Although I will give them this: it is indeed difficult to withstand the Comfy Chair.

50 Responses to “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOBODY Expects the American Inquisition!”

  1. Thank God for the finer things in life, like Monty Python ‘torture’.

    With that, I go.

    Enough thinking about horrible things. Thank you for lightening the mood.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  2. The Real Brutal Truth About Gitmo Interrogations…

    Via Rich Lowry: Detainees sit in a La-Z-Boy chair during interrogations, and beverages and movies are available to put them at ease. The most effective interrogator is said to be an older woman who adopts a nurturing attitude. I’ll spare……

    JunkYardBlog (621918)

  3. Those on the left who have exaggerated are, absolutely, responsible for harm to our reputation overseas. I don’t think there’s any question there whatsoever.

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  4. You know, when I clicked on Patterico’s Pntifications, this morning, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

    nk (4cd0c2)

  5. Again you have the democrats pegged. They have screamed bloody murder for years simply because they lost a couple of elections. They have divided the country with their almost always total lies in an attempt to soothe their babyfied ego’s.
    They would like to blame it on the republicans but anyone democrat or republican with an IQ that keeps them out of a mental facility knows what the democrats have done to the country.

    They’re rants and outright support for the terrorists up to and including treason in several cases, intended or not, has resulted in the death of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi’s. That is a fact they can’t excape and it appears that several of them are now in the insanity phase. Guilt and hate will do that to anyone and the guilt will follow them as long as they live.

    Without the total support of the democratic politicians the terrorists would have disappeared from Iraq years ago. This is another fact they can’t excape.

    Scrapiorn (a90377)

  6. Nk, dare I say it??

    Laudio (27ed4e)

  7. Without the total support of the democratic politicians the terrorists would have disappeared from Iraq years ago

    This is one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve read in some time. Do you have any evidence at all that says that the a*****s blowing people up in Iraq know anything about American domestic politics?

    aphrael (e7c761)

  8. Yes, the Left is responsible in part for our purportedly poor image overseas due to its constant catastrophizing about ‘Amerikkka’ and our sins. In addition, their non-stop coverage of real violence and staged violence in cahoots with terrorists is almost totally responsible for the West’s negative view of Islam.

    Could it be that it’s some Rovian plan to stoke the fires of war for crass commercial purposes? Didn’t work for the LAT, and it’s not working for its southern neighbor, either, the Orange County Register.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  9. Interrogators rely on the soft sell. Detainees sit in a La-Z-Boy chair during interrogations, and beverages and movies are available to put them at ease. The most effective interrogator is said to be an older woman who adopts a nurturing attitude.

    If its so nice down there, whats the big deal with prohibiting cruelty?

    actus (10527e)

  10. Well, actus, the answer to that question is contained in a post here. It’s a question that the lefties don’t seem to want to answer. Oddly enough, with your frequent comments on virtually all politically charged threads — especially ones involving torture — you have not left a comment on that thread.

    It’s so very strange.

    Anyone want to make a very large money bet that actus, like Kimmitt, will squirm to avoid answering the question posed in that thread? Just like, so far, he has pretended like that thread doesn’t exist?

    Patterico (de0616)

  11. Oddly enough, with your frequent comments on virtually all politically charged threads — especially ones involving torture — you have not left a comment on that thread.

    Like others, I can also put my thumb on the waterboarding scales. But I really don’t see the point of being reminded how nice things are down there. Of course there’s good cop/ bad cop routines. Of course we know of the unreliability of torture.

    No squirming: The question of the thread, is it ‘worth it’? Sure, with hindsight, it certainly is. The problem is, lets say KSM is given 2.5 minutes of waterboarding. And nothing comes out. worth it? worth trying again? Worth trying on someone else? Maybe a congressman that knows of a molested child?

    actus (10527e)

  12. How about Patterico sitting down in an easy chair and denouncing Hamdan, instead of the nebbishy “it’s a long ruling” and “I’m no expert”?

    When a president has the sole power to detain people he deems to be enemies, when he alone can set the rules for interrogation, when detained people don’t have the right to go to court, and when laws are written to immunize officials who have already committed torture, are we in a democracy or a dictatorship?

    The waterboarding KSM hypothetical, fully defensible in the abstract, is just liberal flypaper.

    steve (fa7a59)

  13. Heh, Steve is paying attention.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  14. How about Patterico sitting down in an easy chair and denouncing Hamdan, instead of the nebbishy “it’s a long ruling” and “I’m no expert”?

    I already answered you: I believe the ruling is wrong. Did you miss my answer?

    steve, are you seriously answering “yes” to my KSM hypo? If so, why not go back to that thread, which is the proper place to discuss it, and say so. I’m leaving for a few hours, but we can pick up the thread later.

    We may finally have found an intelligent lefty willing to answer the question.

    I said “may.”

    Patterico (de0616)

  15. aphreal, et al, I can’t say one way or the other if Democrats hadn’t opposed the war in Iraq all the terrorists would have disappeared from there by now.

    It doesn’t seem likely that “all” the terrorists would be gone by now, but it’s also likely that acrimonious divisions here have encouraged the ones already there to stay and fight on, and helped to recruit new fighters to join them.

    Consequently, Scrapiorn’s proposition has sufficient merit to warrant sober investigation. It certainly has the ring of truth, and fits in well with an intuitive sense of how major events there have unfolded.

    Terrorists play to the media, that’s the point of spectacularly bloody attacks after all, and it’s beyond serious dispute that American MSM has not only rewarded the terrorists with constant publicity, but has also willingly revealed secret government programs which have helped terrorists evade detection, surveillance, and capture.

    As for your question asking for evidence if the terrorists, “know anything about American domestic politics?” The answer is obviously, yes indeed.

    One example you may recall is that Osama bin Ladin even went so far as to virtually endorse John Kerry in the last presidential election. (Which only goes to prove the old adage that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Actually, I thought it was the kiss of death for Kerry, and guaranteed GWB’s victory.)

    Moreover, related to the initial question about Democrats, one can also reasonably inquire: if MSM hadn’t opposed the war in Iraq would it be over by now? But, as has often been argued here before, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find any real distinction between the Democrats and MSM. And, increasingly, it seems that Al Qaeda is aware of and repeating Democrat Talking Points.

    If you delete the identities of the Democrat and Al Qaeda speakers, and remove give-away references to Allah, the information itself from the Dems Talking Points and the terrorist’s utterances are so similar as to be practically identical.

    So, all taken together, it’s quite reasonable to ask the question: If the US hadn’t been divided by political and ideological differences, would the terrorist forces in Iraq have been seriously reduced in number and consequence by now?

    Black Jack (63943a)

  16. Proclaiming Hamdan “is wrong” is hardly an answer.

    Flip it back you all you like, though.

    steve (fa7a59)

  17. Patterico, you never responded to my comment about the similarities between jury nullification and torture. Of course we can all think of situations where we’d approve of both jury nullification and torture. The question is, what are you trying to accomplish by making such acts an official option?

    In my opinion, a bill legalizing torture is effectively the same as a bill requiring a jury nullification instruction. Sure, there are times when it’ll be a GREAT option — in either case. But making it an official option, rather than one that simply suggests itself in the most extreme circumstances, will turn it into the option picked by the lazy as well as those truly using it as a last resort.

    [You never answered the question in my post, Phil. Answer it yes or no, and I’ll respond to your point. — P]

    Phil (88ab5b)

  18. Thanks for finishing the story for me.

    Neo (cba5df)

  19. Oh, geez, I didn’t even notice that you said that Hamdan was wrong.

    I’m officially skeezed; have a nice life.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  20. Answer it yes or no, and I’ll respond to your point. — P

    Not exactly spoiling for a discussion.

    “You say this first and I’ll give you a real pounding, ASAP.”

    steve (3e5902)

  21. No, it’s Phil saying: “I’m not responding to your question, but how come you didn’t respond to mine?”

    Patterico (de0616)

  22. More games.

    Now comes a “Lefties like Kimmitt..” post-mortem on what was never an especially illuminating hypothetical.

    steve (3e5902)

  23. Pattrico, sometimes the prosecutor in you is just to blatantly obvious. I responded to your waterboarding post several times, and made my position clear. Are you engaging in discussion here, or is this just a cross-examination, where you get to say “please answer only yes or no to my questions”?

    Phil (107e9d)

  24. Where did you make your position clear?

    Humor me. Is the answer yes or no?

    I’m not saying “answer only yes or no.” I’m just asking that “yes or no” appear somewhere in the answer so we don’t have to guess how you feel.

    Patterico (de0616)

  25. Im not saying answer only yes or no. – Patterico

    I believe you are. And the ones who aren’t categorical or quibble with terms become a perp walk of “weasily lefties” for later ridicule. They should still keep trying, though, as it COULD lead to a spirited discussion of their observations.

    Or not.

    [I haven’t gotten upset at anyone who has offered a clear, nonsarcastic yes or no. So your *belief* doesn’t square with the *facts*. — P]

    steve (6403c1)

  26. Do I think that it would be morally “worth it” for such a hypothetical scenario to take place (when you include the assumption that the torture actually elicits information saving many lives)? Yes.

    Do I think it would be legally worth it to make such practices authorized as a matter of law whenever our government thinks, ahead of time, that it’ll be “worth it”? No.

    Sort of the same split you appear to come out with regarding jury nullification, which is why I thought the comparison was apt.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  27. OK, Phil. Now you don’t have the hindsight. You just have the firm belief that this person has the information. You are the interrogator. What do you do?

    Patterico (de0616)

  28. You just have the firm belief that this person has the information. You are the interrogator. What do you do?

    This is getting closer to my hypo. Lets say you do your 2.5 minute panic. And nothing. What now? Is your belief less? More?

    actus (10527e)

  29. OK, Phil. Now you don’t have the hindsight. You just have the firm belief that this person has the information. You are the interrogator. What do you do?

    Well, one thing I’d do is take a good hard look at my “firm belief that this person has the information.” Because I think that’s the real issue here, once you remove the assumption that the information is there in the person’s mind, and can be gathered.

    I think this “firm belief” is the real concern here. Where does it come from? Unless you already know *exactly what he’s going to tell you*, then any “belief” as to what he knows is just your best guess. And if you DO already know what he’s going to tell you, there’s no need for torture, obviously.

    I think “firm belief” in such situations is usually based only on the fact that the torturers have no better information, and want to torture their prisoner until some better information comes spewing out. Sometimes it does, and they say “look! We were justified! It was worth it!” And when it doesn’t they say “but it COULD HAVE — how could we NOT torture him, when we thought he might have life-saving information!”

    Phil (88ab5b)

  30. Phil, let me ask you a question.

    If you had firm intelligence that a nuclear weapon was about to be detonated in your home city in the next 2 hours, you had a team of scientists on hand to defuse it, which they assure you they can do, and you have custody of an alleged al-Quaeda terrorist who is believed to be one of 5 to have placed the bomb.

    The guy isn’t talking.

    Do you… continue to ask him questions for the next two hours or do you break his thumbs and move them around in circles?

    Just answer that question… a or b?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  31. I swear, sometimes I think that the pro-torture crowd does nothing but watch the show “24”.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  32. Never seen it.

    Patterico (de0616)

  33. I don’t like the show either, Phil. But I still notice you can’t answer that question. Because you’re not honest enough to.

    Incidentally, that situation is unlikely. If they get that far, it will just go “boom”. That’s why one must stop them sooner in less clear cut situations.

    If you want some great moral clarity, here’s a post from a Canadian website about the U.S. army doing it right in W.W.2.

    Ah, the good old days when America was righteous and smug asses like you found themselves in the Marine Corps nonetheless.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  34. But I still notice you can’t answer that question. Because you’re not honest enough to.

    Ah,of course — I’m not honest. You can tell, of course, because you’ve got honesty-vision. I guess you should torture me until I fess up, huh?

    Phil (88ab5b)

  35. Just answer that question… a or b?

    By the power of stipulation…

    actus (10527e)

  36. Further follow up for you, it’s not a damn television show, Phil.

    Our enemy is trying to kill us using grandiose plots that would have been turned down by a T.V. show as unbelievable like 9/11.

    And they’re succeeding. They are also trying to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. To use them in our countries.

    You’re an idiot if you believe otherwise and it’s dismissive to say that because a T.V. show has these plots, they aren’t real.

    In real life, our enemy has killed thousands of us unprovoked. Because they mean to defeat us.

    People like you make their job easier, pinko.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  37. Christoph,

    Phil is OK. He answered my hypo. I think he is a genuine enough guy.

    What I don’t get is whether he really wants to see us gain critical information from people who almost certainly have it. He thinks it’s morally justified to extract such information, but he wouldn’t draft laws to legalize it. It leaves me confused as to what he really thinks.

    Patterico (de0616)

  38. actus,

    It’s very funny, but we appear to have been in some real-life situations where we have stopped real-life plots through actions some would consider torture.

    It’s fun and gratifying to pretend it’s a frivolous debate, but it’s not.

    Patterico (de0616)

  39. Interesting… so basically, he wants criminals in the CIA and military? As long as he has to take no responsibility for actually authorizing them to do anything?

    Well, thank God your country has an actual honest to goodness President.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  40. “He thinks it’s morally justified to extract such information, but he wouldn’t draft laws to legalize it.”

    That’s exactly right, because once you’re torturing someone, you’re not really in the world of laws anymore, in my opinion. That sort of behavior can only really be justified on a personal level.

    If torturing someone is really justified in the sense that all of these “to save thousands of lives” hypotheticals posit, the torturers don’t need a law to make them feel better about doing it. They’ll know they’re justified.

    As for making sure they don’t go to jail: First, if the threat of jail makes someone reconsider torturing a suspect, well, maybe THAT incident of torture isn’t as justified as we think (would a slight risk of jail stop you if thousands of lives were at stake?). Second, we’ve got jury nullification to save anyone who justifiably tortures and is then prosecuted for it :-)

    So we’ve solved the problem of whether or not we need a law to allow people to torture when it’s justified. We don’t. On the other hand, if there IS a law allowing torture, you can be damned sure torture will be used at times when it ISN’T justified, and those schmucks will hide behind the law as a defense — “we were authorized . . .”

    Phil (88ab5b)

  41. Personally, Phil, in war, I wish we could all just hold hands and kill our enemies in really gentle ways.

    And, if this could be accomplished, I’d say “sweet”. As long as they’re dead.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  42. It’s very funny, but we appear to have been in some real-life situations where we have stopped real-life plots through actions some would consider torture.

    And i’m sure there was some guy there, saying ‘a or b, just choose one, just give me a simple answer.’

    It’s fun and gratifying to pretend it’s a frivolous debate, but it’s not.

    But it is worthwhile pointing out that there are frivolous points being made, which ruin, rather than help, the debate. There are better debate questions. What do you think of my scenario, sketched out in your original interrogation post, comment 144?

    Our enemy is trying to kill us using grandiose plots that would have been turned down by a T.V. show as unbelievable like 9/11.

    Fox had advance warning!

    actus (10527e)

  43. Someone kindly sketch draft legislation on “extracting critical information from people who almost certainly have it.”

    steve (db6ba8)

  44. “Those on the left who have exaggerated are, absolutely, responsible for harm to our reputation overseas. I don’t think there’s any question there whatsoever.

    Comment by aphrael — 9/30/2006 @ 12:32 am”

    This comment amused me to no end. When someone from another country ponders our diminished reputation, do you honestly believe supposedly “exaggerated” torture is the first thing that comes to mind, or comes to mind at all? No contemplation of real torture that has been documented, or of failed pre-emptive military engagements based on doctored intel?
    To quote another Python moment:

    Villager no. 3: “Well, she turned me into a newt!”
    Bedevere: “A newt?”
    Villager no. 3: “I got better.”

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

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

    I’ll call your Laz-E-Boy and raise you actual torture techniques used by regimes we have historically found to be immoral and abhorrent. Do y’all get it yet?

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  46. I think Phil has the right idea. Someone brought up the TV show “24”; I bring up “NYPD Blue”. Andy once expained to Gordon Clapp’s character that he (Andy) could, and should, be kicked off the force if he was egregious enough – and got caught – about beating up detainee’s he thought were dangerous perps.

    That is a well constructed permission to torture. If you are willing to throw your career away (and your freedom) because you are convinced that the man before you is holding life and death information, perhaps you would then initiate, and regulate, your torture of said individual better than any legislation could permit and control.

    By the way, does anyone know if the new laws on “combatants” permit seizing citizens of the U. S., in the U.S.?

    RJN (e12f22)

  47. To answer your question RJN, from what I understand it’s mighty cloudy, which some interpretations could conclude yes, you can seize a citizen of the US in the US, declare them an enemy combatant and then the fun begins.
    The fourth and eighth amendment are apparently null and void these days. Oh yeah, free speech zones and other practices render the first impotent. Let’s keep going, there’s a lot of other amendments to shred.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  48. The eco-fanatics would have a inquzation on all us conservative chrietains becuase we wont worshio their pagan deities lik GAIA and what else they worhip and AL GORE is awacko green nut case

    krazy kagu (711c87)

  49. Krazy’s got to be a trollbot. No one’s that ignorant. But his creative use of spelling and grammar are truly entertaining.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  50. It’s like learning to speak a foreign language! I’m so excited!

    Leviticus (3c2c59)


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