Patterico's Pontifications


One More Time: Is Waterboarding Torture?

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 11:52 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey says the US government can’t torture but, in Congressional testimony today, he would not say whether he thinks waterboarding is torture:

“In an intense exchange today with three Democrats, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general left the door open for allowing an interrogation technique on terrorism suspects that simulates drowning.

Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge, issued highly conditioned statements that so-called waterboarding violates the Constitution only if it is defined as torture.”

Mukasey also disagreed about a need for laws “shielding reporters from being forced to reveal their sources,” saying current procedures worked well enough up to now.


110 Responses to “One More Time: Is Waterboarding Torture?”

  1. Yes, waterboarding is torture. NEXT!

    David Ehrenstein (b743cb)

  2. It still amazes me that this is even an issue. The best analysis of the use of this U.S. military training technique on recalcitrant terrorists remains this years-old post by Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, who knows of what he speaks. I’m going back on vacation now, really.

    driver (4cb7e9)


    HLF verdict in will remain sealed till Monday

    H/T LGF

    daytrader (ea6549)

  4. I don’t care if waterboarding is or isn’t torture. If using it can gain information that protects Americans from terrorists, then go for it. Every terrorist not waterboarded is a terrorist who isn’t being encouraged to reveal whatever information they have on upcoming attacks… and every plot not uncovered is a plot one step closer to killing our fellow Americans.

    It comes down to whether people think treating terrorists nicely is more important than protecting Americans from attack… and unfortunately, way too many people prefer the former. And no matter how they try to rationalize their desire to be nice to terrorists, they’re keeping our forces from doing what is necessary and what ought to be done. Let’s see, I can be nice to the terrorists or I can make it more likely that my family, friends and neighbors don’t have to bury a loved one…. what a tough choice.

    steve sturm (40e5a6)

  5. I suspect Ted Olsen would have done more than “leave the door open.”

    Nor would Ted Olsen have ordered the Bush administration to allow Jose Padilla access to lawyers — as Mukasey did.

    Mukasey seems smart and independent.

    steve (635e1d)

  6. This is what I worry about when people talk about legalized, intelligence gathering types of torture:

    Stanford Prison Experiment

    How far off the rails could this go and do we really want to be involved? If it’s the consequences that matter more than anything else and not the justifiability of the actions themselves, what limits could we then reasonably assign ourselves?

    What if water boarding doesn’t work for a particular individual? What if the subject claims not to know anything, even after the worst, but we suspect he’s lying?

    Fritz (d62210)

  7. In addition, Uncle Jimbo’s story is telling. Those who were broken at SERE training didn’t admit to crimes they had committed, they coped to crimes they hadn’t committed. As interrogators how do we know the difference?

    Fritz (d62210)

  8. I think our weak-ass congress people ought to be forced to read driver’s blackfive story. I’m glad I did. Thanks driver and Uncle J.

    Tregg Wright (2d7ae1)

  9. I’m a little lost who’s the weak ass here. Even the story you cite makes clear that torture is inefficient as an investigative tool because of false confessions. “Blackfive” broke even before the waterboarding. Even the Nazis eschewed torture when they needed specific information, instead of sowing generalized fear. So, what’s the point? The excitement of transgression?

    Some commenter over at Balloon Juice had a great question: would you submit to anal rape if you knew it would defuse a ticking bomb? If you don’t immediately sign on, I conclude that (1) you’re a lot more excited about doing some torture, to show you aren’t the “weak ass”, than getting it, (2) you realize all these questions have absurd premises, or (3) both.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  10. I like this idea the best from Uncle Jimbo:

    “Tens of thousands of troops have been through this training and yet somehow the idea that we do these same things to the scum who murder innocents in order to protect innocents is beyond the pale. BS. Why don’t we just institute the jihadi draft, make them members of the military and give them a little Resistance love. They have earned it and we can’t afford to miss a single tidbit of intel that could help us send more of them along to Allah.”

    WLS (bafbcb)

  11. I think in certain situation we have to use torture, although their should be medical professionals there to make sure the target doesn’t die before the needed information is obtained.

    And I’m just thinking about child molesters…

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  12. Since my piece was highlighted, I will jump in.

    The idea that when I broke I gave a “false” confession and so this doesn’t prove that it would work fundamentally misses the point. If I had real useful information I would have given that. Especially if they told me I would get more water if I lied. I was well and truly incented to do whatever would make that shite stop.

    There is a dividing line between coercive interrogation and actual torture. Waterboarding is coercicve interrogation, prison sex certainly crosses the line. I agree with the military interrogators who said in a ticking bomb situation they would do whatever they felt would be most effectove and then face the consequences. If it is a jury of their peers they would likely walk for actual torture, if they managed to stop the bomb. If there is no bomb, who knows.

    I support vigorous coercive interrogations of our enemies but believe it should be against our laws to actually torture someone. That explicitly places the effective techniques on the right side of our legal system.

    If the thought of waterboarding troubles you that is fine, it should. It is a horrifying feeling and should be used rarely, but if thousands of our troops have faced it can’t we hose the real bad guys down a bit? C’mon they are evil rat bastards and we really did scarf up quite a few of them when Khalid “Sheikh Sheikh Sheikh” Mohammed caved in record time.

    So reset the outrage meter and remember what actual evil is. Danny Pearl maybe.


    Uncle J

    Uncle Jimbo (7d17d6)

  13. Fritz asks “as interrogators how do we know the difference” between real information and fake, and a lot of people who claim that “torture doesn’t work” seem to have the same question. And yet the answer is obvious: we can know the difference by investigating it, of course. Do these people really imagine that investigators take whatever these people say as the truth and just act on it? If the subject says that there’s a bomb factory or a hideout at a certain location, you raid it; either he was telling the truth or he wasn’t. Since we already know he’s likely to have good information — otherwise we wouldn’t have been asking him in the first place — anything he says is high-value information with a good likelihood of being correct, but you would never take it as 100% guaranteed. But unless you think we shouldn’t act on any information that isn’t 100% guaranteed to be accurate, what difference does that make?

    Milhouse (f10fb3)

  14. The idea that when I broke I gave a “false” confession and so this doesn’t prove that it would work fundamentally misses the point. If I had real useful information I would have given that. Especially if they told me I would get more water if I lied. I was well and truly incented to do whatever would make that shite stop.

    If the interrogators know that your confession is genuine, then they didn’t really need the “coercive” interrogation. And if it’s not something they already knew, how exactly do they verify it? Yeah, if it’s the ticking bomb, they can go look for the bomb. And if it isn’t there—how do they know if you don’t have a clue, or you just need another turn of the screw waterboarding session?

    There’s an alternative method, though. I can just bring in all the alleged co-conspirators that you named, and after a little “coercion” they’ll confess, too. The result is a daisy chain of confabulated false confessions. The KGB and its predecessors were big on the no-sleep and standing tortures because they didn’t leave marks. Do you credit the confessions of the purge trials? Was Cardinal Mindszenty guilty? Was a nondescript Iranian Jewish shoe salesman really an Israeli agent? (They did confess.) Running through the support of torture is the curious and arrogant idea that our “coercion” supplies genuine information, in the teeth of simultaneous belief that their “torture” produces inaccurate nonsense. On TV, yes. Elsewhere, I doubt it.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  15. I think some people are confusing this issue with the ancient practise of extracting confessions under torture, for use in judicial proceedings. They seem to imagine that the information is being extracted from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and such people in order to use it against them at a trial, that the intent is to convict them based on this information. But to state that openly is immediately to refute it. It’s obvious that that’s not the purpose of interrogation. We interrogate prisoners because we want to know what they know, not because we’re trying to trick them into a prison term or death penalty. I completely agree that a coerced confession should not be admissible evidence at the subject’s trial, because it might not be true. But that’s not what this is about.

    Milhouse (f10fb3)

  16. Again, the fallacy that intelligence needs to be 100% reliable to be useful. Intelligence is built from a combination of sources, none of which may be 100% reliable, but each source adds to the probability that it’s true. If the subject says something is at a particular address, you go there and look for it. It’s far likelier to be there than at some random spot.

    Milhouse (f10fb3)

  17. I wonder if any of these lefties thinking intelligence has to be 100% reliable before action is taken would tell the FBI not to follow all leads, no matter how speculative, when trying to rescue their one family member who had been kidnapped?

    Yet intelligence must be guaranteed before we take serious action to protect the lives of hundreds or thousands of citizens at once?

    It makes no sense, but these are leftists we’re talking about.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  18. Too bad the real kidnappers escaped while the police were busy torturing their first few leads. But they did get some confessions! Great consolation prize!

    The experience of torture as an investigative tool is generally negative. Given the results of WW2, it doesn’t even seem to be a guarantee of winning a war. It’s really a way for some people to feel dominant and powerful, at least until the unknown ticking bomb goes off.

    Israel has a long history of torturing (excuse me, coercing) non-Jews in security cases, something that they denied until a notorious false confession exposed the practice. But AFAIK, no one ever laid a hand on the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin (yimach shmo), despite a number of unanswered questions including the culpability, if any, of certain of his friends. That tells you how bogus is the idea that these practices are for gathering information.

    The issue is not that leftists here are naive, but that the pro-torture crowd is dishonest in why they have reached that conclusion.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  19. I think the guy from Blackfive said if he had information, he’d have given it. So one can assume that since he had none that all he could do was spew whatever to make it stop.
    I also figure that interrogation professionals can winnow through false confessions pretty fast just by telling the guy in custody that he’ll get twice this if he’s dipping their noses in shit.
    Not to mention that the interrogators are trained to quickly target and prioritize.

    Big question is if you would risk more of whatever the trigger is in telling a lie.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  20. The interrogators of Yigal Amir weren’t interested in getting to the bottom of the affair, because they knew that it led through their agent, Avishai “Champagne” Raviv.

    Milhouse (f10fb3)

  21. Yet intelligence must be guaranteed before we take serious action to protect the lives of hundreds or thousands of citizens at once?

    Just “slam dunk” war predicates. That’s the gold standard.

    steve (5b676d)

  22. AJL – “The experience of torture as an investigative tool is generally negative.”

    I’m not seeing a whole lot of support for this standard lefty talking point. Uncle Jimbo related his experience and by by of counterpoint you throw out the ridiculous example of Russian show trials. More telling, however, is what you mention in comment 17. Israel has a long history of coercive interrogation. Russian did (does) as well. Doesn’t that beg the question why they do it if according to left it doesn’t produce results. I know you’ve got your psychosexual fantasies about it, but think real world. The U.S. got valuable information from KSM. You have a commenter on this board relating personal experience. Your respons – heh, it doesn’t look like torture won WWII.

    Uncle Jimbo explained how to filter false information and confessions. What concrete rather than anecdotal evidence do you have that aggressive interrogation doesn’t work. It really just sounds like a talking point to me.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  23. The fact that people know that intelligence agents are willing to act unlawfully and believe the threat to be credible benefits us. Torture’s true purpose is to terrorize the broader community that hears about these abuses. It is social control more than a serviceable technique.

    steve (5b676d)

  24. I don’t think people who are willing to die are that worried about the S&M queens of the C.I.A., steve.

    alphie (99bc18)

  25. Alphie, you’d be amazed at the difference between “Willing to die for a cause” and “Willing to endure endless hell for a cause”.

    The former rarely translates into the latter.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  26. endless hell?

    I thought we didn’t torture, Scott.

    Make up your mind.

    alphie (99bc18)

  27. Commenters on this thread are drawing different conclusions from the same story: that under “coercive” interrogation, people “confess” falsely. The Jack Bauer wannabes (it’s make-believe, guys) are saying that’s great, then a fortiori we’ll get the real deal, like we did from KSM. Question: Uh, how do we know that all the intel we got from KSM was valid? Answer: Why, when we tortured other people, they said the same thing!

    So how is this different from a Stalin show trial? Why, just call it “ridiculous” and move on.

    But it isn’t any different. For all I know, Cardinal Mindszenty was pro-Nazi, and all the other dubious confessions out there. Can you come up with any distinction other than who did it? Don’t you think all those Iranians, Soviets, Nazis, and Huns thought they were acting in the best interests of their own countries?

    We didn’t see the need to torture Nazis and when it came to getting intel, the Nazis didn’t need to torture us. But that was an old-fashioned war, before success was measured in the erotic fantasies of the bloggetariat. Torture is effective in terrorizing the victims. Maybe you want to argue that it inhibits AQ’s recruiting efforts, war crime or no. But you don’t have to take my word for it that torture is not a helpful investigative tool. That’s also the belief of the US military. (You can Google for dozens of similar stories.)

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  28. Alphie, I don’t consider Waterboarding, or sleep dep/forced standing or even humiliation to be torture…

    But they are god damned unpleasant.

    Everyone breaks and tells what they know. Everyone. You don’t even have to leave marks to do it.

    When you start reaching for the bamboo shoots, pliars, and blowtorch, then we might have to rethink the plan.

    But sleep dep? If that’s torture, I’d like to file complaints against my Comp and ENGL instructors, for the all nighters I’ve had to pull to write some papers…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  29. There’s a fellow over on LiveJournal who styles himself a professional interrogator. We’ve been arguing over what constitutes torture, and when coercive interrogation techniques might be used.

    Actually, that’s not quite true.

    I argue, he calls me “evil”.

    Anyway, in one of his tirades, he finally offered a definition of what he considers to be “torture”.

    Here is my definition. You will (because you have already) disagree.

    It’s very simple.

    Any physical or mental coercion.

    Full stop. Any.

    So the cold room, out of bounds.

    The standing up for hours, out of bounds.

    Feeding him food against his religion, out of bounds

    Slapping him around,just a little, out of bounds

    Telling him his family will never know where he is, out of bounds.

    Not feeding him as the troops of the detaining power, out of bounds.

    It is just that simple.

    And it has the advantage of being both morally right, and working.

    When I pointed out this could include plea bargains, he didn’t respond. Maybe he doesn’t have a response to offer.

    Karl (73cfe5)

  30. Oh, yes. Almost forgot.

    I wound up writing an open letter to this fellow, which can be found here.

    Karl (73cfe5)

  31. The debate about physical and psychological pressure ( exaggerated into “torture” ) is basically a fraudulent issue which is just another part of the partisan anti-Bush narrative.

    Basically, the narrative is to take actions of the Bush administration that literally never approach the severity of actions by FDR, Truman, or Johnson administrations and falsely case the Bush administration as the threat to civil liberties. It is just ludicrous and exemplifies a deliberate ignorance of history.

    LBJ’s CIA was more abusive to Yuri Nosenko than the Bush administration has been to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, but you won’t hear that from the BDS’ kids.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  32. So the story is now that no coercive methods were used on Germans?
    I read that a week ago and laughed then too.
    No German was ever left standing in a cold room and repeatedly doused with cold water to keep him awake, no German was ever denied food and then offered food as a reward. no German ever had his head dunked in a tank until he thought he’d drown?


    Care to back that up?

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  33. Care to explain why you’re reduced to swiftboating US soldiers from WWII, steve?

    alphie (99bc18)

  34. The biggest problem I have is the quality control of the interrogators. The kind of freaks who can do those kinds of things cannot be trusted to be doing them for the benefit of the war effort and not for their own sick pleasure.

    nk (6e4f93)

  35. Alphie, mad that someone else beat you to it?

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  36. Actually, SPQR,

    I’d like to see steveg go to a reunion of WWII soldiers and start asking how many of them abused POWs.

    alphie (99bc18)

  37. Alphie, since stories of such have been published in numerous oral histories, I suppose you’ll start repeating your misuse of the term “swiftboating” on people like Stephen Ambrose?

    Or are you going to once again give us your usual circular path through non sequiturs, irrelevancies and sputtering silliness?

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  38. Alphie, I’d like to see you go into an Armour meat-processing plant and ask how it is possible to fall into a sausage-making machine.

    nk (6e4f93)

  39. Alf

    My dad served in the Pacific in WWII.
    He hangs out with his ever smaller contingent of vets.
    All of his buddies are in favor of even tougher measures to get info out of al-Qaeda
    Back in their day people who were caught fighting out of uniform could be shot.
    I’ve no problem with asking WWII vets about handling of prisoners.
    I’ll call him in a minute or two.. but I know what he’ll say because I have heard him say it before..
    In their day a bucket of water wasn’t considered torture.
    Back then teachers could paddle your ass raw, the cops could beat you about the head with a billy club for sassing them.
    My dad and his WWII vet friends think some people in this country are pussies when it comes to a fight.

    But Alf, please do tell me all you know about field interrogation of POW’s in WWII

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  40. Crazy Andy just demonstrates his love of anal sex again. One all ready knows the answer if his skin was at stake. I wonder who will reach the bottom of the cesspool first Alpho or Crazy Andy.

    Does it really mmatter.

    Those who argue about torture might show me where it is specified in the Constitution or why the military regularly used the cat on troops guilty of various crimes, and need used it on criminals until the early 20th century. Perhaps they might show me why if torture is so ineffective that the US and our allies gave its operatives suicide kits to be used in case of capture. Or why special raids were carried out in WWII to free important captives who had been captured by the Germans in WWII? Why torture doesn’t work!

    Or why the US military had to change its code of military conduct after the Korean War because so many captured Americans broke under torture revealing valuable military data.

    Yeah torture won’t work, and when we are reduced to listening to the babble and bleating of those know zero when the circumstances arise that we capture a terrorist with the data that could stop another 9-11 (far fetched, improbable scream the trolls) except with a nuclear device (improbable, impossible bray the trolls) remember when the survivors survey the dead and wreckage that we can stand on a moral high ground and say we didn’t resort to torture and it only cost us a million casualities and a world of giggling terrorists.

    The toxicity of those that preach about torture’s ineffectiveness in the certainity that they will not be entrusted with the care own diapers nor the safeguarding of a white hot stove is both laughable and typically myopic.

    Here’s the Cynthia McKinney Award to all of you experts.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  41. I agree that interrogators can fall into sickness and become numbed to the limits.
    I think all warriors face this dilemna… when is it time to stop.

    If you watch enough combat video, you might hear the command “cease fire” go unheeded for long seconds… it takes strong, confident, brave and ethical leadership to run the battlefield.
    Some weaker people inevitably let the battlefield run them. In theory, the plan is that the next man or woman in the chain will take leadership and correct the problem.
    I think we as a nation have given it one of histories best attempts and have operated in a very restrained way in Iraq.
    I acknowledge we’ve had some failures of leadership and execution along the way, but overall this is a restrained war.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  42. Back in their day people who were caught fighting out of uniform could be shot.

    They are called sabatours, and they were shot all the time.

    Fire a weapon at someone in uniform without a uniform yourself, and you were as good as dead if you got caught.

    Ever wonder why there weren’t a hell of a lot of French Resistance fighters who were caught and spent time as a prison?

    It’s because pretty much all of them were shot shortly after capture.

    Afterthey were tortured to get info out of them, of cource. It’s why they operated in cells, not in large units.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  43. “If using it can gain information that protects Americans from terrorists, then go for it.”

    Threatening to kill every first born in egypt can get information too.

    whitd (10527e)

  44. So God’s a terrorist, eh?


    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  45. OK, I’ll try explaining this more slowly.

    The problem with torture as an investigative tool is false positives. In some situations, false positives are not really a problem. The Nazis didn’t really care if they picked up a bunch of innocent Frenchmen along with some resistants. Bullets and jail space are cheap. Torture. The Nazis did care about getting accurate intel from captured airmen, because limited resources meant they couldn’t waste time chasing flying geese. No torture.

    The same dynamic holds true for Algeria, Argentina, the Palestinian territories, and even whether corrupt local police just want to get some crime cleared up no matter whether they get the right guy. “The mummy confessed.”

    All in all, and even leaving aside whether taking an immoral approach will cost us allies and recruit enemies, I’d say we can’t afford many false positives in the fight against relatively small terror groups. For example, we have enough trouble operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan without picking up innocent taxicab drivers and torturing them to death. The number of times we can grab-and-snatch suspects is limited.

    I don’t think the Administration sees it this way. First, false positives create a sense of having at least learned something; second, they keep the susceptible in a state of mind-addled fear ceding ever more power; third, knowing they are transgressing traditional moral boundaries instills feelings of self-importance and power, and fourth, as nk hints at, there are perverts out there and I don’t think Charles Graner was the only one interrogating Arabs.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (a12847)

  46. Andrew refuses to discuss the central point, whether or not waterboarding is torture. Every one of his comments has had a base assumption that it is, without question, torture.

    JD (ba4c77)

  47. Torture’s true purpose is to terrorize the broader community that hears about these abuses. It is social control more than a serviceable technique.

    I agree with Steve’s comment that terrorizing a population is one way dictators maintain control and actual or rumored torture is afrequent component of that. Saddam and his sons were big proponents.

    In the context of this thread, were talking of agressive interrorgation for intelligence gathering not societal control. How much of those interrogation efforts are publicized in civilized countries in spite of steve and Andrew’s willingness to believe.

    AJL, the article you linked confirmed there is value. One person said you can get someone to tell you anything to get something to stop. Then the question becomes determining if the information is false. You are supremely doubtful of anyone’s ability to do this. Why wouldn’t the same false information be provided later and the identical difficulty arise? Filtering information is what intellingence analysts are trained to do.

    AJL – Why do you think the intelligence/military services of both third world and first world countries maintain coercive interrogation capabilities if they have no value. Shits and giggles is not an acceptable answer. I think the answer is they do not share your opinion.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  48. Crazy Andy again demonstrates that ignorance is no hinderance to the Left. Torture doesn’t work. That’s why the Nazis turned so many people in the resistance in Holland and Beligum that they were rendered ineffective. Its so ineffective that no worthwhile resistance ever developed in communist Russia. Torture just doesn’t work, that’s why its always used because its so futile and no useful information is ever obtained. Why would intelligence services use such a futile method?

    Because Crazy Andy knows better having dipatched hundreds of enemy agents with a stroke of his bong. Experience, knowledge, service, Crazy Andy’s trademarks. Nothing like first hand experience.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  49. Waterboarding is not torture. Graner was not an interrogator, he was a sadist. Nazi’s did use real torture, or is Andrew a Holocaust denier as well as an idiot?

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  50. Stash – They define torture differently than the rest of the planet.

    JD (ba4c77)

  51. I’ve mentioned before, I was accused of torture for not giving someone a second cup of coffee with breakfast. I laughed then… but now I see the word thrown around so casually by liberals that I can’t even find it amusing anymore. I am becoming disheartened at how divorced from reality these well-meaning and otherwise intelligent people have become. I remember when being liberal was something to be admired, not pitied. JFK is spinning in his grave.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  52. Out of curiosity, Stashiu,

    Do you think it’s ethical for medical professionals to participate in waterboarding sessions conducted on prisoners?

    alphie (99bc18)

  53. Out of curiosity alphie, after the last few times we interacted, do you actually believe I’ll ever attempt to have a rational discussion with you? Ever?

    You’re nothing but a troll. You start out with what seems to be a reasonable question, then twist any answer given into some condemnation or implied accusation. Patterico has far more patience with you than I will ever again allow you in this lifetime. Ever. Don’t talk to me, ask me questions, or bother responding to anything I say unless it somehow gives you satisfaction to be ignored and held in complete contempt. I don’t think I can be any clearer without using profanity.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  54. I’ll take that as a no then.

    alphie (99bc18)

  55. I’ll asnwer for you, troll-of-mine.

    It is certainly ethical to have a doctor participate, if only to make certain some unknown medical disorder isn’t triggered by the stress.

    They can’t talk if they die.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  56. Even the Nazis eschewed torture when they needed specific information, instead of sowing generalized fear. So, what’s the point? The excitement of transgression?

    That book isn’t about the Nazis in general. It’s about one man’s interrogation techniques. From the summary I can’t tell for sure if even the author never tortured. The Nazis eschewed torture? Are you nuts?

    Gerald A (6b39c1)

  57. Hear, hear to what Gerald A. says. The man is a moron who typed those words what Gerald quoted.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  58. No, the Nazis never tortured, they just gassed millions.

    That’s torturing basic logic.

    Techie (c003f1)

  59. We thought waterboarding was torture when our POWs were the victims. I subscribe to the goose-gander principle. YMMV.

    Our Greatest Generation interrogator of Japanese POWs didn’t use torture either.

    Sure, brutality exists in war. Howard K. Smith’s autobiography mentions an incident where two captured German soldiers were shot “trying to escape” by the unit he was embedded with because the soldiers felt too cold and tired to take them to the POW assembly point. (That story got left out of his wartime reports.) But no one has come up with any links showing that torture-based intel works better (or even as well as) trained interrogations, and I’ve presented statements of professional interrogators, including the Nazis’, that say otherwise. Only a deliberate misreading of my comments could create the impression I claim Nazis didn’t torture. Indeed, our phrase “enhanced interrogation” is a direct translation from the German. But Germany was often interested in something other than reliable intel.

    [FBI documents] show, among other things, that some military intelligence officers wanted to use harsher interrogation methods than the FBI did. As a result, complained one inspector, “every time the FBI established a rapport with a detainee, the military would step in and the detainee would stop being cooperative.” So much for the utility of torture.

    Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

    Perhaps it’s reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of “toughness” we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.

    We would do well to re-read carefully SteveG’s comments. Basically, he’s pro-torture not for the intel, but because he’s afraid otherwise his father will think he’s a pussy. Come to think of it, isn’t that why W started the Iraq War in the first place?

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  60. That’s torturing basic logic.

    And the rubber hose treatment wasn’t what it was.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  61. Steve sturm, @3: Judge Mukasey is already on the record as saying that torture is unconstitutional. Assume for the purpose of argument that he’s right; is it your position that the US Government should torture people to gain information, even if that torture violates the US constitution?

    Christoph, at 17: intelligence must be guaranteed before we take serious action to protect the lives of hundreds or thousands of citizens at once?

    You have to strike a balance, because any “serious action” is going to have risks, including the risk of harm to innocent people. Innocent people should not be harmed on a whim; while the information doesn’t have to be guaranteed (and, indeed, cannot be guaranteed, because there’s no guarantee of anything, ever, when people are involved), it should at least be reliable, if innocent bystanders are to be put at risk.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  62. Again, AJL fails to address what is torture, and just unilaterally declares waterboarding to be torture. Typical.

    JD (133ebd)

  63. What physical harm comes from waterboarding?

    JD (133ebd)

  64. #45 AJL
    The Nazis did care about getting accurate intel from captured airmen, because limited resources meant they couldn’t waste time chasing flying geese. No torture.

    How is that a deliberate misreading? Besides, I’ve already declared that waterboarding is not torture, using the same justification you do (none). No further need to debate it apparently because the simple declaration is sufficient.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  65. We have a legal definition of torture.

    For the purposes of this Convention, torture means 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.

    My claim that waterboarding is torture is in no way unilateral. The water torture count for which we tried a Japanese in charge of American POWs occurred before I was born. I think we can also conclude that since on this very thread we know that waterboarding causes so suffering so severe that people will falsely confess to make it stop, it qualifies as torture. (You will notice that mental suffering also counts as torture, under a treaty ratified by the United States.)

    Waterboarding is torture according to Sen. McCain, law professors, the State Dept [but only when talking about interrogations in Tunisia] and if I have time lots more links. Unilateral, my ass.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  66. My response with citations to “waterboarding is torture” from, inter alia, Sen. McCain is stuck in queue, probably for the large number of links. You can Google this up for yourselves.

    My assertion is in no way unilateral. Until we moved into the torture racket ourselves, this wasn’t even a question.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  67. AJL, your assumption that we “moved into the torture racket ourselves” is also presumptuous. With all due respect to Sen. McCain (and like Patterico in an unrelated post, I emphasize the word “due”), declaring the debate finished over whether waterboarding is torture doesn’t make it so. I still don’t consider it torture. We aren’t in the torture racket. Your framing of the argument is tiring and insulting. What wasn’t a question is that the United States does not condone torture. What dishonest people (like yourself) have done is declare waterboarding, denial of cable TV and porn for prisoners, and refusal to serve a second cup of coffee with breakfast as examples of torture. That doesn’t mean anyone else has to agree with you.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  68. From Defining and Redefining “Torture”: In An Argument Before a Federal Appeals Court, the U.S. Government Once Tries to Narrow The Meaning of Torture

    …the international legal definition of torture is universally recognized and accepted – and is very different from what Administration lawyers claim. The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (which I will call “the Torture Convention”) forbids torture under any circumstances and does not allow the prohibition to be derogated even in conditions of national emergency.

    It’s important to note here that the U.S. – as well as all other liberal democracies — are signatories to the Torture Convention, and that under the Constitution, treaties ratified by the Senate are U.S. law, just like statutes and Supreme Court decisions. So claiming the U.S. has the right to differ from this definition is simply untenable.

    Here is the Torture Convention’s definition of “torture”: “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.”

    Fritz (d62210)

  69. I have the same section of the Convention Against Torture in my stuck post.

    The State Department complained about water torture in Tunisia in its annual human rights report. Someone didn’t get the message it was now OK.

    There are over 100 signatories of law professors describing waterboarding as torture. US Generals outlawed waterboarding in Vietnam. The US sent one of its own army officers to prison for waterboarding an insurgent during the Phillippine Insurrection.

    We know from this thread if nowhere else that waterboarding causes suffering so severe people will make false confessions to cause it to stop.

    This is no more a genuine question than whether the rack is torture. Believe me, when Dick Cheney rubs his hands with glee over waterboarding terrorists, it’s not because it’s a merely coercive form of interrogation.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  70. Believe me, when Dick Cheney rubs his hands with glee over waterboarding terrorists, it’s not because it’s a merely coercive form of interrogation.

    And I holda party every time we kill a senior member of a terrorist organization. Your point?

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  71. Andrew, you’re sick, get help. Your comments about Cheney go beyond hyperbole and are another example of your dishonest framing. Now, the Torture Convention. By that definition, if I commit a murder, nobody can question me about it since that will cause me severe mental suffering. Forgive me if I take some of the high-minded rhetoric of the UN with a large helping of salt. They declare a lot of things that may sound good, but the practical aspects are something else. Also, the UN doesn’t run the US, despite the fervent wishes of the left. If you don’t agree with how torture is currently being defined, get your buds together and get to the polls. Elect someone who supports your warped mindset. Until then, waterboarding is not torture by policy, which happens to agree with my personal opinion.

    I was obligated to support President Clinton during his administration and I did so, despite disagreeing with many administration policies and decisions. If Hillary wins the nomination and the general election, I will support her as the President but vote against any policies I disagree with at any opportunity given. That’s how democracy works.

    Now, how did I misread your Nazi statement and how can you support such a subjective definition of torture? Denying a cup of coffee or questions that cause discomfort are torture? Or no?

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  72. Michael Medved is playing clips from Rendition. It is really, really bad. So bad, it’s funny.

    dave (588505)

  73. Stashiu, neither I nor any other liberal have claimed denying someone a coffee refill is torture. Who here is playing with dishonest hyperbole?

    The International Convention Against Torture isn’t high-flying rhetoric. We ratified that treaty and it’s part of our laws. You can play around with the semantics belittling “suffering” and other words that had a perfectly clear meaning in context. Big deal. It doesn’t make waterboarding any less torture, an opinion I have so far backed up with The US Army, in punishing a Japanese prison guard officer;The US Army in the Phillippines;The US Army in Vietnam;Sen. McCain;100 law professors.(I should get support like that for all my “unilateral” opinions!)

    If waterboarding is so coercive it produces false confessions, why are you so eager to do it, if not to make captured enemies suffer? You need to get more in touch with your id here.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  74. Andrew,

    I think you’re missing the point.

    Waterboarding is a political bone thrown to the neocon’s ever-dwindling base.

    It also appeals to the crowd who thinks the U.N. is gonna take over the world.

    You’ve lost if you talk about actual laws.

    Breaking the law is the whole point of it.

    alphie (99bc18)

  75. Asking questions can produce false confessions, so we shouldn’t ask questions. Also, I’m not eager to perform or undergo waterboarding and would not be likely to order it done. That doesn’t mean it’s torture, it just sucks. Many things meet the definition of “sucks” without rising to the level of torture.

    Granted, you never claimed denying a coffee refill was torture, but I never claimed you did. I asked if you agreed. To be sure, what I said wasn’t hyperbole since it did happen, just not from you. When did you observe the Vice President rub his hands with glee while contemplating waterboarding, torture, or any other time for that matter? The ability to impute evil motives to everything President Bush or Vice President Cheney do is major evidence of how sick you truly are.

    Now, how did I misread your Nazi comment? And how do you get information, any information to include crimes committed here in the U.S., without some level of coercion? If any coercion is torture, your definitions are not practical. Wherever you draw the line personally, if you disagree with where the administration draws it, work to change the administration. Have rational and honest discussions about why you believe what you do. Don’t demonize everyone who believes differently. In other words, change nearly every bit of who you are and how you behave… I won’t hold my breath.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  76. Stashiu3,

    Re: questioning in a murder investigation; In a military intelligence situation where torture or coercive interrogation is being deployed, what’s the civilian analogue to, “I won’t answer any more of your questions until I talk to a lawyer”?

    In addition, I think that it should be pointed out that if we disagree with the treaty we can withdraw from the treaty. Up until that point, and this is a point that any conservative could agree with, we should live up to the laws we’ve passed.

    From the Pacificus-Helvidius debate, Pacificus writes,

    it [the Executive] must necessarily possess a right of judging what is the nature of the obligations which the treaties of the country impose on the government; and when it has concluded that there is nothing in them inconsistent with neutrality, it becomes both its province and its duty to enforce the laws incident to that state of the nation. The executive is charged with the execution of all laws, the law of nations, as well as the municipal law, by which the former are recognized and adopted.

    According to Hamilton, it’s up to the Bush administration to explain why our obligation to the Torture Convention does not hold when it seems quiet clear that their definition of torture is contradictory. Which definition has precedence? A definition found in a treaty signed by the President and approved by the Senate, or a definition promulgated by a Cabinet level officer in an opinion that is not a law agreed to by any legislative process?

    Fritz (d62210)

  77. Hi! I just found this forum and it looks really cool.

    Now, I gotta run off and read some posts. :)

    hollywoodheidi (bc140e)

  78. Stashiu, sometimes people confess falsely for no reason at all. But a practice looks a lot like torture when people will say anything, even incriminate themselves, to make it stop. Waterboarding fits into that category. Asking “Did you do it?” to a murder suspect does not.

    So far I’ve come up with at least three precedents where waterboarding has been considered torture. If you let me know how many more cases I need to find, I can try.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  79. In addition, I think that it should be pointed out that if we disagree with the treaty we can withdraw from the treaty. Up until that point, and this is a point that any conservative could agree with, we should live up to the laws we’ve passed.

    I agree completely. When the definition of torture is so easily warped, withdrawal may be the best option. Unfortunately, we both know that withdrawing would just be shouted as evidence that, “See, this administration does support torture!!!!1!!” and is not really an option. Maybe a common-sense reading would work… no, not so far.

    As far as asking for a lawyer, IMO people who plan and commit terrorist acts or make war without regard to the rules don’t always have a right to remain silent. I don’t condone torture and I’ve never met an interrogator or MI officer (or enlisted) that believed we should employ it. The interrogators and intelligence folks are good people trying to do a difficult job and I trust that they’ll exercise every possible restraint. If they cross the line, the command will hold them accountable… that’s the difference between us and jihadis. We prosecute our wrongdoers.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  80. I don’t know if you agree much with Terrible Ted, I know I don’t, but you might see his point about prosecuting wrongdoers:

    From the Washington Post:

    Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

    “Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II,” he said.

    Fritz (d62210)

  81. Andrew, I can come up with precedents that don’t consider waterboarding torture, the numbers aren’t pertinent. The point is, declaring the debate settled is dishonest. Just because it looks like torture to you doesn’t make it so. Asking “Did you do it?” might look like torture to someone, depending on how harshly it was asked, or if the room was cold, or what musak was playing… that doesn’t make it torture.

    Now, to repeat myself…. How did I misread your Nazi comment? And how do you get information, any information to include crimes committed here in the U.S., without some level of coercion? Is any coercion torture? Have I missed responding to your points or repeatedly ignored your questions? If so, let me know and I’ll try to respond. That’s what an honest discussion is about, isn’t it? Maybe not, since I’ve had to ask the same two points repeatedly. Time for some rest, but I’ll check back later.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  82. with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian.

    Ok, now when is Terrible Ted going to submit himself for prosecution in MJK’s death? Someone who wages war or commits terrorist acts is different than a captured civilian. Or are you suggesting that since they behead their captives, we should just behead ours and be done with it? Sauce for the goose and all that.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  83. Defendant: Asano, Yukio

    Docket Date: 53/ May 1 – 28, 1947, Yokohama, Japan

    Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture PWs. 2. Did unlawfully take and convert to his own use Red Cross packages and supplies intended for PWs.

    Specifications:beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  84. Stashiu3,

    You’re being obtuse; it’s the act, not upon whom it was done that made Yukio Asano culpable for a war crime. This goes doubly when the war is against an enemy that eschews uniforms (just ask that poor fellow who was subjected to extraordinary rendition because the CIA thought he was someone else).

    Fritz (d62210)

  85. Maybe the 15 years was for beating PW’s with a club and burning them with cigarettes.
    Kicking, punching. Who knows, maybe he did it to the point of breaking bones… there’s also the problem of recreational abuse.
    If you take some Marine private captive at Corregidor and then beat, kick, burn the kid for the next four years just for giggles?

    15 years wouldn’t be enough.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  86. You might find this essay interesting:

    Wallach, Evan, “Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts”, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law Association, Vol. 45, No. 468, 2007.

    Historical analysis demonstrates that U.S. courts have consistently held that artificial drowning interrogation is torture, which, by its nature, violates U.S. statutory prohibitions.

    Indeed, despite increasing discussion of variations of the technique and their application on a global scale, nobody seems to remember that, not so very long ago, the United States, acting alone before domestic courts, commissions, and courts-martial, and as a participant in the world community, not only condemned the use of water torture, but severely punished as criminals those who applied it.

    Fritz (d62210)

  87. Stashiu, at least according to the link I provided, when the Luftwaffe needed accurate information about Allied air force dispositions and tactics, they didn’t use torture or even its little brother coercion. They found that (pretending to?) befriend prisoners, giving rewards like cigarettes, playing on their loneliness and sense of defeat, and establishing rapport worked better. Now, there were many other places where Nazis used terror and torture, but apparently not here. I suggested one reason is that the overstretched German defenses frankly couldn’t afford misallocation of their own resources based on false positives.

    I must have posted half a dozen links to US interrogators who say they developed information without recourse to brutality. So it seems that in many cases, surprising as it may be to you, confessions are obtained without coercion.

    Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t find ways to encourage prisoners to talk. If uncooperative prisoners get boring food and cooperative prisoners get steaks, that isn’t torture. But any treatment that gets people to talk because it is unendurable is torture by the standard definition of the word—the meaning we had in mind when we acceded to the Geneva Conventioned and the ICAT.

    We’re awaiting your definition of torture. The Administration once said that it meant only acts likely to result in death or organ failure. That interpretation, however, found no takers anywhere else.

    I also don’t understand SteveG’s posting about Akano. Water torture is clearly right there in the specifications? Is he admiring Akano for not being a pussy?

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  88. Specification 1: That in or about July or August, 1943, the accused Yukio Asano, did willfully and unlawfully, brutally mistreat and torture Morris O. Killough, an American Prisoner of War, by beating and kicking him; by fastening him on a stretcher and pouring water up his nostrils.

    Specification 2: That on or about 15 May, 1944, at Fukoka Prisoner of War Branch Camp Number 3, Kyushu, Japan, the accused Yukio Asano, did, willfully and unlawfully, brutally mistreat and torture Thomas B. Armitage, William O Cash and Munroe Dave Woodall, American Prisoners of War by beating and kicking them, by forcing water into their mouths and noses; and by pressing lighted cigarettes against their bodies.

    United States of America v. Hideji Nakamura, Yukio Asano, Seitara Hata, and Takeo Kita, U.S. Military Commission, Yokohama, 1-28 May, 1947. NARA Records, NND 735027

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  89. These were punitive acts in a POW camp.

    The charges against

    them arose from two separate water torture incidents in which they participated; one against a

    single victim, John Burton, and one against several prisoners arising from the jailers’ believe the

    prisoners, Armitage, Cash and Woodall, had stolen food.61

    Water Boarding Article

    Page 20

    62 “…American prisoner Woodall …had stolen a shirt from the Japanese..was stretched

    and tied on a hospital stretcher and severely beaten. He was turned upside down and water

    poured up his nose and beaten into unconsciousness. The treatment lasted for about four hours.

    …William Cash…WAS given the identical treatment for the same offense. The Japanese

    immediately involved in this punishment were FIRST LIEUTENANT HATA, medical officer at

    the camp, MR ASANO, civilian interpreter, MASTER SERGEANT KITA, and the unidentified

    Japanese Warant Officer.

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  90. SteveG, what is your point? Torture is not permitted as a punishment any more than it is as a method of interrogation, or vice versa. There is no distinction in the law. It is prohibited, by law, in all circumstances whatsoever. That’s a pretty blanket statement.

    By the way, if you keep reading that article you’ll get to the case of the Texas sheriff who used water torture for the purpose you seem to approve of, interrogation. He got ten years.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  91. Fritz – In your link at 86, the excerpts quoting Americans are notable for the success they believe they had with water boarding. The technique, however, sounds different than what is described today.

    I wonder whether AJL read your link. I think he’s stuck on Nazis.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  92. Daleyrocks—the Japanese did succeed in getting (false) confessions from the Doolittle raid pilots. I didn’t see any other “success” given in terms of interrogation. Care to give an excerpt? Indeed, SteveG is trying to explain away the prison sentences imposed for water torture on the grounds it wasn’t interrogative in nature and in that case it couldn’t possibly “succeed”. Maybe you should take this up with him. (Snark!) I’ve never said that people resist waterboarding and other torture. I’ve said from the beginning that torture as an investigative tool fails because of a poor signal to noise ratio.

    Over and over again we present examples where waterboarding was seen to be torture. A sheriff went to jail. US military went to jail. Japanese military went to jail.

    The only thing that’s different now is a lot of nervous nellies who feel strong by participating vicariously in torture.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  93. If you grab a guy on the battlefield or a leader in Bagdad (asking guys who really know about this sort of thing here…)are you more confident of the info a “confession” gives you coz you KNOW they are involved than you would be if you were at Guantanamo and were questioning some guy that got turned in for money in Tunisia, or a non-citizen banker from Miami who had lots of suspicious fund-raising going through his accounts (those are hypotheticals of course)?. Is there a sliding scale of who gets the water treatment because one group is only suspected of being involved in a terror plot? Maybe its more excusable in battle where you need to know where the latest batch of roadside bombs are and you just nabbed a guy you are pretty sure can tell you, but much less excusable when you have someone that you only suspect may be a bad guy.

    EdWood (9f0c0f)

  94. Actually I’m pointing out the sentence of 15 years was probably more for beating a guy unconscious for maybe stealing a shirt in a POW camp than the so called waterboarding.

    I also don’t think waterboarding should be used on long term POW’s as a punitive measure.
    If a guy is in my POW camp and I decide to beat him unconscious in between forcing water up his nose I deserve jail. I’m just being mean and cruel to a person who is totally at my mercy.
    If that is what we are doing to terrorists, then I am against it.
    I do not believe this is the case.

    To get a little context
    do a web search on Japanese war crimes and look at the bayonet practice photos or the ones of the stake driven through the Korean womans vagina pinning her to the dirt.
    Maybe look at the beheading photos of Australian captives.

    To claim Asano’s sentence was for waterboarding as we know it today is a complete fabrication.
    Of course since Teddy K. said it today with a straight but spittleflecked face, I am being redundant

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  95. Take the herring out of your ear and listen… I do not advocate torture. I do not advocate torture as an interrogation tool. I do not advocate torture as a punishment. I do not advocate torture for entertainment. I recognize that turning your enemy into your friend is much better for getting reliable information than harsh interrogations, having been assured of this by people who conduct interrogations. I recognize that even information obtained from turning your enemy into your friend must be validated and cross-checked. I would never order or participate in torture. I would not order or participate in waterboarding (except maybe as a subject for training purposes, to take the place of someone I care about, or to prove I wasn’t a wimp to any liberal who accused me of being one… ok, maybe not that last one.)

    I still don’t believe that waterboarding rises to the level of torture. All the arguments about whether or not it’s effective don’t matter to me. If I thought it constituted torture, I would be against it, period. I don’t believe it is and wouldn’t take it off the table if only so terrorists know that if they don’t care for the carrot, we still have the stick. If someone disagrees, more power to them. They need to get in a decision-making position or elect decision-makers who agree with them, otherwise keeping their accusations of sadism and perversion to themselves.

    Stashiu3 (992297)

  96. AJL – You could have ended all your ramblings with your simple sentence earlier:
    “The problem with torture as an investigative tool is false positives. In some situations, false positives are not really a problem.”

    Done. Your opinion. Your psychosexual fantasies about the thoughts of evil conservative manliness could have been cast aside and the readers of these comments spared your bloviating. Your simple point remains unrefuted and the question I have been asking all along – why do people use these techniques if they don’t work as you assume remains unanswered.

    The comments about success of waterboarding in the link to which I was referring were by the Americans relating their experience in the Philippine Insurrection.

    I don’t find the behavior of a Sheriff on the “battlefields” of the U.S. very comparable to soldiers or the treatment of illegal enemy combatants captured in war in terms of analyzing the application of international law. I’m surprised the author of the piece had the temerity to throw the example in his paper.

    AJL, you really haven’t accomplished much except a lot of bloviation and speculation and fantasizing about conservatives. Don’t send me your laundry bill.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  97. I see Crazy Andy is at it again. I believe we could all end the torture debate by enforcing the Geneva Conventions dictates regrding illegal and combatants who do not adhere to the rules of war. Just shot the bastards.

    Andy is so dull he cannot tell us if torture doesn’t work why the USMC has been repeatedly been changed. Why should they do this if men didn’t reveal vital military secrets under stress. Ah because in Andy’s world reality doesn’t matter.

    The KGB and Nazis and other despots used torture for thousands of years because it didn’t work. Lets engage in futile, useless activity because its useless. Only in Andy’s world. The French military proving to be apt pupils of the Viet Minh applied the lessons they learned in Indochina to crush the Algerians and eliminate the entire insurrgent leadership in Algiers. But as we all know Andy is the expert.

    Just because crazy Andy has never been in the service; served in law enforcement; lived overseas or studied the subject, why he is the world’s leading authority.

    His faith in the inerrancy of the holy scriptures and gods of progressive socialism and political correctness reeks with the sme craven droning that highlights Dingy Harry’s speeches.

    When can we expect to hear more from Team Leeming and the Bathouse Boys?

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  98. Thomas Jackson, you write something that makes sense, finally.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  99. Crissy:

    That puts me one up on you then doesn’t it?

    I see Fritz is standing in for Crazy Andy. So tell us Fritz if a treaty says individuals may not guns does that trump the Constitution? As the Supreme Court has ruled time after time that isn’t the way it works, thats why we still have a death penalty in this country.

    When I see the torture doesn’t work crowd show me in a concrete way why torture doesn’t work I’ll be converted. Weighing centuries of evidence arguing otherwise I’ll have to wonder why such methods would be employed if they are useless.

    But I guess Fritz and Crazy Andy have better ways to do things. I suggest we deliver Bin Laden into their hands and allow them to get the answers within 48 hours without employing torture to get the answers. At the end of that time they be sealed up in a room with endless recordings of Rosie O’Donnell and Harry Reid speeches.

    I guarantee you within a week you’ll have anything you want out of these two.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  100. The questions (construct your own flow chart):

    1. Is waterboarding torture?

    As the article I cited showed, U.S. courts have found waterboarding to be torture whether it was used by agents of the U.S., against agents of the U.S., or against third parties. It was found to be unjust in a legal and a military intelligence context. SERE involves the training of volunteers whom, I imagine, can ask to be dismissed at any moment (damage to their careers notwithstanding).

    2. If it is torture, and I think that until 2003 everyone was fairly clear that it was, are the consequences of its use good enough to outweigh its objectionable nature?

    A. Torture is an evil act.
    B. Waterboarding is torture.
    C. Sometimes evil acts can be done if they produce greater goods. (Locke has a the example where the city can knock down your house, even if it’s not burning yet, in order to prevent the spread of a fire.)

    Who has the capacity or authority to judge whether torture in any given instance is justified by its ends?

    How good would the ends of an episode of torture have to be in order to justify torture? How sure that your torture will result in good ends do you have to be?

    Fritz (78d92f)

  101. “The KGB and Nazis and other despots used torture for thousands of years”

    – Thomas Jackson

    Really? The KGB and the Nazis existed for “thousands of years”?

    That’s news to the non-retarded folks in the audience.

    Leviticus (e87aad)

  102. I know, I know… but it’s still funny to point it out.

    Leviticus (e87aad)

  103. Really? The KGB and the Nazis existed for “thousands of years”?


    “The KGB and Nazis and OTHER DESPOTS used torture for thousands of years”

    You’re welcome.

    Paul (146bba)

  104. Paul:


    You’re welcome.

    (Besides, I know; I said it right after I made my first snark)

    Leviticus (e87aad)

  105. [Lazarus has not] lived overseas

    JTFR, this is not true. I have lived overseas.

    Any documentation for your service yet, TJ?

    I don’t expect to see any substantive response to comment 101. Waterboarding used to be a criminal act, plain and simple.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  106. You ought to read David Luban’s article Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb from the Virginia Law Review (Vol. 91, No. 6., Oct., 2005).

    Luban writes,

    I will criticize the liberal ideology of torture and suggest that ticking-bomb stories are built on a set of assumptions that amount to intellectual fraud… Ticking-bomb stories depict torture as an emergency exception, but use intuitions based on the exceptional case to justify institutionalized practices and procedures of torture. In short, the ticking bomb begins by denying that torture belongs to liberal culture, and ends by constructing a torture culture. (pg. 1427)

    Fritz (d62210)

  107. The point of war isn’t to change how we live (by allowing torture of terrorism), it’s to change how other people live (by getting them to stop using torture or terrorism).

    Fritz (d62210)

  108. Water boarding is torture and it is fun. Without it we would not be able to obtain important information from terrorists that will save lives.

    sir winston (d8c8c7)

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