Patterico's Pontifications

4/27/2008

DoJ Flexible on Interrogation Techniques

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 3:45 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

In a move that is sure to provoke discussion, the Department of Justice suggests that permissible interrogation techniques could vary depending on the circumstances:

“CIA interrogation techniques otherwise prohibited by international law might be legal in the face of an impending terrorist attack, the Justice Department says in newly disclosed letters to Capitol Hill.

The letters show that the Bush administration is taking the position that it has latitude in dealing with restrictions from the Supreme Court and Congress designed to limit how far interrogators in the U.S. intelligence community can go.

Among the issues is a Geneva Conventions ban on outrages upon personal dignity, a provision the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 applies to prisoners in American captivity.

“The fact that an act is undertaken to prevent a threatened terrorist attack, rather than for the purpose of humiliation and abuse, would be relevant to a reasonable observer in measuring the outrageousness of the act,” said a Justice Department letter dated March 6.”

This New York Times’ article originally broke the story and reported reaction, pro and con:

“Some legal experts critical of the Justice Department interpretation said the department seemed to be arguing that the prospect of thwarting a terror attack could be used to justify interrogation methods that would otherwise be illegal.

“What they are saying is that if my intent is to defend the United States rather than to humiliate you, than I have not committed an offense,” said Scott L. Silliman, who teaches national security law at Duke University.

But a senior Justice Department official strongly challenged this interpretation on Friday, saying that the purpose of the interrogation would be just one among many factors weighed in determining whether a specific procedure could be used.

“I certainly don’t want to suggest that if there’s a good purpose you can head off and humiliate and degrade someone,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was describing some legal judgments that remain classified.

“The fact that you are doing something for a legitimate security purpose would be relevant, but there are things that a reasonable observer would deem to be outrageous,” he said.

At the same time, the official said, “there are certainly things that can be insulting that would not raise to the level of an outrage on personal dignity.”

There are no easy answers when you are trying to balance safety and freedom.

— DRJ

23 Responses to “DoJ Flexible on Interrogation Techniques”

  1. Personal embarrassment vs destruction of a city.

    Yeah, I can see the struggle here.

    ManlyDad (d62cf6)

  2. Personal embarrassment vs destruction of a city.

    Yeah, I can see the struggle here.

    And yeah: enhanced interrogation is really only about personal embarrassment, isn’t it? That’s the only real outcome, right?

    Speaking hypothetically–and isn’t this all hypothetical?–I can envision a situation where Mexilamofascists set a nuclear device to explode in Los Angeles in an attempt to extend the Reconquista and hide the key information in a small plastic container inside the gullet of a newborn baby. Further, in my hypothetical scenario, the bomb is going to go off in two minutes unless someone can find the container, read the information, and defuse the bomb.

    Seeing as how there are only two minutes left, the only recourse is to bayonet all the babies and claw through their entrails until we find the container.

    Yes, those damned Leftard LIEberals would complain, but that’s typical of those traitors. What, after all, is the massacre of a few dozen mewling infants when compared to the destruction of an entire U.S. city?

    Cranky parents? Yeah, I can really see the struggle.

    P.S.: I hope that gave ManlyDad the boner he looks for in this kind of terror-porn.

    DW 5000 (1a2fa5)

  3. DW 5000,

    That you can imagine such a thing is nothing more than an indicator of your own degeneracy. It has nothing to do with how America and Americans think.

    nk (1f1707)

  4. DW5000, that would indeed be a moral quandry, but it is not comparable to the torture of the terrorist himself. Leftists seem to not grasp the concept of how your own actions can effect the responsibility that society has to you.

    This reminds me of the ridiculous argument favored by some leftists that it is inconsistent to oppose abortion on the grounds that it is murder, but to support the death penalty. In order for this to be an inconsistency, there would (at minimum) have to be no morally relevant distinction between the killing of an innocent baby for the convenience of the mother and the killing of a guilty murderer as punishment for his crime. The thought that some people do not grasp this moral distinction is deeply disturbing.

    Similarly, it is disturbing that some people seem not to grasp the moral difference between gutting innocent babies for reasons that are no fault of theirs and torturing a man who has participated in a plan to murder an entire city in order to prevent the tragedy that he has tried to bring about.

    When your moral judgment is so terribly wrong, there seems no point to trying to have a discussion with you about moral issues.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  5. DW 5000 – Do you tell your therapist about these fantasies you have?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  6. Dear DaleySuxxCoxx:

    Yer a funny one!

    DW 5000

    DW 5000 (1a2fa5)

  7. torturing a man who has participated in a plan to murder an entire city

    First of all, this “trying to destroy a city” thing that you guys are always talking about is made up. Don’t you get that? You’re making it all up.

    Second, are you telling me that enhanced interrogation is only practiced on people who are definitely involved in whatever they’re accused of? Isn’t that, in fact, part of the interrogation process: to see if they are truly involved?

    I understand that in your endless hypothetical terror-porn scenarios, the brown people are all definitely involved beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that the fate of an entire American city is always at stake. I would suggest that life has not, to this point, worked that way.

    But so what, eh? They’re just brown people. And what is this “reality” thing of which we speak?

    I understand.

    DW 5000 (1a2fa5)

  8. DW5000, stef, alphie, Levi…
    Are these the best that Public Education can offer, or just the average?

    You wonder if anything today is worth saving.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  9. Are these the best that Public Education can offer, or just the average?

    You wonder if anything today is worth saving.

    Have you a specific criticism to offer? If not, your contempt is worth nothing–it’s simply someone hauling his fat ass up on the high horse.

    It’s easy to make pseudo-profound pronunciamentos, as you have here; it’s more difficult to contribute to the discussion, as witness the fact that you haven’t.

    Are you saying that the “destroying a city” and “ticking time bomb” memes are not simply straw men? Then prove it. If you agree that they are, then zip it.

    DW 5000 (e072de)

  10. It’s not worth, or interesting enough, to argue about.
    Bye!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  11. DW, you have some personal problems that require serious help.

    To my reading, the issue in the original report involved “outrages on personal dignity” for the purpose of gathering information as opposed to the purpose of “humiliation and abuse.” Nothing said about torture here.

    I was thinking more about techniques like having a woman doing the interrogating, or perhaps a pig in the room. Horrors!

    All of the other crap in this thread is from your own mind. And since you’ve ruined any serious discussion of the issue, we’ll close here.

    ManlyDad (22e85d)

  12. And since you’ve ruined any serious discussion of the issue, we’ll close here.

    Shorter ManlyDad: You knocked over my strawman! Wahhhh! I’m going to go tell my mommy!

    DW 5000 (e072de)

  13. Damn, I was waiting for the anal rape fantasies. The lefties are usually pretty creative with those, because of TEH OUTRAGE.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  14. “I understand that in your endless hypothetical terror-porn scenarios, the brown people are all definitely involved beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that the fate of an entire American city is always at stake. I would suggest that life has not, to this point, worked that way.”

    First, you are the one who always hears the word “terrorists” and thinks “brown people”. That’s you, not me. There have been plenty of white communist terrorists.

    Second, no, I don’t assume that the accused terrorist is always guilty. That is as ludicrous as saying that anyone in favor of prisons assume that no one is ever wrongly convicted.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  15. Dear Daleywanks:

    Based on many past interactions with you, it does not surprise me in the least to learn that you are pining for anal rape. Remember, though, it’s not rape when you consent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    DW 5000 (1a2fa5)

  16. Second, no, I don’t assume that the accused terrorist is always guilty. That is as ludicrous as saying that anyone in favor of prisons assume that no one is ever wrongly convicted.

    So you’re not against a little enhanced interrogation on an innocent person, then? That rumbling sound you hear is the moral high ground sliding away from under us. Zang, buddy!

    DW 5000 (1a2fa5)

  17. You hit the nail on the head DW 5000. I’m one of those TWP racist, homophobe, gunclingers, and am getting hard just thinking about it. Do you have a link to one of those oh so serious posts over at Balloon-Juice where they debate such matters. Please hurry!!!!!

    daleyrocks (906622)

  18. daleyrocks – It is tough to argue with those that are so absolutely unequivocably sure of themselves, especially when they are so certain of anyone that disagrees with them having bad motives and malice behind them.

    JD (75f5c3)

  19. So you’re not against a little enhanced interrogation on an innocent person, then? That rumbling sound you hear is the moral high ground sliding away from under us. Zang, buddy!

    So SW 30, you’re not against a few American cities being leveled and becoming uninhabitable for decades just to preserve a little moral high ground when we have already identified the terrorists involved in a plot?

    Why do you lie and recharacterize the discussion with you terror porn. Do you have evidence of high level torture being randomly performed by the U.S. purely for shits and giggles or is that just a creation of your sick mind. I’d like to see some links for the evidence you’ve got if any.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  20. The point of those arguing against this policy seems not to actually assemble a coherent argument against it, rather the point always seems to be to rush as fast as possible to claim that the proponents have a sexual interest in the discussion.

    Project much?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  21. SPQR – The national security brain trust of the left does have some pretty serious discussions along the lines you suggest. I seem to remember spotting over a Cole’s place the ticking time bomb scenario where we have capture the terrorist who refuses to give up the critical information unless my familiy and I submit to his anal rape. Now for the geniuses over there the question for this highly likely scenario is not submission, because of course the city must be saved, it is who goes first, my kids, my wife, or myself.

    Sheer genius these folks.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  22. SPQR – The national security brain trust of the left does have some pretty serious discussions along the lines you suggest. I seem to remember spotting over a Cole’s place the ticking time bomb scenario where we have capture the terrorist who refuses to give up the critical information unless my familiy and I submit to his anal rape. Now for the geniuses over there the question for this highly likely scenario is not submission, because of course the city must be saved, it is who goes first, my kids, my wife, or myself.

    Sheer genius these folks.

    That’s hilarious.

    Can anybody hear me?

    Levi (76ef55)

  23. I’d like to see some links for the evidence you’ve got if any.

    There’s a lot of things I’d like to see, Analrocks. Let’s start with a beer, maybe a Sierra Nevada, poured into a glass. Bring it right over here, if you would.

    DW 5000 (e072de)


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