Patterico's Pontifications

7/18/2008

Ashcroft on His Way to Liberal Doghouse Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:42 am



John Ashcroft has defended waterboarding before a House panel.

The controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding has served a “valuable” purpose and does not constitute torture, former Attorney General John Ashcroft told a House committee Thursday.

. . . .

“The reports that I have heard, and I have no reason to disbelieve them, indicate that they were very valuable,” Ashcroft said, adding that CIA Director George Tenet indicated the “value of the information received from the use of enhanced interrogation techniques — I don’t know whether he was saying waterboarding or not, but assume that he was for a moment — the value of that information exceeded the value of information that was received from all other sources.”

Remember that brief period when Ashcroft was a big hero with all the liberals? Yeah, that’s done.

My position on waterboarding remains essentially the same as ever:

1) Of course it’s torture.

2) If used, it runs the risk of mucking up any criminal trial, because a waterboarding-induced confession is worthless. Also, the information you get may well be worthless as well.

3) That said, it’s conceivable that you might need to do it in extreme circumstances. You’d want to recognize points 1 and 2 before you did it. But those who claim that five seconds of waterboarding makes us INHUMAN!!!!!1!! in every case, are simply high on self-righteousness. They are the same people who think it’s evil to execute murderers, because Killing is Always Wrong.

104 Responses to “Ashcroft on His Way to Liberal Doghouse Again”

  1. 1) Of course it’s torture.

    When reporters are signing up for it to score political points report on the phenomenon, I would tend to disagree with this.

    Having fingers chopped off, acid dripped into eyes, or getting thrown off of roofs? THAT is torture.

    Pushing psychological buttons and playing on fears is NOT.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  2. There are many things that could be considered torture depending on how they are performed and for how long. Waterboarding for 5 minutes, yeah probably torture, 5 seconds, probably not.

    I think it should remain as a rarely used threat.

    In the middle ages if you suffered through judicial torture (e.g. Spanish Inquisition)without confessing, you could not be convicted of the crime. This encouraged people to endure. Same as in Arthur Miller’s play “the crucible” with it’s famous “more weight” scene [I may be confusing this example with historical records from the time, no time to check]

    Likewise, if the interrogee knows that there is a limit to the way in which they will be questioned they would be more motivated to try and resist. If they don’t know all the options we have, or are truely frightened by some, it is more likely they will capitulate.

    Dr T (69c4b2)

  3. Just a minor detail. When they waterboarded those terrorists, they weren’t looking for evidence to use in a trial. They were looking for targets to kill.

    There is no way information gathered by waterboarding or any of the other stressful interrogation methods could or would be used in a US court.

    The interrogators were thinking like soldiers and intelligence agents, not like prosecutors.

    To paraphrase John Wayne, In the war on terror, due process is a bullet.
    (Or these days a Hellfire missile launched from a Predator drone)

    Evilned (429c11)

  4. So let’s get this straight…

    1) Of course it’s torture.

    You recognize it’s against the law…

    2) If used, it runs the risk of mucking up any criminal trial, because a waterboarding-induced confession is worthless. Also, the information you get may well be worthless as well.

    You understand that coerced confessions are not admissible and there’s no way to back up the veracity of whatever is coerced….

    3) That said, it’s conceivable that you might need to do it in extreme circumstances. You’d want to recognize points 1 and 2 before you did it. But those who claim that five seconds of waterboarding makes us INHUMAN!!!!!1!! in every case, are simply high on self-righteousness. They are the same people who think it’s evil to execute murderers, because Killing is Always Wrong.

    ….but it’s okay to torture people, because John Ashcroft says so! A few centuries worth of law and precedent means nothing next to the word of John Ashcroft, right?

    Patterico, I wonder if you have the balls to say out here in public that you believe that the President should be able to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow and which he can ignore. Go ahead and say, “I, Patterico, believe my President is above the law.” Can you do that?

    Levi (74ca1f)

  5. Levi, why don’t you take your Birkenstocks and walk to Canada? You don’t like it here. Why stay?

    PCD (5c49b0)

  6. “2) If used, it runs the risk of mucking up any criminal trial, because a waterboarding-induced confession is worthless. Also, the information you get may well be worthless as well.”

    I agree with Patterico. Terrorists should not be given criminal trials

    Kevin (834f0d)

  7. Levi – You should know better than to try to put words into Patterico’s mouth. But then again, you continue to amaze in how slow you are on the uptake.

    JD (75f5c3)

  8. Patterico, I’m not sure if you meant this the way I’m reading it, so I’m asking.

    It seems to me that by saying “X is high on self-righteousness” and “X is just like Y” you are at the very least implying that “Y is high on self-righteousness”.

    So .. do you really mean to say that anyone who believes that killing people is always wrong, and so therefore executing people is wrong, is high on self-righteousness?

    That certain people are, I buy; but I associated that more with the way they try to convince people to share their views and / or abide by them. I don’t consider Quakers to be particularly self-righteous, for example, but I’m pretty certain a Quaker would tell me that the death penalty is wrong.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  9. 2) If used, it runs the risk of mucking up any criminal trial, because a waterboarding-induced confession is worthless. Also, the information you get may well be worthless as well.

    A waterboarding-induced confession might be worth something if it is used in a criminal trial which the defendant is someone other than the confessor, and the confession is corroborated by other evidence.

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  10. Of course it’s torture.

    .

    Technically, of course it’s “cruel and inhumane.” There are additional elements to make “torture,” and they are NOT trivial elements. There has to be specific intent, i.e., the “motive” has to be “to torture.”

    .

    The accusation of “torture” has a technical defense, so, under oath, it’s EASY to say “we don’t torture.” Not so easy to say “No cruel and inhuman.”

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  11. It is not torture. The military does it on thier own members in SERE schools with no ill effect.

    ParatrooperJJ (8a6914)

  12. Technically, of course it’s “cruel and inhumane.”

    Then shouldn’t we expect whoever did it to that reporter (the one that begged to be waterboarded so he could write a story about it) to be arrested and jailed.

    Somehow, I don’t think that will ever happen.

    I think that “torture” should be limited to only those interrogation techniques that actually leave a mark. But when there isn’t even a bruise, we’re really bending the definition of the word just to make ourselves look bad. And it’s not like terrorists and liberals need the extra reason to hate the US.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  13. Torture is the purposeful infliction of pain and suffering. I suppose that, someday, we’ll have something for causing pain without also causing physical harm like in Dune. Getting hung up on whether flesh is rent seems to me to be missing the point.

    Levi,

    I think it’s a fairly noncontroversial Lockean principle that sometimes the executive must act outside the law in order to preserve it. When a fire is raging through a city the executive has a duty to knock down houses in order to stop its spread, even without the mandate of positive law. You might do some reading on the prerogative power.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  14. I suppose that, someday, we’ll have something for causing pain without also causing physical harm like in Dune.

    There’s always the Cruciatus curse.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  15. Then shouldn’t we expect whoever did it to that reporter (the one that begged to be waterboarded so he could write a story about it) to be arrested and jailed.
    .
    Of course not, for reasons so obvious that it’s reasonable to conclude the person raising the question is a blooming moron.
    .
    I think that “torture” should be limited to only those interrogation techniques that actually leave a mark.
    .
    Thanks for sharing.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  16. Levi’ comments cause pain without physical harm. Except when it makes my eyeballs bleed. Ditto Oiram. Torturers !!!!!!!!

    JD (5f0e11)

  17. If waterboarding is torture, and against the law, please explain to me how Christoper Hitchens, among other reporters, can be waterboarded and the ones doing the torture are not liable under the law.

    Or explain to me if it is a crime against humanity, and illegal, the CodePinkos, who routinely waterboard each other in their protests, are not held liable under the law.

    You see, if a man agrees to be murdered, the murderer is still breaking the law and can be prosecuted under the full extent of the law so the argument that Hitchens agreed to the process therefore no law was broken is erronous.

    We, as a society, either agree that anyone who waterboards another is violating the law, no matter the reason for the process, or they are not violating the law. You cannot have one policy for one group and not apply it to all.

    retire05 (252fb4)

  18. If waterboarding is torture, and against the law, please explain to me how Christoper Hitchens, among other reporters, can be waterboarded and the ones doing the torture are not liable under the law.

    Careful. I asked that very question (phrasing it differently), and cblockhead’s only response was to call me a moron.

    Didn’t answer the question, one notes, but that’s all the response he had.

    Odd, that.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  19. If waterboarding is torture, and against the law, please explain to me how Christoper Hitchens, among other reporters, can be waterboarded and the ones doing the torture are not liable under the law.

    Let’s say I play water polo and somebody throws a ball at my head and I get a bloody nose. I shrug, he shrugs, it happens. Or, I play ice hockey and someone knocks me into a Plexiglases wall with a stick.

    Let’s say you’re walking down the street and I throw a water polo ball at your head and you get a bloody nose. Or I run up to you as you amble down the street and I slam you into the wall with a stick. I may shrug, but Officer Friendly is going to have a few questions for me and I might have to spend the night in jail.

    See the difference?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  20. cblockhead’s only response

    .

    LOL. Good name calling. Wicked creative. For a moron.

    .

    Next thing you know, kidney donation will be illegal, because if someone’s kidney can be taken without their consent, then it muist be illegal to take it with their consent.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  21. The last time I woke up missing a kidney, I was freakin’ pissed. Just sayin’

    JD (5f0e11)

  22. Are SERE students highly motivated, highly trained volunteers? Can they drop on request?

    Do they consent?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  23. So how many people are volunteering for the chance to fight the US? Doesn’t that voluntary act accept the risks that they might be captured and interrogated, just as your water polo player accepts the risk of a bloody nose (which, btw, is still worse than what waterboarding is, since waterboarding only leaves a memory the instant it’s over – not even so much as a nasty red mark).

    I still can’t get over the argument that waterboarding is illegal, but a bullet to the forehead is not. Or the “we’re becoming just like them!”, which is patently absurd. (Tell me the first time we start breaking fingers, or pouring acid over someone’s face, instead of water, and I’ll join the “the US is torturing people” bandwagon, but until that happens, lighten up, Francis.)

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  24. LOL. Good name calling. Wicked creative. For a moron.

    Being hypocritical obviously doesn’t faze you, so I’ll just keep laughing at you and move on.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  25. I’ll just keep laughing at you and move on.
    .
    Ditto

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  26. I watched some of the hearing this morning on CSPAN – at 4 am.
    A congressman claimed that enchanced techniques were not effective, citing as evidence the claim that KSM had not been broken by waterboarding but rather by winning him over with empathetic techniques. Then I had to leave, so I didn’t hear the rebutal, if any.

    I thought John Ashcroft was impressive, especially in response to repeated requests that he reveal conversations with the President in the situation room. Paraphrasing, he said something like … being invited to break the law by revealing classified information offends me.

    CMSmith (f287dc)

  27. Ditto

    Creative as all get-out, aintcha?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  28. The problem with agreeing that it is torture, is that you subject the likes of Martinez, Kirikaou, Al Nasheri et al; although the latter brought it upon himself in part),to prosecution for said acts involving KSM, Zubeydah, or at least strong sanctions. It would also likely compromise the prosecutions of Padilla, Faris, Majid Khan, et al; possibly letting at least one of them go. And nothing could possibly go wrong there, as the case of Abdallah Saleh al Ajmi, obviously proves, not. Not to consider the Star Chamber “war crimes” prosecutions suggested by the likes of Phillip Sands. It was likely that these blanket prohibitions, on aggressive interrogation, prevented the admission of Akbar Murad’s plotting against targets like the Pentagon and the White House; into the Aug. 6, PDB because of the involvement of the Phillipine National Police. As the John Richardson profile of John Yoo points out; tactics were chosen in light of EU rulings in Northern Ireland, and other complicated jurisdiction. We saw a small sample of possible future consequences, with the examination of the aftermath of the Keith Hall affair with the interrogation of Christian Nimr; cited in Bowden’s Atlantic piece “The Art of Interrogation”. In that piece, the investigation into the Beirut bombings, was basically buried because of the actions of the Deuxieme Bureau’sactions against Nimr, who had been bribed to let the bomb truck get past the checkpoint. It would be years, before the investigation would be reopened by Bob Baer at the CTC; which pointed to high level figures in the Iranian Revolutionary
    Guards like Feridoun Nezhi Nezhad, which would be tied to the Buenos Aires bombings, ten years later.

    Ironically, this did nothing to affect the other side, as Hezballah Dr. Azziz al Abub, actually Ibrahim Midhar, son of an Iranian army officer who was educated at the Patrice Lumumba U,(the Russians trained Islamic terrorists?) and trained in Iraq, at Abu Nidal’s terror camp (but I thought Iranian Shias didn’t work with Sunni) applied much more aggressive techniques against William Buckley and most probably Col. WilliaM Higgins. Ironically, the reporter who pointed this out, Gordon Thomas, used this details to condemn the United States, because we had done some experiments a generation earlier under the MK/ULTRA and ARTICHOKE programs.

    The impact of post Watergate investigations into the security services, including the indictment of possible “Deep Throat” FBI Mark Felt and Edward Miller, for their work against the Weathermen like Bill Ayers, the perjury charges against Richard Helms, the construction of FISA
    all had a cumulative impact on intelligence gathering, counterintelligence investigations, et al. Which would ultimately see its impact in the days before 9/11.

    narciso (d671ab)

  29. A drumhead court-martial preserves the humanity of the person, while condemning them as a criminal. Punishment for a crime presupposes that the person punished is morally operative.

    Torture is about the destruction of a person’s humanity. It is setting their principles and their personhood against their desire to stop the pain. It is about stripping away a person’s capacity for moral calculation through the imposition of unbearable pain and suffering and making them a witness against themselves.

    A person being tried by a drumhead court-martial has the right to make a defense for themselves or the right to refuse to make any defense at all. Their execution, if done correctly, is carried out in such a way as to protect their dignity and to impose as little pain and suffering as possible. For a torture victim this is all turned on its head: they deprived of their right to defend themselves wholly and completely, their dignity is shattered, and the whole operation is designed to inflict as much dignity and suffering as possible.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  30. Waterboarding is a military training technique, not torture. Now it is a childs game played daily thanks to the ‘hype’ that it’s torture that results in no injury. Mickey Mouse McCain thinks it torture and he underwent real torture, but he’s seeking the retarded liberal vote since he lost the conservative vote. The only thing McCain has going for him is the he is not Hussein O (Islamic party candidate). Americans are setting themselves up to find out what real torture is. Maybe watching your family members make a trip through a wood chipper will convince you.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  31. Scrapiron,

    Training for what end?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  32. “…the whole operation is designed to inflict as much (loss of) dignity and suffering as possible…”

    Or, as used to be said in the Old West: He deserves to be horse-whipped, ’cause hanging’s too good for him.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  33. When Obama is waterboarding Klansmen to find church bombers, it won’t be torture anymore.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  34. It is training against resisting interrogation, based on what we’ve learned about Korean, Vietnamese, & Iranian techniques. Our enemies have moved to much more graphic techniques re;
    Paul Johnson, Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg. The French applied some of their tactics in Algeria; that helped break the FLN hold, based on accounts of
    Dien Ben Phu prisoners. Practically, none of the techniques we use, are anywhere near that range.
    However isolation and temperature variation is useful in some cases; like Muhammed Manea Al Quahtani, Det. 603.

    narciso (d671ab)

  35. Wait, wait: what kind of interrogations again?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  36. You are all bloodthirsty advocates of torture. Racists.

    JD (75f5c3)

  37. Levi wrote:

    “Patterico, I wonder if you have the balls to say out here in public that you believe that the President should be able to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow and which he can ignore. Go ahead and say, “I, Patterico, believe my President is above the law.” Can you do that?”

    Well, well, well. Funny how your ethics are flexible depending on who is in the White House. Remember three days ago when I posted the following?

    Levi babbled: “If you’ve signed off on torture, objective-less war, and dismantling Constitutional principles like habeas corpus and the 4th amendment, you’re too far gone.”

    Here’s a harsh bit of truth for you, Leev: If your man Barry has to someday make a “ticking time bomb” choice between “torture” (however you want to define it) and the survival of the United States as we know it, HE WILL CHOOSE “TORTURE.” That is, of course, unless he wants to be adored by the rest of the world so much, he would be willing to be forever known as The President Who Lost America — the one who decided that if we had to “torture” to keep the nation intact, it wasn’t worth preserving.

    As has happened to every empire, The American Empire will someday be a thing of the past. Lincoln, FDR, and George W. Bush (among others) have had to make choices that were larger than any of us could possibly imagine. History will debate their tactics. What should not be lost in the debate is the fact that in each case, the republic survived.

    Comment by L.N. Smithee — 7/15/2008 @ 12:24 pm

    …and you responded (bold mine):

    [L.N. Smithee:] Here’s a harsh bit of truth for you, Leev: If your man Barry has to someday make a “ticking time bomb”

    God, do I have to read the rest of this?

    Nothing like that has ever happened, nor is it likely to ever happen. We’re not in Die Hard, okay? If it does happen, you can ‘go all Jack Bauer on their asses,’ and torture whoever you want for as long as you want, but in the mean time, let’s not equivocate real life to some shared Republican action-movie fantasy, okay?

    Comment by Levi — 7/15/2008 @ 12:43 pm

    L.N. Smithee (ecc5a5)

  38. IMO, the more pain Al Qaida terrorists suffer…the better.

    Torturing them is perfectly just (real torture, not mickey-mouse crap like waterboarding).

    It’s payback for the little girls their organization murdered on 9/11/01. Little girls like Julianna McCourt who was four years old when she was torn limb from limb by Al Qaida murderers.

    Dave Surls (793e0b)

  39. Dave Surls,

    Waterboarding is Mickey Mouse? Wait, wait: don’t they use it in SERE training to teach the next generation of real American heroes how to resist the worst that some of the dastardly regimes in the world will throw their way should they be unfortunate enough to be captured?

    Unless, of course, you’re saying SERE training is Micky Mouse crap. Are you?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  40. No, he’s saying SERE training is not torture. Neither is waterboarding. Neither is having a female interrogator. Neither is being forced to listen to loud unpleasant music (such as gangsta rap or some Bollywood tunes).

    Having one’s hand cut off is torture. Being beaten black and blue is torture. Having bones broken or limbs dislocated is torture.

    When we start doing that as a sanctioned policy, come talk to me about how cruel and inhumane we have become.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  41. “You are all bloodthirsty advocates of torture.”

    I don’t know about everybody, but I sure am.

    Put me in charge at Gitmo, and they’ll be hearing the screams of agony emananting from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed all the way up in Alaska.

    Dave Surls (793e0b)

  42. You all have little dark holes where real and rational people have hearts and souls. Racists.

    JD (75f5c3)

  43. JD wrote: You all have little dark holes where real and rational people have hearts and souls. Racists.

    WHAT YOU MEAN, “DARK HOLES?” WHY DON’TCHA CALL ‘EM “WHITE HOLES?!” 😉

    L.N. Smithee (d1de1b)

  44. How about: Holes of Color?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  45. Drumwaster,

    Just as a matter of definition: (among other things) SERE training is torture resistance training.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  46. I denounce and condemn myself. Can you ever find it within that shiny sparkly most-certainly-not-black hole of yours to forgive me?

    JD (75f5c3)

  47. Just sayin’ … 😉

    David Petranos Esp and MKDP and AnnTM WE MISS YOU !!!! (75f5c3)

  48. SERE training is torture resistance training.

    They also play “good cop, bad cop” in SERE training. Does that mean the NYPD are committing mass torture?

    They feed them nasty stuff that they call “food” in SERE training, too. Does that mean the local taco stand is guilty of war crimes? (Waitaminnit, that might not be such a good example…) 😉

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  49. “Does that mean the local taco stand is guilty of war crimes?”

    I’ve eaten at a few in Mexico that would qualfy.

    Dave Surls (793e0b)

  50. They certainly hold down the stray-dog population.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  51. As far as I’m concerned when Al Qaida and other terrorist groups started murdering innocent Americans and especially little children the rule book on civilized warfare went right out the window.

    There aren’t any rules any more and anything we do to captured terrorists: threats, torture, murder, whatever is totally justified.

    And, I really couldn’t give a crap whether it’s legal or not.

    Dave Surls (793e0b)

  52. the rule book on civilized warfare went right out the window

    And it will STAY out the window until those groups start obeying the laws of warfare as defined in the Geneva Conventions. That means no targeting of civilians, no using hospitals and mosques as staging areas, no fake surrenders that turn into ambushes, and wearing an identifiable uniform.

    If they want the protections, they play by the rules required FIRST. And the moment they do, all of this talk about “unlawful combatants” STOPS.

    But they aren’t that smart. They would cheat on any honorably negotiated deal the moment it suited their purpose to do so, and they think we are the same.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  53. But they aren’t that smart. They would cheat on any honorably negotiated deal the moment it suited their purpose to do so

    To wit, see every single “peace accord” negotiated with Israel in the last 30 years.

    JD (75f5c3)

  54. Two definitions:

    1. Torture is the infliction of unbearable pain and suffering for the purpose of extracting information.

    2. Torture is the infliction of unbearable pain and suffering for the purpose of extracting information that leaves a mark.

    Which is more parsimonious?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  55. Who cares about “parsimonious” when you can’t even be “accurate”?

    tor·ture /ˈtɔrtʃər/
    [tawr-cher]
    noun, verb, -tured, -tur·ing.
    –noun
    1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
    2. a method of inflicting such pain.

    So how is waterboarding considered “excruciating pain” without even leaving a mark? How can it be considered “excruciating pain” when reporters are lining up for the privilege?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  56. Levi: there’s no way to back up the veracity of whatever is coerced….

    That’s not true.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  57. Wait, wait. Now you’re raising an interesting question. Can you inflict excruciating pain without leaving a mark? The definition you quoted leaves that as an open question.

    If water boarding inflicts excruciating pain without leaving a mark would it then be torture? Well, yes.

    It’s the excruciating pain which is operative, not the method of its infliction.

    And since even the hardcore SERE graduate admits that waterboarding was so excruciating that they were willing to confess to the most horrific war crimes just to make it stop, I would think this ties it up nicely, no?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  58. Can you inflict excruciating pain without leaving a mark?

    Good question. Why not think about what the word actually means, and start classifying the items you had incorrectly classed as “torture” as something else (such as “panties on the head”, smearing red paint and claiming that it’s menstrual blood, being forced to listen to rap music, et alia) and we can start over.

    If water boarding inflicts excruciating pain without leaving a mark would it then be torture? Well, yes.

    But since it only plays on one’s fears, and doesn’t cause any actual damage, then NO, it isn’t “torture”.

    It’s the excruciating pain which is operative, not the method of its infliction.

    It can be unbearable, yet still not be torture. It can make you think any number of things that would affect your “breaking point”, yet still not cause an instant of pain, much less any actual damage.

    And since even the hardcore SERE graduate admits that waterboarding was so excruciating that they were willing to confess to the most horrific war crimes just to make it stop, I would think this ties it up nicely, no?

    So excruciating that a reporter would gladly undergo it for a paycheck, and emerge with neither scars, burns, contusions, nor nightmares.

    You are conflating getting your head wet with having your hand chopped off or acid in the eyes…

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  59. Drumwaster,

    Highly motivated operators undergoing SERE training were willing to confess to war crimes just to make the waterboarding stop. These are people who know what waterboarding is. Everyone breaks during waterboarding. KSM, a highly motivated operator if there ever was one, had the world record because he lasted 2 minutes.

    Why?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  60. doesn’t cause any actual damage

    Why is “actual” damage important. Even your definition didn’t include anything about actual damage.

    Excruciating pain is the standard for torture. Waterboarding causes excruciating pain. When waterboarding is used to coerce information from a subject it is torture.

    Actual damage is well besides the point.

    Are you comparing highly motivated operators undertaking SERE training, who break within moments, to a bunch of poncey publicity-hungry journos?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  61. Why?

    Because it scares them badly, by triggering the drowning reflex. Fear is a psychological phenomenon, and there is a difference between devastating fear and excruciating pain. Are you capable of drawing the distinction?

    There are Muslims who would have gladly pissed on the Qu’ran themselves to prevent a woman interrogator from touching them with the red paint they thought was menstrual blood. Is that torture? Or is that just skillful interrogation, playing on their ingrained fears?

    Scaring the detainee while questioning them is a time-tested technique, ranging from threats of long prison sentences to fear of being sentenced to death. Using those psychological stressers peculiar to a given culture is also possible (although it requires an intimate knowledge of that culture), but fear of drowning is a universal fear.

    Fear is not torture. Yelling is not torture. Repeating the claim doesn’t make it any more valid.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  62. Are you comparing highly motivated operators undertaking SERE training, who break within moments, to a bunch of poncey publicity-hungry journos?

    No, YOU are.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  63. Having fear and being scared are not the same as infliction of pain.

    JD (5f0e11)

  64. It’s not the fear of drowning, Drumwaster, it’s the sensation of drowning.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  65. Waterboarding most certainly does not inflict pain. Fear, no doubt. Not pain.

    JD (5f0e11)

  66. EXCRUCIATING SENSATIONS !!!!!!!!!!!

    JD (5f0e11)

  67. It’s not the fear of drowning, Drumwaster, it’s the sensation of drowning.

    And there is a serious difference. THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY BEING DROWNED. They are suffering no harm, other than the fear they are undergoing. They are feeling FEAR, not PAIN.

    If you are actually causing PAIN, then it becomes “torture”.

    Not until.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  68. JD,

    So everyone who ever underwent SERE training is silly because they broke under excruciating sensations?

    Fritz (6f6601)

  69. excruciating sensations?

    SENSATIONS. Not PAIN.

    Do you not understand this? Fear does not equal pain. Stop trying to pretend that the two are identical.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  70. Fritz – Having gone through SERE school training, I will attest to how much it fuckin’ sucked. Scared the holy hell out of me. I would have been putty in their hands. But it did not hurt one teenie tiny little bit.

    JD (5f0e11)

  71. Drumwaster,

    They are undergoing excruciating pain and they think they’re drowning. Of course, as in my first comment, if we had the Dune pain in a box, where you think that the flesh in your hand is being burned away, but it’s not, would that be torture? Yes, obviously. Waterboarding is like the pain in a box: actual but not actual. What did Henri Alleg write?

    The rag was soaked rapidly. Water flowed everywhere: in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. But for a while I could still breathe in some small gulps of air. I tried, by contracting my throat, to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs for as long as I could. But I couldn’t hold on for more than a few moments. I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably. “That’s it! He’s going to talk”, said a voice.

    And this, from the same article:

    While US media reports typically state that waterboarding involves “simulated drowning”, Mr Nance explained that “since the lungs are actually filling with water”, there is nothing simulated about it. “Waterboarding,” he said, “is slow-motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of blackout and expiration. When done right, it is controlled death.”

    Fritz (6f6601)

  72. Dumptaster knows everything. It is pointless to argue with him.

    nk (8eafa0)

  73. Dumptaster knows everything. It is pointless to argue with him.

    Wow, what wit. Almost rises to the level of elementary school playground.

    Almost.

    Interesting how you never have any facts, innit?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  74. Pain is an “unpleasant or agonizing physical sensation”, a “continuous, strongly unpleasant or agonizing sensation in the body (usually in a particular part)”, and “the state or condition of consciousness arising from mental or physical suffering (opposed to pleasure)”. OED; Webster sucks. Now, are you telling me that waterboarding doesn’t cause pain by this definition? Certainly, someone undergoing waterboarding is suffering, no? And I suppose that it’s fairly extreme, given that your average CIA agent lasts a whole whopping 14 seconds.

    I’m sure Patterico can speak to this: even prisons are enjoined from causing wanton suffering.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  75. They are undergoing excruciating pain and they think they’re drowning.

    No, they’re not (see JD’s comment above), and that’s kinda the point.

    They THINK they are drowning, yet when it stops, it’s over INSTANTLY. No pain. No harm. Just scared shitless, and willing to give up their own mother to make the fear go away. Muslims would be just as scared to be smneared with pib’s blood, but that wouldn’t be torture, either, just a PSYCHOLOGICAL ploy.

    There was no need for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, no CPR, and his lungs were no more “filling up with water” than they were filling up with concrete.

    Fear is not pain. Try and keep them straight.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  76. Now, are you telling me that waterboarding doesn’t cause pain by this definition?

    So stubbing my toe is now torture? I mean, since you are now equating “sensation” with “pain”, and “pain” with “torture”.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  77. So all those people with PTSD after waterboarding are just… what? Not tortured, apparently.

    Is McCants lying?

    Waterboarding victim granted VA disability

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has reversed earlier rulings and granted a rare disability claim by an Eight Mile veteran who says he suffered long-term emotional problems after being waterboarded during a Navy survival course in April 1975.

    The Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of Arthur McCants III, 60, following a series of stories in the Press-Register, dating back to Dec. 2, about McCants’ case.

    Steve Westerfeld, a VA spokesman in Washington, confirmed the appeal ruling in a phone interview Tuesday and said that VA officials considered information in the articles as well as testimony from veterans who responded to the stories and described their waterboardings at the survival school in California.

    “I’m happy. … I feel a whole lot better,” McCants said Tuesday. He said he is scheduled to undergo eight weeks of post-traumatic stress disorder counseling in a dormitory setting at VA facilities in Biloxi, starting next week. He will also get free medication.

    He said he has struggled with drugs and alcohol for decades — as well as suicidal thoughts — since he underwent waterboarding at the survival school in the San Diego area.

    Westerfeld said that it has not yet been determined what amount of disability payments that McCants will receive. That will be decided by the VA Regional Board in Montgomery, Westerfeld said. McCants could also get back-payment compensation from the time his claim was first denied in 1986.

    “Waterboarding” is a controversial procedure that simulates drowning; some denounce it as torture.

    McCants said he was in the Navy, undergoing Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training with about 30 others during April 1975. He said that at one point, the course instructors took the role of guards, and the students were POWs.

    He said the instructors strapped McCants, who is black, to a board slanted at a 20-degree angle. “Your feet are higher, and your head is lower,” he said.

    He said guards told another POW that if he didn’t talk, “The black one will suffer.”

    When the other POW refused to give anything more than name, rank and serial number, McCants said, “they poured buckets of water over my face.” He said the water “was constantly coming” and that he passed out.

    McCants said he regained consciousness just moments later, and the procedure was repeated, only this time water was poured through a T-shirt over his face. “I was now sucking water through the T-shirt. I was trying to break the straps, and my whole body was arcing.”

    The next day, McCants said, an instructor threatened to subject him to more waterboarding. “I broke into tears. My knees buckled. I knew I couldn’t handle it again,” he said. “I would have lost my mind.”

    McCants said he presently must live on $1,500 a month: $1,300 in disability from the Postal Service and $200 from the VA for an injury he received during his more than five years in the Navy.

    He said he’s facing foreclosure on his home because he has been unable to meet the payments in recent months, and he fears he will have no home to return to after completing the eight-week course in Biloxi, where he will not get a weekend pass until his fourth weekend in treatment.

    Westerfeld said that after the Press-Register articles came to their attention the case was given priority on the docket because of “financial hardship.”

    Along with the articles, the Press-Register sent names and information on veterans who contacted the newspaper following the articles, veterans who said they, too, were waterboarded at the same survival school.

    Among the evidence McCants had previously offered to the VA, was a report by a VA analyst concluding that McCants suffered from PTSD as a result of the waterboarding.

    VA officials had said they did not doubt he had PTSD but said in a previous ruling that there was no record of “the curriculum” at the school in 1975. The VA said then there was no proof the PTSD was caused by an “in-service or service-related” incident.

    In its reversal of the earlier ruling, the new ruling concludes, “The veteran has been diagnosed with PTSD that is medically attributed to a stressor he experienced during his service.” It adds, this time as a “conclusion of law,” that “the criteria for service connection for PTSD have been met.”

    Fritz (6f6601)

  78. PTSD is a response to FEARS, not physical harm. They used to call it “shell shock”, and that doesn’t have the implied confusion of terms you keep making.

    Hostages have PTSD, too, even if they aren’t touched, because of the FEARS they have undergone.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  79. It is possible for reasonable people to disagree. Levi’s comments cause me pain. Torturer.

    JD (5f0e11)

  80. Drumwaster,

    Why are you so hung-up on physical harm? Even your definition of torture said nothing about physical harm. Waterboarding causes immediate pain, suffering, and agony, such that highly motivated military and intelligence agency personnel will break within moments, and can lead to long-term ill effects: PTSD. How is it not torture again?

    Look at the dates in the McCants article. 1975: SERE training, waterboarding. 1986: first time that his claim was denied. Note: he claimed as far back as 1986, when it was far less sexy than today, that waterboarding caused him long lasting psychological trauma. So, when someone says, “The military does it on thier [sic] own members in SERE schools with no ill effect”, we can’t say that they’re entirely correct.

    Your case is crumbling around you, Drumwaster.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  81. It does not cause physical harm or physical pain. Period.

    Fritz – One example overcomes the likely tens of thousands that have gone through similar experiences?

    JD (5f0e11)

  82. JD,

    My definition of torture is different than yours. I’m following the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy here.

    Torture is: (a) the intentional infliction of extreme physical suffering on some non-consenting, defenseless person; (b) the intentional, substantial curtailment of the exercise of the person’s autonomy (achieved by means of (a)); (c) in general, undertaken for the purpose of breaking the victim’s will.

    Waterboarding fits this definition. Thus, it is torture.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  83. JD,

    Someone wrote that waterboarding is not torture because it does not cause long-term damage. I pointed out a case where it did cause long-term damage. Are you now going to say that it’s not torture because it doesn’t always produce long-term damage? That, my friend, is called moving the goal posts.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  84. Fritz – that definition would make Levi’s comments torture. Waterboarding does not cause physical suffering. Period. Full stop. Mental, absolutely. Expansion of the meaning of torture renders the term meaningless. Being scared and being tortured simply do not mean the same thing.

    JD (5f0e11)

  85. Are people really still arguing about torture? The economy sucks and our soldiers are still dying. I think there are more pressing issues for us to consider.

    TLove (b8e7b4)

  86. JD,

    But it’s your body that’s suffering. Your body, which is being constrained so that water can be pored over your mouth and face, constricting your breathing and causing the gag reflex, is physical. Thus, physical suffering. We are using the words in the normal way, yes?

    Full Stop.

    Oh, and it’s not an expansion of the meaning. It’s a clarification. That’s what philosophers do. And the idea that Levi’s comments are a kind of torture is just fatuous.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  87. TLove,

    I forget who wrote it, but the purpose of war is to change the way other people live. Those who want to sneak torture into our way of making war are, from good if mistaken motives I suppose, changing the way we live.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  88. That’s the lamest thing I have ever heard. We should first be concerned about our fellow Americans who are suffering.

    TLove (b8e7b4)

  89. Mental or just physical suffering, TLove? I would think that JD and Drumwaster would say that if they’re not in actual physical pain, akin to acid in the eyes, they can go hang.

    Fritz (6f6601)

  90. Frankly, this discussion got ridiculous from the start for the usual reasons.

    But there is a second reason that it got ridiculous, and that is that Ashcroft is allowing others to assume that “enhanced interrogation” is equivalent to waterboarding.

    But it is not necessarily. The administration also classified things like sleep deprivation, continuous playing of music and other minor abuse as “enhanced interrogation”.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  91. #82 Fritz:

    My definition of torture is different than yours. I’m following the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy here.

    Torture is: (a) the intentional infliction of extreme physical suffering on some non-consenting, defenseless person; (b) the intentional, substantial curtailment of the exercise of the person’s autonomy (achieved by means of (a)); (c) in general, undertaken for the purpose of breaking the victim’s will.

    Waterboarding fits this definition. Thus, it is torture.

    Everyone locked up in prison is being tortured under this definition. Everyone being arrested is being tortured as well. Guess it’s time to shut down all the jails and prisons and never ever arrest anyone again.

    Kenny (76922b)

  92. Levi wrote:

    “Patterico, I wonder if you have the balls to say out here in public that you believe that the President should be able to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow and which he can ignore. Go ahead and say, “I, Patterico, believe my President is above the law.” Can you do that?”

    Well, well, well. Funny how your ethics are flexible depending on who is in the White House. Remember three days ago when I posted the following?

    Levi babbled: “If you’ve signed off on torture, objective-less war, and dismantling Constitutional principles like habeas corpus and the 4th amendment, you’re too far gone.”

    Here’s a harsh bit of truth for you, Leev: If your man Barry has to someday make a “ticking time bomb” choice between “torture” (however you want to define it) and the survival of the United States as we know it, HE WILL CHOOSE “TORTURE.” That is, of course, unless he wants to be adored by the rest of the world so much, he would be willing to be forever known as The President Who Lost America — the one who decided that if we had to “torture” to keep the nation intact, it wasn’t worth preserving.

    As has happened to every empire, The American Empire will someday be a thing of the past. Lincoln, FDR, and George W. Bush (among others) have had to make choices that were larger than any of us could possibly imagine. History will debate their tactics. What should not be lost in the debate is the fact that in each case, the republic survived.

    Comment by L.N. Smithee — 7/15/2008 @ 12:24 pm

    …and you responded (bold mine):

    [L.N. Smithee:] Here’s a harsh bit of truth for you, Leev: If your man Barry has to someday make a “ticking time bomb”

    God, do I have to read the rest of this?

    Nothing like that has ever happened, nor is it likely to ever happen. We’re not in Die Hard, okay? If it does happen, you can ‘go all Jack Bauer on their asses,’ and torture whoever you want for as long as you want, but in the mean time, let’s not equivocate real life to some shared Republican action-movie fantasy, okay?

    Comment by Levi — 7/15/2008 @ 12:43 pm

    Comment by L.N. Smithee — 7/18/2008 @ 11:00 am

    So… what? You think you got me?

    Levi (74ca1f)

  93. So… what? You think you got me?

    Um… yeah!

    How do you keep the sand from running up your nose?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  94. As a peripheral topic related to this one, the New York Times revealed the name of a CIA interrogator – who isn’t even being accused of crimes – when is Levi going to call for the prosecution of the New York Times for treason?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  95. “…The economy sucks and our soldiers are still dying…”
    News Flash…
    The economy ALWAYS sucks for someone; and soldiers die in battle, and training accidents, and car crashes, and from over-indulgence in adult-beverages, etc. – it is not a low-risk occupation.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  96. Oh, young man with spiky, goo-filled hair: is “!!!!!1!!” a recently coined punk-emotistring? I’m sooo out of date. (So out of date that I shouldn’t be allowed to use the word “sooo”.)

    Neil Ferguson (a002b9)

  97. Waterboarding constitutes assault and battery.

    And assault and battery is illegal under every American jurisdiction.

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  98. Everyone locked up in prison is being tortured under this definition. Everyone being arrested is being tortured as well. Guess it’s time to shut down all the jails and prisons and never ever arrest anyone again.

    Well, no. Everyone in prison is being coerced. Arrest is a kind of coercion as well, and doesn’t always involve extreme suffering.

    It’s (c) that provides the essential difference.

    Fritz (7f8e72)

  99. #97…
    This perfectly explains why wars, and the intelligence gathering neccessary for their successful completion, cannot be fought by lawyers, or under the auspices of the criminal-justice system.
    Are we now going to prosecute anyone who initiates hand-to-hand combat for A&B? ADW for leading a bayonet charge?
    Under scenarios such as these, victors would be the ultimate losers; since, by initiating action, and prevailing, they would be guilty of various assaults.
    What happened to the concept that the best defense, is a good offense?
    The criminal-justice system has no place on the battlefield, and can only result in the destruction of that society if it is put into it.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  100. Ejercito, that’s among the sillier simplistic arguments.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  101. Okay, hypothetically a dangerous spy has been captured known to have severe fear of heights (acrophobia). In order to extract information the spy is handcuffed to a ferris wheel gondola and rotated to the top of the wheel where the interrogator demands the secret information while rocking the gondola and banging on the pivots with a hammer.

    The spy in severe psychologial distress breaks down and surrenders the information. Clearly for some here that poor spy was “tortured”.

    IMO, not so much. Everybody has the panic reflex associated with drowning and that’s how it works. Suffering? okay. Pain no. But the suffering is incidental and unavoidable consequence of the stress required to extract the info.

    boris (ecab60)

  102. #101
    But, but, but Mr Badenov- don’t you think it better that we potentially sacrifice innocents in any number to avoid compromising our founding principles? If we stoop to the level of the islamomutants by using torture are we not thus morally bankrupt as they are and thus they will have won the battle of ideas? Some of the warmongering neanderthal neocons on this blog would have us exit Iraq by way of Iran.
    Thank god for patriots such as Jamie Gorelick and whoever in the FBI prevented an underling from invading the privacy of that one prospective 911 recruit in Minnesota. We must avoid any further erosion of our constitutional liberties by again avoiding the sharing of info between agencies such as CIA and FBI. The downside is way too scary. Our thoughtful brethren such as Levi, Harp and Lovechild2008 have pointed out some of the fallacies of unbridled executive arrogance and lies from the Bush administration. Indeed, patriot Levi has plainly explained how stupido hitlerish Dubya has “wiped his ass with the US Constitution” and treated our military like “cumrags”.
    Is there any doubt that President Obama will heal our racial divisions, stifle and necessarily degrade our way too powerful military/industrial complex and finally have the world admiring him and the USA for the great wisdom of reaching out and compromising/seeing the light and wonder of European and UN values? We need more Ruth Bader Ginsburgs on the SCOTUS to put us more in line with progressive legal thought. We need the filthy rich to pay their fair share of taxes to level out the playing field. We surely need to stop any form of torture and the unfair way so many blacks are incarcerated throughout this land. Surely we can find room in our hearts to help the poor misunderstood children of Islam who have every reason to abhor our way of life.
    Just think- only six more months of the filthy Bush/Cheney cancer on our country. Many citizens who rightfully oppose torture, freedom for the unfairly treated political prisoners such as Mumia abu Jamal and are correct about abortion and the evil Joo conspiracy and the actual truth of 911 have every reason to call for the torture and slow lingering deaths of the outgoing executives.Ok, maybe Levi is right and they should not be executed, but rather given life so they can suffer and contemplate the evil of their ways even though it will never make up for all the deaths and suffering they ordered all around the world. Hope! Change! we are who we’ve been waiting for! fresh fruit for our leaders! Escalades for the downtrodden masses!

    madmax333 (a1bb28)

  103. Ejercito, that’s among the sillier simplistic arguments.

    The UCMJ defines assault and battery.

    Our troops are subject to the UCMJ.

    Of course, if they are free to ignore Article 128, maybe they are also free to ignore Article 118, Article 120, Article 106, Article 104, Article 94, or Article 92.

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  104. So Michael, you are telling us that you don’t really have any idea what is being discussed? Since you don’t even know who was conducting the interrogations …

    SPQR (26be8b)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.5257 secs.