Patterico's Pontifications

4/21/2009

Marc Thiessen: Waterboarding Worked

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:06 pm



And so does that mean it was justified?

Or does that mean it was “torture”?

The answer depends on whom you ask.

In November 2007, I asked:

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

They then waterboard him for two and one half minutes.

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

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

The post received 758 comments. For asking the question, I became an instant hero in the liberal blogosphere, where: one person deemed me a greater enemy to this country than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11; one person declared me unfit to be labeled a human; and another said that I am a monster, and wished that I die a painful death in a fire.*

(Always remember: in the minds of leftists, American’s real enemies aren’t the terrorists. The real enemies are conservatives.)

Of course, the hypothetical was based on previous reporting that the premise of my hypothetical — the foiling of the Library Tower plot — was true.** Nevertheless, one of the things I was repeatedly told was that the question had absolutely nothing to do with reality.

Oh, really?!

Fast forward to today’s piece in the Washington Post by Marc Thiessen, extensively quoting from memos recently released by the Obama administration:

The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.

Thiessen goes on to explain that the foiling of the Library Tower plot is the tip of the intelligence iceberg. We gained a lot of valuable information from waterboarding KSM, and Thiessen explains why this is so.

Interestingly, our boy Andrew Sullivan says the very success of our techniques is what makes them “torture” — a silly, thoughtless definition characteristic of a silly, thoughtless man. Sully says that “to subject captives to such levels of physical or mental pain or suffering that they ‘have reached the limit of their ability to withhold [information] in the face of psychological and physical hardship'” is “as close to a definition of torture as you are likely to find.” Tom Maguire has great fun mocking this fundamentally unserious claptrap:

Ahh, so if the captive starts talking it’s torture. Helpful. My legal advice to his captors would be to clear the room if the captive clears his throat or otherwise appears to be about to speak.

Conversely, if I am hacking away with a chainsaw on some prisoner, I am quite sure I am guilty of torture, whether the poor fool cooperates or not, and regardless of this most excellent definition.

I happen to believe that waterboarding is, in fact, torture — although it’s certainly more mild than other forms that could be imagined. I believe this, not because it has worked, but because that’s what my common sense tells me.

But that same common sense tells me that if waterboarding sessions prevent thousands of people from dying, it was worth it. Maybe that’s why, according to Thiessen, “just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out.”

But on a day when President Obama has announced that he has not ruled out prosecuting people who approved waterboarding and other enhanced techniques, it seems to me important to remember that, from what we know, they worked.

Isn’t that a pretty significant point?

UPDATE: Karl notes that KSM was waterboarded 5 times, and not 183, as the leftists are claiming. Their fuzzy math is debunked here.

113 Responses to “Marc Thiessen: Waterboarding Worked”

  1. And yes, the timing works out. I often hear that the plot was foiled before KSM was captured, but there were evidently two such plots.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  2. The comments at Obsidian Wings hoping that I die in a fire appear to have been removed. But I contemporaneously noted them in this post and this post.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  3. Isn’t that a pretty significant point?

    It must be, because the Obama administration redacted that point from DNI Blair’s new memo last week.

    Karl (3bf5f8)

  4. Isn’t that a pretty significant point?

    Works for me.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  5. Evidently, Obama thinks we can’t handle the truth.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. Patterico, I am sorry that people who disagree you would wish your death. Why, where I have seen that kind of thing before?

    Eric Blair (ad3775)

  7. If it really took 183 waterboarding sessions, it had to be pure boredom that drove the poor guy to talk. They could have done the same thing with reruns of Oprah.

    nk (3e53ec)

  8. Isn’t that a pretty significant point?

    Yes, and one that Barcky and the Leftist have gone to great lengths to avoid talking about.

    I am no Cheney fan, but he was spot on in noting that if Barcky was going to declassify the memos, he should have also declassified the results of the memos.

    JD (2e8bd8)

  9. The “183 times” meme is misleading, too.

    Unless we’re talking about the number of times Sullivan wet himself over it.

    KSM himself says he was waterboarded on five occasions.

    Karl (3bf5f8)

  10. “Isn’t that a pretty significant point?”

    Absolutely – Especially because Obama has repeatedly claimed that use of the techniques hid not keep us safer and the liberal hive mind keeps claiming the techniques don’t work.

    The released memos clearly indicate valuable intelligence was gained from use of the techniques. Hayden was on TV with Chris Wallace repeating the same thing. Dick Cheney has challenged the Obama Administration to release the memos desribing the intelligence gleaned from the techniques to prove, one way or another, that they did or did not keep us safer.

    I look forward to Barack Obama, as I believe Tom Maguire echoed, explaining to the American people why he has chosen to discontinue use of techniques which have demonstrably kept us safer.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  11. Not only do they say they do not work, daley, they go further and state that the handful of times that waterboarding was authorized, it has made us less safe.

    JD (2e8bd8)

  12. BTW, I don’t think the Obama admin has any interest in pursuing this crap. But saying you have opened an inquiry is a nice way to foreclose further press questioning about the matter. They really just want Sully to shut his piehole.

    Karl (3bf5f8)

  13. The torture argument can go on forever.

    Was waterboarding torture? I’ll give the left a nod and give a qualified yes. Should it have been done? I’ll give them another nod and say no.

    However, the President of the United States is in a unique position. In this case, the “enhanced interrogations,” paid off in being able to stop the murder of other innocent Americans.

    President Obama will have to make decisions based on what is best for his country, and its citizens, grounded on the best available information.

    It seems to me, though, that this whole argument is simply an excuse to demonize an administration no longer in power that yielded its authority after a fair election.

    If President Obama really believes that such tactics were beyond the pale, then he should direct the Attorney General to prosecute not only the lawyers who wrote memos about the procedures, but also the purveyors of the interrogations as well as the members of Congress who were privy to the information and the members of the executive branch who were aware of the activity.

    Let us see how that works out.

    Ag80 (b19e67)

  14. Duh-1 opened this can of worms, and the only way he can end it is to release the memo’s on the results of the interrogations, as per Cheney’s request.
    He’s already revealed our methods, we should get some reward by knowing the results of those efforts.
    Relying on the Left to protect this country, and the concept of Freedom in the world at large, appears to be a fruitless enterprise. I just can only hope that not too many die for Duh-1’s, and the likes of Sully’s, sensibilities.

    AD (57cf22)

  15. If you were targeted for denouncement by John Cole’s pack of hooting siamangs, you must have done something correct in your post.

    Another Chris (a3bb8f)

  16. If President Obama really believes that such tactics were beyond the pale, then he should direct the Attorney General to prosecute not only the lawyers who wrote memos about the procedures, but also the purveyors of the interrogations as well as the members of Congress who were privy to the information and the members of the executive branch who were aware of the activity.

    Excellent, excellent, excellent point. I copied above so people can have the chance to read it twice.

    JD (2e8bd8)

  17. That there are people in this world so self-obsessed that they think their moral high ground is more important than thousands of other people’s lives amazes me.

    This guy wasn’t permanently harmed, and he *was* the self-confessed murderer of nearly 4000 people (and proud of it).

    Frankly, this country owes a debt of gratitude to people who took their duty seriously and stopped the plots by the means at hand.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  18. Obama really doesn’t want to press this one: it’s lose-lose for him and makes the Republican argument about national security a slam dunk.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  19. For those interested, I’m more than willing to quote my previously stated position on this matter.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  20. For the record, I don’t think waterboarding is torture. But I’m willing to accept that reasonable people may come to the opposite conclusion.

    However, I’d be willing to risk going to Hell in order to keep a few thousand of my countrymen from being sent to Heaven prematurely.

    Steverino (1b3695)

  21. Buddy, I’m willing to do stuff that would make the devil go “Dude… Seriously? Totally crossing a line…”

    I’d sleep just fine.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  22. #1 I looked at the “evidence” of a second plot you cite, and it is nothing more than strained reading of one of the second President Bush’s speeches.

    Patterico, you are a lawyer. You know that ain’t evidence of anything.

    Torture will from time to time get valuable information, along with tons of misinformation. Here the better evidence is that KSM was spilling old intel of a busted plot, which is exactly what one would do if tortured, isn’t it?

    But it is all beside the point whether a second plot was foiled or not. Morality is not based on utilitarianism unless you are Peter Singer, and then you end up giving rights to animals. Institutionalized torture is wrong because it necessitates afflicting the innocent (as many arrested will be) to get some information that may be useful. There are strong arguments that it may be acceptable in “ticking time bomb” cases, but those are already handled under the law via the “exigent circumstances” doctrine allowing violation of the law to avert an immediate life-saving danger. (I know it is good law because I won a case on those grounds). But creating a legal framework to institutionalize torture was wrong and indeed contrary to the principles of true conservativism, which is why so many principled Republicans and military officers of every political stripe fought it tooth and nail.

    Cyrus Sanai (ada6da)

  23. To understand those on the left who decry so-called torture, it is sometimes necessary to enter their minds. Lefty vegan nit, Morrissey yesterday had a hissy fit cos someone was barbequing at his concert,
    The singer was performing a set laced with Smiths hits when, midway through his performance, he was overcome with fumes from the backstage barbecue. “I can smell burning flesh … and I hope to God it’s human,” he said.

    I am willing to bet that he was not joking, either.

    Gazzer (f40a05)

  24. Cyrus,

    What you fail to mention (or maybe it’s a failure to understand) is that many, if not most, military officers do not agree that waterboarding is torture. There was no “legal framework to institutionalize torture” during any administration, including President Obama’s. Repeating this falsehood does not make it true. Pretending you can speak for “principled Republicans and military officers” does not mean that you really do.

    I don’t know why I bother anymore. It won’t sink in. I should have gotten enough of him when he was here before.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  25. Stashiu – That is not unique to Cyrus, he is just more verbose than the rest.

    JD (2e8bd8)

  26. Nice try, Cyrus.

    You are correct that the morality of a given action is not found in the utility of the action – the first time. However, if a given action demonstrably saved the lives of hundreds/thousands of innocents, this utility simply must figure into the morality of acting in the same manner again. Same is true if nothing was gained.

    This is not a close call. It worked the first time and its usage subsequently saved thousands of innocents at the expense of a few horrid humans, none of whom came close to death in the process.

    Is it more or less moral to have the blood of innocents on one’s hands of inaction against a few, especially known bad actors few?

    Ed from SFV (f274d1)

  27. JD,

    And pompous. People sometimes call me arrogant, but daaaaannnngg!!

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  28. I would choose the phrase “aggressively and unnecessarily pedantic”, but yours is more concise.

    JD (2e8bd8)

  29. I would choose the phrase “aggressively and unnecessarily pedantic”, but yours is more concise.
    Comment by JD — 4/21/2009 @ 10:21 pm

    I might use that if I liked him one iota, or if he wasn’t so frequently and absolutely wrong.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  30. Cyrus – You claim to be a lawyer but you do not take any care reading Patterico’s posts and consistently humiliate yourself in these comments.

    His references to a plot being foiled links back to a post at a blog called Junkyard Blog. Marc Thiessen’s piece in the Washington Post today which confirms Patterico’s information was excerpted from the “torture momos” released by the Obama Administration. If you want to dispute the government sources, go for it. I’d like to see your back up.

    Also, I’m interested in your claim that the Bush Administration institutionalized torture. On what basis do you make that claim? Are you going to wimp out and say they only set up a framework to institutionalize it?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  31. Cyrus is a sucking affhole.

    AD (57cf22)

  32. “Zoe Falkenberg (November 8, 1992 – September 11, 2001).”

    “Falkenberg died aged eight in the crash of American Airlines Flight 77. She was traveling to Australia with her father, Charles Falkenberg, mother, Leslie A. Whittington, and sister, Dana Falkenberg for her mother’s sabbatical from work.”–wiki

    Eight year old girl captured, and then murdered in cold blood by Al Qaida terrorists, along with her parents and her three year old sister.

    Torture?

    It’s totally justified.

    “KSM was waterboarded 5 times”

    Boo-freaking-hoo.

    Dave Surls (64bca4)

  33. The morality of an action may not be associated with its utility, but it is ALSO not associated with its correctness.

    Morality stands by itself, and needs to be balanced by other factors. Lifeboats are obvious examples of this calculus.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  34. The passage in the memo is a lie, and Thiessen is lying. “The foiling of the Library Tower plot” could not possibly have been a result of torturing KSM. How do I know? Because on 2/9/06, Bush said the Library Tower plot “was derailed in early 2002.” KMS was tortured in 3/03. Torture enables time travel.

    jukeboxgrad (fd8884)

  35. jukeboxgrad – Obviously you either can’t read or can’t distinguish between Al Zubaydah and KSM or didn’t bother to read.

    Your choice.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  36. Apparently Jukebox here has poor reading comprihention skills, as it was said “apparently there were two different plots”.

    But hey, if he wants to be a complete retard, that’s his right.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  37. […] foiled LA attack has long been murmered about (Patrick Frey wrote about it in November 2007, for example).  It’s unclear from these reports how serious […]

    Torture Worked! Foiled Los Angeles Attack! Yay Torture! (139676)

  38. jukeboxgrad is another liar who has been here before.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  39. daleyrocks: “Obviously you either can’t read or can’t distinguish between Al Zubaydah and KSM or didn’t bother to read.”

    Your response makes no sense whatsoever. The first thing you’re missing is that Zubaydah is not relevant to the claim Thiessen made. How do I know? Because if you actually look at the passage he’s citing (see Bradbury, 5/30/05, p. 10), that passage specifically claims that “the interrogation of KSM … led to the discovery” of the Library Tower plot. That passage makes no mention of Zubaydah.

    For some strange reason, Thiessen cut out some key words (“the interrogation of KSM”). I wonder why.

    Secondly, even if Zubaydah had been mentioned in this part of the Bradbury memo, it would still be a claim of time travel (although a less extreme claim, which is why Thiessen blurred that part of the statement). Why? Because Zubaydah wasn’t waterboarded until 8/02, and the plot had already been “derailed” (according to Bush) in 2/02.

    Feel free to explain how one or more interrogations that took place long after 2/02 “led to the discovery” of a plot that had already been “derailed” in 2/02.

    Stashiu3: “jukeboxgrad is another liar who has been here before.”

    I realize that you’d love to change the subject, but that discussion from over a year ago isn’t remotely relevant. And there is no proof in that thread (or anywhere else) that I’m a liar. On the contrary. Try reading the whole thread.

    jukeboxgrad (fd8884)

  40. Not changing the subject at all. Just reminding everyone that you’re a proven troll who willfully twists things around when trying to make a point while hoping that nobody will catch your lies. Read the whole thread yourself. Maybe you’ll be able to tell the plain truth for a change. Then, read this whole thread, especially Patterico’s comment at #1 where he mentions there were two plots.

    Then, go back to math class.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  41. I don’t know whether waterboarding is torture, but I’m interested in what Stashiu and the other vets here think about the fact that some of our armed services personnel have undergone the procedure as part of their training. Do I have that correct? And if so, does that not constitute a plausible reason for that technique not to be considered a form of torture? Thank you in advance for your responses.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  42. * the reason why I ask the question is that it’s rarely (if at all) brought up by the MSM in the context of this issue.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  43. Dmac,

    You are correct. Waterboarding is part of some training programs (Special Forces and SERE come to mind). This is exactly why I don’t consider waterboarding torture, although I understand that others disagree.

    Would I want to be waterboarded? Absolutely not. I hated going through the gas chamber too, but it was part of our training. That doesn’t make it torture.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  44. Patterico, unless I’m misrepresenting you, you seem to be suggesting that waterboarding, which you believe to be torture, is worth it if the results obtained are good enough. That is fair enough.

    So my question is, where do you draw the line? In your same hypothetical, what can be substituted for waterboarding? How intense can the interrogation be if the ends justify the means?

    What are the parameters by which you would say, “enough’s enough”?

    Tom (87936a)

  45. Thank you for your response, Stashiu – I think that point is very important in terms of this issue, since we willingly subject our soldiers to this form of interrogation, yet others decry it as inhumane and should be classified as torture. There’s some type of cognitive dissonance going on here, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  46. So my question is, where do you draw the line

    I can tell you where *I* draw the line…

    If one single American, or one single civilian anywhere, is saved any harm what-so-ever, then it is worth it.

    What can be substituted for water boarding? While I can hardly give the complete list, suffice to say that it includes the application of bolt-cutters to toes, and pretty much anything else.

    But I’m fairly hard-core when it comes to how much I care about the well-being of my fellow countrymen, and how little I care about the well-being of those that would wish them harm

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  47. I believe the dissonance comes from those who imply that suspected terrorists are waterboarded routinely, ignoring the circumstances and oversight. That’s like pretending that putting a bank robber in prison is wrong because we don’t put someone who got a single parking ticket in prison.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  48. #44 Dmac:

    There’s some type of cognitive dissonance going on here, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    The cognitive dissonance springs from the observation that when our soldiers are subjected to waterboarding or similar treatment in training, they are volunteers.

    Terrorists and the like don’t “volunteer” to be waterboarded, ergo it’s “torture.”

    Besides, everybody knows that soldiers are baby-killers and so they deserve it.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  49. Comment by Stashiu3 — 4/22/2009 @ 7:01 am

    Whenever some wise-ass asks “Oh yeah, well, what would you say if AQ waterboarded OUR guys when they caught them, huh?? How would you feel THEN smart guy?” I always respond with “I dunno… probably ‘thank god they aren’t cutting off their heads’?”

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  50. That sounds about right; and it’s also indicative of the Gordian knot – twisting that so many on the Left engage in these days. I have a strong feeling that if the current administration faced the same set of circumstances today that they’d make waterboarding look quaint by comparison.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  51. @45: Thanks for indulging me, Scott. Now I’m wondering, how slippery is this slope? What if the only way to get KSM to talk is to gather up his (civilian) children and slaughter them in front of him, one by one?

    Does “greater good” justify virtually anything if the results are desired enough?

    Tom (87936a)

  52. @45: thanks for indulging me, Scott. But this is a very slippery slope. What if the only way to get KSM to talk is to slaughter his innocent children in front of him, one by one? May we do that?

    Is there a point at which even the greatest ends do not justify certain means? Or not?

    Tom (87936a)

  53. (Sorry if I’m double-commenting – my comments don’t seem to be going through.)

    Tom (87936a)

  54. What if the only way to get KSM to talk is to gather up his (civilian) children and slaughter them in front of him, one by one?

    Deliberately harming people you know to be innocent is never justified. This hypothetical is well beyond the discussion of waterboarding known terrorists. So, consider the line quite a bit before your hypo here.

    Steverino (69d941)

  55. Stashiu3: “read this whole thread, especially Patterico’s comment at #1 where he mentions there were two plots.”

    It is typical of you to treat speculation as if it were a proven fact. You don’t know that there “were two plots.” The claim that there “were two plots” is based on the fact that Bush once used the word “another.” As if there was “another” plot. Simple question: if KSM told us about “another” plot, why doesn’t the Bradbury memo say that? It doesn’t. It talks about “a KSM plot … to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.”

    If there was really a separate plot, that would say “another KSM plot,” not simply “a KSM plot.”

    And if there were really a separate plot, Thiessen should have and would have mentioned that. Multiple plots against West Coast skyscrapers? If that was remotely true, he would have said so. Why didn’t he?

    And aside from that, even if the Bradbury memo claimed the existence of multiple plots, that’s not the same thing as proof of multiple plots. Duh. Of course the torturers want to claim they foiled lots of plots. Let’s see proof. Not everyone is inclined to do what you’re doing: assuming that every statement emanating from the Bush administration is true.

    jukeboxgrad (fd8884)

  56. That’s amusing, jukeboxgrad, as that means you are treating your own “speculation” as fact.

    Typical.

    SPQR (72771e)

  57. I was not previously familiar with the nutjob known as juiceboxchild – I’m sorrier for the experience.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  58. SPQR – every time guitar hero has visited, it has done so without a shred of good faith.

    JD (191455)

  59. […] as Patterico suggests in the course of accepting claims that enhanced interrogation yielded useful resu…, the moral and policy question of whether torture is justified if it yields actionable intelligence […]

    Torture and Actionable Intelligence: Why I Am Skeptical | Popehat (895595)

  60. Wait, I thought slippery slope arguments were wrong to use. We are routlinely told that on 1st Amendment issues, abortion, same sex marriage, and a whole host of other issues.

    JD (191455)

  61. What many of our “friends” on the Left choose to ignore is that EIT’s such as “waterboarding” are not used to “discover” intelligence, but are used to confirm intell that has already been developed.
    This is another aspect of this that separates the intell community from the LE community – it has nothing to do with “courts of law”, and everything to do with saving lives.

    AD (c6623a)

  62. “Deliberately harming people you know to be innocent is never justified.”

    Of course, it is. That’s exactly what we did to force the Japanese to surrender in WWII.

    Dave Surls (e4de72)

  63. Of course, it is. That’s exactly what we did to force the Japanese to surrender in WWII

    Wrong context, Dave. There’s a difference between an act of war between two countries and interrogating a prisoner.

    Steverino (69d941)

  64. “There’s a difference between an act of war between two countries and interrogating a prisoner.”

    Sure, there’s a big difference between frying hundreds of thousands of civilians with napalm and atomic bombs, and leaning on a captured terrorist, who then walks away still breathing.

    I doubt that anyone would dispute that.

    Dave Surls (e4de72)

  65. What if the only way to get KSM to talk is to slaughter his innocent children in front of him, one by one? May we do that?

    Actually, they dragged his kids infront of him at one point, threatened to shoot them, and he said and did nothing.

    We used simple H2O, and he broke in virtually no time at all.

    So your hypothetical fails, somewhat…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  66. “What if the only way to get KSM to talk is to slaughter his innocent children in front of him…”

    “…Zarqawi was killed on June 7, 2006, while attending a meeting in an isolated safehouse approximately 8 km (5 mi) north of Baqubah.[117] At 14:15 GMT two United States Air Force F-16C jets[118] identified the house and the lead jet dropped two 500-pound (230 kg) guided bombs, a laser-guided GBU-12 and GPS-guided GBU-38 on the building located at 33°48′02.83″N 44°30′48.58″E / 33.8007861°N 44.5134944°E / 33.8007861; 44.5134944. Six others – three male and three female individuals – were also reported killed.[119] Among those killed were his wife and their child.”–wiki

    Not quite the same thing…but pretty darned close.

    Dave Surls (e4de72)

  67. We’re eventually going to learn the truth about the Libery Tower timeline, Pat. And we’ll learn that the relationship of its foiling to coercive interrogation techniques used on high-value targets is nonexistent. I’m looking forward to your deliberate avoidance of the topic from that point forward.

    You are correct. Waterboarding is part of some training programs (Special Forces and SERE come to mind). This is exactly why I don’t consider waterboarding torture, although I understand that others disagree.

    I suggest that anyone who has actual curiosity about the truth in this matter turn to this. The Senate report herein goes into excruciating detail on how the tactics originated from SERE, including testimony from SERE instructors that the actual techniques authorized by DOJ and used at GTMO are not comparable in their potential and actual effects to that experienced by SERE students.

    And that’s not even getting into the abundant evidence that what was actually done on the HVTs, as demonstrated here,
    went way beyond what is described in the DOJ memos.

    Even if you accepted as gospel the Bradbury memos approving the techniques – demolished nicely just two days ago by Phil Zielkow at foreignpolicy.com, CIA folks are still ultimately going to face sanctions if anything remotely like what was described in the Red Cross report turns out to be the truth.

    These NVT detainees are still p*ssing themselves under stress years later. Scott Jacobs is maybe comfortable with that, I’m sure people of all political persausion are tempted to feel a grim satisfaction from that fact – but it’s the little facts like that that tear these fan dances about how harmless this stuff was to shreds.

    Mere total sensory deprivation, all by itself, for prolonged period of time, is capable of permanently warping a human being. Just like all it takes is the right kind of stress position for a few days to kill you outright, after physical pain roughly commesurate to being beaten to death.

    glasnost (af3e29)

  68. What many of our “friends” on the Left choose to ignore is that EIT’s such as “waterboarding” are not used to “discover” intelligence, but are used to confirm intell that has already been developed.

    Is that like how we used it in GTMO to try and find the links between AQ and Iraq. See testimony from Bush Admin personnel in the Sentate Report.

    This is pure fantasy. Literal fantasy. The whole justifying concept of the enhanced interrogration techniques is the “ticking time bomb” scenario.
    The scenario itself implies that you don’t previously know the answers.

    It doesn’t make any kind of logical sense to suggest that waterboarding KSM foiled the Liberty Tower attacks if he was just “confirming” intel that “has already been discovered”. Whatever they’d already discovered, I have a tingling feeling that they’d have already looked into it.

    glasnost (af3e29)

  69. People like glasnost are why Barcky did not declassify the reports as to the results of the evil torturous waterboarding. Can’t have anything pierce the veneer of their faux moral superiority.

    JD (ae4db3)

  70. spqr: “you are treating your own ‘speculation’ as fact.”

    Wrong. I’m just making a few factual observations. One is that there is nothing in the memos, or in Thiessen’s article, to indicate that there was ever more than one Library Tower plot. Another is that Bush said this plot was “derailed” in early 2002. Another is that KSM was tortured in 3/03.

    So there’s nothing in my argument that’s “speculation.” Unless you think it’s “speculation” to observe that time runs only in one direction.

    jukeboxgrad (fd8884)

  71. jukeboxgrad can state its asspulls as fact so long as you completely redefine the word another.

    JD (ae4db3)

  72. jukeboxgrad, I’ve noticed you have a tendency not to read your own posts.

    I guess that makes it easier, eh?

    SPQR (72771e)

  73. It sure is valuable to have intelligence experts like glasnost here to fill us in on the secret stuff.

    Mike K (8df289)

  74. “These NVT detainees are still p*ssing themselves under stress years later.”

    I’m getting all weepy.

    Dave Surls (e4de72)

  75. “Just like all it takes is the right kind of stress position for a few days to kill you outright…”

    You can shorten that period considerably if you put a rope around the neck of captured terrorists before putting them into a stress position.

    Dave Surls (e4de72)

  76. Добавил в свои закладки. Теперь буду вас намного почаще читать!

    Accoseunsete (20dc94)

  77. It’s too bad we don’t have any videotape of these interrogations, as that might help us discern how much valuable information was actually provided as opposed to all this ridiculous (and some possibly less than ridiculous) speculation being thrown about by biased observers….

    If KSM’s torture led to the capture of Hambali and the Jemmah Islamiyah cell, as Thiessen asserts, that may well have been valuable information. I don’t believe we have enough facts to trust that assertion, nor that that information wasn’t available through other sources (like the hard drive captured along with KSM). The only other information we can gather from Thiessen’s bald assertions is that Bush’s former speechwriter trusts the justifications provided by Bush’s OLC appointees to continue torture programs without any other evidence.

    I especially like Thiessen’s revival of the old Roman maxim that we can only trust the information gained through torture. How quaint.

    Bob Loblaw (6d485c)

  78. Bob Loblaw – Sure Bob, those videotapes would help you a lot I bet. The names, dates, and places would be so, so meaningful to an edumacated individual such as yourself who could connect the dots to all the other information already in the possession of the interrogators. Gimme a break, you dishonest sadist.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  79. “…Burger, Dasch, Heinck and Quirin traveled from occupied France by German submarine U-202 to Amagansett Beach, Long Island, New York, landing in the hours of darkness, on or about June 13, 1942. The remaining four boarded German submarine U-584 which carried them from France to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. On or about June 17, 1942, they came ashore during the hours of darkness. All eight wore full or partial German uniforms, to ensure treatment as prisoners of war should they be captured on landing. The Long Island group was noticed by Coast Guard beach patrolman Frank Cullen, whom Dasch attempted to bribe with $260. Cullen returned to his station and sounded the alarm. The two groups promptly disposed of uniforms and proceeded in civilian dress to New York City and Jacksonville, Florida, respectively, and from there to other points in the United States. All had received instructions in Germany from an officer of the German High Command to destroy war industries and war facilities in the United States, for which they or their relatives in Germany were to receive salary payments from the German Government.”

    “Upon landing, Dasch and Burger turned themselves in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation with some difficulty, since the FBI did not believe them immediately. They convinced the FBI that they were telling the truth and the remaining six were taken into custody in New York and Chicago, Illinois by FBI agents. The FBI had no leads until Dasch gave his exaggerated and romanticized version in Washington DC.”

    “President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a secret military tribunal on July 2, 1942 which sentenced the eight men to death.[1] The President later commuted the death sentences of Dasch and Burger to life in prison, as they had both confessed and assisted in capturing the others. Indeed, it was Dasch who approached the FBI, offering to turn the men in, which he then did. Burger was part of the plot to turn on the others and cooperated with the FBI extensively. Though all the men confessed, and gave full statements, the remaining six were executed by electrocution on August 8, 1942 in Washington, D.C. Dasch and Burger were released from prison in 1948 and deported to Germany.”–wiki

    There ya go. That’s the right way to handle spies, sabotuers and terrorists. You capture them in June, you try them in July, and if they don’t provide full and complete cooperation you don’t pour water on their faces, you simply strap them into the electric chair and fry them like an egg in August. End of problem. The bad guys are dead, and thus don’t have to endure years of “torture” OR unpleasant confinement, and we don’t have to listen to lefties droning on about how awful the bad guys are being treated.

    This is a win/win approach.

    Right wingers take note: Every great once in a while liberals actually do something right.

    Dave Surls (e4de72)

  80. This is pure fantasy. Literal fantasy

    Every past CIA director that’s still living does not agree with your long – winded and tortured prose posing as analysis. Oh, yeah – and the includes PANETTA, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  81. jukeboxgrad – Google KSM and Second Wave terrorist attacks and stop ignoring the evidence presented.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  82. “Whatever they’d already discovered, I have a tingling feeling that they’d have already looked into it.”

    glasnost is sure learning us some stuff here. I would never have thought of this without his help. How is intelligence data corroborated? He is so smart I don’t know how he lives with himself.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  83. Here the better evidence is that KSM was spilling old intel of a busted plot, which is exactly what one would do if tortured, isn’t it?

    First, you seem not to understand what intelligence means, as distinguished from a confession.

    Second, thousands of US pilots have been waterboarded in SERE training. Should the officers who ran SERE training programs be prosecuted ?

    I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

    Mike K (8df289)

  84. Comment by glasnost — 4/22/2009 @ 1:01 pm

    Just a minor point, but, no waterboarding was ever done at GITMO.
    When the unholy trinity were w-b’d, they were in CIA custody, or rendition custody, prior to their being transferred to GITMO.
    Get you facts straight, or we’ll have to change your name to Pravda!

    AD (c6623a)

  85. […] by other nations as torture, there’s an increasing argument that it works, as Patterico goes into here. As I’ve said before, I don’t want America in the business of cutting off fingers and […]

    Obama’s Director of National Intelligence: “Enhanced interrogation works” « Wellsy’s World (661794)

  86. thousands of US pilots have been waterboarded in SERE training. Should the officers who ran SERE training programs be prosecuted?

    If they were waterboarding pilots (or others) that had not agreed/volunteered for SERE training – yes.

    I saw a documentary where a man drove a nail through his own penis (Sick); because he chose to do so, does that mean that driving nails through penises should not be considered torture?

    (and no daleyrocks, this is not further evidence that I am some sort of sadist – the second time I watched the film I had to close my eyes tight like a little girl during the nail scene. Scott Jacobs from up-thread seems a likely candidate to discuss sadism with you in more detail if you are so inclined.)

    Bob Loblaw (6d485c)

  87. Why is it fecking impossible to have an actual discussion about some of these issues without the usual suspects dropping by to proclaim their moral superiority, and demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic facts?

    JD (ae4db3)

  88. So, while KSM was being interrogated, and questioned about the plans, he says something like “soon you will find out”, but glasnost and guitarhero would have us believe that the phrase “soon you will find out” actually refers to something that occurred in the past, despite the use of the future tense.

    Barcky could clear all of this up by declassifying everything, instead of just that which they can use for their political grandstanding.

    JD (ae4db3)

  89. Every CIA Director thought what Barcky did was wrong. Even his own CIA Director Paneta thought it was wrong. NIC Blair thought it was effective.

    This whole partisan witch hunt should be disgusting to anyone. They are trying to criminalize policy differences. An intelligence community that already thinks CYA first is going to think about CYA exponentially more going forward. Just the environment and overt scorn for these agencies that has been demonstrated will hamper the intelligence agencies efforts.

    You 52%ers got your way. Don’t look at us when Teh One fecks things up.

    JD (ae4db3)

  90. thousands of US pilots have been waterboarded in SERE training. Should the officers who ran SERE training programs be prosecuted?

    If they were waterboarding pilots (or others) that had not agreed/volunteered for SERE training – yes.

    So you don’t think KSM “volunteered” to bring down the WTC with suicide missions using airliners full of innocent passengers ?

    I guess your fine sensitivities extend to enemies who, like KSM, sawed the head off a journalist (Daniel Pearl) who had as much innocent faith in their humanity as you do. The difference is that he put his life on the line and lost whereas you get to pontificate from the safety of your basement.

    We, unfortunately, have a government in the hands of ethical midgets like you who can see no difference between sworn enemies who would cut off your head and enjoy it (double if you’re gay), and the innocent victims of their atrocities. I just hope that, when al Qeada sets off the nuclear device they get from Pakistan, you and your allies constitute the majority of the victims. Of course, you won’t be because life isn’t fair.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  91. This week we saw Obama strike the most devastating blow against American intelligence since the Carter administration.

    The stupidity we’ve seen from Obama on this issue – where he trades fleeting political advantage for the security of the United States – is simply unbelievable.

    There are no adults in the Obama administration. Not one.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  92. SPQR – Unfortunately, it is a feature, not a bug.

    JD (ae4db3)

  93. #91 SPQR:

    There are no adults in the Obama administration. Not one.

    Hope and Change, dude. Hope and Change!

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  94. EW1(SG), I knew he was an empty suit but this is dumber than my worse fears.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  95. This is the essence of the Democrats today. They think all this national security stuff is some political trick. Nothing is serious. I just got a new book called The narcissism generation. Should be worth while. I left home at 18 and never went back to live. I simply don’t understand these people, including some of my own kids.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  96. “CIA folks are still ultimately going to face sanctions if anything remotely like what was described in the Red Cross report turns out to be the truth.”

    Yeah…right after the Bush impeachment is over.

    Dave Surls (37e584)

  97. jd: “jukeboxgrad can state its asspulls as fact so long as you completely redefine the word another.”

    Feel free to explain why the OLC memos and the Thiessen article saying nothing about “another” plot if there really was “another” plot.

    daleyrocks: “Google KSM and Second Wave terrorist attacks and stop ignoring the evidence presented.”

    “Evidence?” One word, literally, from Bush, on one occasion, is what you call “evidence?” Feel free to explain why every single word, literally, that comes out of Dubya’s mouth should be treated as gospel truth, when it turns out that he regularly spewed complete bullshit.

    But we know where to find documents which prove that there was another plot. “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”

    Let us know if you can find any evidence that doesn’t require a belief in time travel.

    spqr: “I’ve noticed you have a tendency not to read your own posts.”

    I’ve noticed you have tendency to offer evasive statements that make no pretense of addressing the substance of what’s being argued.

    jukeboxgrad (fd8884)

  98. Every past CIA director that’s still living does not agree with your long – winded and tortured prose posing as analysis. Oh, yeah – and the includes PANETTA, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    This is where, if you were a dissenter and I was SPQR, JD, Mike K, Dmac, Daleyrocks, or another of the other plethora of police trolls on here, Iwould point out that I’m fairly sure that every living CIA director still living has not, in fact, commented on this. For example, George Bush I, former CIA director, has not issued public comment on the matter. Thus, using the logic typically used around here, you’re a fucking liar and every word from here out you utter can be completely ignored as bullshit.

    Now, this sort of standard isn’t really a good one to apply. It’s more useful as a tool to railroad people out of the debate who bring up facts you don’t like to hear. So I’m not actually going to use that standard, except as a rhetorical example to demonstrate the widespread hypocrisy.

    Now, back to your point – well, actually, I don’t know what, exactly, you’re claiming that some unknown CIA director disagrees with, as far as my “analysis”. I’ve made two points, one on differences between SERE training and our interrogation program, and one on the fantasy that the techniques were only used to “confirm” intel rather than “generate” it. If you’d like to cite where a intelligence agency director makes that specification, I’m looking forward to it, seeing how it contradicts numerous public claims to have “found out about” various fantastic new plots through those exact methods. We used some of these techniques on Jose Padilla, where, according to your logic we would have “confirmed” info about a dirty bomb attack, except that instead of being confirmed, it ended up being completely discredited.

    Look, this shouldn’t have anything to do with just your loathing and contempt for me personally. My link at #67 is the most comprehensive review of the origin of our techniques to ever yet be produced. It’s chock full of testimony from DOD and other federal folks, both for and against. You asked a question. If you actually want answers to things when you ask questions about them, then go read it. I didn’t write it. I’m just the messenger. If you still think it’s wild-eyed liberal horse puckey after you’ve read it, feel free to come back and have a good laugh about it with your partners in humor. I’m sure they’ll agree.

    Why is it fecking impossible to have an actual discussion about some of these issues without the usual suspects dropping by to proclaim their moral superiority, and demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic facts?

    I hear rumor to the effect that this message board is connected to a series of intertubes. That might be a source of your problems. It’s kind of like how you never get to have a Metro ride in NYC Monday Morning all by yourself. It would also help if you knew the difference between a “basic fact” and “stuff some dude claimed in a Wash Post op-ed”. Tom McGuire is rather more candid in more or less admitting he has no idea what is and is not true on this score.

    glasnost (af3e29)

  99. How Liberals wage war…

    “On February 13 and 14 – Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday – nine hundred British and American bombers hit Dresden in two waves, dropping incendiary bombs in hopes of deliberately setting off the sort of firestorm they had first achieved accidently at Hamburg nearly two years earlier. They succeeded. At least thirty five thousand civilians were burned [to death] or blown apart – or robbed of oxygen as they huddled in basements and bomb shelters.”

    Results of the bombing campaign against Germany…

    “…593,000 German civilians had been killed by Allied bombing. Most were women. More than 100,000 were children.”–Ken Burns, The War

    100,000 kids killed (plus tens of thousands more in Japan), and Roosevelt is a hero. Three terrorists have their heads dunked under water and Bush is a war criminal.

    Whatever.

    Dave Surls (1d534e)

  100. KSM himself says he was waterboarded on five occasions.

    Comment by Karl — 4/21/2009 @ 8:23 pm

    Well, gee, if we’re gonna believe everything he says, then why torture him at all? Why not ask him? After all, according to Karl, every word he says, after being captured int he middle of the night, suffering sleep and sensory deprivation, shackled for days while naked, cold and doused with water, and slammed into into a wall, is absolute gospel. Hell, his memory is so awesome, we could ask who won the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament in march ’03 and he’d probably know.

    Nice work, Karl.

    timb (a83d56)

  101. Typical of your BS, tim. As we would expect KSM to exaggerate the amount of waterboarding he received.

    But BS is all you have to offer.

    SPQR (72771e)

  102. He was waterboarded 183 times !!!!!! He was waterboarded every day for over half a year, you bloodlusting sadistic warmongerering torture lovers!

    JD (ae4db3)

  103. (and no daleyrocks, this is not further evidence that I am some sort of sadist – the second time I watched the film I had to close my eyes tight like a little girl during the nail scene. Scott Jacobs from up-thread seems a likely candidate to discuss sadism with you in more detail if you are so inclined.)

    Actually, I would be a poor candidate for discussing sadism.

    Sadism would require me to enjoy what I would be doing, and I am certain I would not.

    That does not change the fact that I would do what needed to be done and sleep soundly for having done it.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  104. Look, this shouldn’t have anything to do with just your loathing and contempt for me personally

    It doesn’t, since I harbor neither attitude towards you – but your ascribing of such motives without any evidence tells me quite a bit more about you than I care to know.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  105. Why is it fecking impossible to have an actual discussion about some of these issues without the usual suspects dropping by to proclaim their moral superiority, and demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic facts?

    Comment by JD — 4/22/2009 @ 4:55 pm

    We don’t need facts! Didn’t you learn this from the last time I dropped by? If we disagree with something, then by definition it is wrong! We don’t need facts, we’re conservatives! Holy cow, guys, figure it out.

    JD: Stop bothering with the liberal scum. There is no debate. We’ve already won.

    Jeffrey Diamond (b3de8f)

  106. “…suffering sleep and sensory deprivation, shackled for days while naked, cold and doused with water, and slammed into into a wall…”

    That ain’t torture…this is torture:

    ‘While I was removing a bayonet and scabbard from a dead Japanese, I noticed a Marine near me. He wasn’t in our mortar section but had happened by and wanted to get in on the spoils. He came up to me dragging what I assumed to be a corpse. But the Japanese wasn’t dead. He had been wounded severely in the back and couldn’t move his arms; otherwise he would have resisted to his last breath.’

    ‘The Japanese’s mouth glowed with huge gold-crowned teeth, and his captor wanted them. He put the point of his kabar on the base of a tooth and hit the handle with the palm of his hand. Because the Japanese was kicking his feet and thrashing about, the knife point glanced off the tooth and sank deeply into the victim’s mouth. The Marine cursed him and with a slash cut his cheeks open to each ear. He put his foot on the sufferer’s lower jaw and tried again. Blood poured out of the soldier’s mouth. He made a gurgling noise and thrashed wildly. I shouted, “Put the man out of his misery.” All I got for an answer was a cussing out. Another Marine ran up, put a bullet in the enemy soldier’s brain, and ended his agony. The scavenger grumbled and continued extracting his prizes undisturbed.’–E.B. Sledge,
    “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa”

    Dave Surls (0785bb)

  107. “That ain’t torture…this is torture”

    Do realize that if I take control of your house and your bank account and steal all your money and posessions that I’m not a thief, and I haven’t committed theft? Do you know how I know? Because Bernie Madoff stole $50 billion. That’s theft. What I did to you ain’t theft.

    Thanks for proving how logical you are.

    jukeboxgrad (fd8884)

  108. JD: Stop bothering with the liberal scum.

    If only, Mr. Diamond…if only he had any other hobby.

    By the way, if by “winning” meant “losing,” then you are dead on.

    Oh, and tools, quote Panetta and the CIA directors all you want, but you might notice four Judge Advocates from all the military branches agree that water-boarding is torture.

    Plus, it didn’t work: Last year, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair that he did not “believe” that there had been a case where “any attacks had been disrupted because of intelligence obtained through the coercive methods.” Tuesday, through a spokesperson, he confirmed that statement. Panetta’s been on the job two months and you take his word over Mueller? Only because you want to.

    It must be strange to believe (fervently, passionately believe) that things that are not true are. You have to really bury your head in the sand, avoid military JAG’s, the director of the FBI, FBI interrogators, history, reports from Nuremburg and just listen to Dickie Cheney and Cliff May, Leon Panetta and the source that knows all, Limbaugh.

    Why is it impossible for the far-right to admit this is torture, the Supreme Court noted Article 3 of the GC applies to detainees and so do all these other lawyers, yet, here, here you defend torture because you’re all on the same team?

    Lastly, note the cognitive dissonance that partisan hackery has caused. Seven days a week, this is a blog devoted to bad-mouthing the President and saying he’s bringing socialism to America. “Government should be limited.!”

    You are so afraid he will raise your taxes and take your guns. Yet, here you are, giving him the power to water-board opponents and “enemies.” One day you’re upset at the DHS for looking at license plates and the next you’re rooting the government to torture people sans hearings or due process…

    WTF in wrong with you?

    timb (a83d56)

  109. STFU. Do not talk about me, you creepy little pathetic scum.

    JD (788853)

  110. We conservatives do not like it when you point out our hypocrisies, timb. You should know that by now. We only point out hypocrisy as it pertains to liberals. Let me explain that: we only like hypocrisy when we can create a caricature of all lefties, assign them all to one specific opinion, then discredit it with opinion-based facts.

    When that doesn’t work, we call them liars. Or, we can pretend that a wikipedia source that is actually embedded with legitimate sources does not count as a legitimate source.

    Jeffrey Diamond (df26a8)

  111. Автор, а скажите а куда написать по поводу обмена ссылок (на какое мыло)?

    StectNibestIb (a102c9)

  112. […] example is here. These folks browbeat him just for posing the questions. Something makes me think they […]

    A Torturous Post « The Pugnacious Irishman (caadb3)

  113. […] Thiessen at the Washington Post (HT: Patterico) also notes that the thought experiment doesn’t stop at being mere thought. Waterboarding of […]

    Torture Part III « The Pugnacious Irishman (6141c2)


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