Patterico's Pontifications

9/16/2006

Why Are DTA Standards Unacceptable Now, When McCain and the NYT Liked Them Before?

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,General,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 12:49 pm



John Hinderaker notes that the President has submitted legislation that would attempt to bring greater legal clarity to the standards of the Geneva Convention, by equating them with the standards set forth in the McCain-sponsored Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. Those standards prohibit cruel and unusual punishment as defined by the Eighth Amendment, and treatment that “shocks the conscience” as defined by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment (both applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment).

This standard would appear to provide interrogators with real guidance, because there is a substantial body of law that has built up over time interpreting these standards under the U.S. Constitution.

What is wrong with that? Hinderaker notes that the standard was good enough for McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the New York Times when the DTA was initially proposed last year. Hinderaker expresses bafflement at what has changed to cause these folks to change their minds now, and in a related post, he extends an invitation to McCain to explain:

I want to close with an invitation to Senator McCain. This is a complicated subject in which I am not an expert. So, if you or your staffers can offer some reason why your position on the administration’s bill makes sense, and is not merely a self-contradictory effort to curry favor with the press in anticipation of your 2008 Presidential campaign, please send it to us. We will be happy to publish any explanation you can supply.

I don’t think John McCain will be appearing on the pages of this blog, but I’d like to throw this question open to my readers — especially the lefties. Like Hinderaker, I am not an expert in this area. Lefties, you have a unique opportunity here. Rather than furiously tapping out bursts of self-righteous indignation against righties, why not educate us, by explaining why this standard is unacceptable now, when it seemed acceptable to McCain et al. before?

The best post I have been able to find explaining opposition to the Bush proposal is this one by Marty Lederman. Lederman says that the issue is not playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers at high volume.

Nor — contrary to the Administration and to many press accounts — is it primarily about the meaning of Geneva’s prohibition on “outrages against human dignity,” and “humiliating and degrading treatment.”

Rather, Lederman says, that the techniques at issue are these:

— “Cold Cell,” or hypothermia, where a prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees, during which he is doused with cold water.

— “Long Time Standing,” in which a prisoner is forced to stand, handcuffed and with his feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours.

— Other forms of “stress positions” and prolonged sleep deprivation, perhaps akin to “Long Time Standing.”

— Threats of violence and death of a detainee and/or his family.

According to Lederman, the use of these techniques has been widely reported, and the Administration has “resolutely refused to disclaim any of these reported techniques, and so I think it’s fair for Congress and the public to assume, absent contrary evidence, that these are among the techniques at issue in the current debate.”

Maybe, and maybe not. This seems intimately related to the question of whether the four techniques that Lederman says are at issue (cold cell, long time standing, stress positions, and threats) violate the constitutional standards set by the DTA, that are part of the Administration’s current proposal. If they do, then the debate must be about something else, right? And that “something else” would be the meaning of “outrages against human dignity,” and “humiliating and degrading treatment.”

So do these four techniques “shock the conscience”? Are they cruel and unusual punishment? My answer is: it depends. My layman’s view is that, in many cases, the worst of these techniques would violate the proposed standards — but a limited use of such techniques with a high-value and knowledgeable operative like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) might not.

If reports of our treatment of prisoners in the secret prisons is any measure, the Administration may be concerned about both 1) humiliation and 2) the ability to use some more coercive techniques (as described by Lederman) in limited circumstances, against high-value detainees like KSM or Abu Zubaydah.

For example, in a very important post, See Dubya explained that high-value target Abu Zubaydah was “stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music.” The “icy room” bit appears to resemble the “cold cell” technique that Lederman describes, and it would concern me to use that routinely; according to reports “Mr. Zubaydah seemed to turn blue” at times. But if we received information as a result of such interrogation techniques that stopped a major terrorist attack that would kill thousands of people, I think it would be worth it. Don’t you?

The slippery slope concerns are real. The issues about our standing in the world are real. But so are the concerns about getting good information.

If you glibly discount that possibility by referring to the Army’s position, you’re dodging the issue. The Administration says it has gotten good information from KSM, and it is fighting hard to use somewhat coercive techniques in the face of widespread opposition. Do you really think that’s purely because they are cynical or evil? OK: you’re entitled to your beliefs, but if this is your argument, I am going to discount your opinion accordingly as that of a partisan hack.

And (as I have said before) if coercive techniques don’t get us good information, I would think that would quickly become evident, and the Administration would stop using them for that reason alone.

It’s not an easy question. I’m looking for serious discussion from serious people. (AMac, are you around?) And so I throw it open for discussion.

In the extended entry, I quote the legal standards that apply, so you can see how the Administration’s proposal leads to standards under the U.S. Constitution.

[Extended entry]

The legislation states at page 78:

Satisfaction of the prohibitions against cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment set forth in Section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 [citations omitted] shall fully satisfy United States obligations with respect to the standards for detention and treatment established by section 1 of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, with the exception of the obligations imposed by subsections 1(b) and 1(d) of such Article.

Those standards, in particular defining “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” are set forth here:

Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined-

In this section, the term `cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment’ means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.

What’s wrong with that?

UPDATE: Trying to do more reading on the subject, I ran across this, which suggests that McCain supported making the Army standards the final word. Upon a closer reading, it appears that this is so only for detainees under the control of the Department of Defense, whereas the standard quoted above relates to those under the control of the government generally (read: CIA), for whom constitutional standards appear to govern.

Again, I’m no expert in this area and don’t claim to be; I surrender to the larger collective wisdom of my readers.

UPDATE x2: Commenter biwah suggests that the apparent discrepancy can be reconciled in this way: McCain had specific techniques that he wanted to outlaw, and he thought his language would stop it — but it didn’t. Could be.

UPDATE x3: I should have noted that this Washington Post article supports biwah’s theory.

131 Responses to “Why Are DTA Standards Unacceptable Now, When McCain and the NYT Liked Them Before?”

  1. Again, Im no expert in this area and dont claim to be; I surrender to the larger collective wisdom of my readers. – Patterico

    No, but you are more nearly an expert on the Hamdan ruling.

    Was it correctly decided?

    [I’m not an expert. It’s a long ruling and I read it once. But I remember thinking it was wrong. For example, is our conflict with Al Qaeda international in character? Answer me that question. — P]

    steve (7997d4)

  2. “Lefties, you have a unique opportunity here. Rather than furiously tapping out bursts of self-righteous indignation against righties, why not educate us, by explaining why this standard is unacceptable now, when it seemed acceptable to McCain et al. before?”

    As a lefty, I think Powerline, and based on your substantive musing about Art. III 1(c) language, are being disingenuous here as the issue is right there in front of you. McCain et al. are not being inconsistant.

    The limitations on prisoner treatment imposed by the U.S. constitution and Art. III are not coterminous — either may be more lax or more stringent than the other in certain respects. The 2005 DTA law that McCain supported mandates that Defense Department treatment of combatants the military detained would conform with U.S. constitutional standards. So the Army treats prisoners consistent with both the U.S. constitution and Art. III, and thus must comply with whichever is stricter wherever they differ. Do you see? McCain wanted to make explicit that detainees would be subject to both, where before the law and Hamdan it was unclear whether the constitution applied even though it was clear Art III applied.

    The proposed law attempts to make Art. III coterminous with the U.S. constitution by saying Art III is satisfied solely by reference to the 2005 DTA law (and thus, the constitution). This would indeed erode Art. III by eliminating whichever areas of Art. III are stricter than the U.S. constitution.

    In practical terms, this means that to the extent sec. 1(c) of Art. III’s prohibitions of “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” are stricter than U.S. constitutional standards, the proposed law would tell us to ignore these longstanding requirements of international law and just look to the U.S. constitutional law under Articles 5, 8 and 14. So, you see, the proposed law does indeed erode Art. III by telling us to ignore whatever it may prohibit above and beyond the U.S. constitution.

    Now, your post thoughtfully gets into just what types of treatment may violate either the constitution or Art. III, and that is a valuable discussion. Good idea, bad idea, whatever, I’m no expert.

    But don’t call McCain, the NYT, or liberals hypocrites because they advocated the 2005 DTA law and oppose the President’s proposed law. The 2005 law made clear that military detainees would be treated with both constitutional limits and Geneva limits in mind. The proposed law would ignore any Geneva limits that went above and beyond constitutional limits and thus erode Art. III. Surely you and Powerline see the difference — hell you guys are lawyers and I am not and it is obvious.

    aplomb (b1076c)

  3. First, I think the same flip flop can be attributed to the president, who clearly disliked the bill last year when he built an elephant-sized caveat into his signing statement. Why has he now come around to push for what seems to be the same standard?

    Obviously there’s more here than can be exposed with Reynold’s glib comparison. The devil is in the flexibility of any non-method-specific proscription of interrogation methods. And in the wake of the Detainee Treatment Act, the interpretations have changed.

    One (maybe) decent comparison is to sentencing guidelines. Do you give judges (CIA, DOD) discretion (“shocks conscience”-type flexible standard) because every defendant (detainee) has a different set of circumstances? Or do you go with a guideline grid (list of proscribed methods) to reign in abuse by the decision-makers? Either way has its pros and cons. Flexibility gives, well, flexibility, but leaves room for wometimes wild inconsistencies. Rigidity ensure uniformity and may curb abuses, but is lacking in high-stakes and otherwise exceptional situations.

    Anyway. The WaPo reports it this way: that the law signed the Detainee Treatment Act to set a minimum standard, but that it has had little or none of its intended effect because it leaves too much to interpretation. Therefore, now McCain et all are seeking to firm up thje standard in some way:

    A retired intelligence professional who said he has discussed the matter at length with colleagues said the predominant view at the agency is that McCain — who made clear in congressional debate last year that he disapproved of what the CIA was doing — was surprised to learn later that the Detainee Treatment Act did not put a stop to it.

    Ultimately, it’s hardly just McCain, and your charge of inconsistency doesn’t stick too well given his hardline approach on interrogation methods over the years. And he’s hardly alone. Many of his allies on this have also served and understand that lawyer tricks continually prying the legal standards wider are just going to lead to the same abuses against our own troops. given that our troops will be in the field for a long time to come, from the looks of it, that concern is due greater consideration than the president is giving it.

    biwah (324fa0)

  4. aplomb,

    I think you have misread something, but unlike you I won’t call you disingenuous, I’ll just make the argument and see how you respond. I’d appreciate the same courtesy.

    You say:

    McCain wanted to make explicit that detainees would be subject to both, where before the law and Hamdan it was unclear whether the constitution applied even though it was clear Art III applied.

    I dispute your characterization that it was clear before Hamdan that Art. III applied to Al Qaeda and other nonsignatories. That decision rested in part on a counterintuitive definition of “international in character,” and as I say, I think Handam was wrongly decided. (So did Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote the opinion that was reversed.)

    In my update, which was posted before your comment, I said:

    Upon a closer reading, it appears that this is so only for detainees under the control of the Department of Defense, whereas the standard quoted above relates to those under the control of the government generally (read: CIA), for whom constitutional standards appear to govern.

    In other words, my understanding is that McCain sought different standards for Defense personnel and other government personnel. That’s how the DTA reads to me. Maybe I’m misreading it. But I’m concentrating on CIA (non-Defense Dep’t) personnel, and you appear to be concentrating on Defense Dep’t personnel.

    Btw, I’d also like to hear an intelligent lefty’s substantive response on what we should allow, and why.

    Patterico (de0616)

  5. biwah,

    That could explain it. He had specific techniques that he wanted to outlaw, and he thought his language would stop it, but it didn’t. I’ll update the post.

    Patterico (de0616)

  6. I’d like to go on record saying that none of those interrogation techniques shock my conscience and I don’t think they should be limited to the ticking-bomb scenario or to high-level terrorists; any captive who is reasonably suspected of having knowledge of the terrorists and refuses to divulge this knowledge should be subject to at least that level of interrogation.

    In any conflict, the level of violence is determined by the most violent side. The terrorists in this conflict have chosen a grotesque level of violence with their attacks on civilians and children and their murder of prisoners. I’m not by any means suggesting that we should rise to this level of violence, but we do have to respond to grotesque violence with at least fearsome violence. By trying to keep the level of violence down to approximately that of civilian law enforcement in extremely liberal Western countries, we are giving away far too much advantage to the terrorists and it will cost us far too many lives.

    We have a duty to our conscience, yes, but a healthy conscience values the very lives of our own soldiers far higher than it values the mental and emotional comfort of the enemy. We aren’t talking about mutilation here; we are talking about fear and discomfort. It shocks my conscience that any American might think it not worth causing a likely terrorist a few hours of fear and discomfort in order to possibly save the lives of some of our soldiers. How could you?

    You also say, Patterico, “The issues about our standing in the world are real.”, which is a common worry of the terrorist sympathisers. But world opinion cuts both ways: by being too brutal, we might arguably turn a few potential friends against us, but by being too soft, we will make enemies more willing to attack us and we will make potential allies unwilling to ally with us because they will think us weak. I believe that in the current world situation, with the current level of violence that the US has chosen, the second factor is the dominant one by far. One of the reasons that we are having so much trouble in Iraq is that if people cooperate with the US, they risk torture and death, while if they cooperate with the terrorists, they risk practically nothing as long as they don’t carry weapons and don’t actively help with attacks. It is an easy decision for most people, even those who would like the terrorism to end.

    Doc Rampage (4a07eb)

  7. Can a lawyer comment on the coverage of spies and saboteurs under the current Geneva Conventions?

    Historical accounts all have non-uniformed enemies of the state (aka spies and saboteurs) as eligible for ‘field expedient court martial’. Aka a bullet to the head by an officer was historically seen as meeting the restrictions of the Geneva Conventions. What has changed?

    The Hamdan decision seems to have reversed that, making the whole “uniform” thing completely pointless. (No one is going to prosecute someone for the war crime of not wearing a uniform, unless he’s American.)

    Al (2e2489)

  8. OK, I apologize for disingenuous. And your correction is correct.

    But I do think it is clear that McCain et al. are not arguing against what they supported last year. I think Powerline is being disingenuous about it, but I won’t accuse you of it because we are all trying to figure it out.

    Here’s the basic timeline after your correction, which I think we can agree to.

    (1) No one knows what law applies to Al Qaeda (and others, lets call them AQ for short), but everyone argues about it.

    (2) McCain urges that at least Arts. 5, 8, and 14 of the U.S. constitution should apply to DoD detentions, and law passes, albiet with restrictive Presidential signing statement. Still not clear what restrictions are on CIA or other non-DoD agencies, or if Geneva applies to either DoD or non-DoD agencies with respect to AQ.

    (3) Hamdan tells us Geneva applies to all U.S. actions against AQ detainees, against administration and widespread conservative opinion.

    (4) Administration responds by proposing law that says since Sup. Ct. requires Geneva to be applied, the U.S. will interpret Art. III as exactly coterminous with U.S. constitution.

    Because it was unclear before 2005, McCain sponsered a law that would at least impose U.S. constitutional limits. Later, the Sup. Ct. says Geneva applies, which in some respects is broader (and in some may be narrower). I do object to implying hypocricy to McCain for now opposing a restriction of Geneva standards to U.S. constitutional standards (the standards he argued for in 2005) because maybe (I would say obviously based on his statements this week) he wanted both all along but settled for what he thought he could get at the time. That seems fair and reasonable to me. Does that answer the question you and Powerline pose as to the consistency of his actions? He didn’t shoot for Geneva in 2005 because he knew the Admin. and most conservatives would object and it would fail, but thought he could get at least the U.S. constitution and was right. Now that he has Geneva, he doesn’t want to lose it. Agree or disagree with him, that isn’t hypocricy.

    Now, as to the question how much mistreatment is too much, and when, that is beyond my league. My issue is you never really know how helpful the information will be, or how much torture or “torture light” the subject will take before he spills. You might torture someone who doesn’t really know anything of much help, and of course you may be doing it before you know the guy is really guilty of anything (could be mistaken identity or just a guy in the wrong place and wrong time when actual terrorists are coralled). You might have a guy who knows important stuff who can withstand “acceptable” torture light — is it OK to push it just a little further into actual torture to get him to spill?

    So, you can never do an appropriate torture/value calculation beforehand because you don’t know the amount of torture it will require or the value of information beforehand. That means lots of unnecessary coercive behavior, which I think everyone agrees is bad.

    That leads me, personally, to say the whole game isn’t worth it. Treat all the known AQ at the minimum of Geneva, offer them some perks and better treatment for information, and concentrate instead on other sources of intelligence, which are in most cases much more helpful anyway when done right.

    aplomb (b1076c)

  9. Hear me now, believe me later …

    After the first nuke in an American city, most of the left will be willing to forget about the Geneva conventions.

    As for me, I’m ready to toss them now. When the terrorists want to form a country and mount their own armies, then the Geneva conventions can apply to their “enemy combatants”.

    But for now, my outlook on the terrorists is to kill them first. It’s simply self defense. You want to go to suicide training camp and we catch you — the we’ll just strap the belt on you and blow you up. Even film it and put on a web site.

    You want to cut people’s heads off, fine then we’ll cut yours off too when you are captured.

    Wake up folks, it is the clash of the civilizations. Look at the furror over the Pope’s comments. One side is rational, the other sife is non rational. Either there are no moderates, or they’re afraid to speek up.

    Name another religion that when insulted wants to kill the person who insulted them. Name another religion who has captured someone and put a gut to their head to convert. Name another religion that wants to kill you if you leave the religion. Name another religion that openly says deceit is acceptable when needed.

    Perhaps all of Islam is not corrupt or evil, but until the rational peace loving members of the religion speak up about the alledged hijacking of their religion, then the religion should be banned. It sure looks like a death loving cult.

    All of the rational individuals / countries may hate the US and be glad when we have problems or are attacked, but you can better believe that as they are taken over that they will be crying for us to come to their aid.

    Most of the US citizens have gone soft and have no ability to grasp the big picture. I hate to be pessimistic, but it is going to get much worse before it gets better if it gets better.

    Charlie (22cc32)

  10. McCain urges that at least Arts. 5, 8, and 14 of the U.S. constitution should apply to DoD detentions, and law passes, albiet with restrictive Presidential signing statement.

    I think “Arts. 5, 8, and 14 of the U.S. constitution” apply to non-DoD interrogations under the DTA, as well as DoD detentions. This is the provision that would cover, for example, CIA interrogations.

    Now Bush wants to use that standard for CIA interrogations, and everyone is jumping down his throat.

    Maybe McCain was limited by what he thought he could get; I don’t know. What’s the New York Times’s excuse?

    Patterico (de0616)

  11. I’m now fully convinced I’m living in a dimension that has not been fully defined. We are (or you are) sitting here parsing the definition of torture. And people like aplomb have done a commendable job of trying to separate the chaff from the wheat. But good God, why are we here? Why are we at a moment in our history where we have to argue about torture? Think, folks. Think about your state of mind twenty years ago (if you are old enough). Think about the gulags in the Soviet Union, think about what you knew about communist China, think about what atrocities you read about in your eleventh grade textbooks. Think about what your feelings were when you read about McCain’s torture, or seeing Americans on film in foreign lands after being captured, saying treasonous things and knowing full well the statements were elicited by torture. I don’t know half my country anymore; they’re so scared they’ll do anything for a false sense of security. Insert famous Benjamin Franklin quote here.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  12. Why are we at a moment in our history where we have to argue about torture?

    Mmmm . . . that’s good self-righteousness.

    The alternative that has been proposed is give up on trying to get info from detainees. I assume the President is not lying when he says that intelligence has stopped attacks in the U.S. because of intelligence they received from detainees. That’s why I think this is important.

    Patterico (de0616)

  13. “Why are we at a moment in our history where we have to argue about torture?

    Mmmm . . . that’s good self-righteousness.”

    And we’ve lasted as a constitional republic for how long without resorting to such barbaric tactics? I guess torture is the new black, and I’m behind the fashion curve. Good thing fashion changes every five minutes.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  14. Look at it this way, Lemonheads guy. Few people believe they support torture. But many of us believe that some interrogation techniques might be appropriate in some circumstances that are to some extent coercive. That’s not torture to many of us, so our question to you would be: why are you talking about torture — and why are you giving our enemies the rhetorical argument that we are engaging in it?

    Or we could try to skip the finger-pointing and just have the substantive discussion.

    Patterico (de0616)

  15. That’s “constitutional”. I’m a stickler.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  16. I’ll meet you a quarter of the way here, Patterico. The building has a bomb in it, there’s only an hour to figure out the details,etc. etc. But as a rule? We see ourselves, and deservedly so, as a paragon of societal virtue. Trial by peers, due process, and never waging war unless threatened, never waging war for territorial gain. How does our historical philosophy fit with what we’re doing now? As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Israeli citizens understand that there’s a price to being virtuous; I wouldn’t have blamed them for going medieval on their foes long ago, but they’re better than that. And I know there’s s**t going on we don’t know about, the Israelis are doing it, the British are doing it, we’re doing it and God knows who else. But as a standing public policy?
    I can’t get over the fact that we’re supposed to be better than that, unless specific circumstances arise. We’ve chastised half the world for decades for human rights abuses, but this makes us look like hypocrites, and rightly so. If you want to be taken seriously, walk the walk.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  17. Lemonhead

    Why are we arguing about “torture?”

    Because the so-called “stricker standards” than the US constitution that some would impose believe that “personal humilitation” is torture and that includes making misogynist islamic nazis “uncomfortable” by having females interrogate them or “humilitate” them by touching them with a red ink stained finger while claiming it is menstrual blood.

    The word “torture” has come to encompass so many obviously “non torture” actions that we HAVE to debate it because its is as if we are speaking different languages.

    It is akin to saying the word “rape”. We used to know what it meant, but now one has to stop and ask for clarification because it is so vague as to have lost its power to horrify.

    “Torture” has become a political cudgel.

    Darleen (03346c)

  18. stricker = stricter

    ::sigh::

    Darleen (03346c)

  19. What is the moral breakpoint in “coercive interrogation? I don’t think it can be solely in the severity of the consequence since one may not know that going in. If you’re a false positive, life would be a b*tch. Still, there is a situational factor.

    I’d propose that one anchor point is, are we breaking the body or are we breaking their mind? It is their minds that are doing us mortal combat. In the olden days, breaking the body was the method of choice but I think everyone on both sides of the debate will agree that the rack, thumbscrews, hot boiling oil, beatings, etc, are beyond the pale.

    The debate seems to swing on breaking the mind. How far can we go? If a interrogatee came out a blithering idiot with a broken mind, then we’ve crossed the line. Yet, causing mental anguish via non-contact and non-violent conditions seems fair game. Their publicly declared methods seem to understand that breaking point although hypothermia might also be debated. After all, their game is causing us mental anguish via threats and actions of terrorism.

    One point of order would be psychoactive drugs. There are chemicals, I understand, that can cause severe but temporary and reversible depression.

    This is an issue that I hope that we can reach a consensus on. At least the issues need balance and both sides must compromise. So far, it looks like the Administration has a reasonable moral stance. Their partisan opponents need to play fair and not turn this into a huge name-calling exercise.

    whitehall (e8f34e)

  20. Torture is waterboarding. Torture is hypothermia, or siccing dogs on the prisoner. This isn’t rocket science. Torture is torture, always has been, always will be. Strawman arguments about menstrual blood or female interrogators only slays the strawman, not the issue. And THAT’S why we’re arguing about torture. Some of us have forgotten what the f**k it means.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  21. People give McCain too much credit by saying he’s a maveric.John McCain is an evil vendictive man,he will do any thing to repay supposed wrongs done him.2000 has never left his mind you can count on it.The only time he has been with this President is when it done him some good,otherwise the old back stab is in order.

    jainphx (a37a64)

  22. Sorry Lemonhead, but we don’t really have a clear definition of the word “torture.”

    Power is being applied against enemies of the people of the United States. This is a practical necessity you’ll admit. On the battlefield, shooting them, burning them, burying them alive are all fair. Once they are in our power and control, some level of power must also be applied to the same end.

    You can’t very well say that no power can be applied. You do concur in incarceration, do you not?

    We need a field-usable guide to effective interrogation techniques. Your “feelings” or intuition are not much help to that end.

    whitehall (5bdebd)

  23. As someone who pledged a fraternity in the 70’s, I am fairly certain there is a difference between torture and hazing. Most of what you are talking about I accepted as hazing.

    If a terrorist can’t deal with it, blackball his ass. For real.

    B Moe (5098fc)

  24. Torture is waterboarding. Torture is hypothermia, or siccing dogs on the prisoner. This isn’t rocket science.

    I am uncomfortable with calling the “cold room” interrogation technique “hypothermia.” That seems like a typical exaggeration. Has any prisoner experienced true hypothermia? I doubt it.

    Patterico (de0616)

  25. FWIW waterboarding and cold room are not torture. Any kid from a northern state who did lots of swimming has experienced both.

    boris (e173ce)

  26. Lemonhead, we aren’t “parsing” the definition of torture, we are pointing out, –accurately– that contrary to the rhetoric of terrorist sympathizers like you, not all unpleasant things done to prisoners is torture. It is you and your kind who are trying to change the meaning of the word, not us.

    By comparing the mild forms of interrogations under discussion here to the Gulags and the North Vietnamese POW camps, you betray either a lack of discrimination or a lack of moral seriousness. Those places were horrible because they actually did torture people. If the communists had done nothing worse than the techniques under discussion here, then the gulag and POW camps would have been nothing but unpleasant prisons; they would not have the reputations of horror that they do have (and the American left’s continued refusal to condemn the perpetrators of these atrocities wouldn’t be quite so shocking).

    You are trying to score debate points by redefining the word “torture” to mean something other than its common meaning, and acting as though this new thing you call torture should be viewed the same as the thing everyone else calls torture just because you are using the same name for it.

    It would be no different if you started to refer to anchors as “babies” and then expressed outrage at sailors who tie chains around babies and throw them into the ocean. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick.

    Doc Rampage (4a07eb)

  27. Lemonhead, we’ve had spies that were hung within 9 days of their discovery. Please don’t claim “We’ve _never_ done _that_ before” as a defense.

    Al (2e2489)

  28. Shorter Patterico’s commenters:

    We really, really, really want the US government to be in the business of torturing people.

    Shorter Patterico:

    I’m pretty sure I want to be enabling these folks.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  29. Better:

    We really, really want the US Government to extract lifesaving information just this side of torturing people.

    whitehall (146e59)

  30. And we’ve lasted as a constitional republic for how long without resorting to such barbaric tactics? I guess torture is the new black, and I’m behind the fashion curve. Good thing fashion changes every five minutes.

    What makes you think any of this is new?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  31. Slightly shorter Kimmitt: who cares if we get murdered by the thousands? Making prisoners feel like anything short of honored guests is unacceptable!

    Xrlq (12f8ac)

  32. I came here obviously as a foil to your accepted modes of thinking, hoping to learn something and open debate to see what would happen. And then this happened:

    “FWIW waterboarding and cold room are not torture. Any kid from a northern state who did lots of swimming has experienced both.”

    When you’re being waterboarded and/or cold roomed, methinks you might have a different opinion. It’s not hazing, it’s torture, and if you don’t think we’re better than that I find this a very sad day.

    Good luck with the three minute hate.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  33. Shorter Lemonhead and Kimmet (with fingers in ears) “Nyah, nyah! I can’t hear you! I’m not listening! Your’re all mean and nasty people and I don’t care what you say!”

    They both feel they can smuggly accuse others of advocating torture without bothering to answer any logical arguments to the contrary. Just accuse, stop up your ears, and run.

    Doc Rampage (4a07eb)

  34. Shorter Kimmett: “I’m not going to make any logical argument.”

    Shorter Lemonhead: “I’m going to pretend like the commenter I disagree with the most represents everyone here.”

    I invite either of you to remain and debate the merits of this difficult issue, rather than simply lobbing partisan snark and running away.

    Patterico (de0616)

  35. Mr Frey posted:

    “The alternative that has been proposed is give up on trying to get info from detainees.”

    There might be more alternatives to getting information from detainees than just the two of either abusing them or “give up on trying”.

    Mr Frey: “I assume the President is not lying when he says that intelligence has stopped attacks in the U.S. because of intelligence they received from detainees.”

    This is the President whose administration also said that Saddam had ties to bin Laden, that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, that Saddam was providing training and support to Al Queda, that the Iraqis would greet American soldiers as “liberators” and offer flowers and parades, and that American troops would be in Iraq less than 6 months. It’s conceivable that a degree of skepticism towards any new claims might be warranted.

    Furthermore, the issue isn’t whether intelligence has or has not stopped attacks in the U.S., nor is it even about the administration lying; it is whether or not abusing detainees provides useful information that otherwise wouldn’t be available. And if the answer turns out to be “yes”, it is still reasonable to ask if whatever might be gained from abusing detainees outweighs the increased harm it might risk for Americans and particularly American soldiers.

    Mr Frey: “The Administration says it has gotten good information from KSM, and it is fighting hard to use somewhat coercive techniques in the face of widespread opposition. Do you really think that’s purely because they are cynical or evil? OK: you’re entitled to your beliefs, but if this is your argument, I am going to discount your opinion accordingly as that of a partisan hack.

    The administration may make a claim, but that alone does not make it true. Here is what Lt. Gen. John Kimmons had to say about abusive techniques at a news conference earlier this month announcing the new army manual. http://www.defenselink.mil/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=3712

    Kimmons is not just some “political hack”, btw: he is the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.

    Question (from reporter): “– some of the tactics that were used in particular in Guantanamo Bay that were considered by investigators to be abusive when used together are now prohibited — for example, the use of nudity, hooding, that sort of thing. In looking at those particular tactics and now not being able to use them, does that limit the ability of interrogators to get information that could be very useful? In particular, on one detainee in Guantanamo Bay, those — some of those tactics that are now prohibited were deemed to be very effective in getting to that information.

    GEN. KIMMONS: Let me answer the first question. That’s a good question. I think — I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.

    And moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, under — through the use of abusive techniques would be of questionable credibility. And additionally, it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can’t afford to go there.

    Some of our most significant successes on the battlefield have been — in fact, I would say all of them, almost categorically all of them have accrued from expert interrogators using mixtures of authorized, humane interrogation practices, in clever ways that you would hope Americans would use them, to push the envelope within the bookends of legal, moral and ethical, now as further refined by this field manual. So we don’t need abusive practices in there. Nothing good will come from them.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  36. Rick,

    There might be more alternatives to getting information from detainees than just the two of either abusing them or “give up on trying”.

    Let’s hear them.

    This is the President whose administration also said that Saddam had ties to bin Laden, that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, that Saddam was providing training and support to Al Queda, that the Iraqis would greet American soldiers as “liberators” and offer flowers and parades, and that American troops would be in Iraq less than 6 months. It’s conceivable that a degree of skepticism towards any new claims might be warranted.

    I could quibble with a lot of that, but even if the President said every one of those things, and even if they were all wrong, what you have offered is a collection of 1) faulty intelligence and 2) incorrect predictions. I am talking about specific claims that we gained intelligence from detainees (including KSM) that prevented terror attacks, and the apparent fact that we used some degree of coercion to do so. It’s always good to be skeptical, sure; but I’m not among the “Bush lied” crowd and I’m unlikely to have a meaningful debate with anyone who is. (I’m not saying you are.)

    Furthermore, the issue isn’t whether intelligence has or has not stopped attacks in the U.S., nor is it even about the administration lying; it is whether or not abusing detainees provides useful information that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

    The Administration says it got good information from KSM. If they’re not lying, do you think they tried non-coercive techniques first? Common sense suggests that they did — and they did not work.

    And if the answer turns out to be “yes”, it is still reasonable to ask if whatever might be gained from abusing detainees outweighs the increased harm it might risk for Americans and particularly American soldiers.

    I am a skeptic of the claim that mildly coercive interrogation of terrorists is going to increase the risk of bad treatment of our troops by terrorists or anyone else. The terrorists are going to chop off captives’ heads no matter what we do; as for our other enemies, I recently wrote this post (taking off from posts from Captain Ed and Dafydd ab Hugh) asking what enemies in the past have followed Geneva Convention standards in treating our POWs.

    Patterico (de0616)

  37. Mr Frey kindly replied:

    The Administration says it got good information from KSM. If they’re not lying, do you think they tried non-coercive techniques first? Common sense suggests that they did — and they did not work.

    “Common sense” suggests a multitude of possibilities that go beyond simple dichotomies. And experience tells us that we shouldn’t believe everything an administration (this one or past ones) tells us.

    Regardless of what the current administration says, Former Secretary of State Collin Powell and General Kimmons have come out against abusing detainees. It may not be wise to reject the advice of these and other experienced military professionals without evidence beyond unconfirmed anecdotes and “the administration says…”

    Mr. Frey: I am a skeptic of the claim that mildly coercive interrogation of terrorists is going to increase the risk of bad treatment of our troops by terrorists or anyone else.

    Then I am most anxious to here your explanation for General Kimmons remarks: “I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that…it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can’t afford to go there…So we don’t need abusive practices in there. Nothing good will come from them.

    In particular, what makes you skeptical of the generals remarks? What professional experience or knowledge do you possess that gives you the confidence to challenge his assessment?

    Mr. Frey: I recently wrote this post (taking off from posts from Captain Ed and Dafydd ab Hugh) asking what enemies in the past have followed Geneva Convention standards in treating our POWs.

    It’s not just POWs that may pay the price for America abandoning or at least “redefining” some of its principles, as a marine reservist ponders:

    “I was deployed in my reserve unit (USMCR) as part of operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Marine infantry, and we were on the front lines…I [also] spent a week guarding Iraqi men in a makeshift prison camp, a way-station really, and more than I could count. They didn’t look like they were starving or dehydrated. Apparently, once the ground war began, they just pitched their weapons and headed south at first opportunity. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize that they knew bone deep that they’d get fair treatment…looking back, I think that one of the main drivers in these men’s heads was that they knew, absolutely, that they’d get fair treatment from us, the Americans. We were the good guys. The Iraqis on the line knew they had an out, they had hope, so they could just walk away. (A few did piss themselves when someone told them we were Marines. Go figure.) Still, they knew Americans would be fair, and we were.

    Thinking hard on what I now know of history, psychology, and the meanness of politics, that reputation for fairness was damn near unique in world history. Can you tell me of any [other] major military power that had it?…I don’t think so. But America had it. If those men had even put up token resistance, some of us would not have come back. But they didn’t even bother, and surrendered at least in part because of our reputation. Our two hundred year old reputation for being fair and humane and decent. All the way back to George Washington, and from President George H.W. Bush all the way down to a lance-corporal jarhead at the front.

    Its gone now, even from me. I can’t get past that image of the Iraqi, in the hood with the wires and I’m not what you’d call a sensitive type. You know the picture. And now we have a total bust-out in the White House, and a bunch of rubber-stamps in the House, trying to make it so that half-drowning people isn’t torture. That hypothermia isn’t torture. That degradation isn’t torture. We don’t have that reputation for fairness anymore. Just the opposite, I think. And the next real enemy we face will fight like only the cornered and desperate fight. How many Marines’ lives will be lost in the war ahead just because of this asshole who never once risked anything for this country?”

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  38. In particular, what makes you skeptical of the generals remarks? What professional experience or knowledge do you possess that gives you the confidence to challenge his assessment?

    The issue is what professional experience and knowledge the CIA has, because they are the folks who evidently disagree. And if I’m not mistaken, they are the folks who got information out of KSM.

    As I said earlier, if the Army folks’ position is correct, it’s self-correcting. The CIA will not continue to use coercive techniques if they don’t work. Why on earth would they?

    As to your long quote, I’m a bit confused. Has the Administration taken the position that Iraqi POWs are not subject to treatment under the Geneva Convention?

    Patterico (de0616)

  39. When you’re being waterboarded and/or cold roomed, methinks you might have a different opinion

    The movie “Winter People” has a scene with Kurt Russle in a serious fight with a tougher man. Kurt wrestles the pair into an icy river. Kurt had done some polar bear swimming and was used to the cold which stunned the other man enough so Kurt could win the fight.

    Mom was a teacher so she and the kids spent long vacations in the far north, Maine, Michigan, or Wisconsin. She had been a licensed fishing guide in her youth in Maine. We spent those times in water, on water, and around water. Cold water.

    When the kids started turning blue she made us come out of the water and stand in the open air with a towel still wet from the last time she made us get out. Open air doesn’t mean a toasty hotel swimming natorium, it means a breezy lakeshore. After 15 min or curled up and shivering we’d be dry and revert to hellions on dry land again at which time we were allowed to go back in the water. Which we gleefully would, even knowing the next time we had to get out it would be dusk and the breeze would be stiffer and the lakeshore colder. BTW hellions in the water too. We had cool games like Submarine and Dunk.

    Bottom line: Using those techniques you couldn’t get me to tell you the time of day.

    boris (e173ce)

  40. “Shorter Kimmett: “I’m not going to make any logical argument.”

    Shorter Lemonhead: “I’m going to pretend like the commenter I disagree with the most represents everyone here.”

    I invite either of you to remain and debate the merits of this difficult issue, rather than simply lobbing partisan snark and running away.”

    You have made a valid point, and I will continue to debate on the merits.
    Here’s a question – some here have posited the fact that we need a field usable guide, a set of guidelines for such interrogation techniques. The Geneva Conventions guidelines have been used for decades, but some now find it antiquated or lacking in specifics. If we re-write, or reinterpret what guidelines we’ve been following for decades, where do we draw the lines, and will we have a problem with other sovereign nations or political groups reinterpreting in kind?

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  41. I think that, despite the Administration’s talk about the need for clear lines, that some flexibility is required. The “shocks the conscience” standard seems workable to me.

    Where would you draw the lines?

    The problem of other sovereigns reinterpreting in kind is, in my view, best solved by Congress’s declaring that Al Qaeda and other terrorist nonsignatories are subject to the above standard and not the Geneva Convention, rather than by reinterpreting the Geneva Convention according to the above standard.

    Patterico (de0616)

  42. But what “shocks the conscience”? I have a decently vivid imagination, and I can take into consideration the gravity of the moment (such as the ticking bomb scenario). But in what we’ve seen at Gitmo and other locales, there were no ticking bomb scenarios, and if you’ve seen the photos a line was crossed. To deny that would be to end this as a rational discussion. Flexibility is logical, but we’ve crossed the line already, so where is this line? We’ve had a line drawn for over five decades, and if some want to render a new line, I’m listening. Where is it?

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  43. It’s impossible to say: “the line is here” except by articulating a standard. “Shocks the conscience” has been interpreted by courts. But if you want to talk specific scenarios, let’s take one.

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who actually planned the 9/11 attacks, has information about active terrorist cells in the U.S. You have asked him nicely to tell you about them and he laughs at you. Would you:

    1. Have him interrogated by a woman, which you know would humiliate and degrade him, according to his stupid belief system that says women are inferior?

    2. Have a Jew interrogate him?

    3. Play Red Hot Chili Peppers at a high volume (such as teenagers listen to) to convince him to tell you about the terror cells?

    4. Touch him with red liquid that you tell him is menstrual blood?

    5. Keep him awake for periods of time similar to what a college student experiences when two term papers are due the same week?

    6. Lower his air conditioning to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours?

    7. Strip him while doing so, taking care to see that he didn’t experience actual hypothermia, but rather only severe discomfort?

    Now let’s say that you actually do all of these, and only #7 gets you information — but the information yields you a terror cell that you realize probably would have killed thousands, absent the treatment you gave KSM.

    Now you have Abu Zubaydah, and you suspect him of having similarly valuable information. Do you do any of the above acts?

    If I thought I could save thousands of lives, I would do all of the above. How about you, Lemonheads?

    Patterico (de0616)

  44. Mr Frey thoughtfully asked:

    “As to your long quote, I’m a bit confused. Has the Administration taken the position that Iraqi POWs are not subject to treatment under the Geneva Convention?”

    The “long” quote, along with the opinions offered by Mr Powell, Mr. McCain, General Kimmons, and many others with considerable military experience, reminds us that the administration has taken a position that may be more than just immoral and a repudiation of American principles and obligations under international law; it may also be dangerous and counter-productive.

    Mr Frey: The issue is what professional experience and knowledge the CIA has, because they are the folks who evidently disagree. And if I’m not mistaken, they are the folks who got information out of KSM.

    We have no way to know if you are mistaken, as your claim is an unreferenced and unconfirmed anecdote. It is a matter of dispute, not gospel, as to whether or not the abuse of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydahled to useful intelligence that was otherwise not available.

    From The New York Times:

    “WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 — In defending the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret network of prisons on Wednesday, President Bush said the detention system had used lawful interrogation techniques, was fully described to select members of Congress and led directly to the capture of a string of terrorists over the past four years.

    A review of public documents and interviews with American officials raises questions about Mr. Bush’s claims on all three fronts…”

    “WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 — Abu Zubaydah, the first Osama bin Laden henchman captured by the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was bloodied and feverish when a C.I.A. security team delivered him to a secret safe house in Thailand for interrogation in the early spring of 2002. Bullet fragments had ripped through his abdomen and groin during a firefight in Pakistan several days earlier when he had been captured.

    The events that unfolded at the safe house over the next few weeks proved to be fateful for the Bush administration. Within days, Mr. Zubaydah was being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques — he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons.

    President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.

    But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal.

    Some of those interviewed offered sharply contrasting accounts, but all said that the disagreements were intense…Crucial aspects of what happened during Mr. Zubaydah’s interrogation are sharply disputed. Some former and current government officials briefed on the case, who were more closely allied with law enforcement, said Mr. Zubaydah cooperated with F.B.I. interviewers until the C.I.A. interrogation team arrived. They said that Mr. Zubaydah’s resistance began after the agency interrogators began using more stringent tactics…”

    Mr Frey: As I said earlier, if the Army folks’ position is correct, it’s self-correcting. The CIA will not continue to use coercive techniques if they don’t work. Why on earth would they?

    That claim seems every bit as bizzare now as the first time you offered it. If human beings were “self-correcting,” then there would be no need for any manuals, laws, or rules of any kind.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  45. 1. Not a problem, no human rights abuses here.

    2. Same

    3. Ditto

    4. Again, nothing to see here.

    5. Depends. I think there’s a line which could be crossed; I’m no expert on deprivation techniques but I’m sure there’s a point at which it could be considered torture.

    6. Same as number 5

    7. Same as number 5

    This is the crux of the argument; there are experts who know when this sort of treatment crosses the line from humane to inhumane, and I’m not saying we should never, ever cross the line. I’m saying we should be extremely careful in when we choose to, because that’s what I believe we are. A nation, a people who cares deeply whether or not that line should be crossed. The Gitmo and Abu Grhaib photos need to teach us, to remind us that moral relativism (as the right used to remind us) can be a slippery slope. That lowering yourself to the level of the enemy may win a moment, but also may strip us of the things we hold sacrosanct. Do what you have to do to keep us safe, but don’t sacrifice what we stand for in the process.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  46. We have a winner for the longest content free posting on this thread !!!

    Congratulations Rick !!!

    Your “don’t believe anything” nihilism is a masterstroke of vapid autoneurotic intellectual blather.!

    boris (e173ce)

  47. lowering yourself to the level of the enemy

    Waterboarding and cold room is not the level of the enemy.

    boris (e173ce)

  48. “Waterboarding and cold room is not the level of the enemy.”

    How proud you must be, only getting close.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  49. How proud you must be, only getting close.

    Close to what? Beheading? Forced conversions?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  50. If human beings were “self-correcting,” then there would be no need for any manuals, laws, or rules of any kind.

    All of that is humans self-correcting, Rick.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  51. Close to what? Beheading? Forced conversions?

    Where you set the bar is where you end up. I like to think (in my “antiquated thinking”) that the US sets the bar higher than anyone. You want to lower the bar, and I think that sets the US up for dangerous precedents, and a possible pattern of continuing to lower the bar.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  52. How proud you must be, only getting close.

    Funny definition of close you have there.

    I’d put up with two or more waterboardings (see here) to avoid even a single beheading.

    boris (e173ce)

  53. a possible pattern of continuing to lower the bar

    Wow, possible pattern, what was I thinking. That could get really really bad huh.

    boris (e173ce)

  54. That could get really really bad huh.

    Sorry, menat to say really really close.

    boris (e173ce)

  55. Wow, possible pattern, what was I thinking. That could get really really bad huh.

    Possible, yes. My hope for more reasoned thinking from our representatives and the populace prevents me from thinking it’s a definative.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  56. Lemonhead,

    You state “there are experts who know when this sort of treatment crosses the line from humane to inhumane.”

    I’m not sure that unnamed experts in some unnamed government agency or unnamed university or unnamed newspaper are really the right people to decide moral issues for the Republic. They still need some guidelines from the political system.

    I’d set those lines at:

    1) no permanent mental or physical damage

    2) no violence to the body.

    Mental anguish from shame, discomfort, panic, non-public humiliation, etc seem fair game to me so waterboarding and hypothermia would be OK. Naked in 50 degrees sounds like a Miwok digging for clams in San Francisco circa 1000 AD.

    Effectiveness has the advantage of limiting the hurt to false positives – if we had confidence that our techniques worked and still no information was forthcoming then we’d stop.

    A reputation for effectiveness works both for real sources and for run-of-the-mill detainees, uniformed or not. American POW camps have had a well-deserved reputation for decent treatment. If you’ve got something we want to know, tell me now or tell me later.

    whitehall (ff5aa7)

  57. and the populace

    Pretty sure the populace was ok with waterboarding and cold room for a few years following 911. Maybe their resolve has faded. One way to get it back would be to establish a definite pattern of raising the bar from what works to what results in another 911.

    boris (e173ce)

  58. Lemonhead, the itemized list of “Is this torture” items goes against the UN’s feelings on torture on every point. On one through 4, you’re flat out violating it. On 5, 6, 7 the UN position is “Anything vaguely like this is indeed torture”, which doesn’t quite mesh with your comments.

    The use of 5, 6, 7 _has_ been quite limited – that is why these 14 particular captives weren’t held at Guantanamo, but rather CIA detention facilities elsewhere. 14 people is not widespread, and the explanations for three of those have been provided and seem coherent.

    Half of the argument here is separating sheer stupidity (like Abu Ghraib) from serious efforts at interrogation. Sure there is ‘interrogation’ going on every time someone is captured. The bulk of which is the verbal harrangue. But the harsh measures that you do not consider torture but that the UN does consider torture are applied in limited circumstances.

    Just one side doesn’t believe it is possible that the President actually knows what the word ‘limited’ means.

    Al (2e2489)

  59. “Pretty sure the populace was ok with waterboarding and cold room for a few years following 911.”

    No, they weren’t ok with our current techniques, they didn’t know about them. Take a poll, I guess, I may be wrong but I certainly reject them as reliable and humane efforts at obtaining reliable information. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2302-2005Jan11.html
    to start. I’ve tried to hammer home the fact that these techniques are not what I believe America is about, but on top of that the techniques in question aren’t that effective. It seems to me vengeance is part of the equation; if that’s the case just state it. I’d give you points for honesty.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  60. Lemonheads:

    You have said you would use every one of the 7 techniques in realistic circumstances (though you’d be careful with 5-7, and I agree with that).

    The Geneva Convention says they’re all unlawful.

    If I wanted to get snarky, I’d say:

    But good God, why are we here? Why are we at a moment in our history where Lemonheads is sanctioning torture? Think, folks.

    But I won’t be snarky. Instead I’ll just ask you: do you see a problem with outlawing techniques that have been effective and that you yourself would use?

    Patterico (de0616)

  61. Your linked op-ed makes a good point, Lemonheads. I think it’s the best argument opponents of the President’s bill have: coerive interrogation techniques may not work.

    But my guess is that while that argument may often hold true — maybe even usually — it may not for everyone. For a smart interrogator, it may be important to have that weapon in the arsenal — but then maybe there should be a robust debate about whether it should be used, and when.

    My experience as a prosecutor is that detectives generally get confessions much more often when they build a rapport with the suspect. The issue of coercive interrogation has long since been resolved in the criminal law context: any confession based on such interrogation would be involuntary and inadmissible. The most cops do is yell, and the yellers generally get fewer confessions. For these reasons, no rational person would support coercive interrogation of criminal suspects.

    But in the terror realm, when you’re dealing with 1) people with lifelong hatred of our way of life and 2) knowledge of plots that could kill thousands, we may be looking at a different situation. Reaching for the air conditioner switch too hastily may be a dumb move with typical low-level terrorist Abdul — but can you really “build a rapport” with KSM?

    I just want to make sure our people have the tools necessary to get the job done, without doing things that would shock the conscience of our nation.

    Patterico (de0616)

  62. You hit snarky anyway, but that’s ok.
    I guess we’ve come to loggerheads, Patterico, because I don’t see anything in the GCs that prohibit 1 through 4 in any specific way. Interpretation could leave you with that conclusion, but I will concede that point: some articles are open to interpretation.
    But what of effectiveness? As I stated earlier, even if we decide to step over the demarcation we agreed to decades ago, why do we think these interrogation methods and techniques will garner the useful intel we seek, when history and studies say otherwise? I’d probably tell you I’m the ancestor of Nepthys if it would stop you from waterboarding me.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  63. “he’s going to tell you just about anything,” which would be pointless.

    The linked oped contains the above which discredits the point. We’re not trying to get them to admit committing a crime or that they’re bad people, we want specific intel. The only way to avoid the discomfort is to reveal the intel.

    The “anything” we want them to tell us is exactly the point. That kind of bogus logic employed against common sense is an agenda giveaway.

    boris (e173ce)

  64. Yes, I went looking for that quote because I knew it would be ther.

    boris (e173ce)

  65. I didn’t see your last post before my last, so there’s some redundancy. But whether you believe it or not, I’ve gained some insight from coming here. I still don’t agree, but it’s been, to paraphrase you a “robust debate”. I hope to be back.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  66. Where you set the bar is where you end up. I like to think (in my “antiquated thinking”) that the US sets the bar higher than anyone. You want to lower the bar, and I think that sets the US up for dangerous precedents, and a possible pattern of continuing to lower the bar.

    What makes you think any of this is new?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  67. “he’s going to tell you just about anything,” which would be pointless.

    The linked oped contains the above which discredits the point. We’re not trying to get them to admit committing a crime or that they’re bad people, we want specific intel. The only way to avoid the discomfort is to reveal the intel.

    The “anything” we want them to tell us is exactly the point. That kind of bogus logic employed against common sense is an agenda giveaway.

    Wow, that’s some circular logic on a grand scale. The “intel” you’re looking for may be false, get it? I could probably get you to confess to numerous crimes and give up five of your friends if I was a clever enough interrogator, but it doesn’t mean I did a good job, and it doesn’t mean torture works.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  68. I’d probably tell you I’m the ancestor of Nepthys if it would stop you from waterboarding me.

    Which means you would reveal anything you know that an interrogator wants to find out. Such as “where is the ticking bomb?”

    Sure, you could lie but that would be a tougher response than you claim you could manage. And it would be discovered in short order when the location provided did not produce a bomb.

    More waterboarding then. In this situation lying would not “stop them from waterboarding you.”

    boris (e173ce)

  69. That’s exactly the point lemonheads – the TEXT doesn’t exclude these, it is the interpretations that have meandered down the path to prohibiting them. The President’s position is “Whatever you think should be the limit – fine. Write it up concisely and coherently instead of the current hodgepodge of court rulings.”

    And on the second point “Why do we think these work?”

    Answer: Because we got specific information out of KSM using these techniques that did indeed stop major attacks. That is, proof by demonstration. Read the text of the President’s speech last Monday, and focus on the discussion of what was foiled instead of having an aneurism over the fact that there’s a war mentioned.

    Al (2e2489)

  70. Wow, that’s some circular logic on a grand scale

    I see you have abandoned any pretense of logic in your last post. No, I don’t believe you are actually stupid enough to not understand the logic fault in your position.

    boris (e173ce)

  71. The “intel” you’re looking for may be false, get it?

    It may also not be false. Get it? KSM did.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  72. Hell, why question them at all? They might lie to you!

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  73. There’s every possibility Warner, McCain and Graham know abominable details the public doesn’t. The KSM case makes a nice showpiece, but the scope of the prison system is stunning.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.

    Almost 18,700 have been released since June 2004, the U.S. command says, not including many more who were held and then freed by local military units and never shipped to major prisons.

    http://apnews.myway.com//article/20060917/D8K6MRU80.html

    The trap was set to portray Bush opponents as protectors of terrorist rights. And mono-chromatic always works, politically. This is not so much about 14 marquee Gitmo jihadists as it is about shielding the U.S. against a Niagara of false-arrest litigation. We’re being played.

    steve (db3801)

  74. There’s every possibility Warner, McCain and Graham know abominable details the public doesn’t. The KSM case makes a nice showpiece, but the scope of the prison system is stunning.

    steve,

    Check out my latest post. I don’t know what Warner, Graham, and McCain know, but I think they should be told some pertinent details, if they haven’t already been told.

    I am not unpersuadable on the issue of coercive interrogation. Much of my opinion is based on (go ahead and laugh) trusting Bush when he says that these techniques are necessary. But I’m suspicious enough that I think specifics should be shared with the relevant Senators — and if they have been already (or if they are and have no effect) then with the public.

    Read my post and see what you think.

    Patterico (de0616)

  75. Lemonheads:

    Do you think it is “humiliating and degrading treatment” to specifically take actions with a detainee that fly in the face of his deeply held religious beliefs?

    Patterico (de0616)

  76. Hey steve: you didn’t answer my question.

    Is the conflict with Al Qaeda “international in character”?

    Patterico (de0616)

  77. There’s every possibility Warner, McCain and Graham know abominable details the public doesn’t.

    There’s every possibility that those details argue against their position.

    Less concern with details and more with issues is needed. Alternatives to surveillance, capture and interrogate do not exist in the effort to prevent attacks like 911. Attempts to get opponents to take a stand that allows such attacks produces only lame dodges and evasive platitudes.

    But clearly false logic is applied to interrogation. “They’ll say anything” So ??? If they actually will say anything that would include the intel we need them to reveal, ie “Where is the ticking bomb?”

    So the opposition is not serious. It’s just opposition for the sake of opposition.

    boris (e173ce)

  78. How should the legislation be framed? In detail or as a set of first principles?

    I recommend the latter. Ban waterboarding and our experts will invent something that creates the same panic. Establish a principle and people can apply it in changing situations and under changing technology.

    It seems like the thread here is dominated by details and personalities. (“McCain said this,” or “Fake menstrual fluid is bad.”) Neither of those types of topics get us to the needed resolution – clear guidence on what will we allow our government to do to our enemies in the name of protecting us?

    whitehall (d89d7f)

  79. “Your’re all mean and nasty people and I don’t care what you say!”

    Yes, that is precisely it. I’m impressed; usually reading comprehension is not high on the winger virtue list.

    Once you start advocating torture as US policy, I really don’t care what you say. You’ve left decency behind.

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  80. Once you start advocating torture as US policy, I really don’t care what you say. You’ve left decency behind.

    Waterboarding and cold room isn’t torture. Once you start advocating no interrogation of terrorists, I really don’t care what you say. You’ve left survival behind.

    Don’t like interrogation? Don’t have one.

    The rest of us choose to excercise our right for self defense.

    boris (e173ce)

  81. Mr Frey posted:

    “Much of my opinion is based on (go ahead and laugh) trusting Bush when he says that these techniques are necessary.”

    That’s a very honest and straightforward explanation. But even if I were to choose to ignore the general danger blind trust might pose to freedom and democracy, the accuracy of this President’s past claims would make it very hard for me to have faith in what he says now.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  82. trust might pose to freedom and democracy

    A democratic republic requires a certain amount of trust and respect for the elected. A particular leader might betray that trust but the trust itself is not a danger to democracy. Sanctimonious nonsense is a poor substitute for reasonable discussion. Kinda sounds like you’re questioning somebodies patriotism.

    boris (e173ce)

  83. I can buy McCain grandstanding, but not Warner and Graham. They believe weakening the 1949 Geneva Convention(s) would make the war on terror ultimately “unwinnable.” And that any “clarification” that flunks a second Surpeme Court review substantively undermines U.S. legitimacy. We’ve squandered enough of that.

    Partisan junkies like Mitch McConnell gloat at the Democrats’ predicament to – in his words – “go home and explain a vote … to shut down an intelligence program that we know has helped save lives.”

    Does your gut tell you Bush would shut down the entire program to prevent detainees from seeing the evidence against them? Or to spare CIA agents all legal liability? Something isn’t being shared here and three maverick Republicans know what it is.

    steve (edba57)

  84. Does your gut tell you Bush would shut down the entire program

    One expects he won’t have to. Congress has avoided it’s national security obligations long enough. The SCOTUS Hamdan decision and the Bush ultimatum represent the judicial and executive branches demanding Congress do their job. The closer to an election the better.

    Did your gut tell you SCOTUS would shut down military tribunals?

    boris (e173ce)

  85. Afford GC protections, as currently applied per custom, to all rank and file soldiers, uniformed or otherwise.

    Create an exigency exception providing complete exemption from such protections, contingent on probable cause that this prisoner holds vital information concerning a specific and imminent threat to civilian lives.

    That is how we can give up nothing vital, protect our troops, and retain what moral authority we still have.

    biwah (324fa0)

  86. re the last bit about moral authority: I hold this to be a vital factor, but the comment was not meant as a snark. We could actually reverse the erosion of our moral backbone, for our own benefit first, and for the esteem of the rest of the world secondarily.

    biwah (324fa0)

  87. contingent on probable cause that this prisoner holds vital information concerning a specific and imminent threat to civilian lives.

    Like the August PDB ??? Ha !

    That’s so far from connecting the dots it actually erases the dots.

    boris (e173ce)

  88. do explain, windbag.

    biwah (324fa0)

  89. Have you been out there defending the adminstration that the August PDB lacked actionable intel regarding a “specific and imminent threat to civilian lives”?

    Link please.

    boris (e173ce)

  90. I haven’t taken any position regarding the interrogation of KSM, if that’s what you’re talking about(?)

    I do think there are competing and compelling interests in play when it comes to setting standards for interrogation. If we are serious about setting enduring rules of war that we would accept others applying against us, we had better make an attempt to harmonize them.

    biwah (324fa0)

  91. Lemonheads:

    Do you think it is “humiliating and degrading treatment” to specifically take actions with a detainee that fly in the face of his deeply held religious beliefs?

    As we’ve discussed before it depends, and that is the open interpretation problem of the GCs, something I’ve completely conceded. The problem we’re facing is that if we reinterpret or re-write our vision of what they mean, other countries are free to do the same. To codify the interpretation is an open invitation to other sovereigns and political groups to do the same, and we have not a whit of moral authority to say they can’t. That’s a dangerous precedent. Again, some of the articles, I admit are somewhat ambiguous. But to put in writing a particular vision of what we think they say means anyone can, and I don’t trust Hamas to come up with the same parameters we do. But we’ll have zero credibility to call them out on it if we pursue what Dubs wants to do. We can bloviate afterward that our interpretation is humane and yours is not, nyah nyah nyah. The rest of the world will see the last superpower on earth re-writing the rules of engagement and flipping everyone else off, and perception is important, folks. We’re not even close to fully at fault for why much of the world dislikes us greatly, but it is actions such as this that push them further away. And while I’m not a “let’s gather ’round the campfire and sing Kumbaya” kind of liberal, more hate equals more problems. There must be a better answer, and I expect the fatcats that I compensate well to come up with one.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  92. I’m not a “let’s gather ’round the campfire and sing Kumbaya” kind of liberal

    lol

    boris (e173ce)

  93. But seriously folks …

    Weigh the ludicrous notion that some captured US military personal will be mistreated because of waterboarding against the danger loss of intel poses for massive civilian casualties and increased military calualties.

    Military personel are somewhat attuned to the possibility of mistreatment by the enemy.

    Then weigh the preposterous notion that suffering massive civilian casualties for taking a sanctimonious apporach to conflict with terrorists will gain us moral standing in the world community. By way of what ? Sympathy ?

    Pass.

    boris (e173ce)

  94. “I’m not a “let’s gather ’round the campfire and sing Kumbaya” kind of liberal

    lol”

    I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt, and assume you were not being glib. ‘Cause I was trying to be truthful, something that goes a long way in creating a dialogue in these types of forums. But based on your past responses I’m not all that hopeful.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  95. Weigh the ludicrous notion that some captured US military personal will be mistreated because of waterboarding against the danger loss of intel poses for massive civilian casualties and increased military calualties.

    Anyone familiar with the torture and murder of PFC’s Tucker and Menchaca has already been disabused of that foolish notion.

    Pablo (efa871)

  96. To Charlie, Post #9,

    I would advise you to think, at least for a second, about your opinions before you post them.

    Have you ever heard of the Inquisition? You know, Christians torturing and/or killing non-Christians in attempts to convert them?

    Think. One of the key tenets of an insurgency/guerilla/terrorist movement is its anonymity. These people are indistinguishable from the average, peaceful citizen (at least until they make a move).

    So, what do you do, Charlie? Kill ’em all? Every Muslim man, woman, and child, dead, because they might have been terrorists?

    I can’t understand the kind of thinking that devalues human life in such a way. Sound like the musings of a…a…terrorist.

    Leviticus (ed6d31)

  97. B Moe (Post #23):

    The difference between your fraternity hazing (which your participation in makes you an insecure dumbass in the first place) and torturing ALLEGED terrorists is multifaceted:

    You received a (purported) benefit for your trials.

    You could leave whenever the hell you felt like it.

    Your suffering wasn’t prolonged.

    You WANTED to be there.

    We are talking about torturing people who could easily be innocent. There is a huge difference between what you put yourself through in order to feel more like a man and what is being done to those who have no interest in getting involved in such situations in the first place.

    Leviticus (ed6d31)

  98. We are talking about torturing people who could easily be innocent.

    Incorrect. We are talking about discomfort applied to known terrorists who might not have the intel being sought. Boo Hoo.

    boris (e173ce)

  99. in re: Pablo, Post #73,

    Why torture them? They may just tell you what you want to hear to stop the pain. This has always been a consistent problem with torture: If you put someone in enough pain, they will tell you whatever you want to hear, regardless of whether or not it’s accurate.

    I am really playing the sick realist here; assuming that I have no regard for the moral implications of torture, I still must respond to this dilemna.

    Leviticus (b987b0)

  100. If they will “tell you what you want” to avoid the discomfort wouldn’t that include the answer to the question “where is the ticking bomb”? In that case the only way to avoid more discomfort is to actually tell (if they know).

    What if they have no idea where it is?

    Again … they’re terrorists … Boo Hoo

    boris (e173ce)

  101. “Incorrect. We are talking about discomfort applied to known terrorists who might not have the intel being sought. Boo Hoo.”

    You hit the morally bankrupt jackpot, Boris, though not the first time. You don’t KNOW for sure if they’re known terrorists; it’s a confirmed fact some of the guys at Gitmo were rounded up from the street with no intel to prove they were anything other than on the wrong street corner at the wrong time.
    So torturing them for the intel you so desperately seek is not only counterproductive and counter-intuitive, not to mention statistically ineffective, you’ve now tortured (and yes, that’s the word) someone who doesn’t know what the hell you’re even looking for. Has the insanity of your position registered yet? THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET that will get you, or the country what it wants and needs. Humane treatment of prisoners is what first world societies do, even if it means thirst of vengeance is not quenched. Sorry about that empty feeling, but my America doesn’t give a f**k.
    And sorry to other posters, my anger over this issue has gotten the best of me.

    mmm...lemonheads (a9d53b)

  102. it’s a confirmed fact …

    That most people in jail are innocent. Just ask them.

    BTW nobody at Gitmo has been tortured. The individuals subjected to coercive interrogation, including waterboarding and cold room, were not rounded up off of street corners to meet a quota.

    The use of the word “fact” in your last post was amusing I have to admit. Funniest joke all day.

    boris (e173ce)

  103. Patterico said:

    “And (as I have said before) if coercive techniques don’t get us good information, I would think that would quickly become evident, and the Administration would stop using them for that reason alone.”

    This is incredibly naive. Admitting the techniques don’t work would have a bad effect on the careers (and reputations) of the people who have been advocating torture. Since these are also the people with the data on how well torture works it is safe to assume there will never be an admission that torture doesn’t work (absent a change in administration).

    James B. Shearer (f78c06)

  104. “So, what do you do, Charlie? Kill ‘em all? Every Muslim man, woman, and child, dead, because they might have been terrorists?”

    No, of course not. Only Arab, Iranian, Afghani and Pakistani males between the ages of fifteen and fifty, for the time being. We can consider expanding the category after seeing how that works out.

    nk (5e5670)

  105. “BTW nobody at Gitmo has been tortured.”

    And we’re right back to square one, which someone of your ilk is familiar with. I don’t have all the facts about Gitmo, and unlike you am not hesitant to admit ignorance on a subject. But what of Abu Ghraib? Say they weren’t tortured and you lose all credibility; ALL. There’s photos, it’s crazy.
    So we’re reviewing and debating the use of torture on detainees captured by the American government, and it’s been empirically proven we’ve done it, and now must come up with either a mea culpa or re-write the rules to justify our behavior. What’s it gonna be, boris? Retroactively re-write the rules to suit our need for vengeance, or act like like the first-world nation we purport to be? Oh, yeah, there’s a third option. Do it not so “secretly”, thumb our noses at the rest of the world and continue to foment hate and distrust of us. ‘Cause that will really help in the “war on terra”.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  106. But what of Abu Ghraib?

    The illegal unsanctioned and prosecuted treatment at Abu Ghraib has not been advocated for adoption by congress as clarification of Geneva Convention Article 3.

    The reasonable basis for discussion here is the treatment of the high value terrorist leaders in secret CIA interrogation sites who were subjected to waterboarding and cold room to obtain intel used to save the lives of American servicemen and civilians.

    If you don’t want to discuss the issue on those terms, then be prepared for some well deserved ridicule.

    boris (e173ce)

  107. thumb our noses at the rest of the world and continue to foment hate and distrust

    When the “rest of the world” starts to demonstrate actual outrage toward violence and murder over cartoons, false accusations, and imagined insults, then their opinion of the US (or Israel for that matter) might be worth considering. Till then, not so much.

    boris (e173ce)

  108. Boris, I hate repeating myself but I feel I must, in the interests of the reputation of this country.
    We’ve always been against torture.
    ALWAYS.
    We’ve sanctioned other nations for the treatment of their nationals, and condemned publicly and repeatedly any nation that has endorsed the practice.
    Now, after over forty years of abiding by Geneva Convention standards, and condemning nations who did otherwise, we’re suddenly (yes, very suddenly) debating the definition of torture because we suffered one horrific terrorist attack. I will never forget those moments, but I refuse, like the Israelis do, to piss my pants and shred the constitution, and forget what we stand for over one horrific attack.
    Grow a pair.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  109. Waterboarding and cold room is not torture. Grow a brain.

    boris (e173ce)

  110. And a helluva lot more went on at Abu Ghraib, so we don’t know if more went on at other facilities or not.
    We can debate waterboarding and cold room forever, and you’d be wrong forever.
    But if you condone the practices used at Abu Ghraib, I don’t know what to say. America is against torture, at least my America, and we used it, and we must stop using it. For our citizens, for our soldiers and for our consciences.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  111. America supports using waterboarding and cold room on high placed terrorist leaders to obtain intel in order to save the lives of American servicemen and civilians.

    War has never excluded the use of interrogation for spies, war criminals, and illegal combatants.

    boris (e173ce)

  112. And a helluva lot more went on at Abu Ghraib,

    And we put the responsible people in jail for that. You know about that part, don’t you?

    so we don’t know if more went on at other facilities or not.

    We also don’t know if they plied them with women and wine. Are you going to jump to conclusions based on what you don’t know?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  113. But if you condone the practices used at Abu Ghraib, I don’t know what to say.

    Who said that? When?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  114. But if you condone the practices used at Abu Ghraib, I don’t know what to say.

    Who said that? When?

    Comment by Pablo — 9/19/2006 @ 5:05 pm

    Then at least we’ve found some common ground, I guess. I’m used to debating the types that agreed with Limbaugh, ie “that was just hazing” sort of nonsense, and if I lumped you in with those types incorrectly than I apologize.
    But I still find it disconcerting there’s a public debate about where interrogation ends and torture begins. Why now? We’ve had a set of rules in place, and I’m not naive enough to think we haven’t stepped over the line a time or two in the interests of national security. But again, why now? Are we in any more danger than we were thirty years ago? I’d argue far less with the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Are we just more scared? ‘Cause that’s a lousy reason to abandon some of the principles that make us a first world nation. We purport to set an example on all fronts – I’d like to think we still do.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  115. “And we put the responsible people in jail for that. You know about that part, don’t you?”

    I didn’t know that part.

    I know that some low-ranking soldiers were imprisoned and that one general, who insists that she was made a scapegoat, was demoted. But an independent investigation was blocked by the White House and Congress, so how do you know that those responsible were punished?

    rick (ea2ac3)

  116. The United States had never been attacked on US soil by the Soviet Union or Eastern block that I can remember. In fact, I don’t know if any of our embassies were ever destroyed, soldiers killed, or warships attacked as they have been repeatedly since the 1980’s, with 9/11 being the most recent and most destructive to date.

    Obviously, you can argue that 100,000+ were killed by the Soviets and Chinese indirectly through Korea and Vietnam, but those were soldiers in an area of combat, not an Embassy in Africa, a Navy vessel in a “friendly” port, or NY city on a September morning.

    The threat of nuclear attack is an interesting question. There certainly was (is) a threat from the Soviet Union (Russia), but they were sane enough that they did not want to get blown up as well. I think it is clear that there are many out there, likely including the current head of state of Iran, that would not hesitate to use one if they had it and a way to deliver it.

    What is appropriate treatment of a prisoner who knows the details of an impending attack that will kill thousands of people? The same as someone held overnight in a jail cell for shoplifting??? I don’t think so. I have never purposefully tortured someone, although in years past I probably said things that undermined a person’s dignity. I have had to stay awake 36 hrs plus multiple times a week, stand without sitting hours on end, and wonder when I’ll be able to get a meal. From what I understand, many of our military experience much worse, including waterboarding, as part of their training.

    Geneva Convention articles were to promote humane treatment of individuals, be they soldiers or civilians during a time of war between two nations, correct? In WWII terms, Sgt. Rock has taken a village in the advance into Germany. Siegfried (the name of an old friend) comes out in a German uniform with his hands up. He is only 17, he is not part of a trap, and he is not carrying a bomb to go off under his coat when Cpl. Jones goes to search him. G.C. meant we all agreed to treat this individual with dignity of a soldier fighting under orders of his commanding officers within “the rules of war”. No need to take our anger at Hitler and Auschwitz out on him. He may have even lost friends or family at Auschwitz himself.

    In one respect, to treat terrorists the same we would Siegfried undermines having G.C. at all and is an injustice to Siegfried. Why would any country agree to abide by the G.C. when they know we will whether or not they do? Why should Siegfried receive the same treatment as those who have killed without being in uniform, have set traps while faking surrender, plant bombs on dead comrades left behind?

    If the G.C. articles were to be valid among signers of the agreement, what role does it have concerning “non-signers”? If I sign a contract, in general, with Tom, Dick, and Harry, do I have any obligation to treat Joe the same way when Joe refused to sign the agreement?

    As previously said by others, when have our POW’s in the hands of our enemies been treated humanely? In our current conflict the typical treatment of our soldiers who are captured includes torture, murder, and mutilation (unless they have escaped, been rescued, or perhaps came under control of a group not as sadistic).

    A link to an article by Andrew McCarthy, who I believe was the federal prosecutor for WTC bombing in 1991:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YzM4MGUyNWQ5MDQ1YzIwNjA5NGU5YTQ4OTU1OGE5Mjc=

    One last but important thought. I had a patient who shared some of his Korean War experience with me (under the influence of a little ETOH, when sober he didn’t talk much). He told of two occasions. One, he came to the crest of a hill and came eye to eye with a North Korean soldier, after a few moments eye to eye they both backed down. The second instance he was jumped from behind by a soldier with a knife. Apparently he sensed the person just in time to grab the hand holding the knife to his throat. He told me, “All of a sudden, I realized that only one of us was going to walk away, and I decided it was going to be me”. The point is that while he was a soldier in combat and had a general idea of the danger, there was another level of immediate awareness that motivated him to another level of action. Most of us aren’t even aware we are on a battle field, let alone aware there is a need to act in self defense.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  117. rick-

    Do you remember who first made public the happenings at Abu Ghraib? It was the military, months prior to the press releasing photos. it wasn’t considered a “story” until the photos were available for shock value.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  118. “Do you remember who first made public the happenings at Abu Ghraib? It was the military, months prior to the press releasing photos.”

    CBS and The New Yorker magazine reported on the story in April of 2004; would you be so kind as to offer the link or reference to the military’s press release or any other government public pronouncement on the scandal “months” prior to April, 2004?

    rick (ea2ac3)

  119. Darby reported the abuse in January 2004.

    The internal criminal investigation was announced in January 2004 and concluded in February 2004, and announced as such.

    Criminal charges were announced in March, 2004.

    Tagubu’s report (classified secret) was finalized

    4 April 2004.

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/US_Army_15-6_Report_of_Abuse_of_Prisoners_in_Iraq

    The CBS broadcast was hastened by the Hersh story, which was inspired by the classified Tagubu report.

    Sorry, the media may have grabbed the credit, but we’d been cleaning up the mess for January Febuary March April … at least three months.


    Other countries already interpret the GC as they see fit.

    Waterboarding is … different … than swimming in freezing water. Been there, done both.

    htom (412a17)

  120. Thanks, htom:

    Wikipedia also offers the following
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse:

    “On December 21, 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union released copies of FBI internal memos they had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act concerning alleged torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. One memo dated May 22, 2004 was from someone whose name was blanked out but was described in the memo as “On Scene Commander — Baghdad”.[48] He referred explicitly to an Executive Order that sanctioned the use of extraordinary interrogation tactics by U.S. military personnel. The methods explicitly mentioned as being sanctioned are sleep deprivation, hooding prisoners, playing loud music, removing all detainees’ clothing, forcing them to stand in so-called “stress positions,” and the use of dogs. The author also claimed that the Pentagon had limited use of the techniques by requiring specific authorization from the chain of command. The author identifies “physical beatings, sexual humiliation or touching” as being outside the Executive Order. This was the first internal evidence since the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse affair became public in April, 2004 that forms of abusive coercion and torture of captives had been mandated by the President.”

    The reference then links to the ACLU site which then links directly to the redacted memo. http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI.121504.4940_4941.pdf

    Also from the same article:

    “Documents obtained by the Washington Post show that the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez authorized the use of military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns and sensory deprivation as interrogation methods in Abu Ghraib.[54] In an interview for her hometown newspaper The Signal, General Karpinski claimed to have seen unreleased documents from Rumsfeld that authorized these tactic for Iraqi prisoners.[55] Both Sanchez and Rumsfeld have denied authorization.”

    None of those now in prison for these crimes had the authority to issue an Executive Order or any of the authorizations for the abuse, which may make the claim “And we put the responsible people in jail for that” appear a bit questionable.

    rick (ea2ac3)

  121. “Waterboarding is … different … than swimming in freezing water. Been there, done both.”

    Does that mean you have been swimming and have been waterboarded or that you have been swimming and have waterboarded others?

    rick (ea2ac3)

  122. It seems odd that whenever I see lefty debate on the geneva conventions, it seems they haven’t bothered to read them. I actually suggest using Wikipedia (first time I ever said that huh??)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Geneva_Convention

    Plain as day they list who and when the conventions apply… (what they don’t allways apply??)

    This part sets out the overall parameters for GCIII:
    Articles 1 and 2 cover which parties are bound by GCIII
    Article 2 specifies when the parties are bound by GCIII

    So let’s look at article 2 and 3, specifically…

    Article 2
    In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.
    The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.
    Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

    Article 3
    In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
    1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
     violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
     taking of hostages;
     outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
     the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

    I see we immediately argue whether we are violating article 3, but the answer is actually in article 2. Take a closer look.

    Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

    So if we go to war with Canada (example,) and Canada is not a signatory party to the GC, they are not protected. However, because we are a signatory party, we must still remain within GC if we have another conflict going on with Brazil.

    However, if during this conflict, Canada decides to sign the GC, and abide by the GC, then we must afford them the protections of the GC. Implying that until that condition is met… No protections…

    The entire purpose of the GC is not to give us “moral standing.” It is to protect our soldiers and civilians. If you abuse our guys, we will abuse yours. If you treat our guys reasonably, we will treat yours reasonably.

    That’s how treaties work. Sounds obvious no?

    Apparently not.

    Article 3 is as relevant to this conversation as debating whether Glen Reynolds wears boxers or tighty whities.-lee
    +++

    leesus (d737be)

  123. htom,

    Thank you for providing the reference. I knew it to be true but wouldn’t have been able to get it for rick.

    rick,

    As far as who was responsible for what at Abu Ghraib, that is one issue I will need to pass on (so many topics, so little time).
    My bet is that htom has experienced both, with the waterboarding as part of his training in case he was ever captured by a country not as friendly as ours.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  124. My impression is that the complaints about torture there pre-dated any of those events that were charged or verified; perhaps a case of the complaint causing the crime? (“See, they’re complaining that we’re doing x, let’s do x!”)

    Swimming in freezing water is (at least in my family) done in the spring and fall putting out and taking in the dock. I’ve been tempted a few times to go and join the Polar Swim Club on 1 Jan; here in Minnesota there can get to be a crowd. So far I’ve avoided that, though.

    Waterboarding is done to people by people and it’s not voluntary for more than the first second or two; my experience is from military training. There seem to be several “methods” that go by this name, and from experience and what I’ve heard of the others, all of them would fall into the “threat of death” prohibition.

    htom (412a17)

  125. “threat of death”

    Nonsense. It activates a reflex panic associated with drowning that all lifelong swimmers are familiar with. Your exaggeration is lame.

    The body goes rigid, the eyes pop wide open the mouth … well anybody who’s been there knows.

    boris (e173ce)

  126. tag check

    boris (e173ce)

  127. Waterboarding is … different … than swimming in freezing water

    Nobody said they were the same. Straw dummy.

    Lets propose a contest …

    Group 1 … People from southern states who never learned to swim.

    Group 2 … Lifelong avid outdoor swimmers from far northern states.

    Some big buck prize mmoney. The contest will pit contestants against each other using waterboarding and cold room. I’ll be betting on the northern swimmers.

    boris (e173ce)

  128. This thread is still throwing around strawmen and causation / correlation like it’s going out of style. Do we, as a nation condone torture as a standing policy? Dubs infers we do, or at least wants to get us there. I, personally will object, not that my stand will make a damn difference, anyway. Please, folks, talk to someone from Israel or Northern Ireland, people who have dealt with the daily stress of terrorism, thousands of times more direct and real than we’ve ever dealt with. Some may have said hang them all then, but most remain quite proud they maintained their principles and dignity.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  129. Bush is right. Everyone is out to get us, so let’s get them first. Let’s bomb all foreigners back to the stone age so that they fear us. We need more fear and division in this world. And let’s not stop there. Let’s jail all Democrats and torture Muslims. And then let’s make Bush king. Death to anyone who disagrees!

    Loyal Republican (ff3919)

  130. Very helpful, Loyal Democrat.

    Patterico (de0616)

  131. You’re so busted, LD… if you’re going to be dishonest, can you at least not be stupid and obvious?

    Wait, dishonest, stupid, obvious… you are a Democrat!

    :-p

    Christoph (9824e6)


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