Torture Memos

I have been reading the torture memo’s recently released by the US, and note that the following comment at the end of a memo from Steven Bradbury (Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General) to the CIA – note that the text is exactly as it is in the PDF:

Finally, we emphasize that these are issues about which reasonable persons may disagree. Our task has been made more diffIcult by the imprecision of the statute and the relatiwabsence ofjudicial gUidance, but we have applied our best reading of the law to the specific facts that you have provided.

When you read the full memo, I believe that any “reasonable” person would conclude that the “techniques” would constitute torture as defined in the law (18 U.S.C, §§ 2340-2340A). And note yje “the specific facts you have provided” part.

He says elsewhere in the memo that:

As we have previou’sly advised, however, ‘-‘courts tend to take atotality”of-the-circumstaoces approach and consider an entire course of conduct to detennine whether torture has occurred,”

And:

In conducting this analysis, there are two additional ill’eBS ofgeneral concern. First, it is possible that the application ‘of certain techniques might render the detainee unusually susceptible to physical orniental pain or suffering.

So it seems that they did have concerns that the “techniques” could be construed by “reasonable” persons as being torture.

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200 Responses

  1. Joni,

    Do you believe that all of the following techniques should be called torture?

    These ten techniques are: (1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap (insult slap), (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box, and (l0) the waterboard.

    (Detailed descriptions in linked memo.)

    All four memos at this link.

  2. No Tony – I do not believe that individually some of them could be construed to be called torture, which is why the memos are careful to state that courts tend to take the totality of the course of conduct. That is, when they are used in conjunction they could be considered to be torture.

    But I do think that a reasonable person would conclude that cramped confinement, stress positions, sleep depravation and waterboarding certainly do deserve to be called torture.

    In fact, a footnote on page 43 of the Bradbury memo says:

    Nevertheless, for purposes of our analysis, we will assume that tbe physiological Sensation ofdrowning associated Willi the use of the waterboard may constitute a “threat of imminent death”, within the meaning ofsections 2340·2340A

    Would you be happy for any Australia law enforcement to use these against yourself or a member of your family?

  3. Joni, I agree with you about waterboarding. The other three you mention I’m not sure about.

    Personal experience is one way of knowing for sure (something, thankfully, we are unlikely to have), as Christopher Hitchins did with waterboarding.

  4. APA Rules on Interrogation Abuse: Psychologists’ Group Bars Member Participation in Certain Techniques

    Psychologists who witness interrogators using mock executions, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleep deprivation are required to intervene to stop such abuse, to report the activities to superiors and to report the involvement of any other psychologists in such activities to the association. It could then strip those professionals of their membership….Also ruled out of bounds are the exploitation of prisoners’ phobias, the use of mind-altering drugs, hooding, forced nakedness, the use of dogs to frighten detainees, exposing prisoners to extreme heat and cold, physical assault and threatening the use of such techniques against a prisoner or a prisoner’s family.

    American Psychological Association Policies and Actions Related to Detainee Welfare and Professional Ethics in the Context of Interrogation and National Security

  5. Why will the US not bring charges against those responsible for waterboarding? Remember that they have charged others with this crime:

    In 1947, the U.S. charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for waterboarding a U.S. civilian. Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

    And:

    In 1983, Texas Sheriff James Parker was charged, along with three of his deputies, for handcuffing prisoners to chairs, placing towels over their faces, and pouring water on the cloth until they gave what the officers considered to be confessions. The sheriff and his deputies were all convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.

  6. The author undergoes the controversial drowning technique, at the hands of men who once trained American soldiers to resist—not inflict—it.

    Really? Well, who trained them to inflict it, then, and who actually inflicted it on Hitchens?

    Has anyone else noticed that ‘SERE’ training IS torture training? Ya, just ‘reverse engineer’ SERE training, which is umm people trained in torture SERE teaching new peeps how torture is done how to resist so they’re umm proficient in the workings of torture immune. We don’t torture, and haven’t been handing out manuals and training since the 60s on torture SERE to umm our friends all over the world, including famously in a variety of Sth American countries during the 80s, and more recently umm Abu Ghraib and Bagram…and possibly other places.

  7. Another point you might like to note about the memos and how the legal opinions were expressed is that the threshold established for long-term mental harm was at the intensity of the mental pain and suffering at the point that mental pain was administered, so that the pain and suffering must represent a permanent and irreversible relic of ‘torture’, and other long-term potential mental harms like simple depression or PTSD are ignored. I found it interesting that a person had to be ‘tortured’ in such a way that they were permanently fubared if an instance of torture was to count as torture per the reasoning. Quite convenient that: inflict severe mental pain for a bit, or even repeatedly, and so long as no one can tell that they were tortured over-stressed, it doesn’t count. I’m not sure the APA is so easily fooled, though (see above).

  8. “The Agency also seems to have told the OLC that the waterboarding technique was routinely used by the U.S. military to train thousands of service personnel in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) — and that those who went through the training had not suffered any lasting physical or mental health effects.”

    Hmm….You mean we “tortured” are own service personnel? I wonder why none have come forward to tell of the horrific event and the long lasting “mental pain” it has caused them? Why isn the world communtiy outraged?

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1892708,00.html?iid=tsmodule

  9. But why would anyone want to torture another person in the first place? And why are there now all these justifications?

  10. You mean we “tortured” are own service personnel?

    For a self-proclaimed lawyer you don’t seem to handle distinctions very well.

    Yes, “we” inflicted torture techniques on “our” personnel but in a significantly different fashion and environment. For example, “our” personnel knew that:

    It was “our” people doing it to them
    It was a training exercise
    It would be of very limited duration
    There was no intent to actually inflict serious harm on the trainees
    The experience would be valuable and thus ultimately desirable to have had, should they ever be captured by enemies who used those techniques
    The trainees could presumably opt out at any time

    How many of those apply to the US torture of “detainees”?

    And yes, some of these types of training exercises resulted in significant and permanent harm to the trainees. I remember a report of a training exercise in Guantanamo where the trainers got a bit too enthusiastic in demonstrating how to beat up the subject who was one of their colleagues – and was left with significant and permanent brain damage.

  11. G.I attacked during training.

    If it’s one of “ours”, it’s called an attack – i.e. an assault.

    If it’s a “detainee”, we try to pretend it’s not by using euphemisms.

  12. And let us not forget: after WWII, Japanese soldiers who’d waterboarded their American prisoners were put to death by the US military for committing unconscionable acts of torture.

    From: http://bisbah.blogspot.com/2007/11/quick-history-of-waterboarding.html

    1947: A Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, is convicted by an Allied court of war crimes. Among the charges are that he waterboarded John Henry Burton, a US civilian. Asano is sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

    One of the main reasons that the US was an original signatory viz the UN Convention is because they were appalled at the treatment of US service personnel by the Japanese WW2 and as per above, this included waterboarding.

  13. I note Obama saying more than once that the US is not going to prosecute those who tortured (and is making noises about shielding those who created the policy). This proclamation itself is a violation of the Convention Against Torture, which has the force of law in the United States, and which thus undermines the rule of law.

    Nice one, Obama.

    As one commenter on Greenwald’s site wrote:

    …the next time you’re pulled over by a police officer for speeding, quote Barack Obama: “This is a time for reflection, not retribution.” See if that works. If not, move to: “It’s time to focus on the future, not look to the past.” Criminal defense attorneys should try that on juries and judges, too.

    Anyone reckon that would work?

  14. Do you believe that all of the following techniques should be called torture?

    Depends.

    What if you do several or all of them to the victim? And the victim has no way to avoid them, or to foresee any end to the treatment?

    You reckon any one of these on their own, under such circumstances (abuse without foreseeable end) could rise to the level of “severe pain or suffering, whether mental of physical”, as defined in the UN Convention Against Torture?

    What if the victim is still suffering from three gunshot wounds when you do? (See “Update” here).

  15. Loth..just reading between the lines. It is my belief that it would be impossible to prosecute the US personnel and contractors because they did so with the approval of the former US government.

    I think that this issue isn’t going to disappear no more than the Nazis wished that Auschwitz would disappear.

    As per the Jewish nation, we might have wait a decade or so until the guilty are brought to justice.

  16. Depends.

    I take your point, Lotharsson, but my own point, as stated earlier on another thread, is the risk of debasing the language, and diminishing the meaning of the word torture, if we lump all of these questionable techniques under that one particular heading.

  17. I take your point, Lotharsson, but my own point, as stated earlier on another thread, is the risk of debasing the language, and diminishing the meaning of the word torture, if we lump all of these questionable techniques under that one particular heading.

    Fair point.

    But my response was attempting to point out that your question can’t be answered without further presumptions about how those techniques are used. Some techniques are clearly almost always torture. The answer for other techniques depends more heavily on the additional circumstances.

    Many readers of your question will normalize the experiences (often subconsciously) because they’ve experienced episodes with similar elements that they can relate to (e.g. perhaps hitting a wall, sleep deprivation) without major ongoing trauma. What they DON’T factor in is all the other elements that change the nature of the experience dramatically (unless they are torture survivors themselves, or have read about those types of experiences).

    Here’s another example of the same pattern, patterned after Donald Rumsfeld’s question about forced standing:

    Should the technique of dripping water on the forehead be called torture?

    Surely not?! Heck, I and millions of others take a shower under millions of drops every night, and you don’t see Time writing about the mass trauma caused to generations of shower takers!

    And of course, once again, it depends heavily on information not contained in the question (and not readily imaginable by many readers). Which is why this type of question has been employed prominently in the public sphere by apologists for the users of those techniques.

  18. It is my belief that it would be impossible to prosecute the US personnel and contractors because they did so with the approval of the former US government.

    Others have also advanced that argument. And it seems to be the political reality in the US.

    But it means that the US is blatantly thumbing its nose at international treaties such as the Convention Against Torture which explicitly states

    Article 2

    1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

    And later:

    Article 12
    Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committee in any territory under its jurisdiction.

    This act of treaty abrogration will be noted by any country negotiating a future treaty with the US, because the presumption must be that the US might at sometime in the future unilaterally find it no longer convenient to honour any such treaty.

    It also means that the US is shielding and abetting those alleged to have committed war crimes, which will be (and has already been) thrown back in their faces by every repressive tinpot dictator from now until the memory fades, whenever the US gets on its high horse and starts lecturing other countries about human rights and the like.

    Outside the US prosecutions are a different story, as the case in Spain shows. But there are considerable practical difficulties in actually getting anyone into court there.

  19. I suspect that this is a stink that will just not go away for the US. And deservedly so.

    They allowed their military and legal systems to be hijacked by a bunch of exceptionalist idiots who thought that the normal rules of civilised conduct did not apply and that they could get away with doing anything to anybody, without repercussions, all in the name of fighting terrorists.

    And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

    I don’t see why Obama doesn’t just throw Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeldt et al to the wolves and let justice take its course.

    Doing so might go some way to removing the stain these fools have put on their country’s reputation. And what does he owe those arseholes anyway? They trashed the country with their ruinous fantasies and left him to try and pick-up the pieces.

    The last president to give a blanket pardon to his predecessor was Gerald Ford (who handed a get-out-of-jail-free card to Tricky Dicky), and this conduct doomed both he and his party.

    You’d reckon Obama would learn something from this.

  20. Great thread, some excellent mental rumination for me from Legion, Lothar…, Tony etc.

    Reminded me why it’s worth digesting intelligent opinions.

  21. The New York Times says it has seen a classified version of one memo which says self-confessed September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding 183 times.

    subjected to waterboarding 183 times. Clearly an extremely effective technique that is gauranteed to succeed. And if you don’t get the answers you want first time, then simply do it again. QED.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/21/2548053.htm

    As for the Haditha Massacre. Never happened apparently. Lol.

  22. And the other guy was waterboarded 83 times. As another blog says, what is it with the CIA and the number 83?

  23. Rahm Emanuel sez NO Bush officials should be prosecuted over the torture memos

    EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either, and that’s not the place that we go — as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement — not the letter, the statement — in that second paragraph, “this is not a time for retribution.” It’s time for reflection.

    Obama reprieve for CIA illegal: U.N. rapporteur

    President Barack Obama’s decision not to prosecute CIA interrogators who used waterboarding on terrorism suspects amounts to a breach of international law, the U.N. rapporteur on torture said.

    Rush Limbaugh supports torture by attacking McCain for being “broken” by it

    LIMBAUGH: The idea that torture doesn’t work– that’s been put out from John McCain on down– You know, for the longest time McCain said torture doesn’t work then he admitted in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last summer that he was broken by North Vietnamese. So what are we to think here?

    Of course, it depends what your definition of “work” is. If you mean “will say anything the torturer wants, including complete and utter b*llsh*t, that can be used to frighten the populace and justify all sorts of official/state actions”, then everyone knows it “works”…

  24. “As for the Haditha Massacre. Never happened apparently. Lol.”

    Yeah, just ask nemesis12, how dare you infer that supermoral US combatants would ever have undertaken such attrocities! you should be ashamed of yourself N5.

    The victims obviously raped & murdered themselves, with US weapons, to smear the good name of Bushco.TM.
    The alternative is far too mentally damaging to contemplate if’n you adopt a “my country right or wrong” worldview.

  25. And if you don’t get the answers you want first time, then simply do it again.

    Yep. See the earlier NY Times article about Abu Zubaidah which claims that whilst the Bush administration thought he was Al-Qaeda’s chief-of-operations, and that he actually arranged a lot of travel for Al-Qaeda members, he wasn’t even a member of Al-Qaeda.

    The funny thing about torture is that it leads you to dismiss the truth even when you’re presented with it. If they tell you the truth and you don’t believe it, you think they’re lying and need more torture before they’ll tell the truth. If they tell you lies that you like, you think they’re telling the truth (unless you’re actually trying to produce a false statement). Kind of like the Salem witch trials – if they drowned, they were innocent; if they swam they were guilty and were executed. Either way the actual truth has no bearing on the outcome.

    From that article:

    Noor al-Deen, a Syrian, was a teenager when he was captured along with Abu Zubaida at a Pakistani safe house. Perhaps because of his youth and agitated state, he readily answered U.S. questions, officials said, and the questioning went on for months, first in Pakistan and later in a detention facility in Morocco. His description of Abu Zubaida was consistent: The older man was a well-known functionary with links to al-Qaeda, but he knew little detailed information about the group’s operations.

    Noor al-Deen was not believed, but was apparently more correct than the interrogators. The rest of the article talks about how the administration was so convinced Abu Zubaida was terribly important that they redoubled their efforts…

  26. For those who never got to the “now they write memos” link I posted earlier, an excerpt.

    In response to reports that:

    “We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history,” Obama said in a statement. “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”

    The author writes:

    Here’s what a more honest, if less eloquent, president might have said:

    “My fellow Americans, the last 50 years have been an uninterrupted sequence of dark, painful chapters. We institutionalized torture right after World War II and we exported it everywhere we could, from Vietnam to Greece to Iran to Latin America. We remember the Phoenix program; we remember the multibillion-dollar CIA torture project in the 50s; we remember El Mozote; we remember the CIA torture manual, KUBARK, and its wise recommendation, “The electric current should be known in advance”; we remember our training of SAVAK; we remember the School of the Americas; we remember our Salvadoran trainees who raped and killed nuns. The one thing we don’t remember is if there were ever a time when we didn’t teach and practice torture.

    “The only difference this time is that top government lawyers were dumb enough to authorize this crap in writing. […]

  27. And Limbaugh conveniently omits what McCain actually told them. Here is a direct quote from him in 1973:

    They wanted a statement saying that I was sorry for the crimes that I had committed against North Vietnamese people and that I was grateful for the treatment that I had received from them.

  28. Mr Obama apparently believes waterboarding had some effectiveness (from N5’s link):

    Mr Obama says he put an end to the interrogation technique [waterboarding] because America needs to deploy both its power and the power of its values.

    He says the change in policy means CIA operatives have a harder job, but he is confident they will meet the challenge.

  29. Tony, are “means to an end” always an ultimate justification in your opinion?

    Me, I don’t think so.
    To allow this is to, incorrectly, presume that “we” are pre-ordained to hold the upper hand in perpetuity.

  30. Tony, are “means to an end” always an ultimate justification in your opinion?

    No, and I don’t agree with waterboarding. I was merely pointing out Obama’s ‘flexible’ language – this time designed to appease the CIA operatives.

  31. Maybe we should paraphrase JFK:

    We choose to not torture and to not do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

  32. According to Lotharsson’s link, no President since WWII is blameless, not even JFK:

    The one thing we don’t remember is if there were ever a time when we didn’t teach and practice torture.

    http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/002933.html

  33. I agree re Obama.

    We should expect that same, if not more pronounced, “flexibility” from all appeasers in positions of authority…& by that I mean all in positions of “democratic” authority, of whatever stripe.

    Me, I’d be happy to see him unambiguously condemn that which deserves condemnation, front & centre. No blurring or concessions to Teh Club.
    That this will never happen says more about what “we” the people are willing to swallow, or indeed ignore, than it does of Obama (who is not & never has been my messiah or ideological muster point).

  34. Lotharsson,

    “For example, “our” personnel knew that”

    I see, so it doesn’t really cause “severe pain” but we are discussing the POSSIBLITY of “mental” anguish now in respect to “torture”? All things being equal, we have to devise techniques that incontrovertibly will not cause mental pain either now or in the future? Give me a break…….

    “Guantanamo where the trainers got a bit too enthusiastic in demonstrating how to beat up the subject who was one of their colleagues – and was left with significant and permanent brain damage.”

    Umm….I would submit to you that “beatings” are a different thing all together…That being said, I am always a bit suspicious of such claims…..Oh yes, I am hardly a lawyer, English just happens to be my first language…….Just in case you didn’t understand the CBS story, it was an “extraction drill” that got out of hand not a “interrogation tactic”….The same kind of “extractions” that take place every day in our penal systems without a whim from the “stop the torture crowd”…..Anyhow, sad story all the same….

  35. Hello Sparta. How was breakfast?

  36. Well hello Miglo, not bad. Thanks for asking….

  37. I’ll be having mine in about 7 hours.

  38. Miglo,

    Your up late?

  39. I was.

  40. Back in March Sparta said this:

    Evidence would be nice for a change? Oh, maybe the same damning evidence provided by the likes of some here that is so damning it has yet to produce one indictment? You mean that genius?????? Your camp is the one making the accusation, the burden is on you. Do you not understand that or has the wine gone to your head?

    (notice the subtle sarcastic attacks)

    Now that there is evidence (as he always wants) he now wants to change the topic to “extraction drills” and again a definition of “torture”.

    Your country signed the convention on torture, had the Commander in Chief say that the US does not torture, and there is actual evidence now from the CIA that they tortured and you think that is OK?

    Let’s actually quote from the convention:

    For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession

    You now have Cheney and other Bush administration people hitting the media to justify their actions – saying that the torture worked and that makes it justified. Torture is wrong in all cases. In all countries at all times.

    I think we have a way to go before this saga is put to bed.

  41. Hmmm, a definitional debate. Thought HD might like this one, too (it has zombies, well people being raised from the dead and rekilled at least).

  42. But, yes, none of those techniques will ever be repeated, apparently; even if that appears to make life a bit harder in fighting the better side of history’s good fight. Not giving into the temptations of the forces of evil disturbing disunity separating America from its ideals and its extraordinarily special ‘God bless’, apparently, is what differentiates America from its external (and internal) adversaries, who have no scruples and are not constrained by a constitution, or by a belief in freedom of speech, or representation in court, or rule of law.

  43. joni, on April 21st, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    It’s all a numerical mystery to me, Nostradamus, roving Ambassador-for-Torture-and-Lying-to-the-UN John Negroponte, and Dick Cheney, I’m sure…Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (1983).

  44. While I completely disagree with torture my fear is that those using torture and killings for their own ends will result as the victors in the long run. After all the strongest in the animal kingdom are the victors.

    We see all over the planet capitulation by democratically elected governments to the wishes of violent minoroties who oppose everything we stand for.

    Pakistan has now agreed to the instigation of Sharia Law in some of its provinces simply to appease the violent and killing extremists.

  45. If Cheney and Bush are going to be demonised over these memos, I think this is fair enough:

    With interrogation docs out, Cheney asks Obama to now release secret memos on what those techniques discovered

    …But what bothers Cheney this week is not so much that President Obama released the Justice Dept’s memos on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques in recent years.

    It’s that the new president simultaneously withheld other classified memos that show what those interrogation techniques produced, the information that, Cheney says, those interrogations successfully helped prevent another attack on the homeland since 9/11. The results too, should be part of the national security debate, Cheney adds.

    “One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure,” Cheney tells Hannity, “is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn’t put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.”

    “I formally asked that they be declassified now. I haven’t announced this up until now, I haven’t talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.”

    “And I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions.”

  46. The difficulty with using torture as a method of extracting information relates directly to it’s accuracy.

    I should imagine that if I was personally waterboarded that I would say anything just to make them stop.

  47. lol, nice cartoons Legion!

    The maggot encrusted skull has my day (off) off to a fine start.
    The sun is shining brightly so I’m gonna head outside to commit genocide via chemical warfare on the throng of weeds outside Teh Buffalo Lodge. The bigger ones I will take pleasure in torturing with an edged instrument & probably ultimately dismembering.
    As it’s school holz here I’ll be able to induct my daughter into the fine art of torture & genocide also.

    Happy days!

  48. “Now that there is evidence (as he always wants) he now wants to change the topic to “extraction drills” and again a definition of “torture”.”

    Joni, do you ever actually read the posts before snapping off a reply? Lotharsson was describing an incident that had nothing to do with “water-boarding” but a cell “extraction” which is commonly used in all US prisons to remove unruly inmates from their cells by force…

    Now to your evidence….I am hardly changing the topic brainy, I have held to the same contention since the beginning. What I am at add odds here with is the definition of torture in regards to the legality you and others seem to feel has been broken. Try leaving the emotion at the door for a change and you might see where I am coming from…..I still hold to that contention…I PERSONALLY don’t feel water-boarding is torture, very unpleasant, something I wouldn’t want to go through to be sure but I have difficulty chalking it up there with other acts like bamboo shoots up the fingernails, beatings etcetera…The truth of the matter is, this will be at issue if this ever goes to trial which I think it won’t. We might see a couple of circus commissions to satisfy your group but most who are subpoena will ignore the order unless given immunity or simply won’t show..I don’t see anybody going to jail, least of all an ex president!

    “Your country signed the convention on torture, had the Commander in Chief say that the US does not torture, and there is actual evidence now from the CIA that they tortured and you think that is OK?”

    Thank you, I had no idea…No, it is your opinion and that of your ilk that insist there was torture. What is at issue here for me is this, the term “torture” is a subjective one.. It is not finite in any regards. Like I have said before, it is like trying to prosecute on the basis of what is love….Torture like Love has many different meanings to many different people. The fact that I don’t “share” your definition does not make me a villain just at odds with your view.

    Here is a simple conundrum bound to come up if this thing ever makes it to court…

    If the term torture (as defined by the UN) is not subjective, how would one explain the phenomena that individuals have different thresholds for pain? What one finds “severe” another may not? Do you not see the problem with your “black and white” view of the term? I thought the world was grey, and not clearly defined? I thought only “Spartans” saw the world as such? Don’t some find pleasure in pain? The law is “black and white” it is interpreted however, in many shades of grey….Especially in regards to law, language is crucial……Try looking at this issue from that perspective and perhpas you might understand where I am coming from…

  49. Hello Sparta. How was supper?

  50. Chicken versus egg Sparta. Why use these techniques on internees with the intent being the extraction of information?

    Your argument seems to rest on the severity of the pain inflicted.

    You are saying that the basis regarding pain rests on the victim rather than on the perpertrator. It reminds me very much of the old rape excuses..that a married woman or a prostitute do not suffer as much.

  51. Min,
    “Your argument seems to rest on the severity of the pain inflicted.”

    Yes, so does the UN…..My argument, which has been the case since the beginning, is exactly what constitutes torture? It is thrown out there at nausea without really looking at the language. Since the argument put forth by all here seems to rest on the language of the UN to which we are to abide by, I simply say it is at best vague and ambiguous….We all have “opinions” about what constitutes torture but the fact is if you’re going to prosecute you should be clear that a law has been broken….torture, is a very subjective term as defined by the UN. Can you tell me the difference between mild and sever pain? Would you say what constitutes severe pain for you is the same for everybody? Than how can anybody be so certain “torture” as defined by the UN has taken place? Seems to me the world community needs to be a bit more specific but I have the feeling said language was used exactly for its ambiguity….

    “You are saying that the basis regarding pain rests on the victim rather than on the perpertrator.”

    Well yes, as does the language of the UN……..

    “It reminds me very much of the old rape excuses..that a married woman or a prostitute do not suffer as much.”

    Not even in the same ball park. Rape is not a subjective term, it is an act. Either a “wife or prostitute” is willing or isn’t. What constitutes pain as either “severe” vs “mild” is in the mind of the victim? How do we prove in a court of law if and when that invisible threshold has been crossed?

  52. Not only are many missing the point that there needs to be a convention against torture to protect basic human rights, it also needs to protect our soldiers and citizens who ar unfortunate to be captive of foriegn power or group. The point is that if the Empire can torture in the name of security, they have no right whatsoever to remonstrate if their citizens are tortured by enemies of the empire. What they have done is print an open licence to torture people outside all human rights conventions. It is plain that nobody will be held responsible due to the Empire being the number one world power. This arroagnce is part and parcel of the problem with their perceived terrorist threat. If no one is held accountable for atrocities against weaker races, then the strong of the weaker race retaliate the best way they know how. It would be useless to wage war with guns, battleships and planes, but individuals striking when least expected, and on targets that represent the evil and atrocities committed make for maximum retribution.What happens when they Empire aren’t number one anymore? I see Cheyney has come out in the press to say they were sucessful obtaining information by his methods. My question is how accurate is the information and were confessions made to stop the torture. There is no integrity in this method at all I would hate to be Dirty Dick’s wife or kids if they withold information from him. Better stil, I would like to see DD subjected to the method he refuses to admit is torture.

  53. Tony, on April 22nd, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Cheney’s spin?

    Toiletboss, on April 22nd, 2009 at 10:31 am

    My only advices are to insist that enhanced eradication is necessary for notional security; and to enjoy the sunshine with your new recruit; observing that there is no survival, evasion, resistance, or escape possible for the foes of hoes.

  54. Sparta

    I expect that you will hold otehr countries to the same standard now, and will defend their use of torture by disputing what constitutes torture.

    But – I still do not get it, if the definition of torture (and how waterboarding in your mind is not torture) is so murky, why did the US convict a Japanese soldier for waterboarding?

  55. “The point is that if the Empire can torture in the name of security, they have no right whatsoever to remonstrate if their citizens are tortured by enemies of the empire.”

    Great… another rational poster…….

  56. “All of these techniques have now been ruined.”
    — Karl Rove, on torture memos

    There is always a downside apparently. Lol.

    http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html

    While you’re there check out what’s being done with TARP.

  57. “I expect that you will hold otehr countries to the same standard now, and will defend their use of torture by disputing what constitutes torture.”

    You mean the UN’s definition, your definition or mine? Frankly, most soldiers know that if captured these days the “UN’s definition” of torture is hardly on the minds of an Islamic fanatic…

    “But – I still do not get it, if the definition of torture (and how waterboarding in your mind is not torture) is so murky, why did the US convict a Japanese soldier for waterboarding?”

    Your guess is as good as any? How can Obama say “water-boarding” is torture yet give the order to drop bombs on terrorist sitting at dinner with their families? Why was OJ not convicted of murdering his wife? I can’t get into the minds of those that made that determination 60 plus years ago……It is well known that the Allies use to shoot dead surrendering Japanese soldiers at times as well; then it was just chalked up to being a part of war…..

  58. I see, so it doesn’t really cause “severe pain”…

    I think some who have experienced it might beg to disagree, but that’s beside the point…

    …but we are discussing the POSSIBLITY of “mental” anguish now in respect to “torture”?

    Er, yes.

    And why? It seems pretty straightforward, even for someone who I recollect claimed to be a lawyer in a previous thread, but now says they merely have English as a first language.

    It’s because that’s the definition of the international convention that your country has signed, as has been pointed out to you several times in the past – most recently when you claimed to be a lawyer who was ignorant of the legal definition of torture and thus skeptical of whether certain behaviour really was legally proscribed.

    Basically, as I reckon has been your position all along, you’re arguing that you don’t have to follow the law. Why?

  59. Just in case you didn’t understand the CBS story, it was an “extraction drill” that got out of hand not a “interrogation tactic”…

    Let’s see if I’ve got this straight.

    Extraction drills are merely aimed at getting the prisoner out of the cell.

    Torture as part of interrogation practice is aimed at inflicting physical or mental anguish in order to make them do or say certain things.

    An extraction drill that’s not aimed at inflicting pain turns into a brain-damaging beating. Any light bulbs going off yet? Ever thought that practices involving intentional pain infliction might get out of hand even more so than practices that aren’t intending to inflict pain?

    There are plenty of stories from pain-inflicting interrogators and those who have worked with them out there that describe torturers going overboard. Google up some of the KGB experiences.

  60. It’s that the new president simultaneously withheld other classified memos that show what those interrogation techniques produced, the information that, Cheney says, those interrogations successfully helped prevent another attack on the homeland since 9/11. The results too, should be part of the national security debate, Cheney adds.

    That’s fair enough, but note that Cheney lies as easily as he breathes. In thise case he embeds a false presumption in his request (a common technique of his), in order to muddy the waters with misinformation. For example, he conveniently forgets the anthrax attacks that took place inside the US after 9/11…

    I’m all for revealing what these techniques apparently prevented, as long as it’s a reasonable assessment rather than a biased one (which is all too likely) – and as long as the COSTS to the country of using these techniques are trumpeted loud and clear at the same time.

  61. I PERSONALLY don’t feel water-boarding is torture…

    What evidence have you considered in making this judgement, which is at odds with your two most recent attorneys general, the Army interrogation manual, successful US prosecutions of non-US citizens, civilians who have direct experience of it under happier and more controlled circumstances such as Christopher Hitchens, and many people around the world who have had it inflicted on them against their will?

    Just asking how you got to be so certain.

  62. Lotharsson,

    My reading of that article is Cheney is calling for the release of memos similar in standing to the ones already released:

    …but they didn’t put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.”

    “I formally asked that they be declassified now.

  63. No, it is your opinion and that of your ilk that insist there was torture.

    Seems like you deliberately keep your head in the sand. We’ve talked about this in previous threads.

    “…of your ilk” – such as your two most recent attorneys general (one appointed by Bush) and various military lawyers and administrators? Frankly, Obama’s recent statements about “looking forward rather than recriminations” are hard to interpret in any other way than to mean that violations of the law occurred – and the same applies to Cheney’s recent statements.

  64. Sparta re: My argument, which has been the case since the beginning, is exactly what constitutes torture? ~~~

    WW2 and the Vietnam War, waterboarding was classified as torture by the US and other countries which counted themselves as ‘civilized’.

    Mental anquish could be locked up in underground cells aka Changi prison. That is, no bruises on the body, no discernable damage.

    From Sparta:

    Not even in the same ball park. Rape is not a subjective term, it is an act. Either a “wife or prostitute” is willing or isn’t. What constitutes pain as either “severe” vs “mild” is in the mind of the victim? How do we prove in a court of law if and when that invisible threshold has been crossed?

    Sparta, I honestly don’t know where to start if you believe that there is some sort of differentiation between rape and torture.

  65. What is at issue here for me is this, the term “torture” is a subjective one.

    Yes, it is. And as a defence of torture, it comes across as really desperate.

    Many other subjective terms appear in the law. Ever heard of a jury award of damages for “mental anguish”? Or looked at the Florida law that allows one to fire a gun at another person if one feels threatened? Subjective, much?

  66. Sparta, I think you miss Min’s point.

    Why use these techniques on internees with the intent being the extraction of information?

    Your argument seems to rest on the severity of the pain inflicted.

    So you think that
    (a) there are hardened terrorists in captivity (or at least you believe)
    (b) who are passionately and deeply committed to their cause
    (c) and thus strenuously resist interrogation efforts
    (d) except if the interrogators inflict a bit of mild pain?

    LOL.

  67. How can Obama say “water-boarding” is torture yet give the order to drop bombs on terrorist sitting at dinner with their families?

    Many might also find Obama’s bombing that kills bystanders morally reprehensible, and perhaps even under some circumstances falling afoul of the UN Convention Against Torture. And whether or not they do, it doesn’t seem to help your case.

  68. I know you probably gave up on my leaps of logic intuition years ago, Lotharsson, but if you look closely at BO’s promises to the outstanding peace-workers in the field, he’s promised to continue shielding the black sites and the exceptionally secret ‘torture by proxy’ which may have occurred there, while neatly focusing everyones’ attentions on the things rendered visible and manipulable, as aspects of a larger, coordinated, multi-party program that was conducted.

  69. Frankly, most soldiers know that if captured these days the “UN’s definition” of torture is hardly on the minds of an Islamic fanatic…

    Ah, yes, the “we have to be the baddest kid on the block:” argument – one that entirely ignores the huge benefits that accrue to popular empires as opposed to popularly despised empires.

    And ignores the experiences of the US interrogators who used empathic methods that worked far better than torture – in part because they went against the propagandistic stereotypes of the US promoted by some Islamic fanaticists as a bunch of imperialistic torturing bastards.

    But never mind that. Someone else is doing it so we should be allowed to as well!

  70. …but if you look closely at BO’s promises to the outstanding peace-workers in the field, he’s promised to continue shielding the black sites and the exceptionally secret ‘torture by proxy’ which may have occurred there, while neatly focusing everyones’ attentions on the things rendered visible and manipulable, as aspects of a larger, coordinated, multi-party program that was conducted.

    Well, your writing is frequently somewhat obtuse and your sentences even more long and complex than mine (which is saying something :-). But yes, here I agree.

    The torture memos are part of the public kabuki, but the platitudes are fairly carefully expressed to make sure they don’t promise too much, and behind the scenes the commitment to reform appears to be quite limited. (And if anything the commitment to expanded presidential powers such as warrantless wiretapping and magic “kill lawsuit” cards based on mere assertions of national secrets is greater than Bush’s was.)

  71. Scenario: you do not tell the truth if you are imprisoned/captured but that you only tell the truth if you are inflicted with pain of mild to moderate or to severe degrees.

    The more severe the pain, the more likely to extract the truth???

  72. Min, on April 22nd, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Whatever happened to good ol’ polygraphs, huh? Actually, I’m highly surprised at how ‘mediaeval’ the whole lot appears (or has been made to appear) on paper. Surely they could afford even a little bit of technology to go with their techne, whether that’s in terms of contemporary understandings about physiology or psychology. Ropes and chains and boards and false walls and a bit of biffo don’t seem that contemporary for peeps routinely running around with advanced, even classified, mil-tech.

  73. The more severe the pain, the more likely to extract the truth???

    I think this is what most of the torture defenders believe (which makes a mockery of the argument that “we didn’t torture, just inflicted a bit of moderate discomfort and they talked”).

    In practice, the more severe the pain, the more likely you are to say anything you think the interrogators want to hear. (Exhibit A – John McCain.) Truth has no relevance at that stage.

    And there are ample documented cases where tortured people told the truth and the torture continued because it wasn’t believed.

  74. Lotharsson, on April 22nd, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    It’s like squeezing a citrus fruit, isn’t it? You just keep squeezing until all the juice is extracted, and discard the pips. It’s the ‘more’ version of not-torture. 😉

  75. Actually, I’m highly surprised at how ‘mediaeval’ the whole lot appears…

    Yes, it does. Little original thought or insight of actual goals and costs is evident, merely a re-run of practices that satisfy base instincts.

    Hell, these days you can even do a real-time “functional MRI” which is much harder to fool than a polygraph. And it’s not exactly classified – the Mythbusters did a show that tested it.

    It’s enough to make a cynic suspect that the purpose of the whole shebang had little to do with “extracting truth”.

  76. Legion..well t’aint that the truth. Amazing revelation in fact.

    You mean that instead of waterboarding and marching people around naked with the threat of being raped by dogs that they instead could have used technologoy such as polygraph tests.

    Just chipping.. the accuracy of information from torture compared with the accuracy of polygraph tests.

  77. Min, on April 22nd, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Oh, you’d probably do both…not-torture to extract info, and some verification system given the lack of trust.

  78. You’d probably want your verification system more finely tuned than a regular polygraph, though, because generating high stress in an already stressful situation is likely to severely impede the accuracy of a verification system largely reliant on stress responses, I’d imagine.

  79. I think I was more suggesting that the focus on the listed ‘techniques’ still obscures much of the associated ‘techniques’ and ‘technologies’ which were part and parcel of ‘enhancement’…the total environment was manipulated…light, sound, temperature, probably smell, food, clothing, proxemics and haptics, chronologies, colors, cameras, speakers, etc. Those things are just the visible aspects of a highly programmed series of events, and one wonders what other techniques and technologies went into the funhouse…to manipulate environment, gauge response, and record data.

  80. Anyway..in a nutshell. One cannot receive accurate information via torture as it is all tainted via the technique of torture. Via the reasonable person test.

  81. This story reports that US policy makers didn’t know their techniques were copied from Pol Pot and Communists in the Korean war – or that the techniques were well-known for producing false confessions.

    …largely because no one involved … investigated the gruesome origins of the techniques they were approving with little debate.

    […]
    Even George J. Tenet…did not examine the history of the most shocking method, the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

    […]

    They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned…the methods were ineffective. Nor were most of the officials aware that the former military psychologist who played a central role in persuading C.I.A. officials to use the harsh methods had never conducted a real interrogation…

    Go read the whole thing. It’s even more damning than these quotes indicate. It sounds in places like a bunch of unfit blowhard armchair warriors determined to prove how battle-hard they are, based on romanticised notions that have little to with reality.

    Oh, and there’s this little nugget:

    …C.I.A. interrogators were ordered to waterboard one of the captives despite their belief that he had no more information to divulge.

    And this familiar worldview in a nutshell:

    “Jim believed that people of this ilk [“hardened terrorists”] would confess for only one reason: sheer terror,” said one C.I.A. official who had discussed the matter with Dr. Mitchell.

    …despite ample evidence to the contrary, and little evidence to support it.

    And too bad if you tried the same tactics on someone who wasn’t a hardened terrorist and had nothing to confess. (Salem Witch Trials, anyone?)

    And pushing back at Cheney’s simplistic arguments:

    Whether the same information could have been acquired using the traditional, noncoercive methods that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the military have long used is impossible to say…

    …although if you’d asked some of your most experienced and successful interrogators they could probably have given you some ideas based on actual past success.

    And from a government study of tactics such as forced standing, limiting access to food & hygiene, sleep disruption and cold cells:

    “The Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture,’ ” one 1956 study concluded.

    Sounds kind of familiar. It continues:

    “But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.”

  82. Claims that Cheney has NOT formally asked CIA to release torture intelligence, in contradiction to what he claimed in his recent interview. Not definitive by any means, given the nature of the source and lack of independent corroboration though.

    But Cheney categorically refused to clarify what he meant, which lends some credence to the possibility that he was lying his arse off (not unheard of).

  83. Oh, and there’s this little nugget:

    …C.I.A. interrogators were ordered to waterboard one of the captives despite their belief that he had no more information to divulge.

    And this familiar worldview in a nutshell:

    “Jim believed that people of this ilk [“hardened terrorists”] would confess for only one reason: sheer terror,” said one C.I.A. official who had discussed the matter with Dr. Mitchell.

    …despite ample evidence to the contrary, and little evidence to support it.

    And too bad if you tried the same tactics on someone who wasn’t a hardened terrorist and had nothing to confess. (Salem Witch Trials, anyone?)

    Yep, they’re good: in trying to re-create an updated variant of Harry Harlow’s ‘pit of despair‘ for humans, they also re-created a variant of the Milgram experiment. And the best bit is that relationships are always relational, so that whatever ‘enhancement’ was done (whether it’s characterised as torture or abuse) was done to both the doer and the recipient, in being placed in that situation.

  84. There are calls to impeach Judge Jay Bybee

    …Bybee’s memo provided “a legal authorization for a laundry list of proposed C.I.A. interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding. The techniques Bybee approved are illegal by U.S. statute and an international treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory. Bybee attempted to give legal cover to illegal acts, and thus broke the ethical, professional, and legal standards that govern lawyers. For this, Judge Jay Bybee should be impeached…

    …”It was not an honest legal memo. It was an instruction manual on how to break the law. “Senate Judiciary Committee member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) agreed that impeachment is “certainly possible.” “The idea of the author of one of these memos sitting on the federal bench makes a farce of the whole legal system,” wrote the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Matthew Yglesias.

  85. …so that whatever ‘enhancement’ was done (whether it’s characterised as torture or abuse) was done to both the doer and the recipient, in being placed in that situation.

    Very good point. Most people don’t understand that’s part of the system. There’s been a lot over the years since 9/11 that “encouraged” ordinary citizens to defer to authority, no matter what. Milgram is a very good reference (and Harlow was new to me, but also fits, unfortunately…)

  86. Jon Stewart – “We Don’t Torture”.

  87. The OLC torture memos – thoughts from a dissenter.

    Very insightful, from Condoleeza Rice’s policy representative on intelligence issues.

    * Notes that as Legion points out, it’s the broader program that’s at issue, not just waterboarding.

    Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed “interrogation plans” to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

    * That Cheney’s appeal for reports on the value of these methods is disingenuous – it’s the unique value of these methods that should be assessed (that is, if you’re morally prepared to entertain their use in the first place).

    Which underscores the importance of moral analysis. There is an elementary distinction, too often lost, between the moral (and policy) question — “What should we do?” — and the legal question: “What can we do?” We live in a policy world too inclined to turn lawyers into surrogate priests granting a form of absolution. “The lawyers say it’s OK.” Well, not really. They say it might be legal. They don’t know about OK.

    * In his opinion, the legal opinions have grave weaknesses – and he goes into some detail as to why – and yes, he is a lawyer who has worked in this sort of area. He wrote these up in 2005 and circulated them to various audiences, even though it was not his role’s responsibility to offer a legal opinion. Note:

    My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo.

    Yes, those are the actions of someone with nothing to hide, right. I mean, if you’re not guilty you don’t have anything to fear from a memo that says you might be, right?

    And note the key outcome of his reasoning:

    So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.

    In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest — if the alleged national security justification was compelling. I did not believe our federal courts could reasonably be expected to agree with such a reading of the Constitution.

    Which, if accurate, means all the handwringing about how we only do this to the really bad guys – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary – is so much theatrical b*lldust.

    Interview (and transcript) with Philip Zelikow here.

  88. Lotharson

    Nice comment. And did you see that the Italian trial of CIA agents is about to restart.

    The trial of CIA agents accused of kidnapping an Egyptian religious leader in 2003 was set to resume at a court in the northern city of Milan.

    The trial is the first in Europe into the US Central Intelligence Agency’s “extraordinary rendition” programme involving the secret transfers of terrorism suspects to third countries known to practise torture.

  89. Hey! For some more comment on these memos check out http://polswatch.wordpress.com

    joni: Welcome Simon – always good to see someone new to the blogocrats.

  90. Lotharsson,

    “And why? It seems pretty straightforward, even for someone who I recollect claimed to be a lawyer in a previous thread, but now says they merely have English as a first language.”

    Well as usual, you like many here recollect incorrectly………Never said I was a lawyer but would love to see you reproduce said comment instead of the usual deluded “recollection”….

    “It’s because that’s the definition of the international convention that your country has signed, as has been pointed out to you several times in the past – most recently when you claimed to be a lawyer who was ignorant of the legal definition of torture and thus skeptical of whether certain behaviour really was legally proscribed.”

    You can continue to point it out all you like but you still seem to not grasp the ENGLISH, again I never claimed to be a lawyer and never would……

    “ Basically, as I reckon has been your position all along, you’re arguing that you don’t have to follow the law. Why?”

    No, again you are wrong yet again…See above in response to Min….

    “An extraction drill that’s not aimed at inflicting pain turns into a brain-damaging beating. Any light bulbs going off yet?”

    Are you really this thick or what? Your own prison system most likely has a “cell extraction” team at every penal institution…It was a training exercise that got out of hand…What don’t you understand?

    “What evidence have you considered in making this judgement, which is at odds with your two most recent attorneys general, the Army interrogation manual, successful US prosecutions of non-US citizens, civilians who have direct experience of it under happier and more controlled circumstances such as Christopher Hitchens, and many people around the world who have had it inflicted on them against their will?”

    Well that is the great thing about an opinion; you don’t need evidence to have one. Much like your own…..However, in light of recent reports, perhaps the hundreds to possibly thousands of service personnel that underwent the event during training? Are you under the impression this took place only under the GW administration? Good luck with that one…Besides, I have to imagine the technique differs depending on those performing it….

    “Just asking how you got to be so certain.”

    I would put the same question to you? This isn’t a question of certainty however; it is one of semantics which is something you and others seem to be completely missing in your zeal…

    “Seems like you deliberately keep your head in the sand. We’ve talked about this in previous threads.”

    No chief, that would be your crowd….You simply go on and on insisting torture was committed I simply disagree based on the language of the UN. We talked about it but something tells me you not listening to me…One more time, how do we determine “severe pain”?

    “…of your ilk” – such as your two most recent attorneys general (one appointed by Bush) and various military lawyers and administrators? Frankly, Obama’s recent statements about “looking forward rather than recriminations” are hard to interpret in any other way than to mean that violations of the law occurred – and the same applies to Cheney’s recent statements.”

    Well I certainly don’t put much stock in politicians, they will pander to whoever is the loudest and no surprise, it is your camp as usual….You guys really have become “thought” police….

    “Yes, it is. And as a defence of torture, it comes across as really desperate.”

    No moron, it is not a defense of torture to disagree with you and others on what constitutes torture, especially IN TERMS of the UN LANGUAGE!!!!!!!

    “Many other subjective terms appear in the law. Ever heard of a jury award of damages for “mental anguish”? Or looked at the Florida law that allows one to fire a gun at another person if one feels threatened? Subjective, much?”

    Yes and as I have said before, it is left to a “jury” and the lawyers to convince one way or another!!!!!!!! Very “grey” indeed unless you’re telling me every such case is decided exactly the same way? If so, you are dreaming…..

    “So you think that”
    (a) there are hardened terrorists in captivity (or at least you believe)
    (b) who are passionately and deeply committed to their cause
    (c) and thus strenuously resist interrogation efforts
    (d) except if the interrogators inflict a bit of mild pain?

    (a) Nope all goat herders….
    (b) Nope, willing to die for it is all
    (c) What else do they have to do or risk
    (d) Never said anything of the kind
    (e)
    LOL…try keeping it straight…I realize it is difficult for you but please do…Again, never claimed I was a lawyer either….LOL………

    “Many might also find Obama’s bombing that kills bystanders morally reprehensible, and perhaps even under some circumstances falling afoul of the UN Convention Against Torture. And whether or not they do, it doesn’t seem to help your case.”

    My case, I highly doubt you even know or understand (my case) or where I am coming from at this point. You seem quite happy in your diluted recollection of events.

    “Ah, yes, the “we have to be the baddest kid on the block:” argument – one that entirely ignores the huge benefits that accrue to popular empires as opposed to popularly despised empires”

    What are talking about Einstien? This isn’t an argument it is a reality..Can you please provide one case in which a captured US soldier has not been killed or severely beaten to within an inch of their life when captured in recent wars in the Middle East? You need me to define what an “argument” is for you now as well? Empires…….blah, blah, blah….Let’s not go here please…I really don’t have the time to give you a history lesson or describe the reality of the world we now live in……

  91. “Sparta, I honestly don’t know where to start if you believe that there is some sort of differentiation between rape and torture.”

    Min, we are talking about the “legal definition of torture” here not you OPINION OR MINE. Torture as defined by the UN deals with “severe pain”. Pinch yourself on the arm and tell me when you begin to feel it is severe? See a problem in stating that threshold has been reached as a matter of legality when all people have different thresholds?

    Rape, is an “act” by definition forced sex where one party is unwilling. The fact that one party is unwilling is rather clear cut, don’t you think? There only arises ambiguity when the woman never says “no” but claims rape after the fact…NO means no does it not?

    Here is a simple one, define the difference between mild pain and severe pain and tell me when and how we can ascertain that a threshold has been crossed where mild becomes severe….

  92. On 2009/04/02 at 3:05pm sparta said:

    So as a lawyer I would say, “What is “severe pain” then; as opposed to mild pain”? Is mild pain utilized for the same purposes outlined in this context legal? How does one determine the difference and you would say?

    Maybe this is where an opinion was formed that you were a lawyer? If you were to say “If I was a lawyer I would say….” the confusion would not occur.

    You really want to define this on the basis of what is pain, when the legal advise itself recognises that “reasonable persons may disagree” on their definition of torture.

    As I have said all along – let those who authorised and promoted the use of “enhanced interrogation” defend themselves in a court of law. And note that Obama saying that those responsible should not be prosecuted does not mean that it will not happen.

  93. Politico:

    Obama muddles torture message

    President Barack Obama’s attempt to project legal and moral clarity on coercive CIA interrogation methods has instead done the opposite — creating confusion and political vulnerability over an issue that has inflamed both the left and right.

    In the most recent instance, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged in a memo to the intelligence community that Bush-era interrogation practices yielded had “high-value information,” then omitted that admission from a public version of his assessment.

    That leaves a top Obama administration official appearing to validate claims by former Vice President Dick Cheney that waterboarding and other techniques the White House regards as torture were effective in preventing terrorist attacks. And the press release created the impression the administration was trying to suppress this conclusion.

  94. Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA, on April 22nd, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I know I’m a mere ‘stupid’ according to you, and you’re the genius at semantics, but where did the ‘suffering’ disappear to in your parsing of the relevant text?

    Eg,

    Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

    Does actually responding to the provided definition enhance or detract from your otherwise limited argument(s), when the operative protocols for the not-torture revolved around creating a total environment of profound ‘learned helplessness’ through repeated applications of physical and mental pain, whether mild or severe, over time?

  95. Lotharsson, on April 22nd, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I must admit that I’m mildly curious about what actual technologies have been deployed; it doesn’t take long to work out that the Wizards of Langley have their own Directorate of Science and Technology, and that one of the CIA’s long-term institutional interests and strongest organisational memories has been ‘special interrogation’ and ‘enhancements’. One ponders that it wasn’t by accident that the CIA was chosen to spearhead the ‘interrogation’ efforts; and one severely doubts the accounts of a CIA ‘re-inventing’ piecemeal in 2001/2 the kind of circa 1950s ‘enhancements’ which one might be led to believe emerged, off the back of some miraculously re-discovered SERE training package predicated on what the opponents had done, from over at the DoD; those things seem like an incredibly backwards-looking smokescreen to me, and, yes, also make no account of available, up-to-date technologies like MRI.

  96. Joni,

    “Maybe this is where an opinion was formed that you were a lawyer? If you were to say “If I was a lawyer I would say….” the confusion would not occur.”

    “If I was” infers a hypothetical does it not? I get the feeling your “gunning” for me there Joni?

    “You really want to define this on the basis of what is pain, when the legal advise itself recognises that “reasonable persons may disagree” on their definition of torture.”

    You have to be kidding me…What the hell do you think I have been saying from the get go and have been doing? Unfortunately, neither you nor many here are very “reasonable” on the subject or many others. I have lost track of the number of times I have been called a “torture advocate or defender” by the likes of some idiots here. You’re not allowed to have a different opinion these days from the “left” without some sort of claim. You want your sovereignty protected you’re a xenophobe or racist; you disagree with homosexual marriage you’re a homophobe. Give me a break about being “reasonable”……

    “As I have said all along – let those who authorised and promoted the use of “enhanced interrogation” defend themselves in a court of law. And note that Obama saying that those responsible should not be prosecuted does not mean that it will not happen.”

    Anything is possible in this day and age but I personally don’t see it happening. Again, probably a couple “commissions/committee” where senators are looking to grand-stand and trying to embarrass former administration officials but I just don’t see a trial. Why didn’t we go after FDR for imprisoning American citizens, Truman for dropping the bomb, Lincoln for suspending “Habeas Corpus” etcetera…

  97. “I know I’m a mere ’stupid’ according to you, and you’re the genius at semantics, but where did the ’suffering’ disappear to in your parsing of the relevant text?”

    Well in all fairness I don’t think you or anybody else here is “stupid” but one tends to get feisty when attacked and attacked is something I have become quite accustomed to here… Anyhow, the term “suffering” is just as ambiguous, wouldn’t you agree…Perhaps the UN should simply provide a list of “techniques or tactics” the world community can agree on collectively as being torture?

    “Does actually responding to the provided definition enhance or detract from your otherwise limited argument(s)”

    Limited…Hmm, well then counter it?

  98. Sparta,

    You go on and on about the UN, but what about your own constitutions 8th Amendment?

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

  99. “You go on and on about the UN, but what about your own constitutions 8th Amendment?”
    No Joni, it is your camp that goes on and on about the UN I have simply highlighted the wording that many here seem to feel is so “black-and-white”…What does the US Constitution have to do with this? I certainly don’t see how the rights of American citizens should be afforded to that of enemy combatants; case in point, the Somali pirate….What a flipping circus….We are officially the “worlds police”…Unlike your camp, I don’t support a “one world government”!!!!!!

  100. Of interest is from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090421/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_interrogation_memos

    WASHINGTON – Widening an explosive debate on torture, President Barack Obama on Tuesday opened the possibility of prosecution for Bush-era lawyers who authorized brutal interrogation of terror suspects and suggested Congress might order a full investigation.

    And..

    The methods, described in Bush-era memos Obama released last Thursday, included such grim and demeaning tactics as slamming detainees against walls and subjecting them to simulated drowning.

  101. Hmmm…the memos make reference to ‘cruel and unusual’ when rehearsing that the CAT isn’t self-executing but nevertheless rehearse that the relevant American provisions must derive meaning from US law if it’s to avoid the importation of foreign meanings (that in itself isn’t certain, given a US court may not be so bound as to not look at foreign precedents and practices). So, on the one hand we have US law doesn’t apply; and on the other hand, only US law applies. “How peculiar”, says Alice to Humpty-Dumpty. Perhaps a US court really should affix a meaning, when the thing goes to court, which is what a court normally does when engaging in an exegetical exercise in relation to an enactment and its application.

  102. To me the interesting thing was the description ‘grim and demeaning’. That is rather than being considered from the perspective of Could this be painful, that it is likely to be judged from the above quoted criteria.

  103. Well as usual, you like many here recollect incorrectly………Never said I was a lawyer but would love to see you reproduce said comment instead of the usual deluded “recollection”….

    So, you deny this comment:

    Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA, on April 2nd, 2009 at 3:05 pm Said:

    Finally…

    So as a lawyer I would say, “What is “severe pain” then; as opposed to mild pain”? Is mild pain utilized for the same purposes outlined in this context legal? How does one determine the difference and you would say?

    See the problem I have with those obsessed with citing the law as a weapon in trying to go after what they see as the “second coming”, is they don’t seem to grasp it is isn’t about what you feel or I feel, it is about “proving” a law has been broken. It does not make me an apologist for the buffoon that is my former president either, simply a bit more realistic frankly…

    was posted by you? I think someone needs to be waterboarded so we can find out the truth!

  104. Can you please provide one case in which a captured US soldier has not been killed or severely beaten to within an inch of their life when captured in recent wars in the Middle East?

    Er, the crew of a ship captured by (IIRC) the Iranians a few months ago after allegedly infringing on Iranian waters and held for a couple of weeks? They were treated rather decently.

    All of which as so often completely misses the point.

    Your argument was that others treat captive US citizens badly, therefore the US should treat others’ captive citizens badly. I pointed out you were essentially arguing that US standards should be as low as those of anyone else. You respond by saying “but others’ standards are low”. Sure, we agree on that. We disagree on what US standards should be.

  105. (a) Nope all goat herders….
    (b) Nope, willing to die for it is all
    (c) What else do they have to do or risk
    (d) Never said anything of the kind
    (e)
    LOL…try keeping it straight

    Thereby proving once again you didn’t understand Min’s point.

    Your argument is that we really aren’t sure that torture (“severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental”) was inflicted upon certain detainees.

    Min was (subtly) pointing out that severe pain or suffering must have been INTENDED BY DESIGN to be inflicted by the interrogation program, because that’s the only way they thought they could get the results they wanted. The assumption was that the detainees were hardened terrorists deeply and passionately committed to their cause and they would hold out against the interrogators to the maximum possible extent.

    Indeed, that assumption is explicitly borne out in some of the news articles I linked to yesterday – in particular, by one of the guys who had a major input into the way interrogations were ultimately conducted, but who had never conducted one himself.

    Do you see the self-inconsistency in the argument that maybe torture wasn’t the aim of the interrogations? That really all we needed to do to these hardest of terrorists was give them some mild discomfort and unpleasantness and we’d get them to talk? That they were so motivated for their cause they were apparently willing to die for it, but not willing to endure some moderate suffering?

  106. Here is a simple one, define the difference between mild pain and severe pain and tell me when and how we can ascertain that a threshold has been crossed where mild becomes severe….

    We’ve been over that before…

    (a) You’re asking the wrong question. We don’t need to know WHERE the threshold is if we’re CLEARLY above it.
    (b) In a legal sense, we generally use both precedent and “reasonable person” tests to make determinations that have subjective components. There’s a huge body of case law dealing with making determinations that include subjective components because courts across the USA deal with it every day.

  107. Just scanning above, I thought to clarify joni’s original statement re ‘reasonable person’. This is one of the basics of Common Law.

    The idea of a reasonable person derives from British Law. It suggests a test that can be applied on the basis of an intelligent non-expert person, that is a reasonable person, being put in a position able to consider the evidence that might have been available at a place or time. The test becomes: what would a reasonable person do under these circumstances, given the evidence or being exposed to a particular situation.

    The USA is a common law country as per England, Australia and NZ (and others) and so any precidents will come firstly from the US’s own law and then from other common law countries well and truly prior to resorting to ‘foreign’ laws.

  108. Perhaps the UN should simply provide a list of “techniques or tactics” the world community can agree on collectively as being torture?

    No, that would be really stupid. Devious people would work around those techniques within five minutes. The point is not to allow pain/suffering physical/mental inflicted to be inflicted on a victim by an official as long as you get creative about it. It’s to ban the infliction in the first place.

  109. it is your camp that goes on and on about the UN I have simply highlighted the wording…

    We go on and on about the UN because the UN Convention Against Torture has the force of law in the US, and because you spent a bunch of time claiming you weren’t aware of any laws that had likely been broken so “our camp” had to quote them to you.

    What does the US Constitution have to do with this? I certainly don’t see how the rights of American citizens should be afforded to that of enemy combatants;

    If you read the article I linked to above by Philip Zelikow you’ll find that his analysis, likely shared by mainstream lawyers, is that if the OLC “torture memos” are valid they must imply that the same techniques must be legal on US citizens. And he is a lawyer, and he deals with constitutional and imprisonment issues in coming to that conclusion. Go read it.

  110. Rape, is an “act” by definition forced sex where one party is unwilling.

    Right, and by definition the state of “willingness” or otherwise is SUBJECTIVE, just like the state of experiencing “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental” is. See the parallels?

  111. it is your camp that goes on and on about the UN…

    Open letter (from 2006) to Attorney General Gonzales from Human Rights Watch.

    For those who don’t want to worry too much about UN Conventions and the like, they helpfully reference the US federal torture statute, US federal war crimes statute, US federal assault statute, the 2006 Defense Authorization Act, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice – and point out the ways in which these appear to have been violated. They specifically discuss waterboarding along with other practices.

    So one should note that it’s not just the UN Convention Against Torture that likely applies here…

  112. Nice find Lotharson. Of course, Sparta will just classify the writers of being in our “ilk” and not living in the real world.

    The more I see/read about this, the more I am convinced that charges will be brought upon those responsible.

  113. So much we still need to know

    From Dan Froomkin, and includes other lawbreaking such as warrantless surveillance. There’s a whole journalism project in the works, and some links to interesting related articles are already up.

    (In a grimly hilarious sideshow, Rep. Jane Harman, Democrat, a highly vocal defender of the warrantless surveillance program, has been caught on tape (conducted under a warrant) apparently “telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.” And she’s pissed off at this grave abuse of power!)

  114. I think so too joni re charges given all the anti Rumsfeld items. One is at: http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2009/04/22/donald-rumsfeld-lied-about-torture-policies-abu-ghraib/

    One thing that the newly-released Senate Armed Services report on the treatment of detainees in US custody makes clear is that Donald Rumsfeld lied to Congress and the American public about the Pentagon’s role in systematizing torture at U.S. detention centers at Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Midleading Congress is of course big bikkies in the US.

  115. Whoops..misleading not midleading.

  116. Gallup poll – Most want inquiry into anti-terror tactics”.

    And as the articles linked from that Froomkin article above argue (and others in the press), or as Patrick Leahy said “We cannot turn the page until we have read the page.”

    On the other hand, I think a reasonable attempt to find out just what went on will build quite a bit of public pressure to prosecute – but that’s not always enough (see various exhibits from the Bush years). I could easily see evidence quietly disappearing, prosecutors declining to press charges, the government claiming National Security grounds override the need for a prosecution, or any trial that eventuates turning into a farce, at least within the US, for various political (and media-aided) reasons.

    But if reasonable attempts to prosecute plausible allegations are not made, the US will cement a reputation with certain subcultures and parts of the world for being a liar – advocating one law for everyone and another for themselves – and imperialistic torturer. This tends to be a useful recruiting tool for extremists.

    The only way to regain much of the soft power that has been lost is by looking honestly at what happened and trying to respond by living up to the ideals which the US claims to hold for itself – and to which it exhorts the rest of the world to live up to. Hopefully that will happen.

  117. Ouch, did you read the last sentence of the article on Rumsfeld?

    I’m a believer. Torture, er, enhanced interrogation tactics are truly useful –

    .
    .
    .

    – to reinforce self-deception (or deliberate deceipt).

  118. The former Chief Counsel for the Church Committee asks Is there a price for departing from our values, and cautions against investigative committees granting blanket immunity (as Patrick Leahy wants to do).

  119. No doubt there are differing opinions, and sources here are generally anonymous (unfortunate for journalism, but understandable given they work in intelligence),but
    U.S officials slam Dick Cheney’s claim that waterboarding 9/11 mastermind 183 times was a ‘success’ that produced actionable intelligence.

    “Cheney is full of crap,” one intelligence source with decades of experience said Tuesday.

    Another retired counterterrorism official…said most of the information he coughed up during the waterboarding sessions involved things he thought his CIA-contract interrogators already knew, or were just his ideas for mayhem.

    “Most..were reports of actions that KSM was only remotely thinking of undertaking – they didn’t even reach the planning stage,…So it’s a bit of a stretch for Bush administration officials to say these were attacks they had disrupted.”

  120. More in trying to tie Al Qaeda to Saddam: Using torture to find the missing link.

    …”There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used. …But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq…

    “Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA … and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies.”

    That was considered the wrong answer, so senior administration “blew that off and kept insisting that we’d overlooked something, that the interrogators weren’t pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information.”

    Torture. The solution – when the truth is the problem.

  121. A trial would require arguments to be advanced by all parties as to what does, and does not, constitute torture.

    It might even lead us to the point where we can say definitively that such-and-such a technique is, or isn’t, torture, as decided by a particular court case.

    As things now stand, the test of whether a technique is torture or not is subjective in that it relies on proof of whether severe mental or physical pain was inflicted in each case.

  122. Cheney may be thinking about the (non-viable) plot to fly an airliner into the L.A. Library Tower when he states that “harsh interrogation methods” disrupted plots/saved lives. Apparently this plot is cited as the single best piece of evidence that supports the use of those methods.

    Only he appears to be completely wrong about that.

  123. A trial would require arguments to be advanced by all parties as to what does, and does not, constitute torture.

    Exactly. And yet we have people arguing that “nah, I reckon it wasn’t bad enough to be called torture” and “we should look to the future, not to the past”, or even one US pundit on the weekend saying “sometimes we should just keep walking. Life should be a bit mysterious.” Bring on the trials – it seems clear there’s plenty of plausible allegations on offer.

    It might even lead us to the point where we can say definitively that such-and-such a technique is, or isn’t, torture, as decided by a particular court case.

    Indeed. Except that we already have some of those on record too, so we’re not starting from a blank slate. For example (earlier in the thread) a prosecution for waterboarding…

  124. A full investigation and trial might even cast its net wider than some would have hoped:

    Congress Knew About the Interrogations

    It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses. . . .

    Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can’t be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.

  125. Here’s the Levin Senate Armed Services Committee Report (PDF) into the treatment of detainees in US custody.

    The executive summary:

    “What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight… is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings”
    — General David Petraeus
    May 10, 2007

    (U) The collection of timely and accurate intelligence is critical to the safety of U.S. personnel deployed abroad and to the security of the American people here at home. The methods by which we elicit intelligence information from detainees in our custody affect not only the reliability of that information, but our broader efforts to win hearts and minds and attract allies to our side.

    (U) Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them. They are recruited based on false propaganda that says the United States is out to destroy Islam. Treating detainees harshly only reinforces that distorted view, increases resistance to cooperation, and creates new enemies. In fact, the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” cited “pervasive anti U.S. sentiment among most Muslims” as an underlying factor fueling the spread of the global jihadist movement. Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008 that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq – as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat – are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”

    (U) The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority. This report is a product of the Committee’s inquiry into how those unfortunate results came about.

  126. Tony

    Absolutely – those responsible are from both sides of politics. I hope the net captures all of them so that the torture is never sanctioned from those in power.

  127. A full investigation and trial might even cast its net wider than some would have hoped

    That might explain some of the political efforts to suppress the desire for investigations…

  128. From the Levin report, a telling item:

    Typically, those who play the part of interrogators in SERE school neither are trained interrogators nor are they qualified to be. These role players are not trained to obtain reliable intelligence information from detainees. Their job is to train our personnel to resist providing reliable information to our enemies.

    And…so that’s the training the administration chose to base their “enhanced” interrogation methods upon.

    It’s astonishing how incompetent they were in some areas.

  129. And from the Levin report, a response for Sparta arguing that “we” waterboarded our own soldiers at SERE so waterboarding detainees can’t be considered torture (page xix, which is page 9 of the PDF):

    SERE school techniques are designed to simulate abusive tactics used by our enemies. There are fundamental differences between a SERE school exercise and a real world interrogation. At SERE school, students are subject to an extensive medical and psychological pre-screening prior to being subjected to physical and psychological pressures. The schools impose strict limits on the frequency, duration, and/or intensity of certain techniques. Psychologists are present throughout SERE training to intervene should the need arise and to help students cope with associated stress. And SERE school is voluntary; students are even given a special phrase they can use to immediately stop the techniques from being used against them.

  130. Couple more quotes from Levin’s report:

    Interrogation policies endorsed by senior military and civilian officials authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques were a major cause of the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. The impact of those abuses has been significant. In a 2007 international BBC poll, only 29 percent of people around the world said the United States is a generally positive influence in the world. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have a lot to do with that perception. The fact that America is seen in a negative light by so many complicates our ability to attract allies to our side, strengthens the hand of our enemies, and reduces our ability to collect intelligence that can save lives.

    (U) It is particularly troubling that senior officials approved the use of interrogation techniques that were originally designed to simulate abusive tactics used by our enemies against our own soldiers and that were modeled, in part, on tactics used by the Communist Chinese to elicit false confessions from U.S. military personnel. While some argue that the brutality and disregard for human life shown by al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists justifies us treating them harshly, General David Petraeus explained why that view is misguided. In a May 2007 letter to his troops, General Petraeus said “Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we – not our enemies – occupy the moral high ground.”

  131. A couple of Levin report conclusions:

    Conclusion 3: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training…was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as…the techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used…to elicit false confessions.

    Conclusion 4: The use of techniques in interrogations derived from SERE resistance training created a serious risk of physical and psychological harm to detainees. The SERE schools employ strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students during training. … Those same controls are not present in real world interrogations.

    Conclusion 19: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques … appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO.

    Conclusion 8 also lambasts the decision to use SERE instructors as interrogators in Iraq…when they have NO TRAINING in interrogation methods – and points out that the methods used were a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

    There’s also a bunch of info and conclusions on how similar techniques ended up in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo – mostly through serious failures (at best) of leadership & judgement (including ignoring/quashing various expressions of well-founded concern).

  132. This blog argues that the press attributing SERE techniques to Communist China is a bit of a whitewash. Those techniques have been in use much longer (including by the Soviets), and it suggests that there is evidence suggesting that the US used biological weapons in that war and thus the “false confessions” were true and the “brainwashing” stories may have been planted. Notably they claim that many of the false confessions by US servicemen were only recanted under threat of court marshal, which would be rather odd if they were false. Hard to know what to make of this without a lot more digging…

  133. (Not to interupt the tour de force, but I did notice this piece as a side-spur off one of Min’s links, Scientists Claim CIA Misused Work on Sleep Deprivation, and the commonly prevailing theme of the misuse of resources by abstracting them out of their safe and controlled contexts, and the over-reach of expertises, to assemble a justification for a predetermined end:

    “German and French researchers whose work has been cited by the CIA and the Justice Department to help justify the legality of harsh interrogation techniques, including prolonged sleep deprivation, condemned the Bush Administration on Tuesday for misusing their scientific findings.”)

  134. List of impeachments.

    First: 1798
    Last: 1988
    Total number: 15
    Acquitted: 6
    Charges dismissed: 1
    Resigned: 1
    Convicted: 7

  135. Ari Fleischer attempts to claim waterboarding isn’t torture (video and transcript).

    BEGALA: “We — our country executed Japanese soldiers who water- boarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?”

    The most awkward silence imaginable follows. Finally, Fleischer is able to eke out:

    FLEISCHER: “Well, again, Paul, I guess you already are the jury, the prosecutor, the judge, and a citizen all rolled into one. You have already pronounced judgment that it is a crime.”

    Actually, Fleischer could have countered Begala by pointing out that we didn’t actually execute the Japanese soldiers convicted of the war crime of waterboarding American prisoners — we just sentenced them to 15 years’ hard labor.

    And Waterboarding used to be a crime.

    The media usually characterize the practice as “simulated drowning.” That’s incorrect. To be effective, waterboarding is usually real drowning that simulates death. … According to those who have studied waterboarding’s effects, it can cause severe psychological trauma, such as panic attacks, for years.

    As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the “water cure” to question Filipino guerrillas.

    More recently, waterboarding cases have appeared in U.S. district courts. One was a civil action brought by several Filipinos seeking damages against the estate of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos…

    In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners’ civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to “subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning.”

    The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    I find it difficult to see how anyone can credibly argue that “geez, maybe it is and maybe it ain’t”. After all, as the judge and former JAG who wrote that article says,

    The study of law is, after all, largely the study of history. The law of war is no different.

  136. (All rather curious, really, the whole lot of it; given that the Brits had been honing their special interrogation skills on the Irish for decades, and the US had been developing their ‘chemical soldiers’ program for some time and had research of their own; and the best scientific evidence a DoJ memo could cite was authored by researchers in two countries not part of the CoW and contraire its activities 😉 .)

  137. Tony

    Interesting that the list you provided in that all impeachments since 1936 have resulted in a 100% conviction rate.

  138. Nice statistic Shane. Here’s another one: they were all District Judges. (And two were from Florida!)

  139. Karl Rove firstly echoes Cheney’s false claims that waterboarding stopped the “L.A. Library Tower” plot. Apparently in 2006 illegal wiretaps stopped it. Look, the all-purpose magic auto-transmogrifying plot!

    Rove also inverts reality by claiming that prosecutions (you know, actually applying the rule of law) will turn the US into a Latin American-style dictatorship run by a colonel in mirrored sunglasses (you know, a place where the law is a joke that doesn’t apply to those in power). So you have to destroy the rule of law to save it?

    I don’t know how the man drives a car – he’d start out on the wrong side of the road, indicate left to turn right and blame the chaos on everyone else.

  140. Lotharson.

    The American Torture site is one that I refer to a lot. I went to the book launch in Australia and met Michael Otterman. The book has extensive details on the SERE program and the other one (K-something) which were the programs on which the “enhanced interrorgation techniques” were based.

  141. All rather curious, really, the whole lot of it…

    .

    Yes, a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland nothing-is-quite-as-it-seems quality.

  142. The Washington Post:

    At the Central Intelligence Agency, it’s known as “slow rolling.” That’s what agency officers sometimes do on politically sensitive assignments. They go through the motions; they pass cables back and forth; they take other jobs out of the danger zone; they cover their backsides.

    Sad to say, it’s slow roll time at Langley after the release of interrogation memos that, in the words of one veteran officer, “hit the agency like a car bomb in the driveway.” President Obama promised CIA officers that they won’t be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders, but the people on the firing line don’t believe him. They think the memos have opened a new season of investigation and retribution.

    The lesson for younger officers is obvious: Keep your head down. Duck the assignments that carry political risk. Stay away from a counterterrorism program that has become a career hazard.

  143. (K-something)

    KUBARK?

  144. President Obama promised CIA officers that they won’t be prosecuted for carrying out lawful orders…

    Nice piece of subtle propaganda there! No-one has suggested prosecutions for carrying out lawful orders, only for carrying out unlawful orders. And as many have pointed out, “I was just following orders” is not a defense (my emphasis):

    …Barack Obama is using as an excuse the idea that his administration needs to “assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.” Exactly the opposite needs to be the case: people who act on behalf of the government must be assured that unless they exercise some basic moral and legal common sense reasoning, then they will be held accountable for their actions and prosecuted for violating any laws — most especially obvious laws which any half-conscious adult should have noticed they were breaking.

    […]

    Even if we ignore all of this, though, then the most we have is a possible defense at a trial — in other words, we have a defense against particular charges, not a defense for preventing prosecutions from occurring.

    […]

    What kind of society would we have if those pulling the trigger are granted blanket immunity so long as they can wave around a legal opinion written by a lawyer who was only chosen for the job because they could be counted on to write whatever the president wanted?…

  145. What kind of society would we have if those pulling the trigger are granted blanket immunity so long as they can wave around a legal opinion written by a lawyer who was only chosen for the job because they could be counted on to write whatever the president wanted?…

    An allegation the lawyers in question will no doubt deny, and vigorously contest.

  146. Blasted code. (1st sentence above is a quote from Lotharsson’s quote.)

  147. “Just by walking through Guantanamo I could tell…” (video). At least the anchor pushes back and asks if he really meant that he could tell who deserved (say) waterboarding by looking at them…and then the other guest really takes the first guest’s statement apart…

  148. An allegation the lawyers in question will no doubt deny, and vigorously contest.

    Firstly, they will not be able to contest that they were only chosen for the job because they could be counted upon…because someone else made that determination.

    And secondly, no doubt they will vigorously contest (they are lawyers after all, and vigorous contest is the basis of our adversarial legal system’s effective functioning) that they could be counted on to write whatever the president wanted. However I expect their defense of that point to be soundly laughed out of the court of public opinion, if not the judicial courts.

  149. All shall be revealed in the fullness of time. Or not.

  150. And Tony, as I have pointed out the memos all have words to the effect “as we have been informed”, which I take to mean, if there is something we have not been told then you cannot blame us for making this judgement.

  151. I’m sure you’re right, Joni. Lawyers are very careful that way.

    😉

  152. Hehe Tony. Indeed they are.

  153. Just received an email from the Office of George Soros. So this is what he does in his spare time.

    Dear Friends and Colleagues:

    This morning a coalition of human rights groups and other organizations launched an appeal to the President to establish a commission of inquiry to examine and report publicly on America’s use of torture in the period since September 11, 2001. Please sign the petition and forward this email to your friends, family, and colleagues.

    http://commissiononaccountability.org/

    Regards,

    Michael Vachon

    Office of George Soros

  154. Sparta @ 1144am:

    What does the US Constitution have to do with this?

    Maybe this:

    In the years that followed, according to the narrative issued Wednesday, there were numerous internal legal reviews of the program, suggesting government attorneys raised concerns that the harsh methods, particularly waterboarding, might violate federal laws against torture and the U.S. Constitution.

  155. Sparta

    Let’s have a quote from someone (unlike you) who has actually been subject to torture. John McCain on Fox News said on the 20th April:

    Waterboarding is torture, period. I can ensure you that once enough physical pain is inflicted on someone, they will tell that interrogator whatever they think they want to hear. And most importantly, it serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.

    But even after us providing evidence such as the memos, the fact that US has found guilty those who waterboarded, and John McCain – will you still say that the waterboarding is not torture, nor that the former administration deliberately created and sought legal opinion to allow it to take place? Whilst ignoring advise that it was torture (and broke the US constitution).

    In November you said:

    Look, most “rational” people realize that “water-boarding” was most likely performed on some unlucky individuals but to insist to this day that torture continues, or such techniques were widespread without any evidence or even an agreed upon definition of torture is simply loony.

    I love that – “unlucky” individuals and that we here are “looney”. Good defence that eh? Just like how you call them “goat headers”.

    And now the evidence is in, you still have you head somewhere, and it is not in the sand.

    The US did torture, and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.

  156. Joni,

    “suggesting government attorneys raised concerns that the harsh methods, particularly waterboarding, might violate federal laws against torture and the U.S. Constitution.”

    Hmm….SUGGESTED? You get the opinion this reporter’s “opinion” piece is trying to stir controversy? Well, what is clear cut is that said procedures were performed on US soldiers so we best start the inquiry there. No doubt that they were under U.S. Constitutional protections….We need to haul all those who participated in the training etcetera up in front of a court for starters….Are you kidding me? We put our own soldiers though the same scenarios as the innocent “goat herders” without any of them becoming terrorists or suffering from long term mental anguish? Unpleasant experience, I have no doubt but the way you and others portray this thing it marginalizes “real torture” in my opinion. Pulling out ones fingernails just doesn’t seem on par with “water-boarding”, not even in the same camp in my opinion……

    “And now the evidence is in, you still have you head somewhere, and it is not in the sand.”

    In your “OPINION” Joni and that of others…One more time and try to follow, “torture” is not a “black-and-white” term…Especially if we go by the “UN” language for which these claims of torture are based on….Please keep going through my old posts, you will see I have been quite consistent………

    “The US did torture, and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.”

    Yawn……Your like a doll with a pull-string…Just keeps repeating the same old slogan…

  157. Joni,

    From a legal perspective, the only really damning thing I can foresee with this topic is the matter of “precedent” that you and others have sighted before…That if anything may lead to some hand slapping.

  158. Joni,

    Here, you can start with this story although I warn you, it doesn’t target America so you might not be as interested….

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25373907-2703,00.html

  159. Let us look at your continued mis-conception that the torture laws are just the UN laws. Look at your own laws ( 2340·2340A). See this extended comment from the US DOJ. So you are arguing against the laws of the US. So please stop saying that torture is only defined by the “UN” language.

    Your reality is very different from mine, and I do grant you that you are consistent. Consistent in denial – anything you do not agree with is opinion, and anything that meets your world-view is fact.

  160. Came across this in my travels, and it makes an interesting point (well two points, if one includes the point about the demand for not-torture): Christopher Hitchens Blames Torture on Common Americans, Demands ‘Tongue’ From Andrew Sullivan. And this next one, from the same place, which seems to rehearse an American obsession with camping and defense (sic) for ye olde boy’s own adventures and the manifold joys of turning flies into walks so fondly recalled from such occasions: Who Defends ‘Torture’?

  161. What is your point with that article sparta? Did you read the last paragraph?

    The officials turned on Wei Wenhua, 41, the manager of a construction company, and beat and kicked him to death. Four men were jailed for terms of between three and six years for his killing.

    You see – those guilty were held accountable!

    And, my dear, I do love your attempt at deflection, your “look – they did it too!”.

    Why are we blogging about this? Why do we keep on about this?

    Maybe because the US did it to an AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN! And my government did nothing – nothing until the political heat got too much. And because the US should do better. They have in the past, and they will in the future.

  162. Oh – and I do other activism work about China, in a much more effective way than this blog – but in your world, because I do not put it on here I am not concerned about it.

  163. And let see, the TPVA (US law) says that torture includes:

    Any act, directed against an individual in the offender’s custody or physical control, by which severe pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering arising only from or inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions), whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on that individual for such purposes as obtaining from that individual or a third person information or a confession, punishing that individual for an act that individual or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, intimidating or coercing that individual or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind . . . .

    Tell us, Sparta, what confessions are SERE recruits tortured for?

  164. Me, I’m still amazed that service in the US military is so unpopular that it has to shoot new recruits multiple times, hood them and fly them round the world to exotic locations, strip them naked, place them in cold and cramped places with bugs, throw them into walls, slap them in the face and stomach hundreds of times, place them in stress positions for tens of hours, keep them awake for periods as long as over a week, and water-board them hundreds of times, etc just to get them to sign-up on the dotted line (and that was just to obtain the signature on the waiver for the foregoing ‘hazing’; actually getting them to sign up for a tour of duty in the Bangkok station to guard the empty evidence safe was going to take much, much more).

  165. Legion

    Let’s not get started on “extraordinary rendition” or as I call it – kidnapping. Where US law (, § 2242, 1) says that the US will not:

    expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.

  166. Let’s not get started on “extraordinary rendition”

    Me being me, that’s where I tend to suspect all the juicy stuff is, though, Joni; and this focus on what ‘America’ per se has or hasn’t done still serves to conceal that wider program, which was built on a platform of plausible deniability by the OGA and its ‘subcontracted’ associates (you’ll note that the weasel clauses written into all the do as we say and not as we are doing anti-terror enactments always allowed an out for the military, select paramilitary and their ‘associates’ of innominate class). It doesn’t take one too long in going through the IRC reports to work out that GTMO was the destination not the journey, either.

  167. Joni,

    “Your reality is very different from mine, and I do grant you that you are consistent. Consistent in denial – anything you do not agree with is opinion, and anything that meets your world-view is fact.”

    Did you bother to read that document (Section II especially)? Seems the same questions I have raised and ones in which I am labeled a “torture advocate” for doing so were raised in detail, you should take another look; oddly my arguments were raised before the release of said documents? I must be clairvoyant….So I guess those who put together said document are in denial as well? Or perhaps anybody with half a brain would ask the same questions instead of charging head long into trying to substantiate their view with only the claims of former captives?

    Anyhow, your being a bit disingenuous here tough guy. Usually when I am attacked on this site for my “opinion” it is on multiple fronts and most “without” anything other than a link to an “opinion” piece, if that……If you spent more time “objectively” analyzing the crap you peddle instead of trying to find pieces where I contradict myself, you might see where I am coming from or god forbid, LEARN SOMETHING. Frankly though, you don’t want to see things from my perspective, typical of your ilk.

    Just what is my world view Joni, I am curious? I do disagree with you on a whole host of issues so does that make me a “radical”? I don’t think you’re in denial but I do think you operate more from an emotional level than a logical one. Disagreement use to be just that until the “thought police” started labeling anybody that disagreed with them using a whole litany of slants…Regardless, usually when I am asked to provide something to substantiate a claim (something never asked of most other posters say for Tony or James, pattern anybody) I do and regardless of the number of sources I am still discounted so who is really in denial? I simply disagree with your definition of torture, which if you will recall from your post/Bradbury;

    “Finally, we emphasize that these are issues about which reasonable persons may disagree. Our task has been made more diffIcult by the imprecision of the statute and the relatiwabsence ofjudicial gUidance, but we have applied our best reading of the law to the specific facts that you have provided.”

    Apparently, you are not “reasonable” if you happen to disagree with “some” Mr. Bradbury, didn’t you know? You’re in denial………

    “And, my dear, I do love your attempt at deflection, your “look – they did it too!”.

    That was not my intention, only to highlight that we have blatant such abuse around the world, easily accessible but you and countless others would rather spend 90% of your “cause” on targeting the US. It is as obvious as it is pathetic…..Besides, why would I deflect, I have previously unclassified documents raising my very same questions? The same questions that some here would deem “limited”….LOL

    “Maybe because the US did it to an AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN! And my government did nothing – nothing until the political heat got too much. And because the US should do better. They have in the past, and they will in the future.”

    I think this period in American History will only look to reflect what is best about my country…Questionable decisions may have been made but the manner in which they were made are not unique in our history. Again, I draw your attention to FDR or Lincoln. What is missing from this discussion is “context” but I doubt it would make any difference to you….The fact that we even have “documents” to view is a credit to the process not a damming example of the loss of.

    “Oh – and I do other activism work about China, in a much more effective way than this blog – but in your world, because I do not put it on here I am not concerned about it.”

    No, I didn’t say that but what is clear is you seem a bit more impassioned on this issue than that of China (how many posts have we seen on China). Unless you’re saying you only reserve posts for those subjects not as dear to your heart?

    “Maybe because the US did it to an AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN! And my government did nothing – nothing until the political heat got too much. And because the US should do better. They have in the past, and they will in the future.”

    Well again, you jump on the claims without any real evidence to the fact. Again, your concern is with the purported/claimed treatment of Hicks instead of why he was there to begin with (factual no CLAIM NEEDED)…Where is your outrage for his taking arms against Australia and America? Evidence vs claim…clearly you are unable to discern the two……

    “Tell us, Sparta, what confessions are SERE recruits tortured for?”

    Would it make any difference……..You’re clearly having comprehension issues here……Hey, it’s all about passion anyway though, right………

  168. We put our own soldiers though the same scenarios as the innocent “goat herders” without any of them becoming terrorists or suffering from long term mental anguish?

    For f*ck’s sake Sparta, we’ve covered this several times.

    It wasn’t the same scenario at all. Do you not comprehend the differences, do you not comprehend English, do you not wish to acknowledge the disingenuousness of this argument, …

    …or do you have some other reason for believing that
    – training exercises
    – under controlled circumstances
    – by your own colleagues
    – after careful psychological and physical evaluation
    – with a password you can utter to IMMEDIATELY bail out at any time

    is remotely like the experiences meted out by the US to detainees?

    You really do appear to have your head firmly in denial, or have a sociopathic lack of empathy for certain classes of human beings. Please help me understand that it’s not the latter…

  169. One more time and try to follow, “torture” is not a “black-and-white” term.

    Everyone agrees on that.

    But one more time, and try to follow. Waterboarding has long been considered torture by the US courts and international war crimes courts.

  170. Let us look at your continued mis-conception that the torture laws are just the UN laws.

    While you’re at it Sparta, go and read the Human Rights Watch open letter to Gonzales which I linked to earlier which names several US laws which it believes various interrogations practices including waterboarding violate.

  171. And let see, the TPVA (US law) says that torture includes:…

    You’ll note that the language of the US law subsequently quoted rather precisely follows the language of the UN Convention Against Torture.

    So can we agree that it’s irrelevant whether it’s the UN or US definition of torture, since they’re essentially the same? And stop using the UN as a red herring?

  172. Disagreement use to be just that until the “thought police” started labeling anybody that disagreed with them using a whole litany of slants…

    What, you mean slants such as “thought police”, “moron”, “your ilk [who want one world government]” and the like?

  173. That was not my intention, only to highlight that we have blatant such abuse around the world, easily accessible but you and countless others would rather spend 90% of your “cause” on targeting the US.

    Your inference is unsupported by evidence, as are so many of your assertions. You assume that what you see on the threads you look at here is all that people care about – that one limited view is comprehensive. Don’t be so presumptuous.

    Secondly, the reason that US torture and abuse is particularly odious is that the US – unlike, say, China – has held itself up as a beacon of civilisation and democracy for the world, and has spent plenty of time lecturing other countries about improving their own human rights records.

    And for that we applaud the US! It has a unique role to play in promoting human rights, and we want it to do so with legendary effectiveness.

    But when the US stoops to torture (or if you don’t believe that torture occurred, when it stoops to detainee abuse and/or cruel and degrading and inhumane treatment), and when it uses arguments formerly used by repressive tinpot dictators and regimes and by convicted war criminals to justify such behaviour, it loses its ability to play that role (and besmirches its own reputation in the process).

    (And yes, we’re not naive. We’re pretty much all aware the US has always had quite a dark underbelly – and built its nation and in particular (often quietly) conducted certain foreign policy operations in ways that would be just as shocking as the revelations of the last few years, except perhaps for the level of official approval and the breadth of application of nasty practices. This is true even if most Americans really don’t want to know that their country does such things. But despite that, the US was still one of the most positive forces for human rights improvements around the world until recently.)

    Our protests are not attacking the US, they are attacking its behaviour and policies because we want it to hold itself to a higher standard. (And we’re (generally) not attacking you, we’re attacking your position). If you can’t see the distinction between either of those pairs of things, then perhaps there’s no point discussing these types of issues with you.

  174. The fact that we even have “documents” to view is a credit to the process not a damming example of the loss of.

    No, it’s not. And we have plenty of documents from past administrations (once the 30 year secrecy period expires). It’s not the fact that documents become public that matters, it’s whether they are made public during the time when the key decisions are being made.

    And in that respect the Bush administration was far and away the most secretive in history. And if they had their way these documents would never have seen the light of day. (Heck, they even tried to destroy all copies of Zelikow’s dissenting memo…which isn’t exactly a “credit to the process” now, is it?)

  175. Again, your concern is with the purported/claimed treatment of Hicks instead of why he was there to begin with.

    You’re damn right about the first half, and the second half is irrelevant to the first. In my world view certain treatment of detainees is never merited, no matter what the detainee is alleged (or proven) to have done.

    In your world view, apparently “why he was there to begin with” may justify “the purported/claimed treatment”. I’d say that reveals a pretty significant part of your worldview. Under certain circumstances you’re quite happy meting out abuse that likely rises to the level of torture according to most courts and people on the street.

    In other words, you’re implying that you think torture – or at least very heavy abuse if we all agree not to call it torture – is justifiable.

    Doesn’t that make you a torture advocate?

  176. No, meting out retribution corporal punishment enhanced interrogation in advance of a trial, even a purpose-established kangaroo court presiding over retrospective charges, is always well-merited per the rule of law. Now is not the time for retribution, though, and all that jazz, so we are mending our ways, whether Rush Limbaugh slaps himself in the face a thousand times till he gets the message or not. 😉

  177. “You really do appear to have your head firmly in denial, or have a sociopathic lack of empathy for certain classes of human beings. Please help me understand that it’s not the latter…”

    What about my position are you missing? Clearly you need to calm down and focus a bit….

    “is remotely like the experiences meted out by the US to detainees?”

    So we are not talking about the “act” now but about the details surrounding the event as well? Yes, I must be sociopathic now, or is it a torture advocate? I can’t keep up with the labels….

    “Everyone agrees on that.”

    No, they don’t…Especially here, to include you. Apparently I now I have a sociopathic lack of empathy…Amusing..

    “But one more time, and try to follow. Waterboarding has long been considered torture by the US courts and international war crimes courts.”

    Following genius, but what part of the definition of torture is clear cut in your mind? I didn’t realize it was defined in terms of “tactics” now? That is a new one to me…Are we not talking about the UN’s definition that you seem to have abandoned now?

    “While you’re at it Sparta, go and read the Human Rights Watch open letter to Gonzales which I linked to earlier which names several US laws which it believes various interrogations practices including waterboarding violate.”

    Well that is a problem for me and many other “torture” advocates. I tend to make a “distinction” between “international law” and “domestic”…Follow….They are not synonymous professor…

    “So can we agree that it’s irrelevant whether it’s the UN or US definition of torture, since they’re essentially the same? And stop using the UN as a red herring?”

    Flipping hilarious, no we cannot…You are the one who went on and on about the UN…..Now it is a “Red Herring”…FFS as you like to say……..

    “What, you mean slants such as “thought police”, “moron”, “your ilk [who want one world government]” and the like?”

    Oh I am sorry, I am not allowed to defend myself with the same language/tone I am usually attacked with? My bad, I keep forgetting condescension in your “rule book” is also not synonymous with an insult…ilk, thought police, oh my………Shall we revisit how you typically pipe in on my comments? Honestly, try to focus on your original disagreement on this subject or should we discount the UN now because it is a “Red Herring”…LOL….What a joke…It is the classic “I don’t have a rebuttal” and one often used by your “ilk”………Can you actually present something now worth commenting on, this is becoming quite boring reading and responding to your confusion/attention deficit……If you want to learn how to disagree with my opinion without drawing a nasty reply, try visiting how Min disagrees with me “for fucks sake”……..

  178. Would it make any difference……..You’re clearly having comprehension issues here……Hey, it’s all about passion anyway though, right…

    Who’s having comprehension issues? Stop while you’re behind.

    One more time, very slowly.

    1. “Torture” as defined under US law and the UN Convention Against Torture requires that the “severe pain or suffering, whether mental or physical” be

    …intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

    2. Now see that part that begins “for such purposes as…”? If the behaviour in question doesn’t satisfy that part, it doesn’t fall under the definition of torture.

    3. Now, would you please substantiate how SERE instructors intend to extract a confession from or punish or intimidate their subjects etc.?

    4. Can’t do so? So now we know that the SERE instructors are not torturing their voluntary subjects under the legal definition of torture. That was joni’s point.

    5. Now, I bet you reckon joni missed your point – the one where repeatedly argue that because someone voluntarily submits to a practice under one circumstance (SERE training that used to include waterboarding) without prolonged mental or physical harm, that someone else who involuntarily suffers that practice (waterboarding by interrogators) can’t/isn’t likely to suffer prolonged mental or physical harm.

    6. Let’s return to your rape example. Do you agree that a female rape victim may experience prolonged mental suffering as a consequence of the rape act? And yet that same woman may have voluntarily consented to sexual intercourse in the past, perhaps even under roleplay scenarios with a “forced sex” component? Do you see how the two scenarios are experienced completely differently, even though the same practices are performed? Or are you really going to go on record to argue that rape – just like waterboarding – can not result in long term mental harm?

  179. Nope, but claiming and proving are different in my world. Is it a claim or factual he was fighting against Australia and the US….Find investigate the claim but asserting is another thing all together….Think real hard, you can do it…..Snore…ZZZZZZZZ. I get the impression idiocy is your infliction, how many times do I need to reiterate my position; in how many different ways before you understand that I SIMPLY DISAGREE WITH YOUR DEFINITION OF TORTURE and again attest that the UN’s “Red Herring” is ambiguous at best….LOL

    Legion,

    How long are you going to be stalking me?

  180. Lotharrson,

    Very simply, how do you prove “severe pain and suffering” have occurred and when do you know that you have crossed this threshold….I will continue responding to your asinine questions/assertions when you finally answer just ONE of mine……..Anybody……….

  181. So we are not talking about the “act” now but about the details surrounding the event as well?

    Yes. Unless you can explain why those “details” have no bearing on the experience of the subject. Can you?

    …but what part of the definition of torture is clear cut in your mind? I didn’t realize it was defined in terms of “tactics” now? That is a new one to me…Are we not talking about the UN’s definition that you seem to have abandoned now?

    I see little point in repeating my outline of distinctions that are clearly too subtle for you, but let me try one more time.

    In terms of the applicable US and UN laws, waterboarding has been considered CLEARLY over the line defining torture for 100+ years. The fact that some other behaviours may fall into a grey area where it is difficult to tell either way has no bearing on that fact.

    It’s kind of like saying that if you’re caught doing 95 in a 40 zone, you’re clearly speeding, but if the radar gun reads 44 you’re in a gray area because it has a margin of error and thus it isn’t clearly proven that you were speeding.

    And yet you continue to argue that merely because there is a grey area, that waterboarding can’t really be called torture. Or in the analogy, that because the radar gun may read a couple of mph out, that the officer can’t be sure you were speeding when it said you were doing 95.

    Well that is a problem for me and many other “torture” advocates. I tend to make a “distinction” between “international law” and “domestic”.

    I’m sorry, but for someone who regularly denigrates the intellectual capacity of others, you show a surprising level of incomprehension of facts that have been repeatedly presented.

    As has been pointed out many times over, the UN Convention Against Torture has the force of law in the US. In other words, it is domestic law. (Or are you arguing that it isn’t? I have challenged you on this point in the past and you always go quiet.)

    And as was explicitly stated in my point about that letter to Gonzalez, several other “domestic” laws that were passed in the usual “domestic” fashion by your Congress and Senate and signed by the President were referenced.

    And joni has even quoted the definition of torture from one of those “domestic” laws – that precisely matched the definition from the UN Convention Against Torture.

    So yes, you are throwing red herrings.

    Next point. I wrote “everyone here agrees on that” and you responded:

    No, they don’t…Especially here, to include you.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

    I agreed with you on a point – and YOU TELL ME I DON’T! What’s the point of discussing things with you if you feel free to believe that I anything I say is a lie? (But it’s a great tactic to end participation in a debate you don’t want to continue.)

  182. Very simply, how do you prove “severe pain and suffering” have occurred and when do you know that you have crossed this threshold….

    This has been answered over and over again.

    You do it in the same way that you do with any law that requires a subjective assessment – such laws forming a non-trivial part of your legal code.

    In this case, you are pretty certain you’ve crossed that threshold when the subject tearfully begs you to stop – or if you have gagged him with a wet cloth and bound him to a table, when he gags and convulses in a way that human beings who have regular empathic functions instinctively recognise as signs of severe pain or suffering.

    For starters.

  183. in how many different ways before you understand that I SIMPLY DISAGREE WITH YOUR DEFINITION OF TORTURE…

    Oh, I get that, believe me. But it’s not my definition that matters, it’s the legal definition (disregarding for the moment the ethical or moral dimensions).

    You’re not getting that I’m pushing you to substantiate your disagreement against the legal definition based on (say) some plausible logic and evidence.

    The root of our disagreement is not in the definition. It’s in the validity of your logic. You think it’s fine, I think there are myriad reasons why it’s bogus.

    I doubt we’re going to resolve that.

  184. So, Sparta, are you still beating your wife?

  185. “But it’s a great tactic to end participation in a debate you don’t want to continue.”

    Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to do…Run from your stupidity and ranting…Now if you can address my question? Between 5 of you, none has been able to respond to my original contention. Oh and Lotharrson, you couldn’t win a debate with a cretin….
    “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”

    How about just putting on that “funny hat and doing whatever it is morons do”…..

    “I agreed with you on a point – and YOU TELL ME I DON’T!”

    If you agree that the term is not black in white then what the hell has been the point of pressing on with more asinine questions? What is your contention then you dunce? To continue to agree to disagree, LOL…..YOU have some issues mate……Re examine your “original” post to my point of view…Clearly you have lost sight of much……Again, answer my ONE little lonely question please, otherwise, what is the point indeed…….

  186. “The root of our disagreement is not in the definition. It’s in the validity of your logic. You think it’s fine, I think there are myriad reasons why it’s bogus.”

    What, the meaning of words? If you think it is bogus fine, that is your contention but you started this thing in regards to “LEGALITY” of the UN language, language we were to abide by and follow. Words have meaning; you do understand that “LOGIC”, don’t you? I simply have pointed out that the language is ambiguous and you say (“yes it is, but I am going to continue harping on about how you and I disagree about this but somehow my view is superior?” WTF)……What I personally believe and you personally believe is not at issue thank god…Laws would be useless indeed if they existed in the context of our own personal “beliefs”, we would have anarchy!!!!!

  187. If you agree that the term is not black in white then what the hell has been the point of pressing on with more asinine questions?

    It’s only you that seems to think that because terms are not black and white that we can never say that something is clearly in the “black” zone (i.e. doing 95 rather than 44-ish) – and that this is somehow a valid and logical defense rather than an obvious fallacy. No wonder you find it difficult to understand much of our criticisms.

    Oh and Lotharrson, you couldn’t win a debate with a cretin…

    Yes, it’s hard to win a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. They don’t have the faculties to recognise when they have been beaten. More fool me for trying though.

  188. “So, Sparta, are you still beating your wife?”

    Yes that must be it Legion, if you cannot answer it can’t be that you “have no answer” or “defense” it must be “loaded”. Your ego is out of control dude…..

    Unfortunately we are talking about language in a UN document, not my words…The same questions raised apparently in the “released documents”…But in response to your “hypothetical”, I have never and never would beat my wife…So much for a loaded question……

  189. “Yes, it’s hard to win a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. They don’t have the faculties to recognise when they have been beaten. More fool me for trying though.”

    Still waiting for you to answer my question?????????????????? Are you capable of even trying; very simple but obviously not simple enough for you…

  190. Come on gentleman, between the two of you one should be able to come up with something?

  191. I thought Min did a good job of providing you with an ‘answer’ earlier in the ‘reasonable person’ test, but that would presuppose attributes for a ‘reasonable person’.

  192. Oi Sparts, love yer work mate but yer pissin into tha flippin wind big fella, OK? Yer wastin yer extremely precious bloomin time with all these disgustin work-shy greenies an frolickin fairies, OK?.

    Yer wastin yer considerable talents on the illiterate flippin peasants. I mean,
    these treacherous little ppl have got no flippin respeck at all have they? An they jest keep flippin answerin back. No respeck at all, A? Moi, I blame the pinko teachers union fer all of it.

    Given yer carryin yer heavy sword an democratic shield such a bloomin long way from home, Sparts, I thought I’d give yer the big tip: yer’ll feel right at home an meet much more agreeable, like-minded friends loike moi, at the Piers Ackerman blog in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, OK?

    I’d find yer the link moiself – he winks – but Paris is wearin that purple crotchless baby doll again – he winks twice – an rustlin moi up an early mornin snack in my corporate kitchen, so I gotta go …

  193. Timing is everything, so the saying goes: a propitious invitation and an interleaved fifth memo. Oh, and something via Thomas the Law Engine for those who willfully refuse to understand that track A ruley and trooly intersects with Track B .

  194. Lotharsson presents, for your amusement and potential edification:

    A CAPITAL DODGE

    A contemporary Farce in One Sorry Act

    The scene: an unassuming room fitted out with booths equipped with stacks of official looking forms, standard bureacratic posters adorning the walls, and a bunch of somewhat bored-looking staff members manning their stations. From the subject matter of the posters and the resigned attitude of those in the queue, it becomes apparent that this is a branch of the DMV (the US equivalent of the RTA, i.e. the State motor vehicle bureacracy).

    Our protagonist, “Sport”, enters the room clutching a form and some documents. A tone rings and a ticket number and station are called. A pasty-faced young guy in a pizza delivery uniform with “Dave” embossed on the front breast pocket looks at his ticket with a start of recognitions and moves to the nominated station where DMV official “Janet” asks “How can I help you today?”. Shortly afterwards the other clients begin to turn subtly towards Dave and Janet in response to a more heated tone in their Dave’s conversation. Sport moves close by to hear what’s going on.

    Janet: “You have to fill this application form out again.”

    Dave: “There’s nothing wrong with it!”

    Janet: “Please do it again and this time follow instructions.”

    Dave: “It’s fine! Take it! I need my license renewed!”

    Sport takes a step or two closer and looks at the form.

    Sport: “I don’t see anything wrong with it. Why won’t you do your job?”

    Janet arches one eyebrow ever so slightly: “Sir, this form clearly states that it must be filled out in capital letters, in blue or black pen.”

    Sport: “I don’t think so. No-one’s ever said that to me. Why are you being so unreasonable?”

    Janet points to the large bold letters at the top of the form saying “This form must be filled out in capital letters using a blue or black pen”.

    Sport: “Look, I’m not a teacher, but those look like capital letters to me. Why don’t you just do your job?”

    Janet: “Yes sir, I do consider those capital letters, but that’s a red pen.”

    Sport: “But there’s no regulation that says it can’t be red. That’s just a polite request, I don’t have to comply.”

    Janet turns the form over and point to some official looking small print and begins to read in a bored official monotone.

    Janet: “Federal licensing regulation 16.204b section II subsection F, issued Feb 7 1984. “Applications for state licenses that qualify as ID for Federal purposes must be completed by the applicant using clearly legible capital letters written or printed with permanent ink of a colour that is blue or black. Any application which fails to meet this requirement shall be deemed invalid for the purposes of obtaining documents which qualify as valid ID for Federal purposes. Jurisdictions may summarily reject such applications, or at their discretion may accept such applications providing that any documents issued in response to such an application must be stamped with the logo “NOT VALID AS FEDERAL ID” in high contrast lettering which occupies not less than 25% of the face of said document.” This State does not accept such applications.”

    Sport: “But that’s a Federal law, and I distinguish between Federal and State legislation. So just process the form!”

    Janet, raising the other eyebrow this time: “Sir, you are free to distinguish between Federal and State legislation all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that both Federal and State legislation apply here. Furthermore, I direct your attention to the following paragraphs which outline the specific State law that applies to this situation.”

    Sport inspects the next three paragraphs of fine print, mumbling as he reads. Meanwhile Dave is fidgeting and clearly getting edgy.

    Dave: “But my boss told me to use red pen – it’s our company colour, and my license signature must be red! There’s nothing wrong with it!”

    Sport: “Yeah, see, he has to use red pen! His boss ordered him to, so it’s OK!”

    Janet: “Sir, the *laws* states that the form must be filled out in legible capital letters using black or blue pen. Your boss’s instructions do not override those laws. You are responsible for personal compliance with the law regardless of instructions from anyone else.”

    Sport: “Why are you going on and on about a Federal law? That’s not relevant – this is Arizona! States Rights, yeah baby! Am I right, people?!”

    Sport looks around at the queuing public hoping for an enthusiastic backing. Most are busy scrutinizing their application forms, their neighbours’ backs, the posters – or the floor.

    Janet: “Sir, may I remind you that firstly the State and Federal laws which you just read both apply here, and that secondly that they both use precisely the same language and impose the same requirements. It is merely a pointless distraction to bring up the distinctions between the two.”

    Sport: “Stop using the Federal law as a red herring! Are you not capable of seeing that used capital letters?” [To a neighbour] “Do those look like capitals to you? Pretty clear to me.”

    Janet sighs the slow deep sigh of one who spends her days dealing with people who don’t want to hear what she has to say, let alone comply with instructions. She begins to emphasise key points of her phrases in the authoritative tone of one who does this for a living: “Sir, the relevant law*s* require writing in a *blue* or *black* pen. This form is not filled out in blue or black pen.”

    Sport: “Well, come on, I really don’t think we can be so sure so maybe you should just process this form. You know, everyone experiences colors differently. How can we determine where the boundary between blue and – what’s the next color on the spectrum, green? Yeah, green. …the boundary between blue and green lies for different people? One person’s cyan might be another person’s turquoise, right?”

    Janet (with a tone of mild official disdain): “Sir, I do have some appreciation for the subjective nature of color perception, but this ink is red. Which is *clearly* not blue or black.”

    Sport: “But that’s just your opinion! Neither your opinion or mine matters – just the law!”

    Janet: “Yes, sir, I’m glad you finally agree with me that compliance with the law is required. Now, given that this ink clearly does not meet the legal requirement for ‘black’ or ‘blue’ ink, would you please return to your place in the queue?”

    Sport: “But you haven’t answered my question! How do you determine the boundary between blue and green under the law? It’s really not that obvious to me.”

    Janet (with a touch of cold exasperation): “Sir, whilst that is an interesting question for philosophers and lawyers in its own right, and whilst it may be relevant should someone choose to use ink that is much closer in color to the commonly acceptable definition of ‘blue’, *in this particular case* we don’t need to know. This is red ink, which clearly doesn’t meet the ‘black or blue’ ink test under the law.”

    Sport: “I don’t agree that that is red ink. And how can *you* be so sure? We all see color differently. Maybe that guy over there sees this as blue. I’m certainly not sure it’s red.”

    Janet: “Sir, if you enquire at your local library they’ll be able to point you to reference texts that describe the commonly accepted definitions for the ranges of wavelengths of pure colored light that correspond to different colors. You will find that the range for the color ‘red’ is clearly remarkably distinct from the range for the color ‘blue’.”

    Sport: “But you haven’t answered my question! How can we distinguish between blue and green?”

    Janet: “Sir, if you cast your mind back a few seconds you’ll note that I have previously answered your *irrelevant* question. Furthermore, whilst I agree with you that there may be argument over precisely which wavelength is the boundary between blue and green, I submit to you that in this case it doesn’t matter because it is ‘red’ versus ‘blue’ that matters.”

    Sport: “But you *disagree* with me about the boundary between blue and green being hard to determine! So process the form!”

    Janet: “Sir, you’ll note, contrary to your assertion, that I agree with you on the potential fuzziness of the boundary between blue and green, but do feel compelled to point out once more that due to the *red* ink used it is irrelevant to this particular form. Please step aside.”

    Sport: “But, but, wait – if you agree with me, why are you being such a pain in the proverbial about this form? If you agree with me then it’s fine? Accept it!”

    Janet: “Sir, as I have repeatedly stated, the boundary between blue and green is not relevant in this particular case, and furthermore I note that should a case arise where it proves relevant, that we have established procedures for making a determination. These procedures are in line with established procedures at other government agencies and corporations who must make similar determinations. I’m sure they’d be happy to talk to you about it if you made an inquiry through official channels. Now please step aside.”

    Sport: “Why are you dodging my question?! Answer it!”

    Janet: “Sir, I have answered your question, which I have noted is irrelevant to current circumstances, in several different ways. If you are unable or unwilling to recognise an answer when one is provided, I suggest that you reconsider how you pose your question, preferably off to one side so that I can process other applications.”

    Sport: “But the law doesn’t define the terms ‘red’, ‘blue’, ‘green’ or ‘black’. You can’t just say that a panel of jurors would find this ink to be red.”

    Janet (clearly exasperated): “Sir, if you were to make inquiries about legal conventions you would find that when laws use terms with commonly accepted definitions without providing an explicit definition of their own, that they imply that the commonly accepted definitions are to be used during interpretation. Your local librarian can provide you with a wealth of information on this fascinating topic. Now if everyone *else* in this room gave their truthful opinion I’d be willing to bet they would all call this red, except perhaps for some of those who are colorblind. If have any evidence to the contrary I’m all ears.”

    Sport: “See, that’s what I mean right there. If someone is colorblind, this could be blue to them. That makes it alright.”

    Janet: “Sir, the law also uses a reasonable person test. It expects terms to be used as understood by the average person, who does not, absent certain physiological defects such as colorblindness, on average tend to report seeing red ink as colored blue. Please return to your place in the queue.”

    Sport: “But maybe the specific panel of jurors would see things differently.”

    Janet, pointing to a cork board on one wall: “Sir, the sample applications prominently pinned to that noticeboard have been assessed by the officials in charge of determining application validity and found wanting. The reasons for rejection are stated next to each one. You will find more than one example rejected specifically for being *written in red ink*, and you will note that the shade of ink so rejected is remarkably similar to the shade used here. These applications were specifically posted in order to be used as examples of judgements for the edification of both the public and DMV staff, in order that one should expect similar errors in applications to be met with similar judgements in future. Please study them, *over there*.”

    Sport: “Oh, come on. What – you’re relying on ‘precedent’ now? Give me a break. How can you seriously suggest that? Why, I once filled out an application for a library card in green ink when they said it had to be blue. So that proves ‘precedent’ doesn’t have any bearing here.”

    Janet: “Sir, examples of violations of policy do not legitimise those violations. Please step aside and take a moment to consider what sort of country we’d have if they did.”

    Sport: “But you haven’t answered my question – how do you distinguish green and blue? I mean, they’re so close together and we all see differently, so it’s understandable you could mistake the two some times. Maybe the light was bad that day, or maybe you didn’t have enough sleep, or it was that time of month – so let’s just agree that this is close enough to blue or black not to get too upset about it, OK? Or are you too thick to understand that?”

    The stage curtain falls as Sport’s protestations fade…

  195. Oh lotharson – a work of genius.

    You have given me a big smile for the afternoon…. now, is my pen blue or green??

  196. Glad someone enjoyed it, given that this thread has largely died.

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