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Torture

(Editor's note: I put up the title "Torture" as a place-holder until I thought of a better one, then forgot to actually do that. I'd go back and fix it, but apparently changing titles messes up the site something fierce. My apologies for such a bland title.)

Yesterday, the folks at Wizbang Blue tossed up a link and excerpted Glenn Greenwald's latest discussion of torture. I was annoyed at the Sockmaster's piece, but didn't have time to properly eviscerate it before I had to scamper off to The Day Job, so I just did a bit of spoofing of his past transgressions.

But I didn't put the whole thing behind me.

Greenwald (or whatever name he's calling himself these days) manages to capture a couple of common bogus notions in his discussion of "torture." I think it's high time someone rebutted them.

1) Torture is torture.

To many people, any sort of coercion or use of force is "torture." Abu Ghraib is often cited as the classic example of US torture.

I have a stricter definition of torture. To me, it involves severe pain, physical injury, maiming. In fact, here's a pretty good definition:

The act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

The United States does not torture. We do not condone torture, we do not sanction it, we do not order it, we do not tolerate it.

But we do interrogate. We do question. And we do use less than pleasant techniques. Ones we developed that are not nice, but fall short of "torture."

"Waterboarding" is one of them. It inflicts no physical injuries. It produces severe emotional stress and terror, bypassing the intellect and assailing the survival instinct. And it has no long-term consequences. Hell, I've seen TV reporters get themselves waterboarded as a ratings stunt.

Most importantly, it works. Witness Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. That son of a bitch lasted about as long as a kitten in a pit bull fight once we used that on him. And the only harm was to his fragile self-esteem, as this mighty terrorist found himself giving up all his secrets after a somewhat forceful bath.

We also use other less than chivalrous techniques. We deprive them of sleep. We inflict bad music on them -- loudly. We find their social, cultural, and religious "hot buttons" and push them. We lie to them. We confuse them. We, in brief, screw with their heads in any way we can to get them and keep them off balance to get them to reveal what we want.

But we do not torture.

Torture, as I will repeat, is "inflicting excruciating pain." That often involves injury, sometimes permanent, and occasionally death. If you need a refresher on what torture involves, go see what some expert practitioners recommend. But not if you have a weak stomach.

2) Torture is torture.

To the uninitiated, that might seem very similar to point 1, but they are missing the subtle difference. They are missing that "torture must be condemned equally, no matter who practices it" interpretation.

Here is where I tend to part company with Mr. Greenwald and his compatriots again. Their position seems to be "torture is always wrong, and we must strongly condemn it whenever it happens." That's a fine, noble sentiment, but it tends to have somewhat unbalanced results.

When someone condemns the actions of a government, especially a democracy, it can have a decided effect of the conduct of that government. Public opinion can be swayed by such actions, and public opinion can be a potent weapon against a government.

When one condemns the actions of a non-government organization, especially a largely covert one like Al Qaeda or shadowy "insurgents," though, it achieves absolutely nothing. The standard discussion when their acts of torture are brought up -- such as in the case of the raid on the "torture chambers" Al Qaeda was running in Iraq, the liberation of 42 Iraqis, and the capture of their torture manuals -- the discussion tends to run somewhat like this:

"Did you hear coalition forces captured an Al Qaeda torture base?"

"Yes, I did."

"And do you condemn Al Qaeda's use of torture?"

"What kind of stupid question is that? Of course I do!"

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you say that before."

"That's because I don't say it every time."

"Why not?"

"What would be the point? My condemning it won't have any effect. I got tired of mouthing it over and over again."

To one side, the condemnation of terrorist acts is redundant -- it simply ought to be presumed, as no reasonable person would do otherwise. But complaints about government deeds has a possibility of achieving results, so it's a better use of their time.

To the other, though, the steady stream of protests against the government's actions while studious silence about the similar, but far more heinous, deeds of the other side represent a hypocrisy, a double standard, a decision to hold the government to a high standard while ignoring (and, tacitly, endorsing or at least accepting) the far worse actions of the other.

I don't think that either argument is ideal. I find myself thinking that while the actions of the government might be questionable, the ones being done by the terrorists are far, far worse -- and need to be stopped faster. And, historically, there has been only one solution to reforming such groups' actions. Humanitarian appeals, concessions, negotiations, sanctions, pressures, protests, and the like tend to be largely useless; only force seems to work.

And that's what we are doing in Iraq.

The United States does not, as a rule, practice torture. Yes, there have been exceptions, but as a general rule we do not. And in many of those exceptions, those that committed torture have been punished. Further, when we do, it is almost always in the aim of saving lives, of preventing attacks, of protecting the innucent.

Our enemy, as a rule, does torture. They terrorize, they inflict great pain and grievous injury, they maim, they cripple, and they kill. And their motives are considerably less benign: they wish to terrorize, to make examples, to punish, or simply to slake their own bloodlust and thirst for carnage.

And now, a final point:

3) Torture is torture.

Again, this might sound like the previous points, but there is a subtle difference. The government -- the part that makes rules and sets policies -- has stated that the United States will not commit torture. Another part of the government -- the part that carries out policy set by that first part -- comes back with the very natural followup question: "could you please define what you mean by 'torture,' so we can make sure we don't do it?"

The response has been less than clear, but certain elements have been espoused: no lasting physical harm. No serious injury. No severe pain. No killing. No direct threats of same.

So the people from the second group looked at their responsibilities -- obtaining information from people who had absolutely no interest in providing it -- and started working out techniques and methods that were not forbidden. Waterboarding was probably the most famous one. Another -- "extraordinary rendition" -- was also used. In that one, we told the captives that if they did not prove themselves worthy of remaining in our custody, we would turn them over to another government that had a claim to their person -- and that government didn't play by the same rules we did. It was an indirect threat of real torture, but not a direct one.

But torture -- real, actual torture, the sort that we ended in that charnel house in Iraq -- is right out. We don't do that. We fight, we imprison, we kill those that do it.

But that sort of point escapes Mr. Greenwald and his kind. They know that they are impotent to stop real torture, so they sop their consciences by trying to do what they can. If they can't fight real torture, then they'll find something that they can define as "torture" and stop that.

If, it turns out, that they end up tying the hands of our intelligence people and keep them from uncovering vital information that would save lives from future terrorist attacks, that's merely the price to be paid for keeping our hands squeaky-clean.

It's a cheap price, for them. They're seldom the ones that pay it. These days, it's being paid by Iraqi civilians and US troops, not pampered, elitist, sock-puppeteering, self-aggrandizing political hacks like Greenwald.


Comments (50)

A guy so fierce, he can mak... (Below threshold)

A guy so fierce, he can make socks talk.

Glenn Greenwald: the real face of torture.

by applying the "One size f... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

by applying the "One size fit all" description to the word "Torture", the Left can and does routinely lump alQueda with us.

The vastly of the difference is NEVER discussed.

Example: I have, I freely admit, run a Stop-Sign or two in the past. This technically makes me a criminal. Ted Bundy slaughtered numerous people, and was obviously a criminal. Therefore Ted Bundy and I are BOTH criminals (ok, he's a corpse too).

By lumping alQueda's TRUE torture, in with our "less than pleasant interogation techniques", the Left minimizes alQueda's crimes, and condemns us.

Simple question: would you rather be:
(a) water-boarded or
(b) have both your eyes gounged out?

Follow-up:
(a) be left naked and shivering in a too-cold cell, deprived of sleep and subjected to Barbara Streisand music 24X7
(b) watch your daughter and wife raped and mutilated in front of your eyes?

and so on. The (a) choices are pleasant...and I'd rather not, thank you. But if (b), or worse, is the only choice (and it IS with alQueda)...then I will choose (a) every time.

That's the TRUE difference between what WE do, and what the animals we are facing do!

sorry...make that "The (... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

sorry...make that "The (a) choices are UNpleasant"

JayI think you hav... (Below threshold)

Jay

I think you have identified the core of the left's problem with torture.

"If they can't fight real torture, then they'll find something that they can define as "torture" and stop that."

For all the pseudo intellectualism the left regularly bathes in I'm struck by their frequent habit of donning blinders when their own canon contradicts their politics. I made this point on the sock puppet post last night. How can any relatively literate person compare US policies on torture with what can be read from the first hand accounts of Solzhenitsyn or Dostoyevsky? Abu Grahib = Lubyanka? Find the US torture archipelago on the map for me.

The following theme continues to appear on hard left sites and in comments by trolls here: they increasingly sound like Stalinist sympathizers in the 1930's in their criticism of US policy today.

The Left seems to think tha... (Below threshold)
Dirk:

The Left seems to think that its better to let a hundred bombs go off than waterboard a possibly innocent man.

HughS, I hate to argue thei... (Below threshold)

HughS, I hate to argue their points for them, but maybe if I say it first, it'll pre-empt them:

The US version of the "Gulag archipelago" is/was the alleged chain of secret CIA prisons that we had across Europe.

Of course, we didn't use that for our own citizens, so it's a flawed comparison...

J.

Good point about the flawed... (Below threshold)

Good point about the flawed comparison, Jay.

I brought up the Gulag because Solzhenitsyn's description of the jouney was so credible, perhaps made so by the fact that he had to suffer for decades to get the story out.

We here in nice safe Americ... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

We here in nice safe America routinely use the word "Torture", and we lessen its TRUE meaning everytime we do.

"Man, that 5 hour plane ride was torture!"

"This heat & humidity is torture!"

"My mother-in-law spent 2 weeks living with us, and it was pure torture"

and so on...

People in the Middle East and elsewhere KNOW what torture is. And the KNOW that it is NOT having to wear women's panties on your head!!

The real torture is given t... (Below threshold)
marc:

The real torture is given to the socks Greenwald stretches of his fat over-inflated head.

Other than that, great post.

The Left seems to think ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The Left seems to think that its better to let a hundred bombs go off than waterboard a possibly innocent man.

Yeah! And the founders of the United States happen to agree with them. Why do you hate Benjamin Franklin?

The Left seems to think ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The Left seems to think that its better to let a hundred bombs go off than waterboard a possibly innocent man.

Yeah! And the founders of the United States happen to agree with them. Why do you hate Benjamin Franklin?

Yeah! And the foun... (Below threshold)
Farmer Joe:
Yeah! And the founders of the United States happen to agree with them. Why do you hate Benjamin Franklin?

Sure. Why actually think about an issue when you can score a cheap point with a quote?

Brian: "Yeah! And the fo... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Brian: "Yeah! And the founders of the United States happen to agree with them"

Do you think the Founders would have valued 10 MILLION+ lives (the explosion of 100 atomic bombs would actually EXCEED this), over water-boarding one suspect?

Do YOU make that value judgement?

Do YOU consider water-boarding to be in the same league as:
- using pliers to remove a person's skin?
- forcing a father to watch his daughter raped and slaughtered?
- removing a man's penis and shoving it in his mouth?

These are some of the TAMER methods our enemy has used. Of course, they have NEVER resorted to putting women's panties on a man's head! THAT would be horrific!

BrianIn th true spir... (Below threshold)

Brian
In th true spirit of the Guiness Beer ads I must say "BRILLIANT!"

BTW, Franlkin's work and contributions to the Declaration of Independence put him on the hangman's list if the Colonies failed. None of us hate Ben Franklin because he was clearly speaking of us, as citizens, when he made the remark in your link. This is an example of how you frequently veer off the subject and crash.

And we do use less than ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

And we do use less than pleasant techniques. Ones we developed that are not nice, but fall short of "torture."

Sorry, Jay, we did not "develop" waterboarding. It was used in the past. And history has made a determination about its use, and imposed a harsh penalty.

It's very good to have thes... (Below threshold)

It's very good to have these types of discussions, but I do agree the perceived definition of torture varies widely.

I don't know about anyone else, but being in a prison cell sounds torturous to me.

Sorry, Jay, we did no... (Below threshold)

Sorry, Jay, we did not "develop" waterboarding.

Oh my, we've become the SS, Brian? Do tell, in detail.

Brian...and one more point,... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Brian...and one more point, remember that we don't scoop folks up off the street to "water-board" or in any other way interogate them.

AlQueda, on the other hand, DOES exactly that!

Eric but I do ... (Below threshold)

Eric
but I do agree the perceived definition of torture varies widely....
That's why I try to add some historical perspective.

For example, why is the definition of torture dumbed down by the left in our country when it comes to our enemies?

Why is the bar defining torture raised when it comes to our country?

Further, and more to Jay's point, why do leftists so instinctively believe our enemies on this matter?

Do you think the Founder... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Do you think the Founders would have valued 10 MILLION+ lives (the explosion of 100 atomic bombs would actually EXCEED this), over water-boarding one suspect?

Your hysteria aside (100 atomic bombs... really?), yes. Their statement was one of principle, not of numbers. I don't recall any history citing a quote such as "better a hundred men go free... but a hundred and one, that's too many."

Do YOU make that value judgement?

No, they did. And founded a country upon it.

Do YOU consider water-boarding to be in the same league as:

Is that your criteria? If you can think of something worse, then it's not really that bad after all?

Sure. Why actually think... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Sure. Why actually think about an issue when you can score a cheap point with a quote?

Sure, and why actually respond to a point when you can make a snide comment about it instead?

Brian...and one more poi... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Brian...and one more point, remember that we don't scoop folks up off the street to "water-board" or in any other way interogate them.

You mean all those innocent people the government has released after holding them without charges walked in voluntarily?

Oh my, we've become the ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Oh my, we've become the SS, Brian? Do tell, in detail.

Oh my, we obviously have no intelligent reponse to a historical point of fact, do we?

Aren't you conservatives fond of the phrase "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it?"

BrianYour hyst... (Below threshold)

Brian
Your hysteria aside (100 atomic bombs... really?), yes. Their statement was one of principle, not of numbers. I don't recall any history citing a quote such as "better a hundred men go free... but a hundred and one, that's too many."

Are you making this a strict constuctionist argument? Do you really believe (let's lower the deathcount to then historic reality) that the Founding Fathers would let 5,000 Colonists die if they believed they could extract information from one Red Coat that would save them? I posit that that there is no principal that would stand in their way...for reasons I stated above about franklin. They were in a death battle and would surely perish if they failed.

For example, why is the ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

For example, why is the definition of torture dumbed down by the left in our country when it comes to our enemies?

It isn't. Waterboarding was considered torture in the war crime trials after WWII, and counted in the charges for which people were executed. If you cared to pay attention, the court "found it decisive that the defendants had inflicted serious physical and mental suffering on their victims". That's serious physical and mental suffering. Those were war crimes. But then, then didn't have dictionary.com back then.

BrianThere are speci... (Below threshold)

Brian
There are specific counts in an indictment and there are aggravating counts. That's in US Courts.

I'll look up Nuremberg and see who was charged with waterboarding exclusively.

BrianThink I found y... (Below threshold)

Brian
Think I found your first source:

http://politics.netscape.com/story/2006/12/18/our-own-nuremberg-trials/comment/417286

Still looking...

BrianShocking from... (Below threshold)
Do you really believe (l... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Do you really believe (let's lower the deathcount to then historic reality) that the Founding Fathers would let 5,000 Colonists die if they believed they could extract information from one Red Coat that would save them?

I don't have to believe it. It's built into our founding documents, and since then cemented into our society. Due process, no cruel punishment, innocent until proven guilty... there are no exceptions for "unless the numbers are high enough".

The presidential oath itself is to "protect and defend the Constitution", not the country. John Adams said "it may be a government of laws and not of men". I say this not to get into a debate over the constitutionality of current practices, but to illustrate that the founders intentionally and explicitly put the Constitution and laws above men. You yourself said they were in a "death battle". Yet they never once enshrined in our founding documents that the threat of death rendered those documents suspended.

So were the founding fathers concerned about colonists dying? Of course. Did it change their core beliefs in the country those colonists were dying for? No.

BrianAndrew Sullivan... (Below threshold)

Brian
Andrew Sullivan weighs in...I won't link.

Here is the gist of Justrand's point:

The Nazis murdered 6,000,000 Jews
The US liberated Nazi Germany

The Nazi's murdered millions in WWII
The US liberated the oppressed.

Saddam murdered how many,Brian?
The US liberated that country. BTW, if you want to start counting car bombs and IED's as a rebuttal, calculate the Kurd bodycount first.

I don't have to belie... (Below threshold)

I don't have to believe it.

Of course you don't have to believe because that would impose an element of real life, brutal as it can be,on your purely rationalistic view of this world we live in.

last add, Brian..."Due p... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

last add, Brian..."Due process, no cruel punishment, innocent until proven guilty... there are no exceptions for "unless the numbers are high enough"."

For CITIZENS, Brian. The Founding Fathers didn't expect (or provide) ENEMY COMBATANTS to have:
-"Due Process" or
- the presumption of innocence

And as for "cruel punishment"...that, as we've all been trying to tell you, is in the eye of the beholder! Locking someone in a cell is "cruel punishment". For me, taking away BOOKS would be "cruel punishment".

Gouging my eyeballs out would be TORTURE!

g'night!

I don't approve of torture,... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

I don't approve of torture, but the problem is that different people mean different things when they say it.

I'm not the first to say it, but messing with people's heads, scaring them with dogs, putting underwear on their head, and naked human pyramids, is IMHO not torture. Is it being an asshole? Yes. Violating orders? Yes.

The biggest problem with the Abu Ghraib incident, from a legal standpoint, were the photos - taking degrading/trophy/propaganda photos is a Geneva convention no-no.

Even some of the things the UN sometimes lists as torture - like stress positions - are commonly inflicted upon trainees in our military, even with the pansified training often found these days.

There have been a couple of incidents of real torture - 2 or 3 Marines in Iraq, some CIA types in A-stan, IIRC, but these incidents are not only rare, but we also punish these people.

None of that means a damn thing to ranting moonbats, though, they're too hung up on their shallow, simplistic world views built on things that "everyone" - well, everyone who isn't a facist rethuglican or wingnut - "knows". They'll just take it as gospel that the US is an evil imperialist nation that tortures people so they can steal oil or kick puppies or something.

I blame public education; most people of my generation don't even comprehend how out of their depth they are. They mean well, but somehow assume that good intentions automatically translate into intelligence and possesion of the moral high ground in anything they care to take a stance on.

HughS and Jay:This... (Below threshold)
Mike:

HughS and Jay:

This is very good: "If they can't fight real torture, then they'll find something that they can define as "torture" and stop that."

This type of behavior is endemic with today's Left.

Can't stop Palestinian terrorists from murdering Israeli civilians? Then condemn Israel for retaliating and killing the terrorists.

Can't stop the Palestinians from teaching their children racism and bigotry and hatred? Then have the ACLU sue American schools that offer their facilities to religious groups for after-hours use.

Can't stop Muslim 'honor killings' of women? Then make sure NARAL-Pro Choice and Planned Parenthood offer as many government-subsidized, no-questions-asked abortions as possible to poor American women.

It's a lot easier to redefine "women's rights" or "terrorism" or "torture" or "brainwashing" in terms of safe domestic policies than to actually risk one's own life in order to stamp out true evil in the world.

Try asking a liberal, "If forcing men to wear panties on their head and squat naked in a stacked pyramid is 'torture,' then what do you call gouging out eyeballs or burning flesh with a blowtorch?" Then watch them squirm as they try to answer.

Since when do unlawful comb... (Below threshold)

Since when do unlawful combatants, caught on the battlefield out of uniform fighting in violation of the Geneva Conventions, deserve anything less than a bullet between the eyes?

Waterboarding?

Gee, why don't we just tickle them.

For CITIZENS, Brian.... (Below threshold)
Brian:

For CITIZENS, Brian.

Due process is being deprived to CITIZENS, chowderhead.

And as for "cruel punishment"...that, as we've all been trying to tell you, is in the eye of the beholder!

OK, let's recap some of these "beholders":

The water board technique dates back to the 1500s during the Italian Inquisition.

...
According to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., himself a torture victim during the Vietnam War, the water board technique is a "very exquisite torture" that should be outlawed.
...
"Torture is defined under the federal criminal code as the intentional infliction of severe mental pain or suffering," said John Sifton, an attorney and researcher with the organization Human Rights Watch. "That would include water boarding." (Sorry, Jay... guess they also didn't use dictionary.com.)
...
Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in Vietnam 40 years ago. A photograph that appeared in The Washington Post of a U.S. soldier involved in water boarding a North Vietnamese prisoner in 1968 led to that soldier's severe punishment.

"The soldier who participated in water torture in January 1968 was court-martialed within one month after the photos appeared in The Washington Post, and he was drummed out of the Army," recounted Darius Rejali, a political science professor at Reed College.

Earlier in 1901, the United States had taken a similar stand against water boarding during the Spanish-American War when an Army major was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for water boarding an insurgent in the Philippines.

On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post published a front-page photograph of a U.S. soldier supervising the questioning of a captured North Vietnamese soldier who is being held down as water was poured on his face while his nose and mouth were covered by a cloth.

...
The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."

The picture reportedly led to an Army investigation.

Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

"Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,"

And I also refer you to the Nazi war crimes court findings posted above.

Are these not respectable enough "beholders" for you?

They know that they are ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

They know that they are impotent to stop real torture, so they sop their consciences by trying to do what they can. If they can't fight real torture, then they'll find something that they can define as "torture" and stop that.

Hmm, I was thinking something similar, except about the right.

They know that they are impotent to defend real torture, so they sop their consciences by trying to do what they can. If they can't defend real torture, then they'll find something innocuous (loud music, panties on heads) that they can define as "torture" and defend that.

Brian, actually the ACLU an... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Brian, actually the ACLU and pretty much the entire damn Left DOES define "loud music" as Torture.

"torture" is defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture as "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" which pretty much means saying: "BOO!" in a really scary voice!

Bluntly, if you are caught trying to destroy this country, and there is a possibility you have information that will save the lives of other Americans, then I sure as hell hope we make you suffer some!!

That does not mean gouging your eyeballs out! But it's ok by me if it includes:
- disorienting you (sleep deprivation and loud music)
- making you extremely uncomfortable (cold)
- and even, GASP, threatening to allow a heathen to touch your Koran with their BARE HANDS

And yes, if water-boarding seems like it'll work (as on that mutt Kahlid Sheik Mohamen) then some of that too.

The maniacs we are fighting START with far worse than we ever even approach. Just look back on the mutilated bodies of those THEY captured. THAT is torture!

It is fooling to battle wit... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

It is fooling to battle wits with Brian, as he is not armed.

BozoBrian, which would you ... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

BozoBrian, which would you prefer? Since you say both are torture. Most of the techniques shown in the al Qaeda manual for torture or those intense interogation techniques used by those trying to save american lives by extracting information from those who adhere to the al Qaeda method? I am not sure what waterboarding entails, but I am willing to demonstate on you the technique of an electric drill through the hand. I have a cordless drill and will travel to your location to demostate. Contact me at my e-mail address if you are willing.

Torture is wrong. Period. ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Torture is wrong. Period. And when you start parsing the definition, you're tacitly admitting that.

The moral leader of the world should not see how close they can edge up to the definition of a war crime without quite going over. And we certainly shouldn't routinely hand prisoners over to other nations to torture either.

But if you guys want to twist words so that you feel better about things, that's fine with me...

What if the prisoners are w... (Below threshold)
Dirk:

What if the prisoners are wanted by their home countries for some criminal stuff, Paul? I thought you lefties were all for cooperating with foreigners? We wouldn't want to be acting all unilateral, would we?

Torture is wrong. ... (Below threshold)
Torture is wrong. Period. And when you start parsing the definition, you're tacitly admitting that.

Nonsense.

You have to parse the definition of 'torture' so that silly things such as putting ladies undies don't fall under its meaning.

Parsing the definition of torture is far better than inflating it.

. . . on someone's head . ... (Below threshold)

. . . on someone's head . . .

I meant to say.

The liberals have dumbed do... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The liberals have dumbed down the word torture, as they did with racism, bigot, right wing and sexual harrassment. They threw it around so much it has no effect now. It is just white noise coming from the left. Their faux principles are laughable. When I think of dicipline and principles and who believes in them, the liberals never come to mind. Quite the opposite. ww

Paul,Tort... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Paul,

Torture is wrong. Period. And when you start parsing the definition, you're tacitly admitting that.

On the contrary, that's exactly what needs to be done...the parsing that is.

The best analogy I can think of is this:

Calling both a slingshot and a howitzer artillery.

While they both fire projectiles, only the howizter is artillery.

Paul, also:I want ... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Paul, also:

I want to ask this question because I am curious. Given your stance on the subject, how would you recommend getting vital information from a terrorist who refuses to give it to you?

In fact, here's a pretty... (Below threshold)

In fact, here's a pretty good definition:

I have a better definition. It's from the UN Convention Against Torture which the US is a signatory of.

Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes...

Your definition conveniently leaves out the entire idea of mental anguish or cruelty. Yes, waterboarding does not cause permanent physical damage but I don't think you can say that being repeatedly threatened with death would cause no psychological damage. By your definition, playing Russian Roulette wouldn't qualify as torture.

Reporters who've subjected themselves to waterboarding isn't the same thing because they know they're not going to be killed. Even so, what did Fox News's Steve Haragan say after his waterboarding experience:

When Harrigan was asked, "Do you believe that this technique amounts to torture?" he responded, "I can't see how you can call it anything else."

Then again, we don't really know whether we use waterboarding or not. That was based on a single story. If we don't, then I agree with your contention that the US does not torture. Something like loud music that keeps somebody awake wouldn't qualify as torture in my book, unless it was applied for days on end.


You've also conveniently fa... (Below threshold)

You've also conveniently failed to mention that our torture techniques have produced false information:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/31/AR2007053102007.html


Mr. Bush and other administration officials argue that those methods got results from such al-Qaeda prisoners as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a claim that cannot be independently verified because the records of those interrogations have been kept secret. What administration officials don't mention is that at least two top prisoners, Mohamed Qatani and Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, are now known to have provided false information to interrogators after being tortured -- in Mr. al-Libi's case, by Egyptian jailers. Moreover, an extensive report by the Intelligence Science Board, sponsored by the Pentagon, concluded that there is no scientific evidence to back up the administration's contention that the techniques it adopted are effective. In fact, the intelligence experts concluded that some painful and coercive treatment could prevent interrogators from getting good information.

Look, torture doesn't work,... (Below threshold)
kim:

Look, torture doesn't work, rapport does. But waterboarding, a smart bomb to the Central Nervous System, google 'diving reflex', probably does give actionable, time sensitive, intelligence. We need a structure to authorize the acquisition of time sensitive intelligence in the face of assymetric opponents. Otherwise, it will be improvised in the field.

There is an administration directive about intelligence gathering coming out soon. That's what a lot of this storm and drowning is about.
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