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Bush admits "authorizing torture" - or did he?

Jules Crittenden notes that the Nutroots over at Think Progress believe that President Bush has finally incriminated himself by admitting that he "personally authorized" the "torture" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

I know, I know -- the Nutroots firmly believes that President Bush sought to inflict as much pain and suffering on as many people as humanly possible, and that he deliberately demanded the most vile treatment of prisoners conceivable, personally ensuring that everything he ordered had been condemned and outlawed in every civilized nation. And all the while, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzales stood over Bush's shoulder, cackling menacingly.

Unfortunately, the attempts to ground that myth in reality have been ... problematic. The same holds true for this latest "confession" by the President. Here's what Bush actually said:

... I'm in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made. And I think when people study the history of this particular episode, they'll find out we gained good information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in order to protect our country.

An admission of criminal wrongdoing? Hardly. It's the same testimony given by every relevant Bush Administration member including former AG Alberto Gonzalez, only this time the President himself told it. They used every effective means at their disposal to obtain vital information, and at the time (before the Nutroots sunk their claws into the issue) they felt that, with regard to some of the more extreme coercive interrogation techniques, legal precedent was on their side.

Of course none of that will stop the hard Left from continuing with its crusade to alter history and accuse the President of deliberately ordering men to be "tortured." They'll play the 20/20 hindsight game and repeatedly rehash negative reports claiming that the interrogation of high-level al-Qaeda operatives (like KSM) provided little in the way of actionable intelligence. And they'll keep redefining "torture" using an ever-widening set of criteria, so that a detention center any tougher than the Smurf village can be used as a basis to indict American "war criminals" -- as long as they're Republicans, of course.

As far as I am concerned, the real impediment to an honest dialog about the deprogramming, softening, and and interrogation of captured terrorists has been from the Democrats, because their primary objective has not been to protect America, but to exact revenge upon the Bush Administration. This is most evident in the incredible hypocrisy of their professed horror at the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, while they knew -- AND APPROVED -- of prisoner interrogation methods almost from the get-go:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

[...]

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

Individual lawmakers' recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement.(emphasis added)"

Should America have a public discussion about how we handle captured terrorists? I think so. The problem isn't going to vanish simply because the "super geniuses" are in charge now, and both our civilian and military legal systems are essentially mute with respect to how non-citizen terrorists are to be given "justice." While we're at it, we should honestly evaluate both the threats that such detainees pose as prisoners (e.g. organized disobedience, riots, escapes, etc.) and their potential value as sources of otherwise unobtainable information. But at this point I am opposed to enumerating specific methods of interrogation and softening, because I believe that such a disclosure gives our enemies an unnecessary advantage.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot politically, we will certainly start to see Democrats admit that the problem of terrorist detainees is at least "difficult." Perhaps the responsibility of actually having to make decisions (as opposed to just criticizing the decisions of others) has given the Democrats a sorely-needed dose of reality. In order to cure a problem, you first have to admit that you have a problem, so such a realization is at least a helpful first step.

The next one will be a bit tougher -- getting Democrats to admit that they and the Republicans were actually on the same side at the onset of the War On Terror, before the issue of detention and interrogation became so politically polarized. If we can get both sides to agree that the ultimate goal of our domestic and foreign policies should be the safety of America, then we will have made real progress.

Unfortunately, President-Elect Obama's selection of Leon Panetta to head the CIA, and his insistence on closing Gitmo (with or without a clear plan for the fate of its prisoners) means that I won't be holding my breath.


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Comments (47)

Bush says he got "legal" op... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Bush says he got "legal" opinions to commit what may well be war crimes. That's similar to the Nazis' defense at Nuremberg. It didn't hold water then and it shouldn't now.

Obligatory JFO post now pre... (Below threshold)
epador:

Obligatory JFO post now predicting a repeated tit for tat pollution of the comment section. Moving on.

I watched President Bush's ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I watched President Bush's last press conference yesterday and Bush was right on the mark in saying (paraphrasing) Obama must keep the nation safe if he expects a second term, and that if there is another attack, no one will care how well you treated the terrorists, only that you failed to protect the nation.

Next Wednesday democrats will wake up to a new reality that they are now on the spot and that all their political success of the last two years will evaporate if terrorists succeed in killing Americans on American soil. Given that fog lifting realization, many democrats will see some of the more extreme interrogation techniques in a new light.

Water boarding is an illusion, a trick that causes the subject to think they are drowning, there's no pain involved, only mental distress. Another example is to mimic a firing squad that's interrupted for some temporary reason. If mental distress is torture then many of the techniques police use are also torture. Are we going to investigate the police and charge them with crimes against humanity for lying to suspects about what other suspects are saying or denying suspects restroom breaks?

The concept of 'torture' ha... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

The concept of 'torture' has been so broadened that it's essentially worthless. If an unpleasant experience is 'torture', then flying commercial air is torture any more.

Torture used to involve mangling of limbs, dislocating joints, beatings, flaying, impalement and the like. Now it's playing loud music at people.

Using THIS stuff would be torture. Music? Waterboarding? Damned annoying and uncomfortable - but torture? Folks in the Middle Ages would laugh.

Good. Something positive ca... (Below threshold)
914:

Good. Something positive came out of His Presidency.

It's not illegal when the P... (Below threshold)
Richard Nixon:

It's not illegal when the President does it.

Why do the mainstream liber... (Below threshold)
PAHunter4:

Why do the mainstream liberal media loves terrorists so much?

We only torture guilty people. The comparisons with Nazi Germany are invalid, as they tortured innocent people too.

I would like to commit JFO ... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

I would like to commit JFO (just f**k off) to the tender hands of Saddam's chambers of information gathering. I am sure jfo would beg to be waterboarded. Funny how freedom of speech has morphed into (for some) the stupidity to speak against their own best interests. But then that is modern education for ya.

There's one professional in... (Below threshold)
Karl:

There's one professional interrogator I've been having an argument with who has, at least once, defined "torture" as "any physical or mental coercion -- any". When I point out this definition includes such things as being sent to your room for a "time-out", he refuses to respond.

Torture used to involve ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Torture used to involve mangling of limbs, dislocating joints, beatings, flaying, impalement and the like. Now it's playing loud music at people.
Using THIS stuff would be torture. Music? Waterboarding? Damned annoying and uncomfortable - but torture? Folks in the Middle Ages would laugh.

If you don't know what you're talking about, just try saying nothing.

10. Posted by Brian<p... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

10. Posted by Brian

"If you don't know what you're talking about, just try saying nothing."


Brian,

As was the making, selling, purchasing and consumption of alcohol at one time in the United States. But not today. So what's your point?

The CIA quite using waterbo... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The CIA quite using waterboarding in 2003, because people can be trained to resisted it. It is after all an illusion of drowning as the CIA uses it. In fact, the US Military waterboards it's own special forces for the purpose of training them to endure the illusion.

In WW2 the Japanese used the water cure which some confuse with waterboarding. The water cure is actually forced ingestion of water, which can be fatal. Some like to lump all forms of interrogation using water in with all forms of torture using water. They do this so they can call waterboarding torture.

the Nutroots over ... (Below threshold)
Marc:
the Nutroots over at Think Progress believe that President Bush has finally incriminated himself by admitting that he "personally authorized" the "torture" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

I'll make a "deal," when the nutroots and the loonbats at think[less] progress bring the thousands of military members that have used waterboarding to this very day to train Navy Seals and other U.S. Special Forces up on charges of using "torture" I might.... might see their point.

'Til then screw'em.

And BTW brian that goes for your "Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime" link.

As was the making, selli... (Below threshold)
Brian:

As was the making, selling, purchasing and consumption of alcohol at one time in the United States. But not today.

That has got to be one of the dumbest statements I've read on here today.

So that you conservatives c... (Below threshold)
Herman:

So that you conservatives can learn, Brian has kindly provided you with a link showing that "waterboarding used to be a crime" in this country until the Moron King came along. But we're getting a new president in about a week. What does he have to say, and what does the future hold regarding this matter?

"No administration should allow the use of torture, including so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like water-boarding, head-slapping and extreme temperatures. It's time that we had a Department of Justice that upholds the rule of law and American values, instead of finding ways to enable the president to subvert them." -- Barack Obama

He [Obama] has said, "Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America's standing in the world, not how you strengthen it."
" -- Barack Obama (and here's the link: http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:dBxImws-oLQJ:www.sacbee.com/110/story/678617.html+Obama+waterboarding&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

All you Republican criminals who've tortured people on Bush's orders better get your pardon requests in very soon, if you haven't done so already.

Of course, Bush's pardons have no relevance at all to The Hague. Though my current job is alright, I personally hope to get a job as a sailor on one of the ships transferring the Republican criminals to Holland for their trials.

So that you conser... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
So that you conservatives can learn, Brian has kindly provided you with a link showing that "waterboarding used to be a crime" in this country until the Moron King came along. But we're getting a new president in about a week. What does he have to say, and what does the future hold regarding this matter?

Unfortunately the author of the piece Brian linked to is one of those who lumps waterboarding in with the water cure and other forms of water torture. Waterboarding as the CIA practices it creates an illusion of drowning. The water cure which the Japanese practiced in WW2 is forced water ingestion. The two look similar, but one is torture and one is not.

"No administration should allow the use of torture, including so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like water-boarding, head-slapping and extreme temperatures. It's time that we had a Department of Justice that upholds the rule of law and American values, instead of finding ways to enable the president to subvert them." -- Barack Obama

Obama is already backing off his campaign rhetoric as he is starting to see how uninformed he was at the time. If there's another successful terrorist attack on American soil, the only question will be how did you let this happen? If Obama's answer is that it was more important to no use enhanced interrogation techniques than to prevent an attack he'll be impeached by his own party.

"Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America's standing in the world, not how you strengthen it."

Just more uninformed campaign rhetoric.

All you Republican criminals who've tortured people on Bush's orders better get your pardon requests in very soon, if you haven't done so already.

When asked about investigating the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping by George Stephanopoulos (aired 1/11/09) Obama said " We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering." (emphasis is mine)

Looks like you are going to be disappointed again Herman. Obama is looking more conservative all the time and he's a pragmatist rather then the ideologue the left thought they were getting.

Of course, Bush's pardons have no relevance at all to The Hague.

Only the loony left thinks the American people would stand for such international prosecution. In a way I'm disappointed that Obama is too smart to listen to you loonies. If he did it would insure a Republican majority and President by 2012. Obama knows he can ignore you fools because he knows you'll never vote for Republicans.

"The two look similar, but ... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"The two look similar, but one is torture and one is not." -- Mac Lorry

So says you, Mac Lorry, but few else besides you outside the Rush-Limbaugh-Dittohead World.

Most importantly, Obama's not going to be permitting any waterboarding of any kind, manner, type or degree. NONE. NADA. ZILCH. ZERO.

And, Mac Lorry, in making your decision as to what text to place in bold print, you could have just as well chosen the following:

"And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law." We'll have to see over time just what the Obama Administration decides to do, won't we?

Brian -You can cal... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Brian -

You can call a skunk a rose or a rose a skunk - but the name you use doesn't change its basic nature. Waterboarding is unpleasant - real torture involves severe physical damage. That's my opinion, that's been the opinion for centuries. Yours is different - you've got it all lumped together. In the end I think the entire issue is going to disappear off the radar, since waterboarding in special cases DOES work and gets information quickly we wouldn't get otherwise.

It's too useful a tool - Obama's not going to abandon it. The media will 'overlook' any use of such an item - after all, it would reflect badly on his hand-picked team.

The rack, the judas cradle, impalement, the boot, thumbscrews and such - those are torture implements and the information gotten is of dubious value. Using THAT stuff is torture -no argument there.

Waterboarding? That seems to be a tool that does provide good info, and it doesn't produce physical damage. it'll be used. Might take some secret paperwork, but it'll be used.

Mac Lorry said "If Obama's answer is that it was more important to no use enhanced interrogation techniques than to prevent an attack he'll be impeached by his own party.", and he's got it right.

brian - "That has got t... (Below threshold)
Marc:

brian - "That has got to be one of the dumbest statements I've read on here today."

What? You don't proof read your own comments?

herman - "So that you c... (Below threshold)
Marc:

herman - "So that you conservatives can learn, Brian has kindly provided you with a link showing that "waterboarding used to be a crime"

First of all nitwit, you fail to come close to a reading proficiency at a level to understand the link you refer to outlines the U.S. Miltaries use of waterboarding (and a civilians) and it's legal status.

This so-called "admission" by Bush refers to the tactic as used by the CIA and to this point it is perfectly legal.

As Mac Lorry points out in the comment below yours obama has already backpeddled as fast as he can on this matter.

Finally, you can dream of The Hague's intervention all you care to, but that's all it is a DREAM.

They've had several years to do what your wetdream desires and they have done nothing, zip, nadda.

And never will.

Waterboarding is unpleas... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Waterboarding is unpleasant - real torture involves severe physical damage. That's my opinion, that's been the opinion for centuries. Yours is different

Yeah, I only have the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, military tribunals, and multiple instances of American legal precedent to back me up. You have your "opinion" and your unsubstantiated misrepresentation of "centuries" of opinion.

I can't argue with logic like that.

Waterboarding as the CIA... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Waterboarding as the CIA practices it creates an illusion of drowning. The water cure which the Japanese practiced in WW2 is forced water ingestion. The two look similar, but one is torture and one is not.

He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

...
Q: Was it painful?
A: Not so painful, but one becomes unconscious. Like drowning in the water.

Oops! There go your fake talking points!

"Folks in the Middle Ages w... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

"Folks in the Middle Ages would laugh."

Now there's in endorsement - Not as bad as the Spanish Inquisition.

We also see the hoary chestnut about commending someone to the tender mercies of Saddam Hussein. That's another fine comment on our policies - Not as bad as Saddam Hussein.

Don't set the bar too high for our country. We might not be able to meet it.

JLawson,

"real torture involves severe physical damage. "

And the source for that authortiative definition would be? JLawson?

Here is the definition of torture provided in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:

For the purposes of this Convention, the term "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, 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.

Did you see any mention of permanent physical damage there?

BTW, we are signatories to the Convention Against Torture. I have used it as point of law in obtaining political asylum for an Iraqi Kurd and a Kashmiri who was a victim of Lashkar-i- Taiba, working together with the Pakistani ISI.

I find it ironic that conservatives who continually talk about core principles and unchanging values, now argue that post 9/11, all bets are off.

For all the wingnut torture... (Below threshold)
JFO:

For all the wingnut torture experts, aka Lorry, Lawson and of course "Lawyer marc.

From todays's Washington Post. Now will you collectively shut up about a subject you know nothing about.

"The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.

Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/

So says you, Mac L... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
So says you, Mac Lorry, but few else besides you outside the Rush-Limbaugh-Dittohead World.

So according to you our military tortures it's own special forces troops. The CIA quite using waterboarding in 2003, not because it's torture, but because it's an illusion people can be trained to resist.

Most importantly, Obama's not going to be permitting any waterboarding of any kind, manner, type or degree. NONE. NADA. ZILCH. ZERO.

Being waterboarding stopped in 2003, it's not likely Obama will start using it again. However, there are many other enhanced interrogation techniques and Obama is proving to be quite pragmatic. Expect to be disappointed Herman.

"And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law." We'll have to see over time just what the Obama Administration decides to do, won't we?

The part you don't get is that waterboarding is still not illegal under US law. Congress tried and failed just this year to make it illegal. warrantless wiretaps were never illegal and are used to this day. Just ask Eliot Spitzer. There was never a warrant to tap his phone nor was he ever named in such a warrant, yet he's incriminating conversation was recorded legally. More disappointment for you Herman.

He was asked what ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

Q: Was it painful?
A: Not so painful, but one becomes unconscious. Like drowning in the water.

The above description is that of water ingestion (water cure) that's been mislabeled for political reasons, not accuracy. In fact, any water technique that causes unconscious is NOT waterboarding as the CIA practiced it.

Oops! There goes your fake talking points Brian!

For the purposes o... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "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, 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.

I don't see anything in there against creating an illusion of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental. Nor do I see anything limiting the definition to the military. It just says public official. If creating an illusion is torture, then every time a cop lies to a suspect about what evidence they have or that other suspects are saying, then it's torture under this convention. Of course the convention has a loophole for this, saying "It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions." So as long as something is lawful it's not torture. Well, waterboarding, as practiced by the CIA, is not illegal in the US. Congress tried and failed to make it illegal in 2008. So it looks like the convention doesn't apply.

"The top Bush admi... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
"The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."

Nothing in their about waterboarding is there. If sustained isolation is torture then we routinely torture civilian prisoners by putting them is solitary confinement. The other part "sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition." describes Navy seal training.

Crawford goes on to say "The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.

So if the guy was healthier it wouldn't have been torture in her judgement, and that's all this is, the opinion of one person.

Crawford then said. "It did shock me, I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well, we may have lost it."

The last enemy we faced that followed any rules of prisoner treatment was Nazi Germany in the 40's. Who does she think we are going to go to war with, Europe?

Then there's this An aide to the former defense secretary accused the committee chairman, Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), of pursuing a politically motivated "false narrative" that is "unencumbered by the preponderance of the facts.

Bottom line is that Crawford's opinion was based on the deterioration of Qahtani's health, not the techniques used. One question not answered in the piece is did Qahtani engage in a hunger strike like many of the other Guantanamo detainees did? If so, then the key factor in Crawford's opinion was at least partially self induced by Qahtani. This is hardly a conclusive case.

Mac,What in the fl... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

Mac,

What in the flying Hell is "an illusion of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental?" If you "think" you're in pain, whatever that means, I think that means - you're in pain. Hey Mac, the next time you "think" you're experiencing severe pain or suffering, but you're not really experiencing severe pain or suffering, let me know. I guess with your logic it would not be a violation of the Eighth Amendment to create the "illusion" of "cruel and inhumane treatment."

The comments re: what our troops go through in SERE training and what Navy Seals go through are red herrings. Just like Donald Rumsfeld's comments about standing at his desk all day.
The crucial difference is that none of the individuals involved in those lazy analogies are in the hands of the enemy, totally vulnerable to whatever they might do to them and however long it might last. Rather, they have voluntarily submitted to what they are experiencing and they can control it's termination. It's like comparing a scary ride at the fair to being thrown out of a helicopter.

And finally, Mac, there is a difference between something that has not been declared illegal and a "lawful sanction." A lawful sanction is a sanction authorized by law. And lawyers for the Bush administration are not the final arbiters of what is authorized by law, those dreaded men in black are.

Congress' interpretation, as recorded in the Congressional Record, of the meaning of the term "legal sanctions" in the context of the CAT:

"That with reference to Article 1 of the Convention, the United States understands that "sanctions" includes judicially imposed sanctions and other enforcement actions authorized by United States law or by judicial interpretation of such law. Nonetheless, the United States understands that a State Party could not through its domestic sanctions defeat the object and purpose of the Convention to prohibit torture."

The above description is... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The above description is that of water ingestion (water cure) that's been mislabeled for political reasons, not accuracy.

You're spinning so fast you must be generating a cloud of dust. By your own Wikipedia link:

Water cure is a form of water torture in which the victim is forced to drink large quantities of water in a short time, resulting in gastric distension, water intoxication, and possibly death.

Nothing in any account of Japanese acts on American soldiers I posted is there any mention of being forced to drink large amounts of water.

Whereas:

[Waterboarding] consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die.

And from the article I posted:

A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession.

...
They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

And from the second prisoner: They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.
...
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."

Those descriptions match waterboarding, not water cure. And we prosecuted war criminals for it.

I don't see anything in ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I don't see anything in there against creating an illusion of severe pain or suffering

OK, now that's getting really sad.

Crawford goes on to say "The techniques they used were all authorized
...
The last enemy we faced that followed any rules of prisoner treatment was Nazi Germany in the 40's.

Funny you should bring up Nazi Germany, especially when hiding behind the techniques as "authorized".

Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950:

Principle III

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, 1945:

Section II, Article 8: "The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires."

Kudos on your Nuremberg res... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

Kudos on your Nuremberg research, Brian.

Those descriptions... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Those descriptions match waterboarding, not water cure. And we prosecuted war criminals for it.

No, the descriptions match water ingesting. As the CIA used waterboarding it never causes loss of consciousness, so if you see that in a description, it has gone past waterboarding into water ingestion. I know you want what the CIA did to pass as torture, but you have to torture the definitions to get there.

Actually, it's not mine. It... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Actually, it's not mine. It belongs to He Who Wizbangers Think Makes Facts Invalid Just Because They Are Cited By Him. I was trying not to mention him so as to avoid the requisite ad hominem attacks. But the level of conservative response in this thread has grown so farcical, an ad hominem might be a step up.

Funny you should b... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Funny you should bring up Nazi Germany, especially when hiding behind the techniques as "authorized".

Funny and also irrelevant. If authorized techniques like solitary confinement are war crimes then we should start by prosecuting our prison officials. Next thing you know it will be torture to shoot the enemy on the battle field.

That fastest way for democrats to find themselves in the minority again is to be seen spending their time in witch hunts just prior to a terrorist attack on American soil. Obama seems to be distancing himself from the left wing on this issue. Maybe you should follow your leader.

Actually, it's not... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Actually, it's not mine. It belongs to He Who Wizbangers Think Makes Facts Invalid Just Because They Are Cited By Him.

The only definition that counts is the one that describes what the CIA did. It's that waterboarding that we subject our own special forces to in order to train them to resist the illusion. Anyone going to the next stage, which is water ingestion, risks killing the subject. If you want information out of a subject you don't use a technique that can kill. Try sticking to the facts of what the CIA did.

No, the descriptions mat... (Below threshold)
Brian:

No, the descriptions match water ingesting.

Mac, you have moved from having an argument to simply being childishly argumentative.

[Waterboarding] consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages.
They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

And from the second prisoner: They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.

If you're going to claim that the descriptions don't match, then it's not worth further discussion with you. Your own link for water cure says "forced to drink large quantities of water". That doesn't appear anywhere in the reports of the American soldiers at the hands of the Japanese.

If all you're going to do is latch on to "at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water" and claim that's equivalent to "the mouth forced or wedged open, the nose closed with pincers and a funnel or strip of cloth forced down the throat", then black is white in your world, and thank goodness the likes of you are no longer running it.

The only definition that... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The only definition that counts is the one that describes what the CIA did. ... Try sticking to the facts of what the CIA did.

Fine:

The CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used ... 6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. ... Among the methods they found acceptable: "water-boarding," or dripping water into a wet cloth over a suspect's face

Compare that with the actions that we prosecuted:

A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel ... This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel

If you want information out of a subject you don't use a technique that can kill.

The effectiveness of the techniques are not under debate here.

What in the flying... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
What in the flying Hell is "an illusion of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental?"

Waterboarding, as the CIA used it, creates and illusion of drowning. We subject our special forces to that type of waterboarding to train them to resist the illusion. If it weren't an illusion, training would be pointless. There are many other techniques you don't know about, such as showing a subject a red hot iron and then going around to his back where he can't see and then placing something cold on it. The subject will think he's being branded, but it's an illusion. A mental version is to take a subject before a firing squad and then at the last second have it interrupted by some temporary reason. This was done to our Vietnam POW's repeatedly. We sometimes do it to domestic prisoners on death row. Is a last minute reprieve torture?

The crucial difference is that none of the individuals involved in those lazy analogies are in the hands of the enemy, totally vulnerable to whatever they might do to them and however long it might last.

Last time I checked domestic prisoners in solitary confinement have no control over how long they will be there. According to you, that makes it torture. You and other's keep trying to redefine torture, but as you do you start defining things commonly done to domestic prisoners. Now want us to believe that just being in the hands of the enemy is torture because they can't know if they'll get three meals a day or clean sheets.

And finally, Mac, there is a difference between something that has not been declared illegal and a "lawful sanction." A lawful sanction is a sanction authorized by law. And lawyers for the Bush administration are not the final arbiters of what is authorized by law, those dreaded men in black are.

You have it backwards. Laws have to be enumerated, they can't be assumed. In fact it's a violation of our constitution to make something illegal and then retroactively apply that law. The dreaded men in black have upheld that principle many times.

BTW, congress wasn't able to pass their anti-torture legislation, so it caries no legal weight. Even when they do pass it under Obama, it can't be applied retroactively

Compare that with ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Compare that with the actions that we prosecuted:

Yes, please do. The CIA technique is different because it doesn't involve water ingestion of any significant amount and none if Cellophane is used. The other causes water ingestion which renders the subject unconscious or dead.

The effectiveness of the techniques are not under debate here.

Forced water ingestion is drowning, but waterboarding as practices by the CIA is the illusion of drowning. The first is torture and the second is not.

Yes, please do. The CIA ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Yes, please do. The CIA technique is different because it doesn't involve water ingestion of any significant amount

Neither did the described techniques for which we prosecuted war criminals. Is there any mention of "water ingestion of any significant amount" in the quotes from soldiers subject to Japanese torture?

The first is torture and the second is not.

So you endlessly repeat, without substantiation. Though it doesn't matter what word trickery you want to use. The fact is, we prosecuted people for doing the second!

Neither did the de... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Neither did the described techniques for which we prosecuted war criminals. Is there any mention of "water ingestion of any significant amount" in the quotes from soldiers subject to Japanese torture?

• CIA method: dripping water into a wet cloth over a suspect's face

• Japanese method: They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

Two gallons poured into the nose and mouth causes water ingestion. And if they do it several times it cause water intoxication, which can be fatal.

The CIA method creates the illusion of the Japanese method, not the reality of it. Apparently in your world there is no difference between illusion and the real thing. When you see a magician saw a women in half, as far as you are concerned, it's the same thing as really sawing her in half. At least that's your take on waterboarding.

• CIA method: dripping w... (Below threshold)
Brian:

• CIA method: dripping water into a wet cloth over a suspect's face

Back to word parsing, I see. Of course, you ignored the "water is poured over him" part.

Despite descriptions of the CIA's actions that match exactly what we prosecuted Japanese war criminals for, you keep insisting that they actually did something different. And your own cited definition of that different thing does not in any way resemble what was reported by the American soldiers subject to the activity. When you see a magician saw a woman in half, as far as you are concerned, it's the same thing as throwing knives at her.

Mac,You get so cau... (Below threshold)
Dave Noble:

Mac,

You get so caught up in how clever you think you are, that you don't notice how silly you sound.

Stress positions do not cause the illusion of pain, they cause pain.

Being forced to lie naked on a floor of a room where the air-conditioning is turned to maximum does not create the illusion of being agonizingly cold, it makes you agonizingly cold.

Being driven psychotic by sleep deprivation does not create the illusion of being psychotic, it creates psychosis.

All the above are torture.

Your overly-clever and grossly inaccurate description of the experience of being water-boarded, makes "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is" sound like straight talk.

If someone creates in you the illusion of drowning, you have the psychological experience of drowning.

That's torture.

I don't know where to start with your ham-handed legal analysis. It is you, not I, who have it backwards. A legal sanction is an explicit authorization, not the absence of a legal prohibition. Read the Congressional Record excerpt again. Slowly, like it was a comprehension question on the SAT. I'll give you the pertient part to make it easier:

"sanctions" includes judicially imposed sanctions and other enforcement actions *authorized by United States law or by judicial interpretation of such law.*

If you still don't get it, you should leave the legal analysis to professionals, just like Wanderlust over on the "Worst Economic" thread should leave the economic analysis of FDR's policies to people who are academically trained in that analyis.

To borrow Dr. Breszinski's comment to Joe Scarborough: "Your understanding of this issue is so superficial, it's embarassing."
Joe Scarborough is another smart guy, who thinks he's smarter than he is.

You're obviously a bright guy. Your problem isn't intelligence, it's hubris.

I can define torture for yo... (Below threshold)
JFO:

I can define torture for you all. It's reading a wingnut(pretending to be an expert) go on and on and on and on trying to rationalize and justify what may well be war crimes committed by Bush. That's torture. Oh, and WeeWillie and "Lawyer marc are a close second. If they were around me I'd confess to anything - which we know is what happens when someone is tortured.

brian - "Back to word p... (Below threshold)
Marc:

brian - "Back to word parsing, I see. Of course, you ignored the "water is poured over him" part."

You forgot or simply are "parsing" something yourself.

You know, I hope, the CIA version plainly states a plastic sheet is used to cover the jihadist-cut-throats face.

In the other versions noted a CLOTH has been used.

YOU might think water will permeate plastic, enter a jihadists--cut-throats nose and do whatever irreparable harm to him/her, but that's only for continuance of an agenda you hold dear to your heart.

The agenda, of course, is to be "anti" any and everything posted here regardless of fact.

JFO - "Oh, and WeeWilli... (Below threshold)
Marc:

JFO - "Oh, and WeeWillie and "Lawyer marc are a close second. If they were around me I'd confess to anything - which we know is what happens when someone is tortured."

Well then, would being "around me" also include having a comment immediately next to one of your?

If so, would you finally admit, under that which you feel is torture, what has been known since your very first appearance here?

The admission to include your lift-time membership in AHB (Asshats of the Blogosphere)




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