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In for a penny, in for a pound

As I've heard more and more accusations of "torture" of detainees at Guantanamo, and the rhetoric spirals more and more out of control (list me as firmly in the camp that would like to see Senator Durbin horse-whipped), and comparisons made to Nazi death camps, Soviet death camps, and Cambodian killing fields -- just to name a few comparisons.

Others have decried the damnable lies, the outrageous exaggerations, and the borderline-treasonous libels of our troops. Me, I'm looking at another tack.

As I've learned over the past year or so, you can't reason with someone who didn't reach their position through reason. The whole "flushed Koran" crock, for example, should have been laughed at as physically impossible, but instead it's become a rallying cry. People insist that it did happen, and insist that the US "apologize" and "punish" the guilty -- for something that quite simply never happened and never could have happened.

So I'm not going to bother arguing with the "close the Guantanamo death camp" morons. Instead, I have another idea.

There's an old aphorism that says "as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb." Since we're already being punished for "torturing" these detainees, why don't we go ahead and do it already?

We already know beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of these detainees have extensive knowledge and experience as terrorists. It's time to take the handcuffs off our interrogators and let them do whatever they believe is necessary to get the information we need out of them. Let's use pain, discomfort, drugs, deception, anything we can on these terrorists. Since we're already suffering the consequences of using torture, it only makes sense to me that we gain the benefits of such. Let's show the world just what good old American ingenuity, inventiveness, and resources can achieve.

In fact, I can only see two drawbacks to this proposal. The first is purely practical -- torture tends to get you the information the tortoree thinks you want, not necessarily the truth. This was borne out during the Inquisition and witch-hunts, when "confessions" were inspired not by a compulsion to tell the truth, but to say whatever it would take to end the torment. This can be somewhat countered by drugs and highly skilled interrogators, but nonetheless remains a very real danger.

The other reason is a bit more abstract, but I think far more significant. We are the good guys. We don't torture, maim, and kill people arbitrarily; we fight, we punish, we kill those that do.

Alan Dershowitz has an interesting position on torture: he'd like to see judges to have the authority to issue "torture warrants." In cases where there is a clearly identified immediate threat to innocent life, authorities could use extraordinary measures of interrogation (yes, torture) to get information from suspects. The caveats are that the threat must be clear, specific, and imminent (the two most cited examples are the buried kidnap victim and the ticking bomb), and any information gained will be inadmissible in court.

In the Guantanamo case, I don't think a case can be made for the imminent threat. These guys have been locked up for a long time; most likely any specific knowledge they might have is obsolete. But that doesn't mean we can't learn a great deal from them. And it doesn't mean that they can't be continued to be held until the end of hostilities.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference In for a penny, in for a pound:

» Something Requisitely Witty and Urbane linked with Believe it or Not

» Intermittent Stream linked with "Dick Day Late, Dollar Short" -or- "Short Dick"

» Kobayashi Maru linked with Hanged for a Lamb; Hanged for a Sheep

Comments (35)

It's an idea worth consider... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

It's an idea worth considering.

After all, the rest of the world already 'knows' that we 'torture' people; so if we actually do it they can't impose any sanctions on us. Because if they do, we can say "Wait a minute. I thought you said we ALREADY WERE torturing people. Why are you sanctioning us now? You must have been lying before, yes?"

Why not just put them throu... (Below threshold)

Why not just put them through a standard fraternity pledge "Hell Week"? We could get Kevin Bacon to teach them to say:

"Thank you sir, may I have another?"

Provided of course, the torturer wear clean gloves and grip the paddle with reverance.

Jay Tea,Your compa... (Below threshold)
Michael L.:

Jay Tea,

Your compassion is touching.

I think you guys are right. The only way to help the people of the Middle East and to make America safe is to gather up as many poverty-stricken Muslims as possible, place them in detention centers, and torture them.

That's brilliant.

Jay Tea = Hitler... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea = Hitler

fuck it...lets go the whole... (Below threshold)

fuck it...lets go the whole way and just kill em now...I suggest gas chambers and then burn the bodies in ovens...quick easy and it rids the world of american haters once and for all...

or rather than pay the costs of transporting them all the way to cuba, lets get our friends the uzbeks to do it for us...they are closer to afghanistan, pakistan, iraq and all those other places these islam-fascists come from...

oh and we could get someone to take videos and photographs of ther whole thing as well...set up a web site...this could be fun

Hmmm.I think the r... (Below threshold)


I think the real solution is to apply the full Geneva Convention rules. Give selected detainees their military tribunal, find'em guilty and then hang them.

That'll get'em talking. And if it doesn't, then keep the rope handy.

neil: I suggest we help the... (Below threshold)
Leftism = Slave Morality:

neil: I suggest we help them democratize and liberalize, and that might mean using force AGAINST TERRRORISTS to stop terrorism and tryanny (which might mean using force during interrogation.)

But keep puking out those abstractions, cliches, platitudes and lefist talking points, you serf, you herd animal. You are eiher suicidally insane or a power-seeking liar.

The "kill them now" argumen... (Below threshold)

The "kill them now" argument is probably the best one.

After all, we're expected to follow international law. These guys are illegal combatants, and should have been tried and executed right off the bat, by military courts, on the spot.

Keeping them alive in order to get information from them is not a kindness, and it's correct for the leftists to demand their prompt disposal.

Personally I think we confu... (Below threshold)
Scott H:

Personally I think we confuse coercive interrogation with physical torture. The former is meant to produce useful information. The latter is just plain fun.

Yes, I said fun. Because let's admit that all humans have a dark, sadistic side...one that enjoys inflicting severe pain and degradation on others. There is no reason to be ashamed of this. It is our human nature to take pleasure in this.

That's why I think we should adopt the Roman example, albeit moderized. I propose we broadcast the torture sessions from Gitmo. I'm sure Fox would be more than happy to carry it. If not Fox,then UPN.

And when I say torture, I mean torture. Good ol' fashioned physical and mental torture.

I'm thinking of the following warm up events:

Mohammed's Choice...where the prisoner has to choose which of his wives or children gets torn apart by wild dogs.

Or how about this, Osama's Oval. Here we place the prisoner in a caged, oval ring. And then four hungry, wild boars are released. The fun begins when Osama finally tires and the boars (remember swine are unclean in Islam) get to feed!

As I said, this should just be a warm up to the main event...mass impalement on iron rods. This draws on the technique pioneered by that great Romanian hero Vlad Tepes, who defeated the islamofascist Turks in the 1400s.

And remember, the point is not to extract information. It's simply to cause pain and slow death on our enemy.

I'm sure some of you are shocked, outragd by this suggestion. Others are smirking and amused by the crude, barbaric humor I just described. In either case it's differing reaction to the same stimulus.

We humans enjoy torture. Oh we tell ourselves we're evolved, that we're above such "depravity". Clearly we're not, and we never will be. It is foolish to believe that we are somehow "special" and exempt when it comes to sadism.

For proof, just think of our taste for violence in films and TV. Or our enjoyment of lynchings. This is mankind's nature. And I say let' admit it.

I know this is a dark post, and maybe a little scary. But isn't it time we admit to ourselves that, deep down inside, when we think no one is really looking, some part of us actually think that what went on in Abu Gahrib was pretty funny.

And that we would gladly line up to take a dull kitchen knife and hack off Bin Laden's head. And then use it as a soccer ball.

Let's take a real look in the mirror. We may be Americans, but we are human beings first. And the long sad history of mankind is that we are beasts. The "better angels of our nature" have never triumphed. And they never will.

So let's drop the pretense and unleash our savage heart of darkness. At least we won't be hypocrits.

That's what I've found refreshing in Jay Tea's post. He's begun to understand the hypocrasy.


Anyone like to guess what S... (Below threshold)

Anyone like to guess what Scott is?
Could Michael be one too?

All yes, hypocracy...the bo... (Below threshold)
Leftism = Slave Morality:

All yes, hypocracy...the boogerman of the left. So much for "nuance."

We can't be "hypocrites," can we? Indeed, to the leftist it is better to die or be enslaved than to understand life is cirumstantial. We can't live life and do what it takes, so instead let's all become slaves. That is the leftist morality in a nutshell.

Jay Tea calls for mo... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea calls for more torture, while dismissing one of the few reasons he can think of for not torturing people: We are the good guys. We don't torture, maim, and kill people arbitrarily; we fight, we punish, we kill those that do.

Meanwhile, as of mid-March, "At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, according to military officials."

The article also says, "Over all, the Army's criminal investigators have examined 308 cases involving allegations of mistreating detainees. They include the 68 death investigations and 240 other allegations of potential misconduct, like allegations of assaults, sexual assaults and thefts, Colonel Hart said. Of the 308 cases, 201 cases are closed and 107 cases were pending as of mid-February 2005."

Jay, do you know how many American troops died while they were being detained as "enemy combatants" in Vietnam? The official number is 114, and that includes death by natural causes or accident. That number is only a handful more than the number of prisoners who are known officially to have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yeah. Go ahead and torture your prisoners to your heart's content— I'll be thinking of you now, every time I see one of those black POW-MIA flags.

s9:The American troo... (Below threshold)

The American troops in Vietnam were uniformed compatants. Fuck you for saying otherwise.

I am truly amazed that ther... (Below threshold)
Michael L.:

I am truly amazed that there are people on this list advocating torture.

Don't you understand that when the US tortures prisoners we create more hatred towards US? We create more terrorists?

So, aside from the fact that the use of torture is counterproductive, it is also IMMORAL AND INHUMANE. It doesn't matter that these people are "unlawful combatants." They are human beings.

We cannot make any pretense toward moral high ground if we descend to the level of barbarians.

s9, our guys in Vietnam fol... (Below threshold)

s9, our guys in Vietnam followed the rules of war, and deserved the treatment given to POWs. They never got it. In fact, the last regime to ever treat our guys anywhere close to properly under the Conventions was--drum roll--Nazi Germany. And they often strayed from the Conventions into the occasional summary execution.

Japan treated our guys with a special kind of vicioussness that makes Alcatraz look like a resort island. And ever since, we have NEVER had our prisoners treated properly, with the possible single exception of the three guys Serbia nabbed back in th 1990s.

Gitmo is basically a Caribbean resort. The prison has a freakin' LIBRARY, for crying out loud. If our guys tie 'em up occasionally or turn up the A/C occasionally, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

I agree 100% JT. We shouldn... (Below threshold)

I agree 100% JT. We shouldn't let details like "torture doesn't work" and "torture is not something good guys do" stop us from doing whatever we want.

jhow66 and leftism = slave ... (Below threshold)
Scott H:

jhow66 and leftism = slave morality: I'm not sure what you're suggesting here. I was trying to make a serious point that human nature enjoys torture, always has and always will. All I suggested is that we are no different and admit this, rather than deny it.

You saw nothing wrong in ed or cirby's posts, both of which suggested a short, fast trial followed by a quick execution. That wish for summary justice is just another example of our human desire to extract revenge and inflict punishment.

And I say that there's nothing wrong with those desires. But let's not try and cover them up under some legal mumbo jumbo. Let's be honest about the fact that we are humans.

We were attacked. We're pissed off. And now it's payback time. People always say that payback is a bitch...but it's also fun. What's wrong with saying that?

Tell me that you would not enjoy cutting Bin Laden's head off with a dull knife, or at least watching it.

Tell me you wouldn't get great satisfaction from seeing the 19 hijackers torn apart by wild boars.

Tell me you wouldn't laugh as Zacari had to choose which of his loved ones is shredded by dogs.

Or are you somehow above these primal instincts? Are you the kind of person who needs to mask your dark desires with snickers about fraternity hazing or code words about "taking off the gloves".

I simply ask, what's wrong with expressing the truth. That we hate our enemies and enjoy, indeed revel, in their pain, suffering and death.


Joe writes: Gitmo... (Below threshold)

Joe writes: Gitmo is basically a Caribbean resort.

Did you know that prolonged sleep deprivation causes brain damage? Did you know that sleep deprivation in combination with exposure to extremes of high and low temperature causes hyperalgesia, i.e. a hypersensitivity to pain?

If that's your idea of the luxury spa at a Caribbean resort, then you are one sick puppy— bored with the Hellfire Club, were you?

I've been a registered Demo... (Below threshold)

I've been a registered Democrat for 36 years. I was proud of that, but have recently been disgusted, absolutely disgusted about what's happened to my party.

When did it become a Democrat value to mock our constitution? To joke about human suffering? Do any of you young people have any concept of what it really means to be a True Patriot? You stand up for your country ALWAYS, and your government WHEN IT DESERVES IT.

Let me tell you younger Democrats something you may not know: Once upon a time our party used to stand for Independence from government, responsibility for one's actions, and most importantly, honor to God. Not anymore. Because of the behavior of theses crooks in the whitehouse, our party is being hijacked and turned into another Axis of Evil. How do you defeat evil? You sure as hell don't copy it.

Well, I quit. As of today, I am no longer a Rupublican. I serve God and I serve my country. I do not bow to this corrupt government or the mainstream media that props them up. Hatemongers, good riddance!

"Don't you understand that ... (Below threshold)

"Don't you understand that when the US tortures prisoners we create more hatred towards US? We create more terrorists?"

MORE hatred? Oh no. Please, we don't want that. Maybe next we will be compared to the Boogerman? Or maybe we need to go back a few centries and get Gengis Khan out of the closet? US = SATAN perhaps? Maybe some genocidal dictator will call us Poo-Poo heads?

Sorry, desensitization is what happens when you get compared to Hitler on a daily basis.

Vet writes: The A... (Below threshold)

Vet writes: The American troops in Vietnam were uniformed combatants.

So? How many of the detainees in G'itmo were ever even *near* a battlefield or a military operation? Answer: not all of them, but we don't know how many because the U.S. government refuses to put them on trial.

Vet continues: Fuck you for saying otherwise.

Where did I say otherwise? The American troops who died in Vietnamese captivity were regarded by their captors as "enemy combatants" and were deprived of all consideration under the Geneva Conventions. If the detainees at G'itmo and elsewhere had been given prompt review of their cases, as required by the Convention, then this comparison wouldn't be reasonable.

Unfortunately, wishing the facts are other than what they are will not help you sleep any better knowing what Americans like Jay Tea are now calling for our government to do.

s9,Apparently you ... (Below threshold)


Apparently you know absolutely nothing about the Geneva Conventions and how/when/where to apply it. Your ignorance is appauling.

Mike writes: Your... (Below threshold)

Mike writes: Your ignorance is appauling [sic].

Well, *that* certainly puts me in my place, doesn't it?

So, when are you fine young... (Below threshold)

So, when are you fine young me going to enlist.

Your American Army needs find young men like you. Go serve your country heroes.

Anon,No need to ap... (Below threshold)
Michael L.:


No need to apologize, but reclaim your humanity.

We're Americans, for chrissake. We don't advocate torture.

"I think you guys are right... (Below threshold)

"I think you guys are right. The only way to help the people of the Middle East and to make America safe is to gather up as many poverty-stricken Muslims as possible, place them in detention centers, and torture them."

Thanks, Michael. That'd work for me.

"These people killed innocent children to show disapproval of a government. They couldn't even justify it as collateral damage, as the government officials in question weren't near their targets. Aiming for a politician would risk their own hides, and that was something Ghassan just didn't have the stomach for. Not until the doctors finished rebuilding him, anyway.

How do I justify it? Well, since then, no Freehold registry vessel has ever been targeted by terrorists. No foreign flag vessel frequented by Freeholders has been attacked by the Fruits, and the total number of such vessels targeted has dropped 85%. I stand by my results. As to his torture and suffering, he was entitled to no protection under the conventions, not being a soldier and not choosing military targets. Besides, as Ghassan told me, sacrifices are necessary in war. His suffering was for a greater good.

I hate terrorists."

From Michael Z. Williamson's "The Weapon"

Scott H:You saw... (Below threshold)

Scott H:

You saw nothing wrong in ed or cirby's posts, both of which suggested a short, fast trial followed by a quick execution. That wish for summary justice is just another example of our human desire to extract revenge and inflict punishment.

I wasn't talking about revenge, I was talking about following the rules of war.

According to the law, we should just kill most of these guys right off the top. It's not revenge, it's just common sense. If they're not going to be honorable enough to follow the rules set down for combatants, they lose the protections of those laws.

fuck yeah, kill em now...ju... (Below threshold)

fuck yeah, kill em now...just kill em...who gives a rats about whether they are guilty or not, after all they are guilty of hating america and they dont look like us...just kill them the most efficient way we can....

I've been poking around the... (Below threshold)
Michael L.:

I've been poking around the blog for the last few days, or so, and I have to say, some of the people here are absolutely out of their minds!

And the people who advocate torture are truly beneath contempt.

But I am, of course, a moonbat.

(Whoop. Swoosh. Fwap. Fwap. Fwap.)

And I thought I was too den... (Below threshold)

And I thought I was too dense to get satire. (You WERE being satirical, weren't you Jay?)

All Durbin supporters shoul... (Below threshold)

All Durbin supporters should immediately sign up for the Lileks Disintegration Chamber.

And don't forget to sign up your minor children.

fatmanI won't speak ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I won't speak for Jay, but I was being satirical in the first comment. My rhetoric was satircal, but the underlying truth remains.

Les Nessman:Sorry ... (Below threshold)

Les Nessman:

Sorry if it seemed as if I was painting all commenters on this post with the same brush. I was actually referring to the comments by s9, neil and Michael L., not yours.

fatman writes: ..... (Below threshold)

fatman writes: ...I was actually referring to the comments by s9 [and others]...

I thought it was obvious that Jay Tea was attempting to write with a satirical voice. If you read my comments for comprehension, then it shouldn't be too difficult to see how I intended my remarks to apply to Jay's post after stripping away the dubious satirical trappings.

I can understand why Jay feels he must use satire to express his defense of torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. He still doesn't have the box canyons to do it with a straight face. It's actually quite telling that he doesn't use satire here to mock the serious arguments of his opponents (by making an absurd display of responding to them), but rather he is simply using satire to obscure his toxic message behind a barrier of "ha ha, only joking" seriousness.

It's clear he finds nothing objectionable about the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody to justify the outrage many critics of Bush administration policy are expressing. His use of satire was a feeble attempt to lash out at those critics for making him uncomfortable in his own skin.

s9said:"It's clear... (Below threshold)


"It's clear (JT) finds nothing objectionable about the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody to justify the outrage many critics of Bush administration policy are expressing."

Actually, s9, neither do I.






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