“It Worked”

13 May

The last great argument made by torture proponents (a term I can’t believe I have to type about Americans, and an idea that is repugnant at its core) is that torture “works”. Well, sure it can “work”, but it’s a lot less reliable and a lot more dangerous than traditional, good old-fashioned interrogation techniques:

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has led the Republican assault on Mr Obama, insisting that the tactics elicited information that has kept America from terrorist attacks since 2001. It is an unprecedented attack by such a senior former White House figure on the new incumbent.

Mr Obama has also come under fire from anti-war activists and liberal Democrats demanding that former officials be prosecuted. The row on the right and left and has spun out of the White House’s control.

At the heart of the debate is whether the CIA techniques produced useful information from detainees such as Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda operative who was waterboarded 83 times in Aug 2002.

Breaking a seven-year silence, Ali Soufan, the former chief FBI interrogator who questioned Abu Zubaydah for three months before he was handed to the CIA, has flatly contradicted Mr Cheney, saying that no additional “actionable intelligence” was gained from the extreme tactics.

Tellingly, the JPRA document asserted that “upwards of 90 per cent” of interrogations achieved their goals by establishing a rapport with the captive, rather than by imposing duress.

The memo was compiled at the height of discussions about how to interrogate suspects involving President George W Bush’s then national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, the CIA chief George Tenet and legal advisers from the Department of Justice.

The JPRA memo, part of a bundle of documents detailing the effect of severe interrogation tactics on American prisoners in past conflicts such as Korea, raised repeated red flags that were evidently ignored. It expressed concern that captured US personnel would face greater danger of torture if the US practiced the tactics on its prisoners. But most seriously, the memo dwelt on the efficacy of of coercive questioning.

The government was warned that inflicting torture on our enemy would make American captives more susceptible to torture from our enemies, and yet they persisted. And that argument is made without regard to the fact that torture is illegal under American and international law.

“If an interrogator produces information that resulted from the application of physical and psychological duress, the reliability of this information is in doubt,” it stated. “A subject in extreme pain may provide an answer, any answer or many answers to get the pain to stop.

“The application of extreme physical and/or pyschological duress (torture) has some serious operational deficits, most notably the potential to result in unreliable information.”

The concerns dovetail with criticisms made by Mr Soufan, who now runs a security consultancy. “I saw that using these alternative methods on terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions – all of which are still classified,” he said.

If torture “works” to produce occasional actionable intelligence, then it should be equally defensible to rob a bank. It might be illegal, but it “works” as a method for withdrawing cash.

(The image above is taken from a Cambodian museum depicting the torture methods employed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge)

HT Buffalo Geek

56 Responses to ““It Worked””

  1. Russell May 13, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    1. It has never been stated that the enhanced interrogation methods our country used were torture. However, it’s now becoming more apparent that some on the left, including Nancy Pelosi, did give at least tacit approval.

    2. As pointed out numerous times, it was people like you and so many on the left that used the argument that these techniques should not be used because they do not work. Once it had been undeniably shown that these techniques did indeed work, you start singing a totally different tune and start attacking your own line of argument. That is intellectually dishonest, something you’re normally very concerned about, of course, unless you’re the one committing it.

    3. It’s amazing how often so many of you resort to absurd and illogical analogies as a response. Have you been studying logic with STEEL?

    4. Perhaps Godwin’s Law should be modified to include Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. It’s ridiculous that you abhor the Hitler analogies, but so often bring up Pol Pot. There’s not much difference.

  2. Dan May 13, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    Just out of curiosity, have you ever written about “abortion proponents”? (A term I can’t believe I would have to type about Americans.)

    I have heard some people say that they aren’t “pro torture” but that they want to make sure that it is safe and legal.

    I am not sure where the President stands on this, but if I can cobble together what he has said, it would be bad to take a baby from the womb and simulate drowning, but it is OK to drive a pair of scissors through its skull.

  3. Chris Smith May 13, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    From the article:

    The military document described forms of extreme questioning as torture 13 times in two pages, just a month before government lawyers said the techniques did not reach that threshold and interrogators first used waterboarding against a captive.”

    The military document was issued by the JPRA, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency.


  4. Jon Splett May 13, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    As I like to point out just about every time this topic comes up, the United States executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding our troops after World War II on grounds they committed war crimes.

    Any conservative want to tell me why it’s now okay for us to do it if we’ve killed others for doing it to us?

  5. Jordan May 13, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    I was watching Smallville last week, when I heard a great quote from Clark Kent when speaking to another about his refusal do something he believed unethical. It fits how I feel about this subject perfectly.

    “My responsibility is to do what’s right, like it or not we stand for something, we set an example for others to follow and if we don’t we are no better than the enemies we fight.” – Superman / Clark Kent

  6. Russell May 13, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    Jon, I already answered that on one of the previous threads about this. It’s because our technique is different primarily because we took precautions to eliminate the chances of death and extreme discomfort. Once again, this was the point of the memos recently released by the Obama Administration. Don’t act like no one’s answered this question before. It’s one thing to say you don’t like my answer. It’s another thing to lie.

    BP, 1. Nancy Pelosi shows that even Democrats at the highest levels okayed these techniques, thus debunking the claim it’s torture or that it’s only a Bush administration view.

    2. It is intellectually dishonest when you present a line of reasoning, then claim that line of reasoning is not valid only after it has been debunked.

    3. People don’t rebut illogical or illegitimate reasoning. They simply state it is illogical. Rebuttal is a sign of accepting the logic. You’re an attorney. You should know this.

    4. That’s the problem with Nazi and Khmer Rouge analogies. If you follow your logic, then we’d have to eliminate everything any of those regimes ever did. The argument does not hold water because it’s hyperbole. If a genocidal dictatorship did something that a democratic republic does, should we eliminate that as well? Would it mean they are not a genocidal dictatorship if some methods followed are that of a free society?

  7. The Humanist May 13, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Russell, the Torture-Apologist. Spinning like a top to defend an illegal and wholly un-American practice, even when confronted with the fact that a detainee was waterboarded (i.e. tortured) 83 times to get him to corroborate the false link between Iraq and Al Queda the Administration was pushing to the nation and the world……not to “defend our freedom” or gather anything resembling actionable or useful information on terrorism. The man was tortured by the Bush Adminstration for purely political purposes.

    Must be nice to share space with Dick Cheney, Torquemada, the Imperial Japanese, the Viet Cong, Pinochet, Iran’s secret police (SAVAK), the Tonton Macoute in Haiti, the North Koreans and others in the annals of the worst criminal regimes in human history.

    Russell, The Torture Apologist. Keep spinning, my brother!

  8. Chris Smith May 13, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    I read something from Andrew Sullivan today in response to a great article from Matt Taibbi that I thought I’d share here. As usual, Sullivan sums up an issue concisely:

    I don’t think my own anti-Jihadist credentials are in doubt. Just browse through the archives. As a proud gay man, I’d be one of the first to have my head sliced off by these murderous medieval morons. I want every last one of them fought with every legitimate weapon we have and brought to justice.

    But you know what? They haven’t been brought to justice, have they? Bin Laden remains uncaptured, his legend alive, his minions helping to destabilize Afghanistan and now Pakistan. Khaled Sheikh Mohammed has not been tried. Almost no one has. Because Bush’s torture program has made it impossible to put any of them on trial, to demonstrate, as we did at Nuremberg, how callous and deluded and vile they are. Because it would reveal our own descent into barbarism and show how Cheney’s version of “truth” wouldn’t survive an instant of scrutiny in a real court of law.

    Instead, we sold our soul, tortured them by the hundreds and thousands in the cold cell intelligence factories Cheney set up across the world – and somehow managed to make America, seven years after 9/11, the object of moral scorn around the world. The image of a man shackled by the wrists on a wall, frozen to near-death and doused with cold water for hours and sleepless hours on end has come, these last few years, to stand for something American in the global psyche. You think that has made us safer? You know how difficult that was?

    And you know what other victims of torture in hellish despotisms across the world now know?

    They know America does it too.

    And a little hope is snuffed for a little while longer.

    Here’s Taibbi’s article:


    In the end, Cheney and the right wing have succeeded in making this a partisan issue, like taxes and entitlement programs. As if opposing torture and the desire to adhere to our own laws as well as international standards of behavior that we previously prosecuted others for violating is somehow the liberal pantywaste position. This is the type of thing that should get people into the streets and demanding action, not a return to Clinton era tax rates.

  9. we took precautions to eliminate the chances of death

    and yet, CBS reports that 108 prisoners died in US custody. You are full of shit, Russell, that’s ridiculous and you ought to know it. “Torture’s ok if you try not to kill them.” Weak. Get waterboarded, and get back to me. You do realize that when they’re fucking dead, they no longer reveal shit to you, right? Right.

    Folks, it’s very simple: Russell, and the majority of the torture defenders (henceforth TDs) on this site and elsewhere operate on a couple of very simple principles which you will never, ever be able to shake them of; it’s pathological.

    1) American Exceptionalism: If we do it, it’s ok, regardless of whether it breaks our own laws or treaties to which we are signatories and therefore obliged by our very constitution to adhere to. In the mind of the TD, America is always right, and whatever ends are employed justify the means of, in essence, assuaging their nearly immobilizing fears, are A-OK. We’re Number One!!!! Rah Rah Rah!!!

    2) Fear: These fears are instilled and amplified by the Beltway media elites in service and deference to the political class, overtly on Fox/Limbaugh/Beck/&c. but really everywhere from the NYT to “24” to MSNBC. Fear is a powerful political tool, and the Republicans have wielded it fairly effectively for nearly 30 years.

    3) Polarization: The only lens through which the TDs view the world shows only black and white, us versus them, “liberals” versus “conservatives.” Glenn Greenwald, who none of the TD will deign to read I’m guessing, sums this up adroitly today here. Nancy Pelosi? Fuck Nancy Pelosi, if she knew real details and signed off on it, of course she’s implicated- so the fuck what? Who’s saying she’s not? Morons. To be appalled by our use of torture (“enhanced interrogation” = cognitive dissonance or willful obfuscation) does not make you “hard left.” Read it, I dare you to rebut that article here and now.

    I sometimes like to believe that most TDs are really good people, with honest motivations, who are somewhat victimized by their succumbing to the three points I outlined. I sometimes like to believe that, but lately, I just want them to fuck off to whatever authoritarian regime seems to suit their sophistic, peasant mentality better than a liberal democracy (thats what it is, here, folks; look it up.) Like some African dictatorship.

  10. Terry May 13, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Would one rather die at the hands of a “terrorist” whose mission could have been detected and prevented by means of “torture” rather than survive by virtue of the implementation of “torture”? Interesting…….

  11. Russell May 13, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Humanist, I’m not spinning anything. I merely stating the facts. These are from statements taken from the memos provided by the Obama Administration. It’s not me that shares space with those regimes. It would have to be all of us. Our country did this, not me. The one you claim is spinning is not the one who carried these things out. Our nation did, with the approval of Congress, including leadership on both sides of the aisle. We now know it wasn’t just the Bush Administration.

    So many of you love to throw out the statement that it was clearly illegal and still no one has been indicted, let alone tried and convicted. We all know very specific details about these events: the who, when, where, why, every necessary detail; and still nothing. How could it be so clearly illegal if no one is, has been, or will be brought to justice?

  12. Russell May 13, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    Oh, BP, a little more on your Khmer Rouge analogy. This is not genocide. It is not being used systematically against our own citizens. We are not killing people by the millions. And this is not being used against innocent people. All important caveats that render the analogy incorrect.

  13. Russell May 13, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    SS, that’s not from my defintion of torture, it’s from the UN’s as Frankie pointed out in a previous post about this subject:
    The UN definition of torture, signed by Ronald Reagan:

    1. 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 …

    Clearly, if steps are taken to alleviate pain and suffering, as the memos clearly demonstrate was the case, then it does not fit this defintion of torture. Obviously, it was not intentionally inflicted. Not only that, but as testified to numerous times on here, we waterboard our own troops in training. So there are ways to do this that clearly keep it from being torture.

    Perhaps some of you should actually research the facts on this before you open your mouths. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s also getting tiresome to restate the same facts over and over.

  14. indabuff May 13, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    Geek Sez… In the end, Cheney and the right wing have succeeded in making this a partisan issue, like taxes and entitlement programs.

    And the left hasn’t?

    Also…where is the outrage at the scores of innocent people being killed in the name of freedom or doesn’t collateral damage count when we wants to killz them terrorists or findz them evil-doers.

    It borders on the pathetic to see chest thumpin idealogues talk about howz we are America and we don’t torture while we drop them bombs, fire those guns and shoot da missles which take out innocent people everyday.

    Torturing isn’t okay for the greater good, but killing innocent people is?

  15. Chris Smith May 13, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    No, Chris. I don’t believe this is made out to be a partisan issue by the left. It is a matter of human rights and international law. Calling for the prosecution of those who violated those laws is not partisan, it’s right. Whoever knew of these methods, approved of them or failed to seek prosecution of them should be held accountable for their actions.

    Based on the accusative tone of your statement, I’d direct you to the Matt Taibbi article and tell you to think about the question you just posed to me.

  16. mike hudson May 13, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    it’s torture to even read this. the war in afghanistan is going very very badly, body bags are still coming home every week from iraq (but now we can take pictures!) and a war is about to break out along this country’s 3,000-mile border with mexico. the economy’s in the shitter, unemployment is through the roof and i haven’t heard a thing about universal health care since the election.

    this all reminds me of the cold warriors of the 50s and 60s, arguing for 40 years about whether or not alger hiss was a soviet agent.

  17. Russell May 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    Chris, we are now learning that some in the leadership of the left were informed of these tactics back when they were taking place and did nothing to stop it. If it were purely about right and wrong, they would have done something 5 or 6 years ago when they were informed these techniques were actually being used. Now, suddenly, once it’s become a major political issue, years later, they are outraged and demand justice. That sounds partisan to me.

  18. indabuff May 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    I read the Taibbi article earlier today…he is spot on..but this issue is clouded by partisanship…a lot of people can’t look beyond where they are politically and make a decsion based on what is right and wrong as opposed to what is right and left…partisanship also skews the debate.

  19. The Humanist May 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    Hey Russell:

    Since you’re only left with the pathetic “Hey, the Democrats knew about it too and didn’t do anything to stop it” argument….

    Let me say this as one of the most partisan Democrats on this site – if Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller had full knowledge that the Bush Adminstration was engaged in torture of detainees and did nothing to stop it, they should be strung up right alongside the Bush administration war criminals.

    If, however, as Pelosi has claimed, she was never informed of waterboarding during her CIA briefings (which are classified and she can’t speak publicly about anyway) and that the Republicans in Congress are now desperately attempting to distract and cloud the issue to forestall investigations (and what should rightly be criminal prosecutions) of the Bush Administration officials who created the “justification” for torture and approved its use….well, color me shocked.

  20. Chris Smith May 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm #

    Russell, actually what we are finding out is why there has been so little Congressional action to investigate these crimes. If Pelosi and others in the leadership knew of them, they are responsible and their lack of action speaks to their tacit approval of the crimes and their own culpability. That said, there is still some debate as to who knew what when and an independent investigation is necessary.

  21. Russell May 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Humanist, that’s not all I’m left with. It was just one response to what others have said on here. I am glad to hear that unlike some, you and Chris are a little less partisan on this and are willing to go after anyone, not just the Bush Administration.

    I, and many others, are not willing to take Speaker Pelosi at her word. CIA documents have shown she knew and now an aide has come forward to not only cooberate those stories, but has also stated he personally informed her after attending a briefing on her behalf. Sure, it’s still debatable, but I think most evidence is against Pelosi’s word.

    All that said, I doubt there will be hearings and investigations, but even if there are, nothing much will come of them as far as prosecutions. Regardless of whether it worked or not, the legality is still debatable. The people who actually carried out these acts have been assured they will never be prosecuted. It will take us down a scary road if we only go after people that offered legal opinions. It would be far worse if we follow through on what you guys are proposing and take down everyone in the leadership and oversight of our intelligence community.

  22. Dan May 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    BP – a “successful” abortion, by it’s very definition, can never be safe, although it (and anything else that is put into law) can be legal.


  23. Pete at BS May 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    Russell – I am diehard Dem and think everyone who knew and/or approved it should be strung up.

    The arguments for and against torture are like the arguments for and against Global Warming. There are experts on both sides who think they can prove their argument beyond a shadow of a doubt, and yet no matter what one side says, the other side will not believe it.

    I don’t think the legality of torture is in question at all……unless you buy into the line from the newest Nixon movie…..”when the President does it, it’s not against the law”

    I, personally believe that torture is more about American superiority than actual intelligence gathering. It is about making them pay. I have a very tough time believing that we cannot get the intel we need, using methods that are acceptable under the Geneva Convention. We have the best medicine, best military, and best technology in the world. No way we can’t figure out a better solution. No way. And, we do have a tendancy to become what we are fighting…..ie….capital punishment. Killing a person to show that killing a person is wrong…..the lesson is lost on me.

    Finally, I am not usually a guy to point out mistypings or misspellings, but the word “cooberate” should be given a definition and used in everyday speech.

  24. shim May 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    I…like Russell am not about to take Pelosi’s word on ANYTHING! I think she along with other high ranking Democrats in Congress were aware and approved these techniques. However now that it is not politically in their best interests they are backpeddling big-time. That said whether these techniques are right or wrong can someone please explain to me how releasing all of this info makes us safer and is in America’s best interest? It’s partisan politics pure and simple.

  25. Russell May 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    Pete, no one is saying the legality of torture is in question. What is in question is whether or not these techniques are torture. The left has continually tried to blur the discussion with that and many have been sucked into the way they couched it, but it’s not about that.

    Regardless of how far technology has advanced, there is no substitute for boots on the ground in a war. The same is even more true for intelligence gathering. Anyone ever involved in that will tell you the same. Technology has its limits. Nothing has ever trumped personal, face-to-face contact. The CIA has tried all sorts of advanced technology and is usually on the cutting edge of advancement, but still cannot replace human intelligence gathering.

    And sorry, I meant “collaberate”.

  26. Michael May 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    “…and now an aide has come forward to not only cooberate those stories, but has also stated he personally informed her after attending a briefing on her behalf. ”

    If I were to put words in your mouth they’d be “enhanced interrogation, regardless of intent, in synonymous with torture and those who cleared the path for its use, regardless of party affiliation, should be charged with a crime” instead of just “corroborate”.

    “Collaberate” or “collaborate” doesn’t really fit the intent of the sentence, and “cooberate” must be a very new word.

    Also, this aide attended a briefing where the use of *ahem* enhanced interrogation was covered and then told her about it afterwards? That’s a pretty shaky foundation for establishing complicity.

  27. shim May 13, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    Russell…don’t you get it? If the liberal dems say it’s torture it MUST be torture!

  28. Russell May 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    Michael, she was the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee. That’s how business is conducted on the Hill. It’s not shaky at all. Evidence from a number of sources shows she was informed. She was in a position to do something about it and she did not. What more do you want?

    And yes, you’re right, sorry again, “corrobate” is the proper term. Thank you.

  29. Russell May 13, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    shim, I do understand that’s how they think. The problem is 5 or 6 years ago when these methods were actually being used, liberal Dems did not call it torture. Now that it’s politically expedient, they say prosecute them, too, never giving thought to perhaps it’s not torture after all. They claim it’s so clear it can’t even be debated and yet their own leaders didn’t see it that way at the time. Obviously, it’s not as black and white an issue as they keep claiming. Reality continually gets in the way of their idealism, but they refuse to acknowledge that.

  30. Michael May 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    What I want is for everyone who authorized, or was complicit in, the use of “enhanced interrogation” to be charged with a crime, regardless of party affiliation. Everyone.

    Whether or not Pelosi knew something or didn’t and when she did if she did is a dodge around the larger problem.

    The Glen Greenwald article linked above is dead-on with every point he makes.

    I completely disagree with your viewpoint, Russell, but admire your ability to pick a position and unwaveringly stick to it, no matter how it might reflect on you.

  31. Buffalopundit May 13, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    I trust that Russell & Shim and all the other torture apologist/defenders will take me up on my offer to undergo a waterboarding. After all, it’s not torture. Right?

    Also, Russell says that if I have band-aids and morphine on hand, it’s ok to slice your skin. After all, I’m taking “steps” to “alleviate pain and suffering”. Give me a fucking break. If it’s so benign, undergo it.

  32. shim May 13, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Pundit…All I’m asking is who defined it as “torture”? As Russell said..this has been going on for several years and all of a sudden because it’s politically expedient and yet another chance for them to play partisan politics it becomes torture. No… I don’t want to under go it but I’ll make you a deal….if the day ever comes that I may be witholding information that could cause harm to many Americans including you and your family, you can be the first one to perform the act of waterboarding on me. Until then I think I’ll pass. And again I ask…how does releasing all of this info including photos of prisoners make us safer as a country? It doesn’t. In fact as I write this your hero Obama is having second thoughts on this very issue! He is now beginning to realize that releasing photos of “tortured” prisoners will do much more harm than good. I’m afraid this is something he should have thought about before stirring this whole issue up just to satisfy a campaign promise. This is partisan politics and nothing more.

  33. Pete at BS May 13, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    “Regardless of whether it worked or not, the legality is still debatable” <<<<Your words, Russell.

    The legality is 100% not debatable. Torture is against the law, both domestic and international. Waterboarding is torture.

    I do understand that we use it to train our troops. That doesn’t make it less torture. We are using it to train our troops to WITHSTAND TORTURE…..

    I think my favorite part of the argument is that Russell and Shim talk about the politicizing of this issue by the Dems as if we are the only ones to politicize an issue. That’s the “they” think.

    Yeah, you’re right, the GOP never does that.

    Russell, you have your beliefs. I believe that you are wrong. You believe that I am wrong, but please don’t say you are stating facts. You are doing exactly the same thing you accuse us of. You are using the facts that support your argument. You are ignoring the facts that you don’t like. You are INTERPRETING the facts through your own lens.

  34. Russell May 14, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    Again with the absurd logic. BP, you’re an attorney. Try to think like one. What does me undergoing waterboarding have to do with whether or not it’s torture? There a tons of things in this world I’d rather not experience. That does not make them torture. I don’t ever want to spend a night in a maximum security prison. Does that mean we must shut down all maximum security prisons? Stop thinking like STEEL. You’re embarrassing yourself.

    If we do follow your absurd logic, then we could easily say that waterboarding is clearly not torture since we use it on our troops in training. Are you saying that for many years our government has authorized the use of torture against its own troops? Why is there no movement to end that practice and bring all of those people involved to justice?

  35. Russell May 14, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    Pete, go back and read the thread before you comment again. Chris said the right politicized this and left has not. shim and I were responding to that. We made no statements on the politicization of other issues, just that the left is just as guilty as politicizing this.

    And do not take my words out of context. The legality that is being debated is specifically about these acts. It’s not whether or not torture is legal. It’s whether or not these acts are torture, and therefore illegal. So far, these acts have not been termed torture or illegal by any authority. Yes, Obama has banned their use, but they have not been termed illegal torture. It’s not through any lense. That’s just what transpired.

  36. Pete at BS May 14, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    “Are you saying that for many years our government has authorized the use of torture against its own troops?”

    We are waterboarding our troops to train them to WITHSTAND TORTURE. Asked and answered.

  37. Russell May 14, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    So that makes it ok? I thought everyone has been saying that waterboarding is clearly torture. If it is, then it’s illegal. If you’re saying it’s okay in these cases because the government takes steps to make sure the troops will not be killed or severely injured, then that’s exactly the point of the debate on waterboarding and why the cases at issue are not torture either. If you think it’s an entirely unamerican enterprise, completely illegal and bordering on barbaric, as many on here have said, how can you be okay with us doing it to our troops?

  38. Pete at BS May 14, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Let me clarify……..
    Torture is illegal by US Law and International Law.
    I don’t believe torturing our own troops is good practice, although not being a lawyer, I do not know if it is legal when the participant is willing. I understand the rational for the practice, although I do not know whether I buy into it as effective.
    I do believe waterboarding is torture
    Many experts dispute whether torture is effective or not

  39. Russell May 14, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    Willing participant to being tortured?!?!

    I’m no lawyer either, but I have never heard of an illegal act being permitted because the victim was willing.

    I’ve been accused of spinning, but this logical ’round and ’round you’re doing is laughable. Do you really buy what your saying? Honestly?

  40. Pete at BS May 14, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    I don’t think anything I am saying is laughable. I am saying that I believe it is wrong to torture ANYONE.

    The second part of that statement is that I personally am a teacher. I do not have the expertise to know if what is happening on the military training side is legal or not.

    What I do buy into is that I am not always right. I do not have enough info on exactly what the military training consists of……nor, probably do you.

  41. Russell May 14, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    If you believe it’s wrong to torture ANYONE and waterboarding is torture, then you wouldn’t say things like it must be okay because they’re willing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re always right or not. If you’re going to say it’s wrong, period. THen you can’t follow that with it’s ok if someone’s willing, let alone that people willingly subject themselves to torture. That does sound ridiculous.

    And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a teacher or not. You don’t need a law degree to think that the victim’s willingness determines legality. Furthermore, veterans have stated on here that we waterboard our own troops. They know firsthand. I’m not saying I’m an expert on military training. I’m just going by what they said. Incidentally, it was two people on either side of this issue that mentioned it.

  42. The Humanist May 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    @Russell, the Torture-Apologist – see if you can follow this…

    SEAL SERE Training – the subject willingly submits (as part of his training) to waterboarding in a controlled situation, knowing full well the identities of his interrogators and that the waterboarding will end before he is in any physical danger.

    Bush Administration Waterboarding Torture – the subject is involuntarily subjected to torture by complete strangers with no assumption of when (or even if) the torture will end.

  43. Russell May 14, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    So that’s the difference? It’s not waterboarding per se that’s torture. It’s whether or not you know the interrogators. It can’t be because the waterboarding will end before there is any physical danger to the subject because the memos make it clear that that was the case in the CIA’s treatments and all of you reject that as a criterion. I’ve pointed that out a number of times and many of you have mocked that. Now that you bring it up, it’s sounds logic, of course.

    But I am glad you’ve cleared this up. Now all we need to do is ask Zubaydah if he can identify anyone that interrogated him. If he can, then we can say he knows who they were so it clearly wasn’t torture.

    Thanks for ending that Humanist.

  44. Ward May 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    Pundit : “What does Nancy Pelosi have to do with the price of tea in China?”

    I can appreciate why the name Pelosi dare not be uttered in the Lib blogosphere these days in conjunction with the subject of “torture”. That sound you heard at her presser this morning was her “stick shaker” going off repeatedly, as she lost airspeed and altitude while describing how the CIA misled her by informing her of its methods. Only question now is whose House she lands on.

  45. The Humanist May 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    @Russell – “the waterboarding will end before there is any physical danger to the subject because the memos make it clear that that was the case in the CIA’s treatments “

    I guess the 108 detainees who have died in U.S. custody didn’t have to worry about “physical danger”. Hey….the CIA memos said so and we know the CIA would never lie!

    Arguing with you is like arguing with a 3 year old about why he shouldn’t fling his shit on the wall.

    @Ward – attaboy….as Josh Marshall says, let’s not get distracted by what happened and lose sight of who was briefed about it.

    BTW, in case anyone is concerned….the Bush Administration tortured detainees for purely political reasons….not for intelligence, not for information on future attacks. They were trying to get detainees to corroborate a false link between Iraq and Al Queda. Don’t mess with Texas!

  46. Russell May 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    That’s a very reliable source you provided. Regardless, no one has ever died during SEAL training? Good point.

    Typical Humanist, when all your points have been debunked you resort to insults and name calling. Yet somehow you think you’re in the intelligent, mature one in this discussion.

    Look, you pointed out that it’s not the actual event of waterboarding that’s the problem, but the technique. Why am I like a 3 year old to point out that’s exactly what I’ve been saying and the whole point of the memos. You countered yourself with your own post and now you have nothing but insults.

  47. Russell May 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Oh, and Humanist, we didn’t waterboard that many detainees, so they didn’t die from waterboarding, but nice try.

  48. The Humanist May 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

    @ Russell, the Torture-Apologist – what’s not a reliable source? The direct testimony of Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (ret), former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and a lifelong Republican? I guess we’ll have to break out the Ouija board and summon the ghost of Ronnie Reagan, who was also anti-torture.

    I am the adult in this discussion because adults know torture is wrong. Arrested-development cases like you and Deadeye Dick Cheney still fantasize about torturing small animals to get your jollies and then inventing fantastical justifications for clearly illegal, immoral behavior.

  49. Russell May 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    There you go again. You destroyed your own argument so you’re still just hurling insults. I’m not saying torture is right or legal. I’m saying what we did was not torture. I know you folks need to cloud the issue with false statements, but don’t lie. I’ve been clear and you actually backed up my postion. You clearly stated it’s the technique, not the actual act that determines whether or not it’s torture.

    Your source was not the Colonel. It was ThinkProgess.org. Again, stop the lies. Unless you heard this first hand from Col. Wilkerson, he is not your source. And if this is so, why was it not picked up by any legitimate news outlet? I haven’t seen this claim on CNN or any of the major networks. And as I already said, we did not waterboard that many detainees so those alleged deaths are not from waterboarding. Also, SEALs die in training, so if that’s your criterion for torture, you have to admit that what we do to our own troops is also torture.

  50. Pete at BS May 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    Russell……waterboarding is torture. Your argument that it is not is what is ridiculous.

  51. Russell May 15, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    Well, more authorities that matter here in the US side with me over you. And still no indictments, no trials, no convictions and none on the horizon.

  52. The Humanist May 15, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    @Russell, The Torture-Apologist – “Your source was not the Colonel. It was ThinkProgess.org. Again, stop the lies. Unless you heard this first hand from Col. Wilkerson, he is not your source”

    First hand, eh? OK….would an audio clip of the Colonel’s testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture in June 2008 in which he clearly states the number of detainee deaths suffice? Or does audio have a liberal bias?

    The videoclip and transcript of the Colonel’s remarks were in the link I provided in my earlier post. Your thirst for defending torture is equalled, it would appear, by your laziness.

    “And if this is so, why was it not picked up by any legitimate news outlet? I haven’t seen this claim on CNN or any of the major networks”

    Why was the testimony of a former State Department senior official that over a hundred detainees had died in our custody, almost a third of them killed by torture and abuse, not trumpeted on the front page of every newspaper and given the three-alarm treatment by the cable news networks last June when the Colonel testified? Beats me….I guess the editors felt that William Ayers and Rev. Wright deserved more coverage. “Liberal media”, eh?

  53. Russell May 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    Ok, fair enough, I missed that clip on the earlier post. I’m still suspicious that no one of any legitimacy or credability picked it up. So as an audio clip, can we be certain it is authentic? I don’t think Ayer and Wright are enough to explain why this didn’t get coverage and still isn’t.

    And still, even with this alleged testimony, not one indictment, only assurances from the new President that those who committed these acts will not ever be prosecuted. And still unwillingness from many, including within this administration, to call it torture. So it’s still not just me saying it’s not torture.

    I don’t know the entirety of the hearings from that session, but apparently this testimony was not enough.

  54. Russell May 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    Ok, I found the transcript of the testimony on the House Judiciary website:

    It’s pretty clear from the entire testimony that this is just speculation from Col. Wilkerson and he has no firsthand knowledge. He makes it clear numerous times it’s just speculation and his opinion, nothing more. Furthermore, he’s talking about 25 deaths from what he terms torture, not the full 108 deaths of detainees you cited. People die in custody for a myriad of reasons. That does not equate to torture. On top of that, there is nothing at all that says any of those deaths were a result of waterboarding. Nothing at all.

    So now I understand why this did not result in any action from the Democrat-controlled Congress and it wasn’t picked up by anyone except leftist blogs and quasi-news groups.

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