T Nation

Hitler, Bush, and Torture.

Red Hot Chili Peppers played during their waking hours till they talk, with minimal sleep (but medically sound), sure. No access to recreational activities, sure.

No religious materials till they cooperate, sure. Loud yelling, “Don’t sit there and lie to me scumbag!” Sure. Isolation until cooperation, sure. The same bland meal everyday (though nutritionally sound), sure.

Monotonous and irritating basically. These kind of things I can agree with, for these kinds of people.

We are often detaining martyrs and true-believers. People fighting not for an earthly cause, but one of paradise. Traditional tactics may work fine in many cases, sure. But, some of the deep down true believers…I have a hard time believing they’ll sell out, under the watch of Allah, while receiving the same legal protections as a conventional prisoner. “Look, I’ll tell the judge you cooperated with the investigation.”

Generally, police do interrogations to solve a crime. And I’m sure many of these detainee interrogations were the same. An attempt to elicit confessions, basically.

But, there are interrogations aimed at saving hundreds, even thousands, of civilian lives before the crime is committed. I’m asking how far would YOU folks go to prevent that “ticking time bomb” scenario. Water-boarding vs. hundreds/thousands of civilians deliberately killed. What’s your call? Hell, what’s the most moral decision? Saving those lives, or the extreme discomfort and fear from water-boarding?

Or, and I hate to even talk like this, but I think it has to be put forth…Do we recall the Al Qaeda affiliates who captured US troops? Their torture tactics involve hot irons, amputations, breaking limbs over door frames, genital mutilation, electric shock while dangling from chains, etc.

Finally sawing off one’s head and holding up for the camera so they can post pics on the internet.

Two of YOUR soldiers have been abducted by one of these affiliates. Some members of this group were captured shortly after. Routine interrogations have only gained confessions to their membership, but nothing to give away their brother’s safe-houses. Chances are you’ll find your troops in one of those houses.

Time is ticking away, are your soldiers missing limbs yet? Do they still have their heads attached to their bodies? Would you allow the detention conditions I mentioned at very beginning of this post? If they still don’t talk, do you consider some of the more extreme methods?

Such as water-boarding, some degree of sleep deprivation, or the cold water treatment? Or, do you tell those troops’ comrades, “Well, they wouldn’t tell us anything, we have to respect that. Pray for your comrades.” What really is the moral decision in this case? Water-boarding vs. your troops facing standard Al Qaeda treatment and execution?

This isn’t an easy topic, and I won’t pretend it is. I wish our enemies were regular Joe Schmoe soldiers, fighting roughly within the accepted conduct of war. Uniform, military markings, accountable government, attempting to avoid civilian casualties…hell, someone you’d have a beer with if it wasn’t for the damned war.

But, that isn’t our enemy. Our enemies are often fortified by a Jihad/martyr complex. They subscribe to a brutal death-cult ideology. They remove limbs and heads, plot the deaths of thousands of civilians, while we debate how to extract info to foil those type of things. I can imagine a number of these guys, with visions of Paradise in their heads, easily holding out under routing police interrogation techniques. Your regular wannabe thug does it often enough.

I know I’d authorize the ‘monotony and irritating’ methods in my first paragraph. But, I can’t imagine ever issuing orders to carry out Al Qaeda techniques. Heck, I’m not sure I could order a man beaten with a fist, even under dire circumstances. But, water-boarding, sleep deprivation, cold water? In the kind of scenarios above, I’m glad it will never be my call.

I hope I didn’t offend by mentioning US troops in the second scenario. I know it reflects some grim and present realities. But, it’s something that I wrestled with in my mind after hearing of the US troop abductions. It makes me sick to even speculate, but in this kind of discussion, you have to look honestly at what you’re facing.

Again, I’m not going to treat this issue as an easy topic for me. It’s not. With this topic you’re weighing lives and mutilation against the desire to be humane to prisoners. I just don’t know…

Sloth,

There is a difference between a situational appeal to authority, so that someone takes responsibility and faces the potential consequences, and an open policy that allows torture.

The more than silly ticking time bomb scenario and so forth can be easily handled without making torture the routine policy of a country supposedly concerned with human rights around the world.

Quite frankly, it would be appropriate for the president himself to step up and openly say “I was appraised of the situation and approved torture in these specific instances”. If he can’t do that, he should not be willing to pass the responsibility down to some underling.

The key here is that it should be clear, open and responsibility should be taken for it at the very highest levels. If those things can’t be done, then perhaps the act really can’t be justified in the first place.

Not that I expect anyone to agree with my stance on this…

Vroom,

If a captured terrorist such as Kalid Sheik Mohammed is reasonably thought to have the relevant information, and the information corresponds to a significant and imminent threat, and the information could likely lead to the prevention of the threat, exactly how would you handle the scenario.

All while protecting his rights?

[quote]Tokoya wrote:
Vroom,

If a captured terrorist such as Kalid Sheik Mohammed is reasonably thought to have the relevant information, and the information corresponds to a significant and imminent threat, and the information could likely lead to the prevention of the threat, exactly how would you handle the scenario.

All while protecting his rights? [/quote]

As I just said… have it specifically authorized as an exceptional situation by executive order in an open and visible manner.

This puts the responsibility for sanctioned torture, elimination of rights, at the appropriate level.

The way things are now, any shithole country can torture anybody they like, as a matter of policy, if they are willing to classify a political dissident as a terrorist… and how can we now exert pressure on this type of human rights abuse?

Sure, you and I know the US is of course really always justified in their own decisions to torture, hopefully, but the rest of the world doesn’t have that level of trust…

And, more honestly, I don’t trust any government or bureaucracy to be immune to corruption or abuses of power at various levels for various reasons given a bit of time.

[quote]vroom wrote:
The more than silly ticking time bomb scenario and so forth can be easily handled without making torture the routine policy of a country supposedly concerned with human rights around the world.
[/quote]

But can it be, vroom? You state it as fact. Can routine police-like interrogations crack the true believer martyrs, reliably? Not, sometimes, but reliably? I’m sure it’s the case with most jihad underlings.

But, we’re talking about cell like organizations. In which often only the most ranking members have actionable information. And, I’d think those Lt’s. would be the most religiously inspired amongst them. Facing the wrath of their brothers for their treason isn’t the issue. Indeed, it’s Allah, who is betrayed.

And, is the ticking time bomb scenario truly silly? Surely, it’s a legitimate scenario, with the enemy we’re facing? Conventional plots to commit mass civilian deaths is standard for these guys. Furthermore, we’re talking about groups seeking to obtain and use WMD on us. Al Qaeda has absolutely chased after this goal. That’s why I’m putting the scenarios out there.

Look, it’s an easier debate when we’re not in charge of protecting our civilian populations. But, ultimately, isn’t that what we should ask ourselves? What would I do to prevent the deliberate murder of hundreds, even thousands, of my fellow citizens. Or, to save abducted soldiers from mutilation and decapitation? What really is the most moral position to take?

Example. Al Qaeda Lt. John Doe is spared water-boarding, which was proposed to prevent an explosion in an undetermined public venue, due to our humane sensibilities. Ok, that seems to be honorable and moral.

However, now the bombs go off, hundreds are dead, and many maimed. Was it really moral? Does it truly feel like a just and moral decision when confronted with grieving family and the permanently maimed? And, who was your obligation to, the Al Qaeda detainee or your fellow citizens?

I think the ticking bomb scenario is legitimate. It certainly shouldn’t be ducked. However, the slippery slope argument is just as legitimate, when talking about interrogation. I don’t debate that all.

I have few set beliefs on this. I know I’d authorize the conditions I dubbed “monotonous and irritating,” to extract crucial information from crucial Al Qaeda figures.

I’m pretty damn certain I could never give the nod to Al Qaeda methods, even in the most dire of circumstances. But, even then, there’s a nagging little voice. “How about to protect your family? Or neighbor? Or even your brother’s friends?” But, it’s a small voice.

Now, water-boarding, sleep deprivation, cold water treatment…I’d like to say no to these also. However, it’s not easy when faced with an Al Qaeda detainee, on which conventional interrogation methods have been exhausted, withholding details of an impending terror attack.

Any ways, I’d really like to see your take on specific techniques, up to what level, and under what circumstances (including the truly dire). Could you approve of my “monotony and irritation” conditions? If so, when? Could you ever give the nod to water-boarding? If so, when?

I’d like to see everyone approach the issue with more than “Yes,” or “No.” Of course, no one is obligated to humor me.

[quote]Sloth wrote:
A lot… :wink:
[/quote]

Sloth,

I didn’t say it could never be used, but that it should never be routine policy, legalized per se, as it is now.

You can’t “win” on the issue of torture because it’s a mathematical impossibility. There simply is no “correct” answer.

Plug it into a probability model and see for yourself.

Everything else is noise.

Who here would waterboard an SS officer if lives were at stake?

[quote]vroom wrote:
I thought the right wing liked to decry what they called moral relativism?[/quote]

If you are dead, then morality has no meaning for you. You’re dead.

The only time morality comes into play is in the initiation of violence or threat thereof. The victim is morally correct in stopping the violence or threat.

99% of the Al-Qhatsoever should be punished and tortured unmercifully, says I.
Or, at least, my tummy. I wonder if it’s so wise to let him do the thinking.

Now, I totally agree with the vast majority that terrorists must be punished severely, to the full extent of the law.
But mistreatment like waterboarding (spare me the discussions, let us just assume it’s torture)?

We CANNOT make exceptions in a constitutional state (in Germany we call it “Rechtsstaat”-“State of Law”)

Justice is measured according to the treatment of the worst guys, it’s not about how you impeach a president for a blowjob.

Interestingly, Putin just said yesterday, when questioned about his way of treating the opposition:
“European police uses gas against demonstrators and AMERICA uses torture, for example in Guantanamo.”

P.S. I’m getting extremely bored about how often SS, Gestapo and other Nazicrap gets to be mentioned here. Do we really need to pull out the Adolf every fucking thread just to have a measure of demonization? Smart folks can get a point across without painting all black (or brown) and white.

[quote]Schwarzfahrer wrote:
P.S. I’m getting extremely bored about how often SS, Gestapo and other Nazicrap gets to be mentioned here. Do we really need to pull out the Adolf every fucking thread just to have a measure of demonization? Smart folks can get a point across without painting all black (or brown) and white. [/quote]

Wow. See, when someone draws a comparison between Bush and Hitler, all some people (read: you) see is

“Bush is bad and so was Hitler! I’m just going to compare them so I can demonize Bush!”

Read the OP.

Hitler started torturing people under the pretense that it was ok in specific circumstances, while calling it “special interrogation techniques”, and assuring the public it wouldnt get out of hand.

Bush starts torturing people under the pretense that it is ok in specific circumstances, while calling it "special interrogation techniques, and assuring the public it won’t get out of hand.

Message to be gleaned: Its never worth the risk to give a government the power to torture. Ever. Period.

But you’re right… I see no similarities between the paragraphs above that start with “Hitler” and “Bush”. Clearly the OP was just throwing Hitlers name around to meaninglessly demonize Bush. Right?

[quote]Tokoya wrote:
CappedandPlanIt wrote:

“If torture is effective for stopping terrorism, why not apply it to other (or all) crimes as well? Would you be as opposed to the “rights” of pedophiles?”

To be honest, if I caught a pedophile trying to harm one of my kids, I’d probably have his “rights” pretty far down on my list of priorities. Yes, I’d be guilty of that all right.

You and I have different priorities. No big deal.
[/quote]

I didn’t ask what you’d do if you caught someone trying to harm one of your children. You’re purposely taking things very far out of context.

So, let me rephrase, in a way that may be harder for you to dodge:

Would you support pedophiles being tortured by the government?

[quote]CappedAndPlanIt wrote:
Tokoya wrote:
CappedandPlanIt wrote:

“If torture is effective for stopping terrorism, why not apply it to other (or all) crimes as well? Would you be as opposed to the “rights” of pedophiles?”

To be honest, if I caught a pedophile trying to harm one of my kids, I’d probably have his “rights” pretty far down on my list of priorities. Yes, I’d be guilty of that all right.

You and I have different priorities. No big deal.

I didn’t ask what you’d do if you caught someone trying to harm one of your children. You’re purposely taking things very far out of context.

So, let me rephrase, in a way that may be harder for you to dodge:

Would you support pedophiles being tortured by the government?
[/quote]

CappedAndPlanIt - why don’t you define “torture” for me.

I’d not have a problem if the pedophiles you keep bringing up (which in itself is puzzling) were say caned in public. Like they do in Singapore.

If that’s what society determines to be the punishment - and or deterrent - to pedophiles, I don’t see myself losing sleep over it.

Take it on a case by case basis. We just have very different points of view. No big deal.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
The only time morality comes into play is in the initiation of violence or threat thereof. The victim is morally correct in stopping the violence or threat.
[/quote]

As usual, far too simplistic.

Someone threatens to punch me. I pull out a gun and shoot them dead. Hey, apparently I’d be morally correct in your little scenario.

There is a lot more to it.

Sure, if you wish, you can adopt a fatalistic stance and say none of it matters anyway. I’m well aware the Sun will eventually expand and consume the Earth… or that eventually we will all be dead… etc.

Step up.

[quote]Schwarzfahrer wrote:
P.S. I’m getting extremely bored about how often SS, Gestapo and other Nazicrap gets to be mentioned here. Do we really need to pull out the Adolf every fucking thread just to have a measure of demonization? Smart folks can get a point across without painting all black (or brown) and white. [/quote]

Schwarzy,

I empathize with your concern. I would never have used the analogy had it not been mentioned in the article I posted.

I personally think that people refer a bit too much to Hitler. But that’s just me…

Doesn’t look interrogations were needed to catch these specific guys. But, it’s a reminder as to the scope of crimes we’re trying to prevent.

"Terrorists Plot Attack Against JFK Airport

FBI Official Believes Attack Could’ve Been Worse Than 9/11"
http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_153122828.html

[quote]Sloth wrote:
"Terrorists Plot Attack Against JFK Airport
[/quote]

What struck me this morning is that this group apparently has no association with Al Queda. Neither is it just “homegrown” discontents.

If that remains accurate, I think it leads to a couple thoughts:

  1. Secure the damned borders. Once the conflict overseas dies down, more people will be trying to get into the US.

  2. Fighting terrorism is not solely about taking the fight somewhere else. You cannot simply ignore that ideologies and individuals are involved. It doesn’t matter who you invade, it won’t eliminate the threat.

Item number 2 has legs, long legs, but I’m not even going to try to start fleshing things out at this point.

[quote]CappedAndPlanIt wrote:
Tokoya wrote:
But frankly, who gives a fuck if this piece of filth was given the waterboard treatment?

I do.

What don’t you people get?

Is it that hard to see that its not about WHO they are torturing, but the fact that they ARE torturing ANYFUCKINGBODY in the first place?[/quote]

Exactly. I can’t believe this debate is even happening in America today, and I’d like to think 50 years ago anyone using Orwellian euphemisms to call for torturing our enemies would be ignored. Now those people are in some of the highest offices in the land.

A couple of issues here:

  1. Waterboarding is torture. Plain and simple. If you try to argue otherwise you are lying to yourself. Simulating drowning is both a mock execution and physical and psychological torture. U.S. troops were court-martialed in the past for waterboarding (WWII, Moro Insurgency as well, I believe).

And if you want to say, “U.S. special forces get waterboarded sometimes during training,” so what? I’ve had a former CIA officer tell me that sometimes those guys (Green Berets, etc.) get their ribs broken with 2x4s in training; should we be doing that too?

  1. There is an assumption on here that torture produces good information. There is significant evidence that the opposite may well be true:

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/Transcript_Page.aspx?ContentGuid=b0d450ff-7a6d-41ca-b855-a93127f6eed7

The second link is from an interview with Colonel Stuart Herrington, one of the Army’s top interrogators in Vietnam. I’d urge everyone here to read it, might have a serious impact on your thinking.

  1. Some of the highest military officers in the land (for example, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, and former head of CENTCOM) have spoken out against any deviation from the Army Field Manual on interrogation. Alongside them are those Senators who served with distinction in Vietnam (McCain, Hagel). On the other side are a President who did the next best thing to dodging the draft, and a Vice President who took student deferments because “I had other priorities.” Interesting.

  2. The war, both in Iraq and globally, is fought as much in the moral sphere as the physical. By which I mean, if we lose the support of the people (both American and Iraqi) it doesn’t matter how many terrorists we kill. Even if torture were to provide valuable information, which is highly doubtful, the damage it does to us in our global standing and the information war clearly isn’t worth it. Read about the French war in Algeria some time.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
The only time morality comes into play is in the initiation of violence or threat thereof. The victim is morally correct in stopping the violence or threat.

As usual, far too simplistic.

Someone threatens to punch me. I pull out a gun and shoot them dead. Hey, apparently I’d be morally correct in your little scenario.

There is a lot more to it.

Sure, if you wish, you can adopt a fatalistic stance and say none of it matters anyway. I’m well aware the Sun will eventually expand and consume the Earth… or that eventually we will all be dead… etc.

Step up.
[/quote]

The second paragraph there was a little unusual. What?

Its assumed that you may stop a perceived threat. I never said that had anything to do with shooting someone.

Bush actually has striking similarities to Lincoln: Habeaus Corpus, imprisoning your enemies on an island in the Atlantic, an unpopular was, benefitted from sectionalism, and other things I’m sure.

Of course, Bush is a weak speaker but remember we see him on the nightly news. Abe had the benefit of some obscurity.