Michael's Dispatches

Mark Bowden on Torture

16 Comments

24 March 2009

Interesting that Mr. Bowden and I have separately come to similar conclusions on torture and related topics.  Different, but similar enough.

However, some of my views are remarkably different than any I have seen published by authors or readers.  There are some fundamentals that are being left out of the discussions, even in Mr. Bowden's piece.  Will publish some of those thoughts as soon as is feasible.  This subject requires much thought; the writing should not be microwaved, but properly baked.

Please read Mr. Bowden's piece.  I disagree with some of his final results, but not greatly.  His intellect and thoughtfulness are worthy of respect no matter the disagreements.  Mr. Bowden always causes one to stop and consider:

Mark Bowden - The Dark Art of Interrogation


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    GreenWolf70 · 9 years ago
    ...of POWs. Honest to God, uniform wearing soldiers who are fighting under their country's banner. Those POWs I respect and believe that torture of them is so very wrong. My main issue is that we give these so-called theocratic thugs POW status. The very fact that they are in any way equated with a soldier that lives by a code of conduct is ludicrous. As outlaws and criminals of the very worse kind, I think they should be afforded the rights of guerrillas and saboteurs. And if I remember correctly, that provides for summary execution on the spot. They are not protected from torture under any convention. Problem solved.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Marcus Aurelius · 9 years ago
    Michael,

    Thank you for pointing out Mr. Bowden's article. It is thoughtful, balanced, and on the whole well thought out and reasoned. That is journalism not the ... we see on the alphabet networks and in the dailies.

    What went on at Abu Ghraib was simple and gratuitous sadism. What went on with KSM was not gratuitous
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dale · 9 years ago
    nice wording - "should not be microwaved, but properly baked" you are coming into your own voice very well - keep up the great work for all of us who can't be there
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Harry Hollmann · 9 years ago
    If water boarding, gets us information that saves US lives,
    then i am all for ir Period.
    HH
  • This commment is unpublished.
    alexa kim · 9 years ago
    Apparently the Amnesty Int'l types are terrified of feeling hypocritical and think it is the worst insult to hurl.

    I read the article and am in great agreement with Mr. Bowden. I, too, do not fully conclude as he does, but lean in a direction away from yours, I think.

    I will bang this drum forever: I will condone and will support doing whatever works to save the lives of those I love, principally, Our Troops.

    I can freely draw the line and re-draw the line as the circumstances dictate and that is something I will never surrender.

    Though your methods of "influence," attempting to shame me into seeing the error of my ways, are well written and interesting and possibly "threatens" your lowered opinion of me, *wink* I remain unswayed.

    It has been very stimulating to engage in the discourse.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    gus · 9 years ago
    my comment is more of a question... the revelation of the use of "torture" by US forces... was it a moral revelation, military revelation or political revelation??? in other words, what has changed in our country since the revelation that torture was used since the onset of the "war on terror"? is "torture" wrong? i, like most folks, would say yes; however, is not "war" wrong? can we accept that it is "wrong", but in the worst case scenarios, it may be critical in order to save our country from defeat and collapse - not to mention countless human lives. one thing is quite apparent... the topic is not suited for general consumption, nestled neatly in between dr. phil and survivor during a civilization changing presidential election...

    gus
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Brent · 9 years ago
    Bowden has written a truly insightful, well-researched, and fascinating article. I'm looking forward to hearing why Michael disagrees with Bowden's closing recommendations.

    My own disagreement comes from forcing the interrogator to break the law in ticking time-bomb situations in order to get the information that would save lives. This, with the certain knowledge that he then subjects himself to a court proceeding in an environment where the vast majority of the population has never encountered that kind of life-or-death immediate need for information and who have been indoctrinated in the moral-relativist swamp of "every human life is precious" no matter what atrocities a human monster may commit.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Brent · 9 years ago
    Bowden has written a truly insightful, well-researched, and fascinating article. I'm looking forward to hearing why Michael disagrees with Bowden's closing recommendations.

    My own disagreement comes from forcing the interrogator to break the law in ticking time-bomb situations in order to get the information that would save lives. This, with the certain knowledge that he then subjects himself to a court proceeding in an environment where the vast majority of the population has never encountered that kind of life-or-death immediate need for information and who have been indoctrinated in the moral-relativist swamp of "every human life is precious" no matter what atrocities a human monster may commit.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Brent · 9 years ago
    Bowden has written a truly insightful, well-researched, and fascinating article. I'm looking forward to hearing why Michael disagrees with Bowden's closing recommendations.

    My own disagreement comes from forcing the interrogator to break the law in ticking time-bomb situations in order to get the information that would save lives. This, with the certain knowledge that he then subjects himself to a court proceeding in an environment where the vast majority of the population has never encountered that kind of life-or-death immediate need for information and who have been indoctrinated in the moral-relativist swamp of "every human life is precious" no matter what atrocities a human monster may commit.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    raft · 9 years ago
    this article is from 2003. A lot of stuff has happened since then.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    NK · 9 years ago
    Very enlightening article.

    People need to understand that evil, aka: Satan, is alive & well. "He roams the earth, seeking whom he shall devour."

    Man is inherently a sinner. Morality comes from God. The more we, as a nation, turn our backs on God, the more He will withhold His protection & blessings.

    It takes a catastrophic event, like 9/11, for people to drop to their knees & seek His help.

    What is it going to take, for you to pick up & read your Bible (KJV)? The answers are right in front of your face.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevlaur · 9 years ago
    I read most of the salient points in the article... it seems some can live with themselves after using aggressive questioning techniques.

    But does not persuade me that waterboarding is torture, per se. However I am still for us keeping the moral high ground.... can't I have it both ways?

    In movies and old TV shows I could... the rough cop used just enough 'pepper' to make the bad guy talk but not enough that the courts threw out the conviction. If caught in the ticking time bomb and it was my child or my Airmen... I can't say that I would refrain from torture.

    Hey just another sinner.... I understand (and agree)...but what does that have to do with the article? Are we turning are backs on God if we use torture? I would say 'yes.' What constitutes torture? Try some honey... works better than vinegar...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    NK · 9 years ago
    Kevlaur...turning our backs on God by supporting a president & other politicians who pass laws, contrary to God's laws, such as, abortion, stem cell research, sodomites marrying, removing God from schools, public buildings & the pledge of allegiance, & so on.

    When God led his people out of Egypt, to their inheritance, he told them to utterly destroy the people who lived there because they were evil & believed in a false god.

    I say, use whatever means possible to get information from these prisoners, including torture.

    Taking one verse from the Bible (do unto others...) to justify not using torture shows a lack of understanding of God's Word, not to mention, our enemies' intent, that is, to kill all us non-Muslims.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevlaur · 9 years ago
    NK...Ummm... in the first place I wasn't trying to condemn torture by using Jesus' words. I was demonstrating my OWN struggle with the concept. And, by the way, the Old Testament is over... we have the New Testament and a new covenant. It also says take those who turn to idols outside the camp and stone them... you up for that? Going to cast the first stone?

    And, just what do you think Jesus meant by 'do unto others' ? Believe what you will, but don't cast aspersion at me... they aren't pearls, and I'm no swine.

    And, by the way, I'm a 20 yr AF vet with a masters degree... I'm pretty sure I understand what our enemies' intent is.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    NK · 9 years ago
    Kevlaur...take it easy...the only comment directed at you was the first paragraph, re: turning our backs on God.

    There's an old adage, I sure you're familiar with, that if we don't learn from our mistakes of the past, we are bound to repeat them. Well, we've been doing just that since the beginning of time; making the same mistakes, over & over, again, which is why, one day, God is going to wipe the slate clean...again.

    Do unto others comment was from a previous dispatch, that others were using as an excuse not to use torture. Wasn't trying to insult you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Eloise · 9 years ago
    After pointing out the difference between "coercion" and "torture," mainly the "severity" with which prisoners are treated, I couldn't agree more with the question posed by Bowden's piece--"It may be clear that coercion is sometimes the right choice, but how does one allow it yet still control it?"
    It has been stated that "torture" will not be a means used by our nation. But the reality is that people in authority, such as the CIA and the military will be faced with the decision of either saving the many by inflicting what some would call "inhumane" treatment on the one terrorist or criminal. So if in these cases some form of "coercion" is allowed where will the limit be placed? Who is to say what the limit is and even if the government attempts to set such limits it cannot be promised that all those in authority will submit to some limitations, especially when the pressure is on and when an interrogator know the clock is ticking.
    The end does not justify the means, however, there are two things that come to my mind. One is that even if the government bans any type of torture or even coercion there are those who will still use this type of treatment for the "terrorists"; yes, it is true that if its banned those who do use this treatment may have more fear of doing so since they know they may pay consequences. Nevertheless, it will continue to be an issue and a moral dilemma. The other is that the reason it will continue to be a dilemma is becuase although most respect the most basic form of human life whether it be evil or good, the evil is to be abhorred. Those that are faithful to what they believe to be their "calling," I"m referring to those such as the religious extremists, who believe it is an honor to blow themselves up along with others (suicide bombers). Those humans who have no respect for others, not even for the very essence that makes them human beings. What is to be done with these type of people? Are we to let those innocent lives die and suffer in anguish, along with their loved ones, because we don't want to inflict any pain on these "human beings" for the sake of human rights. Who is to defend the human rights of the many victims?
    Bowden did a great job of exposing and explaining the facts and the "crux of the problem," as he said. This is not an easy issue to present or to discuss. Bowden gave an example of this "problem" as he spoke of how he presented two people from the Amnesty International in D.C., who believe torture is evil and indefensible, with the case of an 11 year old kidnapped boy from Germany who's kidnapper after being captured refused to give the boy's location. When Bowden asked if they believed it was wrong for the interrogators to threaten the kidnapper with torture, which after the fact did give the child's location, they responded with yes it was wrong. I have to ask would they say the same if it was their own child? I doubt it. It was too late for this boy in Germany, they found him dead.

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