Michael's Dispatches

"The United States of America Does Not Torture"

24 February 2009

President Barack Obama has spoken.  His words beamed around the world.  I am in Asia preparing for a long year in Afghanistan and other contended places, but stopped to listen closely to President Obama's words.  Most of the things that President Obama talked about will take years, or many years, to implement.  But one thing can happen NOW.  No more torture.

I believe we can beat the terrorists we face without torture.  In fact, we can fight them better and more effectively from high ground than from low ground.

Thank you President Obama for moving to the high ground.

 
Michael Yon

 


Comments   

 
# Josh 2009-02-25 04:34
As a HUMINT'r who was deployed to AF, I couldn't agree with you more on this. Torture comes from the frustration of immaturity or the sense of power it gives someone. It has no place in our society, one which should be a beacon for the rest of the world. Thanks so much for the work you're doing.

I hope to bump into while you are here this year. I'd love to buy you a beer or coffee in Kabul. Take care and be safe.
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# D K Davis 2009-02-25 05:22
From what little I have seen so far I can only say: They should be glad they didn't have to go thru boot camp in the 1940's.
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# DC 2009-02-25 05:22
If we stop torture, what does that mean? Only on American soil? The renditions will continue. Are Egypt and Turkey going to use a new rule book for their questioning of American prisoners? Will we insist other countries follow our lead?
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# Hap Cluff 2009-02-25 05:26
Abortion of 40 million humans is torture. Obama and his supporters are hypocrites of the highest order. Who is to define what is and is not torture? I agree we should not torture. However, the president should never openly limit his options to our enemies.
Hap
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# William M Treadway 2009-02-25 05:31
I am mixed about such statements. I am sure that there are times when what many would call intense questioning would be determined by others to be "torture". Having said that, I have an ethical issue with real "bamboo under the finger nails" style torture. I also believe that prisoners do not talk to you because they like your jokes. There needs to be an edge to the questions... maybe tell them we'll hand them off to their countrymen??? just a thought.
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# Keith Bagley 2009-02-25 05:37
Torture has no place in our national defense. If we wish to influence the world with our leadership, we must stand on moral highground. It makes no sense to get down in the mud with dishonorable enemies...there is no telling how deep they'll take us into the muck.
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# An American for Torture Policy 2009-02-25 06:02
Here are two examples, God forbid there was a child killer on the loose and he has snatched a sleeping child from the window and he proceeded with his evil act then he commits murder. Now there might be a chance that the child is alive, basically left for dead. A policeman despite the miranda rights and not being allowed to torture this child molester ? How insane is that ? The policeman could have obtained vital information on where the child might be found then the ambulance personnel can immediately attend to the child whose pulse is almost gone and the child today is living because the policeman did torture the child killer for information.

Now, with terrorists A U.S. soldier would want to know where increasingly sophisticated suicide vests are being manufactured in a terrorist's home, place of business or a very hard to find tunnel. With no waterboarding and another scary strongarming methods to obtain vital information. What is a cup of tea and smoking some tobbacco hookah or cigarettes going to do ?

I place the terrorists next to child molestors, expect their method is to bomb women and chidren. They are the worst of the worst. They murder with no respect for innocent civilians or military men who are doing their jobs.

Please change Obama's mind on this because we are going to lose the war on terror to the terrorists. Appeasement Chamberlin style never works. In certain situations or torture during wartime does save lives. President Bush was right. He kept us safe for 8 years and many terrorists squealed under waterboarding and another torture methods.
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# Malinda 2009-02-25 06:26
These terrorists commit unfathomable acts of horror on others. I would LIKE to believe that gaining information from them without any misery is possible, but hey...these guys are willing and happy to DIE to inflict horror on others. I don't see why ANYONE captured would EVER tell the ENEMY ANYTHING if there were no repercussions for not doing so! I think I believe in "gentlemanly torture" if that makes sense to anybody??? I would never condone torture that would leave permanent marks or life long sustaining or debilitating injury to another...but some unbearable temporary pain in my opinion is the only thing that might make these extremists talk. Getting your ass kicked won't kill you, but it will make you think twice about the same behavior again :-) Ask my Daddy and the belt he had for us when we were little :-)
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# Lloyd 2009-02-25 06:29
I'm getting tired of the debasement of language. Because someone on the left calls an action torture doesn't make it so. America doesn't torture its prisoners and never has. But we allow the Left to torture us often enough, and even someone with his eyes as open as you will fall for it.

No one in their right mind would volunteer to be tortured to make a political point. But plenty of people have volunteered to be waterboarded for the political cause of weakening America. They came through the experience just fine. They gave their interviews to the gullible press and then went to dinner.

Real torture causes horrifying pain. It permanently disfigures the victim or destroys the psyche. It can take years to recover from it, if it can ever be recovered from.

Waterboarding does none of these things. None of the other things done to our EPWs has ever caused such damage.

America has always taken the high ground in the war on terror. Only people who listen to the Left without thinking believe otherwise.
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# Ilike2dv8 2009-02-25 06:45
Definition is the key here. One person and/or country's idea of torture can vary greatly. I would agree that real, serious, medieval torture has no benefit or place in our world although where does that leave the people intent on killing us??? Since we no longer torture our abused prisoners (I have never believed that torture took place in Guantanamo) I have to ask what possible good are they? After a nice cup of tea and a chat, if the enemy who is intent on killing every american soldier, civilian and child has nothing to offer, we should simply remove them from the equation. I can't imagine than anyone would disagree that after the ravaging the US and our armed forces took over the Abu Ghraib scandal, we should never again hold prisoners... period. If they are indeed the enemy they must not be allowed to return to fight a different day. We cannot afford to have a military second guessing that if they catch a serious bad guy Obama is going to turn him loose... my bet is it will be taken care of in the field.
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# Angelo 2009-02-25 06:45
Hmmmm, I would imagine if the unfortunate American souls that were beheaded, but sadly lived long enough to feel the bite of cold steel slicing thru their skin, feel the muscles in there neck cut loose and separate and lungs fill with blood and involuntarily convulse in an effort to expel this liquid during the few final death spasms could speak; what do you think they ask you? "Why wouldn't you consider a death by beheading torture" Ask the family members of these people that have to endure the memory of knowing that their loved one was "killed / tortured in this manor and then the incident broadcast across the mid east air waves, not to mention the idiots that posted this atrocity on You Tube etc. what they think about what they consider torture. Stern interrogation or death by a butcher knife." I think you can imagine their answer. If not I suggest you sign up and serve on the front line for a tour in one of the many hot spots. Your pacifist mentality / morality may be swayed. The sad reality of armed conflict is that there are two sides, "Winners, and losers." Which one do you want to be when the smoke clears.

INTENSE PHYSICAL INTEROGATION: IF IT SAVES EVEN ONE SOLDIERS LIFE, IF IT SAVES INNOCENT NONCOMBATANT LIVES OF ANY DENOMINATION, I only have 3 words to say to these enemy combatants., " Cancel Ramadan pal!"

These people are wartime detainee's and enemy combatants , not your local thug accused of stealing a TV from his neighbor! American constitutional rights guaranteed to American citizens do not apply to these people! Wake up! They most certainly would not grant you the same privileges!
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# Sludge Diva 2009-02-25 06:55
WHAT TORTURE? Please, B-HO is not taking the "high ground." These guys deserve far worse than volleyball courts, specially prepared meals, and far better living conditions than they received in preparation for killing Americans. I have absolutely no sympathy for detainees at GITMO. I had a tougher time in basic training when I joined the USAF in 1976. I would bet that the detainees don't have to scrub the latrine with their toothbrushes, as I had to! Actually, I doubt they even had toothbrushes prior to their stay at GITMO.

LET THEM ROT, and bring on the water boarding. They should be thankful they are permitted to sling excrement at the guards, in lieu of the public beheading that is dealt to journalists! Water boarding is too mild for them, in my opinion.
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# Army GI 2009-02-25 06:56
@ An American for Torture Policy

Sure, torture MIGHT get you the information that you want, but think about it. If I am being tortured, my mind and body being racked with pain, don't you think that I will say ANYTHING to make the pain stop? It doesn't
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# Scott Evans 2009-02-25 07:02
Public floggings and, when necessary, swift, painful public executions would dramatically decrease the need for future floggings and executions. This applies to prisoners of war and domestic criminals.
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# materialist 2009-02-25 07:03
As a long-time supporter of your work, I must say that I am befuddled by this bizarre comment of yours.

What are you saying? That we used to torture? If so, where is the discussion of that in your previous posts? I don't know of any.

Have you suddenly discovered that we used to torture, but didn't know of it before? If so, what is your new evidence, and why didn't you discover it earlier?

Or are you just trying to make nice with the new dog on the block?

I must confess that it sounds like the latter. I am deeply disappointed. I thought better of you.
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# Bill Smith 2009-02-25 07:07
Just remember, the Al Qaeda Training Manual (yes, google it) states for an Al Qaeda detainee to "claim" he was tortured at every opportunity and they obviously are following their manual. The Russians don't have the problems we have with terrorists, because when confronted with an animal they get on all fours. They've said time and time again that we Americans don't have the stomach for what needs to be done... and they are right. Many people here in America eat meat but few have been inside a slaughter house. Why? Because it's hard to stomach and we just don't want to think about it. Water-boarding, sleep D, etc., gets results... results that save American lives. Heck, every other second and third world county uses pliers and a blow torch... now that's torture! Wake up America!!
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# STDog 2009-02-25 07:10
I agree with Llyod.

Saying "No more torture" implies that we were torturing prisoners.
I don't think we have, and have seen no evidence to the contrary, barring the lefts redefinition of the word.

Anything are fighting men go through in training is not torture. As the SF about their training.
For that matter look at survival school. How about the article Michael linked a few days ago which discussed some of the training our forces go through.


Hey Obama, have you stopped beating your wife?
Similar implications.
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# C in U.S. 2009-02-25 07:13
My response when he said that, and I said out loud to the t.v., was, "Good, we never did torture, so glad to hear we won't be in the future!!!!"
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# mike johnson 2009-02-25 07:16
Michael, you've been in the desert way too long. Why are you trying to suck up to the new president. Oh, I forgot that you went to the Inaugural in D.C. to witness history. Please get back to reality!
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# Desert Stormer 2009-02-25 07:17
Pouring a little water on KSM's face for thirty seconds apparently resulted in a wealth of information that most definitely saved innocent lives. Same with his two AQ buddies. That isn't torture, that's getting the job done. This enemy saws off heads of tied victims and chants about how great God is. They must be dancing in the streets at how naive and foolish are we Westerners. And our appearance of weakness will only further fuel their rabid jihadism.
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# Gilbert 2009-02-25 07:19
If you speak to anyone in the intelligence community they will tell you that torture is not an effective method for extracting information from someone. When a human being is exposed to intense levels of punishment and physical pain they will do or say anything to get it to stop. This inherently makes the information suspect.

Some people argue the ol "end justifies the means" this is ludicrous. With this same argument then police should be able to physically extract information and confessions from suspects if it has the "chance" to save someone. Or if we could avert a criminal act that would kill many people we should as a matter of policy "make them tell us what we want to know".

I think it was implied somewhere that history has proven that torture works. To that I say nuts. All history has proven is when anyone or any nation tortures for any reason they only strengthen the resolve of the people, villianize themselves, and under minds their efforts.

Some would say look at all the valuable information we obtained by putting a drill through someone's knee caps. To that I say your missing the tractor and trailer loads of bad information that someone gave just to stop the pain.

You want to get information, it takes long term investments in time, money, and man hours. You have to take the moral high ground and do the right thing. Torture doesn't do anything but make you feel like you are doing everything to get the answers when in reality you get more with the right investigative tools than you do with a hammer.
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# Howard E. Morseburg 2009-02-25 07:32
There is no way that anyone can conclusively state that torture has not yielded positive results in the extraction of valuable information that has resulted in the saving of an individual life, or in wartime, many lives. Plans of attack, or weaknesses in methods of defense have given victory to one side or the other, and the degree of torture has been determined by the degree of ability of the captive to withstand the torture, and the result can (but not surely) be false information.
Some methods have been brutal, some more subtle, but to deny that many times they have been effective in reducing casualties on one side, or assuring victory to the other, is ridiculous.
I'm sure the Nazis, for example, captured many saboteurs through their methods of torture, and the patriots who gave up their comrades did so only because they could go no further.
On the other hand, to people with high moral convictions, being the torturer is repulsive, or knowing that your comrade-in-arms is one who administers torture, one would wonder if he/she were not a sadist, etc..
To those, such as Sen. McCain, who suffered so many torturous years, it would be repulsive, as it is to me. To those who are professionals involved in obtaining information from prisoners and who claim it is not effective, I have only one question, "Are you saying, never? Never?"
No, I'm sure that if we captured a group which had a cache of vials of a deadly virus hidden in New York or Los Angeles, we'd question our own sanity in following such a policy, because then we'd be living in a Cool-aide society. Like Socrates, we're willing to drink the Hemlock, but then, we're making that fatal decision for all the others too.
Meanwhile, the "other side" has not renounced torture and we don't know how costly our decision might be for us.
I'm not advocating the use of torture, I'm not taking the high moral ground either.
Only time will give us the answer, but it could well be the wrong one.
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# Gilbert 2009-02-25 07:32
I forgot to mention. Where does Michael, a former Special Forces Soldier, taking a stance against torture make him any different than he has been all along. I have read Michael writing about our soldiers and other countries' soldiers killing the bad guys by the *$#^ bushel. I don't see him writing about taking a more fuzzy stance on this.

I think some of the readers are confusing torturing with war fighting. War fighting is about killing the enemy. Torturing is about trying to make someone tell you something you assume they don't want to. Torturing is not something America should be doing.
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# Pat Carfagno 2009-02-25 07:40
Listening to BO use the same words as George Bush and have folks cheer as if they've just heard the words for the first time makes me want to hurl.

This man wouldn't know the truth if it bit him on the rear end. Our men and women in uniform have been accused of all kinds of terrible things and BO has been the cheer leader for this kind of despicable behavior.
Suddenly Michael you believe HIM?
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# mcarroll 2009-02-25 07:45
well, i for one don't know what to think about torture, but i do know michael that american lives and our best interests should come before our feelings for terrorists. i'm sure you might even agree with that being a prior special forces soldier. torture doesn't seem to win the hearts and minds of the terrorists we may torture, but arent' they hell-bent on destroying us anyway? can we really win their hearts and minds? is withholding torture the start of negotiating with terrorists? i say if torture is not an option, then if they are found guilty of terrorism against the US, then we should euthanize them.

i think listening to obama and other's in our nation's capital is worse torture than having your finger nails removed from your hands.

anyway, keep safe michael.
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# Tim Sumner 2009-02-25 07:54
The Michael Ratner led Center for Constitutional Rights has already declared that if we move the Gitmo detainees to maximum-securit y prisons or provide them anything less than full due process that would amount to torture. I'd go further in my predictions: adjudicated or not, our stateside detention centers, prosecutions, and indefinite detentions will soon be decried as Obama's gulags; from al Qaeda's mouths', to sheepƒ??s' ears, via the lawyer Rat-line, and the media echo chamber.

Virtually every past and present Guantanamo detainee claims to have been tortured. Yet from all the reports I have read, I estimate the previous administration authorized coercive interrogation techniques beyond the Army Field Manual on at most 30 jihadists. With due respect, Michael, that propaganda should have been countered all along with a steady stream of war porn, graphic evidence of al Qaeda's butchery.
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# Mike Walsh 2009-02-25 07:59
A friend of mine was in Army Intelligence (I know...an oxymoron) as a carreer and said torture is for when you know 90% of the answers as only then can you rely on the information you don't have, but have extracted with the rest. I say torture this lot under procedures that the man in the field will tell you works.

MW
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# Tim Sumner 2009-02-25 08:02
Hey, I just remembered that 35 years ago today I arrived at Ft Dix for BT. We should have brought Drill Sergeants Preston, Hardy, and Mendosa (God bless them all) out of retirement to interrogate the detainees. LOL!
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# Dave 2009-02-25 08:20
Michael,
You wrote an article awhile back about an Iraqi police man that was tortured and killed. The terrorists drilled each of his ribs with a drill, then each of his joints for three days. Then they shot him dead and dropped off his body in the dirt. That is torture. They did not do it to get info, they did it to torture him and kill him. Now if you want to equate that with making someone feel uncomfortable with rock music or sleep depravation, there is no comparison. It all depends on what you define as torture. Sure we should never do what was done to that Iraqi policeman, we should not cut things off etc. We should on the other hand be able to make them uncomfortable to wear down their resolve and discourage them. We should never give aid or comfort to the enemy. Any comfort at all, that would be disrespect to our troops toughing in out. Unless you are foolish enough that we can sweet talk these b@st@rds. We should have methods to motivate them to talk, but that is not torture. I have to wonder if the terrorist form of torture is to get info or just fun and games for them. We are quite different from them. In light of the statement above I am sure we do not torture or plan torture anyone. It all depends how you define it.

Dave
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# Bill Brent 2009-02-25 08:24
The United States currently has enemies willing to murder Americans by the tens of thousands without remorse. And when these enemies capture Americans they are willing to subject us to the most vile tortures imaginable - not for any information they may get from us, but simply from the fact that they see us as "the infidel." To them, we are unclean and can be butchered in any manner whatsoever.

The United States government's official position with respect such enemies should be that it will do whatever it takes to protect its citizens. Whatever it takes. That, and nothing else. Anything less is capitulation to the enemy and gives the enemy an advantage he should never have.

Imagine a scenario where a group of terrorists are releasing biological agents in our cities. 25,000 die in New York. Then 15,000 in Los Angeles. Then 30,000 in Chicago. No one knows where they're going to strike next. The FBI suddenly gets a break and in a shootout with the group manage to capture one, but the others get away. It is imperative that the FBI find out where the next attack will be as quickly as possible. That means they must use whatever means necessary to get that information from the captive. In such a situation, it is not moral strength to say, "We will not resort to torture to protect our citizens." It is the height of immorality. It is the willing sacrifice of the good and the innocent for the evil - and for some misguided notion of the "sanctity of every human life," or some other such nonsense. It is moral cowardice.
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# Mujhunter 2009-02-25 08:41
Michael,

In general I can agree with you about torture. Because I define the term as sado-masochisti c behavior aimed at punishing the recipient of the abuse. Torture is also very much like pornography.. Hard to define but you know it when you see it.

Is it torture to use corporal punishment (slapping, hitting) on another human being?? Because if it is, almost every parent is guilty of torture when they discipline their children..

Is it creating mental discomfort via sleep deprivation, rock music, and temperature variation. Because if it is, then we "tortured" Noriega when we played loud rock music outside of that Nunciature where he was holed up. We knew he hated rock music and we used it to create discomfort in order to persuade him to surrender (which was our mission). And we torture our own SpecOps people when we spray them down with ice-cold water for "conditioning".

The real question about the use of "harsh interrogation" is what do you do when you're faced with a detainee who you know has vital information about a suicide car bomb factory that you're certain is about to launch an operation to kill innocent civilians, or even your fellow soldiers? Where is your greater obligation; the protection of the perpetrator, or the innocent victims? I would have a hard time living with myself if innocent life was sacrificed in order to preserve the comfort of the culprit who orchestrated their deaths.

Finally, what would you do if you managed to capture a member of a kidnapping gang that just spirited off your wife and children before your very eyes? Would you call and wait for the police and the reading of Miranda Rights, or procede to immediately use "harsh interrogation" to extract the necessary information you require in order to find out where they are being taken?

For such reasons I just can't concur that we ban all harsh interrogation techniques. But then again, nothing we do should ever leave a permanent physical mark, nor should we engage in the Iraqi practice of drilling holes into kneecaps.

In sum.. I think "mission dictates", especially when we're dealing with people who are perfectly willing to sever the heads off of combatants and non-combatants alike. They are playing a game of "no quarter given" and we're tying one of our hands behind our back if we fail to recognize those special conditions.

One thing we CAN agree on is that you're doing fine work!! Keep yourself alive so you can collect that Pulitzer...
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# yukon 2009-02-25 08:42
I take exception to your remark that we have now moved to the high ground.

We have not tortured anyone and you make it sound like we have. When and Where?

I hate to see you drinking the kool-aid with the rest of the Messiah worshipers.
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# JT 2009-02-25 08:56
Abandoning torture will probably cost American lives. But we must do it, because the greater good is to be a humane nation. Would our enemies benefit in the short term from this? Quite possibly. Would we benefit, both materially and spiritually, in the long run? I do believe we would, in the eyes of our countrymen and women, in the eyes of our families, and in our own self evaluation.

I sincerely believe that what lives me may lose today because we abandoned torture will be saved tomorrow for the same reason -- perhaps many times over. I also believe that our torturers, who may be very much in moral agreement with what they do today, will suffer from their acts tomorrow. All this is easy for me to say -- I sit, relatively speaking, in an ivory tower. It is not an easy matter. If I could torture to save my child or someone else's, or to save men in my unit, I quite possibly would.

And I know that my past does not in any way make me especially qualified to express these beliefs, but I will add that I am a former combat infantryman with hard experience as an officer and a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam.
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# JT 2009-02-25 08:59
But I would also add that the definition of torture must be well written and must include only that which reasonable people would consider torture. Mock executions, threats of death, and putting someone in certain degrees of discomfort do not, in my opinion, constitute torture.
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# Possum 2009-02-25 09:14
I had what was then called counter-insurge ncy training many years ago and we were subjected to rigorous interrogation techniques. This was before water-boarding which I understand our SEALS have in their training.
My take on this is simple. If an interrogation method is used on our own people in training, its acceptable for use on the enemy.
I disagree with Gilbert that the intell community is in agreement that torture is ineffective. There are many of us ,active and retired ,who think it can be and those who have their doubts.
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# James Benamor 2009-02-25 09:45
Never worked out how I got on your mailing list but I normally delete your emails in digust. Having said that I am writing this to say I havnt agreed more with anything I've read for a long time. The world needs to be able to believe in what the US is supposed to stand for.

All you need to do now is stop calling real human beings 'Terrorists' as if that makes killing them OK, or start using the term to describe your guys as well.
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# Tim U 2009-02-25 10:27
If torture is disallowed then I say we lose the ability to gain necessary intel to save lives. This is a mistake.
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# syn 2009-02-25 10:51
There is one truth about President Obama, that whatever he says the opposite will happen.


High ground?


We are funding abortion worldwide; America is now worse than China when it comes to human rights.
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# Dave Koenig 2009-02-25 10:58
I respect the great reporting you have done from battle zones. But I hesitate to say that the Pres. has taken the 'high ground'. When he makes the comment that we will not torture, I see it coming from a man who has seriously underestimated Muslim radicals. Witness his dalliance with the one side in the recent Kenya elections and his willingness to talk with the madman who leads in Iran. Prime Minister Chamberlain had a very high opinion of his ability to handle the dictators in Europe and had that great talk at Munich with one of them.
While I don't agree with all our boys did in the Philippine Insurrection, when my grandpa was there and they used the 'water cure'(no different than water boarding today) it worked. There is torture and then there is torture. A definition of terms is in order, but from the Pres. and his fellow travellers we will be getting only a broad one that does not take reality into account.
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# Alec Rawls 2009-02-25 11:01
Obama is accusing America up to this point of using torture. What a load of garbage. It is a harmful lie, spoken out of maliciousness towards his domestic political opposition. Michael, you are far to generous to see good in this, almost to the point of being duped.

Personally, I think we SHOULD be willing to use torture, in the rare case that it is called for, but the fact is we have not been using it.
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# Sam Needleman 2009-02-25 11:06
I agree that it is a disgusting thing that degrades the society who permits it, as well as its victims. But I think we pay FAR TOO much attention to our minor moral failings and FAR TOO LITTLE attention to the enemy's insane, sadistic and perpetually atrocious behavior. When we start beheading moslems with dull knives, TARGETTING innocent civilians and disemboweling and displaying our captives, I shall worry about OUR moral compass.

In the meantime, I am more worried about the survival of civilization as we know it: freedom of/from religion, speech, press, humor, art, rights and education for women, sexual expression, homosexuality, choice of garb, and cruel and unusual state-sponsored capital punisnment than I am some waterboarding incidents.

I saw a video of a beheading performed while al-Zarqawi intoned his pious koran filth. I have never, in 30 years of practicing medicine, seen anything as remotely horrible. The poor fellow's name was Nick Berg, who died the most horrible death i have ever seen (and I've seen more than a few). Why do we rail at OURSELVES? Is this some sort of Freudian guilt-bathing that feels kinda righteous?
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# syn 2009-02-25 11:14
Mr Yon, please don't announce your surprise when President Obama slashes the defense budget in order to pay for all the carrots he will be buying for America's enemy; $900 million to Hamas is only the beginning of this 'peace in our time'.


This is America's standing in the world now; we appease. Have you noticed that the rest of the world is talking loudly about 'killing Jews'?

America's military men and women are now just as alone in the world as is poor Israel because of this pronounce of 'moral standing'; America will betray everything she represents in order to placate an illusion, just as America betrayed the Pope when President Obama overturned the Mexico City law.

I hope you pay close attention to what is said and done at the United Nations Mr. Yon, I want you to remember what became of our democratic ally Israel because of President Obama's 'high ground'.

America has no more moral standing than does the UN, the EU, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, or Saudi Arabia.

.

.
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# Gene Taglia 2009-02-25 11:14
I doubt that the U.S. ever did use torture, in the true sense of the word; but the use of varying degrees of duress, degradation and fear, which seem to be no longer acceptable, were a necessary method of extracting information. How else are we going to find out anything? The terrorists are certainly not going to voluntarily tell all they know.
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# DonC 2009-02-25 11:28
These comments are almost always made by ignorant people just banging their own drum and closing their minds totally to anything they don't feel fits in with their chosen way of thinking. As always Mr Yon rises above this type of schoolboy political discussion and sticks to the simple realities. I love the fact that this is upsetting the right wingers and that his other posts upsets the left wingers. It's time to throw of the shackles of being left or right, Republican or Democrat, Labour or Conservative - look at each issue at face value, do your own research, f##k the politicians and make your own mind up!

Whilst easy to dismiss as a bullsh#tter, for me Obama has done the right thing on this occasion - world politics, like many other aspects of life, is about perception. The US is perceived to have used torture whether true or not I don't know. By saying that you will no longer use it and then being squeaky clean from now on, Obama will make a huge step towards changing that perception. That will remove a large amount of ammo that the terrorists need to encourage others to support them. Unfortunately the terrorists are very good at propaganda and our poor quality press/media seem always happy to jump on a anti-US/anti-we st story which only winds up the Muslims and causes us more problems in the long run.
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# maitreg 2009-02-25 11:35
I realize that some of the commenters don't want to believe that the U.S. tortures prisoners, but the facts are that we've had a handful of accusations of torture that led to charges and convictions since the War on Terror began. These have been mostly Special Ops and civilian contractors in Afghanistan, which we wouldn't normally be hearing about in most circumstances. So the truth is that the Pentagon doesn't CONDONE torture, but it has, does, and will happen.

Yes, true torture is wrong (I personally do not categorize waterboarding as torture), and like any other crime, the U.S. should take the lead on this by condemning it, stating policies that forbid it, implement an enforcement strategy across the board, then use our fantastic record on torture as a propaganda/PR tool.

No, we should not do "whatever it takes" to win a war. We could nuke the Swat Valley and eliminate the Taliban problem for good today, but then, we wouldn't be "America" anymore. We would just be another once-great dynasty that took any measures available to guarantee its survival. Our history books are filled with dozens of these over the past 5000 years. We don't want to become one of them.

The United States has always been better than that. Let's keep our good name and our country.
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# Dan Smith 2009-02-25 12:40
A baby torn apart in the womb feels tremendous pain. President Obama fully supports abortion with no limitations per the FOCA (Freedom Of Choiice Act). How does this give him the moral high ground?
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# JD 2009-02-25 12:44
Some commenters are worried about Los Angeles being attacked by terrorists. I say let the terrorists stick one up Hollywood's kazoo. Perhaps then Western Civilization will actually unite to destroy radical islam. Our countrymen on the left hate the same military that is trying to keep these islamists from cutting these same liberals throats. Perhaps we should do like the Mayans and sacrifice one now and again. Then maybe they won't be so concerned about barbarians who hide behind religion. These folks are just playing the odds that they won't be the victim.

Liberals in this country are actually making a case that the bombing of Dresden was a war crime. So instead of FDR being an American hero for getting us through WW2 victorious, his "liberal" cohorts place him in the war criminal category.

War is always horrible. The sooner you kill the enemy, the faster it ends. Sherman taught us that.

Oh, and since FDR was a socialist war criminal, can we also say that his diplomacy during the 1930's sucked as well. And can I lament about the fact he got over 405,000 GI's killed?

This rant has little to do with torture and more to do with how long are we gonna allow this war to continue. A thousand years, maybe?
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# section9 2009-02-25 12:57
People, especially those on the Left, need to get something. Obama is a politician. He did not get where he is by being stupid. If his people capture Ahmad the Beheader, and have reason to believe that Ahmad knows where and when the next Beslan-style attack on an Elementary School will take place in the CONUS (say, in a Swing State full of Registered Voters), then Ahmad the Beheader wil be waterboarded. Period.

Democracy isn't a suicide pact. He'll simply contract the job out to the Jordanians in return for some shiny new F-35's.

And the press will give him a pass. It's easy to get things done when your name isn't Bush.
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# Skye 2009-02-25 13:03
No Torture? Great, now we can resume the fine American tradition of rendition where real torture takes place and very little, if any, useful information is garnered. Too bad our enemy doesn't see the value in taking the 'high road' we have embarked on, then again, they are in this to win and we are not.

We just lost Afghanistan. Time to bring the troops home.
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# ACT For America 2009-02-25 13:04
Why is there no public outcry from the Human Rights groups regarding the torture of the coalition forces by the Taliban, Hamas, Sunni's, Shia, and the Islamic courts.

There are two reasons:

1. Most if not all captured US and Coalition soldiers are tortured and murdered on the spot and not sent to prisons where the Human rights groups can monitor their condition.

2. The Qur'an and Hadiths instruct the Islamist warriors to kill all who take up the sword against Islam. - without exception. For the non-combatants they have the choice to convert to Islam, pay the Jizya(protectio n money), or be killed. Very simple, direct, and easy to understand.

The Qur'an and Hadith also allows our enemy to practice Taqiyya and Kitman (lieing and misdirection) on the enemy. Take the infidel as your friend if it will give you an advantage to destroy them later. All treaties with the Kaffur/Infidel/ non-Muslim can be broken at anytime when it is to the Islamists advantage.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY, KNOW YOURSELF

Read the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sunnah. It probably will not make any sense so go to www.prophetofdoom.org and Craig Winn deconstructs the Qur'an.

Join ACT! For America (a 501c4 corporation) and get involved at the local level to first understand who are enemy is and what they want of and from us in the West,North, East, and South
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# Marshall Gill 2009-02-25 13:08
For those who believe that they are morally superior: I hope that the nuke that is eventually detonated in the US irradiates your children and they die a slow and painful death. Because there is really only one way to avoid this happening, and it isn't moral posturing, either.

Torturing evil scumbags to prevent the murder of tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians is morally correct. It is NOT "being like them" They torture to cause pain and to terrorize innocents. We should torture to protect human life. Let me repeat: It is morally appropriate to torture admitted terrorists in the defense of tens of thousands of innocents.

All these comments about how "we should never torture" come from the unthinking. Every person should ask themselves: "If my children will suffer and die because information about a terrorist attack was not found out because "we don't torture" who will be to blame?
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# Rick 2009-02-25 13:13
As a Vietnam veteran, I can attest to the absolute NEED for immediate tactical intelligence gathering to save lives. I've seen waterboarding and weapons fired close to the heads of 'prisoners' (combatants captured on the field during contact) to gain information that saved our platoon. In all cases, the prisoners were alive, in one piece, and later moved to a POW compound.

As a morally pursuasive argument held in the safety of one's livingroom, or classroom, yes, torture, unevenly understood, is a grand thing indeed. The reality, once on the ground, is another matter. No amount of moralizing can convince an understrength platoon, under fire, close to being overrun, and desperatly looking for an escape route, that non lethal adversive interroation methods are wrong.

Gotta respect Yon, but I wonder why he's so lost in philosophic asthetics and not grounded in the reality of violent, battlefield survival which we all know he's been so intimate with. Why, Michael, why?
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# Vanessa 2009-02-25 13:13
You are wrong on this Michael and Obama is a fool.
You of all people should know what torture is.
We do not do that.
America's worst enemies are within.
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# Army Girl 2009-02-25 13:21
So I guess that by announcing "no torture" we can assume that the terrorist are jubilant this morning. So Mr Yon, what is your alternative. Should we invite them over for tea and have a civil conversation?

As far as the Freedom of Choice Act. I do find it ironic that if a baby is in a womb, it can be murdered. Maybe we should then sedate our terrorist friends first, so they don't feel the pain. Then yank them out of there temporary sleep and into reality. Isn't that what Obama is suggesting if an infant survives the abortion. Murder the innocent and protect the terrorists.
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# Carolyn Kasarda 2009-02-25 13:51
I have never believed that we have tortured any prisoners, but if they captured my son, who is serving in Iraq, I would want them tortured or whatever it took to get my son back. Our military knows Obama looks stupid and uninformed when statements like this are made.

I hold my head up high whenever I travel to foreign countries and proudly announce that I'm American!
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# Angry Eagle 2009-02-25 13:52
While torture can conceivably be useful as a tactical weapon, it is a huge strategic mistake and in the long run weakens our ability to garner and maintain support for our cause. Without domestic and international support, we end up encouraging support of our enemies and aid them in their recruiting efforts.

Why has Jane Fonda been vilified and shunned by most of America for decades? Because of her support for a regime that provided encouragement and support from the highest levels for the torture and mistreatment of our soldiers during the vietnam war. While the world will not always agree with our stand on issues around the globe, they can at least understand why we fight against evil - at least until we begin to look and act no differently than the "bad guys".

There will always be incidents of abuse of prisoners of war. But overt condoning of mistreatment of prisoners under our control is something that should bring shame and embarrassment each and every time it happens. And it certainly should never be authorized as a standard operating procedure from the highest office in the country.
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# Charlie Elk 2009-02-25 13:54
You are wrong on this one Michael and I respectfully disagree with you. From all the reading and watching I have done- the U.S. does not torture. We might scare the enemy from time to time. Guess it will depend on how torture is defined. The way some define it my basic training 35 years ago was torture.

For the first time in my life I feel real fear for my country.
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# M.J. 2009-02-25 13:58
Hi Michael,

I have been a fan and supporter of your work for a long time, but this comment left me confused. How can we win unless we're prepared to do whatever it takes? Our enemies are NOT playing by our rules, and our refusal to be tough with them is seen as weakness and will be taken advantage of. And let's be honest... It IS a weakness. Say there's a thug out there who knows for sure when and where the next major terrorist attack is going to take place, but is refusing to talk. You know this attack with claim thousands of lives unless stopped. You do not have time to sit there and hope to reason with the thug. WHAT DO YOU DO? What would you do if it's your own family that's being threatened? Of course you would do whatever it takes. Why, then, should we not behave the same way when it comes to the country as a whole?

Another point is, how do you define torture? I would agree that medieval Inquisition-sty le torture should have no place in modern society. But placing a suspect into a bright room and subjecting him to constant questioning while withholding food and sleep? That's not torture, that's common sense.

These people commit unthinkable acts of cruelty and injustice towards other human beings. We're not talking about torturing someone for fun a-la Abu Ghraib, or torturing someone in order to learn where they stashed the robbery money. We're talking about stopping despicable and unrepentant criminals from committing more horrific crimes against humanity. You can't cure these people with puppies and sunshine. And they aren't going to suddenly change their ways just because we decided to treat them nice.

Get tough, and stay tough, or loose the fight. Simple as that.
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# patrick 2009-02-25 13:59
I get the impression that a lot of the yahoos commenting on this site think Jack Bauer is a real guy.
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# Leoanrd Henry 2009-02-25 14:00
I think there is an impass of definitions regarding "torture." Torture I think is the inflicting of pain and injury for pure sport or vindictiveness - what the terrorists obviously engage in. But interrogation is a different matter and depends on the exigencies of the situation as a fellow commentator has said. When the israelis suffer an abduction of one of their soldiers, they find out fast who has him and where he is. Who can blame them as response time is critical to retrieving him. What passes for torture, waterboarding or stress positions is on about the same level as college fraternity hazing and I doubt more severe than the escape and evasion exercises practiced by the Seals and Rangers some of whom have died during these exercises. The British have used psychological stress by distorting an IRA prisoner's sense of time. He doesn't know if he's been in isolation weeks, months or years. In one instance an IRA who was difficult to break was allowed to read minutely fabircated newspapers one of which contained a fradulent obiturary for his family who were supposedly all killed in a car crash. He broke. Bottom line as far as I'm concerned is actionable intelligence that saves lives. If President Obame's daughters were going to be kidnapped and executed and torture was the only way to gain the intelligence to preempt the kidnapping, would he be willing to sacrifice his own children on the alter of his convictions?
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# Kudzu 2009-02-25 14:16
From my recollection as a ten year veteran and still serving Army intel NCO I've never witnessed, nor took part in, nor had any comrades who were aware of any US or non-host nation intel specialists who have tortured. The problem with saying "we don't torture" is that no one has defined it but bureaucrats in DC have said that we(the IC) still need to utilize enhanced interrogation methods for special cases. FM 3-22.3 should not be the end all for interrogation methods and we (the people doing them) should not have to request through 20 layers of red tape in order to apply things that are considered "harsh". If we break the law, then hammer us to the wall and leave us to bleed out, that's what our justice system is supposed to do.

The government has decided to train us, they should trust us, they should trust the leadership to do the right thing and not sit in the booth with us.

Waterboarding? False flag interrogations? Stress positions? Dogs? Sensory deprivation? Forced dietary ingestion (for when detainees protest)? Women with Arab men? Is that torture? No. Interrogations (and some interviews) are supposed to break the subject and it should be the interrogators and his/her chain of command for these practices, not the White House or Pentagon or Langley.

We should first define torture then strictly prohibit and educate all intelligence professionals about what is considered torture. Prior to the Twin Wars the IC considered torture to be physical in nature for the most part and included the vague term "sever mental coercion" which was equated to mock executions.

Have there been mistakes made by people involved in the detainee system? Yes. But should it condemn the entire intelligence community from a Soldier or Marine gathering HUMINT from a tactical situation to the CIA conducting rendition and snatching Bad Guy A and doing what they can to pry the information out. The members of the IC involved in interrogations know that you get more with sugar than you do with vinegar but there are special cases and they call for special tactics.
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# Terie 2009-02-25 14:21
I pray there are some Jack Bauers and some Mitch Rapps out there. I don't agree with the type of torture the terrorists use, but I believe intense interrogation is sometimes totally necessary in order to prevent the type of massive terrorist attacks such as we saw on 9/11 and such as the Israelis live with every day.
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# djs 2009-02-25 14:26
How dare you suggest Jack Bauer isn't real! Next you're going to tell me there's no Santa or Easter Bunny - just stop it!

Obama has obviously seen Austin Powers recently. Don't you know that if you just ask Achmed 3 times, he has to tell you where the suitcase nukes are hidden in your city. He is bound by his honor to do so.
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# Bill Bloom 2009-02-25 14:35
My concern with President Obama is his speeches seem to be written to sound profound while leaving out substance.

His plans to manage the deficit do not reflect anything like reality. He announces a plan to halve the deficit in the same year he increased it by $1 trillion dollars. His foreign policy so far is more notable in it's absence than in it's accomplishments . Given posturing and threats from North Korea, Sec State Clinton announced that she personally did not believe North Korea could enrich urianium (in apparent disagreement with virtually everyone else).

Russia is signing weapons supply agreements with Iran and expanding security arrangements and we say nary a word about it.
They also announced that they will build a naval base in Abkhazia, an province in another country which is in rebellion, and who's government is recognized by nobody.

Russia "in self defense" moves mobile missiles to the border of Poland after we deployed an ABM battery there. People do not understand the technology involved. An ABM has no offensive power. If you set off an ABM next to a T72 tank, it wold likely not disable the tank. If you set off a nuke on an Iskander missile, you would destroy an entire city. Our response? "well really we made no response. however we have announced that defence spending will be reduced...
To me, this feels like ... 1935... pacifist posturing, defense cuts, inward looking policies bordering on socialism, while potential opponents gain in strength and confidence.

Russians turn off the gas in Ukraine, Obama's response, silence. Russias message? to Ukraine, "none of your friends in the west will help you" to the West "we can turn off your heat whenever we want, remember this when you set your foreign policy".

In Iraq, Obama set a timetable to leave. I hope he is right. Bush handed him a victory in Iraq. It isn't too late for him to turn it into a defeat.

Pakistan's new government is showing itself to be weak and indecisive. I hope a stronger role in Afghanistan helps resolve this situation... I hope Obama can stay the course and that the military has decisive leadership on the battlefield.

And on Torture Michael, I have followed your articles for years. I think we need to define what torture is and work within that framework.

Michael thankyou for being a voice of reason that helps filter out the shrill political rhetoric.
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# Holly 2009-02-25 15:20
Obama can say "we" don't torture anymore, but what tends to happen is either we do not torture, except this one time, except when it effects someone in the administration directly, like to cover someones rear. Most often though, it just means we have someone else, say Palestinians, do the torturing for us.
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# Lori 2009-02-25 15:21
Michael,

I have followed you for as long as I can remember. I have read your book, I have passed your web site along to those who I thought would find it interesting. I find this post disturbing. I agree with all of those who have stated that there needs to be a definition of torture but I ask you this, would BHO support his no torture policy if someone he loved was being held by a terrorist and their life was threatened? I think not! Just like everyone of us, if one of our loved ones were being threatened and the authorities had someone in their control who could provide the information to find them, we all would want any means necessary used to get said information. This is a hypothetical situation but there are soldiers out there whose lives are threatened every day by the thugs and terrorists. Any non Muslim is in the crosshairs of the terrorists!!! This is like his brilliant statement that he would sit down and talk with Iran in the hopes of reaching an agreement. You know, the idiot who claims the Holocaust never occured?? The mad man who would wipe Israel off the face of the map and who would have no qualms about obliterating America. I do not agree with bamboo under the nails and extreme pain but I can assure you that if someone I loved was in danger I would use whatever means possible to bring them back safely. Don't take torture off the table. Define it and then use it with discretion. BHO taking the high ground? No. BHO is a puppet to the special interests.

God Speed Michael...we will agree to disagree on this issue!
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# whitzoo 2009-02-25 15:28
As a career military officer, I have been appalled by our torturing of the prisoners. Of course, I also feel that they should be treated solely as POW's which they are. That means full compliance with the Geneva Conventions, but it also means, no constitutional rights, no lawyers, no trials (expect for those for war crimes before an international tribunal, not a US military commission). They stay behind barbed wire until hostilities are over, and one side surrenders. If that means a life sentance, so be it.
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# CJ 2009-02-25 15:54
What do I think, you ask? Well, Michael,...

I have been a fan of your writing, and appreciate the service you have done our servicemembers by your fair and balanced reporting, and sharing their stories and experiences with the rest of America. But I have to say how extremely disappointed I am by this pacifist stance you've suddenly aquired. I have never seen you express concern before in your writings regarding "torture", and I wonder why you are suddenly choosing to do so now.

Surely, you must recognize by now, that our world is one governed by those nations that are willing and capable of using force. In a world that must be shared with evil-doers, a nation cannot secure peace for itself without being willing to exert force to protect its citizens. When we are faced with an enemy willing send out individuals hopped up on drug-induced frenzies into gatherings of innocent bystanders, and who are hell-bent on the mission of massacring hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people in a 9/11-like attack, or single blast, you cannot afford to give these terrorists their creature comforts and Miranda rights. We are dealing a different beast here. These terrorists play on a whole different playing field than the nations who agreed to sign the Geneva Conventions. Did Al-Quaida give PFC Menchaca or PFC Tucker (God Bless their souls) their creature comforts, or read them their Miranda rights, before they "barbarically" tortured them to death??? NO!!! What we are dealing with evilness, terrorists are an organization of individuals just as sadistic as Hitler and the Nazi's, and all they understand is violence. You don't "talk" to these people. The liberal media hates to report it, but most of these terrorists who were released from prison we are now finding have all returned back to their terrorist organizations, they're not "reformed."

Mr. Yon, you do such a wonderful job of reporting the stories and experiences of the millitary in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please, stop sipping the Obama kool-aid, and just stick to reporting the facts.
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# Steve Waterman 2009-02-25 15:55
Hi Group,

Waterboarding is considered torture? All the students who attend SERE Training on the Left Coast at Whidbey Island, WA get waterboarded as part of their training, or at least they used to. They say it is very effective.
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# jim delaney 2009-02-25 16:13
Terrorists deserve the rights of ununiformed combatants, and nothing more nor less. In the politicians' feverish attempt to prove how morally superior they are, they have shortsightedly and irresponsibly granted habeas corpus rights to these vermin. Incredible! Utterly devoid of commonsense! Do terrorists deserve being "tortured?" No one does. But, I do wish someone in authoriity --and morally superior to me--would clearly define what exactly torture is to them. Defining torture has been as tortured as the classic meaning of torture itself has been. Sleep deprivation and "tortures" of that ilk are NOT torture. AND, finally, this: if my famlily members' lives hung in the balance, I would personally have no compunctions about the use of ANY kind of torture to protect them. Any kind of torture. Anyone who espouses a different view in such an instance is either lying or is mentally deficiient. We all need to get a grip on reality. And that inane mantra that if we torture terrorists our troops who fall in terrorists' hand are at greater risk of being tortured. Give me a break. They'll be brutally tortured anyway, and then summarily beheaded. Delusional people in charge of my security is terrifying. What happened to commonsense in this Socialist Republic of America? Well, I guess I just answered my own question.
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# Tommy Barrios 2009-02-25 16:13
I am glad to see that many of the comments here have taken a strong position in favor of getting critical information "by any means necessary". All I have to do is look at my children and grand-children and I'll tell you right now, I'll get out the probes and the hand crank generator when comes to their safety and security against a bunch of Islamic fascist murdering thugs!!

Compare that to water boarding which so begin as to be laughable. No amount of restraint on our part is going to change the way the Islamo-fascists think about us. There is no HIGH GROUND when dealing with these brainwashed morons. They will torture and behead till they get tired and then rest and start again. They do not believe in the niceties of combat as the Geneva Conventions call out and they do not apply to international criminals, only uniformed soldiers of the signatory nations, period.

So stop it with the be nice to criminals attitude, there is no high ground here Michael!
This type of attitude shows the enemy weakness and it will get you killed in the Middle East!!

Sorry to be so obtuse Michael but I believe you are wrong on this point.
Keep up the good work, I still care about you even if we disagree;-)
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# Charlie 2009-02-25 17:04
Michael, You're an ex-SF soldier, weren't you ever waterboarded in your training? I was and it may have been unpleasant but it certainly didn't cause me any lasting harm. Get off the Obama bandwagon and get back to your truth in reporting, this doesn't become you.
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# civilian 2009-02-25 17:42
I think most people don't want torture to be a given practice. However, they are willing to go along with it if the situation is desperate.

But when does "the situation is desperate" become routine?
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# James Tuttle 2009-02-25 17:45
We are so screwed........ .........
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# Yohiker 2009-02-25 17:50
Wow, Michael,
You stirred up the troops this time! lol
I agree with them.
Having said that, I've read your book Moment of Truth in Iraq at least 3 times. Your telling of the warrior heart of our troops makes me awfully proud.

War is wisely waged based on realities. We (should) deal with the enemy as he is. Not as we wish he were.
There is a difference between actions taken for individual revenge, and actions taken by a nation's fighting force to protect it's citizens from aggressors who would do them unprovoked deadly harm.

Otherwise, keep up the great work you do. Be safe, friend.
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# Jack Sides, LCol USAF Ret. 2009-02-25 17:54
Michael, as a WWII fighter pilot I have been very appreciative of your reporting. However, on this one I am in disagreement with you and your president (he is not mine). Nevertheless, please continue what you have been doing so well.
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# Robert Comstock 2009-02-25 17:59
I made the mistake once of viewing a video of the first westerner to be beheaded a few years ago. There have been many since, but I have NOT watched. It was the most horrible and cruel act I have ever witnessed. I see no point in interrogation of these slugs,,well maybe for a day. In the cruelist way possible, and with the dullest kniife, we should behead them and put their heads on spikes in front of the prison for their families and friends to see.
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# Russ Antonille 2009-02-25 18:17
What is 'support for torture'? I wouldn't endorse pulling out fingernails if a prisoner wouldn't give you his unit ID; but I would if extensive interrogation povided no help in deterring an impending massive terrorist undertaking. Common sense? Survival instinct? The high ground doesn't do you much good after you're dead...and saying you're against ALL torture is ridiculous. It just gives your enemy another weapon.F9g
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# Ronster 2009-02-25 18:55
The conditions in Gitmo have gotten worse under Obama:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/08/binyam-mohamed-torture-guantanamo-bay

So is it torture to beat someone to get them to open their mouth and shove a feeding tube down it? Heck, where I come from it's call "the dinner table". Here is how it went down in my family.
Me:"I'm not eating those peas."
Dad: WHACK.
Me: "Ahhh!!!...gulp .".
Done.

These guys are all on the hunger strike bandwagon because they know a few deaths in Gitmo will get it closed quicker...
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# John Silva 2009-02-25 19:13
Sorry Michael, wrong on this one. Torture is in the eye of the behoder and the left (including your President) used it as a hammer to undermine our actions in Iraq & Afganistan. I went through torutre in boot camp (I was yelled at and verbably berated). Where do we draw the line between intense questioning (which I believe we used and are still using) and "torture"? Please define torture befor charging anyone with it! Waterboarding isn't torture, simulated and actual beheadings are!
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# derek 2009-02-25 20:02
Hmmmm i really don't know what the truth is when is comes from our goverment ( so who the **** knows) and i really didn't have a problem with torturing sleezebags to stop other sleezebags from killing the innocent for this pathetic holywar by a few sleezebags that twist the words around in the koran to suite their needs, so it's my guess torturing will go on behind closed doors to gain valuable information.
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# Jim K 2009-02-25 20:12
Above are 3 soldiers who where tortured and killed by AQ and It's surrogates. They died horrific deaths at the hands of these monsters. SPC Keith M. Maupin was captured and killed and his remains were not Identified for over 4 years for the sole purpose of tormenting his family and Using the Liberal media to show that we were weak.
This is what happened to the two other soldiers. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the American military spokesman, said "the remains" of what are believed to be the two Americans were found near a power plant in the vicinity of Yusefiya, about three miles from the site were they had been captured by insurgents. General Caldwell declined to speak in detail about the physical condition of those who had been found, but said that the cause of death could not be determined. He said the remains of the men would be sent to the United States for DNA testing to determine definitively their identities. That seemed to suggest that the two Americans had been wounded or mutilated beyond recognition.
What we are dealing with is a global struggle In which there Is no bargaining or dealing with these people.Unlike the American and Eurotrash media, These Zealots do not have a timetable and they play the long game. They slowly but surely multiply their numbers like rats and poison from within. Europe is rapidly losing the fight from within. Britain Is letting Muslims use Sharia law In certain areas and actually paying terrorists under watch unemployment benefits. France has opened It's eyes to a nightmare and is realizing that is too late.
I am not a person who endorses torture, But waterboarding and other non permanent coercive measures to deal with these animals is a must. Khalid Sheik Mohammed the alleged mastermind behind 9-11, After waterboarding he gave up many sources that proved to save many many American lives. As an ex SFO pointed out that he was waterboarded during training and suffered no Ill affects. Wake up America and stop drinking happy thoughts Cool Aid!
And why the hell are we giving Hamas 900 million to rebuild a terrorist infrastructure that the Our Israeli allies just destroyed? The Israeli's should not have stopped until every last Hamas member was dead. Then turn To Hezbollah and then the real enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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# GJT 2009-02-25 20:26
All I have to say is even if we take the "high" road and treat those bastards with kindness it most definitely will not matter to the terrorist that capture our brave men and women. Who in their right mind would want us to care about their civil rights when the terrorist's cut peopleƒ??s heads off and sing and dance about it. Personally, I find it humorous and we should move out the civilians that want our help and then drop a huge nuke on that whole part of the world.
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# derek 2009-02-25 20:35
Intestinal fortitude is not in most people vocabulary or limited patriotism everything should be candy and skipping through fields holding hands ( well it isn't people!) people have always fought for one reason or another.
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# alexa kim 2009-02-25 20:36
There, he said it out loud. Some of us feel better now, right?

Well, there's torture and there's torture. And I hope to heaven that whatever it is we're doing, that we do it more and just don't call it the T word. The looney left have been demonstrating the Manual of Newspeak so well, we can play along too.

BO might be your president, but he isn't mine. After what move on dot org did to GEN Petraeus and the obvious lack of condemnation of it by The One, I was soured on him early on.

I have far too many concerns about his judgment for me to agree with him on this subject in particular.

I still feel as I always have: under no circumstances should we give up any option available to us as humans entitled to self-defense first and foremost. If we think torture will save lives, we MUST use it.

If a bunch of people are simply craving the words be said so they can have a higher opinion of themselves, well that's the definition of politics, isn't it.

As the saying goes, under the right circumstances, no matter who you are, no matter what you believe, you can and will kill.

If not, fine, then don't stand next to me.

I continue to value and admire your work Michael, as always.
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# Howard E. Morseburg 2009-02-25 21:52
One more comment about Pres. Obama and the "high ground".
From many indications, neither he nor his supporters took the high ground during the election; it was Illinois/Chicag o political tactics all over again, but this time spread around the nation.
Now, that's a form of torture to those of us who believe in the "high ground" too. However, it is just as wrong to stand and proclaim to the world, and especially the enemy, what to expect, such as the royal treatment when captured, because once again it gives them an advantage with little or no upside to it.
I'm all for winning friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this morning's paper announced that a roadside bomb killed four of my brave and dedicated countrymen in Iraq, and had I captured the s.o.b.s who had planted that bomb and could have saved those soldier's lives by learning where it was buried, I might just figure out where the most sensitive part of their body was and apply a little pressure, and risk Obama's wrath and ten years in prison. I'm sure that their families would thank me. I know that I would have not suffered remorse over my act had it saved their lives.
Now, that goes against my beliefs, true, but not only do I believe in self-preservati on, but national preservation.
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# Val Kerry 2009-02-25 22:02
I agree with you on this one Michael. I am so excited by the change of leadership in your country. His promise of 'Hope' has already sent out practical messages to the rest of us who inhabit the world that he is a man of peace. Not a soft touch but one who would rather encourage uncruel tactics. We can not be seen to torture people wherever and whoever we are in whatever name as we are no better than the people who we believe to be inhumane. Well done for standing up and making positive changes Mr President.. I respect you and believe we will all benefit from such changes as they ripple out across the global community.
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# RAB 2009-02-25 23:00
Something is wrong with this picture. Only in America do we condone the torture and murder of innocent babies but oppose the torture of terrorists, whose sole purpose on earth is to conquer and destroy the world.
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# David Mullins 2009-02-25 23:06
NO Politician has the BALLS. No Leaders has the BALLS to go with and work along side the soldiers. Soldiers sacrifice their lives and do not get the respect from their own leadership and certainly not from any candy ass POLITICIAN.
Leaders lset the example from the front and along side the soldiers. I challenge anyone to do this or prove where a politician or general officer leads by example.
ABSOLUTELY NONE will do this./

DAvid Mullins
Msgt US Army retired
Spec ops/
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# ArtD 2009-02-25 23:12
I'm a little disappointed in some of these comments above. It sounds like some our Military have forgotton what American is about. We are suppose to have higher values and we live by laws. I served in Vietnam and anyone that waterboarded was prosecuted. At that time waterboarding was not allowed. My father was a wounded vet. And in his time anyone who waterboarded was also prosecuted. In fact up until Bush time in office waterboarding was against the Law. After WW 11 there were large trials for torturing lead my America.

I understand that sometimes frustration get's to you. My platoon seargent who was in another unit at the time cut off a vietcong head. He went from 1st sergent to an E-6 for that. He was a great man but you have to live by laws and have higher morals than your enemy.

Don't forget that in my time in Vietnam they had terrorist who used kids and women to kill. They used cars, shoe boxes, taxies cabs to destroy hotels and people but we still went by the military manual and the rule of law.

From what I have read above some of our Military have lost there moral high ground. American Soldiers have lost there lives in lot's of wars but they have always had higher morals then the people they fought against.

This war is nothing new it has been going on since we have been a nation, they just change the name of it. But it looks like political leaning has blured the line of morals and the rule of law.
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# linda persinger 2009-02-25 23:17
So now what war is about americans get captured and get tortured, beheaded, beaten, scorned, we capture pows and give them hotel rooms with room service now? war is hell!! this is not something we want to be in, but we are showing how weak america has become and how we just let the enemy walk all over us. Its not about torture or doing things for the sake of fun..war is hell and sometimes criminals have to be treated in a way according to teh way they have treated our soldiers

God bless our soldiers and our allies!
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# davod 2009-02-26 00:29
The real criminality here is that people in the USA from Defense lawyers for the Abbu Ghrab (SP) troops and Guantanamo and politicians of all persuasions have blown this out of all proportion. In doing so they lent credance to all the ratbag international organizations and countries who take every opportunity to bellittle the USA.

What is wrong with people who do not want to see the truth. Obama has left the door open to everything that went on before based upon circumstances. Just another slimy politician.

If we obligated ourselves to all international agreements regarding abuse while in custody every police force in the country would be in breach. Basically, you cannot even talk to people if they do not want to talk to you.

You really need to know what the US agreed to when it signed on to these international agreements:

"The United Nations General Assembly enacted a Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1984;

The US accepted with a number of caveats, including the following:

ƒ??That with reference to article 1, the United States understands that, in order to constitute torture, an act must be specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering and that mental pain or suffering refers to prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from (1) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (2) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (3) the threat of imminent death; or (4) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.'

The caveat does seem to leave the US `with a lot of lattitude.
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# Linda Bergin 2009-02-26 00:33
Hope, Change Thank You Mr.Obama? Mr. Anti Military who won't salute the flag? Wasn't his party the one who called our troops terrorists? I didn't hear Obama object to these words. Isn't he and his party ,the party of defeat ,the party of surrender,who refused to fund the mission and our troops?. On his campaign trail ,Obama said " Our military are bombing innocent women and children in their villages ....." yet Obama will be taking all the credit and will be given all the credit for the successes in Iraq. Mr. Obama is to be thanked and praised?
I sure hope our enemies show the same 'respect' to American military as they behead us,blow up civilians on non- military aircraft, when they are praised as heroes for throwing shoes at our President and burning our flag. I don't believe torture was mandated by any President or military leader ever. You can thank this President , but I don't trust his motives or his words one bit. This is his way and his political cronies way of turning Americans and our military into cooperative and passive submitting to the will of these poor bombing wearing Islamic 'freedom fighters'.
Mr.Yon I love your reporting ,your blog and your book. I'm a big fan but I don't agree here. President Obama just poured a big glass of kool-aid and you drank it.
America the home of weak because of the opportunists! Thank you Mr. Obama and those who can't see beyond your words.
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# Jim K 2009-02-26 01:14
What most people fail to realize Is that Al Qaeda Is a terrorist organization that has no borders, Nationality or morals. They are scum of the earth and not entitled to any protection under International law. The US has wrongfully decided that they are entitled these protections. They have have the right to be captured Interrogated and then shot. In any previous war someone caught as a saboteur or behind enemy lines would fully expect to be shot.
What happened at Abu Ghraib was a shame and those Involved should have been punished. This was a limited problem and occurred because poorly trained people were not supervised. Most of those photos came from one night and the same group of Idiots that brought disgrace to the uniform that they wear. The Liberal media seized upon this as the perfect opportunity to portray all Americans as Immoral and caused the Arab world and So called European Allies to have a non stop hissy fit. This caused the death of hundreds if not thousands Of US soldiers. Thank You Ted Kennedy. When the US turned over the prison to the Iraqi's, The prisoners begged for the Americans to come back, Because they knew they would have to face the fathers and brothers of the men and women they had murdered.
Our so called Apostate President says the US does not torture. But has made one of his top priorities Abortion on demand.
US troops are the most professional disciplined fighting force In the world. But for years they have been attacked by extremists encouraged openly by the Democrats and Liberal wackjobs like George Soros for the sole purpose of political gain.
Stop drinking the juice and wake up! Pelosi and the cult of personality that follow the Messiah are Intent on socialism. Idolatry is what It is. This is not North Korea, look what Idolatry has gotten them.
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# NamVet 2009-02-26 02:47
I think we should release all the detainees at Gitmo, and drop them off in front of the White House.
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# David Marks 2009-02-26 02:52
By "torture" I presume you mean waterboarding. Sorry, but I have to agree with Dennis Miller here: Waterboarding is a gift from God. Think about it. A technique that will make a suicidal terrorist, who is willing to give his life for his cause, confess his secrets in a timely manner without doing any permanent physical damage. It's a miracle that we have such a technique and that it works so effectively. But now we are going to throw it away.
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# bdhale 2009-02-26 04:36
It is alot like drilling for natural gas and oil in Alaska. Nobody wants to destroy the pristine beauty of the wilderness. Let our country have its energy sources cut off, though, and the people crying the loudest for not drilling will be crying that we should have been doing it all along. We cry out that we are above being 'barbaric', but let a nuke go off in the United States and we will criticize our country for not doing everything that we could to prevent it.
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# Dan85 2009-02-26 12:30
1 Tuesday, 24 February 2009 23:34 Josh

"As a HUMINT'r who was deployed to AF, I couldn't agree with you more on this. Torture comes from the frustration of immaturity or the sense of power it gives someone. It has no place in our society, one which should be a beacon for the rest of the world. Thanks so much for the work you're doing. "


Josh, I'm sorry but, I have to disagree with you. I take it you are a military HUMINT guy, probably Army. I have never tortured anyone, as I am not allowed to, and not "qualified" to do it.

I think that under certain circumstances, for certain ends, and only on certain types of people, torture IS effective. It is not the preferred method. However, there are people out there, "true believers," that just won't break. Some people won't break through any non violent approach, some won't break even with torture. Rocky Versace didn't, and he was one of us. Torture works fast, or not at all. I for one think it is IMMORAL to not torture someone if time is of the essence and lives are at stake.

KSM broke through waterboarding, period. You cannot say that "torture" isn't effective. It often is. Saying that people will feed you bad information is a cop out.

We can take the moral high ground. Fine, but when you commit to the act of WAR, you are KILLING people. When you've reached that point, it is stupid to think that anything else you do to someone before they surrender as a whole can be worse than the fact that you are killing them and sometimes innocent people. We, as Americans, think we can stand above everyone else in the world and follow a convention signed in a foreign nation when the only country that fully adheres to it is the USA. We have, and will continue to do that, but it will get more people killed.

I don't think the strategic implications of America being viewed as a nation that totures are as important as the perception of America being a nation that you don't start **** with.

"It is well that war is so horrible, lest we become too fond of it."
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# Barry Thomason 2009-02-26 12:38
Remember his comment in Denver? A civilian police force to rival the US Military! That smacks of the SA and SS to me. Do you think they will torture people? Oh, has anyone seen an official birth certificate on the guy who is very pro Muslim?
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# WRJ 2009-02-26 12:47
David, by saying ...

"NO Politician has the BALLS. No Leaders has the BALLS to go with and work along side the soldiers"

... I guess you're including not only Obama, but the likes of Bush, Reagan and even Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt. Is that right?

And it looks to me like a lot of right wingers are doing plenty of brainwashing on themselves, just like they accuse those on the left. I see a LOT of parroting going on here. How about thinking for yourself for a change, like Michael does?
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# Mrs. Kemp 2009-02-26 14:03
Raping little girls & boys, that's torture! A roasted child, presented on a platter, before his parents, that's torture! Beheading, that's torture! Third trimester abortion, that's torture! B. Hussein Obama gives great speeches, but so did Hitler. Have you noticed how he avoids press conferences? And if he has one, he'll answer only two questions? He's lost without a teleprompter. B Hussein Obama is more concerned about our enemies, while he & the Democrat Party are steadily bankrupting America. This so-called, stimulus package, will be used to pay off their union buddies (auto industry), help illegal aliens, who usually vote Democrat, with their mortgage, nationalize medicine, support Acorn, extend unemployment benefits, while cutting back on our defense budget. How is this going to stimulate the economy? At the rate this administration is going, another terrorist attack on American soil is on the horizon.
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# Monitor59 2009-02-26 14:26
Having served in the Marine Corps for 22 years, I often thought that there were times when torture, however abhorrent, that torture would be a military necessity. Not the kind of torture they conducted at Abu Ghraib, but interrogation techniques used to gain information through physical and mental anguish. I have read what you have posted here on torture and the articles you have written before and I believe now that you are right. There can be no room for torture in our military and we can only take the high road here. Thank you, Michael, for helping me see that light. I am no Obama fan but I agree with you here, he is right.
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# Marvin Gardens 2009-02-26 15:31
Obama gave a speech last night?
Waterboarding is a temporary discomfort to one very dangerous individual with a high probability that the results will save many innocent lives. Drinking the Kool-Aid will get us all killed.
Congratulations on reaching your goal Michael. You are now officially a member of the establishment media.
As I only get my news from reliable sources, please excuse me while I 'move-on' to your unsubscribe list.
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# Tim Sumner 2009-02-26 16:17
We lost an average of 26 people per minute - my brother-in-law among them - on 9/11, from 1st hijacking through when the North Tower fell. As a date rate, that works out to 13,665,600 per year, which far surpasses our actual American dead, civilian and military, due to all the wars and conflicts in our history combined. And they did not need WMD to achieve that rate.

Torture should not be our stated policy yet it damn well better be the policy we will use if necessary to prevent another 9/11 or worse from happening here again.
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# R.E. Beason 2009-02-26 17:36
Many wise and thoughtful responses are below. However - this country is not really at war when our populace and our leaders think they can prevail against radical evil with being the 'nice guy' in every situation.

The prevalence of evil and the persuasion of doing evil for achieving the ultimate thrill (death and dying) can not be ended by the 'nice guy' in every situation of war. Aggressive actions will be taken, unpalatible to liberal thought and a nations worldwide perception, 'not if, but when' another 9/11, USS Cole, Oklahoma City Federal Building, Marine Bombing, Nigerian Embassy Bombing, et al. occurs.

As a prior victim of parental childhood abuse I loath any abuse by any bully. I more loath that my leaders are willing to sacrifice the populace to hold a perception of higher ground with US citizen's bodies and soil destroyed by those who would not otherwise resort to torture as a first methods in their war's arsenal.
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# Barbara 2009-02-26 21:56
The things President Obama named in his speech will take years to implement, you say? Let us pray. The loss of what my family holds dear, however, is happening hourly and at a breakneck pace. We are terrified about the future of our wonderful country, the last best place on earth. In addition, for the president and you to imply that torture is the USA's standard operating practice is distasteful in the extreme. I have been your supporter for a long time, Michael, but your comments of 2/24 break my heart. The "high ground" is not a territory this new administration has visited or even mapped. Alas.
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# Just a Digger 2009-02-27 02:58
Bloody hell Mike, we have the high ground son. The enemy with their embrace of radical Islam gives us a mighty height from which to rain down death upon them.
Start cosying up to the enemy and the war is lost.
Hate your enemy...think Nazis....think Japs...think VC....think hate.
For the Obamessiah to claim any sort of moral high ground is a foul joke.
Look at his associates and his support for the killing of the survivors of late term abortions.
That sort of bloke is no moral hero, he's the antithesis.
Harden up son and give the enemy a good quick kick in the balls when needed and a drink and a smoke when otherwise. That's being tough, not bloody torture.
And get on with fighting the good fight and winning it.
Leave the existential sissy crap to Obama and his moral pretenders.
They wouldn't fight for anything...exce pt power.
Patton would roll in his grave to hear you spruik this girlie PC nonsense.
Harden the hell up and steel youself for the grind ahead.
Good luck mate, stay safe.
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# Treytor 2009-02-27 11:49
I see the arm chair generals are out in force. Please note the following:

1/ The US _has_ waterboarded prisoners.
2/ Waterboarding is torture (as defined by the Geneva Convention and indeed by Christopher Hitchens)
3/ All current and ex military persons posting in this thread agree that torture doesnt wrk
4/ The only persons advocating torture are the arm chair tough guys.

As a non American I can tell you that if you did have torture on the books, it would lower my view of your country's superior moral position in the War on Terror. Rememeber- never wrestle a pig, the pig will enjoy it and you will end up filthy.

Treyt
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# JS 2009-02-27 19:32
What the hell IS torture? I mean, we all KNOW what torture is right? I mean, its Jack Bauer torture. Shooting people in the knees and stabbing out their eyes that's torture right? But is sleep deprivation torture? Is being cold torture? Is being made to stand or sit in an uncomfortable position torture? Is loud music torture? Is having women panties put on your head torture? Is limiting someone's food to make them hungry all the time but not starve torture?

We ALL need to come to the same conclusion on exactly just WHAT torture is before we can start talking about banning it.

And Michael, you should no better than this. Obama is merely obfuscating to look good in the eyes of left and "other countries". Without defining torture how in the hell can you pledge to not do it?
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# John Pattillo 2009-02-27 19:43
Respectfully, I disagree with Michael Yon and his defenders on this issue.

1. Torture is not defined. It would help the discussion if everyone stuck to this, or something like it: inflicting extreme pain (of whatever kind) to secure information in order to defeat the enemy. With this understanding, torture is not Abu Ghraib (that is unauthorized hooliganism with no military purpose); b) torture is not vengeance, retribution, or punishment on or off the battlefield, undertaken by soldiers as a personal decision (that ƒ?? however understandable in certain circumstances ƒ?? is unjustified taking the law into oneƒ??s own hands).
2. ƒ??Moral high groundƒ? is not defined. Neither Michael Yon nor his defenders give any reason why it is morally superior to our enemies to refrain from the use of force to acquire information. And why is torture (as defined) worse than killing or wounding the enemy in order to defeat him?
4. ƒ??No useful information is ever gained through torture.ƒ? This is only asserted, not proven, or even substantiated.
5. ƒ??The use of torture will improve the opinion held about us by the people who might otherwise become our enemies.ƒ? This is a wish not a fact. It is a particularly myopic wish since every country that might become our enemy already uses torture and has no respect for human rights anyway. And, even if it were a fact, would it be a militarily relevant fact? You cannot evaluate this in the present context of the current apologetic, self-flagellati ng military policies. You must compare it to what a proper military policy would be ƒ?? i.e., resolute, uncompromising, self-righteous, as in WWII.
The implication is that the terrorists would not themselves use torture if not for our use first, and that our torture is their best ƒ??recruitment toolƒ?; instead, I believe that radical Islam and lifelong brainwashing are their best recruitment tools, which have nothing to do with our torture policies at all.
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# Tarver 2009-02-28 02:05
Michael (or your staff, probably don't read these comments)

I stongly disagree with you that the One has raised the stature of the US with his "declaration". We did not torture before the O pontificated. Waterboarding is not torture. Drilling into your joints with a cordless drill is torture. Standing listening to Barney music is not torture. Cutting off fingers is torture. Not allowed to sleep for 16 hours is not torture. Removing someone's eye and handing it to them is torture. Don't you see the difference? Which ones do the USA use, and which ones does Al Queda use?

You are a hypocrite, because you deny the USA the same methods that you yourself I guarantee would use if your wife and kids were abducted and the person you captured had the only information about their whereabouts.

Posts like this, and space given to Galloway, are the proverbial staw that broke the camel's back. You won't care, or even know, but I will not donate to your cause this year, as I have done last year, and you are off my browser for good.
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# Jim K 2009-02-28 09:50
When the US military trains soldiers to resist interrogation, it uses a technique from the Middle Ages, known as "waterboarding" . This should but wont put to rest the debate over how the Us should handle AQ detainees who are not entitled to any protection under the Geneva convention. Michael's own excellent work shows these so called jihaadists to be drug addicted sexual and moral deviants that are affront to God and the Koran. These animals do not represent any country or people or religion. As a civilized country and the standard bearer for the rest of the world we have a duty to take the moral high ground and throughout both wars our brave Soldiers and Marines have continued to do so. They few Instances where people were out of line were exposed and prosecuted. Waterboarding is not torture. Used properly It causes the detainee no lasting harm and can result In a great deal of information that we never had received from a high value detainee. Khalid Sheik Mohammed gave up vital Information that saved thousands of American and British lives. Obama's shameless grandstanding was a national disgrace and only emboldens our enemies. When the first nuke or dirty bomb detonates in Baltimore, DC or Los Angeles the finger pointing will start and the questions will fly as to how could this have happened. Right now the border with Mexico is run by Drug cartels. We are searching old women at airports and letting Narco-Terrorist s control our borders. We are up against an enemy that does not have moral limits, Term limits or nonsensical political ambitions. Iran Is close to having a bomb that may be crude by our standards but devastating if used on American soil. Pakistan is collapsing, North Korea would gladly sell one of their nukes for the right price. The former Soviet Union has lost control of many of It's weapons. It is only a matter of time before they acquire a nuclear device and use it. They have already acquired biological weapons In the form of the virus that killed 10s of millions in Europe called the Black death. This was discovered recently In Algeria only when their own ignorance exposed and killed dozens of AQ members. Most of you never read about this because the media is In Kool Aid mode and not going to print the truth about the dangers we face. If the US Government was taken out with one bomb The country would not survive. New Orleans fell completely apart In less than one day without Government control. I am glad the new president has focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan because as long as these maggots are allowed to breath the more Inevitable this scenario will become. We have to get it right every time, They only have to do It once. they have already showed the discipline and planning that spanned multiple Administrations . American media and politicians do not have the patience or the courage to commit to doing what It takes to defeat such an enemy. The TV show Jericho showed how quickly things would fall apart without government for even a brief time. It was only a fictional scenario but do not think that our enemies have not learned from that scenario. Our enemy has It's stated goal to be the complete destruction and the worldwide spread of radical Islam. They have already succeeded In taking controls of the hearts and minds of millions In Europe who see America as the bad guy. There is only one freely elected Muslim goverment in the Middle East and that Is in Iraq. Despite all odds we are close to succeeding and having a permanent friendly democratic government In the Middle East. This is not lost on our enemies or so called allies like Saudi Aarabia. This is not a right vs left arguement , This is a war for our very survival and It is fine time we started treating it like one.
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# flyonthewall 2009-02-28 13:38
FOOLS: I only hope your post is read widely. You articulate a message I've been unable to deliver to the uniformed. As I copy / paste, I worry about not footnoting. If you want attribution, please post a link.

off topic: Reading the NYT report on BHO's plan for troop withdrawal left me dizzy from the media spin. How does this plan differ from the SOFA that was reached during Bush's term? It certainly DOES differ from BHO's campaign promises. His apologists will argue, "He didn't have all the facts" and commend him for "having the wisdom to modify". Heck, the facts were available to anyone who can read. Thank God it differs from Pelosi's inane concept of minimalism, which would leave our remaining troops left hung out to dry. And as for being hung out to dry, if there's a strategy behind our dumping troops into Afghanistan with no viable supply routes and no parity in NATO investment, I can't find it in ANY media. If anyone can, please post.
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# Jim K 2009-03-01 02:11
Thank You, Feel free to send that to anyone who will or will not listen. I did not post that to be an alarmist or cause people to live In fear but we have to stop living in the land of make believe. Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians the best deal they would ever get. They answered with suicide bombs and elected Hamas. Clinton also gave North Korea everything that they wanted, Fuel, Food & money, And they still managed to build nuclear weapons! I am not blaming Clinton but pointing out that our enemies will gladly negotiate with us and still plan our destruction. In 4 years I think people will Long for "W".
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# BlueJammu 2009-03-01 17:02
WOW talk about a 360 Michael. I wonder if after you received your final payment if you will change your mind back. I say this because I cannot understand what in the world happened here. I remember reading a number of different posts about detainees but cannot remember one were you mentioned torture. I also remember several different posts where you state you wanted to tell the truth about the war(s). So I have a few questions. If the US Military was torturing people and you knew about it, why were you not reporting it? I thought you espoused a certain moral responsibility to ensure what was happening during the war was being documented. So either you are a liar or hypocrite, maybe both.

I hope that you have voiced this openly to the troops with whom you are embedded. I wonder how they would feel if they knew your position. I am not talked to about asking one person; stand up in front of the entire group, tell them that regardless if their friends are being held captive, and possibly being beheaded on video that you feel water boarding is not an option to bring them back alive. Please also state that you feel making Taliban and Al Qaeda captives wear panties on their head is out as well. I believe we call that torture now as well.

You know I am especially concerned that you, as a military veteran, would make these asinine comments. Let me be very clear; if it was my son who was captured and we could get information from a prisoner, then you better use every damn tactic in the book and then some to get him home to me. Have I said how dumfounded I am about your comments?


I cannot agree more with the ƒ??HAPƒ??sƒ? post more. He states ƒ??Abortion of 40 million humans is tortureƒ??the president should never openly limit his options to our enemiesƒ?.

And to those who think that torture only produces suspect information what should we then do? I mean actively giving money to informants who are not the best of characters are out. So the next best thing is to sit them in a lazy boy and say; ƒ??pretty please, I really need to know this information.ƒ? Iƒ??m sure that will work. Time to order some lazy boyƒ??s and slippers. You types are ridiculous.

Michael I can remember on a few different occasions where you stated the enemy knows we canƒ??t take seeing the bloodshed or last in a prolonged war. It is apparent you have lost your metal too. War sucks, death sucks, innocent people and children dying sucks even more. If only we could go back to the days when being in war didnƒ??t suckƒ??oh right, it has always sucked.

What the hell happened to you???
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# Alaska Paul 2009-03-01 20:12
Torture is an emotionally charged word that means different things to different people. If torture meant the physical abuse from burning someone, or pulling out their nails, or other physical harm, then I am against it. If torture means some waterboarding, or listening to heavy metal music, or depriving someone of sleep, then I am not against it.

Our enemies at al Q use our aversion of torture as a tool against us. They say they were tortured in detention just like a criminal claims police brutality when they attack an officer and are beaten to be subdued. It plays to the press. It is a tool of war in their kit that they can use. Our humanity is our weakness in our eyes.

President Obama may or may not feel sincere about this. He may be using it as a political way of getting world opiniionƒ?› brownie points.

The danger that our country faces by theses terrorists is not conveyed properly to our public. Our governmental leaders cannot communicate worth beans, and our so-called free press falls flat on its face.

Our enemies, however, have found a simple word that can make us go crazy with guilt, even though we are not torturers. We are chumps.

Watch the hands and not the mouths. Applies to defense against potential thug attackers and applies to our current crop of politicians.
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# Kevin Delaney 2009-03-01 21:22
Michael,
How nice, you show your true colors. Next time you're in the desert do me a favor...GO POUND SAND!
Consider me to be a former supporter.
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# Aaron 2009-03-02 19:08
As someone who has followed your dispatches for some time, bought your book, and has introduced many friends to your work, I was disappointed to read this dispatch, but wanted to give you time to further explain yourself. Your follow-up email (pasted below) does not address the concerns that I share with numerous other people commenting on this topic. Can you please state how you define torture? If you define it as inflicting massive amounts of pain, e.g. yanking people's fingernails out, are you then implying that US interrogators have been conducting this sort of business? Those are serious charges and should come with a hefty dose of evidence. Or are you saying we shouldn't make AQ Terrorists listen to heavy metal music if they don't want to? Somewhere in between?

You should carefully explain this, I think a lot of your supporters hang in the balance. I'm one of them.

"Those who propose that the United States should use wholesale torture are clueless about the realities we face, and in fact their words make them out to be no better than our enemies. Many people seem to believe that by using torture we prove we are tough. Some would disagree. Our enemies use torture yet we stack their bodies high."
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# Al Reasin 2009-03-02 21:27
I have followed you and supported you from your initial reporting. Unfortunately, you have set yourself up for the attacks in the comments; how quickly some turn on someone they supposedly liked and respected. The "no more torture" statement is the culprit. I know you have condemned some of the outlandish actions taken that were less than torture and I do not remember you reporting situations where Americans were practicing torture. You may be referring to rendition, which kept our hands clean, but most likely involved our allies torturing captives with our knowledge. I would suggest, as have others, that you clear the air on this issue.

I agree with the many commenters that water boarding and other actions outlawed in the Army Field Manual are not torture, especially since they are apparently used during training by some US military organizations. I agree that they should not be allowed by field forces. I can understand but not necessarily condone "illegal" threats and physical abuse in the heat of battle when Americans lives are immediately at stake, but planned actions such as water boarding should be performed by the CIA with written approval from the executive branch; not to become a routine practice. From what I know from talking to fellow veterans who were in combat, we are fighting this war more humanely in this regard than we did during Vietnam or the war in the Pacific.

Take care and stay safe
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# Ken Sweeney 2009-03-02 23:32
Commanding the high moral ground is a must to win a war against an ideology. Torture of prisoner swells the ranks of Al Queda. Killing thugs and criminal, wins hearts and minds. When we send one innocent man to Abu grab torture and humiliate him then send him home a couple months later, and we create 10 more Al Queda recruits. How can we win war on radical terror if we are seen as the terrorist.
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# Linda Bergin 2009-03-03 01:42
Mr.Yon, I commented on your last torture article. I couldn't imagine anyone in our American military saying we should torture or promote torture but I ask you....when in war what would be called torture...exact ly? IS torture American policy? Are we to accomplish the mission with information extracted from those we captured? Is it wise for an anti military President to call for No More Torture as if that is our policy and to telegraph Americans will be soft on their prisoners?
Is it not true that the Red Cross and other non political and political groups toured Gitmo and found conditions beyond humanitarian? Should a few rouge military members actions be promoted as if that is the norm? And were not those actions promoted as the norm by this current President and his political party?
I believe every military member and military supporter would agree we should remain on the high moral ground...haven' t we? or are you too on the band wagon that the actions of a few are the policy?
I haven't heard any Islamic extremists apologize for 9/11 or for murdering journalists or for torturing our military members. I haven't seen Islamic Extremists humanitarian efforts towards their own countrymen or towards Americans as We, Americans have put towards those people.
I'll continue to read your work. I know it is first hand but I am starting to think we have crossed over to reading your opinion unlike your past work. I get it ...you struggled through, worked from donations and really sacrificed to get the information out there but now you too have a chance to play with the big boys and make that money, be on the shows ,be invited to those glamorous 'insider' parties. We are all opportunisits/c apitalists and who wouldn't want to be invited into the White House to meet any American President even if it is Jimmy Carter redux.
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# Robert Turner 2009-03-04 02:27
I realize that you have gotten some serious flak for saying things as they are, but I appreciate the efforts to provide a clear view of the conflict. Keep up the good work
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# Lester Dent 2009-03-04 09:26
Michael -

You say in your new post at Hot Air that Bush or Rumsfeld did not say the US does not torture captives. It took me about 5 seconds to find one instance where he did, and I recall others during the "torture debate" by the Cheney and Rumsfeld.


Your post assumes that a) this declaration by President Obama is something unprecedented and b) that it will change minds and make our own soldiers safer. The first is demonstrably untrue (see below); the second I believe you should understand.

How our soldiers were treated as captives had *nothing* to do with how we conducted ourselves. You know, from being there, that we took many casualties because we refused to call in an air strike and let Allah sort them out.

Our soldiers were mutilated not because we torture but because that is what they do to enemies. If we refuse to do that, all it tells them is that they are safer. It will not stay the hand of an al-Zarqawi, it will simply reassure him that we are weak.

I know you write you think "torture" is next at Hot Air, but your thesis seems to be that anything coercive is off the table. I think you also think that no valid intel comes from torture. This is simply not true. As you should know, intel is not just about learning new things but verifying other intel and expanding it, in Rumsfeld's parlance learning what you know you don't know. You also learn the unknown unknowns - intel you aren't even aware is out there. The idea that torture (or, in what I believe the US administers, enhanced coercion that is not torture) never gives good intel because they will tell you anything to stop the pain is simplistic and is not modern interrogation. Only when one is attempting to extract a confession that cannot be verified do you run the risk of getting false intel. Interrogators don't go in blind - they may know 40%, but they always know something. The information is tested and verified against other informers and intel.

I believe you were wrong here, and are perhaps too close to the action to see. It would be amazing if, given your awareness of how vulnerable you are embedded or unilateral, you did not think that your treatment might be mitigated by words by the President. It didn't work when the Bush administration said it - and the world does not seem to be on the Obama bandwagon. As one top Iranian cleric said, the only difference now is that "Satan has a black face".

While I was rather dumbfounded by your seemingly naive view that, now that Obama says it, the abuse of our people will end, I still respect you enormously. Like Michelle Malkin, your autographed picture of Major Bieger holding Farah is one of my most treasured items. I have and will continue to support your reporting. I just think you are very wrong here.

Respectfully,

Lester Dent

Bush says U.S. ƒ??does not torture peopleƒ??

AP updated Oct. 5, 2007
President Bush defended his administrationƒ ??s detention and interrogation policies for terrorism suspects on Friday, saying they are both successful and lawful.

ƒ??When we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet weƒ??re going to detain them, and you bet weƒ??re going to question them... The American people expect us to find out information, actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. Thatƒ??s our job.ƒ? ...

ƒ??This government does not torture people,ƒ? the president said.
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# Sean D 2009-03-04 09:42
There are plenty of hypotheticals wherein I would totally support any number of extreme treatments, including virulent forms of torture.

If I was in command of some 19 year old kids who were picked up by AQ somehow, and I had a prisoner whom I had reason to believe had an idea where they were, and knowing full well that those kids were going to be tortured and killed brutally, the results later to be posted on the internet for that kids mom, grandmother and sisters to see, you can be sure as shit I'd blow that little bastards knee-caps off to get the information I needed.

I'd pull out his fingernails, I'd do whatever it took if those kids were my responsibility.

I'd would much rather have to spend my life in an Afghan prison than know I didn't do what it took to protect my men from such a fate.

I'm glad you have such moral clarity, Yon, that you'd send troops in to fight savages like al Qaeda, but tie our forces' hands when it really mattered.
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# Gary E. Rivest, Sr. 2009-03-04 12:31
Would partial birth abortion be torture? We treat people who do harm to the innocent special protections, but through innocent lives in the trash heap of human selfishness. Our moral fabric has been poked, pulled and ripped apart and we're worried about the moral high ground for God's sake!
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# Chris Grier 2009-03-04 15:31
Michael,

I really enjoy your reporting and your insight. I respectfully differ with you only in the sense that you salute President Obama for taking the "moral high ground." You are mistaken, Mr. Obama is merely pandering to his base. If he really wanted to eliminate torture he would eliminate rendition, but he has not done so and has quietly made clear that he will not do so. He wants credit for eliminating torture while reserving for himself the latitude to do what is necessary when he needs to (which, ironically, is the right call). I know you are an idealist (as I am), but the reality is that when you are fighting sadists and murderers like Al Qaeda, if you want to WIN, sometimes you will have to do things that are perhaps not morally unimpeachable, but that are nevertheless necessary, and, in fact, vital.
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# Bdoon 2009-03-04 18:40
I think "Straw" hit it on the nose...what if it was your son, daughter or wife about to have their head sawed off for the amusement of Arab television fans all over the world? On the other hand the constant use of torture as pointed out by a victim, John McCAin, is not an effective way to garner information. Yet if the perp is not expecting torture and you pull out the butane lighter the psychological shock alone might make the difference. Even worse if the perp knows you have his family...that can be worse than any physical pain. I think "We do not torture" is a great policy. Something like "No taxation without representation" or "One man, one vote". However like those "We Do not Torture" has to be taken in context No rule or regulation ever covered every contingency...w hy the words "exception" and "waiver" came into existence.
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# Jed_Dog 2009-03-05 15:33
I guess it's ok that we drop a bomb and accept the collateral damage. We will accept the bloody broken little arms and legs. But we have a problem with playing Barney music to get info out of a terrorist? Come on, wheres the higher ground? If we can discomfort a bad guy so we don't have to drop that bomb, I truly believe that is the higher ground here. I think you are compartmentaliz ing this issue. In the broad scheme, it is our moral obligation to get this info out of these guys. I think the Afgan family would be very thankful to us if we did. Just think of it as a part of COIN.
Thanks for what you are doing. I have learned much from you and similar blogs. I try to spread the word to however will listen to me.
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# Buzz Adams 2009-03-05 22:30
I think it's a jingle, a campaign slogan. The is a desire to distance themselves from Bush. Because to many on the left, Bush was the great satin. Now with the economy there is a desire to paint him as asleep at the wheel.
For me the issues about torture are: What is torture and what is not torture? What happens when you need immediate information to stop something and you have one of the planners in custody? Are there effective means to get information out of someone in a reasonable timeframe without harming them?

I say if it's immediate, do what ever you have to including killing the person. It is a war after all. If it's not immediate but you want to know what this person knows use tactics that do no harm to the person. Of course then someone has to decide what is considered immediate. To me a plot( intending to kill) that is planned and about to be executed is immediate. Everything else is not.
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# Tall Tom 2011-02-19 07:45
What if your "belief" that your prisoner had the knowledge of the location of your young men was "wrong"? You are human?

So you torture the prisoner and he gives you bad intel to stop the interrogation, the torture which you inflicted upon him. You check out the intel and, of course, your men aren't found because the prisoner DID NOT KNOW. When and where do you draw the line? So do you continue the torture? Do you end up killing him, an innocent victim? I know that you believe that he is guilty...as guilty as sin. Where do you draw the line? Are you the Almighty? I guess so since might makes right.

So I'd like to understand the moral clarity of the TORTURE of INFANTS to extract intel from their SUSPECTED terrorist parents? That's right...SUSPECT ED. That is what brought me to this blog.

Do we murder an innocent baby for that intel? Where do you draw the line? Just where do YOU draw the line?

This is one of the reasons that I want to die.
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# Tall Tom 2011-02-19 07:49
First case...What if the "child molester or child killer" was SUSPECTED yet truthfully NOT GUILTY of ANY crime? So who decides to proclaim him "guilty" and apply the use of torture? Of what use is his "confession"? And since his fabricated "confession" did not pan out...Do you apply even more torture?
You are very, very sick pal, mentally ill.
And as for G.W. Bush keeping us "safe"? The United States is still wide open for terrorist attacks.
When I board a commercial aircraft the stewardesses will hand me an aluminum can UPON MY REQUEST when torn in half, is just as dangerous and deadly as ANY BOX CUTTER.
So all of that airport pre-boarding screening, all that equipment costing hundreds of millions of dollars, is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS. (OMG...I just inadvertently aided and abetted a terrorist plot by pointing out U.S. Gov't STUPIDITY.)
The truth is that terrorists aren't here. Believe me...If I can think of this...so CAN they...PUN INTENDED.
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# Tall Tom 2011-02-19 09:28
The REASON why I'm reading this is that the U.S. Gov't has sanctioned TORTURE of INFANTS.

Somehow a decision was made to TORTURE. So NOW where is the line drawn?
So what IS and ISN'T "acceptable"?
When is "TORTURE LITE" used? (e.g. waterboarding, sleep deprivation, etc.)
When is "EXTREME TORTURE" used? (e.g. Digit removal, eye damage, the TORTURE of INFANTS, etc.)?
Is TORTURE used for SUSPECTED or just KNOWN terrorists?

How do you tell the public that the U.S. Gov't uses tactics formerly used by BRUTAL DICTATORS or DESPOTIC REGIMES? (e.g. Nazi Germany, Stalinist Soviets)

We've crossed a VERY BAD LINE. It's a slippery slope on the other side...going to Hell!!!

As a CHRISTIAN, TORTURE IS MORALLY ABHORRENT, ESPECIALLY TORTURE of BABIES. I'm ASHAMED, DAMNED to be AMERICAN, HUMAN, so I WANT TO, DESERVE TO DIE. Yet others who post have NO MORAL PROBLEM with TORTURE. I can't believe this. THIS IS OFFENSIVE, APPALING!!!
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