Water Torture

16 March 2009
 
There has been much discussion recently about what constitutes torture.  Between research/travel in preparation for a return to Afghanistan and Iraq, I have been working on a couple of dispatches regarding torture.  Meanwhile, several U.S. military officers -- all combat veterans -- have weighed in privately.  All are staunchly opposed to torture.  At least my opposition to torture is in good company with these veterans.  We can beat the terrorists without it, and in fact can do far better without using barbaric methods.  We get huge amounts of information from normal people when they realize we are morally superior to the terrorists.  High ground is always tough to keep, and moral high ground is particularly tough to hold.  But we can do it and will win battles because of that high ground.

But what is torture?  What is the definition?

According the United States Government, water boarding is in fact torture.  Please carefully read this story -- sent to me by an American officer with multiple combat tours and the scars to show for it -- and please consider making a thoughtful comment.

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime

By Evan Wallach
Washington Post
Sunday, November 4, 2007; Page B01

As a JAG in the Nevada National Guard, I used to lecture the soldiers of the 72nd Military Police Company every year about their legal obligations when they guarded prisoners. I'd always conclude by saying, "I know you won't remember everything I told you today, but just remember what your mom told you: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." That's a pretty good standard for life and for the law, and even though I left the unit in 1995, I like to think that some of my teaching had carried over when the 72nd refused to participate in misconduct at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

This matter requires much thoughtful conversation.

Your writer,

Michael Yon


Comments   

 
# Scott Dudley 2009-03-16 11:32
Wikipedia has a pretty good treatment of the subject. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture

I, and I am sure others, were waterboarded at SERE school. That was a highly controlled environment that was fully monitored by doctors and psychiatrists, and as such, we knew we wouldn't die or even suffer any serious harm. It was done because the enemy might do it. We, of course, wouldn't because it was against international law and we knew the N. Vietnamese did not sign up for the Geneva Accords. Our moral standards are such that we would not murder prisoners....bu t we have...and these are official findings.

If we lose our moral high ground, we lose our soul as a country. Torture is not America...at least I hope not.
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# Dane Guzowski 2009-03-16 12:16
Michael,

Thanks for defining at least one thing (water boarding) you believe to be torture. I (and I am sure many others) kept asking "what" you believed torture to be.

I agree with you that we must have the moral high ground. However I also believe there are many with whom we are in conflict who do not believe we have any moral standing at all - merely because of WHO we are. It is a difficult question. As in the case of Col. West (who fired a gun next to a prisoner's head in order to get information that saved soldiers lives) there will be men who serve our country with great honor and conscience who might have to make a terrible decision between their careers and protecting the troops in their charge.

All I can do is trust in their training and dedication to our country and keep them in my prayers.
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# Charles Maxwell, CDR, USNret 2009-03-16 12:40
Moral standards ... that's a righteous shield to stand behind, especially when you have no skin in the game. But, allow me to break some crystal for a moment. I was a Geneva Card holder for 25 years. I read the classics, Tsun Tsu, Clausewitz, etc... and I get it. I have a real problem with Yon's absolute position - waterboarding is torture and morally wrong. Well Mike, so is war! Does that mean we shouldn't fight when we've been attacked or when war has been declared on us and attacks continue despite our civilized Kantian desire for dialogue? I hear an awful lot of jaw boning about how bad America is and how evil we are. I don't hear much about American goodness. I'm not an evil person and I've stuck my Hobbsian neck out on a few occasions to save the life of another! I'm pretty tired of the people who say "war is immoral' when going to war may well be the only moral thing to do when evil surrounds and commits to killing innocents! Same for the people who have no real responsible position of authority (life and death decisions) who think they know better than those living life and death decisions everyday! Let me ask...if you knew several US cities would go down in a WMD attack and the terrorist you have in custody knows the plan, would you play patsy with him and watch your America brothers and sisters go up in nuclear flame? You have 30 seconds - GO!... By the way, I would include other forms of interrogation in addition to waterboarding to squeeze answers out of any scum terrorist who seeks the deaths of my beloved fellow Americans. You've seen goodness and you've seen evil...who gets a pass today? Let's not give away the farm. The enemy has only to strike once but, we have to defend 100% of the time. Who has the advantage? Let's not show all of our cards! Sometimes you have to wrap the truth in a lie to overcome evil. I'm all over that.
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# Brian Macker 2009-03-16 12:40
Of course it is torture. Spanish water torture to be precise. Used during the Inquisition.
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# CFH 2009-03-16 12:41
Michael, you write: "According the United States Government, water boarding is in fact torture."

I read the linked article and found no statement to this effect. The article only shows that waterboarding has been regarded as torture _in the past_ and _by certain courts_. But citing cases in military courts from WWII or even decades ago, and citing cases from _civil_ courts, does _not_ show that waterboarding is _currently_ prohibited as torture under _current_ law in _military_ jurisdiction. Don't misunderstand me: I'm prepared to be shown that it is legally defined as torture by US law in the military jurisdiction and that the Bush administration thereby in fact violated the law; but this article does _not_ show that to be the case.

(I'll also note re: the linked article that if our soldiers really adopted the author's Golden Rule dictum, they'd never fire a shot at the enemy, since no one wants to be shot at themselves. In war, soldiers _have_ to do _lots_ of things unto others that they would not want done unto themselves. In fact, that's not a bad _definition_ of war.)
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# FGM 2009-03-16 13:38
Theres's lot's of discussion on the issue but still, I've read no definition of the word "Torture". I've read, "waterboarding is torture". Before we debate on what coercive technique is or isn't torture, we should first agree on a definition of the term. Let me offer this as start.
"Torture is the deliberate and premeditated infliction of severe and permanent bodily or psychological injury to prisoners who have minimal intelligence value."
Based on that definition, I don't consider the waterboarding of Al Quaeda terrorists to be torture. Consider KSM. He was waterboarded and is perfectly fine now and we got lots of intell out of him very quickly. Alternatively, I would consider most of what occurred in Abu Gharaib to be torture.
If you care to dispute, please offer your definition of torture first.
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# robertb 2009-03-16 13:39
FYI, what your mom told you (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you), she got from Jesus. Just being a stickler for accurate citations.
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# Crafty Hunter 2009-03-16 13:55
There is no doubt in the mind of any sane person that waterboarding as applied to alleged enemy combatants is torture. Playing at waterboarding in training is a world apart from the effect that forced drowning has on someone who can't be sure his captors care much if he lives or dies. The basic physical distress is made torture by this great fear of death by suffocation. People who claim that waterboarding isn't torture are frankly and bluntly sociopathic scum. That some of them may be "our" sociopathic scum doesn't change that reality.

Having said that, the question of when, if ever, torture is justified is completely separate from the question of what is torture with which to begin. If I felt certain that a man was an Islamic terrorist holding out on information about a nuclear weapon about to detonate in an American city, I believe I'd use pliers to rip out his fingernails and a small jeweller's blowtorch to touch him up here and there, to great effect. I really wouldn't enjoy it, and would know perfectly well I'd have nightmares after and possibly a black stain on my soul, but I would run that risk.

The question as implied becomes much more difficult in cases of uncertainty, and evades the problem of who will guard the guardians. Terrorism and security are complex problems, and I don't envy those who must deal with them. Regardless, I have only contempt for any side's amoral sociopathic scum. People who see other people as bugs need very much to be kept away from positions of power.
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# SSBN 2009-03-16 13:56
Christopher Hitchens volunteered to undergo the treatment and the video is available at http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/video/2008/hitchens_video200808.

Traditionally, torture has always been about inflicting pain. I suppose you could expand its definition to include psychic pain, but I submit that that is a modern notion and the controversy surrounding it is not at all settled. Moreover, the lefty, Bush-hating, America-disdain ing ideologues who are the most voiciferous critics of waterboarding have never demonstrated interest in the psychic pain issue anyway-- their only contribution has been to disgorge bile.

Hitchens gets one thing wrong. Early on, he says that waterboarding doesn't _simulate_ the feeling of drowning, it _is_ drowning. Well, he's wrong. His lungs did not fill with water. Therefore he wasn't drowning; QED. But he does testify very convincingly that it's an extremely stressful experience; he withstood it for 17 seconds.
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# Paul Cox 2009-03-16 14:12
...I'll know it when I see it.

It seems to me that there's almost two separate arguments that are typically made by those who want to turn a blind eye to what the Bush Administration apparently not only allowed, but encouraged (to the point of having John Yoo write special memos to give a free pass to those doing the activities).

The first argument has already been made here-that torture is just fine if it's to try and prevent, say, Las Vegas from going up in a mushroom cloud.

These folks have no problem with torture. They're also apparently not bothered by the reports that torture doesn't actually do much good or that we might use it on the wrong guy, a guy who has no information to give; instead, they're always going on about how it can SAVE AMERICAN LIVES and therefore it's excusable.

The second argument is that we, the USA, shouldn't torture- but that things like waterboarding aren't really torture.

It seems to me that Yon is asking us, folks, to put aside the first argument for the purposes of this dispatch. In other words, we're assuming that torture IS wrong no matter what the circumstances. You're welcome to disagree, of course, but you're going to screw up the discussion we should be having at our host's request here if you insist on making your argument.

So I propose for now we set aside the whole "is it ever justified" question and just assume, FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, that it is not. I know, some of you disagree, that's fine, let's pretend it is for now, okay? Thanks.
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# Jack Bamford 2009-03-16 14:14
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." After I got beyond my gag reflex at hearing this from a lawyer, I saw that the advice holds in unexpected contexts.

I care a lot about my dignity and honor. I try not to soil either, ever. But I can picture myself water boarding KSM in certain circumstances --- the imminent atrocity scenario, for example.

I picture myself administering the water board process. Mr. Wallace asks me to stay my hand because I wouldn't want to endure the water boarding myself. But I would never have planned to burn thousands of children, women and innocents alive in the first place.

Nonetheless, I would pour as much water on KSM's face as permitted by the outer boundaries of my personal code of honor. I would not allow Mr. Mohammed's to die. But I wouldn't tell him I wouldn't either. I would walk out at the end of the whole thing feeling the same as I do after climbing out of a septic tank I have fixed. Disgusted at the stench, but secure in the knowledge that I had done a dirty job for my family's well being and that the smell would wash off.

It's possible that Mr. Wallace's arguments are legalistically valid, but it is certain that they are unfair and dishonest. Everything hinges on the specific circumstances of the situation --- one sure way of knowing you are wrong is when find yourself making sweeping generalizations .

Do not imagine that singing a lullaby cannot be torture. By all means, condemn torture in its obvious forms. But bear in mind that torture is not determined by the implements at hand --- it is defined by how they are used.
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# brityank 2009-03-16 14:18
Can we agree there are differing levels and concepts of torture?

Mild physical torture is how we train ourselves, and the body adapts to the regimen by strengthening both the body and the mind. Tell me you really like running to the point of exhaustion; yet pushing there increases your stamina and distance.

We train our kids in kindergarten and church to sit still and pay attention, yet they would rather be off chasing butterflies or each other; to them isn't that torture?

As several others have said, the ends do matter. Col. West righteously did what he needed to to save his men and his objective, and also took on the mantle of criminality willingly to achieve that objective. To allow yourself the luxury of morality, and knowing that morality will send your men into certain death is the cowards way out.

We have a moral code that is embedded into our legal system. Even our enemies know, and use that system against us to achieve their aims. I am comfortable letting our legal system make any adjudication based on our rules, not those of our enemies perceptions.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-16 14:48
Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is:
ƒ?? any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.[1]

Raising the "chicken little" scenario that several cities will be smoked in a WMD release unless we torture "this guy" who "theoretically" knows enough about everything to stop is just as bogus as the spectre of mushroom clouds over our cities if we don't invade Iraq. What we are discussing is a moral and legal issue transcending either the right or left wing nuts. A better issue is "Does torture really work?"

We don't know what KSM revealed. We don't know if information obtained from him prevented any future attacks on our soil. We only have the word of those who raised the mushroom cloud spectre and I am frankly skeptical.
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# smellthecoffee 2009-03-16 15:05
Christopher Hitchens voluntarily submitted to being water-boarded. Other journalists have also submitted to waterboarding in order to write about the experience. American military undergo waterboarding as part of their training in some cases. Would any of the above willingly submit to having electrical wires attached to their genitalia and having shocks administered? Would any of them voluntarily submit to being burned with lit cigarettes? Or having bamboo splinters stuck under their fingernails? No, no, and no, and you know it. So what's the difference? Because they know, a priori, that waterboarding is different. They know, I submit, that while it is extremely unpleasant, it is not torture. Did Mr. Hitchens, for example, after being waterboarded, go out and have lunch?
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# newpetrol 2009-03-16 15:32
On torture, Michael Yon says "We can beat the terrorists without it".

Sorry to proffer a LOL on this subject Poor choice of words.
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# ronnie dobbs 2009-03-16 15:39
'I'd always conclude by saying, "I know you won't remember everything I told you today, but just remember what your mom told you: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.'

Well, in that case, we'd better stop shooting at them then. I mean, I don't want them to shoot at me, now do I?

I think a good working definition of torture is that if you need to visit the hospital (not a shrink) or end up in the morgue after interrogation, you've likely been tortured. So, no, waterboarding is not torture. Uncomfortable, unpleasant, and maybe unnecessary? Ok, sure. But torture? In the same category with being decapitated, having holes drilled into joints and limbs with power tools, having your head put in a vise, being hanged by hooks, all of which were in an al-Qaida torture manual? Yeah, all that was there - strangely, waterboarding wasn't mentioned in it. I think this is also torture: having to decide between jumping from the 80th floor of a skyscraper or being burned/crushed to death by same. Is any of that the same as waterboarding? Yeah, I don't think so, man.

And, btw, Wikipedia does NOT treat the subject well, or accurately, at all. And the UN aint' Webster's, buddy-ro.
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# JPinNY 2009-03-16 15:41
I think that politicians and others on their moral high-horse need to butt out. Solders in active combat need, and should, be able to do whatever is necessary to achieve the mission. Handcuffing them with rules of engagement that diametrically oppose the objectives of the mission sets them up for failure or worse, death. But I digress. Torture is one tool in the toolbox. Do I feel bad that a group of terrorists were "abused" and humiliated an Abu Girhab? ABSOLUTELY NOT! These prisoners would just as soon saw your head off with a dull knife!

War is war. It's not pretty, neat or clean. I just read a GREAT book called "Lone Survivor - The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" by Marcus Lattrell & Patrick Robinson. One scene Marcus describes in Afghanistan is where his SEAL team came across a group of "Goat Herders". Training dictates that they had to kill these "farmers" since they could not ascertain what side they were on. The team discussed the situation and voted to let them go. An hour later they were attacked by at least 150 Taliban warriors. The reason I mention this is that the team discussed the consequences of killing these farmers. Being sent to prison for "murder" after being crucified by the liberal media wasn't too attractive to these SEALS, however, if that was the case, then they would have dealt with it. Incidentally, how can there be a "murder" charge when you are at war in an active combat area? That just doesn't make sense to me. At the end of the day, as I said they let them go. A decision that cost the lives of 3 of the countries bravest warriors.

My point is that the enemy doesn't play by the rules. They never have, and they never will. If water boarding, or playing loud rap music or any other method is used to get information from these human pieces of garbage, then I say do it. In war, I think the ends do justify the means. Do whatever is necessary. The public doesn't need to know. In fact, most of the public probably couldn't stomach 5 minutes in an active combat zone.
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# Cheryl Brooks 2009-03-16 15:46
Call me nieve.......... ....but can someone please explain what waterboarding is to me. It sounds to be something awful and I cannot condone torture in any form. I agree with the soldier who wrote this story. I always also try to go by "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Waiting on a reply please.

Thanks
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# Joe Price 2009-03-16 15:59
Not touching of what is torture or was our conduct in compliance with the Geneva convention, it all strikes me as a debate on the meaning of "is" and that is misdirect. A waste of time. Everything has to have an objective, a benefit.

The benefit of war is a better peace. As noted above war is an atrocity and immoral, but we wage it to achieve the better peace. So when it comes to torture, there are several aspects that can be cost-benefited.

If we do torture, we lose our moral high ground, and frankly at the end of the day that is pretty much all we have. So assuming there is a benefit to torture, losing it all (what makes us unique and special in the history of humanity) is probably not worth it.

Now I would like someone to show me the "benefit" of torture, any torture. Being a student of history and an intel professional, and knowing many intel professionals, I don't know a single one who can cite you a single incident where torture produced any information that would constitute useful intelligence. Just ask SEN McCain, he and many others will tell you, that they will say whatever is necessary to make the pain stop. While there may be nuggets of information in that gut spilling; names, units, etc. It is not useful intelligence, i.e. information that is actionable. And the mental anguish that gut spilling inflicts on the individual is arguable far worse than the physical pain. Again I refer to the words of SEN McCain.

Elucidation, what professionals do to get people to fess up, does produce a wealth of information. Saddam Hussein spilled it, and KSM spilled it...over time. So again, even assuming torture worked, the type of information is only of value at a strategic level and therefore frankly derivable or accruable from other sources. Now the only two so called strategic surprise we have suffered, Pearl harbor and 9/11 were hardly surprise given the abundance of intelligence. If we failed to appreciate or prepare adequately for either event, again, not grounds for torture, but grounds for better intel analysis.

So that leaves tactical intelligence and LTC West's actions. He believed that torturing his captives could prevent tactical surprise. I would posit, that in an active shooting war, tactical surprise is a function of gross incompetence. The commander knows attack is possible if not imminent from any number of directions and prepares accordingly. Attack in war can not be eliminated, simply minimized. That is war. So again, sacrificing it all, what makes us unique and special, to prevent the unpreventable (combat in war) is admirable but faulty because it is unrealistic and the benefit does not exceed the cost.

Frankly debating the the meaning of is, or what constitutes the gray edge of torture, is torture. Unless someone can provide overwhelming evidence of the benefit of torture that exceeds the cost (loss of what makes America not just great but exceptional in human history) this is a waste of time and effort. An act of redirect in what is really a national war crimes self trial. Since we don't want to face up to our (national) misdeeds with the honor and integrity with which we spent our lives serving, we will have to settle for a hung jury of ourselves.
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# Yehudit 2009-03-16 16:18
" ... what your mom told you (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you), she got from Jesus. ...."

And Jesus got it from Rabbi Hillel and Deuteronomy. Just being a stickler for accurate citations.

Skilled interrogators don't need gross physical methods. But based on accounts by expert interrogators, they are very hard skills to learn and not everyone has the aptitude.
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# AVN 2009-03-16 16:19
My comment is that I think an excessive amount of attention is being focused on waterboarding. From what we know, three people have been waterboarded since 2001 in US custody. While I personally think waterboarding is torture, I think the debate over waterboarding has been excessively partisan and largely worthless. The CIA waterboarded the three most valuable detainees we had, did it under very controlled conditions, and only did it during a very vulnerable period from 2001-2003 where the US was extremely worried about follow-on attacks from AQ. We were in a race against the clock to see if we could learn about follow-on attacks and disrupt them in time. Once we were able to reassure ourselves that massive follow-on attacks either weren't in the offing, or we disrupted them (probably a combo of both), the CIA and the Bush Admin stopped using waterboarding. The issue has largely been solved for many years already. What Bush SHOULD HAVE DONE, is explicitly pardon those involved in the three interrogations, while condemning waterboarding as torture and explaining the circumstances as to why it was tolerated in three cases.

What is of far more important value is the OTHER tactics that the Red Cross and human rights groups complain about: loud music, cold or hot temperatures, stress positions, barking dogs nearby, and sleep deprivation. In my opinion, none of these are automatically torture. Yet the critics of these methods routinely characterize them as torture and the media dutifully lists them right alongside waterboarding. In fact, waterboarding is in a whole different category. Loud music isn't even close to being the same league as waterboarding. A chilly or stuffy cell is not torture. Obviously, throwing a guy into a meat locker for 3 days and exposing them to frostbite or hypothermia conditions would be torture. Blowing a guy's eardrums out with 180 dB noises would be torture. Keeping a guy awake for so long that he's at risk of cardiac failure is torture. But keeping a suspect off balance, disoriented, and anxious is not torture.

The debate over methods of interrogations has not been objective or honest.
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# Mike Foster 2009-03-16 17:32
I think many may labor under a misconception of the meaning of the Golden Rule... the Golden Rule does not exist in a vacuum, but is to be applied based on the circumstances involved.

For instance, in the case of deciding to waterboard a terror-suspect, the application of the Golden Rule is not, simply, "well, I would not want to be waterboarded, so I shan't waterboard others", but rather to place yourself in the mindset of the other person... "even though I plotted the deaths of thousands on 9/11 (in the case of KSM) and am likely plotting further mayhem, I expect that others shan't waterboard me because they themselves would not like to be waterboarded even if they themselves had plotted the deaths of thousands on 9/11 and are likely plotting further mayhem." How does that statement make any sense? If I was KSM, I couldn't use the Golden Rule in a philosophically or logically consistent manner to expect to NOT be waterboarded myself...

The "de facto" application of the Golden Rule, as implied above, fails to take into account the motivations of those you would "do unto", and, as such, is an absolutely worthless philosophy (although certainly a meet philosophy for modern liberalism), especially for a GOVERNMENT... the Golden Rule is a model for personal behavior, not for the behavior of a government (or its agents), especially in a time of war.

It is reminiscent of use of the Golden Rule to justify expansion of entitlement spending: "well, I wouldn't like to be poor and hungry myself, so I shouldn't allow anyone else to be poor and hungry, period." It fails to take into account "accountability ". "Would I expect others to feed and clothe me if I have failed to make any reasonable effort to feed and clothe myself?" The latter is a more pragmatic question, and certainly nothing requires pragmatism so much as war.
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# Bill W 2009-03-16 18:15
I think we can make a moral case for using waterboarding to protect freedom. To maintain the moral high ground, we must get clear that waterboarding, or any other physical or mental stress, isn't, by itself, torture. According to the UN definition, it depends on context. I think waterboarding isn't torture when we use it only in "a highly controlled environment" - that avoids the "severe" threshold - and we use it only to "obtain information" (the weakest link in the UN's definition of torture). I say the morality of protecting freedom and saving lives trumps the hurt feelings of someone who would target innocents to further a cause.

I, too, was waterboarded at SERE school, Scott, but you appear to have forgotten why we were subjected to SERE school. While command certainly sought to avoid the compromise of the 2 days of tactical information we low ranking warfighters might have in our heads, they were much more concerned that we stay alive and that we learn not to be overwhelmed by the utter immorality of our enemies. The lesson of SERE school was to resist the incomprehensibl e, to Americans, depravity of officials in a society that isn't free. To resist despite being broken, to not let being broken be a source of shame, to force the enemy to start from square one every time.

The NV, in the mold of all dictatorships, sought "confessions" from the champions of freedom they captured; brainwashing, if you will. Besides the barbaric, clearly "severe" techniques they employed, it's the context. It's the very real chance of death in an unmonitored environment and the demand to "confess" to "war crimes" and to denounce liberty that truly made it torture. The NV officals, again, like all officals in oppressed societies, cared not a whit about gaining any information to save lives other than their own, but only to extend their power.

The use of mental and physical pain by any society to further its ends is fraught with the hazards of human frailty, but I believe our institutions are up to the challenge. That's moral high ground, moral strength, that we can openly identify and narrowly apply safe, overseen, but intense stress on clearly identified, stateless enemy agents to protect lives and liberty throughout the world. Our current, stateless enemy is at an extreme logistical disadvantage and their high level commanders must compensate by being in the field by stealth. I think we need to send our stateless enemies the message that, when we capture any one of them, we will impassionately and effectively work our way up to those high level agents. That unambiguous message, alone, will cause major uncertainty and disruption among their cells when one of them is captured, much less what we might find out if we actually put some stress on our captive.
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# Bill W 2009-03-16 18:16
respones to various comments:

"stay my hand because I wouldn't want to endure the water boarding myself". All SERE instructors, certainly, and CIA interrogators, reportedly, experience waterboarding, and worse. Repeatedly.

"These folks have no problem with torture. They're also apparently not bothered by the reports that torture doesn't actually do much good". I'm bothered that you would ignoring the definition of torture put forth by the UN (me, using the UN to support an argument?!) and put together a nonsense sentence as a result. I have huge problems with torture, as any freedom loving person would. I'm also sure the reports are accurate because they're refering to stress inflected by state actors to obtains "confessions". Those confessions are surely unreliable. That's clearly torture according to the UN definition and probably accounts for 99.999% of the use of stress by officals. Among the remaining 0.001%, falls the efforts of our interrogators that results in reliable, actionable, verifiable intelligence like, say, passwords to encrypted disks or web sites, weapons cache and safe house locations, locations of secure drop boxes, bank account numbers, etc.

" or that we might use it on the wrong guy". As always, freedom loving people seek to avoid injustice. That we have used waterboarding on only 3 captives speaks to just how careful we are.

"Playing at waterboarding in training is a world apart from the effect that forced drowning has on someone who can't be sure his captors care much if he lives or dies.". There is no playing at waterboarding. It works exactly the same way on all subjects, regardless of whether you trust your operator or not. It's a very primal distress with very little frontal lobe involvement. Certainly, I quickly lost the ability to reflect on the motives of my operator when I went through it.
Please, stop with the drowning nonsense, any water in the lungs in an accident on the part of the operator and immediately ends the session.

" who do not believe we have any moral standing at all - merely because of WHO we are." We have moral standing because of our institutions and our respect for the instutions above and beyond the people that operate them.
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# Steve Singleton 2009-03-16 18:18
I am very thankful that we had people who got priceless information out of KSM and his two AQ buddies that saved lives ... and I could care less what method they used to get it. These people mutilate captives and cut off heads on video. They must be laughing at our perceived weakness over this issue. I understand KSM spilled the beans after just thirty second or so of water being poured over his face and into his nose. My ONLY regret is that they didn't pour a little water over the face of his nephew Ramzi Yousef who bombed the WTC in 1993 in an attempt to kill 25,000 Americans. Maybe they would have learned something to prevent his uncle KSB from taking down the trade center on 9/11. It was an act of war, not a criminal action as Clinton considered it.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-16 19:04
Lots of justification going on here, sort of like "Oh, she's only a little pregnant"

Bill, I knew very clearly the purpose of SERE school. I completed it 2 weeks before I went in country as an advisor on a RVN gunboat.

Not sure why we are parsing what constitutes torture. The definition has been posted, same language as in treaties we signed. The elephant in the room is "is torture effective and is that (torturers) who we are?"
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# Greg Q 2009-03-16 19:04
Hmm, so I guess we shouldn't throw murderers and kidnappers in jail, because I'd hate to have that happen to me.

No.

The Geneva Conventions impose restrictions on our troops. Restrictions that make their job harder, adn make them easier to kill. That's the cost.

The Geneva Conventions supposedly give benefits to our troops: the proper treatment of POWs. Countries follow the Conventions because the rewards (decent treatment for their POWs) are worth the costs (lower effectiveness for troops, higher chance they'll get killed in battle).

Our enemies are not paying the costs of the Geneva Conventions. They do not follow the rules (uniforms, not hiding behind civilians, treating POWs properly), it is therefore WRONG to give them the benefits.

When you give unlawful combatants the benefits of the Geneva Conventions, you cheapen the Conventions. When you treat dishonorable scum like honorable soldiers, you spit on the honor of honorable soldiers. It is Gresham's Law made flesh: you are treating a counterfeit soldier as if he were a real one, thus lowering the value of being a real one.

People who do not wear distinctive markings as fighters, who hide behind civilians, who do not have a chain or command, or who have a chain of command that routinely murders innocent civilians and/or legal combatant POWs, those people are scum. What they DESERVE, and what they should get, is a court martial, rigorous interrogation (including drugs, sleep deprivation, and torture), and then, once they've been drained of any useful information, summary execution.

They have no honor. Treating them as if they do cheapens the honor of those who DO have it.
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# Zach Foreman 2009-03-16 19:08
If it were that easy, then there would be no discussion. However, why not apply the golden rule to other situations. Would you want to be locked up far away from you home, deprived of seeing your family and friends for years? Well, then it is immoral and there should be no incarceration, even of guilty parties. Would you want to be shot at or bombed? No? Well, then the US should decommission all it's bombers and not allow soldiers to carry guns. So the first problem is that the golden rule is too broad, not taking into account moral nuances, such as innocence or guilt, aggression or defense.
The second problem is that not everyone has the same idea as what constitutes happiness or pleasure. A masochist would have no problem torturing someone else, since he would want it done to himself. More broadly, many would NOT want done to them what other's wouldn't mind (this matters in the context of torture, recall the Israeli flag draped on a prisoner, or being forced to wear pink, or women's clothing or for the Koran to touch the ground).
It ends up making torture a bit incoherent. Waterboarding IS torture if the interrogator doesn't want to be waterboarded, but it ISN'T torture if the interrogator wants (or is indifferent) to being waterboarded. So we just need to find a really, really messed up person to conduct all our waterboarding. Some people like to cut themselves, some people like to be whipped. I'm sure we could find one person in the country who likes being waterboarded and then problem solved, right?
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# Eric Jasz 2009-03-16 19:14
All examples given involved military personnel or the police, which is not the focus of the waterboarding debate in America.

"After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war."
"pursued lower-ranking Japanese war criminals in trials before their own tribunals"
"U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the 'water cure'"
"In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff"

The vast majority of Americans will agree that our military and police should not waterboard, but a large handful would allow intelligence officials to waterboard if there is reason to believe the prisoner has intelligence of a pending attack (as was the case with KSM).

Claiming that there are some cases of "severe psychological trauma" or "panic attacks" does not constitute torture: some rich suburban momma boys will crap their pants and have panic attacks if they're brought in for questioning at a police station...is that torture?

The President should have to sign off on every instance of waterboarding. We had the moral high ground well before the media went nuts over Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and waterboarding.. .and what did the Islamic Jihadists do? Oh yeah, they beheaded prisoners.
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# buyguy 2009-03-16 19:21
Interesting discussion, and net of which is "it depends." It depends on the definition of torture, it depends on the situation, it depends on who, when, where, under what authority, who is the subject of torture and who is the administrator of torture.


We've been called in recent years a nation of relativists, of people who reject the idea of there being objective truth -- your truth isn't mine -- etc.

We search for the truth, but in this discussion, we haven't found it. Will we? Ever?
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# J Findley 2009-03-16 20:04
Loud music? Lack of sleep? Stress situations? I knew it. My kids have been torturing me for years.
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# Bill W 2009-03-16 20:04
Scott,

Please allow me to reword my sentence to 'you didn't fully explain why'.
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# Steve Waterman 2009-03-16 20:22
OK, I can see that this discussion is going nowhere. Let's just bring home ALL the troops, make heroin legal, tax the hell out of it and execute anybody who does any illegal dealing in it. No more freelance dope growers, all government controlled and TAXED. After all, money is the object here, because I can tell our government doesn't care a rats ass about the troops. Make every person who has served in combat exempt from paying income tax FOR LIFE. Make it a federal crime to attempt to attain combat status falsely. OK, and while we are at it, bring back the draft. Increase the budget for the CIA and increase the language training budget for people who learn Arabic, both written and spoken. A bonus will be paid to anybody who meets certain proficiency in that language. This should also include Farsi. Chinese would be added to the list, too.

If we can stop our enemies before they attack, we win. If we can out-intelligenc e them, we win. Do not allow the politicians to defeat us on our own home turf. Defend the country from within and make the enemy FEAR us. Right now we are pretty much the laughing stock of the world, except for those Al Queda slime who have been dispatched to the 'Mustang Ranch' in the sky.

Rid the country of illegal aliens, including foreign students who have 'overstayed their visas.' Criminalize hiring illegals, pick your own fruit. Any person producing forged documents shall be deported, if they are American citizens, jailed for a long time. This includes drivers' licenses and SS cards.

We gotta straighten this stuff out, or we are history.

Standing by to dismount soap box.......
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# David Schieber 2009-03-16 21:08
Dick Cheney interviewed yesterday by the associated press said waterboarding "was absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the U.S. I think that's a great success story. It was dont legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles," Cheney said.

I agree with his assessment and agree with his statement that we are now less safe with Obama's follow the field manual orders.
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# e williamson 2009-03-16 21:46
No one can doubt the fact that torture can lead to good intelligence information. Also no one can deny the fact that current interrogation methods can lead to good intelligence information as well. Each method has it's on pitfalls. Yet the debate is not really about methodology but ideology.

Our ideology is that we are not like our enemies and fight with honor even when our enemies do not. This allows us to strategically partner with our allies and gives us Information Operation ammunition when we fight to win hearts and minds.

While torturing individuals can lead to strategic successes, i.e. preventing a terrorist attack. i wonder if it will set us back strategically i.e. the affected target audience assumes that we are no better than the terrorist themselves.

While the need to prevent terrorist events is high on the priority list... dealing with the fundamental issues that allow terrorists to thrive should be even higher. In the case of torture we will not gain any strategic advantage if we are seen as using methods unbecoming of a benevolent state.
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# Dale 2009-03-16 21:58
OK - its a very funny recollection when you are old enough to not remember the ass paddling or shame brought down by 'the man' aka dad. However I was subject to unspeakable acts of torture and humiliation by my siblings growing up. Asking me if I wanted a piece of candy and throwing it in the dirt and laughing.

You know all those great endearing bonding moments we've all had as kids. But you know, I didn't worry that I'd not get along in life and live another day. This anal attitude of forced interrogations is going to do nothing but kill the spirit of those whom want to kick ass and take names. If something else non-violent works then get the stats together and win the hearts and minds of those in charge.

You say "water boarding is torture as declared by the US government". That's a stretch that doesn't bely the political nature of that pronouncement. This country was founded and won by extreme violence and you are simply in denial of what constitutes that ultimate collision between ideology and having the tenacity to implement using muscle to back it up when all other measures fail.
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# michael Stafford-Hill 2009-03-16 23:26
There seems to me to be a fundamental difference between interrogation of criminal suspects in order to get them to confess crimes, (which needs to respect inherent dignity--must avoid all torture) and interrogation of enemy combatants to thwart attacks in progress during a war. If it is ok (acc to the laws of war) to nuke a city of civilians in order to persuade (coerce) surrender, or shoot down an airliner full of innocents to stop it from crashing into the capitol, how can it be worse to waterboard a principal "illegal combatant" who is in the act of destroying innocent life? KSM was a master planner of ongoing attacks. His silence --his refusal to disclose information concerning such was not a right to avoid self incrimination; it was part and parcel of the attack. And as such can (legally, I feel) be countered by another act of war. Of course there are and must be rules, and no one down the chain of command has (or should have) the power to nuke a city, shoot down an airliner or waterboard, but the commander in chief must have this power to protect the innocents that he is sworn to protect. As I understand it, the three instances of waterboarding were done by executive order of the president. (And I'm ok with that) Abusing every detainee to see what he knows is wrong and counterproducti ve; and violations of the field manual should be transparently prosecuted. But let us not be worshipers of "moral high ground" when it threatens our citizens. Boot Hill is high ground, but it is not moral for a leader to commit his people there rather than their enemies.
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# JM Hanes 2009-03-17 00:09
Evan Wallach's essay is part of the problem not the solution.

Small wonder that Wallach attributes the Golden Rule to Mom, because if he were instructing soldiers in the field to ask themselves "What would Jesus do?" no one would take him seriously. He entertains no distinction between torture used to elicit "actionable intelligence," torture used to extract unwilling confessions for either propaganda or pseudo-legal purposes, and torture as a punitive or experimental measure in and of itself. So too, Wallach makes no distinction between military and civilian justice which differ for tried and tested, critically important, reasons.

I'm not making an argument for torture, but I am suggesting that if clarity is our objective, blurring obvious existing lines is no place to start. I hope to respond more fully to the questions you are posing, but we must extricate ourselves from a morass of false choices and anecdotal assertions before any truly productive discussion can begin. If the issue were black and white, it would have been resolved long ago. The moral and legal compromise in the exigent circumstances scenario offered up by John McCain in Congress, is perhaps the clearest evidence of the agonizing complexities we face.
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# Nomadic Kirk 2009-03-17 01:29
your writing is great
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-17 01:39
Bill, I understand what you were trying to say. No apology necessary. The usual crossthread.
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# JWP 2009-03-17 02:18
I wonder why no one has referred to Michael's point that the 72nd MPs refused to participate in AbuGhraib?
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# P. Nielson 2009-03-17 02:51
OK, If I must be tortured, then I will take the waterboard. At least I should survive with all my parts. So, if I must torture someone, then at least I will limit it to the waterboard.

The Golden Rule of Torture.
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# Nelda 2009-03-17 03:21
I just want to reinforce what Michael Stafford-Hill wrote today at 18:26. After reading his comments, I thought "that's precisely what I would like to say" and I would just be reiterating what he wrote in perhaps different words! So please go back and thoughtfully read his entry.

I stopped reading Michael Yon's email when I got to the word "normal" in this sentence: "We get huge amounts of information from normal people when they realize we are morally superior to the terrorists." I can't imagine a scenario where we would be interrogating "normal" people to get information about terror threats or war movements and plans!! And like I said before, Michael, (and I'm a kind and gentle woman) I would want a "Jack Bauer" to do whatever is necessary if the lives of our people are in jeopardy.
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# Mary W 2009-03-17 03:40
The original Bible (not the one Mohammed rewrote in the 6th century, saying Jews and Christians were in error and replacing Jesus with himself as the main character) says, "Vengence is the Lord's." It might be a duty to stop someone from doing evil. It might even be a duty to kill someone to stop them. Taking someone's freedom away is punishment that prevents them from doing evil. But, to torture someone is vengence. We are smarter than that. We can trick them.
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# Nelda 2009-03-17 04:16
I should have said when I read the word "normal" I momentarily stopped reading, to think about and wonder why he would use the word "normal" to refer to an enemy who is likely a terrorist. And I also want to say, with others, thanks Michael for reporting to us from the front and also for having an open forum. May God bless you and keep you safe.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-17 05:26
After experiencing water boarding, thus graphically identifying water boarding as ƒ??torture,ƒ? Christopher Hitchens may not be the most convincing choice to use to suggest further discussion that water boarding should not be eliminated as a severely limited interrogation choice. Hitchensƒ?? article ƒ??Jefferson Versus the Muslim Piratesƒ? offers one account that does identify the war on terror as history or a veteran will find war and is as Carl von Clausewitz wrote in ƒ??On War,ƒ? ƒ??In the conduct of war, perception cannot be governed by laws; the complex phenomena of war are not so uniform, nor the uniform phenomena so complex, as to make laws more useful than the simple truth. Where a simple point of view and plain language are sufficient, it would be pedantic and affected to make them complex and involved. Nor can the theory of war apply the concept of law to action, since no prescriptive formulation universal enough to deserve the name of law can be applied to the constant change and diversity of the phenomena of war.ƒ? It may be torture but by the other truth we ignore who and what our adversaryƒ??s methods and intent dictates they will ultimately do to us and with us. When flying a kite is a crime then how different could any Dhimmi principles not be as egregiously judged as waterboarding? Should the principle be heads, hands and fingers sawed off, thrown off buildings or just stoning?
Christopher wrote in ƒ??Jefferson Versus the Muslim Piratesƒ? about the comments the Muslim ambassador to London made in 1785 to Americanƒ??s London delegates. They asked what gave the Muslims pirates the right to prey upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, and Jefferson and Adams were informed ƒ??it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.ƒ? That 72 virgins in Paradise may just be a recent Islamic Marketing facilitating murder bomberƒ??s recruitment. Nothing I have read convinces me that the attitude of the origins and instigators of the war on terror has any designs on the Western Dhimmi except our demise and subjugation to their Sharia laws. Before 9/11 the highest numbers of fatalities against the West were inflicted by Hezbollah and my sources say Arafat, a Supper Sunni, trained the revolutionary guard. That intriguing information should suggest ever greater implications toward the West with the Fatwa Ayatollah Khomeini issued against a Western citizen Salmon Rushdie for writing ƒ??Satanic Verses.ƒ? That Fatwa was issued in 1988 and with that Fatwa Rushdieƒ??s translatorƒ??s Japanese Hitoshi Igarashi throat was slashed while his Japanese Muslim community applauded his murder, followed with knife attacks on Italian Ettore Capriolo, Norwegian William Nygaard, and Delhi Muslim resident supporter was severely beaten for protesting against the ban and had to stay away from his own university.
Hitchens described as the brave and combative individual was recently beaten by suspected Syrian Social Nationalist Party members when he was in Beirut Lebanon and against advice defaced a Nazi spinning swastika commemorative Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) sign where Khaled Alwan shot two Israeli soldiers with a pistol in 1982. That beating witnessed by a Lebanese police office but not stopped because of his fear of the SSNP. Having been the victim of such an attack will he still harbor the same sentiments about torture?

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. Gen Sun Tzu
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-17 13:47
Waterboarding is, by definition, torture. Some would say "mild" torture, but torture nonetheless. Torture is a war crime. The United States has sanctioned waterboarding, ergo the United States has committed War Crimes. The Geneva Convention emerged from WWII in reaction to Nazi actions. Arguably, Abu Ghraib cost us more in loss of American lives and reputation than was gained by any "intel" we could ever have obtained. Equating torture to screaming kids or nagging wives is not the thoughtful commentary requested by Michael.

Interestingly, former Pres. Bush is about to visit Canada. Canada has very strict laws against War Crimes. According to their laws, anyone SUSPECTED of committing War Crimes is to be arrested and tried or extradited to a country that will try the individual. There is a strong and loud faction that wants him arrested. Stay tuned.
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# BH 2009-03-17 15:13
Hello - first let me say thank for at least addressing the matter - I have read several of the dispatches/resp onses from your readers and although I agree that we should NOT use torture as the sole means to wrestle with adversaries or as the cornerstone of our engagement strategy when viewed in the totality of the struggle what some are defining as torture is without a doubt a useful tool in our current struggle - unlike tactical operations where successes and failures are reported on regularly through many media outlets, torture and the subsequent extraction of vital information are not something that make CNN nor is it something fully understood by both the general populace or the even many in the military. Warfare and the art of the fight are prosecuted on many fronts - torture will always be a part of the fight even if we donƒ??t want it to be.

The Far side Comics once had a posting showing the cowboys "circling the wagons" and the Indians firing flaming arrows to which the cowboys responded with stated bewilderment -"that's not fair" ƒ?? in many ways the irony of that cartoon is the irony we wrestle with when attempting to win this fight - the enemy will exact its own brand of punishment on those it takes from the battlefield - just review the beheading videos scattered about the internet - we did not initiate this fight or the manner in which it is prosecuted HOWEVER we must be prepared to see it through and win it because our adversaries will stop at nothing to ensure they receive the victory. I am not advocating from the slicing and dicing of heads of radicals - just the opposite - the fact that they know we "could" torture certain individuals is a deterrent in and of itself

I am sure that as you step into the "hinterland" in Afghanistan and meet some of the folks dealing with these fanatics you will get another view on the subject. It is easy to state "we should never torture prisonersƒ? when you are 6000 miles away but unless you see first hand what is going on and why "torture" works (in certain cases) and why it is a necessary evil in others then you donƒ??t have the full picture. Having spent a continual year operating in the Helmand Province suffice to say that many of these "thugs" that we have rounded up do not care that we have those back in the US that will fight for their rights. What they do care about is using and all means to exact devastating losses against our troops, our allies and those that do not agree with their perverted sense if Islam. Now until you can fully understand THAT this discussion of torture is mootƒ??as it shifts from methodology to ideology.

Good luck in your travels - I look forward to reading more

BNH
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# Larry Frost 2009-03-17 15:39
Any comment on this subject is dangerous. Our climate at home is so dangerous that anyone daring to disagree - even in details - with this general position will be subject to extreme measures, including potential loss of job and other things. No free discussion of this issue is possible and the current administration makes it worse.
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# Bluejammy 2009-03-17 17:04
Charles Maxwell: You are dead on brother, well said.

CFH: You too, nicely put, could have done with out the underscores though.

So if my Mom is a white supremacist that makes it ok to kill Jews, Blacks, and others? I mean thatƒ??s what she taught me. Please tell me this idiot JAG officer was not that na??ve.

Two things bother me that there is no way of getting around. Whoƒ??s morality? Itƒ??s obvious by the fast differences in the two major political parties that we have a very different view on morality. Then there are the minor parties and independents. So from a political standpoint we are not ƒ??morally the sameƒ?. So if torture is morally wrong why is it ƒ??okƒ? to saw an unborn child into pieces as part of an abortion or stick a needle into its skull? I mean itƒ??s legal in the US right? It must be OK. These are the same people who are taking the moral high ground. The moral high ground comment is dumbfounding to me; I mean it is an absolute asinine comment.

My second issue is that there are a lot of unknowns? Does torture, mental or physical, produce results? So many of us care not to get are hands ƒ??dirtyƒ? so we really donƒ??t have a clue. We have this moral barometer that says itƒ??s not ok. Give me a break.

Jack Nicholson said it best: Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall; you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to. Yes I know itƒ??s a movie but it cuts to the chase quite nicely. (Damn that gives me goose bumps!)

I think Michael that you should talk to the Israeli government and tell them to take the moral high ground with Ahmadinejad. Even though he wants to annihilate Israel, and has stated so, the moral high ground here would be to talk about it, maybe by him a cup of tea.

My feeling of the whole situation is this. I want to tech my child to be a good person, have a strong sense of morality and strong Christian values. However, as my children get older they will realize that life is complicated and sometimes there are decisions that they will have to make that may have them question what is morally right. Now the outcome of those decisions may be minimal or monumental, it all depends on what is at stake. None the less they will have to make a decision and be at peace with it.


Malcom X once said: ƒ??By any means necessaryƒ? I am all for that when it comes to protecting our soldiers, freedom, and my family.
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# Marian Kechlibar 2009-03-17 19:20
In my home country, one of the old 18th century rulers, Empress Marie Therese, actually issued a huge codex regarding torture.

In those days, torture was a legal way of interrogation, but, not being defined precisely enough (=the same problem which the current world seems to be suffering from), a lot of problems arised during questioning. That is why Marie Therese employed several lawyers to compile and issue binding instructions on how to torture suspects. The torture methods were divided into three levels of severity, and there was a punctual description of how to execute them, together with time limits. Any physical interrogation methods not described in the codex were forbidden.

Guess what? Waterboarding made the list as a level 2 method. Level 3 included torture with fire.

The codex was repealed in 1791, and all the methods within it have been forbidden since then. The only exception was the years of Nazi occupation (1939-45) and the Stalinist years (1948-53), when the interrogators employed methods at their will. Anti-communist politicians or activists were waterboarded routinely, in order to sign false confessions for the show-trials.

After death of Stalin, the commies finally abolished all physical methods of interrogation. Not because they were humane; but because most of them were actually afraid that they would end up on the receiving end during some intra-party purge.

The public opinion here is very much aware of the fact that waterboarding was a favorite Stalinist method of interrogation, so I would say 90% is against: it is tainted for next 100 years here, regardless of the fact that it does not leave permanent physical disabilities. You may find similar attitudes in the whole Central and Eastern Europe, and this is region that has produced one of the most faithful US allies recently: waterboarding may extract information from KSM, but at the same time damages other US interests. There is enough haters of America in the world already; but thing like this may push some other fence-sitters over the edge.

USA does not suffer from a collective memory of totalitarian regime on its own soil, and so the subject of waterboarding is much more divisive in American public. After all, Americans mostly trust their own executive branches, which is rather an exception in the world. But, given the divisive nature of the theme, what about letting the Congress explicitely decide whether waterboarding is legal or not? After all, that is what the legislative is for. If you wish to waterboard, why not define it by law?
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# The Clinger 2009-03-17 20:02
The UN or the Geneva Conventions is to be the defining source for doctrine determining the right or wrong when our non signatory of the Geneva convention no country of origin enemies are not so inclined and use these laws and methods to their strategic advantage? If so, then one could argue we are in violation of this Convention when the US adjudicates the death sentence. Even having considered these sources opens a Pandoraƒ??s Box of unknown consequences. The death sentence is among the grievances the Euro dudeƒ??s reference in labeling Americans a sub culture. Warterboarding is a lesser infraction among the options offered for torture in that one survives with all appendages but to my surprise having endured that method discover per a recent NY Times article implying that may be the reason for my claustaphobia. But then the NY Times, Geneva, and the UN are not my principleƒ??s source or for that matter considered as a relevant resource for anything except knowing what my adversaries and my enemy intend, think, and are doing.
One should be chagrined, piqued, and celebrate the decision the Seals made in ƒ??Lone Survivorƒ? who by team voted to not eliminate two individuals who walked upon their team and by all appearances later revealed the teams position to Al Qaeda Afghanistan. I have little doubt there may be individuals on this post who have potentially made similar decisions, but for sure Yon. It is my impression the surviving Seal has reservations about having made that let live decision even though making that decision to eliminate those Afghans would have violated his and their basic principles, could have potentially saved his team but landed him/them in prison for years. His team members might have lived. But they died with that principle. Is that enough or is that all of it when the Seal memberƒ??s badges were affixed to those Seals coffin having eliminated any particular unpredictable war alternative? That event produced a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and one team member survivor. That we are to believe that having adopted the prevention of permitting a highly improbable event solution that the best mathematical actuary calculations cannot predict will insure the ultimate method to prevent the decline of the US and its military principles is a stretch. For the civilian community, the primary driver for adopting such a policy is primarily political, and those positions are more about personal premature cognitive commitment massaging the personal feelings of individuals dictating a passionate position to the combatant who will be left to react to a potential conflict resolution the best of actuaries cannot predict. But who cares? In war when the first shot is fired the plan is not the plan. What then will be the plan? War is black and white without change? Is that not the mindset that got us the ƒ??Powell Doctrineƒ? at the expense of discussion to consider the ƒ??Petraeus Doctrine?ƒ?


Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and U.S. Detainee Policy
http://www.heritage.org/research/legalissues/wm2303.cfm

Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.
http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/NORM/D6B53F5B5D14F35AC1256402003F9920?OpenDocument
Reservation / Declaration text

Should the US apply the Geneva Conventions to prisoners detained in Guantanamo Bay?

http://usiraq.procon.org/viewanswers.asp?questionID=935

Uncertainty of all information - The general unreliability of all information presents a special problem in war: all action takes place, so to speak, in a kind of twilight, which, like fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger that they really are.
Whatever is hidden from full view in this feeble light has to be guessed at by talent, or simply left to chance. So once again for lack of objective knowledge one has to trust to talent or to luck.ƒ? Carl Von Clausewitz "On War"
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# Col. Kenneth G. Gould, Jr. USAF-Ret. MC 2009-03-17 20:12
I too think the standard should be "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." There is no other acceptable standard.
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# ronnie dobbs 2009-03-17 21:59
"Waterboarding is, by definition, torture. " - Uh, no it's not. You can call a jackass a thoroughbred, but that don't make it so.

Waterboarding made the list as a level 2 method of torture under the Theresian codex in your home country? So? Maria Therese ain't Webster's neither, and you're not there anymore. By the way, what's a level 1 torture? Spanking? Harsh language?

"After death of Stalin, the commies finally abolished all physical methods of interrogation. Not because they were humane; but because most of them were actually afraid that they would end up on the receiving end during some intra-party purge. " - Source: Marian's Big Book of Nonsense. Where do you get this stuff?

"OK, If I must be tortured, then I will take the waterboard. At least I should survive with all my parts. So, if I must torture someone, then at least I will limit it to the waterboard." Man, I like that! Golden Rules to live by. Like the man said, there's a reason these grandstanders don't volunteer to be broken on the wheel or bring their daughters to the slaughter via the Iron Maiden.

"I too think the standard should be "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." There is no other acceptable standard." - sure there is. You just don't want to see it, since you like your dudgeon high and your indignation righteous. Must be nice to have someone protect you so you can do that.
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# ronnie dobbs 2009-03-17 22:10
Oxford: To inflict severe pain or suffering upon; to torment; to distress or afflict grievously; also, to exercise the mind
severely, to puzzle or perplex greatly. Also absol. to cause extreme pain.

American Heritage: Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.

UN Jackassery: any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a male or female person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.

So, I guess if you get down to it, the UN wants mental torture included, which, well, could really be anything that makes you feel bad.

I reject the UN definition, and would apply the definition as it has been consistently understood. Reminder: this is not law enforcement. This is war.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-17 22:59
Actually, even a jackass should be able to understand we are talking about the definition we signed up to as a country. Apparently not.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-17 23:32
Apparently some will be disappointed to learn that Bush made his speech in Canada and was not arrested for war crimes... I'll leave the ad homen responses to the intellectuals.
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# Dan Nygaard 2009-03-18 00:29
Lots of good thinking going on. Much different from what's going on in much of the media where the term "torture" is being thrown around like the term "racist" was in our recent past (and still today) and like the word "heretic" was thrown around in the middle ages.

We find ourselves in a conflict both complex and confusing. Our new and improved Commander in Chief has expunged the terms "War on Terror" and "Unlawful Combatant". Meanwhile he orders rocket attacks on Pakistani villages that result in the death and disfigurement of women and children.

I have little doubt that this President wants to do what is right. And I have little doubt that his predecessor sought to do what is right. A long gone American general wrote, "War is all hell." Once the people's elected leaders unleashed war, and when they gave him command of an army, he pursued victory by methods his enemy claimed were barbaric. General Sherman unleashed all hell because he refused to entertain the illusion that war could somehow be "presentable".

I fear our leaders seek a "presentable" war, the better to carry it on year after year after year.
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# LTC Larry A. Frost, USA Ret 2009-03-18 00:43
Sir, I respectfully disagree with your standard for behavior in war.

First, it is a Biblical standard. The US Military does not operate to those standards, nor is it allowed to do so under the Constitution which we swore to defend. q.v. the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Second, it is an impractical standard. I would not choose to have the enemy kill me in combat, so under your standard I can't kill them. This isn't a cavil. If your standard is to be used, it has to work all the time, not just in the case where you wish to apply it. The Golden Rule is obviously not applicable to combat - at all.

Third, this is a new kind of war. Guerrilla war is not new, but is not adequately covered by current combat rules. The
current rules of war address only a European versus European conventional war. Everything in the rules rests on that foundation.

This is a religious war as well as a guerilla war; and it is a war against an entire culture whose civil, political and religious life are one. In other words, we are fighting a holy war against a totalitarian religious tyranny. I am not speaking uninformed; I received training in orthodox Sunni theology from an al-Azhar theology graduate, I've read the Qur'an twice, and studied Islaam for two decades. The very core of daily life in the dar es salaam - the Muslim world - rests on assumptions and training directly contradictory to everything our Constitution stands for. If you're interested, I'll send you a copy of my paper "Can Islaam Co-Exist With the US Constitution?". It's a law school paper approaching the topic from a legal and historical perspective.

If we adopt your standard in a total war agaisnt a culture which absolutely rejects not only the Golden Rule, but the very foundational assumptions of our society, we will lose.

Respectfully,

Larry A. Frost
LTC, Intelligence Corps
US Army (Ret)
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# LTC Larry Frost 2009-03-18 00:55
CDR Dudley: I'm disappointed in you. Calling people names wouldn't fly in any staff argument you were part of - I hope, it certainly would not have in front of any of the seven GO's whose staffs I served on - and I don't think its acceptable here. If, in fact, you have anything to argue, argue it. Calling people names is unacceptable. And no, we are NOT necessarily talikng about the "definition we signed up to as a country".
1. Which definition? Have you read the Delahunty/Yoo memo?
2. This whole discussion is about what is right, not what we are signed up for now. If you insist the only allowable point of view is the existing one, you define the discussion out of existence. Try to think things through more clearly.

Ronnie Dobbs: The quote you slam by accusing its maker of squealing from the safety of the protection of others comes from a retired colonel in the air force. Maybe you have more time on the line than he does, maybe not, but he clearly took his turn in the barrel like the rest of us. Kindly accord him the respect his service deserves - and if you haven't served, look in the mirror long and hard before you talk. I also disagree with COL Gould. That isn't the point.

To everyone: If you can't be civil, be somewhere else. If serving all over the world taught me anything, it's that even decent and honorable men can honestly disagree even about fundamental values. Talk about the issue, not the man. If incivility doesn't bother you, keep in mind that ad hominem argument makes a prima facie case that you don't have any better ammunition to use than name-calling.

Larry A. Frost
LTC, Intelligence Corps
US Army Ret)
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# The Clinger 2009-03-18 01:44
LTC Larry Frost
If per chance in the future should you receive a complimentary drink from an unknown source with the words "A salute to your civility in the pursuit of intellectual discussion" it will be from me..
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-18 02:41
The jackass term came from Mr. Dobbs who attempts to confuse the definition of torture.

Yoo may well end up in prison. Things done by him and others are just coming out. For example, seems more than 3 were waterboarded/to rtured. Take a look at...

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22530

There are so many shoes dropping that it will be hard to keep up with them.

Having served on several flag staffs, the best leaders were the ones who kept on topic, not smoking the issues. And they called them as they saw them.

Yes, this discussion is about what is right. That includes what is legal and what the ubiquitous "we" agreed to as boundaries. I have friends in the intel community and we have discussed the value of torture and the credibility of information derived therefrom. I expect you have had similar discussions.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-18 02:42
The jackass term came from Mr. Dobbs who attempts to confuse the definition of torture.

Yoo may well end up in prison. Things done by him and others are just coming out. For example, seems more than 3 were waterboarded/to rtured. Take a look at...

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22530

There are so many shoes dropping that it will be hard to keep up with them.

Having served on several flag staffs, the best leaders were the ones who kept on topic, not smoking the issues. And they called them as they saw them.

Yes, this discussion is about what is right. That includes what is legal and what the ubiquitous "we" agreed to as boundaries. I have friends in the intel community and we have discussed the value of torture and the credibility of information derived therefrom. I expect you have had similar discussions.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-18 03:49
We need to get to the bottom of what happenedƒ??and whyƒ??so we make sure it never happens again.[1]
ƒ??Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
What is his old name... Leakey Leahy... Removed from the House of Rep intel committee for divulging secret intelligence. Politics as usual perhaps.. That is really scary..
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22530 If Yoo winds up in jail justice has not been served because Leahy did not wound up in jail.

LTC Frost
Would you comment on the following sources as reliable sources to have gained an insight into the Islamic intrigue and/or suggest other sources for further research?
Benard Lewisƒ?? books, Bat Yoƒ??er, Oriana Fallaci, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence, ƒ??The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, Inshallah, America Alone.
Your paper "Can Islam Co-Exist With the US Constitution?" with references would be of real interest tooƒ??
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# Chip Seiple 2009-03-18 05:56
Unless I missed it...

Is waterboarding torture when our USAF uses WB on it's flight crews training in case shot down over water??
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# Chip Seiple 2009-03-18 06:01
Is it torture when our Air Force uses waterboarding in training for it's flight crews?
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-18 10:57
We already know that certain "enhanced methods" (including waterboardering ) are torture. The real question is "Is torture ever necessary". A flow chart could be developed. Is its use (torture) the only way to obtain timelu actionable (tactical) intelligence? If the answer is no, then never torture. If yes, then a cost-benefit analysis should be done (see Joe Price comment below). Remember, if an agent is rolled up/captured, agencies examine that agent's contacts and all he knew to achieve damage control. It would seem to me that the most important intel we could have obtained from KSM was how to get to OBL. Seems clear that didn't happen.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-18 11:12
Note the cautionary statements at the beginning of the article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Yoo#cite_note-repud2008-10
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# Marian Kechlibar 2009-03-18 11:34
Ronnie, after communism fell in 1989, a special institution was set up, "The institute for study of crimes of communism". It is a respectable institution with some 20 full-time researches, mostly historians and lawyers They are in action since July 1990, and they concentrated on collecting legal materials from the Communist era, plus personal accounts of survivors or the families or victims. They helped to rectify more than a few personal injustices (e.g., confiscation of property) by documenting them thoroughly.

They publish a newsletter 4 times a year, starting in 1990, plus many books. Plus, survivor accounts are often published separately. All together, there is a huge amount of literature on this theme, unfortunately, mostly in Czech or Slovak language, so, not directly available to you. For most of the part, it is painful just to read and imagine.

And the waterboarding theme was one of the first to be studied there, about 10 years before KSM was waterboarded and thus introduced this controversy on the world stage.
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# LTC Larry A. Frost 2009-03-18 14:57
Replies to Comments:

The Clinger, 17Ma 2044: Thanks. I drink single malt scotch and will supply a 'dead drop' location on request!

CDR Dudley, 17Ma 2141: Ok, fair enough. In context it appeared you were using the 'jackass' term directly. Failure on my part to properly and timely evaluate sources and methods!
I just finish oral argument at the court of appeals, so I'm way behind in law school. I don't have time until this weekend to check out the John Yoo source you provide. I seriously doubt anyone can end up in jail for rendering a legal opinion. For one thing, it makes no sense; for another, the guys who would have to send him to jail are all - guess what - lawyers, and making a legal opinion, even if disagreed with, a cause for jailing will not be popular with lawyers!
Flag Officers - I got to be able to judge a GO in one meeting. If most of his staff weren't perfectly happy to argue with him, he was probably not a great GO. Good GO's make sure they are not stovepiped, and they develop both informal and formal channels for information. And they actively encourage (as in give good OER evaluations for) thoughtful opposition to their pet projects. So I agree that good flag-rankers have a ferocious focus on the objective and made the decision they felt was right, but they also made sure they heard all reasonable points of view and considered all feasible courses of action. That included in at least some cases discussing things that were marginally legal. DISCUSSING is not the same as DOING, but when you draw lines about what can be thought, you scare people and close off new ideas.
Value of Torture: I've had lots of these discussions. And I've had opportunities to observe real situations.
I believe, and teach my kids, that there is a hierarchy to considering issues. First, one evaluates what is practical; then one evaluates what is legal; only last does one evaluate what is moral. Why? Because if one has a decent moral system - one that is based on the world as it is, and hence on real human nature - the vast majority of immoral things are also both impractical and illegal, at least in the long view. Why evaluate the moral issue if the tactic is impractical in the first place? The bottom line for me -as a strictly practical matter, before any consideration of moral issues - is does torture offer practical advantages? And the answer, beyond any reasonable doubt, is that under some circumstances it clearly does.


...continued
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# LTC Larry A. Frost 2009-03-18 14:58
....Then one has to take those circumstances - and only those circumstances - and ask whether torture is legal, and then moral. Both of those involve defining what torture is.
When I was a 1LT, I took the company on a POW training exercise in which I had prisoners led out of a clearing, smeared with catchup, pillows whacked and guys on "my" side scream and holler, then get led back in front of my 'prisoners'. They thought the XO had gone nuts - and they all spilled what they were supposed to keep quiet about. Point of the exercise? Don't suppose that doing what you are supposed to do is as easy as you think, sitting at the joint tossing a few brews back and explaining how brave you will be. We all had a long talk about the realities of our enemies and what we might really face, and I think the company gained a more realistic idea of what combat can be like.
According to the UN definition, that was probably torture. Do you think so? If so, was it appropriate and 'worth it' under the circumstances?
This is not a simple, or simplistic, question with ready-made answers. Especially when the survival of our civilization is at stake.
Would any of you torture a captured criminal if you knew, for a fact, that they knew where the rest of their gang had taken your kidnapped child - who they intended to rape and murder? Think about that one. I know - what one might actually do in those circumstances may not fairly reflect what is right. But I also think the kidnapped child has rights, and that those rights trump the rights of the actual kidnappers.
Uncertainty is hard for academic moral calculations to deal with. But academicians have neither time limits on their ponderous arguments, nor real stakes on the outcome. They are a bit like my soldiers bragging in the bar; they don't have to deal with reality.
We, as soldiers of the republic, do have to deal with reality.

...continued
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# LTC Larry A. Frost 2009-03-18 14:59
...The Clinger, 17Ma 2249:
Lewis is a very well respected scholar on islam, and he has a relatively balanced point of view. In particular one book whose title fo rsome reason escapes me, about why Islam has failed for centuries as a social mechanism, offers useful insights. Remind me and I'll send you the title when I'm at home (I'm at school right now).
I may misremember, but I think the author you cite is Bat Ye'or, not Bat Yo'er. Very knowledgeable but witdh a distinct political point of view that has to be weighed when you read - what the POV is quickly becomes very obvious.
Intel types are cautious about deep agents - 50% of them end up turning (joining the other side). Most people who get immersed in a foreign culture either reject it outright or risk 'turning'. Lawrence 'turned' - he in many ways became Arab, and and Arab partisan. That said, his books offer a uniquely Western view of what being Arab is like. Note I say 'Arab' - Lawrence writes not about muslims in general but about Arabs, and while Arab culture influences islaam heavily, the two are very distinct.
Have not read America Alone yet. However, it's a purely political book, and I don't think Mark Steyn is much of a student of islaam.
haven't read your other cites.
When I make the final corrections on 'Islam and the Constitution' I'll make it available to anyone who wants it, subject to publications requirements if it is picked up for publication by the JLPP.

Scott Dudley, 17Ma 0557: Essentdially, concur.
Scott Dudley, 17Ma 0612: Yoo is an interesting guy. I met him thru the other author of one of the so-called 'torture memos', robert Delahunty, whom I know. (read them - they are legal, and heavy, and they mostly don't say what the MSM claim they say). I skimmed the Wiki article on Yoo, and it actually doesn't seem too unbalanced.

OK, previous comments answered. How about an orderly discussion of a single question as a way to address CDR Dudley's points:

First, is torture ever 'practical' - that is, can it ever yield valuable, timely intelligence?
the backdrop is the regular statement that 'torture never gives you useful information - people only tell you what you want to hear.'
My comment on that: First, a good interrogator does not let the subject KNOW what he wants to hear. There are obvious limits on that, but its still a good principle. Second, if you are not dealing with highly time-sensitive information, that statement is pure BS. If you still hold the prisoner, and he knows false information will not be conducive to treatment he likes, does anyone really argue that he won't tell the truth as he knows it? Knowing you will check, and then come back to talk?
Again, this is NOT about whether torture is LEGAL or MORAL. Only about whether it is ever - under any circumstances - practical. We can get to the other issues later, but as CDR Dudley points out, the debate is a waste of time if we agree torture can never, under any circumstances, provide reliable, useful information.

One final point, for those not in the business: Information is raw data you collect. Intelligence is raw data that has been processed by comparing it to other known data, corroborating it (hopefully against at least two other, completely independent sources) and placing it in its full context.

This is both a real topic to me, because of my career experiences, and an academic one, because I'm just finishing law school, where it's a hot topic. Fun to be back in school with idealistic young kids (ie, 21-25 year olds!)


Larry A. Frost
LTC, Intelligence Corps
US Army (Ret)
JD Candidate, 2009 (almost there...)
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# Joe Price 2009-03-18 15:02
Of course guerrilla warfare is addressed in current doctrine. It is a tactic, traditionally categorized in low instantiate or unconventional warfare. It is an effector like any other under the current rubric of "effects based operations" because it achieves a psychological effect on the enemy. Why else would we have spent billions of dollars on the patriot missile system when the only thing it has effected is a Navy F-18 and a British Tornado. It provides a psychological effect to counter the equally ineffective but highly terrorizing effect produced by the Scud.

So first we have reaffirmed that what goes on it the head of decision makers and stakeholders (general population ala clausewitzian trinity or why we won Vietnam tactically but lost it strategically) while not kinetic is far more significant to the outcome of war than all that messy kinetic stuff on the battlefield.

Second, your comment on total war, and I have to ask with whom? Total war is two state actors employing their all because they are willing to bet it all on the outcome. AQ is not a state actor, in fact when taken out of histrionics and put back into their proper bucket (guerrilla warfare) are a hum drum insurgent group. And insurgent groups are groups of people who take up arms against a state because they are deprived of their political voice. (PhDs in Poly Sci are very handy for learning how to organize this concepts)

(Unlike post Saddam Iraq where the Sadr-ites, various Sunni groups, and the Kurds played political hokey pokey periodically stepping in and out of the political arena when they didn't get their way...never deprived of their rights. Thus there was never an actual insurgency in Iraq besides AQI.)

So back to AQ. Who are they insurgents of? The government of Saudi Arabia. The fact that they have the financial where with all to jet set to scenic destinations like Ass-crack-istan , doesn't change that fundamental fact. And since folks like to throw Sun Tzu around, he would tell you it makes perfect sense for them to attack us. Who is the biggest stalwart of the
Govt of the Saud family? Us. So, if you kick out the bulwark, the wall falls. Apparently AQ gets basic tactics better than you. (Alas Messr Bin Laden like myself started out as a humble foot soldier.)

Now, as noted above in total war the state is willing to bet it all because it is at risk of losing it all. We are not at total war, because #1 we have never bet it all, and #2 we have never been at risk of losing it all.

So back to my original premise, are we willing to sacrifice the sole thing that makes us unique and special in the history of humanity, our moral high ground, to a bunch of thugs who only have the ability to at worst blacken our eye or bloody our nose? And frankly aren't even interested in us.

Furthermore, I have to agree with them that it is long past due for the Saud family to be relegated to the wasteheap of history. Not that AQ has a snowballs chance of coming out on top of that dust up, at least the next Arabian government might do something about their wayward youth.
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# Brad Emmons 2009-03-18 15:32
Joe Price said: 'Not sure why we are parsing what constitutes torture. The definition has been posted, same language as in treaties we signed. The elephant in the room is "is torture effective and is that (torturers) who we are?"'

The second question we can only answer collectively. As for the first, this question has been largely answered by Darius Rejali's definitive work "Torture and Democracy." Short version: Torture is mostly effective for eliciting false information. Its track record is never better, and is in fact usually worse, than other methods of interrogation. Look at the empirical record: did anyone see all the blatantly false crap that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to?! Anyone on any side of the debate should really inform themselves about the track record of torture (read the later chapters in Rejali's book) before talking, because otherwise you don't really know what you're talking about.

Charles Maxwell et al.: The "ticking time bomb" scenario, while rhetorically effective, is not relevant to this discussion. The VAST majority of the people tortured at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib were not tortured under these circumstances. And besides, if torture isn't effective, what difference does the ticking time bomb make?
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# Brad Emmons 2009-03-18 15:37
LTC Frost said: "The bottom line for me -as a strictly practical matter, before any consideration of moral issues - is does torture offer practical advantages? And the answer, beyond any reasonable doubt, is that under some circumstances it clearly does."

Do you have any empirical research to back up this claim? Most of what I have read indicates that torture provides no true advantages over traditional methods of interrogation, unless one is looking to get ANY statement, true or false, from a suspect. I'm willing to read counter-argumen ts, but so far I haven't seen any based on scholarship.

Not every discussion on morality needs to be informed by empirical data. But considering the alleged reasons that we are torturing, it seems pretty pertinent here.
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# Bill W 2009-03-18 15:53
"Waterboarding is, by definition, torture." No, waterboarding is only mental stress. Three conditions must be meet for an act to be considered torture - severity, intent, and government involvement. Given conditions 2 (intent) and 3 (government sponsorship) are met, does WB meet the first condition - "severe"? Both CDR Dudley and I were waterboarded in military training. In my opinion, WB isn't severe mental stress when applied in highly controlled environments to seek information, while CDR Dudley feels otherwise.

"Is waterboarding torture when our USAF uses WB [for torture resistance training]." No, even supposing you think WB is "severe" in and of itself, meeting criterion 1, the act still fails on criterion 2 - intent. While the operators request information during the session (unit, aircraft type, tactics, ...), they have no actual interest in the answers - anything they ask, they could more easily look up in service records or other documents they are already cleared for.

"After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war." Waterboarding isn't a crime - torture, kidnapping, aggravated assault, murder, ... are crimes. I'm not familiar with the exact charges nor how the acts of waterboarding were classified as criminal nor the definition of torture in effect at the time. In terms of the current definition, and if torture was the charge, I will hazard that the environment was uncontrolled and the intent was confession or punishment, resulting in "severe" mental stress. If the waterboarding was merely for the amusement of the guards (failing criterion 2 of the modern definition), then they were guilty of something other than torture.

The UN definition of torture isn't concrete and unambiguous. In particular, "severe" is a subjective term and condition 1 and condition 2 interact in ways not addressed by the definition. The severity of mental distress of the subject is affected by the intent of the operator and the visibility (to the subject) of oversight of the operator and the act. In my opinion, any effort to extract a "confession" - something otherwise unverifiable or to force you to "get your mind right" - results in "severe" mental stress for the subject even though the physical or mental pressure applied might generally be considered mild. Note the very low threshold of stress applied by police that will disqualify a confession in US jurisprudence.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-18 15:57
LCOL Frost,

Hate to stick you with links as your time constraints are noted. With regard to your doubt about the possibility of Yoo being prosecuted for a "legal opinion", something for you to read at your convenience.
http://www.democracynow.org/2004/11/30/red_cross_finds_detainees_intentionally_tortured

It seems to me, and no I did not stay at the Holiday Inn last night, that several of Yoo's opinions were designed to facilitate torture and protect those who tortured. Odd how years after these opinions were rendered and just before the new administration was sworn in, the Justice Department suddenly found it necessary to repudiate them.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-18 16:01
Well, Michael, after some struggle, the conversation has turned thoughtful.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-18 16:33
"WB isn't severe mental stress when applied in highly controlled environments to seek information, while CDR Dudley feels otherwise."

Bill w...What I actually said was that during SERE, we knew we would not be seriously harmed, ergo, there was no mental aspect to waterboarding. Prisoners under CIA control do not have that knowledge and may well think they are going to be killed. Magnitude of difference.

Not sure who said it but it was stated that waterboarding was halted BEFORE water was ingested into the lungs. The inevitable first breath drew water into the lungs albiet a small amount. That was the point when the "treatment" ceased. I did have a rather lengthly coughing spasm after that.
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# BlueJammy 2009-03-18 18:18
First: Iƒ??m not retired military and I am not a combat veteran. I have a view and am entitled to express it based on many people who have fought and died for that freedom. I think that to not have an opinion is a greater disservice to those individuals then to talk ignorantly about a subject. Even if an individualƒ??s logic is flawed and uninformed, it gives others the opportunity to set that person on the path to enlightenment. In contrast, I can simply make the choice not to read what they have written. As far as the name calling, who cares? Anyone who has grown up with brothers and sisters is use to it. I can hear the ƒ??itƒ??s not appropriate, itƒ??s not professional, itƒ??s childishƒ? comments already. Feel free to call me names; hopefully a few of them will make me laugh.

On to my serious side: Is torture that prevalent that we need to make the world aware that we donƒ??t condone it? Maybe I have lost sight of the original issue but I canƒ??t remember why it is so important that it must be brought up?

We canƒ??t make torture a morality issue because if we are looking to politicians to be our morality gauge we are in deep trouble. We canƒ??t use the Bible because someone pointed out that the military does not use a Biblical approach to operating.

If we did use the he Bible we would recognize that man is inherently evil and while our laws are biblically based, they fallen farther and farther away from the Bible.

So we canƒ??t trust man and canƒ??t use God. Interesting... Sounds like anything goes.
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# Dave 2009-03-18 18:39
OK, torture is wrong. But none ever said it wasn't wrong and this wasn't a choice between right and wrong. It's always been a choice between what's wrong, and what's worse. It's wrong to torture and lose the moral high terrain, but it's worse to sit on your high moral horse and fail to prevent the destruction of innocents - non-combatants back at home. Granted it's tough to get your nose out of joint by being immoral to an extent, but it's much tougher to have your childrens' noses get completely blown-off. There were children killed on 9-11 in the World Trade Center, and in aircraft that plowed into either buildings or earth! So your JAG guy with the scars of combat can feel moralistic and good, but there are/repeat are/ proverbial "ticking time bombs" that need to be defused or children, and wives, and parents, and shipmates will die. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the perfect soul for water-boarding after 9-11. He had murdered THOUSANDS, intended to murder more, had plans afoot, and wasn't gonna talk. Well he talked. George Tenant, Director of the CIA says lives were saved as a result. I can live with that, and had I performed the deed myself, I'd sleep soundly at night for doing so. I am grateful every day that the agency did what needed to be done in the days following 9-11. I am similarly grateful that President Thruman dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and saved up to 1 million US lives by concluding the war with Japan. And I'm grateful that Jimmy Doolittle dropped bombs on Tokyo on targets of little military utility, and put the fear of retaliation into the brainstem of Tojo. And I'm grateful that veterans live with terrible dreams so that I don't have to, and I pray for the peace of God for their hearts and souls. So to conclude, yes I'd like to be nice to killers too, and if we have the time to spare, I'm willing to give them cigarettes and coffee and take the high moral ground. Like the man said; "Good is better than Evil because it's nicer!" But if we don't have the time to spare, the killers should pay the piper - not our loved ones.
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# Dave 2009-03-18 18:44
OK, torture is wrong. But none ever said it wasn't wrong and this wasn't a choice between right and wrong. It's always been a choice between what's wrong, and what's worse. It's wrong to torture and lose the moral high terrain, but it's worse to sit on your high moral horse and fail to prevent the destruction of innocents - non-combatants back at home. Granted it's tough to get your nose out of joint by being immoral to an extent, but it's much tougher to have your childrens' noses get completely blown-off. There were children killed on 9-11 in the World Trade Center, and in aircraft that plowed into either buildings or earth! So your JAG guy with the scars of combat can feel moralistic and good, but there are/repeat are/ proverbial "ticking time bombs" that need to be defused or children, and wives, and parents, and shipmates will die. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the perfect soul for water-boarding after 9-11. He had murdered THOUSANDS, intended to murder more, had plans afoot, and wasn't gonna talk. Well he talked. George Tenant, Director of the CIA says lives were saved as a result. I can live with that, and had I performed the deed myself, I'd sleep soundly at night for doing so. I am grateful every day that the agency did what needed to be done in the days following 9-11. I am similarly grateful that President Thruman dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and saved up to 1 million US lives by concluding the war with Japan. And I'm grateful that Jimmy Doolittle dropped bombs on Tokyo on targets of little military utility, and put the fear of retaliation into the brainstem of Tojo. And I'm grateful that veterans live with terrible dreams so that I don't have to, and I pray for the peace of God for their hearts and souls. So to conclude, yes I'd like to be nice to killers too, and if we have the time to spare, I'm willing to give them cigarettes and coffee and take the high moral ground. Like the man said; "Good is better than Evil because it's nicer!" But if we don't have the time to spare, the killers should pay the piper - not our loved ones.
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# Bill W 2009-03-18 19:16
We have another difference of opinion. I think no human has the capacity for reflecting on how far the operator will go in the moment one is actually undergoing waterboarding. I reject the notion that a captive's ignorance of our institutions and moral character makes for any additional stress in that moment. The mental aspects of waterboarding are very primal. Your lower brain is screaming "there's a problem", what little higher brain activity that remains, wondering about the outcome, is inconsequential .

Just for clarity's sake, Scott, are you saying that when you were waterboarded, you got some water in your lungs at the onset, the operator noticed right away and ended the session?
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-18 19:35
First, thanks for a thought provoking reply.

"Of course guerrilla warfare is addressed in current doctrine. "
-------My point was that GW, or low intensity conflict, or whatever the term has morphed to, is not addressed in INTERNATIONAL LAW (sorry, there is no underline or other emphasis available except caps). I was saying that the Geneva conventions and other IL is based on Europea-Europea n conventional war, and not on GW. As such, the rules do not work. They give all the advantage to guerrilleros.

"So first we have reaffirmed that what goes on it the head of decision makers and stakeholders while not kinetic is far more significant to the outcome of war than all that messy kinetic stuff on the battlefield."
---DOn't concur in detail or general, but not critical to this discussion.

"Second, your comment on total war, and I have to ask with whom? Total war is two state actors employing their all because they are willing to bet it all on the outcome. AQ is not a state actor, in fact when taken out of histrionics and put back into their proper bucket (guerrilla warfare) are a hum drum insurgent group. And insurgent groups are groups of people who take up arms against a state because they are deprived of their political voice. "
--------Total war with the dar es salaam; with an entity defined only by its uniting ideology, defined in this case as the central, broadly agreed tenets of orthodox Sunni islaam. So to start with, I disagree with your textbook total war definition. What is important here is that this is a NEW kind of war: Ideological, religious, global and in the context of instantaneous worldwide information flow. The old stuff does not work. AQ is not the issue (but is part of it). I argue AQ is merely the inevitable product of conflict between Western and Islaamic civilizations. If it hadn't been OBL it would have been someone else.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-18 19:43
"So back to AQ. Who are they insurgents of? The government of Saudi Arabia. The fact that they have the financial where with all to jet set to scenic destinations like Ass-crack-istan , doesn't change that fundamental fact. And since folks like to throw Sun Tzu around, he would tell you it makes perfect sense for them to attack us. Who is the biggest stalwart of the
Govt of the Saud family? Us. So, if you kick out the bulwark, the wall falls. Apparently AQ gets basic tactics better than you. (Alas Messr Bin Laden like myself started out as a humble foot soldier.) "
-----Disagree. AQ - intheir own estimation and stdatement - are insurgents against non-islaamics. They would prefer to attack Saudia because a heretic or apostate is WORSE, in orthodox islaamic theology, than any of the people of the book. They attack us instead because they can, and because they think it will bring more resources, faster, than attacking Saudia.
For the record, I started out as a private E0 in the US Marines, and got sent to OCS by 2nd Bn, Ranger (Airborne). I started out as a 'humble foot soldier'. And I made NCO in both the Marines and the Army before earning my butterbar.
I agree attacking Saudia would be worse tactics - but my analysis of AQ's reasons reflects study of what they say, and their motivations, as well as simple battlefield geopolitics.

"Now, as noted above in total war the state is willing to bet it all because it is at risk of losing it all. We are not at total war, because #1 we have never bet it all, and #2 we have never been at risk of losing it all. "
------I believe we are at hazard of losing it all, largely because we don't accept that fact. We are IN a total war - but we are not fighting our side of it, the worst possible situation.

"So back to my original premise, are we willing to sacrifice the sole thing that makes us unique and special in the history of humanity, our moral high ground, to a bunch of thugs who only have the ability to at worst blacken our eye or bloody our nose? And frankly aren't even interested in us."
--------------I'm sorry, but there isn't time or space to correct what's wrong with this statement. BLUF: Not torturing people is NOT primary to what makes us superior. No society can be based on a negative. We are not defined by what we are against, but what we are for, and ideas of individual liberty, individual responsibility and freedom from control cover so much MORE than just the moral issues around torture I don't know where to start.


"Furthermore, I have to agree with them that it is long past due for the Saud family to be relegated to the wasteheap of history. Not that AQ has a snowballs chance of coming out on top of that dust up, at least the next Arabian government might do something about their wayward youth."
--------Concur, but in the short term, that is probably not in our national self interest - and seeing AQ control mideast oil absolutely is not. How, when, and under what terms the Saudis get fixed matters.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-18 20:16
Concur in detail, esp. the part about ambiguity of the UN definition which is prima facie absurd.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-18 20:28
bluejammy:

Your military status is irrelevant, except as it might provide a reasonable source you can use to back up facts you assert. Nobody says you have to be military to speak here, or if they do, they are incorrect.

Namecalling: One of the faults of modern education is that it does not teach people how to think. Name calling is unacceptable for three big reasons. In order of importance:
----Namecalling is not rhetoric. It provides neither facts nor logic in order to argue your point.

----Namecalling (also called argumentum ad hominem in logic) mostly demonstrates that you have neither facts nor logic to present; it reduces you to a kind of intellectual "Nyaa, Nyaa na na nah".

--Namecalling makes people angry. The point of discussion is to try to use reason to learn new things or to reach a concensus. Name calling teaches nothing and by making people angry, gets in the way or reasonable discussion.

THAT'S why name-calling is out of bounds in every civilized discussion forum in human history. reasons, and good ones.

Substantive issue: We can't use politicians because that's argument from authority (and bad authority at that). We can't use the Bible in the exact context it was quoted before (although the Golden Rule is not really biblical) because the military doesn't run on the Bible. But we can use our own ethics, argued here, to reach a concencus, whether that ethic is religiously based or based on other things.

You're free to argue based on the Bible, we just can't impose Biblical rules on the military per se because our Constitution doesn't allow it.

LF
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-18 20:39
CDR Dudley:

The idea of extraterritoria l, international jurisdiction is really dangerous, especially in a world hostile to our Constitution. Recall that most of Europe - including Germany - does not have what I would call a rule of law. You are not presumeed innocent when charged, for example, under Roman/Civil law. Governments can and do make laws placing prior restrictions on free speech (you can go to jail in Europe for even arguing the Holocause never happened; its an absurd position but banning speech on it is far worse).

That's the biggest lesson I get out of a quick scan of the link you provided.

I don't think this suit would ever reach to Yoo, simply because he merely provided a legal opinon. That is almost certainly not actionable, even if choosing to act on it would be actionable.

LF
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-18 20:48
We were in ranks and the first of our group was waterboarded in front of us. He came out O.K. When I was strapped down and the cloth was placed over my head, I held my breath. I did so for a couple of minutes. I then tried to breathe thru pursed lips and hoping teeth would stop the water and I could get air. No joy. My nostrils were filled with water and not an option. I breathed in the water, struggling against the restraints and they stopped. That was over 35 years ago but the memory is still there.

There have been some 20 deaths resulting from US interrogations. The Army doctors signing the death certificates identified the cause as murder. I don't want to parse the severity of various forms of enhanced interrogation. I want to know if they are NECESSARY. That, I believe, is the standard. Not just a feeling of necessity, or a torture fishing expedition, but rock solid, no other recourse, eminent danger kind of necessity.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-18 21:36
Germany has very strict laws on war crimes as Japan has against war. While we have not signed up to the ICC, the article describes attempts to identify certain US personnel for possible prosecution. There are valid reasons why we did not sign up to it but if I were in any kind of vulnerable position regarding war crimes, I would not be traveling to europe.

ICC described in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court
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# Brad Emmons 2009-03-19 00:28
Dave said: "there are/repeat are/ proverbial "ticking time bombs" that need to be defused or children, and wives, and parents, and shipmates will die."

Aside from the fact that this was not the daily circumstance at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, this still doesn't address the issue of effectiveness.

You say the following: "Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the perfect soul for water-boarding after 9-11. He had murdered THOUSANDS, intended to murder more, had plans afoot, and wasn't gonna talk. Well he talked."

Well, yes. He talked. But did you see what he said? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_Sheikh_Mohammed#List_of_Confessions. No one inside or outside of government thinks that KSM had a hand in many or even most of these incidents. Most of what he said was simply untrue. If we're torturing to get information, what good does this misinformation do?

According to the sources available, torture is good for getting people to say things. However, it is no better than traditional interrogation at getting them to say TRUE things.

If you think that KSM was the "perfect soul for water-boarding after 9-11" simply BECAUSE "he had murdered THOUSANDS," then we're not talking about interrogation. We're talking about torture for punishment. And that's waaaay outside of where most advocates of what is winkingly called "harsh interrogation" are comfortable going.
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# Bill Brent 2009-03-19 00:36
"Do unto others...!?" But we were doing that. Then we were attacked because the enemy perceived weakness.

When the author talks about the Japanese using the "water cure" he writes: "As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war."

It's always amazing to me to read the phrase "the laws of war," especially when used in the context of WWII. I fully support the use of nuclear weapons to end that war. As Americans, we did what we had to do to save American lives. But in the context of WWII (total war), how can the "water cure" violate the laws of war and the use of nuclear weapons not?

It's because the nuclear weapons were used to end Japanese aggression and save lives (both American and Japanese). If we had used waterboarding to achieve the same ends, it would have been just as justified.

The nuclear weapons were not even the worst of what we did to Japan. Starting in January of 1945 we firebombed every major city, then every secondary city, causing far more deaths, in probably a far more painful manner, than the nuclear detonations. These actions were also justified to end the war. Did they violate the "laws of war?"

The fact is, there are no "laws of war." There is only the imperative to destroy the enemy's will to fight. To do this you must both destroy his capacity to fight and humiliate his cause. And to do that, you must do whatever it takes.
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# Brad Emmons 2009-03-19 00:59
Bill Brent said: "The fact is, there are no "laws of war." There is only the imperative to destroy the enemy's will to fight. To do this you must both destroy his capacity to fight and humiliate his cause. And to do that, you must do whatever it takes."

You know, all this "we must do whatever it takes," nobly-staring-i nto-the-sunset bravado is STILL contingent on the assumption that torture is a more reliable method to get truthful information than standard interrogation techniques. The overwhelming bulk of the record does not support this assumption. Indeed, knowledge that one's enemy engages in torture simply encourages opposition to this enemy, as he is known to be unjustly cruel.

If there was some sort of reliable record to indicate that torture produced reliable intelligence, the direction this debate has taken might seem valid. As it stands, the record indicates the exact opposite. So why we're discussing this as a question of morality, rather than a question of morality AND effectiveness, is beyond me.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-19 01:00
LTC Frost
Thanks for the reply and you scholarly responses to all post. I'm in an greater state of anxiety and agitation since last week after hearing a presentation by a Deck Officer who was on the USS Cole when it was attacked. I have had reason to visit that event more than a few times and am too aware of past administrations that hampered effective Intel gathering and some of those so vocal and demanding Bush and Chaney's head like Leahy and should have gone to jail for revealing Secret Information. They only kicked him off his House Intel committee where was a Vice chair and now he is the Senate Judiciary Committee. Just something about that does not resemble justice.
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# Brad Emmons 2009-03-19 01:17
Here's one musing on torture from 2005: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2302-2005Jan11.html

Money quote comes at the end:
**********
Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructiv e. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.
*********
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# AO 2009-03-19 03:02
Just a couple of my thoughts on this discussion:

1. ƒ??I don't want to parse the severity of various forms of enhanced interrogation. I want to know if they are NECESSARY. That, I believe, is the standard. Not just a feeling of necessity, or a torture fishing expedition, but rock solid, no other recourse, eminent danger kind of necessity.ƒ? CDR Dudley

I could not agree more!

2. KSM is continually used in this discussion and in the media as an example of why torture works. Let us also then have a discussion about false confessions made under alleged torture. An example: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was captured in late 2001 by Pakistani forces near Tora Bora. He was turned over to U.S. forces in Jan 02ƒ??. al-Libi is a terrorist, letƒ??s be clear. As part of his ƒ??interrogatio nƒ? in Egypt he provided valuable intelligence on a plot to blow up the U.S. embassy in Yemen and the location of Abu-Zubaydah. However, he also confessed that Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaida in chemical & biological weapons. This confession was referenced in speeches by Bush, Cheney & famously by Colin Powell in his presentation to the U.N. Security Council to make a case against Iraq. ƒ??I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these (chemical & biological) weapons to al-Qaida.ƒ? http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/02/05/sprj.irq.powell.transcript.09/index.html
al-Libi later recanted, claiming he made that statement to stop his interrogators treatment (he alleged that he was tortured, Egypt denies this allegation). al-Libiƒ??s whereabouts are not currently known. http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/09/america/web.1209intel.php
http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/profiles/ibn_al-shaykh_al-libi.htm

I am not bringing this up to rehash the argument of whether we should have gone into Iraq; I am using this as an example of what happens when intelligence is based upon a statement made when someone will say whatever it takes to make it stop.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-19 04:01
Perhaps it is the presentation I heard last week from a deck officer that was on the USS Cole when it was attacked that incites my angst most. That that ship sailed into the Yemen Harbor unaware and uninformed of a terror threat and that Shipƒ??s Captains career ends not because of his malfeasance but because of the malfeasance of an Intel community that was legislatively prohibited from effective Intelligence gathering and/or could not conceive of such an event nor could its cohorts conceive of a more horrendous event, 9/11. That USS Cole attack facilitated by a sophisticated shaped charge +30 foot boat that literally lifted the Cole up from the water blowing a 40 ft hole in its side, killing 17 sailors and injuring many more, but for its effectively engaged crew they saved that ship from sinking.
Perhaps my angst is even more outraged that the Al Qaeda actors that committed an act of war are now due a US trial because of the egregious reemerging mirandizing mentality, that lawyerly pin strip suit, black leather brief case wearing wing tips shoes approach that worked so effectively during the Clinton term especially on aspirin factories. Al Qaeda must be shaking in their Nikes. This was an attack on US sovereign soil was it not? That makes it an act of war, does it not? Or should we refer to some touchy feely UN or Geneva conventions that will conclude otherwise, because, after all this is the US and we are the worldƒ??s fair game are we not?
Perhaps I am most agitated by the fact that an administration did not permit the one person, in the US that recognized the world terror threat, had the only active team to investigate such activity, and thus could effectively investigate the Cole bombing, FBI Agent John Oƒ??Neill back into country. But why was the FBI and not the military the agency to pursue such an act of war investigation? Is this the norm? The Clinton appointee Ambassador Barbara Bodine would not permit Oƒ??Neillƒ??s reentry to Yemen, an action that delayed and severely hampered an investigation making great progress which subsequently languished and lost momentum.
CMDR Dudley that you have your sharp knives out only for the Bush Administration over warterboarding and supported with information links revealing a group of individuals grappling perhaps ineffectively but nevertheless engaging in a process initiated by an enormous event beyond anyoneƒ??s comprehension. That Star Trek quote ƒ??boldly goes where no man has gone beforeƒ? comes to mind. That there is another opinion about the process is not a supportive argument, that should be the norm and if no such participation is encouraged then the process is really broken.
One of your links references Senator Patrick Leahy. If this is not the personification of the quintessential oxymoron there ainƒ??t no such animal. The atypical man of the Dem party, removed from his House Intelligence Sub Chair for sharing secret information with a reporter as his non criminal sentence. Not just once and he and another member threatened the Intel community with public exposure if they did not approve of their missionƒ??s intent. This occurred during the Iran Contra affair and Leahy divulged secret information I believe when Libya was attacked. Leahyƒ??s sentence - Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thatƒ??s Justice?
The Dem party proclivity is further defined by the Church Committeeƒ??s legislative actions in the 70s to early 80s and again regained momentum and continued throughout the Clinton years. As I recall Church restricted agents subject to criminal prosecution for working with criminals as snitches as the police and FBI can. And then there is the firewall Jamie Gorelick legal language creation that prevented FBI and CIA from sharing information.
LTC covered the Warterboarding. It changed and angered me too. But then there was the Cole, Nicholas Berg, Daniel Pearl and 9/11. Intel was broke.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-19 11:34
One of the reasons I rarely post here is that discussions are often co-opted by the right or left wingnuts. Any rational point is immediately subjected to some silly political litmus test. This usually results in some historical blame game that detracts from intelligent discussion. References are examined for some perceived bias and both wheat and chaff are discarded in a kneejerk manner. I refuse to engage in some inane discussion as to which party's s___ stinks worse. For what its worth, I belong to neither political party and accept politicians as a necessary evil.

For the most part, this has been an intelligent discussion on torture and I have learned much. This is not a republican or a democrat issue, it is an American issue. I cling to the hope that we are all Americans in the final analysis and want policies that are best for our country. My apologies to those from other countries who post here. I welcome and encourage your participation and I envy your position of not being handcuffed by partisanship.

To get back on point...Is torture ever an absolute necessity and, if so, is it effective? That is the core. I have mixed feelings but I tend to lean in one direction.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-19 14:31
The debates of that great assembly are frequently vague and perplexed, seeming to be dragged rather than to march to the intended goal. Something of this sort must I think, always happen in public democratic assemblies? Alexis De Tocqueville
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# Bill W 2009-03-19 15:23
Torture is an abomination and no freedom loving people should tolerate its use anywhere in the world.

Waterboarding by trained and vetted US operators, case by case approved at Cabinet level or above, for the purpose of obtaining information for the roll up of clandestine terrorist networks isn't, to me, torture and should remain as part of our toolkit.

Waterboarding, as a stress inducing technique, strikes me as unique and superior. It can be turned on and off like a switch, it's very safe, and it involves very little physical pain. The mental stress is very primal and recedes into the background immediately upon cessation, while the desire to keep it from happening again remains firmly imbedded in the higher mind.

For the very narrow and specific task of obtaining verifiable, exploitable, tacitcal information, high stress interrogation seems to quite effective. What the SERE instructors were able to piece together from my class - our training history, logistics, tactics, capabilities - was remarkably broad and complete, for example. Clearly, any enemy organization whose field commanders are at high risk of capture is training to counter this with agents memorizing fake safe house addresses along with real ones, having passwords that destroy data rather than unlock it, gving fake plans to entire cells, etc. However, the captives know that we have the resources to verify what they give up and that "we'll be back". I think using waterboarding as a stressor dramatically speeds up convergence to the truth.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-19 16:05
Bill,
"For the very narrow and specific task of obtaining verifiable, exploitable, tacitcal information, high stress interrogation seems to quite effective."

We both linit the possibility of use of torture (mild or not) to obtaining urgent tactical information. Likely, in almost every situation it could be utilized in a tactical sense, it would have to occur in the field with untrained interrogators. The half-life of tactical information in this case is measured in hours. Also likely is that the majority of those soldiers would not have enough tactical information and an enemy field commander might be better able to resist or provide false info. It is a conundrum.
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# Bill W 2009-03-19 18:51
The exploitable information in the head of a US warfighter at risk of capture is highly compartmentaliz ed and has a half-life of hours. Every fighting force wants it that way. We have the logistics to make it so, our enemy doesnƒ??t

Our current enemy must operate completely out of view, with covert supply lines. Their typical warfighter must, therefore, have some tactical information less compartmentaliz ed and with a much longer half-life than ours. Their field commanders, unlike ours, are vulnerable to capture and they must have, somewhere, extensive, long term, tactical, even strategic, information in order to operate. Yes, I would expect them to resist, but that's where high stress interrogation is an important tool, converging to truth inside the life of as much information as possible.

I don't believe I used the word urgent with respect to tactical information. While timeliness is a factor, I'm using tactical more in the sense of uncovering adjoining links in the network, nuts and bolts logistics, and operational details. Information exploitable for days, not just ƒ??middle of a firefightƒ? immediacy.

I donƒ??t endorse rogue or ad hoc interrogation. We have the logistics to have teams of all sorts on alert 24/7 in any theatre in the world. To field fully trained interrogation teams with dedicated transportation and direct communication to the White House, would be routine.
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# Brad Emmons 2009-03-19 22:46
At the risk of sounding snarky, I think we need more to attest to the effectiveness of torture than a few "I thinks" or "seems" and an anecdotal experience from a couple of training exercises.

I don't mean to keep referring to the same single source, but Darius Rejali's book on clean tortures has the most thorough collection of information and studies on the effectiveness of tortures, and it simply doesn't add up to being any more effective than other methods. (That is, it CAN be effective, but probably less than other techniques.) As for those who say otherwise: the burden's on you to make your case. Especially considering the nature of what we're talking about.

As for "training" to resist torture, see the following thoughts from Rejali (#5): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/13/AR2007121301303_2.html
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-20 00:07
Thanks, Brad.

Your points are well taken. If, as has been represented, torture is as or less effective than basic interrogation, then the cost to our nation is too great to ignore.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-20 00:57
Clinger, the Bernard Lewis book I referred to is "The Crisis of Islam". 160 pages, excellent book.

Another reference I have not read yet: MAJ Stephen Coughlin's 333 page War College thesis, "To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad", at
http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:l9g3HuMcjYQJ:www.americanthinker.com/2008/01/saving_major_coughlin.html+maj+coughlin&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

It has been recommended to me by a colleague still on active duty whom I respect, and so I pass it on. It got MAJ Coughlin removed from the service as a result of activity by a DoD civilian who charged him with being a 'bigot with a pen' for writing the truth. Google MAJ Stephen Coughlin and you'll find a lot. Follow the link above to an article in American Thinker about it, which includes links to the essay itself.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-20 01:06
1. "Torture" does not include the following interrogation techniques when they are applied to unlawful combatants:
----Extended forced sleeplessness.
----extended oral interrogation.
----The sense dep tank (as a soften-up technique, but mostly for its per se value in producing talk)
----Waterboardi ng (proviso: Done by persons trained in its use, with medical assistance available for the common problems, ie, minor water inhalation and possible heart attacks in those with very weak hearts)
----Humiliation
----Extended physical exercise (proviso: ordinary exercises, done in a manner calculated not to cause damage; medical personnel in attendance, and done by persons trained in its use)
----Deception, of any sort whatever, without limit.
----Complete control of environment, including denial of information and access to any outside agency (to include especially the Red Cross).

These techniques may be used at any time, by any level of command, without any further qualifcation beyond those expressed above.

2. Torture Lawful to Use on Any Unlawful Combatant:
-----Any technique which does not cause permanent physical damage
Provisos: Each technique to be defined and a rank of commanding officer authorized to approve them assigned; the commandin gofficer must be the first CO in the chain of command above the unit or area where the technique will be applied, and that officer assumes responsibility in law for the use of the technique as defined in the manual (which would have to be created).

3. Rejection of any application of any law of war whatsoever to unlawful combatants (UC); that is, unlawful combatants become non-persons in the eyes of the international law of war.

4. Exaqmination of the definition of UC to ensure it fits the current situation.

5. UC are under no circumstances whatever to be give any rights whatsoever under US civil law, and only such rights under military law as defined in the manual mentioned above; such rights will never include review of any action by them or on their behalf by any party, ever.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-20 01:13
It has frequently been asserted that our enemies (the muslims, that is, the bulk of orthodox Sunni and their tyrannical governments) will lose respect for us if we use torture.

I"m not sure that is true. Again, without respect to whether we choose to define torture as immoral and ban it, I think it is arguable that at least Arab Muslim states may respect us MORE if we use torture. They often use the rhetoric of respect for human rights, but here I assert as fact that islaam has respect only for strength and nothing else; and utter contempt for weakness.

May they resent strength? Yes, especially if we stay in the dar and lord it over them. But if we do our business and get out, I think they will respect us more. THEIR VALUES ARE NOT OUR VALUES. It is a terrible mistake to think otherwise. A Vietnam Marine NCO I knew has some laws of behavior; we are violating Owing's Third Law when we think the Arabs react as we do: "The other guy is not me."

I respect LTC Ralph Peters (USA-Ret) immensely. His strategic thinking is clear and easy to follow. I recommend his comments in this regard RE Afghanistan at this link:

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/02/the-mendacity-o.html

LTC F
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# LTC F 2009-03-20 01:15
.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-20 14:10
I've no idea why we should seek approval from Arab states at the expense of condemnation from the rest of the civilized world. That makes no sense to me. They will respect us more if we torture?

While off topic, the Peters blog is pretty close to my thinking except for his "best" scenario. The parallels to Vietnam are uncanny. we propped up a government that was weak and corrupt and whose influence does/did not extend beyond Kabul/Saigon. And in Vietnam, we left behind a small cadre in '73 that fled from the rooftops in '75. Abandon Afghanistan now. We went there to kill OBL and destroy AQ. We failed. To a great extent because we emasculated the forces there to fight in Iraq. Departure will leave the various tribes to fight amongst themselves for local power. We have expended too much blood and treasure already and our supply of both is waning.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-20 15:13
I have been a bit distracted from Michael's dispatches and just caught up. Two recent dispatches are germane to recent posts here. One is treatment of prisoners which tend to support what Brad and I (and a few others) have been saying regarding torture. The second relates to end game for Afghanistan. I commend their reading
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-20 17:26
LTC Frost,

I must say I was surprised at your proposed torture rules. It seems clear that you are absolutely comfortable with what happened at Abu Ghraib as the actions there fall within your proposal. Can this be so?
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-20 19:47
CDR Dudley:

First, you are one heckuva night owl. Your observant posts all seem to come while I"m asleep!

Second, my proposal had no reference to Abu Ghraib. I literally was not comparing the two, but more importantly, what happend at Abu Ghraib appears to me to have been a mix of actions taken by out of control lower level personnel and actions taken IN THE ABSENCE OF POLICY (again sorry for caps, no other emphasis available here). Abu took place not only in the absence of proper supervision and policy, but in the presence of great pressure from the highest places (White House and SecDef) to get into results immediately, often under circumstances legal memos implied might include policies other than those taught and drilled into soldiers.

ALL of my proposals would take place in the context of a written policy and the appropriate training to support that policy. That alone makes them very, very different from Abu Ghraib.

I want to emphasize that I view the current war as so utterly different from past war the US has fought that the Geneva Convention rules are utterly useless. Their PURPOSE is not, but the rules themselves no longer apply; they have become a lever for use by an alien and extremely hostile culture to use to destroy us.

Rules of war are essential. But one of the things those rules must do is put completely outside the pale some kinds of behavior. Fighters engaging in such behavior would be UC. That means those engaging in those kinds of behavior can expect no legal status whatsoever.

All this begs the question of whether actual torture - and I don't regard my paragraph 1 items as torture, as I noted - is useful. That question is an open one as far as I am concerned; your points about lack of real data is a valid one. But the items I list in Para 1. are not torture, are not (with rare exceptions) permanently harmful in any way, and have demonstrated usefulness.

Could you tell me which of the Para. 1 items you find unacceptable, and why?

LTC F
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-20 20:38
Had your "rules" been pasted on every square inch of every wall in Abu Ghraib prison, the military guards would have been in full compliance based on the photos I have seen and what I know.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-21 00:24
Not condoning but Iƒ??m a bit confused when one may be more insulted that they are guarded or lead on a leash by a female, or being naked than being subjected to some tortures as happen at Abu Ghraib. There is a major cultural religious difference little understood by Americans. Made for some great PSYOPS for Al Qaeda though and that non political Code Pink and the (left? tell me it is not so). And the facilitators the product of a civilian society that the military believes it can always control. Donƒ??t believe that cultural influence. The HIV epidemic was a real issue in CA because that disease had grave implications that could shut down one of its major tax paying industries. The Porn Industry. That Bob Barker a former buff model made the TV career choice he did withƒ? The Price is Rightƒ? the words ƒ??Come on Downƒ? could have had another meaning.

If you want the battle to languish turn it over to the Euro Dudes as we did in Afghanistan. Some good troops but their training and equipment suffers deficiencies because their governments are not inclined to spend the bucks on supporting their military. But with Barney Fudge hawking a 25% reduction in military spending stay tuned. That reductions chance is enhanced because they have a past administration' s defense secretary that knows where cuts can be made and if successful they can continue to beat up Bush for this cut. Military discretionary spending savings will be applied to entitlement spending which cannot be reduced.

CMDR Dudley Call me a right wing nut who would be just marginally more flattered to being called a left wing nut instead of a wingless nut that one can only find downwind which ever way the wind is blowing the hardest.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-21 03:50
Whatever

It seems that, given the evidence presented thus far, both contemporary and historical, interrogation by torture is less effective than without. Any General Officer when asked what the worst thing was to happen to our war effort will likely say Abu Ghraib. Absent any evidence to the contrary, it seems we should eschew torture in any form.
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# Freedom Now 2009-03-21 07:05
It is pig-headed to believe that the misbehavior at Abu Ghraib was anything but some ignorant people getting their jollies by picking on defenseless victims.

The actions were designed to humiliate the prisoners, not derive information from them. They obviously took pleasure in demeaning their prisoners. It was a juvenile enterprise.

This event has been a propaganda goldmine for those who wish to misrepresent the nature of their political opponents. Many who have no partisan political agenda have been fooled by this disinformation frenzy.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-21 13:12
The principal motivation of the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib came at the behest of the professional civilian interrogators. The guards were pushed to "soften up" the prisoners. This was the testimony at the trials, this was revealed also in interviews of the participants broadcast on national TV. I hope torture is not a partisan issue but it seems so for some.
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-21 19:45
First, I think CDR Dudley is more or less correct - and it tracks what I said - in that pressure for intel came from interrogators. I disagree they were mostly civilian. My source was involved with Abu but not stationed there, and observed not only the on-the-floor action but some of the itneractions among the higher ranking characters involved.

My comments remain the same - pressure, which ultimately emanated from the White House and only appeared at Abu thru, not because of, these interrogators, drove people who were also getting mixed messages about what was legal (the so-called 'torture' legal memoranda). I don't approve of asking people not to follow doctrine. If you want new doctrine, change it. You can't expect 17-23 year old troops with no world experience to make correct decisions in complex, foreign environments; it isn't rerasonable. They do what they have been told.

The guards at Abu however largely acted on their own, in part because supervision was lax. Another command chain problem. One of my bosses wrote the manual (literally) on POW ops during Iraq I. He was furious about Abu, less becaus eof the lurid pix than the lax supervision, which he insisted on in his operations. People with power over powerless people always demands close supervision.

I stay on point - my Para. 1 items aren't even torture, and as PART OF a mix of interrogation techniques, make good sense.

People are mostly repeat mantras: Torture doesn't work (false - its'a absolute statement); Torture denies us the high ground (maybe; see how Arabs react); etc.

These are not arguments, they are political slogans. CDR Dudley's point about actual data on torture is valid. Beyond that, what has been added to this discussion?

Real torture - my non-para 2 stuff- may have uses. Even my para 1. techniques are only part of an interrogator's tool chest. Many, if not most times, you get what you want without all that.

Finally, I posted ideas, not rules. And there is no doubt the Abu guards would NOT have been in compliance with my ideas. Read 'em again.

1. "Torture" does not include the following interrogation techniques when they are applied to unlawful combatants:
----Extended forced sleeplessness.
----extended oral interrogation.
----The sense dep tank (as a soften-up technique, but mostly for its per se value in producing talk)
----Waterboardi ng (proviso: Done by persons trained in its use, with medical assistance available for the common problems, ie, minor water inhalation and possible heart attacks in those with very weak hearts)
----Humiliation
----Extended physical exercise (proviso: ordinary exercises, done in a manner calculated not to cause damage; medical personnel in attendance, and done by persons trained in its use)
----Deception, of any sort whatever, without limit.
----Complete control of environment, including denial of information and access to any outside agency (to include especially the Red Cross).

None of this deals with application (except for a few limits). They have no 'rule' about them. All of them would have to be applied only with proper command authorizastion (not presendt at Abu), by people trained in their use (not true at Abu), with in many cases backup people present (not true at Abu), and so on. CDR Dudly is simply incorrect when he says the guys and gals of Abu could have done what they did, as they did it, IAW my ideas.

LTC F
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-21 19:50
BTW, I think CDR Dudley and Freedom now are both right; the pressure for Abu came from above, but the actual incidents were juvenile pranks magnified out of recognition by the fact the guards has power and little enough supervision they could misuse it - and they did. This was not humilation desinged to 'soften up' prisoners for interrogation, it was power without responsibility.

A specific point: My source tells me the two senior officers involved in Abu almost never set foot inside the compound. Had I been in their place, every guard working for me would have known not only that I could and very frequently did pop up without notice at all hours, but that I took steps to be sure no one could 'pass the word' before I got on the prison cell blocks. Simple precaution, and one I've used a number of times specifically because of the temptation to abuse power.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-21 21:55
LCOL Frost,

I said rules regarding your outline of what would be legal under your proposal. Maybe guidance or regulations (I prefer the latter) would have been a better term. I won't quibble. Whatever it would be under your "modest proposal", the bottom line is, according to you...

"These techniques may be used at any time, by any level of command, without any further qualifcation beyond those expressed above. "

I take that to mean that the guards would be free to do what they did (humiliation at the least) with no repercussions. I expect both you and I would have been more vigilant had we had the job. How Gen. Janice skated is beyond me unless hanging her would have led to failures from higher up, which I expect is the case. It matters not to me that the higher ups who encouraged the actions of the guards were military or civilian. The guards felt their actions were sanctioned by higher authority. BTW, I think that for the most part, they were reserves (and maybe that doesn't matter but I would like to think our regular forces have better judgement). If the guards actions were perfectly acceptable and within national and international regulations, why were they tried and convicted?
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# Ariztophanes 2009-03-21 22:47
Something tells me Evan Wallach is a liberal:

1) His argument is illogical on its face -- if I wanted to "do unto others as I'd have them do unto me" in war, I guess I'd lie down and passively present my throat for slicing.

2a) His approach is to try to overcome cause and effect, or to eliminate consequences for bad choices. Sure, a murderer decided to carry out his plan by avoiding a uniform that would have made him AND the came he rode in on fodder for a Hellfire, but, "aren't we better than that?"

2b) In trying to eliminate the consequences for evil choices, it is incumbent on the REST OF US pay the price. (I think it feeds the liberal ego to imagine that they bear the sins of the world, being that many deny Him who does.) When -I- go to another country in civilian clothes and attack THEIR civilians, I don't expect any civility or exemption from torture. This probably keeps me from doing so on a lark -- but yet I have to extend the welcome mat of "civility" to the jihadist. How magnanimous of me (and all of us!).

To me it comes down to this: Equivocation is not substitute for justice.

Wear a uniform and fight like a man, not hiding behind women and children. If you can't do that, you deserve NO protection due a soldier of an sovereign country. Only this Christian wish from one individual to another: May God have mercy on your soul.
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# Scott Dudley, CDR, USN ret 2009-03-22 01:05
Something tells me you are lost. Wallach has never posted here. There are intelligent folks trying to wrestle with the subject of torture sans partisan politics. Time for you to find the right place to post.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-03-22 11:22
Maybe the key issue regarding torture. If an enemy is captured during a firefight, does he have to have a government issued uniform with patches and badges and stuff to be a POW and thus afforded rights under Geneva?

Take for example a scenario where our country was invaded. Since many of us have guns in our homes, we would likely take to the streets wiithout uniforms. We would seek leadership and organization to fight those who are kicking down our doors, putting our teenage kids in prison, blowing up our homes and cars, and so forth. All the while, our invaders claim they are bringing freedom and democracy. Would we then be terrorists? At what point do we decide who is a recognized combatant and who can be tortured?
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# Kevlaur 2009-03-22 21:23
I'm a career SNCO in the USAF - I'm on the fence concerning waterboarding. It did produce intelligence... as did normal interrogation techniques. I'm definitely against what was done to Senator McCain. WB sounds like it is not pleasant but something that likely wouldn't cause permanent damage. I submit that those who have some psychological damage may have been unstable to begin with.

I was at Gitmo for about 4 months in 2002. Some hard core folks and those that got caught up in the jihad. I never saw any evidence that torture went on. The guards went above and beyond to not 'offend' the detainees.

Where does this leave me/us? In an imperfect world. While it is very true that we should seek and hold the high ground in this fight (and all fights) and there are certain rules we should never equivocate on (and I don't think we have). I will cede that the ticking bomb scenario is probably unlikely. However, good intel is obtained thru hard work...and sometimes (a lot of the time?) all that hard work doesn't give us all we need. Do we seek it by other means is the question. And, is WB the answer?
Maybe, maybe not. But I don't think it causes permanent damage.

I'm also a Christian. And, I may stand before my Lord some day and be told that my position is/was wrong. As correctly quoted by rogerb, Jesus did say do unto others as you would have them do unto you. BTW, yehudit, the rabbi, and all other religions advocate the 'inactive' equivalent. "What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour; that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it." In essence, don't do bad things to people. Jesus' admonition is 'do things to people that you would like them to do for you.' It isn't just not making fun of the elderly lady on the bus; it's getting up and giving her your seat. And since Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, it makes sense that he would go one step further; taking Lev 19:18 to it's conclusion.

BTW, LTC Frost, you are absolutely right - the Koran teaches that muslims have a duty to subdue unbelievers. Now, the question is.... do the majority of muslims follow that, or believe that it was just that point in Muhammed's life... that is, historical, and not doctrinal.
And, LCDR Dudley - absolutely we should keep politics out of the discussion and decide what is best to keep this nation safe.
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# Ernest Lane 2009-03-23 00:53
I do not consider waterboarding as torture. It is so brief, and has no long-lasting effects, either physical or mental.

At any rate, it shouldn't really even be an issue, as its use is so rare.
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# The Clinger 2009-03-23 22:15
Video: Kuwaiti Muslim Professor Fantasizes Of Biological Attack On the US; labels terrorists ƒ??honorable peopleƒ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y1KRijpCcE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhqPJCdj42I&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhqPJCdj42I&feature=related

None of the above is relevant. The question has now been legally settled. Semantics has won the warƒ?? No enemy no torture. We now have no enemy. Finally, semantics the winning formula for war.
Taliban Special Forces
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-3bsv2Rmpo&feature=related
Obama Administration Eliminates Term "Enemy Combatant"
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/03/obama-administr.html
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# LTC Frost 2009-03-24 23:34
BTW, I was re-reading posts and saw that Bat Ye'or was referred to as 'him'. He is a she (as in bar mitzvah versus bat mitzvah).
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# The Clinger 2009-03-25 03:52
LTC Frost
On your research paper??? Got a Blog or some other source to insure I have the opportunity to access that research paper??

I am aware Yeƒ??or is female. Likely my poor composition conveyed that error.. But the following is some information on her and her books.
I found it interesting they accuse Bernard Lewis of plagiarizing some of her research.

BAT YE'OR LIVE IN NYC: CANDOR OR RESPECT,
TALKING ABOUT ISLAM
Excerpt - There are reasons why this problem of blasphemy has taken on such importance. I want to say that it will take on more and more of importance, and if we donƒ??t try to solve the problems, the questions, the issues which are related to the problems of blasphemy, of religious respect and so on, the whole of western civilization might be changed and even destroyed.
So why are religious issues such a touchy subject? Well, religions are very important for several reasons. Religions eliminate manƒ??s metaphysical anxiety; it structures oneƒ??s life around a creed shared by others and practices through collective rituals; it provides consolation in time of grief and the comforting feeling to be a link in a chain that transcend time, and more than anything else, it gives the illusion to men that he can escape, he can be saved from death. (I believe she is now an atheist..)

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/03/bat-yeor-in-new-york-.html

Wafa Sultan Clashes with Muslim Cleric
http://www.spike.com/video/wafa-sultan-clashes/2703896


I just ran across this one. No fact checking yet. Boring but supports information I have read.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Czech Republic: Undercover Video Report as a Muslim in Prague.......
Islamization in a nutshell

http://tundratabloid.blogspot.com/2009/03/czech-republic-undercover-video-report.html

Other links included on the link above...
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&num=30&oe=ISO-8859-1&ei=6p_JSfezAZyMtge34qmRAw&resnum=0&q=video+of+bat+ye%27or+debating+muslim+cleric&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=85_JSeaRJYSstgelztCWAw&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title#
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# Eloise 2009-04-21 07:50
If asked "do you believe torture is right?" I would rapidly answer NO. However, the issue goes way deeper than that; I don't believe it is that simple.

What defines torture?

The article you posted by Evan Wallach was refreshing. He said he told his unit to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It is quite a testimony to hear that those that heard this message refused to take part in the "misconduct" at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. However, I have to question how realistic this scene is to the very often moral dilemmas those in authority, those that are there to protect our national security, are confronted with in the battlefield.

Treating humans as less than "humans" is not acceptable, but at the same time those that have no concern for the rights of the innocent and for those they victimize without remose must be dealt with beyond prison, especially when information is needed to save the life of many.

You said, "we can beat terrorists without it, and in fact can do far better without using barbaric methods." Could you elaborate on what you mean by this? How can we do far better?

Although I have to say that with this I am not saying I agree with "torture" as a form of treatment, I am simply trying to come to a better understanding.
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