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Torture: The Case Against, and Prescription for.....
Posted by: Jon Henke on Sunday, May 29, 2005

Recently, it was suggested that I lay out the actual case for widespread torture, and present a solution to it. That's a good idea, though I find that Dale Franks largely beat me to it. Still, I want to be a bit more explicit, so I'll start by repeating what Dale wrote because it's damned well worth repeating. Then I'll give some specifics:

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As expected, posting the cartoon yesterday provoked arguments from the usual suspects who, for whatever reason, seem entirely uninterested in the fact that our troops are killing prisoners in their custody. For those who are counting, the death toll currently looks like this.

Not that you care.

In brief, the situation, as it has developed so far, looks like this:


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And, of course, that’s what we know as of now. In some cases, it appears that investigations have gotten...uh...bogged down. But, in any event, as far as we can tell, out of 108 prisoner death in US Military custody, at least 27 of them, or 25% appear to be murders committed mainly by US Military personnel, although in one case, the Justice Department is investigating since the suspects are CIA employees. Compare that, to say, 2001, when, in the US corrections system—both state and federal—homicides accounted for 57 of the 3,311 deaths that year, or 1.7%. And that, by the way, includes homicides of inmates by other inmates. The number killed by prison guards, while not broken out, is no doubt substantially smaller still.

25% v.1.7%

I’d say that’s a bit of a discrepancy, wouldn’t you? No, strike that last phrase. Some of you won’t feel it’s a discrepancy at all. Or, if you do, don’t particularly care.

It doesn’t matter that our terrorist enemies are evil. It doesn’t matter what they do to their prisoners, in terms of beheading, or what have you. We don’t judge our behavior by the standards of barbarians. We judge it by our own standards, and, so far, it looks like we haven’t been doing as good a job as we should of living up to those standards. Pointing that out somehow makes me Andrew Sullivan. Well, that’s fine. I’d rather be Andrew Sullivan than a moral cripple. Some of you appear content to be the latter.

Now, you can bitch and moan that some lefty cartoonist makes the military look bad. But, if you’re honest, you have to acknowledge that if the military wasn’t, in fact, torturing and murdering any prisoners, the snide little cartoonist wouldn’t be able to draw his little cartoon. And, when our guys are torturing prisoners to death, then the cartoon, no matter how distasteful you find it, has some relevance, and, indeed, some truth. [...]

It is to our credit that CID is looking into this stuff, and pressing criminal charges. But something is causing entire units to mistreat prisoners, torture them, and kill them. And let’s not hide behind any of this “Well, if it’s needed to stop another 9/11...” crap. Clearly, in the cases cited so far, it wasn’t necessary. It was being done at places like Bagram because the interrogators made it regular practice. Why? How did it become regular practice? I guarantee it wasn’t because some Staff Sergeant exceeded his authority. And, while we’re on the subject, why was the CID’s initial work at Bagram so shoddy that CID headquarters had the investigation reassigned from local CID agents and given to a team in Virginia? Apparently, some of our guys feel perfectly comfortable engaging in barbarism. Since there are no bad troops, only bad leadership, I have to wonder how complicit the chain of command is, at least at the local level, at turning a blind eye to this stuff.

Murdering prisoners is wrong. Period. Torturing prisoners is wrong. Period. Those are, in fact, supposed to be the types of principles that separate us from the terrorists. But as far as I can tell, there seems to be some problem getting this message down through the whole chain of command. It doesn’t matter whether that’s by negligence, or by design, it has to stop. Even if you don’t care about the prisoners themselves, you have to at least acknowledge that torturing and killing prisoners creates a propaganda and moral defeat for our side. It’s unwise on purely utilitarian grounds, let alone moral ones.

Finally, it’s too bad if it offends you to read criticism of our soldiers here. But, after putting in 10 years on active duty as a trigger-puller myself, I’ve pretty much earned the right to make any criticisms I think are appropriate.


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Here's the case for widespread abuse:

Prisoner deaths investigated as involving criminal homicide or abuse by U.S. personnel:

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So that's 21 deaths throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, with penalties ranging from nothing at all to a reprimand to 1 year confinement to 3 years in prison to actual murder charges. 10 more deaths are "Unknown or still under investigation".

There are also 21 more deaths that have been ruled "Natural causes or accident", including one fellow who "accidentally" died "while bound and blindfolded", and 11 who died "accidentally" or of natural causes at Abu Ghraib Prison. It's entirely plausible that prisoners died of natural causes or by accident, but since the US frequently denies prisoner access to the Red Cross, and even, on at least one occassion according to the Taguba Report, "moved [detainees] around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team".

Actually, as it later turned out, it happened on far more than one occassion. According to "Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, who was second in command of the intelligence gathering effort at Abu Ghraib while the abuse was occurring", "other government agencies" and a secretive elite task force "routinely brought in detainees for a short period of time" and that the detainees were held without an internment number, and their names were kept off the books." This was the result of a documented agreement between the CIA and Army Military Intelligence officials, and resulted in detainees being "kept from international human rights organizations".

This also happened in Afghanistan, where "the CIA's secret U.S. interrogation center in Kabul is known as 'The Pit'", and their "purpose is to hold suspected terrorists or insurgents for interrogation and safekeeping while avoiding U.S. or international court systems, where proceedings and evidence against the accused would be aired in public. Some are even held by foreign governments at the informal request of the United States".

So, really, there's no way of telling what's happening there. But certainly the all-wise, all-beneficient government is treating them properly. Unless, of course, it's treating them like this:
In November 2002 ... A CIA case officer at the "Salt Pit," a secret U.S.-run prison just north of Kabul, ordered guards to "strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets," ... Afghan guards "paid by the CIA and working under CIA supervision" dragged the prisoner around the concrete floor of the facility, "bruising and scraping his skin," before placing him in a cell for the night without clothes. An autopsy by a medic listed "hypothermia" as the cause of death, and the man was buried in an "unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery." A U.S. government official interviewed told the Post: "He just disappeared from the face of the earth."
By the way, the average temperature in Kabul, Afghanistan in November is 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Presumably, it is much lower at night.

There are, of course, plenty of additional examples.

Guantanamo Bay, of course, is a bit harder to get information out of. The people who come out typically allege abuse, but how can we tell if they're telling the truth? Would you sooner trust a member of the Taliban or a United States Soldier? All else equal, I'd trust a US Soldier. Here's one:
Sgt. Erik Saar, a soldier who spent three months in the interrogation rooms at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tells ... a [story] of bizarre, even sadistic, treatment of detainees in the American prison camp. ... Saar said, some U.S. military intelligence personnel used cruelty, and even bizarre sexual tactics against the prisoners.

If such tactics didn't get out to the wider world, that was partly because visiting observers saw interrogations "rigged to fool the visiting VIPs."

Another US Soldier was told to participate in a guard training drill, pretending to be a detainee, and barely lived to tell about it. You see, his commanding officer neglected to inform the IRF team that it was just a drill. The IRF team inflicted a traumatic brain injury on him, despite the fact that his "resistance" amounted to lifting his head to tell them that he was a US soldier.

The videotape of the training incident immediately went missing.

There's plenty more. As Andrew Sullivan documented in the New York Times, other instances included acts like these:

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And while I know that both Andrew Sullivan and the New York Times are given quite a lot of skepticism among the people who would like to play down such accusations, bear in mind that he was simply repeating facts from "official government and Red Cross reports".

Others in a position to know have documented this torture, too. FBI employees, for instance....

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...and this...

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Torture and abuse is widespread, punishment is minimal, the government denies almost everything, right up to the point that they have to admit it, and dozens of people have been murdered.

And that's just the part that we've managed to find out. Perhaps they've revealed everything. Perhaps....but I don't make a habit of betting on government bureaucracies going against against their own self-interest. And I don't make a habit of trusting government entities because they say "trust us...transparency is overrated and due process is for suckers".

I side with Gregory Djerejian, who wrote that...
... anyone with half a brain who continues to insist that the torture (sorry, "abuse") story is about a few bad apples taking a frat hazing a tad too much to heart at Abu Ghraib alone are full of it and doing the country a disservice through their intellectual dishonesty. It's clear that, while not some God-awful American gulag archipelago—torture has manifestly occurred in detention facilities from Afghanistan to Iraq to Cuba. [...]

...it's time for intellectuals who care about the moral fiber of our polity, on both the Left and Right, to start speaking more loudly about these worrisome trends. America's better angels, and our more aspirational national narratives, simply demand it.
Widespread torture doesn't simply, oops, "just happen". In the isolated instances in which it does happen, it is the result of a very major breakdown in the command structure. As Dale Franks wrote: "Since there are no bad troops, only bad leadership, I have to wonder how complicit the chain of command is..." Indeed, that is the question: if the discipline breaks down so terribly at one place, the problem may well be at a local level. If discipline is breaking down at a lot of Military Intelligence detention centers across the globe over the course of years, then the chain of command is implicitly broken all the way to the top.

Alternately, they might be "just following orders".

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There are more examples of torture—and I haven't even gone into extraordinary rendition—but I think the point is made. Moving forward, what do we do about it? I think the only thing we—i.e., bloggers and readers—can do is to make a fuss about it; to make sure the abuse gets noticed, as does our dissatisfaction.

The Chain of Command, however—to include the White House—needs to assert itself. Reprimands and 1-3 year prison sentences are insufficient. We need examples. We need to treat the deaths of Iraqis and Afghans as seriously as we treat deaths in our own country. Moreso, perhaps.

Torture and abuse is not just a moral or legal failure. It is a strategic failure in the War on Terror. Certainly, we will never be nice enough to convince Zarqawi—and the ~20,000 like him—to stop killing Americans. But there are another 55 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan who may still be convinced of our moral superiority to the Islamic fundamentalists, the terrorists and their ilk; another 55 million people whose hearts and minds may still be won.

Only, they may not be won if we keep killing, torturing and abusing them. We can never make them all love us, but we can certainly stop giving them good reasons to hate us.

Nevertheless, there is still the problem of prisoners. To that end, I would suggest that we operate absolutely above-board—even if it means we put ourselves at some risk in certain instances. All detainees should be housed in prisons perfectly accessible to the ICRC and various Human Rights organizations. The Geneva Convention should be observed strictly.

While it might be nice to get that occassional tip out of an insurgent, we can win the war without it. We cannot win the war without the support of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that may be the price of sacrificing our moral high ground to beat up some insurgents.

Of course, strict observance of the Geneva Convention still allows us to do a great deal. As Dale noted previously...
My preferred method of dealing with these terror prisoners would be to get two captains and a major together as a tribunal, declare them to be unlawful combatants, and put them in front of a firing squad. Now, maybe, because we're nice guys, we could let them know that if any of them give us verifiable, useful information, then we'll commute their sentences, and won't shoot them. Otherwise, however, it's a blindfold and a last cigarette for the lot of 'em.

The difference of course, is that doing so would be legal.
And William F Buckley wrote...
Reforms are something we need in Guantanamo, where we have isolated a new species not previously known in the taxonomic order: the man who is not a prisoner of war, not a traitor, but an enemy combatant. If there is reason to be vexed by Secretary Rumsfeld, it is surely that he has not encouraged a Table of Organization that deals with that phenomenon other than simply by sticking him in a corner of Cuba without any avenue of hope or resolution. If it was decided that he should face the firing squad, then at least there would be judicial proceedings to contend with, successfully or unsuccessfully.
That's just about where I stand: full transparency and due process, followed by 1) release, 2) a prison cell and POW status, or 3) an execution.

But the current state of affairs, with undeniable widespread abuse, torture and murder—either ordered, tacitly condoned, or at least not stopped, by the chain of command—is simply unacceptable. It deserves bipartisan outrage, especially from those of us who support the Bush administration's execution of the War on Terror. For if we cannot stand against torture and murder, then what do we stand for at all?

UPDATE [McQ]: Having been unable, due to travel, to weigh in with my opinion on the subject, I do so here in a post entitled: "Situational Ethics and the Argument for Torture".

[Jon Henke Adds]: I heartily recommend McQ's post to your attention, as it addresses many of the points raised in this comment section. I'd also draw your attention to the QandO blog generally, and our sister-site, the link-oriented Neolibertarian Network Blog
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Great post.

Unfortunately, efforts to shed light on the proceedings at the military prisons in Iraq, Afgahnistan, and Cuba, are tainted by the fact that the most vocal supporters of those efforts are simply looking for propoganda to make the Bush Administration, the military, and America look bad, in an attempt to vindicate whatever anti-War viewpoint they might hold. Which means, unfortunately, that they care more about saying "I told you so" than about the truth of whatever injustice might be going on. Regardless of one’s view on the overall war, such is not an effective way to conduct an investigation, or bring about any reforms of the process.
 
Written By: Jason
URL: http://
I’m outraged.

It’s just that that outrage is somewhat lost in the sea of outrage I feel. I’ll get bothering get outraged to the point of being an activist about 24 murders over the course of two years, no lets be generous and say I don’t know, 60 murders, when I see as much outrage for the 24-60 murders a day that suicide bombers are committing in Iraq and the countless other travesities committed by the enemy. I dare say our people mistreated a good deal more prisoners during WWII. But the scale of the problem does kinda pale by comparison. As it continues to today.

No, that doesn’t make what’s happened to prisoners in our custody right. But it does mean that if your outrage seems disproportionate, then it causes me to feel as if the purpose is not to protect the lives of people, who though they are certainly people, are also often murderous enemies, but rather to show a false moral outrage for the sake of an onanistic and cathartic experience. Unless your outrage show proportion, don’t expect me to take it seriously.

I have’t got enough emotion in me for all that. I recognize that we were thrown head first into a war unlike anything we’d fought in modern times, maybe unlike anything we’d ever fought. What do you really want? Do you ever think we could get this problem down to the 1.5% background level that comes from just people screwing up and random emotion? Do you really think it would make a difference if one of our prisoners was mistreated or if a hundred were? Lets put a stop to it, but lets do it in a productive fashion and lets set realistic goals. Do you really think things would get better if we started executing prisoners?

Great. You are outraged. I hope you feel exhonerated through all that emotion.
 
Written By: celebrim
URL: http://
I agree completely that something is wrong and we need to fix it. I agree too that the big problem is in leadership that either looks the other way or implements punishments that trivialize the crime.

I only have two "complaints" with your article.

1) The International Human Rights organizations are fatally flawed and extremely biased against the US. I see no reason to encourage them to embarrass the US even further by giving them access to prisoners. (E.g. Amnesty International’s recent screed calling Guantanamo a "gulag".)

2) If we were to employ firing squads the international outrage would be even greater than it is now. It might be inticing, but it’s simply not an option in today’s politically correct environment.
 
Written By: antimedia
URL: http://www.antimedia.us/
The mere fact that I am not as exercised as you are by the statistics you cite is not because I "don’t particularly care" about prisoners of war being tortured to death or because I believe that a declarative sentence that reads "Murdering prisoners is wrong" should end with something other than a period. In addition, I’m not offended by your criticism of the military because I have no reason to be. You lack perspective, and I take no offense at the views expressed by those who suffer from that failing.

General Meyers says the military has detained 68,000 people over the last 2 years or more. Of those, 108 have died in custody and, of those, 27 appear to be murders. That translates to an annual murder rate of less than 0.02%. A 0.02% annual murder rate may be nothing to brag about. For example, it’s only less than half the murder rate of our nation’s capital for 2002 (which was 0.046% according to SafeStreetsDC.com). I wish it were even less than that.

The military should be (and is) concerned with the unconscionable murders that have occurred in our military prisons. But you could have (and probably would have) written your sanctimonious post if the number of murders had been 3 or 27 or 270. And that cartoon you refer to could have been transmitted the world over if even a single murder could be attributed to the military.

What you and that cartoonist lack is perspective. You lack the understanding that there will be instances of murder in any large-scale war. Do you actually doubt that? Once you accept that murders will happen (and it would be unrealistic not to), the only question is how many murders it would take to warrant an Andrew-Sullivan-like obsession on the topic. I’m not a condoner of torture because I claim that those who are obsessed with issue are acting as if 2000 of those 68,000 detainees were murdered.

Finally, if you are going to use the word "torture," it behooves you to define it. For example, if you wish to say that "torture is widespread," then you should say something like "and what I mean by that is hundreds of prisoners have had their fingers snapped off with bolt cutters— or worse." That is, give an example that corresponds to the "widespread" torture, not to the single worst instance of it (as Andrew Sullivan is fond of doing).
 
Written By: Engram
URL: http://
Well done...

I also second the statement that this is the first exposure of the extent of the problem that I felt I could trust.

But... there are other factors that should be considered of which I an completely unqualified to list comprehensively.

The US military is not as well equipped, trained and experienced to handle the ’worst-of-the-worst’ in a way comparable to the US penal system so I don’t think that’s really a reasonable comparison.

As these detainees went to war seeking martyrdom their death rate is also not comparable to the US penal system which is full of simple criminals.

I also think you underestimate drastically the number of detainees processed for those still in custody represent the residue of many tens of thousands of those combatants.

Also...

The Geneva Convention does provide for those ’out of uniform, without a recognized authority, without a chain of command, making war upon civilians’ as ’unlawful combatants’ for as any pirates and brigands they may be dealt with summarily.

So...

I agree that the biggest contributor to negligence and these resulting horrors seems to be the unwillingness of our Government to honestly deal with the problem.

If we actually believe the detainees are serious, and that they believe what they say, then they should be granted appropriate due process...

Which would lead to many being dealt with summarily.
 
Written By: DANEgerus
URL: http://www.danegerus.com/weblog/
Well I’ve been reading Shadow Warriors by Tom Clancy with Carl Steiner & Tony Klotz, not easily described as left wing liberal’s.
But that book describes indepth how an insurgency will try and win & the perils of playing into their hands.

Form page 92
"Though conventional soldiers don’t normally concern themselves with the civilians who find themselves caught up in the tides of war, when it became obvious that the political and psychological fallout from this lack of concern could negate a brilliant battlefield victory, military leaders had to adjust seriously their thinking, In the US Army, the Special Forces were the first to be taught this lession officially and put it into practise as a principle of war".

There’s alot more, but what it really comes down to is you can win the battle, but if you lose the battle for hearts & minds you will lose the war & the little things will make the difference.

What stuns me is how this book & the lessons so eloquently expressed by the likes of Stiner/Yarborough were been so quickly forgotten.

If you’ve read it I would be very interested in your opinions, it seems to me that it should be compulsory reading for those who believe that the way to win is too descend to the atrocoties of those who try & beat us.

Nigel
 
Written By: Nigel
URL: http://http://kiwitics.blogspot.com/
Your US military to US corrections system is certainly not an apple-to-apples comparison. The US military isn’t holding elderly men serving out life sentences who’ve been in jail for 60 years. War is a little different than the administration of justice in America. This isn’t to say that you don’t raise and discuss an important issue, and do so thoughtfully. It’s just that leading your piece with a poor comparison hurts the quality of your article and many people will tune out before they get to the meat of your article. If you want to use the US prison comparison, you should be comparing how many new prisoners enter the system each year and are killed within that year or some other short period of time. Even better though would be to compare US military prisoner deaths across wars (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam), or versus other militaries, the more recent the better. I’m doubtful other militaries would have a better record than America in handling prisoners or in serving out justice to troops when it is due.
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
I would make three observations about the comparison of POW deaths versus deaths of criminals incarcerated in the US penal system cited at the beginning of the post.

1) The guards in the US penal system generally have no connection with the convicted people they are guarding, meaning there is little chance of an emotional friend seeking revenge on an inmate, or losing their cool. POW’s are guarded by soldiers who very well may have friends killed by those with whom the POW is associated.

2) The inmates in the US penal system are by and large serving sentences after being convicted, and therefore are no longer undergoing interrogations. A much higher percentage of POW’s I believe are undergoing interrogations, which seem to be where a substantial portion of the abuses and torture, alleged and proven, have taken place.

3) The nature of the interrogations themselves are different. Most interrogations in the US penal system would be carried out with the intent of gathering information useful in solving a crime. Most of the POW interrogations would be carried out to prevent future attacks and to gain intelligence with which to defeat an enemy sworn to our destruction. Which do you think is more intense?

None of these facts are excuses for torture, but they do provide relevant background with which to assess the situation.
 
Written By: FRNM
URL: http://
I’m not sure I was clear enough, so let me make it simple.

I’d find it much easier to get excercised about this if the vast majority of people who were on soap boxes about this weren’t unabashed enemies of the American people and/or pontificating merely for political gain. While you seem to be an honest individual motivated by admirable high minded sentiment, unless you can think of something PRACTICAL you could do about this that won’t also incidently be providing aid and comfort to the enemy I suggest you spend more of your time addressing the fact that there are whole cultures out there in which such treatment is thought normal.

What EXACTLY are you suggesting we do that would distinctly deferientate our behavior as good American citizens from the enemies of the United States using these facts as a propaganda weapon? Note that this is a VERY different thing than suggesting what other American citizens should do. Frankly, outrage is a very overrated emotion, and recommending that we get ’outraged’ seems beyond counterproductive to me considering what you are not recommending we get outraged over.
 
Written By: celebrim
URL: http://
I think that many people are misdiagnosing the problem. Here is another angle to see the problem - lack of prepareness.

Here are a few facts concerning the Abu Ghraib incident.

1) The commanding officer in charge of Abu Ghraib at the time of the incident is not qualified for the job. In another word, he received no training for the job he was in.

2) The Military Police (MP) unit where the scandal occured was not originally an MP unit. It was a transportation unit that was quickly converted into MP.

Do you see a partern here? The problem is akin to using mechanics as medics? Half of the soldiers in the unit I deployed with were not qualified. Why do we have unqualified personnel in important positions? This is because the military was not prepared for the extended deployment in Iraq. They ran low on qualified personnels and were forced to fill many positions with unqualified personnels; or hastily convert personnels by giving them crash courses, which result in substandart training and substandard personnels.
 
Written By: Minh-Duc
URL: http://
I reject your attempt to disconnect the behavior of people who blow up school buses, and saw the heads off screaming captives, from the consequences of that behavior—all in the name of "morality".

I take a purely Jacksonian view of these terrorist filth—those who fight by codes of civilized behavior and morality deserve the protections of those codes. But those who want a dirty fight—should get one.

A muscular morality makes it clear that filthy behavior from you can lead to equally filthy consequences for you—so don’t do it.

A weak morality always seeks to disconnect crime from punishment and squeamishly make sure the punishment does not fit the crime—it has little, if any, civilizing effect on those who need a strong stimulus to learn the difference between moral and immoral behavior.

And using the term "moral cripple" for those who disagree with you represents mere moral conceit.
 
Written By: Tom Paine
URL: http://
I’m afraid the longer I think about this, the less I can see your point. As best as I can tell in the context of what you wrote, you are only outraged because Americans are doing this. At a practical level so long as you stay focused on the ’scale’ of the problem, whether you are outraged because you rightly believe that Americans should be better than this, or whether you are outraged because you believe that Americans are more evil than any other people (see Michael Moore, Democratic Underground, Al Queda, etc.) you come off exactly the same.

What is really needed is a least just once, LitteGreenFootballs to run a post denouncing the abuse prisoners in American detention, and for the people at Democratic Underground to run unequivocating posts strongly denouncing the enemies of this country and all that they stand for. That might carry some weight, though it also probably would do no good. The best thing to do IMO is write your congress and try to not be outraged, but rather level-headed and patriotic in your plea. Outrage is for making yourself feel good, not for getting anything done.
 
Written By: celebrim
URL: http://
Good luck with that firing squad idea. HRW will love that.

What’s going to happen is "torture" will be widely defined by the media and Sullivan types. Then, because of the "torture" the logical next step will be for full rights and trials for the detainess. (After all THEY’VE BEEN TORTURED!)

Look at Milosevic’s trial for a taste of the future.

Oh, and don’t forget that the next enemy will ditch the uniforms for sure, since they get a better deal as insurgents.

But of course, you are correct to say that some of this is brought on by the actions of the military themselves, and overall your post is convincing me top adjust my previous position...I just can’t get rid of the cynicism...
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Good post, Jon.

To those who think his outrage is disproportionate, let me ask you this: even if he should be more outraged at the perpetrators of terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, there isn’t a damn thing anyone here can do about that. But we can put pressure on our elected (and appointed) leaders to get them to clean up our act if their subordinates are misbehaving (or, if heaven forbid, our leaders actually condoned or endorsed this behavior).

That the motives for some with the same complaints are based on petty partsianship or anti-American bigotry doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem, and (IMHO) we Americans who otherwise support the War on Terror are in the best position of anyone to demand improved behavior because we can’t be tuned out like the Seymour Hersh/Michael Moore/MoveOn brigade can be.
 
Written By: Chris Lawrence
URL: http://blog.lordsutch.com/
You mean war is brutal? That people who would otherwise have been killed in battle have been killed instead in custody? Who’d have guessed?

I’m with Celebrim. Yes, we should do something, but not just so that Newsweek can vindicate itself. Due process, all in due time. It takes murderers in the U.S. 20 years to get their just deserts. But the military is supposed to do it in 2 or 3?

How do we know whether these incidents were investigated fairly and the defendants given full due process? The details of each case can make a big difference in the outcome. Look at recent high profile criminal cases in the U.S. Does "if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit," ring a bell?

If this were policy, I might be able to work up some indignation, but if that were the case, wouldn’t there be a lot higher numbers? I think mostly it’s screw ups by lower level officers and undertrained soldiers, as at Abu Ghraib. I’ve seen our legal system close up as a public defender and I know that it has lots of flaws. Human beings don’t do anything, even news reporting, with the kind of perfection we’d like.
 
Written By: AST
URL: http://
I see Glenn’s link which says that this account is "non-hysterical"— translation: this acccount is not written by a faggot like Andrew Sullivan. Man, Glenn is a homophobe.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It appears that most people bringing up this issue, use extremes, and almost demand that others accept their view and their emotions -without question. (Like Sullivan).
Just because people step back, and feel like things need to be looked at.
I also find it interesting the way people combine Gitmo-Abu Ghraib- and Afghanistan prisons, as if they are one large complex.
Another problem, is that people have been punished for their actions. What else do you want?? what will outrage do??
I really dont care how long you served in the military. there can be very different situations depending on what branch you are in, and what type of combat you are involved in. That does not give your comments some authority.
Your comments are just too narrow. Other posters have mentioned the total number of prisoners. I would also love to see some type of time breakdown. I believe you stated that 24 of the 27 occurred before Abu Ghraib. If the military has adjusted policy and made changes, that have created a decrease in deaths, then that needs to be acknowledged.
(as far as sullivan, lets just say between his torture and gay marriage crap,i have not read him in months. Sorry, but his topics are pruposefully done to create controversy. To make him feel like he is not as conservative as others. He jumped on the turture out of the blue, not immediately after Abu Ghraib. yes, it is a gimmick to keep his name out there, to keep being invited on liberal TV shows.)
 
Written By: sean
URL: http://
Deaths in Custody
 
Written By: Sisyphus
URL: http://sisypheanmusings.blogspot.com/
Great post. It all goes back to lack of preparation prior to invading Iraq. US has the ordnance to flatten Iraq or Afghanistan or whereever. We do not have the troops to invade and occupy and transform a culture so completely different from our own. I agree with Bush’s vision of a democratic ArabIslamic world, but we cannot bring it about with a part-time civilian army. As an Army veteran and an American, I really worry about what this is doing to us.
 
Written By: Jim Linnane
URL: http://
Of course there is always the notion that
the liberals are going to use this information
to impeach the president.
After all, they said right out some time ago,
they would do just that.
So, here we are with the liberals in this country
not caring about anything but hurting the president in a time when the good that has been
brought to the ME is known in spite of what the
liberals media say.
I am right, wait and see.
 
Written By: carole
URL: http://
Tom Paine:

"I take a purely Jacksonian view of these terrorist filth—those who fight by codes of civilized behavior and morality deserve the protections of those codes. But those who want a dirty fight—should get one."

Fine, if you assume all the detainees who are tortured and beaten are, in fact, terrorists and/or taliban types. However, with the best will in the world, the military and the CIA are going to wind up detaining innocent people as well (like the poor sods who spent two years in Gitmo for resembling people in an al-Qaeda training video). So if US troops are permitted to mistreat terrorists, in practice that means US troops mistreating both terrorists and the occasional really unlucky non-terrorist. Treating terrorists according to their behaviour should come *after* conviction by due process, not before.
 
Written By: James A. (UK)
URL: http://
Excellent exchange. But through a lot of it runs the idea that somehow, for some unfathomable reason, these people are entitled to the protections of the Geneva convention and the tender cares of international organizations like the Red Cross and - UGH - Amnesty International. In reality you are dealing with a crowd no better than pirates - we used to string those up
We are engaged in a conflict, and traditionally enemies seized on the battlefield can be held for the duration of such a conflict. Some German POWs were held in this country for one or two years after WWII ended. Unlike the Germans, this crowd is not covered by the Geneva Convention - one reason being that they have not signed it, another that they don’t meet essential Geneva conditions - wearing identifiable national uniforms, applying Geneva themselves, etc. Then, too, the media does their utmost to give them a status they don’t desrve - e.g. the pervasive use of the word "insurgents" to describe simple terrorists.
Now, none of these are justifications for engaging in wanton killing of prisoners. But do you really think no such things happened in World War II? War is a dirty business, not a tennis match, and even when both sides are Geneva signatories, bad stuff happens.
 
Written By: Wimbo
URL: http://
1% of 68 000 is 680. 68 is 0.1%

War is hell—partly because innocents die; are KILLED, by the "good guys", whoever they are.

Yesterday more innocents were murdered by the suicide killers than by US guards in 3 years of Afghan and Iraq military ops. Where is the outrage over the suicide killers?

How many minutes of sleep deprivation is it before interrogation becomes torture?

You are correct that the torture that exists, and the deaths in custody, should stop.

But higher punishment on the poorly trained troops, rather than more punishment for the suicide terrorists, seems wrong.

On a scale of outrages, this doesn’t make it into the top: North Korea, Darfur, Congo, UN child rapists throughout the world, Zimbabwe, Saudi prisons, Syrian prisons, Iranian prisons, French health care of elderly in August.

I’m offended that you implicitly claim I "seem entirely uninterested in the fact that our troops are killing prisoners in their custody."

I’m interested—and you did a fine job. But how important IS this issue? Is it more important that French health care? Even though 10 000 died a couple years ago? I think maybe yes—because it’s the US, and it’s going on, and we can and should highlight that it needs more training and especially more supervision.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (and the fine film Das Experiment) accurately show what can easily happen when the guards get POWER over others.

Less than 100 deaths? There’s more EVERY DAY in Darfur, whose government has successfully passed Kerry’s Global Test and has been re-instated on the Human Rights Commission.
What kind of morals are those?

The alternative to the US as world policeman is, today, the UN. It is not Unreal Perfection.

Those who complain about torture today need to show how it is WORSE than accepting the Democratic Rwanda policy—no torture, no US deaths, no action (genocide OK).

You’ve shown torture is bad; I agree it’s bad. You’ve offered little better real alternative. (I like execution, myself). Outrage now is indistinguishable from support for a policy of surrender, letting the terrorist beheaders win hearts by fear of head loss.
 
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
URL: http://tomgrey.motime.com
A number of previous comments have been made about the one-sided-ness of the outrage we are supposed to feel. Your comments identify the enemy as barbarians, and then pass on to an examination of the actions of our side. In effect, you give the “barbarians” a pass. The attitude, stated as “the soft bigotry of low expectations” applies not just to Liberal racists in the US who quickly pass over the pathologies of the underclass, it also applies to those who comment on abuses in the current war.

Yes, our side is supposed to be the good guys. We are supposed to fight a war with “zero defects.” We are always and everywhere to wear the white hats and mirandise those we arrest. Provide them a lawyer. Give them a fair and speedy trial, just as we did the POWs in all our previous wars (Oh, we didn’t? Never mind). Advise them they do not have to answer and that everything they say can and will be held against them. We are supposed to give them their own Koran, but make sure that we do not touch those same Korans because to do so is to defile the Koran, and that’s “torture.”.

We must redefine torture so that wearing women’s panties, putting on dog collars and stacking naked bodies is now defined as the most outrageous torture. However, if these actions take place in the US, behind the doors of our private bedrooms and we hire Madam Severe facilitate these activities and to spank us … that’s our own private business.

Forgive me if I do not share your outrage. There are a lot of things that outrage me that are unequivocally the policies of the government: lousy schools, confiscatory taxation, an imperial judiciary, University of Colorado hiring and tenure practices, and government sanctioned racism. These, I submit, are bigger threats to the republic than the deaths you cited. We are not running a Gulag. We are not operating death camps. It is not government policy to torture prisoners. And until I hear those who focus like a laser beam on American “atrocities” spend a fraction of their time focusing on the enemy atrocities; I’ll save my outrage for more important things.
 
Written By: moneyrunner
URL: http://moneyrunner.blogspot.com/
I’ll try to respond to the points made in this one comment. Bear with me:
Unfortunately, efforts to shed light on the proceedings at the military prisons in Iraq, Afgahnistan, and Cuba, are tainted by the fact that the most vocal supporters of those efforts are simply looking for propoganda to make the Bush Administration, the military, and America look bad, in an attempt to vindicate whatever anti-War viewpoint they might hold.
Yes, that’s true. However, a thing can be Very Bad even if Michael Moore says it is Very Bad.
I’ll get bothering get outraged to the point of being an activist about 24 murders over the course of two years, no lets be generous and say I don’t know, 60 murders, when I see as much outrage for the 24-60 murders a day that suicide bombers are committing in Iraq and the countless other travesities committed by the enemy.
Ah, so you’ll only worry about being a decent human being if the other side becomes decent first? Then you shouldn’t be surprised when the other side applies the same calculus and keeps being indecent.
The International Human Rights organizations are fatally flawed and extremely biased against the US.
Perhaps they are, perhaps they are not. In any event, my only link to them in this post merely corroborated information acknowledged by other sources, and I think I linked very credible sources. The governments own information is extensive and incredible. One doesn’t have to trust HRW to acknowledge that they are right about the problem, if not to the extent that their hypbolic "gulag" language suggests.
If we were to employ firing squads the international outrage would be even greater than it is now.
Perhaps so. If so, that’s a problem that would have to be solved with geopolitical sensitivities in mind. However, it—or any such solution—would have the benefit of being unimpeachably legal.
General Meyers says the military has detained 68,000 people over the last 2 years or more. Of those, 108 have died in custody and, of those, 27 appear to be murders. That translates to an annual murder rate of less than 0.02%.
Only about half of that 68,000 actually entered the detention system, and many of those were only detained for a matter of days, so the denominator is quite a bit less than you suggest.
You lack the understanding that there will be instances of murder in any large-scale war. Do you actually doubt that?
No, I do not, and no I do not. In fact, we’ve often made the case that there will be problems and misfortune in any war such as this. But the problem is that it seems to be rampant, and it seems to be policy—policy to look the other way, policy to order the torture, and policy to dissolve the responsibility of the chain of command.
Finally, if you are going to use the word "torture," it behooves you to define it.
Actually, I used both "torture" and "abuse" in the post above. Put the incidents described in either category, as you please, though I think we can safely assume that "abuse" that results in death is, de facto, torture. As are bending back fingers, extreme temperature exposure, kicking, gagging with a baseball, burning, electrification, rape and sodomy.

The GC, by the way, prohibits much more than that. You may not particularly care what the GC prohibits, but if that’s the case then spare me your outrage at the treatment of US citizens by insurgents.
The US military is not as well equipped, trained and experienced to handle the ’worst-of-the-worst’
That’s true. And that, too, is a breakdown in the chain of command.
I’d find it much easier to get excercised about this if the vast majority of people who were on soap boxes about this weren’t unabashed enemies of the American people and/or pontificating merely for political gain.
Well, sometimes you just have to suck it up and admit that being a decent human being is ok, even if that means you have to agree with Michael Moore.
What EXACTLY are you suggesting we do that would distinctly deferientate our behavior as good American citizens from the enemies of the United States using these facts as a propaganda weapon?
Abide by our moral principles, and follow the rule of law. Due process, transparency and real consequences.
Do you see a partern here? The problem is akin to using mechanics as medics?
You make a very good point, and that’s certainly a part of the problem, but—as I noted earlier in this comment—that’s also a chain-of-command problem. It’s an issue we addressed at QandO in the immediate aftermath of the Taguba Report. If you’re interested, I can look up the link to the analysis of it done by Dale and McQ—both of whom have extensive and related military experience, and outlined why that was a problem.
As best as I can tell in the context of what you wrote, you are only outraged because Americans are doing this.
Well, I am an American. It’s my responsibility to make sure my government doesn’t get out of line. Meanwhile, I can be outraged all day long at what is done by terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists. I can be outraged at a brick wall for all the good it will do me. I’m surprised at what our government is doing. I’m angered, but not particularly surprised at what the insurgents are doing.
Look at Milosevic’s trial for a taste of the future.
Well, I didn’t recommend trials at the ICC or the Hague. Tribunals are done by our own military, and the death penalty or Gitmo are perfectly legal outcomes.
That people who would otherwise have been killed in battle have been killed instead in custody?
No, I mean that people who might otherwise have been killed in battle have instead been murdered in custody. There are different rules for each situation, and the rules are different for a reason.
Man, Glenn is a homophobe.
Man, you are an idiot.
I also find it interesting the way people combine Gitmo-Abu Ghraib- and Afghanistan prisons, as if they are one large complex.
Torture and abuse has undeniably occurred at all of them. They are not the same locations, but they suffer from the same problems.
Another problem, is that people have been punished for their actions. What else do you want?? what will outrage do??
Reprimanded for murder? "Oh, don’t worry about it Ms Sayari, we’ve reprimanded the Captain responsible for killing your husband." I find it unusual that the "law and order" Right Wing suddenly goes soft on crime and punishment when the people being murdered are "over there". And don’t give me the "they were terrorists" stuff. You have no idea what they were. Many of them were just rounded up in sweeps.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
May we take a lesson from the perfect behavior of the Greatest Generation -

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/DachauLiberation/SoldiersKilled.html
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
this crowd is not covered by the Geneva Convention
Yes, they are. If only to the extent that they deserve the bare minimum of a tribunal to determine their status and a tribunal to determine their fate. ALL detainees are given that by the GC.
the pervasive use of the word "insurgents" to describe simple terrorists.
I’d argue that people who attack US troops, military installations or government structures are insurgents; people who attack civilians are terrorists.
But do you really think no such things happened in World War II?
I know it did. It was wrong then. It’s wrong now, plus it’s bad strategy.
1% of 68 000 is 680. 68 is 0.1%
The comparison was murders/total deaths in captivity.
Yesterday more innocents were murdered by the suicide killers than by US guards in 3 years of Afghan and Iraq military ops. Where is the outrage over the suicide killers?
Paying for and supporting ~150,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who fight the perpetrators, and attempt to save the innocents and bring security to the region.
Less than 100 deaths? There’s more EVERY DAY in Darfur, whose government has successfully passed Kerry’s Global Test and has been re-instated on the Human Rights Commission.
What kind of morals are those?
Just how perfect does the rest of the world need to be before you start demanding we abide by our ideals and laws?
Those who complain about torture today need to show how it is WORSE than accepting the Democratic Rwanda policy—no torture, no US deaths, no action (genocide OK).
You offer a false alternative. I’d settle for the same policy we have today, minus the torture. We don’t need it to win, and we certainly don’t have to choose between tolerated torture, and UN ascendancy.
In effect, you give the “barbarians” a pass.
What kind of nonsense is this? I support the war, and the ongoing attempt to seek out and kill the insurgents. Once we detain people, though—insurgents or otherwise—our obligations change. I’ve not given the barbarians a pass, and nothing I said indicates that I’ve done such a thing. I just don’t think it’s going to do a hell of a lot of good to endlessly repeat that "gosh, I’m outraged that murderers commit murder".
May we take a lesson from the perfect behavior of the Greatest Generation
I hope we don’t, but I’ll take it under advisement that you consider murder acceptable practice. And I’d hope you remember that you consented to it when our enemies do the same to us.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"But, in any event, as far as we can tell, out of 108 prisoner death in US Military custody, at least 27 of them, or 25% appear to be murders committed mainly by US Military personnel . . ."

"Murders"? Umm, no. Going through the list, the top few cases of your 27 include: "Soldier reprimanded for not using warning shots"; "charged with involuntary manslaughter"; "Soldier discharged for voluntary manslaughter for not warning escaping prisoner before shooting him." Many of the others say: "Under investigation." Lumping those in as "murders" is completely unsupportable.

The statistics also don’t seem to work. Escaping prisoners is clearly "apples and oranges" between the two systems (and I note you didn’t include the justifiable homicides from the military stats). I’m also not sure why the ratio of homicides to deaths in the system is the measure of merit—in fact it doesn’t appear sensible (e.g., the biggest single cause of death is enemy attack . . . if we were to have more insurgent attacks, does that make more abuse okay? Why?).

As to "transparency," it’s worth reading some accounts from interrogators (e.g., this one) which suggest keeping the methods secret is essential to getting information. (I’d also note that the US SERE schools keep their methods classified for exactly the same reason.) Citing criminal cases as evidence of impropriety strikes me as a bit circular.

"But something is causing entire units to mistreat prisoners, torture them, and kill them."

I’d suggest the evidence of "entire units" and "regular practice" is a bit thin, especially when the military announced an investigation within days of each event. As to the reassignment of the Bagram investigation, I’d note the WaPo cited it as the longest-running investigation (and that was more than a year ago), because the investigators didn’t think there was criminal intent. Obviously CID headquarters didn’t like that answer (and probably shouldn’t have).

Followed the link from Instapundit, and Glenn’s right that this is "non-hysterical." (I’m not so sure about "well-documented.")
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
A number of previous comments have been made about the one-sided-ness of the outrage we are supposed to feel. Your comments identify the enemy as barbarians, and then pass on to an examination of the actions of our side. In effect, you give the “barbarians” a pass. The attitude, stated as “the soft bigotry of low expectations” applies not just to Liberal racists in the US who quickly pass over the pathologies of the underclass, it also applies to those who comment on abuses in the current war.

Yes, our side is supposed to be the good guys. We are supposed to fight a war with “zero defects.” We are always and everywhere to wear the white hats and mirandise those we arrest. Provide them a lawyer. Give them a fair and speedy trial, just as we did the POWs in all our previous wars (Oh, we didn’t? Never mind). Advise them they do not have to answer and that everything they say can and will be held against them. We are supposed to give them their own Koran, but make sure that we do not touch those same Korans because to do so is to defile the Koran, and that’s “torture.”.

We must redefine torture so that wearing women’s panties, putting on dog collars and stacking naked bodies is now defined as the most outrageous torture. However, if these actions take place in the US, behind the doors of our private bedrooms and we hire Madam Severe facilitate these activities and to spank us … that’s our own private business.

Forgive me if I do not share your outrage. There are a lot of things that outrage me that are unequivocally the policies of the government: lousy schools, confiscatory taxation, an imperial judiciary, University of Colorado hiring and tenure practices, and government sanctioned racism. These, I submit, are bigger threats to the republic than the deaths you cited. We are not running a Gulag. We are not operating death camps. It is not government policy to torture prisoners. And until I hear those who focus like a laser beam on American “atrocities” spend a fraction of their time focusing on the enemy atrocities; I’ll save my outrage for more important things.
 
Written By: moneyrunner
URL: http://moneyrunner.blogspot.com/
A number of previous comments have been made about the one-sided-ness of the outrage we are supposed to feel. Your comments identify the enemy as barbarians, and then pass on to an examination of the actions of our side. In effect, you give the “barbarians” a pass. The attitude, stated as “the soft bigotry of low expectations” applies not just to Liberal racists in the US who quickly pass over the pathologies of the underclass, it also applies to those who comment on abuses in the current war.

Yes, our side is supposed to be the good guys. We are supposed to fight a war with “zero defects.” We are always and everywhere to wear the white hats and mirandise those we arrest. Provide them a lawyer. Give them a fair and speedy trial, just as we did the POWs in all our previous wars (Oh, we didn’t? Never mind). Advise them they do not have to answer and that everything they say can and will be held against them. We are supposed to give them their own Koran, but make sure that we do not touch those same Korans because to do so is to defile the Koran, and that’s “torture.”.

We must redefine torture so that wearing women’s panties, putting on dog collars and stacking naked bodies is now defined as the most outrageous torture. However, if these actions take place in the US, behind the doors of our private bedrooms and we hire Madam Severe facilitate these activities and to spank us … that’s our own private business.

Forgive me if I do not share your outrage. There are a lot of things that outrage me that are unequivocally the policies of the government: lousy schools, confiscatory taxation, an imperial judiciary, University of Colorado hiring and tenure practices, and government sanctioned racism. These, I submit, are bigger threats to the republic than the deaths you cited. We are not running a Gulag. We are not operating death camps. It is not government policy to torture prisoners. And until I hear those who focus like a laser beam on American “atrocities” spend a fraction of their time focusing on the enemy atrocities; I’ll save my outrage for more important things.
 
Written By: moneyrunner
URL: http://moneyrunner.blogspot.com/
How does the Geneva Conventions define "terrorist"? Why have the Geneva Conventions made the distinction between a "terrorist" and a "soldier"?

And, by altering the definition of "terrorists" to "soldier" will we not be placing other Democratic governments and their military in such a quagmire?

I do not argue the use of torture however, I do take issue with the need to re-define terrorist as soldier. Treating a terrorist as a POW "soldier" status is the antithesis of the Geneva Convention’s rule and will do more harm to our allies when they are faced with fighting terrorist enemies than it will to appease our own moral standards.
 
Written By: syn
URL: http://
Hey AST-

If you think that Glenn Reynolds suggesting that Andrew Sullivan’s posts about torture (or "torture", as the case may be) are somewhat hysterical qualifies Glenn as a homophobe, then that says much more (negatively) about you than it does about him. I believe it IS true that Andrew has become a bit-shall we say, unhinged-over this entire topic. (For example, calling it "torture" when guards wrap a prisoner in an Israeli flag.) Having said that, we should insist on higher standards (in fact, standards at all) from our service men and women. Just please, leave out your own sick projection.
 
Written By: Mark Tinder
URL: http://
Reprimanded for murder? "Oh, don’t worry about it Ms Sayari, we’ve reprimanded the Captain responsible for killing your husband."
Lt Calley got 10 years for My Lai (of which he served about 2, IIRC)—where more people died than the entire toll in US custody in both campaigns—Graner got 10 years for Abu Ghraib. Yes, there’s a ridiculous double standard. But the evidence suggests it’s in the opposite direction. Sayari is also not much of an example (from MSNBC—edited for brevity):
The Special Forces soldiers, who were not identified by name, believed Sayari had been tracking them when they drove out of the base, according to the investigation report. They decided they would rush out of the base in their Humvees as a ruse so he would follow him.

Sayari did, accompanied by several other Afghans in his truck. A short way down the road, the soldiers set up a quick roadblock and stopped him. After ordering the other Afghans to leave, including a member of the Afghan military forces, Sayari was killed.

According to a statement provided Monday by the Defense Department, commanders found that the shooting was justified. The statement said the captain was reprimanded only for failing to provide photographs of the scene to investigators.

After his death, a soldier said, attacks around the Lwara base dropped significantly.
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
another aspect of this problem that colors everything pertains to the effects of the all-volunteer force on the nature and quality of both the officer&enlisted cadre as well as the deteriorated nature of our educational system. And for both of these facts we have only the left to blame.

/educatedThe volunteer force came about as we know due soley to the anti-draft riots on campus during the Vietnam era as a way to remove that bone of contention. Now while the AVF has many good points like most things in life it is a double-edged sword. One of the downsides is that many of the "best&brightest" eschew military service. As a result many highly intelligent/educated types who would otherwise constitute a group of sceptical critics with a low threshold for inane mis/mal bureautratic administration(mainly motivated because they didn’t want to be there in the first place) are absent. This absence may improve morale (no complainers/whiners,etc.) but it also deprives the organization of much-needed different, outside perspectives that today are lost to the system.

In regards the educational system only those in the fever swamps of the NEA would not agree that our educational system has been in a free-fall for the past fourty years. SAT scores peaked in 1963 and have been headed south ever since despite the dumbing-down of the test overall and the "re-centering" of the averages by adding some 100 points so the graph of the free-fall wouldn’t look overly steep. In 1970 the average vocabulary of an English speaking(as primary language) h.s. graduate was approx. 25,000 words. In 20002 (latest avail) the avg. was down to 5,000.
SO———-If one wonders about the lack of "nuanced" judgement amongst lower-level ranks of officers and enlisted troops and sporadic dysfunctional performance in the organizational structure—thank the usual suspects on the "progressive" left for the kind of societal damage they have wrought. And of course, to add insult to injury, the very people who helped to create the very conditions that allow the potential for such abuses as we are discussing here are the very first to complain loudly when they arise to whatever degree.

P.S. One additional point:My Father used to
always remind me when I would wax indignent about
some societal outrage du jour that"Just remember this son, the world is RUN by C students" Meaning?
By definition most people are average and therefore most organizations are maned by mainly average people—meaning a fair number of mistakes/dysfunctional activity are going to color
ANY organizational structure. The Armed Services may strive for "Zero Defects" (a utopian goal if there ever was one) but it ain’t happenin’ in our orin any other lifetime. Let’s keep a sense of perspective.
 
Written By: RVD
URL: http://
Once you have taken away a man’s freedom, whatever else you do to him is secondary.
 
Written By: Walter E. Wallis
URL: http://
>>this crowd is not covered by the Geneva Convention

>Yes, they are. If only to the extent that they deserve the bare minimum of a tribunal to determine their status and a tribunal to determine their fate. ALL detainees are given that by the GC.

This is a common meme, but I don’t think it’s supportable by any fair reading of the Third Convention Article 5:
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4 . . .
There’s no doubt Al Qaeda and the Taliban did not: wear a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance"; "carry[] arms openly"; or "conduct[] their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war." Since the organization doesn’t qualify, the individuals can’t possibly—and individual status tribunals make no sense.

There’s been some misreading of the GC article to suggest a status tribunal is necessary to determine if someone is indeed a combatant—which even a casual glance at the article quoted should dispel. The ongoing legal challenge based on "indefinite detainment" and habeas corpus review is closely related, but not based on Geneva. In fact, under Geneva, the detainees are entitled to a tribunal before punishment (but not before detention), and that tribunal may be delayed until termination of hostilities, if we wish. The Supreme Court is obviously going to allow detainees to challenge detention, but the bar is apparently going to be to prove they weren’t combatants—which I suspect most can’t meet.
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
Jon Henke,

Your (Dale’s) statistical comparison of deaths in custody is flawed and I suggest you either point out the shortcomings, correct it, or remove it.

You are counting all deaths in custody over two years in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba and comparing them to deaths of sentenced prisoners at state and federal prisons. You are counting law enforcement and jail deaths in one case and not in another.
Only about half of that 68,000 actually entered the detention system, and many of those were only detained for a matter of days, so the denominator is quite a bit less than you suggest.
The BJS will publish more comparable statistics of deaths in our peaceful, stable society this summer. Until then, you are making a wrong and misleading comparison.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

Deaths in Custody
 
Written By: Sisyphus
URL: http://sisypheanmusings.blogspot.com/
I may be the sort of person who you would describe as not caring about the mistreatment of prisoners by the U.S. military. Let me clarify my position. Most of the people who have brought this up to me think I don’t care because I don’t accept their conclusion. You see, if the argument being made is "look at all the torture and murder going on - we need to do a better job training and disciplining our troops, and identify and punish, if applicable, whoever in the chain of command is responsible for ordering that this take place" then I would come off as much more sympathetic. In fact, I totally agree with that argument, and have made it myself. However, I more typically hear this complaint brought up in the context of the following argument: "look at all the torture and murder going on - therefore . . . uhhh . . . drrr . . . we should pull out of Iraq!" People making this argument don’t care about the victims any more than I do. It’s just another political chip to them. I suspect alot of the people you describe are like me - they come off as not caring about the evidence provided because they are too busy pointing out that the larger argument being made is specious.
 
Written By: Tim Higgins
URL: http://willgolfforfood.blogspot.com
You know, I was going to join in the comments posted by Joan of Argghh!, syn, etc. pointing out what a fine double standard the Left has concocted, and Jon, Dale, et al have bought into, for any number of reasons, from sincere moral outrage(?) (Jon, Dale) all the way to a John McCain level of selfishness in seizing any club to beat the President because he doesn’t govern exactly the way they want him to on their issue (Gay Marraige for Sullivan, Hanging with (ick) Christians for John Cole over at Balloon Juice). I was going to point out that by this double standard, we need to have paddy wagons at every Memorial day event to haul away all those "war criminals" who fought in WWII and Korea and Vietnam. Then I would ask when we were going to remove Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Lincoln from the roll of heroes, for ordering, in actual existing documents, actions in the South that constitute real violations of the Geneva Conventions?

sarcasm<
After all, if we can beat up our country, its’ government, and troops based on detainee allegations "confirmed" by foreign organizations who have an amply confirmed record of hating this country and everything it stands for, surely we can believe the many times confirmed accounts of "Emperor Lincoln" and his commanders ignoring our own laws and Constitution?
/sarcasm

Oh, it was a fine rant, because it blows my mind that we’re letting this crap get in the way of actually fighting this thing.

But then I realized, why bother? It’s not like anyone’s going to change their minds. Nope, let’s just sit back and relax until two or three major cities sprout mushroom clouds. Or the Mall of America has sarin put in the HVAC system. Or half the people riding the MARTA in Atlanta come down with Ebola, and patient 0 turns out to be some guy from a Saudi-financed American mosque.

Then maybe we’ll be at the point we were after 6-9 months on the receiving end of continuous ass-kicking after Pearl Harbor, and ready to actually win this thing. All those defeats and massacres, from Pearl to the Bataan Death March, were the best thing that could have happened to this country, because we don’t seem to learn our lesson without lots of pain.

Of course, lots of really innocent people will have to die; it’s too much to hope that only the families and friends of the people weakening this country will be the only ones caught in the crossfire. But hey, we tried to get this done on the cheap, in such a way that most of the pain was felt by our enemies. Weren’t allowed. So now I guess we’ve got to do it the hard way.

Kipling said it best:

"When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

——

"As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire —
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
"this crowd is not covered by the Geneva Convention "
"Yes, they are. If only to the extent that they deserve the bare minimum of a tribunal to determine their status and a tribunal to determine their fate. ALL detainees are given that by the GC."

I have several problems with your, and others, stand on this. I think the GC has been unfairly invoked for the enemy we are fighting, which both invalidates the Convention, and puts an unfair burden on the US.

The GC is an agreement between parties to act in a certain manner toward one another, even when engaged in full-scare war. To expect treatment according to GC, one needs to a signatory to it AND has to follow the guidelines yourself in regards to other legitimate participant. Failure to follow the GC makes you an outlaw, a war criminal, and thus you lose any right to treatment under the GC. If this was NOT the case, what would be the point of signing the GC, or abiding by its rules?

Bottom line, if you are continually and systematically violating the rules of the GC (i.e., both insurgents and terrorists here, although they really are the same thing) then you have no right to expect any GC rules to apply to you. It is simple as that.

Now, consider the STANDARD SOP of the enemy we are fighting, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq. The continually engage in things like:

feigning surrender, death or civilian status; targetting civilians; using civilians as cover; taking hostages; using hospitals or religious sites as military bases; torturing and murdering both civilian and military prisoners, etc.

The list literally goes on and on. In fact, I’d like to hear someone tell me which aspect of the GC the enemy has observed since at least 9/11.

You try to get around that by saying that each detainee is entitled to GC status at least until a tribunal is held on his status. But the Convention does not say that. What it does is define what qualifies as a POW, and then stipulates that if a doubt arises over their status AFTER they received POW status, they deserve a tribunal before stripping of them of that status. This assumes that there is not caught acting counter to the GC when apprehended.

What that means is that many people captured will obviously and plainly in violation of GC rules for POW, and will never gain that status. That would include those captured fighting from a hospital or mosque, those captured while killing civilians or holding hostages, those caught without identifiable uniforms, those fighting without sanction from their own nations or for a nations which is not a GC member, etc.

I understand your concern about the torture and murder of prisoners. I am not condoning it here. However, I do have a problem with invoking the Geneva Convention on behalf of people who not only do not deserve it, but actually exemplify the very cruelty and inhumanity the GC was meant to curtail. Doing so renders the document meaningless, and only aids the terrorists.

Captain Wrath
 
Written By: Captain Wrath
URL: http://
I suspect alot of the people you describe are like me - they come off as not caring about the evidence provided because they are too busy pointing out that the larger argument being made is specious.
Argue the point Jon is making. Jon is not advocating we leave Iraq. He is saying we should not dismiss the torture and murder in which some of our troops are engaged in our name. We should expose these crimes to sunlight and make sure they do not continue. Most of the responses in this thread express disinterest because:
1) the terrorists are worse
2) the GC doesn’t apply
3) it’s not enough deaths to be a problem
4) war is hell
5) people are dying in other parts of the world
6) the anti-war crowd thinks it’s bad
In essence, it appears there will always be plenty of excuses as to why we should soft-peddle crimes committed by Americans.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
BTW, thank you Jon and Dale for your hard work and thick skin on this issue.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Argue the point Jon is making . . . . In essence, it appears there will always be plenty of excuses as to why we should soft-peddle [sic] crimes committed by Americans.

You might want to take your own advice on arguing the point[s] others are making (e.g., the statistics are invalid, he’s inappropriately characterized various incidents as "murder," and misreading the GCs).
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
What is missed in the talk of widespread torture and systematic abuse is one universal thing about prisons and jails. That is the fact that a certain amount of brutality is required to keep order. Whether civilian correctional institutions or military POW and ’detainee’ camps the guards are always vastly outnumbered by the inmates. A percentage of those inmates will attempt to cause trouble of one form or another. Given that they’re already locked up we can’t exactly threaten them with jail.
What happens in a case of a prisoner assaulting a guard is a beating. Sometimes a serious one. This is univerally condemned as illegal in the US, it is universally overlooked by higher authorities (as long as it isn’t out of hand) because without these extra-legal beatings a guards life becomes worthless. Without this ugly tool we would find no one willing to do the job. Few deaths occur from these beatings in civilian prisons because the guards quickly become masters at inflicting maximum pain with minimum physical damage. A prisoner who repeatedly raises his hand to a guard may be beaten to the point of being crippled.
There is also the fact that the vast majority of civilian prisoners simply want to do their time and get out.
I would submit that a large percentage of these deaths in custody come from this sort of beating rather than interrogation-type torture, if for no other reason that the majority of these detainees have little useful information because they’re the low-level types.
I must project my own experience here, my law enforcement career gives me a perspective that is different. In all the years I spent working the streets and the various times I was assigned to the jail I never once hit someone who didn’t first raise their hands to me. Most didn’t. The ones that did got beat down until I was confident that they’d NEVER try that again. It was a matter of survival.
I further submit that there is a reason most people don’t get real excited about prisoner abuse is that they instinctively know that a certain percentage of any kind of prisoner will act in a way to earn such beatings. The percentage in Abby Grabby or Gitmo would be much higher than in the Podunk County Jail. People don’t want to know what goes on in those institutions, they just want bad guys off the streets.
With the large percentage of real bad guy types in these institutions what surprises me is how few deaths there have been.
Sorry for the length.

 
Written By: Peter
URL: http://shakeypete.blogspot.com
How about this argument. There are no rules in war, anyone who thinks that rules apply isnt sufficiently concerned about losing to speak. Furthermore, not only are there no rules, making a rule about no torture is about the dumbest thing one could do.

The assumption that wanders around underneath all these ever so self righteous whiners about torture is that it doesnt work. Bzzzzt wrong. Works great, and not only that but it works against the very people we are fighting.

The plain fact is that torture does indeed work. In fact it works against the very enemy we are fighting. "In 1995, the police in the Philippines tortured Abdul Hakim Murad after finding a bomb-making factory in his apartment in Manila. They broke his ribs, burned him with cigarettes, forced water down his throat, then threatened to turn him over to the Israelis. Finally, from this withered and broken man came secrets of a terror plot to blow up 11 airliners, crash another into the headquarters of the CIA and to assassinate the Pope. Our capture of Ramseh Yousef followed from the information we gathered in that torture session.

I dont particularly care if some of you feel squeemish about torture. I feel squeemish about losing, losing to a bunch of 7th century refugee’s who feel like my daughters would make fine slaves is not gonna happen. And if it takes me pulling their fingers off one by one thats exactly what I will do. I will live with the shame of my immorality to win the war for my children.

If some soldiers feel its wrong then find some who don’t. All of us seem to have this feeling that the war is won and that anything we do to hamper operations is of little matter because naturally the military can overcome them. Hogwash. We fight to win, every single second....anything less is fighting to lose and losing is not an option.

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
Feel free to disagree with me. And feel free to question my morality all you wish, but I simply do not care about the fate of sub-human primatives who think nothing of strapping on the dynamite belt and murdering children.





 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://www.qando.net
The idea that we must be outraged and expose any and all misconduct by our military in their treatment of terrorist prisoners sounds naïve or perhaps at best idealistic. War certainly is not ideal. And we Americans are mere mortals after all. Earlier, Tom Paine stated it the best. I could not improve upon his comments. To win, we must fight fire with fire. To not understand that, is not to understand war.

To win the heart and minds of the people of Islam, we first must give them freedom. Pandering to the Islamist (fanatics) simply emboldens them. The details are going to be messy, but it is the end game that is important. And we are winning. If you understand that the war in Iraq is actually a battle in a much bigger war.

With that in mind, to suggest we may win the war, but loose the people, and thereby loose the war is false. If we set these people free, including the women of the region, we will have won. Free people do not choose war. Educated people who are not taught hatred from the time they are born do not wish to kill woman and children. That is the end game. Good people on both sides are going to die achieving this very lofty goal. But what choice do we have? After all, they, repeat, they, are coming after us, repeat, they are coming after us. Not the other way around.
 
Written By: Peter Jefferies
URL: http://
"this crowd is not covered by the Geneva Convention "
"Yes, they are. If only to the extent that they deserve the bare minimum of a tribunal to determine their status and a tribunal to determine their fate. ALL detainees are given that by the GC."

I have several problems with your, and others, stand on this. I think the GC has been unfairly invoked for the enemy we are fighting, which both invalidates the Convention, and puts an unfair burden on the US.

The GC is an agreement between parties to act in a certain manner toward one another, even when engaged in full-scare war. To expect treatment according to GC, one needs to a signatory to it AND has to follow the guidelines yourself in regards to other legitimate participant. Failure to follow the GC makes you an outlaw, a war criminal, and thus you lose any right to treatment under the GC. If this was NOT the case, what would be the point of signing the GC, or abiding by its rules?

Bottom line, if you are continually and systematically violating the rules of the GC (i.e., both insurgents and terrorists here, although they really are the same thing) then you have no right to expect any GC rules to apply to you. It is simple as that.

Now, consider the STANDARD SOP of the enemy we are fighting, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq. The continually engage in things like:

feigning surrender, death or civilian status; targetting civilians; using civilians as cover; taking hostages; using hospitals or religious sites as military bases; torturing and murdering both civilian and military prisoners, etc.

The list literally goes on and on. In fact, I’d like to hear someone tell me which aspect of the GC the enemy has observed since at least 9/11.

You try to get around that by saying that each detainee is entitled to GC status at least until a tribunal is held on his status. But the Convention does not say that. What it does is define what qualifies as a POW, and then stipulates that if a doubt arises over their status AFTER they received POW status, they deserve a tribunal before stripping of them of that status. This assumes that there is not caught acting counter to the GC when apprehended.

What that means is that many people captured will obviously and plainly in violation of GC rules for POW, and will never gain that status. That would include those captured fighting from a hospital or mosque, those captured while killing civilians or holding hostages, those caught without identifiable uniforms, those fighting without sanction from their own nations or for a nations which is not a GC member, etc.

I understand your concern about the torture and murder of prisoners. I am not condoning it here. However, I do have a problem with invoking the Geneva Convention on behalf of people who not only do not deserve it, but actually exemplify the very cruelty and inhumanity the GC was meant to curtail. Doing so renders the document meaningless, and only aids the terrorists.

Captain Wrath
 
Written By: Captain Wrath
URL: http://
You might want to take your own advice on arguing the point[s] others are making (e.g., the statistics are invalid, he’s inappropriately characterized various incidents as "murder," and misreading the GCs).
Thank you for making my point.
the statistics are invalid
No matter what the number really is, we have tortured and killed non-convicted prisoners in our military prisons in three countries. Does it only count after we have killed a certain number?
he’s inappropriately characterized various incidents as "murder,"
They died while under the care of the US military, whether it was intentional or negligent. I guess if we didn’t kill them on purpose, then it’s OK.
misreading the GCs
So we can torture and kill anyone we want as long as we can deny them GC satus? Yikes.

Again, thank you for making my point. We will always be able to make excuses as to why we shouldn’t be upset about the killing of prisoners.

Oh, and Shark added another one: They’re not human (whether they were actually combatants or not).

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
"Abide by our moral principles, and follow the rule of law. Due process, transparency and real consequences."

LOL. You have a really different notion of what constitutes a general or specific plan of action than I do. The above is a very general plan. It tells me nothing specifically about what I should do. What do you think you and I should do in order to reduce the incidents in which prisoners are mistreated? Note that I pointed out in the very next sentence following the one you quoted that answering that some third party should do something was a completely insufficient answer. You are not addressing a third party. You are addressing the people here specifically and in the blogosphere generally. Telling me to abide by my moral principles, follow the rule of law, accept due process, transparency, and that justice should have real proportionate consequences is fairly useless. I already firmly believe in these things.

I note, as others have, that you are one who victem of the the racism of low expectations. It is pointless, you say, to devote your efforts to trying to get anyone in the Middle East to abide by moral principles, follow the rule of law, accept due process, transparency in government, and that justice should have proportionate consequences to the crime. In essence you are saying that you should witness only to those who you believe are already moral enough to listen. You set out to condemn the military or the government or whatever, but instead you actually exhonerate them. You are like the fools who went to be human shields for Saddam Hussein. Where are the human shields for the Iraqi people now that they are under attack by suicide bombers? This is precisely why your outrage must be proportionate. What kind of bravery is it to only criticize those you know already agree with you? What kind of bravery is it to only preach to the choir?

All you are really doing by having a disproportionate outrage against the U.S. military that you do the enemies of America is providing the very sort of strategic fodder to the enemies of a America you claim you wish to prevent. Your disproportionate outrage only convinces people that the magnitude of the problem is greater on the side of the Americans. Your disproportionate outrage against the ’Elves’ only convinces the ’Orcs’ of the lie which Sauron told them, that elves are even crueler and less merciful than they are. Your disproportionate outrage makes you a useful idiot, and gives credence to the lies of the enemy.
 
Written By: celebrim
URL: http://
Reading the comments on this thread easily kills any remaining notion that Americans are somehow better or more enlightened than their Arab counterparts. The entire "our crimes are justified because the other side commits even worse real / imagined crimes" is exactly what you read and hear as the standard mode of thinking throughout the middle east. At some time I honestly thought Americans had moved beyond this level of thinking, but I was obviously wrong. The American right and the jihadists deserve each other.
 
Written By: Mike
URL: http://
I suggest that we set up a model prison, staffed completely by critics of the Abu Graib and Gitmo prisons, and that we send selected detainees there with no orders to the critic/guards except to not let the prisoners escape.
We could sell tickets to real guards and correction officers to observe the consequences of ignorance and idiocy.
 
Written By: Walter E. Wallis
URL: http://
Cecil, for the record, Lt. Calley was convicted for directly causing the deaths of 23 Vietnamese civilians at Song My Lai (he had been charged with killing 102). Two other participants in the massacre were tried and acquitted. Nineteen others had their charges dropped.

Calley was given a life sentence. After three days in jail, President Nixon released him pending an appeal. He was ultimately sentenced to ten years house arrest, and was paroled after three.
 
Written By: BruceR
URL: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit
I understand the need to qualify oneself at times in the face of criticism but one does not need to have ever been a "trigger puller" to have a valid opinion on this subject.

The bottom line in all of this is a wide disparity of opinion of what constitutes torture.

Comaring deaths of inmates in our prison system to deaths of enemy combatants is purely apples and oranges. If the difference has to be explained, the listener is already predisposed to not hear the explanation.

Torture, in a nutshell, would be physical or psychological punishement for the sake of the suffering itself.

Conversely, if making an enemy combatant suffer would result in the saving of American lives, then so be it. War is hell.

But this still does not open the door for the kind of "torture" most people think about at the mere mention of the word. Gratuitous forms of torture tend not to produce accurate results in the form of useful information but actually produce the opposite. Very unreliable information as a man will do anything to avoid real torture.

So there is no reason for American troops to engage in real torture but only to undertake whatever measures necessary to extract information that can help end the Islamist war of terror.

In context of "war is hell." If a person still cannot countenance any physical or psychological coercion in order to save American lives, this then by definition shows that person to be against the American effort in the first place.

This of course changes the argument somewhat by shifting the focus for our reasons for war. Then the issue stands to the "anti-torture" position; is there any war or cause where the coercion of an individual would be warranted to save the lives of others?

I’ll skip the details and simply say that this example can be drawn out to the extreme where anyone with a rational mind would eventually say, "yes" that situation would warrant coercion. Providing that is true, then we come back full circle to what exactly is torture. If coercion can ever be called for to save lives, it can be called for now to save American lives. If one says it cannot be called on now, their argument is not so much against torture but against the present war on terror.
 
Written By: ray
URL: http://www.marinecorpsnews.blogspot.com
So, I’m looking at the sfgate article cited that lists a number of prisoner deaths.

One category is "shot during riot". No further details are provided so I have to guess. It’s possible that this is a catch-all phrase that is hiding inappropriate behavior, and it certainly mandates careful investigation. To the extent that it describes correctly the behavior of the deceased, I would imagine that rioting in a prison in a war zone is a high-risk behavior.

Memo: don’t riot in a military prison; the guards don’t like it.

A second category is "shot trying to escape". I don’t fault the fellow for trying to escape; however, shooting an escapee from a military prison is NOT murder. One might recall that during WWII both we and the Germans routinely shot prisoners attempting to escape prison camps.

This principle also holds for those "shot during insurgent attack".

So then I look at "prisoner deaths investigated as involving criminal homicide or abuse by U.S. personnel". I see 15 instances very briefly described. Of course we don’t have all the details, but it does appear that in each instance, someone in our military was punished. One can argue (again, we’d need all the facts to do so intelligently) that the punishment(s) were too lenient, but it hardly seems that these have been ignored.

Ten more are listed at the bottom as still under investigation. Again, it doesn’t seem as if these are being ignored.

My point: one can argue that we’re not addressing torture appropriately or aggressively enough, but we don’t have all the facts of these investigations. But one shouldn’t argue that they’re being ignored. 27 deaths due to torture is 27 too many. Torture is wrong, and it’s wrong regardless of what the terrorists have done to innocents. Jon and Dale are correct to argue that it’s our morality at stake, not theirs.

But (the famous but!) before we argue that torture is somehow being ignored, let’s be clear: we know about these incidents precisely because they’ve been investigated, and soldiers have been punished. Punished enough? Too much? I don’t know; I’m not a military judge. Good thing.
 
Written By: Steve White
URL: http://rantburg.com
Re-reading my previous post, I don’t wish to convey the thought that I’d be soft on U.S. military personnel, or U.S. military / DoD commanders, who are torturing prisoners or condoning said torture.

I’m not. I’m angry about it, and I agree with Jon and Dale that it must stop. We need clear codes of behavior for guards and interrogators. I don’t think the Geneva Convention covers most of the mooks in custody, but that does not and will never excuse torture.

Again, we’re arguing about an issue using data generated by our own people. That hardly suggests that the issue is being swept under the rug. The military is investigating and is punishing people who violate the rules. Dale, as a former "trigger-puller", has my respect and attention when he brings this issue up.

We may have the wrong code of honor. We may be too lenient. But we’re not ignoring the issue.
 
Written By: Steve White
URL: http://rantburg.com
To Hell with this whole damn discussion. It flogs (non-hysterically, so it’s okay) an issue we’ve already dealt with in our courts, in military investigations and in policy. Nobody thinks it’s right to kill a prisoner for sport. Period.

Besides, the author’s position is a classic double-bind to which any contrary answer will be contorted by the nature of the question into cries of hypocrisy.

The premise self-supposes an absolute perfection in a self-supposed world of no moral absolutes but the author’s, and to cry out for reality is to descend from the heady, perfumed air of the ivory tower and risk being seen as a hypocrite.

Hell, I’m not above a little healthy hypocrisy. I fear most the ones who hold hypocrisy forth as the Ultimate Evil. Bullocks! Having so many lofty caveats against real action in hostile environments has proven far deadlier to mankind than the vile actions of POW guards, or the seeming hypocrisy of eschewing criticism of our military until a more circumspect time.

It’ll most likely be the dull, simplistic, singular-thinking troops that’ll save the ass of the tower-dwellers. For their pains, they’ll be derided as criminals yet again because they killed someone who didn’t want to tell them where their next killing spree would erupt. They just don’t get the nuances of hypocrisy, poor rubes.

I would also like to nominate a new permutation of Godwin’s Law. To paraphrase Mike: "we’re no better than they."

Mike, I got your moral superiority right here, from today’s headlines:

Islamabad - A bride was gang-raped by her groom’s friends on the first night of their marriage with her in-laws’ consent in the southern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province, a news report said on Monday.

The daily Times said Mujahid Hussain and his family allowed the bride, Kaneez Kubra, to be dishonoured in revenge for her brother’s crime of having sexual relations with their daughter.

The bride’s father, Ghulam Hussain, said four persons sexually assaulted his daughter in front of his son-in-law in his house in Punjab.

But her ordeal did not end there. Ghulam Hussain said on the following day she was taken to the residence of another friend and assaulted again.

"They are cruel. Hussain’s grandfather and mother plainly told my daughter the wedding was just an excuse to (inflict) revenge on your brother for having sexual relations with our girl," he said.


At least we attempt to prosecute and hold the accountable parties accountable. Here’s a society that can’t allow men to be dishonored even when they have acted dishonorably. Let’s have a reasonable, erudite discussion about how you deal with people who accept no shame, feel no sin, and will give no quarter.

Dammit all to the Hell that procreated it.

We ARE better than they, even when we fuck up. Our stupidest screwups are more righteous than their justice and our worst attempts at doing the right thing still make more sense than gang-raping an innocent woman for the sake of revenge.

(Side thought: were we wrong to run the Mafioso out of polite society here in the States? Maybe it was a viable revenge-filled cultural heritage that we unfairly targeted. And really, who among us is better?)

Where’s Puddleglum when you need him?
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
So we can torture and kill anyone we want as long as we can deny them GC satus? Yikes.
Actually, what I recall writing was that they weren’t entitled to status tribunals.
Again, thank you for making my point.

You mean about "arguing the point" someone is making? Again, you seem to be reinforcing that one all by your lonesome. Look, if you don’t want to address substantive points, don’t. But claiming we must address Jon’s points while you ignore ours is hypocrisy. There are several apparent errors above, including the three I pointed out. Answer them or don’t. Slaying strawmen, whilst complaining of others doing the same, is particularly unpersuasive.
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
Interesting, one little point I’d like to raise, though. You say that because you put in 10 years, you have the right to pronounce whether the U.S. military has a human rights problem. Leaving aside whether you actually are qualified or not to pronounce judgement on men you’ve never met and situations you know nothing about, your reference to your time in as your qualification is ironic.

Because I’m sure that’s EXACTLY what Markos "Screw ’Em" Zunigas would say.

And I think we can all agree that this sort of post is right up his alley.
 
Written By: Screw Em
URL: http://
25% v.1.7%

To be fair, the discrepancy is so large as to probably be significant. However, I do suspect that the terrorist prisoners are unusually young and healthy when compared to the average prisoner in the correctional system. That would dramatically reduce their deaths from other causes, causing the percentage of deaths from abuse to be much higher. In addition, one suspects that non-violent criminals are much less likely to, well, resist violently, another thing that would lead to less deaths in captivity among general criminals. In addition, prison guards would despise terrorists as they do murderers, rapists, and abusers, much more so than the general non-violent offender population. I could be wrong, of course. One is reminded of occasional statistics showing that the death rate in the armed forces is lower than that of the population as a whole.

It would interesting to see the comparison restricted to only, say, murderers and rapists in their twenties and perhaps thirties in the correctional system. I suspect, sadly, that it’s still higher, but probably much less so.
 
Written By: John Thacker
URL: http://
"Reading the comments on this thread easily kills any remaining notion that Americans are somehow better or more enlightened than their Arab counterparts."

LOL. Please, go live in Arabia then.

The general responce to the responce to the post has been some variation of, "You guys are soft pedaling the crimes committed by Americans."

Which is ridiculous. I’d advocate hanging a few Americans if I actually thought what the left seems to think is taking place was in fact taking place. The fact of the matter is though that in the majority of the cases sited in the above list, there are some pretty obvious attenuating circumstances. In cases where there aren’t, I advocate hanging the culprit because we really don’t need those kind of people walking around with guns or giving orders. How is that soft pedaling the crimes?

On the contrary, I find that it is YOU who are soft pedaling the crimes being committed. You think that these few dozen incidents make Americans the moral equivalent of our enemies. Right, and Bush=Hitler, Gitmo=auschwitz, and Iraq=genocide. I hear you. You think that the fact that I find far and away the most reprehensible behavior is on the side of our enemies makes me the moral equivalent of Al Queda, and that I am some sort of ’moral cripple’ for thinking that our behavior and standards are somehow superior. Pardon me though for thinking that it is you that can’t tell one color of grey from another, since it is you that are claiming since everything is somewhat grey that they must all be the same color. Pardom me for thinking that that sort of thinking soft pedals the Holocaust, soft pedals the Wahhabi ideology of Al Queda, soft pedals the crimes committed by our enemies, and soft pedals the pervasive misery and corruption of the Middle East. Pardon me for thinking that the very evidence you would use to prove that we are no better than our enemy, is clear and sufficient proof that we are a good deal better than our enemy.
 
Written By: celebrim
URL: http://
To Hell with this whole damn discussion. It flogs (non-hysterically, so it’s okay) an issue we’ve already dealt with in our courts, in military investigations and in policy. Nobody thinks it’s right to kill a prisoner for sport. Period.

Besides, the author’s position is a classic double-bind to which any contrary answer will be contorted by the nature of the question into cries of hypocrisy.

The premise self-supposes an absolute perfection in a self-supposed world of no moral absolutes but the author’s, and to cry out for reality is to descend from the heady, perfumed air of the ivory tower and risk being seen as a hypocrite.

Hell, I’m not above a little healthy hypocrisy. I fear most the ones who hold hypocrisy forth as the Ultimate Evil. Bullocks! Having so many lofty caveats against real action in hostile environments has proven far deadlier to mankind than the vile actions of POW guards, or the seeming hypocrisy of eschewing criticism of our military until a more circumspect time.

It’ll most likely be the dull, simplistic, singular-thinking troops that’ll save the ass of the tower-dwellers. For their pains, they’ll be derided as criminals yet again because they killed someone who didn’t want to tell them where their next killing spree would erupt. They just don’t get the nuances of hypocrisy, poor rubes.

I would also like to nominate a new permutation of Godwin’s Law. To paraphrase Mike: "we’re no better than they."

Mike, I got your moral superiority right here, from today’s headlines:

Islamabad - A bride was gang-raped by her groom’s friends on the first night of their marriage with her in-laws’ consent in the southern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province, a news report said on Monday.

The daily Times said Mujahid Hussain and his family allowed the bride, Kaneez Kubra, to be dishonoured in revenge for her brother’s crime of having sexual relations with their daughter.

The bride’s father, Ghulam Hussain, said four persons sexually assaulted his daughter in front of his son-in-law in his house in Punjab.

But her ordeal did not end there. Ghulam Hussain said on the following day she was taken to the residence of another friend and assaulted again.

"They are cruel. Hussain’s grandfather and mother plainly told my daughter the wedding was just an excuse to (inflict) revenge on your brother for having sexual relations with our girl," he said.


At least we attempt to prosecute and hold the accountable parties accountable. Here’s a society that can’t allow men to be dishonored even when they have acted dishonorably. Let’s have a reasonable, erudite discussion about how you deal with people who accept no shame, feel no sin, and will give no quarter.

Dammit all to the Hell that procreated it.

We ARE better than they, even when we fuck up. Our stupidest screwups are more righteous than their justice and our worst attempts at doing the right thing still make more sense than gang-raping an innocent woman for the sake of revenge.

(Side thought: were we wrong to run the Mafioso out of polite society here in the States? Maybe it was a viable revenge-filled cultural heritage that we unfairly targeted. And really, who among us is better?)

Where’s Puddleglum when you need him?
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
To Hell with this whole damn discussion. It flogs (non-hysterically, so it’s okay) an issue we’ve already dealt with in our courts, in military investigations and in policy. Nobody thinks it’s right to kill a prisoner for sport. Period.

Besides, the author’s position is a classic double-bind to which any contrary answer will be contorted by the nature of the question into cries of hypocrisy.

The premise self-supposes an absolute perfection in a self-supposed world of no moral absolutes but the author’s, and to cry out for reality is to descend from the heady, perfumed air of the ivory tower and risk being seen as a hypocrite.

Hell, I’m not above a little healthy hypocrisy. I fear most the ones who hold hypocrisy forth as the Ultimate Evil. Bullocks! Having so many lofty caveats against real action in hostile environments has proven far deadlier to mankind than the vile actions of POW guards, or the seeming hypocrisy of eschewing criticism of our military until a more circumspect time.

It’ll most likely be the dull, simplistic, singular-thinking troops that’ll save the ass of the tower-dwellers. For their pains, they’ll be derided as criminals yet again because they killed someone who didn’t want to tell them where their next killing spree would erupt. They just don’t get the nuances of hypocrisy, poor rubes.

I would also like to nominate a new permutation of Godwin’s Law. To paraphrase Mike: "we’re no better than they."

Mike, I got your moral superiority right here, from today’s headlines:

Islamabad - A bride was gang-raped by her groom’s friends on the first night of their marriage with her in-laws’ consent in the southern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province, a news report said on Monday.

The daily Times said Mujahid Hussain and his family allowed the bride, Kaneez Kubra, to be dishonoured in revenge for her brother’s crime of having sexual relations with their daughter.

The bride’s father, Ghulam Hussain, said four persons sexually assaulted his daughter in front of his son-in-law in his house in Punjab.

But her ordeal did not end there. Ghulam Hussain said on the following day she was taken to the residence of another friend and assaulted again.

"They are cruel. Hussain’s grandfather and mother plainly told my daughter the wedding was just an excuse to (inflict) revenge on your brother for having sexual relations with our girl," he said.


At least we attempt to prosecute and hold the accountable parties accountable. Here’s a society that can’t allow men to be dishonored even when they have acted dishonorably. Let’s have a reasonable, erudite discussion about how you deal with people who accept no shame, feel no sin, and will give no quarter.

Dammit all to the Hell that procreated it.

We ARE better than they, even when we fuck up. Our stupidest screwups are more righteous than their justice and our worst attempts at doing the right thing still make more sense than gang-raping an innocent woman for the sake of revenge.

(Side thought: were we wrong to run the Mafioso out of polite society here in the States? Maybe it was a viable revenge-filled cultural heritage that we unfairly targeted. And really, who among us is better?)

Where’s Puddleglum when you need him?
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
The American right and the jihadists deserve each other.
It’s a shame that the real world is not that convenient for you.(/sarcasm)

YOU will end up with one or the other. Choose.
 
Written By: FRNM
URL: http://
Like most of the commenters above, I can muster up no outrage on behalf of terrorists. Our military is fairly hamstrung in their dealing with terrorists in custody and were it not for needing to get information from them, would be strongly advised (and not blamed by the vast majority of Americans) just to kill the enemy outright rather than take any prisoner. Count me as one of the ones who would take the critics of the U.S. military a great deal more seriously if the critics were not operating from a premise that our military is evil and immoral and that the U.S. is not deserving of defense; if they were not ipso facto siding with our enemies against us. If the Left and the MSM had any credibility left on this issue, there would be room for persuasion for the rest of us. The Left has abdicated any moral authority to speak on this or any issue. I say this as a former lifelong Lefty Dem.

 
Written By: Peg C.
URL: http://
How appropriate on Memorial Day weekend! Pardon me if my sensibilities are numbed by beheadings, massacres of kindergraden students, the use of the mentally handicapped by jihaddies in bombings, the indescriminate bombings of marketplaces and mosques, the execution of the wounded, the hangings and televised torture by the practioners of the religion of peace and their allies the Baathists to be as outraged as you are seems to require a special selectivity regarding the agenda of such people. How pathetic that one would seek to paint the abuses of a few as if they represented the policies of the government.

I would recommend that everyone read "The Big Story" a book that tells how the media and its allies spun Tet and helped turn a massive victory into a defeat. The authout tells how the MSM of the era were willing propogandists for Hanoi and did everything they could to demoralize the public and reduce support for the war effort. Its worth recognizing the methods and tactics of those who either knowingly or unknowingly assist the enemies of freedom.
 
Written By: TJ Jackson
URL: http://
Mea culpa on the double-posting. Drat!

Update: the young girl’s troubles will be over soon because the morally superior code of Islamic honor will demand that she have her throat slit from ear to ear.

Every POW under U.S. supervision has a better chance at life than any woman under Islam.

(Caveat: pointing this out doesn’t mean I support torturing for sport. ’k? But perspective lends a particular quality of reality when trying to accurately depict the world.)
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
A few assorted comments and questions.

1. Why wasn’t the idea of summary executions considered by the Pentagon lawyers and leaders? I’m guessing it was but was rejected for some reason. Say, that our allies would not support us if we did this, just like the EU forensic teams won’t help with Iraqi mass graves because the death penalty might be enforced by the Iraqi government using this evidence.

Any other ideas for why this wasn’t the policy?

Maybe that AQ forces would fight to death FOR SURE if they knew they would be executed...

2. Why have the tribunals taken so long? We only have 15 going on now. Is this a legal problem? a bureaucratic problem? It seems to me if these guys were getting sentenced at a decent clip, then a lot of the angst would dissipate.

3. We have released many people from Gitmo. It’s not like it’s a gulag you never get out of. In fact, many have gone back to fighting Jihad. What’s the percentage released?

4. The enemy is in cells. Information is the best way to fight them. How do you break such men? Psychological pressure? Threat of torture? Torture? Or just three squares a day and a Koran? Yes, we want to have the "moral" upper hand, but how do you break up cells without info? Call in CSI Las Vegas? I recommed The Interrogators for a good read about interrogations in Afghanistan.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
1. Why wasn’t the idea of summary executions considered by the Pentagon lawyers and leaders? I’m guessing it was but was rejected for some reason. Say, that our allies would not support us if we did this, just like the EU forensic teams won’t help with Iraqi mass graves because the death penalty might be enforced by the Iraqi government using this evidence.

Any other ideas for why this wasn’t the policy?
I think you answered yourself with ...
4. The enemy is in cells. Information is the best way to fight them. How do you break such men? Psychological pressure? Threat of torture? Torture? Or just three squares a day and a Koran? Yes, we want to have the "moral" upper hand, but how do you break up cells without info?
Dead men tell no tales.
 
Written By: FRNM
URL: http://
In response to Harun: Information on detainees, more than 200 have been released or transferred.
 
Written By: Sisyphus
URL: http://sisypheanmusings.blogspot.com/
A few assorted comments and questions.

1. Why wasn’t the idea of summary executions considered by the Pentagon lawyers and leaders? I’m guessing it was but was rejected for some reason. Say, that our allies would not support us if we did this, just like the EU forensic teams won’t help with Iraqi mass graves because the death penalty might be enforced by the Iraqi government using this evidence.

Any other ideas for why this wasn’t the policy?

Maybe that AQ forces would fight to death FOR SURE if they knew they would be executed...

2. Why have the tribunals taken so long? We only have 15 going on now. Is this a legal problem? a bureaucratic problem? It seems to me if these guys were getting sentenced at a decent clip, then a lot of the angst would dissipate.

3. We have released many people from Gitmo. It’s not like it’s a gulag you never get out of. In fact, many have gone back to fighting Jihad. What’s the percentage released?

4. The enemy is in cells. Information is the best way to fight them. How do you break such men? Psychological pressure? Threat of torture? Torture? Or just three squares a day and a Koran? Yes, we want to have the "moral" upper hand, but how do you break up cells without info? Call in CSI Las Vegas? I recommed The Interrogators for a good read about interrogations in Afghanistan.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Like most of the commenters above, I can muster up no outrage on behalf of terrorists. Our military is fairly hamstrung in their dealing with terrorists in custody and were it not for needing to get information from them, would be strongly advised (and not blamed by the vast majority of Americans) just to kill the enemy outright rather than take any prisoner. Count me as one of the ones who would take the critics of the U.S. military a great deal more seriously if the critics were not operating from a premise that our military is evil and immoral and that the U.S. is not deserving of defense; if they were not ipso facto siding with our enemies against us. If the Left and the MSM had any credibility left on this issue, there would be room for persuasion for the rest of us. The Left has abdicated any moral authority to speak on this or any issue. I say this as a former lifelong Lefty Dem.

 
Written By: Peg C.
URL: http://
Using the SFGate/AP story
Criminal Homicide/Abuse 21
Thru Feb. 2004 12
After Feb. 2004 3
unknown dates 6

I used Feb. 2004 as the break point because by March 2004 the Army would have the Taguba report.

I also note the following from the Taguba report:

Part 1

10. (U) I find that contrary to the provision of AR 190-8, and the findings found in MG Ryder’s report, Military Intelligence (MI) interrogators and Other US Government Agency’s (OGA) interrogators actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses. Contrary to the findings of MG Ryder’s Report, I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to "set the conditions" for MI interrogations. I find no direct evidence that MP personnel actually participated in those MI interrogations. (ANNEXES 19, 21, 25, and 26).

12. (U) I find that prior to its deployment to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 320th MP Battalion and the 372nd MP Company had received no training in detention/internee operations. I also find that very little instruction or training was provided to MP personnel on the applicable rules of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, FM 27-10, AR 190-8, or FM 3-19.40. Moreover, I find that few, if any, copies of the Geneva Conventions were ever made available to MP personnel or detainees. (ANNEXES 21-24, 33, and multiple witness statements)

Part 2

8. (U) There is a general lack of knowledge, implementation, and emphasis of basic legal, regulatory, doctrinal, and command requirements within the 800th MP Brigade and its subordinate units. (Multiple witness statements in ANNEXES 45-91).

26. (U) Lessons learned (i.e. Findings and Recommendations from various 15-6 Investigations concerning escapes and accountability lapses) were rubber stamped as approved and ordered implemented by BG Karpinski. There is no evidence that the majority of her orders directing the implementation of substantive changes were ever acted upon. Additionally, there was no follow-up by the command to verify the corrective actions were taken. Had the findings and recommendations contained within their own investigations been analyzed and actually implemented by BG Karpinski, many of the subsequent escapes, accountability lapses, and cases of abuse may have been prevented. (ANNEXES 5-10)

28. (U) Neither the camp rules nor the provisions of the Geneva Conventions are posted in English or in the language of the detainees at any of the detention facilities in the 800th MP Brigade’s AOR, even after several investigationshad annotated the lack of this critical requirement. (Multiple Witness Statements and the Personal Observations of the Investigation Team)

36. (U) As I have previously indicated, this investigation determined that there was virtually a complete lack of detailed SOPs at any of the detention facilities. Moreover, despite the fact that there were numerous reported escapes at detention facilities throughout Iraq
(in excess of 35), AR 15-6 Investigations following these escapes were simply forgotten or ignored by the Brigade Commander with no dissemination to other facilities. After-Action Reports and Lessons Learned, if done at all, remained at individual facilities and were not shared among other commanders or soldiers throughout the Brigade. The Command never issued standard TTPs for handling escape incidents. (ANNEXES 5-10, Multiple Witness Statements, and the Personal Observations of the Investigation Team)


Part 3

14. (U) During the course of this investigation I conducted a lengthy interview with BG Karpinski that lasted over four hours, and is included verbatim in the investigation Annexes. BG Karpinski was extremely emotional during much of her testimony. What I found particularly disturbing in her testimony was her complete unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her command to both establish and enforce basic standards and principles among its soldiers. (ANNEX 45 and the Personal Observations of the Interview Team)

17. (U) Numerous witnesses stated that the 800th MP Brigade S-1, MAJ Hinzman and S-4, MAJ Green, were essentially dysfunctional, but that despite numerous complaints, these officers were not replaced. This had a detrimental effect on the Brigade Staff’s effectiveness and morale. Moreover, the Brigade Command Judge Advocate, LTC James O’Hare, appears to lack initiative and was unwilling to accept responsibility for any of his actions. LTC Gary Maddocks, the Brigade XO did not properly supervise the
Brigade staff by failing to lay out staff priorities, take overt corrective action when needed, and supervise their daily functions. (ANNEXES 45, 47, 48, 62, and 67)
 
Written By: Bill
URL: http://
Cecil, for the record, Lt. Calley was convicted for directly causing the deaths of 23 Vietnamese civilians at Song My Lai (he had been charged with killing 102). Two other participants in the massacre were tried and acquitted. Nineteen others had their charges dropped.

Calley was given a life sentence. After three days in jail, President Nixon released him pending an appeal. He was ultimately sentenced to ten years house arrest, and was paroled after three.
 
Written By: BruceR
URL: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit
To engage in torure for information, we first have to assert that Our moral conscience is better than Theirs and that they must give up Their moral conscience in order to advance Ours.

That’s really what the Moral Left’s opposition to torture is all about. It’s not about the human pathos of depriving another human being of their right to sleep uninterrupted, (oh that my snoring partner could grant me such a right!) much less threatening them with bodily harm, it’s about moral absolutes.

The Left is entirely and historically too squeamish on the issue of moral absolutes, fearing it smacks of whacked-out religious zeal, Nazi-ism or will lead to something equally hideous, like (gasp!)Not Being Liked, or We’re Think We’re Better Than They Are.

For precisely this reason, it’s specious for the Left to try and posit a genuine discussion of the morality of torture. They won’t go to the heart of the matter, because to justify torture for any reason means one has to suppose that there’s a GOOD reason for a decidedly BAD (albeit effective) activity. (You might as well be God to try and unravel that particular conundrum. Meanwhile, folks continue dying at the hands of suicide bombers, but hey!)

Ultimately, the Left won’t allow torture for ANY reason. That’s the disingenous nature of their arguments. They’re NEVER gonna go there. Period. They trot it out for sport and political traction, heedless of the indirect mental anguish it may put an honest troop through. (It’s okay, "mental anguish" is now a form of torture, so let’s call hypocrisy where we see it.)

When the Moral Left’s particular brand of "moral absolutes" leaves me at the bitter mercy of death-forsworn enemies, it is my duty to fully, heartily, and passionately reject it.
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
To those who don’t believe that torture works please explain:

The plain fact is that torture does indeed work. In fact it works against the very enemy we are fighting. "In 1995, the police in the Philippines tortured Abdul Hakim Murad after finding a bomb-making factory in his apartment in Manila. They broke his ribs, burned him with cigarettes, forced water down his throat, then threatened to turn him over to the Israelis. Finally, from this withered and broken man came secrets of a terror plot to blow up 11 airliners, crash another into the headquarters of the CIA and to assassinate the Pope. "

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
The majority of these murders are reprehensible and should be punished to the utmost. However, it is scary to see the usual suspects use these abuses to de-claw our interrogation methods. Using the Koran, and other cultural methods against religious fanatics, for example, is not torture.

Those prisoners that can be id-ed positively as Al Qaeda members, I believe we should use much tougher methods against. They can’t even claim, as the insurgency can, that they’re an indigenous movement using guerilla warfare [as atrocious as that warfare is].

I’m not going to be morally browbeaten so far as Al Qaeda is concerned, however. I have absolutely no problems using torture against a guy like Kalik Sheik Mohammed. They could skin him alive and cover him in salt, for all I care. But these methods should only be used when necessary, and with the most extreme cases. This war will be won depending on information, we have the firepower necessary. Whatever it takes when dealing with those people, I support. To claim it makes us "like the terrorists," or forfeits the moral highground is to sell us hugely short. There is a certain point where what we fight for is more important than how we fight for it.
 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
To claim it makes us "like the terrorists," or forfeits the moral highground is to sell us hugely short. There is a certain point where what we fight for is more important than how we fight for it.

Oh.

You mean, like human rights and all?

Wonder if we can come up with some catchy slogan. Like "Kill a commie for Christ" one we once had.

How about "Skin a Raghead for human rights?" Does that do it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Wonder if we can come up with some catchy slogan. Like "Kill a commie for Christ" one we once had.

How about "Skin a Raghead for human rights?" Does that do it?
How about "Use whatever means necessary to induce a foresworn enemy to reveal the intentions of his cohorts before they violate the human rights of innocents AGAIN."

Doesn’t quite fit the one-dimensional world you seem to inhabit, but it is closer to the truth than the tripe you seem to want to tar people with.
 
Written By: FRNM
URL: http://
Yeah, human rights for normal people who aren’t members of an organization trying to fly planes into buildings.

 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
"Use whatever means necessary to induce a foresworn enemy to reveal the intentions of his cohorts before they violate the human rights of innocents AGAIN."

Only if you put "Damn human rights," before all of that.

It’s the principle of the thing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Apparently America is using some vigorous questioning techniques on captured terrorists. We also know that information from terrorists has been used to interdict at least 14 major terrorist attacks in Europe, and it has kept America free from major terrorist attack since 2001.

I appreciate Mr. Henke’s delicate sensibilities on the harm-to-prisoners side of the equation, but where is his similar weighing of the benefits. Out of sight, out of mind, it seems.

Jon’s blanket assertion that "torture is wrong" is morally childish. Such a judgment can only come from weighing both sides of the equation, which Jon is not doing. He really would place comfort for the guilty above the lives of however many innocents? Absurd.

What is to be deplored is interrogations that are not properly regulated. Letting a terror suspect die of hypothermia is like erasing a terrorist’s hard disk. If we are making this kind of mistake, we could easily be making equally gross mistakes about who warrants severe questioning. But all the evidence is that the military has is being dilligent about investigating and reining in out-of-control behavior.

Jon’s mistake is identifying all particularly harsh questioning techniques as wrong. Can’t go with you there my friend.
 
Written By: Alec Rawls
URL: http://errortheory.blogspot.com
Yeah, human rights for normal people who aren’t members of an organization trying to fly planes into buildings.

Yeah ... kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads, huh?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Jon’s blanket assertion that "torture is wrong" is morally childish. Such a judgment can only come from weighing both sides of the equation, which Jon is not doing. He really would place comfort for the guilty above the lives of however many innocents? Absurd.

Well not if you can wave away incidents of torture as "vigorous questioning techniques".

How cute. Torture with a new name and its all fuzzy bunnies.

Of course that makes it all better, doesn’t it? Then you can say such morally bankrupt things as "’torture is wrong’ is morally childish".

Yikes.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
So then I guess you are as good a candidate as any to explain why people say torture doesn’t work eh?
Yeah ... kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads, huh?
Written By: McQ

Please explain why torture should not have been used in this case:
"In 1995, the police in the Philippines tortured Abdul Hakim Murad after finding a bomb-making factory in his apartment in Manila. They broke his ribs, burned him with cigarettes, forced water down his throat, then threatened to turn him over to the Israelis. Finally, from this withered and broken man came secrets of a terror plot to blow up 11 airliners, crash another into the headquarters of the CIA and to assassinate the Pope. "

Furthermore explain to us exactly which rules would you be following if you were in a fight to the death inside of a closet? No eye gouging I suppose? Please don’t attempt to say that torture is separate from the war and in a war zone the rules are different. There is no separation between the fighting and the interrogations.

Pierre Legrand
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
So then I guess you are as good a candidate as any to explain why people say torture doesn’t work eh?

Christ ... have you been paying attention?

This isn’t an argument about utility. Its about the principle of human rights, something which, apparently, is of no concern to those who see utility in torture.

To put it succinctly, we don’t care one way or the other whether it "works". Its an abuse of human rights. We’re libertarians. Guess where we come down on that sort of a thing?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Wow, McQ! Great sneers!

Just say it: You will never condone torture for any reason, be it far or near. Period. End of discussion. Fine.

I met a girl once, who, in avoiding hitting a squirrel, ran her car off the road, hit a tree, nearly died and now lives without an arm. Shall I salute her humanity?

She, all of 18 years, deemed it an admirable trade of her principles for her arm. I gotta give it up for her principles, and can be mildly pleased for the idiot squirrel, I guess. It’s not like he’s gonna target her again.

But I’ll NEVER ride in a car with her.

Nor will I "ride" to war with someone who will brook no torture of foresworn, unreasonable enemies even to save his own family or country. Such a principle not only endagers the one who holds to it, but it endangers all around him whether they like it or not. That’s where it becomes a childish, selfish pseudo-morality.

(for the metaphorically inclined: I am NOT comparing enemy combatants to squirrels. Squirrels just wanna cross the dangerous road that white western males constructed across their rightful territory. Squirrels have much more legitimate bones to pick than do Islamofascists.)
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
Wow, McQ! Great sneers!

’kew

Just say it: You will never condone torture for any reason, be it far or near. Period. End of discussion. Fine.

Good lord ... we’ve BEEN saying precisely that for two years. Where’ve you been? Why just today I said:
But in a broader argument, we’re saying that you can make all the technical arguments you care to make, rationalize torture and murder as some sort of burning necessity upon which our safety is dependent and claim that abuse is fair pay-back for the behavior of our enemies, but we, all of us, reject any argument which tries to legitimize torture and abuse, and we reject it on principle.
I met a girl once, who, in avoiding hitting a squirrel, ran her car off the road, hit a tree, nearly died and now lives without an arm. Shall I salute her humanity?

Dunno Joan ... was the squirrel human? Did the girl believe in human rights believe in not violating them?

Nor will I "ride" to war with someone who will brook no torture of foresworn, unreasonable enemies even to save his own family or country. Such a principle not only endagers the one who holds to it, but it endangers all around him whether they like it or not.

Works for me ... I’d never want anyone in my unit that thought there was a place for it. I have absolutely no use for their type.

And having been in the infantry for 28 years, and in Vietnam, I never once found it to be something to which I had any necessity to resort (not that I would ever consider it), nor would I stand for one of my men doing it.

It’s not how soldiers do business.

I am NOT comparing enemy combatants to squirrels. Squirrels just wanna cross the dangerous road that white western males constructed across their rightful territory. Squirrels have much more legitimate bones to pick than do Islamofascists.

Of course you are Joan ... if you aren’t, the metaphor, in which you denigrate the girl for standing for her principles, has no meaning. And, of course, the implicit argument that principles are for losers.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well not if you can wave away incidents of torture as "vigorous questioning techniques".

How cute. Torture with a new name and its all fuzzy bunnies.

If your point is that those incidents of torture (which were reported by the military as part of criminal prosecutions) were wrong, I certainly agree. Which is why they’re being prosecuted.

If you’re wanting to generalize that to all types of questioning that might make the subject uncomfortable, then perhaps we need to define some terms.
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
You know that a topic is dead when the people on both sides are reduced to arguing about definitions.

You are probably never going to be able to fix a precise definition on torture, because at some level anything which you do to punish or confine someone is torturous. It becomes wrong when it becomes disproportionate, or when the actions purpose is sadistic rather than remedial. And even those are grey areas which reasonable people can argue over. Throwing someone in prison is torture. I for one would rather be flogged than go to jail. Which is cruel and unusual punishment? Only one under the current laws, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that throwing someone in jail is more moral than flogging him or that a commitment to human rights has ended when I say that I’d rather be flogged than thrown in jail.

As ’libertarians’ does the utility of throwing or not throwing someone in jail have anything at all to do with whether you support it? I would certainly hope that it does, so don’t pretend that libertarians aren’t motivated by practical concerns. Do people have a fundamental human right to not be thrown in jail? In short, do criminals have a fundamental human right not to suffer?

I don’t know what torture is, but I know it when I see it. I don’t deny that human rights violations have taken place. I just put that in context. Pretending that this situation is morally simple doesn’t change the reality on the ground, it just makes it easier for you to be snide.

Claiming that torture is evil is not morally bankrupt. It’s just merely really imprecise. We have good reason for forbidding torture. It’s generally injust, especially as a means of obtaining a confession - not the least because it tends to be inaccurate. But claiming that there are situations in which torture might be justified is not morally bankrupt either. Either extreme position seems to me to be childish, which is exactly where this debate has gone.

I’ll leave both sides to thier outrage and sense of self-satisfying moral superiority, since that seems to be their real goals. I’ve got better things to do with my time.
 
Written By: celebrim
URL: http://
If your point is that those incidents of torture (which were reported by the military as part of criminal prosecutions) were wrong, I certainly agree. Which is why they’re being prosecuted.

Good ... we agree.

If you’re wanting to generalize that to all types of questioning that might make the subject uncomfortable, then perhaps we need to define some terms.

Did the person I quoted specify he wasn’t talking about incidents of torture or did he generalize all of it with the term "vigorous questioning techniques".

If you have an issue with generalizations, take it up with that commenter. I’ve been clear from the beginning that I’m talking about torture.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
You are probably never going to be able to fix a precise definition on torture, because at some level anything which you do to punish or confine someone is torturous.

Fine, let’s stipulate that you and I agree with what constitutes and defines torture.

Is it a violation of human rights or is it an acceptable practice.

That’s what this argument is about. Not who can parse what and rally which semantic cavalry to their defense.

Is torture something which people who claim to champion the principle of human rights use if it fits their immediate purpose (IOW, there’s preceived utility in doing so)?

If so, defend it on moral grounds. Because somewhere in there has to be a moral principle that defends its use and utility.

I’d like to hear it if there is.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
You are probably never going to be able to fix a precise definition on torture, because at some level anything which you do to punish or confine someone is torturous.

Sorry, but in a military setting that’s not going to work. If you want limits on what your subordinates are authorized to do, you need to be very specific. It seems to me fairly clear that the most "vigorous" approved interrogation technique was "waterboarding." If that’s not what people mean when they say "torture" then they’re complaining about illegal acts, which few will condone. If they’re complaining about authorized techniques, and claiming they’re tanatmount to torture, then I don’t think it unreasonable to ask what they think the appropriate limit should be.
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
I’ll leave both sides to thier outrage and sense of self-satisfying moral superiority, since that seems to be their real goals. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

He said, feeling self-satisfied and morally superior as he abandoned the battlefield of ideas.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Is torture something which people who claim to champion the principle of human rights use if it fits their immediate purpose (IOW, there’s preceived utility in doing so)?

If so, defend it on moral grounds. Because somewhere in there has to be a moral principle that defends its use and utility.
If we’ve defined torture as something only criminals do, I doubt there’s going to be a big rush to defend it. But since we as a people obviously don’t condone or accept it, neither does there appear to be much of a problem. Have fun on the battlefield.
 
Written By: Cecil Turner
URL: http://
Like most of the commenters above, I can muster up no outrage on behalf of terrorists. Our military is fairly hamstrung in their dealing with terrorists in custody and were it not for needing to get information from them, would be strongly advised (and not blamed by the vast majority of Americans) just to kill the enemy outright rather than take any prisoner. Count me as one of the ones who would take the critics of the U.S. military a great deal more seriously if the critics were not operating from a premise that our military is evil and immoral and that the U.S. is not deserving of defense; if they were not ipso facto siding with our enemies against us. If the Left and the MSM had any credibility left on this issue, there would be room for persuasion for the rest of us. The Left has abdicated any moral authority to speak on this or any issue. I say this as a former lifelong Lefty Dem.

 
Written By: Peg C.
URL: http://
Oh my I may have struck a nerve.
Christ ... have you been paying attention?

This isn’t an argument about utility. Its about the principle of human rights, something which, apparently, is of no concern to those who see utility in torture.

To put it succinctly, we don’t care one way or the other whether it "works". Its an abuse of human rights. We’re libertarians. Guess where we come down on that sort of a thing?
Written By: McQ
So very eloquent and evasive all at the same time. Nicely done. Now back to the subject matter. Do you condone or condemn the torture of Abdul Hakim Murad? If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.

What rules do you follow in a fight to the death? How does your self righteous set of values deal with a knife fight in a closet? Do you avoid breaking some set of rules that only you hold and that your enemy ignores? Please explain why interrogating prisoners is any different from a knife fight in a closet?

Are we or are we not at war? What set of rules do we obey in war?

Though I am glad to see you admit that torture does indeed work in regards to getting information valuable to defeating the enemy. Now please explain why you believe it moral to allow untold thousands to die so that you can sleep at night.

Exactly who stated that you got to keep your of values while you defend your country? I know that you believe that paramount, I understand the values of Objectivists so you arent that alien to me. But if winning is everything and I as a General am willing to sacrifice lives to achieve victory then why do your petty little abstract values have any weight against my winning the war?

The main problem between you and me is you view this war as won, I don’t. Or more terribly you don’t care if we win as long as we follow the rules whilst losing. Which is it?

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
Oh my I may have struck a nerve.
Christ ... have you been paying attention?

This isn’t an argument about utility. Its about the principle of human rights, something which, apparently, is of no concern to those who see utility in torture.

To put it succinctly, we don’t care one way or the other whether it "works". Its an abuse of human rights. We’re libertarians. Guess where we come down on that sort of a thing?
Written By: McQ
So very eloquent and evasive all at the same time. Nicely done. Now back to the subject matter. Do you condone or condemn the torture of Abdul Hakim Murad? If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.

What rules do you follow in a fight to the death? How does your self righteous set of values deal with a knife fight in a closet? Do you avoid breaking some set of rules that only you hold and that your enemy ignores? Please explain why interrogating prisoners is any different from a knife fight in a closet?

Are we or are we not at war? What set of rules do we obey in war?

Though I am glad to see you admit that torture does indeed work in regards to getting information valuable to defeating the enemy. Now please explain why you believe it moral to allow untold thousands to die so that you can sleep at night.

Exactly who stated that you got to keep your of values while you defend your country? I know that you believe that paramount, I understand the values of Objectivists so you arent that alien to me. But if winning is everything and I as a General am willing to sacrifice lives to achieve victory then why do your petty little abstract values have any weight against my winning the war?

The main problem between you and me is you view this war as won, I don’t. Or more terribly you don’t care if we win as long as we follow the rules whilst losing. Which is it?

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
"Yeah ... kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads, huh?"

From the person who then sneers:

"He said, feeling self-satisfied and morally superior as he abandoned the battlefield of ideas."

This is supposed to be intelligent discourse?
 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
Do you condone or condemn the torture of Abdul Hakim Murad?

Condemn.

If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.

My child would never question my moral choice and I find it telling yours would.

What rules do you follow in a fight to the death?

Well the one’s I followed in Vietnam were pretty simple. If he fires, he dies. We fight until he is no longer a viable threat. If he surrenders, I take him into custody as a POW. Interestingly a lot of the folks I fought there didn’t wear uniforms either. But you know what, my platoon didn’t torture a single one. Go figure.

How does your self righteous set of values deal with a knife fight in a closet.

A knife fight in a closet? LOL!

Look Pierre, the right to self-defense is a fundamental right. And I’ll exercise it to the point that the person attacking me is no longer a threat. I’ve actually had to do that a few times. Have you?

Do you avoid breaking some set of rules that only you hold and that your enemy ignores?

Possibly. I would assume, if he’s attacking me with deadly force, he’s trying to kill me. OTOH, if I manage to incapacitate him and he’s no longer a threat to my life, I’m not going to kill him.

Now if that’s different that what he might do so be it, but that’s my "set of rules".

Please explain why interrogating prisoners is any different from a knife fight in a closet?

We’re not talking about "interrogating prisoners", we’re talking about torturing them. And the difference is it isn’t a fight because one of the guys in the closet doesn’t have a knife.

Are we or are we not at war?

Yes, we are.

What set of rules do we obey in war?

The rules of war, which, btw, prohibit the torture of prisoners.

Though I am glad to see you admit that torture does indeed work in regards to getting information valuable to defeating the enemy.

I’m sorry, but I never said that. The word "works" is in scare quotes for a reason.

Now please explain why you believe it moral to allow untold thousands to die so that you can sleep at night.

Here’s a better idea. You explain how torture guarantees untold thousands will live, ok? Because that’s your premise.

Exactly who stated that you got to keep your of values while you defend your country?


I did, because they’re MY values.

I know that you believe that paramount, I understand the values of Objectivists so you arent that alien to me.

LOL! Oh yes they are, but that’s another subject. BTW, I’m not an Objectivist.

But if winning is everything and I as a General am willing to sacrifice lives to achieve victory then why do your petty little abstract values have any weight against my winning the war?

Because they’re not abstract to me.

Note your premise. "Winning is everything." It pretty well defines your morality, or, in reality, lack thereof. Your premise is distinctly amoral. Its not one with which I’d want any association.

The main problem between you and me is you view this war as won, I don’t.

Huh? Where you came to this conclusion is beyond me, but hey, it’s your rant. Assumptions ’R Us, I guess.

Or more terribly you don’t care if we win as long as we follow the rules whilst losing. Which is it?

LOL! Uh, neither.

There, I’ve answered every one of your questions. Now what?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"Yeah ... kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads, huh?"

From the person who then sneers:

"He said, feeling self-satisfied and morally superior as he abandoned the battlefield of ideas."

This is supposed to be intelligent discourse?


It would appear that sarcasm and irony are lost on you.

BTW, I thought you had better things to do than dirty your hands with this argument?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
What on Earth are you blabbering about?
 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
Oh, I’m sorry, I mistook you for someone I thought might provide a cogent argument. My mistake ... I forgot you were the one that said this:

I’m not going to be morally browbeaten so far as Al Qaeda is concerned, however. I have absolutely no problems using torture against a guy like Kalik Sheik Mohammed. They could skin him alive and cover him in salt, for all I care.

Of course that doesn’t change the fact that sarcasm and irony STILL seem to be lost on you.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Morally browbeaten means to be intimidated and be made submissive. I can listen to your arguments without being either of those.

Are you naturally this dense and immature, or did you have to work at it?

Furthermore, your inability to avoid using strawman arguments to demonize your opposition is childish.
 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
Very good post. It’s remarkable how many of the commentators on it actually missed the point.
 
Written By: wufnik
URL: http://bazzfazz.blogspot.com
Morally browbeaten means to be intimidated and be made submissive. I can listen to your arguments without being either of those.

Why are you so hostile then?

Are you naturally this dense and immature, or did you have to work at it?

What was it Paul Horning said? "Practice, practice, practice.

Furthermore, your inability to avoid using strawman arguments to demonize your opposition is childish.

Which strawmen are those?

Oh ... perhaps that torture is immoral to anyone that holds to the principle of human rights? Well, yeah, stipulated, that would be a strawman to the amoral.

On the other hand, to anyone who considers torture to be immoral, the claim that torture can be moral if we only use it in extreme situations would be just as big a strawman to them.

But these methods should only be used when necessary, and with the most extreme cases.

I would assume you’d call this "selective torture".

Seems to me it would end up like the deal the Republicans made on the filibuster where the Democrats promised not to use it except in "extreme cases". And 24 hours later ....

All that to say that if you believe letting the torture genie out of the bag to be used selectively suddenly makes it ’moral’ then I have no corner on seeming strawmen (not to mention the unpleasant fact that the sudden upsurge in "extreme cases" would be both astounding and expected ... not that you’d care, you’d be providing the salt to be rubbed in, huh?).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"Morally browbeaten means to be intimidated and be made submissive. I can listen to your arguments without being either of those.

Why are you so hostile then?"


Seriously, are you schizophrenic or merely passive-aggressive?

Let’s see, you suggested I want to kill, torture, and abuse "all those Ragheads" and you incorrectly insinuated that I stated I "had better things to do than dirty your [my] hands with this argument?"

The fact that you made that claim, had it proved false, and only changed the topic is duly noted.

"Which strawmen are those?"

"Yeah ... kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads, huh?"

You’ve obviously practiced enough.

 
Written By: Cutler
URL: http://yankeestation.blogspot.com
If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.
I believe McQ already answered you main question. However, I’ll go ahead and give you my opinion. You’re assuming that people would’ve been killed if he wasn’t tortured. Is it possible to prevent attacks without resorting to torture?


I wrote the above statements before looking for information about Murad. I think you left out some important details:

[He] came back after the fire was put out to remove the laptop computer in the apartment, which contained the plans for the attack...

For 67 days, he was subjected to "tactical interrogation", what Manila authorities called his torture...His ribs had completely been cracked, and agents were surprised that he survived.

He finally confessed after the 67 days. When an agent pretended to be a Mossad agent and told Murad that he was being taken to Israel, Murad’s fear of Jews finally broke him, according to an investiagtor.
Hmmm, his computer contained information and he didn’t talk for over two months despite brutal torture. And this from the Washington Post:
Richard Kaylor, manager of Richmor Aviation, said the FBI was first alerted to the Schenectady flight school after a Richmond business card was discovered in Murad and Yousef’s Manila apartment.

Kaylor said two FBI agents came to interview him about Murad in 1996. He said he provided information about Murad and two other student pilots, both of whom lived with Murad.
Hmmm, a business card linked him to a flight school, which in turn pointed them to additional people. FrontPage Magazine reports on additional information found in the apartment:
Cops found Manila street maps and clothing remarkably similar to that of Pope John Paul’s entourage—the pontiff was due for a visit a week from the discovery—suggesting a planned attempt on his life. They also discovered bomb materials and a laptop whose disks revealed plans for Project Bojinka.
It’s an interesting article. Shall I go on, or have I done enough to show that your initial excitement for the necessity of Murad’s torture is entirely overblown?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
If extraction of information is rendered impossible by anti-torture rules the result will not be fewer enemy deaths.

The deaths will just happen on the battle field where there is less accountability rather than in prisons.

Reality is not static.
 
Written By: M. Simon
URL: http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/
JWG,

Although I am agnostic on the question of when and whether torture is likely to prove useful to interrogators, I must point out that your Murad example tends to prove the opposite of what you purport it to. As you note, after 2 months of torture, "When an agent pretended to be a Mossad agent and told Murad that he was being taken to Israel, Murad’s fear of Jews finally broke him"

What do you think Murad feared, that their kosher food wouldn’t be halal?

The reason Murad talked was because he feared he was about to be tortured by more competent enemies.
 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
Making extrordinary efforts to take prisoners is less likely to happen if the prisoners have no value.

You cannot look at these questions in isolation. This is not a physics experiment.

Besides the purpose of rules of warfare in reciprocity.

Don’t want prisoners from your side mistreated: don’t mistreat enemy prisoners.

This is the whole rationale behind the Geneva Conventions.
 
Written By: M. Simon
URL: http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/
Seriously, are you schizophrenic or merely passive-aggressive?

I think bi-polar is the proper term these days.

Let’s see, you suggested I want to kill, torture, and abuse "all those Ragheads"

Yes, I did ... after you said this:
I have absolutely no problems using torture against a guy like Kalik Sheik Mohammed. They could skin him alive and cover him in salt, for all I care.
And this:
This war will be won depending on information, we have the firepower necessary. Whatever it takes when dealing with those people, I support.
How would you interpret those statments?

...you incorrectly insinuated that I stated I "had better things to do than dirty your [my] hands with this argument?"

Yes, I did, which I explained happend because I mistook you for someone else. Obviously you missed that part of the explanation. "Celebrim", "Cutler", an easy mistake to make. You need to get over it.

"Which strawmen are those?"

"Yeah ... kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads, huh?"


See above. I’ll again ask, which strawmen are those?

So far you’re 0 for 1.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I must point out that your Murad example tends to prove the opposite of what you purport it to...The reason Murad talked was because he feared he was about to be tortured by more competent enemies.
First, I’ll remind you that he suffered through very brutal torture for 67 days (read what they did to him). I would argue that he didn’t want to be handled and imprisoned by Jews. What more could they do to him physically? Secondly, did you bother to read the information they already had accumulated without his torture? My point is not to argue about the effectiveness of torture, but to counter Pierre’s assertion (in 5 repetitive posts) that it was necessary in his example.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Mr. Henke,

Even if we accept your accounting, the ratio of "murders" to all prisoner deaths (27/108 or 25%) shows nothing relative to the ratios in the US corrections system, as natural causes deaths of lifers and others who have been in prison a long time tend to be older people.

The prisoners in Iraq have all been held for 2 years or less. If we look at deaths in US prisons among those held for 2 years or less, we would of course have a much higher than 1.7% ratio of murder deaths, because few would be dying of old age. This would be even more true if we looked only at people in the US held for seriously violent crimes, and more true yet if we only looked at violent gang members.

In Iraq, those held (apart from innocents wrongfully or mistakenly held) are all violent members of a "gang" that sees itself at war with its captors, and which sees some prospect of defeating its captors if it is ruthless enough. This is true of very few US prisoners.

At any rate, surely you can see that it is harder and more dangerous to be a guard in Iraq than in the US, that that is because the prisoners are more dangerous, and that that will lead to a higher rate of guards killing prisoners, some fully justified, some less so, and some not at all.

Also remember that your stats come from US armed forces prosecutions. Maybe it is thus reasonable to believe that real rates are higher. But it is also reasonable to believe that these stats are a sign that our government does not sanction such killings.
 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
McQ,

It is inflammatory, illogical and unfair to equate a man’s support for torture of Kalik Sheik Mohammed with support for torture of "all those ragheads." Your equation unnecessarily presumes racism on the part of this man.

I support imprisonment of the Beltway sniper. That does not mean I support imprisonment of "all those uppity negros." I support imprisonment of IRA bombers. That does not mean I support imprisonment of "all those Micks." I might even support police torture of an IRA bomber if the police believe it could stop a major bombing, or of the Beltway sniper if he had an army of unknown accomplices who were continuing to shoot people. That does not mean I support torture of "all those [Irish slur of your choice]" or "all those [black slur of your choice]."

 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
It is inflammatory, illogical and unfair to equate a man’s support for torture of Kalik Sheik Mohammed with support for torture of "all those ragheads." Your equation unnecessarily presumes racism on the part of this man.

Really? Well perhaps you can help me out with this, because he said it soon after he mentioned his support for torturing KSM:
This war will be won depending on information, we have the firepower necessary. Whatever it takes when dealing with those people, I support.
Who are "those people" to whom he refers? After the mention of KSM and then "those people" I was left with a pretty precise idea of what he meant. How about you?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
McQ:

"Precise" like a hand grenade.

Perhaps "those people" refers to people who resemble KSM in some more meaningful way than all being "ragheads"—like, perhaps, people who have conspired to commit the mass-murder of US citizens?

That is the more reasonable interpretation of "those people" in the absence of an actual demonstration of bigotry—especially as Cutler, in the same post, wrote: "Those prisoners that can be id-ed positively as Al Qaeda members, I believe we should use much tougher methods against."

McQ, it is indeed you who has brought ethnicity, unreasonableness and prejudicial thinking into your argument with Cutler, and you, not Cutler, who implies, in your false equation, that all "ragheads" are mass murderers.
 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
Even if we accept your accounting, the ratio of "murders" to all prisoner deaths (27/108 or 25%) shows nothing relative to the ratios in the US corrections system, as natural causes deaths of lifers and others who have been in prison a long time tend to be older people.
Then, apparently, you didn’t read the post carefully enough. I bifurcated out prisoners that were homicide victims out of total prison deaths in both cases. Your criticism, therefore, is entirely invalid. The comparison is homicide to homicide, not the irrelevant apples and orange comparison you are making.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Dale,

Your logic continues to fail and your fractions continue to be irrelevant.

In 2 years we have 27 cases where US guards "murder" (your characterization) prisoners. For the same period, we have approximately 4 times as many murders in US prison, but maybe we just have about the same 27 (or even fewer) if we only look at prisoners "murdered" by guards.

For simplicity, let’s take that "27" equality to be true, so each fraction has the same numerator (27). The fact remains that the proper denominator is not the total number of deaths (which is higher in US prisons because they have more elderly prisoners), but rather the total number of prisoners held.

That is, the rate at which guards murder prisoners is meaningful if we speak of a rate per 1,000 prisoners. But the "rate" at which guards murder prisoners is not a meaningful statistic if it depends on how many other prisoners die of old age.

And finally, even if the meaningful rate of prisoner-murder-by-guard is higher in Iraq than in the US, the comparison is inapt because most people in US prisons are not members of a "gang" that sees itself at war with its captors and often shows itself willing to die in attempts to kill US guards and soldiers.
 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
Perhaps "those people" refers to people who resemble KSM in some more meaningful way than all being "ragheads"—like, perhaps, people who have conspired to commit the mass-murder of US citizens?

And perhaps not ... perhaps its exactly as I’ve pointed out.

The phrase "those people", was written in the context of a war (remember the sentence I purposely included preceeding the "those people comment? The one that starts with "This war...?")and can only allude to people of Arab descent since it is they who we’re warring against, isn’t it? And the discussion has to do with prisoners in our custody in Iraq, Afganistan and Gitmo, not just KSM.

Now, tell us, the vulgar term for "those people" is what?

McQ, it is indeed you who has brought ethnicity, unreasonableness and prejudicial thinking into your argument with Cutler, and you, not Cutler, who implies, in your false equation, that all "ragheads" are mass murderers.

In a word, nonsense. Learn to read. And when you do, work on comprehension.

Oh, and also learn to argue better, for heaven sake.

Now go to bed.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Discussion above was very interesting, with good points made on each side.

That is, until McQ joined the debate.

 
Written By: Jim in Chicago
URL: http://
McQ

The "fact" that all of our enemies in this war are Arabs is untrue (they are essentially all Muslims, but of various ethnicities).

But even leaving that detail aside, that does not mean a person who says "torture our enemies" is really saying "torture all Arabs" let alone "torture all ragheads."

 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
Ah, the choice between morally superior apologists whose fear clouds all their thinking and morally superior idealists whose sense of consistency demands treating others equally. Torture apologists who claim a superior humanity versus, well, versus what? Who cares? Why invent a strawman of the other side, when the point is that some of you apologize for excessive brutality.

We, as a country, have condoned kidnapping a man acquitted of crimes, and extraditing him to a location where he can be tortured. Oh, sorry, where excessive brutality can be used to extract information which he doesn’t have. We, as a country, have condoned excessive brutality across several countries and throught the support of governments whom we are also telling "now, don’t you people go doing that." We, as a country, condone imprisoning innocents, using excessive brutality on them, and never charging them with a crime.

And most of you who post here apologize for these actions. You assert superiority in all phases, conflate arguments at will, and ignore the simple principle of the Golden Rule. Of course you ignore it, because apologists are always better than the other they fear. Someday your cognitive dissonance will bite you in the ass, and you will realize you apologized for an evil policy. But for now, you people are disgusting.
 
Written By: rithko
URL: http://
But even leaving that detail aside, that does not mean a person who says "torture our enemies" is really saying "torture all Arabs" let alone "torture all ragheads."

Who are our enemies and by what vulgar term are they all usually referred?

Whether accurate or not, what is the term?

If you’re honest about it, you’ll say "raghead", and that was the term I used to sarcastically distil his argument.

And for your information, the vast majority of the jihadis come from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria (not to mention the Sunnis in Iraq) which are all considered to be Arab lands.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Discussion above was very interesting, with good points made on each side.

That is, until McQ joined the debate.



What debate, Jim? It was a collection of people trying to justify and rationalize torture. Perhaps you see ’good points’ in their argument, but I’ll be darned if I’ve found any.

Perhaps you could list a few?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
McQ,

By your logic, those who want to even jail our enemies want to "jail all the ragheads" and so are likewise condemned by you with the false brush of racism.

Argue against torture, don’t argue that an action against jihadists is an action against "all the ragheads." You might persuade a few more people if you aren’t falsely calling them racists.
 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
By your logic, those who want to even jail our enemies want to "jail all the ragheads" and so are likewise condemned by you with the false brush of racism.

Good grief ... give it a break will ya? Your argument is totally unconvincing. You’re back to broadbrush accusations which have no foundation in truth.

Look up the word "sarcasm" will you? As I mentioned the line was a SARCASTIC distillation of his comment.

Argue against torture, don’t argue that an action against jihadists is an action against "all the ragheads".

Sarcasm ... look it up.

You might persuade a few more people if you aren’t falsely calling them racists.

Hello? Dictionary? Big book with lots of words in it? Under "s"?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
First off thank you for your service, my debate with you isn’t a sign of my taking your sacrifice for granted.
Do you condone or condemn the torture of Abdul Hakim Murad?

Condemn.
Consistent at least.
If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.

My child would never question my moral choice and I find it telling yours would.
You might find it difficult to explain to dead children. But I am certain than you would feel satisfied that they died for a good cause. So you can sleep tight at night comfortable in the knowledge of your moral superiority.
What rules do you follow in a fight to the death?

Well the one’s I followed in Vietnam were pretty simple. If he fires, he dies. We fight until he is no longer a viable threat. If he surrenders, I take him into custody as a POW. Interestingly a lot of the folks I fought there didn’t wear uniforms either. But you know what, my platoon didn’t torture a single one. Go figure.
Course there was absolutely zero possibility of any Vietnamese coming here to blow up central New York. You agree that there is a somewhat higher chance of that happening with our current crop of bad guys. They have been remarkable adept at doing what no other enemy has done before...killing major portions of our civilian population in one of our biggest cities whilst destroying 2 of our tallest buildings and attacking the Center of our military establishment. By comparison the Vietnamese were children playing with firecrackers...
How does your self righteous set of values deal with a knife fight in a closet.

A knife fight in a closet? LOL!

Look Pierre, the right to self-defense is a fundamental right. And I’ll exercise it to the point that the person attacking me is no longer a threat. I’ve actually had to do that a few times. Have you?
Yup. But so what?

The Knife fight was a poor example, granted.
Do you avoid breaking some set of rules that only you hold and that your enemy ignores?

Possibly. I would assume, if he’s attacking me with deadly force, he’s trying to kill me. OTOH, if I manage to incapacitate him and he’s no longer a threat to my life, I’m not going to kill him.
Yup and thats not a bad rule, unless he has information that you need to prevent a disaster from happening in one of our cities.
Now if that’s different that what he might do so be it, but that’s my "set of rules".
Ah so you will do whatever it takes to defeat your enemy while he is fighting? Perhaps the difference between us is I define him as still fighting while he is captured while you believe he has quit.
Please explain why interrogating prisoners is any different from a knife fight in a closet?

We’re not talking about "interrogating prisoners", we’re talking about torturing them. And the difference is it isn’t a fight because one of the guys in the closet doesn’t have a knife.
Interrogation should include the credible threat of suffering. Matter of fact interrogation should include exactly anything that will get the information required. Andrew Sullivan defines torture as putting womens panties on a prisoners head and defacing the Koran.

As far as his being unarmed thats not true at all, he is armed with the knowledge of possible strikes against US targets. If he wants to avoid being tortured he simply has to decide that his side is losing and quit.
Are we or are we not at war?

Yes, we are.

What set of rules do we obey in war?

The rules of war, which, btw, prohibit the torture of prisoners.
And whose definition of torture has been getting narrower and narrower each year. What is it now we cannot use harsh language and must provide him with 3 squares a cot and a koran? Ooooh I hear those Al Queda members trembling in fear of breaking and divulging information.
Though I am glad to see you admit that torture does indeed work in regards to getting information valuable to defeating the enemy.

I’m sorry, but I never said that. The word "works" is in scare quotes for a reason.
Ah yes because even if the information saves thousands of lives its worthless because you feel dirty all over? Poor baby.
Now please explain why you believe it moral to allow untold thousands to die so that you can sleep at night.

Here’s a better idea. You explain how torture guarantees untold thousands will live, ok? Because that’s your premise
.

Easy that example that I have by now quoted 5 times did in fact save thousands of lives. Murad narrated to us about a plan by the Ramzi cell in the continental U.S. to hijack a commercial plane and ram it into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and also the Pentagon," said Rodolfo Mendoza, a Philippine intelligence investigator.
Exactly who stated that you got to keep your of values while you defend your country?

I did, because they’re MY values.
So you don’t follow orders that don’t conform to your sense of values? Another words had you been flying in WW2 you wouldnt have dropped any weapons on German cities because you would have been murdering unarmed civilians who were not a threat to you?

I suppose the dropping of Nuclear Weapons in Japan would have gone off without you as well?
I know that you believe that paramount, I understand the values of Objectivists so you arent that alien to me.

LOL! Oh yes they are, but that’s another subject. BTW, I’m not an Objectivist.
No because if you were we wouldnt be having this debate.
But if winning is everything and I as a General am willing to sacrifice lives to achieve victory then why do your petty little abstract values have any weight against my winning the war?

Because they’re not abstract to me.

Note your premise. "Winning is everything." It pretty well defines your morality, or, in reality, lack thereof. Your premise is distinctly amoral. Its not one with which I’d want any association
.

Note your assumption that there is something other of value except winning in a war. Which tells me that you only consider wars where we can all sit around afterwards bemoaning the fact that "Oh Well shucks we lost another one, but at least I feel good about myself". Your concept of war doesnt extend to the sort of war we are in now. You are the sort of warrior we send to defend other nations when they are in trouble but the sort of warrior that might be less useful in a war inside of our country.
The main problem between you and me is you view this war as won, I don’t.

Huh? Where you came to this conclusion is beyond me, but hey, it’s your rant. Assumptions ’R Us, I guess.
Logical to assume that because you are willing to put your values in front of winning that you consider winning a foregone conclusion. Unless you really mean to die to uphold your values. If you do then fine...do it alone. I plan on winning then living with my guilt while I watch my children get old.
Or more terribly you don’t care if we win as long as we follow the rules whilst losing. Which is it?

LOL! Uh, neither.
There, I’ve answered every one of your questions. Now what?

Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Torture works else it wouldnt still be used.

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
Jon and Dale, well said. There’s not much to add except to link to your post, both here and here.
 
Written By: Bird Dog
URL: http://www.tacitus.org
McQ

1) You confuse derisiveness with sarcasm.

2) Your "sarcasm" still accuses your opponent of racism; it has no other point.

You accused your opponent of wanting to "kill, torture and abuse all those Ragheads" and then you defended your false accusation with arguments about whether jihadists are ragheads or Arabs (ignoring the real disctinction between the subset of al-Qaeda and the whole of Islam).

You also said you wanted to "sarcastically distil his argument." Did you mean to express the opposite point, that Cutler is an anti-racist? Clearly not; your snide distillation is precisely to accuse Cutler and those who agree with him of racism, of wanting to torture Arabs without regard to their individual guilt or knowledge of enemy operations.

(sarcasm: remarks that mean the opposite of what they seem to say and are intended to mock or deride.)
 
Written By: DWPittelli
URL: http://www.woodedpaths.blogspot.com/
Regarding the torture debate, here is a must-read post about how the reflexive "Support The Troops" mantra is dying, and deservedly so:

http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/2005/05/death-of-mantra.html

 
Written By: Peter
URL: http://
A deep underlying issue here is "in times of war, do we...?"

The only war we are in is the one of our own choosing, in Iraq. That is not a war against terrorists. It is not being fought on our soil, and it is our invasion of another country. The war in Afghanistan is over.

There was one attack on September 11, 2001, against us. At the time, people leapt to the statement "We are at war!" But, you see, I’ve lived in war zones, and this isn’t war. War is when the attack happens every day. War is when schools are gassed, every day, churches bombed, every day, people attacked, every day. War is in Iraq, against an invading force. Perhaps we are right in being the invading force, but we also have a guerilla war against foreign occupiers. Here in the US, we were attacked exactly once. That isn’t war. Were we at war with the right wing radicals in this country after McVeigh attacked in Oklahoma? That is the parallel.

Instead, you torture apologists justify the lesser human other-ness of those you wish to torture by saying "we’re at war." But you’re wrong. That which you fear and the war which we fight are two different things. That the fear you have is /more/ likely due to the war we fight, well, I’m willing to worry about that, too.
 
Written By: rithko
URL: http://
Easy that example that I have by now quoted 5 times did in fact save thousands of lives. Murad narrated to us about a plan by the Ramzi cell in the continental U.S. to hijack a commercial plane and ram it into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and also the Pentagon," said Rodolfo Mendoza, a Philippine intelligence investigator.
Pierre, go back and re-read my post that shows Murad’s torture was unnecessary. You used incomplete information to come to the conclusion that we needed his confession to know his plans. His confession saved no lives. The lives were saved as soon as he was arrested and his apartment was searched.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Consistent at least.

Yup ... it’s called "principle"

You might find it difficult to explain to dead children. But I am certain than you would feel satisfied that they died for a good cause. So you can sleep tight at night comfortable in the knowledge of your moral superiority.

Are "dead children" your ultimate "principle", i.e. would you do anything to prevent the death of children?

What I’m really asking is do you have any principles by which you define your life?

Lastly the fact that I consider torture immoral and something I wouldn’t do doesn’t at all mean that children are going to die, anymore than you using it guarantees they’d live. So while its a rhetorically powerful and emotional example, its invalid.

Yup and thats not a bad rule, unless he has information that you need to prevent a disaster from happening in one of our cities.

So your contending there’s no other way to get this information?

And whose definition of torture has been getting narrower and narrower each year. What is it now we cannot use harsh language and must provide him with 3 squares a cot and a koran? Ooooh I hear those Al Queda members trembling in fear of breaking and divulging information.

No, that’s abuse. Torture has always been pretty clearly understood to be the infliction of severe pain (and bodily harm) in an effort to coerce information.

Easy that example that I have by now quoted 5 times did in fact save thousands of lives. Murad narrated to us about a plan by the Ramzi cell in the continental U.S. to hijack a commercial plane and ram it into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and also the Pentagon," said Rodolfo Mendoza, a Philippine intelligence investigator.

I think JWG has handily dispensed with that myth.

So you don’t follow orders that don’t conform to your sense of values?

I don’t follow unlawful or immoral orders, which btw, is what the military teaches me to do (i.e. refuse them). Murder is an unlawful and immoral order. So is torture.

Note your assumption that there is something other of value except winning in a war. Which tells me that you only consider wars where we can all sit around afterwards bemoaning the fact that "Oh Well shucks we lost another one, but at least I feel good about myself". Your concept of war doesnt extend to the sort of war we are in now. You are the sort of warrior we send to defend other nations when they are in trouble but the sort of warrior that might be less useful in a war inside of our country.

Huh? This makes absolutely no sense. None. Its factually wrong and filled with non sequitors.

You might want to clarify.

Logical to assume that because you are willing to put your values in front of winning that you consider winning a foregone conclusion. Unless you really mean to die to uphold your values. If you do then fine...do it alone. I plan on winning then living with my guilt while I watch my children get old.

There’s no logic at all in assuming that my principles have to keep me from winning. I’d just go about it differently than you, which is obvious. This is a nonsense and unsupportable argument.

Torture works else it wouldnt still be used.

Torture is used because some think it works. Most who’ve studied it and what it has yielded disagree.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
All of your posts scream out that there is only one moral you hold more dear than any other; more than the Golden Rule, more than human rights: Personal Moral Consistency...to the point of surrendering other unasked innocents—even your own family—for your personal mental and moral comforts.

I won’t denigrate your worship of moral consistency to such a point. You see no flaws in it, so be it. I will merely give thanks that I am not subject to it when others’ logic and morality have fled the negotiations and all that remains is death and more death.

In the same way the Left holds no one accountable for their actions, some forget that our enemies can avoid untold suffering on the great battlefields of the Mideast or the small, intimate battlefields of interrogations. They can choose not to kill us. They can surrender their will, and live. And probably live well, if history is an indicator.

We have those same choices, too.

However, there is an insurmountable religious Moral of theirs that won’t suffer us to live, even if we surrender. They want no quarter, compromise, or deal. They want our death or theirs.

Their moral consistency, like yours, is willing to surrender up their own innocents without a second thought. They wage war knowing what retribution will be visited on them and their families, but they do it heartily and happily in consistent obedience to what they have embraced.

You yourself declare that you have embraced a Moral Consistency that may prove costly to innocents. Please provide a moral argument for this position.
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
All of your posts scream out that there is only one moral you hold more dear than any other; more than the Golden Rule, more than human rights: Personal Moral Consistency...to the point of surrendering other unasked innocents—even your own family—for your personal mental and moral comforts.

Nonsense Joan ... what they say is we have minimal standards, called principles, by which we try to live our lives.

Don’t you?

I won’t denigrate your worship of moral consistency to such a point. You see no flaws in it, so be it. I will merely give thanks that I am not subject to it when others’ logic and morality have fled the negotiations and all that remains is death and more death.

Oh quit being such a drama queen. What we’re asking is that if we claim to champion human rights then to act appropriately. You seem to see some cosmic problem with that when its something this country has always demanded of itself, its soldiers and its leaders since its founding.

Freedom of speech. Should we demand it be applied consistently even when we don’t like the speech being offered or should we, you know, squelch the bloody bastards that say things we don’t like.

Do we try to live up to the standard we’ve set for ourselves, or do we throw it overboard when it becomes inconvenient?

In the same way the Left holds no one accountable for their actions, some forget that our enemies can avoid untold suffering on the great battlefields of the Mideast or the small, intimate battlefields of interrogations. They can choose not to kill us. They can surrender their will, and live. And probably live well, if history is an indicator.

We have those same choices, too.


And if you’re content to live by their standards or lack thereof, that’s a choice you’re free to make (and pay the consequences).

However, there is an insurmountable religious Moral of theirs that won’t suffer us to live, even if we surrender. They want no quarter, compromise, or deal. They want our death or theirs.

Who here has said we have to compromise or deal with them? We’ve just said our standard of behavior doesn’t allow torture. You’d think the world was coming to an end and we were completely disarmed by the rhetoric you and some of the others here have written.

Their moral consistency, like yours, is willing to surrender up their own innocents without a second thought. They wage war knowing what retribution will be visited on them and their families, but they do it heartily and happily in consistent obedience to what they have embraced.

Well, you certainly win the gold medal for logical leaps. Why does eschewing torture as a method of interrogation necessarily mean we’re willing to "surrender up" our innocents? Non sequitur alert.

You yourself declare that you have embraced a Moral Consistency that may prove costly to innocents. Please provide a moral argument for this position.

So help me out with this ... your highest standard is the protection of innocents? And you assume that those who disagree with the use of torture must not share that standard? How does that work?

Moral argument? We, as a nation, claim to champion human rights. In fact its one of the 9 reasons we went into Iraq. Abusing them doesn’t exactly fulfill the moral imperative required by "human rights" of not doing purposeful injury to defenseless human beings within our control.

Does that mean we can’t interrogate them? No. In fact, if you’ll research a little, you’ll find the most effective way to get information from a prisoner is to befriend them. What a concept huh?

And that information is more likely to be reliable because the prisoner is more likely to try to please a friend. Innocents saved, principle preserved, all is well.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Nonsense Joan ... what they say is we have minimal standards, called principles, by which we try to live our lives.

Don’t you?
Doesn’t a state of war, by definition, mean operating outside the normal behavioral standard?
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
There have been 68,000 persons detained in Afganistan and Iraq. The fact that 27 have been murdered by US troops is statistically insignificant or a margin of error in war. These numbers are not surpising at all and historically quite low when compared to previous wars. The fact that these crimes occured does not indicate the existance of a US torture/murder policy as A. Sullivan implies daily.

These crimes are certainly not acceptable but our soldiers are, after all, fallable human beings under tremendous stress and witness to horrific atrocities against their fellow soldiers. If corrections officers at US penitentaries had many of their fellow corrections officers and buddies blown up by inmates, you might find that the 25% vs. the 1.7% gap get much closer. It doesn’’ make it right, but this is human nature. If you believe otherwise, your fooling yourself.
 
Written By: joec
URL: http://
There have been 68,000 persons detained in Afganistan and Iraq. The fact that 27 have been murdered by US troops is statistically insignificant or a margin of error in war.

Well that’s nice. So your message is what? Murder them until they are a statistical significant percentage and then do something about it?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Even if we accept your accounting, the ratio of "murders" to all prisoner deaths (27/108 or 25%) shows nothing relative to the ratios in the US corrections system,
Nor for that matter does it address the mortality ratios out in the wilds of Iraq... a valid comparitor, it seems to me. If you’re going to breast-beat about how the sky is falling, it’s at least useful to be aware of the elevation delta. (Snicker)

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Interesting spin on the evidence of a successful use of torture to gain information...but spin is all it is.
Hmmm, his computer contained information and he didn’t talk for over two months despite brutal torture.
But then he did talk. When the right button was found he did talk. And the right button happened to be the absolute terror of being interrogated by the Israelis who do in fact believe that torture works.

Your only hope could be proving that his interrogation revealed nothing and we both know how much fun that will be for you to prove. Maybe you might like to read some partial transcripts of his interrogation?

We pick it up somewhere in the middle.
Interrogator: Yeah.
Murad:—Heathrow to San Antonio
Interrogator: San Antonio?
Murad: Yeah.
Interrogator: What plane?
Murad: It was at that time—
Interrogator: Don’t—
Murad: —T-, TWA.
Interrogator: Don’t drink that.
Murad: No, no, just—
Interrogator: Don’t drink that.
Murad: TWA.
Interrogator: (UI) Put that down. You want to get treated bad again?
Murad: I-I’m , this is the truth.
Interrogator: Okay
Murad: If-if you treat-treating me bad, treat me.
And this from the Washington Post:
Richard Kaylor, manager of Richmor Aviation, said the FBI was first alerted to the Schenectady flight school after a Richmond business card was discovered in Murad and Yousef’s Manila apartment.
Yup no doubt that information was found when he was busted but without a doubt the interrogation revealed the details with names that helped bring it down. In fact the interrogation of Murad was introduced into evidence to convict Ramsey Yousef.
Kaylor said two FBI agents came to interview him about Murad in 1996. He said he provided information about Murad and two other student pilots, both of whom lived with Murad.
Hmmm, a business card linked him to a flight school, which in turn pointed them to additional people. FrontPage Magazine reports on additional information found in the apartment:
That proves what? That the interrogation was useless? hehe...nice try.
Cops found Manila street maps and clothing remarkably similar to that of Pope John Paul’s entourage—the pontiff was due for a visit a week from the discovery—suggesting a planned attempt on his life. They also discovered bomb materials and a laptop whose disks revealed plans for Project Bojinka.
Again that they found information in addition to his interrogation is besides the point. It was his interrogation that stopped Ramsey Yousef.
It’s an interesting article. Shall I go on, or have I done enough to show that your initial excitement for the necessity of Murad’s torture is entirely overblown?
Overblown? Y’all are the ones who are claiming that torture never works. Or worse that even if it did work you would be caught dead using it. Or more to the point you wouldnt mind letting others die so you didnt have to use it.

Pierre Legrand
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
McQ,

No, if you had read what I had written, I said that these abuses were "not acceptable" to me. However, 27 deaths out of 68,000 detainess under the circumstances, is actually a very low number historically...and that issuing a different policy and/or enforcement directive would not get rid of the problem. Detainees would continue to be abused and murdered, unfortunalty.

joe
 
Written By: joec
URL: http://
Interesting I am learning a lot more about torture than I ever wanted to know.
Consistent at least.

Yup ... it’s called "principle"
Stand on principle, die by reality.
You might find it difficult to explain to dead children. But I am certain than you would feel satisfied that they died for a good cause. So you can sleep tight at night comfortable in the knowledge of your moral superiority.

Are "dead children" your ultimate "principle", i.e. would you do anything to prevent the death of children?

What I’m really asking is do you have any principles by which you define your life?
Absolutely the value from which all other values come from is the continuation of my life. The second value is the promotion of copies of me and my wife. All else falls by the wayside.

While I might be completely able to stand on principle and die by reality by myself. I will not allow my children to suffer a fate worse than death because of a value that throws them to the wolves.
Lastly the fact that I consider torture immoral and something I wouldn’t do doesn’t at all mean that children are going to die, anymore than you using it guarantees they’d live. So while its a rhetorically powerful and emotional example, its invalid.
Only problem is you have limits to what you will do to save them and I do not. I will lovingly throw people from helicopters if it means information gained from his fellow travelers will prevent the loss of one US Soldier, while you will stop. I will throw my principles away and live in shame to win a war.
Yup and thats not a bad rule, unless he has information that you need to prevent a disaster from happening in one of our cities.

So your contending there’s no other way to get this information?
No I am contending that you are attempting to fight a war of limits while your enemy has none. I am saying that putting limits on what you will do provides free space for our enemies.
And whose definition of torture has been getting narrower and narrower each year. What is it now we cannot use harsh language and must provide him with 3 squares a cot and a koran? Ooooh I hear those Al Queda members trembling in fear of breaking and divulging information.

No, that’s abuse. Torture has always been pretty clearly understood to be the infliction of severe pain (and bodily harm) in an effort to coerce information.
Yes and that is the world you want to condemn us to, the world of definitions and limits. And in that world pretty soon you are left with nothing at all that can be done to gain information, because nearly anything up to imprisonment can be thought of as torture by one faction or the other. Those factions have zero power with me.
Easy that example that I have by now quoted 5 times did in fact save thousands of lives. Murad narrated to us about a plan by the Ramzi cell in the continental U.S. to hijack a commercial plane and ram it into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and also the Pentagon," said Rodolfo Mendoza, a Philippine intelligence investigator.

I think JWG has handily dispensed with that myth.
In his dreams.
So you don’t follow orders that don’t conform to your sense of values?

I don’t follow unlawful or immoral orders, which btw, is what the military teaches me to do (i.e. refuse them). Murder is an unlawful and immoral order. So is torture.
I notice you stayed far away from my hypothetical bombing runs. Whats up? Would you have participated or not? How do you feel about Halsey’s admonition to his sailors and marines.
KILL JAPS! KILL JAPS! KILL MORE JAPS! You will help to kill the yellow bastards if you do your job well "
Admiral Halsey’s famous billboard at the entrance to the Tulagi Naval Base during WW2.
Note your assumption that there is something other of value except winning in a war. Which tells me that you only consider wars where we can all sit around afterwards bemoaning the fact that "Oh Well shucks we lost another one, but at least I feel good about myself". Your concept of war doesnt extend to the sort of war we are in now. You are the sort of warrior we send to defend other nations when they are in trouble but the sort of warrior that might be less useful in a war inside of our country.

Huh? This makes absolutely no sense. None. Its factually wrong and filled with non sequitors.

You might want to clarify.
Sure, you aren’t the sort of warrior I might hope to have by my side if the enemy was rampaging through my countryside because you have limits. I am not interested in your virtues or morality at that point. I am interested in winning.
Logical to assume that because you are willing to put your values in front of winning that you consider winning a foregone conclusion. Unless you really mean to die to uphold your values. If you do then fine...do it alone. I plan on winning then living with my guilt while I watch my children get old.

There’s no logic at all in assuming that my principles have to keep me from winning. I’d just go about it differently than you, which is obvious. This is a nonsense and unsupportable argument.
You have limits. You may win but you will only win by your rules, if winning calls for your rules to be violated you will gladly sacrifice my family by losing to avoid breaking your rules. My only rule is to win, I may use any tool availible as long as I win. This isnt complicated math.
Torture works else it wouldnt still be used.

Torture is used because some think it works. Most who’ve studied it and what it has yielded disagree.

Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Wars are not meant to be fought nicely, unless we are to become too fond of them. (Sorry General Lee) Wars are meant to be fought as if the enemy is at the gates and our children are to our backs. We should never spend warriors lives trying to save enemies because that is the height of arrogance.

Now at the top of this response I spoke of learning alot about torture. I am willing to grant that cutting off fingers is counterproductive but I don’t see any reason to declare that we won’t cut off any fingers.

Our ways should be mysterious to our enemies. There is no reason that they should have any knowledge of what fate awaits them in prison furthermore I see no harm in them believing that terrible torture awaits them.

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
Wars are not meant to be fought nicely, unless we are to become too fond of them.

No one has ever said they were. But torturing someone who is completely defenseless isn’t war.

Stand on principle, die by reality.

Freedom of speech. Principle.

Throw it overboard when someone says something we don’t like and stop their speech or stand on principle and defend their right to say it?

Right to keep and bear arms. Principle

Defend the principle that says all men have the right to arms or throw it overboard when a few killings happen?

Stand on principle, die by reality?

Is that really your motto?

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Pierre, you’re changing your argument. You claimed the torture of Murad
did in fact save thousands of lives
Now you’re trying to use his torture as evidence that torture works. I don’t really care if it works or not. I bet we could get a lot of good information out of American criminals if we started shooting their children. Should we use that technique because "it works"? The effectiveness of torture has never been the main point in these discussions.

In reality, I have shown very easily that the torture of Murad over the course of two months did not save any lives. It may have provided a few details that were not in the computer he was trying to retrieve or available from other evidence in the apartment, but his terrorist plots were already prevented. No one would have died if he hadn’t been tortured. But I’m certain these documented facts won’t stop you from using the Murad example in the future. You seem to really like it.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Jon nice try but you are still trying to wage war nicely...doesnt work. Matter of fact it might be illuminating to consider just how many wars were started because people thought the other guys heart was not into defending his life.

You want a nice war with limits so that you can have other nations nod in approval towards you. As if those nods were worth the effort put into them. In reality those nods are hiding contempt for weakness and idiocy.

Relations between nations are entirely dependent on respect and fear. This admiration that your side seems to crave is beyond foolishness. Nations will work with us out of self interest and fear, thats it.

War is horrible, nasty, mean and brutal, all sorts of innocent people die, but its worse for the losers. I advocate my government not being involved in wars, but when they are I advocate total all out crushing defeat for my enemies. Nothing less is acceptable. There has never been a more deserving bunch to be crushed than the current crop of Islamofacists.
Now you’re trying to use his torture as evidence that torture works. I don’t really care if it works or not.
So incredibly naive as to be almost unbelievable and furthermore if this is a dominant belief inside of our government then more horror is on its way. So there are things you WON’T do to win?

Will you carpet bomb cities? Will you drop nuclear weapons on cities? Will you sink ships containing civilians and military supplies? Is it ok to drop naplam onto gatherings of people if you might kill civilians? How about mines do you use them? All these things happen in war, all of them are absolutely horrible, but I suspect you would do some of them. But as soon as you get a person inside of your control then poof you turn into the Good Fairy, no stress positions, no humiliations, no sleep deprivation, no bright lights, no nothing that might make the poor dear feel a bit uncomfortable.
I bet we could get a lot of good information out of American criminals if we started shooting their children. Should we use that technique because "it works"? The effectiveness of torture has never been the main point in these discussions.
If we believe those criminals might be intending to kill millions and have demonstated a unique ability to murder thousands I say I take them up in a helicopter 3 at a time. At 2,000 feet throw one out, then start asking questions.
In reality, I have shown very easily that the torture of Murad over the course of two months did not save any lives.
You did nothing of the sort.
It may have provided a few details that were not in the computer he was trying to retrieve or available from other evidence in the apartment, but his terrorist plots were already prevented. No one would have died if he hadn’t been tortured. But I’m certain these documented facts won’t stop you from using the Murad example in the future. You seem to really like it.

Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
You and I both know that your entire argument in this country depends on you proving that torture does not work. If one instance is shown to deliver the goods then the American People will never stand for those of you who believe that one can run a war with limits so that you can sleep at night.

Ramsey Yousefs name was coughed up in those interrogations, that information was unique to the interrogations.

Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
McQ:

Can’t help it that moral questions, when taken to their conclusions, seem overly dramatic to you. Are you now going to play the "degrees" card when you’ve denied it to others? And for the record, I never stated that the protection of innocents was the highest standard, only that YOU held your Personal Moral Consistency higher than the protection of innocents. To wit:

Pierre wrote and you responded thusly:

P:If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.

MQ: My child would never question my moral choice and I find it telling yours would.


My earlier comment on your response drew a misplaced "non-sequitur alert!" from you. What else should one have inferred from your own answer other than the fact that you hold your Morality of Consistence to be the highest, even unto the detriment or demise of your own children? If it is other than you yourself have stated, I am willing to listen.

As it stands, your answer to Pierre was a non-answer to his question, as well as dismissive and presumptious to the point of inanity. You have no idea what your children may or may not question unless you have thwarted that highly vaunted free-thinking liberalism in them. That you pride yourself in raising children who never question your moral choices is as scary as military underlings who never question orders.

Again, if your position is other than you yourself have stated, please enlighten us with a real answer. As it is, I remain unmoved by your lack of respect for the question posed to you.

And you have utterly failed to provide a moral argument for human rights. You’ve merely restated that the U.S. holds to the principles of Human Rights and you’ve restated the main principles of Human Rights.

But you earlier asked for someone to provide the moral argument for torture. In turn, I ask you to provide the moral argument for Human Rights. What is the argument that makes you understand that harming a so-called defenseless person under one’s care is inhumane? By what authority do we deem this tenet the highest? I mean, who says so, and why should I believe them?

(Side note: I maintain that an enemy in my care who has valuable information about future agressive attacks against my country is actively harming me by not revealing it. As such he continues to be an agressor, but is NOT absolutely defenseless. The truth is his defense.)

I’m willing to hear any thoughts that provide exposition on the foundations for any such moral absolute as Torture Is Always Wrong. And it can’t be as silly and slipshod as your previous cant. It should be a thoughtful exposition from one who understands how to express what he believes and why. Cuz we ain’t seen it yet.

Why do you think our country or others—or even individuals—seek to hold Human Rights as a Moral Virtue? And why should we deem it higher than other moral virtues?
 
Written By: Joan of Argghh!
URL: http://
(Side note: I maintain that an enemy in my care who has valuable information about future agressive attacks against my country is actively harming me by not revealing it. As such he continues to be an agressor, but is NOT absolutely defenseless. The truth is his defense.)
Quite correct. He can to defend himself, or his buddies. But if the latter....


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
McQ:

Can’t help it that moral questions, when taken to their conclusions, seem overly dramatic to you.
Their presentation may be overdramatic, Joan, not their conclusions. However it is your version of the conclusions with which we’ll deal here. BTW, I do apologize for calling you a drama queen. It was snarky (imagine me being snarky).
Are you now going to play the "degrees" card when you’ve denied it to others? And for the record, I never stated that the protection of innocents was the highest standard, only that YOU held your Personal Moral Consistency higher than the protection of innocents. To wit:

Pierre wrote and you responded thusly:

P:If you condemn it then you should be perfectly willing to explain to your children or mine why it is that you preferred to let them die rather than sully your personal morality.

MQ: My child would never question my moral choice and I find it telling yours would.

My earlier comment on your response drew a misplaced "non-sequitur alert!" from you. What else should one have inferred from your own answer other than the fact that you hold your Morality of Consistence to be the highest, even unto the detriment or demise of your own children? If it is other than you yourself have stated, I am willing to listen.
It is here where you argument goes off the track. It does so because it rests on a very large and unsupportable assumption that posits that the torture of prisoners is legitimate and moral because it might - note the word – might yield some useful information that may help save a life or two and that the information is available by no other means.

Left out of that assumption is the obvious point that the torture may produce no useful information and it may save no lives. In fact, it may yield nothing but the death of the person being tortured. It also leaves out the assumption that the information being sought may be available by other means.

So there’s your moral dilemma in a nutshell. Torture and violate the human rights of another human being on the assumption (actually the hope) that the person may have useful information (while disregarding the chance that they may not) or refuse to violate the rights of another human being and seek the information you need through other means.

Now your premise, based on the initial assumption you seem to be arguing, is that if I don’t do what is necessary, i.e. torture this prisoner to get information he or she is believed to have (which is necessary to protect or save innocent life) then I’ve placed my principles above thoe lives of innocent others.

That, of course, isn’t all true, logically or practically. It would only be a true statement if torture was the only way to gather information. I’ll direct your attention to the last sentence 2 paragraphs above: “ … and seek the information you need through other means”. We have tons of other methods which don’t violate human rights.

So what would be the purpose of seeking that needed information through other means, Joan?

One, among many, would be to save or protect innocent lives, right? So if I’m seeking that same information by other means, how have my principles been placed above “innocent lives”?

They haven’t. I just have refused to throw them overboard as you have for expediency’s sake. I’ve simply refused to use a technique I consider to be immoral to try to gather that information.

That leaves you with the argument then that “my method will produce the information quicker”. That, obviously, is pure conjecture, as you have no way of knowing that and certainly no way of proving that to be true. And even if true, you certainly can’t argue your information would be more reliable (or reliable at all). Nor is it possible to know, prior to torturing them, if the person has the information you want.

So you’re left defending torture with no support in terms of morality. You can’t even claim for sure that what you might get is reliable. All you can claim is expediency, and even that’s a crapshoot.

What you choose to do, by using torture, is throw principle aside because you can and you have the power to do so. And you’ve rejected all other means of achieving the same goal in favor of torture.
As it stands, your answer to Pierre was a non-answer to his question, as well as dismissive and presumptious to the point of inanity.
Well I’ll admit to assuming my interlocutor(s) would understand the point. Obviously I was wrong.
You have no idea what your children may or may not question unless you have thwarted that highly vaunted free-thinking liberalism in them. That you pride yourself in raising children who never question your moral choices is as scary as military underlings who never question orders.

Again, if your position is other than you yourself have stated, please enlighten us with a real answer. As it is, I remain unmoved by your lack of respect for the question posed to you.
My “child” is 32 years old and I do indeed know what he would say about this as we’ve talked about such moral dilemmas at length over the years. My son and I share the same moral philosophy when it comes to the violation of human rights, i.e, torture. So it isn’t much of a stretch for me to say “my child would never question my moral choice”. He wouldn’t. He knows precisely what choice I’d make … because he would know what it was without even asking.

What I didn’t claim is he would agree with it. I certainly think he would. But what I said is he wouldn’t question MY moral choice. I can only guess whether he’d agree. I’ll point out the only one making that guess a “fact” is you. I assume you did that so you could wander off into that little irrelevant strawman rant about “underlings who never question orders”.

As for my “position” it has not changed one iota. I condemn torture in all its forms and on all occasions. Fairly straight forward if you ask me.
And you have utterly failed to provide a moral argument for human rights. You’ve merely restated that the U.S. holds to the principles of Human Rights and you’ve restated the main principles of Human Rights.
The moral argument for Human Rights is fairly simply. Human Rights, being universal in nature, provide an inalienable sanction for certain actions as well as providing certain morally justifiable claims which in the end expand liberty and freedom for all people. The moral good, the argument for, if you prefer, is the obviously expanded sphere of individual liberty and freedom. I’m surprised and a little chagrinned that you need someone to lay it out for you.
But you earlier asked for someone to provide the moral argument for torture.
Yes, and I’m still waiting for that. Obviously, its not coming though.
In turn, I ask you to provide the moral argument for Human Rights. What is the argument that makes you understand that harming a so-called defenseless person under one’s care is inhumane? By what authority do we deem this tenet the highest? I mean, who says so, and why should I believe them?
The "argument" has been around for centuries concerning human rights. It’s the same one contained in the Declaration of Independence (considered by many to be the moral foundation of the country while the Constitution is considered the legal foundation)upon which this nation was founded. Are you seriously unaware of that argument? Do you even know what is being talked about when US chastises other countries for “human rights violations?”

My opposition to torture is based in that argument and the conclusion, based on that argument, that I have no moral right to do so. Moral principles are like pregnancy, you either are or you aren’t. There’s no sometimes.

And the person your torturing isn’t a “so-called defenseless person”, they’re a completely defenseless person (or, obviousl, you’d be unable to torture them), unless torture is a team sport, and they get to give tit for tat.
(Side note: I maintain that an enemy in my care who has valuable information about future agressive attacks against my country is actively harming me by not revealing it. As such he continues to be an agressor, but is NOT absolutely defenseless. The truth is his defense.)
Yes, understood …that’s known as rationalization. Why not be honest about it and say "I reserve the right to do whatever I want to do up to and including inflicting severe pain, bodily injury and even death to someone I have in my complete power if I conclude they may have information I deem important." That way you can save all the “aggressor” and “NOT absolutely defenseless” rhetoric as you try to justify your brutality in your own mind or to others. Then you’ll be perceived as just a thug, and not a self-deluded thug.
I’m willing to hear any thoughts that provide exposition on the foundations for any such moral absolute as Torture Is Always Wrong. And it can’t be as silly and slipshod as your previous cant. It should be a thoughtful exposition from one who understands how to express what he believes and why. Cuz we ain’t seen it yet.
Well it’s clear, by your questions and comments that you really haven’t thought this through at any length in terms of absolutes, alternatives or outcomes. So it isn’t surprising to me that you’ve found nothing to convince you otherwise. You’ve somehow concluded that you have no alternative but torture, and if you don’t torture you’re consigning “innocents” to death. While I can appreciate your concern for the innocents on one side, I can’t understand your wanton disregard for those who could be innocent and in your torture chamber on the other. And as I’ve shown, it’s simply not true that torture is the only choice.
Why do you think our country or others—or even individuals—seek to hold Human Rights as a Moral Virtue? And why should we deem it higher than other moral virtues?
For the same reason we hold freedom of speech as a virtue and a right, or the right to keep and bear arms. They’re important principles which promote and expand liberty and freedom for all.

I asked you this before but you didn’t respond. I would assume that you’d agree that freedom of speech is a right. It’s an underlying principle of this country.

Do we throw it overboard when people say things we don’t like and prohibit their speech? Or do we stand for principle even when that means we have to hear things we don’t want to hear?

I would assume you’d agree with standing on principle. Now, apply the same test to human rights. Do we throw the principle of human rights overboard for the expediency of torture or do we stand on principle and gather the information by other means, even if that is harder and may take longer?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I like principle: "Do we throw it overboard when people say things we don’t like and prohibit their speech? Or do we stand for principle even when that means we have to hear things we don’t want to hear?

I would assume you’d agree with standing on principle. Now, apply the same test to human rights. Do we throw the principle of human rights overboard for the expediency of torture or do we stand on principle and gather the information by other means, even if that is harder and may take longer?"


On the other hand, I do NOT like American Soldier casualities.
So let’s say there is a some chance a prisoner will give info that could save a life.

How many Americans are you willing to let die to support the principle of no torture?
1%? Meaning YOU willingly sacrifice the lives of some 16 Americans to avoid being accused of torture.

Do you really accept that responsibility for American deaths?
 
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
URL: http://tomgrey.motime.com
Do you really accept that responsibility for American deaths?

No .. do you?

Look, I know you quoted from my comment, but its obvious you didn’t understand a word you quoted or any of the rest of it.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
(Chuckle)

Actually, I’d say he understands it fairly well.

What he’s trying to get you to address, if I read him rightly, is your understanding of the consequences of your highly principled stand.

Both directions one could go on this, have consequences, of course. Apparently, Tom thnks the deaths of Americans a consequence of greatest import and the highest consideration. After all, one cannot very well promote and expand liberty and freedom for all, from the grave.





 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
"That’s just about where I stand: full transparency and due process, followed by 1) release, 2) a prison cell and POW status, or 3) an execution."

I actually tend to agree with your prescription for dealing with prisoners, including the executions.

However, what I find quite remarkable is the idea that the Muslim world is offended by our mistreatment of their sons, but not by the idea that three infidels can decide to light them up at a firing squad.

With thinking like this, I am sure we will win their harts and minds yet.
 
Written By: Zach
URL: http://ourwayoflifeblog.blogspot.com/
Exactly!
(Side note: I maintain that an enemy in my care who has valuable information about future agressive attacks against my country is actively harming me by not revealing it. As such he continues to be an agressor, but is NOT absolutely defenseless. The truth is his defense.) Joan of Argghh!
Pierre
 
Written By: Pierre Legrand
URL: http://www.papadoc.net/PinkFlamingoBar.html
Just found this page about 20 minutes ago. I was arguing pretty much the same as you, but not nearly as well, and someone posted a link to this page. I have only skimmed this page, but so far I agree almost 100%. Havn’t read the comments yet. I’ll be back.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"And, of course, the implicit argument that principles are for losers."


Well, after My Lai, and Kerry’s Winter Soldier testimony, the US left Vietnam. Allowing the evil commies to win, to murder hundreds of thousands. The Left that complained about US atrocities was essentially silent about commie genocide—indicating that stopping torture was NOT the purpose, but getting the US to leave SE Asia was.


Torture is unacceptable; whenever it occurs the military should investigate and punish the guilty.

Perhaps less than the punishment given to OJ Simpson, despite the "not guilty" verdict, unless the investigated servicemen have the same OJ defense possibilities.

I think the US gov’t has the proper balance. Gen Karpinski, now demoted to Col., was properly disciplined. War is hell. What do you want?

In fact, you want Unreal Perfection. I admire the fact you do look at some statistics, but killing a violent prisoner who is rioting, or escaping, is not murder.

Some prolly are "murder"—these are investigated. [To really be murder, it must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the murderer was not defending himself, and his purpose was to kill. I’d guess in most of the 105 and even 27 investigation cases, killing was NOT the goal.]


I now advocate that the Coalition in Iraq form a prison investigation unit, to observe and report on the conditions in all prisons with prisoners.

Insofar as the complaints about "torture" are primarily sticks to support Bush-bashing, they are overdone.

I am more concerned about the murdered thousands, in Vietnam then, in Sudan today, than about the dozens of prisoner deaths.

How many MORE US abuse news stories need there be than other gov’t abuse stories before the choice of news editors is seen as biased? And negative? And even in support of the murders NOT covered?


There is a Moral Hazard of Free Press, seen easily if one considers a balanced news, an unbalanced PR for Bush news, and an unbalanced PR against Bush news.

In the unbalanced PR against Bush case, that means more Arabs, the maximum, will hate America and become suiciders to kill Americans. Unbalanced PR for Bush will minimize the media reasons for hating Bush and killing Americans. Balanced reporting will result in less than the maximum, more than the minimum.

News about US torture means more suiciders, and more murders. News, even balanced news, is not neutral.


On supporting American deaths—I support a balanced news reporting, even though it means more Americans die than would die with unbalanced positive PR. I oppose unbalanced negative PR as strongly as I can.

I accept that additional torture in Afghanistan and Iraq would likely have saved some American lives. I think that accepting torture to save those lives, to surrender principles to expediency, is too high a price to pay for the benefit of minimal US casualties. But each violation needs individual consideration as to what is justice, in that case.

My own guess in US casualties since 9/11—thru 4 July 2005:
500 with PR pro-Bush news.
1000 with balanced news.
3000 with PR anti-Bush news.

Too much "Gitmo is done by Nazis", the US is "new Gulag"—too much of this news has already resulted in some 700 more American deaths than balanced news would have (and 1200 more than PR for Bush). My guesses.

The US military is doing a fine balance in minimizing deaths, while extracting info (I support MORE sleep deprivation; and more rendition), and prosecuting torture. The press wants another stick to beat Bush with.
 
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
URL: http://tomgrey.motime.com
Torture not confined to Guantanomo or Abu Ghraib.

Check out "Sign of the Times" website

The US Gulag Prison System - The Shame Of The Nation and Crime Against Humanity
by Stephen Lendman
28 March 2006

"A courageous woman activist imprisoned for several months for her actions told me the case of a woman she saw stripped naked in her cell and then bound suspended in spread-eagle form on her prison bars and left there for hours to suffer. The experience devastated her and nearly killed her."

No way of telling how accurate this brief extract is; taken from a much larger report. So read and judge for yourselves. No names of victim, witnesses, dates, prison facility, etc. But if true or partly true we are talking out of control, sexually perverted prison staff with more than a hint of the Mediaeval torture chamber. US media wall-to-wall propaganda tells the punters that this type of barbarism is practised only in countries far away by oppressive dictatorships, not in the good old US of A. United States of Torture more like it. So forget "Love it or leave it". More like "Hate it and leave it." Roll on the Second American Revolution.
 
Written By: Andrew Milner
URL: http://

 
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