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I don’t expect too many of you to agree with me about the shame I believe that John Yoo and the Bush Administration has brought upon America as a result of their attempt to legally justify the torture of prisoners. From what I’ve been reading for years on other conservative sites, I know that many of you believe that any treatment we hand out to terrorists is too good for them, that they deserve to suffer and besides we need the information that only torture will elicit. Beyond that, there is a troubling rationale used by many conservatives that posits the notion of reciprocity; that because the terrorists treat prisoners in a beastly manner, it is perfectly alright for us to do the same to them.

It vexes me that conservatives believe such nonsense – believe it and use it as a justification for the violation of international and domestic law not to mention destroying our long standing and proud tradition of simply being better than that. Why this aspect of American exceptionalism escapes my friends on the right who don’t hesitate to use the argument that we are a different nation than all others when it comes to rightly boasting about our vast freedoms and brilliantly constructed Constitution is beyond me.

But for me and many others on the right, the issue of torture defines America in a way that does not weigh comfortably on our consciences or on our self image as citizens of this country. I am saddened beyond words to be associated with a country that willingly gives up its traditions and adherence to the rule of law for the easy way, the short cut around the law, while giving in to the basest instincts we posses because we are afraid.

I do not wish terrorists to be tortured. I wish them dead. But if they must surrender themselves to our custody or if we find it to our tactical advantage to hold them, then we have no alternative but to treat them as Americans treat prisoners not as the terrorists themselves treat their captives. This is self evident and it is shocking at times to be reviled as a “terrorist lover” just because I wish that our tradition of human decency and adhering to the rule of law be upheld.

The specifics of what is or what is not torture matter not. Inflicting pain is not something you can put on a scale and judge whether an interrogation technique crosses some invisible line between just being a little painful and outright agony. Mental and physical pain inflicted on purpose is a crime according to international law and our domestic statutes. It is pure sophistry to argue otherwise.

Let’s be clear on this; John Yoo’s memo does a tap dance around the Constitution, the UN treaty banning torture, and domestic laws prohibiting our public officials from engaging in acts that cause bodily harm to another person.

I am not a lawyer. But I can read. When a document is written in order to justify what otherwise would be illegal acts during peacetime (something that is clearly on Yoo’s mind throughout much of his memo), one would hope that something besides expanding the power of the executive to grant immunity to those who carry out the erstwhile illegalities would be used as a legal framework. Yoo makes little attempt, from my reading, to do so.

One example of this breathtaking and troubling expansion of executive authority:

On Page 47 of the Yoo memo, if I’m not mistaken, there’s the amazing assertion that the Convention Against Torture doesn’t apply whenever the president says it doesn’t. “Any presidential decision to order interrogations methods that are inconsistent with CAT would amount to a suspension or termination of those treaty provisions.” Doesn’t this mean that whether or not a treaty has been ratified, with or without express reservations, Yoo is saying that the president can implicitly and on his own authority withdraw the United States from the treaty simply by not abiding by it? Is there precedent for such a claim? In my quick scan so far of the tortured (sorry) reasoning here, I can’t find anything other than ipso facto—because I say so, the president says so.

From the memo Part II, page 41, we see a similar justification for defense against charges of torture, i.e. the president says it’s OK:

As we have made clear in other opinions involving the war against al Qaeda, the Nation’s right to self-defense has been triggered by the events of September 11. If a govenunent defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he’ could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions. This national and international version of the right to self-defense could supplement and bolster the government defendant’s individual right.

How can any conservative believing in limited government not at the very least look twice at such an expansion of government authority?

I believe that Vice President Cheney is correct when he says that executive power suffered as a result of naked power grabs by the Democratic Congress back in the 1970’s. But this goes far beyond redressing any imbalances that occurred as a result of abuses of executive authority uncovered in Watergate and Viet Nam. It does not appear that Mr. Yoo has deigned to supply any limits whatsoever to executive power during wartime.

As for his justifications for torture, some of Yoo’s reasoning is positively Orwellian:

As to mental torture, Richard testified that “no international consensus had emerged [as to] what degree of mental suffering is required to constitute torture[,]”but that it was nonetheless clear that severe mental pain or suffering “does not encompass the normal legal compulsions which are properly a part of the criminal justice system[:] .interrogation, incarceration, prosecution; compelled. testimony against a friend, etc,-notwithstanding the fact that they may have the incidental effect of producing mental strain.” Id. at 17. According to Richard, CAT was intended to “condemn as torture intentional acts such as those designed to damage and destroy the human personality.” Id. at 14. This description of mental suffering emphasizes the requirement that any mental harm be. of significant duration and supports our conclusion that ( mind-altering substances must have a profoundly disruptive effect to serve as a predicate.act.

It is a mindset like this that can justify barbarity.

I don’t buy the argument that because it only hurts “a little” that it’s not torture. The difference between having your fingernails pulled out and being forced to stand for 24 hours is irrelevant. It is the intent that matters. And if the intent is to cause suffering in order to get a prisoner to talk, that is torture whether it is chaining a terrorist to the floor and turning up the heat or making him believe he is drowning as a result of waterboarding.

Ed Morrissey, Christian gentleman that he is, wrestles mightily with this issue and comes up short. First, he attempts to spread the blame for torture authorization to the Congress:

First, the 2003 memo didn’t authorize the start of coercive techniques. As early as September 2002, Congressional leadership of both parties got briefed on interrogations of three al-Qaeda operatives. The CIA gave members of both parties dozens of classified briefings which detailed such techniques as waterboarding, stress positions, and other controversial methods that Congress later acted to ban. This obviously predates the Yoo memo.

Yoo also didn’t occupy any position that could have authorized any interrogative techniques. He provided a legal analysis when asked, but the responsibility for relying on the analysis falls to the CIA, Pentagon, and White House. Congress certainly appeared to agree in that same time frame; the reporting on the briefings notes that none of the Congressional delegation raised any objections during the briefings. One specifically asked whether the interrogations should be made tougher.

I would say to Ed that just because two branches of our government signed off on torture does not make it right. Whether it makes it legal or not may be another question. But it seems to me that Ed is trying to spread the blame for the US using torture techniques around and include Congress. If that is what he is trying to do, I find it irrelevant.

And I would agree with Ed that Yoo is hardly a “war criminal” as Lambchop would have us believe. There was no force of law behind this memo. As Ed rightly says it was the CIA, the Pentagon and especially the White House who relied on this memo to justify acts that would ordinarily violate international and domestic laws. Yoo was asked to give an opinion nothing more. This was no “Wannsee” scenario where justification for implementing the Nazi “Final Solution” were developed and discussed. Yoo himself may have been surprised that his memo became policy although I’m sure he didn’t mind it at the time.

The fact that his memo was withdrawn a year later and others substituted for it makes me think that the liberal criticism of the memo being a slap-dash, insufficiently fleshed out document with poor or non-existent justifications for such a massive change in policy to be pretty close to the mark. Again, I’m no lawyer but in reading it, I was struck again and again by how almost everything could be squeezed into the broad executive authority that Yoo was creating by expanding the limits of executive power. Ed Morrissey says in his piece that Yoo defined the president’s limits. This he did. But Ed did not mention that Yoo vastly expanded those limits from where they were in peace time. Did he expand them too much? I believe he did.

At some point in the future, we will be able to look back at the decisions that were made in the aftermath of 9/11 and make judgements based on how history unfolded. Some of those judgements will almost certainly meet with near universal approval. Others may prove to be less than efficacious.

But I sincerely doubt whether history will be kind to John Yoo or the president he thought he was serving when he used his considerable legal talents to justify throwing the law, the Constitution, and our good standing in the world out the window by giving a “legal” basis for torture.

By: Rick Moran at 3:29 pm
60 Responses to “AMERICA’S SHAME”
  1. 1
    retire05 Said:
    3:56 pm 

    Your name is Mark Lundsford. You know John Couey has your tiny daughter but Couey is not telling where he has her. He says she is still alive, but since Couey has already kidnapped and raped your daughter repeatedly, Couey knows that he has nothing to lose if she dies.
    Are you willing to pour some water over Couey’s face to try to make him tell you where she is and possibly save her life?

    What if we had taken into custody one of the 19 9-11 hijackers? Is our moral authority worth nearly 3,000 lives? I wonder what the 9-11 families would say about that, when they will never have anything of their loved ones that they can put in the ground.

    But we are better than the enemy you say? Fine. Tell me how many American lives that has saved. Did it save Matt Maupin? Daniel Pearl? Nick Berg?

    I’m not saying to beat them with bamboo rods until all their bones are broken or starve them to death. But sorry, when it comes to waterboarding, if my name is Mark Lundsford, I am going to ask why you didn’t waterboard Couey yesterday.

  2. 2
    Junk Science Skeptic Said:
    4:42 pm 

    I have no doubt in my mind that even the most dovish bleeding heart on the planet would, if the lives of their loved ones were specifically at stake, resort to prisoner interrogation means and methods that would make Eichmann blush, if they had even the slightest inkling it would protect said loved ones.

    Discussing theory is a fine academic exercise, but lets be thankful that there are those out there willing to do our dirty interrogation work, protecting our loved ones, without fully descending to the level of our enemies.

  3. 3
    Roy Mustang Said:
    6:00 pm 

    Wouldn’t imprisonment in itself be considered torture under the current politically correct guidelines?

  4. 4
    American Street » Blog Archive » On the Torture Memo: I hear crickets from American conservatives Pinged With:
    6:25 pm 

    [...] of Hot Air provided a limited defense of the memo. And Rick Moran of the Rightwing Nuthouse gave a hearty critique of the memo, repudiating it thoroughly. Kudos to him for doing so; he rates as a conservative with an intact conscience, capable of [...]

  5. 5
    On that Yoo Memo at politburo diktat 2.0 Pinged With:
    6:28 pm 

    [...] Moran says it all. Right Wing Nut House » AMERICA’S SHAME I do not wish terrorists to be tortured. I wish them dead. But if they must surrender themselves [...]

  6. 6
    Dale in Atlanta Said:
    6:36 pm 

    Well Rick, I’ve never seen any sensible person advocate the United States use “torture”!

    Including the Bush Administration.

    What we do disagree on, is WHAT constitutes torture.

    I say, as before, and again now, the following do NOT constitute “torture”:

    a) waterboarding
    b) sleep deprivation
    c) stress positions
    d) loud noise stress
    e) temperature manipulation

    Rick, I was in the Marine Corps, I had to undergo all those and worse, to just to prove I belonged! (Sorry, I lied, I did not go to SERE school, so I was not ever “waterboarded”).

    But, I know that we do, legally, Waterboard hundreds of SERE, Pilots, and other snake-eater types on a yearly basis in different training courses in the US Miliatry and Government.

    Sorry, it is NOT “torture”.

    Hell, you’re average College Freshman or Pledge has worse done to them trying to join a damn Frat!

    Under your rules, and those of the Anti-American/Pro-Jihadi Left, Raising your voice, pointing your finger, and using bad words on someone is out!

    Me, I personally draw the line at the following:

    a) actual physical or medical Harm
    b) anything sexual, except verbal secual humiliation
    c) Dogs to scare them is fine; dogs that physically attack them/hurt them, no way!
    d) food/water deprivation, only for 48/72 hours, maximmum (had that done many times!)

    Sorry, if the Al Qaeda P%&*ies can’t put up with that type of stuff, then they need to quit beheading and killing people, and running planes into skyscrappers and killing 3000 people at a time.

    And the cheesedicks on the Left, think any of the things above ARE “torture”, then they need pack their bags and go join their Al Qaeda Allies in Waziristan!

    Sorry Rick, once again you’ve picked an issue, fallen in love with your analysis, and are are wrong.

  7. 7
    Michael Berry Said:
    7:03 pm 

    Rick, perhaps you’ll feel differently after a bomb wipes out a major American city- intelligence that could have been obtained through “torture” (whatever that is).

    You say that “When a document is written in order to justify what otherwise would be illegal acts during peacetime”... sorry, but I don’t believe we are experiencing peace. I believe in the war on terror, not because Pres. Bush calls it that, but because I know first-hand what they want to do- I have been in the intel biz my entire life. Peacetime rule do not apply here, and respectfully believe that you are naive to think that we are.

    I have read your work for a long time, so I know how smart and rational your thoughts are- but everybody has a bad day, and today is yours. Consider the following: “Inflicting pain is not something you can put on a scale…”. Since there is no scale, there is a logical argument that says that simply imprisoning them could be considered torture. Not serving them prime rib every night could be torture. There is no scale!

    I (like everybody) do not consider myself a bad person. I like most people, and love all animals (except snakes), give money to charities that aren’t corrupt. But when it come to hurting terrorists for any reason (but especially to get intel that will protect my family and country), I am unable to find any sympathy, empathy, or regret. If you think that this makes me shameful, I can live with that.

    But I respect your opinion. You’re simply wrong this time.

  8. 8
    bear1909 Said:
    9:20 pm 

    Every age has rationalized its reactive justice in the face of barbarousness. That applies to pro and anti-torture arguments in this age of jihadi murderousness.

    The methods and means of this particular age,used by Americans against their enemies, will pale in comparison to the video recorded beheadings by jihadis. That jihadis have been waterboarded and subjected to physical discomforts will leave nary a stain in contrast to the legacy of the Bush Doctrine.

    I admit my cynicism about the anti-torture arguments. The scary doggies at Abu Ghraib, that putting women’s panties on the heads of Muslim prisoners there, are considered torture makes me guffaw and I am half-certain it does too to those who survived it at America’s expense.

    Take off the gloves and finish the job.

    Meet barbarousness with barbarousness when it comes to one’s enemies. Make Jihadi incursions against the greatest nation of all time unthinkable.

    That isn’t achieveable by applying rights and statutes designed for organized military fighting and law abiding civilians.

  9. 9
    mannning Said:
    9:28 pm 

    The question is if lives are saved by torturing for information, should one refrain because of moral inhibitions? What, pray tell, is moral about war and terrorism that should hold us back from saving those we can if we act?

    There is only one scorekeeper, and He will sort the morality question out later on to His satisfaction. I, for one, would not want 1, 10 or 100, or many more dead people on my conscience because I would not apply the necessary means to one man to save them.

    Niceness and delicacy in war is idiocy. You shoot to wound or kill. You shell cities and whole areas to kill or maim. You drop bombs to kill or maim. You use flame throwers to char men to death or worse. What is the difference?

    The only real difference is your intent to save lives by torture, if you can.

  10. 10
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:39 pm 

    I’ve been shocked at conservative’s reactions to this. Absolutely shocked. I’m not a conservative, but it never would have occurred to me that people calling themselves conservative would roll over and play dead in the face of this sort of uncontrolled expansion of executive power.

    Conservatives only seem to care about the expansion of government power when it affects guns or money.

    On the other hand, what a wonderful example the US military has provided. They have resisted this descent into barbarism. I will say that as a son of a career Army officer, a Vietnam vet, I am not the least bit shocked that the Army has stood up for American values.

    The good news is that one way or the other, a year from now—Obama or McCain—this humiliating, shameful period in American history, will be at an end.

  11. 11
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:47 pm 


    And I would answer that as important as an individual life is, as compelling as your example may be, the law is more important. Civilization is built on law. Everything we have and hold dear is built on law. It is a terrible thing when an innocent dies, but it would be far worse if we set in motion the devolution of our civilization.

  12. 12
    Spiro Said:
    10:05 pm 

    You can’t fight a civilized war against an uncivilized enemy. I’m not condoning resorting to the same tactics the enemy uses but we need to do what is necessary to thwart terrorist attacks and stop the enemy.

    Do you really think we went through WWII without ever using questionable interrogation tactics? If you do believe that, then you’re very naive.

    The only difference between then and now is the media’s desire for scandalous stories to increase ratings and how it supersedes their desire to protect the country and our soldiers.

  13. 13
    The Torture Memos « Liberty Street Pinged With:
    10:36 pm 

    [...] Moran is one of the very few on the right who is at all troubled at the Bush administration’s misuse and abuse of constitutional law to [...]

  14. 14
    Rony Belinda Said:
    10:59 pm 

    Limited Government? Of the few limited and specific constitutional responsibilities and duties our government has, protecting citizens against foreign and domestic enemies is its greatest. The dead have no need of our constitution or “rights!” There are extenuating circumstances we must use to judge torture just as we do when we sit on a jury and decide manslaughter, second degree murder and first degree murder. If someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night and threatens you and your family, it is not immoral “murder” if you kill them. And preventing slaughter of our citizens via a terrorist attack by using physical pain on a terrorist who has chosen to slaughter civilians, is not immoral, but necessary! We must all choose our sides and do whatever is necessary to protect our way of life and civilization. The terrorists have repeatedly stated that they have won the war already because they love death more than we love life, and after listening to people like you, I’m almost tempted to agree with them.

  15. 15
    Navy Dad Said:
    11:38 pm 

    Sorry to disagree but my thoughts are: Red is positive, black is negative. What do you want it hooked up to.

  16. 16
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    12:45 am 

    I am always made heartsick when other members of my profession labor so hard to twist the law to so perverse a result.

    One thing to remember about legal opinion memos like this is that the desired conclusion of the opinion is usually well-understood by the author when the assignment is given. For things like insurance coverage opinions, this is usually acceptable; what is really being requested is whether a pre-desired action can be justified at all. But at high levels of governmental policymaking that kind of mentality is not always appropriate. It may not always be easy to know when that line has been crossed, but by the time you get to justifying torture, that should be a signal that you’ve crossed it.

    Conservatives, particularly those who claim to be conservative because of moral issues, should not be so eager to defend stuff like this. Conservatives ought to to be wary and skeptical, at least, of any proposal that diminishes individual freedoms and enlarges governmental power (particularly power deposited in the hands of a very few individuals).

    Just imagine if the author of that memo had been Janet Reno (who had no qualms about ordering tanks to shell a religious compound because there were unlicensed guns inside, or to tell her jackbooted thugs to stick an automatic rifle in a four-year-old’s face so that he could be sent to Cuba) and its audience had been the Clinton Administration. Come on, dudes—would you have trusted Bill Clinton and Janet Reno with this kind of power?

    Torture is bad policy because:

    1. It is inherently immoral.
    2. Doing it encourages our enemies to torture more Americans than would otherwise be tortured.
    3. Engaging in torture deprives America of the much-needed moral high ground when our enemies torture Americans on their own.
    4. A torture victim will say whatever he thinks his torturer wants to hear to make the pain stop, regardless of the truth of his statement, so any information gained from torture is inherently unreliable.
    5. The prisoner who is tortured will never again trust his captors and cannot later be converted into a reliable source of information.
    6. Administering the torture takes a moral toll on the torturer that can only be healed with great difficulty.
    7. It potentially exposes both the torturer and the nation to a variety of economic, legal, and political sanctions, regardless of whether they are fairly or justly imposed.
    8. Finally, at least in this case, it was accompanied by advocacy for a disruption in the balance of power that tends to diminish individual freedoms and the power of the people to control the government.

  17. 17
    gunjam Said:
    12:52 am 

    Do you know that I have heard that during the Revolutionary War we “racked” the British (and vice versa)?

    Waterboarding is not torture, for crying out loud.

  18. 18
    Thomas Crowley Said:
    12:53 am 

    If I need information from you to save my family, I will get it someway, somehow, but I still do not condone torture. My sense of this is why are we capturing these vermin? The Geneva Convention allows for partisian type combatants to be summerily executed, does it not?

  19. 19
    gunjam Said:
    12:53 am 

    You are an honest man: Kudos on you for that.

  20. 20
    American Street » Blog Archive » White House Memos Within Memos Pinged With:
    12:55 am 

    [...] level of sociopathic disconnect it takes to go from there to where he ended up. Even some of the nuttiest right wingers can’t stomach this Orwellian [...]

  21. 21
    Drewsmom Said:
    4:55 am 

    I think certain forms of interrogation are fine, like water-boarding and sleep deprevation, loud music, ect. But pure torture. like they do to our guys only 50 times worse is not the American way. If it saves our soldiers or American lives from a terror plot I am all for some forms of interrogation. Sorry, I d not consider them torture compared to the horrendous things they do to us.

  22. 22
    syn Said:
    6:37 am 

    Here is my suggestion; why not set up a Vault just like the one here in NYC with all sorts of torture machines where the sado-masochists can gather around to view for their sexual pleasure of jerking themselves off at the sight of torture all the while interrogators can offer the enemy the choice of answering the questions or risk becoming a permanent sex slave for mentally mad masturbators.

    Who ever says Americans ‘don’t torture’ haven’t paid attention to Robert Maplethorpe.

  23. 23
    syn Said:
    6:40 am 

    By the way, the Vault doesn’t offer waterborading because the whips, chains and cages offer much more effective stimulation.

  24. 24
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    7:49 am 

    Rick, I usually disagree with you on many of your writings, yet I still keep on reading your blog. Thank you for reminding me why this is so; you have more decency and values than many people who agree with more of what you have to say. Whenever I get pissed at you in the future (as I undoubtedly will), thinking of this post will stop me from staying too upset. Thank you very much!

    One thing I would like to add; Transplanted Lawyer makes the best point of all when he says:

    “Just imagine if the author of that memo had been Janet Reno … and its audience had been the Clinton Administration. Come on, dudes—would you have trusted Bill Clinton and Janet Reno with this kind of power?”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself…

  25. 25
    gregdn Said:
    8:37 am 

    Boy Rick, you’re going to lose your Right Wing decoder ring for this post!
    I love how proponents of torture always drag out the ‘ticking bomb’ example to justify using this kind of stuff.
    Here’s my analogy to rebut that:
    If you were on a jury and a man were brought before you who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed his family, would you convict him? Probably not because of the circumstances. You don’t however make stealing legal- you temper the law with reason.
    Same thing with torture. Keep it illegal and if someone were to torture a terrorist who had knowledge of an imminent attack I doubt any jury or administrative hearing would convict him or her.

  26. 26
    Larry your brother Said:
    9:06 am 

    Robert Bolt, in his classic “A Man For All Seasons,” summed up the situation as well as anyone. Thomas More, Henry VIII’s chancellor, is being ordered to recognize the King’s authority over the Pope’s. Being a good Catholic, he is refusing to sacrifice his immortal soul and so risks his life. His son-in-law, William Roper, is telling him to simply sign the document to save his life, that it’s just a piece of paper. More rightly points out that it’s recognizing a law, and a bad law at that. They start arguing about using the law, or getting around laws, to achieve the desired end:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    Call it morality, call it enlightened self-interest, call it whatever you want. Torture is wrong and puts us all at risk. And the clever words used by commentators here that try to define the limits of torture are simply Roper-like arguments meant to justify a position. To try and use hypothetical situations to justify torture (“If you could save your daughter….”, “If it could save an American city….”) may be the start of an interesting parlor game but doesn’t help answer the question. If something is immoral, it is immoral. Period.

    Great film. Have you been watching “The Tudors” on Showtime? A little less sympathetic portrayal of More but just as fanatical a Catholic – even going so far as considering plotting with the King of Spain to keep Catherine as queen.

    I also love More’s soliloquy after Rich perjures himself and implicates More.

  27. 27
    Fritz Said:
    9:08 am 

    Extremism in defense of Liberty is no vice! BS, the nation-state must survive, so the tactics must be practical. Your extremist position on interrogation is a guaranteed pathway to the destruction of a civilization you wish to live in.

  28. 28
    Mandy Said:
    9:25 am 

    I once called myself conservative. Years of the Bush administration changed that. But the torture was the last straw for me and I registered as an independent

    You know what is even more embarrassing for me Rick? Reading the sick, narrow minded, egregiously ignorant apologists in this thread, all of them whacking off to 24 and imagining somehow that waterboarding isn’t torture or that it can be somehow justified.

    That in a nutshell is the Bush voter. A guy with little education, a penchant for black and white answers to a complex world, believes most everything his news channels claim, likes news in tasty little fact free bites, and an utter disregard for rule of law.

    Rick, I know you’ll zap this comment…but conservatives like you are very rare. Conservatives like retire05 are the norm. And that’s what Bush did to the Republican brand. He attracted the Retire05 conservative and repelled the George Will conservative.

  29. 29
    Vic Hernandez Said:
    11:11 am 

    The following part of your sentence in the lower half of the 1st paragrph sets up you points and at the same time nullyfies your entire discourse:

    ” it is perfectly alright for us to do the same to them “.

    The US military is NOT doing the same to teorrists detainees sir. I find your comparisons offensive.

    I know you have the time to perform a Side by Side comparison of each Terrorist Attack on humanity to each Interrogation Technique applied upon the detained.
    There is not torture going on at all.

    We/the World have not yet learned how to effectively deal with homicide terrorist. Until then our interrogation techniques must continue inorder to identify the next massive target that these scum have in mind.

    Many of us are alive today becuase such techniques were and are bing used. And the US Military is not doing the same to terrorist because they are still alive even after their experience at the hands of our Military.

    We are indebt FOREVER to those who are keeping us safe.

    Vic R. Hernandez, Austin Texas.

  30. 30
    Enlightened Said:
    11:20 am 

    “The good news is that one way or the other, a year from now—Obama or McCain—this humiliating, shameful period in American history, will be at an end”

    Oh really? And you think Obama or Hillary’s first tasks will be to roll-back executive power?

    Well I guess we will just see how soon they get that done.

    OTOH - The “torture” debate will never be decided in favor of one side (non-believers) over the other (believers) because as fabulous as we humans are, we cannot predict the future. It is impossible to assume what a prisoner/terrorist is thinking, it is impossible to assume that a certain, more/or less humane technique will work with every terrorist/prisoner every time.

    The only solution is to allow EVERY technique imaginable to break a person’s will. Start at the least inhumane and end at the most hideously inhumane.If a terrorist chooses that lifestyle, and knows the consequences of capture, they have agreed by proxy to be tortured. There is not, and should never be – empathy for terrorists. They show no empathy for American or coalition soldiers. It does not make America a more shameful country if we choose action over empathy. That is a myth borne by pacifistic surrendercrats that sucked down too much LSD in the 60’s in an effort to tune in, and essentially surrendered any resemblence of cognitive thinking.

    I daresay reading and deciphering a memo 5 years later, without having been a party to, or in any of the meetings that led up to the drafting of said memo is a great topic for discussion, but nothing more. We weren’t there, and we don’t know.

  31. 31
    retire05 Said:
    11:20 am 

    #11, Michael Renyolds, so while you did not answer the question with a straight forward reply, we can only assume that your moral authority and respect for the law is greater than your love would be for a daughter who was going to die if you did not get to her in time. Please, do the world a favor. Do not reproduce. Germany was a nation of law, lots of them. And under the excuse for adhering to the rule of law, Germans sat by while six million people were exterminated. Sometime thwarting the rule of law is the right thing to do.

    Since I do not consider waterboarding torture, although we have had the left wing pundits proclaim it as such, I have to wonder if those like you think that the CodePinkos should be arrested for crimes against humanity since it is standard practice for them to waterboard each other during their protest marches. If waterboarding is against American law, then why are they allowed to continue that practice and are not held accountable for it?

    You, and many like you, seem to think that we are fighting a enemy that will respect our reluctance to do whatever it takes to protect American lives. They do not. They consider it a weakness on our part that they can count on in their battle to make the world Islamic.

    Read the Geneva Convention, for God’s sake. The terrorists, in the second convention, are not considered legal emeny combatants and the rule is they can be shot on site. We do not do that. Instead, we ship them to GITMO where they get Korans, arrows painted in their cells pointing to Mecca and honey glazed chicken. If making them stand for 12 hours will force them to give up information that saves the lives of our military, so be it.

    Read the defination of torture in any dictionary. Waterboarding leaves no permanant damage and creates no pain. But even with the most hardened terrorist, it is effective.

    This whole “moral authority” argument makes me sick everything I see a film of those Twin Towers falling. We are at war with a non-traditional enemy, for God’s sake, and if you don’t have the stomach to defeat them, at least get out of the way and thank God that there are those who are willing to put their “moral authority” aside for the safety and security of our nation and our military who are trying to remove this scum from the face of the earth.

    #16, Transplanted lawyer

    If you can provide one case where our refusal to use coercive methods such as waterboarding has saved even one American life, I am willing to listen to your argument against such methods. We stopped waterboarding years ago, but recently we received the fingers of captured American contractors before we found their bodies. So how did our “moral authority” change the mindset of 7th century radicals? You say that if we “torture” a captive, he will never against trust us. What the hell kind of rationale is that? If we can’t get them to talk to us, are we to assume that given time, he will? And in that time, how many American lives have been lost.

    You seem to think that using 21st century morality standards will prevent them from using their 7th century battle tactics. You seem to be totally unaware of the enemy we are fighting. Do you really think that their belief that if they remove the head of their enemy it will prevent the enemy from being a “martyr” is going to change because we are the nice guys?

    Who are we seeking approval from? The Useless UN? We are in a fight for the preservation of western civilization and until the nation realizes that this is just an extention of a very old war, and not a new one, we are on the losing side. Osama bin Laden chose September 11th for a reason. Once you realize what importance that date holds for the radical Islamists, then you will understand what we are up against. Until then, you, and the rest of the moral authorities, don’t have a clue.

  32. 32
    Bob C. Said:
    11:46 am 

    Being truthful would mean admitting that regardless of what our country’s leaders have said or signed in the past, we have used, surreptitiously of course, and on a case by case basis, during different wars and conflicts, whatever means we found necessary to get critical information from prisoners we thought had such.

    Bush’s mistake was trying to legitimize this by being TOO truthful. He should have just signed the bill, and those in positions that had the power would continue to use these means when they though it was necessary and justified.

  33. 33
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    12:13 pm 

    Retire05—I know full well the quality of barbarians who would make war against us. They are not our teachers.

  34. 34
    Transplanted Lawyer Said:
    12:19 pm 

    Retire05—I know full well the quality of the barbarains who would make war on us. They are not our teachers.

  35. 35
    mannning Said:
    12:43 pm 

    To get to the point, codifying torture in the law as an acceptable practice is wrong. The issue should be left alone, and we can declare our moral revulsion of it as much as we want, and make all of the declarations we can dream up against it, as Bush has done more than once.

    Meanwhile, in certain situations, torture will be used to gain information not available in other ways. The practitioners will accept condemnation and any penalties forthcoming for using torture because of their conviction that they were doing the right thing to protect lives.

    However, 99,999 out of 100,000 men will neither face this issue in real life nor even know that it has occurred. On that point, it is very easy to cry out against torture if it is safely abstract and a purely moral issue.

  36. 36
    Just Plain Bill Said:
    2:13 pm 


    This is a good post, wrong, but good.

    You state in part, “The specifics of what is or what is not torture matter not.”

    Once you state that you have basically said I don’t want any further discussion of this, there is no redeeming feature available.

    The definition of torture is critical and central to the discussion.

    My own personal position is “whatever it takes”.

    But thanks for the post in any event.

  37. 37
    busboy33 Said:
    2:24 pm 

    I often disagree (angrily, violently, explosively) with your opinions Rick, but I respect that you arrive at each independently . . . no blind obedience. You may end up deciding on the right-wing answer to a particular issue, but you don’t choose the answer because it’s right-wing. A rare and commendablde commodity.

    To the unbelievable hate-spewing nimrods in the comments:

    1)retire05 Said:
    “Your name is Mark Lundsford. You KNOW John Couey has your tiny daughter . . . ”
    I’ll make it easier for you. Scenario: Somebody breaks into your house and in a fit of drunken obnoxiousness urinates on your irreplacable family heirloom, destroying it. You KNOW it was Bob down the street. Do you want to go over to his house and beat the S.O.B. senseless for his offense to you? Of course you do. But you can’t because of the one flaw in your scenario . . . the word “know”.
    We don’t KNOW that the prisoners in Guantanamo are terrorist bombers. The overwhelmingly vast majority were picked up by bounty hunters and sold to us as “oh, yeah, that guy I have tied up in the back of my truck is totally a terrorist.” Guess what? Most of them have been “wrong place, wrong time” innocent—NOT terrorists, NOT killers, NOT able to provide any useful information because they didn’t know any damn thing.
    Take your scenario, and keep every word exactly the same but change the name “John Couey” to “Bob Anderson”. Mr. Lunsford still KNOWS Bob has his baby trapped somewhere . . . but Mr. Lunsford is dead-flat wrong. No problem with drowning Mr. Anderson, an innocent person? Change “Bob Anderson” to “Retire05”, or to “retire05’s son/daughter/wife/husband”. You’ll be fine with Mr. Lunsford kidnapping and abusing them? If you say yes, I’m calling you a liar. Mr. Lunsford has to do what he has to do . . . even if it makes him as much of a criminal as the real kidnapper.
    This might come as a bit of shock to you, but there’s a reason the last 700+ years of British Common Law developed the rules they have, from the Great Writ down to our system today—because the system you advocate NEVER will reach justice. Ever. Not an opinion, a historically demonstrable fact.

    2)Junk Science Skeptic Said:
    “I have no doubt in my mind that even the most dovish bleeding heart on the planet would, if the lives of their loved ones were specifically at stake, resort to prisoner interrogation means and methods that would make Eichmann blush, . . . ”
    Now, for double bonus points, see if you can guess why the victim’s immediate family members aren’t put in charge of interrogation.

    3)Roy Mustang Said:
    “Wouldn’t imprisonment in itself be considered torture under the current politically correct guidelines?”
    Nope—it’s a restraint of liberty, unpleasant but not torturous. I find it hard to believe that you’re bright enough to operate a computer but can’t distinguish between a locked door and beating somebody or drowning them.

    6) Dale in Atlanta says:
    “What we do disagree on, is WHAT constitutes torture.
    I say, as before, and again now, the following do NOT constitute “torture”:
    a) waterboarding
    b) sleep deprivation
    c) stress positions
    d) loud noise stress
    e) temperature manipulation
    Rick, I was in the Marine Corps, I had to undergo all those and worse, to just to prove I belonged! (Sorry, I lied, I did not go to SERE school, so I was not ever “waterboarded”).
    But, I know that we do, legally, Waterboard hundreds of SERE, Pilots, and other snake-eater types on a yearly basis in different training courses in the US Miliatry and Government.
    Sorry, it is NOT “torture”.

    . . . and we waterboard the SERE trainees as an initiation ritual? Funny, I thought they got waterboarded so they would know what it feels like if they get captured and TORTURED. Since (as you admit) you wern’t in SERE, how about we go to the opinion of a former SERE master instructor? You know, somebody who actually has been there:
    “As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.” Malcolm Nance, , pp.4

    You define what you personally think does and does not constitute torture. It differs from my definition. Both differ from another’s person definition. That’s why each person doesn’t get to define the word for themselves. If my definition doesn’t include “b) anything sexual, except verbal secual humiliation” for example, I can have you raped, confident that I’m not torturing you and you’re just a hippie whining wimp. Definition of Torture is codified under 22 CFR 95.1(b) (—you don’t get to decide if you want to obey it or not, and neither does the President.

    p.s. subtle difference between SERE trainees, fraternity pledges, and prisoners—the trainees and pledges can stop the abuse by walking away. Prisoners cannot. Some people voluntarily cut themselves—does that mean if I start carving my initials into a prisoner’s chest it’s not torture because somebody else voluntarily likes that stuff?

    7)Michael Berry Said:
    “You say that ‘When a document is written in order to justify what otherwise would be illegal acts during peacetime’... sorry, but I don’t believe we are experiencing peace. I believe in the war on terror, not because Pres. Bush calls it that, but because I know first-hand what they want to do- I have been in the intel biz my entire life. Peacetime rule do not apply here, and respectfully believe that you are naive to think that we are.”
    Excellent—as a lifelong intel professional I’m sure you know that terrorists didn’t just pop up in the last decade. Since you realize that there have ALWAYS been groups that want to attack and harm Americans, I presume your position is that there is never, ever a time of peace. America has always been at war, will always be at war, and must always operate under the “ticking-timebomb-under-an-orphanage-24-meets-Die-Hard” rules of engagement. Forever. That will certainly save American lives.
    You disagree with Rick saying that we aren’t in a state of peace. Rick didn’t say we were. Your quote of him clearly shows he doesn’t think we are.

    8)bear1909 Said:
    “That isn’t achieveable by applying rights and statutes designed for organized military fighting and law abiding civilians.”
    Just play that statement through. We a nation of “organized military fighting and law abiding civilians”, meaning we follow the laws and rules of the military and society. Because our enemies are not, we have to fight them by ceasing to be a nation of organized military fighting and law abiding civilians. Of course, the fact that the terrorists behead prisoners is disgusting, because they shouldn’t do that to us since we are entitled to be treated as “a nation of organized military fighting and law abiding civilians”, even though we specifically choose not to be. You are ENDORSING AND CONDONING the terrorists beheading prisoners. Unbelievable.

    9)mannning Said:
    “The question is if lives are saved by torturing for information, should one refrain because of moral inhibitions? What, pray tell, is moral about war and terrorism that should hold us back from saving those we can if we act?”
    No, that’s NOT the question—that’s the question that makes torture look excusable. Let me ask you the same question with one addition:
    “The question is if lives are NOT saved by torturing for information, should one refrain because of moral inhibitions?”
    I hope you answered “of course.” Presuming you did, then the clear issue is the qualifier to the question. A qualifier you cannot possibly know the answer to. Keeping in mind (a) there will always be some person/group that wishes America harm and (b) there is always a possibility, regardless of whether you torture everybody on the planet or not, that there is a ticking bomb somewhere, is it worth selling America’s soul to not make us any safer?

    I’ll stop there. Conservatives always stood for principles in my mind. Making the hard stand against the “easy way” because what is right and wrong is more important. Conservative has never been equilivant with “bloodlust-fueled emotionally-dominated children” . . . until now. Rick has shamed you all.

  38. 38
    aric Said:
    2:51 pm 

    I like how many of the pro-torture commenter’s skipped actual arguments and cut right to the ticking time bomb scenario. From what I have read many of the terror plots that have been disrupted have been through surveillance and infiltration of the groups. Can someone please show me an example of where we prevented an attack? Please, no responses saying we could never know because it would endanger the whole operation; I think the powers that be, if they really wanted to justify their actions could come up with on case.

    One thing Rick and the other commenter’s have not discussed is what happens when we get the wrong people? It has happened before, especially in Afghanistan where are first prisoners were brought to us by the Afghans themselves (in exchange for money). What do we say to someone tortured into false confession? I am curious what the pro-torture folks think about that?

  39. 39
    SShiell Said:
    3:06 pm 

    OK - pass the law. Put it into the books. Make it part of the US Code. Then what?

    Pass all the laws you want to make an area a gun free zone. Did that help a single person at Virginia Tech?

    The day waterboarding is needed, someone will step forward and do what is necessary. And they will do so with the full knowledge of what awaits them if their “crime” is discovered.

    And when the results of their waterboarding is known, and people’s lives are saved by the results – I am willing to bet there is not a jury in the country that will convict.

    So, if it will make anybody feel safer. If it will make anybody feel better about themselves. Go ahead and pass whatever law you want regarding “torture”!

  40. 40
    Brad J. Said:
    4:31 pm 

    Thank you for not dragging the “torture debate” through partisan mud. It is un-American to condone or actively sanction torture. Period. And waterboarding is torture – it dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, was favored by Hitler’s Gestapo and the US tried and hanged Japanese soldiers after WWII for having waterboarded American troops. Kudos to you for speaking truth to power, which should be neither a conservative nor liberal, nor left or right act, but an American one. That’s not only how our founders saw this country but why they founded it in the first place. Thanks for your honesty on this, Rick. Moreover, it’s refreshing to see a conservative actually exemplify conservative thought – there’s nothing “conservative” about torture. Or, for that matter, spending more money than any president in history and destroying our economy. Cheers.

  41. 41
    michael reynolds Said:
    5:13 pm 


    I have children. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect them. That might include killing your child, if I decide they are a threat.


    We have laws because the alternative is anarchy, rule by whoever brings the power at a particular time and place. Rule by law, or rule by thugs—you obviously prefer the latter. Are you sure you’re an American? Because your values seem quite, er, middle eastern.

  42. 42
    edward cropper Said:
    5:36 pm 

    throwing the law, the Constitution, and our good standing in the world out the window by giving a “legal” basis for torture.
    “Our good standing in the world”? what planet did you just come from?

  43. 43
    Dale B. Said:
    10:03 pm 

    michael reynolds Said:
    9:47 pm

    “I would answer that as important as an individual life is, the law is more important. Civilization is built on law. Everything we have and hold dear is built on law.”

    I have read several posts regarding the law and following the law, made by lawyers and laymen. I find it almost amusing that those that decry “rule of law” are also the same that want to ignore the law.

    Could it be possible that we might not be in this war on terror if the ‘rule of law’ had been enforced, especially with regard to the immigration laws? Had the immigration laws been strictly enforced, by every level of government of this sovereign nation, there may never have been the tragedy of 9/11.

    Something must happen to lawyers after they become elected officials where they forget that they swore to uphold the laws of this country. I am more ashamed of those that are sworn to uphold the law and don’t, while using the ‘rule of law’ as a club.

    Disgraceful, every one of them.

  44. 44
    busboy33 Said:
    11:01 pm 

    @Dale B:

    “Could it be possible that we might not be in this war on terror if the ‘rule of law’ had been enforced, especially with regard to the immigration laws? Had the immigration laws been strictly enforced, by every level of government of this sovereign nation, there may never have been the tragedy of 9/11.”

    Sorry—you lost me. None of the hijackers had legit visas? One was kept out because he couldn’t get clearance, and they rest went ahead without him.

  45. 45
    Don Bear Said:
    1:41 am 

    Been visiting your website for several months now. After this, no more. Bye and good luck.

    Allow me to assist you in keeping your promise by banning your IP.


  46. 46
    Drewsmom Said:
    5:02 am 

    Geez, you’d think we were putting bamboo shoots under their nails and dippin em in hot cooking oil—lighten up guys, TORTURE is not a factor in most of the interrogations
    I’m sorry, I just can’t get the picture of us SLOWLY getting our heads sawed off and GOd only knows what else has been done to our captives. I know most of you think we are BETTER than that but I, for one, don’t have a problem with what I mentioned in my earlier post and I’m a pretty compassionate person.

  47. 47
    StuCon Said:
    7:12 am 

    Good grief, i swear i’m so fed up with this. yes we are better than they, all you have to do is look at the conditions at Gitmo and any of the number of be-heading videos out there on the net. And who really gives a rat’s ass whether KSM was water boarded? Maybe you should get out of your little pious, holier than thou cocoon and find some video of men & women jumping to their deaths instead of burning alive from WTC. Or maybe…ahhh what’s the use this merely reminds me that for all your erudition and sanctimony you’re just another apologist puke. I hear msnbc is hiring contributers for olberman’s fascist enterprise you should fit right in
    Off my bookmarks, done with you.

  48. 48
    michael reynolds Said:
    7:59 am 

    Dale B:

    I’m not a lawyer. I’m a writer.

  49. 49
    Don L Said:
    8:56 am 

    Personally, I believe looping Hillary’s famous cackle real loud 24/7 would cause the most ardent Jiahadist to cave. Is it torture?

    I give you credit for taking an unpopular position – looking forward to a similar one coming out on abortion and embryonic medical experimentation.

  50. 50
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:18 pm 

    Don L:
    I have a non-partisan countersuggestion: Mash up Hillary’s cackle with McCain’s “My friends. . .” and play it over video of Obama bowling.

  51. 51
    Don Bear Said:
    3:35 pm 

    Gee. You’re gonna ban my IP. You are just a tad arrogant, don’t you think?

    You again? I thought you were never coming back?

    You’re the one who said bye bye – not me. How can it possibly be “arrogant” if all I’m doing is helping you keep your promise?


  52. 52
    HyperIon Said:
    4:34 pm 

    thank you for writing this. the only cavil i have has been addressed above, namely, that calling someone a terrorist does not make him/her a terrorist.

    many of the “pro-torture” arguments made above by commenters are logically incoherent and/or factually inaccurate.

    the comments (many more than you usually get) are running pretty heavily against your position.

    a sincere question: would you consider writing a post that seeks to explain how “your crowd” (or perhaps “your former crowd”) came to hold these very extreme and revolting positions. because i hear only self-identified righties speaking so enthusiastically about water-boarding. i just don’t understand.

  53. 53
    mikeca Said:
    6:25 pm 

    Congratulations Rick for having the courage to say what needs to be said.

  54. 54
    mannning Said:
    12:25 am 

    “No, that’s NOT the question—that’s the question that makes torture look excusable. Let me ask you the same question with one addition:
    “The question is if lives are NOT saved by torturing for information, should one refrain because of moral inhibitions?”
    I hope you answered “of course.”

    Interrogators have a hard choice to make, and it is quite possible that they would pick the wrong man to undergo deep interrogation out of a gaggle of terrorist captives.

    That they are condemned without trial as terrorists is a given—caught in the act, so to speak—so they must take their chances. Deep interrogation is one of those chances.

    The interrogators pick another captive—hopefully a better choice this time, or they are back to square one again. One bit of info they may acquire is the ID of the leader of the gaggle—possibly the most productive person of the bunch.

    Someone said in the past that to forbid any form of torture is to condemn to death any torture victim after he has given up his all. This removes the victim from testifying against the interrogators later on. “He died trying to escape!” they report.

    But then, I read too much fiction.

  55. 55
    busboy33 Said:
    11:12 am 


    “That they are condemned without trial as terrorists is a given—caught in the act, so to speak—so they must take their chances. Deep interrogation is one of those chances.”

    Because they were caught in the act: Standing on a desert sanddune, firing hot lead at US Soldiers, screaming “Death to Amerika!!” as our guys dive-tackled them from behind, knocjing the still-smoking weapon out of their clutching hands as the caught-in-the-act coward is dragged off to meet their well-deserved fate.


    bounty hunters dumped the bound and blindfolded bodies of random people (or people they had a grudge against) at the feet of US soldiers and told us they were terrorists. They did it for revenge, they did it for cash . . . but regardless of their motives, we blindly assumed they were telling the truth and dragged the innocent off to their not-deserved fate. No caught-in-the-act, no “troops kick the door down as they are building a bomb”, no evidence at all except the word of a mercenary.

    Would scenario #2 change your opinion? If the people in Gitmo really HAD been “caught red handed”, why have we let the vast majority go free (after years in prison and interrogation)? Here’s some DOD documentation that was forced to be made public of the tribunals discussing the “evidence” against them:

    if you don’t want to look through the hundreds of pages (although the complete lack of evidence starts on page one of the 1st set of documents), here’s a nice summary in the National Journal:

    some choice quotes:
    “Baher Azmy of Seton Hall Law School represents Murat Kurnaz, a Turk who is at Guantanamo. “The government has no case against him,” Azmy says. Kurnaz was plucked off a bus in Pakistan and subsequently accused of being friends with a suicide bomber. The government did not tell Kurnaz’s tribunal that his friend is alive and therefore could not be the referenced suicide bomber. In March, Kurnaz’s file was accidentally, and briefly, declassified: According to the Washington Post, it consisted of memos from domestic and foreign intelligence sources stating that Kurnaz posed no threat. The file, however, contained one anonymous memo contradicting the rest and claiming he was connected to Al Qaeda. In January 2005, a federal judge singled out Kurnaz’s case as evidence of the lack of due process in the Guantanamo tribunals. The judge said that his tribunal had ignored exculpatory evidence and relied instead on the single anonymous memo that was not credible.”
    . . .
    “The filtering process for deciding who was sent to Guantanamo wasn’t perfect, Jacobson said, nor should it have been. To protect U.S. soldiers still fighting in Afghanistan it was better to err on the side of caution and to send more, rather than fewer, men to Guantanamo. “If it’s the other way around, then you’re doing it wrong.”

    But nuance didn’t exactly survive the air convoys to Cuba. The men in the orange jumpsuits, President Bush said, were terrorists. They were the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth, Rumsfeld said. They were so vicious, if given the chance they would gnaw through the hydraulic lines of a C-17 while they were being flown to Cuba, said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    But the CIA didn’t see it that way. By the fall of 2002, it was common knowledge around CIA circles that fewer than 10 percent of Guantanamo’s prisoners were high-value terrorist operatives, according to Michael Scheuer who headed the agency’s bin Laden unit through 1999 and resigned in 2004. Most of the men were probably foot soldiers at best, he said, who were “going to know absolutely nothing about terrorism.” Guantanamo prisoners might be pumped for information about how they learned to fight, which could help American soldiers facing trained Islamic insurgencies. But the Defense Department and FBI interrogators at Guantanamo were interested more in catastrophic terrorism than in combat practicalities. They kept asking “every one of these guys about 9/11 and when was the next attack,” questions most of these low-level prisoners couldn’t answer, Scheuer said.

    Even as the CIA was deciding that most of the prisoners at Guantanamo didn’t have much to say, Pentagon officials were getting frustrated with how little the detainees were saying. So they ramped up the pressure and gave interrogators more license.”

    Oops. To steal a line out a Tarrintino movie: “If you beat this guy enough he’ll tell you he started the Chicago fire, but that don’t necessarily make it so.”

    Torturing actual criminals is morally suspect to begin with. Torturing innocent people . . . well, that’s just damn disgusting.

  56. 56
    Adrian Said:
    11:44 am 

    Can’t believe I’m about to say this to someone who writes a blog called “Right Wing Nuthouse”, but America needs more people like yourself willing to put their conscience above their political party.

  57. 57
    mannning Said:
    9:19 pm 

    Caught in the act means just that. Handed over by others of dubious loyalty and honesty is just that. Circumstances alter cases.

  58. 58
    mannning Said:
    1:28 pm 

    I used the term “deep interrogation”, which does not mean using torture, necessarily. It is obvious to me that we cannot spend countless hours, even months, going through a deep interrogation only to find that the foot soldier in front of us really doesn’t know a thing of importance.

    Some way has to be found to separate the wheat from the chaff. What way is that?

  59. 59
    Thomas Jackson Said:
    11:23 pm 

    I wonder why you use the term torture so casually. Do the individuals subjected to it suffer major physical impairment leaving them crippled? Does it leave lasting scars? Does it leave them lame and halt?

    Is it worse than members of our armed forces are subjected to? Is it worse than having to sit through an Osama speech justifying Wright’s sermons?

    I am unaware that the UN and its minions ruled the US or were taken seriously anywhere in the civilized world. Perhaps our opponents of all stripes haven’t noticed the UN dictates. I for one believe the US has made a major mistake in not enforcing the Geneva Accords regulations regarding those who are illegal combatants. Under Article IV treatment far worse than torture is authorized. Of course perhaps Mr. Moran would rather we summarily execute these beasts. I know I would-after they are thoroughly questioned.

    major physical impairment

    You’re absolutely right. It only hurts a little so it’s okay.

  60. 60
    Right Wing Nut House » THE ‘DARK SIDE’ OF HELL Pinged With:
    3:55 pm 

    [...] exceptionalism must accept that torture makes us much less than that as I pointed out in this post l a few months ago: It vexes me that conservatives believe such nonsense – believe it and use it as a [...]

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