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4/17/2009
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

I was a johnny-come-lately to the idea that the severe interrogation techniques being employed against some prisoners held by the US crossed the line of legality and constituted illegal torture. Chalk it up to excessive partisanship. Or ignorance. Or perhaps fear of going against the grain of conservative opinion in the blogosphere.

The fact is, for more than a year after I began blogging, I either excused or ignored evidence that proved the Bush Administration was guilty of sacrificing our most cherished values in order to protect us. It wasn’t until early November of 2005 that I offered a somewhat rambling discourse on why torturing prisoners besmirched our nation’s good name and made the Bush Administration complicit in violations of American and international law. Despite being troubled by the evidence previous to that, I said nothing, wrote nothing, except the usual talking points still found, it pains me to say, in most conservative and Republican internet salons today.

What changed my mind? I tried to reconstruct my thought process by going through my archives and it turns out that there were two people whose writing finally opened my eyes to the illegalities being practiced by the Bush Administration - two writers who I rarely read today for reasons not related to the torture issues but who I must give credit for forcing me to look at the horror and reach the same conclusion they had; John Cole and Andrew Sullivan.

To those who are now nodding their heads with a knowing smirk on their face I will only say this; outright dismissal of views based solely on a writer’s ideological or even political leanings is the mark of the incurious and the ignorant. A grain of salt or two is helpful to be sure. Skepticism, the philosopher/educator Thomas Dewey remarked, is “the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” And I am no doubt as guilty as the next blogger of being too quick with the snark when it comes to evaluating the case being made by an ideological opponent rather than using reason and logic to demolish an odious point of view.

Be that as it may, those two gentlemen’s writings were seminal in changing my opinion about what the Bush Administration was doing in our name. The fact that they believed sincerely they were doing it to protect us is not a valid excuse or justification. The idea that American military trainees also are forced to endure some of the “enahanced interrogation techniques” is the reasoning of a sophist. The trainees are not in United States custody and therefore, the officers responsible for these exercises are not subject to the same laws that military and intelligence professionals were required to follow with detainees - as were all officals in the Bush Administration. And whether you believe the Geneva Convention applied in the case of “enemy combatants” is also beside the point; no one repealed American law under which the Bush Administration was required to operate. As the Bybee memo proves beyond any reasonable doubt, the Administration was seeking a legal fig leaf in order to skirt that law as well as international treaties of which we are a signatory that clearly defines torture.

Tom MaGuire:

IN OUR NAME: The newly released torture memos are cold-blooded and clearly client-driven - the lawyers knew the answers they wanted and reasoned backwards.

The same could be said of the Yoo memos when the Bush Administration was seeking legal justification for their torture. Yoo knew full well what the Administration wanted - a sort of “Get out of jail free” card that would cover their behinds if anyone ever found out what they were doing. While this is true, there is another dynamic at work that seems to get short shrift by Bush Administration critics -a dynamic that, in some ways, makes the lawbreaking even more chilling.

Sure, they wished above all else to protect America from another attack. The sincerity of their beliefs must be granted them else one wanders off into territory reserved for kooks who believe Bush was a sadist and enjoyed torturing people. That they displayed enormous hubris in giving the middle finger to the law and proceeding marks them as cynics of the highest order.

Again, Maguire:

The US concern about actually harming someone comes through on every page. In fact, at one point (p. 36 of .pdf) the legal team wonders whether it would be illegal for the interrogators to threaten or imply that conditions for the prisoner could get even worse unless they cooperate. I suppose these memos will provide welcome reassurance of our underlying civility to both the world community and the terrorists in it.

The same holds true when discussing the “insect war” being fought on the internet today. The news that the Administration considered using one detainee’s fear of insects to extract information by locking him in a small box and telling him a stinging bug was in there with him is being derided on the right and used as proof that Bush was inhuman on the left. Both sides are wrong on this one. Using the threat of a stinging insect on someone with a phobia knowing it will terrorize him is clearly psychological torture and violates both US law and the Geneva Convention. But please, let’s not exaggerate or use wild hyperbole to make this any more than it is; one more example of the law being tossed aside - and not a particularly egregious example at that. The technique was never used.

Andrew Sullivan, who ridiculously complained yesterday when, a couple of hours after the memos had been released, some conservative writers had not commented on them, nevertheless reaches into the past to get to the heart of what the airing of this chapter in American history means:

Perhaps you are reading these documents alongside me. I’ve only read the Bybee memo, as chilling an artefact as you are ever likely to read in a democratic society, the work clearly not of a lawyer assessing torture techniques in good faith, but of an administration official tasked with finding how torture techniques already decided upon can be parsed in exquisitely disingenuous ways to fit the law, even when they clearly do not. This is what Hannah Arendt wrote of when she talked of the banality of evil. To read a bureaucrat finding ways to describe and parse away the clear infliction of torture on a terror suspect well outside any “ticking time bomb” scenario is to realize what so many of us feared and sensed from the shards of information we have been piecing together for years. It is all true.

Sullivan and many on the left have raised the specter of the Gestapo and Nazi Germany when discussing the techniques used on detainees but I think that misses the point. As Maguire points out, the Administration seemed torn about actually injuring even the worst of the terrorists they wished to single out for this treatment. Rather, it is the chilling, cold blooded legalese used by Bybee and the others that Andrew correctly judges as “the banality of evil.” It is reminiscent of the minutes that were found after World War II from the Wannsee Conference - the meeting of high level SS officers and Nazi party officials that developed “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.” The bureaucratic language of murder far surpasses in evil what the Bybee memo reveals. But the tone is the same - a detatched, unemotional accounting of various torture regimes, whether they would hurt too much, whether the subject would be in any danger, how much psychological damage would be done by employing these techniques, and what kind of legal exposure interrogators would have. (Another, less apropos parallel but still relevant, would be some of the memos from I.G. Farban to the extermination camp commandants where the mass gassing of human beings using Zyklon-B was touted in language that must be read to be believed.)

No, Bush is not like Hitler nor is his Administration or Bybee fascist or Nazi. But when reading the Bybee memo (I have read only one of the Bradbury memos), you feel unclean - as if you were reading something that might be contagious. What in God’s name got into these people? You wonder what the hell the gentleman was thinking when he wrote it. Did he grasp the fact that he was in the process of justifying the deliberate infliction of pain on another human being? I suppose lawyers can do just about anything - defending Bin Laden in an American court if it comes to that - but Bybee, like a good little bureaucrat, followed orders issued by his superiors and what emerged from his mind and pen puts a terrible coda on Bush era policies that broke American and international law.

President Obama, required by law, released these memos and then appropriately gave a pass to the men and women who operated under their legal guidelines. Overall, he is showing a sensitivity to the issues that most of us on the right are not giving him much credit for. He has not recommended prosection of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other high level Administration officials - yet. It could be he is waiting to see which way the political wind blows. It could be he is reluctant to distract the country from what he considers more important business. It could even be that he may wish to employ some of the same techniques against high value targets in the future and doesn’t want to close down any of his options. I believe, like myself, he really doesn’t know how to proceed. Will there be war crimes trials? A special prosecutor? A blue ribbon, “non-partisan” truth commission? I doubt whether he even wants to make that decision which means he will leave it to the Democratic Congress. If so, I have little hope that anything useful will emerge from anything the rabid Bush haters, who spent 8 years undermining the policies of a Republican president, can come up with.

I am done writing trying to convince conservatives that I am right by arguing nits. I came to the conclusion that despite what I see as clear evidence of lawbreaking, others on the right sincerely believe otherwise. But if there are any conservatives out there reading this who are continuing to defend these actions by President Bush and his people but nevertheless feel troubled and unsure, I urge you to take a fresh look at the issues - if only to buttress your own defense. There is no shame in changing your opinion if you expose yourself to new facts, new insights and look at the issue from a new perspective.

By: Rick Moran at 7:04 am
75 Responses to “THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    7:30 am 

    I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory on this issue either. Too late to the party, too ready to doubt what seemed at first like conspiracy nuts, too quick to accept a degree of ruthlessness.

    I honor those who got it right early.

  2. 2
    Comrade Stuck Said:
    7:41 am 

    Kudos to you Mr. Moran. Especially in thinking past your nose on the insect question and the shallow denial of those who think a little insect plus phobia in a “containment box” is a harmless equation. Room 121 was open for business at the OLC and Bush WH. Thank God it is now closed and will be harder to re-open now that we know the truth.

  3. 3
    Shaun Mullen Said:
    7:44 am 

    Thank you, Rick.

  4. 4
    smitty Said:
    7:51 am 

    It is essential that these points be raised.
    The alternative is to become that which we despise.
    I get that.
    I suppose, for a thought experiment, I should like to see these high-minded critics put in the situation where they have to make choices. In a war, do we “lean” on a prisoner to acquire intelligence that might avoid bloodshed, or do we treat reality as just another abstraction?
    Further, the timing of the release of this material seems too convenient.
    Cheers,
    Chris

  5. 5
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    8:37 am 

    Very good piece Rick.

  6. 6
    Eric V Said:
    8:42 am 

    I too have struggled with this for some time, and have come to the same conclusion as Mr Moran. With that conclusion, comes the acceptance that America may be at greater risk by not using these “harsh” interrogation techniques, but I think we should be willing to accept that. I know the increased risk is debatable, but we’ll never no for sure, and so better to acknowledge it. I think in order for us to remain the bastion of freedom, we must not pursue tactics which inflict such harm on any person. I know Bush etal did these things for the reason of protecting American citizens, but the slippery slope argument kicks in here. It is better to ensure no person undergoes “torture”. America must hold itself above the fray. We must be able to say, “Yes we are the biggest target, and people hate us, but we will not reduce ourselves to inhumane tactics which discredit our claim as the greatest country on the earth.” America - Worth defending - absolutely - to the death - absolutely, but MY death by my choosing to accept the risk. Not another’s death at our hands for the purpose of interrogation.

  7. 7
    drew Said:
    9:10 am 

    Finally a rational Republican thinker! I look forward to reading more of what you write, even when I don’t agree with it. Your logic and consistency are a refreshing change to most of what I read (right or left) these days. thanks!

  8. 8
    Richard Bruce Cheney Said:
    9:26 am 

    While you are at it, care to discuss your feelings about Scott Beauchamp?

  9. 9
    aric Said:
    10:01 am 

    Your site is one of the few on the right actually taking the stance of what happened did in fact break the law. The thing that bothers me most about this discussion is the inevitable argument about what are enemies do to our troops…In no way do I ever want our country or our armed forces compared to the actions of the Taliban / Saddam Hussein but when the legality of the torture argument fails eventually it becomes “Do you know what THEY would do to our troops? Yes I do and something tells me that even if we followed the Geneva conventions to the letter our troops would still be treated awful.

    Please note that other conservative sites are getting blasted by their readers for merely using the word torture in the title, so don’t be surprised if someone demands you put torture in quotes.

    Thank you for posting this…

  10. 10
    mannning Said:
    10:09 am 

    Time was that Administrations did not leave a paper trail for what they intended to do that was illegal. It was done by nods and winks down the right chain of command, together with ambiguous statements that could be read any way at all.

    Deniability was a paramount objective.

    Time was when witnesses after the fact were hard to come by, they having been spirited away to somewhere else.

    Time was when front-line individuals made their own decisions about application of force to gain intelligence, and how to survive the aftermath, and, above all, ensuring the deniability meme for their superiors. They took a risk, knowing the penalties if they were caught.

    No longer. Accountability for a life has become dominant from the field on up, no matter the depraved nature of the life being preserved intact.

    It is not in the cards anymore for two or three hardened and cynical sergeants to take a captured hostile behind the tent line to get something out of him, and for the officers involved to be conveniently absent. Nor is it possible for that hostile’s body to be found later with other bodies common on the battlefield.

    The very least that will happen in this era is for such hardened and ruthless men, wherever they serve, to ensure that whatever they do will not be discovered, the hostiles will be killed after their interrogations are over, and their bodies will not be recoverable.

    This is real progress.

  11. 11
    Gregg Said:
    10:27 am 

    Personally, I doubt the our nation’s enemies are revising their plans based on the latest news, but I really have no way of knowing. I too have the luxury of pondering this subject from a safe vantage point. I might view this topic differently if a relative had died before, during or after the WTC attacks. Confronting evil isn’t easy or clean.

  12. 12
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    10:50 am 

    Very well done, Mr. Moran! I notice that you give John Cole credit for confronting the truth, but he has quite a bit of doubt that conservatives think the same way. Sad to say, he’s pretty justified in his conclusion, at least when it comes to the big name right wing bloggers.

  13. 13
    Jimmy Said:
    10:54 am 

    I support any and all release of info regarding USA’s use of terrorist and Nazi tactics like torture.

    It is high time USA got off its high horse and rejoined civilization again. I am glad we have a CIC who knows torture is torture and does not try to nuance it.

    Jimmy
    USMC

  14. 14
    Michael Said:
    10:57 am 

    Your family dies unless this guy talks. We cannot get him to say anything. Do we water board him? Well, do we?

    A police officer draws his pistol. If he does not squeeze the trigger, an innocent victim dies. What does he do?

    I know what I would say, and I just cannot reason myself beyond it. Help me out.

  15. 15
    Vincent Said:
    11:07 am 

    The best writing on the subject out so far.

    Bravo.

  16. 16
    TG Chicago Said:
    11:45 am 

    “smitty Said:
    7:51 am

    Further, the timing of the release of this material seems too convenient.”

    The timing is based on the lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Thursday was the final deadline to release the documents. I’m not sure exactly what you’re implying, but I’m pretty sure you’re off-base.

  17. 17
    Hal Said:
    12:32 pm 

    Michael, here’s a way to reason your way out of it: Understand that torture really only works to elicit false confessions. Even if your family were in imminent danger, torturing somebody wouldn’t garner the info you wanted, no matter what you might have seen on “24″ and in the movies. And, as Rick correctly states above, it’s important to note that none (not a one!) of the detainees described in these memos was tortured under a “ticking time-bomb scenario.” The government simply wanted information — and when they couldn’t get it legally, they resorted to torture. And, still, they didn’t get anything they could use — either to halt any terror plots in-progress, or even evidence that could be used at trial.

  18. 18
    lionheart Said:
    12:42 pm 

    Rick, let me start off by expressing my respect for your opinion, and the research you put into forming it. As you know from numerous exchanges we have had over the past year, I disagree with you. I’ve always wished I were both smarter and a better communicator. Lacking either of those weapons, I can only take one more stab at this, throwing as much mud at the wall as possible, and seeing if anything sticks. I do this knowing that I have as little hope of converting you to my position as you have of converting me- but this is the great marketplace for the exchange of ideas, no?

    War isn’t a boxing match, which has rules and timeouts, referees, and a defined start and stop time. War isn’t performed for sport, it is done to win, at any and all costs. A “just” war (I know that term will have its objectors) has at its core the safety and security of the nation that wages it. The fact that the world has instituted a set of rules for war is absurd at face value. No member nation at war has EVER followed the Geneva convention in all circustances- and rigthfully so. It would be like a boxer that fights by the rules, but fights an opponent with weighted gloves who also bites (sort of like fighting, say Mike Tyson).

    You say that Bush has sacrificed our most cherished values. My most cherished values are the safety and security of my family. I would die for them all (well, everybody except my cousin Bubba). If I have to cede the moral high road of protecting prisoners of war from torture in order to keep my family alive, I’ll broker that exchange every day. Every time.

    The fact that they believed sincerely they were doing it to protect us is not a valid excuse or justification.

    How do you prove that? That is your opinion, which carries no more relevance than mine.

    Is it true that they violated the Geneva convention? Although, as you pointed out, they went to great lengths to provide legal justification that they did not, I will concede that point to you. Does it bother me? Not in the least. But, you may say, the honesty and integrity of our government’s word is now besmirched! Given enough time, I could provide you with a thousand proven lies our government has told over the past years- from all administrations. Is this lie worse than others? Maybe, but who assigns the score to the government sins- any score is purely sujective.

    We’ve kicked president’s out of office (okay, Nixon resigned, but it was inevitable) because they broke the law. We’ve put senators and congressmen in prison for breaking the law. I am NOT excusing law-breaking (on the other hand, is it actually against U.S. law to violate the Geneva Convention? Are there statues, mandatory sentences, etc.?) However, you excoriate the Bush administration for looking for (or devising) a way to make their actions legal- doesn’t it make sense for them to do so, considering they knew that some future administration may try to indict them?

    Did he grasp the fact that he was in the process of justifying the deliberate infliction of pain on another human being?

    YES! He was trying to make the country safe without having to worry about being tried for “crimes against humanity” by some future administration.

    That’s the best I can do- I’ve got nothing else. I do want to confess that the fact that you regularly read Sullivan is a bit disturbing- while he may write something of value once in a blue moon, I’ve heard that a room full of monkeys tapping on a keyboard actually form a word or two occasionally. Reading monkey chat seems like a misplaced priority of your valuable time :-)

  19. 19
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    12:50 pm 

    Michael,

    Your family dies unless this guy talks. We cannot get him to say anything. Do we water board him? Well, do we? I know what I would say, and I just cannot reason myself beyond it. Help me out.

    Your ticking time bomb scenario is never ever the case. It just doesn’t happen hollywood style like that. Instead, this is how it plays out in the real world…

    You water board him, extract whatever lies and half-truths he uses to stop the torture. Then take weeks and months while spending millions of dollars chasing false leads and bullshit intel, which gives his cohorts time to plan new and more devastating attacks elsewhere.

    That is the reality. Oh, and torture is immoral and evil too.

    Torture has been used for 4,000 years for one reason and one reason only; it works - occassionally.

    The problem for the professional interrogator is that it is extremely unreliable. Not being mind readers, they can’t determine when a subject is lying to have the torture stopped or telling the truth for the same reason.

    And yes, it is immoral and evil too.

    ed.

  20. 20
    Nouby Said:
    12:54 pm 

    I have been a reader for a long time.This is my 1st comment.
    Bravo Mr. Moran.

  21. 21
    Doug Said:
    12:59 pm 

    Michael,

    Your first scenario is the only one which is relevant to the discussion. The police officer shooting to protect an innocent is a no-brainer and not in dispute.

    But even though your first scenario actually deals with potential torture, it’s still a fantasy because it assumes three falsehoods:

    1) We have perfect knowledge of everything but the information needed to save your family.

    2) Waterboarding will produce only the needed information, and no false information.

    3) There is no better way to extract data than waterboarding.

    This is just a variation on the “ticking time-bomb” scenario, which is popular with those who confuse action movies with reality.

  22. 22
    Alex Said:
    1:02 pm 

    >>
    Your family dies unless this guy talks. We cannot get him to say anything. Do we water board him? Well, do we?

    A police officer draws his pistol. If he does not squeeze the trigger, an innocent victim dies. What does he do?
    >>

    The last of these memos was written in 2005 … and if you read them there is NO talk of ticking-bomb scenarios … in fact it’s just the opposite … careful cover-my-as$ parsing of words and inverted logic that must have taken them days to come up with … there was no emergency.

  23. 23
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:34 pm 

    Michael:

    These were not Jack Bauer moments. There was no ticking time bomb.

    The logic you apply could apply in every case: we have a drug dealer, if we don’t shoot him in the head he goes free, sells crack to your baby sister and she ends up dead. How can we afford not to shoot the dealer?

    Why not execute drunk drivers? Why not exterminate all potential criminals, all potential enemies because any or all of them might do something heinous?

    This is why we have a system of laws and rights.

  24. 24
    bsjones Said:
    2:38 pm 

    I love America and I feel joy when our elected government officials provide Americans with with effective efficient governance.

    There are two things behind the dismal governance we routinely get here in America: No transparency and no accountability from elected and appointed government officials.

    Phase one. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. (He knows what’s best.)

    Phase two. Do not punish the man behind the curtain, he did what he thought was best for us. (Besides he thought it was legal at the time.)

    Phase three. Move on. Stop the partisan witch hunt. It does not solve anything. We cannot punish politicians for their political views. (Move along. Nothing to see here.)

    This is how government works. No transparency. No accountability. Most people accept it. Those who do not are either right or left wing kooks depending on the individual case. Any reporter will tell you that.

    American presidents act as if they are beyond the laws that impact the rest of us. The experience of my entire adult life indicates that they are.

  25. 25
    bsjones Said:
    2:42 pm 

    Smitty,

    You want a government that “leans” on prisoners and detainees, then help change American laws that disallow the “leaning”. Or do we treat American law as another abstraction.

    This is America. We the People have the power to make torture legal if we so choose.

  26. 26
    UNRR Said:
    3:00 pm 

    I think you are way off on this issue. In my opinion, torture — including measures more extreme than anything in the memos — should remain an option for CIA interrogations of known terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I’ve written about it extensively and I’m not going to repeat my arguments here. But I respect your willingness to go against majority conservative opinion and take an fairly unpopular position among fellow Republicans.

  27. 27
    bsjones Said:
    3:25 pm 

    Time Magazine’s Joe Klein admits that the CIA gets asked to break U.S. and after they do break the law the CIA agents get huffy if/when threatened with prosecution.

    http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2009/04/16/torture-memos-released/

    You asked us to act “extra legally” and now you prosecute. No fair.

    The not so popular around here liberal blogger “Glenzilla” also thinks this kerfufel is about transparency and accountability in government. Like me, he thinks these attributes are necessary for democracy to work. Read him here:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

  28. 28
    bloodstar Said:
    4:16 pm 

    At the risk of hyperbole, I wonder how many witches who confessed to flying on brooms and consorting with the Devil under torture really did. And yet so many of them confessed. I suppose that’s what really bugs me, how easy it’d be to lead someone into confessing the things you ‘know’ he either was a part of, or could be privy to. How many leading questions? how many shouted commands as the person, evil though he may be, suffers and tries to find a way to stop the pain.

    ticking time bombs suffer from the question, what if you have the wrong person. and you’ve broken their fingers, bamboo shoots, water boarded, and they still deny everything… are they being stubborn? is your precious children going to die because you aren’t torturing enough? and later if your children are dead and you find out that you had the wrong person. do you deserve to exist any longer? Maybe some of you could live with yourself, torturing an innocent stranger who had nothing to do with your childrens death, in the hope they were the guilty party. If you want to live with the justifications, die with them too.

  29. 29
    ck Said:
    4:43 pm 

    Hal,

    I think they were where looking for information not necessarily confessions (a big difference). You can verify information. I have mixed feelings on this. I’d be more inclined to approve of these methods to get information but find it fairly worthless to get confessions for obvious reasons.

  30. 30
    bsjones Said:
    5:04 pm 

    ck,

    If you are inclined to approve of these methods to get information you should be inclined to overturn the laws that prohibit them.

    This is America. We live in the greatest democracy ever conceived. This means that if a majority of American citizens approve of “these methods”, then they can have them enshrined as law.

    In other words, American citizens have it in their power to legalize torture. If we did this we could consider ourselves a nation of laws once more.

    It seems simple really.

  31. 31
    busboy33 Said:
    5:12 pm 

    @michael:

    You are exactly right as to how those two scenarios should be decided. If the only way to stop the death of others is to kill/harm one, the certainly do what has to be done. The reason you’re having trouble getting over that, as others have commented, is because the scenarios that you’ve posited are structured to only allow for one result.
    Think about it this way: In the law, what you’re describing is an Affirmative Defense. The most common AD is Self-Defense. If I try to attack you, you have a right to defend yourself (for example, by punching me). Now lets say that the police charge you with Assault (knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another).
    The reason AD is called “Affirmative” Defense is because to offer that defense the defendant affirms that they did indeed commit the crime (you punched me intentionally causing harm to me). You are guilty. You asaulted me. With the presumption of innocence, you start the Assault trial with the presumtion that you did not Assault me. The prosecutor has to prove that. When you offer an AD, you concede that you are in fact guilty, and the prosecutor’s duty to prove that is over.
    Now, the burden shifts to YOU to demonstrate that although you committed the crime (Assault), the unique circumstances were such that what you did is appropriate. If you don’t justify your actions, then you’re guilty — you already admitted it.
    You used the example of a police officer shooting a suspect. Is it Homicide? Absolutely. Is it JUSTIFIABLE Homicide? That depends on the facts, and the officer has to present the facts excusing the killing. Imagine if a cop was standing over a suspect they shot down and said “no, trust me, it was totally necassary. I can’t go into the details, but really, nothing to see here.” Essentially, as a citizen you’d just be hoping that if the cop was dishonest enough to inappropriately kill someone they would at least be honest enough to admit it when asked (and when looking at life in prison as a consequence).
    Can torture be justified? Put a bomb in an orphanage, minutes from killing hundreds or thousands, and an officer assaults the bomber, getting the disarm code in the nick of time. No jury on the planet would convict them. Does that mean that officers should beat suspects? If you take away the bomb, the victims, the time constraints, etc., then the justification goes away.
    Dick Cheney has repeatedly asserted that torturing prisoners saved lives, thwarted plots. However, he has never offered a single example. Why? If a plot was thwarted, wouldn’t the terrorists know about it? It’s not like he’s revealing anything to our enemies if he says “here’s a bomb we uncovered due to enhanced interrogation”. They know their plot from two years ago hasn’t happened. They know their agents have disappeared. The only thing showing the proverbial ticking time bomb we disarmed would do is justify the Administration’s actions.
    But he hasn’t. He’s essentially done the same thing as the hypothetical cop I described above: “It was totally justified. Trust me. If I was lying, I’d totally tell you, so my not telling you must mean I was right.”
    The reason the burden shifts to the defendant with an AD is because just about everybody thinks they’re justified when they use violence (except sociopaths or psychotics). If we, as a society, just trusted people to only be violent when they thought was a good idea, then we’re guaranteed lawlessness. That’s why many jurisdictions have a “retreat rule” for AD, meaning you have to try and retreat before you can legitimately resort to violence (demonstrating it was your “last resort”, not your first choice). You think you need to resort to violence as a last resort? Go for it . . . but you damn well better be able to back up why it was your only option after or you’re in trouble.
    I agree with Mr. M. in the sense that I don’t think that the Admin was sitting around cackling about how they could be abusive. I’m sure, given the fear we all felt after 9-11, they honestly thought that another attack was seconds away. But that worry was based on emotion . . . not facts. And that’s just not enough to excuse an Affirmative Defense.
    Think about the Assault example I offered earlier. Imagine if your defense was “yeah, I hit him, but I totally thought he was going to hit me so I hit him first. No, he didn’t swing at me this time, but he did hit me a few weeks ago, so I figured he was going to hit me when I saw him this time.” Is that understandable? Sure. But you’re also guilty of Assault, period.
    The OLC memos are even worse than all of this. Like Mr. M. said, reading them makes it clear thay they were written specifically to justify torture in a “non-ticking bomb” scenario (since the justification for violence in that case is already allowed). Since the detainees are non-uniformed enemy combatants, we aren’t bound by any rules like the Geneva Convention, the UMC, the Constitution, or any other rules. That’s not explaining why something is legal — it’s explaining why the laws don’t apply . . . and the only reason to do that is to excuse something that would be considered breaking the law (if there’s no law, you can’t break it).

  32. 32
    Scrapiron Said:
    6:17 pm 

    Seven years without an attack on America. Enough said. Any attack in the future will be the responsibility of O’Dumbo and the Clowns, they will be held criminally liable by the people.

  33. 33
    Don C. Said:
    7:28 pm 

    Call me a skeptic on this report.

    And, America’s current barbaric enemies do not abide any lawful or humane codes of conduct in their totalitarian war against civilization. They are, and have been for a long time, in the business of wood chippers & head chopping. So, the argument that this revelation would cause our enemies to act any differently seems specious at best, in my view.

  34. 34
    riot Said:
    7:33 pm 

    Rick,
    If one is prepared to live by the law, one should be willing to die by them too. Methinks, it is sufficient to pass a law that absolves agents of the government and the government itself from going to extremes in order to protect its citizens from terrorism as long as these agents remain within the confines of the law. As citizens, we cannot make such demands of safety as to push government agents into the quandary of breaking laws.
    So if an attack gets through, then so be it - the odds favor the terrorist if they keep trying but let’s be clear - we choose this path. And we pass a law to this effect that we sacrifice safety to abide by laws and treaties made in our name.

  35. 35
    funny man Said:
    7:34 pm 

    I know for a fact that countless American lives were saved because German soldiers knew the Americans would treat them humanely. I’m German BTW and I know that from my relatives. We tortured and the Russians too but as you can see the American ’system’ prevailed in the long run and I’m proud to live in a country that in principle does not torture.
    If you want an in-depth account on torture and confessions I’d recommend ‘Gulag Archipelago’. Most of the torture as also ‘invisible’, just sleep deprivation, hunger etc. Broke most people then and will also today. Nothing we should ever emulate! Thanks Rick.

  36. 36
    Don C. Said:
    7:51 pm 

    After reading the Bybee memo, it seems clear that SERE techniques employed on Abu Zubaydah et ilk comport the training protocols of some of our best American servicemen: NAVY SEALS.

    If our SEALS endure it, then (a) is it *really* torture, and (b) why not apply it to the likes of barbarians like Zubaydah & KSM?

    My guess is neither Obama nor Congress will pursue this because they know full well the intel gathered under SERE from these enemies averted specific terrorist plots.

  37. 37
    bsjones Said:
    8:36 pm 

    ON TORTURE

    In the words of Peter Tosh:
    Legalize it
    Don’t criticize it
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah
    And I will advertise it

    IN the words of George Orwell:
    1984: “‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’ The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was. ‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’ He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats. ‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats…’”

  38. 38
    bsjones Said:
    1:20 am 

    Morning Joe talks torture here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKo-kPR19Mk&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Ftpmtv.talkingpointsmemo.com%2F&feature=player_embedded

    Legalize it.
    Don’t criticize it.

  39. 39
    bobwire Said:
    1:51 am 

    severe apostasy. A hornet’s nest…

  40. 40
    busboy33 Said:
    3:54 am 

    @scrapiron:
    “Seven years without an attack on America. Enough said. Any attack in the future will be the responsibility of O’Dumbo and the Clowns, they will be held criminally liable by the people.”

    So . . . I assume you blame Bush for 9-11? If an attack on Obama’s watch is his fault, that makes an attack on W’s watch his fault, doesn’t it? Or do you blame Clinton?

  41. 41
    busboy33 Said:
    3:58 am 

    @ Don C.:

    “If our SEALS endure it, then (a) is it *really* torture, and (b) why not apply it to the likes of barbarians like Zubaydah & KSM?”

    Why don’t you ask the former master instructor of SERE?
    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/10/waterboarding-is-torture-perio/

  42. 42
    SShiell Said:
    4:36 am 

    OK, call it torture. Criminalize it. Put it into the books as part of the Federal code.

    Next time you need it, I hope there is someone out there with the stones to do what needs to be done and then turns himself in.

    If lives were saved by the actions of this person - torture or not - good luck getting a conviction!

    Feel better now?

  43. 43
    cedarhill Said:
    5:39 am 

    After reading some of the posts here Rick is just going through a mid-life crisis. He’ll be OK in a few years.

    What I find interesting in these arguments on both sides is the use of the term “risk”. With the jihadist, there is a probability approaching 1 that given the opportunity he will kill again regardless. It’s like a Terminator movie - it’s what they do; their purpose in life. Go read al-Qatar sometime. These are not your Germans of WWII, or the Indians of the Old West, or the Cubans of Castro or even the huffin-puffs of Chavez. They’re simply cold blooded sectarian killers. Your spouse, your kids, your friends - their heads will casually be loped off while you watch. They follow no rules of warfare, they wear no uniforms, they provide no protection to those they capture and they dream about nuking your hometown.

    Not doing torture or hard questioning or whatever one choices to call it is OK with me. Some actually still believe there are absolutes which our laws and theories of governing should be crossed. But it seems to me to be disingenuous to use “risk” as if it’s something that can be somehow managed. It would be more honest if one has sat their child, or grandchild or other loved one down and simply said “Honey, you may be killed in cold blood by Mr. Mohammed X but that’s ok. It’s a price you will have to pay so we can live free.”

    In context of who these guys are, the question becomes why should they be captured at all and, if captured, why not just summarily execute them? At least you’d be assured they would never kill again.

  44. 44
    And Rightly So… » Blog Archive » Saturday AM News & Links Pinged With:
    6:38 am 

    [...] think the definition of torture has changed over the years. Or, it’s not the same for individual people. To me, torture would include ripping off fingernails, pouring boiling water onto a person’s [...]

  45. 45
    The MaryHunter Said:
    6:44 am 

    Rick, Rick, Rick…

    Moving right along… I’ve introduced a new alias into the mix for myself: pomalom, AKA Mark. Just started following you on Twitter… so now you know who I am. Look fwd to your copious tweets. ;-)

  46. 46
    bsjones Said:
    7:01 am 

    SShiell Said:
    OK, call it torture. Criminalize it. Put it into the books as part of the Federal code.

    Torture already is criminalized. THAT is the problem.
    We need to legalize it.
    Don’t criticize it.
    legalize it. yeah, yeah
    then we’ll publicize it.

  47. 47
    Michael Pate Said:
    8:42 am 

    Personally, I think releasing these memos sends exactly the wrong message to our enemies. Now they have absolutely clear evidence that the worst treatment they can expect is something on the level of elementary school campout hazing.

  48. 48
    gregdn Said:
    8:52 am 

    Very thoughtful post Rick. Torture does more damage to our nation than any terrorist attacks could because they sap our moral fiber.
    Good call by Obama not to press the issue too.

  49. 49
    jharp Said:
    9:33 am 

    Good for you, Rick.

    It takes a big man to admit they were wrong.

    Let’s hope some more of those on the right come to their senses.

  50. 50
    Don C. Said:
    10:36 am 

    busboy33,

    “Why don’t you ask the former master instructor of SERE?”

    Ok.

    Malcolm Nance wrote:

    “If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives.”

    That argument fails, in my view because America’s enemies are bloodthirsty barbarians that would laugh at the weakness of waterboarding. No, they prefer to summarily lop off captives’ heads.

    Nance reveals:

    “… once captive I believe that the better angels of our nature and our nation’s core values would eventually convince any terrorist that they indeed have erred in their murderous ways. Once convicted in a fair, public tribunal, they would have the rest of their lives, however short the law makes it, to come to terms with their God and their acts.”

    Considering America’s current enemy, I couldn’t disagree more profoundly with Mr. Nance on that one.

    He also vilifies our guys in his piece, yet conveniently excludes the importance that our guys actually, as did he himself, *VOLUNTEER* for SERE training. They volunteered to be “tortured”. So, why not apply such measures to our, once again, barbaric bloodthirsty enemies to whom zero laws of civilization matter?

    Finally, these are non-uniformed enemy combatant terrorists that do not abide Geneva and are therefore, just like pirates on the high seas, subject to summary execution on the field of battle.

    But, why waste a high value target like Zubaydah or KSM before extracting as much intel as possible first?

    Then, once the intel is extracted, either execute ‘em on the spot or lock ‘em up for life.

    Seems to me, bottom line, it’s our feminized culture that has politically weakened all too many folks’ will to apply the most harsh ROI available in exchange for their displaced “Hopes” to, pace Nance, “eventually convince any terrorist that they indeed have erred in their murderous ways.”

  51. 51
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:11 am 

    Dan C:

    It is absurd on its face to say that anyone can “volunteer” for torture.

    It’s like saying someone “volunteers” for Russian Roulette. Except that they’re told in advance that the bullet is a blank. And that they can end it at any time with a safe word. And the people inflicting the “torture” are their fellow soldiers not the enemy.

    That’s not torture. That’s training.

  52. 52
    Don C. Said:
    5:23 pm 

    And now, thanks to Obama’s disgraceful release of these top secret attorney/client privileged memos, America’s barbaric enemies will simply train their terrorist operatives in SERE.

    Nice going statists, you’ve aided the enemy once again.

  53. 53
    TomT Said:
    10:04 pm 

    “Michael, here’s a way to reason your way out of it: Understand that torture really only works to elicit false confessions. Even if your family were in imminent danger, torturing somebody wouldn’t garner the info you wanted, no matter what you might have seen on “24? and in the movies. And, as Rick correctly states above, it’s important to note that none (not a one!) of the detainees described in these memos was tortured under a “ticking time-bomb scenario.” The government simply wanted information — and when they couldn’t get it legally, they resorted to torture. And, still, they didn’t get anything they could use — either to halt any terror plots in-progress, or even evidence that could be used at trial.”

    Let me get this straight, professional interogators just do this for the fun of it. Don’t you think if they did this for a living that they would want to use the most effective methods to obtain information? Do you go to your job everyday and do things the most inefficient way? You are the one with the TV view of the world. Most of these interogators are probably consciencious and want to obtain information in the most effective way possible. They are evaluated on how much information they can obtain. You don’t know the information they obtained. I’m sorry, I don’t buy it.

    Don’t you just love liberals? They know how to do everybodies job. They know how to build cars, they know how to interogate people, they know the right amount of health care for everybody, etc….
    If people just did what they said, the world would be perfect.

    About all the Nazi talk, has anybody examined the treatment of POWs by the FDR administration during WWII. I think a lot worse was done by the FDR administration. So why not compare Bush to FDR? I guess it would illustrate the ignorance and lack of perspective of these comments.

    I am just glad that you were not in charge. By your definition, anything could be constued as torture. Let’s face it, it is just a matter of degree. I could say the same things about your techniques.

  54. 54
    busboy33 Said:
    4:54 am 

    Don C:

    “That argument fails, in my view because America’s enemies are bloodthirsty barbarians that would laugh at the weakness of waterboarding. No, they prefer to summarily lop off captives’ heads.”
    You seem like a bright guy, so I’m sure you’re well aware that you’re completely ignoring the point Nance was making — that we can’t act outraged at our prisoners being abused if we do it ourselves.
    I directed you to Nance’s post because you suggested waterboarding wasn’t really torture since its used in SERE school. Nance (who has far, far more experience with SERE and waterboardinbg than either of us do) made it perfectly clear that it IS torture. Now you’re arguing the dirty bastards deserve to be tortured.
    Pick one. If they deserve to be tortured, then admit its torture. If you don’t think its torture, then whether they deserve to be tortured is completely irrevelant.
    By the way, thank goodness we would only torture the really, really bad ones. Y’know, the “cut of their heads” bad guys. I’m sure the government has never made a mistake, never misidentified a person. Hypothetically (just for giggles), what would you say if we tortured someone who wasn’t a “cut their heads off” bad guy? Oops? You know they deserved whatever they got because the government told you so? Nice to know you trust the government so much.

    “Considering America’s current enemy, I couldn’t disagree more profoundly with Mr. Nance on that one.”
    Fine — disagree all you want. This is America, after all. But do you want to tell me why?

    “[SERE enrollees] volunteered to be “tortured”. So, why not apply such measures to our, once again, barbaric bloodthirsty enemies to whom zero laws of civilization matter?”
    Because were not barbaric and bloodthirsty. Because to us laws of civilization matter. Because we’re not the terrorists. I’d like to think we’re better than the scum terrorists — you want to one-up them.
    SERE enrollees are tortured so they know whatto expect if they get captured but the scum. You want to take it as a model for behavior.

    “Finally, these are non-uniformed enemy combatant terrorists that do not abide Geneva and are therefore, just like pirates on the high seas, subject to summary execution on the field of battle.”
    Yeah. Well, except for all the “non-uniformed enemy combatant terrorists” we’ve let go because they wern’t (unless you think Bush let bloodthirsty sociopaths go because he was bored). The hundreds and hundreds we’ve released from Gitmo that wern’t. That were either totally innocent, or simple insurrectionists, or completely inconsequential. That wern’t captured on the field of battle.
    How do you know they’re all that? Oh yeah, the government told you. Man, I completely admire your faith in Big Government. Its very uplifting.

    “And now, thanks to Obama’s disgraceful release of these top secret attorney/client privileged memos, America’s barbaric enemies will simply train their terrorist operatives in SERE.
    Nice going statists, you’ve aided the enemy once again.”
    But . . . but . . . I thought you trusted your government completely? How strange.

    You decry the “feminized culture” that weakened our real man spirit to be tough and hurt people . . . then say we’re not really torturing prisoners. If you’re going to advocate torture, why suggest its not torture? You sound like a wife beater: “I didn’t hit my wife, but let me explain how she totally deserved to get hit . . . which I didn’t do.”
    You talk about ROI, but don’t seem to give a damn whether or not we actually get or got any information (the entire purpose of interrogation). You argue that “they” deserve it. They got it coming. A bullet in the back of the head is too good for the dirty bastards.

    You don’t want ROI. You want revenge.

  55. 55
    Don C. Said:
    11:27 am 

    busboy33 Said:

    “You seem like a bright guy…”

    Thanks, you seem like a typical feminized Modern Liberal that feels displacement of your fear-based rages towards our benevolent America — and her honorable men and women in uniform — a less risky prospect than against the actual enemy: barbaric Islamo-nazi terrorists.

    Nance seems like a Buddhist/ML convert who is, despite your appeal to authority fallacy, not the be-all/end-all on the subject of SERE training.

    In any case, what should we do now with captive enemies with intel that could prevent another 9/11 - “The Comfy Chair!” and “The Extra Pillow!”?

  56. 56
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:42 pm 

    Don C:
    You seem very, very concerned with “feminization.”

    You may want to talk to your doctor. A drop in testosterone can be a sign of a serious illness, or it may just be a consequence of age. In any event there are treatments available.

  57. 57
    Don C. Said:
    3:23 pm 

    Quit your dullard “comedic stylings” while you’re behind Michael Reynolds.

    Retroactively attempting the cover (comfort) of self-flagellating “glory on this issue” makes you look all the more foolish.

  58. 58
    busboy33 Said:
    9:12 pm 

    @Don C:
    “Nance seems like a Buddhist/ML convert who is, despite your appeal to authority fallacy, not the be-all/end-all on the subject of SERE training.”
    So . . . the “honorable men and women in uniform” respect you offer to our troops only goes so far as to the ones that agree with you. How very impressive of you.
    Is he the be-all end-all? I doubt it. But since you’ve clearly never gone through SERE training, and he went through it, then tought it . . . seems like he might know a little more about it than you do.

    “In any case, what should we do now with captive enemies with intel that could prevent another 9/11 - “The Comfy Chair!” and “The Extra Pillow!”?”
    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe . . . and I’m just throwing this out there for giggles . . . interrogate them? Convict them? Punish them?

    “you seem like a typical feminized Modern Liberal that feels displacement of your fear-based rages towards our benevolent America”
    Awwwww. I’m crying. Really. Odd though that I’m the one with fear-based rages and you’re the one that’s both terrified of “them” and wildly casting about for some way to hurt people.
    That phrase . . . I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    p.s. — “our benevolent America”: Been reading much Socialist propaganda lately? And be sure to respond with either a snarky comment about Our Dear Leader or the MSM media — I’d hate for you to break character.

  59. 59
    bsjones Said:
    12:12 am 

    What’s wrong with:
    A little loud music?
    A few stress positions?
    A little sleep deprivation?
    A little sexual humiliation?
    A bit of medically supervised intravenous LSD?
    A little simulated drowning?
    A few drops of imitation menstrual blood?
    A small bug in a coffin like box?
    A few barking German shepherds?
    A high powered light bulb that never shuts off?
    A Holly book as toilet paper?
    A few instances of forced feminization?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uES4cp3Kb6A&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.harpers.org%2Farchive%2F2009%2F04%2Fhbc-90004803&feature=player_embedded

    Teabag them before they teabag us!!

  60. 60
    bsjones Said:
    12:52 am 

    Remember it’s all done in the name of security in a post 9/11 world.

  61. 61
    Don C. Said:
    6:45 am 

    busboy33 Said:

    “So . . . the ‘honorable men and women in uniform’ respect you offer to our troops only goes so far as to the ones that agree with you. How very impressive of you.”

    That’s quite an unimpressive straw man from one of the “I-support-the-troops-but-*not*-the-mission” crowd.

    One can respect Mr. Nance’s service in uniform as honorable, while at the same time disrespecting his opinion.

    “Is he the be-all end-all? I doubt it.”

    No one person is ever the “be-all end-all” on anything, except of course in the Modern Liberal drones’ irrational minds. There you’ll find countless examples of their “Special Champion” master minding their thoughts for them.

    “But since you’ve clearly never gone through SERE training, and he went through it, then tought it . . . seems like he might know a little more about it than you do.”

    Therefore, by you own tortured logic, your own opinions in this matter are rendered utterly irrelevant because you’ve clearly never gone through SERE training, much less “tought” (sic) it.

    Good work busboy!

    Have a nice day…

  62. 62
    busboy33 Said:
    3:14 pm 

    Thanks. You may finally be listening.
    I’ll push my luck and suggest you look up both “straw man” and “appeal to authority fallacy”. It’s more impresive when you throw the terms around if you’re close to their actual meaning.

    So I point out you’re evaluation of the SERE training isn’t as informed as Nance. You respond that using that logic my opinion is “utterly irrevelant”, so for you logic means “isn’t as informed” = “utterly irrevelant”.

    I appreciate that argumentum ad hominenm (and apparently ignorantiam given the above) seems to be your style, but you can still hurl your laughable insults if you actually stay on a topic. If you’re just going to keep runnig from the weeealllly scaaaaawwwwyyy questions to hide behind irrevelant rudeness . . . well, resperctfully you look like a coward.

    You’ve kept dodging this, so I’ll as ask again. You disagree with Nance — goodie for you. Why? Are you disagreeing that waterboarding and such are torture, or do you agree they are torture but think they are effective? If its the later . . . what is it effective at?

  63. 63
    HyperIon Said:
    6:39 pm 

    Thanks for writing this…finally.

    But it took you too long.
    I do not understand why.
    All you guys who FINALLY come around, could you spend more time reflecting on WHY you ever defended this?

    I’m completely serious. If we could understand that, it would be a big step forward. Something changed…what was it? Was it the release of the memos that convinced you that the ugly stories that have been circulating for YEARS were true?

  64. 64
    busboy33 Said:
    10:43 pm 

    @Hyperlon:

    To be fair to Mr. M., this isn’t the first time he’s recognized the torture issue. He’s been speaking out like this on the topic for roughly a year.
    I get the impression that his initial defense of the Administration stemmed in at least some measure from an assumption that and American Administration simply wouldn’t or couldn’t do this sort of thing — it had to be some sort of conspiracy theory. But as the facts dribled out, he did follow the data to the inescapable conclusion, and as I said he did it a while ago (and took hell here from some commenters for it).

  65. 65
    bsjones Said:
    2:26 am 

    Politically connected people are not above the law?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I2wU_jcDGc

  66. 66
    Don C. Said:
    3:19 am 

    Busbot’s straw man: “So . . . the ‘honorable men and women in uniform’ respect you offer to our troops only goes so far as to the ones that agree with you.”

    ‘The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.’

    Check.

    Busbot’s appeal to authority fallacy: “But since you’ve clearly never gone through SERE training, and he went through it, then tought it . . . seems like he might know a little more about it than you do.”

    ‘If an expert is significantly biased then the claims he makes within his area of bias will be less reliable. Since a biased expert will not be reliable, an argument from Authority based on a biased expert will be fallacious. This is because the evidence will not justify accepting the claim.’

    Check.

    Busbot: “I appreciate that argumentum ad hominenm (and apparently ignorantiam given the above) seems to be your style… If you’re just going to keep runnig from the weeealllly scaaaaawwwwyyy questions to hide behind irrevelant rudeness . . . well, resperctfully you look like a coward.”

    Hypocrite.

    ‘Ad Hominem means “against the man” or “against the person.”‘

    See also: ‘Appeal to Ridicule: a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an “argument.”‘

    Double check.

    Busbot: “argumentum ad… ignorantiam.”

    Assuming that something is true unless it is proved false, e.g., “the assumption that SERE is “torture” is a practical, not a logical, process. Obviously, your surrogate authority appeal to Mr. Nance can opine that SERE is torture, but that neither makes it so, nor does it make those who’ve engaged in it actually guilty of a crime.

    And mate.

    [H/t: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ ]

    Busbot: “Are you disagreeing that waterboarding and such are torture…?”

    Obviously.

    You obviously think SERE is both torture *AND* ineffective.

    What hard evidence, besides Mr. Nance’s opinion, do you have to support that claim?

  67. 67
    HyperIon Said:
    11:33 am 

    busboy33:

    you’re right.
    i went back and searched the archives.

    this is an equally good post =>

    http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2005/08/04/a-personal-tipping-point/

  68. 68
    Don C. Said:
    5:20 pm 

    Busbot33 (post #31): “Dick Cheney has repeatedly asserted that torturing prisoners saved lives, thwarted plots. However, he has never offered a single example.”

    That is an utter falsehood.

    Cheney wants CIA files for memoir

    By MIKE ALLEN & JOSH GERSTEIN | 4/20/09 9:12 PM EDT Updated: 4/21/09 2:19 PM EDT Text Size:

    Researching his memoirs, former Vice President Dick Cheney is pushing the CIA to declassify files that he claims would vindicate the CIA’s use of coercive interrogation techniques that President Barack Obama has banned. [...]

    Cheney originally requested the reports in late March as he worked on his book, but now thinks the documents should be made public immediately as evidence that waterboarding and other controversial practices deterred terrorist attacks and therefore saved American lives. [...]

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/21487.htm

    **

    CIA Confirms: Waterboarding 9/11 Mastermind Led to Info that Aborted 9/11-Style Attack on Los Angeles
    Tuesday, April 21, 2009
    By Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief

    http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=46949

  69. 69
    busboy33 Said:
    4:54 am 

    @DonC:

    “straw man”
    I’m misreading your position? I’m so sorry. Let me see where I missed it:
    post #55 - service members are honorable. Nance is a “Buddist/ML convert”. You state it as an insult. He is/was a service member. Sounds to me like you don’t think he’s very honorable . . . or rather you don’t seem to be honoring him too much since in addition to slandering him you say he’s biased (post #66).
    Wow. You realize simply stating a definition doesn’t mean you’ve identified something, right?
    btw, I really love the examples of a straw man argument provided at your source. This one sounded awfully fimiliar:
    “Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can’t understand why he wants to leave us defenseless like that.”
    Now who does that sound like . . .

    “appeal to authority fallacy”
    I refer you to Nance’s post. You refer to that as an appeal to authority fallacy (post #55). You define that as where the authority suffers from bias (post #66). As far as your posts indicate, the only bias demonstrated by Mr. Nance is in disagreeing with you — a cardinal sin to be sure, but no bias.

    Let’s just check your link to see the definition . . .
    “An Appeal to Authority is a fallacy with the following form:
    Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
    Person A makes claim C about subject S.
    Therefore, C is true.
    THIS FALLACY IS COMMITTED WHEN THE PERSON IN QUESTION IS NOT A LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY ON THE SUBJECT. . . Since this sort of reasoning is fallacious only when the person is not a legitimate authority in a particular context, it is necessary to provide some acceptable standards of assessment. The following standards are widely accepted:
    1)The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question. (check)
    2)The claim being made by the person is within her area(s) of expertise. (check)
    3)There is an adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question. (see below)
    4)The person in question is not significantly biased. (well, you say so, so it must be true)
    5)The area of expertise is a legitimate area or discipline. (check)
    6)The authority in question must be identified. (check)”
    Since I’m sure you didn’t just cherry pick the only one of the 6 factors that you could possibly make any assertion about (even if it is completely, utterly, and totally unsubstantiated), I’ll just assume it was a typo on your part. I mean, otherwise you look like a complete fool.

    “‘Ad Hominem means “against the man” or “against the person.”‘
    See also: ‘Appeal to Ridicule: a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an “argument.”
    Strange . . . I don’t see that in the link you cited. I do, however, see this:
    “An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.”
    Kind of like rejecting someone’s argument based on insulting the person, and not debating the issues. Something I know you’d never do . . . I don’t know what possessed me to make such a groundless accusation.
    You’ve opened my eyes. I thought you were trying to mock me, Mr. Nance, and everybody that didn’t agree with you. I guess I’ll have to work on my reading comprehension skills. Must be all that feminizing that jumbled my bot brain.

    Boy, you’re really shooting my statements down. You’re a crack shot, ya are.

    “What hard evidence, besides Mr. Nance’s opinion, do you have to support that claim?”
    Here’s a short list —
    The Red Cross (btw, under international law, the ICRC makes the binding legal determination, so this pretty much is the beginning and the end of “proving” it, legally speaking):
    http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf
    The United States Military, Court-Martialing a soldier for waterboarding . . . over 100 years ago:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/02/25/080225fa_fact_kramer?currentPage=all
    The United States, prosecuting Japanese soldiers for waterboarding in WWII:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html
    The Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate:
    http://armed-services.senate.gov/Publications/Detainee%20Report%20Final_April%2022%202009.pdf
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation:
    http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0805/final.pdf

    Any of those sources satisfy you? You got any sources with any experience or expertise in the matter that disagree?

    p.s. — “busbot”? really? That’s the best you could come up with? Not “buschild”? “shortbus”? For someone that spends most of their comments insulting people, that’s pretty weak.

    @Mr. M.:
    Whenever this wears out its welcome, say the word. I’m having fun with Don, but its your blog.

  70. 70
    ck Said:
    10:20 am 

    Congress has had several opportunities to specifically list waterboarding as torture but refused to do it. Several people in congress where aware of these tactics and said nothing. I personally have no problems with these tactics for high valued individuals (much like congress, based on their actions). I don’t need a ticking bomb scenario, 9-11 was good enough for me. It worked on KSM (whatever his sorry name is).

  71. 71
    Don C. Said:
    12:24 pm 

    B33: It’s ridiculous how you apparently fail to comprehend the meaning of the word *seems*.

    It seems that, not unlike Perez Hilton’s recent bigoted meltdown, you ask questions in the guise that you don’t have a strangle-hold on truth when, in fact, you’re true intent is merely to bait respondents with interrogatives that are really not questions at all.

    And that, dear readers, displays busboy’s intellectual dishonesty, at best.

    “the only bias demonstrated by Mr. Nance is in disagreeing with you — a cardinal sin to be sure, but no bias.”

    Make up your irrational mind, in your biased opinion is Mr. Nance’s opinion biased, or not?

    Also unsurprising is your reflexive bigotry in asserting that suggesting someone’s views present as Buddhist/ML, per his own words, is somehow “slander”.

    Perhaps you need to investigate both Buddhisms and Modern Liberalism’s tenets more comprehensively.

    **

    “You got any sources with any experience or expertise in the matter that disagree?”

    Yep:

    “Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, pointed out that most of what we know about al-Qaeda came from using those techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, countering leaks last week from the Obama administration that claimed the methods produced no data” [NYT]:

    “President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

    “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

    Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of interrogation methods that the Obama White House has deemed to be illegal torture. Among other things, the Bush administration memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times. [...]

    Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    “I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/us/politics/22blair.html

    Ed Morrissey, also writes: “In other words, the Obama administration covered up the fact that even their own DNI acknowledges that the interrogations produced actionable and critical information.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/22/obamas-dni-reminds-obama-that-enhanced-interrogation-worked/

  72. 72
    busboy33 Said:
    2:22 am 

    @DonC:

    “‘the only bias demonstrated by Mr. Nance is in disagreeing with you — a cardinal sin to be sure, but no bias.’
    Make up your irrational mind, in your biased opinion is Mr. Nance’s opinion biased, or not?”
    http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/sarcasm — might help clarify my post, since you seemed to have missed it.
    I don’t think he’s biased. If I did, I wouldn’t have referenced him.

    “Also unsurprising is your reflexive bigotry in asserting that suggesting someone’s views present as Buddhist/ML, per his own words, is somehow ’slander’.
    Perhaps you need to investigate both Buddhisms and Modern Liberalism’s tenets more comprehensively.”
    No thanks. The years I spent studying (Ch’an) Buddhism to get one of my B.A.s were more than enough. You claimed that he seemed like a Buddhist/ML convert in post #55 (you do realize what you’ve previously posted is still there for everybody to see, right?) to imply he was a “feminized” pacifist, and therefore his years of military experience could be rejected because he was biased (as per your appeal to authority fallacy claim). There wouldn’t be any other reason to say it in the context you did.
    And I’m intellectually dishonest.
    You are right though — “slander” isn’t the correct legal term. Do you feel more comfortable by my saying you “demeaned” him? “Attempted to make him appear weak and biased”?

    Great quote from the Admiral. Wonder why you didn’t include this from just after what you quoted:
    “The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means,” Admiral Blair said in a written statement issued last night. “The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”

    But its nice to see you citing to a member of Obama’s Administration to support your arguments. I assume that means you don’t think he’s biased and is a trustworthy source.

    You cited to blogger Ed Morrisey as an example of “a source with any experience or expertise in the matter that disagree”? Not too clear about his experience or expertise in regards to interrogation and/or torture. However, does he disagree with the notion that waterboarding is torture AND effective (the question you leveled in post #66), which is a change from the original question you posed in #36, which was (a) was waterboarding torture and (b)why not use it.
    The Admiral above whom you cited to explained about the second part of your original question. Your cite to Mr. Morrisey also answers the first part of that:

    “Conservatives should stop pretending that waterboarding isn’t a form of torture that the US has opposed for decades when used abroad, especially against our own citizens.”

    So now we’re left with your final (modified) question: is it effective? I haven’t seen any evidence that it is. I’ve heard claims that it was effective, but no evidence to back it up. The only attempt I’ve seen to bolster the “effective” thrust (which kind of assumes that waterboarding IS torture, otherwise the question is pointless), were the allegations that KSM/AbuZ gave up info after being waterboarded. Unfortunately, FBI agents have claimed that KSM already gave up all of his useful information before he was waterboarded as a result of traditional interrogation techniques, and other reports have suggested that most (if not all) of the intel obtained from torture was either already known or outright lies.

    Also, the government has been inaccurate (to put it nicely) it many of its previous claims that it had evidence proving something that turned out to be false (proof of AlQ-Iraq link, Rumsfeld not only knows that Saddam has WMDs, he actually knows where they are, etc.). The government has also made claims about how effective the intel gained from suspects was, that later turned out to be . . . not such a big deal:

    “[In a September 6, 2006 speech,[Bush] says that Abu Zubaida, who was captured in March 2002 (see March 28, 2002), revealed that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) used the alias ‘Mukhtar.’ ‘This was a vital piece of intelligence that helped our intelligence community pursue KSM.’ However, the 9/11 Commission’s final report published in 2004 revealed that the fact that KSM had that alias was known to US intelligence before 9/11 (see August 28, 2001). Bush also claims that Zubaida’s interrogation identified Ramzi bin al-Shibh as an accomplice in the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/8/2006] However, this was known months before Zubaida’s capture, and reported in the US press as early as September 2001. A CBS News report from that time said bin al-Shibh was ‘believed to have provided logistics backup for the hijackers.’ [CBS News, 9/29/2001]”
    http://visibility911.com/jongold/?p=234

    Or this claim:

    You have informed us that the interrogation of KSM, once enhanced techniques were employed-led to the discovery of a KSM piot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.’ Effectiveness Memo at 3.”
    http://luxmedia.vo.llnwd.net/o10/clients/aclu/olc_05302005_bradbury.pdf (p.10)

    “A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, ‘In 2002, we broke up a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.’ [This] statement[] make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got—an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush’s characterization of it as a ‘disrupted plot’ was ‘ludicrous’—that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t captured until March 2003.”
    http://www.slate.com/id/2216601/

    Has torture been effecitve? Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps. Is there any evidence that it has been? No. Have any of the claimed examples of useful intel gained thru torture stood up to scrutiny? No.
    So is it possible that there is proof that proves torture was necessary, and the government just hasn’t bothered to use it to justify its actions, and instead has tried to justify torture with false claims and exagerations? Heck, anything’s possible. But after being . . . incorrect . . . on such details in the past, I’d like to see a little proof. Maybe Cheney’s request for documents will actually demonstrate torture was necessary. When/if the documents are released, I’ll read them, and I’ll keep an open mind when I do — I’d love to feel better about knowing that my country tortured. But the facts in front of me so far say hell no, and I see no reason to just “trust” the government (Bush, Obama, it doesn’t matter) in the face of what evidence I DO have in front of me.

  73. 73
    Right Wing Nut House » JACK BAUER IS NOT DEAD Pinged With:
    11:44 am 

    [...] TO CURB DEFICIT INDEFENSIBLE: OBAMA FAILS HIS FIRST BIG TEST THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR GAY MARRIAGE THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE AN FAQ ON THE TEA PARTIES BEGALA: APRIL 15TH SHOULD BE ‘PATRIOT’S DAY’ A TEA [...]

  74. 74
    bsjones Said:
    4:13 pm 

    WHAT THE MEANING OF “IS” IS….

    and what the meaning of “pain” is and “suffering” is

    learn more in a song here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJSXbA9j0Js&eur

  75. 75
    Onefinemess » Blog Archive » Weekend linksplosion Pinged With:
    1:40 am 

    [...] least one right-winger comes out against torture. Not counting that Shep guy’s F-bomb on Fox recently.  That does count [...]

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