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4/25/2009
WATERBOARDING: THE S.E.R.E. STRAWMAN

I suppose it is suicidal to pick a fight with a lawyer over the legality of waterboarding but I think John Hinderaker is just plain off base here:

But if waterboarding is “torture,” then it’s illegal. So why is the U.S. military still using it as a training device, last we knew? If we’re going to start prosecuting people, don’t we have to prosecute the many civilian and military leaders who have for decades inflicted waterboarding, or condoned the use of waterboarding, on our servicemen? Just a thought. Actually, of course, no one has any interest in such prosecutions (which would be absurd in any event) since there is no political advantage to be gained.

John is referring to the use of waterboarding in the military’s SERE program - “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape.” Some of the program is apparently classified but enough details have leaked out to confirm that the trainees who volunteer for the program go through some pretty horrendous treatment. In fact, according to this Slate piece by William Saletan, there are some who wish to alter some of the program’s training methods, believing them too harsh. Many others disagree.

Hinderaker’s argument has some merit - if one were to forget that the trainees are not being held by the US government as prisoners and therefore, not offered protections under international agreements we have signed that clearly make waterboarding a form of “torture” under the letter and spirit of the definition as outlined in those treaties.

This is the strawman that many who are defending torture are throwing up to distract from a fundamental truth; that regardless of whether waterboarding was experienced by American military personnel, and regardless of whether it was legal or illegal under US law at the time, the fact remains that prisoners being held by our government and who were waterboarded, were illegally tortured according to, at the very least, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and, some would argue, the Geneva Conventions.

The UN Convention Against Torture has a very straightforward definition:

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

Was waterboarding “intentionally inflicted” in order to obtain “information or a confession?” Of course it was. A better question is was that the intent of waterboarding SERE volunteers? Of course not.

The catch most often used by defenders of the practice is that waterboarding does not constitute “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental” because our own guys go through it and come out of the experience no worse for wear.

Slate’s William Saletan destroys that argument against waterboarding and also punches holes in other arguments that use SERE as a crutch:

The first difference, Ogrisseg noted, is that SERE trains soldiers to defeat interrogation, whereas “the real world interrogator wants to win.” This is a moral difference, as Hitchens observed. But it’s also a practical difference: An interrogator whose job is to extract information will behave more harshly than an interrogator who’s teaching resistance.

Second, SERE pits American interrogators against American trainees. “When dealing with non-country personnel, as in the case of detainee handling, there is greater risk of dehumanization of these personnel, and thus a greater likelihood of worse treatment,” Ogrisseg warned.

Third, SERE offers interventions that relieve stress and reinforce the unreality of the exercise. Instructors and psychologists are available “to watch the students for indications that they are not coping well with training tasks, provide corrective interventions with them long before they become overwhelmed, and if need be, remotivate students who have become overwhelmed to enable them to succeed,” Ogrisseg noted.

Fourth, SERE has “defined starting and ending points. … [T]rainees arrive on a certain date and know that they will depart on a specified date.”

Fifth and most important, SERE is voluntary. “Students can withdraw from training,” Ogrisseg noted. In a report issued four months ago, the Armed Services Committee added that in SERE, “students are even given a special phrase they can use to immediately stop” any ordeal.

Also, the UN treaty doesn’t even try and define who might or might not be protected under its strictures. It simply refers to persons in the custody of the state that is party to the agreement, anywhere the authority of the state is exercised:

Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:

1. When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;
2. When the alleged offender is a national of that State;
3. When the victim was a national of that State if that State considers it appropriate.

Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him pursuant to article 8 to any of the States mentioned in Paragraph 1 of this article.

This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.

Clearly, this covers Guantanamo, Bagram, and anywhere in Iraq where we were in charge of detainees. And then there’s this stricture against rendition:

1. No State Party shall expel, return (”refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Did we have “substantial grounds for believing” that Egypt, Yemen, and a few other venues where we transferred custody of prisoners were havens for torture and mistreatment? I would say that’s a “yes” wouldn’t you?

And what about American law? The notion being advanced by torture apologists is that waterboarding wasn’t against American law at the time flies in the face of the definition of torture under Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, S. 2340 passed in 1994 (minor amendments in 2007) to fulfill our treaty obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture:

As used in this chapter—

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and

(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

I am no lawyer but my reading of this statute is pretty simple; waterboarding easily meets the definition of torture in that it intentionally inflicted “severe mental pain or suffering,” that it carried with it the “threat of imminent death,” and that it occurred in the defined jurisdiction - which holds true for most of the other enhanced interrogation techniques.

I will repeat something I’ve written previously; the law is not a straitjacket and liberals who want to throw the book at everyone but the cook at Guantanamo are perfectly willing to rip this country apart in search of vengance. Torture was not carried out to satisfy the sadistic cravings of Bush, Cheney, the CIA interrogators, or anyone else involved. The fact is, I fully grant these officials and intelligence experts the benefit of their beliefs that what they were doing was protecting the country. That has to be a mitigating factor when determining what to do with the perpetrators.

But trying to keep us safe is not an excuse or justification for torture as the UN Convention makes clear:

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Guilty, yes. But I am not at all certain that torture trials of the kind envisioned by many on the left would accomplish anything. Would it “prove” that we are a nation of laws? If that is the goal then one might ask whether there is not also justice under the law and whether throwing the book at those who were trying to act in good faith is really the route to redemption. I think not. Some reckoning must take place but must it involve criminal proceedings? I envy they who possess certainty in this matter.

By: Rick Moran at 8:57 am
68 Responses to “WATERBOARDING: THE S.E.R.E. STRAWMAN”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:47 am 

    I had a fairly up-close view of Watergate. I lived in downtown DC, worked (as a library flunky and occasional researcher) for a politically-involved law firm. The thing that made Watergate so deadly to Nixon was the drip, drip, drip.

    I think with Torturegate Obama’s actually tried to avoid that. He’s trying to get everything out as quickly as possible, maybe give a nice speech, and then move on to his agenda.

    But right now we are in that phase where we get the drip, drip, drip and everyone is suddenly paying close attention, waiting for the next drip. Watergate didn’t start out with people thinking we were going to impeach Nixon. But after a while the logic of the on-going story made that inevitable. The long, drawn-out pursuit made a resolution necessary. Suspense demands a pay-off.

    This is why SecDef Gates was right to back release of the memos and Panetta was wrong. Gates said in effect, it’s coming anyway, let’s just turn on the faucet and get it over with. It’s the suspense that will prove dangerous.

    And it’s also why Cheney is doing his own cause such damage. He’s playing the Nixon role. He’s giving people a villain, which just makes the story work that much better. If Cheney went out and gave a speech acknowledging that mistakes were made, they overreacted, did some things they aren’t proud of in retrospect, he would do himself a world of good.

    But of course he won’t. He’ll play the Nixon role, snarling and sneering to the end.

    Only Obama can stop this now. He obviously wants to. But Dick Cheney is making it harder every time he opens his mouth.

  2. 2
    cdor Said:
    11:03 am 

    For clarification before discussion, the link to the treaty posted here indicates that the U.S. signed, but didn’t ratify this treaty. I assume there is something more current?

  3. 3
    A Giant Slor Said:
    11:48 am 

    These journalists who’ve been waterboarded for a few seconds and declared that it’s not torture might change their minds if they were waterboarded for 30 seconds or more, dozens of times.

  4. 4
    aoibhneas Said:
    12:51 pm 

    So FDR and HST allowing the US to incinerate perhaps 1,000,000 civilians in world war II is morally justified, but making the a very few islamofacists who cut off heads and blow up people is one big friggin’ deal. Andrew Sullivan is against torture but some of his gay friends are quite down with some pretty painful homosexual practices. Yes, a shame that plotter of the 3000 American deaths was made to be uncomfortable. Have to wonder what any of you writing above, including the host would find ok if some of your loved ones were slaughtered by the ROP or held hostage and could be saved with info gained through waterboarding. As if one liberal lady would actually accept the deaths of her loved ones if “torturing” a cold-blooded murderer would prevent it. That’s what she claims anyhow.

  5. 5
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:32 pm 

    #4:

    We have always maintained that in law and in morality there is a difference between acts taken in battle and those involving prisoners. It’s the difference between shooting a burglar as he’s breaking in, and shooting him while he’s locked up in jail.

    We haven’t just maintained this difference, we’ve enforced it. We’ve court-martialled American soldiers specifically for waterboarding. And we’ve executed Japanese soldiers for doing it to our people.

    You’ll note that we did not prosecute Japanese soldiers/sailors for bombing Pearl Harbor. We tried them and punished them for torture of US POWs.

    Moral standards are not usually terribly logical. We draw lines and forbid one thing and not another. But if you are going to take the position that all moral standards must also be logical and consistent, you are opening up a very big can of worms.

    In the case of torture, however, there is logic as well as morality:

    1) We want enemy fighters to surrender rather than fight to the death. When they surrender, our men don’t die killing them. If it is widely known that we torture or kill surrendering enemy they are far less likely to surrender. See: Germany, 1945.

    The Germans fell all over themselves trying to surrender to us rather than to the Red Army. Because we were known to be humane. This yielded an incredible bounty to us.

    2) We want to be able to condemn those who torture our men. This war is not going to be our last. We will face other enemies — enemies that may not be as oblivious to international norms as the Jihadists are. We will want to be able to insist, with a straight face, that they treat our POWs humanely.

    3) Our propaganda has often relied on pillorying those who practice torture. We condemned it in North Korea and North Vietnam, for example. We drew the line in the sand. Now we have to take all that back and admit that we do exactly what we decried in others. Accepting torture now requires a wholesale rewrite of American history. A rewrite that will not exactly improve our moral standing.

    4) Torture alienates our friends and comforts our foes. Granted most of our allies are useless, nevertheless, we have had notable contributions from the Brits, the Dutch, the Australians and others, all of whom will find it harder to help us in the future because of this.

    5) Finally: it doesn’t work. As the guys who run SERE have now stated. As the FBI has stated. As the US Army has stated. As even the Luftwaffe evidently learned. Countries that torture have one thing in common: they tend, more often than not, to be the losers. The nations that are now the real powers in this world, the rich, successful nations, all reject torture. It’s the North Koreans, the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Congolese, the Cubans who sanction torture.

  6. 6
    Oldcrow Said:
    1:49 pm 

    Um one small problem with your argument, we never ratified the convention so there goes your argument right out the window.

    And this is totally false:

    michael reynolds Said:
    1:32 pm
    We haven’t just maintained this difference, we’ve enforced it. We’ve court-martialled American soldiers specifically for waterboarding. And we’ve executed Japanese soldiers for doing it to our people.

    Not one single U.S. serviceman has ever been court-martialled for waterboarding and what the Japanese did in WWII was actually known as the “cure” and it is not even remotely like what was done to KSM. Enhanced interrogation techniques are not torture period! All this knashing of teeth and giving terrorists rights is actually causing more civilian casualties and encouraging the terrorists to keep doing what they are doing how on GODS green earth can you compare the Nation of Japan which we were at war with to the terrorist organizations we are at war with now? They have no protections under any treaty we have signed or ratified and for every “expert” you find that says it did not work there is one that says it did, but as they say the proof is in the pudding and the reports state it worked, feelings are good but they are not facts!

    The CAT was ratified by the senate October 21, 1994. It was not to go into effect until applicable US law was passed which occurred almost simultaneously with the passage of the law I quote above.

    As for the rest, you set up the same strawman - US servicemen are not covered under the convention while our prisoners are. This seems to be a bit of information that has a very hard time penetrating people’s minds.

    ed.

  7. 7
    Travis Monitor Said:
    1:51 pm 

    Bringing up SERE is not a strawman; it’s a valid calibration point to assess what’s really going on. I don’t think waterboarding is torture as we commonly use the term, but wont quibble with parsing of law; I’ll let lawyers figure that one out.

    The point is: Signing up to be a Marine is not intended to be a signup for cruel and unusual punishment or practices during training that go outside the bounds of human decency, nor would our military deform or disfigure trainees or impair them mentally. What you are left with is a practice that can scare the heck out of you for a *short* period of time. It’s a helpful reminder that what the left wants to prosecute is an act of treating KSM - killer of 3,000 American innocents - in a way that is not worse than what we put grunt Marines through.

  8. 8
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:06 pm 

    #6:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/when-america-executed-waterboarders-for-war-crimes.html

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/reagan-on-torture-prosecutions.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding (see re: US court martial of US soldier.)

  9. 9
    bsjones Said:
    2:29 pm 

    The case for more waterboarding here:
    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/04/the-case-for-more-waterboarding.php

  10. 10
    Joe Said:
    2:42 pm 

    Anyone who defends torture is just mentally sick. Its another one of the litmus test to be a conservative today, you have to defend torture. The fact that its inhumane and against the law means nothing to these people. How about the people that were tortured that turned out to be innocent? Probably just collateral damage in the minds of the hardcore right. John Yoo was basically told to write up some legal mumbojumbo that would make breaking the law, legal. Ponder that one for a while. My mind jumps to the point in Frost/Nixon, when Nixon screeches”when the president does it, its not illegal.” Bush and John Woo can’t make law on the fly, this is far from being over and Bushco better start lawyering up.

  11. 11
    Gregg Said:
    3:07 pm 

    So if we defend enhanced interrogation techniques we are defending torture - I take that to mean all torture. Spare us the hyperbole. There are myriad forms of torture beyond what was approved. If you are going to assume that the authors of these memos were bloodthirsty sadists bent on making these people suffer nothing but excruciating and potentially life ending pain, then we might as well end the conversation here.

    This is a policy disagreement. One side though, wants to not only change the policy, but villify their opponents. That is what might open the pandora’s box.

  12. 12
    Travis Monitor Said:
    3:11 pm 

    Anyone who defends torture is just mentally sick.”

    Argument ad hominem. And torture was not used according to many of us.

    “The fact that its inhumane and against the law means nothing to these people.”

    False. The record shows that serious effort went in to ensuring everything was within the law.
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTRhM2E2MTE0NjQ3MzYwNWM2ODJjMTgwNWQwMmVkYzc=

    “How about the people that were tortured that turned out to be innocent? ”
    Name them. This statement is cetainly false. Waterboarding was used on only 3 individuals all of whom were well-known serious AQ terrorists with definite knowledge on future terror plans. One of them was Khalid Sheik Mohammed, responsible for 9/11 attack itself. Name the innocent individuals and the so-called torture used.

    “Probably just collateral damage in the minds of the hardcore right. ”
    False. You express only your own ignorance. The only desire here is to defend US security and keep Americans safe.

    “John Yoo was basically told to write up some legal mumbojumbo that would make breaking the law, legal.”

    False. He and other DOJ lawyers were asked to determine what could be done legally and that is what they did.

    “My mind jumps to the point in Frost/Nixon”
    After a parade of fictional statements, logical fallacies and strawman attacks, your mind jumps to a Hollywood movie. Egads, you’ve got a fiction-based worldview.

    “Bush and John Woo can’t make law on the fly, this is far from being over and Bushco better start lawyering up.”

    If any official act that was deemed legal but is found to be ex post facto illegal is cause for prison, the possibilities are endless … So when we find out that Gietner and Obama are violating the 5th amendment of the US Constitution by their takeover of US banks in converting pf shares to common, a clear ‘taking’ under the 5th, we can impeach and try them too and send them all to the same prison? Goody. Bring it on.

  13. 13
    Oldcrow Said:
    3:13 pm 

    Ah yes the libtard priests the sock puppeteer Sullivan who has the IQ of an ice cube and Yglesias who tries to make an argument that a common criminal is the same as an AQ terrorist what a specious argument! And no we are not mentally sick since enhanced interrogation is not torture and again what was done by the Gestapo and Japan called the “water cure” is not even remotely the same as what was done to KSM and Joe there are only three terrorists these methods were used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-NashiriBUT then being the useless idiot that you are you probably believe they are innocent.

  14. 14
    Don C. Said:
    3:19 pm 

    Rick M. “… liberals who want to throw the book at everyone but the cook at Guantanamo are perfectly willing to rip this country apart in search of vengance.”

    Indeed.

    “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other… Despotic governments can stand ‘moral force’ till the cows come home; what they fear is physical force.” — George Orwell

  15. 15
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:20 pm 

    Gregg:

    Why is it torture when our enemies do it to our POWs and not torture when we do it?

    By your logic John McCain was not tortured.

  16. 16
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:25 pm 

    One other thing: this is not liberal vs. conservative. It seems to have escaped the notice of many conservatives here that Obama is against prosecution. And it seems to have escaped the attention of some liberals here that our host is a conservative.

    There is nothing “conservative” about throwing out our own history, Judeo-Christian morality and the law. Support for a government that can operate without regard to law or treaty or commonly-accepted bounds of morality is not conservative, it is radical and statist. It is authoritarian, the antithesis of genuine conservatism.

  17. 17
    Gregg Said:
    3:51 pm 

    Michael:

    Show me the paper trail outlining the bounds of behavior for the Viet Cong interogators and prison guards. How many broken bones does KSM have? Can he lift his arms over his shoulders?

    Also, I believe it is a testament to our own history and morality that these men are still alive. They received far better treatment than captured U.S. soldiers. What treaties have we signed with Al-Qaeda? What commonly-accepted bounds of morality do we share with them?

    I stand by my statement that this is a policy disagreement. One side wants to not only change the policy (or do still want the latitude if necessary?) but vilify its opponents in the process.

  18. 18
    Oldcrow Said:
    3:53 pm 

    michael reynolds Said:
    3:25 pm
    Support for a government that can operate without regard to law or treaty or commonly-accepted bounds of morality is not conservative, it is radical and statist. It is authoritarian, the antithesis of genuine conservatism.

    And again I ask what law? What treaty? None let me repeat that N O N E, Z E R O, Z I P, N A D A law or treaty says it is illegal quit the contrary the treaty we have signed and ratified “Geneva Conventions” says just the opposite of what you are it states terrorists have no rights under except to be summarily executed that is.

  19. 19
    Oldcrow Said:
    4:04 pm 

    michael reynolds Said:
    3:25 pm
    It seems to have escaped the notice of many conservatives here that Obama is against prosecution.

    Uh huh and monkeys will fly out of my butt, dear leader knows exactly what he is doing he knew full well once he released those memo’s that the knuckle heads such as yourself would do the heavy lifting for him.

    michael reynolds Said:
    3:20 pm
    commonly-accepted bounds of morality

    Really? So the poll just taken that shows 70% of the public support it means your statement is false right?

  20. 20
    Don C. Said:
    4:17 pm 

    M.R.: “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about throwing out our own history, Judeo-Christian morality and the law.”

    That judgment against enhanced interrogation techniques rests on historical immorality.

    Therefore, in order for you to remain morally consistent, mustn’t you also argue that abortion threw out our own history, Judeo-Christian morality and the law?

    Are you anti-abortion?

    If not, then your lack of moral compass disqualifies you from rendering intellectually virtuous judgement on the issue of water-boarding, etc.

    M.R.: “Why is it torture when our enemies do it to our POWs and not torture when we do it?”

    Simulated drowning, while very unpleasant, is not torture. And it has saved innocent American lives.

    The obverse (i.e., enemy torture inflicted upon our good guys is physically excruciating, bloody, mutilating and ultimately deadly. And its purpose is not to save innocent lives) cannot be shown true.

    M.R.: “Obama is against prosecution.”

    How can Obama not be against prosecution, while at the same time being *for* the tortuous/immoral practice of infanticide/”partial-birth abortion”?

  21. 21
    Oldcrow Said:
    4:18 pm 

    And Joe to me people that defend terrorist’s who kill and torture innocent people are mentally sick.

  22. 22
    Oldcrow Said:
    4:21 pm 

    Or how about anti-gay? You see this is a republic rule of law that is the morality our government has to follow and no law says enhanced interrogation is illegal.

  23. 23
    cdor Said:
    4:42 pm 

    For all you who knash your teeth, wring your hands, and wail in outrage at the malevolent treatment given to our “guests of honor” way back in 2002/2003, I say be very thankful that there are tough men working in the dark of night willing to forgoe the niceties of the comfortable homes from which we type these words.

    Now you have your way. The tough men have been sent home to their own living rooms where they now can comfortably contemplate their successes over the past seven years. It’s your turn, your guy is in charge. The danger has not waned. I pray that your approach works as well or better. If it doesn’t, the consequences we all will suffer will be grim. And if that horror comes to pass, I for one, and many more like me, will not forget those who sought to reward success with punishment. The worm does indeed turn.

    To the one here who, as a liberal Democrat, is always quick to give advice on what Republicans need to do to win elections and what the real and true conservative position should be on any given issue, well, I don’t take council from those that wish my demise.

    Are you listening, Michael Reynolds?

  24. 24
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:59 pm 

    I say be very thankful that there are tough men working in the dark of night willing to forgoe the niceties of the comfortable homes from which we type these words.

    Opposed to torture: John McCain, the FBI and the US Army.

    For torture: draft dodger Dick Cheney and loudmouths like you.

    Yeah, it’s all about manliness.

  25. 25
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    5:12 pm 

    I agree almost in totality with Moran’s assessment. And it is dark comedy watching the right trying to defend what happened with claims of “policy difference” and quoting Orwell out of context, and whatnot.

    The only relevant question is what do we do about it. Should there be “torturegate trials” and imprisonment of Bush and his officials? We would certainly here populist wailing from the right of ” Bush was just trying to protect us” and now you want to imprison him. Personally, I don’t want to see an ex president in jail. And I will say to those who take the “good faith” side on Bush’s side, that claims of States and their leaders who torture ALWAY’S claim they are trying to protect the people. It is no defense, though maybe a mitigation on punishment.

    Somebody has to face the law in this regard, and if Bush was a man of character, he could stop this right now and fess up, and offer himself as the chief architect and claim the stopped buck. Then we could avoid all this mess, and as a people decide his fate. A plea of guilty to torturing suspects would work for me, and a requirement to travel the world speaking out against torture would satisfy my thirst for justice. I won’t be holding my breath however.

  26. 26
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    5:15 pm 

    And I would add Dick Cheney to the Plea deal for Bush.

  27. 27
    Allen Said:
    5:23 pm 

    Rick,

    I thought I’d give you a little bit of background from the SERE school I went through. One of the points they try to teach you is that everyone has their breaking point, and it might come early. The idea being that you will eventually give up information, and to not feel overly guilty about it. The sense of guilt, if too strong, will eventually rob you of your will to survive captivity.

    It’ s really not intended to teach you to defeat it, but to survive the eventual surrender.

  28. 28
    cdor Said:
    6:14 pm 

    Aw come on Mr. Stuck (where I don’t even want to imagine), let’s have the investigations, the depositions, the trials. Let’s get it all out in the open. Just as Bush opened the door for this massive bailout mentality that your guys bull-rushed through, Obama has opened the door of recrimination. You just want an easy win. You want Bush to say he did it and mea culpa, mea culpa, he was so very wrong. I say, HELL NO. Let’s find out in detail all of those involved. What were the circumstances? What information was gleaned, or not? Were American lives saved or not? Exactly who knew what and when did they know it? You don’t get to lay down your moralistic hubris and then skate off into your land of make believe. Let all of the American people see and decide. Was all of this a worthless endeavor into sadistic paranoia or a real time and successful effort that saved lives without doing any physical or mental harm to even the most evil amongst us?

    I am getting very curious now, aren’t you?

    Michael, I have nothing more to say to you.

    Allen, thank you for serving. These pukes did indeed survive and they DID surrender.

  29. 29
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    6:23 pm 

    I am getting very curious now, aren’t you?

    I was talking about the prosecution and punishment part. I agree 100 percent about having all the facts come out. One more Strawman knocked down, cdor.

  30. 30
    michael reynolds Said:
    6:55 pm 

    CDOR:

    Michael, I have nothing more to say to you.

    You’ve had nothing to say yet, aside from doing a sort of print impression of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.

    But if you do decide to talk to me do you think you could do something from earlier Nicholson? Maybe Five Easy Pieces or Cuckoo’s Nest? I enjoy a good impression.

  31. 31
    Oldcrow Said:
    7:28 pm 

    yeah let’s have the show trial’s and while they are going on congress can pass the laws they will persecuting the Bush Admin people of violating because there sure as hell are none on the books right now and since it was not torture exactly what would the law be? Oh I know we could call it the overzealous defense of our nation and citizens and protection of terrorists law, hey works for me! Oh and by the way as I recall McCain voted against the ban on waterboarding and the U.S. Army does what it is told for every Soldier who has been against it there are just as many for it, the same with the FBI and again enhanced interrogation is not torture. And speaking of dark comedy the irony of watching leftists and others defend terrorist’s who would gladly slit you and everyone in your families throats without blinking an eye is humorous in the extreme, you would rather stick up for those trying to destroy us rather than the President and men who kept us safe for eight years and if you look at the polls the majority of Americans hold my and the others here point of view.

  32. 32
    Travis Monitor Said:
    7:52 pm 

    One other thing: this is not liberal vs. conservative. It seems to have escaped the notice of many conservatives here that Obama is against prosecution.

    Uh huh and monkeys will fly out of my butt, dear leader knows exactly what he is doing he knew full well once he released those memo’s that the knuckle heads such as yourself would do the heavy lifting for him.

    Yeah, what he said. Obama opened the Pandora’s box by his foolish decision to unnecessarily make public these memos. Obama’s credibility is further undermined by the fact that we now know they were SELECTIVELY released to elide the very pertinent point that intelligence that saved American lives was gleaned from this process. That’s what got Cheney’s danger up and rightly so. National security was endangered so Obama could score some political points.

    Now Obama is simply scared off by the polls from taking this further and is in back-pedal mode:
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics2/58_say_release_of_cia_memos_endangers_national_security

    Fifty-eight percent (58%) believe the Obama administration’s recent release of CIA memos about the harsh interrogation methods used on terrorism suspects endangers the national security of the United States.
    Sizable majorities of Republicans and unaffiliated voters say the release of the CIA memos about the interrogations hurts national security. Democrats are evenly divided on whether the release hurt national security or helped the image of the United States abroad.

    Obama is a pathetic non-leader. He does stupid things without thinking about the consequences or the next step in the process, and practically everything he has done on foreign policy has hurt not helped America’s standing, sovereignty and security.

  33. 33
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    8:03 pm 

    Obama’s credibility is further undermined by the fact that we now know they were SELECTIVELY released
    Travis Monitor

    They were not selectively released, but were specific document court ordered to be released. You can argue that Obama admin. should have continued the legal fight, but not that they were selectively released.

    The pandora’s box will be opened after Dick Cheney put in a request for more documents to be released and they will be. Followed by the whole file on this sorry episode in American history, before all is said and done.

    And I would argue that Bush venturing into torture is what really opened the Pandora’s Box in the first place.

  34. 34
    Don C. Said:
    8:51 pm 

    michael reynolds Said:

    “For torture: draft dodger Dick Cheney and loudmouths like you. Yeah, it’s all about manliness.”

    In Other Words: “Hypocrisy! (Stifle!)” he cried…

    michael reynolds hasn’t served in the military, yet he hypocritically ridicules and therefore dismisses men on the basis of their having not served, while he pretends to have the last master-minded word on military matters from his self-satisfied Olympian heights.

    Just another ridiculous illustration of the irrational Modern Liberal (fascist) mind on full display.

  35. 35
    bsjones Said:
    9:07 pm 

    Oldcrow, RE: post #13

    If this is about the numbers of people who are subjected to the “techniques”, what is the upper bound in your opinion? How many is too many?

    As an aside, are you completely confident that the total number subjected to “techniques” is three? The U.S. government I know does not place a high value on transparency when it comes to these matters. Perhaps the number is higher than three.

  36. 36
    bsjones Said:
    9:09 pm 

    michael reynolds,
    Somehow the use of “techniques” seems very christian to me….

  37. 37
    still liberal Said:
    9:27 pm 

    Is teeth “knashing” anything like teeth gnashing?

  38. 38
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:35 pm 

    Don C:

    Interesting how you ignore the other part of what I said. I’ll repeat it since you seem to be suffering some mental impairment:

    Opposed to torture: John McCain, the FBI and the US Army.

    Are they all liberals too?

  39. 39
    Oldcrow Said:
    9:41 pm 

    Oh please give me a break, you are being purposefully obtuse I could care less how many terrorist’s were interrogated using these methods in case you have not figured it out yet here is a clue I truly do not believe it is torture go from there with your argument oh and I could care less what is Christian, one it has nothing to do with the law and two what if I was Wikken or Hindu or Atheist? Then what? More BS strawmen and by the way I believe Obama allowed these memo’s to be released in order to distract the public with the willing aid of the MSM from what is going on in Congress in regards to cap and tax, health care etc… this all just smoke and mirrors.

  40. 40
    Oldcrow Said:
    9:46 pm 

    Been there done that next strawman please.

    Oldcrow Said:
    7:28 pm
    Oh and by the way as I recall McCain voted against the ban on waterboarding and the U.S. Army does what it is told for every Soldier who has been against it there are just as many for it, the same with the FBI and again enhanced interrogation is not torture.

  41. 41
    Oldcrow Said:
    9:54 pm 

    See you can’t win this because your entire argument is based on feelings no facts, and let em make a prediction this is going to blow up in the Dems faces it already is because you see the public believes it was right and all the Dem leadership were up to their collective necks in it also no one will be prosecuted which is as it should be and as for transparency why in the heck would we want to expose intelligence gathering sources and methods? The Government should not be transparent in these matters and frankly you don’t need to know, instead why don’t you worry about something that really effects you like 12.5 trillion dollars in debt? Or the erosion of our property rights or the Second Amendment? Or Obama arguing in court that you don’t have the right to council and I could go on and on, pull your head out and look at what is going on right in front of you that really does effect you and your life right now that this Admin and Congress are doing.

  42. 42
    Don C. Said:
    9:55 pm 

    M.R.,

    Why did you dodge military service?

    Why are you morally outraged by simulated drowning interrogation techniques upon terrorists that produced information that saved innocent American lives, but not morally outraged against immoral abortion techniques that kill innocent babies?

  43. 43
    bsjones Said:
    10:11 pm 

    Oldcrow,
    I was not not advancing an argument in post #35, I was asking for a point of clarification. I got the mistaken impression that because it was “only three terrorists” that experienced the “techniques”, that maybe in some way you saw the legitimacy of the “techniques” as tied to how many people experienced them.

    It is clear from post #39 that you believe the “techniques” to be moral, effective and justified. It is also clear (from post#18) that you think the “techniques” are completely legal.

    The other point was really an aside. I personally believe the number of people who have experienced the “techniques” could be considerably higher than three. This is based on how many times I have heard government representatives of all strips lie in the past about anything and everything. U.S. government policy is based on many things. Two things we see all the time is the government withholding information and government willfully misleading the public as a political strategy for achieving policy objectives. Government lying, misleading, withholding, and misdirecting the public is certainly nothing new.

  44. 44
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:12 pm 

    Don C:

    I stayed out of the army because my father — chief warrant officer, 20 year man, 2 bronze stars, 2 combat tours in Vietnam — said I should stay the hell away from Vietnam.

    Now, why can’t you answer my question since I answered yours?

    Are John McCain, the FBI and the US Army all examples of wimpy liberals? Because they all agree with me on this issue.

  45. 45
    bsjones Said:
    10:18 pm 

    Oldcrow,
    One of the great potential benefits of prosecutions would be that leadership from both parties would likely be disgraced and maybe even forced to resign. I would personally look forward to new blood on Both sides of the isle.

    The two things I am completely sure of is that Americans are not well served by their Federal Representatives in Congress and that the Executive branch does not operate in a sufficiently transparent way that supports democracy.

  46. 46
    Oldcrow Said:
    10:34 pm 

    Bsjones,
    I agree where we disagree is in the method to accomplish that, I believe if we could get the American voter to do it we could vote every single incumbent out of office both Repub and Dem or better yet get a constitutional amendment placing term limits such as two six year terms in the Senate and six two year terms in the House we could start with that and go from there, trials are not the way to get the bums out educating voters on how they are being scammed by what is a career political class is. This is not a fight we need to have it is distracting from the truly counter American things that have been going on in Washington for a long time. I can tell you this is not the America our founders intended and it is not because of enhanced interrogation.

  47. 47
    funny man Said:
    10:37 pm 

    Torture obviously is not about thumbscrews and other medieval devices. The Soviets back in the day perfected ‘invisible’ torture like sleep deprivation, hunger etc. Works like a charm with most people. We didn’t resort to those techniques back then facing a real threat. Why should we change now with a bunch of religious fanatics?
    This is certainly not a traditionally conservative position. Part can be explained by 9/11. However, part of this ‘muscular’ approach to foreign policy was due to the neocon mindset. Cheered on by the Coulter brigades they happily threw all international conventions aside to change the make up of the Middle East. Sounds like from a Marxist playbook? Well that’s the background of a few of them and it’s time for us to get back to conservative basics and that’s a no to torture, end of story.

  48. 48
    bsjones Said:
    10:56 pm 

    Oldcrow,

    I supported term limits for the state legislature. Eventually we got em. Now that we have them (after about a decade) I regretted it. If the people were to clean house by “voting the bums out”, I would support that. Unfortunately, as history shows, it doesn’t always do much.

    I support independent investigation into government conduct because I believe government officials elected and otherwise routinely engage in illegal activity. I would like to see real punishment including jail for those powerful officials that believe they can skirt the law.

    I would absolutely love to see government officials held to a higher standard of legal propriety than the population at large. That goes for Bill Clinton, Ted Stevens, and Timothy Geitner. Beltway pundits insist this is not possible because government would suffer from brain drain!! Absolute rubbish. Washington needs more character not more tricksy politicians.

  49. 49
    Don C. Said:
    10:59 pm 

    michael reynolds,

    You sir have, as a chicken dove, injected the chicken hawk meme into this thread. Now you must defend it, or increase your foolishness.

    How can you rationally assert, with any semblance of intellectual virtue or credibility, that your own non-military opinions merit greater authority on this issue than disagreeable non-military opinions?

    You can’t. And, as a Modern Liberal moral relativist, you likewise cannot escape the dilemma of your self-congratulatory intolerance for varying viewpoints to your own.

    M.R.: “Are John McCain, the FBI and the US Army all examples of wimpy liberals? Because they all agree with me on this issue.”

    With that hypocritical bombast, you have clumsily fallen to prostrating yourself before government officials’ power and abandoned all pretense of objectivity.

    Why do Modern Liberals demonize people that speak truth to such “power”?

    Because their “intellects” seek not truth but, rather, abandon it in their pursuit of political ends.

  50. 50
    GW Said:
    11:33 pm 

    Hello Rick. I respect your integrity but think you are way off the mark on this whole issue, at least as it is being played out in the legal context. I have written a post in response to long to reproduce here.
    http://wolfhowling.blogspot.com/2009/04/words-have-meaning-rick.html

    If you have any thoughts in response, I would love to here them. Thanks much, Rick.

  51. 51
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:37 pm 

    Don C:

    Oooookay. Your vastly superior intellect has utterly shattered me.

    I’m going to go find a sane person to talk to know. Bye.

  52. 52
    bsjones Said:
    3:26 am 

    I just watched a movie called Changling by Clint Eastwood. I highly recommend it. Since I’ve been thinking about the government sanctified use of “techniques”, the film took on a special significance for me.

    I already question whether it is a good idea to vest the power to perform “techniques” on individuals for state interests. Seeing this film reinforced that perception.

    There are huge differences between the circumstances surrounding the use of “techniques” in this film and our best understandings about the use of “techniques” on prisoners in U.S. custody. I thought there were some similarities as well.

    Again, highly recommended.

  53. 53
    Don C. Said:
    4:16 am 

    Oh Mikey,

    Please don’t run home mad to mommy on Olympus’ summit with your little ’sanity ball’. ;)

    You’ll thimk twice before you again attempt the idiotic introjection of the chicken hawk meme, one would *hope*.

    Later alligator… thanks for playing.

  54. 54
    busboy33 Said:
    5:24 am 

    @Don C.:

    At it again, eh?

  55. 55
    Don C. Said:
    6:59 am 

    You’re not?

  56. 56
    the Fly-Man Said:
    7:09 am 

    Rick your last paragraph will be used verbatim in Harry Reid’s official statement justifying the legislation he and members of Congress craft to put an end to this “nightmare”.

  57. 57
    cdor Said:
    7:53 am 

    We don’t want prosecution and punishment, we just want 100% of the facts to come out. We blow away “strawmen” with feather dusters. That is why we release specific “court ordered?” documents neutering any future interrogations by laying our entire game book out for the enemy to study and prepare, yet conveniently redact the portions of those same exact documents that perhaps tell of the effectiveness of those interrogations. We do this because we want 100% of the information to come out into the open. That is our idea of transparency.

    And we want another 9/11 commission to investigate so that the perps can ask the questions ala Jamie Gorelick without the inconvience of deposition and cross examination under oath.

    I don’t know what you think a strawman is, Mr Stuck, but if I were a horse, my belly would be full right now.

    still liberal, indeed I did misspell “gnash”. I am very sorry and would greatly appreciate your continued in depth contribution to this discussion by correcting any further spelling errors I might make.

  58. 58
    Mr. Stuck Said:
    8:55 am 

    cdor. you speak gibberish very well.

  59. 59
    c3 Said:
    8:56 am 

    Rick;
    I have to hand it to you, you certainly don’t shy away from tough discussions.

    Joe;
    “Anyone who defends torture is just mentally sick. Its another one of the litmus test to be a conservative today, you have to defend torture. ”
    Ironic that you make that comment on this post by a conservative who has consistently decried torture.

    And herein lies the most intriguing part of this whole torture debate. This is clearly developing as an issue that doesn’t break along party lines (in spite of the desire of many in both parties who wish that it would) At this point in “the game” it seems to be playing out the same way immigration has (i.e. stark public differences in the Republican Party and quiet, below the radar differences in the Democratic Party). I’m wondering out loud here now: Will the way the immigration debate ultimately hurt the Republican Party with Hispanics, also come true in the torture debate with military voters?

  60. 60
    busboy33 Said:
    1:30 am 

    @c3:

    “Ironic that you make that comment on this post by a conservative who has consistently decried torture.”

    Tragically, it isn’t. The last several times Mr. M has tried to explain his position, the comments got flooded with “RINO-eating-your-own-libtard-stooge” rage from the “true” conservatives.

  61. 61
    msmscourage Said:
    3:52 am 

    I do not recall”torture” being discussed by the media or liberals when Clinton & Reno used a chemical agent CS Gas, banned by Treaty in 1993, on infants & toddlers at Waco. Or do they not consider it “torture”?

  62. 62
    Locomotive Breath Said:
    6:51 am 

    How many Americans have to die to satisfy your delicate sensibilities?

    I’m sure John McCain would have loved to get by with only what happened to KSM.

    McCain -> permanently physically debilitated
    KSM -> not so much
    Daniel Pearl (RIP) -> sans head via sword wielded by KSM

    Guess who I think was tortured and who was not?

  63. 63
    bsjones Said:
    12:02 am 

    “If the president does it, it’s not a crime” Richard Nixon

    “Most people in retrospect believe that Ford’s pardon was right, because we moved on. We have got to move on.” John McCain

  64. 64
    bsjones Said:
    1:09 am 

    “There’s gonna be pictures that are gonna be coming out which will again authenticate that wrong things were done, but are you gonna prosecute people…?” John McCain

    “There I go, turn the page.” Bob Seger

  65. 65
    Right Wing Nut House » THE MORAL PARAMETERS OF TORTURE Pinged With:
    3:29 pm 

    [...] OBAMA GOLFS IT’S SILLY TO BLAME A POROUS BORDER FOR SWINE FLU IN US SWINE FLU PANICS MEXICO WATERBOARDING: THE S.E.R.E. STRAWMAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY PARTISANS TO ‘OUT’ GAY REPUBLICANS JACK BAUER IS NOT DEAD A REPORT [...]

  66. 66
    Watcher of Weasels » So Many Tortured Firsts - Waterboarding Our Way To Policy Pinged With:
    10:56 am 

    [...] the first place winning council member entry is a criticism of an article by former council member Right Wing Nuthouse, whose author Rick Moran also has a winning non-council entry on the same subject; waterboarding as [...]

  67. 67
    golovino Said:
    7:59 am 

    ??????????? ??????????? ??? ????????????? ????????
    ????????????? ?????????. ???? ???? ???????? ?????? ?????????? ?? ?????????? ???????????? ????????? ?? ???????? ?????????? ????????????? ??????????? ? ????? ? ???????????? ?? ??????, ??????? ????????? ? ?????? ??????, ?? ?????????? ??? ????????? ? ???? ??????? ? ?????????????? ??????????????.
    ????? ????? ????????????? ???????? ????????? ?????? ?? ???? ???????????? ? ????????????? ????, ? ????? ?????????? ???????????????? ?????????? ? ???????????? ???????????. ?????????? ???? ?????? ? ?????????? ?? ????, ??? ?????????? ???? ???????????????!
    ????????????? ?????? ??????-????????? ???????? ? ?????????????? ??????. ?????????? ??????????? ?????????? ????? 80 ???????????? ????????????, ??? ????????? ????????? ? ????????? ??????? ?????? (????? ?????? 30-40 ?????), ? ????? ???????????? ????????????? ?????? 50 ? ????? ????????? ?? ??????????????? ??????. ? ????????? ????? ????????? ???????? ???????? ?????, ????????? ???? ???????????? ? ???? ?????????????.
    ?? ????????? ???????? ? ? ????????????? ?? ???????? ?????????? ?????????, ???????? ????????????????? ??? ??????? ? ???????, ? ????? ??? ????????????? ??????????? ?? ???????????, ??????????? ? ?????? ?? ?????.
    ??????????? ? ??????-????????? ???????????? ????????? ???????????? ?????? ?????????? ? ???????? ?? ??????? ??????, ?? ???? ??????? ??? ??????????.
    ?????? ????????????? ???????? ??????????? ?? ????????, ?????, ? ????? ?? ??????????? ?????, ??? ???????, ? ????????????? ? ???????????? ???????. ?? ?????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????? ???????? ????????? ??????????? ????? (????), ? ??????? ??????????? ????? ??????, ???????, ????????????????? ???????, ?????????. ?????? ???????? ????? ??????. ????? ????, ??? ???????? ? ?????? ????? ? ??????? ????????? ??????????? ? ?????????.
    ?? ?????? ?????? ?? ????? ????????? ??????????????? ???????????????? ?????? ???????, ???????????? ????. ?????????? ????? ??????????? ???????????????? ???????????.
    ? ???????? ??????? ?????? ?? ??????????? ????????? ???????? ????? ??????????? ? ??? ??????????, ? ??? ????? ???????????? ? ??????????? ????????? ?????? ???? ????? ????????????? ???????? ? ?????????? ?????.

  68. 68
    selfdestruction Said:
    7:12 am 

    Doesn’t anyone relaize this is exactly what Bin Laden wanted from 9/11? No country, and certainly no terrorist group, can destroy the U.S. We can only destroy ourselves. 9/11 was intended as an instigation of our self-descruction. When the U.S. unilaterly uses its military might to inflict its will around the world, we turn the rest of the world against us, friends and enemies. We must rise above over-reacting. 9/11 is not an excuse for anything. The terroist threat is clandestine. Our war against it should be as well, CIA & military. If it makes the news we are doing something wrong. The torture issue is just one symptom of our self-destruction. The good guys don’t torture. There are more reliable ways to get information. We always win the battles, we don’t know how to win the hearts and minds.

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