Wednesday, June 21, 2006

We Are Just As Bad As They Are

The University of Pittsburgh summarizes a report by General Richard Formica describing his concerns over certain interrogation practices used on terrorist suspects.

The released copies of the reports were heavily redacted, but show concern over practices such as stripping detainees, depriving them of sleep, assailing them with loud music, withholding food other than bread and water in some cases for up to 17 days, and altering their environmental conditions, suggesting they were kept too hot or too cold. The Formica report expressly concluded that some Iraqi detainees were not being treated in accordance "with the spirit of the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions."

The entire report (the parts which aren't blacked out at least) is here. It's about the CJSOTF-AP and 5th SF Group Detention Operations. What is the CJSOTF-AP and what does it do? BG Frank Kearny, Commander Special Operations Command Central Command tells an interviewer it is a Special Forces task force working with other agencies ("joint") and the forces of other nations to hunt down terrorists. There are task forces for different parts of the world. The CJSOTF-AP is the task force for the Arabian Peninsula.

CJSOTF-AP is focused on Iraq currently but also works with Jordanian SOF to assist in building the ISOF Brigade for the Iraqi Army. ... we work closely with the MOD counter-terrorist [CT] forces and SOF in many countries in the AOR. Some we partner with quietly and some in a more open manner. SOF forces from Jordan, Iraq, UAE and Bahrain have had direct involvement in OEF and OIF. The Iraqi ISOF Brigade is an excellent combat force which was created under the supervision of U.S. SOF and also assisted with initial entry training by our Jordanian partners. This is an excellent relationship, and it highlights the initiative between Jordan and the U.S. to create a SOF regional training center in Jordan, known as the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center [KASOTC], which will break ground for a new facility in the spring of 2006.

This unit is aimed at the hardest core of the enemy and it works together with non-Americans, particularly Iraqi and other Arab personnel. (It is interesting to note how deeply involved  Jordan, Iraq, UAE and Bahrain are in these operations) CJSOTF-AP is charged with training Arab forces which have a long history of torture to demonstrate a better way of doing things. The multinational composition of this unit will explain why non-Americans often figure in the Formica narrative. It may also explain why whole parts of the Formica report are blacked out. (As we will see, the censor missed a few things.)

A close reading of the Formica report itself shows that detainees were interrogated in the field, sometimes in places where they couldn't be safely transported to a secure base. "CJSOTF-AP units operate in a dangerous environment often located in high-threat areas ... convoy movements to transport or to interrogate detainees held at other locations are high risk tactical operations" (page 6). "These were not internment facilities, i.e. facilities intended for long-term detention, but rather temporary facilities for tactical interrogation facilities." (page 7) In one case (page 32) interrogation was carried out at a "safehouse", which suggests some interrogations may have taken place an insurgent-controlled locality.

Formica report concluded that some Iraqi detainees were not being treated in accordance "with the spirit of the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions." In other words, that the Geneva Convention was being violated. It concluded that "insufficient training and unclear policy standards made abuses possible, and recommended appropriate changes in procedures for detainee handling. A Defense Department source told AP that the Formica report recommendations had all been implemented." The recommended changes focus on two areas. First, ensuring that detainees are only interrogated by trained men, who know what is permissible. Second, detainees were to be transported, within a very short period, to places of detention built to a minimum standard. These are easy to understand in light of the CJSOTF-AP multinational background and the fact that they operate in the field.

But not every allegation of abuse was true. The Formica Report finds that detainees often made up stories. That in fact, it was part of their counter-interrogation training. (page 30)

It has been common practice for detainees since last fall to claim abuse to gain their release ... or justify their confessions and incriminating statements about other insurgents ... Commanders indicate that there are reports that anti-Iraqi forces in the Adamiya neighborhood are being coached in counter-interrogation techniques. ....On 21 March 2004, detainee X who had been captured by X on 17 March 2004, alleged during an interrogation that was beaten by X and an Egyptian Police Officer. X had no physical signs of mistreatment. An interpreter overhead this detainee telling another detainee "to tell the Americans you were beaten and tortured and when you arrive at the detention facility they will release you."

This paragraph (apart from revealing the Egyptians as CJSOTF-AP participants and providing an insight into Baghdad's Adamiya neighborhood) provides a glimpse into the perception of what American policy was understood to be. An interpreter overhead this detainee telling another detainee "to tell the Americans you were beaten and tortured and when you arrive at the detention facility they will release you." Nevertheless, there were abuses which acknowledged succinctly at the bottom of page 7:

On 13 May 2004, the Commander of CJTF-7 issued a new CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy. This new policy superseded the 12 October 2003 policy. The 13 May 2004 policy specifically prohibits the use of six interrogation techniques, including Sleep Management, Stress Positions, Change of Scenery, Dietary Manipulation, Environmental Manipulation and Sensory Deprivation. In all other respects the 13 May 2004 policy is identical to the 12 October 2003 policy. Because the new 13 May 2004 policy was not in effect during the relevant time period preceding the intiation of this investigation and for the sake of clarity, the 12 October 2003 policy will be referred to as the controlling CJTF-7 policy throughout this report.

Sleep Management, Stress Positions, Change of Scenery, Dietary Manipulation, Environmental Manipulation and Sensory Deprivation. Those were the activities which were found unacceptable. These techniques are exactly the problems noted in the Pittsburgh Law School in their summary of the Formica report. The relevant passage is repeated below.

The released copies of the reports were heavily redacted, but show concern over practices such as stripping detainees, depriving them of sleep, assailing them with loud music, withholding food other than bread and water in some cases for up to 17 days, and altering their environmental conditions, suggesting they were kept too hot or too cold. The Formica report expressly concluded that some Iraqi detainees were not being treated in accordance "with the spirit of the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions."

Andrew Sullivan is contemptuous of the Formica report.

I haven't discussed the Formica Report because, even by the standards of the several previous reports, this one was such an exercize in transparent denial and avoidance it didn't merit discussion. But General Formica did what Rumsfeld wanted: no one was held responsible even for the abuses Formica did concede. That's the Bush principle. Torture, pretend to investigate, and exculpate. Rinse the blood off your hands and repeat.

To illustrate his point about the abuses that 'Formica did concede', he quotes Spencer Ackerman who says detainees were forced into small cells, kept there for days and that Formica believed it was OK to keep them there for 48 hours.

Spencer Ackerman asks:

Take all the shelving out of a typical filing cabinet. (My own office cabinet happens to be slightly smaller than the [4 feet high, 4 feet long and 20 inches wide] cell described here.) Now lock yourself in it for two days. You may notice you can neither stand up straight nor lie down, and crouching gets really uncomfortable extremely fast. Remember that as an Iraqi detainee, the Geneva Conventions apply to you. Now ask yourself: Why would Formica consider such treatment "reasonable" for two days? And if someone put an American soldier in such conditions for two days - or authorized doing so - what should happen to that person?

Ackerman illustrates what these cells were like from a New York Times report.

General Formica found that in the third case at a Special Operations outpost, near Tikrit, in April and May 2004, three detainees were held in cells 4 feet high, 4 feet long and 20 inches wide, except to use the bathroom, to be washed or to be interrogated. He concluded that two days in such confinement "would be reasonable; five to seven days would not." Two of the detainees were held for seven days; one for two days, General Formica concluded.

But it does actually help to read the report closely before dismissing them as "such an exercize in transparent denial and avoidance it didn't merit discussion". Let's revisit Ackerman's filing cabinet example. What the Formica report actually says about the incident (page 47) is this:

These detainees were held in small cells measuring 20 inches (wide) x 4 feet (high) x 4 feet (deep), that loud music was played a volume to prevent detainees from communicating with each other, and that X was employed as a method of setting favorable conditions for interrogation. ... These cells did not provide room for X to lie down or stand up. They were removed from the cells periodically for latrine breaks, to be washed, and for interrogations. A medical record indicates that X was removed on at least one occasion for a medical exam at X on the 5th day he was held in custody ... personnel indicated that detainees were not kept in the cells for 72 continuous hours. ... I find that these measures, while inappropriate for long-term detention, were determined by the X to be necessary for force protection and to prevent detainees from escape. It is reasonable to conclude that this would be acceptable for short periods of time, 24-48 hours, coincident to capture and until it was reasonably practicable to transfer them to a suitable facility -- two days would be reasonable; five to seven days would not.

We discover that cells were not purpose-built, like the 'Tiger Cages' of Vietnam to which they will doubtless be compared, but were field expedients used for three people, justified supposedly "for force protection and to prevent detainees from escape". We also learn it was unclear how long people were continuously kept in these cells -- not, if we believe personnel from the Task Force, longer than 72 hours straight -- and that in any event, they were removed periodically for latrine breaks, bathing and interrogations.

Sleep Management, Stress Positions, Change of Scenery, Dietary Manipulation, Environmental Manipulation and Sensory Deprivation have already been acknowledged as unacceptable treatment, even for the hard core of the enemy. But surely these tiny cells were as bad as anything the Nazis were capable of? The total volume available in these cells was 4' x 4' x 1.7'=26.7 cubic feet. For purposes of comparison, let's consider the 2006 Volkswagen GTI, which seats from four to five adults.

While the GTI may look compact on the outside, there's an amazing amount of room inside, some 94.2 cubic feet of passenger compartment volume ... The rear seat can hold three people, though it's best suited for two, who can get even more comfortable by tipping out the wide armrest that forms the center seatback. Those sitting in the back have both cup holders and storage cubbies for their stuff. There's plenty of rear legroom, at least when someone in, say, the 5-foot-10 range is occupying the front seat.

Five and four passengers in a 2006 Volkswagen GTI each get 18.84  and 23.1 cubic feet respectively, in both cases less than the volume available in the detainee cells. And you can neither stand nor lie down in the 2006 Volkswagen GTI either. How about the twenty inches in width, isn't that inhumanly narrow? I thought so too, until I looked at airline seats. The standard economy airline seat is 17.8" wide. Business class seats approach 20" and more. My own swivel chair is 18" wide. I measured it. Take out a ruler and measure your own chair if you are as incredulous as I was. For further comparison, consider the proposed A380 Airbus Standing Seat, in which short-distance passengers would travel literally lashed upright to their chairs.


The A380 Standing Seat
2.08' x 6' x 1.48'=18.5 cubic feet


General Formica was correct to condemn the cells in which those 3 were held as not being in the spirit of the Geneva Conventions. Formica believed it was permissible, for force protection and to prevent escape to keep them for up to 48 hours. You could do that under the stress of tactical necessity. He describes one of CJSOTF-AP's detainees as least 6'3" and very muscular.  But the airline seats shown above, comparable or smaller to the ones which held al-Qaeda suspects convey fat, elderly, pregnant and sometimes sick people and charge them hundreds of dollars for it. And while Formica's 48 hours is longer than the 18.5 hours which constitute the longest flights in the world, we are told the detainees could take latrine breaks and baths. It's uncomfortable; it's coercive; but is it torture? The point of this comparison is not to argue against the seriousness of torture, but to emphasize it. Torture is not just anything you want to call by that name. The CJSOTF-AP must demonstrate to most brutal regional special forces in the world how to get timely information out of the hardest of the enemy.  Unless they held those secret policemen back we would not be talking about  "Sleep Management, Stress Positions, Change of Scenery, Dietary Manipulation, Environmental Manipulation and Sensory Deprivation" which are disallowed under the new guidelines anyway. But what should the CJSOTF-AP do? The answer must be more than to ask the detainees for their name, rank and serial number. There has to be some level of coercive interrogation which can legitimately be applied, short of real torture or else we had better give the whole thing up. Andrew Sullivan may be correct when he implies these cells are intended for torture. That accusation can certainly be made but the charge is not proved and the fact it applied to three people is suggestive that it is not policy. It's too easy to speak in generalities; too easy to draw an equal sign between two undefined terms. When Andrew Sullivan writes:

I doubt whether even Donald Rumsfeld will describe what has been done to two young American soldiers as a "coercive interrogation technique." But you never know. Some people wonder why I remain so concerned about torture, and the surrender of our moral standing with respect to this unmitigated evil. Maybe the news of captured, tortured and murdered Americans will jog their conscience. Or maybe it will simply reinforce the logic of torture-reciprocity endorsed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzales. As usual, complete silence from Instapundit. Almost radio silence from the Corner, except for the torture-advocate, Mark Levin, who is urging reciprocal atrocities. Give him points for consistency. And so the cycle of depravity and defeat deepens ...

He may be mistaken. And it is not depraved to disagree.


Blogger Karridine said...

Gracious God! "..not being treated in accord with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions..."

1/ To which the terrorists ARE signatories? Oh. They AREN'T?

2/ We CARE? That NONE of the 'tortures' listed exceed ANYTHING I/We experienced in Basic Training or hazing for Smegma Alpha Epsilon?

3/ That NONE of the actions reported leave a physical or mental scar? Did we give these thugs 3,000 micrograms of LSD dosed with Sodium Pentothal and THEN play the loud music? THEN ask leading questions?

In the absence of anything REMOTELY RESEMBLING TORTURE, I beg to differ with you: we are NOT, according to what you've reported here (the report, NOT Wretchard's reporting of the report) 'morally equivalent', and you should be ashamed to try to pass off such shoddy logic and poor reasoning!

6/21/2006 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Hula Hoops

You will never convince the Left of anything counter to their current dogma and agenda. Their intellectual intransigence renders them irellevant. Torture is the political Hula Hoop of 2006 Politics. Round and round about it and it means nothing. The agenda has been set by the jihadis and we react to what they do. We will have to wait for the next horror show and everyone will wonder what happened to all those Hula Hoops.

6/21/2006 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Subjective morality as practiced by the left allows them to choose their own definitions and hijack traditional language to their own purpose (the words 'gay' and 'progressive' come to mind).
This will allow them to redefine 'torture', as it applies to our detention officers, until it is rendered ineffective.

The double standard that the left has been allowed to practice has become more extreme - as would happen with any delusional, sociopath that has refused treatment.

6/21/2006 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

It's amazing how many countries you find right under the surface participating in this War on Terror thing. European countries, African countries, Arab countries, Asian countries.

Some time ago there was an allegation that there were Secret Prisons in Europe. Maybe there were prisons but they were probably not very secret to the governments of those countries, though they've denied they ever existed. So this is the way it probably works. Everybody gets to spit in the USA's face in public, then with their left hand they secretly hand poor Uncle Sam some change. Or like the 19th century streetwalkers all the gents would see in the shadows and refuse to recognize in broad day. The deal is keep us safe and if we spit in your face, you'll understand old chap. Appearances and all. Torture is illegal, but if you must save us, we know you'll do the "right" thing.

I think I'll go get a beer. This line of reasoning is making me feel bad.

6/21/2006 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

It is difficult today for me to concern myself with the discomfort of terrorists. Leave the sheep dogs alone to do what they must, constrained only by their own sense of HONOR.

6/21/2006 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Check out the report at Westhawk
"Careerism comes to Camp Taji"
and the reasons that Iraq has gone from bad to worse become ever more evident.

The wrong Col. was relieved, if Victory is to be gained. But that's just my opinion. Ride with the bureaucrats in uniform, and bleed in Iraq forever.
Hand off to the Iraqi, become their allies, in deeds rather than just words and "democratization" stands a chance. Follow the leadership of Col. James Pasquarette and we'll never accomplish the "Mission".

6/21/2006 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Applicable cartoon.

6/21/2006 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

desert rat,

Just to play the Devil's Advocate, why shouldn't Col. James Pasquarette ride with the bureaucrats? Civilian supremacy. The nation behind Pasquarette consists not only of the Westhawks, but also of the Daily Kos people. And collectively they get civil servants to write these bureaucratic rules, housing rules, detainee rules. Rules of all types.

I'm not saying Westhawk is wrong, but what's a guy to do? The bureaucratic rules are sacred. The Geneva Convention is sacred. The older the rule the more sacred. Disobey at your peril. Obey at your peril. What's the way out? (BTW I figured I'd pass on the beer and just sleep early).

6/21/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

There really is no other realistic solution. We can't have officially condoned torture chambers and break the Geneva convention in public. Just won't work.

It also is dangerous considering that we now have moved far beyond fighting terrorism into taking sides in an Iraqi civil war. Using sleep deprivation on a foreigner who targeted the US like al-Zarqawai is one thing; using torture-lite on a Sunni Iraqi plucked from his own house is another.

If torture is needed, then either get a surrogate country to do it, or it happens in the field and never sees the light of day.

6/21/2006 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Wretchard 5:41

It seems that you're saying that the United States is being treated (by our allies at least) as the world's favorite hooker. For what it's worth, I'm inclined to agree with you.

One thing I haven't heard is commentary on how terrorists should be treated. As in... "What would you do if you had to deal with these guys?" Another key question we must ask is this -- "How can we be not torturing al-Qaeda members if they aren't staying at the Ritz living their lives like Saudi royalty?" (And just think, they still might be complaining of torture if their drinks aren't served on time...)

Seriously, I think it will be difficult for Bush's critics to get beyond the rumors (and probably the fact) of his involvement in fraternity hazing and think critically about what ought to be done. And how the present system could work more effectively.

6/21/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


We have discussed, here, for many moons now the Goals and methods to be utilized in the Mohammedan Wars.

In Iraq the stated goal is to "stand up" the Iraqis that are our allies. To hand off to them.

I, amongst others, have advocated for a "smaller" footprint in Iraq. Along with more intensive training for the Iraqis, faster.

In all reality Col. James Pasquarette is doing what is best for himself and his men, as judged by the Military.

That is the challenge

6/21/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Of course, if they just told us what we wanted to know, then it would all be over quickly.

6/21/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

What I'd like to see immediately is more Sunni Iraqis dying for the country, before our troops do. They don't need training to pass information to us. Given the sacrifice that our three soldiers just made, I'd like to hear more stories about Sunnis who are killed by the resistance for giving information to the Americans. It's not that I want those Sunnis to die -- it is that so many of them should be passing information that a few get caught. We shouldn't be the only ones dying to free their country. If an Islamist / Saddamist group is really occupying Sunni land in a reign of terror against the will of the people, then those Sunnis should be leading the fight to liberate their own soil.

6/21/2006 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

if we wanted to be as BAD as they are, I guess we would have to:

1. Learn the name of the terrorist

2. Locate and shoot and rape the terrorists family

3. Burn their families homes with the bodies inside to the ground

3b. While doing this, place all said terrorists in wood chippers

3c. Shell with cluster bombs any associated populations blindly, and wait for their medical help to show up to start round two..

3d. Dont forget to bomb the funerals too!

4. Urinate on, pour pig's blood on and blow up all Mosques and Korans.

Yes, that's the ticket... let's do that, then we can say
"We Are Just As Bad As They Are"

til then, strip the terrorists naked, make them eat pulled pork BBQ & BLT sandwicks, whip them, beat the crap out of them, throw tampons at them, hold cartoon contests showing the prophet humping little girls and camels...

6/21/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

wu wei
Where did you get the idea that the Sunni populous was being subjugated by the Insurgents?

Is that something "known" or is it based on some type of reality in reporting?

The NSA of Iraq blames US for much of the problem, our mere presence. It is in the story aristide and myself linked to yesterday. To many of the folks there in the Sunni areas we are the "legitimate" target. The Iraqis agreed that resistence to foreign occupation was legitimate, last November, in Cairo.

The US will not change course and escalate the War's op tempo. The raids that have occurred and are ongoing are in keeping with the Police tactics that have been used in the near past. There are less and less airstrikes or artillery fire missions.

It is not a conventional battle, in Iraq, while conventional officers, like Col. James Pasquarette are not advancing the US cause. They should be sent home, before they do even more damage.
We should have the right skill sets by now, the military has known for over two years they needed them, but left those billets empty.
As did State and Justice, in Baghdad.

6/21/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Fred Fry said...

"1/ To which the terrorists ARE signatories? Oh. They AREN'T?"

The UN's own "COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS" "Situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay" points out:

B. 24:
"24. The Chairperson of the Working Group and the Special Rapporteur note that, while United States Armed Forces continue to be engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan as well as in other countries, they are not currently engaged in an international armed conflict between two Parties to the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions. In the ongoing non-international armed conflicts involving United States forces, the lex specialis authorizing detention without respect for the guarantees set forth in article 9 of ICCPR therefore can no longer serve as basis for that detention."

So as far as the UN is converned, there are no Geneve Convention violations at Gitmo.

6/21/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I have not problem torturing people as a punishment. Anyone willing to behead another person to make a political point deserves whatever we can give them.

However, as an intelligence gathering tool torture is overrated. A person will tell you anything to stop the pain. In the end their notebook computer will reveal more.

6/21/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/21/2006 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Meanwhile another of Saddam's lawyers got wacked, yesterday.

The Defense never rests, unless it's in peace.

6/21/2006 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

In telephone interviews, two Yusufiya residents, Muyasar Ghalib al-Qaraghuli, 19, and a tribal leader who gave his name only as Abu Salam, described a gruesome scene in which insurgents beheaded and dismembered the soldiers after dragging their bodies behind pickup trucks.

"It's something that we are against," Qaraghuli said. "But what could we do? It happened."

This is from a story I posted in yesterday's thread. We are told again and again by Sunnis, like this "tribal leader" that they are against killing of Shiite civilians, that they don't support killing Iraqi police & soldiers, that they are against mutilation of bodies, etc. Yet those suicide bombings keep being launched again and again and again from Sunni soil. al-Zarquai was still given sanctuary by the Sunnis.

This is my point, that we protect the Sunnis while they fight an undeclared civil war against the central government and the Shiites & Kurds. Like when Arafat pretended that there was nothing he could do about suicide bombings launched from Palestine, we are letting the Sunnis fight a one-sided war with all of the advantages on their side.

There are serious issues for the US if the vast majority of the Sunni population does not want us on their soil, or to have a central government. Al-Zarquai was a foreign terrorist who targeted the US and other countries, making the case for killing him clear cut. It is much tougher for foreign troops to justify killing a native who is defending his own house, or fighting his fellow countrymen.

6/21/2006 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Old doug says,
That other post is by "New Doug"
Old doug is OLD!
Like Wretchard, sometimes I even pass on the Beer for sleep.
Sheer Torture.

6/21/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

mini Z and the "foreigners never accounted for more than 10% of the estimated insurgent force.

The size of the insurgency may be open to debate, but most estimates have been in the 25,000 to 40,000 range. Z and the foreigners never amounted to 2,500 or so, based upon detainee extrapulations. This out of a population base of around 5 million Sunni.

Mr Talabani thanked US, well over a year ago, for entering the Iraq Civil War on the antiSaddam side. That Civil War may be at the beginnings of a negotiated settlement or the beginnings of an accelerated Op tempo.

The Iraqi NSA wants US out a year before he envisions "stability". The Iraqi want a "free hand" to supress the Insurgency.
Soldiers like Col. James Pasquarette and his superiors do not want to give it to them.
We are restraining the ISF, not encouraging decisive actions on their part.
Or so the reports have indicated for well over a year now.

6/21/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

We are the foreigners in Iraq. Our religion is of the infidel. We have no sides to be on or against in the Islamic world except the side of the moment. At the moment we have our hands full of Sunnis, in no small measure because of our good friends the Islamic Turks. The Shiites in Iran are on the horizon. A little diversity goes a long way doesn't it?

6/21/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

New Doug links to this,(Torture and Treachery, and etc ) about Suskind book, refering to how things happened immediately post 9-11, and how the libs will DISTORT.
All it shows to my mind is why should have been and should now be POTUS.
Cheney, by Suskind's account, had been grappling with how to think about
"a low-probability, high-impact event."
By the time the briefing was over, he had his answer:
"If there's a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response."

6/21/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Why CHENEY should be POTUS"
...rifleman or not, DR.

6/21/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Last two posts by DR and 2164th say it all imho.

6/21/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The real question, doug.

Is there a one percent chance that aQ or it's agents could gain control of one of Pakistan's warheads?

If the answer is yes, which is as likely as the Paki scientists assisting aQ, then must "we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response", as well?

Where does the real danger lie?

6/21/2006 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Our religion is of the infidel. "
As is our very essence, until AFTER "The Reformation"
Holding breath.

6/21/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

"However, as an intelligence gathering tool torture is overrated. A person will tell you anything to stop the pain. In the end their notebook computer will reveal more. "

From what I have read, and what I remember from SERE school 20 years ago, that is an accurate statement about physical torture. The sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, etc. techniques are fairly effective, but take longer (so aren't very valuable in urgent situations.) Of course, those shouldn't be considered torture, no matter what the left says.

6/21/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

If there are 5 million Sunnis in Iraq, then that is the basic size of the insurgency. To passively allow their territory to be used as a launching pad is an act of war, and is choosing sides.

The US leaving has nothing to do with stability. The request for that to happen is simply a military tactic by the Sunnis to tilt the balance their way.

The Sunnis need to be forced to make an immediate choice on whether to stop all attacks on Iraqis including the government, or face a no holds barred civil war with the Shiites and Kurds using the same tactics against them. Either cease fire or civil war now, even with the US in the country.

Either way there would be no need for a large US role. If the Sunnis choose to fight, then we could offer security guarantees to the Shiite and Kurds, passing them sufficient intelligence information and bombing in order to prevent the Sunnis from gaining an advantage. With the US still in Iraq but on the sidelines, probably on friendly Shiite and Kurd territory, the foreign excuse would be gone and the Sunnis would clearly be seen as fighting a civil war. With US casualties low and Sunni casualties high, the Sunnis would lose the advantage of time.

Either way, I don't see where this is our fight any more, or what it has to do with terrorism. Mission accomplished in that we gave the Iraqis the chance to write a constitution and freely elect a government. It is now up to them whether to fight a civil war or form a unified, democratic country. If Iraq partitions, then each of the three factions can decide if they want us as an ally, like the Kurds no doubt would. Our interests like fighting terrorism could be met that way, as we do in other countries.

6/21/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Geneva Rules:

Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

The Convention statement refers to High Contracting Parties. Between High Contracting Parties, the Geneva Convention applies. On the territory of a High Contracting Party, the Geneva Convention applies. If a non-contracting party meets the requirements of decent and human treatment, the Geneva Convention applies.

It's also apparent how we should define the word torture. Prohibition (a) reads:

Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture.

There are many ways to read this. Let's first read it from the programmer's perspective (note: I am borrowing from website -- all the terms below are defined at the linked page).

The Geneva Convention sets out prohibited conduct. Prohibited Conduct is our top level class. Violence to Life and Person, then, is a nested class, and Torture is a member class of Violence to Life and Person.

Violence is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as "behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill." Torture is a member class of the superclass Violence, so Torture is a member class of Physical-Force-Intended-to-Hurt-Damage-Kill.

Prohibition (c) of the Geneva Convention reads:

Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

One can assume, therefore, that Violence is not equal to Humiliating and Degrading Treatment. Therefore, Torture is not equal to Humiliating and Degrading Treatment (H&DT).

Going back to Oxford, "degrading" is defined as "causing a loss of self-respect; humiliating." The question, then, is whether H&DT is a member class of Torture, and therefore can be referred to as Torture, or whether the two words define exclusive modes of behavior.

The logic of the Geneva Convention's system of prohibitive classes argues that H&DT is not Torture. Common sense tells you that losing one's self respect is not Violence.

Therefore, I conclude that Andrew Sullivan is committing a type one error in his analysis of the situation: H&DT is not Torture.

And, per the parameters contained within the document itself, the Geneva Convention does not apply in our War on Terror.

6/21/2006 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"If an Islamist / Saddamist group is really occupying Sunni land in a reign of terror against the will of the people, then those Sunnis should be leading the fight to liberate their own soil."

- wu wei

The same could be said of Afghans wrt the Taliban, which quite successfully coerces many "friends".

It isn't unique to Iraq.

"In telephone interviews, two Yusufiya residents, Muyasar Ghalib al-Qaraghuli, 19, and a tribal leader who gave his name only as Abu Salam, described a gruesome scene in which insurgents beheaded and dismembered the soldiers after dragging their bodies behind pickup trucks."

- wu wei

Now, if we could only get our leaders to back up and drop 'insurgent' from their vocabulary, we might be gettin' somewhere.

But a tragically misleading distinction was some years ago made, and we're not.

6/21/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

There are serious issues for the US if the vast majority of the Sunni population does not want us on their soil, or to have a central government.

The Sunnis very much want a central government in Iraq. Their faction is a minority of the population that lives primarily in parts of Iraq that have no oil. The Kurds are Kurds first and Iraqis second. Ditto for the Shia. Partitioning Iraq is a perfectly viable plan B for either of them. But for the Sunnis the two viable plans are either to drive out the US and, with the help of their powerful Sunni neghbors to retake Iraq, or to abandon the insurgency and the make the best political deal they can with the current "unity" government. Which of these is plan A and which plan B varies depending on who you are talking to but those are the two viable outcomes for the Sunni. Partition is not an option. Iraqi Sunnis are Iraqis first and Sunnis second.

As for the majority of Sunnis wanting us gone, we can live with that. The majority of a minority is still a minority and since the Sunnis were top dog in Iraq before we came it is asking a lot for us to want them to be glad we're there. I think a fair number of them have quietly decided that the best they can hope for is for the insurgency to fail but that doesn't mean that they will risk their necks by letting the incurable optimists and slow learners who are the insurgents know they are rooting for the other side.

6/21/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

The same could be said of Afghans wrt the Taliban, which quite successfully coerces many "friends".

True, and we fought the war in Afghanistan a totally different way, the way I am suggesting be used in Iraq. In Afghanistan local forces like the Northern Alliance were our strong allies from the beginning. They spotted Taliban locations and fought alongside us while we delivered the bombs.

Even in the South of Afghanistan, even though many in the population supported the Taliban, many others supported us and fought side by side with us to force the Taliban out. People in all regions wanted a central government.

In Iraq by contrast, there has never been significant Sunni support for a central government, and in fact a civil war against it has been fought since day 1. For years we have been told by the Sunnis that "gee we want to help fight the insurgency but we are so scared". It's not hard to read between the lines to see the real meaning of that.

The Sunnis need to be forced to immediately choose between a central government or civil war. The US is a side issue relative to that question.

6/21/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger The Crusader said...

Since when did Osama bin Laden sign on to the Geneva Convention? Terrorists are, by definition, "unlawful enemy combatants" and not subject to any of the protections of the convention. Personally, I think we are far too concerned with the "rights" of these animals. They have none under any existing treaty. Nothing that has been done to them is nay worse that what our own troops undergo in training and definitely not worse than, say, the Special Forces Qualification Course.

6/21/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/21/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Would it be (a) unethical, (b) immoral, (c) illegal, or (d) against international law to use Schedule 1 drugs to probe the minds of hard-core terrorists?

Right now, I am inclined to think using these drugs as interrogation tools would be a form a torture, even if they were taken voluntarily by detainees. And the reason why letting prisoners voluntarily take ecstasy, LSD, psilocybin, or some combination of these drugs would be a form of torture is because of his chance of getting a "bad trip". (Besides, since LSD was used by Charles Manson to indoctrinate his followers, al-Qaeda might use similar tactics. Hey wait a minute, Islamists already did that in the thirteenth century, for the very word "assassin" refers to the use of hashish for Islamist indoctrination. Oh well...) Still, I think the hard-core terrorist would be more likely to have a bad trip than the rest of the population, making his own imagination (in particular, his own visions of Hell) a hideously effective torture device.

This implies another question -- is the use of Schedule 1 drugs the moral equivalent of using weapons of mass destruction? That is, are the effects of these drugs so (potentially) horrific that it would forever stain any society that used them for interrogation?

6/21/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

...the Geneva Convention does not apply in our War on Terror...

Does that mean that the Geneva Convention does not apply to anyone in Iraq, even someone with no connection to Al Qaeda who simply wants to defend his home town against foreign occupiers?

Imagine that a uniformed force invaded the US. I am sitting in my home, not a member of the military, not in uniform. Once they step on my property I shoot, maybe a warning shot. If they capture me am I an "unlawful combatant" to whom the Geneva Convention does not apply? If the invaders declared that the US military was dissolved, does that mean that everyone in the US is an unlawful combatant and that no one has the right to fight back against the enemy that invaded our country?

6/21/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

ex-helo, and newdoug 7:46 AM:
Jed Babbin says Gitmo is getting Intel over the long term from warm and fuzzy, but PERSISTENT "interogation"/talking to the scum that have been there going on 5 years.
Day after day eventually takes it's toll, or they conspire and commit mini-mass suicide.
Jim Jones on Jihad.

6/21/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Smegma Alpha Epsilon"

6/21/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Jed Babbin interviews Charles Stimson, deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs/ Gitmo

6/21/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

I have asked this before, never received a satisfactory answer. Leave aside the question of whether it is "torture".

I simply want to know whether administration of the proper intravenpous chemical cocktail can render these individuals into a condition where useful information can be extracted? There almost has to be some technical reason why it won't work, if not I think those who inhibit its use need to be quietly disposed of.

All the techniques we have seem to me patently useless, I don't care what is used if it extracts reliable information in real time.

Military intelligence is a perishable commodity, information about what a terrorist knew that is even a few hours old is
probably worthless. This is what makes conventional torture worthless and the techniques said to be used now even more so. I see no reason why any commander with the least sense would allow the techniques described.

To re-iterate, does a reliable chemical technique exist to get information from a recalcitrant?

6/21/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

does a reliable chemical technique exist to get information from a recalcitrant

Supposedly the most effective interrogation technique the Soviets had involved drugs. They alternated between a curare-like drug to paralyze the lungs and cause suffocation, and some dope like sodium pentathol. They claimed that enough cycles of that would break anyone down. They also combined this with sleep deprivation, which they said was very effective in that people were so messed up and in an altered state that they couldn't resist or make up lies.

6/21/2006 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

wu wei,

Iraq is not a High Contracting Party.

In response to your hypothetical, the Convention clearly states that on the territory of a High Contracting Party, the rules apply.

The US is a HCP. You would be covered.

This may not be the "right" or "virtuous" or "moral" answer, but that is the legal answer, and it is to Legal Authority that those who cast Geneva accusations appeal.

6/21/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger cynical joe said...

The torture standard seems to me simple: what would you allow done to American prisoners? Would you allow coercive interogation, sensory deprivation, drugs? Because whatever the 'policy' of the American Military is, it is also the default standard allowed to be used against American/Coaltion forces with NO legal/military/judicial consequences to the opposition combatants Now the conditions described by Gen. Formica may or may not be torture, personally I think they can be justified for very short periods (24-48hrs) but then prisoners must be transported to more permanent facilities.

6/21/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Wu Wei,
You are correct, you would not be protected under the Geneva convention.

6/21/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I think that's incorrect, Exhelo.

Geneva states:

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

and this:

Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

A non-hostile defending his non-occupied property, property that is situated in the territory of a High Contracting Party; such a person, who spontaneously took up arms to resist an invading force, would almost certainly be covered by the Geneva Convention.

6/21/2006 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

And of course, this:

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

6/21/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

If torture is purposeful violence done to a detainee, I do not see how sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, etc. can fall under this category.

These are techniques of something, and they might constitute immoral mistreatment, but as a matter of definition, surely they aren't techniques of Torture.

6/21/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

The soldiers' bodies showed "severe trauma," said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell , and the scene around them was "horrific."

"We are confronted down there by a very brutal element of anti-Iraqi forces that have no respect for the personal dignity of the deceased," Caldwell said.

The military said that because of sensitive details surrounding the soldiers' deaths, it will not be making a public statement after medical exams are conducted, although family members can learn the details if they wish to know.

It appears like the military is going to cover up how the POWs died, which is unfortunate for several reasons. First is that details of the ambush might save other American soldiers. Second is that now we will have no way to combat whatever lies Al Qaeda spreads. Third, related to the second point, this decision really cannot stand because the information will leak one way or the other. The US military will end up having to constantly deny rumors, and the questions they refuse to answer will provide information. Likely, the insurgents will release a video. There is no reason why the American people should need to hear this from the terrorists first. Finally, this information may need to come out publicly in one or more investigations of what this happened.

While the rights of the family are important, other than telling them first, we cannot withhold the information. It just won't work and isn't right.

6/21/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I agree with Wretchard. Flying from SFO to Australia in coach constitutes torture.

6/21/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Fabio said...

It seems to me that many now see the Geneva Convention as a holy writ of moral rectitude rather than an utilitarian document of battlefield rules between nations sharing at least the same cultural roots.

6/21/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

According to this web site, Iraq is a party to the Geneva Convention and "The United States government has acknowledged that the 1949 Geneva Conventions apply to the situation in Iraq."

6/21/2006 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Well if wu_wei is correct, there probably is no way at all to extract real time intelligence from prisoners, certainly it would not be worth subjecting them to any stress whatever, unless they are known to be high ranking individuals whose intelligence would be of less perishable form. The effect of this is to greatly diminish the value of prisoners. Interesting.

6/21/2006 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Major Mike said...

They're right...sleep derpivation is exactly the same as torture and murder...unbelievable, but totally expected.

6/22/2006 04:05:00 PM  

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