Saturday, November 04, 2006

Waterboarding at Fox

Steve Harrigan gets waterboarded on Fox and you can watch at on Hot Air at the link? How does it feel? It feels like s**t, beyond a doubt. What does it prove? Apparently that you don't suffer any perceptible damage from it or that, if you had a choice, it would be far preferable to getting your fingers chopped off, your teeth knocked out or your arms broken by dangling you from the ceiling. But what does it prove morally? Ah, there's that word! Whose morality, then? Didn't you know this post was going to be difficult?

Nobody even admits to waterboarding, though the individuals depicted on the video apparently know a lot about it. But assuming somebody did this kind of stuff would you never approve it if you had reason to think the interrogation would save lives? Here are a variety of answers whose logical flaws are interesting to pick out. Readers, start your brain cells!


  1. "It's wrong period". Even if waterboarding could save a thousand lives legitimizing the practice is unmistakably evil. We make something bad into a licit act and one day these practices will be used against American citizens on the grounds that it is useful.
  2. "What's the difference?" We accept the use of force to subdue suspects, often injuring them in the process. We even subject US soldiers to this waterboarding experience to train them against hostile interrogation. A prisoner will likely suffer far more injury being taken prisoner than being waterboarded, if Harrigan is correct. Since violence is part of social life, as an established fact, why should this not very injurious practice be unreasonably excluded just because someone calls it torture?
  3. "Let the market decide". If I were a father whose child were kidnapped I would voluntarily submit to Harrigan's experience to win the release of my son. I would be willing to exchange the stress of waterboarding for the life of the hostage. Why should the malefactor, if found, be exempt if I the parent would not exempt myself? And come to that, when I send a police officer after a malefactor, am I not asking him to assume a risk far greater than the consequences of waterboarding? If I could obtain the location of the victim by using it, thereby saving the victim and ensuring the safety of law enforcement, is that not in fact moral? All suffering is fungible. What we need is to create a mechanism for the rational exchange of preferences.
  4. "You'll never know". Whether you're damning yourself to hell by waterboarding a likely suspect or damning the victims to a painful fate by not saving them from those monsters. But you may have to do something. So look at yourself in the mirror each time and ask: "do you feel lucky today, punk? "
  5. "We'll never have to make this choice" It's too hard. Let's work through the United Nations and engage in dialogue and then if somebody really needs to do it, well I hope they won't tell us.

124 Comments:

Blogger Teresita said...

We're the white hats, we're not supposed to hit below the belt or shoot people in the back or show cruelty to our EPWs. Maybe after this Tuesday we will get our America back, the "shining city on a hill" that shuns torture and is therefore actually morally better than brutal third-world regimes scattered around the globe.

11/04/2006 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

This wet rag over the face - waterboarding as it's now called - was a common part of Escape & Evade training for pilots during Vietnam. Guys have told me "you'll tell them anything!" when subjected to this frightening threatening technique.

So, what was common training practice that we used on our own guys - is now a war crime, a crime against humanity?

We're never going to win this war if we have to constantly fight with our dainty little pinkies extended for the world's review.

11/04/2006 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

6. "We are in a death struggle with a sophisticated adversary intent on returning civilization to a 7th Century fundamentalist society. What is the morality of survival? What is the morality of the survival of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? What is the morality of the survival of the evolution of women as free beings?

11/04/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

My maternal Grandfather drowned about a year and a half before I was born. As a result, about the time I could walk I had my first swimming lesson and ahd them until I began swimming competitively in high school. During my fitness periods now, I swim.

It is not easy to be at peace with water. It requires incredible discipline. It is much harder than remaining calm when confronting an angry dog.

Water works VERY fast if you aren't at peace. I have seen the Harrigan video (through stage 2). What they are doing to him:
a.) goes directly at and works on the greatest inate sensitivity to the danger of water.
b.) beyond the risk of heart attack from fright and struggling, risks a bad sinus infection, at worst.

I'm not sure I could equal KSM's 2 minutes 41 seconds. I would not want to try. I cannot see a landlubber (i.e. most people) making a minute if that.

11/04/2006 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Option number three answers the question for me. If I would be willing to undergo a procedure myself for the sake of preserving an innocent life, I see no moral objection to doing the same to a terrorist. And I'd much rather be waterboarded than have another thyroid biopsy thank you very much.

11/04/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Maetenloch said...

The fundamental problem is that physical discomfort is too useful a tool to be given up. It can work and in certain situations, e.g. for hardened individuals or ticking timebomb scenarios, it's the only viable tool. Well meaning lawyers and activists have been trying to legislate its use out of existance. But all this has done is push it into the dark extra-legal corners where it's unmonitored and uncontrolled. I suspect that a lot of the people who demand absolute moral purity wouldn't accept its actual cost in an extreme situation. Instead they prefer the appearance of purity while quietly reaping the benefits of rough men doing unpleasant things at the sharp edge of the sword.

11/04/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger summignumi said...

White hats have always gotten dirty during war only the stories stayed clean so we could claim a more moral high ground fighting wars is the only time that the means justifies the ends! Some of the very first non Jewish converts to Christianity were roman soldiers, I think the first Roman solider to convert was a Centurion, this was a man of serious command and decided who died and who might live yet Jesus never told him to go AWOL from the legion so there must have been a reason, everything Jesus did had meaning.

11/04/2006 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell (attributed)

11/04/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Human rights groups have questioned the CIA’s methods for questioning suspects, especially following the passage of a bill last month that authorised the use of harsh - but undefined - interrogation tactics.

Captives who have spent time in CIA prisons have said they were sometimes treated harshly with techniques like “waterboarding,” which simulates drowning, the Post said.


Terror Detainees

11/04/2006 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

What if chopping off a finger could save a thousand lives? Or 10,000 lives? Or a million? What if kicking in someone's teeth or hanging them by their wrists from the ceiling and beating them could save that many lives?

Would you say it was ALWAYS morally wrong? Would you refuse to do it?

11/04/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

ceadarfor wrote:

"a world where the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and ilk pussifies and paralyzes our advanced, modern-world law-abiding side - while the barbaric enemy is unchecked in it's range of options and without fear of significant collective punishment or individual repercussions outside a due process civilian court's purview..."

I'm puzzled by the inherent contradictions in this statement of yours. On the one hand you are asserting that we area a "modern-world law-abiding side" and then you contradict that by denying due process. This gets to the crux of the issue for me and I thank you for that. It is our righteous, moral superiority that asserts we are 'good' and 'law abiding' and we are simply torturing 'bad' people to save 'good peoples' lives. Yet, the reality of it is we are no longer law abiding good people once we start doing evil things on people we believe are bad. We have no objective means (i.e. scientific tests) that confirm your assertion that 'coercion works' and even if we had such evidence then how does that justify the broad application of such methods? Without due process the use of such interrogation methods is bound to be applied to folks whom have nothing worth knowing. How do we draw the line on the use of these methods of torture (for that guy on Fox did not hesitate to call his experience torturous)? Does limiting the use of these methods to non-US citizens somehow nullify the depravity of their use? Once you accept this method as 'useful' why not apply it to anyone suspected of any crime?

11/04/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're the white hats …

We’re not the “white hats”, we’re the camo combat helmets giving blood, sweat and heart to stabilization and democratization efforts in two god-forsaken regions on earth. Our guys and gals are risking all and losing some to win for us and for the people over there, and I, for one, hope to God they “hit below the belt” or “shoot people in the back” when the bad guys snipe, bomb, plot, or flee from us.

The idea is to win the war and to stop terrorists, not to throw a tea party with wolves. Our enemies know no code of conduct other than terror, deceit, propaganda and jihad. And they like it just fine that we choose to fight them with one hand tied behind our back while playing “Mother, May I?” Pretty soon we’ll be sending gift baskets to our EPWs in Ramada Inns to coax them into spilling the beans. Yes, that’s the ticket.

I can't understand why our troops are still allowed to use live ammunition in the field. Our enemies can get hurt that way. For some reason, it's fine to kill and maim them in one place, but not to coerce them to talk in custody, while feeding them three squares a day.

11/04/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Torture can never be outlawed by the U.S. as long as the Internal Revenue Service still exists.

We should just forget waterboarding and force terrorists to fill out the long form 1040 with schedules A and B as well as that incredible form for foreign tax credits - and the one for a Roth IRA conversion for good measure.

"White hats" my ass....

11/04/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Innumerable studies document that violent crime increases when the least-of-us are forbidden the tools to protect themselves (guns).

I wonder if we can tease out the affect and loss to civil society of the police being forbidden the "third degree." Which was less violence to person than intimidation.

It's humbling that in the effort to do good we often do much greater harm.

11/04/2006 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

There are those who are inured in adversity and there are those who have never experienced it. White hats are a luxury that those who have never expirenced it claim as a right.

11/04/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger sammy small said...

Tony,

As an Air Force pilot, I went through winter survival school near Spokane in November 1973. There was no mention of waterboarding that I can recall. There was definitely no use of it as a training aid. I don't even recall any stories of its use from Vietnam. I know that Vietnam POWs would have gladly traded what they experienced for waterboarding any day.

11/04/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

What about using sensory deprivation tanks instead? For what I understand that would probably do the trick, just take longer. Seems the human brain can't go without sensory stimulation for long periods without cracking. Throw the bad boys into one of those for a week or two and I'm sure they'd be gushing once they realize that was going to be their life until they talked. No marks, at least on the body. Torture? Yep, but what are the alternatives? Given the prisoners milk and cookies and ask them to play nice?

11/04/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Today being Guy Fawkes day, when a Catholic at the behest of a Spanish Agent, was to have set off a ton of explosives during a joint address of Parliament by James I, it is most appropriate to bring up extraordinary measures.

Guy Fawkes was caught - and then tortured - extraorindary permission given by the King ( sound familiar ) in which he gave up the names of the other conspirators.

Why was Fawkes caught? He and others tried to warn off loyal moderate Catholics who were to have been present. ( again, sound familiar?)

Had Guy Fawkes succeeded - this would have been Tudor England's 9/11.

Careful historians will see many parallels in the 150 year battle of the English against Catholic Europe - and the battle today against militant Islam.

Specially trained Jesuits were sent into England - and today specially trained Imams are sent to the West.

11/04/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

The sound of a baby crying is just as effective on some people (mostly men) as waterboarding.

11/04/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, did you get "...the use of such interrogation methods is bound to be applied to folks whom have nothing worth knowing." from John Kerry?

Bound to be misused?

Why "bound"?

Because the folks protecting your family are a bunch of brutish automatons who will go ape unless someone such as yourself stands by to interprete their every move for us dumbasses out here in sticksville?

11/05/2006 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"Okay, Mahmoud, here's the deal--if you have something worth knowing, we're gonna play rough with you. If you don't have anything worth knowing, we won't get rough. Now, tell us, which is it?"

"Oh, infidels, I find myself in such a loving mood that I will admit to you that I have valuable information. Now, please, dunk my ass in the tub, force me to give you the information!"

(editor's note: Sweet Jesus please save us from our intellectuals)

11/05/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buddy's logic is impeccable. Fortunately, there are also approved, humane interrogation approaches for the reluctant of tongue:

A) Come on, tell us, you know you want to!

B) Please, please, pleeeease--- pretty please with sugar on top?

C) Yo, be a bro, Mo, and tell us what you know.

D) Ve haf vays uff makink you talk... (*giggle*)

11/05/2006 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Saddam's death sentence will be criticized by those who see it as more blood added to a sea blood. Yet letting him live would probably have inspired more violence, but in a different way. As in the question of interrogation we often find ourselves guilty whatever we do. Guilty of doing and guilty of not doing.

I know that Cedarford regards Jews as having a particular kind of culpability, but I can't really sympathize. During my teenage years I heard many a speech ascribing all the evils of the world, not to the Jew, but to the White Man, citing the history of European colonization, chapter and verse. But my maternal grandmother was a White Woman and poor; and reviled because she was both white and poor. She'd save up secretly every now and again to buy her grandson -- me -- a chocolate bar. And wrap it in what little bits of festive paper she could find. She was my angel for as long as she lived. Whatever the Europeans may have done, I never blamed the White Race for anything because I could never condemn the one because of the many.

I grew up as guilty as anyone else though I hope that somehow it won't be held against me. All I know is that we have problems that we must solve as best we can. The guilt is given; and grace our only hope.

11/05/2006 04:15:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Wretchard's experience:
"I know that Cedarford regards Jews as having a particular kind of culpability, but I can't really sympathize. During my teenage years I heard many a speech ascribing all the evils of the world, not to the Jew, but to the White Man, citing the history of European colonization, chapter and verse."

C-4 is a parody of himself when he diminishes his arguments to group guilt and conspiracy theories about the Jews. They are words of a fool not thoughts of a wise man.

11/05/2006 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Dreams from 1907 said...

I have a niece, who is 19. Recently, she decided to join the ROTC. I am sure she will do well.

What do I aspire for my niece? To become a waterboarding specialist? Hardly. I want her to be a good soldier. If people can't discern the difference, then shame on them.

Wretchard, welcome to the slippery slope. Trivializing waterboarding is openeing the door to the dark abyss.

I would purport that there is little evidence that proves that waterboarding really garners intelligence that is very useful.

11/05/2006 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

No really, who here thinks they could hold out giving me your PIN number for three (snips)?

Typical westerner, you think money is the source of all happiness and you hypothesize that even a happy rich westerner can be bought for a few snips. But read your early Christian history. The martyrs couldn't be bought even at the cost of the most agonizing tortures the Romans could devise, because their hearts were focused on the life to come after this life.

11/05/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Ve haf vays uff makink you talk... (*giggle*)

Elsa: (After giving Indiana a long kiss.) "That's how Austrians say goodbye."

Colonel Vogel: "And this is how we say goodbye in Germany, Doctor Jones!" (He hits Indiana in the head, which causes Indiana's head to snap back and hit his father's head)

Indiana: "I liked the Austrian way better."

Henry: "So did I."

11/05/2006 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

The sound of a baby crying is just as effective on some people (mostly men) as waterboarding.

Or if you don't have a baby, any Madonna recording will do.

11/05/2006 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre said...

The only reason we are having this debate on Torture is people have time to talk. We could be fairly certain that if the enemy were on our soil and this very minute marching on our cities such academic silliness would be viewed at best with disdain at worst as treason. Or to put it in terms closer to home, if you had captured one of two madmen rampaging in your home and you needed to know where the other one was...lets see now which tactics would you use?

We believe we have the luxury of civility. In our arrogance we believe that nothing we do to limit our armies can prevent our victory. But worse we have no idea what defeat means to us. Let that sink in for a few moments.

Now consider if we lose this war we wont be watching "Why we Lost" on 60minutes 10 years from now. This is not like Vietnam where someone else bears the consequences of our cowardice. This time our children and grandchildren will look us in the eyes and quietly damn us for losing.

So then with that in mind please don't bore me with your appeals that start out "what will others think of us"? My first concern is what will my family think of me if I allow this country to lose. Winning really is the only thing...everything else in war is losing. And losing sucks.

11/05/2006 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre said...

What do I aspire for my niece? To become a waterboarding specialist? Hardly. I want her to be a good soldier. If people can't discern the difference, then shame on them.

Nothing would make me prouder than my children deciding to go into the military. But I would aspire to something quite different than you. I would aspire to them living through war and winning. I would not aspire to having them sacrifice their lives to uphold a view of war that attempts to make it what it isn't, nice.

11/05/2006 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre said...

Oh and not sure why you use "purport" in your sentence about whether torture works or not. That is beyond argument. It works. And works means more than simply getting information. It also works to insure compliance and that is a worthwhile goal.

11/05/2006 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Oh and not sure why you use "purport" in your sentence about whether torture works or not. That is beyond argument. It works. And works means more than simply getting information. It also works to insure compliance and that is a worthwhile goal.

John McCain says torture doesn't work, and he should know. I want my America to live by certain moral principles. There are some things civilized people will not do. Perhaps on Tuesday we can start to get that America back again.

11/05/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

We are having a debate on torture because of the torture that has been done to plain speaking. Words are so distorted they have no meaning and we think in words or images. Distort the words, and you distort the images.

Torture is being drawn and quartered. That means having your belly sliced open, your intestines pulled out and your body severed by an expert who will keep you alive while it is being down.

Rough coercive interrogation is not torture and save the pablum about it not working. That is simply horsehit, it works in spades. Grow up or give it up.

11/05/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

John McCain has his own private devils to deal with over his ordeal. None of us can truly know what that is. But the injustice and harm done to one man is irrelevant in making decisions that can affect the survival of millions.

11/05/2006 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Ash,

You said "Yet, the reality of it is we are no longer law abiding good people once we start doing evil things on people we believe are bad....Does limiting the use of these methods to non-US citizens somehow nullify the depravity of their use? Once you accept this method as 'useful' why not apply it to anyone suspected of any crime?"

Then, it is your position that we surrender to the caliphate and Sharia Law?

Also, you seem to confuse due process (Amendment 5) with the Executive warfighting powers (Article 2). Are you saying that all warfighting must be conducted through the looking glass of due process? Or are you saying we are not now fighting a war?

I would also like to know if you believe a government to be legitimate if it does not protect it's people.

11/05/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Sammy Small,

Thank you for your service, sir. The guy who told me about waterboarding in E&E training was a Navy pilot flying FAC missions in small planes over Vietnam in the Sixties. His long-ago description exactly matched the recent video of the technique. He wasn't a braggart, and he had no reason to kid me.

11/05/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Rough coercive interrogation is not torture and save the pablum about it not working. That is simply horsehit, it works in spades. Grow up or give it up.

There is a man who died in CIA custody after suffering what they call a "Palestinian hanging"...a form of crucifixion that made me sick to even read about. Don't tell me that this kind of treatment is just "coercive interrogation", that is another sick military malapropism. This is not the kind of America I want to live in.

11/05/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

2164th said...

Rough coercive interrogation is not torture and save the pablum about it not working. That is simply horsehit, it works in spades. Grow up or give it up.

Funny, we called it torture in WWII. In 1947 we sentenced a Jap soldier to 15 years of hard labor, back when hard labor actually meant what is says, for waterboarding an American POW. I've no problem with torturing Jihadi, for lets' be honest that is what it is, the dilemma lays in foolishly making these covert activities public or trying to (re)integrate the interrogated into a constitutional or militarily legal order.

That quandry is why our best allies in terror were and will be the Arabic dictatorships that can do these deeds for us. After giving up this democracy fantasy we're going to have to relearn the hard lessons of their value all over again.

Teresita said...
This is not the kind of America I want to live in.

What touching naivete. I'm guessing you were born long enough after Vietnam to never learn about Operation Phoenix, or the advanced interrogation techniques we taught for years at various "School of the Americas" (Panama or Ft. Benning). Toture has long been part of our arsenal, that isn't going to change. The idiocy of the Bush regime lay in publicizing the captures of HVT (who obviously needed to be tortured) for propaganda purposes.

11/05/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Hey, if there's a nuke ticking away in a Denver warehouse, please let 2164 handle the interrogations--not Ash or Teresita. OK?

11/05/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

In fact, please keep them totally out of the loop, don't even let them anywhere near the war-fighters, ok? The positions just can't be occupied by placeholders, it'll be the end of us, in time.

11/05/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

And what about the interrogators? They are doing what few of us would want to do, getting life-saving (and hopefully in the fullness of time, war-winning) information out of terrorists.

For that, for so sacrificing their own innocence in our behalf, we should simultaneously benefit from their efforts, and condemn them for them?

11/05/2006 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

This past summer I had a near death experience riding one of the super roller coasters.

When I was younger this stuff was fun. I thought it would be fun again. It wasn't.

But the kids around me screamed and talked non stop when the ride ended.

Was that torture? I thought so. The kids didn't think so.

Its not what you say. Its how you say it. I guess.

Seems to me there's a terrible confusion of torture with humiliation and even, discomfort.

11/05/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

"John McCain says that torture does not work."

Torture intended to get someone to renounce their country, religion, or favorite coffee does not work. And that is what they wanted from John McCain. They did not need to know how many aircraft carriers we had, where they were at, how many airplanes the USS Enterprise carried, or that to fly an A-4 you pull back to go up and pull back a lot more to come down fast. They knew all that.

In contrast the Vietnam "survival" rate of USN and USAF radar intercept officers and electronic warfare personnel shot down was remarkably low - even though they generally were in a better position to get out of the airplane when it was hit. The reason that they never came back is that they were captured, interrogated - and in some cases shipped to the USSR because they had useful technical information.

In Iraq many bodies are being found with evidence of torture. Now, since grabbing Joe Sunni or Fred Shiite off the street and torturing him to get info on the internal operations of the local bakery or auto repair shop seems rather unlikely, so almost certainly they are doing that for "fun."

Torture for propaganda is useless and for "fun" is pointless. And we should do neither. Nor do we.

Torture for purpose of gaining useful information does work.

11/05/2006 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

And what about the interrogators? They are doing what few of us would want to do, getting life-saving (and hopefully in the fullness of time, war-winning) information out of terrorists.

When you see a good movie, you root for the hero because he stuck to his principles through great adversity. But when we torture our EPWs, we forfeit the right to take glory in our values. We end up rooting for our army against the darkies just because they're the white guys. We stop operating on a human, moral, conceptual level and resort to pure animal, perceptual, territorialism. This is like rooting for the spitball-throwing, bat-corking Yankees just because you're from New York City.

11/05/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Teresita--you're finally catching on. You root for the home team.

If you want a frame, how about the things that would disqualiufy that dictum?

In this case, the enemy has started the war, and has chosen the ground rules. Terror, secret sudden terror attacks, are the ground rules.

So, when we adjust our lineup, set the batting order, blah blah, we're just trying to play the game.

11/05/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Would you cut off a finger to save an arm? Most would.

A thought experiment. A prisoner is strapped to a waterboard. You control the water. There is a 25% chance that the prisoner has information that could prevent the deaths of 10 American soldiers. Would you pour the water? I would.

11/05/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

And, what's with the "darkie" racial stuff? How does it figure in? Are you parroting the old KGB line, that white people like to kill colored people? Hey, I'm white, and I hate crappy white people just as easily as I hate crappy colored people.

11/05/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Teresita,

We are animals, and barbaric, but not all the time, but almost always when survival is at stake.

In a life and death struggle, if you need to bite your opponents finger off, you do it. If you can gouge his eye out, you do it. If you can stick your shiv up under his sternum, you do it.

I didn't make the rules.

Torture is morally required is such struggles with one caveat. We'd need to have high confidence in our assumptions that the prisoner has high value infomation, that we can extract it, and that the information will save American lives.

11/05/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Teresita,

We are animals, and barbaric, but not all the time, but almost always when survival is at stake.

In a life and death struggle, if you need to bite your opponents finger off, you do it. If you can gouge his eye out, you do it. If you can stick your shiv up under his sternum, you do it.

I didn't make the rules.

Torture is morally required is such struggles with one caveat. We'd need to have high confidence in our assumptions that the prisoner has high value infomation, that we can extract it, and that the information will save American lives.

11/05/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

In this case, the enemy has started the war, and has chosen the ground rules. Terror, secret sudden terror attacks, are the ground rules.

Not in this case. We took out the Taliban for sheltering al-Qaeda, who started the war. Then Bush shifted most of our assets over to an invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9-11, and is running the operations at such a low level the conflict is guaranteed to keep going while the no-bid contracts pay out. So when we abandon our values and torture people in Iraq, the information we get is useless, because even if it could be used to quickly terminate the conflict, then other contractors besides Halliburton will demand to bid for the government's largesse and that isn't in the script. And neither is sending in 500,000 troops to finish the job in three days like in Gulf I.

11/05/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Does torture work? I honestly don't know. Intuitively it seems that it would work but intuition doesn't really shed much light on the situtation. The problems with trying to move beyond an intuitive assessment are wide and varied. Ideally one would set up a scientific study with the use of control groups ect. but the ethical problems prevent this from occuring. It is really a moot point though.

Let's assume it works. Why not use it as a standard interrogation technique for anyone whom we want information from? Lets say Buddy was picked up by the cops and they wanted to know if he knew about the local white Klan militia they have been investigating. Why not waterboard Buddy? There is no lasting physical damage so why not? Seriously? Buddy, would you have a problem with being submitted to this form of questioning? If so, why?

How about Buddy's 'example':

Buddy Larsen said...
"Okay, Mahmoud, here's the deal--if you have something worth knowing, we're gonna play rough with you. If you don't have anything worth knowing, we won't get rough. Now, tell us, which is it?"


Mahmoud says, "I don't know anything" and so we waterboard him. What if he really doesn't know anything? The technique is so good, so we're told, and we are assuming its utility, that he'll, what?, maintain the truthfulness of the his denial of knowledge or will he simply give us 'information' to get the damned practise to stop? The technique is so 'uncomfortable' he will do just anything to get it to stop (even if it meant giving up his buddy terrorists, right?) Since we waterboarded him to get that info, and of course we know it is the truth because the technique works..right? We now act on that information and bring in the folks he just gave up and waterboard them. On and on we go pursuing the 'truth' as gleaned from our waterboarding.

There are two fundamental assumptions involved in the defence of torture. The first is that the person being tortured hs the information we desire and that torturing that person will reveal it. None of your defenses address the very real problem that we don't know the person knows what we want to know and we don't know that the subsequent information we get is actually the truth. We also assume that the persons being tortured are guilty of being our enemies which begs the question, and I've yet to see anyone here address the question posed by another poster in a past thread (I wish I could remember who it was but...)

What about the innocent storekeeper living next a person of interest. Do we torture that storekeeper to get the information we desire of the comings and goings of the third party? Does the potential value of the information trump the 'innocence' of the person being tortured?

11/05/2006 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

2164th wrote:

"C-4 is a parody of himself when he diminishes his arguments to group guilt and conspiracy theories about the Jews. They are words of a fool not thoughts of a wise man"

Are you prepared to say the same about those who comdemn all of Islam?

11/05/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

terisita, if that's all the trust you have in the nation--well, I'm just glad I don't share your philosophy. It must be hellish. If I were you, and thought that Halliburton was the meaning of the war, I'd've long since quit writing on blogs and gone underground, to find some way to kill the sonsabitches.

Ash, congrats on glomming onto the complications.

The "complications" are dramatic and real, and are the reason your country has spend 230 years building the sort of military institution it--almost uniquely--has.

A military institution that, in conjunction with our free press, we can confidently let be operated by trained specialists whom you know to be patriotitic, keenly smart, well-educated, selfless, servants of the national interest.

What exactly are you going to add, and what exactly are you going to subtract, given the power to do so?

11/05/2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Your basic assumption, Ash, is that the military lacks the line-officer leadership to properly conduct this war, and that we--or someone for sure--would be better off with a coterie of Ash-like apparatchiks attached--like soviet political-officers--to every unit, clipboards in hand, to arrange penalties for everyone and everything they decide is politically incorrect.

11/05/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

I would subtract the recent moves to institutionalize torture, secret prisons, and indefinite detentions. by opening this door we have ended up with a multitude of abuses that has given a view of our nation being no different then the Soviets, Chinese or many of the Arab governments, to name only a few governments who ware willing to pursue unethical means to advance their selfish goals. We have forfeited the moral high ground which you so cherish. We have become no better then the rest and now that we are invading an occupying foreign lands we have little of merit to project.

By the way, there is no nuke ticking away in Denver so why is it you think we should torture?

11/05/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

abu-gharib is just one example that suggests we don't have the "line officer leadership". In fact the "line" seems to extend right up to the very top, to Bush himself, with his consistent support for Guantanamo

11/05/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash,

There is no moral high ground in geopolitics. Only national interest.

But let's pretend that we somehow ceded it. To whom? The French?

Do you suppose the residents of Dresden were doing fine calculations about the moral standing of Britain and America in 1945? Do you suppose the bomber crews gave a hang?

Sanctimonious clap trap is fine in peace time.

11/05/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Old Dad,

Many a tyrant has used national security as an excuse to act poorly. In your opinion are we waging an aggressive war in Iraq to pursue our national interests? Is it really access to oil that drives our military aggression? Are you suggesting that we suspend ethical behavior in order to pursue our national interest?

11/05/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

And, Ash, your moral equivalency (Are you prepared to say the same about those who comdemn all of Islam?) may not always be so safely academic.

C4 rightly gets slammed for his non-sequiturs (fretting about the Jews in the ACLU, but not the Catholics or Unitarians, for example) and you have to match non-sequiturs by comparing anti-Judaism to anti-Islamism?

Mind game: Choose your next-door neighbors, a family of jihadis, or a family of Jews?

How prepared would you be to equivocate if the choice was real?

Do you think it could never be?

11/05/2006 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

The Denver nuke was a hypothetical, in response to your own habitual use of them to describe the calamity of being.

11/05/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Old Dad said...
Ash,

There is no moral high ground in geopolitics. Only national interest.


Here, here! This is a lesson that will be painfully relearned now the neoconservatism is dead.

11/05/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash,

No I'm not suggesting that we behave badly or unethically. Contra Chomsky, and apparently you, America has a blemished but relatively noble ethical record.

I'm suggestng that moral calculations change dramatically in war time. Institutions and conventions that function perfectly well in peace time become virtually meaningless in war.

Take "just war theory." Much as I admire it, it is irrelevant when the bullets fly. Rules of Engagement are important and necessary, but when they are poorly drawn, they get people killed. Same goes with torture rules.

When you are fighting a brutal and ruthless enemy, the rules of civil society are useless and will get you killed.

11/05/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

recon, surely ethical behavior has some bearing on our actions in the geopolitical arena. Do you believe that the only reason stopping US from committing genocide is strategy? Is the only thing holding US back from nuking the ME is concern about Soviet retaliation? Even in war, and especially in war of choice, we have to live with our actions the day after.

11/05/2006 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash,

We may be tracking. You've got to live to make any sense out of war at all.

Are there fates worse than death? Sure I suppose, but when you're defending yourself, they'd be damn hard to come up with.

11/05/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is immoral to say "BOO" and scare the crap out of a human being. It must never be done under any circumstance.

11/05/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Let's do another hypothetical, Ash. You learn that yesterday a bomb was set to go off under your desk, but that the feds found it & disarmed it due to having waterboarded the bomber. are you relieved, or would you prefer to have been blown to pieces with your platitudes intact?

Not sure? Then make it not your office but your child's classroom, or your mom & dad's house.

All 40,000 victims of Islamic terrorists (since the 70s, and not counting OIF) had families and friends, too.

11/05/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Buddy,

the hypothetical you propose is the worn out old standard one. It is a tautology, it is true because it is defined to be true. The basic definitions yielding the conclusions are:

1. sacrificing 1 to save more then 1 is good.

2. torturing the 1 will yield the information to save more then 1

therefore is it good to torture.


old dad,

You're suggesting that it is do or die, that we've been attacked and if we don't defend ourselves we shall die. We are currently involved in a war of aggression. We invaded and occupied Iraq. We are not involved in total war, our existential existence is not at risk. We do not need to target civilians, use nuclear weapons, nor torture people to prosecute this war of choice.

11/05/2006 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

OT but anyone interested in seeing real real Democratic hypocrisy from Barack Obama. check this out and please pass it on.

11/05/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

cedarford, when you write, you write as if all Jews are being subjected to your criticisms, as opposed to the subsets you 'really' mean. Similarily, when when many speak of muslims they are really meaning just a subset of muslims and not all who follow the faith (though our buddy Allen has explicitly stated that all of Islam is bad). The problem is that in using language this way the attributes of the subsets are applied to the whole. It is basically being lazy to say that all Jews are 'x' when you really mean that Zionists or Jewish progressives are 'x'.

11/05/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Ash chastised me:

"Are you prepared to say the same about those who comdemn all of Islam?"

I will guarantee you that if a renegade cult of Jews, decided to take on the planet and did what the jihadis are doing, they would meet their end at the hands of Massad. The same with Catholics. I will change my tune when Muslims go from door to door and expose and kill the vermin amongst them.

I have no problem with the concept of distinguishing between right and wrong, neither should you Ash.

11/05/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

He makes political proclaimations that torture doesn't work in contravention of his own experience.

After McCain was tortured, he was taken to an interrogation room and ordered to sign a document confessing to war crimes. "I signed it," he recalled. "It was in their language, and spoke about black crimes, and other generalities."

Oh yeah, torture works real good. And this administration wants to use it to get the poor farmer schmucks sold to them by their personal enemies in Afghanistan to confess to elaborate dirty bomb plots by signing confessions in English they can't even read.

11/05/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash,

Clearly, we're talking about torture in context of the current war, but you're changing gears it seems.

Is torture never morally justifiable, or only under the current circumstance? It's clear that you oppose the OIF, but do you oppose torture? Should we torture in Afghanistan?

11/05/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

old dad, I oppose torture. I don't think we should use it. I don't think the circumstances warrant its use.

11/05/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ash,

Do you oppose torture in every circumstance?

11/05/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Coach Mark said...

My opinion is quite simple. If you need info fast for the purpose saving lives, aka disrupting a plot, and this is the most effective method than do it.

If you Democrats out there aren't willing to do what's necessary to protect the citizens of this country because it makes you feel uncomfortable then you have absolutely no business being responsible for the safety of my family.

11/05/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I trust our side- its mission, sensibilities and deeds. But we all know we’re not perfect. Some think it’s better to give our enemy undeserved advantages in order to be more sporting, fair, humane and moral, even though he accords us naught. These preeners and saints who insist on "no torture" and who define it as most forms of pain and humiliation would prolong hostilities and maybe sacrifice us all.

The rest of us believe it’s better to be merely good and alive, which actually may be more “perfect” than being better and dead at the hand of medievalist mass murderers and oppressors, but who knows? All we can know for sure is that our enemy is lucky our virtuous dissenters think the way they do, and that our dissenters are really fortunate the rest of us think the way we do, because they get to posture while others of us pay.

That's some kind of heaven our fastidiously conscientious have set up for themselves, seemingly somewhere in the ninth ring down below. But who can be sure even about that? Maybe our higher purpose is to self-annihilate on principle. On not succumbing to the human instinct of self-preservation.

11/05/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Well, that's it, really, Catherine. Original sin. The instinct for self-preservation, in everybody but one's own sphere, is (potentially) evil, from our own pov.

So, given that, what do we do?

Accept our sinful natures, and do our best--a lifelong failing project--to rise to sinlessness?

Or, go the other way, and deny ourselves our humanity (or at least, since we can't really "do" that, strike poses that let us feel superior to whomever isn't nuanced enough to pose)?

11/05/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, Buddy. And we strive (futilely) toward sinlessness while alive, sometimes choosing to die, but that choice should be freely made and not imposed by others who would martyr us for their beliefs.

May I add that, while the West, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslim apostates are fighting for survival of their people and civilizations, the Islamists kill and terrorize for dominion over others. Big difference, yes?

11/05/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

old dad,
I can't think of a case where it is warranted other then in the idealized case as articulated by buddy in this thread. It definitely should not be something embraced as legitimate technique by the government of the USA.

11/05/2006 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

The New York Times usually favors making information public. Indeed, twice in the past two years it has published details about eavesdropping and finance-tracking efforts by the U.S. government, two of the most effective and most closely guarded programs in the war on terror.

The Times stubbornly defended that reporting even after government officials said the articles had done significant damage to national security. No matter, countered the Times, the public has a right to know.


New York Times

11/05/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

RCM,
based on this:

"Rough house? Straight up.

If we can use it as a training aid to prepare us for capture, we sure as Hell can use it for the maggots we're fighting in the Middle East."

You need to get with the program. Your remarks are very offensive to th weeenie wing of the BC.

11/05/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, you say you can't think of any plots broken by torture. Well, you should do some reading. Just working backwards from the latest, the London airlines plot--ten jumbo jets to be brought down ovwer our cities--was broken in Pakistan--by torture. So, what you wanna do, bless the Pakis are curse them? If the latter, then you are not a serious person on this subject.

Little children were on those flights, too, not just capitalist pigs.

As far as my "tautology" upthread, why don't you try rephrasing it in the negative, and see if your position makes any sense.

11/05/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Those putting forth the notion torture only coerces bogus information don't understand interrogation and intelligence.

Interrogators and intelligence don't rely on one source. IIRC it was in a Clint Eastwood WWII movie (name escapes me Iron Maiden sang a song about it) where one of his colleagues was injured and was going to be captured. So, the leader fed him bogus information knowing full well he would tell what he knew.

Now, interrogators (unless they are working under a ticking bomb scenario) are not so much trying to crack a person for one specific piece of information but they are trying to build a corpus of information. What one person knows is pieces of the puzzle. They know full well some of the info they will get is going to be bogus for any of the following reasons:
1.) The person was misled by his superiors.
2.) The person was misled by rumor & gossip.
3.) The person is saying anything just so can stop the Nine Inch Nails (I would too) music.
4.) The person is playing games with his interrogators and intentionally misleading.

Another possibility is the information is incomplete because of info compartmentalization and "need to know" safeguards.

All of the above does not mean not so nice means of making a person talk is worthless.

Using the basic methods of stress positions, sleep deprivation, sensory overload, sensory underload interrogators put together (given a set of ordinary schlubs) a complete picture of any puzzle (there was a reality show that demonstrated it). However, our troops and intelligence experts are not working against "ordinary schlubs".

11/05/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

no buddy, I didn't say I couldn't think of any plots broken by torture, rather, I said I can't think of any situations other then your idealized version where we should institutionalize the practise of torture.

11/05/2006 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

And claiming a philosophical principle "except in the idealized case" is absurdist. Idealization illuminates a principle--it's that messy real world that obscures same.

Why would waterboarding be ok to find the bomb under your desk--the "idealized case"--but be wrong in order to stop the London Plot?

Is it due to your distance from the scene of the carnage? What the hell sort of Principle is that?

11/05/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the lofty Principle that others should die for one's principles, as long as they're not immediate family.

11/05/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

the only possible 'other' explanation for your position is, that, depending on whether or not the torture proved to've saved lives, it is ok or not ok.

So the judgement must always be made in hindsight.

So, what you've said, through these many long interminable threads on this topic is basically, "the US military should have a crystal ball".

11/05/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

wrong buddy,

my position is that the US government should not sanction torture by the military or any other organization under its control. We should treat the prisoners we capture as we think others should treat our captured personnel, not as they treat our prisoners but as we think they should. do you sanction the use of torture on US personnel?

11/05/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

So, it's okay for the Pakis to've waterboarded some terrorist and thereby saved those ten jumbos, 5,000 lives, and the western financial markets, but if the USA had had the guy, we should have just accepted the catastrophe, and then tried to rebuild, like we did after the attack on lower Manhattan?

What Principle makes it ok for the Pakis to do the dirty work, but not us?

The Principle of, we're finer people than the allies who saved us?

That's a weird Principle--I don't think it's sound.

11/05/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Right, Ian--easy to lapse into misleading terminology, just lazy keyboarding on my part--I felt like I should be at least adding "quotes" every time I used the word.

rcm, right on that impeached, or worse. The Sullivans and Ashes will go into hyper-spin mode, and property values anywhere near the Gray Lady of the Leaks, the NYT's building, will go into collapse--and it won't be from fear of terrorists, it'll be from fear of enraged citizens.

11/05/2006 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Censoring Iraq Why are there so few reporters with American troops in combat? Don't blame the media. by Michael Yon


Michael on C-Span's Washington Journal

One Hour on the Military and the Media, linked at Michael Yon's site.

11/06/2006 03:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"We could easily lose two wars at the same time, I can assure you"

11/06/2006 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Weekly Standard:

"Mark this on your calendar: Spring of 2007 will be a bloodbath in Afghanistan for NATO forces. Our British, Canadian, Australian, Dutch, and other allies will be slaughtered in Afghanistan if they dare step off base in the southern provinces, and nobody is screaming at the tops of their media-lungs about the impending disaster.

I would not be surprised to see a NATO base overrun in Afghanistan in 2007 with all the soldiers killed or captured.
And when it happens, how many will claim they had no idea it was so bad and blame the media for failing to raise the alarm?
Here it is:
WARNING! Troops in Afghanistan are facing slaughter in 2007!
"

11/06/2006 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Catherine said...
"The rest of us believe it’s better to be merely good and alive, which actually may be more “perfect” than being better and dead at the hand of medievalist mass murderers and oppressors, but who knows?

All we can know for sure is that our enemy is lucky our virtuous dissenters think the way they do, and that our dissenters are really fortunate the rest of us think the way we do, because they get to posture while others of us pay.
"
---
Amen

11/06/2006 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

On civilian cities, no less, all after we still hadn't washed the acrid smell of Dresden out of our nostrils or used flame throwers on 20,000 at Iwo.

Iwo wasn't a civilian city, it was a giant pillbox standing between Saipan and the mainland of Japan.

But no, we could never be caught dead waterboarding someone. That's too "inhumane."

It's not inhumane, it's very human, in fact, to be cruel. But anyone who mistreats helpless prisoners has a yellow streak a mile long. I admire cultures which have the strength to treat even their captured enemies with compassion. Unfortunately, America is not one of them, at least not right now. Maybe after Nov. 7.

11/06/2006 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

America cannot defeat an external enemy while an enemy within is trying to cripple our efforts against radical Islam with "pussifying and paralyzing" litigation.

1) Dissent is not enemy activity, it is American activity. Quite patriotic, in fact. Who remembers, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

2) Concerning civil rights litigation, last I heard, we were still a nation operating under a Constitution, not the Holy Bible.

11/06/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

"Do people honestly think that we always treated german and japanese soldiers 'nicely' in WWII?"

"I don't care what you've done in the past. Do good now, and you are good." -- Xena of Amphipolis in "Warrior...Princess...Tramp"

11/06/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

It's the lofty Principle that others should die for one's principles, as long as they're not immediate family.

Everyone dies. But if you show cruelty to helpless prisoners in your care, death will be the least of your worries.

Matthew 25:44-46: Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

11/06/2006 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Ash,

Then, it is your position that we surrender to the caliphate and Sharia Law?

11/06/2006 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

cedarford wrote:

"Anyone on the Hard Left should realize this isn't a game - if attacks as bad as RCM says happen - serious repercussions await those that crippled the country's defenses."

sure, but the fact that an attack COULD happen shouldn't be used to suspend those rights.

Cedarford, when you write a line such as "The ACLU Jews would have you believe that war is ultimately a matter of giving the 'due process' enemy combatants deserve in US courts" The implication is not that the ACLU would have us believe, but rather only the Jews in the ACLU would have us believe. The implication then becomes it is not the ACLU's policies that are bad but only the Jewish portion of it.

11/06/2006 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

3case, of course not. Not torturing people in no way admits defeat. Do you really think we are so weak that we won't survive, that we will surrender to the Caliphate and Sharia Law if we don't torture people?

11/06/2006 07:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not inhumane, it's very human, in fact, to be cruel.

They’re awfully close, but I think you mean “inhuman” in this case, as in it’s inhuman to characterize our captured terrorist-sadist sworn enemies who have info regarding plans and plots to murder more of our soldiers and civilians as “helpless prisoners.”

“Inhumane” is someone foisting lefty sophomoric hyperbole onto innocent readers who must suffer argument such as “dissent is patriotic," Welch's "have you no sense of decency” (since repudiated), and “last I heard, we were still a nation operating under a Constitution, not the Holy Bible.”

11/06/2006 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

“Inhumane” is someone foisting lefty sophomoric hyperbole onto innocent readers who must suffer argument such as “dissent is patriotic,"

I suppose that makes Thomas Jefferson a sophomoric lefty:

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

Welch's "have you no sense of decency” (since repudiated)

I wonder how one goes about repudiating a call to humanity and a sense of shame for wrongdoing.

and “last I heard, we were still a nation operating under a Constitution, not the Holy Bible.”

I realize the bible lets you flog people and stuff, but our founding document still says, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

11/06/2006 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

not to drill off into an aside, but there is agreement among those who will admit it, that the KGB's own post-USSR release of documents vindicted, utterly vindicated, old Tailgunner Joe.

The meaning of "Have you no decency?" has turned out to be "Will you not quit pointing out that our government and academy are being infiltrated by Communists?"

George Clooney movies to the contrary, it's the truth, you could look it up.

11/06/2006 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear T,

1. The Jefferson quote appears to be
misattributed
and very likely the nostrum of a lefty dissenter in the 90s… that’s the 1990s, Teresita. But Jefferson is documented to have said, "Political dissension is doubtless a less evil than the lethargy of despotism: but still it is a great evil, and it would be as worthy the efforts of the patriot as of the philosopher, to exclude it's influence if possible, from social life.”

2. McCarthy was basically right about communist infiltration of our government. Google it, if you haven’t heard about this as has everyone else.

3. Our founding document is for US citizens, not Islamic “nationals” and terrorists waging war against America. Why do you keep bringing up the Bible, fer chrissakes?

Woops, I see Buddy is quicker on the draw.

11/06/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

yep, Catherine, "McCarthyism" turns out to mean "left-wing smear of anyone who speaks truth about Communism".

11/06/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Buddy and Catherine: My thoughts exactly in regards to Sen McCarthy, but I was going to simply suggest that she read "Treason" by Ann Colter, which explains what was going on in a great deal of convincing detail. Including the attacks by Democrats on one of the Senator's staff - an alleged homosexual - based on his sexual preferences.

You, know, folks, I am not normally one to quote or refer to movies - at least not seriously - but I think a film from 1952 shows the thought process that all of us in "the West" are going through. The film is "Thunder in the East" and it stars Alan Ladd and a few other lesser known actors. It takes place in a remote province of India just after the country gained independance.

Watch that film if you get the chance. I have seen it perhaps twice. Wish I had kept a copy.

At least, I hope we are going through that same thought process as the folks in the film. The last 5 min of the film shows where we are headed - at both worst and best - I hope.

11/06/2006 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should've read your post better, T. Apologies, since TJ may have said the particular quote you cite.

It's just that your saying dissent is "an American activity" and that "dissent is patriotic" are worrisome and misattributed cliches that youngsters soliciting monies for causes around here inevitably get around to spouting on people's doorsteps. Triggered too quick a response on my part.

Those kids are really young and think they're being daring rebels. You, too?

11/06/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Teresita, try to get the argument right before you start screaming. Iwo Jima (where my father was) is an island not a city. The two cities that were bombed are Hiroshima on the Island of Honshu and Nagasaki on the island of Kyushu. Iwo could have been considered a city, only for the maze of tunnels that were carved into the rock.

BTW, "But anyone who mistreats helpless prisoners has a yellow streak a mile long." Does that include the folks that we're fighting against, who cut off genitals as a subtle message that we haven't reached the status of human yet?

11/06/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

This is related to the question "How did they do it to us?" between 1945 and 1960.

(and, thanks for the film tip--I'll see if Netflix has it)

As is obvious by the tremendous and sustained coverage--especially by Hollywood--of "McCarthyism", they used 'ridicule' in place of argument.

And America bit; hook, line, and sinker.

Out-byzantined by the Byzantines.

11/06/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Teresita, try to get the argument right before you start screaming. Iwo Jima (where my father was) is an island not a city.

I didn't call it a city, I called it a pillbox between Saipan and the Mainland of Japan, which makes it, ipso facto, an island. Please check your attributions.

11/06/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Buddy:

By the way, the release of the Venona intercepts and opening of the KGB archives did not "vindicate" Senator McCarthy.

To the contrary - if anything, they showed he was far too timid in his accusations.

11/06/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

ha--right--point taken, rwe.

11/06/2006 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Does that include the folks that we're fighting against, who cut off genitals as a subtle message that we haven't reached the status of human yet?

Every time I state my point of view that we should not torture prisoners or deliberatly target non-combatants, I get a reply that says, "What about the Bataan Death March or the Hanoi Hilton" and it really exasperates me. We cannot control what other people do, but we can set policy for American forces. The irony is that the very same Commander-in-Chief who appeals to Jesus as his source of morality is ignoring the teaching of Christ to Do good to those who do good to you, and do good to those who do bad to you, that good may abound.

11/06/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Remember folks,
Terrorita works for the US Government.
One more enemy within on the Feds Payroll.
But diverse, we are.
...and "compassionate."

11/06/2006 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T.,

In some posts, you imply that Repuglicans are fascist theocrats who aren't a whole lot different than Islamists and also remind us rubes that we live under a Constitution, “not the Holy Bible.”

But, in your last comment, you criticize Bush and our secular national defense policy on grounds of WWJD.

In some posts you throw red meat out to the go get 'em, show no mercy hawks, and in others you're worried for the "helpless prisoners" we take in war who are subject to a terrible torture policy, as you see it.

Your postions are never consistent from day to day. Is this just a sport to you?

11/06/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I wonder the same thing. It's like two completely different posters.

11/06/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Anyway, since the "WWJD?" question has been asked, let's play mind games, and join the two frames, the "ticking bomb" question, and the "WWJD?" question.

Imagine that a Roman confronts Jesus, and says "Unless you smite me down, I shall give orders to have all of Nazareth slain."

Forgive the bad analogy, my imagination fails me. There must be a better set-up than the above.

11/06/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

I wonder the same thing. It's like two completely different posters.

That's not fair, buddy. A person can be 100% in favor of taking the battle to enemy combatants on the field (indeed, Bush and Rummy are falling down in that job, only 10% of the forces in the theater go on patrol every night) while being 100% opposed to taking battle to the wounded, to captives, to the sick, to civilians, and other non-combatants. But all I get is fascist crap about how it's okay to burn up civilians and torture people because we might stop a ticking dirty bomb or some other such unlikely scenario. We're not the Roman Empire. But it doesn't matter to me anymore, I'm taking this opportunity to get the hell out of the Belmont Club and the Elephant Bar.

11/06/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Teresita,

I find there is a pining for the simpler ways of WWII where it was all out war and there was little regret of the all out war it was. Dresden, yeah it was war, Hiroshama yeah better them than us.

Now, before I get heaped on for the last comments I have no problem with what happened. First off what is one going to do? Secondly, does anyone think WWII was the ideal situation?

All out war is a failure of politicians, diplomats, and warriors. If Neville Chamberlain and Daladier were better diplomats and warriors then they would have had a little war instead of an all out conflagration. The end of WWII had a good and just outcome, but that outcome could have been had more cheaply.

I know I know, W and his administration are not fighting. Horsestuff. The problem is people forget conflict (other than all out war which I hope most of us want to avoid) involves much more than killing.

The only war the left will support is one of survival, i.e. an all out war. Do we want that?

However, Teresita, waterboarding is not torture it is one hell of a scare and no more.

11/06/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

teresita, sorry, i've been away from the computer--but your last post was touching, and you are right, we need to have hearts, as much heart as the circumstances will allow us, without sending us to defeat--defeat, which is heartless in a whole new way, and to one's own, to boot.

But I regret hurting your feelings, and apologize for doing so. I blame Bush for my cruse ways.

(c'mon, smile!)

11/07/2006 03:01:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

"crude" ways. I mispelled due to confusion--being a charter member of the Blanco County Tom Cruise fan club.

11/07/2006 03:04:00 AM  
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9/26/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Want proof torture works?
First let's look at the organization of terrorists groups currently set up in the US.

At the lowest level you have the Mujahideen operative, he is part of a cell, that cell is autonomous and only has contact to one superior Mujahideen agent. These cells can range from one agent to a multitude of agents, usually small in number to prevent a single breach in one agent's cover bringing the rest down.

It's all about damage control.
If you capture one Mujahideen operative and torture him you'll likely only end up catching 5 other cell members. It's hard enough to find a cell as it is, catching one cell is no major, or even minor, victory.

Basically what you're looking at is a cell with the leader only being so because he's the one that takes the phone call from their superior agent. That superior agent is just a proxy to the area leader. The area leader being the Mujahideen agent that gets the call from one such as Osama bin Laden. Normally though there's a few added proxies as needed, the more long term and major the mission the more proxies there are.

Why is it organized like that? As I said, it's to prevent one agent's capture bringing down more than one cell. Even further, if on some stroke of luck, you captured the superior of a proxy leader you brought down the area leader of the cells in an area the size of the mid west, he won't be able to tell you about the cells in the north east.

3/09/2008 12:20:00 PM  

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