Letters to the Editor

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TORTURE: Let’s end the debate over legality

Letter by Edgar L. Braun, Graham on May 9, 2011 at 10:14 am with 101 Comments »
May 9, 2011 10:14 am

I have read thousands of articles and viewed hundreds of videos concerning the legality of torture. I personally find it immoral and in violation of human rights and the Geneva Conventions.

If torture is illegal and violates international law, how come no one has been investigated, prosecuted and tried in a court of law for these actions?

I think it’s time to be honest with our citizens. It’s either legal or illegal; once and for all let’s end the debate.

Leave a comment Comments → 101
  1. beerBoy says:

    It’s either legal or illegal; once and for all let’s end the debate.

    Ummm…..doesn’t doesn’t the whole system of justice hinge upon debates about policy and precedents?

  2. aislander says:

    …and then there is the problem of defining torture. And do you follow the actual wording of the Geneva Convention (something about uniformed combatants…) or the novel PC extrapolation?

  3. fbergford says:

    Well if the enemy we are fighting today (the taliban, al quaeda) wore uniforms, adhered to the Geneva Conventions and laws of war then yeah, I’d have no problem. But they don’t wear unifroms, they shoot at anything with a red cross or cresecent moon, they blow up innocent civilians, they use those same civilians as human shields, they don’t adhere to the POW treatment under the Genevea Convention, they like to chop off heads and film it, release it to the public to spread more fear and terror…pretty much what I’m saying is they don’t play by our rules when it comes to fighting! So we can pretty much toss those out the window and play by there’s! War is not pretty, it’s not glamorous, it’s not sexy and there are things that people do that are ugly. So my suggestion to you is to do what the majority of Americans do, forget about it, pretend that nothing is going on, cover your ears when someone talks about war and live in your little safe bubble and let those on the front lines decide how to fight!

  4. The debate was settled in the 1940’s, the US doesn’t torture, we are better than that.
    But then along came the neocons and their new brand of hate and their little cowboy gw.

  5. fbergford says:

    xt8 we’ve always tortured to get information…that’s how it’s done! But if it makes you feel better at night thinking otherwise suit yourself!

  6. fbergford,

    The Geneva Convention requires that we follow it even if we’re fighting someone who didn’t: “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”

    The Geneva Convention bans “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”.


  7. xtp,

    You’re exactly right. It’s really pretty simple. We all learned the rules when we were growing up:

    Good guys don’t cheat. They don’t lie. And they always – always – play by the rules. Even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s inconvenient. That’s what separates the good guys from the bad guys.

  8. Publico says:

    Bush’s attorney, who teaches law at Berkeley (accompanied by some protest I must add), said torture was OK. President Obama has said that it will not happen on his watch and that is where he stopped. His rationale is to let the past rest and learn from the mistakes. Many of us think he should go further. Maybe next term.

  9. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    Great, the writer doesn’t frame the question and we get expected replies from the moth-to-a-flame types.

    bB and aislander have it right; the question is what is torture. And unless like me, one is satisfied with the guidelines drafted by John Yoo during the GW Bush administration, the debate is not yet settled.

  10. Polago says:

    There are quite a few who are not satisfied with Yoo’s Torture Memos.

  11. I find the very notion of torture unsavory, regardless of the definition. That said, I would gladly rip off the fingernails of anyone who refused to tell me where he was holding one of my grandchildren…or whatever else might be necessary to get the information.

    It is unwise to be philosophical about this subject without asking yourself how far you would go to save the life of your loved one. Just a thought.

  12. aislander says:

    sozo writes: “…I would gladly rip off the fingernails of anyone who refused to tell me where he was holding one of my grandchildren…”

    Indeed. And I would hold personally responsible ANY public official who did not use every available means to prevent a terrorist attack–especially if any of my loved ones were killed or injured–which reminds me of concentric circles of concern.

    In my vision of the reality of human relations, we all (unless we have delusions of grandeur) value those relationships differently, depending on how near or far they exist from ourselves. In order, I value my family, my friends, my community, my state, my nation, and the rest of the world in descending order of concern. It really falls off after “nation,” and it varies with individuals and groups within those circles. So, those idealists who call for us to value all people equally are proposing something that is just as unworkable in the real world as their economic nostrums have proven to be. I’ll leave it to God to evaluate us evenhandedly…

  13. Polago says:

    The question concerns the legality of torture as an information gathering tool.

    We would all defend our families to the death.

  14. aislander says:

    Polago writes: “We would all defend our families to the death.”

    And I would expect my nation to use EVERY conceivable means to defend its citizens. Unless it is too weak to do so…

  15. Roncella says:

    sozo, You once again get to the heart of an issue.

    Any Government agent who would sacrifice the lives of Americans in not pursuing what ever torture method necessary to get the necessary information to save lifes would be guilty of not doing his or her job to the fullest.

  16. fbergford says:

    ehill if that helps you sleep at night go right ahead and think that way! You are gullible if you think torture doesn’t happen!

  17. xtp855 says:

    It looks like we, as a nation, USED to be better than our enemies, but then again we are hearing form the moronic right that voted for the little cowboy that started us down this dangerous path of torture.

  18. Polago says:

    Who do we torture, Roncella? How do we decide who we torture?

  19. xx98411 says:

    We don’t torture Polago, we use Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.

    A few guys hit it when they said we have to define what is and what is not torture.

    Develop a policy as it relates to EIT. Request a legal opinion as it relates to EIT. Further define what are acceptable techniques. Under what conditions are they used. Under what circumstances. Who can perform the EIT and to what extent. Define the limits of the EIT. Who can observe the EIT. What is the classification of the information derived during the EIT. Under what authority is the EIT performed. Must the President authorize the EIT? Can the CIA Director authorize EIT?

    Sorry, talk about in the weeds. But as has been stated before until you define torture the conversation will go in circles.

  20. Polago says:

    Roncella said torture.

    “what ever torture method necessary”

  21. xx98411 says:

    fine, let Roncella defend what was said…

    The policy of the United States government is that we do not torture, we use Enhanced Interrogation Techniques… that is the current policy and has been the policy.

  22. Polago says:

    Roncella doesn’t respond to my questions. He thinks I ask riddles because he doesn’t know how to answer them.

    So, it’s fun to ask.

  23. xx98411 says:

    I wouldn’t answer your “torture” questions either… the premise is wrong…

    I would just do what was done in the 5:09 post… oh wait, I did…

  24. Polago says:

    The premise is wrong? How so?

  25. Polago says:

    It doesn’t matter. Roncella runs away whenever I ask him a question.

  26. “The question concerns the legality of torture as an information gathering tool. ” —

    Well yes, Polago, but the letter writer opened the door to the moral question, and I believe it was Dennis Miller the other night who said he thought it immoral if we do NOT use every means necessary to defend our nation, and in this day and age, that includes securing information to prevent a reprisal of 9/11. I reduced this all down to me being forced into a hideous extreme to protect my family to make the point that our national leaders have been forced to such an extreme to protect their family, the people of the U.S.A.

    As for Bush somehow instigating the idea of torture, xtp, are you even vaguely aware of what goes on around the world? Stuff that HAS gone on since Cain and Abel. Guys who shoot women in the head for talking to men …who chop off hands that steal and circumcise little girls against their will …THEY opened the door to the current state of affairs when they brought their barbarous ways to our shores in 2001. Sadly, when you’re dealing with a snake you have to hiss in a language he will understand. Were that it might be different, but sadly, it isn’t.

    The reason the taking of bin Laden was so vitally important, besides exacting justice, was to remind the barbarians that they awoke a sleeping giant on 9/11, one that doesn’t forget crimes committed against the innocent and unsuspecting. Crimes committed against the family.

    This is not a conventinal war with conventional “gentlemen’s” rules, folks.

  27. bobcat1a says:

    Aislander, “EVERY conceivable means to defend its citizens. Unless it is too weak to do so…”
    Nerve Gas???? Mustard Gas???

    Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/letters/2011/05/09/torture-illegal/#ixzz1Lutj2pOZ

  28. aislander says:

    For defense? Whatever it takes…

  29. aislander says:

    However, in the context of interrogating an enemy with life and death information, nerve and mustard gas WOULD be inappropriate. In the case of barbarians at the gate and no alternatives, OF COURSE I would use either of the above and more…

  30. MadTaxpayer says:

    Well…lets look back at my relatives who survived the German POW camps in WW I, the Germans and Japs in WW II, my Uncle with 54 bayonet wounds from Bataan, the Koreans in Korea, and the Vietman Vet who passed on due to his injuries from the VC after 7 years of torture in the Hanoi Hilton.

    Look at Sen. John McCain. He is still crippled by the kindness of the VC.

    We, the Good Ole U.S. of A is the only Country that truely complies.
    Look at the posh quarters in Gitmo. Give me a break!

  31. beerBoy says:

    The policy of the United States government is that we do not torture, we use Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

    George Orwell was right about newspeak – as long as we don’t call it torture it isn’t torture……

    it was Dennis Miller the other night who said he thought it immoral if we do NOT use every means necessary to defend our nation

    Not sure how a comedian best known for playing mean-spirited characters is now elevated to being an expert on ethics……Of course, if you follow his line of thinking then you have to accept that morality is complete nationalistic.

  32. xx98411 says:

    bb, ipsut, anybody… – tell me what you are willing to do to defend the US from all foreign enemies. Use sozo’s post as a basis – against non-conventional combatants who will not follow traditional rules of war.

    Once you articulate that then you can use that as a basis to begin to define what interrogation techniques you need/are willing to use to obtain information. The Army Field Manual appears to be the standard.

    OK, here goes… I’ll play Al Queda… I am coming to destroy all the you value, you hold dear… blah, blah, blah. Is what is contain in the Army Field Manual all you are going to do to me if we are caught, piece of cake, I’ve trained my Holy Warriors to resist to that level of interrogation. You have limits to what you will do, you have restricted yourself, you cannot break me because I can resist to your self-imposed limits… All my warriors have to do is resist to your self-imposed limits… of which, are known.

    If caught, I will be treated for wounds, I will be fed, I will sleep on a real mattress, I will be given a Holy Quran, an organization (Red Cross/Crescent) will ensure you follow the rules I don’t care about, I will have legal counsel – he will make you follow rules I don’t care about.

    So I am looking at my targets… One of you guys on this board I won’t mess with…

  33. “Use sozo’s post as a basis – against non-conventional combatants who will not follow traditional rules of war.”
    1. The “but dad, all the other kids are doing it” excuse doesn’t work once you’re older than eight.

    2. The Geneva Convention says that the signatory nations are obliged to follow it even when fighting with someone who didn’t sign it or who doesn’t follow it.

    3. The Geneva Convention doesn’t just ban torture. It also bans cruel treatment, degrading treatment, violence to life and person, as well as humiliating and degrading treatment.

    4. If we use torture, it will be used as a recruiting tool, driving thousands more into the waiting arms of the terrorists.

  34. Some of you speak of torture as if it’s used routinely in interrogation situations.

    When I say I accept the need for using EIT, I do so with the understanding that such techniques should only be used in very select situations where those in the know truly believe the information they seek will yield life-saving information–and they should be used only by presidential order.

    I abhor the notion of torture; cannot sit still through a torture scene in a movie.
    That said, I would condone the use of it if all else had failed and I knew that people’s lives were at stake, and again, would resort to it myself to save the lives of my family.

    Re Dennis Miller, I’ve followed his career for years. Yes, he’s a comedian, but he’s also of superior intelligence (love to know his IQ) and he’s outrageously funny if you can follow his subtexting. If Al Franken can be sworn in as a U.S. congressman, Dennis Miller should be president.

    For those who don’t know, he used to live on the left with his H’wood buddies(sort of) until 9/11. Then he woke up.

  35. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    Not sure how a comedian best known for playing mean-spirited characters is now elevated to being an expert on ethics……

    rosie o’donnell, janine garafalo, will farrell, al franken… Of course those… people were never funny in the first place.

  36. xx98411 says:

    Not sure what you are reading into my post with your response ehill. We are fighting against non-combatants in a non-traditional war. Can we at least agree on that.

    1) Not looking for excuses, just trying define and articulate what I (US citizen persona) am willing to accept from my government in its attempt to defend us from all foreign enemies.
    2) Sure does, I (my Al Queda persona) don’t care, have read it and devised a strategy to exploit the restrictions it places on you and your country.
    3) I look forward to the Bennie Hill reruns while I await trial…. Where’s the remote
    4) My Al Queda recruits are telling me they are here because they simply don’t like you and your western ways, they can’t read so they have to rely on some charismatic dude like me to tell me what the Koran says… and I say it’s ok to hate you and all westerners in general. The fact you don’t use torture is an incentive to fight you as I know what you won’t do to me.

    Again you tell me what you won’t do, you keep telling me what rules and conventions you are willing to use to restrict yourselves… not me and my boyz in da sandyhood.

    Please tell me what you are willing to do, how far you are willing to go to defend this exceptional nation?

    I am done with my prayers, now go get me a Pina Colada itch… don’t give that look, it’s against the Geneva Convention… :)

  37. “Then he woke up.” ?????? Are you sure that’s the way it happened?

    I can agree with your “very select situations” scenario, sozo. Interrogators would have to be very certain that the one being “enhanced” actually knows what needs to be known, and that without that information, American lives would certainly be lost, and that the information given up is credible.

    As in your “fingernail” scenario, the perp is refusing to divulge the location of your grand. A bit of coaxing is understandable.

    What we don’t want is a “finger print ‘em then water board ‘em” policy

  38. Turn off the italics, Vox.

  39. xx98411: I’d follow the law. It worked well for years for us. Then for a period of about 7 years we decided to break it, and be just like any tin pot 3rd world country and look the other way. Fortunately for the past 2 1/2 years we have been following this particular law, and ended up catching our target. It must hurt you to have to admit it. Of course you never will publicly, but you know anyway.

  40. Roncella says:

    polago, read sozo’s post concerning torture. She explains it far better than I Could.

    You can’t be so narrow minded not to see that any method necessary should be used in order to save the lifes of innocents in America and the World from these extreme violent Muslim terrorists who want to kill women and children, christians and jews.

    Your answers seem designed to circle an issue to death, but if you get enjoyment from posting that way, go for it..

  41. So, is your answer to my question, Who do we torture? How do we decide who we torture? -Muslim terrorists who want to kill women and children, christians and jews?-

  42. BTW, Roncella, do you read my comments? Did you read where I said:

    “I can agree with your “very select situations” scenario, sozo. Interrogators would have to be very certain that the one being “enhanced” actually knows what needs to be known, and that without that information, American lives would certainly be lost, and that the information given up is credible.”

    Obviously not.

  43. xx98411 says:

    I guess we will go the partisan route… Ok ipsut, there was a period of time that we found bin Laden and being the lawful nation we are he was allowed to live though a push of a button would have ended his life right then and there… I think it credible that his death would have affected the future of Al Queda and it’s missions into the late 1990’s to early 2000’s.

    He did attack the US and we went after him in accordance with the rules of war. Bin Laden like a little girl, went into hiding but the mission to degrade, dismantle al Queda was and is successful.

    “…ended up catching our target.” Please tell me what law we followed when we entered a home, found our way to his bedroom and shot him in the face… help me out here. Why is the UN interested in the details of the mission? Pakistan is a little pissed that we crossed their borders with a military force to kill a person residing in their country. What laws or agreements do you think we violated to get out man?

    What particular law do you refer to we are currently following that the previous administration did not, can you articulate that for us?

    We are not as holy as you like to think we are when it comes to defending this exceptional nation.

  44. xx98411: Silly me, I thought we were discussing torture. If we are and you admit that it is illegal , well then great. The answer to this blog is considered solved. As for invading other countries such as Pakistan, I agree with you. I have been consistent in this regard for 2 1/2 years. President Obama has broken international law just as Bush had with his use of torture. It is not partisan to be truthful. It maybe uncomfortable but not political. I believe we should mind our own business, as well as follow laws we have agreed to previously. If we do not, how are we better than them? What good is our constitution? You see I do not need to help you out. You know that invading Pakistan is illegal as is killing an un armed man, as is torture.

  45. To be honest ipsut, I was not sure what “law” you were referring to. I asked in the response what law you are referring to. Movin’ on…

    You lost me at “…as is torture.”

    Ok, so we are clear… my premise… torture is illegal, water boarding is not torture, the United States does not torture we use Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.

    Again, since we disagree on water boarding = torture, let’s ask an easier question… what procedures are you willing to adhere to as it relates to enemy combatants ( is that name ok for Al Queda prisoner’s)… not to put words in your keyboard… the Army Field Manual?

  46. ehill pontificates – “You’re exactly right. It’s really pretty simple. We all learned the rules when we were growing up:

    Good guys don’t cheat. They don’t lie. And they always – always – play by the rules. Even when it’s inconvenient. Especially when it’s inconvenient. That’s what separates the good guys from the bad guys.”

    So…by your logic…the State Patrol should not be allowed to exceed the speed limit while attempting to catch a speeder?

    The G.C’s were signed right after the Berlin airlift and right before the re-formation( via UN mandate) of our allies Israel.
    Read the types of innocuous “documentation” that are supposed to be adhered to subsequent to capture: mail cards with postage requirements?

    Yeah…Dan Perle had his “mail” sent and received by his (flags in place, borders defined, ranks clearly visible on identifiable uniforms) tally-bonne “hosts”. Sound of red slippers clicking 3 times, “There’s no place like home”.

    Thank you SEAL team 6.

  47. fbergford says:

    Torture…oops I mena “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” I’m all for it as long as you keep in on the DL and don’t have loudmouths demanding it to stop! Think of it this way…

    How do terroists terrorize general populations? They use fear to control you.

    Now how can we put fear into terrorists…by having them fear us by the use of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” once they get caught.

    In order to defeat an enemy you have to think like them….you should go read The Art of War by Sun Tzu

  48. trying to turn off the italics.

    vox – Al Franken is an elected Congressman. Many other pundits – on both sides – have no real credentials to speak on these issues.

  49. “THEY opened the door to the current state of affairs when they brought their barbarous ways to our shores in 2001. Sadly, when you’re dealing with a snake you have to hiss in a language he will understand.”

    So then you agree with me that we USED to be better than our enemys, up until the little cowboy sold you and others on the idea that we had to lower ourselves to their level.
    The difference seems to be that I find that to be a very bad thing and you think it is a good one.

  50. “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”

    Is anyone really fooled by that BS?
    Call it what it is, torture.
    If you have to rename it, you are admiting that it’s wrong.

  51. xx98411 seems to be. Actally I just think he is being partiasan to the extreme, I really doubt he is flooled.

  52. xx98411 says:

    People use the word “torture” in an attempt to obfuscate legitimate techniques (yet to be defined) from illegitimate techniques (eyeball removal/replacement, nail pulling, dislocating shoulders, etc…) in an attempt to paint what they don’t consider legitimate… illegitimate.

    Water boarding, I believe to be is a legitimate technique to use… some of you do not consider it legitimate… OK.

    I thought my question was simple… guess not… how about this one.

    Can someone in the interweb universe please, pretty please provide me with three techniques that they would use to obtain information from an uncooperative enemy combatant who was involved in a plot to… ohh, blow up Disneyland. He was apprehended in Afghanistan. You believe the plot is still active, you don’t want to shut down Disneyland yet.

    Please tell me what you are willing to do to obtain further information that will prevent an active terrorist attack, you have a reasonable belief he knows.

  53. xx98411 says:

    xtp, ipsut… consider this a bipartisan effort, you keep saying it is torture, it is, it is… whatever…

    come on we are in one of Obama’s working group on interrogation…

    You wanna help or just come after me… bring it on…

  54. water boarding is torture. You can gloss it over with new names all you want but as i said, when you have to rename it, you KNOW it’s wrong.

    Torture is torture, no matter what you call it.
    Torture simply does not work, it never has and it never will no matter the wonderful rosie little ‘PC’ name you attach to it. Study after study, decades of real world experience tells us it doesn’t work, but we have a few morons that still think it will, if we just do it differently or call it something else.

    We used to be a county that set the bar high, a country that really was above it’s enemies and was damned proud of it.
    Then the neocons came along and dumbed this country down to the point where people seriously consider torture ‘useful’ and something we should engage in, as long as we don’t call it torture.
    No wonder we are in the mess we are in right now.

  55. xtp, you write as if you know everything that went on behind the scenes BEFORE 9/11, before Wikileaks and the internet. I think that’s naive.

    Your puerile reference to a former president as a “little cowboy” renders your comments so partisan and biased as to be essentially meaningless, but I will respond with this thought. What you call “lowering ourselves to their level” I see as speaking a language they will understand and respect. The fact is, I’m all for using diplomacy whenever we possibly can in affairs both foreign and domestic, but wisdom dictates that we have a reasonable grasp of the world view held by those who have committed acts of war against us and vow to continue.

    A reasonable grasp here is that they are not interested in negotiating. To attempt to negotiate with a rabid terrorist would be akin to trying to negotiate with Ted Bundy when he had his sites set on bludgeoning those sorority girls to death.

    I wonder, would those of you against EIT’s (call it torture if it suits you) have agreed to use waterboarding on someone hiding Ted Bundy or The Green River Killer in order to stop them from kidnapping, torturing, raping, killing and revisiting the bodies of young women in order to rape them a second time? It’s a serious question, and I’m not being glib. It’s a difficult one.

  56. Roncella says:

    xtp855, Stop with your hatred of President Bush.
    Get some professional help with your Bush Hate syndrome sickness.

    President Bush would have been very happy to have bin laden brought to justice while he was President.

    However you need to take the bin laden test, Repeat this statement over and over again until it actually sinks in !!!!

    President Bush and President Obama and the C.I.A. and the Navy Seals all deserve full credit for finding and bringing to justice a voilent murderer, muslim terrorist, called bin laden. Amen…….

  57. aislander says:

    I believe that those who call water boarding “torture” are doing the renaming. In a more sensible age, no one would have called it that. Now, those of us who are responding to that relabeling are accused of DOING the relabeling. THAT is a tactic typical of the left…

  58. That looks like one of those riddles Roncella complains about, aislander.

    I think that you did what you said that i did so that you could say that I did what you really did.

  59. xx98411: I’ll only need to give you one. I’d use any technique that hasn’t been defined as torture by the US government in its past.

  60. xx98411 says:

    Your post at 3:32… blah, blah, blah… I ask you a simple question and the was your immediate response. Typical rhetorical response. This one at 5:03 is a cop out.

    xx98411: I’ll only need to give you one. I’d use any technique that hasn’t been defined as torture by the US government in its past.

    Are you kidding, we are on one of those President Obama working groups and this is what you come up with. Come on, Obama deserves better than this.

    “…any technique…” Ok, three was too much, how about one?

    Here’s my contribution – talk bad about the terrorist mama, olde school ghetto style…

    Kinda reminds me of my days growing up in the South Bronx during the 60’s. It’s meant to throw them off, so that the “good” CIA cop can befriend him and console him about his mama. What do ya think?

  61. My my xx98411, you seem a bit stressed today, typical of someone that has little to go on. Not wanting to limit myself to only 3 techniques, I replied that any technique we had not already declared illegal would be legit. What is not clear about that. Just because you wish to use water boarding does not make it legal to do so. I won’t repeat the stance the US had taken prior to 9/11 on the subject. That it upsets you is clear. The courts call it precedent.

  62. beerBoy says:

    xx – since “enhanced interrogation techniques” lead to unreliable intel (because the prisoner will say whatever they think the “enhanced” interrogator wants them to say whether it is true or not) and there are more than a few cases where it has been clear that standard interrogation techniques work better than the enhanced one, I am certain that there are more than a few non-torture techniques that could be applied in your hypothetical (what is it with enhanced-apologists and hypotheticals?) with success.

    But then, I’m not a trained interrogator and am not all that interested in pursuing hypotheticals invented by someone who dismisses a technique that has, in the past, been defined as torture in the US and continues to be defined as torture by many of our allies as “splashing some water in his face”.

    Logical arguments based in hypotheticals aren’t reality based.

  63. xx98411 says:

    What is not clear? It is a non-answer posing as an answer.

    For the purpose of this discussion thread. we took water boarding off the table so that it was not a distraction. Per your statement and point of fact, as of now water boarding is not illegal. No US Court of Law has deemed it illegal. What you have is a lot of pontificating talking heads and mouths with some fancy title stating one way or another their non-binding opinion for the cameras. They mean little to nothing for developing US policy as it relates to interrogation techniques.

    To have a little fun here, I thought we pretend to be one of those Obama working groups… so that instead of stating what we can’t or won’t do to keep America safe… we provide the President will a short list of what we, those that represent us in the field, could (would) do to keep America safe.

    As of now I got talking bad about dey mama, ghetto style… I got some feedback that the President thinks that’s a little lightweight but it’s a start. They said that since he is willing to shoot unarmed men in the face, in dye jammies, in dey home, in dye ‘hood… that’s what he talkin’ ‘bout, that’s the bar he has set…

    How about this one – have the interrogator sitting across a table not more than 4ft away from the terrorist. Provide a straw, small wads of recyclable paper, a small glass of sterile water, safety glasses for both the terrorists and the interrogator and use that to shoot spitballs in the terrorists face. What do you think? Are we stepping up our game here?

    We really need to stop telling people what they can’t do, provide some leadership and give our men and women in the field some tools to properly interrogate those that cutting a head off is just another day at the office. Providing lawyers and talkin’ bad about they mama doesn’t seem like an effective way of getting any timely, relevant information.

    Upset me? Dude, as an anonymous discussion board poster, do you give me that much relevance and control over your life that I can upset you… your anticipated answer is my definitive answer…. Please….

  64. xx98411 says:

    bb – A prisoners role in interrogation is to obfuscate, avoid providing some definitive answer to a posed question and if necessary lie to the interrogator. Lying happens regardless of stimulus.

    Short version – you come in with the ability to resist. We play the cat & mouse game to the info in your memory cells. And I can use techniques that weaken to ultimately break your will and ability to resist.

    I EIT you and you don’t provide info, a month later during a session after some milk and cookies you provide some info. Did the EIT work? Did the milk and cookies work? Did the combination of EIT followed up with some positive stimulation work? If I EIT you one more time would you have broken with the same info? More milk and cookies, that’s the trick… Does more EIT harden you and weaken you further?

    We will never know. Every person is different. Every persons threshold to resist is different. The value of every bit of what seems to be important information is different.

    My purpose using EIT was to weaken you. I submit it did and following up with a positive stimulus (milk & cookies using some info I got that you and your mama would share some deep feelings over milk and cookies prior to bedtime) I got the name of a courier. It is a fake name but none the less it is credible that an actual courier does exist and you provided some info consistent with other bits of information. Hmm, now on to a description and that piece of the information puzzle.

  65. aislander says:

    As I understand the process, interrogators don’t use EIT to garner intel. Rather they use it to break the prisoner’s will and render him cooperative. This is done by asking questions to which they know the answers and, when the answers are consistent with what is already known, then and only then is new intel sought. By this time, EIT is no longer being used. Therefore, the canard that EIT does not provide reliable intel is just not true. Might be different if ACTUAL torture was being employed, though…

  66. Exactly what you say aislander… ask a 100 questions of which they know the answers to and two things they are looking for (1) how truthful you are to relatively simple, benign questions, (2) develop a baseline of what you “look” like answering truthfully to those questions. If you answer the question wrong, they begin to know what your “tell” is.

    Until those of you are willing to talk about interrogation techniques, instead of obfuscating behind the word torture, this conversation will go nowhere. WE DON”T TORTURE. How many times do we need to tell you that. I have offered you multiple opportunities to cure my ignorance, to educate my feeble mind. I’ll even up the ante and promise that I will package what you believe we should do to keep America safe and send it to AG Holder… help him, help us… I’ll do the work for you and you can claim credit, spike the football…

    One more time, what are you guys willing to do? Where is the line for you? And what is your expectation of results for your methodology? I know you’ll spike the football when the results of techniques you abhor are successful, will you apologize to the families of the American that is truly tortured and ultimately killed as a result of approved techniques in an attempt to avoid being called names they will call us anyway, no matter how noble we are.

    What we did in the past… do you really want to use that as a baseline… I am glad we have an American Soldier that is willing and able to shoot an unarmed man in the face… I pray for him, and pray he slept well that night knowing he brought closure to a chapter in a long ongoing book.

    You criticize those who take a stand… You tell us what you won’t do, what you won’t stand for… You won’t tell us what you will do to get the information from our enemies to keep this great exceptional nation safe.

  67. xx – any reality to back up your continued hypothetical discussion? If you have supporting evidence just post a link or two.

  68. fbergford says:

    BB you aren’t taking a stance on anything, you are tip toeing around the question directed at you! If you don’t have an answer just say so, cool we understand and know that you don’t like torture…what is torture for you? Define it please in your own words!

  69. Hypothetical…??? What are you looking for? I haven’t passed off anything as undeniable fact. I am trying to get people to move beyond stating over and over again that water boarding = torture, and move to defining what is acceptable for our professionals to use in the field to get information that is actionable in a timely manner. Don’t wanna water board… cool… what can we do in the field?

    I started easy… can we talk bad about a terrorist’s mother. Don’t like my methods or example, fine. Think about it, it is “degrading” but does it meet any threshold of torture. If it gets you angry, or make you cry, I am starting to affect your “psychological” health but does it meet any threshold of torture.

    The spitball – can I use an object to touch you, to inflict what I believe is discomfort? In what manner? The spitball is annoying, an ACLU type lawyer would attempt to make the case that it is “pain inducing”. (not hypothetical just a throwaway point of discussion).

    Reread this discussion thread and you will find the same talking points against water boarding, I took it off the table and asked what is acceptable then. The response – silence for some, a little ankle biting here and there, accuse me of being hypothetical??? Yes/no? Their was an attempt, feeble as it was, do what we did in the past… we could do better than that.

    Oh well, one day we will get all this truly behind us.

  70. Exactly…

    They took a stand… I can not and will not condemn those that had the backbone to take a stand and defend America when it counted. They made a decision, decided the line is here and defended against the threat.

    In context, we waterboarded 3 people of the thousands that we had access to. We stopped soon after we started.

    To threaten the people with criminal prosecution is reprehensible.

  71. sozo, no one said anything about negoiation, the littlest cowboy, DID lower the nation to the level of the terrorists and we should be ashamed of it.
    My opinion and my statement stands, torture doesn’t work, it never has and it never will.
    Your ‘question’ is not difficult, it’s meaningless.

    ailander, you are being accused of relabling it becasue you DID relable it, history man, history. Your handlers had to rename torture in order to sell it to sheep, you of course bought it sight unseen.

    xx98 shows the A-typical rightists debate style, when they can’t win on facts, try to change the goal posts, when that fails just claim the oponits opinion to be false and claim victory.

  72. My opinion and my statement stands,… keyword… your opinion.

    What am I passing off as fact? What am I stating is not a fact? You just claimed it is an opinion… and that is correct.. for you.

    I am not changing a damn thing… I took water boarding off the table and asked a deceptively simple question… All the letter writer did was ask a series of questions. I am consistent with the intent of the letter writer.

    Question – where did I move the goal post from… where did I move the goal post to?

    Nobody has an opinion, that’s the friggin’ point, duh!!!

    What victory, there is none, for anybody… I just stated an opinion.

    One more question – do you have a comment or an opinion of whatever statement I have made beyond… heck, I don’t know what you stand for either.

  73. xx98 has a new tactic, can win with facts, try lunitic rambling and ranting!

  74. xx98411 says:

    What facts, there are none at issue with this discussion thread. We took it off the table in an attempt to move on. No wonder you are having so many problems comprehending what is being asked in this thread…

    Dude, you got anything, you really offer nothing of substance to this discussion thread…

  75. “What facts, there are none at issue with this discussion thread.”

    From you? None what so ever on this thread or any other I have seen with you involved.
    As always you rightists stoop to nothing but personal insults when you clearly lose the debate and things don’t go your way. But thats OK, we are used to it.

  76. beerBoy says:

    my, my xx….getting testy aren’t we?

    Yes….all of your statements regarding EIT softening up prisoners but not using EIT when push comes to shove so we can bet that the intel is reliable is….a hypothetical.

  77. xx98411 says:

    yep, I am tossing softballs right over the plate and you don’t swing, don’t know what to tell ya…

    from xtp – typical stuff…

    from you bb – I thought better from you…

    From an analysts perspective they should treat all intel as unreliable until validated… whether you plump me up with cake and ice cream or pound my head against a wall… I will obfuscate and lie if I have to keep the chocolate cake rolling in…. and between spitting my teeth out of mouth, I will obfuscate and lie to avoid getting my head pounded against a wall…

    My role as a American soldier is to resist all attempts to provide any accurate information to the best of my ability to the enemy… up to and including lying.

  78. xx : scroll down to where it says Military Fiedl Manual


  79. xx: here is another one for you. Please read carefuly, you wanted 3 well you’ve now got much more than that.


  80. xx: I realize the truth no matter how much is provided will ever sway a stubborn fellow, one that hates the ideals that the USA holds dear ( with the exception of an approx 7 year period ) as you seem to. But hopefully there are those that read these pages with open minds and true patriotism in there hearts. So here is yet another link , go to page 97 for reference please. I believe this was written in 1992. Repeat page 97 Peace Brother


  81. beerBoy says:

    Why is it that so many Republicans are so obsessed with their desire to be a

    Macho, macho man
    I wanna be a macho man.


    Just like the Freikorps in Weimar Germany, there has emerged a cult of the hypermasculine amongst the Right.

  82. beerBoy says:

    Some conclusions from people who have more than hypotheticals to base their beliefs upon:

    Top Interrogation Experts Agree: Torture Doesn’t Work

    Ex-interrogator: Torture Doesn’t Work

    Why Torture Doesn’t Work

    The Tortured Brain

  83. xx98411 says:

    First, appreciate the post and some insight into your positions.

    I get the feeling we are talking past one another and arguing points we already agree. If I am unclear in my premise… sorry… anyway got something to work from here so here goes…

    Bb – I am not and never will argue that “torture” is right and we should be doing it. (I acknowledge that you and I disagree on water boarding, take it off the table. Focus on the premise that we probably agree on 90+ percent on what techniques are torture. ) I appreciate the posts, but that is not my issue. So now that we actually agree on what we won’t do – torture- let’s begin to explore what we can and should do to extract information from an enemy combatant in a manner consistent with achieving that goal.

    There I turn to ipsut and the Humint Manual… Ok, I know that you are fond of the Geneva convention and now we know, via the manual, the approaches, techniques and limits of what you will do to extract information from me. Using the manual as a guide, I can train my men to resist divulging information knowing the common approaches and techniques you will use from the manual.

    Bb – if you attack my manhood by providing me a printout of a UK Guardian article to read, you are using a “direct approach” technique (pg 144) combined with the “Emotional-Pride Ego-Down Approach” (pg 151).

    In comes ipsut also with the direct approach technique combined with a little of “Emotional Futility” (pg 151) using what is outlined in section 8-50” Factual or seemingly factual information must be presented in a persuasive, logical manner, and in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.. (The Humint manual, Wikipedia and an article)

    All I have to do is know that you are bound by rules and manuals, recognize that you are using approaches and techniques, resist to the best of my ability and run out the clock… or your patience, knowing that in the end I will not be killed, abused, sleep deprived, get too cold, get too warm. I will get food, water and shelter.

    Let’s step it up a bit, you caught me with a few digital photos of a few buildings you now know to be in a medium sized city. Do you believe I know where the next attack is…? Now what are you gonna do… I’m not too sure it’s in that Humint Manual.

  84. Is it about being “macho” bBoy or just about being a man?

  85. Roncella says:


    if what you call torture would save the lifes of your sons or grandsons or other close family members, would you let your sons and close family members die or would you want every means available to be used to get the information necessary to save the lifes of your loved ones ???

  86. fbergford says:

    xx they aren’t going to give you an answer! They are too liberal they are afraid of offending somebody somewhere! That’s why nothing can get done! That’s why they won’t give you an answer!

  87. Ohh, I was just giving them a chance and running out the clock. But OK, movin’ on…

    One point is that between the Hummit Manual and shooting an unarmed terrorist in the face, there is a gap in what we can and will do to extract information from an enemy combatant.

    Like I said just read the manual and all your wonderful laws and conventions… I may not know what you will always do, but I do know what you won’t do… sometimes that is all I need.

    Water boarding may… (whoops watch those eggshells) …fill that gap. It is less toxic than lead poisoning to the face and me siting in a comfy interrogation room giving you the “is that all you got, go back and reread the manual” look.

    Just sayin’ :::::shoulder shrug:::::

    You’re in charge, don’t wanna consider watyerboarding (or something else) OK, just realize that a simple analysis of your interrogation program should reveal that beyond the Hummint Manual your options for information extraction become limited vs a well trained and disciplined terrorist.

  88. xx: As I had said earlier, you could care less about the ideals we hold dear or at least used to as Americans. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, you apparently would prefer us to follow laws only when they benefit us, and act criminally when they don’t . If your position was in control of our policy, we’d be NO different than any other tin pot 3rd world country. Even our Army says that water boarding will send an interrogator to jail ( read the AFM again ) but you don’t care. You can never admit a mistake. as BB said machismo is more important

  89. xx98411 says:

    You feel better…

    I care… we are a nation of laws… yes to follow laws… sometimes they do handcuff us but yet we try to do the right thing… we are different and we always will be, we are an exceptional nation… we don’t do water boarding and we haven’t for 6+ years, where did that come from…? What mistake would you like me to admit? WTF does machismo have to do with this…?

  90. This blog has been about the legality of torture, you time and again have tried to portray water boarding as something less. Now you seem to admit finally that it is ilegal, fine. So are you willing to call for the arrest of those that have tortured others? Or do you prefer to look the other way?

  91. xx98411 says:

    “The legality of torture” – First, it is a dumb premise. No one can defend the legality of torture.

    Something less than what? For the purpose of discussing what would be acceptable beyond the Humint manual, I took water boarding off the table… this is like the 10th time I am doing it. Now, if you don’t like my opinion about water boarding… too bad. I am not discussing that on this blog though I make reference to it.

    Water boarding is not the current policy of the United States… and the issue is?

    Arrest? – no, interrogators were operating under the reasonable belief that their actions though controversial, were not illegal. If arrested, it will set a bad precedent for the intelligence community if you were to arrest these operators while they were performing their duty under difficult environment.

    I am answering your challenges looking right at ya…

  92. xx: You’ve no credibility, It’s like talking to a blank wall. I’d imagine you’d arrest someone stealing food at a grocery store, but look the other way to torturing, I don’t have to imagine it. You said you would not arrest those that torture, well as long as they tortured for the US I’d guess.

  93. xx98411 says:

    No credibility – ??? help my feeble mind understand why you think so.

    Talking to a blank wall – you have offered nothing to the discussion. You have not made a case for any position on anything. Water boarding is torture… ok, in your opinion, that is not the conversation I am having with anybody. I am attempting to discuss what techniques would be acceptable beyond the Humint manual. I presented the beginning of a case with no input from you. You can still offer something to the one sided discussion.

    Stealing is stealing – arrest is appropriate.

    Torturing is against the law, how many times do I have to repeat myself?

    I did not say that, I would arrest those that torture. Abu Garib is a perfect example of soldiers that arrest and time in a prison would be appropriate.

  94. xx: review the previous links, it’s torture even in the eyes of the Army. So you would arrest those that torture and I assume those that ordered that torture? Remember that the world including the Army consider wboarding torture, not in my opinion, but the Army. gezzzz a brick blank wall, you seriously need to find an open mind. Peace Brother LOL

  95. xx98411 says:

    “xx: review the previous links, it’s torture even in the eyes of the Army.

    torture is illegal… those that order it should face charges, those that engage in it should face charges… this is why the letter and it’s premise is dumb. see, done!

    why are you discussing water boarding when for the 11th time it is not the issue. I ask what beyond the Humint manual you would approve of for information extraction. Care to discuss or continue to beat a dead friggin’ horse?

    based on my contributions to the discussion thread I do have an open mind. I am willing to look at a few sides of a dumb premise.

  96. beerBoy says:

    Is it about being “macho” bBoy or just about being a man?

    Being a man has very little to do with displaying your abs on the cover of a magazine in a less than subtle homoerotic fashion like the GOPer referenced in my provided link. Being a man is, like being a woman, about being a person who is responsible and reliable.

    Someone who expend a lot of time and energy proving his man-ness is, most often, the opposite of what I truly consider a man. Someone who is confident in his masculinity just is who he is without felling the need to demonstrate it.

  97. beerBoy says:

    sozo – you do know that I was citing a song by the Village People – the parody gay band (in which some of the members were actually heterosexuals) where each wore a costume of hyper-masculinity like cop, cowboy, indian chief. “Macho Man” was one of their few hits (along with “YMCA”).

    Getting “ripped” abs is very much part of the hyper-masculine culture – that is one reason why male body builders are oftentimes gay.

  98. xx98411 says:

    Fbergford – I never doubted you, just thought we get lucky and have a discussion on what I thought was not contentious – what can we use, if anything, beyond the Himint Manual to obtain information from a terrorist in the field. I purposely took water boarding off the table as an option to avoid what happened towards the end of the discussion. Oh well…

    Ironically this (similar) issue was discussed this AM on cable news. The concern was that some legal techniques such as simply lying were not specifically authorized and the climate in the intel community to go beyond the Humint Manual, is one of CYA. Also a concern that, though we got lucky with bin Laden, we are not picking up a lot of operational type of intel (bin Laden’s intel is more aspirational).

  99. beerBoy says:

    “The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaida courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaida, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaida. In fact, the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed produced false and misleading information.”
    John McCain

  100. xx98411 says:

    I saw this also on another thread… OK… let me start here…

    Torture is illegal, the US has and/or had no policy that approves of torture, it is reprehensible to engage in torture, those that torture should be arrested and tried in a court of law. The premise of this letter is dumb. I asked and received no response on what to do beyond the limitations placed on our forces by the Humint Manual short of shooting an unarmed man in the face. OK, are we on the same page here?

    I am not sure the exact direction to go nor what this was in response to, so here goes just talking…

    Water boarding – we disagree, write a letter condemning water boarding and my response will be the same… what would you do beyond the Humint manual to keep America safe. With that we can then begin to define what enhanced interrogation techniques the CIA can engage in to extract information to keep America safe.

    John McCain – Wonderful, honorable man, respected for his time in Hanoi. I am sure his experience has a profound effect on his view of enhanced interrogation techniques.

    The al Queda dudes and information – From what I have read, I believe McCain is correct. No, the water boarded three did not provide a real name but they previously provided some actionable intel that a trusted courier existed…. Which then lead to more investigation… intel analysis… a name pops up… intel analysis… and a correlation is made… (really, really compressed version).

    “….produced false and misleading information.” – Duh! What else are they supposed to do… tickle their feet and tell you where Elvis is? Sorry, all terrorist resist divulging information to the best of their abilities. All soldiers resist divulging information to the best of their abilities. It is but one objective of the intel game.

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