Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Shackler » Fri May 29, 2009 9:12 am

I don't care if torture works. It's morally wrong, and if we have to torture to maintain the status quo, the status quo isn't worth maintaining.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Monocheres » Fri May 29, 2009 11:21 am

Shackler wrote:I don't care if torture works. It's morally wrong, and if we have to torture to maintain the status quo, the status quo isn't worth maintaining.


"The status quo" sounds like such an abstraction, it could mean anything. Why don't we make this more concrete:

Okay, the date is September 10, 2001 and you're President Al Gore. On a fluke anonymous tip the CIA just apprehended a guy named Mohammed Atta while attempting to enter the country on an expired student visa. The Internet chatter among the terrorists is bigger than anyone's ever seen before. You know there's something big about to go down. Something real big. Bigger than the Cole. Bigger than the Millennium Plot. Even bigger than that 1993 WTC thing. A lot bigger. You don't know what. You don't know where. You don't know when. But you know this guy does. "You'll find out soon..." he says, smugly.

You make a decision:

(1) You waterboard him. You save 3000 status-quo lives. Atta suffers no damage other than to his pride.

(2) You don't waterboard him. Atta smiles and gets a lawyer. You feel real good about yourself, and sleep well that evening.

9/11 style attack on LA involving East Asian operatives. Stopped. We don't know what else, because Obama won't release the memos. But Cheney's mentioned numbers like "hundreds of thousands." You would consign that many people to death, rather than bend a principle in an extreme situation?

I commend you on your purity.

Lincoln suspended the writ of habeus corpus during the Civil War. An impeachable offense.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby draque » Fri May 29, 2009 12:14 pm

Monocheres wrote:Sensitive data. Weren't the descriptions of our interrogation techniques, as well as the extremely strict limitations we placed on ourselves as to when and under what conditions we would use them, exercising the excruciating restraint of a superpower that doesn't believe in torture, but is faced with certain Jack-Bauer situations -- wasn't all of that "sensitive data" too? Number one rule of counterintelligence: Never voluntarily reveal your techniques and practices to the enemy in a time of war. Obama has just done that. To make political hay.


Strategy aside, one of the upshots of having a country with strong democratic elements is that sometimes the citizenry will demand that information be released. If enough demand it, it's very difficult to deny, particularly given that the current administration came on stage directly after one which ignored public opinion in favor of making highly unpopular decisions.

The advantage of making a bluff. We waterboarded three guys. Three really, really, bad dudes. Just three. Under only the very direst of circumstances, that called for immediate action. But the impression the whole world got was that we were running Inquisition-style dungeons and pulling thousands of people's fingernails out just for fun. Wasn't that the advantage of making a bluff?


I'm not sure I'm understanding you there, exactly. Are you saying that the world thinking we ran a vast torture network was a bluff on our part and an advantage? Or are you saying that the bluff was that we wouldn't do that, and the advantage was that we were willing to under those dire circumstances?

Anyhow, after giving it some hard thought, I'll concede that there are situations where information with the potential to save lives is worth discarding moral high ground, even up to and including torture, as personally distasteful as I find it. The sticking point that I am no closer to accepting than when we began, though, is the fact that they were subjected to the torture without even a farce trial (although I don't believe you expressed an opinion on this aspect of the issue one was or the other). That the US requires trials of some sort to determine guilt before doling out bruises is one of the most important aspects of personal freedom that I can imagine, and a huge barrier against fascism and unrestricted police state type situations. Even if it costs some tactical loss in terms of the time it takes to perform the trials, that's an area that I can't see myself backing down on. Government power creep in that area just seems too risky.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby strange_person » Fri May 29, 2009 1:34 pm

Monocheres wrote:(1) You waterboard him. You save 3000 status-quo lives. Atta suffers no damage other than to his pride.

(2) You don't waterboard him. Atta smiles and gets a lawyer. You feel real good about yourself, and sleep well that evening.
False dichotomy.

(3) I call in the psych-ops guy who speaks Atta's language like a native, and knows enough theology to poke Jihadist propaganda full of holes. The two of them break bread together, talk all through the night, and by morning we know enough to respond appropriately. Lives saved, plus Mr. Atta's our friend rather than a living martyr.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Monocheres » Fri May 29, 2009 1:39 pm

draque wrote:I'm not sure I'm understanding you there, exactly. Are you saying that the world thinking we ran a vast torture network was a bluff on our part and an advantage? Or are you saying that the bluff was that we wouldn't do that, and the advantage was that we were willing to under those dire circumstances?


The fact is we actually "tortured" very little. Only in the most extreme cases. Waterboarding was the worst interrogation technique we used, and even that is in enough of a gray area for legal professionals to advise that it was legal and not torture. But the rest of the world didn't know that. They knew we were getting tough on the terrorists, but not how much. Hollywood hyperventilated over it. For all anybody knew we might have been pulling out fingernails, smashing teeth, electrocuting genitals. An enemy combatant caught in the field would not know how much interrogation he'd actually have to withstand, how long he'd have to hold out before we'd give up. And that's an advantage. You can play with his mind without even touching him, and he might talk. Now Obama's given away the store. Every terrorist caught from this point on knows that he's going to be treated with kid gloves.

The sticking point that I am no closer to accepting than when we began, though, is the fact that they were subjected to the torture without even a farce trial (although I don't believe you expressed an opinion on this aspect of the issue one was or the other). That the US requires trials of some sort to determine guilt before doling out bruises is one of the most important aspects of personal freedom that I can imagine, and a huge barrier against fascism and unrestricted police state type situations. Even if it costs some tactical loss in terms of the time it takes to perform the trials, that's an area that I can't see myself backing down on. Government power creep in that area just seems too risky.


One of the principles this country upholds is that we don't do kangaroo trials. We do justice properly, professionally. Military tribunals are more streamlined than domestic courts, sure, but even they take time to set up. Months, years. I mean, do you realize that KSM's tribunal is going on now? And it's 6 years since his capture! The whole point to his interrogation back then, and the reason why they went to the extreme of waterboarding him, was that they knew there was something imminent, and big, about to happen, and they had evidence that he knew about it. "You'll find out soon..." They needed that information fast. Hours, days, weeks at most. Not months, years. Those were the criteria they had set up, the rules for when they'd go the limit. And they only flipped that switch with 3 guys. That's not "government power creep", that's the height of restraint!

The US requires a hearing before a judge to get an arrest warrant, and a Grand Jury to lay down an indictment, and a trial to determine guilt and punishment. But that's domestic jurisprudence for our citizens under our Constitution, within our borders. Enemy combatants caught on the field of battle in a foreign theater are not entitled to the Constitutional rights of American citizens, period. If they're not a uniformed member of the armed services of a nation state that has declared war, then they're not even subject to the Geneva Convention. They're complete outlaws. They have no rights. They relinquished those when they took up arms against us in violation of all the international rules of combat. A commander leading a force under attack in the field of battle is under no obligation to set up any kind of judicial system to determine whether to fire back, he's under obligation to kill or capture the enemy. Prisoners of war, especially illegal combatants like these terrorists, can legally be held indefinitely, until hostilities are over or there is a peace treaty. (Heh, will al Qaeda ever sign a peace treaty?) The fact that we've actually been treating these guys at Guantanamo well, with a lot of sensitivity to their religion, is far better than they deserve. In return, they routinely throw feces at the guards.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Monocheres » Fri May 29, 2009 2:00 pm

strange_person wrote:(3) I call in the psych-ops guy who speaks Atta's language like a native, and knows enough theology to poke Jihadist propaganda full of holes. The two of them break bread together, talk all through the night, and by morning we know enough to respond appropriately. Lives saved, plus Mr. Atta's our friend rather than a living martyr.


I think if you attempted that, Atta would laugh and say, "American, do you think I am a naive child, to so easily fall for your transparent ploys? That is the way with you Crusader colonialists, you see us as just the 'dusky races,' you cannot imagine us as men."

Or he might just string along this stupid American who thinks he has an authentic Arab accent but cannot even pronounce his qafs properly, feeding him whatever lines he wants to hear, gleefully incredulous that the idiot is actually letting him play out the clock like this, knowing he only has to hold out until 8:46 for the fun to begin...
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby draque » Fri May 29, 2009 2:50 pm

Monocheres wrote:The fact is we actually "tortured" very little. Only in the most extreme cases. Waterboarding was the worst interrogation technique we used, and even that is in enough of a gray area for legal professionals to advise that it was legal and not torture. But the rest of the world didn't know that. They knew we were getting tough on the terrorists, but not how much. Hollywood hyperventilated over it. For all anybody knew we might have been pulling out fingernails, smashing teeth, electrocuting genitals. An enemy combatant caught in the field would not know how much interrogation he'd actually have to withstand, how long he'd have to hold out before we'd give up. And that's an advantage. You can play with his mind without even touching him, and he might talk. Now Obama's given away the store. Every terrorist caught from this point on knows that he's going to be treated with kid gloves.


I'm sorry, but the concept of being waterboarded as being "treated with kids gloves" seems patently absurd to me, Monocheres. You linked earlier to documents stating that it had near 100% efficacy in terms of extracting data from people. If that is true, it doesn't seem to me that it would matter what they think about how they were to be treated. Additionally, I very much balk at the idea that lasting physical damage must be done to a person to torture them. Look at Chinese water torture. Look at the tortures practiced in Africa, where a person's family is killed over a period of time to ensure their compliance. Although it's most often based on administering pain, torture is at it's core, a forcible attack on the mind, making that mind to give up information. To define it otherwise is semantically dancing around the fact that the damage that is being caused to people as individuals is the same, and this holds true whether they are guilty or not.

One of the principles this country upholds is that we don't do kangaroo trials. We do justice properly, professionally. Military tribunals are more streamlined than domestic courts, sure, but even they take time to set up. Months, years. I mean, do you realize that KSM's tribunal is going on now? And it's 6 years since his capture! The whole point to his interrogation back then, and the reason why they went to the extreme of waterboarding him, was that they knew there was something imminent, and big, about to happen, and they had evidence that he knew about it. "You'll find out soon..." They needed that information fast. Hours, days, weeks at most. Not months, years. Those were the criteria they had set up, the rules for when they'd go the limit. And they only flipped that switch with 3 guys. That's not "government power creep", that's the height of restraint!


I'm afraid that our views here might be irreconcilable. Giving the government the power to torture without first establishing guilt under any circumstance at all creates government powers that I would not under any circumstances support. If no mechanism to determine guilt can't be set up in ample time to allow the torture to usefully take place, then I can't condone it taking place at all. I'm aware that sort of thing costs lives, but my perspective is that their lives are being spent to protect things like an absolute right within our laws for some type of trial to determine guilt.

If they're not a uniformed member of the armed services of a nation state that has declared war, then they're not even subject to the Geneva Convention. They're complete outlaws. They have no rights.


Without a mechanism to determine guilt, this means that we have the right to torture and execute all non US citizens of countries with which we are at war. Although that seems like an absurd scenario, and I'm obviously using hyperbole there, keep in mind the significance of what you've said so far. You've claimed that not only do these individuals have no rights, but also that there is no need to determine if they are guilty of any crime before punishing or torturing them. It represents a claim of absolute and insoluble power in countries with which we are at war. To me, promises not to abuse this sort of power and to only use it very infrequently (as seems to be true thus far) are not acceptable. We are infinitely more powerful than Iraq, and as you pointed out, we have shown a considerable amount of restraint in many ways. This being said, restraint and good will, when given access to unrestricted power, will inevitably crumble. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby draque » Fri May 29, 2009 2:54 pm

Monocheres wrote:
strange_person wrote:(3) I call in the psych-ops guy who speaks Atta's language like a native, and knows enough theology to poke Jihadist propaganda full of holes. The two of them break bread together, talk all through the night, and by morning we know enough to respond appropriately. Lives saved, plus Mr. Atta's our friend rather than a living martyr.


I think if you attempted that, Atta would laugh and say, "American, do you think I am a naive child, to so easily fall for your transparent ploys? That is the way with you Crusader colonialists, you see us as just the 'dusky races,' you cannot imagine us as men."

Or he might just string along this stupid American who thinks he has an authentic Arab accent but cannot even pronounce his qafs properly, feeding him whatever lines he wants to hear, gleefully incredulous that the idiot is actually letting him play out the clock like this, knowing he only has to hold out until 8:46 for the fun to begin...


I agree with Monocheres here. Although we might not see eye to eye on the issues of torture and jurisprudence while at war, I don't think that your idea would work. You're assuming that Atta doesn't understand what he is doing. He isn't a child. He has a complex philosophy, and the fact that it opposes ours does not mean that it's something foolish enough that a single sit down could "poke it full of holes" and make him discard it.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Monocheres » Fri May 29, 2009 4:19 pm

draque wrote:I'm sorry, but the concept of being waterboarded as being "treated with kids gloves" seems patently absurd to me, Monocheres.


Point of order: I didn't say waterboarding was kid-glove treatment. Quite the opposite: Obama has declared that this technique will no longer be used, and so I impugn his new policy as amounting to kid-glove treatment for jihadists.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Coda » Fri May 29, 2009 4:43 pm

Although it's most often based on administering pain, torture is at it's core, a forcible attack on the mind, making that mind to give up information. To define it otherwise is semantically dancing around the fact that the damage that is being caused to people as individuals is the same, and this holds true whether they are guilty or not.


By that definition, a bright light and a harsh stare from a cop constitutes torture.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Monocheres » Sat May 30, 2009 2:45 am

draque wrote:
Monocheres wrote:
strange_person wrote:(3) I call in the psych-ops guy who speaks Atta's language like a native, and knows enough theology to poke Jihadist propaganda full of holes. The two of them break bread together, talk all through the night, and by morning we know enough to respond appropriately. Lives saved, plus Mr. Atta's our friend rather than a living martyr.


I think if you attempted that, Atta would laugh and say, "American, do you think I am a naive child [snip the rest of my response]...


I agree with Monocheres here. Although we might not see eye to eye on the issues of torture and jurisprudence while at war, I don't think that your idea would work. You're assuming that Atta doesn't understand what he is doing. He isn't a child. He has a complex philosophy, and the fact that it opposes ours does not mean that it's something foolish enough that a single sit down could "poke it full of holes" and make him discard it.


At the risk of possibly offending many people on this forum if I'm misconstrued, I'm going to make an analogy that I hope will drive home just how laughably offensive this scenario would have been to Atta, and therefore how futile it would have been to try it on him. Please understand that I mean no offense to anyone here by it. I'm only equating the futility of the scenarios, I'm not equating the individuals, or their values:

Atta was a man with a murderous hatred for America instilled in him over a lifetime, based on deeply-held religious beliefs and a world-view that characterizes us as the "Great Satan" and consigns all of us to Hell as infidels. Thinking a little overnight conversation could "cure" him of something so fundamental to his being, would be like thinking a little overnight conversation could "cure" a gay man of homosexuality.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby draque » Sat May 30, 2009 7:50 am

Monocheres wrote:Point of order: I didn't say waterboarding was kid-glove treatment. Quite the opposite: Obama has declared that this technique will no longer be used, and so I impugn his new policy as amounting to kid-glove treatment for jihadists.


Ah, I misunderstood there. As I've said earlier though, I'm willing to concede that there might be cases where waterboarding is justified, so long as it's not done without any sort of representation of the potential subject of waterboarding.

Coda wrote:By that definition, a bright light and a harsh stare from a cop constitutes torture.


Hrm. That's a good point. When I stop to think about it for a minute it actually seems reasonable to me, though From where I stand, both the harsh stare from a cop wanting to know where drugs are hidden and a noogie from an older brother wanting to know where candy is hidden could be interpreted as exceedingly light forms of torture. I suppose it all comes down to severity after that point.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Coda » Sat May 30, 2009 2:49 pm

So at that point, how do you define the severity of torture? Is it based on the actual physical damage to the body? Is it based on the PERCEIVED damage? Is it based on the ratio of one of these to the importance of the results received?
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat May 30, 2009 6:43 pm

Monocheres wrote:
(1) You waterboard him. You save 3000 status-quo lives. Atta suffers no damage other than to his pride.



No. NO.

You don't save any lives. You cannot trust the information, and you cannot separate out possible truth from untruth.



What you are discussing is not abstract. It is real, and horrible, and inexcusable. You speak like an armchair torturer. It's all so easy to shit from the mouth when seated in a comfortable place. "Atta suffers no damage other than to his pride." How droll.

Waterboarding does terrible damage beyond pride - it causes lung damage, can result in heart attack, permanent neurological and psychological trauma, and thus can cripple, mame, and kill.

Real waterboarding is not what they show you on television -no surprise there, I hope you already realize. That plastic sheet stuff is just for the rubes and the gullible; even so it is bad enough, and can cause the above all by itself. 'Sheet' waterboarding is 'waterboarding lite', it is used when you don't want to deal with a mess -such as on television. Real waterboarding involves vomiting, loss of bowel control, and worse. Not good for television.

Real waterboarding involves actually drowning people, water dribbled down the lungs, ever so slowly, horribly, then saving them just prior to death. The method is not dry, the sheet is not plastic and waterproof. You can't get up with a clean TV suit after real waterboarding. It is recommended that a crash cart and a trained medic be nearby. There also needs to be a drain, materials for scrubbing the area of shit and urine and vomit. Real waterboarding can, and does kill people from time to time. And it is what we are really talking about, when we talk about what the US has been doing.

In the end, torture does not, and cannot work. Thus there is no excuse for it.

Except, of course, for the sick fuck... or the ignorant fuck.



Frankly, I don't think anyone should talk about torture without posting clear, horrific, awful images of what it means, of what it is, of the actual US actions. You are too removed from this - like it is some game, like it is a TV show, rather than real, bottom of the abyss horror and deepest evil.

And don't give me any crap about the word 'evil'. Not unless your argument is bordered with at least six truly horrific images of US torture of innocent civilians. Which the overwhelming majority of these people were.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Monocheres » Sat May 30, 2009 9:23 pm

Jennifer, if all you say is true, Obama has merely to release the half of those memos that he left out. They would show that Cheney was lying. And then war crimes trials could begin. And I would be the first to call myself an ignorant fuck. (Is that the first time I've used that word here? So be it.)

That first picture was from Abu Ghraib. I believe that woman is in jail for what she did there. Did I endorse what she did? No, I condemned it.
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat May 30, 2009 11:58 pm

Everything I have said is already released. It is why there is a fuss. It has been reported on, even on television, by such as ABC and CNN. Even these owned and controlled sources have reported these things. Including how most of the torture victims were innocent civilians.

How did our US torture camps get their victims? They bought them. So-called 'reliable' contacts sold the prisoners to them, for a bounty which was offered, and the way they got bodies was they just abducted people -including children by the way- off the street and claimed they were members of whatever group was wanted at the time.

The captured innocents could only proclaim they were innocent, and that is just what a terrorist would say, right?

That is why there are all those lawsuits to try and get these people restitution... or in some cases, just to free them. It's known that they were innocent victims, but nobody wants to release them... because it is a political nightmare now. They make excuses like 'maybe they weren't terrorists, but after all that torture, they likely will become terrorists if we release them, because they will be angry'. Seriously. That's one of the major excuses given for still keeping the torture camps open. For real.

Of course they will be angry. They've been tortured by us for years. For no reason. At all.

Even if you believe the official story of 9/11, those people were Arab nationals, nothing to do with Iraq. Entirely different culture, society, and nation. Hundreds of miles away. Yet we torture iraqi's and others, picked off the street. At random.

There is no need to wait for any memos. The truth of what happened already is enough, it doesn't matter who knew or didn't know, the fact is it was done, it was criminal, it was unforgivable, and if those in charge did NOT know about it, then they are guilty of malfeasance in any case, because knowing and taking responsibility is what they were elected to do in the first place.

A state official who allows crimes against humanity to occur because he couldn't be bothered is just as guilty as the official that orders such crimes, because -wait for it- with great power comes great responsibility. Those given power are those that MUST be held accountable, because they are the only ones that can be held accountable. They have the power. If they didn't know, they should have known, and when they did know, they should have done something to stop it all. That didn't happen, so anyone involved is guilty as sin. Period.

Anything else is just weaseling.

It bothers me terribly that basic ethical conduct -human morality, if you like- is something I have to argue in favor of. What. The. Fuck?
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Re: Cheney Speaks out, tells us how he really feels.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sun May 31, 2009 11:43 pm

Regarding the strong things I said that almost certainly caused Monocheres to leave.

One of the points I had made, about the torture camps run by the US, was that there was no need to prove anything further through the memos that were to be released (they have been released, and they confirm what I was saying, but I digress), was that every point I was making was well known, and had been reported even by corporate media.

I wish to address that.

The issue is so very well known, and the information I have stated so well documented, that a XBOX game is in the works which is designed to help permit people to understand US torture camps, and how innocent civilians are the victims of these camps, by experiencing the whole thing themselves - with the twist that they get to Rambo their way out to freedom, unlike real life.

Here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/technology/technologynews/5417221/Guantanamo-the-Xbox-game.html

The game makers have enlisted the assistance of the British school-builder Moazzam Begg who was abducted and then sold to Guantanamo (a typical story), where he spent two years enjoying US hospitality, in order to make the experience more realistic.

In short, what the US has done, everything I wrote of, is so well known it has truly become banal; now it is the stuff of videogames.

I don't often like to feel forced to document my statements, because I believe I deserve the benefit of the doubt, and I find being overly challenged on issues insulting at times, as though I were some fool 20-something who hasn't the experience to know anything yet. But this particular discovery was so slamdunk that I just had to add it.
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