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We close our eyes to torture by our government. The Brits are stronger.

9 April 2009

We close our eyes to use of torture by our government. The Brits are stronger.  Are we strong enough to follow their example and demand the truth.  This is a follow-up to Something every American should read (25 March 2009).

  1. Metropolitan police investigation fails to quell independent inquiry calls“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009
  2. Torture victim Binyam Mohamed: don’t scapegoat MI5 officer“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009
  3. Other articles about torture — more than ample information about America’s torturers
  4. Links providing more information (updated as more information is revealed)

Excerpts

(1) Metropolitan police investigation fails to quell independent inquiry calls“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009 — Excerpt:

The attorney general’s decision to call in police to investigate the role allegedly played by British intelligence officers in Binyam Mohamed’s unlawful detention and torture follows a series of battles fought on his behalf in the courts in the UK and US for almost four years.

After the government’s lawyers in one case referred evidence of possible criminal conduct by MI5 officers to home secretary Jacqui Smith, and she passed it on to the attorney general, yesterday’s decision was probably inevitable.

Mohamed’s lawyers suspect Lady Scotland called in the Metropolitan police because she had little choice, rather than because ministers were keen to find out more about the involvement of officials serving with a government agency in the alleged mistreatment of a British resident. The first sign that the police response may not be swift came with Scotland Yard’s statement that a decision about how to proceed would be taken “in due course”.

Whatever action the police eventually take, the attorney general’s announcement will do little to silence the growing clamour for an independent inquiry into the post-9/11 government policy that is now known to have been devised, in secret, to enable British intelligence officers to interrogate detainees being held by known torturers.

Mohamed was detained and tortured in Pakistan in 2002, and questioned by MI5 before being “rendered” to Morocco, where he says he suffered worse torture. At one point he claims his genitals were slashed with a scalpel.

During one case brought to the high court in London on Mohamed’s behalf last year, it emerged that some of the questions put to him by the Moroccan torturers were based on information that was passed to the CIA during a meeting at MI5’s headquarters, Thames House. Mohamed was subsequently flown to Afghanistan, where he claims he was tortured by Americans, and then moved to Guantánamo. It was from there that he was finally freed last month, and returned to the UK.

The MI5 officer who interrogated Mohamed in Pakistan told the court that he was operating in line with a policy that had been “discussed at length by security service management legal advisers and government”.

Since that interrogation, British citizens have been held in Pakistan at the request of MI5, and allegedly tortured before and after questioning by British intelligence officers. Lawyers for these men suspect the policy that allowed British officials to interrogate men such as Mohamed, who claim they were tortured after being detained at the request of Americans, led to the facilitation of torture during British counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere.

(2) Torture victim Binyam Mohamed: don’t scapegoat MI5 officer“, The Guardian, 27 March 2009 — Excerpt:

Binyam Mohamed spoke to the Guardian after the attorney general called in the Metropolitan police to investigate claims that MI5 had colluded in his interrogation.

… The attorney general, Lady Scotland, announced the unprecedented move in light of damning evidence that Britain’s security and intelligence agencies colluded with the CIA in Mohamed’s inhuman treatment and secret rendition. She said the police inquiry would look into “possible criminal wrongdoing” in what the high court described as Mohamed’s unlawful questioning.

After being arrested at Karachi airport in April 2002, while travelling on a false passport, Ethiopian-born Mohamed was held incommunicado in Pakistan, Morocco, and Afghanistan, before being flown to Guantánamo Bay in 2004.

He was released last month after the US dropped all charges against him, including claims that he was trying to make a “dirty bomb”.

… Scotland said that after reviewing a “substantial body of material, much of it highly sensitive”, and after consulting the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, she concluded that the evidence should be passed to the police.

… The evidence includes open and secret high court hearings where Officer B was questioned about his interrogation of Mohamed when he was being held in Pakistan in 2002. The court heard that MI5 provided the CIA with material to interrogate Mohamed, even though it said it had no idea at the time where he was being held and in what condition he was in.

In a case Lord Justice Thomas described as “deeply disturbing”, involving “many and very troublesome issues”, the high court concluded: “The conduct of the security service facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the United States when [Mohamed] was being detained by the United States incommunicado and without access to a lawyer.” They court added: “Under the law of Pakistan, that detention was unlawful .”

Much of the evidence is still being suppressed following gagging orders demanded by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and the US authorities. Leading politicians and campaigners yesterday said that the issue went far beyond the particular case of Officer B, and that a broader inquiry was needed.

The Conservative leader, David Cameron, called for a “targeted and clear review … to get to the bottom of whether Britain was knowingly or unknowingly complicit in torture”.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said: “It is not enough for Gordon Brown to say the government does not endorse torture. There remain serious questions concerning how far senior political figures were implicated in these alleged practices.”

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Commons all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, referred to the high court’s description of UK involvement in Mohamed’s interrogation as going “far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing”, and called for a wider investigation.

(3)  Other articles about torture

Most Americans remain willfully ignorant of these things.  It appears we lack the strength of our British cousins.

The best source of information about torture I’ve found is “EDUCING INFORMATION, Interrogation: Science and Art, Foundations for the Future“, Intelligence Science Board, National Defense Intelligence College, December 2006 — 372 pages. The authors are skeptical. 

Other articles:

  1. Book review of The One Percent Doctrineby Ron Suskind in the New York Times, 20 June 2006
  2. Broken Laws, Broken Lives”, Physicians for Human Rights, June 2008
  3. China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo“, New York Times, 2 July 2008 — Terrible news about our government.
  4. Guantanamo and the SERE schools“, Pat Lang (Colonel, US Army, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2 July 2008 — Putting the above story in a larger context of good and evil, of America and its enemies.
  5. The flawed thinking of the administration’s torture advocates“, Steven Kleinman, posted at Nieman Watchdog, 7 August 2008 — It doesn’t work.
  6. Executive Summary of the Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody“, Senate Armed Services Committee, December 2008 (18 pages)
  7. Cancel Water-Boarding 101“, David J. Morris, Slate, 29 January 2009 — “The military should close its torture school. I know because I graduated from it.”
  8. Lincoln’s Laws of War“, John Fabian Witt, Slate, 11 February 2009 — “How he built the code that Bush attempted to destroy.”
  9. Ice Water and Sweatboxes – The long and sadistic history behind the CIA’s torture techniques“, By Darius Rejali, Slate, 17 March 2009
  10. Detainee’s Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots“, Washington Post, 29 March 2009 — “Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials Say”
  11. Bush’s Torture Rationale Debunked“, Dan Froomkin, blog of the Washington Post, 30 March 2009
  12. Treatment of Fourteen ‘High Value Detainees’ in CIA Custody“, International Committee of the Red Cross, February 2007 — except in the New York Review of Books, 9 April 2009 (aprox 24 pages)
  13. Of Course It Was Torture“, Gene Healy, president of the Cato Institute, 20 April 2008
  14. Report Details Origins of Bush-Era Interrogation Policies“, Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent, 21 April 2009 — “Senate Armed Services Document Outlines How Pentagon Used Torture Resistance Training in Interrogations”
  15. Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link“, McClatchy Newspapers, 21 April 2009
  16. My Tortured Decision“, Ali Soufan, op-ed in the New York Times, 22 April 2009

(4)  Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest are:

Forecasts about the American spirit, the American soul:

  1. Diagnosing the eagle, chapter IV – Alienation, 13 January 2008
  2. Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
  3. de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
  4. The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
  5. We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
  6. This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
  7. About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009
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15 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 April 2009 9:04 am

    “We close our eyes to use of torture by our government.”

    By cracky, you’re right. I haven’t seen a peep about this issue in over 8 years. It’s about time we started to talk and write and debate this! I am overwhelmingly for handing a copy of “Ice Water and Sweatboxes – The long and sadistic history behind the CIA’s torture techniques“ by hand to every single American, and monitoring them while they read it. This gross and coast to coast willful ignorance of the details of this issue should be eliminated at all costs.

    Until this moment I had no idea that this government had tortured anything other than the English language. I am now a wiser and a better man. It is my fervent hope and prayer that we can, having now brought this issue to light for the very first time, continue to keep it frothing at the front of America’s seething cranium for at least 8 more years.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The article is about official investigations. The Brits are acting, we are not. “Close our eyes” does not mean to be unaware, but not to officially act on the knowledge. We “close our eyes” to actions by allowing them to go uninvestigated — and unpunished.

    Like

  2. bob permalink
    9 April 2009 4:22 pm

    “We “close our eyes” to actions by allowing them to go uninvestigated — and unpunished.”

    Or perhaps this is not really a major issue but merely was a distraction. Perhaps we might be better to utilize the resources that would be spent on reforming defense acquisition, thinking thru how we might better safeguard ourselves domestically, or maybe how we might better address the legal issues around non-state combatants. Here’s a suggestion, lets skip this investigate the treatment of US prisoners during GWOT operations and take our claims to International Criminal Court to address. Another suggested action, how about fixing the interagency process. Those suggestions or options might yield some positive results for US in future.

    Investigations will provide us what tangibly? We have changed our policies. Perhaps we might be better served to see them as a outlier and might be better served to address systemic weaknesses instead.

    Have the Brits really “acted”, really? They have conducted some official investigations. Will that satisfy the left, no. Will that mean that the next captured AQ operative will not swear that they are being tortured? No. Did the Warren Commission settle the Kennedy Assasination conspiracy theorists? We had a bi-partisan investigation of 9/11, how successful was that?

    Like

  3. Jamal permalink
    9 April 2009 5:33 pm

    Foolish westerners. Allow yourselves to become tangled in niceties while the very foundations of your existence crumble to sand. No one respects this struggle within. We will live in your houses, eat at your tables, and laugh at your fastidious pretense. Please fight among yourselves thus. You will exit the stage that much more quickly.

    Like

  4. phageghost permalink
    9 April 2009 8:47 pm

    Allow me to respectfully suggest, Bob, that the courses of action you suggest are distractions. A thorough investigation and punishment of torturers would yield more dividends than all the “defense acquisition reforms” put together. Both here and at home. Remember that according to Boyd the levels of war in order of importance are moral > mental > physical, with the moral dimension paramount in 4GW. And the greatest weakness a state can have at the moral level is hypocrisy — contradiction between words and action.

    Repudiating torture, to have any resonance, means punishing those responsible. Doing so would vastly improve our ability to attract allies to our cause and undercut the motivations of our enemies. Remember that one of the primary motivations cited by Sunni insurgents was Abu Ghraib.

    Secondly, insofar as 4GW is a crisis of legitimacy of the state, social cohesion is undermined by allowing blatant criminals to go unpunished. Hypocrisy at the moral level, particularly by agents of the state, destroys respect for, and confidence in, the state. Those responsible for torture are criminals in clear violation of U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 18, §2441. They should be arrested, tried and punished, simple as that. Should we say that investigations into armed robberies are a distraction, and we should skip them?

    BTW I agree with your assessment that the British action has not yet gone far enough. But I agree with FM that it is a step in the right direction.

    Like

  5. anna nicholas permalink
    9 April 2009 10:02 pm

    I have no opinion polls to back this up , I’m afraid , but I wonder if you in US understand us Brits . When it is raining , we complain that it is always **raining and we will soon die of lack of sunshine. If the next day is hot and dry we complain that is is always too ** hot and soon we will die of drought . If the gov says sunshine is bad for us we all book sunbed sessions , and if wet is bad for us we all go swimming . The gov is always a waaay behind , when there is the first nimbocumulus for 3 months blackly gathering in the sky , it appoints a Minister for Drought .
    The few interested in Binyan were appalled by his martyrdom by the cruel , lawless US ( 2007 ? ). We were sickened by our poodle Gov refusal to rescue him . ( 2008 ? ) We now wonder why he has right to reside in UK , and what he was actually up to in Afghanistan ( 2009 . )
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    Fabius Maximus replies: We’re Americans. Of course we don’t understand foreigners.

    Like

  6. Bob permalink
    10 April 2009 1:09 am

    Our new administration has repudiated torture. Did this help secure additional resourcing from NATO for the Afghanistan mission? Nope. Torture is a convenient escape clause to allow “allies” to talk about helping us but then claim they can’t because the US does not occupy the high moral ground. If the US investigates or not will not matter one iota towards securing additional NATO forces to ISAF mission.

    Does it make sense to have one police force refuse to assist another force in conducting an felony aphrehension because the 2nd force has accusations of excessive force made against it? Or do you mutually support them to reduce armed robberies by serving warrents and sharing intel?

    You seem to have forgotten that investigations and trials have been conducted in the Abu Ghraib incidents. Whatever investigations are conducted will be judged inadequate by those who are opposed to torture.

    Like

  7. Talisker permalink
    11 April 2009 10:33 am

    From the Slate article:

    “In fact, our soldiers need training from SERE based on an entirely different premise, as illustrated by the experience of Michael Durant, the helicopter pilot who spent several weeks in captivity when he was captured by Somali fighters during the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” raid. Durant survived by befriending his captors and forcing them to see him as a fellow human being.”

    Righto.

    Like

  8. Arms Merchant permalink
    22 April 2009 12:25 am

    Before you get all sanctimonious and lecturing and whatnot, you might want to peek at an article in that crazed sanctuary for right-wing thought, the Washington Post. As someone else who has endured “enhanced interrogation techniques” in SERE and somehow managed to survive with his psyche intact, you might be surprised to find that a little roughing up has already saved lives, and in fact does produce useful intelligence, in spite of the dissembling of our commander-in chief.

    The CIA’s Questioning Worked“, Marc A. Thiessen (chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush), op-ed in the Washington Post, 21 April 2009 — Excerpts:

    Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . Khalid Sheik Mohammed resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ Once the techniques were applied, ‘interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.

    Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.

    Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, “as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know.

    I don’t think we need to apologize to the world for beating up knuckleheads who send even their children to blow us up. Rather it is our DUTY to do everything reasonable to save innocent lives.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Lots of interesting points in this, but they are all weak.

    (1) This is an op-ed, not a news article.
    (2) How nice that the agency doing the torturing finds a basis to justify its illegal activity. Given the CIA’s long history of lies, an outside review would seem appropriate.
    (3) How many innocent folks were tortured without any result? What ratio of results do you believe necessary to justify torture on utilitarian grounds?

    For a better analysis I recommend “Call Cheney’s Bluff“, Dan Froomkin, blog of the Washington Post, 21 April 2009 — Excerpt:

    Obama last week released four deeply disturbing documents, in which government lawyers attempted to justify, in chilling detail, flatly unconscionable and illegal acts such as waterboarding, slamming detainees against a wall, and stuffing a prisoner with a fear of insects into a small box with a bug.

    “There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified,” Cheney shot back last night in an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity. “I formally asked that they be declassified now….If we’re going to have this debate, you know, let’s have an honest debate.”

    Please, Mr. President, call Cheney’s bluff. But don’t stop there. Also urge people involved in or knowledgeable about the interrogations to speak publicly about what happened. And encourage the Senate Intelligence Committee to hold its planned hearings on the subject promptly and in public.

    Because, while Cheney is not entirely bluffing — the fact is that there are inevitably a host of cover-your-ass memos that went up and down the chain of command, attempting to justify the unjustifiable — the Bush administration has already made its best argument that torture made America safer. They’ve already given it their best shot, declassifying plenty of information to do so. And their claims fall apart under even modest scrutiny.

    … former Bush speechwriter Marc A. Thiessen returns to the Washington Post op-ed page this morning with more circular arguments, citing unsupported justifications written by torturers and their enablers as irrefutable proof of the value of what they did.

    Thiessen writes that one of the memos released last week notes that “the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.’…In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques.”

    But quoting the CIA’s belief doesn’t really settle anything. And much of what Thiessen writes today is basically a repeat of his January 22 Post op-ed (itself a repeat of Bush’s September 2006 speech) which I debunked here.

    For instance, Thiessen writes: “Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques ‘led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the “Second Wave,” “to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into” a building in Los Angeles.’…The memo explains that ‘information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the “Second Wave.”‘ In other words, without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.”

    But remember, this is the same plot that some intelligence officials told The Post in 2006 may have never been more than just talk.

    Like

  9. Arms Merchant permalink
    22 April 2009 3:25 am

    My, we’ve brought out the big guns. Could be that I’ve struck a nerve.

    “Torture” and “Torturers” are loaded terms. I would hazard that most of these detainees were treated less harshly than most kids at the hands of bullies, every day in what pass for public schools.

    So I guess the alternatives (since mind games are out–that’s “torture” too) are to 1) simply show detainees (pardon me, the “free-movement challenged”) our shining example and befriend them per Talisker above. That’s great and it works on a lot of folks, but not the hard cases. Or 2) we should not be concerned with getting intelligence from our enemies and fight in ignorance.

    I don’t think you’re being realistic or smart. And I wouldn’t want you making decisions as President. And I too would like Obama to call Cheney’s bluff.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I don’t understand in what sense this is a reasonable response. Nor is my repsonse different in kind from most of those on this site.

    (1) “I would hazard that most of these detainees were treated less harshly than most kids at the hands of bullies, every day in what pass for public schools.”

    The evidence clearly indicates that this statement is false — grossly bizarrely false — as shown by the links above. Esp note the findings of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    (2) “I don’t think you’re being realistic or smart. And I wouldn’t want you making decisions as President.”

    The feeling is mutal, but that is irrelevant to the discussion. I suggest you read “EDUCING INFORMATION, Interrogation: Science and Art, Foundations for the Future“, Intelligence Science Board, National Defense Intelligence College, December 2006 — 372 pages. You might find it eye-opening. They are skeptical about the effectiveness of torture, despite the stories told by Hollywood and in pulp novels.

    (3) “My, we’ve brought out the big guns.”

    Givign an excerpt from one WaPo blog entry is “big guns? Find a 12 year old child, and he will show you how easy it is to do.

    Like

  10. 22 April 2009 3:23 pm

    More evidence that torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did not prevent any terrorist activity

    Water-Bored“, Timothy Noah, Slate, 21 April 2009 — “Al-Qaida’s plot to bomb the Library Tower was not worth torturing anyone over.”

    Excerpt:

    What clinches the falsity of Thiessen’s claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen’s argument) is chronology.

    In a White House press briefing, Bush’s counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and “at that point, the other members of the cell” (later arrested) “believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward” [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, “In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.”

    These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got — an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush’s characterization of it as a “disrupted plot” was “ludicrous” — that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn’t captured until March 2003.

    Like

  11. 22 April 2009 3:36 pm

    Statement of Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence) on 21 April 2009

    I recommended to the president that the administration release these memos, and I made clear that the CIA should not be punished for carrying out legal orders.

    I also strongly supported the president when he declared that we would no longer use enhanced interrogation techniques. We do not need these techniques to keep America safe.

    The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.

    Also, in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 22 January 2009, Blair said:

    “Torture is not moral, not legal, not effective.”

    Like

  12. Arms Merchant permalink
    22 April 2009 7:10 pm

    Thanks for the Noah article and the Blair statement. They certainly refute the Theissen’s claim on KSM. Froomkin’s article and “refutation” were pretty weak themselves (“Big Guns” was sarcasm).

    I still maintain that the idea that “waterboarding, slamming detainees against a wall, and stuffing a prisoner with a fear of insects into a small box with a bug” are torture is ludicrous. I’ve endured worse in resistance training.

    Cutting someone’s lips off is torture. Slowly sawing off peoples’ heads is torture. Routine genital mutilation of women, as is done in the Islamic world, is torture. Even Blair was reluctant to call waterboarding “torture” when pressed in his confirmations hearings. He seemed to be trying to walk the line between his desire to protect honorable men and support Obama.

    Did our government do brutal things and cross the line? Yes. Should we hold people accountable for crossing the lines that were drawn? Absolutely. But should we just turn Gitmo into Club Med, provide Korans and chaplains, free massages, group therapy, and Prime Rib on Sunday in the hope that the Jihadist leaders we have busted our collective hump to capture will give up their info willingly?

    Get real.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I suppose this is progress, that you have retreated from “I would hazard that most of these detainees were treated less harshly than most kids at the hands of bullies, every day in what pass for public schools.” (comment #9).

    “I still maintain that the idea that “waterboarding, slamming detainees against a wall, and stuffing a prisoner with a fear of insects into a small box with a bug” are torture is ludicrous.”

    That’s nice. More important is that most (almost all) authorities — US and global — disagree with you. Even Gene Healy, president of the conservative think-tank the Cato Institute, disagrees: “Of Course It Was Torture“, 20 April 2008 — Excerpt:

    Let’s start with waterboarding. If it’s not torture, then maybe we owe an apology to the Japanese soldiers we prosecuted for it after WWII. It felt “like I was drowning,” Lieutenant Chase Nielsen testified in a 1946 war crimes trial, “just gasping between life and death.”

    Lieutenant Chase Nielsen was one of the Doolittle Raiders captured in China by the Japanese. Perhaps you should write the descendents of these war criminals and apologize, since you agree with them.

    “Get real.”

    I have cited a wide range of official works on the ineffectiveness of torture — both in terms of eliciting information and strategic effectiveness — and its moral nature. You have cited nothing, but made a large number of clearly false assertions. Perhaps you should take your own advice.

    Like

  13. Arms Merchant permalink
    23 April 2009 12:52 am

    Well, this is rich. You cite opinions by lawyers and studies by academics and partisan hacks (the Senate Armed Services Committee report is a joke – just show trial for the Bush administration, however well deserved) that make their own assertions that are at odds with experience and common sense.

    Ref for bullying – Sounds like your definition of torture to me: An Overview of Bullying.

    Your comparison to the Japanese is agitprop. Lt Nielson was a lawful combatant entitled to all the protections of the Geneva Convention. Most of the guys in Gitmo are not (http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/wars/a/loac_2.htm) because they choose not to wear uniforms or identify themselves as combatants, but the administration granted them those protections as policy. That’s a significant difference.

    If Obama releases the intel memos, we’ll know for sure if coercion produces intel, but my guess is he won’t because they disprove his claims. If we bet on it, is that internet gambling?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: OK, we’re done. I have been a good sport here, but there is no point to continuing this.
    * I cite a wide range of experts stating that torture is ineffective for a wide range of reasons — both morlal or utilitarian. Including DoD studies and the FBI supervisory special agent who oversaw elements of the Zubaydah interrogations (excerpt follows). You cite nothing.
    * I cite a wide range of documents, mostly government documents, describing horrific acts. You reply with something describing acts of schoolkids.

    “Lt Nielson was a lawful combatant entitled to all the protections of the Geneva Convention. Most of the guys in Gitmo are not.”

    There is NO legal basis in American law, either military or civil, for torture of anyone. No matter what their legal status. I hope that few American share your views, or this nation is finished in any form we — or the Founders — recognize as America.

    Like

  14. 23 April 2009 3:07 pm

    About torture, from the FBI supervisory special agent who oversaw the Zubaydah interrogations

    My Tortured Decision“, Ali Soufan, op-ed in the New York Times, 22 April 2009 — Excerpt:

    FOR seven years I have remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding. I have spoken only in closed government hearings, as these matters were classified. But the release last week of four Justice Department memos on interrogations allows me to shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.

    One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

    It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

    … There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified. The short sightedness behind the use of these techniques ignored the unreliability of the methods, the nature of the threat, the mentality and modus operandi of the terrorists, and due process.

    As more evidence comes out, I have continued to add to the links in this post.

    Like

  15. 25 April 2009 2:20 am

    Report by the Physicians for Human Rights: “Broken Laws, Broken Lives” (June 2008) — Preface By Antonio Taguba (Major General, US Army, retired). Bold emphasis added.:

    This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

    The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted — both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

    In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

    After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

    The former detainees in this report, each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life, require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

    But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

    And so do the American people.

    About Antonio Taguba (Major General, US Army, retired):

    Major General Antonio “Tony” M. Taguba (US Army, Retired) led the official US Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, testifying before Congress about his findings in 2004.

    Major General Taguba served 34 years on active duty until his retirement on January 1, 2007. He has served in numerous leadership and staff positions, most recently as Deputy Commanding General, Combined Forces Land Component Command during Operations Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait and Iraq; as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs; and as Deputy Commanding General for Transformation, US Army Reserve Command.

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