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April 17, 2009

Torture Memos
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:53 AM *

Over at Digby’s Hullabaloo we read:

In reading the Bybee torture memo, you see that he refers constantly to the “professionals” and the medical personnel who oversaw the interrogations. He uses the fact that American military personnel who had undergone SERE training had suffered little lasting damage due to their training in these techniques. (No metion of the logical conclusion that American military personnel knew that the people who were inflicting the torture were only doing it for demonstration purposes and therefore had a completely different psychological reaction.)

Digby is just guessing in that last parenthetical.

As it happens, many years ago when I worked for Uncle Sam, I underwent that training myself. Two things sustained me during that interesting time: a) The sure knowledge that it would be of limited duration (I knew the exact date the school would end), and b) the fact that I was valuable government property assured me that I wouldn’t actually be genuinely hurt.

Comments on Torture Memos:
#1 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 01:55 PM:

Yeah, I remember reading that last night and thinking "maybe, but knowing in advance that the desired outcome ain't my death" would raise my tolerance a little.

#2 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:11 PM:

It's also my understanding that SERE (in particular, as an AF training procedure) was limited to those personnel whose occupations left them at higher risk of being captured by enemies, like pilots of aircraft. This has a tendency to decrease the overall numbers of people actually exposed to the SERE training.

(One trainer actually trained 10,000 personnel? And only one person dropped out of the torture phase in SERE? I have problems with his contentions.)

The next problem I have with this is related to what Mr. Macdonald and Linkmeister have said: this was a limited exposure designed to familiarize military personnel with common practices of torture used by the bad guys. Somehow this got turned around into "Well, our guys endured this and no one got hurt!"

I also keep remembering Rumsfeld's famous statements, such as the one in which he claims that he's on his feet all day, therefore remaining in an standing position for hours couldn't possibly be painful. Perhaps it's just my familiarity with Soviet and Maoist Chinese techniques of torture that made me wince when Rummie said it, and again when I reviewed the memos.

And then we come to sleep deprivation. My partner spent 10 out of the last 12 years doing sleep research for the military, and it is well-known (in that community) how bad sleep deprivation actually is. It's the underlying pathology for "blue-on-blue" or "friendly fire" incidents. It's a known cause of people driving off roads late at night for no obvious reason. It's why residents are not supposed to pull all-nighters. Sleep deprivation is considered to be as effective as drug abuse at affecting your cognitive abilities, and it's a widely-used method of torture.

So, yes, by all means, Mr. Rumsfeld, let's keep you awake for 11 days and see how things go.

(Must get off soapbox now...)

#3 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:12 PM:

I've read pieces of the memos. I had to stop. It amazes me really how much people can ignore bits of the obvious to prove a point.

How can anyone ignore the fact that if you know something is temporary and in the end probably not going to really hurt you will be tolerated or even welcomed in some cases?

#4 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:30 PM:

I wonder about that, actually. Does that kind of knowledge really help? I imagine that, for me at least, there would very soon come a point where rational thought had no more effect on me and the part of my brain that screamed "fuck I'm drowning help make it stop" would take over completely.

And you're saying, Jim, that you didn't sustain any lasting psychological damage because you *knew* that all this would have to end some time soon? It is probably hard to be certain because you have no access to a parallel life in which everything was the same except for the fact that you did not know you wouldn't be seriously hurt or tortured indefinitely. Maybe some people are simply more robust mentally?

This whole subject is very intriguing in a sort of "dear god let me never have to find out for myself" sort of way. The things people do to people are fucking scary, be they limited in duration or not.

#5 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:31 PM:

Ghods, I still can't get through these memos without starting to heave. One thing I read in the news today really pushed my buttons: being put in a box with insects...

I'm deathly afraid of spiders.

#6 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:41 PM:

I keep thinking of The Stanford Prison Experiment in relation to this sort of thing. Give people the power and the rationalization to use it how they want and the things that occur. I shudder to think at what was done because of these memos.

@ginger: Is is the lack of dreaming or just the fact the body cannot really rest that hurts more? I always wondered about it.

#7 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:51 PM:

The insects-in-a-box thing is the one I found particularly chilling. They found out that Zubaydah was specifically afraid of insects, so they thought, hey, that's a great way to torture him, so they asked the lawyers how they could do it with as little legal risk as possible. And Bybee had no problem with that, just doing his job.

I'm not actually feeling this yet. Limbaugh can pump my rage up to the point where I would cheerfully shoot him -- I suppose because I understand Limbaugh better, being a blowhard myself, although not nearly so well paid for it. But this? I just can't get my head around it yet.

#8 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:52 PM:

And you're saying, Jim, that you didn't sustain any lasting psychological damage because you *knew* that all this would have to end some time soon?

Well, I did become a science fiction writer shortly afterward. (And no, that isn't being flip, it's directly related.)

I said that those two things sustained me. That is, I clung to those facts. Knowing that it could go on for years, until I was dead, maimed, insane, or crippled would be quite a bit different.

#9 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 02:55 PM:

Jim, your point b) might have been overly optimistic.

#10 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:03 PM:

Training accidents happen all the time, Fungi. That's just another one.

Meanwhile, over at CNN:

John Roberts: What is your take on the release of these memos? These were among the Bush administration’s most closely-guarded secrets.

Fran Townsend: John, we should be clear with our viewers. Even during my time in the administration, I wasn’t a part of the policy discussions but I will tell you here is my concern about the release of them. Regardless of what you think on the issue of whether or not waterboarding is torture, there were legal documents created and relied upon by career intelligence officials who then implemented the program. There were very strict controls on the program. These people relied on them and, now, to release them and to subject these people, these career professionals to a sort of public humiliation and opprobrium and then the potential of a congressional investigation really will make our intelligence community risk-averse.

Well, yeah. Those "career professionals" should have thought about that "humiliation and opprobrium" before they tortured people. And making the intelligence community torture-averse strikes me as a good thing all the way around.

Fran's also worried that releasing these documents will make it harder for future administrations to torture people. I'd call that another win for the good guys.

#11 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:12 PM:

Fran Townsend oughta be up against the wall, too.

#12 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Larry @ 6: Good question. Multiple areas of the brain are affected by lack of sleep, so ultimately I would guess it doesn't matter. Being sleep deprived by being forced into a single position for days on end -- what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:27 PM:

I have to tell you, hearing Obama say they wouldn't be prosecuted made me say to myself "Why the hell did I vote for this stupid, evil, conscience-free asshole, anyway?!?!?"

"Well," I answered me, "who was your alternative?"

"Oh right," I said. "But you know, that really doesn't account for it. I remember really LIKING Barack Obama. He was the first person since Clinton in 1992 that I voted for with some actual enthusiasm, instead of just picking the lesser of two evils and holding my nose in the voting booth."

"Well, you didn't really have a choice anyway. Would you change your vote now if you could?"

"Nnnno...but I feel really dirty right now."

"I know what you mean."

#14 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:36 PM:

Larry @6: Sleep deprivation can be fatal. Fatal Familial Insomnia produces a syndrome very similar to what happens in rats.

Evidence points toward sleep dep suppressing and/or shutting down the immune system.

I'm morbidly curious how the doctors who said sleep dep was just dandy justified it in the face of the fact that many of the suspects they'd be doing this on would be carrying fundamentally unknown parasitic loads. People living rough in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq would be exposed to a wide variety of parasites, not all of which are easily treated or detected.

I think the answer is 'lying'.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:47 PM:

I hope the key point in Obama's statement was this one:

it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer.

Link

I think/hope that means the actual practitioners of these methods won't be prosecuted, but that he's not precluding prosecution of the authors of these memos and their superiors.

I think Bybee should be impeached out of his life-tenured position as a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Ideally he and Yoo and Addington and Cheney and Bush among others should be put in the dock.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:53 PM:

The lead lawyer for the ACLU agrees with my hope. From Greg Sargent's The Plum Line blog:

In his statement yesterday, Obama didn’t really rule out any and all prosecution of officials involved in the torture programs.

That’s the claim being made by the lead lawyer for the ACLU — which brought the case resulting in the release of the torture memos — and he makes a good point.

“We shouldn’t over-read President Obama’s statement”, the ACLU lawyer, Jameel Jaffer, said in an interview with me a few moments ago.

#17 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 03:54 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 5 - Don't worry, according to the memos you'd be fine; they used *insects*, not spiders.

See? No problem.

#18 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:22 PM:

I'm not going to go and read those links. Just the mention of the insects-in-a-box has me thinking of That Scene in Orwell's 1984, and I'd rather not find out if that's what was going on.

#19 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Anyone with a good faith belief, he said...a good faith belief that they were acting within the law.

Read that 2005 memo and you can't help but get the impression that you had CIA operatives pissing themselves over this stuff. Can we do this? You're sure? You're absolutely totally sure now? Both of these things together, really? You're positive?

If you have a good faith belief you're within the law, you don't go asking for this kind of stuff. You go asking because YOU KNOW you're on the wrong damn side of the line and you're begging for your ass to be covered.

People who need their morale bucked up because they've done this crap SHOULD be driven out of the Company.

#20 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 04:33 PM:

I hope that Obama's playing of the "no jail for torturers" card doesn't deter those various nations who exert universal jurisdiction over war crimes prosecutions. The US may then, as a result, have to break some extradition or international prisoner transfer treaties in order to keep the malefactors safe from just punishment.

#21 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 05:47 PM:

Jim @10 - I have problems accepting that as a training accident. I mean, it was one, but the multiple levels of debacle that had to happen put it into negligence slash denial territory.

Zak @14 - They may not have found doctors to say this. TPM has Found and interviewed a sleep expert cited by the memo. "Surprised and saddened" are the key cites.

I think the secrecy behind the memos contradicts the presumption of good faith - if it was legal, why was the law supporting it secret?

#22 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 06:01 PM:

FungiFromYuggoth@21 the multiple levels of debacle that had to happen put it into negligence slash denial territory.

You should see some of the training accidents we've had. Negligence/denial ain't the half of it. Stupidity/insanity come closer.

#23 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 06:09 PM:

Fungi @21 - There were, in theory, CIA psychologists responsible for the recommendation. They'd be the ones who cited the study from that TPM link, and I cannot feasibly understand how they could support a position claiming no or even minimal harm.

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 06:24 PM:

There was an episode of Bones in which the team was trying to catch a serial murderer who would find out his victim's phobia(s) and use them as tortures. One of them was insect-related; I'll spare the gory details out of respect for those who'd be squicked. This sort of thing was very clearly depicted as something our government STOPS.

Yes, this is a trivial comment. If I really tried to focus on this topic, I'd blow an aneurysm. And if Obama thinks that releasing these details will cause the rank-and-file teabagger types to re-think their positions, he's seriously miscalculated. They will revel in reading those documents. They'll use them for porn fantasies. And the biggest thrill will come from knowing that it all really happened.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 07:26 PM:

Michael Roberts #7: Shades of 1984!

#26 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 07:42 PM:

Using insects to inflict pain and/or fear in detainees? That's straight out of the Khmer Rouge bag of tricks...

#27 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Torture memo drinking game!

Buy a bottle of rum.

Rub the outside of the bottle with isopropyl alcohol and wrap it with sterile gauze.

Every time someone brings up the "ticking A-Bomb hidden in an American city whose location only torture will reveal" canard, hit them on the head with the rum bottle.

Point out that great care was taken to avoid infection.

#28 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:18 PM:

That's a terrible thing to do to a bottle of rum, Stefan.

Use a bottle of cheap vodka instead. Or a baseball bat.

I'm frankly incapable of any more serious response; the whole Shrub/Yoo/torture-memo thing causes such an overload of WTFery I'm only capable of random snark...

#29 ::: Alayne McGregor ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:44 PM:

Anyone who thinks that waterboarding is not that bad should be reminded of Christopher Hitchens' experience with it: "Believe me, it's torture" (Vanity Fair, August 2008):

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens200808

#30 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:45 PM:

The memos are sickening, and what I find most chilling and disgusting about them is their bureaucratic specificity. This kind of meticulous attention to detail is one of the ways human beings conceal from themselves the moral horror of what they have chosen to do to a fellow human being. It's one of the methods we habitually use to turn off the voice of conscience. (Another is joining a mob and allowing mob emotion to sweep you away. A third is becoming a True Believer and surrendering your judgment to the Church/Leader/Authorities/Savior.)

Jay Bybee, who was John Yoo's boss and is most responsible for producing these memos, is now a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals-- that's the district which hears cases originating in California. He's one of 26. It's a lifetime appointment. I wonder if he can be removed, and how?

#31 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Lizzy L (30): Impeachment.

#32 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:49 PM:

Digby is right. They're all war criminals, no different in principle from the folks employing torture on behalf of North Korea or the USSR or the Kmer Rouge or Pinochet's Chile.

By not either prosecuting or at least purging the CIA torturers, we are ensuring that the CIA will continue to have that expertise in house. One day, I suppose it will come in handy again. Who can say when the president will again feel the need to order someone with an insect phobia locked in a box with insects, or to order the water torture of the Inquisition applied to people who've really annoyed him? Who can say how long it will be before the whole country is in an uproar of rage and fear, and we need piles of bound naked prisoners being terrorized by dogs and taunted by US military personnel.

If we compromise on this, don't bring the people responsible for this to justice becase they're too well connected and the fight will be too politically divisive, it's a very strong statement we'll be making. I wonder if anyone has realized what that statement will be, and what it will mean.

And I'm horrified at the realization that those people will probably walk, that they'll have respectable jobs and offices and salaries and think-tank positions and commentator gigs at CNN, and we'll all just pretend it's okay. Down the memory hole.

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:53 PM:

I think all their victims should be granted their freedom, US citizenship, and a clean record. Maybe a concealed-carry permit. Settle them in the towns where the perps live.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:53 PM:

The insects-in-a-box thing is the one I found particularly chilling. They found out that Zubaydah was specifically afraid of insects, so they thought, hey, that's a great way to torture him, so they asked the lawyers how they could do it with as little legal risk as possible. And Bybee had no problem with that, just doing his job.

Dear sweet Ghu, that's right out of 1984. Only there it was rats ....

(I want someone to explain, to Congress, and to the President and the VP and the DoJ, preferably with live TV cameras present, just exactly how illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional this was and is, and why 'I was just following orders' doesn't release anyone from responsibility, including those who gave the orders and those who wrote the f*cking memos saying it was okay to give the orders. Using as much detail, if possible, as the ICRC report and these memos have done.)

#35 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:53 PM:

#15 Linkmeister:

I hope the key point in Obama's statement was this one:

it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer.

Link

I think/hope that means the actual practitioners of these methods won't be prosecuted, but that he's not precluding prosecution of the authors of these memos and their superiors.

#20 Earl Cooley III:

I hope that Obama's playing of the "no jail for torturers" card doesn't deter those various nations who exert universal jurisdiction over war crimes prosecutions. The US may then, as a result, have to break some extradition or international prisoner transfer treaties in order to keep the malefactors safe from just punishment.

The conventional wisdom was that the reason Bush didn't blanket-pardon anyone against warcrimes is because any such recipient would have been marked for the kind of arrest Pinochet was subject to, with only Obama to challenge it.

Obama could pardon George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, closing off any hope they would subject to receiving justice from the US court system. Then if Iraq issued arrest warrants (Bush for the closed-trials justified by a UCMJ presidential privilege supreme court justices are on record saying were war crimes, Rumsfeld for withdrawing his order to torture, but failing to follow-up with an order to abstain from torture), they can be sent to the Green Zone they built to receive their heroes' welcomes. (There's a Mel-Gibson-directed film I'd pay to see.)

#36 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 08:57 PM:

Hilzoy on the bureaucracy entailed by 2005, when the Bradbury memo was written.

Hilzoy (again) on the similarities between the Bybee memo of 8/1/2002 and Orwell's Room 101.

#37 ::: Jim Lund ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Zak @14 - The torture memos weren't written before they started torturing people but rather in the middle. They knew long sleep dep wasn't immediately fatal because they were doing it and the prisoners didn't die.

How do you think the elaborate 'walling' (beating) protocol was developed? By beating prisoners to death, finding out how surprisingly fragile the human head is, and iterating. They found out it was easy to break a prisoners neck. Revise protocol. Then the torturers discovered cerebral hemorrhage. Revise protocol again.

#38 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Larry @6: @ginger: Is is the lack of dreaming or just the fact the body cannot really rest that hurts more? I always wondered about it.

Subjectively, yes. Even moderate sleep deprivation -- 4 hours a night for a week, say -- fucking HURTS, dammit, and when I did that I was frequently nodding off whenever I'd sit down. If there was somebody prodding me every time my eyelids started drooping... ow. Just ow. Just thinking about it makes me want to curl up in a ball in a corner somewhere for a while.

That's not okay. The good guys don't do that. My country shouldn't do that.

Medically, AFAICT -- and I am not a sleep pathologist, I just used to be a case study in how fucked up sleep can get -- there's no clear distinction between REM sleep (when dreaming occurs) and "real rest".

#39 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:23 PM:

I did a search on impeaching federal circuit court judges, and found many pages of right-wing justifications for impeaching so-called "liberal" judges during the '90s. If they can impeach judges for excluding illegally obtained evidence and for being careful about enforcing the death penalty, surely we can impeach a judge for violating the Bill of Rights, federal law, and for enabling war crimes against the Geneva Conventions.

I also found this: Impeach Jay Bybee.

#40 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:32 PM:

The issue I worry about is that the CIA may be telling Obama "well, if you're going to make it policy that we can be prosecuted for following the orders of the President, with full blessing from the Justice Department, why should we follow your orders?"(*)

In any case, I agree that the most important people to prosecute are the officials who authorized the torture to begin with.

(*) Free answer: Because the President and the CIA are themselves bound by both the Constitution, and by treaties. In America, treaties are formally ranked equal to the Constitution, and the President simply does not have the authority to withdraw the USA from the Geneva Convention by executive order.

But that doesn't help the problem of the USA's primary covert intelligence agency becoming hostile to the President....

#41 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 09:33 PM:

I know how not sleeping can mess you up. I've had the moderate kind in the past. That is why the memos saying it w as ok is horrible. I am just wondering because I vaguely remember reading how lack of dreaming can have serious mental affects.

As for what Obama said. He is being smart I think. He is showing people what happened. And he is not going after the people who are in this case akin to grunts like in Iraq. We will see what happens next. It's been a crazy eight years. In some ways, and I am loathe to use this analogy, but it can kind of be in the same vein as what happened in Nazi Germany. Not on the same scale mind you but a similar idea. So who do you go after then? The people making the choice to do it knowing full well it was BS and against the law.

Seems like the CIA guys were wanting to CYA after being told to go all out.

#42 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:00 PM:

David Hamon @ 2123;

Complaining about persecution because they 'just were following orders' strikes me as pretty rich. Soldiers and other federal personnel stationed over-seas (which includes CIA agents) are now at a greater risk because of what they did.

Given that former administration up to VP Cheney at least (it can be debated whether Bush 43 went along before- or after- the fact) outed a covert agent (Valerie Plame) and compromised a cover corporation devoted to tracking nuclear materials, I'd like to see records of the complainers in the Agency protesting the outing.

#43 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:03 PM:

I said much the same thing in the posts I wrote on the subject. One is up now (personal reactions) an one is being finished, on the effectiveness of the methods described.

I was up until 3 in the morning going over the fucking memos. 80 pages.

Bastards.

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:04 PM:

Everyone knows the drill, right?

Letters to president, all representatives, and editors of local papers.

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:11 PM:

At emptywheel's place the theory is that the memos were written after they'd started torturing people, and knew just how much the prisoners could take (probably after killing several). Also they believe that the lost videos proved that the torture was not doing any of the things they were claiming for it: that no usable information was gotten and that people were being permanently injured if not actually killed in the process.

#46 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:39 PM:

Generic comment: I think there should be no amnesty. I think those who took part are culpable. They can't use the, "I was following what I thought to be legal orders," and just walk. Lower on the totem pole/younger is mitigating, not exculpating.

And the people who wrote those memos... they deserve to be held up to public ridicule, humiliation and obloquy. No reputable person should ever pay them for legal advice again. I suspect there are clauses in the various canons of ethics which apply, and they could lose their license.

Which is just ducks with me.

Obama telling us that we are safer because of this... bullshit. We have people we refuse to release because they went from neutral about us, to hating us so much we think they will go home and wage war. We are afraid they will be able, because of what we did to them, to rally others to the fight.

That's a pretty screwed up definition of safer.

About the training accidents: You wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen.

As to the knowledge of it ending... makes all the difference in the world. I've endured things I'd have told you I couldn't possibly have managed to put up with, I put up with.

I had an SF guy tell me he'd been waterboarded, and it wasn't that bad. He didn't look so well when (with a small amount of cold fury) I told him he was full of shit, that he'd not been waterboarded for real, because he knew they weren't willing to kill him. I asked him what he'd have thought if it were the Taliban who'd strapped him to a board and started sliding him under the surface.

He wasn't stupid, and he went pale.

Then again, I am not fit to sit on such a jury. I see it as a strict liablity issue, and mens rea doesn't enter the picture.

#47 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2009, 10:47 PM:

Since some of you are not reading the actual memos (and I don't blame you) the gist is that Bybee maintained that if they just told Zubaydah that the insect in question was a stinging insect, but it wasn't, that it was, say, "a caterpillar", that would be OK because there would be no actual physical harm.

It seems to me their position was that physical harm is what constitutes torture. In much the same way that (some) evangelicals say that beating your children with a stick is fine and dandy, as long as you don't break bones. And I find that to be the same illness.

If the CIA has a problem with behaving legally, then it should be disbanded. The whole lot of them tossed out on the street, in the midst of the recession. Use another of our twenty-odd intelligences services instead. This example would encourage the rest, and maybe, hey, they'd start acting like Americans. (Yes, yes, I know the all-too-disgusting truth that they were acting like Americans; I'm going for rhetoric here.)

#48 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:01 AM:

Larry #41: In some ways, and I am loathe to use this analogy, but it can kind of be in the same vein as what happened in Nazi Germany. Not on the same scale mind you but a similar idea.

I think that sufficient conditions have been met to justify the deferment of any invocation of Godwin's Law in this discussion. This community has proven that it is capable of sustaining a sane discussion of similar topics in the past, in any case.

#49 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:16 AM:

Sucks to be the scientist whose sleep deprivation study was cited in all the wrong ways in the memos.

TPM interview with Dr. James Horne.

#50 ::: Jaws (CEP) ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:20 AM:

A few random comments:

* In fact, it was not legal to classify those memos. They do not fall within any of the categories of proper classified information specified in DOD Directive 5200.1-R, which is also the master guide for all US classification other than nukes. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen; a disturbingly high proportion of classifications is intended only to prevent embarassment and/or establish the classifier's importance and control of information, and has little to do with national security.

* Even in the hypothetical "ticking bomb" scenario, the probability that torture will get accurate, timely information is not measurably better than using nonviolent interrogation techniques. And, of course, any benefit that might theoretically occur depends on the interrogator knowing about the bomb, the estimated detonation time, and the subject's knowledge in the first place! Contrast that with what happened when prisoners/detainees/whateverwe'recallingthemthisweek were removed in time and location from capture...

* Clandestine services do not have a good track record for obtaining information from unwilling sources. And that's not just the US, or even the industrial era. Clandestine services specialize in either obtaining information without anyone discovering that they're doing so... or from willing sources. Analysts put information together from a wide variety of sources to come up with more avenues for intelligence activity and with intelligence assessments; and it's all multiple-sourced if it's being done right.

#51 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:15 AM:

Clandestine services specialize in either obtaining information without anyone discovering that they're doing so... or from willing sources.

Both librarians and burglars are skilled at working quietly. Therefore, librarians would make good burglars and vice versa.

#52 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:26 AM:

Ok... self pimping. I have two posts up on the subject, over at my Lj (two posts, self-linking)

I read the memos. The summa is, for it to be torture a slew of conditions had to be met. It had to be pain for the sake of pain. It had to be, "severe". Mental only counted if it was permanent. If a, "reasobable" person could think it wasn't torture, than it wasn't torture (and a resonable person is supposed to know that we weren't going to kill our prisoners, ergo nothing was really dangerous; it was just transitorily "unpleasant" and so it none of the techiques described was; all alone, torture.

And, so long as one was careful combining the probably wasn't torture either.

Never mind that the stated intent was to convince the prisoner they had to cooperate if they wanted it to stop. Never mind the carefully designed theater to make it seem they were in real danger of harm (the echoic "false wall").

Nope, we were the good guys, and these were the bad guys, so we HAD TO DO IT, they made us do it, because they wouldn't admit to what we knew they knew.

Except, yanno, when they didn't know. (see Dilawar).

Even if I still believed in the death penalty, hangings too good for them. I don't know what I'd do to them, but a long life, in boring conditions, is the least of the things I can think of.

I am, actually, somewhat incoherent on the subject. I really can't think of anything to do with them. I won't stoop to torturing them, and I can't think of anything which will bring them to the understanding of what they have done, and I know there are some who didn't really know any better.

But justice needs to be done. I'd like to hope I could be tolerant of mercy for them, but in any case, there must be an accounting; and it must be more than, "mistakes were made."

#53 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:42 AM:

Terry, you're a religious man, aren't you? Is not justice beyond human means the work and necessary attribute of god? Perhaps it is best to leave that to god, then. Let us instead do what is within our abilities. At the very least we can work to get Bybee removed from his seat on the 9th Circuit. Beyond that--

Personally, my idea of justice would be to see the men who made this tried and sentenced by a moderate Islamic court. Let justice come from those the judges of who have been most wronged. I don't think a US court can try these people. I think we need to turn to an international court.

That Obama has published these memos shows astonishing strength and courage, despite all failings. There is going to be a huge political cost to him. The Senate Republicans are going to cut him no slack at all, and perhaps the Senate Democratic conservatives as well. Let's thank him, and show some strength and courage ourselves.

#54 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:42 AM:

re the classification of those memos. They were seriously classified.

The public portions are "Top Secret/redacted/NOFRN".

That's really clamping down. TS means the release would cause "grave harm" to the US. NOFORN means it isn't to be disseminated to people we normally share information from (even if we have specific understandings on the subject at hand).

The redacted part is (probabaly) a further restriction to who is allowed to know the memos exist.

And yes, it's almost certainly overclassified.

#55 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:59 AM:

Thank you for those posts, Terry.

One of the other discussion groups I hang around is associated with a gaming company. Lots of armchair generals. Lots of guys who seem to simultaneously delight in the thought of torture and deny that it has happened. Others who scoff and likened what is described in the memos to what happened in their high school locker rooms.

@$$holes.

#56 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 02:03 AM:

Randolph: I am not willing to leave justice to deity (and my idea of that aren't relevant). The deeds done were done against living people, not gods.

I am not feeling the warm fuzzy for Obama right now, because he's said the people who "acted in good faith, that this was good advice" are immune. In short these CYA memos did just that.

My cynical self says the only way to make that work is to release the memos, so the details of what sort of "get out of jail free" card being issued can be known.

Because the only comfort from this is that anyone who stepped out of bounds isn't covered.

That's pretty cold comfort to me.

#57 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 02:06 AM:

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald @ 44: Everyone knows the drill, right? Letters to president, all representatives, and editors of local papers.

Done!

You know those forms they have, where you select the subject of your feedback from a drop-down list? No one had "Torture" or "War Crimes" as a category. Their lists varied a bit. I select "Crime" on one, "Civil liberties" on another.

#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 02:19 AM:

#44. Done as well.

Both of Oregon's senators' contact web pages had a "civil rights" category. I used that for the header.

#59 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 04:18 AM:

I'm not going to read those documents.
It occurs to me that I'm writing fiction about people who could be tortured by the bad guys, and I don't want to do that. I do rough things to them, but not that.

For there to be torture, the guy would already have failed to escape. There'd have to be a rescue. Well, I can handle that. The guy has very dangerous friends. Even his tailor's wife would want to help. (Rebecca Chan, Fashion Pirate...)

i couldn't write what happens next: they wouldn't find the man they knew. I don't think chicken soup would solve anything, although Rebecca Chan does make excellent chicken soup. I'm sure it would help.

I couldn't not have that aftermath, but I couldn't write it even half well enough. So I'll not start.

#60 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 04:51 AM:

I'm certainly not going to read the memos at four in the morning. I do not need another damned sleepless night right now.

#61 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 07:57 AM:

linnen #42: Who are you arguing with here? I'm not defending the torturers, I'm worrying about a serious threat from the CIA.

Michael Roberts #47: If the CIA has a problem with behaving legally, then it should be disbanded. The whole lot of them tossed out on the street, in the midst of the recession.

At which point the Rethuglicans and their friends, who are already advocating sedition and rebellion, gain access to a pool of experienced covert agents, support staff for same, and at least part the information those folks have about the current Administration. And remember, these are the guys we've been using to topple governments -- sometimes successfully.

That's what I'm worried about.

#62 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 09:03 AM:

The CIA will just take all their torture experts, "fire" them, then rehire them in a private company created just for that purpose, and call them "private contractors".

Then, once the climate has changed to where their services are more acceptable again, the shadow company can be re-merged into the CIA again and things continue as they used to.

#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:29 AM:

World. Court. NOW.
May Julius Caesar's ghost, and the ghosts of all their victims, not have mercy on their souls.

#64 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:56 AM:

It's obvious to me that the documents were classified to protect the perpetrators.

It's more affirmation of my opinion of the situation the entirety of the Fascist Junta Control years.

#65 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:00 AM:

And oh, yeah, irony.
April 18-19, 1775....
Minuteman mustered included from the town I'm sitting in, and inflicted the first defeat in the the first battle of the war that left to formation of the United States of America.

Patriot's Day... tar and feather Cheney, Roberts, etc. etc. etc.

#66 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:28 AM:

Doctor Mengele's Spiritual Brothers

(first drafting)

They claimed it not torture.
Security rules.
Hide memoes and paper.
Make tapes disappear.
The lips of the corpses are sealed.

Who died and how many?
And where did they die?
The questions roil conscience--
For those with a conscience
Not twisted dismissing the claims.

They called it not torture
But covered their tracks.
Defended their actions
Attacked those who questioned
With zeal called them traitors.

A changing of leaders
Some policy changes
But unchanged most midranks
And deep burrowed in
Proponents of torture remain.

Pervasive and tenured
Supreme Court to court clerks
And federal servants
Whose oaths all are false
Uphold and protect they do not.

#67 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:32 AM:

David Harmon #61;
Re-reading what I wrote, yeah I could have been clearer as to whom I was directing that towards. Sorry.

It is just that the whole "If you don't like how we followed orders, we won't follow yours" is very close to the IOKIYAR modus operandi of the past couple of decades. Illegal orders (illegal enough for CYA memos to get issued) from Republicans get labeled as wise decisions. Democratic executive cleaning up get labeled as weak enough to ignore.


In effect those people are less concerned with the Constitution and the American people, and more with their lily-white hides.

#68 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 12:47 PM:

linnen #76: In effect those people are less concerned with the Constitution and the American people, and more with their lily-white hides.

Well, yes. The Iron Law Of Institutions is strong enough when the stakes are promotions and Christmas bonuses. When it's literally your neck on the line (or even "just" life imprisonment), it goes into overdrive.

#69 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Terry, #56: It seems to me that justice in this matter, as in so many matters in life, is beyond human abilities. We cannot untorture people, nor bring those wrongly killed back to life. We cannot even visit on the people who made these things possible appropriate punishment. So let us leave the matters to whatever cosmic justice there is and pick up the pieces.

As to Obama, I am not happy to see him allowing "we were only following orders" as an excuse. Nonetheless he has done a very brave and risky thing, and I have thanked him for that.

#70 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Paula Lieberman #63: World. Court. NOW.

This, I think, is precisely the reason that the US declined to be a signatory of the treaty of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

#71 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Randolph at 69, thanks for reminding me: I just went to www.whitehouse.gov and sent Mr. Obama a thank you comment.

Truth is good. Transparency is (mostly) good.

Perfect justice is in God's hands. But we can do our very best to do justice in the here and now, and I believe we are commanded to do so. (As long as we remember that justice and mercy walk together.) I want Jay Bybee off the bench. Not killed, not tortured, not hung in the stocks so that right thinking people can throw clods of earth and rotten fruit at him -- but stripped of his federal judgeship. My taxes should not go to pay his salary. Let some Republican think tank hire the sorry bastard.

#72 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 04:54 PM:

Lizzy, #71: You're welcome.

Earl Cooley, #70; Paula Lieberman, #63: That's another thing to do when we write our senators. Bill Clinton ratified the Rome Statue, which enables the International Criminal Court. The Bush administration sought to undercut the ratification, claiming to have "nullified" it, but it's not clear that has any force--after all, how do you "unsign" a treaty? So when we write our senators, let's write in favor of Senate confirmation of the Rome Statute.

#73 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 04:59 PM:

A footnote to this: Senator Obama supported the Court. Maybe, just maybe, he is on our side. At least, if the Senate approved the treaty, he will probably accept that.

#74 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 05:01 PM:

If the treaty is ratified by the Senate, will its effects be backdated to cover the crimes of previous administrations, or will it merely cover crimes committed after the ratification?

#75 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 05:02 PM:

More on the ICCourt: it seems the American Society of International Law recently issued a report on the International Criminal Court. I think I've got some reading to do.

#76 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Earl Cooley III, #74: I suppose that's a question for the lawyers. Since W. Clinton signed the statute on 31 December 2000, it might be possible to argue it came into force on 1 January 2001. (I wonder if this is part of why H. Clinton is now Secretary of State?)

More reading: William O. Douglas, Towards a Global Federalism.

#77 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 06:08 PM:

Randolph: I hope we are agreeing in general. Picking up the pieces requires some form of redress. It requires making it plain we won't allow this sort of thing to happen again.

That requires some consequence for the perpetrators, or the next time someone suggests it, it will get done (that's exactly the argument Alberto Gonzales made: we can't punish them for breaking the law, or people will refuse to break the law).

#78 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Terry Kearny, #77: I hope we are too. I was reacting to your statement, "I really can't think of anything to do with them." Well, neither can I. But, as you say, we can work on redress and preventing a future recurrence.

In other notes, I've been reading more on the International Criminal Court. More later this week, I hope. But based on Bush administration actions with regard to the Court, it seems clear they intended to commit war crimes from the very beginning and they were working to undercut international legal mechanisms which might bring them to justice.

The Bush administration: worse than you imagine.

#79 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 06:31 PM:

Randolph: Ah... the problem isn't that I can't think of anything to do with them. It's that nothing I can think of is realy meet to the task.

Hung, drawn, and quartered doesn't seem too much; but it's out of keeping with the disdain I have for torture (even if we posit this isn't meant to collect information, but is rather, encourager les autres it's still wrong, no matter how appropriate excruciating torment might seem at the moment).

Our prisons are a disaster. Public humiliations and a small stipend, so they don't starve, and exile to some dull coventry is about the best I can think of, and we don't do that.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Maximum security prison, general population, no special treatment.

#81 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 07:25 PM:

Xopher @ 80: Unfortunately, that counts as washing our hands and letting other people (in this case prisoners) do our dirty work.

Lock them all up away from everybody else and together, now...

#82 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Many years ago I assisted a professor who was doing research into torture in Latin America. I still occassionally have nightmares. I won't go near this stuff as it makes me want to howl in rage -- a torturer is subhuman.

Emma (of the late Late Night Thoughts, as I came here the other day and found a whole bunch of posts under Emma and it wasn't me and it felt really weird. Ah, the Interwebs)

#83 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Emma: At the risk of seeming contrary. I've known torturers. Most were a little off, but some seemed as normal as anyone else.

And that's a whole 'nother can of worms. Culture, and the things one expects of it, affect how such things change us.

So to the purpose to which torture is put. Up to the renaissance is was just part of the natural order of things.

We have, thanks be, come to see this as wrong.

#84 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Via Digby. Relevant.

From General Taguba

#85 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:05 PM:

I guess oubliettes are a thing of the past.

Permanent solitary confinement? No, that's torture.

There really is no punishment within our ethical systems that is bad enough for these fucking scumbags, is there?

#86 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:21 PM:

#53 Randolph :

Terry, you're a religious man, aren't you? Is not justice beyond human means the work and necessary attribute of god? Perhaps it is best to leave that to god, then. Let us instead do what is within our abilities. At the very least we can work to get Bybee removed from his seat on the 9th Circuit....

#69 Randolph:

Terry, #56: It seems to me that justice in this matter, as in so many matters in life, is beyond human abilities. We cannot untorture people, nor bring those wrongly killed back to life. We cannot even visit on the people who made these things possible appropriate punishment. So let us leave the matters to whatever cosmic justice there is and pick up the pieces....

The story of Job actually seems a clear demonstration of how the responsibilities of God and the responsibilities of meting justice are irreconcilable.

  1. Job challenges God to answer for the injustice of allowing misfortune to visit a pious man.
  2. Job enters into debate with those who insist that since misfortune visited him, Job must have done something wrong.
  3. God intervenes on Job's debate by telling them that if any of their arguments is valid, it's Job's.
  4. God answers Job's challenge by taking an inventory of His own accomplishments, arguing He has absolute discretion as the creator of everything. By definition of discretion, God in no way claims any pretense of justice at all.
  5. Job bows to God's discretion.

For the creator who can accomplish anything, the only access God has to grace and justice is by means of His creations.

Also, I've only read enough Aquinas to know he quotes others saying whatever fires burn the damned are the same light those in paradise exult in. The hell of Dante isn't punitive, but where those who are disqualified from entering paradise exhibit the behavior they exhibited while alive, only without the pretenses we construct for ourselves while living. Hell doesn't seem to be portrayed as a punitive establishment until those pesky Calvinists.

#87 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 10:51 PM:

I don't know that I'd trust a deity to properly judge torturers who has Himself been convicted of war crimes.

#88 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2009, 11:16 PM:

#85 Xopher

Life sentences without parole and solitary confinement. They're murderers:

At least one innocent man died in Afghanistan from CIA torture. He went voluntarily into custody--he had done NOTHING but someone probably for money must have claimed he had, and he was tortured to death--there was a graphic description given of it several years ago on NPR. I probably mentioned it on Making Light back then, in fury.

The descriptions of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib included the raping of children in front of their parents.... I haven't at the moment any polite, disinterested words, or restrained "civilized" tone to discuss this in. I've been appalled and infuriated and angry and offended for years, and appalled and angry and infuriated and offended at the deliberately denials and brushings aside and the collusions of corporate interests and fascist government authorities collaborating to shred, burn, and piss on the ashes of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and label anyone with the temerity to decry the situation as "unpatriotic" and a traitor and worse and silence them.

Waxman and Kucinich persisted in essentially windmill tilting, blocked and stalled in their attempts to investigate and with the so-called news media mostly choosing to report on Paris Hilton and Angelina Jolie and promote rightwing fascist values and attitudes and to kill any story about Waxman's attempts to investigate and Kucinich's attempts to impeach.

I see little difference between those who were in power in the USA 2001-2008 and "leading" the country, and Mr Milosevic in ex-Yugoslavia, other than Mr Milosevic was operating in a smaller area with a smaller population and from a base which did not have a 225 year history of identifying as a single country with the rule of law based on democracy and with a Constitution and Bill of Rights set up more than 200 years before to attempt to protect freedom of religion, free speech, freedom from unwarranted search and seizures, etc.

#89 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:01 AM:

Xopher, 85: No, there isn't. The monsters always have us beat, when it comes to that sort of thing.

But that's okay.

And, you know. I have a little fantasy. Give them fair trials. Every chance, every fairness.

Find the guilty, guilty. Lock them up. Treat them humanely. Give them every small decency and kindness the law provides. Let them understand how very helpless a prisoner is, how dependent they are on the mercy of people better than they are for every small scrap of comfort and decency they have.

They will still hate every moment of it, the moreso because they are used to power and immunity and autonomy now.

And someday they will realise how much worse than this thing they can barely stand the things they sid, and condoned, and caused to be done to helpless prisoners were. REALLY realise it, in their guts. And once they see it, it will never leave them again.

THAT is almost enough punishment for them.

#90 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:13 AM:

Paula: Dilawar (the man to whom I presume you refer, because he's the only one I know of trials to address the wrongs of; out of Afghanistan), was not in custody voluntarily.

He was sold for a $500 (US) bounty. A number of things were done to him. They were done by non-interrogators (which is a problem right there), because he was being, less than completely respectful (in his eyes). This was, in part; apparently, partly the result of a lisp.

The people involved got off easy (and I know them, which is part of why I say they got of easy). I can also say the trials were not pursued with all the vigor they might have been. Witnesess weren't called, who were; contrary to reports, quite available.

Some of the people who were involved in that were also involved in the various abuses/atrocitties at Abu Ghraib (or so I have been told by people I trust). The Army didn't see fit to air that bit of dirty laundry, and pinned the blame on the MPs, and the contractors (about which I am livid, on so many levels... not the least is there is no reason on earth to not use military interrogators).

#91 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:26 AM:

Earl Cooley #87:

I see in that essay you link to, "Most believers in God believe that the whole of the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and that the "historical" books of the Holy Bible recount the actual, literal, and truthful history of the early Jews, and for any such believers to deny my stipulation to those books I wish to cite from would be nearly tantamount to a renunciation of their beliefs."

To which I reply "Stuff, nonsense, rubbish, and toffee."

If the fellow wants to palm a card I expect at least a minimal level of skill.

#92 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:15 AM:

I admit that my research into the war crimes of God wasn't very deep; I am pretty sure I can come up with a simpler, more clear-cut example of what I meant. I'll work on it.

#93 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 01:20 AM:

The fellow thinks that he's invented theodicity. I don't believe that someone else imagining that he's invented theodicity will be more convincing.

#94 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 08:19 AM:

Alright, then, I'll drop that argument. I'll just state my opinion that any punishment for these crimes that involves years or decades of opulent living is insufficient.

#95 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 12:53 PM:

digby and dday have a petition up in support of impeachment, directed to the California Democratic Party. They encourages all USers to sign, and I hope, especially, that California voters will sign. Digby points out:

The fact is that the Speaker of the House is from California and as dday points out below, there are numerous members of the house Judiciary Committee from California, Los Angeles in particular. Bybee is on the 9th circuit Court, which covers California. This is something where the state delegation should have plenty of juice if we can exert grassroots pressure for them to take action.

#96 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 04:29 PM:

I started to read those memos and found that I couldn't. Brought back too many bad memories.

What I find sickening is the fact is that so many of the people involved talk about what good Christians they are, and how much they go to church and how much work they've done for the church and yada yada yada...


What they have brought about goes against everything I was ever taught as a Christian and as an American.

As a believing Christian, I believe that all of those involved, the ones who committed the torture, the ones who authorized it, and the ones who supported, will spend eternity in hell. I believe that when the Judgment Day comes that the Lord will condemn them all suffer for their evil acts. I don't care what the lawyers tell them how they can weaselword in justification in this life, or what the fundamentalist evangelist hatemongers may come up with justification. I am absolutely convinced that if these people do not publicly confess to their crimes, admit that they were wrong, and are willing to suffer the full consequences and beg forgiveness, they will suffer in the afterlife.

Many of you may not agree with me, but this is what I believe...

#97 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2009, 09:36 PM:

I am reminded of a quote from The West Wing: "This is why good people hate us, this, right here, this thing..." Different context, but it fits.

#98 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 08:07 AM:

#94 Earl: I'll just state my opinion that any punishment for these crimes that involves years or decades of opulent living is insufficient.

I'll totally agree with that. We have a nice jail going unused at Alcatraz. Why not open it back up just for these guys? Particularly if they brought back The Silence. That would do wonders for their ability to contemplate their sins.

#96 Robert:

I'm reminded of a cartoon showing a couple of apparent Wall Street Fat Cats shoveling coal amidst flames, presided over by a majestic Satan. One of them is saying to the other, "My lawyer didn't say anything about this...."

#99 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 10:30 AM:

I sometimes wonder where you draw the line between greedy capitalists and organised crime.

Perhaps a better distinction to worry about would be the distinction between Enron-style crime and racketeering.

Though it's a tempting fantasy to envisage Don Corleone that he'd going to make (Insert Politician's Name Here) an offer he can't refuse.

And remember, they got Al Capone for tax evasion.

#100 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2009, 11:01 AM:

Since we're so close to the anniversery of Lincoln's death, it might be useful to contemplate these remarks from his Second Inaugural Address:

"Yet, if God wills that it [the war started by the spiritual ancestors of Rick Perry and his teabagging buddies] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

Of course, the victims of the Bush Administration's interrogation policies, along with that gang's other victims aren't quite the same as the bondsman Lincoln refers to, but I think the concept can be stretched. Prosecution is one of the things needed in order to get to the point where we can accomplish the tasks Lincoln lists in his next paragraph:

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."


While we're on the prosecution topic, I wonder of Halliburton and Blackwater could be vulnerable under RICO?

#101 ::: Jk th Snk ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:36 PM:

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[posted from 72.40.71.197 user-142ghu5.cable.mindspring.com]

#102 ::: Xopher sees scumbag troll in need of deletion and banning ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:49 PM:

I refer, of course, to comment 101.

First/only comment, name calling, stupid and long-since refuted arguments calculated to infuriate rather than enlighten. Easy choices, methinks. I'd certainly like to see this person never comment here again.

#103 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:50 PM:

You know, if it weren't completely and utterly unethical, I'd propose that everyone who says that torture is equivalent to fraternity hazing should actually get to be tortured. Should be harmless fun, right?

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:53 PM:

Well, it wouldn't be unethical to recommend to them that they volunteer, or to call them liars and hypocrites for refusing. But trolls like "Jake the Snake" don't care if you call them liars and hypocrites. They know they're liars and hypocrites. They post to piss people off, not because they believe or stand by what they say, or because they have any beliefs or integrity at all.

They're playground bullies grown up aged without maturing.

#105 ::: Xopher really begs someone with Modde Powerse to deal with Jake the Snake pleeeze ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:01 PM:

The very sight of that comment sitting there is making me physically ill. Or maybe it's that I've been sitting here at my desk for eleven hours and it's time to go home.

#106 ::: Jake the Snake ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:51 PM:

Interesting reflexive reaction. The point was not that torture equals fraternity hazing but that fraternity hazing does not equal torture.

[posted from 72.40.71.197 user-142ghu5.cable.mindspring.com]

#107 ::: Summer Storms thinks Jake needs to be tossed ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:53 PM:

I'll second that emotion. We don't need scum like that around here.

#109 ::: Ginger agrees with Xopher on the Mod Squod ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:07 PM:

..and in actuality, fraternity hazing IS torture, which is why it's illegal to commit acts of hazing.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:26 PM:

Ginger, DNFTT. Don't engage with his "content."

#111 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:26 PM:

Jake... hello... pleased to meet you.

The short of it is... you have no idea what you're talking about.

Torture is torture. Some Hazing is torture. Most is illegal.

But the real problem is, "wussy world". The fact of the matter is those of us who appreciate that tortre is immoral (as well as being ineffective at getting information) are the non-cowards.

I am comfortable with knowing that not all information can be collected (then again, as an interrogator, I'd be pretty depressive if I couldn't do that). I also know that, push come to shove, the only way to not give me information is to not talk to me.

Not to refuse to tell me what I want to know, but to not talk to me, at all; about anything.

Not that it matters, but you're stinking up the place. We've seen your sort of puerile rant before. The smug superiority, the attempts to rile the natives and get off on the subsequent drama. Please. We've got better things to do than to play cat's paw with you.

If you really want to see refutations, you can go to this thread in another blog. My comments are under the handle, "Pecunium". Or you can go read my blog (it's conveniently linked to my name, here in this blog). But really, you can't say anything we haven't seen before, and the affected posturing (we know, you understand the "harsh realities" of the real world; we don't understand how terrible "these people" are, how much they hate us, that only being "hard with them" can get them to tell us what they know, our way of life is under attack, it's all different now, etc., etc. etc., ad infinitum, et ad nasuem). Trust us, fools with more scared than sense, are a dime a dozen.

You've said your piece, told us what wusses we are, and by extension how brave you are. Go have a wank about how you told the lily-livered the truth and leave us to our pathetic ways.

Because really, swatting your type is getting tiresome.

#112 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:06 PM:

Now here we have a case of a serpent that's a lot less subtle than most beasts of the field.

#113 ::: Jake the Snake ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:11 PM:

God almighty - what kind of a parallel universe have I wandered into here? Pecunium - I checked the blog you suggested and at least there is some give-and-take there. This one reeks of the "tolerant" who are anything but when it comes to an opposing viewpoint. If you guys prevail, this country is doomed. I won't be back - nothing of value here.

[posted from 72.40.71.197 user-142ghu5.cable.mindspring.com]

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:13 PM:

Wow, a Flounce already! What a fucking loser.

#115 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:15 PM:

Doesn't that set some kind of new record?

#116 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:20 PM:

Wait, he's decided he can't stand it here, but we're the wusses? Smooth.

#117 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:24 PM:

Xopher: Of course he flounced. None of what he wanted. It's not as if he had any sense. The New Jersey blog isn't full of give and take. It has more chicken littles running about in folly; declaring the world will end if we aren't tough enoough to torture people, and it ended when I beat up on a couple of them.

But hey... fools return to their folly, dogs to their vomit, and trolls to both.

#118 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:28 PM:

Terry, I first misread that as "trolls to booth" and found it works either way. ;-)

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:29 PM:

And I love the fact that he thought What the hell are you soft, wimpy larvae capable of withstanding? counted as an "opposing point of view." Stupid scumbag.

#120 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:34 PM:

Xopher: It probably would have been easier on him if he'd been banned. He could have told himself it was because he was in opposition to us, who pretend to be tolerant.

As it was, he has to find some other way to convince himself he was mal-treated.

#121 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:35 PM:

Flounced already? Is that a record? Or is it, in fact, a true flounce?

[As for torture, and the threat thereof, my father, who believed that knowledge could be acquired via the fundament, once acquired a bull's pizzle (not difficult, the bull in question had belonged to him and had not long before been turned into steak) and placed it on top of a cabinet as an incentive to myself and my brothers to exert ourselves to the fullest. The, ahem, promise was that were we to misbehave, the cured organ would be applied where it would supposedly do us good.

I spent half an hour bending the thing until it was no longer suitable for its intended use, it was that tough. I don't know if my father ever noticed. Or, if he did, if he ever worked out who had sabotaged the instrument of torture. I wonder how "Jake the Snake" would feel were such an instrumentality applied vigorously to his hindquarters? Surely, not being a wuss, he'd have no objection.]

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:54 PM:

Fragano, of course it's a true Flounce. Especially if he comes back. Then it's not only a true Flounce, it's a classic one.

#123 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:03 AM:

Actually, I am amused by how entirely formulaic comment 101 was. Basically, it was:

[insult to masculinity]
[talking point][unrepresentative example]
[insult to masculinity][talking point]
[troll bingo square]

No original thought, no content. Cookbook commenting, requiring zero originality to compose. Forgive me for saying this, Xopher, but you shame yourself by falling for it*.

Comments 106 and 113 were not formulaic, just tiresome. Had our serpentine visitor come in with a genuine interest in give and take†, he might have used that capability to have an actual conversation. People might have learned stuff. It coulda been fun.

-----
* not rising to it
† that would require not starting with insults. Calling people names so you can then whine that they're angry all the time is so clichéd that it's almost funny.

#124 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:23 AM:

I was amused that I became Pecunium, just because I used it somewhere else.

Then again, formulaic is the way of such things.

#125 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:31 AM:

People might have learned stuff.

The only one capable of learning anything on this subject, here, would be JtS, and, frankly, I doubt he's capable of rational thought, let alone learning.

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 08:44 AM:

Fragano @ 112... a serpent that's a lot less subtle than most beasts of the field

What do you have against Sally and WC Fields?

#127 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 10:30 AM:

When serpents are a problem:

Rikki-tikki woke up with a jump, for the mongooses are light sleepers. "Oh, it's you," said he. "What are you bothering for? All the cobras are dead. And if they weren't, I'm here." Rikki-tikki had a right to be proud of himself. But he did not grow too proud, and he kept that garden as a mongoose should keep it, with tooth and jump and spring and bite, till never a cobra dared show its head inside the walls.

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 11:42 AM:

abi: meh. It was almost 9 PM on a Friday, and I was still at the office. Bloodsugar probably in the teens, really tired.

#129 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 02:56 PM:

A few typical and some classic flounces.

#130 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Or is it, in fact, a true flounce?

Do these exist?

#131 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Xopher @128: "Bloodsugar probably in the teens"

I hear that -- the lower mine goes, the grouchier I get, although I hope your "in the teens" is just poetic license.

What I find interesting about those kinds of trolls is their insistence (like Rummy) that these "enhanced techniques" are no worse than hazing. Well, hazing's illegal and has been for years. Anything less than hazing isn't hazing, although I wouldn't care for it being done to me. Once behavior crosses that line, it becomes hazing. Because so many people seem to think hazing is "ok", many municipalities are changing the penalties from misdemeanor to felony, and there's talk of a federal anti-hazing statute to really kick things up a notch.

I still would like to have Rummy standing in front of me, listening to loud sounds every hour on the hour, and dealing with the minor face slaps that he thinks are so painless, and the sleep deprivation that he seems to think is meaningless (despite the research coming out of Army labs), and I'd better stop ranting, hadn't I?

#132 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:17 PM:

Serge #126: I would never call Sally Field a beast.

#133 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Raphael #129: When a true manly-man swishes his skirts, yes indeed.

#134 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Raphael @ 129: Sure they do. Everything that's pleated is also gathered or flounced. We could also say frill, ruffle, or furbelow.

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:32 PM:

It's flounce as in "he flounced out." Connotes immature petulance, and leaving the room out of same.

I'm not sure what flounced means in sewing, but I sewed a pleated hat one time with no gathering. Took a hat band measured by simply pinning it around my head, and pinned opposite sides, north and south, of a large circle of cloth to it. Then pinned east and west, then NE, NW, SW, SE, then...kept going until the sections were small enough. Sewed them all down, sewed the hatband together, and voila! Pleated hat, no gathering at all.

#136 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Ginger @ 133 ...
Raphael @ 129: Sure they do. Everything that's pleated is also gathered or flounced. We could also say frill, ruffle, or furbelow.

Well -- a pleat is typically a single fold in the fabric of a measured nature, whereas a gather is a larger amount of fabric collected (ir)regularly in many folds to fit a smaller area, and a flounce is a gathered or pleated section of fabric attached at one side, but not the other, typically used as an ornament to the main body of an object ...

... so as such, I could comment that the discussion over his flouncing out has gathered my pedantic knickers in a pleat ;>

#137 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:03 PM:

xeger@ 135: Well, I pleat innocence here. Before everyone gathers to bandy words, I'll just throw out here that it was somewhat of an embellishment of mine. I hope you won't be biased because of this thimble error.

#138 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Ginger: I am sure the conversation will come full-round again, but it's nice to see you aren't skirting the issue, nor that correction has reduced you to tiers.

#139 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:05 PM:

Regarding our shirtcomings... Let's culotte quits.

#140 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:34 PM:

Serge: Suit yourself.

#141 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Fragano: Do you expect the full nine yards of Serge ?

#142 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:48 PM:

Fragano, I've tried, but tying the knots takes two hands, so I don't think you can stuture self.

#143 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:51 PM:

Xeger: I'd have to bolt, since I was expecting muslin.

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 07:53 PM:

Terry Karney #141: In such a case, a leech comes in handy. Or a lawyer. Whichever is easier.

#145 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:15 PM:

Well, this conversation has certainly taken a turn for the worsted.

#146 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:26 PM:

That's why I'm keeping it zipped.

#147 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 09:43 PM:

Well, this conversation has certainly taken a turn for the worsted.

Basted, too.

#148 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 10:08 PM:

Well -- a stitch in time saves nine...

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 11:46 PM:

Summer Storms @ 144... That state of affairs plissé's me greatly.

#150 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:45 AM:

I think I'm going to keep my lips buttoned.

#151 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:56 AM:

We seam to have altered direction, but I'm not going to press the issue.

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Needles to say, by resorting to puns, we weave our way back to the usual pattern.

#153 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:27 AM:

Well -- it is a well steamed form, tailor-made, even...

#154 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 09:52 AM:

This thread seems to have been sewn up. Of course, these puns would fray the patience of many.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:17 AM:

Time to trim things, Fragano?

#156 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Only if he's going to use his nippers... It wouldn't be a hong kong finish, though.

#157 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 01:57 PM:

This is what happens when people skip getting their outrage fatigue booster shots, you know....

#158 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 02:17 PM:

Nice article in the Sunday Oregonian by two professors of Political Science at Reed College: No, we don't support torture: Dozens of polls since 9/11 show most Americans balk at "enhanced interrogation". Their observation about "false consensus" are interesting:

A national opinion poll taken among 1,000 respondents just before the 2008 election shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans overestimated the level of national support for torture. Surprisingly, however, false consensus did not operate evenly across the population. The stronger an individual supported torture, the larger the gap in his or her perception. In fact, those who believed that torture is often justified -- a mere 15 percent of the public -- thought that more than a third of the public agreed with them. Another 30 percent said that torture can "sometimes" be justified but believed that 62 percent of Americans agreed. On the other hand, those most opposed to torture -- 29 percent of the public -- are the most accurate in how they perceive public attitudes on the topic.

#159 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 09:36 AM:

This morning on the CBC radio show "The Current": "We'll talk to a former U.S. military interrogator who says harsh interrogation methods don't work and that it was through traditional, soft interrogation methods that he got the intelligence that led to the targeted killing of Al-Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in 2006."

The show is streamed and they also make MP3s available.

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/

#160 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 10:03 AM:

Joel @ 158: Dollars to donuts that's "Matthew Alexander," a genuine Air Force interrogator doing the circuit under a pseudonym for security reasons. He's been talking to the media quite a lot about the FBI-style rapport building techniques that actually worked in the field and how utterly useless torture really is. Thanks for the tip.

#161 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 11:58 AM:

The article seemed to me to support the results of the other couple polls we've discussed--the issue of torture is somewhat divisive, with a small majority opposing it in all or nearly all circumstances, and a largish (45%+) minority supporting it in some or many cases. I didn't read the linked paper, which probably has better data; I gather the precise wording of the question has some effect, but doesn't radically change the picture.

I'm very uncomfortable with making the anti-torture argument on the basis of torture not working. Partly, this is because I have a vast ignorance of interrogation and intelligence techniques (and I'm fine with that--I can't see how a detailed study of torture would make me a better person), but partly, it's because I think this is fundamentally a moral argument. I'm not going to start supporting torturing suspects even if there's rock solid evidence that the CIA has some protocol for doing it that gets good intelligence.

#162 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Last night on Olberman's Countdown, his guest Jonathan Turley (a law professor at GW) pointed out that it doesn't matter whether torture "worked"; it was illegal to begin with, and it's still illegal.

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 01:16 PM:

albatross, #160: My #1 reason for not supporting torture is a moral one -- what then differentiates us from our enemies? But the primary reason for the "it doesn't work" argument is that moral suasion has no traction with people who buy the "ticking time bomb" argument. Think of it as the torture-related version of, "We've already established what you are, now we're just dickering about the price."

#164 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:11 PM:

It occurs to me that a part of the "torture works" belief may derive from some very rational assumptions. For instance, the Resistance movements in WW2 often assumed that anyone captured would be tortured and would talk. And all anyone was expected to do was hold out for enough time to give the rest of the group time to get away.

So there might be a lot of people who have been told that torture works.

#165 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:19 PM:

albatross: I didn't read it the same way you did.

When asked most directly if they think it is "acceptable to torture people suspected of terrorism," only 35 percent of Americans express approval.

That's a fairly straight up question, with a pretty hefty majority coming down on the moral side of the question.

Which is consistent with my experiene dealing with the subject. It's when the utilitarian hypotheticals come in, that the numbers start to change (we'll ignore people like Eugene Volokh, who argue torture is a moral good, not just a handy tool).

That's why the utilitarian argument has to be addressed. I'd love (really, I would) to be able to say, "I do this for a living, and I don't torture people because it's wrong."

But when I do that, I get all sorts of wild hypotheticals. At that point, the only way to keep torture from becoming the moral choice (or the lesser of two evils to be theoretically condemned, but tactitly allowed, is to show it doesn't work.

I wish it weren't so, but that's the way it seems to play out. Even people who say they are, "categorically" against torture, will (when they think it works) carve a small exception.

Because if people believe it works, they will decide a little torture is better than any death.

#166 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:27 PM:

Mark @ 159: You're right, it was Matthew Alexander. More details about the segment and a link to the audio (Flash format) are here.

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:31 PM:

Ginger: Go Jonathan Turley

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 02:32 PM:

"If this cause is to be buried, let it be put in hallowed ground."
- a Southern officer who passes on the chance to win the Civil War with the help of the Devil in the Twlight Zone's "Still Valley".

#169 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2009, 06:08 PM:

The pro-torture crowd can argue with Ali Soufan, the FBI agent who interrogated Abu Zubaydah:

[Soufan] told a Senate panel Wednesday that the use of harsh techniques to extract information was "slow, ineffective and unreliable."
Soufan told lawmakers that he and fellow agents went "by the book" and gained actionable intelligence from Zubaydah by standard "informed interrogation" methods. Later, when the CIA's privately contracted interrogators took over the questioning, using techniques such as waterboarding, or controlled drowning, Zubaydah "shut down" and stopped giving good information, Soufan said.
I seem to remember him explicitly stating that since you can't use both conventional interrogation and coercive techniques "the use of torture would delay obtaining crucial intelligence in a ticking-bomb scenario," but that's not on the transcript and I was half asleep listening to it this morning.

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