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January 05, 2005

More torture

Quiddity is right, fascism is here.

According to Rush Limbaugh's "Truth Detector," torture is an American value:
Out of Power Democrat Senators Side with Terrorist Murderers Against Gonzales, Bush.

Attorney General Pick Vows to Honor Torture Pacts [Reuters]

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Anyone who isn't sickened by Limbaugh isn't paying enough attention. And I wouldn't say that fascism is here... Rather, that the fascists are finally out in the open after spending so long in the shadows.

Never ever forget that Rush is a truly evil man.

Never forget.

Paul
Bring Ohio Home

I'm all for torture if it means deporting Rush to his version of hell. That being France, of course.

tas : no, thanks...

Yeah, I'd feel sorry for the French. I think the only place where Limbaugh could be safely stored is the silent vacuum of space, and even there I'd worry about him corrupting the background radiation. ;)

If beating up a terrorist could reveal the location of a suitcase nuke and save a million innocent lives, would you be in favor of it?
I'm not advocating torture, although the idea of a terrorist experiencing a little discomfort or humiliation in order to save innocent lives doesn't bother my concience a bit.
What I am asking is: How many innocent people would you allow to die in order to preserve your precious moral vanity?
The real questions that you should be asking are, how far are we as Americans willing to go to protect ourselves?
How do our lofty priciples apply to such a savage enemy as we now face?
What forms of interrogation are effective/ineffective?
What is actually legal/illegal.
This is a serious subject that demands a serious discussion and a bunch of lefties sitting in front of their computers congratulating themselves on their moral superiority adds nothing constructive to the debate.
Fortunately for us this country is being run by people who are not to squeamish to have these discussions.
Maybe I'm being to harsh. I'm sure that if torturing a terrorist would save the life of someone you love, you'd get over your queasiness in a hurry.

The effectiveness question is important. If we're having an unflinching discussion about "black ops" methods of gathering intelligence, one question that needs asking is what information can be gleaned from physical torture that couldn't be obtained through use of drugs like sodium pentathol. If the answer is "none," it seems like the discussion should start with drug-induced confessions, and physical torture should be left out. Then the fineries of issues like whether use of drugs constitutes psychological torture can be (and most likely have been, somewhere) addressed.

If we're also considering the case where we can fire a magic torture bullet to avert a terrorist catastrophe, it might also be worthwhile to play the "six degrees of separation" game, and consider the case where we aren't really sure how reliable confessions extracted unde torture are. How big of a circle of suspects are we willing to consider on the basis of info obtained through torture? How short is the path to implication of you or a loved one? Probably a lot shorter than most folks would be comfortable with, truth be told.

Tom,
That is certainly a reasonable position to take.
All I'm saying is that we ought to realize that we are at war with a savage enemy who appears to have a limitless capacity for barbarity and that there will probably be times when we have to consider taking extreme actions to save innocent lives.
It is perfectly reasonable for the people who are in charge of running the war to have a discussion regarding the limits that our people can go to in order to get information from terrorists captured on the battlefield.
After all, these captives do not rise to the level of legitimate POW's and they certainly do not deserve the protections of our constitution so how they are to be treated is a legitimate question to persue.
The truth is that what is discussed in the so called "torture memo" is pretty mild stuff as torture goes.
The democrats are using that memo to score cheap political points at the expense of national security. Fortunately, in the post 9/11 world today's hearing will probably just make them look soft on terrorists and backfire.
There is also the chance that by making a political issue of the memo, the democrats will limit the options available to the government to protect us from terrorists, thereby endangering innocent lives.
But what's that compared to a chance to spend an afternoon grandstanding on television.

Steve,

Just wondering. Where do you draw the line? What if beating up the supposed suitcase nuke terrorist doesn't work? What if he won't break, because he knows that if he just holds out a while longer his plan will come to fruition? Do you sodomize him? Coat his hands in flammable liquid and set them on fire? Apply electric shocks? Maybe grab his son or wife or daughter and rape them on film?

"If beating up a terrorist could reveal the location of a suitcase nuke and save a million innocent lives, would you be in favor of it?"

This is a false choice. Totally, completely, and utterly. If you'd even read a little information about torture - which you are indeed encouraging - you'd know this.

Since you haven't, I'll explain that to you. Your assumption is that the only way to reveal said suitcase nuke is by beating up the "terrorist". The problems with this assumption of yours follow:

1) How do you know who this "terrorist" is? How did you take him into your custody? What information lead you to him? By the time you have enough information to track down said terrorist, and know with any reasonable certainty that he's the one you want, you already either have enough to find and disable the nuke (by using your obviously considerable intelligence resources to track the movements of him and his collaborators) or to prevent it from being planted in the first place. Thus, torture in this case is completely unreasonable - there is no realistic scenario where it would be required. Sure, it's fine to talk about it in the abstract, but it's the same kind of abstract as "what if the moon were made of green cheese, would you eat all of it?" - totally unrelated to the real world in any way whatsoever.

2) You assume that, by beating up the "terrorist", you can get information about the location of the nuke and disable it before it detonates. This is, again, false. Torture isn't like it's shown in the movies or on TV - a few minutes of abuse, a quick cutscene, and the heroes have what they need. It takes days or weeks of time to break someone's will to the point where you even have a chance of extracting useful information from them... And even then, they're more likely - MUCH more likely - to tell you anything to prevent you from hurting them instead of actual information. In fact, it's entirely possible that your abuse has rendered them incapable of recalling the very information you need. Whoops! In other words, even from a purely utilitarian perspective, torture cannot be justified in this case - it does no good, and significant harm.

Sodomize?!!!!!!!!
I leave for a few minutes and you guys are already sodomizing the suspect! WTF!
Scroll up. I said quite clearly that I'm not advocating torture so pull your pants up.
Thanks for the laugh.

What would you classify as "a little discomfort and humiliation", Steve? Please, tell us.

I refuse to accept "kill one guilty person or let 1,000,000 die" as a valid argument/case study. It presumes a level of proof of guilt and evidence of cause and effect that is impossible. We have the rule of law and due process, something you seem very keen on discarding, because we cannot know if someone is guilty or innocent. We have laws and courts because we cannot establish causal relationships with that degree of clarity.

And for reference, Steve, you were advocating torture. You said "beating up a terrorist". That's torture. Torture, as the CIA discovered in the middle of the last century, doesn't have to involve iron maidens or thumbscrews or racks.

"If beating up a terrorist could reveal the location of a suitcase nuke and save a million innocent lives, would you be in favor of it?"

Similar questions was used during the French war in Algeria, to the same effect as in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
It didn't prevent much. Many French sixty-somethings are still unable to talk about what they did there.
This has left an open wound both in the French and in the Algerian nations fabrics.

All the rethoric proves false once you discover that intelligence won by torture is at best of low quality, at worst it can be counter-productive.
Torture is a way of feeling powerful when the situation escapes your grasp.

Some French 'experts' trained during Algeria war have been consultants on this 'subject' in the US. Aussaresses is the most famous.

Here's where you can go for a calm, reasonable and adult discussion of the subject:
http://belmontclub.blogspot.com/

Adult meaning...prone to spiralling rationalizations?

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