Disgusting

I can’t believe someone wrote this:

Sen. John McCain is leading the charge against so-called “torture” techniques allegedly used by U.S. interrogators, insisting that practices like sleep deprivation and withholding medical attention are not only brutal – they simply don’t work to persuade terrorist suspects to give accurate information.

Nearly forty years ago, however – when McCain was held captive in a North Vietnamese prison camp – some of the same techniques were used on him. And – as McCain has publicly admitted at least twice – the torture worked!

And what was that useful information? Our authors tell us:

The punishment finally worked, McCain said. “Eventually, I gave them my ship’s name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant.”

Recalling how he gave up military information to his interrogators, McCain said: “I regret very much having done so. The information was of no real use to the Vietnamese, but the Code of Conduct for American Prisoners of War orders us to refrain from providing any information beyond our names, rank and serial number.”

Yeah. I can see how that sort of confession would be useful in the War on Terror. And how did they get it? Just a few beatings:

He described the day Hanoi Hilton guards beat him “from pillar to post, kicking and laughing and scratching. After a few hours of that, ropes were put on me and I sat that night bound with ropes.”

“For the next four days, I was beaten every two to three hours by different guards . . . Finally, I reached the lowest point of my 5 1/2 years in North Vietnam. I was at the point of suicide, because I saw that I was reaching the end of my rope.”

McCain was taken to an interrogation room and ordered to sign a document confessing to war crimes. “I signed it,” he recalled. “It was in their language, and spoke about black crimes, and other generalities.”

“I had learned what we all learned over there,” McCain said. “Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.”

Excellent. In other words, according to the rocket scientist who wrote this, we need to authorize torture so we can beat people relentlessly for four days until they confess to ‘war crimes,’ or other such useful and ‘accurate’ information.

People like the author of this piece, Carl Limbacher, should be put in a small room and beaten with a cane and waterboarded until they confess to being unmitigated assholes. This isn’t a defense of torture for use in extreme cases (the ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario)- this is a call for legalized sadism and brutality.

What kind of moral cretins are these Newsmax folks?

(h/t Sullivan)

*** Update ***

Ace, IMHO, is just wrong about this. What is disgusting about this is not that every man has a breaking point, or that this somehow makes McCain less of a patriot (or, subsequently, less of a man), but that the authors, in an article ostensibly supporting torture as a necessary and useful interrogation method, claim that McCain’s breaking down after weeks of abuse and giving USELESS information somehow validates the need for torture. It doesn’t.

I think Ace’s dislike for Sullivan colored his perspective on this one.

*** Update ***

If you want to make the argument that this proves torture ‘works’ because McCain ‘broke,’ I am going to simply laugh. It does not take any genius to figure out that if you beat or abuse an individual enough, he/she will eventually ‘break.’ No shit, sherlock, in other words.

The problem is not that I doubt people will ‘break,’ it is that I doubt torture will ‘work.’ I simply disagree that beating McCain until he signs a random ‘confession’ in a language he does not understand somehow proves that doing the same to others will provide us with necessary intel. Further, I do not trust the government with the death penalty, and amd not inclined to trust the government with torture. Furthermore, I do not like the idea of having foreign governments and despotic regimes to similarly be allowed to torture, because it will be, in many cases, our guys they are now LEGALLY torturing. And spare me the ‘they are going to abuse and our torture our guys anyway, if they want to.’ Again, no shit.

That is why we rightly view them as EVIL, and why we are fighting them in the first place.

*** Update ***

More here and here, and an excellent piece here by Cathy Young.






169 replies
  1. 1
    Geek, Esq. says:

    Reading Newsmax is a form of torture, I would argue.

  2. 2
    Marcus Wellby says:

    What kind of moral cretins are these Newsmax folks?

    Hmmm, what kind? I would wager mostly hardcore Bush supporters.

  3. 3
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    What kind of moral cretins are these Newsmax folks?

    Republicans.

  4. 4
    T. Miller says:

    If we are forced to stop the torturing, then the terrorists have won.

  5. 5

    What kind of moral cretins are these Newsmax folks?

    You’re just now coming to the realization that Newsmax consists of moral cretins?

    Took you long enough, I’d say. Unfortunately a lot of Bush supporters get their news from Newsmax, which would explain why they believe we actually did find WMD in Iraq…

  6. 6
    John Cole says:

    Only fierce partisans or true jerks would come to a Republican website discussing why torture is wrong and an amendment put forth by Republican John McCain and then state that support for torture is a ‘Republican’ ideal.

    Even most people who support ‘harsh interrogation methods’ and are predominantly Republican recognize this article for what it is, so please stop with the ‘Democrats are Superior’ crap.

  7. 7
    neil says:

    What kind of moral idiots, indeed?

    The company’s owner is Richard Mellon Scaife.

    And although the mainstream press refused to credit NewsMax, it was Limbacher’s Inside Cover report “Racial Changes Made to Ground Zero Tribute” that set off a nationwide firestorm of protest over plans for a politically correct statue based on the famous photo, “Flag Raising at Ground Zero.”

    Limbacher is also the guy who spread the lie that U2 was playing a benefit for Senator Santorum.

    Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity says Carl Limbacher is one of “best reporters in America — I read him everyday.”

    Well-connected moral idiots, it seems.

    More of the atrocities.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    state that support for torture is a ‘Republican’ ideal.

    Uh, no one said that. The worst anyone said was that the “moral cretins” at Newsmax are Republicans, which is certainly true.

    But I’d be in a bad mood too if I had listened to Phish recently…

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    McCain has been derided in many conservative quarters as a RINO for his anti-torture stance. Further, the pro-torture folks in the Administration are, last I checked, Republicans. You can claim that you are a true conservative and Bush isn’t, but you can’t distance yourself from the President and Vice-President of the United States. They define your party, like it or not.

  10. 10

    In John’s defense, SCMT’s comment irked me a little too. Don’t get me wrong, all the people at Newsmax are Bush supporters…

    But I reminded myself that while all blind Bush supporters are Republican, but not all Republicans are blind Bush supporters.

  11. 11

    damnit! scratch the “but”… I added “while” and it made “but” unnecessary.

  12. 12
    DougJ says:

    But I reminded myself that while all blind Bush supporters are Republican, but not all Republicans are blind Bush supporters.

    Always good to keep that in mind. But what SCTM said was true.

  13. 13

    Yea, you’re right. I meant to say “Don’t get me wrong, all the people at Newsmax are Republicans

    What John said was true too…Then again what Steve said here:

    [Bush and Cheney] define your party, like it or not.

    was also true.

  14. 14
    smijer says:

    but that the authors, in an article ostensibly supporting torture as a necessary and useful interrogation method, claim that McCain’s breaking down after weeks of abuse and giving USELESS information somehow validates the need for torture.

    You left out false… the ship name and target were useless, but signing the war crime confession was tantamount to giving false information… False information that was, nevertheless, important to the propaganda arm of the administration that conducted the torture… Deja vu much?

  15. 15
    Bruce from Missouri says:

    Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

    There is nothing new here… Maybe you are just opening your eyes to who your compatriots are.

  16. 16
    Jeff G says:

    You and I disagree on the use of coercive interrogation. But that’s not the point. Instead, the point is: what is the official Pajamas Media take on this.

    Because one of us is going to get fired.

  17. 17
    Mike S says:

    The first time I visited this site was because of a link to it about torture. I agree that this issue isn’t just a partisan one. However I will direct you to a page at polling report that has a breakdown.

    “Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, can sometimes be justified, can rarely be justified, or can never be justified?”

    .
    Often Sometimes Rarely Never Unsure

    ALL adults 17 27 18 33 5
    Republicans 25 34 14 24 3
    Democrats 11 25 20 40 4
    Independents 17 25 21 31 6

    Now I’m not wild about the wording of the question and God only knows what the sub group breakdown is, but I found it disturbing none the less.

    The firt poll on the page is a Gallup poll but it is fairly consistant with the Newsweek poll which is the next one.

    “Would you be willing or not willing to have the U.S. government torture suspected terrorists if they may know details about future terrorist attacks against the U.S.?” Form B (N=515, MoE ± 5)

    .
    Willing Not Willing Unsure

    11/11-13/05 38 56 6

  18. 18
    John Cole says:

    I am not against coercive interrogation. I am against torture. Which is why your pieces calling to ‘define’ the two were worthwhile reads.

    But beating someone for four days until they ‘break’ is not, in my book, coercive interrogation.

  19. 19
    neil says:

    Not coercive? Geez, you’re tough as nails, John!

  20. 20
    John Cole says:

    Neil- Hunh? You are attacking me because I think that beating someone for four days until they are senseless and will say anything is torture?

  21. 21
    Mike S says:

    And let me be clear. I think the strongest voices against torture have been McCain and Graham. I strongly disagree with both of those guys politically but think they are dead on here. My own party has not been nearly vocal enough about this IMO.

  22. 22
    neil says:

    No, I was kidding, I was trying to make it sound like you said beating isn’t coercive (that it would take more to coerce you). Torture is a subset of coercive interrogation, isn’t it?

  23. 23

    My own party has not been nearly vocal enough about this IMO.

    Speaking an independent, you’re damn right.

  24. 24
    Otto Man says:

    My own party has not been nearly vocal enough about this IMO.

    Speaking as a Democrat, you’re damn right.

  25. 25
    ppGaz says:

    please stop with the ‘Democrats are Superior’ crap.

    Well, heh, we are. Not that I disagree with anything you said here, though.

    But I mean, really. Intelligent Design as science? Teri Schiavo playing Scrabble with the hospice staff?

    Of course we’re superior. C’mon, man.

    Have you read Darrell lately? Is DougJ not his funniest and most hilariously over the top when channeling Republican nonsense?

    Republicans’ idea of a joke:

    Ayuk! Ah can’t seem tuh find them darn WMDs anywhere! Har har har!! Ayuk!

    I rest my case.

  26. 26
    ppGaz says:

    Only fierce partisans or true jerks would

    Nah. How about people who enjoy having their chains jerked by a spunky blogmeister, and just like to return the favor once in a while?

    Let’s not get carried away with the theatrical rhetoric.

  27. 27
    John S. says:

    That is why we rightly view them as EVIL, and why we are fighting them in the first place.

    Careful, John. I believe invokation of the term EVIL is in compliance with Tim’s Law.

  28. 28
    smijer says:

    Of course we’re superior. C’mon, man.

    Well, it’s not like being a Democrat makes us superior… it’s just that being superior makes us Democrats… at least for the last 4 years…

  29. 29
    jg says:

    If you beat someone long enough they will tell you whatever you need to hear to make the beatings stop. Is that too deep a concept to be grasped easily?

  30. 30
    ppGaz says:

    Well, it’s not like being a Democrat makes us superior… it’s just that being superior makes us Democrats…

    Yes, a classic chicken-egg problem. I tend to go with the latter explanation, too, but I think that one can come at it from the other direction.

    I mean, once you have tasted being a Democrat, why would you go GOP? Do you really want to associate with those people? What if your daughter brought home Darrell, for God’s sake?

  31. 31
    DougJ says:

    Mike S, those polling stats about party affiliation and support for torture are quite striking. I would not have guessed that so many Republicans supported torture.

    In fairness, though, people like that John deserve that much *more* credit for opposing torture, having spent a lifetime listening to Lee Greenwood songs alongside their troglodytic pro-torture fellow party members.

  32. 32
    Mike S says:

    What if your daughter brought home Darrell, for God’s sake?

    Precisely why my wife and I aren’t having kids.

    In fairness, though, people like that John deserve that much more credit for opposing torture

    One of the reasons I don’t get as mad at John as so many others do is because of his position on torture. I find torture abhorent and contrary to what this country is supposed to stand for.

  33. 33
    Anderson says:

    The point is not, and never has been, that torture NEVER works. Sure it does. Just like you can get a woman pregnant by raping her. (If you’re a guy, that is.)

    But you can get the same info, plus more, by more subtle interrogation. Just as you can have a relationship with a woman and not only get her pregnant, but get her to marry you & have a family with you and, who knows, even love you.

    (Something tells me that this analogy is not going to go over well, but damn, it seems apt to me.)

  34. 34
    CaseyL says:

    I didn’t know Newsmax was a Scaife thing. Figures, though. Scaife’s a good argument for Unintelligent Design, aka “Scum rises to the top.”

  35. 35
    smijer says:

    I mean, once you have tasted being a Democrat, why would you go GOP? Do you really want to associate with those people? What if your daughter brought home Darrell, for God’s sake?

    {brrrrr} Thank you, Jesus, that I don’t have daughters… lol

  36. 36
    ppGaz says:

    But you can get the same info, plus more, by more subtle interrogation. Just as you can have a relationship with a woman and not only get her pregnant, but get her to marry you & have a family with you and, who knows, even love you.

    a) You lost me there, and (b) this might be the most inapt comparison I will see this season.

  37. 37
    smijer says:

    Amen to the comments on John… I still see red every time he cheerleads the Iraq war… and when he says he can never vote Democrat, because we put our idiots in comments on the Democratic Underground instead of on television and in the White House… but I have to respect John for taking the moral position over the party position in almost every case. Torture. Schiavo. Intentionally dishonest misrepresentations of science… well… just lots of stuff.

  38. 38

    I thought it was a great comparisson, as odd as it was.

    Especially when one figures in that most of the time when girls are raped, they don’t get prego, just like most of the time you torture someone you don’t get true info.

    And on a side note, the jokes in this thread are hilarious.

  39. 39
    Steve says:

    Ok, I’m not into the rape analogy, but yes, it’s a silly strawman to claim that torture NEVER works. If I can summarize the mindset of the pro-torture Right, it’s that even if we only get actionable intelligence in 1 out of 100 cases of torture, the people we’re torturing are worthless as human beings anyhow, so there’s no downside to doing whatever we want to them. If we save one American life, it’s worth torturing a hundred terrorists, etc.

    Arguing that McCain doesn’t understand the effectiveness of torture is offensive in the same way it would be offensive to say that Kristin Breitweiser hasn’t learned the lessons of 9/11. But then again, every day in the blogosphere, folks who live by cornfields say that exact thing to folks who live by Ground Zero.

  40. 40
    ppGaz says:

    I thought it was a great comparisson, as odd as it was.

    Well, I suppose if you look at it in the context of my first marriage, which was …. torture in its own way.

    For me, I mean.

  41. 41
    jg says:

    Marriage equates to torture? LOL

    One of the reasons I don’t get as mad at John as so many others do is because of his position on torture. I find torture abhorent and contrary to what this country is supposed to stand for.

    I get mad because I don’t see how this is any different than any other issue in which talking about it is hurting the troops yet here he stays rational. If we’re talking about stopping torure we’re saying it happened and so then we’re calling our soldiers war criminals, right? I don’t think so either but its the same warped logic used on other issues.

  42. 42
    Blue Neponset says:

    Ok, I’m not into the rape analogy, but yes, it’s a silly strawman to claim that torture NEVER works.

    How about claiming that torture isn’t the most useful or successful interrogation technique? Is that a strawman too?

    You seem to be implying torture is ok because it is revenge upon people who are no more than dogs. I think we can either have revenge or intelligence gathering, but we can’t have both at the same time.

  43. 43
    ppGaz says:

    Marriage equates to torture? LOL

    No, it was a lame joke. True, but a lame joke. The torture of being married to my first wife IN NO WAY compares to real torture as mentioned in this thread.

    Sorry.

  44. 44
    demimondian says:

    Channelling DougJ, suddenly…

    Why aren’t we hearing about the good things evil is doing?

  45. 45
    jg says:

    (Something tells me that this analogy is not going to go over well, but damn, it seems apt to me.)

    You’re equating torture and rape by saying torture can produce info as rape can produce pregnancy but that in both cases there is a much better way of getting that result and more. Problem is people don’t rape to cause pregnancy. They do it out of anger and to cause harm purely for their own amusement and now I think I’m talking myself into liking your analogy even more.

  46. 46
    DougJ says:

    Or about all the prisoners we aren’t torturing. We have over ten thousand prisoners in Iraq and we’ve only heard maybe 60 or 70 allegations of torture. That means there’s thousands of detainees who are happily eating their honey-roasted chicken and pita bread in the clean cells we give them. Why don’t you ever hear about that?

  47. 47
    Andrei says:

    Only fierce partisans or true jerks would come to a Republican website discussing why torture is wrong and an amendment put forth by Republican John McCain and then state that support for torture is a ‘Republican’ ideal.

    You’re a republican? Coulda fooled me.

  48. 48
    ppGaz says:

    That means there’s thousands of detainees who are happily eating their honey-roasted chicken and pita bread in the clean cells we give them. Why don’t you ever hear about that?

    Well, listen to Limbaugh, and you will.

    Glad to see you have abandoned your Dexter costume, DJ.

  49. 49
    Eural says:

    That is why we rightly view them as EVIL, and why we are fighting them in the first place

    AMEN – I can’t tell you how many arguments over torture I’ve had where my jaw drops at this point. I don’t care how effective it is (lets pretend 100%) not torturing is one of the main distinctions between the “good guys” (us, right?) and the “bad guys” (them!). What is the point of fighting to end their dreams of barbariac/nightmare conquests if we simply become one of them in the process? The US has spent hundreds of years and thousands of lives to build and protect a civilization that condemns this kind of behavior. Its a shame and a disgrace on anyone who defends torture by our people.

  50. 50
    demimondian says:

    Or about all the prisoners we aren’t torturing?

    We aren’t hearing about the because they aren’t talking. We’ve got to torture them to get them to tell about the excellent pita and honey roasted chicken we serve them in their water-board cleaned cells.

  51. 51
    Ric Locke says:

    Whether or not torture works is irrelevant. You do yourselves a disservice by discussing it in those terms.

    Whether or not torture is moral (ethical, good, Democratic, whatever floats your boat) is irrelevant. You waste your time on tailchasing by going over it.

    What’s relevant is this: Defense is more expensive than offense usually by an order of magnitude. Select rock, pick it up, throw; easy, cheap, simple. Block the rock, evade it, wear something that makes it not hurt: complex, expensive, difficult. The only thing more expensive than defense is losing.

    If you will not use a particular weapon, and your enemy can be confident you will not use that weapon, you have just saved yourself a little bit (whether monetary or moralism) by not procuring and employing it, but you have saved your enemy at least ten times that much by not requiring him to provide a defense for it. And everything your enemy does not have to spend on defense can be redirected to offense. You saved yourself 1. That gives your enemy 10, which he can redirect to offense — and for each 1 he redirects to offense, you are obliged to spend 10 to defend against it. Net, you saved 1 and lost 100. Not good.

    Confirming that you will not use torture (however defined) is saying that you do not want information. The captured enemy simply shuts up, or jeers at you. That’s even if you don’t descend into moonbattery and define slow room service as “torture”. The present situation, which amounts to letting the captured enemy define “torture”, may well be the worst of both worlds.

    The experience of John McCain, or of any other tough-minded prisoner, is also irrelevant. The people the system is aimed at are the ordinary, run-of-the-species individuals which make up the bulk of any force. What you want is for them to be scared. You want them to sing like canaries, and the best way to do that is to have them be frighted that you will take them to a dark room and electrify their gonads. If they are absolutely certain that the worst thing that will happen to them is comfortable room&board with solicitous attendants, what possible reason do they have for saying anything at all?

    Whether or not to actually use torture is also irrelevant, except to the extent that if the enemy knows you will not use torture you have lost big.

    Neither side of this debate is doing Americans any service whatever; the only service being done is for the Islamists, whether the debater is “pro” torture or “anti”. Both moonbats and wingnuts are busily confirming Osama bin Laden’s thesis that Americans are an easy kill because they aren’t serious. I give the Left an edge in the Evil Sweepstakes because they’re the ones pushing it, but the Right is just as guilty. The net result will be an increase in attacks, because you just handed them a sizeable bonus easily converted to attack power. Congratulations.

    Regards,
    Ric

  52. 52

    Or about all the prisoners we aren’t torturing.

    hahaha I love how you just ran with it like that. No previous quote or anything. It gave me an a reall good, unexpected laugh.

  53. 53
    Perry Como says:

    I’m still not sure why everyone is upset about a few harmless fraternity pranks. Rush loves reminiscing about his college days and doing the elephant walk.

  54. 54

    Hey Ric!

    Go Fuck Yourself.

  55. 55
    Tractarian says:

    You saved yourself 1. That gives your enemy 10, which he can redirect to offense—and for each 1 he redirects to offense, you are obliged to spend 10 to defend against it. Net, you saved 1 and lost 100. Not good.

    Donald Rumsfeld + Charles Ponzi = Ric

  56. 56
    ppGaz says:

    The net result will be an increase in attacks, because you just handed them a sizeable bonus easily converted to attack power. Congratulations.

    Fascinating. Sociopathic, completely rational, and completely amoral.

    One doesn’t expect to see something purely evil in a blog, but …. there it is.

  57. 57
    Boombo says:

    Ric, even if everything you laid out in that post is absolutely true and applicable, tough. That’s one of the down sides of being a legitimate democracy (fine we’re a republic, so sue me). Transparency and the “people” getting a say.So it’s a weakness of our open society, or so is often implied if not out and out stated. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

  58. 58

    I find it interesting that the people who oppose torture on the grounds that it’s un-American always throw in the old “and besides, it doesn’t work” trope. If you’re opposed to torture on moral grounds, why even address the subject of utility? Somebody is not being completely honest here.

    McCain’s example shows that torture does in fact work:

    “Eventually, I gave them my ship’s name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant.”

    Maybe that’s not incredibly useful information, but it’s probably all he had.

    If torture really didn’t work, there wouldn’t even be a debate about the moral dimension, but once you admit that it does, the moral question becomes paramount.

    This is the rocket science of the thing, actually.

  59. 59
    Geek, Esq. says:

    You’re just figuring out that Ace is a sadist and moral cretin?

  60. 60
    demimondian says:

    Sociopathic, completely rational, and completely amoral

    Actually, that’s characteristic of sociopathic personality disorder. Sociopathic detachment can actually be one of the most horrifying things you can ever encounter. So urbane, so cool, so dispassionate.

    So…terrifying and inhuman.

  61. 61
    DougJ says:

    Ric, not to be a jerk, but your post made so little sense that I thought I was reading a David Brooks column.

    I have one question for the torture-lovers: whatever happened to the battle for the hearts and minds of the Islamic world? You can’t waterboard your way to hearts and minds.

  62. 62
    Perry Como says:

    You can’t waterboard your way to hearts and minds.

    That’s why we have electric drills.

  63. 63
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Whether or not torture works is irrelevant. You do yourselves a disservice by discussing it in those terms.

    Whether or not torture is moral (ethical, good, Democratic, whatever floats your boat) is irrelevant. You waste your time on tailchasing by going over it.

    Quite right! Everthing is irrelevant except for Ric’s utterly unsubstantiated hypothesis.

    Confirming that you will not use torture (however defined) is saying that you do not want information. The captured enemy simply shuts up, or jeers at you. That’s even if you don’t descend into moonbattery and define slow room service as “torture”. The present situation, which amounts to letting the captured enemy define “torture”, may well be the worst of both worlds.

    I guess we should have sent all the intel boys in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, et al to the front lines. They couldn’t possibly have been getting any information from prisoners since, in those conflicts, our official position was that we did not torture.

  64. 64
    Tractarian says:

    If you’re opposed to torture on moral grounds, why even address the subject of utility? Somebody is not being completely honest here.

    Wrong. It is completely honest to have both moral and practical reasons for opposing torture.

    Just like it is completely honest to have both moral and practical reasons for invading Iraq.

    I, for one, think having multiple reasons for advocating something makes your case stronger, not weaker.

    Also Richard, why didn’t you mention the false confession signed by McCain? Was that also proof that torture “works”?

  65. 65
    CaseyL says:

    Over at RedState, Mark I has posted an approving review of Krauthammer’s Guide to the Wonderful World of Torture. Very fond of torture they are, over there.

    One of the hapless non-insane commentors, SunTzu, posted a response that began “Have you gone mad?” (which, at RS, is kind of like asking rain, “Are you wet?”) and went on to a point-by-point thesis on why torture is a bad thing. Since SunTzu quoted from an anti-torture advocacy group, the entire post was dismissed as “agitprop.” At RS, anti-torture is a purely parisan position, and an UnAmerican one at that.

    Back when the Abu Ghraib story broke, and the first passionate discussions raged in blogland, it became evident that, not only are there a lot of pro-torture advocates here in the former Home of the Brave, but that the pro-torture crowd really didn’t give a rat’s ass how efficacious torture is, or isn’t.

    Oh, they’d dance around the issue of efficacy right prettily. First, they tried to say that nobody knew if torture “worked.” Then, when faced with found oodles and oodles of cites from professional interrogators saying, no, torture doesn’t work, the torture-lovers ran that “ticking time bomb” scenario they’re so fond of. When that argument was countered by pointing out its numerous fallacies, they’d fall back on the argument that no one can say that torture never works. (Actually, most often, torture-lovers would simply leave the discussion, then reappear on the next thread to repeat the same already-discredited arguments.)

    What emerged from all this was fairly simple: wingers like torture. For it’s own sake, apparently. They like the idea of using agony to prove their superiority. They like the objectification of “enemy” into a helpless victim they can torment, to show how much they hate “the enemy,” and to prove (to themselves, I suppose) that they’re not afraid.

    In other words, they like torture for many reasons, all of which are pathological, none of which have anything to do with a putative greater good.

    Trying to explain to wingers that torture is bad is shoveling shit against the tide. They’ve discovered a dark, fetid, sadistic side within themselves, and decided it’s the biggest turn-on ever. It’s very much as if they’ve found a new drug, and instantly got hooked on it.

    Might as well try to talk a meth user into going straight as try to talk wingers out of torture. I wonder how the habituation-tolerance-increased dosage cycle common in addictions will manifest in torture-loving wingers. Let’s just say, I hope none of them have access to animals or small children.

  66. 66
    demimondian says:

    [Torture supporters] like the objectification of “enemy” into a helpless victim they can torment, to show how much they hate “the enemy,” and to prove (to themselves, I suppose) that they’re not afraid.

    I’ll give you the first half of this, in many case, but not the second. I suspect that a cross-sectional study of torture supporters would show that torture satifies a revenge fantasy — and, face it, how many of us can’t evoke the face of that bully, that alpha-girl who made our lives miserable? Fortunately, none of us were able to satisfy the urge for ultimate revenge…to have reduced…err, him or her…to a pile of bleeding, crying, weeping cripple, over whom we have the power of life or death.

    That’s why torture is evil — because it lets us give way to those all too human inhuman urges which torment each of us. And each time we do that, they appear less inhuman to us, and we lose more and more of our humanity.

  67. 67
    BIRDZILLA says:

    McCain was held at the infamous HANOI HILTON and many were the victims of tourter and remember that after BILL CLINTON left the whitehouse he paid a visit to vietnam asking about all those who were kept there

  68. 68
    smijer says:

    Hey, Ric… ooooooooooh you’re tough minded and efficient…. Wouldn’t happen to be single, would you? I just love a man for whom pragmatic issues of beating the enemy is so much more masculinely important than silly little girly things about basic decency or morality… Sign me up for some Ric-booty… hell, serve me up the whole Brute Squad!

  69. 69
    smijer says:

    P.S. I don’t want me any of those sissy pants girly men that believe you can get good, or better, information out of people with tactics other than threats of torture… like offers of reduced sentencing, or a second chance at life among the civilized…

    Sure, it may be “true” in that ivory-tower, works better according to statitics way, but can you feel it in your beautiful, engorged penis, and your huge, hair testicles? I don’t think so…

    e-mail me for my phone number. Only if you’re a real man.

  70. 70
    John Cole says:

    If torture really didn’t work, there wouldn’t even be a debate about the moral dimension, but once you admit that it does, the moral question becomes paramount.

    This is the rocket science of the thing, actually.

    I think we both agree that torture can ‘break’ someone, but I think we will have to agree to disagree on what we call ‘working.’

  71. 71
    ppGaz says:

    That’s why we have electric drills.

    DougJ, it’s not nice to pretend to answer yourself.

  72. 72
    jg says:

    I find it interesting that people hear ‘torture doesn’t work’ being said by anti-torture crowds and think they can counter that by giving an example of torture being effective. Of course a guilty man will give it up if you torture him. No one is saying that won’t happen. They’re saying ‘torture doesn’t work’ because an innocent man will give it up if you torture him.

  73. 73
    Ancient Purple says:

    If torture really didn’t work, there wouldn’t even be a debate about the moral dimension, but once you admit that it does, the moral question becomes paramount.

    So, where is your evidence that torture is working?

  74. 74

    If torture really didn’t work, there wouldn’t even be a debate about the moral dimension, but once you admit that it does, the moral question becomes paramount.

    Actually you’re way off the mark on this assumption.

    You see, when attempting to discourage a policy you disagree with, it is in your best interest to give multiple reasons as why the policy is bad. Certainly not all people are going to agree on the moral issue of not torturing terrorists. Therefore, in order to sway the people who don’t care about the moral issue of torture, the effectiveness of torture–or lack there of in this case–is used as second reason to discourage it. That way, people can see that from either viewpoint, the policy is wrong.

    This isn’t rocket science at all. It is common sense.

  75. 75
    Geek, Esq. says:

    We know only one thing about torture: that it gets people to talk. We have no idea whether the information is true or not Torture victims will tell the torturers exactly what they think they want to hear. They’ll invent information. They’ll do anything to make it stop.

    But producing actionable intelligence is really besides the point. The torture fans support it for the same reasons people have tortured others for centuries–it gives them a power trip. They want to take those bad guys and show them who’s really in charge. Whether they talk or not, those sons of bitches are gonna suffer.

    Hell, the folks at Newsmax and Ace would probably support cannibalism too–and question the manhood of any squeamish liberals who wouldn’t want to take a bite out of the enemy.

  76. 76
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Back when the Abu Ghraib story broke, and the first passionate discussions raged in blogland, it became evident that, not only are there a lot of pro-torture advocates here in the former Home of the Brave, but that the pro-torture crowd really didn’t give a rat’s ass how efficacious torture is, or isn’t.

    Seems that the GWoT is bringing out the latent sadism in many of my countrymen. Ick.
    My view on torture: We shouldn’t do it because we’re Americans, and we’re better than that. And if it makes fighting terrorism that much harder, so be it.

  77. 77
    Sine.Qua.Non says:

    John, you are a god.

  78. 78
    Fledermaus says:

    Confirming that you will not use torture (however defined) is saying that you do not want information. The captured enemy simply shuts up, or jeers at you.

    That’s right because no one confesses to police in the US.

  79. 79
    Flint says:

    “Neither side of this debate is doing Americans any service whatever; the only service being done is for the Islamists, whether the debater is “pro” torture or “anti”. Both moonbats and wingnuts are busily confirming Osama bin Laden’s thesis that Americans are an easy kill because they aren’t serious. I give the Left an edge in the Evil Sweepstakes because they’re the ones pushing it, but the Right is just as guilty. The net result will be an increase in attacks, because you just handed them a sizeable bonus easily converted to attack power. Congratulations.”

    – Regards,
    Ric

    Actually Ric… you are irrelevant! IF torture worked the millions of women the Inquisition burned at the stake after confessing to be witches… were witches!

    Also, after the torture was exposed to the American public at Abu Ghraib… they saw the insurgent attacks double. It wasn’t because of the American press, the Iraqis were aware because of the ones they tortured and released.

    That’s why 80% of them in a recent British poll said that they want the Americans to leave and 45% of them said the insurgents were justified in attacking the Americans.

    The Generals know that you can’t win a war against an insurgency that has popular support. You need the Iraqis to tell you where they are, what their plans are, where you can find them to kill them and the Iraqis don’t seem to want to do that.

    Name one insurgent war in the last century where an invading force has won over a guerilla force that had popular support.

  80. 80
    Steve S says:

    Welcome to the modern Republican Party, John.

    newsmax.com is the standard source of news for your fellow wingnuts.

    This isn’t like Ted Rall or Ward whateverhisname… newsmax.com is mainstream Republicanism.

  81. 81
    Perry Como says:

    Name one insurgent war in the last century where an invading force has won over a guerilla force that had popular support.

    The War on Drugs!

    I’m proud of the fact that our war on nouns is proceeding quite successfully.

  82. 82
    scs says:

    Just a question, how would you treat someone like Zarqawi after you captured him and wanted to find out where Bin Laden was hiding? Would you read Harry Potter to him, or would you waterboard him?

  83. 83
    Martin says:

    There’s another detail about the McCain torture that hasn’t been brought up here yet. Here is a quote from McCain’s recent article to Newsweek on how torture doesn’t result in accurate information:

    “I was once physically coerced to provide my enemies with the names of the members of my flight squadron, information that had little if any value to my enemies as actionable intelligence. But I did not refuse, or repeat my insistence that I was required under the Geneva Conventions to provide my captors only with my name, rank and serial number. Instead, I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse.”

    The article’s at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10019179/site/newsweek

    And there’s no doubt that Newsmax purposely ignored this little detail. How could you possibly imagine the torture techniques “working” if that’s the result??? That falsehood under torture was the entire point of McCain’s article!!

  84. 84
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Would you read Harry Potter to him, or would you waterboard him?

    I’ll go with the third option: slapping you upside the head for insulting my intelligence.

  85. 85
    scs says:

    Nice dodge. Well, not that nice.

  86. 86
    scs says:

    Here’s another question. If you capture someone who will get the death penalty for his crimes (Zarqawi, Bin Laden) why not torture them if it will save someone else’s life? Just asking.

  87. 87
    rilkefan says:

    Ric:

    Defense is more expensive than offense usually by an order of magnitude.

    Isn’t this wrong? The Powell Doctrine sure seems to contradict it, and the Russian experience in Afghanistan and ours in Iraq as well, and I’d go on but actual military folk comment here.

    As to whether the rest of the comment is “sociopathic” or just wrong, let me deplore the dismissal of dissenting views through psychiatrization.

  88. 88
    rilkefan says:

    Zarqawi has no more idea where OBL is than you do. You want the Potter or the water?

    More seriously, if you had al-Zawahiri and wanted to know where OBL is, do you think he’d tell you useful truth whatever you did? He’d say, look in cave x, y, and z, which were all booby-trapped when he was captured, and in the meantime OBL would move someplace new posthaste.

  89. 89
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    If you capture someone who will get the death penalty for his crimes (Zarqawi, Bin Laden) why not torture them if it will save someone else’s life?

    Because the odds aren’t very good useful information will be gained, so it’s doubtful anyone’s life will be saved.
    And if that’s the case, all you’re left with is gratuitous cruelty toward a condemned man. May as well let prison guards beat on death row inmates.

  90. 90
    Perry Como says:

    Here’s another question. If you capture someone who will get the death penalty for his crimes (Zarqawi, Bin Laden) why not torture them if it will save someone else’s life? Just asking.

    The interrogation should start with a good beating. A day or ten of sleep deprevation should follow. Maggot infested food and rancid water is all the subject should be given. After that the subject should be injected with sensory enhancing drugs. Then the real interrogation should begin.

    The options are endless at this point. Electroshock is one possiblity. Attach electrodes to various body parts and apply voltage as the muscles spasm, causing severe pain and disorientation. With enough time you can cause internal bleeding and pain that it will persist after the torture session is concluded.

    If you want to get really interesting you could move to inserting various glass implements into orifices and breaking the glass. A glass rod into the urethra or a flourescent bulb into the rectum.

    Is this getting you excited yet, scs?

    The medieval methods of torture could be brought back into play. Thumbscrews, iron boots, pears, etc. Maybe a bit of molten metal in the ear drum will make someone talk? Or how about the Judas cradle?

    As long as we do it in the name of Freedom, anything is justifiable.

  91. 91
    Ancient Purple says:

    Just a question, how would you treat someone like Zarqawi after you captured him and wanted to find out where Bin Laden was hiding? Would you read Harry Potter to him, or would you waterboard him?

    If Zarqawi was captured by American forces, they would hold an immediate press conference to parade photos of him around and show how the GWoT was making progress. By that time, OBL would be one the move finding a hiding place that Zarqawi new nothing about while they tortured Zarqawi for information on his whereabouts.

    Again I ask, where is the evidence that torture is working?

  92. 92
    Kazinski says:

    I don’t think we should use torture except under the most extreme circumstances. But the problem with the McCain amendment is that it uses the 8th amendment standard of Cruel and Unusual punishment which the courts have interpreted so stringently that it would outlaw all coercive techniques. I don’t see any problem with treating a terrorist more harshly than a housewife arrested for shoplifting. I’ll take some abuse for this but I’d go at least as far as saying it would be OK to treat a terrorist as harshly as a Singeporean teenager convicted of defacing a building with graffiti. But I am ashamed of myself.

    As to Abu-Gharib, I didn’t consider that torture. It was abuse, but not torture. Torture to me is causing serious physical damage or mutilation and or intense physical or pshycological pain. Even severe embarrassment or wanton breaking of social taboos isn’t quite there. Cutting off fingers with a dull axe is torture, anything to do with testicles is torture. Underwear on the head is just gross.

  93. 93
    Random Guy says:

    The people who are actually defending the use of torture literally make me sick.

    How are you still calling yourself a Republican, John, with people like these representing the mainstream of your party?

    Most perceptive quote on this thread so far?

    Of course a guilty man will give it up if you torture him. No one is saying that won’t happen. They’re saying ‘torture doesn’t work’ because an innocent man will give it up if you torture him.

  94. 94
    MM says:

    John,

    Amazing post. This is the reason that I read Balloon Juice.

    The appaling thing about the torture advocates is that they don’t seem to think that maybe we’ll torture someone who knows nothing useful, or may in fact be innocent. If you torture a foot soldier who only knows that he was supposed to plant a bomb on X corner, you can beat the guy for days if you want, and I’m sure he’ll tell you all kinds of fantastic stories, but that doesn’t mean that there’s any accurate information in there.

    Although for some, the truly disgusting thing is that they don’t seem to care whether it’s productive, as long as someone who hates us gets his ass handed to him.

  95. 95
    Perry Como says:

    I’m still curious on where the lines are drawn.

    Torture to me is causing serious physical damage or mutilation and or intense physical or pshycological pain.

    Playing Air America at 110dB, 24 hours a day for a week would cause me irreparable harm.

    What line are you willing you cross?

    Does a mock execution cross the line?
    Does a sharp axe make it ok?

  96. 96
    stickler says:

    We’re fighting an insurgency in Iraq. The primary goal of our forces is to separate the insurgents from the civilian population which is giving them support (intelligence, food, “atta-boy” encouragement).

    Is it the proposition of some people here that the best way to do this — to “win hearts and minds,” to quote that fabulous Vietnam-era phrase — is to torture? In the name of freedom?

    “Nice testicles you have there. It’d be a shame if anybody put an electrode on ’em. Say you love America. And tell us where Osama is.”

    Judas fucking Priest. Just from the utilitarian standpoint torture makes no sense. How can sentient humans argue otherwise? Are we being submerged in a river of stupid?

  97. 97
    stickler says:

    Kazinski:

    As to Abu-Gharib, I didn’t consider that torture. It was abuse, but not torture. Torture to me is causing serious physical damage or mutilation and or intense physical or pshycological pain. Even severe embarrassment or wanton breaking of social taboos isn’t quite there. Cutting off fingers with a dull axe is torture, anything to do with testicles is torture. Underwear on the head is just gross.

    Hey, remember when some lighthearted Army folks took pictures of a hapless Iraqi corpse in a body bag, covered with ice? The guy just up and died! Hoo-boy, that was just gross. But nothing more. Oh, and there was that Kabul taxi driver who was beaten to death. But that was just some jackanapes run amok, or something.

  98. 98
    Perry Como says:

    We’re fighting an insurgency in Iraq. The primary goal of our forces is to separate the insurgents from the civilian population

    And this is the crux of the conflict. We should toss all suspected insurgents into a river. If they float, they are insurgents. If they sink, they are part of the civilian population.

  99. 99
    ether says:

    I think folks John, and his leftist compatriots, are intentionally skewing the debate on torture.

    This wasn’t an “article ostensibly supporting torture as a necessary and useful interrogation method,” rather, its purpose was to refute the constant argument that “torture doesn’t work.”

    Torture can work.

    Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.

    I know you feel self-righteous and compassionate for being against torture but remember your own admission that it doesn’t take a “genius to figure out that if you beat or abuse an individual enough, he/she will eventually ‘break.’”

    Stop trying to portray those of us who support qualified torture as being those who support it merely out of sadistic spite for the enemy.

    I do believe the “ticking time bomb” scenario to be plausible, however laughable that may be to some of you, and want our representatives to have the authority to authorize any action deemed entirely necessary in saving lives.

    That doesn’t mean I like the things we may have to do, but I don’t want our leaders to go to jail should they be forced to utilize them.

    Aside from that, philosophically, how do you reconcile being for killing, and the killing of innocents, to serve political ends, yet against intentionally inflicting pain, or suffering, or fear of death, to serve the same political ends?

  100. 100
    Synaptech says:

    In addition to the futility of torturing genuinely bad guy, only to get worthless information much of the time, there is the problem of many captives not really being bad guys.

    As I understand it, a whole lot of people in Iraq are rounded up in sweeps, without much sorting out. Some are arrested on the say-so of someone who may have personal reasons for wanting to see an individual hauled away to prison.

    So, some potential torture subjects may just be completely innocent people who don’t know anything of any conceivable value; they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    This isn’t just an unfortunate mistake, folks, it’s every bit as evil as what Saddam did to people. And if we’re going to operate on his level, what right have we to judge him?

    McCain is right, as is John, as are so many others. Torture is impractical, morally wrong and does bad things to those who do the torturing.

  101. 101
    stickler says:

    Ether needs to define his terms:

    Torture can work.

    “Work?” Oooh, this term needs some definition.

    Yeah, torture can work just fine. The Spanish Inquisition got thousands of people to admit that they were witches. Stalin got thousands of people to admit that they were wreckers and Trotskyists. After the June 1944 assassination attempt, the SS got thousands of Germans to admit that, yes, they wanted Hitler dead. If it’s coerced confessions you want, then hell yeah, torture can “work.”

    But actionable intelligence? Well, the jury is still out on that. And furthermore, if you’re fighting an insurgency, the negative side affects are enormous. Do you realize this? Do you care? I’d bet our troops in Iraq do.

  102. 102
    Captain America says:

    Yep, this is what you call a ‘fuckhead’ article. Written by fuckheads.

  103. 103
    ether says:

    stickler:

    “Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.”

    How do you reconcile being for killing but against inflicting pain?

  104. 104
    stickler says:

    How do you reconcile being for killing but against inflicting pain?

    Who said I was “for killing?”

    But even if I were, let’s remember we’re trying to occupy a country where a good number of people are decidedly hostile to us. And are trying to kill our soldiers at a distressing rate.

    So do we make things better by torturing? Can you show any data points which would support such a morally bankrupt thesis? Any data at all?

    If not, then we’re just torturing for non-utilitarian reasons. Because we get our jollies by frying testicles? Because we like the challenge of growing the insurgency through brutality? Because we envy the fear the Nazis inspired? Because our leaders are sadistic shitheads?

  105. 105
    Sirkowski says:

    Would these (presumed or not) terrorists be tortured if they were white Christian Europeans?

  106. 106
    Stupid Git says:

    Thank you for highlighting this piece of drivel from Newsmax. I wonder if these intellectuals would be fore torture if a Democrat was advocating it because they truly believe it is justified or if they just don’t want to admit thier fearless commander in chief wrong on this? I worry that so much of these arguments are made with more of a determinatin to be on the “winning team” than to truly do what is right.

    Thanks again.

  107. 107
    jbz says:

    ether, ric:

    Let me ask a question here. Are you approaching this issue from a standpoint of pure expediency, or are you approaching it with any philosophy behind it? I personally believe that one of the primary things that makes the United States of America what it is is the Constitution – which is philosophy, embodied. It is the very antithesis of expediency. As such, even approaching the question of whether to torture based on whether on not it ‘works’ is, to me, betraying the ideals which we hold up when we decide to uphold the Constitution as a guide for our nation and society.

    President Bush has made much of ‘spreading Democracy.’ We can assume he speaks of spreading Democracy in the American image. If this is the case, he is speaking of spreading a constitutional democracy; one based on ideals, set forth where all citizens of a polity can refer to them so that disputes about the operation of a nation can be argued and arbitrated on a standardized playing field. If this is the case, then the very notion of using torture to solve our problems – which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution of our nation – means that we don’t take the ‘spread of Democracy’ seriously. Moerover, it means that we consider Democracy something that is only applicable to us, and can be withheld from all others in order to preserve our way of life.

    While that may be a defensible point of view, it sure isn’t what we’ve been saying, and it sure makes all those attacks on us that you decry look damn well justified. We’re in their country. If we’re willing to throw out all our own rules, on their ground, to preserve our own playground, then why should they feel any compunction about what they do to us? And the cycle digs deeper.

    This is not a ‘love your fellow man’ argument. Quite the contrary. I believe in killing the bastards whenever you can. But I also believe in doing so without giving up that which fundamentally makes us American – because if we do that, then not only do they ‘win’ – which is what the hardline Republicans keep saying preventing the use of torture will do; WRONG – but more importantly, we LOSE. The whole shooting match. No matter what they do.

    I think we can win without resorting to torture and other essentially un-American methods. I think that they are seductive, appearing to offer results while in fact making the situation far worse; stiffening resistance and creating chaos and false intelligence as well as losing us ourselves.

    That’s why I, for one, react so strongly and with such disbelief when my fellow Americans defend torture. I don’t hear them defending my country. I hear them actively throwing it away. And that makes them an even more insidious enemy than the insurgent fighting in his home country against my brother American soldier – because while the insurgent can’t vote, the former can. I don’t have to worry about the insurgents rewriting how my country operates. But torture defenders? They’re trying to do that, right under my goddamn nose.

    Which makes them my problem. Right here. Right now.

  108. 108
    ether says:

    Stickler:

    “So do we make things better by torturing? Can you show any data points which would support such a morally bankrupt thesis? Any data at all?”

    “Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.”

    Also, you still didn’t reconcile being for killing yet against inflicting pain or suffering. you simply asked if it’s helpful or not, which I agree it is obviosly nowork t helpful for propagada purposes.

    That doesn’t take away the fact torture CAN

  109. 109
    ether says:

    Stickler:

    “So do we make things better by torturing? Can you show any data points which would support such a morally bankrupt thesis? Any data at all?”

    Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.

    Also, you still haven’t reconciled being for killing yet against inflicting pain or suffering. You simply asked if it’s helpful or not, which I agree it’s not, when talking about “winning hearts and minds.”

    That doesn’t take away the fact that torture CAN work and should be an option in extreme circumstances.

    I know this distinction won’t help stop you from constructing your straw-man.

    You want to believe that those like me, who support qualified torture, want to see it happen.

    Do I think Abu-Ghraib should have happened?

    Of course not, that wasn’t a ticking-timebomb scenario, that was jackasses being cruel on the basis of crappy orders, too vague to provide any concrete boundaries.

    This vagueness is the result of weak people not being able to decide when it is and isn’t okay to do the morally reprehensible in combatting the greater evil.

    People like John.

  110. 110
    ether says:

    Stickler:

    “Who said I was “for killing?””

    If you’re a pacifist, we probably shouldn’t even bother debating this. At least then you’d have a clear moral position.

    Unlike the have your cake and eat it too, crowd.

  111. 111
    ether says:

    jbz:

    Point well taken.

    However, I simply disagree that the ticking-timebomb scenario we are faced with today, and the expediency that it requires, is what the framers envisioned when creating a nation built on just principles.

    You speak of the enemies desire to commit atrocities, and the lure of revenge and the cycle it spawns, yet again you confuse the position I am advocating.

    I think my view is more in line with a reasonable, just Democracy. Qualified torture, to me, does not advocate torture as a form of punishment and is only used as a last resort in extreme circumstances. This is what the framers intended. You try and justify your position philosophically, but like stickler, cannot reconcile a clearly Kantian view of torture, with a clearly utilitarian view of killing.

    It’s confused and irrational, and I fear the result of a society afraid to make choices.

  112. 112

    Dawn Patrol

    Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics – from the MilBlogs, other blogs, and the mainstream media. If you’re a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link…

  113. 113
    OCSteve says:

    I simply disagree that beating McCain until he signs a random ‘confession’ in a language he does not understand somehow proves that doing the same to others will provide us with necessary intel.

    Can we beat him until he goes back to being a real conservative? :)

  114. 114
    Perry Como says:

    This vagueness is the result of weak people not being able to decide when it is and isn’t okay to do the morally reprehensible in combatting the greater evil.

    I have a propsal to deal with high energy prices. We place magnets above and below Jefferson’s, Paine’s, et al, heads and feet and wrap their skeletons in wire. Then we can have ether spout philosophical points about the moral justification(s?) for torture.

    This is what the framers intended.

    Please, enlighten us all with the framers’ opinions on torture. Assume we aren’t fans of our founding fathers and don’t have shelves of books filled with their writings. Quotes in context would be most helpful.

  115. 115
    RobR says:

    If someone blasted me in the nuts with a taser, I would admit to being Mary, Queen of Scots in front of whatever notary or arm of the press you wanted.

    I would probably also devote the rest of my life to hunting down and killing the bastards responsible for tasering me in the nuts.

    And if the people responsible happened to taser a bunch of other people in the nuts to put them in a like-minded frame of mind? Goodbye, Brooklyn!

    To me, that’s probably why torture’s not the best long-term plan in getting people to stop blowing our stuff up.

  116. 116
    nyrev says:

    John —

    So far that’s 2 Republican commenters who’ve come here specifically to tell you you’re a bad American. Plus Jeff G., who came here specifically to tell you that you are over-reacting to “coercive interrogation.” It must suck to be a Republican with a sense of decency these days. The internet should totally double your salary.

  117. 117
    John Cole says:

    Ether-

    Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.

    But, by all means, lets codify it as an acceptable practice!

    And again, I must have a different concept of what constitues ‘working.’ If, for example, you can torture anyone until they ‘break,’ and will give you useless information, I fail to see how that has worked. Sounds to me like you have just beaten someone until they tell you what you want, rather than what you need. not sure how that proves torture ‘works.’

    This vagueness is the result of weak people not being able to decide when it is and isn’t okay to do the morally reprehensible in combatting the greater evil.

    Yes, with tough guys like you around, I am allowed to be ‘weak.’

    GFY.

  118. 118
    Krista says:

    This vagueness is the result of weak people not being able to decide when it is and isn’t okay to do the morally reprehensible in combatting the greater evil.

    I think it takes a lot more strength of character to not give in and do the morally reprehensible. You sound like a typical storybook villain, laughing at his opponent for being “weak”, just because he’s not ruthless and amoral. The ruthless and amoral, however, usually wind up being the authors of their own downfall. And once you’ve sunk to a certain level, it becomes a lot easier to justify it the next time, and then the next time. And before you know it, you’re the bad guy.

  119. 119
    dabobbo says:

    God bless you, Mr. Cole.
    Anyone remember Lloyd Bucher?
    “I had [crewmen] come to me and say that they never really appreciated how great it was to be an American until they had the misfortune to have been captured and stuck in a country that is completely devoid of humanity and truthfulness.” (December 24, 1968)

  120. 120
    Krista says:

    Is that what you want for your country? For it to be reviled instead of respected? Strength and humanity are not mutually exclusive.

  121. 121
    John Cole says:

    The other thing I love about ‘tough guys’ like Ether is how I am branded as feeling ‘morally superior’ to others for opposing torturre, as if I am one of the blowhard moralists always telling people how to live their lives. I am not.

    But this is really a no-brainer. We know that we have better methods for extracting information than torture. We know that people will simply tell you anything if you beat the living shit out of them. We know (in retrospect) that most of the people we captured didn’t know shit, most of all they don’t know anything actionable. We also know that we don’t know what people know, so embracing a policy of torture means we have to torture everyone because, again, we don’t know what they ‘know.’

    And you don’t have to be the fucking Pope to figure out torture is wrong. So I don’t think I feel morally superior to people for coming to the logical conclusion that torture is unnecessary, although I might be compared to folks like Ether. But I know I am a flawed man. If I were 100% certain someone was a terrorist intent on killing bunches of Americans (heell- even one), I think I would probably be able to be as ‘manly’ and ‘strong’ as Ether.

    But we don’t know that, and we know that contrary to what Ether states, torture doesn’t really ‘work.’ So why, for the love of everything, support it?

    And since torture is so damned effective, why don’t we start instituting it domestically. Let police torture suspects. I mean, after all- torture ‘works.’ Right ether?

  122. 122
    docG says:

    The 35 page “Plan for Iraq” is soon the be made public by President Bush. You want torture? Look for some logic in that sumbitch.

    It will be: approve a constitution, hold elections, prop up some semblance of an Iraqi military and police infrastructure, start leaving before American elections. Followed by: hey, our intelligence was bad-who could have seen that civil war and takeover by an Islamic dictatorship coming?

  123. 123

    […] Disgusting […]

  124. 124
    Ancient Purple says:

    Can we beat him until he goes back to being a real conservative?

    Using that standard, Bush, Cheney, Frist, DeLay, Hastert, and Santorum would be awfully bloody.

  125. 125
    Phillip J. Birmingham says:

    find it interesting that the people who oppose torture on the grounds that it’s un-American always throw in the old “and besides, it doesn’t work” trope. If you’re opposed to torture on moral grounds, why even address the subject of utility? Somebody is not being completely honest here.

    No, I think that people are being realistic — the torture apologists don’t particularly care whether it’s moral, but if it doesn’t work, some of them will be less fond of it.

  126. 126

    As to Abu-Gharib, I didn’t consider that torture. It was abuse, but not torture.

    WHAT!!!!!!!!!

    Are you fucking kidding me?

  127. 127

    Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.

    Bullshit. The pro-torture people here have been saying “torture works”, not “torture can work”. Saying that “torture works” is the same as saying torture is effective.

    You are clearly defending the use of torture from the “effectiveness” aspect.

  128. 128
    Scott says:

    Disgusting Fuckers don’t even allow comments.

    More ChickenHawks.

  129. 129
    Scott says:

    The creep is a waste of skin

  130. 130
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    Torture seems to “work” far better as a way to force people to make fake confessions, or to denounce their own side, than it does in actually getting reliable information out of them. (Of course, the way the Iraq War is going at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bushites start utilizing it for their first two purposes.)

    I’m more interested, though, in seeing John’s opinion of Charles Krauthammer’s partial defense of torture in the “Weekly Standard” — including his statement that a single Cabinet Secretary ought to have the right to decide by himself when it’s justified.

    As for John’s blanket opposition to the death penalty: pigs are flying, Satan is shivering, and I’m to his Right on an issue — I’ve seen too many cases of murder for cold-blooded profit, or for amusement, to embrace total opposition to executions. But we have no business carrying them out until something like Sen. Leahy’s bill to provide capital defendants with adequate legal protection is carried out. Instead, as Emily Bazelon pointed out Monday in “Slate”, we’re apparently on the verge of moving radically the OTHER way:

    “As for the habeas rights of run-of-the-mill [non-terrorist] criminal defendants, the proposed revision to the Patriot Act would take from the federal courts, and give to the Attorney General, the authority to decide that a state has a system for providing ‘competent counsel’ for death-row prisoners. A state that is so designated may then speed up and limit federal habeas review of its death-row cases. If Congress lets the country’s chief prosecutor decide which states qualify, then legislators would be shoving the courts out of the way precisely because they are a neutral arbiter with an institutional concern about procedural fairness.”

  131. 131
    Richard James says:

    There’s a very good post on the ‘Corner’ right now from a military intelligence guy who examines the issue very thoughtfully, and comes out against it. His basic argument is what I have called the “Andy Sipowicz” model. Remember the episode of NYPD Blue where Andy tortures the kidnapping suspect? It was the ‘ticking-bomb’ scenario writ small. They knew they had the right guy but he wasn’t giving up where the victim was buried: in order to get the info, they sent in Andy to torture him. Where this bears out into both the real world, and also the philosophy of the poster to the ‘Corner’, is that everybody knew that this was morally and legally wrong. The chief knew it, the other cops on the case knew it. Most of all, Andy knew it. The insitutionalized moral repugnance to what was about to take place kept the torturer inside a box, outside the mainstream of what was acceptable. Exactly where it should be. If CIA ops ever get the ticking-bomb planter, you can guarantee that they will start pulling out his fingernails, whatever the law says- and then they should be held accountable to the laws that forbid their actions. Care to make any guesses on how a jury would find? There’s a monster in everybody- civilization lets us keep it down deep where it needs to be. Legalizing or authorizing torture threatens to make monstrous actions acceptable, and that will threaten our society far more than Al-Qaeda ever can.

  132. 132
    jbz says:

    ether:

    Just principles are something that you can’t have in some cases but not in others. They are all or nothing, or they are not principles. See your dictionary. The so-called ‘ticking-time-bomb’ scenario is crap. Let me clarify something else: there is nothing in my position that states that, were I 100% sure that the person tied to the chair in front of me knew where the hidden atom bomb was, I would not hold a pistol to his head or shoot him in the kneecap if he refused to talk.

    What it *does* say is that it is ironbound that I would face a true court for my actions after the fact. That I *knew* that I would. That I would be held accountable for any and all actions committed there and then.

    I would hope that, were I 100% sure that the person in front of me knew where that atom bomb was, I would do whatever was required to find it – and pay the penalty later, if that was what was required, to save the lives of my fellow Americans. But the knowledge that that court was waiting would prevent me from pulling out that pistol *unless* that need was damn all overwhelming, and I was damn sure I could convince that court, in open forum, that what I did was justifiable.

    Where this whole thing becomes reprehensible is that the legal loopholes being proposed by VP Cheney and company mean that torture becomes not a method of last resort that requires a desperation price or 100% certainty of the ‘ticking time bomb’ you mention – but a routine tool, one which can be applied without fear of consequences for mistakes. It becomes something that is a normal operation of our government against its enemies. And given the way our government has begun to increasingly begin seeing its own citizens as is enemies, this is more than simply worrisome.

  133. 133
    rekroc says:

    The “ticking time bomb” scenario is a load of crap, especially as an argument to legalize torture. Personally, I think it’s fodder for people who don’t get out enough and watch way too much TV.

    First of all, there’s absolutely no evidence or logical reason to believe that torturing someone is going to give you the information that you need. Of course, it’s not an *impossibility* that some actionable intelligence may result. It’s also not impossible to hit a bullseye by closing your eyes and tossing a handfull of darts at a dartboard.

    If the person being tortured really does possess the information you need (and there’s almost never any guarantee of that) and the timer is ticking away, what reason would this terrorist have to not send you on a wild goose chase and stall until his goal is achieved? If anything, this scenario would seem to work more favorably for the terrorist, because the bomb’s timer would also serve as the prominently visible finish line within his grasp.

    Secondly, U.S.-inflicted torture would supposedly be reserved for extreme and uncommon cases, right? If so, why would it need to be legalized? That would simply make it much easier to broach, both physically and psychologically. Consequently, it would become more common and widespread. We’ve seen that happen already as a result of the Bush administration’s “by any means necessary” approach to our War on Terra.

    Keeping torture illegal and out of American policy doesn’t make it impossible to do, but it keeps it firmly pigeonholed into that mythical “ticking time bomb” realm. In other words: if you firmly believe that torturing a certain prisoner is going to diffuse that time bomb and prevent mass casualties, go ahead. Put your own reputation and life on the line. If you’re right, it’s highly doubtful that you’ll be seen by the American people as a criminal and thrown in jail. You’d probably be hailed as a great hero. But if you’re wrong, there will be severe consequences.

  134. 134
    jg says:

    I do believe the “ticking time bomb” scenario to be plausible, however laughable that may be to some of you, and want our representatives to have the authority to authorize any action deemed entirely necessary in saving lives.

    If you think we need to make torure legal because of the ‘ticking timebomb’ scenario then you haven’t thought things through. Right now murder is illegal, you can’t kill someone. But if there are mitigating circumstances the murderer can avoid prison. Torture is illegal but if there was a ticking timebomb and we stopped it by going that extra distance I don’t see the torturer going to jail. We don’t need to lift the ban on torture on the grounds that torture might be needed in an unlikely scenerio. Our court system can handle the situation.

  135. 135
    Sharp Tools says:

    The weakness of evil men, or the evil of weak men?

    John Cole at Balloon Juice addresses the ongoing debate about the use of torture by American forces and agents thusly. While it appears that Mr. Cole and I might not agree on much (I’m not sure, this is on a…

  136. 136
    Rex Carpenter says:

    The point, the point, the POINT is that WE do not torture, that WE draw the line regarding our OWN behavior, that WE will not stoop to the abominable behavior of tyrants and sadists, because a principle of behavior does not come with the convenience of expedient exceptions. It’s a principle, stupid!

    IOW, I hold this truth to be Self-Evident, that All People are created Equal (not only Americans) and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable (that means NO ONE can take them away) rights, and that among these (so this is not a complete list) are life, liberty, and the etc.

    Effectiveness is no argument for criminal behavior. Otherwise, I only need to be hungry enough to justify stealing your chickens, or cold enough to justify stealing your coat, or in love enough to justify killing my rival.

    By the way, why is it that no one is suggesting the use of scopolamine (sp?) or other compliance-inducing drugs, should lifesaving information actually be at stake? How did we get boxed into this dichotomous trap of “torture or die?”

  137. 137
    Longshot says:

    Ric Locke said:

    “What’s relevant is this: Defense is more expensive than offense usually by an order of magnitude. Select rock, pick it up, throw; easy, cheap, simple. Block the rock, evade it, wear something that makes it not hurt: complex, expensive, difficult. The only thing more expensive than defense is losing.”

    Not a big fan of judo, are you.

  138. 138
    val says:

    Ric:

    Have you ever questioned anyone for anything? You don’t need to go that far to get information. Psychological means are much more effective, plain and simple.

    Consider this: in the end, most people value their own life above any one cause or ideal. The only thing that can surpass the human instinct for self preservation is maybe preservation of your bloodline-i.e. saving your children’s lives.

    Consider this: Every day in low level interrogation, for example, the police getting someone to snitch on a neighborhood kingpin, people break like hearts without even being touched. Of course these are not national security issues, and also I will give you that this is a highly volatile situation, and in addition there is the religious aspect. But that too, that promise of virginal paradise that many Americans believe dominate the middle-eastern man’s mind and motivations, has been exploited and blown way out of proportion. They want to live and be with their families just like anyone else. In most cases, any human being will sing like a fucking parakeet at the thought of just going to prison, not to mention a threat of any kind, threat to a family member. Pretty much, I am saying don’t underestimate the power of WORDS. The fear exists already without us having to actually torture or beat the shit out of someone. They are already afraid of us, we had the audacity to invade, bomb, burn, kill and maim without batting an eye. They have heard stories and see pictures and we are known worldwide as invaders, occupiers, imperialists. THEY ARE ALREADY AFRAID!

    Also many of the people being imprisoned and abused or tortured are innocent, victims of street sweeps or working guys with cell phones “that could detonate IEDs”.

  139. 139

    How do you trackback to this? I’ve written a little piece based on my comment on the contradictory arguments the anti-torturists are using.

  140. 140
    rekroc says:

    Apparently, Richard Bennett didn’t read any of the replies to his earlier post in this thread.

    Your argument makes no sense, Richard. Saying that torture is immoral and, on top of that, ineffective are not contradictory statements–no matter how many times you insist that they are.

    You also quote McCain’s admission that he gave his torturers little tidbits of useless information as proof that torture works, but failed to mention that he willingly signed his name to a confession that he couldn’t even read and gave up the names of some Green Bay Packers. All in all, I’d say McCain’s story is a good example of the *IN*effectiveness of torture.

  141. 141
    ether says:

    John Cole:

    Again you are skewing my position.

    I never held up torture as reliable, I am simply saying it should not be removed as an option.

    Also, if anyone would care to reconcile being for killing yet against inflicting suffering to achieve political ends, I would love to hear it.

    I noticed you avoided it, instead telling me to go fuck myself and continuing to build up your straw-man image of what my position entails.

    Thos afraid to do the necessary always resort to infering I somehow seek to torture others, rather than resorting to it in th emost extreme circumstances.

    Again John: read my first post…

    “Stating that “torture can work” is not saying that is reliable, preferrable, or morally correct. It is merely stating that it can work.”

    Where in that do you read that I see torture as an effective method?

  142. 142
    John Cole says:

    Ether- You started with the crap, stating that opposition to torture comes only from the ‘weak.’

    As to your repeated parsing, stating something works is stating it is ‘effective.’ If all you mean to say is that torture ‘works at breaking down people to confess to anything and everything,’ then sure, torture ‘works.’ IN which case, I will refer you back to the main body of the post.

    No shit, sherlock.

  143. 143
    ether says:

    So what I’m getting from JBZ, john Cole, and others is that if we know “100%” that the ticking-timebomb scenario is occuring they would be okay with resorting to torture, but should also be held liable in court although a jury would later release them of their charges for the sake of patriotism.

    This is the biggest crock of shit I have heard.

    So you agree torture should be used in extreme cirumstances, but only with a court review and subsequent dismissal, all for the sake of your own moral conscience.

    So basically, we should have laws against torture, but not apply them when the circumstance is deemed necessary.

    Kind of puts the kabosh on your moral superiority.

  144. 144
    ether says:

    John, I am referring to a blanket dismissal of torture as an option.

    I never said torture works.

    I said it CAN work.

    Saying something is ineffective and unreliable is entirely different from saying something doesn’t work at all.

    It isn’t parsing, it’s a clear distinction.

    One you refuse to include in your starw-man.

    Also, I’m still waiting for your moral reconciliation of being for killing yet appalled with inflicting pain.

  145. 145
    ether says:

    Also, as a fellow Xbox fan, I implore you to get Battlefield Modern Combat.

    I guarantee you will agree it is the best Xbox live game ever.

  146. 146
    Rex Carpenter says:

    Gamers do it alone!

  147. 147

    Your argument makes no sense, Richard. Saying that torture is immoral and, on top of that, ineffective are not contradictory statements—no matter how many times you insist that they are.

    It seems clear that torture is neither completely reliable or completely unreliable. It’s probably quite unreliable as a general rule, but that shouldn’t be the point if ones real objection is aesthetic, which I think is the main point. We don’t like torture because it makes us look bad, and we fear a backlash on account of that.

    The law on torture should say it’s not permitted, but there should be an exception for “ticking bomb” cases. That’s what we really expect of our agents, so let’s step up to it like real men and quit all this pussy-footing around.

  148. 148
    TTT says:

    Those who support and defend the use of torture are 100% unpatriotic. None of them actually cares about what makes America distinct from other nations–about the foundational values that made the whole experiment noteworthy and successful in the first place. All they care about is comfort and security wherever they happen to be living at the time. Send them to Cuba and they’d gurgle just as strong a defense of Castro’s torture as they have for Bush’s.

    They give aid and comfort to America’s enemies in the form of sacrificing the most important thing we have ever had: the moral high ground. Al-Qaeda can only take American lives–it is up to these anti-Constitutionalists to take away our souls.

  149. 149

    “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” – Justice Jackson

  150. 150
    rekroc says:

    ether, I don’t think anyone is saying that torture *should* be used in extreme circumstances, and most people arguing against torture realize the extreme implausibility of the “ticking timebomb” scenario that torture advocates like you enjoy fantasizing about. What I’m saying is that there is absolutely no justification to use torture, period. It’s monstrous behavior *and* it’s completely unreliable as an intelligence gathering technique. Why even authorize it as an option? Hell, if we’re going to do that, why not legalize genocide on the off chance that it may just come in handy at some point–you know, in the name of homeland security and all that?

    I think most of us who bother to play along with this hairbrained timebomb scenario are doing it to appease folks like you who see it as entirely realistic. What I’m saying is that, if some one-in-a-billion comic book reality does happen to play out and torture, for some bizarre reason, is the only thing that will keep us from being blown to smithereens, then the people who decided that torturing was necessary must take it upon themselves to engage in criminal activity and live with the consequences, whether it be heroism and a medal of honor or shame and stiff jail time. That’s about the gist of it.

    As for the killing vs. torturing question, which would you personally prefer: to be shot dead on the battlefield with a weapon in your hands or to be mercilessly tortured like a caged animal for an unknowable duration which could possibly result in a brutal, excruciating death?

  151. 151

    We’re OK with assisted suicide, the death penalty and abortion, but torture crosses the line. What a strange world we live in.

    What I’m saying is that, if some one-in-a-billion comic book reality does happen to play out and torture, for some bizarre reason, is the only thing that will keep us from being blown to smithereens, then the people who decided that torturing was necessary must take it upon themselves to engage in criminal activity and live with the consequences, whether it be heroism and a medal of honor or shame and stiff jail time.

    Completely retarded.

  152. 152
    ether says:

    “As for the killing vs. torturing question, which would you personally prefer: to be shot dead on the battlefield with a weapon in your hands or to be mercilessly tortured like a caged animal for an unknowable duration which could possibly result in a brutal, excruciating death?”

    It isn’t a question of what’s preferrable, it’s a question of moral permissability.

    Why is one wrong but the other ok.

    And also, for the one millionth time, I’m not saying torture should be preferrable to humane interrogation. I’m not saying torture is effective. and yes, I realize the “ticking-timebomb” scenario is an unusual and unlikely situation. That doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility and we should have all available tools to combat it.

    Please, someone, reconcile being for killing yet against torturing.

    I still haven’t seen it.

  153. 153
    rekroc says:

    Hey, that “completely retarded” quip was absolutely brilliant! (We’ve got a genius here, folks…)

    Something certainly must have gone awry in your brain if you can’t see the difference between assisted suicide, the death penalty, abortion… and TORTURE. I shouldn’t really be surprised, though, judging from your earlier assessment that “immoral” and “ineffective” are contradictions…

  154. 154

    Personally, I’d rather undergo some light torture than be put to death. Wouldn’t you?

    But I can see the social dimension too. John McCain is nutty as a loon because he was tortured, and it would be best if we didn’t have loons in the White House, therefore it would be best if torture were ended. But like the optimistic laws on gun control, anti-torture laws only affect the behavior of law-abiding people. Al Qaida is going to torture regardless of what the US Congress has to say on the subject.

  155. 155
    rekroc says:

    ether, you didn’t really answer my question, did you? Surely your answer wouldn’t simply come down to a matter of personal preference, would it?

    If you can’t see the moral difference between torturing a person like a caged animal with the very possible result being the most agonizing death imaginable vs. shooting someone dead on the battlefield in a “kill or be killed” situation, then there’s really nothing left to discuss.

  156. 156

    rekroc says it’s OK to kill in a “kill or be killed” scenario. but it’s not OK to torture in a “torture or be killed scenario.”

    I don’t think so.

  157. 157
    Ezert says:

    I would just like to say, as a journalist myself, you can tell the author sucks because only a schmuck would use an exclamation point.
    Not very professional

  158. 158
    ether says:

    Richard Bennet.

    You perfectly illustrate our differences.

    Note he never explained his conflicting morals, he just said if I didn’t understand there was no use in discussing it.

    Also, I never claimed torture was morally preferrable, I’m simply stating it’s sometimes morally permissable.

    Huge distinction, and one recrok’s question ignores.

  159. 159
    RTO Trainer says:

    I don’t think it is practically permissable whatever the morals of it are.

    Lets say you actually have the time-bomb scenario.

    You decide that torture is permissable and set in on your subject.

    He tells you after a few jolts of 110v and you’re pulling out the dryer to get to the 220 outlet that the bomb is under the bleachers at Invesco Field.

    You send someone there to deal with it. They arrive, search and come up with nothing. Now what?

    In the intervening time, your subject has had a breather and has marshalled his will to with stand what he knows is proabbaly going to be an even more intense session than the first one and you’ve just lost a bunch of time on your ticking clock.

    Now what?

    Not that there’s not a chance that he’ll break down and tell you what you want to know, but the chance is at least equally as great that he’ll just play you.

  160. 160
    jbz says:

    ether:
    You completely missed my point. Let me try again. I in no way said torture was ‘okay’ in any case. I said that I could *understand* the person on the spot resorting to it. I was adamant that no matter what, that person would be criminally liable. That person would face the penalties imposed on them by the courts, if any. That person would need to make the choice to engage in criminal behavior out of desperation, knowing full well what would happen to them.

    My point, however, was that that was all a smokescreen. The real issue was that the damage to us as Americans would occur not at that decision point, when a potential torturer faced the choice, but at the moment our polity decided to officially codify a set of circumstances where he or she could resort to torture without facing penalty or the potential of penalty. That is when the damage to our nation and its political system and philosophy has been done.

    The discussion of what would happen ‘in the actual event’ was, yes, playing along with the scenario – and it was an example of how focusing on the relative effectiveness of lack thereof of the use of torture, or even on the effects of its use in politics and the battlefield morale of both sides, is focusing on something that will arise after that first potential danger point has already been passed.

  161. 161
    Court Jester says:

    Apologies if someone else has made this point, but lets just put the moral issue aside for now. (I know, you’d think we’d agree that it was against our entire belief system to *support* the use of torture, but….

    The point of most of the torture used in Vietnam was to break the prisoners will so they would say or sign whatever their captors wanted them to. In simpler terms for the GOP trolls: the methods were designed to extract FALSE confessions. These methods are now the basis for the techniques that some on the right think we should be using.

    Unlike the movies, in real life EVERYONE has their breaking point. It’s not about toughness or machismo. The problem is that there’s no way of knowing if what they say is true, or just what they think they need to say to make their suffering stop. The results are unavoidably unreliable.

    Useful and factual information comes from “turning” people/prisoners, and hardly ever involves “hard” techniques.

    So if you support torturing prisoners BY Americans, even though it is immoral, against international convention, debases our national image, and results in unreliable information are what – just sadists?

    Or is this the GOP base?

  162. 162
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Ether seems to think he has the anti-torturers by the short and curlies with his incisive query. It is, of course, completely ersatz. Rather like arguing that since both armed robbery and murder are crimes, there is no distinction to be made between them. Of course our own laws reject this sadistic equivilence. We don’t even treat all willful killing as identical. Hence the codified varieties of both manslaughter and homocide. Perhaps Ether’s quest for a perverted purity would be gratified by a return to old style English jurisprudence that prescribed hanging for criminals ranging from the 10 year old cutpurse to the homocidal lunatic? Would that satisfy his aversion to ethical ambiguities?

    Ether’s question is simply silly. I don’t approve of war or killing in general. However, not being a pacifist, I wouldn’t hesitate to defend myself with lethal force if I believed my life were threatened. Does Ether seriously contend that it would make no difference if, rather than shooting my assailant, I chose to disable him and then spent the next 12 hours, or twelve days, slowly torturing him to death? Is paddling a recalcitrant child no different than burning him with cigarettes? Is there really no difference between executing a criminal after due judicial process and having a mob drag him from his cell and string him up from the nearest tree?

    Ether seems to think that justifying a particular war means that you must give carte blanche to every conceivable barbarity on the off chance that it might, just possibly, aid your cause. Why stop at torture? I imagine that it might give opponents pause if they knew you were willing to wipe out entire populations in retaliatory strikes. For that matter, why limit torture to captured combatants? It would be easy to round up their relatives and torture them in order to get info. How many fathers would remain silent if their children were being tortured?

    If you buy into the absurd logic of Ether’s bogus question, once you engage in war you have no right to “weak” moral qualms. All tactics, however monstrous, are justified by your willingness to engage in battle. While neither the argument nor the doctrine are new, asserting them as patriotic American values certainly is.

  163. 163
    ether says:

    “However, not being a pacifist, I wouldn’t hesitate to defend myself with lethal force if I believed my life were threatened. Does Ether seriously contend that it would make no difference if, rather than shooting my assailant, I chose to disable him and then spent the next 12 hours, or twelve days, slowly torturing him to death?”

    This is where you fail to grasp the argument.

    My argument is nearly identical to yours in that I see torture as morally equivalent, in certain circumstances, to defending myself. The obvious example being the ticking time-bomb scenario. When immediate death cannot be used to end the threat of potential harm, other actions are sometimes necessary to secure one’s safety.

    This is where the tough question of reconciling killing yet being against inflicting pain is important. Your argument requires that you cede your life when faced with a threatenting scenario that immediate killing cannot undo. Therefore, it seems nonsensical and morally confused to be willing to kill another in protection of your own, but unwilling to inflict suffering to protect the same ends.

    Also for the millionth time, I am not arguing that torture is morally preferrable, I am arguing that it is morally permissable.

    In response to your various icky worst-case scenarios, I simply point to history. The end of WW2 being the best example, and the extreme measures it took to ensure our way of life.

    Politics

  164. 164
    ether says:

    JBZ:

    You seem to be parsing. What do you mean by “understand.” Is the individual morally correct in acting, or not?

    Your second argument seems to be one of utility. I simply disagree that damage to our image abroad, and a perceived idealistic blow our nation, could never be suffered in the place of an extreme doomsday scenario.

    To echo Bennet…

    Richard Bennett Says:

    “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” – Justice Jackson

    November 30th, 2005 at 7:41 pm

  165. 165
    W.B. Reeves says:

    My argument is nearly identical to yours in that I see torture as morally equivalent, in certain circumstances, to defending myself. The obvious example being the ticking time-bomb scenario. When immediate death cannot be used to end the threat of potential harm, other actions are sometimes necessary to secure one’s safety.

    Your confusion is profound. My argument is precisely the opposite of yours. I consider your assertion of equivalence between the decision to war and the decision to torture to be utterly bogus. That you do not recognize this is disturbing, to say the least.

    This is where the tough question of reconciling killing yet being against inflicting pain is important. Your argument requires that you cede your life when faced with a threatenting scenario that immediate killing cannot undo. Therefore, it seems nonsensical and morally confused to be willing to kill another in protection of your own, but unwilling to inflict suffering to protect the same ends.

    I don’t know what argument you’re talking about. There is nothing in what I said that limits the means of self defence, much less demanding that I “cede” my life. It seems that you are intellectually as well as morally confused. My point, as opposed to your invention, was your inability to recognize distinctions between clearly distinct actions and circumstances. You have argued that there is a contradiction between supporting the war and opposing torture. That is nonsense, as amply illustrated above. If you believe in corporal punishment, it doesn’t follow that you must support child abuse. If you support the death penalty, it does not make you a hypocrite if you also believe that it shouldn’t be applied indiscriminately.

    In response to your various icky worst-case scenarios, I simply point to history. The end of WW2 being the best example, and the extreme measures it took to ensure our way of life.

    A further example of moral and intellectual confusion. You describe the full application of your own logic as “icky, worse case scenarios”. One might draw from this that you too find the examples repugnant. But no, you confirm that these scenarios, however “icky”, are completely consonant with your position.

    You either lack the ability to make ethical distinctions, or you consider such distinctions worthless. Are you now going to defend the prospective nuking of Iraqi cities on the basis of ‘we done it before?’

  166. 166
    ether says:

    A further example of moral and intellectual confusion. You describe the full application of your own logic as “icky, worse case scenarios”. One might draw from this that you too find the examples repugnant. But no, you confirm that these scenarios, however “icky”, are completely consonant with your position.

    You either lack the ability to make ethical distinctions, or you consider such distinctions worthless. Are you now going to defend the prospective nuking of Iraqi cities on the basis of ‘we done it before?’

    December 1st, 2005 at 4:01 am

    Are you being disingenous?

    Obviously going to war and torturing are not morally equal. That doesn’t mean they don’t support the same political ends. Obviously one is morally preferrable to the other, and considering I’ve said about 20 times I don’t view torture as morally preferable, I don’t see where you are going.

    And sorry, on your second point, you’re confused. The ticking time-bomb scenario REQUIRES that you choose between the unique circumstance of torturing rather than not torturing, and letting the bomb go off.

    Holding to your moral principle of “never torturing” would force you to cede your security (or those threatened by the bomb)to the will of the bomber.

    All of your examples relating to my alleged lack of logic don’t even serve the contradiction I am pointing out.

    1) supporting corporal “punishment” would obviously not require you to support child “abuse.”

    Abuse and punishment are entirely differnet things.

    2)Supporting the death penalty and the idea of “just deserts” has nothing to do with the issue and contradiction I am raising.

    My point relates to the moral permissability of actions related to the defence of one’s self and others, not the moral permissability of equal retribution. My point isn’t to justify torture on the basis of retribution, rather, to jusify it on the basis of self defence.

    Jesus, again, refer to my first post. Yes I find these scenarios morally repugnant, that doesn’t mean I don’t find them morally permissable in extreme circumstances.

    And just to be consistent, something you all seem to be having a prblem with, yes, I would nuke Iraq given the most extreme of circumstances.

  167. 167
    ether says:

    Leftist USA:

    We’ll launch cruise missiles to blow up your entire family, but don’t worry, our strong moral principles would never allow us to torture you.

  168. 168
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Hardly disingenuous. It’s not unusual for people to look at the same basic facts yet reach opposing conclusions about their meaning.

    Going back to your original post doesn’t resolve anything in this regard because your argument devolved as it was challenged. Unable to demonstrate the practical efficacy of torture other than hypothetically, you focused on a supposed contradiction between supporting a particular war and opposing torture.

    As you just pointed out, corporal punishment and child abuse are not identical though both inflict pain on a child. Well combat and torture are not the same thing either, though both may be practiced in pursuit of the same goal. The end in view does not obliterate the distinction between the two acts, however much you might wish to think it does. Consequently, the supposed contradiction is no contradiction at all. Congratulations on anihilating your own debating point.

    Frankly, you could have saved yourself and everyone else a great deal of time if you had simply stated that you believe the end justifies the means. Of course, that would have required that you demonstrate that the means you advocate would, in fact, forward the end you desire. This is something you have proven manifestly unable to do.

    The ticking bomb scenario is a good illustration. You admit that this hypothetical construct allows for only two alternatives. That is, the form of the question dictates the answer. This isn’t an argument from fact, it’s a rhetorical parlor trick.

    When someone advocates, as you do, expediency as a first principal, the very least that is required is that you prove the action advocated is actually expedient. This can’t be done by playing with syllogistic sophistries.

    One note on an actual instance of moral confusion. The appeal to expedience, while not necessarily immoral, is always amoral. Morality is the antithesis of expedience. Such ethical systems require that we forego what is expedient in favor of what is moral. The desire for personal prosperity, an excellent thing in itself, does not justify robbery or fraud. All standards of morality demand that self interest play second fiddle to larger ethical concerns. There are no moral arguments for expedience, only pragmatic ones.

  169. 169
    ether says:

    Hardly a “rhetorical parlor trick,” rather, a thought experiment you refuse to enage.

    Now, for the millionth time, I never intended to draw equivalencies between torture of combat, although my opponents constantly resort to that straw-man. Rather, I am simply pointing out your utilitarian leanings in the instances of combat or war yet your clearly Kantian view of torture applied to achieve the same ends.

    Yes, I do believe all politics is utilitarian in nature, as a matter of fact, I believe all morally-righteous Kantians to be closet-utilitarians, insecure in their ability to weight the utility of specific moral acts.

    Also, I never advocated expediency as a first principle, rather, the ideas of self-preservation and the measurement of utility.

    This:

    “All standards of morality demand that self interest play second fiddle to larger ethical concerns.:,”

    Is simply untrue. I can list moral systems lacking what you believe to be a required component, but from your demonstration of knowledge, I know you understand this is not always the case. Branches of utilitarianism being just one example.

    In closing, for the 1 bllionth time, I never sought to “demonstrate the practical efficacy of torture,” rather, I intentionally prefaced my posts by saying numerous times that was not what I intended to do. Instead I sought to prove torture’s moral permissability in extreme circumstances, and point out the hypocrisy of being against torture for the sake of utility, yet for killing for the same end.

    A reconciliation you still haven’t demonstrated.

    You can claim a lack of logic all you want, that doesn’t make it true. Although my position is unsavory, at least it’s consistent.

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