More Torture

[via this diary.] Very shortly the German periodical Stern will have more on those European secret prisons which don’t exist. In a nutshell, German security personnel visited the American facilities as early as 2001 and were shocked at the abuses that they witnessed there. Several immediately reported their experiences to superiors and prosecutors in Germany.

Until now the German government has denied any knowledge of secret prisons so this counts as one hell of a gotcha piece in Stern‘s home market, as well as a timely reminder over here of what it means when a country with America’s resources decides to institutionalize abuse.

The Independent:

One German agent was said to have compared the actions of the US interrogators to Serbian war criminals during the break up of Yugoslavia. “The Serbs ended up before the international court in The Hague for this kind of thing,” he was quoted as saying.

Deutsche Welle:

During a visit to the US military base in Tuzla, in northeastern Bosnia, two officers from Germany’s federal police (BKA) and a translator for the German foreign intelligence service (BND) discovered that suspects held there were beaten savagely, the magazine said in an early extract from its edition that is set to come out on Thursday….German investigators recorded what they saw in an intelligence document, which the magazine used as the basis for its report.

It said a 70-year-old terror suspect needed 20 stitches to his scalp after he was repeatedly hit over the head with a rifle butt while being held at “Eagle Base,” as the US camp is called.

The soldier who had beaten him was “visibly proud” of his conduct, the magazine quoted the report as saying.

The usual gaggle will insist that because the 70-year-old man was a terror suspect he must have been guilty of something. After all, America never abuses the innocent…and god forbid that we force innocent men to confess to crimes they had nothing to do with…even though that is precisely the purpose of the “techniques” that Bush, Cheney et al. are so adamant about using. Ask a different set of questions and the same 70 year old man would gladly admit to killing JFK and misplacing Stalin’s glasses.

We have a grand, useless infrastructure that produces bad information, strangles good information (who would voluntarily come forward to interrogators who torture?) and gums up the legal system with genuinely bad people who can never be prosecuted due to abuses on our part. And right on schedule, the the worst countries on Earth react – see, America does it! The only positive thing that I can draw from this sad period of American history, now we know who are the closet sadists and the authoritarian followers waiting for the right regime under whose thumb to subsume their will. Smile for the camera, guys.

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28 replies
  1. 1
    r€nato says:

    If it weren’t for American exceptionalism, there would be war crimes trials for at least the next 10 years.

    We have not only repudiated Nuremburg; we have embraced the morals of the war criminals who were found guilty and hung for their crimes.

  2. 2
    scs says:

    Contrary to your beliefs Tim, this is why we need laws to spell out exactly when “torture” can be used. Many agree, even some on the left like yourslef, that there are hypothetical situations where torture may be called for – ie to save innocent life, so why not put this into law? I believe codifying it will cut down on these abuses, not encourage it as you fear, as the situations for coercive interogation will be laid out – not left to mid-level commanders to freelance. This freelance business is obviously not working.

  3. 3
    Aaron says:

    Frankly, I’m pissed as hell at the Germans here, and every other nation on earth that allowed these atrocities to occur on their soil.
    Jeezus F–king christ, the germans could have raised a stink. they could have created an international incident. they could have demanded those responsible be tried for war crimes. they could have demanded America remove all military forces from Germany. they could have they could have stood up for principals. they could have stood up integrity. they could have stood up for American values. they could have stood up against the same type of monstrous behavior that ww2 Germany was known for. instead they stood up for George W. Bush.
    If they did the right thing, then maybe, just maybe, the American people might have realized that Bush is a monster and costing us our allies. Maybe, the American people might have realized that torture is wrong.
    Instead, Germany like several other countries, chose to sit on this information. they let this occur as much as many others. worse, they had direct knowledge. I hope they rot in hell.

  4. 4
    Aaron says:

    to be clear- those who should rot in hell are:
    – those who commited, ordered, or in a chain of command situation- allowed, the commision of torture. I dont mean to imply that all germans are complicit in these attrocities, nor had knowledge of them.

  5. 5
    Perry Como says:

    Fuck you scs and fuck you Aaron. This is our problem.

    I’m pissed that we’ve gone to the point that we would even *ask* someone to commit these acts on their soil.

  6. 6
    stickler says:

    I teach German history, so I have some inkling of how nasty this story is going to play out in the German press. It will be portrayed as evil – and modern Germans know how evil gets into politics – which has spread from America to the rest of the world.

    Already, the Bundeswehr has a scandal on its hands, where German soldiers photographed themselves with an Afghan skull. Themselves, and certain parts of themselves. Hojatohoh!

    Guess who will be blamed for this? (Hint: tall, lanky guy, wears a striped hat with stars on the brim, gray goutee…)

  7. 7
    r€nato says:

    scs Says:
    Contrary to your beliefs Tim, this is why we need laws to spell out exactly when “torture” can be used.

    This is a questionable proposition to begin with – hello, Alan Dershowitz! – but does anyone with two neurons to rub together really believe the Bush/Cheney regime should be entrusted with writing such laws???

  8. 8
    Pb says:

    this is why we need laws to spell out exactly when “torture” can be used

    We had laws, and I for one thought we were doing just fine with ‘never’. You could make the case for “Never? Well, hardly ever!”, but I’d prefer ‘never’, and with an actual fair trial for anyone who violated the law–because if it came to that, there are such things as extenuating circumstances, after all.

    However, the Bush approach has been different, it has been all of “whatever we want, whenever we want”, and “but we don’t torture”, as well as “please ignore the (tortured) man behind the curtain”.

  9. 9
    TBone says:

    The usual gaggle will insist that because the 70-year-old man was a terror suspect he must have been guilty of something.

    Right. But Tim, the usual gaggle over here will take the Stern at its word as long as it bashes the current administration (and our soldiers too.) That’s what you folks are all about, isn’t it?

    Why don’t you click on over to David’s Medienkritik to see how biased the German press is. You’ll be surprised how many times a translation from German to English gets twisted to something pleasant for a left-tilting American ear to hear. Wonder why that happens? Of course, it all must be true, right? The German press said so.

  10. 10
    Aaron says:

    Perry Coumo- yes, the culpability of those actually involved in ordering and commiting torture(americans) is greater still by far.

    And the Torture standard should be/used to be:
    “would this be acceptable if done to Americans and American POW’s?”

    Star Trek TNG- had the seminal take on the issue: “there are four lights”

  11. 11
    rbl says:

    scs-
    In the amazing event that it was actually necessary to torture someone, ie the 24-esque ticking time bomb scenario, one of two things would happen:
    1) Jury finds the torturer innocent. The defense of necessity exists for this reason, because every possible situation can’t be codified into law. There are obviously hypothetical situations where any law should be broken, and this is recognized.
    2) The jury somehow convicts. The POTUS then sets new human landspeed record scrambling back to his office to issue a pardon.
    Our legal system is already perfectly adequate for making sure that anyone who commits necessary torture gets off. There are hypothetical situations where blowing up a busload of orphans is the right thing to do, but we don’t pass laws detailing the acceptable circumstances for motorized orphan blow-uppage.

  12. 12
    Kirk Spencer says:

    The shoe I see hovering, waiting to drop, is the international warrant one. You know, the one that got Pinochet and Milosovic and that crowd. Whereupon George Bush, and possibly Cheney and Rumsfeld, can no longer go overseas.

    Ugliness results. er… Even MORE ugliness, that is.

  13. 13
    Lee says:

    The problem is that most of the American people do not care one bit about if we torture some foreigner. They probably would not care if we tortured their neighbor. They would probably figure it out about the time they are getting dragged out of their home to be tortured. Even then I’m not sure they would understand how they allowed themselves to get into that position.

    So nothing will change because our politicians are too coward to do the right thing.

    The is the New American Century they have all been clamoring for.

  14. 14
    norbizness says:

    For some reason, I think all those seasons of 24 have convinced people that Jack Bauer is more of an expert on torture than… oh… say… every single goddamned military interrogator who’s ever testified or proffered an opinion on the issue. Hypotheticals and Kiefer Sutherland don’t overcome this minor problem of our top Pentagon officials being war criminals.

  15. 15
    Rusty Shackleford says:

    Anybody catch Real Time w/ Bill Maher from Oct 20th? On the panel were Barney Frank D-MA, Jason Alexander (Costanza didn’t say much) and John Fund (as “Darrell”). Fund/Darrell argued “the jackalope” and Barney Frank ripped him to shreds. At one point the discussion touched on the recently passed torture bill and Fund starts chirping about how Americans just love themselves some “Jack Bauer Justice”. The response from Frank and Maher was basically “idiot, it’s a TV show”.

    For chrissakes, it’s just a freakin’ tv show. Everytime you cite it as the model for how interrogations should be conducted you’re only exposing yourself as an idiot and someone who should be ignored.

  16. 16

    Contrary to your beliefs Tim, this is why we need laws to spell out exactly when “torture” can be used. Many agree, even some on the left like yourslef, that there are hypothetical situations where torture may be called for – ie to save innocent life, so why not put this into law? I believe codifying it will cut down on these abuses, not encourage it as you fear, as the situations for coercive interogation will be laid out – not left to mid-level commanders to freelance. This freelance business is obviously not working.

    Who else here feels that logic is being tortured whenever they read an scs post?

  17. 17
    Punchy says:

    Tim, if that doesn’t make you sick, just realize that the new “military interrogation” bill passed, not only makes LEGAL any technique the Pres feels necessary (with a few exceptions), it ALSO retroactively “allows” (read: makes it impossible to prosecute) any past behavior.

    The habeus corpus-removing part was bad, but this retroactive immunity is what’s going to hamstring future investigations for years and years.

  18. 18
    tBone says:

    the usual gaggle over here will take the Stern at its word as long as it bashes the current administration (and our soldiers too.) That’s what you folks are all about, isn’t it?

    Oh, fuck off. Nobody here is bashing soldiers. It pisses me off to see them (and us) being tarred by the shitty policies of our leaders. Our soldiers deserve a lot better, and so do we.

    Anyway, you’ve gotten your pro-torture comment in for the day, so why don’t you knock off early? Slink back over to Red State and relax. Make some more hilarious jokes about Michael J. Fox’s “shaky” position.

  19. 19
    ImJohnGalt says:

    Rusty, I believe the token conservative on the Maher panel was Steven Moore of the Club For Growth. The only reason I know this is that Maher has him on with impressive regularity, and his shoulder-heaving nerdly snickering irritates me like nails on a blackboard.

    And yes, Barney Frank played the role of prepared and responsible Democrat, deftly parrying Moore’s nonsensical talking points, calling bullshit and correcting Moore’s lies.

  20. 20
    Rusty Shackleford says:

    ImJohnGalt Says:

    Rusty, I believe the token conservative on the Maher panel was Steven Moore of the Club For Growth. The only reason I know this is that Maher has him on with impressive regularity, and his shoulder-heaving nerdly snickering irritates me like nails on a blackboard…

    October 26th, 2006 at 9:43 am

    ImJohnGalt,

    Thanks – I didn’t think that was Fund but when I looked on the website that’s who was listed.

    Moore seemed to be nothing more than a caricature as everything he said was “Classic Darrell”. Everytime Frank shot his assertions full of holes Moore would try to spin the topic in another direction. To Frank’s credit, the Congressman called Moore out everytime.

    episode 86
    Premiering October 20, 2006
    Guests: actor Jason Alexander, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), writer John Fund

    All in all, it was an excellent show. Frank has an impressive command of the issues.

  21. 21
    Hyperion says:

    The problem is that most of the American people do not care one bit about if we torture some foreigner. They probably would not care if we tortured their neighbor. They would probably figure it out about the time they are getting dragged out of their home to be tortured. Even then I’m not sure they would understand how they allowed themselves to get into that position.

    sad but true IMO.

    Arthur Silber said: “The truth about the American public is much worse than a general lack of concern with the truth: the fact is that we affirmatively do not want to know the truth. It poses too much of a danger to our preferred vision of ourselves — so we bury it under the details of our lives, and avoid reading or hearing anything that might challenge our ignorance.”

    the big downside of american exceptionalism…

  22. 22
    Sojourner says:

    Torture is legal now, thanks to the Bushies.

    Where’s the problem?

  23. 23
    RSA says:

    scs wrote:

    Contrary to your beliefs Tim, this is why we need laws to spell out exactly when “torture” can be used.

    A meta-comment: How do you think conservative bed-wetters would respond if I were to talk about the “terrorist” Osama bin Laden, or American “soldiers” in Iraq, or the “violence” we see over there? Call a spade a spade: you think we need laws spelling out when people should be tortured, not “tortured”. We’re not talking about just dunking people in water, we’re talking about inflicting extreme pain and fear of death in order to extract information from them, training people to do this efficiently, and providing governmental oversight. Expect to see court cases in which interrogators are accused of having stepped over the line, from legal to illegal torture. Nice.

  24. 24
    TenguPhule says:

    SCS needs to get a simple fact into her pea brain.

    Torture doesn’t work.

    They tell you what they think you want to hear to make it stop, even if it has no relation to the truth.

    After 30 days in one of those secret Prisons, SCS would confess to being Osama’s Secret live-in Whore, regardless of whether or not it was true.

    Torture is Anti-American. Simple as that.

  25. 25
    leefranke says:

    Torture is Anti-American.

    Not any more, get over it.

  26. 26
    mere mortal says:

    We have a grand, useless infrastructure that produces bad information, strangles good information

    Tim, you need to be more careful with your terms. From this administration’s perspective, there is no bad information that could be gotten.

    Terror suspects will admit to whatever you need them to admit under torture. You will have your guilty party (either someone who admits to having done terror, or admits to planning some terror) who can be paraded as evidence that you are catching terrorists. Or you’ll just have another tough nut that still needs to be cracked.

    Now, if for some reason you are a complete sociopath, there really is no possible motive to stop the torture, and every reason to expand it.

    Thus the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

  27. 27
    Patrick says:

    “usual gaggle over here will take the Stern at its word as long as it bashes the current administration”

    indeed. German anti-American bias is legion and so unbalanced its to the point of onion-like parody. David’s Mediacritik is a gret window into the insanity of leftwing German press.

    Let’s talk about the Gitmo abuses you never hear about in
    German press:
    “From July 2005 through August, the military recorded 432 assaults by detainees using “cocktails” of bodily excretions thrown at guards, 227 physical assaults, 99 instances of inciting or participating in disturbances, and 726 threats against guards.”

    DO YOU THINK ANY OF THE 227 PHYSICAL ASSAULTS BY TERRORIST DETAINEES IN A SINGLE YEAR ARE BEING REPORTED BY STERN?

    After all the breathless reporting and digging into quotes of quotes of quotes … we find:
    “While still on Bosnian soil, the six men were kept shackled in painful positions. They were forced to wear goggles to prevent them from seeing, headphone-like covers over their ears to make it impossible for them to hear, and face masks making it impossible to be understood and very difficult to breathe. They were subsequently transported to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.”

    So the Bosnian torture is this: They were forced to wear goggles, hoods, and headphones while enroute to Gitmo.
    This, in wake of 9/11 attack that killed 3,000 and a mandate to make sure it doesnt happen again. Maybe they shouldnt put prisoners in uncomfortable positions, or use hoods, or – gasp – goggles, but calling this torture is more a sign of a left-wing press eager to sex up this story.

    The real surprise isnt that we made them wear goggles. The real surprise is that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who killed 3,000 in 911 attack and personally slit the throat of Danny Pearl,

    “How do you think conservative bed-wetters would respond if I were to talk about the “terrorist” Osama bin Laden”

    Yawn. We see that kind of idiocy from dKos kids in the local letters to editor on a regular basis. To them the ‘war on terror’ gets the scare quotes, like it’s some kind of game. Which it is, a political game to get the ‘evil’ Bush. The idea that we may actually have a real challenge of trying to prevent another 911, in a world where AQ & their terroris friends has had terrorists attacks and violence in Turkey, Milan, London, New York, Bali, Baghdad, Egypt, Sudan, Delhi, Thailand, Kashmir, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc.

    Yeah, violence on a global basis and the ‘terrorist’ threat is a mirage to them.

    “expert on torture than… oh… say… every single goddamned military interrogator who’s ever testified or proffered an opinion on the issue. ”

    … Yeah, but even *more* expert than the US military who needed and asked for legislated rules of engagement in wake of Hamdan etc., are *of course* – Hollywood liberals, dKos fanatics, and (drum roll) *the German press*.

    Pay no attention to those military types who have actually been *through* the torture regimen and know what they are talking about:

    http://www.blackfive.net/main/.....y_run.html

    “Everytime you cite it as the model for how interrogations should be conducted ”

    Correct, the Maher show is a horrible model, it should be considered a human rights abuse. Especially for the viewers.

  28. 28
    Patrick says:

    Forgot my money quote :

    The real surprise isnt that we made them wear goggles. The real surprise is that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who killed 3,000 in 911 attack and personally slit the throat of Danny Pearl, … isnt a pile of broken bones somewhere and is currently safe and well-fed on his culturally sneistive meals.

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