A Thought I Wish I Could Get Out Of My Head

I read in TPM that Herman Cain said this in the debate tonight:

“I do not agree with torture, period,” Cain said to start the exchange. “However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture. That is the critical consideration.”

Asked specifically about waterboarding, Cain tipped his hand. “I don’t see it as torture,” he said. “I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique.”

 

I hear that, and I find mindself performing a thought experiment that leaves my stomach in knots.  What if someone in State College had said something like this:

“I don’t see it as molestation….I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique.”

The moral catastrophe speaks for itself, right?

That’s the problem with the failure to call things by their right name.  No one in the Penn State scandal has tried to term what happened there as anything other than the misery it was, child rape and a fundamental betrayal.  We aren’t that far gone yet.

But the repeated use — and the authorization at the highest level — of acts we hanged people for after World War II?  Those are just “enhanced techniques.”  To this day even the liberal New York Times can’t bring itself to say that inconvenient word “torture.”

That Herman Cain is no fit president is hardly news.  I just wish this particular pathology were confined to him.  It’s not.

Image:  Dieric Bouts, The Martyrdom of St. Hippolytus,1470-1475.

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104 replies
  1. 1
    The Other Chuck says:

    I’m sure our ever-vigilant press will remind Mr Cain that the phrase “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” was coined by the Gestapo.

    Fuck it. They don’t care.

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:

    Bleach of brain good sir?

  3. 3
    West of the Cascades says:

    Didn’t they (re: Penn State)? Didn’t Curley and Schultz characterize what McQueary witnessed as “horsing around”? At least they have caught great vengeance and furious anger for that … it would be nice to see the same rain down on Cain and all of the rest of the enablers in this country who think that strapping someone to a board and making them feel they’re drowning isn’t “torture.”

    Although I’m surprised the NYT didn’t refer to the child rape at Penn State as horsing around, too. Assholes.

  4. 4
    David Koch says:

    What’s everyone so upset up? Republicans only torture Muslims. It’s not like they’re gonna torture white people. Therefore, no harm, no foul.

  5. 5
    Halteclere says:

    What ever is utilized in defence of the tribe is acceptable, what ever is utilized as an attack on the tribe is inexcusable.

  6. 6
    handy says:

    @West of the Cascades:

    it would be nice to see the same rain down on Cain and all of the rest of the enablers in this country who think that strapping someone to a board and making them feel they’re drowning isn’t “torture.”

    How non-bipartisan of you. Why do you want to give David Brooks a sad?

  7. 7
    chrome agnomen says:

    @West of the Cascades:

    maybe limbaugh can reassure us that they were just ‘college pranks’

  8. 8
    David Koch says:

    Even the liberal New York Times is furious and offended that Perry would dare ask dear ole Israel to justify billions in US taxpayer aid:

    the Israelis could feel offended by the idea that the country would have to demonstrate that it is deserving of the kind of aid it has been getting in the past.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    As I’m wont to point out, “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” is a term that was coined by the Gestapo, in 1937.

    Way to go, Herman.

    The question then becomes what is the last name? Cain, or Goering?

    On edit: refreshing fizzy beverage to The Other Chuck.

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: What a difference an N makes.

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Halteclere:

    Indeed, as Orwell pointed out in 1984, which more and more seems to be interpreted as an instruction manual, not a warning.

  12. 12
    The Dangerman says:

    Cain: It wasn’t sexual harassment, it was enhanced adultery techniques – management edition (Project EAT-ME).

  13. 13
    Ruckus says:

    @The Other Chuck:
    @Villago Delenda Est:

    No matter what else one might call them the current rethuglicans certainly can not be called decent humans. The fact that they are falling jumping into the same boat as the german government of the 1930’s-40’s should give anyone with an once of sense a massive NOOOOOOO…

  14. 14
    Nutella says:

    I wasn’t demanding a blow job in return for helping her find a job. It was just an enhanced employment technique.

  15. 15
    middlewest says:

    It’s best to use the real name for the technique: water torture. The name “waterboarding” was just some joke slang the torturers came up with. It’s always been called water torture.

  16. 16
    mclaren says:

    Works for me. Herman Cain engaged in “enhanced seduction techniques.” Not sexual harassment.

    Caligula used “enhanced governing techniques.” Not getting it on with his sister and appointing a horse as a senator.

  17. 17
    mclaren says:

    @Ruckus:

    The fact that they are jumping into the same boat as the german government of the 1930’s-40’s should give anyone with an ounce of sense a massive NOOOOOOO…

    And yet…

    America is continuing to become more Republican.

  18. 18
    Gex says:

    This is kind of funny, because we had a commenter here the other day that thought using the word “rape” was being deliberately inflammatory and vulgar. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we used some other word he/she preferred to sanitize it some?

    I think this post is the response that should be given to that.

  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    OK O/T. Quite a little off.

    In order to pass the time that the rethuglican BS session was stealing from our lives I was looking up sites I haven’t looked at in a while. Do yourselves a favor and click on over to the Sneeze I especially like Vol 3.
    A fair warning not for the faint of stomach. But funny as all get out.

  20. 20
    suzanne says:

    @The Dangerman:

    It wasn’t sexual harassment, it was enhanced adultery techniques – management edition (Project EAT-ME).

    I’m surprised that he hasn’t used The Newt Excuse by saying that he sexually harassed all those women because he loves his country SO. DAMN. MUCH!

  21. 21
    The Dangerman says:

    @suzanne:

    …because he loves his country SO. DAMN. MUCH!

    That would be awesome for the people who like to clip soundtracks. The people that clipped Robert Palmer to “might as well face it, your addic…” would have a field day with that Cain quote.

  22. 22
    Caz says:

    There’s a huge difference between something torturous and something unpleasant. Waterboarding is clearly very unpleasant, enough so that it leads captives to spill whatever they know. It doesn’t cause any injuries, permanent or otherwise, it doesn’t endanger life, it has no lasting scars, disfigurement, or pain. It’s merely so unpleasant that people, at a certain point, can’t stand it anymore. It’s not torture.

    In a war like our war on terror, the side that is willing to be most brutal wins. Not only are we not willing to be as brutal as the enemy, we aren’t even willing to cause the enemy discomfort. How in the hell do you expect us to win a war when we won’t even use proven techniques that are merely uncomfortable?

    What should we do – ask them politely, “Pretty please, with cherries on top, tell us where your next murder of Americans is going to occur?”

    We tried some waterboarding at a friend’s house one night when we were drinking just to see its effects, and no one could stand it for more than a second or two. It’s severely unpleasant. But afterwards, we were no worse for wear.

    This political correctness and polite treatment of an enemy that has sworn to murder every American in a brutal manner as they can is a losing strategy.

    You’re so full of answers about what we shouldn’t be doing. What do you suggest we do during interrogations? Or should we cease them altogether because the murderers might find it unpleasant to sit in a chair and be asked direct questions?

    What do you suggest we do with terrorists we capture who have highly pertinent information that will save Americans’ lives if we get it out of them??

  23. 23
    suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: That link seriously made me cover my mouth with my hand and give a good, hard swallow. But SO funny. LMMFAO.

  24. 24
    Calouste says:

    @Caz:

    It doesn’t cause any injuries, permanent or otherwise, it doesn’t endanger life, it has no lasting scars, disfigurement, or pain.

    We have a volunteer!

  25. 25

    @Caz:
    You might find a car battery hooked to your nuts a bit uncomfortable as well, with pretty much the same no marks outcome.

  26. 26
    suzanne says:

    @Caz:

    We tried some waterboarding at a friend’s house one night when we were drinking

    This sounds like a good idea.

  27. 27
    G says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    with a dude sharing the same name as the biblical first murderer… I see herman gor.. err… cain as a wonderful figurehead for the right wing publishing industry

  28. 28
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Caz:

    In a war like our war on terror, the side that is willing to be most brutal wins.

    Wins what?

  29. 29
    MonkeyBoy says:

    Cain: “However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture.”

    I find this statement even more troubling. As commander in chief Cain wouldn’t be responsible for defining torture. Instead he would accept whatever his generals said.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @mclaren:

    Not getting it on with his sister and appointing a horse as a senator.

    Appointing a horse as a senator makes Caligula twice as good as today’s Republican party, which restricts itself to one half of a horse for Senators.

  31. 31
    G says:

    @Caz:

    terror is an emotion. how are you going to defeat an emotion? Ban zombie movies? War on terror needs to be a topic with your shrink, not a government policy… I mean I’m deathly afraid of spiders ( was bit repeatedly as a child by a fuzzy yellow one, it still scares me to see ’em, they put me in terror, should we whack ’em all ’cause I has a scared?)

    fucking pansy Gopers and their wars on emotions, they just need astronaut diapers.

  32. 32
    West of the Cascades says:

    @mclaren: I’d vote for a horse before I’d vote for a Republican. Does that make me an enhanced yellow dog Democrat?

  33. 33
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Caz:

    What do you suggest we do with terrorists we capture who have highly pertinent information that will save Americans’ lives if we get it out of them??

    So… let’s say we’re trying to determine _whether_ the guy is a terrorist. “We” think he is, but we’re not sure. Half-drown him just to be on the safe side and inflict a little of the necessary brutality?

    And that’s without even getting into the fact that expert after expert has said that the information people divulge under torture is unreliable because they’ll say anything to make the torture stop, no matter what they do or don’t know. Just in terms of what you’re supposed to be doing _by_ torturing the guy, it’s stupid. Even before any moral consideration comes into it. It’s ineffective.

    You can come up with a scenario in which it might be effective, but those never happen (even in the ticking time-bomb scenario, you have to know that the guy really does know where the bomb is and really is telling you the truth… and you don’t actually know that in advance… making the whole scenario akin to debating whether or not to use your time machine to kill Hitler).

    So we’re back to torture being a fun demonstration of “brutality.” That’s pretty much the definition of evil.

  34. 34
    bago says:

    Caz, you realize that sodomy doesn’t leave a mark either, no?
    That coach was just using enhanced coaching techniques.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @Caz:

    It doesn’t cause any injuries, permanent or otherwise, it doesn’t endanger life, it has no lasting scars, disfigurement, or pain.

    Except, of course, for the occasional unlucky victim who dies of drowning. Describing waterboarding as simulated drowning is incorrect. There’s nothing simulated about it. It’s a controlled drowning where the perpetrators try to stop the drowning before it does the victim any lasting harm. They don’t always succeed, and the victims sometimes die. I’d say that classifies as “endangering life”.

  36. 36
    Ruckus says:

    @suzanne:
    BACON, BACON, BACON, BACON, BACON!

  37. 37
    Ruckus says:

    I don’t normally dis anyone who hasn’t attacked me/insulted my mom/crapped in my shoes but in this case I’ll make an exception.

    Caz seems to be a complete waste of flesh.

  38. 38
    suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: That entry was my absolute favorite. Of course, I haven’t eaten real bacon in almost twenty years.

  39. 39
    Ruckus says:

    @suzanne:
    And now probably the next 20.

  40. 40
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Caz:

    You are dogshit.

    I speak as a veteran of the US Armed Forces when I say that, too.

  41. 41

    Cain is a waste of skin no doubt, but he’s just saying what Republican suckers voters want to hear. I suspect he’ll regret his words when he can’t get Pam Geller to stop humping his leg.

    @Nutella: You’re supposed to throw down the mike and proudly stalk off stage after a line like that.

  42. 42
    soonergrunt says:

    @Caz: I can tell you, as an actual veteran of the recent unpleasantness in both locations, that you don’t have the faintest damn clue what you are talking about.
    The fact that you don’t understand or haven’t figured out the blindingly obvious thing that makes it torture rather than merely unpleasant is that you knew it would end almost immediately. The torture comes from not knowing when or if it will end, and once that session has ended, not knowing if or when it will be done again.
    Why don’t you send me your address, and I’ll come over there with a can of water and a wash cloth to make sure you’ve got the point. I’ll stop when I’m sure you do. I’m certain that will happen on a different schedule than you think.

    We shouldn’t torture people because whatever transitory information we might actually get will not be worth the damage done.

  43. 43
    William Hurley says:

    Seems to me like Cain’s within the mainstream of GOP and Democratic leaders. I wonder if he’d restrain himself and the DoD, where he to become President, in the use of remote controlled political assassinations of suspected terrorists, the “collateral” damage of innocent civilians (who are resident of nations the US is not at war with) and, of course, the summary execution of US citizens without a show of cause, warrant or trial.

  44. 44
    West of the Cascades says:

    @William Hurley: I sure hope so, just as I hope President Obama will eventually do the same. This is one area where our President is disturbingly “just like Bush,” or at least not dissimilar enough to make me happy (although apparently he gets better legal opinions than Woo-Bybee used to write to cover his ass legally).

  45. 45
    Ruckus says:

    @West of the Cascades:
    I often wonder what it’s like to be president and get all those briefings and try to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s a huge gig and there is no way to sort it all out, you just have to trust those giving you info. Some of the people you get to pick but even at the very upper levels of the job there are a lot of people and a lot of directions to be pulled. I can’t imagine getting all the details right all the time.

  46. 46
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    @Caz: Sean Hannity, you don’t have to fool us with a sock puppet shtick.

    BTW – waterboarding is not chugging from a beer bong at your frat party.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Thor Heyerdahl:

    Didn’t Hannity chicken out when his bluff was called? Say what you will about Christopher Hitchens’ support for the Iraq war, at least he had the balls to let himself be waterboarded. And surprise, surprise, just like every other celebrity who agreed to it, he basically said, “Holy shit, that’s torture!” afterwards.

  48. 48
    John Weiss says:

    To me, the bottom line is that the US signed onto the Geneva Convention, which among other actions, prohibits torture. Now,I’m no expert and I’m rather liberal, but I’d define torture as an act that causes someone distress. I think that drowning someone would perhaps fit that definition.

    I’m very tired of this crap and I don’t want to be a party to it.

  49. 49
    John Weiss says:

    @Caz: You appear to be an asshole. I wish you’d just go away. You’ve nothing to add to the conversation.

  50. 50
    Batocchio says:

    It’s amazing, isn’t it, how waterboarding, also known as “the water cure” or “water torture” through the ages, was definitional for torture for centuries, but then magically, under the Bush administration, it ceased to be torture. (BTW, Caz spouted plenty of bullshit, but to correct just one point – waterboarding does cause physical damage – it just normally can’t be seen without an autopsy. Torturers prefer torture methods that don’t leave visible marks.) Notice that Lindsay Graham was there pimping torture yet again. He pretends he’s against it, but he fights like hell to make sure none of his buddies will ever be put on trial. Hell, he and John Kyl even lied to the Supreme Court in an amicus brief in Hamdan to this end. Meanwhile, the entire line of questioning was based on a false premise: that torture “works” for accurate intel, when in fact it’s notoriously unreliable for that, and this has been known for millennia. Torture’s always been great, however, for inflicting pain on someone, scaring the populace, and producing false confessions. Speaking of which, why didn’t Graham or the moderators ask any of the candidates if they supported torturing innocent people, or torturing innocent people to death, or torturing someone until he “confessed” to a non-existent al Qaeda-Iraq link to present to the United Nations as “evidence” to justify a war? After all, all those actually happened under the Bush administration, unlike the fantasies they were pimping. It is absolutely appalling that the MSM is still so ill-informed on torture, and too gutless to call it what it is.

  51. 51
    magurakurin says:

    @Caz: Of course, we all realize that you in fact know damn well that waterboarding is torture. But a troll has to troll. It’s a job, eh?

    Chase J. Nielsen, one of the U.S. airmen who flew in the Doolittle raid following the attack on Pearl Harbor, was subjected to waterboarding by his Japanese captors.[117] At their trial for war crimes following the war, he testified “Well, I was put on my back on the floor with my arms and legs stretched out, one guard holding each limb. The towel was wrapped around my face and put across my face and water poured on. They poured water on this towel until I was almost unconscious from strangulation, then they would let up until I’d get my breath, then they’d start over again… I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death.”[38] The United States hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war.[9]

  52. 52
    Calouste says:

    @Batocchio:

    It is absolutely appalling that the MSM is still so ill-informed on torture, and too gutless to call it what it is.

    I think the MSM is very well informed on torture. They always describe it as something else. If they were ill-informed, they would occasionally slip up call torture torture, but no.

  53. 53
    Shalimar says:

    Screw the lie detector. Might as well waterboard Cain to get at the truth. I’m sure he won’t object.

  54. 54
    amk says:

    @Caz:

    enemy that has sworn to murder every American in a brutal manner as they can

    You’re a completely clueless fucking moron, aren’t ya ?

  55. 55
    Batocchio says:

    @Calouste:

    From what I’ve seen, they were bullied into that convention by the Bush administration, and they’ve largely stuck with it. In that sense, I think we agree. But Chuck Todd and others have demonstrated they don’t even know the basic facts of torture historically, or the legal statutes against it, or what the Bush administration did specifically. They haven’t read the reports, or the memos, or the major books, or major articles, or the legal statutes, or seen the major documentaries. They just don’t want to know. They’d prefer to pretend that torture is merely a political dispute. The worst case is probably The Washington Post, which fired Dan Froomkin, who debunked many torture apologists including Marc Thiessen… and then the WaPo hired Thiessen.

  56. 56
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Yes, well to a man for whom an enhanced job interview technique is grabbing someone’s head and shoving it in his crotch, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    There seems little point in discussing what kind of fool, or how big a fool, Herman Cain is; or in measuring the dishonesty and absurdity of Caz’s argument that the water torture isn’t torture. I just want to note that the Hermanator said this:

    I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture. That is the critical consideration.

    Doesn’t that amount to him saying he’s going to abdicate his presidential authority over the military, and just let it do as it wants?

  58. 58
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @soonergrunt:

    What is going to piss off the enemy more; their knowing that we are capturing them and torturing them or that we are capturing them and, gasp!, treating them like human beings? What is going to turn an enemy to talking; raw abuse and torture or conditions where they think they might improve a not so bad situation by coughing up some info to their captors in return for even better conditions?

    Caz is another one of those keyboard warriors that thinks they know it all.

  59. 59
    THE says:

    Tom Levenson,
    I understand you are a Einstein scholar. I was wondering if you noticed this paper published on ArXiv last week.

  60. 60
    WereBear says:

    It’s a very fundamental aspect of right wingers that they believe the worst of people… and prove it by their own example.

  61. 61
    JPL says:

    Tom, Cain visited his hometown yesterday and during a meeting with supporters he mentioned that god told him to run.

    I prayed and prayed and prayed. I am a man of faith,” Cain told the Young Republican National Federation at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. “I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I have ever done before in my life. And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses: ‘You have got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?’ … Once I made the decision, I did not look back.”

    After last night’s performance, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t god speaking to him.

  62. 62
    WereBear says:

    @JPL: Hey, Perry said the same thing!

    And Michelle Backman…

    Is God messing with the bookies?

  63. 63
    Snowball says:

    @Caz:

    There’s a huge difference between something torturous and something unpleasant. Waterboarding is clearly very unpleasant, enough so that it leads captives to spill whatever they know. It doesn’t cause any injuries, permanent or otherwise, it doesn’t endanger life, it has no lasting scars, disfigurement, or pain. It’s merely so unpleasant that people, at a certain point, can’t stand it anymore. It’s not torture.

    In WWII, we tried and convicted Japanese soldiers for using waterboarding. So are you now saying that the US made a mistake? If so, how much money do you think the US government owes these Japanese soldiers in compensation? Is an apology in order, too?

    Or are you another of those people who think waterboarding is A-OK if country A does it, but all of a sudden wrong if country B does it? If so, how does that make country A any better than country B? This is starting to remind me of the book “Animal Farm”.

  64. 64
    kay says:

    Caz, instead of coercing unreliable confessions or admissions, we could do police work.
    Torture is a lazy, sloppy short cut.
    That’s the real reason the US stopped using coerced confessions in the criminal system. It wasn’t liberal judges. It was that we got better at conducting investigations.
    How much time and energy did the Bush Administration spend on elaborate torture protocals that could have been spent getting better at learning how to manage this new threat?

    Conservatives are masters at pretending there are only two choices, BAD or WORSE, but that’s bullshit.

    Given a prohibition against torture, the people involved would have poured energy and work in another, better direction.

  65. 65
    amk says:

    @Snowball:

    Water-boarding of non-melanin challenged is fine.

    /sd caz, the klanist

  66. 66
    kay says:

    Caz, conservatives wasted 8 years creating and defending this policy.
    If I’m your boss and I give you a task and I say ‘you may NOT do this’ in pursuit of completing that task, do you throw up your hands and walk away, or do you find another way?
    It was never indispensible. It was never the only way. That’s bullshit and political framing created after the fact.
    It was a choice.

  67. 67
    toujoursdan says:

    Is this the time to state was has been shown time and time again?

    All “enhanced interrogation techniques” including waterboarding, don’t render accurate intelligence. Testimonies by interrogators working for the CIA have shown that the victim will simply say anything they can in order to make it stop. They aren’t going to give honest answers simply because they are under distress. It doesn’t work.

    So if doing this to enemy combatants doesn’t give us accurate intelligence that can be used to stop further attack, why are we doing it, other than vengeance?

  68. 68
    4jkb4ia says:

    I will trust the judgment of our military leaders

    Makes utter strangled noise. Admittedly if GWB had done that we might not have done any torture. But it is still an abdication of moral responsibility. You are going to appoint a SecDef who will be in charge of the military commissions that will deal with people who were abused. Don’t you want to be able to know for yourself that that person has good judgment about what torture is?

  69. 69

    “…Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country ‘s planted thick with laws, from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake…” – A Man For All Seasons

    A Small Clique Of Legal Extremists…

    Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, Section 2340

    “…’torture’ means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control…”

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    “Article 5 – No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – in force September 8, 1992

    “Article 4. 1 . In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant…”

    “2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision.”

    “Article 7. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”

    Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – in force November 20, 1994

    “Article 3 . 1. No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

    “Article 4. 1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture. 2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.”

    “Article 16. 1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

    Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
    – entered into force internationally on January 27, 1980

    “Article 53. Treaties conflicting with a peremptory norm of general international law (jus cogens). A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law. For the purposes of the present Convention, a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character.”

    LEGAL STANDARDS APPLICABLE UNDER 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A
    MEMORANDUM OPINION FOR THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL issued on December 30, 2004 (the so-called “Levin Memo”)

    “Two final points on the issue of specific intent: First, specific intent must be distinguished from motive. There is no exception under the statute permitting torture to be used for a “good reason.” Thus, a defendant’s motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question whether he has acted with the requisite specific intent under the statute. See Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192, 200-01 (1991). Second, specific intent to take a given action can be found even if the defendant will take the action only conditionally. Cf., e.g., Holloway v. United States, 526 U.S. 1, 11 (1999) (“[A] defendant may not negate a proscribed intent by requiring the victim to comply with a condition the defendant has no right to impose.”). See also id. at 10-11 & nn. 9-12; Model Penal Code § 2.02(6). Thus, for example, the fact that a victim might have avoided being tortured by cooperating with the perpetrator would not make permissible actions otherwise constituting torture under the statute. Presumably that has frequently been the case with torture, but that fact does not make the practice of torture any less abhorrent or unlawful.”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo War Crimes Trial) – Judgement, p. 48,442.

    “…In particular, acts of inhumanity to prisoners which are forbidden by the customary laws of nations as well as convention are to be prevented by the Government having responsibility for the prisoners…”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Proceedings, p. 12,936.

    “Changi Prison, October 1943

    … The Japanese were trying to establish that there was a spy organization in Changi Prison which received and transmitted by radio telephony, which had established contacts in the town for the purpose of sabotage and [12937] stirring up of anti-Japanese feeling, and which collected money from outside for this purpose. In fact, there was no organization, no radio transmission and no attempt to promote anti-Japanese activities outside the Camp…[12939]

    …Usually interrogations started quietly and would continue as long as the inquisitors got the expected answers. If, for any reason, such answers were not forthcoming, physical violence was immediately…

    …[12940] employed. The methods used were:

    (1) Water Torture. There were two forms of water torture. In the first, the victim was tied or held down on his back and a cloth placed over his nose and mouth. Water was then poured on the cloth…”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Proceedings, p. 12,959.

    “The witness saw Chinese, Malay and Indian prisoners tortured and stated that three Chinese died after undergoing water torture.”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Proceedings, p. 12,982.

    “(5) The prisoner was blindfolded, then a large quantity of water slowly poured into his mouth and nostrils, so that the prisoner suffocated.”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Proceedings, p. 13,186.

    “MR. JUSTICE MANSFIELD: These documents describe the torture of the witnesses by… who beat and kicked them and ordered them to be tortured by the water method.”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Proceedings, p. 13,684.

    “When…did not succeed in getting anything out of me, he gave me the water test. ..I was tied to the bench with my hands cuffed on my back. At a certain moment my agony was such that I broke the handcuffs…”

    International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Proceedings, p. 13,686.

    “…Professor DE VRIES suffered the watertest 22 times during a period of 2 months, and his interrogation amounted to 500 hours in toto. Prosecution document 5750…”

    Lieberman says some waterboarding OK
    by Peter Urban 02/15/2008 01:39:42 AM EST
    Connecticut Post

    “Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman reluctantly acknowledged Thursday that he does not believe waterboarding is torture…”

    “…The difference, he said, is that waterboarding is mostly psychological and there is no permanent physical damage. “It is not like putting burning coals on people’s bodies. The person is in no real danger. The impact is psychological,” Lieberman said…”

    Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

    “…the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us-the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil…”

    Waterboarding is torture. Period.

  70. 70
    pluege says:

    That Herman Cain is no fit president is hardly news.

    Never mind POTUS. cain and those of the cheney cult are not fit for humanity. They are severely damaged psychologically and are in desperate need of professional psychiatric help.

    Also note, although they haven’t yet tried to obfuscate the Penn State child raping by renaming it, it is exactly the same immoral self-rationalization psychology at the core of the excuses and coverup.

  71. 71
    Shalimar says:

    @pluege: Give Rush time and I am sure he will say Sandusky was preparing those boys for the fraternity pledge hazing they will experience when they go to college.

  72. 72

    “I do not agree with torture, period,” Cain said to start the exchange. “However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture. That is the critical consideration.”

    Asked specifically about waterboarding, Cain tipped his hand. “I don’t see it as torture,” he said. “I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique.”

    Cain is an idiot.

    U.S. Department of Defense
    Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
    Presenter: Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell November 14, 2007

    “…Q The alert that went out reminding military personnel about the military ban on waterboarding — was that in response to any specific event or specific comments by military personnel that made you think you needed it? I mean, most notably, General Honore’s comments about waterboarding from last week — was this a response to those comments?

    MR. MORRELL: Yeah, I think that went through — I think that was an Army mandate, if I’m not mistaken. But I do not know what precipitated them or prompted them to choose to remind their personnel of the fact that waterboarding is a practice that is forbidden under the Army Field Manual. But I think it is — I wouldn’t read anything into it, but I think it’s always worthwhile to remind our men and women in uniform — and all those who work for us, for that matter — what the rules are and what they aren’t. And the rules forbid such practices throughout the U.S. military…”

  73. 73
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Nutella: How about an enhanced interview technique or enhanced audition technique (which puts him in the same league as those liberal Hollywood types the rwnj claim to dislike so much)?

  74. 74
    Mino says:

    The Republicans have created so many Gumby words we’re gonna need a dictionary addendum to cover the last thirty years.

  75. 75
    Chris says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    What is going to turn an enemy to talking; raw abuse and torture or conditions where they think they might improve a not so bad situation by coughing up some info to their captors in return for even better conditions?

    Interesting thing I’ve heard about World War Two: that the Germans and Americans had a reputation for generally adhering to the Geneva Convention, and for that reason, got tons and tons of live prisoners they could pump for intelligence. The Russians and the Japanese, on the other hand, had a reputation for enormous cruelty: as a result, many people would simply die fighting or even kill themselves rather than fall into their hands.

    If nothing else, you’d think the torture apologists would’ve thought of that before, but noooo…

  76. 76
    Maude says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Cain was so stupid in that remark. part of the president’s job description is to faithfully execute the laws. Cain said he would not follow the laws. I am so sick of the Republican Party. They are now like the Soviets.
    And it is so good to see you in comments.

  77. 77
    PurpleGirl says:

    @toujoursdan: IIRC, John McCain said that when he was tortured in Vietnam, he told the interrogators all sorts of things to get them to stop.

  78. 78
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Michael Bersin: Thank you the post. Good job putting the references together. (I’ll bet you keep this ready to post whenever and wherever it’s pertinent.) Again, thanks for the work and the information.

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    @Batocchio:

    It’s amazing, isn’t it, how waterboarding, also known as “the water cure” or “water torture” through the ages, was definitional for torture for centuries

    We learned the technique from the French, who called it “the bathtub” (la baignoire), and used it on the FLN during the Algerian War. They, in turn, learned it from the Gestapo, which used it to interrogate French resistance members during World War Two.

    Incidentally, both these people lost the wars. So maybe war isn’t about “the most brutal side wins” after all: maybe Caz and those like him are simply as sick and fucked in the head as Heinrich Himmler and General Massu.

  80. 80
    Chris says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Doesn’t that amount to him saying he’s going to abdicate his presidential authority over the military, and just let it do as it wants?

    No, it simply means he’s passing the buck because he doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of saying “I want to torture” himself. He has no intention of listening to his military advisers unless they’re telling him what he already wants to hear, any more than Rumsfeld and Cheney did back in the day. It’s just a way of dodging having to actually commit to a vile position.

  81. 81
    Sko Hayes says:

    @MonkeyBoy: Exactly my thoughts- imagine the President of the United States abdicating his responsibilities to his military commanders.
    What a freaking coward.

  82. 82
    honus says:

    @Caz:
    “In a war like our war on terror, the side that is willing to be most brutal wins.”
    Wrong, according to every experienced authority. Only embraced by chicken hawks. Like you,

  83. 83
    Downpuppy says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yes, aside from the moral death, it’s also example #5,280 of Cain’s total indifference to/ignorance of the way the US Government is supposed to function.

  84. 84
    Sko Hayes says:

    Caz:

    We tried some waterboarding at a friend’s house one night when we were drinking just to see its effects, and no one could stand it for more than a second or two. It’s severely unpleasant. But afterwards, we were no worse for wear.

    So, as in the case of one of our prisoners, instead of 1 or 2 seconds at one of your parties, it was performed 183 times over the course of two years while being imprisoned in isolation?
    Would that be torture, you smug prick?

  85. 85
    Downpuppy says:

    As if it needed to be mentioned, Charles Pierce rules

  86. 86
    honus says:

    @Chris: “Interesting thing I’ve heard about World War Two: that the Germans and Americans had a reputation for generally adhering to the Geneva Convention, and for that reason, got tons and tons of live prisoners they could pump for intelligence.”

    I just read A. J. Liebling’s “Mollie” about a kid (a busboy) from Brooklyn who convinced almost 600 Italian soldiers in Tunisia to surrender to him and a company of Americans after a short fire fight. I’m guessing if they thought they were going to be waterboarded, they might have continued to fight it out.

  87. 87
    gnomedad says:

    @Caz:

    the side that is willing to be most brutal wins.

    The mindset of the Right in a nutshell.

  88. 88
    ThresherK says:

    I bought a postcard of this painting at a museum and saved it for just the right occasion.

    I don’t know who’s weirder in the above: A museum gift shop director for saying “Hey, we’re out of Hippolytus postcards, order another six dozen”, or me for buying it.

  89. 89

    @PurpleGirl:

    I’ll bet you keep this ready to post whenever and wherever it’s pertinent.

    You better believe it. It’s not so much for torture apologists and the exceptionalists – they have no understanding or respect for the facts or history – it’s for everyone else who may happen upon the conversation.

  90. 90
    John says:

    @Caz:

    There’s a huge difference between something torturous and something unpleasant. Waterboarding is clearly very unpleasant, enough so that it leads captives to spill whatever they know. It doesn’t cause any injuries, permanent or otherwise, it doesn’t endanger life, it has no lasting scars, disfigurement, or pain. It’s merely so unpleasant that people, at a certain point, can’t stand it anymore. It’s not torture.

    Here’s the UN Convention Against Torture:

    any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

    Waterboarding is pretty clearly torture under this definition. The fact that we convicted Japanese soldiers for torture because they waterboarded is also relevant, as is the fact that nobody denied that waterboarding was torture before, what, 2004?

    I wish you people would just admit that you support torture. It would make things a lot clearer.

    What do you suggest we do with terrorists we capture who have highly pertinent information that will save Americans’ lives if we get it out of them??

    Use interrogation techniques with a better track record for producing reliable information? All research I am aware of suggests that treating interrogation subjects kindly is actually the best way to get them to give you information.

    There’s several reasons western countries started abolishing torture in the eighteenth century(!), and one of the most important is that it doesn’t give very good results. It’s good at getting people to confess to thinks. It’s not very good at actually finding out the truth.

  91. 91
    befuggled says:

    @Chris: An additional point here is that if our enemies fight to the death because they know they’ll be tortured, more of our own soldiers will die.

    In other words, torture kills our own soldiers.@Chris: Another example is Argentina. Remember the Dirty War in the late seventies and early eighties? They were bad-asses when fighting and torturing other Argentinians, but lost badly against the British in the Falklands War.

  92. 92
    befuggled says:

    @Chris: An additional point here is that if our enemies fight to the death because they know they’ll be tortured, more of our own soldiers will die.

    In other words, torture kills our own soldiers

    .@Chris: Another example is Argentina. Remember the Dirty War in the late seventies and early eighties? They were bad-asses when fighting and torturing other Argentinians, but lost badly against the British in the Falklands War.

  93. 93
    smintheus says:

    @Chris: Waterboarding and related ‘markless’ torture techniques are much older than the Gestapo. For example, American soldiers were court martialled 110 years ago for waterboarding captives in the Philippines.

    In fact, like those US soldiers, the Nazis had adopted waterboarding in imitation of the torture regimes developed by France and England (especially) for use in their colonies. Several US outrages committed during the Philippine rebellion were imitations of what the English had been doing in the Boer War. French and English colonialists wanted to be able to rough up the natives, but were squeamish about bringing brutalized prisoners into courts staffed by their own jurists. So they perfected methods of torture that gave them plausible deniability when prisoners complained of mistreatment. Other countries then began adopting these packages of (now traditional) French or English torture techniques – esp. the Nazis, Soviets, North Koreans, and Khmer Rouge.

  94. 94
    300baud says:

    The thing I would like Cain (and all torture apologists) to answer: If it’s just an enhanced interrogation technique, it is then perfectly fine for enemy powers to use waterboarding on captured American soldiers, right?

  95. 95
    Chris says:

    @John:

    I wish you people would just admit that you support torture. It would make things a lot clearer.

    The endless backsliding between “we’re against torture, but waterboarding isn’t torture” and “but we HAVE to torture, or we’ll lose” has been par for the course for them for the entirety of the last decade, depending on which argument is most convenient at that particular time.

    “Waterboarding isn’t torture.” Well, why do we bother, then? After all, you’re the ones always telling us that the only way to extract information is through horrific pain and (as per Caz) “being more brutal than our enemies,” so why are we bothering with waterboarding when clearly we should be pulling fingernails and electrocuting genitals and peeling skin?

  96. 96
    Chris says:

    @John:

    Use interrogation techniques with a better track record for producing reliable information? All research I am aware of suggests that treating interrogation subjects kindly is actually the best way to get them to give you information.

    I’ve only ever spoken to one former interrogator, a former German Army guy who’d served in the Balkans and who had nothing but contempt for the whole waterboarding thing because of how unnecessary it was: any interrogator worth his salt could get information without having to lay a finger on the prisoner, it’s psychological not physical.

    The FBI guy who interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said the same thing a couple years ago, when Cheney was doing his “we would NEVER have gotten KSM’s intel without torture!” and the FBI guy came out and said that actually, everything KSM had revealed either had been obtained without torture, or could have been.

    Torture was always about politics. Like the Iraq war itself, it was a way of very publicly showing the American people that we were getting EVEN with those Fucking Hajji Bastards, never mind whether it was necessary or right or even whether those Fucking Hajji Bastards had anything to do with the guys who attacked us on 9/11. Wartime frenzies are useful from a political POV, especially if you’re a certain type of politician, which Herman Cain clearly is.

  97. 97
    Chris says:

    @smintheus:

    Thanks for the correction. My knowledge of waterboarding only went back a couple generations.

    I suppose it makes sense: very few things the Nazis did, not even the genocide, were innovations. Although they certainly did a great job of concentrating all of the worst ideas in world history into one regime.

  98. 98
    Ruckus says:

    @JPL:
    After last night’s performance, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t god speaking to him.

    Are you trying to say that cain speaks out his ass?

  99. 99
    The Raven says:

    As the fascist poet, Ezra Pound, said, “When language is corrupt, no truth may be spoken.” (A brilliant poet, but he was his period’s equivalent of an econocrank and Tea Partier.)

    But, also, George Orwell, Politics and the English Language.

    I croak that the corruption of language is one of the distinguishing characteristics of authoritarian regimes, because they require widespread acceptance of lies. By which standard, the USA and much of Western Europe is on the slope down, if not already there.

  100. 100
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Chris:
    The FBI agent you’re talking about is Ali Soufan, a Muslim of Arab ancestry. Do you expect your country’s conservatives to take the word of an Arab and a Muslim on this matter?

  101. 101
    Svensker says:

    @Chris:

    Torture was always about politics. Like the Iraq war itself, it was a way of very publicly showing the American people that we were getting EVEN with those Fucking Hajji Bastards, never mind whether it was necessary or right or even whether those Fucking Hajji Bastards had anything to do with the guys who attacked us on 9/11.

    Yup. Also, too, a way for dickless wonders to show how tough they are.

  102. 102
    Hungry Joe says:

    A few things have always puzzled me about the “ticking time bomb” scenario. It’s supposedly okay to torture (e.g., waterboard) someone if that’s what you have to do to find out where that bomb is. But how did anyone find out there was a bomb in the first place — did they waterboard someone? Why would they do that, when they don’t know about the bomb? And why would the subject of torture, assuming he was the one who had bomb info (and how would interrogators know THAT?), tell interrogators where it is, when he could just as easily say something else, since the interrogators don’t know anything (otherwise, why the torture?). And why would terrorists leave a bomb to tick away for so long? Stands to reason that they’d pretty much leave just enough time to get the hell away, or at most a few hours before the ideal moment. Finally, has anyone, ever, EVER told an interrogator about a ticking time bomb — torture or no? Has it happened anywhere but in fiction?

  103. 103
    Batocchio says:

    @Chris:

    I’d also add that water torture has existed for centuries, and was employed during the Inquisition. Some variations on it are more recent, but the intent – to cause pain, suffering and terror in another human being – is always the same. The Geneva Conventions and other laws define torture broadly, and this is deliberate, because no one should be saying, “How much pain can we get away with inflicting on this prisoner?” Here’s more detail from Scott Horton and Darius Rejali, for those who want it.

    But Lieberman’s statement demonstrates that he doesn’t understand what waterboarding is all about. Here is a summary by Darius Rejali of the four most prevalent forms of waterboarding.

    (a) pumping: filling a stomach with water causes the organs to distend, a sensation compared often with having your organs set on fire from the inside. This was the Tormenta de Toca favored by the Inquisition and featured on your website photo. The French in Algeria called in the tube or tuyau after the hose they forced into the mouth to fill the organs.

    (b) choking—as in sticking a head in a barrel. It is a form of near asphyxiation but it also produces the same burning sensation through all the water a prisoner involuntarily ingests. This is the example illustrated in the Battle of Algiers movie, a technique called the sauccisson or the submarine in Latin America. Prisoners describe their chests swelling to the size of barrels at which point a guard would stomp on the stomach forcing the water to move in the opposite direction.

    (c) choking—as in attaching a person to a board and dipping the board into water. This was my understanding of what waterboarding was from the initial reports. The use of a board was stylistically most closely associated with the work of a Nazi political interrogator by the name of Ludwig Ramdor who worked at Ravensbruck camp. Ramdor was tried before the British Military Court Martial at Hamburg (May 1946 to March 1947) on charges for subjecting women to this torture, subjecting another woman to drugs for interrogation, and subjecting a third to starvation and high pressure showers. He was found guilty and executed by the Allies in 1947.

    (d) choking—as in forcing someone to lie down, tying them down, then putting a cloth over the mouth, and then choking the prisoner by soaking the cloth. This also forces ingestion of water. It was invented by the Dutch in the East Indies in the 16th century, as a form of torture for English traders. More recently it was common in the American south, especially in police stations, in the 1920s, as documented in the famous Wickersham Report of the American Bar Association (The Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement, 1931), compiling instances of police torture throughout the United States.

    The forms of waterboarding used by the CIA today come extreme close to the last two techniques described above. They involve actual drowning—not the “sensation of drowning”—and the statement that there is “no real danger” reflects consummate stupidity. Indeed, the victim will drown absent intervention to revive him, and “accidental” killings involving this technique are fairly commonplace.

  104. 104
    Mjaum says:

    If anything, waterboarding is “simulated *death* by enforced drowning”. The only difference between waterboarding and death by drowning is that (in most cases) you are revived so they can do it to you again. The ocean is less cruel.

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